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  1. #1
    Studs Terkel Johnny_Monkey's Avatar
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    Driving around and across the US & Canada

    I'm, theoretically, travelling to the US early next year (crossing the border into Texas from Mexico) and am thinking about buying a car so I can drive from Texas to Vancouver and then across to NYC, taking a couple or 3 months to do it.

    We are planning on visiting lots of national parks and camping out whenever we can (saves money), and I'm thinking of getting a car that we can sleep in.

    Any ideas as to what car and how much it would cost secondhand? A car that's reliable and not too thirsty (and not difficult to sell on the East Coast.)

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    Any good midsize station wagon should work, although those are getting to be rare. Invest in a tent and camp some too.

    Warning: US Dept. of Homeland Security will require everyone entering the US to have a passport startng next year, even US citizens.
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  3. #3
    Studs Terkel Johnny_Monkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DieselDan
    Any good midsize station wagon should work, although those are getting to be rare. Invest in a tent and camp some too.

    Warning: US Dept. of Homeland Security will require everyone entering the US to have a passport startng next year, even US citizens.

    I have driven across Australia in a Subaru Legacy wagon which was good but we didn't sleep in it. We slept in a tent but they don't have bears in Australia (except noisy bloody koala bears) and I'm paranoid about being eaten by a grizzly.

    I expect I'll need a passport to get into the US, maybe a biometric one, which I don't think I have.

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    Having done something similar about two years ago, may i make some suggestions?

    1) If there are only two of you get a small pick up truck with an extended cab, 4cyl, 2wd. I used a Nissan Frontier and it was perfect. I stuck to 55mph or lower roads and got around 25-30mpg. We were also able to fit camping gear and all of our clothes in the extended portion of the cab, and a cooler bungee corded in the bed. When it rained and we weren't in a place appropriate for camping (highway rest stop for instance) there was enough room to sleep in the cab. The truck will be a bit of a dog through the Rockies, but it's not that big of a deal

    2) Get a National Parks Pass. It's $50 (i think), but gets you into all of the national parks in the US. Considering some are like $20 by themselves, this quickly pays for itself.

    3) Get a map that shows where every Wal*Mart in the country is. In a pinch you can sleep in their parking lots, go inside to use their restrooms and whatnot. They don't mind, mostly they encourage it. I spent many, many nights sleeping in their parking lots when i was low on cash.

    4) Make certain you go to Glacier National Park in Montanna. We went everywhere while we were gone, and it's the only place in the country i need to go back to before i die. Simply blows away places like Yellowstone, Yosemite, White Sands and all the rest. The others are also quite good, but Glacier should be a #1 priority.

    5) camping gear; get a *good* 3 or 4 season tent. Don't skimp and go Wal*Mart, get a Eureka! or something of similar quality (do not buy a Wal*Mart Eureka! tent though, they're garbage). You'll also need the regular stuff, sleeping bags and the like. I'd recommend a Ridgerest sleeping matt to put under your bag. Campfires are a major issue in most national parks during the summer, so i'd also get a camping stove, those are usually ok. Make sure you check with park rangers before lighting up though, fines can be quite hefty.

    I loved my experience, and am thinking of dropping out of reality to do it again in about five years or so. If you've got any more questions, PM me, more than happy to share experiences.
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  5. #5
    Announcer EventServices's Avatar
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    I did it in a Volvo V70 XC.
    That car is the most aptly-named vehicle I know of.
    Some cars beat you up over long distances. Not this one.

    You can get a 2001 for about $20k.

  6. #6
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    Johnny, if you come to coastal South Carolina, lemme know. I can hook you up. I work for a LARGE hotel chain.
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  7. #7
    Studs Terkel Johnny_Monkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ubie
    Having done something similar about two years ago, may i make some suggestions?

    1) If there are only two of you get a small pick up truck with an extended cab, 4cyl, 2wd. I used a Nissan Frontier and it was perfect. I stuck to 55mph or lower roads and got around 25-30mpg. We were also able to fit camping gear and all of our clothes in the extended portion of the cab, and a cooler bungee corded in the bed. When it rained and we weren't in a place appropriate for camping (highway rest stop for instance) there was enough room to sleep in the cab. The truck will be a bit of a dog through the Rockies, but it's not that big of a deal

    2) Get a National Parks Pass. It's $50 (i think), but gets you into all of the national parks in the US. Considering some are like $20 by themselves, this quickly pays for itself.

    3) Get a map that shows where every Wal*Mart in the country is. In a pinch you can sleep in their parking lots, go inside to use their restrooms and whatnot. They don't mind, mostly they encourage it. I spent many, many nights sleeping in their parking lots when i was low on cash.

    4) Make certain you go to Glacier National Park in Montanna. We went everywhere while we were gone, and it's the only place in the country i need to go back to before i die. Simply blows away places like Yellowstone, Yosemite, White Sands and all the rest. The others are also quite good, but Glacier should be a #1 priority.

    5) camping gear; get a *good* 3 or 4 season tent. Don't skimp and go Wal*Mart, get a Eureka! or something of similar quality (do not buy a Wal*Mart Eureka! tent though, they're garbage). You'll also need the regular stuff, sleeping bags and the like. I'd recommend a Ridgerest sleeping matt to put under your bag. Campfires are a major issue in most national parks during the summer, so i'd also get a camping stove, those are usually ok. Make sure you check with park rangers before lighting up though, fines can be quite hefty.

    I loved my experience, and am thinking of dropping out of reality to do it again in about five years or so. If you've got any more questions, PM me, more than happy to share experiences.
    Thanks for that. My wife is starting to plan the trip now and she is insistent that we go to Glacier NP, Yellowstone etc...

    We've got a tent that we use for hiking now, but we may get another one - probably get a Macpac tent if we do.

  8. #8
    Studs Terkel Johnny_Monkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EventServices
    I did it in a Volvo V70 XC.
    That car is the most aptly-named vehicle I know of.
    Some cars beat you up over long distances. Not this one.

    You can get a 2001 for about $20k.

    $20k is a bit too much. I was thinking of something around the $5k mark.

  9. #9
    Studs Terkel Johnny_Monkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DieselDan
    Johnny, if you come to coastal South Carolina, lemme know. I can hook you up. I work for a LARGE hotel chain.
    Not sure if we're going down that far - I think the only place I want to go to in the south is New Orleans, but that might have to wait for a later trip. Thanks for the offer though.

  10. #10
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    I really wouldn't worry too much about the bears, I've never had a problem, and brown bears are only common anymore in Alaska, Glacier and Yellowstone Nat'l parks and maybe some places in the Canadian rockies...everywhere else is pretty much grissly free these days...and I don't recall seeing too many stories recently about attacks on humans. Sleeping in a tent in grissly country is probably a lot safer than driving anywhere, you know.

    If you buy an older rust-free vehicle, it will be worth a premium on the east coast, where they salt the roads in the winter and vehicles have a much shorter lifespan. Watch for rust damage on Texas vehicles, though. It's more common on vehicles from the gulf coastal area, like Houston, from all the pollution and salt spray...

  11. #11
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    And you could look me up if you're passing through or near Portland, Oregon.

  12. #12
    Senior Member RocketsRedglare's Avatar
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    I've done the US trip three times, back and forth. First time was in a $5000 1987 Toyota Van. The other two times were in Ford Explorers

    First advice is time. Enjoy the ride. Don't rush it. Two or three months sound like you could put together a pretty nice trip.

    Camping is the most economical way. Even today, I carry a tent, stove and other camping supplies some MREs, along with a two galons of water andthree days worth of clothes, for those spontanious getaways. (also makes a great earthquake preparedness kit)

    Treat yourself to a nice hotel every few days. On two of the trips, I travelled with a cheap mountain bike and one of those cheap roto molded kayaks. Great way to get some exercise and catch local flavor.

    Speaking of local color: Avoid the franchise eateries. One of the best breakfast I ate was at a small diner in Alberque. Friendliest people ever. Real cowboys and Real Indians.

    I would do it again if I had the time

  13. #13
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randya
    I really wouldn't worry too much about the bears, I've never had a problem, and brown bears are only common anymore in Alaska, Glacier and Yellowstone Nat'l parks and maybe some places in the Canadian rockies...everywhere else is pretty much grissly free these days...and I don't recall seeing too many stories recently about attacks on humans. Sleeping in a tent in grissly country is probably a lot safer than driving anywhere, you know.

    If you buy an older rust-free vehicle, it will be worth a premium on the east coast, where they salt the roads in the winter and vehicles have a much shorter lifespan. Watch for rust damage on Texas vehicles, though. It's more common on vehicles from the gulf coastal area, like Houston, from all the pollution and salt spray...
    Mostly black bears around here. Pretty passive animals for the most part.

  14. #14
    Studs Terkel Johnny_Monkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RocketsRedglare
    I've done the US trip three times, back and forth. First time was in a $5000 1987 Toyota Van. The other two times were in Ford Explorers

    First advice is time. Enjoy the ride. Don't rush it. Two or three months sound like you could put together a pretty nice trip.

    Camping is the most economical way. Even today, I carry a tent, stove and other camping supplies some MREs, along with a two galons of water andthree days worth of clothes, for those spontanious getaways. (also makes a great earthquake preparedness kit)

    Treat yourself to a nice hotel every few days. On two of the trips, I travelled with a cheap mountain bike and one of those cheap roto molded kayaks. Great way to get some exercise and catch local flavor.

    Speaking of local color: Avoid the franchise eateries. One of the best breakfast I ate was at a small diner in Alberque. Friendliest people ever. Real cowboys and Real Indians.

    I would do it again if I had the time
    A van might be the way to go. More room in the back if we need it.

    I don't eat McD's or KFC or any of that stuff anyway.

  15. #15
    Studs Terkel Johnny_Monkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randya
    And you could look me up if you're passing through or near Portland, Oregon.
    I think we'll be passing through at some stage. We could try to figure out who Ward Churchill is.

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    Ack, forgot to mention; i'm in NYC, and might be able to help you with a hotel or something here depending on dates, my company has two in Manhattan. Keep in mind parking a vehicle here can be quite the pain, and possibly very expensive. If you know someone outside of the city that can store it for however long you plan to be here might be a good idea (or know someone that lives in one of the boroughs with parking). For instance, if you know someone that lives in Albany you can drop the vehicle with them and hop a train down here. There's really no need to drive in the city. Daily fun pass gives you unlimited access to subway and busses for $7 (vs. $2 per trip), or if you're here a week an unlimited weekly pass is $24 ($76 for a monthly).

    I'm tired and rambling...
    Say a prayer for all your friends and lovers waiting,
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    Say a prayer for all your dreams in need of saving;
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  17. #17
    Studs Terkel Johnny_Monkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ubie
    Ack, forgot to mention; i'm in NYC, and might be able to help you with a hotel or something here depending on dates, my company has two in Manhattan. Keep in mind parking a vehicle here can be quite the pain, and possibly very expensive. If you know someone outside of the city that can store it for however long you plan to be here might be a good idea (or know someone that lives in one of the boroughs with parking). For instance, if you know someone that lives in Albany you can drop the vehicle with them and hop a train down here. There's really no need to drive in the city. Daily fun pass gives you unlimited access to subway and busses for $7 (vs. $2 per trip), or if you're here a week an unlimited weekly pass is $24 ($76 for a monthly).

    I'm tired and rambling...
    I was planning on selling the car before I got to NYC because I don't want to drive there and we'll probably be flying out of there to go to Europe. I assume that hotel rooms are expensive in New York?

  18. #18
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny_Monkey
    I think we'll be passing through at some stage. We could try to figure out who Ward Churchill is.
    If you're in town on a Sunday night, I'll take you on a ZooBomb...

  19. #19
    Studs Terkel Johnny_Monkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randya
    If you're in town on a Sunday night, I'll take you on a ZooBomb...
    What's a ZooBomb?

  20. #20
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    ZooBomb = Big Hill Little Bikes Big Fun

    Here's some links:
    http://www.zoobomb.org/
    http://www.cuponoodles.net/archives/...0/zoobomb.html

    And some photos:

  21. #21
    Studs Terkel Johnny_Monkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randya
    ZooBomb = Big Hill Little Bikes Big Fun

    Here's some links:
    http://www.zoobomb.org/
    http://www.cuponoodles.net/archives/...0/zoobomb.html

    And some photos:
    How long does it take - top to bottom?

  22. #22
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny_Monkey
    How long does it take - top to bottom?
    It's about a 3-mile run, and it takes about 15 minutes. Usually there are three runs each week, sometimes four, plus party time on the hill before first run and between runs. You have to catch the last train for third run by 12:15 am. I typically do two runs unless I've got monday off or my wife is out of town . Including pedaling back and forth from my house to downtown, the whole evening is about 3 to 4 hours start to finish for two runs; I usually leave home about 8:30 or 9 pm, and get back home sometime between midnight and 1 am.

  23. #23
    Studs Terkel Johnny_Monkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randya
    It's about a 3-mile run, and it takes about 15 minutes. Usually there are three runs each week, sometimes four, plus party time on the hill before first run and between runs. You have to catch the last train for third run by 12:15 am. I typically do two runs unless I've got monday off or my wife is out of town . Including pedaling back and forth from my house to downtown, the whole evening is about 3 to 4 hours start to finish for two runs; I usually leave home about 8:30 or 9 pm, and get back home sometime between midnight and 1 am.
    Sounds pretty cool. Do beer and pizza follow?

    You must have some pretty good local beer up in the Pacific NW.

  24. #24
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Beer is integral during... . Most ZooBombers drink cheap PBR or equivalent, but yes, there are also a lot of excellent local beers to chose from...You can eat your pizza before, the ride meets up at a local pizza shop...sometimes we hit Voodoo Doughnuts afterwards...

  25. #25
    Studs Terkel Johnny_Monkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randya
    Beer is integral during... . Most ZooBombers drink cheap PBR or equivalent, but yes, there are also a lot of excellent local beers to chose from...You can eat your pizza before, the ride meets up at a local pizza shop...sometimes we hit Voodoo Doughnuts afterwards...
    I'm in. Now I've just got to get there. Our rough timetable would probably say April/May next year.

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