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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,183

    Default My tenth trip to visit family, has me learning a new way.

    Having overcome all the hurdles it takes these days to take an international flight, I finally landed in Boston, just over a month ago. The best part of the first three weeks was spent with family in Boston. Despite all of the adults working from home, and some of the children away at camp, it was great to catch up with them. It had been almost three years since I had seen them. Met some very interesting folk at the arts & crafts festival in Lexington, including a lady whose husband is from Western Australia. At son's place I met more of their neighbours who came around for a barbeque.

    During this time too, I became aware that I would not be able to keep my Ford van. and had to make arrangements to sell her. A little help from some of my friends had me list it on Craigslist. Within a day the responses started coming, mostly asking for pictures. But not having seen it myself for more than three years, I was not able to oblige. Eventually, I sold it to a lovely lady truck driver - not long distance - she is home every night. She plans to use it just the way I did, for her weekend getaways. Somehow it seems easier to part with my much loved van, knowing she is going to be some one else's holiday home on wheels.

    History:
    In 2001, my first visit, and 2004, I relocated vehicles for Autodriveaway, driving to places of which I had not even heard. I really liked Seattle, a sister city to Melbourne. The Rocky Mountains blew me away and I fell in love with Tucson AZ. One vehicle needed to be delivered to Green Valley, AZ and I stayed in a lovely small hostel in Tucson, which was run by two brothers who would come down in turn, from Alaska, for some months at a time and manage it. At the time I was a taxi driver at home, and on two occasions I was offered a job in Tucson. Biosphere II had always intrigued me, and I arranged a visit there for a few of us at the hostel. I can still hear the words of the official guide from Columbia University stating that it was built as an experiment for the space programme. but the experiment FAILED! Now I am not an educated person, but even I know that there is no such thing as an experiment failing.. Every experiment has a conclusion. You may not like the conclusion, but that does not mean the experiment FAILED. It simply shows that you were wrong in your assumptions.
    In 2007 my son loaned me a spare car he had, and I drove it all over the lower 48, for 5 months. In 2009 my friend loaned me a minivan she and her husband were going to sell. With the seats removed it left sufficient room for my luggage and a mattress for me to sleep. That vehicle saw a trip to Alaska during the five months I drove it.
    By now it became clear that I needed a vehicle of my own, for future trips. I could not coninue to visit my family if I had to rent vehicles and pay for hotels. It was with the help from the generous members of this forum, that I was able to purchase and successfully register and insure my precious van. Over the decade we made 5 trips, each many months long, including two to Alaska. She's been up the Haul Road and back and over to Yellowknife,( the start of the North Canadian Ice Road). She's driven The Top of the World highway into Chicken AK and visited all the 48 lower States. She has seen all western Canadian provinces, as well as the southern ones. All in all we clocked up more than 108.000 miles.

    Now, on my tenth trip, I have to learn to think about renting a vehicle, and finding places to sleep. Something so foreign to me, I did not have any idea how and where to start.

    Lifey

  2. #2

    Default

    Lifey, I don't envy you. Yes, there are tons of options out there but each has its own set of benefits and costs. Many times you can rent a "midsize" vehicle and select a minivan in the midsize area. But then you will need to store the removable seats somewhere, if they indeed can be removed. Most of the minivan rentals I have seen are from Chrysler and Ford. An SUV might also work but most of those end up with very uneven sleeping surfaces. To make it a practical sleeping platform you would need a sturdy frame with adjustable legs and to keep some wood slats handy for a future trip. That might mean renting a small storage space somewhere you would always fly to. Might was well pick up a cooler, sheets and blankets, a coleman stove, etc. However, before we get to carried away, most of those rentals require insurance that does not go beyond one month. Much research ahead of you.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,183

    Default The first lessons

    Hi landmariner, Yes, I'm learning fast. Now well on my way and beginning to establish a routine. Here is what I ended up doing.

    With the help of my daughter, who is much better at these things, we settled on renting from Budget, not just because they allowed me to pay in AU$$, but they had the best prices for what I wanted. Then we learned about their month by month rental, and it became even cheaper. We settled on a full size SUV, booked and paid for same. However, when my daughter-in-law and I went to pick it up on 2nd August, we noted two minivans in the yard, and were told they are booked up months in advance. A few minutes later, almost as an afterthought he said there actually was a minivan available, but it could not be rented out because there was a nail in one tyre. (The nail turned out to be a screw.) He then said I could have it if I was prepared to pay for a new tyre. (US$200+). I agreed, and at that point everything changed. Lots of phone calls to ensure we could get it done a.s.a.p. Daughter-in-law was invaluable. I could not have done all that negotiating by myself.

    In the end it meant leaving for North Carolina well after lunch instead of about 9am, on 3rd. It threw the whole schedule out, all the hotel bookings I had made for along the way and worst of all, made me miss a luncheon date I had in Raleigh for that Friday.

    The minivan was given to me, and the *keys* were given to me. Not that it uses keys. For someone who has never driven a 21st century vehicle, it was most disconcerting. No explanation how to work the a/c. No information how to work the radio. And no information on how to work the cruise control. By the third day I could take it no longer, and with a little help from my friend, found a Chrysler Dealer, where a lovely lady explained it all to me. When I told her I had a lot of luggage to pick up yet, she was happy to fold down all the seats for me. There have been several more visits to Chrysler Dealers since; to sort out little issues as they arise.

    It soon became obvious that as the years pile up, they get heavy, and that seems to have slowed me down considerably. So even more adjustments were needed.

    Along the way to North Carolina it was just cheapie hotels for overnighting, but in Greensboro (where the van was stored) I had made better arrangements. The hotel, which I had booked gave away the room with the flat floor shower, some 12 hours before I arrived. Since I had planned to stay 4 nights, they found a room for me in the hotel next door. And a great room it was too. Wonderful people, great *Covid* breakfast. A most enjoyable stay.

    While in North Carolina, besides getting personal items out of the Ford van, and selling it, I organised my minivan. The fridge out of the Ford is now in the minivan, right by the back door where there is a 12v. outlet. I can only plug it in while driving, but it is cold enough to stay cold overnight. The luggage (including my scooter) is all neatly lined up behind the driver seat and easily accessible. Behind the passenger seat I have a long piece of 5 inch thick memory foam. The gentleman cut it for my length and 30 inches wide. It makes a great mattress. I have linnen and a pillow which were in the Ford. Now at least I will have a choice of staying at a truck stop, where there is lots of company, or sitting alone in a hotel room.

    Lifey
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 08-19-2021 at 06:58 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,693

    Default Cheeky bribe.

    Im pleased you (at last) managed to get back to the USA to see your family and get on the road again. It's also pleasing to know that your faithful road trip ride has found a new home ! What a stroke of luck to end up with the mini van and although it was real cheek to get you to pay for a new tyre on top of what you will be paying for the long term rental, I can understand why you took the opportunity. Have fun and I look forward to more!

    Dave.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Central Missouri
    Posts
    5,700

    Default

    I have always said that family is invaluable. The love of a good family will bring everything together for you. Hopefully you will have some good traveling times, too. I know it had to be hard to sell your "baby". My husband will be selling his "baby" very soon, and he's still coming to terms with that.


    Donna

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,183

    Default Those first few days.

    In my first few days after selling the Ford van, I excelled at getting lost. On the interstates, I managed, but once I was driving around towns and cities, it became most confusing. GPS not-with-standing! And AAA have stopped printing the detailed maps of cities. Just as well I kept the one of Boston. But others have been disposed of.

    I recall well getting the address for the place to buy the foam, I keyed it into the gps, and it said: 21 miles, 21 minutes....... three hours later I arrived at my destination. I did not keep a record of how many miles I did during this time, but the foam was worth it. It is very comfortable.

    Lifey

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Central Missouri
    Posts
    5,700

    Default

    You were fortunate that the place had foam. One of the things that the furniture stores were mentioning, last spring, was that the lack of foam was hindering furniture production.

    You have proved what we have all been saying for years on these forums: don't rely on electronics to tell you how long it will take to get somewhere!



    Donna

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,183

    Default Not Luck

    That wasn't luck mate... It was all they had. If I had wanted another thickness, I would not have been able to get it. Since it was affordable, I figured 5" would make a comfortable mattress.

    It sure is.

    Lifey

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    10,133

    Default Necessity...

    ...is the mother of acceptance.

    AZBuck

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,183

    Default The old US highways.

    Have decided to avoid the interstates as much as I can. Want to see more of the countryside and small towns through which most of the old highways pass. The first one I took was US-21 from the Winston Salem area NC, north to Wytheville VA. A lovely road I thoroughly enjoyed driving. Took it easy and admired the surroundings. Unfortunately there was never anywhere to pull off the road to stop and take a photo. The shoulders are too narrow, and with double lines down the centre the whole way, as it wound its way through the bush and past the occasional farm and small settlement.

    in fact, to date I have seen many scenes which would make Perfect Postcard Pictures, but I have been unable to capture them. Still, I would not have been any better of on the interstates, as I would not even have seen them. The other thing I really enjoy is the leisurely speed at which one can travel. Now if I had a really good dash-cam, I would be able to relive each drive as often as I wish, at home. The other thing is the folk I meet when not sure if the road I am on, is the road I planned to be on.

    Oh well!

    Lifey

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