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Old 05-27-2018, 05:36 PM   #1
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Toronto to Los Angeles and Back, Advice needed.

Ok, so the top of my bucket list, number 1, drive to LA, and back.

So we're doing this, me and my 2 teen boys, my wife has to work and isn't to keen on such a long trip. The plan is to leave June 27 right after exams and be back by July 14. In LA, I'll be driveway camping at my buddies, he's right at 5 and the 605 in Downey. I have tickets for the LA Galaxy vs DC United MLS soccer game July 4. Can't wait.

So I think this is the worst time to go, it's going to be hot, and everything is going to be booked. We're planning on heading across 80 to San Fransisco then down to LA. I had hoped to camp at Big Sur, but the park is full. From LA, we'll head up into Vegas, yeah I was just there, but can't get enough, across 70 to Denver, then bump up to 80 and home.

We don't have any spots booked yet, I'm not to sure what to expect. I only really committed to this in the last week so am only starting to plan. If you have any advise about planning, site availability, apps, what to see or where to stop, let's hear it. I have been looking at the KOA and RVParky app and have the Delorme California Colorado and Utah atlas's as well as a US atlas. Can I expect to easily find sites to camp as I cross the US, or will I end up at Walmart.

I have a 2017 4Runner and a 2007 Escape 17B, I use a Scan Gauge to monitor tranny temps, and have am setting up a WDH to smooth out the ride. Tows really nice.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 05-27-2018, 05:50 PM   #2
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Quote:
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Ok, so the top of my bucket list, number 1, drive to LA, and back.

So we're doing this, me and my 2 teen boys, my wife has to work and isn't to keen on such a long trip. The plan is to leave June 27 right after exams and be back by July 14. In LA, I'll be driveway camping at my buddies, he's right at 5 and the 605 in Downey. I have tickets for the LA Galaxy vs DC United MLS soccer game July 4. Can't wait.

So I think this is the worst time to go, it's going to be hot, and everything is going to be booked. We're planning on heading across 80 to San Fransisco then down to LA. I had hoped to camp at Big Sur, but the park is full. From LA, we'll head up into Vegas, yeah I was just there, but can't get enough, across 70 to Denver, then bump up to 80 and home.

We don't have any spots booked yet, I'm not to sure what to expect. I only really committed to this in the last week so am only starting to plan. If you have any advise about planning, site availability, apps, what to see or where to stop, let's hear it. I have been looking at the KOA and RVParky app and have the Delorme California Colorado and Utah atlas's as well as a US atlas. Can I expect to easily find sites to camp as I cross the US, or will I end up at Walmart.

I have a 2017 4Runner and a 2007 Escape 17B, I use a Scan Gauge to monitor tranny temps, and have am setting up a WDH to smooth out the ride. Tows really nice.

Thanks in advance.
I like the Allstays app. I would also try to stop at the Welcome Center on the Interstate as you enter each state and get their camping guide for that state. The camping guides are pretty good.
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Old 05-27-2018, 07:09 PM   #3
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That is averaging 300 miles a day for the approximate 5,000 miles in 17 days. I'd suggest you get the boys some experience with towing so that the 3 of you can take turns and drive a couple of long days going and coming so that you can take a breather in LA. Good luck.
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Old 05-27-2018, 07:10 PM   #4
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We've cris-crossed N.A. many times. Never made a reservation in our life. There's always somewhere to stay. Too bad about Big Sur but not unexpected. You can always make a day stop of it and move on.

With two teenage boys there are probably worse places to have to stop than Walmart et al. That means civilization, as we know it, and malls etc. nearby. Some teenagers might like that better than being in the boonies.

Once you get past the idea of a suitable stop has to be a KOA and one has to have reservations a huge number of possibilities open up. Look at sites such as Free Camping, not to just find places that are free but also because it often includes things like county parks that are more likely not to need reservations.

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Old 05-27-2018, 08:03 PM   #5
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I agree with Ron. You can always find a place to camp, and no, it doesn't have to be a Walmart parking lot. Of course getting into some of the National Park campgrounds without a reservation way way in advance is mission impossible, but the rest will be fine. As for the 300 miles a day, it's a bit of a fast pace for us, but doable. We prefer to keep it under 200 miles unless we are in a hurry.
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Old 05-28-2018, 01:38 AM   #6
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Quote:
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........... We're planning on heading across 80 to San Fransisco then down to LA. I had hoped to camp at Big Sur, but the park is full. From LA,.................

From the San Francisco or Sacramento areas, you'll be using either I-5 or US-101 to get to Los Angeles; Part of CA-1 is closed down the coast from between south of Big Sur SP to San Simeon, until September at least.
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Old 05-28-2018, 10:55 AM   #7
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Within California it is generally legal to park overnight along the highways as long as you’re off the road and there aren’t signs prohibiting such. Thinking of Highway 1 here in particular, along the coast. There are tons of scenic spots you can just pull off on with great views. We’ve done this many times between the Big Sur area up to the Oregon border. Free is good.
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Old 05-28-2018, 11:19 AM   #8
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Three thoughts:
1. Get the Allstays app for $10 or so. See if you can get the teens acclimated to it.
2. Make sure your three trailer tires are in excellent shape and not aged out. You’ll be doing a lot of high speed driving in warm to very hot weather. Blow-outs can be very expensive.
3. Your return trip will be the week of July 4, which is one of the busiest vacationing weekends of the year. Consider making reservations that week through Sunday as you’re driving to see where you think you’ll get to each night. The heat can be stifling until you get back North or get some elevation.
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Old 05-28-2018, 11:42 AM   #9
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Get yourself a weather radio and leave it on, you will be driving through tornado alley going and coming....
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Old 05-28-2018, 09:08 PM   #10
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No single resource is totally comprehensive, so I have used a combo of Allstays and freecampsites.net for several years. But this spring I've warmed up to Ultimate Campgrounds as a replacement to Allstays because (in a search I'm now doing for an area in west Michigan) it has many campsite listings I haven't seen anywhere else.

I-80? Try to go through Chicago at night, the traffic is horrible!! Maybe you could spend your first night at Indiana Dunes or at the LaPorte County (Indiana) Fairgrounds, then depart the CG at 5 a.m. to beat the commuters. That would be about 800 km for your first day.

Second day, if that's an acceptable driving distance, maybe you'll make it to around Omaha, Nebraska. If not, I see plenty of small municipal CGs and county parks, plus a couple of state parks, not far off I-80 all the way through Iowa. So just decide how many miles you prefer to drive per day, figure in stops for any sights, attractions or detours you wish to make, and use the online and app resources to gather a small list of "possibles" near the expected finish point for each day. As you get close you could start calling places to verify that they have room, or simply drive in and see; if one happens to have filled, try the next "possible" down the line. (I don't have any scenic or interesting sights to recommend along I-80, but maybe others do.)
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Old 05-29-2018, 06:22 AM   #11
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Minden, Ne has a cg attached to Pioneer Village, a view look back to 1800's when the West was being settled, really interesting Pioneer Village
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Old 05-29-2018, 03:51 PM   #12
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Couple things.

If you're going through WY, on I-80, you will cross one of the greatest natural trout fisheries streams in the west - the North Platte River.

Also, my wife and I, both aged 65, traveled to Huntington Beach SC a few weekends ago, doing about 800 miles one way over two different weekends. That's 400 miles/day. Going down, we had lots of rain, and some torrential stuff that slowed the interstate down to 30 mph, with the temp dropping from 90 to 70 within minutes!

Travelling should be an adventure!

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Old 05-29-2018, 04:07 PM   #13
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When you get your route figured out and your potential camp location goals nailed down to keep you on “schedule” you could post those stops or post your goal for the day. There are many people on the form who have collectively camped in thousands of campgrounds. I would suggest that you ask for their specific recommendations relative to the thoughts above. For example, I have personally camped in at least 15 different camp grounds in Iowa within a few miles of I-80 and the same with Nebraska. Other folks can say that about every state you’ll go through. Just my 2 Cents.
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Old 05-30-2018, 02:54 AM   #14
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So, I think I may have bitten off more than I can chew, I had really wanted to drive the California coast and see the Golden Gate Bridge. But after some review, I think for my first really long trip, I had better keep my trip fairly direct. I got a lot of good advice here, the advice that concerned me was Bill and Earline's comment about tires, heat and blowouts. My tires are new, but the spare, not so much.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
That is averaging 300 miles a day for the approximate 5,000 miles in 17 days. I'd suggest you get the boys some experience with towing so that the 3 of you can take turns and drive a couple of long days going and coming so that you can take a breather in LA. Good luck.
My boys are 15 and 17, the 17 year old is still a little nervous in traffic, so he's not ready for towing down the interstate.

I expect the second day to travel from west of Chicago to east of Denver, a really long day, but it's doable. We've done many trips direct to Florida, not towing though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike G View Post
No single resource is totally comprehensive, so I have used a combo of Allstays and freecampsites.net for several years. But this spring I've warmed up to Ultimate Campgrounds as a replacement to Allstays because (in a search I'm now doing for an area in west Michigan) it has many campsite listings I haven't seen anywhere else.

I-80? Try to go through Chicago at night, the traffic is horrible!! Maybe you could spend your first night at Indiana Dunes or at the LaPorte County (Indiana) Fairgrounds, then depart the CG at 5 a.m. to beat the commuters. That would be about 800 km for your first day.

Second day, if that's an acceptable driving distance, maybe you'll make it to around Omaha, Nebraska. If not, I see plenty of small municipal CGs and county parks, plus a couple of state parks, not far off I-80 all the way through Iowa. So just decide how many miles you prefer to drive per day, figure in stops for any sights, attractions or detours you wish to make, and use the online and app resources to gather a small list of "possibles" near the expected finish point for each day. As you get close you could start calling places to verify that they have room, or simply drive in and see; if one happens to have filled, try the next "possible" down the line. (I don't have any scenic or interesting sights to recommend along I-80, but maybe others do.)
As far as Chicago, I did plan to leave London around Noon so I hit Chicago well into the evening.

I checked out the UltimateCampground APP, I think that's one of the best planning tools I have looked at. Thanks for the tip.
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Old 05-30-2018, 06:52 AM   #15
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We tend to be travelers rather than campers and love exploring new places, too. Summer near the Northern California Coastline is not hot; you will likely be cold in the summer, so be prepared. (Its warmer season is in October when the fog disappears) The Golden Gate Bridge is an awesome sight, especially from the northern Sausalito side. Its sister bridge, the Bay Bridge, is a beautiful sight as well since it has been rebuilt. California is populated and seems everyone travels with a trailer or RV. Thus, getting reservations this time of year can be difficult, but never impossible.

Big Sur coastlines are amazing,(https://www.esalen.org/sites/default...-coastline.jpg) but as stated earlier, they are still working on repairng the road after the landslide. https://i.pinimg.com/originals/0f/d5...e9349cb0b5.jpg

When traveling toward Los Angeles, we stop at a Flying J which is off I-5 going up the Grapevine in Lebec. Very friendly and we feel safe. LA traffic (especially with the trailer) is my least favorite and drive times will likely be longer than you expect.

I love bucket lists and the planning, anticipation and the journey are what makes travel exciting! Enjoy your adventures with your family.

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Old 05-30-2018, 08:33 AM   #16
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Didn’t mean to make you nervous about tires, it’s just that some of the Western states’ speed limits are back up to 75 and 80 mph, and a person can get carried away.
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Old 05-30-2018, 08:56 AM   #17
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We don't travel over 60 mph on interstates when towing a camper, no matter the speed limit. We just stay in the right lane and let the traffic flow around us.

I'm not much of a speeder anyways. Our interstates in NY are mostly 65, and I might go 67. I drive a portion of the local one (I-87) commuting to work every week day. I can never get over how fast folks pulling trailers are going passing me, but it's their rigs, their tires, and their bearings, not mine!

I guess at my age, I'm just not in a hurry...

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Old 05-30-2018, 08:58 AM   #18
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Chicago

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug2000 View Post
So, I think I may have bitten off more than I can chew, I had really wanted to drive the California coast and see the Golden Gate Bridge. But after some review, I think for my first really long trip, I had better keep my trip fairly direct. I got a lot of good advice here, the advice that concerned me was Bill and Earline's comment about tires, heat and blowouts. My tires are new, but the spare, not so much.



My boys are 15 and 17, the 17 year old is still a little nervous in traffic, so he's not ready for towing down the interstate.

I expect the second day to travel from west of Chicago to east of Denver, a really long day, but it's doable. We've done many trips direct to Florida, not towing though.



As far as Chicago, I did plan to leave London around Noon so I hit Chicago well into the evening.

I checked out the UltimateCampground APP, I think that's one of the best planning tools I have looked at. Thanks for the tip.
On normal weekdays when we go through Chicago we like 10AM to 2 PM. On Sundays and Holidays the earlier the better. On Memeorial Day I went through on I80 at 65 miles an hour at 9AM. The toll road road through Indiana is a good road but costs money. Michigan east west interstate is rough but free. I really try to avoid Saturdays and any time after 2PM. Rarely at night on any day. I’ve driven through Chicago on I80 at least twice a year and recently about 6-8 times a year for the past
35 years. Keep your wits about you and watch the traffic ahead. You’ll do fine. Your schedule would tire this old man out. I’m good for a couple long days then I gotta rest up. At Omaha stay at Arrowhead county park at Neola Iowa. Reasonable cost and a good quiet campground. Buy fuel and Donuts at the station right on 80 and then pull Omaha. Nebraska is a real long day. Get a new spare if the old one is suspect,
Start the day about three pounds low on tire pressure and keep your tire tester handy. The road will heat them up. That’s my experience and my opinion.
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Old 05-30-2018, 09:06 AM   #19
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You guys are giving me the willies talking about Chicago traffic. I'll be driving through in Sept. on a Thursday. Only going less than 200 miles from Elkhart, Indiana... but still.. shiver.
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Old 05-30-2018, 01:18 PM   #20
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Driving Chicago

Like Iowa Dave I have driven Chicago traffic towing an Escape. As a matter of fact I drove out of O'Hare last night (albeit without an Escape). I live an hour and a half from the airport. My first plan of attack is to avoid it, however certain destinations just do not make sense without travelling through or around Chicago. Elkhart IN comes to mind as does anywhere in Michigan or Northern Ohio and New York.

First, how do I avoid it. Coming from Wisconsin I have the option of I-39 through central Illinois and then crossing to Indianapolis. Essentially an I-74/I-70 alternative. Look into that. Most of my alternatives will be more miles but sometimes take less time and certainly reduce the aggravation.

If you need to go through Chicago it is best to circumnavigate the city, I would all avoid all downtown routes unless in the depth of night. There are two bypasses of the city, the most well known is I-294 also called the Tristate Tollway, it has become very busy. A less known alternative and also a bypass is I-355, consider this as an alternative.

If you are travelling I-80 you are missing the majority of Chicago but striking what I think is the most traffic, the I-80, I-294 and I-94 corridor south of Chicago with the majority of the route in Indiana. Extensive truck traffic makes this busy during daylight hours. About all I can advise is be well rested and alert for about an hour of busy truck traffic. Unless you have a GPS, you will need a navigator that has studied the route and knows what highway numbers you will be turning onto.

What will make your life easier is the purchase of an EZ Pass or also called the I-Pass. Many Illinois and almost all of Chicago main highways are toll roads. Since most of the state is Open Road Tolling you just ignore those annoying stops plus you obtain a substantial savings on the fees you pay when stopping at a toll both. For instance. my drive last night from O'Hare would have required five toll stops. This can be important when towing an Escape as you pay by the axle, think two cars (if you have anything larger than a 17) so you will double every toll.

The EZ Pass is a national product, used almost exclusively east of the Mississippi. States like IN, OH, NY, MA, PA, WV also accept the pass. The only exception I know of is Florida, who has chosen to have their own SunPass. I believe the EZ Pass cost $10, plus you need to load your credit card, replenishment can be at intervals as low as $10 so will not get stuck with a large unused balance.

Like any busy highway, keeping in the slow lane, and reducing your speed to that of the trucks will make life easier. It is not difficult, unless you make it that way.

There may be others who would have recommendations.
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