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  1. #1
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    May 2011
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    Default U-Haul & Car trailer, San Diego to Denver area

    OUR U-HAUL TRIP ADVENTURE

    This past week, we assisted with moving our grown daughter and her family from San Diego to their new home near Denver, CO. Hubby and I were responsible for renting and driving the equipment (our gift to them), and we traveled together via “the southern route”. In this post, hopefully someone will learn something from what we learned! We were driving a 20' U-Haul truck with a car (Nissan Versa) on a car trailer. They were driving a family crossover van/SUV.

    WHAT TO RENT: We researched U-Haul, Penske and Budget, and this is what came out of it:
    * U-Haul was far more willing to meet our needs, offering us another day and extra miles. U-Hauls have gasoline (regular unleaded) fuel tanks of about 40 gallons, and we averaged 8-9 mpg. The “Mom's attic” was a small draw, but we liked the lower-to-the-ground for loading/unloading, and the way that the trailer would ride.

    * Our local Penske dealership was not willing to dicker at all, though they did have the diesel engine and the unlimited mileage. However, the guy came right out and said that he'd only be able to give us what was available at the time, 22' or 26', that was able to go one-way. His price was far more and included 5 days (no extra day would have been added free of charge).

    * Budget was just out of this world when daughter and hubby priced them for us online. The nearest dealership was 10 miles away, where U-Haul and Penske were both right here in town.

    * If I were to offer advice to anyone about what to rent: Figure out which one meets your needs. The dealerships do have ability to dicker in terms of price with number of days and miles on a one-way trip. Take a larger vehicle than you think you'll need. Don't believe U-Hauls claim that you can get the contents of a 2 bedroom apartment into a 20''. Kids were not able to do so.

    * We rented a car trailer, so that all 4 tires are up on the trailer. This allows you to back up (and you WILL need to back up), saves wear and tear on the transmission and on the tires. Be prepared to wash it when you get to your destination – that car was so filthy, we couldn't see out of the windshield!

    WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
    * You'll know what the height is of your rig that you rent – both U-Haul and Penske have it on stickers within the cabs. The height will not be a problem if you stick to interstate highways, US and state highways. Where you may have a problem with height is in the center of a city. But it will warn you: “9'6” clearance ahead”. Stop and go a different route. Forget about parking in any parking garage, even with no trailer attached.

    * Your LENGTH may cause a problem if you are towing a car trailer or a U-Haul trailer. While rest areas are built for trucks as well as passenger vehicles, many gas stations, fast food, restaurants are not. We found ourselves looking for truck stops with restaurants or fast food, for lunch.

    * Parking that length at a motel could also be a problem if you don't specifically look for “Truck and Bus Parking” in a motel's ad, and then calling them to verify. You may also want to ensure that there's a restaurant within walking distance, so that you don't have to drive your long rig to some restaurant after you've checked into your motel.

    * You CANNOT just “unhitch” the car trailer with the car still on it so that you can go to dinner or out sightseeing. It's a huge rigamarole.

    DRIVING A BIG TRUCK/TRAILER COMBO:

    * If towing, “swing wide, sweet chariot” will be your song as you maneuver through truck stop gas pumps and parking areas, to avoid hitting anything else.

    * Expect your fuel mileage (8-10 mpg) to go down if you are in winds. Tailwinds are the best kind of winds to have, as they really improve your mileage. Side winds, especially strong ones, can bring your mpg down. Headwinds??? UGH, bye-bye money at the pump.

    * You do NOT have to stop at commercial truck weigh stations unless you are carrying commercial goods. You may have to stop at open Inspection stations and Border Patrol checkpoint stations.


    Donna

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
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    Default And the adventure begins

    ROAD TRIP REPORT:

    Day T-MINUS 2 and counting: Pack up the apartment and take apart the furniture (beds, crib), etc.
    Day T-MINUS 1 and counting: Load the truck. There were 5 adults loading a 2-bedroom apartment into a 20' truck and it took 5-1/2 hours. It took another half-hour in the morning to get the truck and another half-hour to attach the trailer and load up the car for us after the truck was loaded. In the meantime, Gramma was watching the two grandboys at our house.

    DAY 1: San Diego to Lordsburg, NM – 556 miles – 11-1/4 hours (not including time change)

    We rolled out of bed and got onto the road at 5:40 am, ahead of the 6 am departure we'd planned on. The first leg of our journey involved a 6% grade, which was slow since we had no “running start”. Third leg, on I-8 in the mountains east of San Diego, we struggled to maintain 50mph going up “Japatul Grade”, but once up to the summits, we did well.

    With two vehicles, we had family radios to communicate with, so that we wouldn't kill our phone batteries calling or texting back and forth. Highly recommended! It helped us to know when the tail dog needed a pit stop, and the lead dogs (U-Haul) could let the tail know how we were doing on fuel.

    U-Hauls ride pretty well overall. The worst was through some cities where the seams in the road were not conducive to the U-Haul chassis, and we'd get a “bladder shaking”. Tucson was one such city on the first day. We planned our fuel stops to find easy in-easy out stations with reasonable prices, even if they weren't the “cheapest” in the area, because of the length of the rig.

    Yuma was easy – got fuel in the Chevron at 16th Street, then park in a large lot in the back in order to have a Sunday brunch at Golden Corral. (This is the nearest GC to our house, so it's someplace we enjoy in Yuma because of that.) Next fuel was at Sunland Gin Road in Toltec, AZ, part of my old stomping grounds many, many years ago when that truck stop was still a dirt lot. (Love's.)

    We pulled into the Lordsburg Comfort Inn close to 6 pm, checked in then headed for dinner. The place we found for food advertised “truck and RV parking”, and they certainly had it, Kranberry's Chatterbox. It was decent food at a very reasonable price.

    The kids were exhausted when we got back, so my son-in-law volunteered to get them to bed while the other 3 adults took advantage of the hot tub. We all slept very well that night, despite “strange bed syndrome” that occasionally happens on the first night of travel.


    Donna

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Southern California
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    Default

    PHOTOS FROM THE FIRST DAY (SUNDAY):

    IMG_5973 by jeanniesisters
    Picacho Peak, between Casa Grande AZ and Tucson AZ along I-10

    Tucson's A-Mountain
    IMG_5974 by jeanniesisters

    Texas Canyon Rest Area, stopping with the big rigs and letting the toddler do his toddlin' thing
    IMG_5976 by jeanniesisters

    We were treated to a full-out DOUBLE rainbow, just past Benson, after a little bit of rain.
    IMG_5978 by jeanniesisters

    I wished I'd had a panoramic lens/ability on my cell phone. Unfortunately, there was no room to take my good camera on this trip. Also, these shots are pretty much from the windshield, as this was a moving trip, not a sightseeing vacation.
    IMG_5983 by jeanniesisters

    Three states in one day: CA, AZ and NM. Everyone has family in AZ, so we didn't shoot that sign. But the little boys had never been in NM.
    IMG_5986 by jeanniesisters

  4. #4
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    May 2011
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    Default Day 2

    DAY 2 – LORDSBURG NM to RATON NM – 495 mi – 10-1/2 hours

    We enjoyed the hotel's breakfast on Monday morning, which included not only waffles but also biscuits and gravy. Hubby enjoyed those, too, as both were good and hot when we met for breakfast at 6:30 am. Our next stop had to be for fuel, though, as we knew we were in for some desolate travel and the winds had started to pick up.

    While Sunday's travel had been completely I-8 and I-10, Monday's travel included 60 miles of I-10 (to Deming), 46 miles of NM-26 (Great road!), and the rest on I-25. Going through Hatch, NM, to get on I-25 was an eye-opener for all of the adults. We had no idea that Hatch NM was “the chile capital of the world”. There were chiles hanging everywhere from buildings!

    We felt we were making better time this day. Though we felt a good side wind from the south while on I-10, when we turned onto I-25 north, it became a tailwind for the most part! We were in Albuquerque by 12 pm and in Raton (our destination) by 5:35.

    We had brunch at a known restaurant on Sunday, but on Monday, it was becoming evident that stopping for meals in a long vehicle wasn't going to be easy. The rest of the family were complaining about hunger but in a city, a long rig is not helpful. We finally found a Burger King (not our favorite) in a truck stop, in Placitas, north of ABQ. The good thing was that it had parking for us and a playground for the oldest grandson.

    We were commenting that day about the alignment of I-25. As you proceed north, there are times when you actually swing southeast before swinging back north again – check the map, just after Santa Fe. With winds from the SSW, those winds suddenly became a head wind and the U-Haul engine kicked into 2nd gear with engine RPM's in the 4000 range.

    When we arrived in Raton, it was still very windy, though winds were supposed to calm by 5 am the next morning (and they did). The Quality Inn had some long rig parking, but we were pleased we were in so early (dinner hour) or we may have had to do some searching for parking. Our warm winter coats came out so that we could walk over to one of the many restaurants on the other side of the street from the Quality Inn.

    Our choice was Denny's. Oh, sad, what a poor excuse for a Denny's. Meals served in courses that weren't supposed to be courses, arriving cold or overcooked. Oldest grandson never did get his broccoli (which he loves). Fortunately they gave a discount for the issues. All Denny's are definitely not created equal, since I've had some great service and meals from Denny's.

    Oldest grandson had been gypped out of his swim on Sunday night, so we ensured that our earlier arrival on Monday and later departure on Tuesday would mean that he could go to the pool with his mom. Hubby and I had wanted to go to the hot tub, but unfortunately it was down for a broken part. Disappointing!


    Donna

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Southern California
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    Default

    PHOTOS FROM DAY 2:

    Children love the fast food play areas when they've been cooped up in a car for the better part of 2 days.
    IMG_5996 by jeanniesisters

    Yet another rainbow that day! We couldn't believe our luck!
    IMG_5998 by jeanniesisters


    Donna

  6. #6
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    Default Day 3 -

    DAY 3 – RATON NM to AURORA, CO – 234 miles – 4-1/4 hours

    Watching the cotrip.org website Monday night and then again Tuesday morning, we noted with great concern about the snow and ice patches on the road. Decided to take our time eating breakfast and loading before heading north on I-25.

    Getting over Raton Pass was no big deal. The truck handled it better than it had Japatul Grade. When we pulled into a truck stop at MM 11 for an issue with the Kia windshield fluid pump, it started to send flurries our way. Snow! It made the driver of the U-Haul more apprehensive.

    As it turned out, there really was no worry. Flurries never stuck to the roads, and the road crews were all in evidence working on keeping the freeway from ice on the bridges/overpasses.

    Pueblo came and went, but Colorado Springs seemingly went on and on and on, much like the Houston urban sprawl! Though I caught sight of the Broadmoor Ice complex where many Olympic ice skaters have trained, and roads leading to Cheyenne Mountain and the Air Force Academy, I never caught sight of the spears of the AFA's chapel.

    When we pulled into the Denver metropolitan area, the tail end vehicle became the lead vehicle so that the U-Haul could find the new home for all its contents. We had already warned our daughter: do not, under any circumstances, lead a rented vehicle down E-470! Their landlord was waiting for them in the house. After signing all the papers, etc., hubby and I, along with son-in-law, took the U-Haul and its trailer to its new garage in Aurora. They disconnected the car for us, took the trailer off the truck, and allowed us to use their cleaning equipment and liquid to wash the windshield and windows of the towed car. It was filthy!

    The truck got partially emptied out, we had pizza for a late lunch, but then it became evident that our son-in-law was going to have to use U-Haul's unloading services (for a not so small fee) because his co-workers never called or showed up to help. Because of that, they decided to come and stay at the motel with us.

    Our hotel of choice was the Sleep Inn Denver Tech Center – a good 10 miles from their new place, but grandson was thrilled to have a pool. The rooms were smaller than either the Comfort Inn (Lordsburg) and the Quality Inn (Raton), but comfortable. It took hubby and I three tries to get a room with a working heater, but the folks at Sleep Inn bent over backwards to try to find something for us. (The heater was kicking out heat on one side and air conditioning on the left side. It was 5F outside, so we Californians definitely did NOT need air conditioning!)


    Donna

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Southern California
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    Default

    PHOTOS FROM DAY 3

    The "Welcome to Colorado" sign on the top of Raton Pass.
    IMG_6001 by jeanniesisters

    Really pretty white trees!
    IMG_6004 by jeanniesisters

    The snow wasn't very deep, and didn't stick to the highways (to the drivers reliefs)
    IMG_6006 by jeanniesisters

    Pretty field of snow!
    IMG_6009 by jeanniesisters

    Dry road ahead:
    IMG_6010 by jeanniesisters

    Getting help at U-Haul disconnecting the car trailer. As long as that trailer is there, there is no unloading (or loading) the truck by using the ramp.
    IMG_6013 by jeanniesisters

  8. #8
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    Default Day 4

    DAY 4 – UNLOADING

    We had to check in to our flight for Thursday, then headed over to the house using son-in-law's Nissan. We had to get there early because hubby had forgotten to leave the keys to the lock on the U-Haul, with daughter.

    Our son-in-law had hired three helpers for two hours to unload that truck. They moved all the boxes into the garage at first, then the furniture went right up to the bedrooms, the desk and entertainment center to the family room, as well as the TV. Then they started to move the boxes to the rooms they belonged in. The 3 men took less than the 2 hours but did a great job unloading.

    It took a long time for son-in-law and hubby to put together three beds. Grandson's captain's bed had some stripped holes which made for big issues. I think son-in-law had to go to Home Depot four times for new screws, things to put up curtains (so that baby grandson could actually sleep), and more. They have NO living room or dining room furniture. Some of their old stuff wasn't worth keeping; what would have been, just did not fit into the truck. (Maybe if we'd taken the 26', it might have fit. Might.)

    In the meantime, I was watching the grands as well as unwrapping kitchen stuff with my daughter. She knows enough to do two things first: get the beds together, as well as a way to get meals. They had bought enough pizza for 4 meals, so that wasn't at issue.

    The truck went back to U-Haul, fully empty except for the hand truck and the blankets that we'd rented, in the afternoon. It was 2 days early. (We had asked for an extra day in case we got holed up by weather someplace.) We were 7.9 miles over our mileage allowance BUT THEY DID NOT CHARGE US. The treatment at the Aurora facility, as well as the one near home, gave us a great impression of U-Haul services.

    Hubby and I went back to our hotel just before the kids went to bed. I needed to do a load of laundry to avoid taking dirty laundry home on the plane with us. Plus a few other things had to be done. We were very impressed by Choice Hotels on this trip, building up 4 of our 10 nights towards a freebie, and many points.

    - - - Updated - - -

    DAY 4 PHOTOS

    Just the contents of the truck aimed at the kitchen:
    IMG_6015 by jeanniesisters

    Grandsons were absolutely thrilled to get their toys out of the truck, and immediately began to play!
    IMG_6019 by jeanniesisters

  9. #9
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    Default Day 5 - AND WE'RE HOME

    DAY 5 – Flight Home

    What took us 2-1/2 days to drive, took us 2-1/2 hours to fly home. Got up at 4:30 am and were headed toward daughter's house by 5:15 am. Son-in-law took us to DIA.

    That in itself was an “experience”. Dropped off at the check-in counter for Southwest, we got our boarding passes (no PSA Pre check), our bags checked, and proceeded downstairs to TSA Security. UGH, long lines, but they finally put more people on at 6:30 am and the line began to move quicker. No need to take shoes off or laptop from bag, but hubby's belt dropped below the security belt (and actually stopped the machine) because they don't use trays there. Once put back together, we had to proceed to a tram to get to Concourse C. Now I know another reason why I prefer road trips.

    Had breakfast at McDonald's, then went over to a gift shop and picked up a Colorado t-shirt. Then waited about a half hour before we loaded onto the plane. Got good seats too, despite the A-58 and 59 boarding numbers.

    It was a decent flight. Our bags came up early on, then we didn't have to wait but a few minutes for a Super Shuttle to arrive. We were his lone customers so we went straight home – home by 11 am.

    Good whirlwind trip!

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