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  1. Default Ontario Canada to California bound again

    Hey there fellow travellers! It had been such an exciting road trip last January 2014 to California for my family and I that we are toying with the idea of having another go at it. Last year was a heck of a winter for nearly all of us in North America and it was certainly a challenge to say the least to drive through the snowy/icy North and Mid USA but we made it through (with extreme caution) and it was definitely worth the challenge!

    We visited Tombstone Arizona, Tucson Arizona, San Diego CA, camped in Joshua Tree, Big Sur, Santa Cruz CA, Sedona AZ, Flagstaff AZ and visited the Grand Canyon. We went to zoo's and Disney Land, we hiked, we biked. We swam and ate. We made friends and strengthened many more friendships. What an incredible time and memory we created and were blessed with for our family!

    This year some things have changed. Pulling our trailer with the Toyota Tundra was a dream in the sense that we knew it would haul the trailer without any issues. However the drive with 2 young kids and my wife packed in to the truck, not to mention all of the side trips we took proved to have many down sides. We now have a 2014 Toyota Sienna. One main reason we bought this van compared to most others was simply because it can haul up to 3,500 lbs. Our trailer is 2,900 lbs and I feel that we can limit the weight in it to easily below 3,500 lbs as we always pull it dry.

    My question is to anyone willing to tackle it is a two part (for now) question.

    a- Should I be concerned about hauling this distance with this van pulling this trailer? Last year we put on 7,767 miles round trip but did a lot more side trips than we would do this time. We hope to keep the mileage down to 6,000-6,500. I'm looking on other sites and sources but its a little difficult to get a very good answer on this and to get any good idea of what kind of mileage I will be getting. I really just need bit of a ballpark idea to make sure we know what kind of costs we're getting into for fuel as we will have not done any hauls with the van until shortly before we leave. I'm really hoping the comfort of taking the van also comes with some fuel savings over the Tundra.

    b- I know this is probably a silly question but here goes. One possible route would take us through Denver Colorado. My wife and kids have never seen the rockies and its a tempting option. But I've pretty much been of the frame of mind that going through mountains in January, when i could just as simply go around them, might be a bit fool-hardy.

    Any and all advice is truly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Answering the Unanswerable

    Glad to see that your past travels have only whetted your appetite for more. First, your questions. The Sienna will certainly be more family friendly than the Tundra, with more comfortable seating for the (now larger) kids, and maybe even some isolated entertainment system for them in the back.

    While you will probably get better mileage with the Sienna/trailer combo than you did with the Tundra/trailer, I would not be surprised at all to see your mpg drop to half of what you're used to getting around town with just the van alone. I would also be a bit concerned about towing a rig that is essentially right at the limit of what the manufacturer recommends for such an extended period. If I were making this trip with this rig, I would at least have an additional oil cooler installed on the van. Remember that the weight of everything you put in the van, not just the trailer, counts against what the Sienna can 'haul'.

    I would also plan on having the van's drive train thoroughly checked out about midway through the trip to look for and avoid any nasty surprises. It may be a bit difficult to find a mechanic you can trust in a random city en route, but there are a couple of resources you can check. Local AAA offices maintain lists of approved garages, as does the NPR radio show "Car Talk".

    As for driving through the mountains in winter, people do it all the time (but NOT every day). After all, that's where all the ski resorts are and people drive to them. You just have to take care to keep an eye on the weather at all times and plan to lose a day here and there to it. There will be days when you simply don't want to be on the highways or even in a campground and you should just resign yourselves now to the fact that some nights (and the occasional day) will be spent in a motel room.

    Finally, I have just this cautionary bit of advice. It has been my experience that when I try to re-create a memorable experience, it is never quite as good as it was the first time. A large part of that, I think, is that I could never re-capture the sense of discovery and adventure that made the first experience so memorable. So my advice would be to keep this trip as different from the first one as possible - different roads, different sites to visit - and make it its own new adventure.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 01-07-2015 at 08:29 AM. Reason: Typo

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default I'll second that.

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    It has been my experience that when I try to re-create a memorable experience, it is never quite as good as it was the first time.
    That has been my experience as well. Never again will I be able to replicate my first trip, when I hit the road in complete ignorance of where I was and where I was heading. The surprises along the way are now common knowledge.

    One good reason to keep a journal or blog or record your trip and photos in our fieldtrip forum. Record the memories, emotions as well as the activities, routes and sights. Get all members of the family to do the same. Even a preschool child can record their best times.... with a little help.


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