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Old 01-12-2013, 12:11 PM   #1
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1st Cross Country Trip in RV!

Our family is planning our first cross country trip in June 2013. Not the best weather time I'm sure, but it is when 4 of our kids are tracked out for the most amount of time all year long.

Last year we rented a Sunseeker and drove 2100 miles mostly visiting family. This forum was a GREAT help while on that trip! We were new and relied on your experience daily
This time we'll be leaving central NC and going to southern CA. Our plan is to just drive for the first few days and then visit NM, AZ, Las Vegas (kids want to see it), Grandma outside LA, up the coast to San Francisco, then Salt Lake, CO and home via??


ANY HELP OR ADVICE about what to see, what to avoid, where to stay, where we need reservations Now!, etc, etc etc. will be greatly appreciated. 4 of our 5 children will be with us (ages 8 - 11) and we are driving a Sunseeker 3170 (new). We plan to tow our 2003 Honda Odyssey. I am not excited about it but can't come up with an alternate plan to be able to easily get around without decamping every day. Anyone have experience renting a car for a few days when needed?


We are very excited and are planning but know there are pitfalls and also wonderful things we'll miss if we don't know about them. We're planning a 4 week trip spending at least 4 days near my mom outside LA. (anyone camped at Dockweiler Beach in El Segundo?) I know this forum has all kinds of knowledge, information and experience and we are hoping you'll share it with us again!
Thanks!!
Stacey & Oz
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Old 01-12-2013, 02:39 PM   #2
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The DW & I just did a similar trip. We started in Concord, NC, headed cross country via the northern states to the Rocky Mountains in CO. Then southwest thru UT into Sedona AZ. Then to LAS then to Marina Del Rey, CA. We drove our suv and did a combination of time shares and tent camping. We had almost 6 weeks. We then took I-40 back to NC.
I would recommend a couple of days in Sedona AZ just about an hour south of Flagstaff. Then of coarse the Grand Canyon is a must see if you haven't ever been there. LAS has a lot to see in the area, RedRock Canyon, Hoover Dam, Ethel M chocolate factory, and several free sidewalk shows on the strip. And of coarse the casinos depending on your children's ages. If there is anyone with interest in cars, Carroll Shelby's shop is near the LAS speedway and has a museum and tours of the shops. Of coarse once in LA there are several places to go that could keep you busy nonstop for days, Santa Monica Pier, Hollywood, Universal Studios, Walt Disney land, just to name a few.
Have fun planning your trip.
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Old 01-12-2013, 03:01 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 5xhappy View Post
Our family is planning our first cross country trip in June 2013. Not the best weather time I'm sure, but it is when 4 of our kids are tracked out for the most amount of time all year long.
...Las Vegas (kids want to see it), Grandma outside LA, up the... 4 of our 5 children will be with us (ages 8 - 11) and we are driving a Sunseeker 3170 (new). We plan to tow our 2003 Honda Odyssey. I am not excited about it but can't come up with an alternate plan to be able to easily get around without decamping every day. Anyone have experience renting a car for a few days when needed?
Thanks!!
Stacey & Oz
I have a comment about Las Vegas and kids, especially pre-teens. It will be HOT-HOT-HOT! And there is not much in town for kids to do there. After sunset (when it is finally cool enough to be outside in June, all the creepy types come out. It is not unsafe or anything, but it just isn't great for kids.

If you still go there, it will probably be a short stop over...since the A/C in the Sunseeker (really with any RV) will have trouble keeping up during the day, the family will want to move west toward the coast as soon as possible.

Best of luck and safe travels!
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Old 01-12-2013, 06:10 PM   #4
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Hi 5xhappy,
With 4 days at grandma's there is not enough time to do what you've mentioned in the OP. The USA gets really large our west. Consider dropping SF and Salt Lake this trip. Focus on the Southwest. Here are my suggestions:

1. I85 to I20 drive, drive and drive.
2. In west Texas take the exit at Ft. Stockton for route 285 north.
3. Drive to Carlsbad, NM to see Carlsbad Caverns NP. Make sure to know when sunset is and be there in time for the bats leaving the cave.
4. Continue north on Route 285 to Roswell, NM. Tourist trap for the 1947 "alien" space ship crash.
5. West on Route 380/70 to White Sands to see White Sands NM. If anything will make the kids tired it will be trying to climb the dunes. You can have your picture taken at the sign on the gate to the place where one of our atomic bomb tests were conducted.
6. Drive west on Route 70 to I 10 to to Route 180 north. The goal is to get to the Silver City, NM area and a CG. From here, take the toad to the Gila Cliff Dwellings NM. (Route 15 north). Dad you did good bringing the toad. This is a bit of a climb. Not long, but steep and twisty.
7. Get back on I 10 heading west.
8. Take I 10 to the exit for Tombstone, AZ. (Route 80). Lots to do in Tombstone
9. Continue west on I 10 to the Saguaro NP (on the west side of Tucson).
10. Continue on I10 to Joshua Tree NP, CA. Drive to the North side of the park and stay at Twenty Nine Palms CG. Next drive north to Amboy Crater. Nat Landmark. One can walk about a mile over a cinder field up and into the volcano cinder cone!
11. Drive to the CG you will stay at for Grandma's visit. Can't help with the CG but you will be near, the queen Mary and Disney Land. The kids may have been to Disney World, but a day at Disney Land will show them how thankful they should be living close to DW.
12. East on I15 to Las Vegas. If you want to get to Vegas via Death Valley, go for it. I think time is going to be a bit tight. The stop in Vegas will be worth it. Make sure to show the kids the strip at dark. All the lights are really something. Almost all the casinos have a snack bar in the casino. As long as you keep moving through the casino to the snack bar, security will not bother you. You can have a pizza lunch as the kids watch people loose their money. Stop in the casino with minors and security will as you to move on.
13. Leaving Vegas drive to Hoover Dam. If time permits, take the tour. If not, try to stop at the observation area to see the dam.

From now on the coach stays near I 40 and the toad goes to the sights.

14. Take route 93 south to I 40. East on I 40 to Williams, AZ. Williams is a retro 1960's town. Also it is a good place to drive to the Grand Canyon (about 60 miles, good road). Take the toad not the car.
15. I 40 east to Meteor Crater Nat Lndmk. There is a CG right at the exit for Meteor Crater.
16. I 40 east to Painted Desert and Petrified Forest NP.
17. Tell everyone to buckle up cause it is time for dad to boogie down the road.
18. Drive east on I 40 straight through NM, TX, OK and ARK . I know there is a lot to see, but time is short.
19. While still in ARK, try to stay at Tom Sawer's Mississippi River Park. It is on the ARK side of the Mississippi River. You will be right on the river. One can then go see Elvis Presley house or continue east.
20. Continue on I 40 east across TN. One can stop in Nashville (Grand Ole Opry and the kids will like it).
21. As you get to eastern TN there is the Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Great Smoky Mountain NP area)
22. Your now in NC and can get home from here.

I've tried to scale the stops down to things the kids will like and learn from. You may need to scale down even more depending on the miles you can drive. You can tell I've done this a few times.
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Old 01-12-2013, 06:36 PM   #5
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For kids (teens) in Vegas suggest Circus Circus, Luxor and Excalibur. Best to start out early evening to walk around (day time too hot!). Bellagio and Mirage fountain shows; Blue Man Crew would be hit with teens if you can effort it.
We go every two years but I can't stand the smoke (born-again unsmoker )

Also would suggest at least a night at one of the beach campgrounds in Ventura County (Malibu to Santa Barbara Cty): PT Mugu; McGrath; and Rincon State Parks. Also Ventura Beach RV Resort which is private (you walk / bike the bike path along the Ventura Promenade). These are popular so get reservations early - as Ventura is 60 miles from LA but you wouldn't know it. 2011 Ventura County had $2.5 billion in agriculture revenue with no Federal Subsidizes. Lots of farm land and two free running rivers!

Carlsbad Caverns NP - great caverns - nothing like them any where! Make should you walk down and you can take the elevator back up. And see the dusk bats smoke at the mouth.
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Old 01-13-2013, 09:38 AM   #6
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As was said earlier, it will be HOT! We made the mistake of going through Las Vegas in August. Stayed on the strip at CircusCircus park. Asphalt can get VERY hot in August and I am sure it can and will in June as well. If you do decide to continue to LV, then stop by Hoover Dam and do the tour. It is soooooo cool inside the dam when things are scorching outside. Make sure your A/C is working before you leave. Have a great trip - there are some amazing things to see out there
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Old 01-15-2013, 10:40 AM   #7
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Gary, Thank you SO MUCH for your response. Looking at the way you laid it out actually made us make a change in the way we were going. Coming back through AR will get us stopping to see my brother in the mountains too. And we have knocked off Utah & CO as I do think we may have been too ambitious! We are both pretty good at driving long distances and as long as we can separate the kids () we travel pretty far in a day when needed.
We did have Carlsbad, White Sands, Petrified Forest, Painted Desert, Grand Canyon, on our list of to-do's. We also plan to camp on the beach near Grandma's. I lived outside LA for several years and not too interested in touristy spots, just visiting my 83 year old mom will do it for me!
I saw your review of the Carlsbad RV Resort. so, was there no power, spotty power....??
I am now busy routing on MS Streets and Maps (just learning the package).
Thanks again for the time you took to give me such great info!
Stacey
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Old 01-15-2013, 10:47 AM   #8
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Dan....Aha, we live very near each other!
I think we're going to save CO & UT for another trip.
Our kids have been to CA but we've flown in. This will be totally different for them.
I think I'm recreating a childhood trip when my parents drove 4 kids in a Rambler wagon (no seat belts and an air conditioner hanging in the passenger window spitting out cold water!) from Buffalo to LA and San Fran and back. Memories that none of us has ever forgotten!
ANd I do love Sedona, we may have to see if we can fit that in!
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Old 01-15-2013, 10:55 AM   #9
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Steve & Kim....I was in Vegas recently for business and I took pics of all the strand and lights. Also a video on my phone of the water/light show at the Bellagio. My kids now want to see it badly! We won't stay long, probably just an evening. As we have 4 kids within 3 years we have always been very cautious with them as when they were toddlers we needed the proverbial eyes in the back of our heads!
But I really want to see the Hoover Dam since they changed the road. I was fascinated by pics of how they built the bridge. Hoover Dam By-pass Bridge Opens Oct. 20th, 2010 – photos River Mountains Loop Trail Blog for any geeks like me :-)
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Old 01-15-2013, 11:03 AM   #10
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Thanks for the advice! The Bellagio show is definitely on my list...and the foyer ceiling of glass! I didn't realize that the Mirage also has a light show. My kids are too young for much more than these.
Good reminder about the Ventura beaches. Years ago we lived in Palos Verdes and I took my GS troop camping at McGrath. It was wonderful, we may shoot for that again. I think we'll try to get into Dockweiler Beach State Park in El Segundo. It's very near LAX and will probably be loud...but also right on the beach and 10 minutes from Grandma.
Carlsbad is a definite! As for the bats, I know we'll do it but I had them living in my wall of my house for a few months last year......enough said!
Stacey
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Old 01-15-2013, 11:07 AM   #11
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Doc,
I know what you mean about the heat. In 1990 my 11 y/o at the time and I left LA for FL in a U-Haul towing a car. We stopped at an AZ rest area and could not let the puppies walk on the parking lot for fear of burning the pads on their feet. It was the beginning of July. Hoping that 30 days earlier will be a bit cooler. Wish us luck!
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Old 01-15-2013, 01:39 PM   #12
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Hi 5xhappy,
The Carlsbad CG did not have 50 AMPS at all sites. This was a few years ago. Give them a call and see if things have changed. As I remember 50 AMP service was only on the back in sites. I needed a pull through.
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Old 01-15-2013, 01:49 PM   #13
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Hi 5xhappy,
The Carlsbad CG did not have 50 AMPS at all sites. This was a few years ago. Give them a call and see if things have changed. As I remember 50 AMP service was only on the back in sites. I needed a pull through.
Gary is correct. I was there in May. Here is a thread I started about their archaic electric.

What vintage is this fuse circuit breaker ?

It was 100 degrees and we had to cut a three day stay by one day as I was only getting about 106-108 amps with frequent dips below 104 which my PI EMS would not allow into the MH and shut us down till the amps went back up.

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Old 02-08-2013, 11:16 PM   #14
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Hi 5xhappy,
The kids may have been to Disney World, but a day at Disney Land will show them how thankful they should be living close to DW.
We're sitting in a campground 1 mile from Disneyland right now laughing at this. We've been to WDW several times and are fanatics. As you may have guessed, this being our first time at Disneyland we were a bit disappointed, making us ponder the possibility of swinging by the REAL Disney on the way back home!

As far as the Hoover Dam goes, is that something we can take advantage of if we don't have a toad? We're driving a 40' DP.
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