A.J.

I would love to get all of your thoughts and advice on a road trip we are planning for the summer of 2018.  We plan to depart from our home in Connecticut this summer for a cross country/National Parks road trip.  We have a 2017 181B that we brought home in April of 2017 and our tow vehicle is a GMC Sierra.  My family (wife, three children sons – 13,11, and daughter -8) will be living out of our trailer for 6 to 7 weeks.

We don’t want to over schedule/commit ourselves so this is where we are at as of today, February 23.  Therefore, we have not made any reservations for “travel days” and all of our national park stays have been reserved mid week (arrive on Tuesday, depart on Friday)

We plan to take 5 or 6 days to get to our first National Park (Rocky Mountain) from Connecticut.

We have made reservations at the following National Parks or national forests/state parks mid week starting the first week of July and running consecutively.

Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado) – Moraine Park

Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona) – Mather

Yosemite -Dimond O (California) (though we are hoping to secure a site in the park once the window opens on March 15)

Glacier National Park – Emery Bay (Montana) Campground in the Flathead National Forest

Yellowstone – Grant Campground (Wyoming)

We then plan to begin heading home along I 94 while heading up into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for a few days.

Outside of getting out and getting back, we will have relatively short travel days between stays at the National Parks (save for the travel between Yosemite and Glacier). 

We will have four days between each of our reservations to explore and check different things out that the West has to offer.  We plan to camp somewhat serendipitously in between as we make our way to each park (Harvest Hosts, State Parks etc..).  

So…

What should we add to our trip (must see spots, locations, hidden gems).  Example:  We may try to fit in Zion or Bryce, or Canyonlands during our four days between Rocky Mountain and Grand Canyon.

Should we get a generator?  We did almost 40 days in 2017, many of which without hookups but this was in the Northeast  in the Adirondacks and White Mountains or on the coast. If so, has anyone successfully fired up the a roof mount A/C with a 2000w genie?

Any thoughts on places to see and things to do on the trip out west or the return trip home (We are somewhat flexible on which routes we choose)?

We are replacing the Cokers with Goodyear Endurance Tires as well.

What other thoughts or advice can you think of?  I would love to hear your thoughts and learn from any of your experiences out west or just in traveling with a travel trailer, kids, etc.

I look forward to reading your thoughts and suggestions.

Thanks,

A.J.

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retro195man
 If passing through Colorado Springs. Go see "garden of the gods" i thought that was pretty awesome. 
And if you are passing through Ohio and need anything, keep me in mind. 
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A.J.
Thank you for the advice and offer to help.

A.J.
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fireblot
EA0EE6DB-3ED2-43CB-A4B5-775F3799F0BC.jpeg  A.J.
That’s quite a post! We picked up our 181b last summer and took it from Jacksonville, Florida to the Grand Canyon and back on a 27 day, 6300 mile trip. There were three of us, my wife, myself and our 15 year old daughter. It was my first camping trip without tents, and I fell in love with the Retro 181b and our beautiful country! The only advance reservation was for four days at the Grand Canyon, the other 23 days we booked on the fly via cell phone and campground guides. Our tow vehicle is a Nissan Titan.


Let me answer just one of your many questions:  Running the AC with a generator. This subject has been discussed to exhaution on this forum and others! Use the “Search” function and get a cup of coffee.... you will need it.  We have the Dometic 13,500 btu unit and it requires a 3.5 kw genset. It will run on a 2kw gen, but it won’t start up with less than 3.5kw.When the compressor is starting up it draws over 3000 watts and that will shut down a smaller genset. We ended up getting 2 Smarter Tools 2kw ( cheaper alternative to the Honda) units and chaining them together. This works well and avoids hauling a single giant generator around. They weigh about 30 lbs each and are fairly easy to handle. I think we only used the gens to run the AC on two of the 27 days of our trip, and that was in the deep South with no hookups. Out West and in the mountains, we either had hookups or it was cool enough to sleep with a fan. We have the Maxxfan over the dinette and it really makes sleeping comfortable. The AC can be a life saver, but it’s noisy. I prefer the fan and it can run a long time off the house battery.

I suspect you will have more questions! Haha! 

Peter & Terri
2018 181b
”Retro Rocket”  

PS The picture is us camping at Ellis, Kansas (childhood home of Walter P. Chrysler). It was a municipal campsite with full hookups for $12! Nice town, nice people and the Chrysler house was an interesting window into the past.
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A.J.
Thank you for the reply Peter and Terri.  We brought our 181B "Big Red" (so named by my then 7 year old daughter) home in April of 2017.  We too had only tent camped before.  We wanted to do more camping and loved the Retro look.  We did several trips last year and about 40 nights total.

I am still up in the air on the generator.  We do not expect to have access to electrical too much as our plan is to take advantage of Harvest Host sites and Boondockers Welcomed whenever possible.  I do believe we will find sites like your Chrysler example as well.  I would love to have AC as an option but I am also concerned with the battery.  Last year I ended up having to hook up to my tow vehicle to bring the battery back several times and I really do not want to do that all summer.

With all of that said, I am interested to hear your thoughts on the Maxxfan.  We never considered switching out the fan.  I suppose I could put the fan currently over the dinette into the bathroom and out a Maxxfan over the dinette.  Did you add this fan yourself or did it come with your trailer?  Does anybody else have thoughts on a fan?

Thank you again for the reply.  I love your "Retro Rocket".

A.J. and Jen
Connecticut
2017 181B "Big Red"
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retro195man
I found little fans that use minimal electric. I have one that plugs into the USB port and another one that uses direct 120V. Both look the same, both are plugged in each side of the bed. Then I have one that it's in the kitchen in the corner by the table. Its a vertical fan. With Windows open and vents open... sometimes you don't even need the air on. Just enough to keep air moving throughout the trailer. 
I have a Yamaha 2000si generator. The reason I got that was recharging the battery and running everything but the air. I would have to have 2 in tandem to run the a/c. Per another person's pay on here. Its the start up that you need that much power. 
I still haven't fully experimented with everything yet off the shore power, but is coming... I'll be posting the results on my blog when I do. 
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fireblot
We have the Maxxfan Plus with Rain Sensor Model # 4500k (I think....there a lot of models).I ordered it as an upgrade, along with the 13,500 AC and Radiant Barrier insulation. It’s hot and sunny in Florida! The dealer added $300 for the fan, but in the end we negotiated so much that I’m not sure what the real cost was. In any event, I love this fan! It can intake or exhaust from whisper quiet to tornado level. It can be left open and running when you leave and it shuts off and closes if it rains so you don’t need to come back to a stuffy or soaked trailer. It has a remote control so you can adjust it without getting out of bed. On lower speeds it draws less power than the cheapo stock fan in the bath.  All around great accessory! I think Maxxfan and FanTastic are the two big names in RV roof fans. These fans fit in a standard 14” x 14” cutout, so it shouldn’t be too hard to swap out on your own. Everything looks easy on YouTube! Eventually, I plan to swap the bath fan for another Maxxfan. Retro195man makes a good point also, more fans equals less AC with noise and electricity issues.
http://www.maxxair.com/products/maxxfan/maxxfan_standard_remote.php

Peter
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