Epic Sea to Shining Sea Trek

There was a new job clear across the country, and with time pressure to get there. After at look at options, we chose to pack the van-RV and tow the Camaro on a trailer.

We learned a key lesson from Uhaul, none of their trailers use brake controllers. They only use the flat 4-conductor trailer connection, not the round 7-conductor connector that supports a brake controller modulating the trailer brakes. This means the tow vehicle is the only means for slowing down or stopping 10,000 pounds speeding down the backside of the continental divide.

Short Story, 3,200 miles, 4 Days

The AI had worked well. We asked for research on travel, and it delivered:

Yo, AI, Can you layout a driving plan from Orlando Florida to Shoreline Washington. We will have an RV/Van towing a car on a trailer. We can drive 8-10 hours per day and would want to stop every night at a rest area or possibly a camp ground.

AI produced 5 day, 6 day and 7 day plans with multiple recommendations on where to stop each day. The 5 day plan had a 1 hour 5th day, so it was basically a 4 day plan and this is the plan we chose. Although we had a few spare days to work with, there was much to get done at the destination, to find and completely stock and set-up a town-house.

As it worked out, we drove about 12 hours each day, giving us 12 hours each day to acquire gas and travel provisions, and time to find a boondock for the night. It sounds challenging, but 12 hours with 2 drivers means each driver has 3 times in “the seat” for 2 hours each day.

Day 1, Orlando Florida Across Georgia to Clarksville Tennessee

  • Travel time 12 hours, distance 735 miles

Day 2, Across the width of Missouri to Kearney Nebraska

  • Travel time 13 hours, 883 miles
  • Steak dinner at Alley Rose Steakhouse!
  • The waitress said, “your not moving here are you?” - no mam, we are just passing through.

After last nights awesome Steak dinner and 7 glorious hours of sleep we traveled across all or parts of Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa.

Day 3, Through the Great Plains to Historic Lake Bonneville Idaho

  • Travel time 12 hours, 831 miles
  • Tumbleweed ghosts. Kenny was driving and said “they’re like ghosts”. They were tumbleweeds, light and whispy rolling balls of weeds, sometimes solo, sometimes in small packs. When we stopped for gas, there were a few stuck in the trailer.
  • First snow!
  • Wind gusts were up to 40 MPH, sometimes pushing us sideways and also killing our gas mileage. This went on pretty much all day long.
  • Gas station lady, cold and windy: “…and don’t give me any of that global warming crap!”

Gas mileage under normal highway driving for the Sunny RV is 14 to 15 MPG. With the fully loaded RV and trailer hauling Camaro, at best we got 12.2 MPG. At times we got less than 6 MPG when into the wind and of course climbing the Rocky Mounains.

We passed over the Rocky Mountains north of Salt Lake to find this massive plane that was a 20,000 square mile lake, 20,000 years ago. Today it is a combination of farm land and desert.

Overnight at Lake Bonneville, ID

We crested the Rocky Mountains north of Salt Lake City, stopping at the Bonneville, ID rest stop. As was our pattern, we would stop around sunset to boondock for the night and have our last meal of the day.

Bonneville Idaho Boondock & Sturfry

Day 4, Juniper Idaho (Lake Bonneville) to Edmonds Washington

  • Travel time 11 hours, 785 miles

This was quite a transitional day going from mountainous desert with snow, to the large rolling hills of Eastern Oregon, down into the Washington wine country, through the Ski Mountains and tall trees and finally into the hilly terrain surrounding Puget Sound.

We finally left of the planes and drove through a few mountain passes to Laramie Wyoming. One of the staff at the gas station was using a shovel to clear the snow from the roof.

Laramie, WY, Wind and Snow

We exited Idaho to enter the North-East corner of Oregon continuing north to Enter the South-East corner of Washington.

The last leg of the drive was over in a flash, with high spirits bolstered by the end in sight we crossed through the mountains into the Seattle area. The eastern half of the mountains were covered vineyards soaking this the sun and the western half covered in vegetation soaking the rain. One we passed through the mountains we were in Seattle.

Finally, our journey is complete, from Sea to Shining Sea!