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Author Topic: Omaha to Seattle and back in January  (Read 1436 times)

Chip D

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  • Posts: 62
  • 2013 Leisure Travel Serenity
Omaha to Seattle and back in January
« on: February 04, 2014, 11:15:42 AM »
My short story.
I have never RV'd before.  But I started looking at the option of driving a small Class B for business for several reasons: 
1.  I was getting tired of air travel for business and don't like the uncertainties of air travel.  If one flight is delayed, it cascades to the other flights. Sometimes they cancel all together and you have to scramble.
2.  I missed seeing clients in between.  So if I flew to San Francisco to put on a tree show, I missed seeing distributors in Reno and Salt Lake etc.
3.  My wife doesn't fly so even though I go to places, I go by myself. 
4.  Difficult to take all of the stuff you need to go to a show when you are flying.
5.  I can't take any chemical on an airplane anymore.
Other reasons, but those were the basics.

So I started looking at the idea of a Class B on a Sprinter chassis.  Thought about it and prayed about it for 3 years.  Finally had a great opportunity in October, so I purchased a slightly used (9000miles) Leisure Travel Serenity, in October of last year.  It was fully loaded by the previous two owners who bought it, hardly used it, and sold it back because it didn't meet their needs.  Their loss, my gain.   
Trip 1.  I flew into kalispell, Mt on a Monday evening, purchased it from Creston RV on a Tuesday, made my first overnight camp in Kalispell that night, and drove to Salt Lake City next day.  Saw my first client, and then back to Omaha.

Trip 2.  Took it to my first show in Louisville KY at the end of October.  They have a campground there on the grounds of the Kentucky Expo, so I used that.  Neat.  The Serenity is small enough that you can use it for your car.  Average fuel mileage so far was 16mpg and I had put on about 3000+ miles.  I like the idea of being able to take your own bed bugs with you instead of depending on the hotel!!!

Trip 3.  Drove it from Omaha to Charlotte NC for a show in the second week in November.  On the way back I encountered my first high winds in Illinois on the front and back side of Tornadoes all day.  Not fun to drive in cross winds, but doable.  Average mileage for November was about 17 and I put on 3200 miles.

Trip 4.  The biggy.  Just returned after two weeks from what seemed like to me "All Points West".  Drove from Omaha to Laramie Wyoming on a Friday.  Weather alerts on my phone and the Serenity's rocking movements told me that high winds were a comin'.  25-45mph side winds with gusts from 55-66mph.  No snow, but blowing snow and black ice across Wyoming.  Left Laramie at 1:00am and drove - slowly - to Rawlins where I stopped at the Pilot and slept for 4 hours.  That was not fun at all!!!  Down to 30mph for an hour.  Next am, drove on into Ogden and it was still windy, but most of the wind was straight out of the West. 

Ogden to Twin Falls that day, and Twin Falls to Boise on Sunday.  Not too cold.  Temps during the days in the 30's to 40's but at night in the 20's.  No problem with freezing up.  Boise to Pasco on Monday.  Stayed at a campground in Boise, then drove to Wenatchee for another show.  Lovely campground their on the Confluence of the river, but only one other camper.  Lonely!!!  Drove from Wenatchee to Spokane for next show.  Thursday afternoon drove from Spokane across Washington to Seattle Thursday evening.  Wasn't looking forward to driving the Cascades in winter, but no problem.  No snow anywhere so far.  Left the Serenity at the Thrifty Parking lot and flew back to Omaha for the weekend.  So far so good.

Flew back on Sunday afternoon to Seattle.  PU the Serenity and drove it Olympia and an RV campground.  Drove to Portland on Monday and visited with distributors and then dry camped at nephews house in West Portland.  Drove back to Auburn Wa for tree show, and then back to Portland that evening and dry camped at nephews house again.

Now the long haul home.  Wed am, drove to Medford, saw a client, and then drove down to Mt Shasta.  At Weed CA, I made the decision to forgo driving to Sacramento and over Donner, and drove Hwy 89 across northern CA around the north edge of the Sierras into Reno.  No snow and no problems.  No services for 60 miles.  Ok.  Running great.
Thursday am left Reno very early, and drove to Salt Lake City.  Got there about 4:00pm and visited with a client.  Left there just before rush hour and drove to Rawlins, Wy that evening.  Supposed to be down to 1 degree that night in Rawlins, but don't think it got below 5 degrees.  NO problem.  Nice and toasty.  This thing seems to be pretty well insulated.  Friday am drove from Rawlins and back to Omaha. 

Whew!!!  5400 miles in two weeks.  16.4 mpg on my diesel Sprinter.  I had a low mileage of 13.5 and a high of 23.  The mileage on the Sprinter didn't really have many wild swings when I was going against the wind.  Usually drove around 67mph.  No snow anywhere so I didn't get to try out my "AutoSocks"!!!  Ok, I'm glad there was no snow.
Would I do it again.  Yes, but I don't know about the dead of winter.  Everyone in Washington said there wasn't any snow, so I don't know what it would be like to drive on snow packed roads.  The side winds in Wyoming were not something I'd like to relive!!!  White knuckle and high pucker effect.  But the Serenity was great for my needs.  I slept well and warm at night and hardly used any propane at all for the 3-4 nights I was on propane.  The other times when I was at an RV site, the heat pump kicks in.  Allstays and Gas Buddy are two indispensible tools.
That's all.  Just thought people would be interested.
Chip
« Last Edit: February 04, 2014, 11:55:37 AM by Chip D »

Tom Hoffman

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Re: Omaha to Seattle and back in January
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2014, 11:40:29 AM »
I have made the trip from Sioux City to Seattle via I 90 quite a few times in a car in the winter months.  Not a fun or even enjoyable drive.  I once went over the Continental Divide in Late Dec in a ground blizzard.  The truckers could see me and went flying past.  I was almost blind in a Lincoln Town Car.  Snoqualmie Pass is also no picnic.  The Cascades can get serious snow.

I understand your thinking, but I would not try it again on a bet.  Especially driving an over sized and probably under powered vehicle with a huge wind resistance to boot. 

You are taking an awful chance just to avoid a little frustration.  Any other time of the year (no snow and Ice) no problem other than the normal mechanicals of driving an older used low mileage and questionable maintained vehicle. 

Just read the horror stories on this forum from people who decided a used MH was the way to go. 

Last summer a relative of my wife borrowed a another family member's MH for a trip to Colorado from Iowa.  It was Fall.   The MH had few miles on it just age.  They made it to the Rockies not knowing they were  dripping tranny fluid all the way.  When they started up into the Mountains,  it wasn't very long before they had a complete transmission failure.  The trip stopped right then and repairs ran over 10K.

I am sure others will chime in.
Wife said to me. "What cha doin' today?"  "Nothin'" says I.  "Ya did that yestiday!" Says she.  "I didn't get done!" says I

2003 F-350 Super Duty Lariat Dually 7.3 Diesel
2008 34' Sunny Brook, Brookside

Jim Godward

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Re: Omaha to Seattle and back in January
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2014, 07:26:50 PM »
Over the last 20 years we have made numerous trips in Nov., "Dec., and Feb. to places like western OR, WA from CA and to and from those locations from MT especially in the last 13 years.  I-90 is usually well plowed and normally is clear except for snow pack on the passes.  4th of July pass in ID is one of the worst but that is due tot he winding road and shade which allows ice to form.  ID does a great job of sanding and warning of the ice so other than slow going, there is little risk.  On the northern route, I-90, we have only been delayed one time when a snow storm came a day early and caught us in Missoula so we stayed an extra day.  On the north south route we have had similar results and have had to stay in Medford OR an extra day twice in the 20 years.  Once when we were traveling by car and once with a MH as the pass south was covered and they could not clear it during the night so it was closed for a day.  A note about it as I do not own a set of chains for either my car nor MH, never have, never will, and with chains I could have gone.  I would have gone without the chains but the highway police would not let me.

You do need to be aware of how to drive in snow/ice and it is not as the books and drivers classes say.
Jim
Jim & Pat Godward
AC7PO & KD7ZDM
Hillsboro, Oregon

halfwright

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Re: Omaha to Seattle and back in January
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2014, 09:49:59 PM »
Chip,
Thank you for the narrative. I have often wondered about the mileage on the  Sprinters.
Jim And Darlene Wright
Full-timing with
Ryder, half poodle-- half garbage disposal
All in a
2007 Montana Mountaineer
2002 F250 Super duty 7.3 liter

RoyM

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  • Posts: 1976
Re: Omaha to Seattle and back in January
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2014, 10:35:14 PM »
I used to make long trips in winter but consider myself older and wiser now. Besides, DW would never allow it. IMHO you are putting yourself at considerable risk to avoid some inconvenience but it's your call.
Ram 2500 diesel
Prowler fifth wheel
Urge to travel

Jim Godward

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Re: Omaha to Seattle and back in January
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2014, 11:04:51 PM »
The interstates are well kept and seldom have much snow on them.  The longest drive with snow was on I-15 from the MT border south in ID to just south of Malad pass.  The other times have been less than 50 miles, usually much less and on the passes.  If you can watch the weather and give the highway crews a day, you can usually avoid snow packed roads.  As I said, I have only done that 2X in the many years of driving.  I did not count the years of driving in MT with cars as I never avoided snow and especially the 4 years of commuting over Bozeman Pass daily, well 6 days a week, while in college.  Then we drove rain, snow or whatever as missing a class was bad!
Jim
Jim & Pat Godward
AC7PO & KD7ZDM
Hillsboro, Oregon

Chip D

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  • Posts: 62
  • 2013 Leisure Travel Serenity
Re: Omaha to Seattle and back in January
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2014, 10:09:32 AM »
I thank you all for your comments.  As I said, I don't know that I would necessarily do it again in the dead of winter if I knew there was a lot of snow.  But in this case it was no problem.  I grew up driving in snow and ice so that's not a biggy.  You just don't do anything stupid or funny. MY DH didn't come along on this trip because it's winter.  We have a small difference of opinion on winter travel.  My wife thinks that if there are known to be more than 4 snowflakes in the state of Nebraska, that is a sign from God that you shouldn't go anywhere.  My philosophy is if the snow is over the hood of my Chevy Avalanche, and you can't physically move it, that is a sign from God that you shouldn't go anywhere - but short of that, it's ok to go out!!!

It's kinda funny that back in October when I brought it back from Montana was the only time I encountered snow.  I was driving from Ogden to Cheyenne in the evening and the last stretch from Rawlins to Cheyenne was in a mini-blizzard with the left lane starting to get slushy and snow packed.  No problems.   Drove right over Sherman summit between Laramie and Cheyenne with no problemo.  The RV handled wonderful - even in the snow. 

I know one of the comments was concerned about driving a "used" RV.  The RV was virtually new when I picked it up, and I have had zero maintenance issues with it - either from the Mercedes part or the Leisure Travel part.   I don't know, but I suspect that the whole RV experience has come a very long way since even back in the 70's or 80's.  It would be an interesting thread to compare traveling in say a Winnebago Class C Rv in the 70's-80's versus today.  I do know that it is really neat now to think that I can drive down the road in relative luxury and quiet in a very nice seat with XM radio and a GPS system and have my wife and small dog with me if she chooses, and with the ability to pull off the road and use the potty anywhere and go back and get water from the fridge or make French press coffee and get 16mpg, and not have to take a toad with me 'cause the thing is so big!!

I think with the Apps on a phone such as Weatherbug and MyRadar, you can see out into the forecast future about 10 days and have a degree of comfort for planning.  In my case I chose to go West where it doesn't really get anywhere near the amount of snow or road congestion as you would get if you drove this thingy to New York or Maine or something.

One other "peace of mind" thingy that I did was to install a Tire Pressure Monitoring system.  It was absolutely the only option that wasn't on the Serenity when I got it.  But it really is comforting to get up in the am, make coffee, and get ready to pull out, and just look over at the unit and see a "green" light which means all the tires are ok.  I think if you have duel rear wheels (never heard of duel front wheels!) it is a must.

Chip

Chip

Betty Brewer

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Re: Omaha to Seattle and back in January
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2014, 04:18:42 PM »
Chip,

Thank you for your very detailed description of your alternative to flying!  Glad  you made it ok and that the RV is working out for you.  Many folks check in here for advice and you've just proven  it can be done even in winter!

That's a whole lotta miles and not gonna happen for me in my retirement but I appreciate the  notes on how "someone" could do it. I'm with your wife on snow reports!
Betty Brewer

see where we are

Chip D

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  • Posts: 62
  • 2013 Leisure Travel Serenity
Re: Omaha to Seattle and back in January
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2014, 04:24:05 PM »
Ha. 
When I determined that I was gonna drive this trip, my wife suggested I just take my Avalanche.  Just a tad better gas mileage (18-20) and 4 wheel drive all the way.  Buutttt, there is no bathroom in my Avalanche and no ability to make coffee!!  I think those were pretty much my only reasons for taking the Serenity!!!  :D

 

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