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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    South FL for now, but in June 2007 - the Pacific NW!
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    23

    Default FL to WA trip, lots of questions!

    Hi all! I have read a ton of great posts and really love this site. I was hoping you all could answer a few questions I had.

    I am planning a combination roadtrip/move for March-April-May 2007. I will be leaving home here in south FL, with a general trip outline of New Orleans, then up to Minneapolis (with a detour to Ohio), across to the Tetons, down through AZ and NM, then up the coast of California, thru Oregon and ending in Spokane, WA. Very squiggly and windy, but I am trying to see all 50 states by the time I turn 35 (4 years!), and I need to pick up a bunch of them in the midwest.

    The moving part is relatively easy, as I am not taking any furniture. After much deliberation between small rvs, travel trailers, big pickup trucks, I think I have finally decided on a plain cargo van. It has plenty of storage, can go thru national parks and drive thrus easily, and gets fairly decent mileage, compared to an rv or a towable.

    So, my questions:

    1. Is it recommended (or feasible even) to add a second battery, for use with a converter, to power a laptop, ipod charger, various other standard plug accessories? I would like to run the van radio at night when I am camped, as well as a laptop, and don't want to wake up the next morning with a dead battery.

    2. The van has only two rear doors, no side windows. Can someone give me recommendations on how to create screening for the rear entryway, so that I can park with the doors open but keep bugs and intruders out?

    2b. Related, is there any kind of an alarm I could get that would trigger if someone attempted to get in thru the mesh? For example, I have seen car alarms in convertibles that go off if the "plane is broken", meaning if you reach a hand in past the level of the door the alarm sounds.

    3. I am considering getting a cb radio. However, I know that one of the satellite radio networks has a trucker channel, does anyone know how it works? Is it the same principle as a cb, only you call into the station?

    4. I am what you would call "big and tall." I am planning to use a twin size air mattress in the van. I don't want to sit on the inflated mattress and have my butt still be on the ground. Any recommendations on a heavy duty model? Should I consider getting two and stacking them? What about an air mattress on top of a cot?

    I am sure I will think of more as my departure date nears! Thanks in advance for all of your help and advice!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default One form of a popular move

    Quote Originally Posted by SouthernOracle View Post
    I have read a ton of great posts and really love this site.
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum and thanks for looking around the site.
    I am planning a combination roadtrip/move for March-April-May 2007.
    Generally I advocate taking a roadtrip anywhere, anytime. However, when a part of a trip is a move, there can be extra stress and it might be worthwhile to consider a more direct route for the move and then go back later for a windy, twisty roadtrip. On the otherhand, one could argue that a roadtrip I started in March of 1994 was really just an elongated "move" because I eventually moved to a new city -- six and half years later...
    Very squiggly and windy, but I am trying to see all 50 states by the time I turn 35 (4 years!),
    That is quite a goal. I made it by the time I was about 41.
    It has plenty of storage, can go thru national parks and drive thrus easily, and gets fairly decent mileage, compared to an rv or a towable.
    That does seem a reasonable idea.
    1. Is it recommended (or feasible even) to add a second battery, for use with a converter, to power a laptop, ipod charger, various other standard plug accessories?
    Actually you would be wiser to get an inverter, (since a converter converts A/C to DC and you will still need an inverter to convert back to a A/C). Here is a great overview of the types of inverters and some other considerations for your adventure.
    2. The van has only two rear doors, no side windows. Can someone give me recommendations on how to create screening for the rear entryway, so that I can park with the doors open but keep bugs and intruders out?
    Don't really have a recommendation for this one.
    2b. Related, is there any kind of an alarm I could get that would trigger if someone attempted to get in thru the mesh? For example, I have seen car alarms in convertibles that go off if the "plane is broken", meaning if you reach a hand in past the level of the door the alarm sounds.
    Much more simpler are motion alarms, you can set the threshold for movement so your own body moving around won't set them off.
    3. I am considering getting a cb radio. However, I know that one of the satellite radio networks has a trucker channel, does anyone know how it works? Is it the same principle as a cb, only you call into the station?
    There are several "trucker channels" on satellite radio, but these are just radio stations -- there is no two-way radio associated. Here is a short article about CB radios -- I never leave town without one.
    4. I am what you would call "big and tall." I am planning to use a twin size air mattress in the van. I don't want to sit on the inflated mattress and have my butt still be on the ground. Any recommendations on a heavy duty model? Should I consider getting two and stacking them? What about an air mattress on top of a cot?
    A Thermarest might be a better option, even if you place it atop a cot.
    We will keep thinking about your other questions.

    Happy Planning!

    Mark
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 12-24-2006 at 04:22 PM. Reason: Fixed Quote

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default What a fun way to move!

    Oh, to be so unfettered that I could move with just a small van! What a great adventure, too! You should knock off a LOT of states this way. And it sounds like you'll also have some time to enjoy it all without too much rush. Are you taking the whole 3 months for this trip?

    I would think buying some kind of mesh, cutting it to size, sewing or glueing velcro to the edges, glueing the matching velcro strips to the van, would work pretty good. Or magnets, maybe? Are you doing this just to keep bugs out or are you planning on doing this so you can sleep and get some air? Wouldn't you want something that gives you a bit more privacy? I think I would get some rip-stop nylon and cut out a window that I filled with mesh/netting. Then I would sew a flap of the nylon to the top of the window that could be flipped down for privacy. Just a thought.

    I think I would build a cheap frame out of plywood for your mattress to raise it to the height you want. This would make it more comfortable to sit on plus you could use the area underneath to store things that you're not going to need to use during your trip. Or, if you're really handy, you could make the top of the frame open so you could access stuff under there if you need it. Anybody with simple carpentry tools and skills should be able to do something like this. It doesn't have to look pretty!

    XM Radio's trucker's channel is just a radio station with talk and a bit of music geared toward trucker's. I've listened to it only a tiny bit so I'm not super-familiar with the format but it is only for listening. You really should invest in a CB for this trip. There are some nice handhelds out there if you don't want to wire it up to the van for some reason.

    As for the extra battery...I know lots of people who have truck/camper combos put an extra battery in their truck so they can wire the camper up to it if they are going to be boon-docking so they don't have to worry about a dead battery. If the van has plenty of room in the engine for an extra battery, I'm thinking it might be a good idea. However, I know so little about this that I can't really say. I would suggest reading the link Mark gave you and maybe visiting a mechanic that specializes in RVs to get some suggestions.

    I'd love to hear more about your plans and your intended route. I hope you'll share more as your planning continues.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    South FL for now, but in June 2007 - the Pacific NW!
    Posts
    23

    Default Some more thoughts

    "However, when a part of a trip is a move, there can be extra stress and it might be worthwhile to consider a more direct route for the move and then go back later for a windy, twisty roadtrip."
    --Yeah, I have put a lot of thought into this trip, what I am taking, what to do with my pets, etc. At one point, I was going to go with a pickup truck, towing a trailer, and travel with four cats. I realized that it would really suck for them so I changed things around a bit. I am doing the trip first and foremost, and carrying along a few extra items as part of the move. (I am going to make a separate post in the proper forum, outlining my route and talking about my goals and reasons for making this trip. So I won't waste any more space in here! lol)
    "That is quite a goal. I made it by the time I was about 41."
    --I have 18 states to go. Alaska and Hawaii of course, and then for some reason Rhode Island escaped me. The other 15 are in the Midwest and Pacific coast, so I will pick them up on this trip. With moving to Spokane, it will only be a matter of time until I get AK, and flights to HI should be much cheaper from the West Coast than here in FL, so that's a given too. I think RI is going to be my Achilles' Heel.

    Thanks for all of your advice with my technical questions. I will check out those links right now!
    "What fun! Are you taking the whole 3 months for this trip?"
    --Thanks! I have been dreaming about this trip for years and seriously planning it for about a year. I am really looking forward to it! I am taking a least 2 full months for the trip. The third month is kind of a buffer, incase I decide to start late. March in S FL is nice, starting to get warm again, but I forget that the rest of the country is rainy, icy and nasty. So I go back and forth, leave in March, leave in April, leave in March, etc.
    "Are you doing this just to keep bugs out or are you planning on doing this so you can sleep and get some air? Wouldn't you want something that gives you a bit more privacy? I think I would get some rip-stop nylon and cut out a window that I filled with mesh/netting. Then I would sew a flap of the nylon to the top of the window that could be flipped down for privacy. Just a thought."
    --I am mainly doing it for air, closed up in the back of a van all night sounds stuffy! I'd love the breeze and to be able to look out at the sky. But you are right, privacy (and security) is a concern, especially as I am trying to do this fairly frugally and won't be spending many nights in official campgrounds.
    "I think I would build a cheap frame out of plywood for your mattress to raise it to the height you want. This would make it more comfortable to sit on plus you could use the area underneath to store things that you're not going to need to use during your trip. Or, if you're really handy, you could make the top of the frame open so you could access stuff under there if you need it. Anybody with simple carpentry tools and skills should be able to do something like this. It doesn't have to look pretty!"
    --Oooh, great idea! Especially bc I plan to keep the van once I am settled, for future road trip use.
    "I'd love to hear more about your plans and your intended route. I hope you'll share more as your planning continues."
    --I plan to make a post about my route and thoughts about the trip. would the most appropriate place be in the Spring Trip Forum?

    Thanks for all of the great advice. And also, I happened to notice you are in WA! I would love to grab some coffee or something with you one day. Maybe even roadtrip to Canada, Spring '08? LOL! :)
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 12-28-2006 at 11:13 PM. Reason: Format for clarity

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
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    3,318

    Default Yes, I am a Webbed-Footer! :-)

    Quote Originally Posted by SouthernOracle View Post
    Thanks for all of the great advice. And also, I happened to notice you are in WA! I would love to grab some coffee or something with you one day. Maybe even roadtrip to Canada, Spring '08? LOL! :)
    Sure....I'll look forward to planning something with ya once you get here. We will be on opposite ends of the state with the half-way point being around Cle Elum so I think we better plan a full meal! LOL
    Last edited by PNW Judy; 12-29-2006 at 09:16 AM. Reason: added info

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Québec, Montreal, Arizona, California, France
    Posts
    761

    Default Canada countdown

    Quote Originally Posted by SouthernOracle
    Maybe even roadtrip to Canada, Spring '08? LOL! :)
    Well if you drive to Alaska, you'll already have one Province and one Territory under your belt, only 9 more Provinces and 2 Territories to go!! If you plan to visit eastern Canada someday, hop in here and I'll give you suggestions.

    Have a nice trip!
    Gen

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    South FL for now, but in June 2007 - the Pacific NW!
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    23

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Judy View Post
    Sure....I'll look forward to planning something with ya once you get here. We will be on opposite ends of the state with the half-way point being around Cle Elum so I think we better plan a full meal! LOL

    I will be coming up from NorCal, thru coastal Oregon to Seattle, then across to Spokane. So, either way, whichever you'd prefer!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    South FL for now, but in June 2007 - the Pacific NW!
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    23

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Gen View Post
    Well if you drive to Alaska, you'll already have one Province and one Territory under your belt, only 9 more Provinces and 2 Territories to go!! If you plan to visit eastern Canada someday, hop in here and I'll give you suggestions.

    Gen
    Darn, I should have found this place earlier! I did a road trip starting in Boston, thru NH (got to see the Old Man before he fell off!), thru Maine, then up thru New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to Peggy's Cove and the Bay of Fundy, then hopped the cat back to Maine and drove back to Boston. I didn't like NB much, but NS, at least the parts in those areas, was beautiful!

    And I will get to the Yukon - seeing the Northern Lights is number one on my to-do life list.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
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    3,318

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SouthernOracle View Post
    I will be coming up from NorCal, thru coastal Oregon to Seattle, then across to Spokane. So, either way, whichever you'd prefer!
    You will probably be driving close by me then. You could email me or call me when you're in Oregon to figure something out. I usually need a few days notice due to my work. Depending on where you turn inland, you could be within an hour from me. Maybe less if you come a bit into Washington.

    That would be cool. If you want to discuss this further, PM me.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Québec, Montreal, Arizona, California, France
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    761

    Default We have aurora borealis over here too!

    I did a road trip starting in Boston, thru NH (got to see the Old Man before he fell off!), thru Maine, then up thru New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to Peggy's Cove and the Bay of Fundy, then hopped the cat back to Maine and drove back to Boston.
    Ah-ah! You missed New Foundland & Labrador and Quebec, you definitely have to come back east!:o)) Iceberg, seals, whales and northern lights are sitting here waiting for you to see them.

    Geneviève:o)

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