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625 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After working on BoB for a deadline, it was time for a rough break-in trip. The big trip that we had scheduled, 10-12 days from Washington state, through Utah, to see family in Albuquerque, and then home. It was a great time...

Time for Travel! Road trip from WA to NM via UT

The time had come, Thanksgiving weekend. BoB was as complete as he'd be for now. We had the toilet in and we had electrical, the rest we'd make up along the way. That included a cot for her up front while I slept on the floor in the back. Icebox duties were handled by a 12v solid state cooler.

The evening that we left town was in the middle of one of the worst windstorms for several decades. Winds at 40-50 and gusting to probably 60-70. Not sure exactly how strong, but we did see several big rigs blown over on the side of the highway. And here we were heading out into it, at night.

My biggest initial concern was the solar panels. Would the adhesive only attachments be enough, or would I hear some terrible noises as the panels flew off the roof? After 15 minutes of driving directly into the wind and with a full crosswind, my fears settled. A bit. For now it was settling into how BoB overall was handling the winds. And for being a 9' tall slab-sided brick he did surprisingly well. Learned fairly quick to not fight the wind gusts, but to go with them a bit. You need to stay in your lane, but trying to hold it perfectly caused more problems than letting it float a bit.

We made it past more blown-over big rigs and came to a highway closure just outside of Hermiston, OR. On the road for less than an hour, and we're stopped; along with everyone else. But... I have the advantage of knowing many of the local backroads. So we headed south off the highway and onto the two-lanes. About 5-8 miles later we rejoined the highway when it had opened up. We also knew why it had closed. It wasn't specifically the winds, but the blowing dust. You could be moving along okay at 40-50mph, dealing with the winds, seeing things just fine, and then in an instant you could barely see your front bumper.

As we made our way to Pendleton it settled down a bit, but it was still quite windy. We were headed towards Boise when we got an error on the dash, something about DEF Service required, see the dealer NOW. We spent the night at a quiet rest area in eastern Oregon and made our way to the RAM dealer in Boise the next day. This had not been the best of starts to a 10-12 day road trip.

We made the best of it in Boise. Instead of sitting at the dealer we walked a mile over to the very large Boise mall and spent a couple hours walking and wandering. Not the usual thing that I like to do, but ya know... I was on vacation, so it was rather nice.

Turned out to be a software error for the DEF service. Easy fix and we were back on our way. A belated thanks to the Larry H Miller dealer in Boise for getting us in and out and back on the road.

After leaving Boise we booked it through Idaho and northern Utah on our first full day on the road. Spent the second night at a Walmart in Provo, UT. The next morning we headed up the American Fork river canyon, wonderful little drive and worth the detour to start the day.

A stop at In-N-Out for lunch and we would be back on the highway cranking out the miles. Next to In-N-Out was another Chrysler/RAM dealer. We had family watching our progress while we travelled and had one worried that we might be having a second day of vehicle problems. As we ate lunch looking at the RAM trucks across the street, we wondered if they'd be thinking that.

Travelling Utah in late November we were a bit worried about winter storms. We got lucky though, came through a few days after some snow. Made for some beautiful travels.

One of our destinations was Hwy 12 in SW Utah. Basically go to Bryce and then head east. We made it through Panguitch that night and through the red canyons west of Bryce. Hit those right at sunset, couldn't have time it much better. As we climbed out of the canyon to a mesa we came across a very large paved pullout area. Figured that was as good as anything for the night, so we pulled over and settled in. Odd part was, here we were in the middle of nowhere in SW Utah, and I had a very good 3G data signal with my phone. Made use of that before shutting down for the night.


625 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Highway 12, the best road in Utah?

If your travels give you a chance to wander through southwest Utah, you need to set aside a day (or more) to travel Highway 12. It is simply wonderful. So much amazing stuff packed into a small space. And it changes so much too, head over into the next basin and its different rock formations, or now its a forest, or badlands, or... well, something different.

Anyway, we started the day on Hwy 12 just east of Bryce Canyon. It was cold that night. Not super cold, but cold enough that we made use of the little Mr Buddy propane heater as we got going in the morning.

This was home for the night. Worked out quite well. Had one vehicle park behind us in the early hours, but was quiet otherwise.

Got a bit frosty by the morning. But then, it is mid-November in southern Utah at elevation. No surprise.

Can definitely tell where the insulation is and where the internal metal ribs are located.

BoB, starting his explorations for the day.

Just outside of Bryce canyon, headed down to the valley below. Nice way to start the day.

Still on the drive down from Bryce, we stopped for a little side hike not even 1/2 mile off the road.

As we were dropping down into the valley and approaching the city (?) of Tropic, we wanted to find a nice spot for breakfast and coffee (for her, I don't touch the stuff). Looking at the maps I could see a road heading out of town back to the hills, so we went for it. It turned dirt, but in good shape. Not a bad place to park for breakfast. This is looking back up the hills towards Bryce Canyon.

View down the road to Tropic, UT.

Further along Highway 12 we took one of several side roads, this one towards the Kodachrome Basin. We just didn't have the time to go exploring everything, had to make do with getting to the entrance. Really need more than one day to fully enjoy Highway 12.

On the way back from Kodachrome Basin towards Highway 12.

So many times the road would climb out of one valley and as you dropped into the next one, the scenery would be completely different, both the geology and the flora.

It was out here that I really became pleased with the choice of NOT getting a white van. There are times that I wish I had gone with Sandstone instead of Silver; that would probably blend in even better, but I'm liking the Silver.

In the arch up there are some cliff dwellings. I was simply amazed, while my gal was a bit unimpressed, but she did note my enthusiasm. Thus we changed our plans a bit, we would still finish out Highway 12 today, but instead of exploring southeast Utah the next day we would drive into the night and make Cortez, CO. From there we would spend almost all of the next day at Mesa Verde. Definitely worth it. Now... back to Highway 12.

Yeah, BoB looks good.

Panorama shot, you'll need to click in and zoom for this one.

And another panorama at an overlook. Don't remember the name of this area, but it was wonderfully impressive.

Had I mentioned there's an overload of amazing views?

Near the end of Highway 12 you climb up and over the mountains past Boulder, UT. Not surprisingly, another wonderfully different view.

We reached the end of Highway 12 at Torrey, UT, and then started heading east, away from the setting sun. We would pass through some amazing stuff, but it was going to be too dark to get many pictures. We crossed the very north end of Lake Powell at dusk, and then on to Cortez at night.


625 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
A bit of Albuquerque and the road home

You'll have to believe me when I say the day spent at Mesa Verde was as good as the day on Highway 12. Just very, very different. And so stunning that I just didn't take any pictures with the phone. The few I did take were with the DSLR, which have not been saved and imported over. Ah, well...

After a full day at Mesa Verde we headed to Durango for the night. Another lovely Walmart parking lot. Don't remember exactly, but I think it was down to 17F outside that morning. It was a chilly 35F inside BoB, but that wasn't bad considering the only heat sources were two humans and a couple electric pads that were mostly off. Again, the Mr Buddy heater picked things up quick enough.

The next day was the final drive down to Albuquerque. (geez, that's a hard word to type, gets me every time)

Not the prettiest 'campground' around, but there's always a vacancy.

We did stop at Aztec, NM, to check out the ruins there. If we had an extra day on the schedule we probably would have driven out to Chaco Canyon.

We got into ABQ (ah, much easier to type that instead of Albuquerque). Didn't have much planned, but I did want to ride the Sandia Peak Tramway. We stopped by one afternoon, it was closed due to high winds. Ah well. Went back in the morning a couple days later. It was open and running, but with a warning that it was fully clouded in at the peak. That's OK, I still wanted to go.

Didn't have much idea what we were headed into. Yeah, not much of a view from the top. In the clouds, and in the wind, as noticed by the windsock here, was probably a steady 25-30mph wind. And it was COLD.

Look, its the view from the top! Um... I said... The View! Ok, maybe not.​

No Alcohol Beyond This Point. If you're drunk, set down the beer before you go exploring past the fenced barriers. Its 'safer' that way.

In a way I quite enjoyed the weather at the top. Bit of a unique situation, as I'm sure not many folks bother when its like this. The fog from the clouds made for fun photos, and I was enamored by the shapes in the upper gondola tower.

The cables go to... where, again?

One of my favorite photos of the day.

A bit of a view on the way down after dropping out of the clouds.

Looking back up the hill from the base station.

Didn't really take many other pictures in ABQ, and we were only there a few days before it was time to head home. So we hit the road. We boogied the 1200 miles home in two days. Spent the night in another Walmart lot north of Ogden, UT. It was nice when we rolled in at night, if a bit cool. It was a bit white the next morning.

A layer of snow does wonders for keeping things quiet.

Fellow 'campers' behind us, getting ready to get on the road.

The endless black stripe of road.

It was just a little winter storm. Things were mostly clear by the time we reached western Idaho.

With that, our 12 day trip was over. It was a great break-in for the electrical components in BoB, and even though it was far from complete, it helped confirm that we liked the layout. It also made us realize that we really liked having something like BoB to do exactly this kind of thing. It would have been so much harder if we had wanted to do the trip in my Audi wagon. Possible, but not nearly as fun. And on the other side, having something no larger than BoB (who is the big boy of PMs, the long wheelbase extended) we had no problems with parking or driving any of the roads or pullouts along the way.

Now it would be winter at home, and any build progress on BoB would come to a freezing halt. Not much interest in working on the van when its barely 40F in the garage, and colder outside. But there would be new 'deadlines' to come, eventually I would get back to it.

Premium Member
112 Posts
Great photos! Especially the panoramas.
I often see the insulation outline on my PM just from the morning dew if its cool enough.
Its looking easier to use blogspot for photos than wrestling with some other photo hosts....

625 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I've been using Blogspot to write things up mostly because I'm so connected with Google. It has seemed the easiest place to link to my existing Google Photos albums. I've then found it easy to copy/paste from the Blogspot page into the message board here. Haven't had to mess with any code. Oddly, the copy/paste only works in IE, not in Chrome.

And thank Google Photos for the panoramas. It does a darn good job on its own of stitching together photos you've taken that might be a pano, and then giving you the end result.

351 Posts
Thanks for the pics and info. We just move to ABQ(see how easy that was) :)

We already have our Fall trip planned to hit up that area of Utah. I can't wait!
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