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Old 06-21-2014, 09:29 PM   #1
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First Trip Report

I mentioned in another post that we had just returned from a two week trip through Yellowstone and the Tetons with our daughter and her family (we in our trailer, they in their car and a tent). Being first time trailer AND Escape owners on our first “real” trip, I thought I’d share a few of my thoughts/observations. Sorry this so long.

Equipment
First off, make sure you read all your appliance manuals and understand them ... especially the refrigerator and the part about engaging the door lock. (How many eggs does it take to cover the floor of an Escape 19’? 24)

The refrigerator that I thought was too big after picking up the trailer, isn’t.

The furnace in the Escape is amazing. With temperatures dropping into the 20s and 30s at night, it kept us warm and cozy and the digital thermostat made it very easy to operate.

The water heater works like a champ; however, for peace of mind, we’re going to install an LED indicator light to let us know that it’s on (only used it on propane).

This is if you’re thinking of a satellite TV .... We had the Winegard dish mounted and paid ETI the extra $300 to reinforced the roof (more weight) and run the wiring. Turns out, we probably should have just gone with the jack antenna and made it “cable ready” as most improved campgrounds have cable TV (which we can’t use without running a cable through the window). Plus, the mounted satellite dishes are severely limited when camping in or around trees -- even small, willowy trees. Consider the carry-out satellite antenna instead which can be moved around to avoid trees, other rigs, etc. That said, our grandkids certainly enjoyed the TV when we were all confined to the trailer during a rain storm.

Do consider the solar option. We were five days in Yellowstone with no hookups. We ended up in a camp site that, while surrounded by trees, had direct overhead sun during the day (Canyon Campground, Loop L, site 260); thus, we had ample electricity and the batteries were almost always fully charged.

We purchased the portable Little Red Campfire and love it!! Even our daughter, who laughed at us, appreciated the fact that when it was raining too hard to make a “real” fire, we had the Little Red Campfire under the awning and enjoyed its warmth and ambiance (it doesn’t put out enough heat to affect the awning). The grandkids even roasted marshmallows over it.

We were gone for fourteen days, six of those without hookups. Running the refrigerator, heater, hot water heater and cooking, we didn’t even use up one tank of propane.

I admit, the awning is daunting at first. After our first disastrous attempt, I watched Tammy’s video and made a detailed, step-by-step guide of how to put up the awning. Too bad I didn’t include the part about taking it down (we keep forgetting those darn little tabs on the top).

Layout/Storage
We opted for the U-shaped dinette and have no regrets. On top of the under-bench storage, we found that we could actually seat six people (four adults, two children) around it (the kids snuggled in the corners).

We also opted for the three burner stove and utilized all three burners during several meals. Plus, with the cover down, it makes a great work surface AND a dish drying place (I use the Microfiber dish drying mats).

Do think about something to secure the doors under your sink. (How much does it take to completely empty the area under the sink? About two miles of rotten roads.) Small bungee cords work great.

Don’t over pack!! There is so much storage that you almost feel the need to fill up every nook and cranny. Don’t!! Save room for those gift shops you’re sure to find along the way. (I ordered some fabric ‘bins’ for the overhead storage which we used to keep our clothing and sundries neat and tidy.)

Hauling/Driving
Know your route. Being first-time trailer owners, we are overly cautious about pulling into areas that might require serious maneuvering or (horrors) backing up the trailer. For this trip, my daughter took care of all the arrangements, making sure we had pull through spots or sites where backing wouldn’t be a problem. She plotted our route from CA to Yellowstone, noting elevations, road conditions, etc. (they were traveling in a separate car). I, of course, confirmed all of her decisions without letting her know. My mistake came when I relaxed my guard and assumed that the route home from Jackson Hole to Idaho would be as comfortable as the rest of the trip.

I should have realized something was amiss when I saw the road signs approaching the pass, warning that trailers weren’t allowed from November until May, but it wasn’t until we had actually started the ascent that we noticed the “Steep 10% grade for 5 miles” sign. By then, there was no place to turn around so we had to commit. Not only was the grade steep, there were precious few turnouts -- which we couldn’t have used anyway without running the risk of not getting started uphill again! Our only saving grace was the fact that there was an older RV two cars ahead of us (he didn’t check the route either ... obviously) who was going slow enough to make us look like we were just in the traffic flow. Of course, at the summit, he pulled over, probably thinking that he was doomed as it’s a 10%, 5 mile grade on either side of the pass. We went down just fine even though there were a few prayers being murmured along the way (and more than a few thanking our lucky stars we had the brake controller). Later, I checked some RV forums and laughed as I read the comments: DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, ATTEMPT THE TETON PASS IN AN RV OR PULLING A TRAILER. Live and learn.

Stats: We averaged 11.5 mpg and spent about $700 on gas (2,000 miles RT). Ran about 2800 to 3000 rpms with OD off and about 2000 to 2300 with it on ( 60 – 65 mph on the flat parts). And lots and lots of great memories (and photos).

Oh, one note: Bison are NOT afraid of Escape trailers.
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Old 06-21-2014, 09:37 PM   #2
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Great report. Thanks.
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Old 06-21-2014, 09:44 PM   #3
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I loved your report. So wonderfully cool and look at all the great memories you made?! (I'll pay attention to those SIGNS you ignored during my future bucket list travels. )

Now, where do we view the pictures?
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Old 06-21-2014, 09:47 PM   #4
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What is the make and model of your tow vehicle?
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Old 06-21-2014, 09:58 PM   #5
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We tow with a 2004 Tundra, double cab, SR5 with tow package. And we have the Andersen WDH.
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Old 06-21-2014, 10:00 PM   #6
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You and I will both be watching for those signs Donna!!!! Just posted some photos in an album and I hope I did it correctly. What I just realized was that I didn't get a photo of our rig in front of the Tetons! Rats! Have to go back ...
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Old 06-21-2014, 10:13 PM   #7
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Cool, love looking at others travels albums.. here's Jan's: Escape Trailer Owners Community - CADreamin's Album: Yellowstone / Tetons
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Old 06-21-2014, 11:30 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CADreamin View Post
Oh, one note: Bison are NOT afraid of Escape trailers.

As far as I can tell bison are not afraid of anything... except wolves.

Elk Island is a very reliable location for bison sightings. Ironically, elk are hard to find in the park.
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Old 06-21-2014, 11:43 PM   #9
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I don't wish to appear to be a know it all but...having driven over Teton Pass many many times...it's really going to be about how adequate your outfit is. Tundra with tow package and a 19...should be just fine. Subaru and 19...nope! Semi trailers go up and down the pass all day...with a great deal of respect and caution...no problem unless they get avalanched in the winter or they lose their brakes (Wilson wants trucks banned - Jackson Hole News&Guide: Top Stories). Interstate 70 going west out of Denver through the Eisenhower tunnel at 11,000+ feet was a lot longer pull for my Traverse and 19 than the the Teton Pass at about 8500 feet. Just don't plan on 60-70 mph uphill and have really good brakes on TV and trailer.

BTW if you don't mind a moderately rough, incredibly beautiful 40 miles of dirt road, here's a "short cut" from Flagg Ranch (just south of the south entrance to Yellowstone) to Ashton, ID on highway 20 that will bypass Teton Pass. It will probably rearrange the dishes in your trailer and I wouldn't try it with a Subaru and a 19. (Ashton-Flagg Ranch Road offers an interesting ride - Ashton-Flagg Ranch Road offers an interesting ride: News)
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Old 06-21-2014, 11:49 PM   #10
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I noticed the remarks about Teton pass, and assumed that the difficulty is the combination of grade and elevation, since neither by itself is a concern. At lower elevations, a 10% grade is slow but far from impassable.
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Old 06-21-2014, 11:50 PM   #11
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Thanks "lefttee", but I'll pass on that shortcut ;-) We actually stayed at Flagg Ranch but wanted to revisit Jackson Hole which is how we ended up on the Teton Pass. I have to say, it was a beautiful stretch of highway!
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Old 06-21-2014, 11:58 PM   #12
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BTW, I really enjoyed the trip report. If you read the story about the residents of Wilson, WY (at the bottom of Teton Pass)...it's obvious there can be issues. But when you overload a spud semi with an intrinsically high CG anyway and have marginal brakes...just like the guy pulling a 30 foot long, 6,000 pound trailer with his Buick Electra...you get what you deserve.
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Old 06-22-2014, 12:05 AM   #13
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Great report. Yes, get back and this time you must get the trailer, and the kids, in the pictures!
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Old 06-22-2014, 12:10 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
I noticed the remarks about Teton pass, and assumed that the difficulty is the combination of grade and elevation, since neither by itself is a concern. At lower elevations, a 10% grade is slow but far from impassable.
I get the heebie jeebies with a 7% grade, I can't begin to imagine a 10%er, even with adequate equipment.
Thanks CADreamin for the report. BTW, do you have a copy you can post of your daughter's hard work? It might be helpful to those who wish to follow in your footsteps (at least the to part).
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Old 06-22-2014, 12:25 AM   #15
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I get the heebie jeebies with a 7% grade, I can't begin to imagine a 10%er, even with adequate equipment.
Sandra, the good news is that even though it doesn't have the power of a Tundra, your Sienna can handle 10% grades (at least at reasonable elevations) with an Escape 17'... judging from my Sienna and my wider 17' trailer.
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Old 06-22-2014, 01:34 AM   #16
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Hi Sandra - Here's what she had set up:

CA to Winnemucca NV via I-80 - High Desert RV park (nice with great showers and a Chicago Dog dinner)

Winnemucca to Twin Falls via I-80 then US-93 - Twin Falls KOA (cute little park). Stop by the Perrin Bridge in the early evening and watch the B.A.S.E. jumpers then, the next day, visit Shoshone Falls.

Twin Falls to Yellowstone via I-84 to I-80 to I-15 then US-191 - Canyon Campground (5 nights) Very nice with great showers.

Yellowstone to Tetons - Headwaters Lodge/Flagg Ranch (3 nights) Nice park within walking distance to the Lodge, bar and convenience store. While in the Teton area, be sure to stop by Dornan's in Moose, grab a beer and soak in the Teton views ... and, if you're lucky, some wildlife.

Jackson Hole WY to Elko NV - Iron Horse RV Park via the Teton Pass .... (*The longer route is Hwy 26 via the Snake River Canyon ... longer and flatter. It is recommended for those with trailers or during severe winter weather.)

Elko NV home to CA (There's a museum outside Elko, the California Trail Interpretive Center California Trail Interpretive Center | Elko, NV, which I had hoped to see; however, "someone" wanted an early start ... )
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Old 06-22-2014, 07:15 AM   #17
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If you've not heard of them, the Mountain Directory's might be worth checking out. I've only used the Eastern version for route planning so far.

Mountain Driving Guide for Truckers, RV and Motorhome Drivers

Do look around some, they are $85 from Amazon but $16 from rvbookstore, no idea why the huge difference. I know I paid the latter.
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Old 06-22-2014, 10:38 AM   #18
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A good resource! Thanks for posting ... I will pick one up.
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Old 06-22-2014, 12:44 PM   #19
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i thank you both.
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Old 06-22-2014, 09:06 PM   #20
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Great report and I'll just put in here that yes your vehicle was perfectly capable of the grade but peeps, if this was a first trip with a first trailer - remember when.... I remember taking my first trailer and TUG on purpose just to the top of one of the passes outside of here (you can't leave home here without at least one major pass) with a supportive friend just to see how it would do. :-) Glad you had fun and hey, nothing wrong with planning your trip so it is as stress free as you need!!!!!

Sherry in MT
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