Wow, oh wow. It was an eventful year for us all including Maximus, the loveable F350 custom camper that we travel in throughout the year. Maximus got a few upgrades and got into some trouble creating a few moments we will never forget. Even with road trip challenges, Steve always got us safely landed in my pretty cool camping areas.
Favorite Camp area
I have two favorites! The first camp area checks all the boxes for us. It is a location that let us get away yet wasn’t so far you couldn’t get into town. The area provided ample room to explore and not get bored. We had great weather during our stay and even found our internet mostly agreeable making it easy to stay a full week in one spot!
With abundant room, it was so easy to travel through and land in a tucked away spot.
Jeep also got to explore as only jeep can. One afternoon we attempted to make our way up to a remote mountain lake. After 2 hours of very slow rock avoidance, bouncy driving and only conquering 7 of our 10 miles, we knew we’d need to decided if this was worth it. We passed one pickup truck who had parked and was going to walk the rest of the way. Then we passed a quad and they confirmed the rocks get bigger and the road was a challenge for them.
We never saw the lake, but we saved both our butts from getting into worse trouble (like getting stuck or hung up on rocks) and my bladder. The photo below was earlier on the trail with rocks and ruts. Picture jeep having to manage driving over solid rock and even bigger boulders. Sometimes you pick a goal that is too aggressive; getting up to the remote lake was that type of goal.
El Capitán State Park in California
If you read or follow us here or on YouTube you know we rarely pay for camping sites. We prefer to find more remote forest or BLM public land to hang out on. However, the road trip in August had us traveling without our jeep two so we decided to plan a trip down the California coast. The coast drive was our final summer hoorah and to wrap it up, I booked our last night before hitting the Los Angeles area into a state campground. With temperatures inland well over 100F it was a necessary splurge if we wanted to enjoy some cooler temps and ocean breeze.
For one night it cost $53 and with a 2pm check in and noon check out time I planned our driving day to arrive by 2pm and maximize our beach camping stay. We were lucky enough to be there during the week and it wasn’t at full capacity. So we had a quiet, non-crowded stay.
It was sssoooo nice! Nice to be out of the heat. Nice to be off the narrow winding HWY1! Nice to just have an afternoon and morning to relax!
Although we had to vacate the camp site by noon, we were reluctant to leave the coast any sooner than necessary. We were parked in a parking lot to continue enjoying the cooler temperatures until later afternoon.
I don’t know if I’d pay that much for another stay, but it was worth it for this specific trip. The mesmerizing dolphins entertained us for quite some time.
We find most new experiences by accident. Sometimes they’re good, but accidental experiences usually are bad one. Fortunately, a schedule came together and I was able to locate a rafting trip. For 2 years, I’ve been wanting to conquer my first day trip on the river. What a blast! We had a very experienced guide who kept us all in the boat through some big dips. Salmon River rafting was a great first experience.
Being on the road takes an even head, some DIY skill and a ton of patience. If you are unable to handle the stress of the unforeseen breakdowns or unplanned trip interruptions, then this type of traveling isn’t for you. Our personalities do tend to be calm and just deal with what ever comes our way. Admittedly, when we started out 4 years ago, a breakdown was a big downer and sleepless nights ensued (for me). Now, it’s just part of the journey and a collection of memories that add color.
The Turbo Hose Trouble
Every year seems to have a theme. 2 years ago it was the Tire saga. This year we’ll be calling turbo hose trouble. It was not fun for Steve to have the hose disconnected, have to pull over in 90F+ temperatures and have to work under the hood to get it re-attached. Then we’d hit another uphill and it’d pop off again.
Mini-Split Fails Twice in August
Speaking of hot temperatures, we also had our A/C in the camper stop working. It ran low on refrigerant. Since we’d been using it over a few weeks, we assumed it was a very slow leak. We decided to locate an HVAC tech who would reload recharge our A/C for us.
A week or two later it ran out again. This was discovered as we returned to Cooper and the camper with the A/C off and flashing it’s ugly “E2” error code. Obviously, this was not a slow leak after all. Being in the middle of nowhere with no reception we ended up just heading to our planned campsite. We setup our chairs outside in the shade and stayed put til dark but we still endured 95F heat overnight. Camper never really cooled off for decent sleeping. The next morning, with a cooled engine, Steve was taking another pass of securing that turbo hose. Well that effort failed as his clamps were stripped. A grueling steep grade drive north Steve suffered having to do 2 more road stops and reattach that hose. Then cell signal surfaced and I located both an auto parts store and an HVAC place. Steve bought the clamps he needed but the next attempt would have to wait until the following morning (and it was the final turbo fix!).
This 2nd HVAC leak repair was successful. With a good diagnostic, Anthony, our HVAC savior found the leak, got refrigerant loaded and we were on our way to even hotter August temperatures!
The Worse Moment
The worse moment on the road had to be when we got stuck. It had been raining the previous night and we mis-judged the turnoff road condition. That error got us stuck. The rear wheel hit a slippery section on an uphill turnoff to a camp site. Rear end slid off the road and persisted on continuing to sink further into the mud with every self-extraction attempt.
After a few attempts using the recovery gear and our jeep a passerby joined the efforts. Our two vehicles still were underpowered to extract the rear wheel. It was stuck in some very sticky deep mud.
Fortunately, we had cell signal and I located a towing company in Jackson Hole, WY. They would do off road recovery work and had his wrecker start making his way out to the forest. A very draining and unforgettable afternoon. Also, a great example of a perfect travel day that went completely sideways on us! Guess how much that cost us!
RIG Improvements and Updates
Steve accomplished quite a few improvements plus key repairs through the year. One of the biggest improvements was adding a Hydronic Heating System. We will never again end a day of driving and be unable to take a hot shower! Our new calorifier hot water tank uses the trucks coolant to heat 20L of water while we are driving. It is so sweet to just drive and have hot water without expending any of our electric power. Picture driving to a trail head, finishing a nice sweaty hike and then being able to return to your shower and still have hot water to use.
We also exercised the coolant heat exchangers as our main cabin heat recently in our single digit temperature stay in WY. It’s a little slower to get heat going, but we have a dedicated fan in the sleeping bunk area which keep us toasty. Almost too toasty a few nights.
Getting our winch in place on the big truck ended up being one of those “I wish I’d done this sooner” projects! We took a large hit on the wallet having to get towed out of a very muddy situation.
The Home Life
We do spend about 6 months of the year at the shop. The shop projects keep Steve busy and this fall I took the time to visit family. In addition to family time, I was able to gather up a couple girlfriends and escape for a nice long weekend. I also had the pleasure of reconnecting with my old boss from my 20’s. And you know what, we all look the same, but grayer!
Losing Loved Ones
2022 was not without loss and grief unfortunately. In January a dear friend lost his battle and passed away. Miles was a funny, loving man and he adored my best friend. They even got engaged and he was planning the ceremony for this past November. Unfortunately, he was also an alcoholic. He got ill last summer and had a few complications which kept him from ever being able to return home. The alcohol finally won out and when he got ill, his body fought the good fight but was no longer strong enough to get well.
In April, my sister came out to California and joined me at Darlene White’s family memorial. Darlene was our 2nd mom and best friends with my mother. She was always there for me providing perspective and advice to life’s unexpected turns. She passed away in the middle of CoVID and the family wasn’t allowed to have a proper memorial at the time. We took comfort by being with her family. We also enjoyed a few sisterly days together in the Newport Beach area.
In October, Mike, Steve’s older brother, passed away. Mike was a self made man who settled in Rawlins, WY. We visited 2 to 3 times a year over the last several years. Steve and I found ourselves busy with squaring away Mike’s home. Even with tons of help it was a very over whelming and exhausting month. We were both glad to finally lock up the house and hit the road returning to Southern CA.
Although, I enjoy being on the road there are times when I miss home. I love to swim and can now get to a lap pool. I enjoy girl time and can get away with a girlfriend or two. It can be calming to have an active routine day in and day out.
One new routine I acquired and look forward to continuing is my weekly SundayStills photo challenge blog posts. I have slowly been able to learn a few new ways to work with my old Sony and photo editing by participating with the group. Learning new skills especially technical is something that keeps me young or at least my brain young!
We have slowed down on both social media and our videos since the time in Wyoming. Dealing with the loss and the estate took the wind out of our sails. So I hope you take a peak at our highlights video. It was fun to put together and I enjoyed revisiting each of our destinations.
Revisiting our year, always makes me thankful for what we’ve achieved, who we’ve met and spent time with and that I have family and friends that love us no matter what.
Stay tune to more of our travels and hopefully less of our mis-adventures from the road. I hope to meet a few more old and new friends this year!
Our New Years Picture
Steve, Cheryl and of course Maximus plus just a small view of the thousands of leaves we are dealing with right now!
More Sunday Still Posts
Thanks for visiting our travel blog and I hope you enjoyed finding the #SundayStills Challenge. You can join the weekly challenge by visiting our hosts blog Second Wind Leisure. and checking out Terri’s post for this week, What Did You Do In 2022?
If you enjoy personal travel stories and especially camping, follow this blog by entering your email below. You can also follow us on Instagram @WorkingOnExploring or @Maximus.4×4.camper, and subscribe to our WorkingOnExploring YouTube Channel on for our build and trip clips. Good luck on your own exploring and we’ll see you from the road somewhere soon!
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One of Our Favorite Ways to Road Trip
We are longtime fans of Boondocker’s Welcome and use them throughout our travels. It’s especially helpful to plot a long multi-day driving route and know you have a welcoming parking spot for the night to rest up, sleep in your own bed and maybe even enjoy a little socializing. We are hosts within the community as well and host quite a few travelers when we are back at the shop/home in Southern California.
In 2022, we found more opportunities to leverage a Harvest Host for overnight stays. We highlighted a couple in our highlights video which we found went above and beyond the typical brewery, winery, museum or farm stay. Here are links to 3 of our favorite stays:
- Sea Pines Golf Resort in CA long the coast just south of Morro Bay CA
- Lindsay Vineyards, Lewiston, ID near Hells Gate State Park
- Blown Away Ranch, in Oregon near the Columbia River
Here’s why each of these were unique stays for us. Sea Pines is a small coastal golf course resort. We don’t golf but they do have a restaurant onsite which had great food and service. Some of the golf resorts reject Harvest Host requests if you don’t do a round of golf. So, we tend to stay away from golf locations, but in this case, it was the perfect location for us being able to complete our coastal drive trip. They were amazing hosts and provided us with a flyer, details about the resorts amenities and even use of the spa.
It was our 2nd stay at Lindsay Vineyards and we were plagued by two big problems. One with the truck and the other with our A/C. We had to make changes to our schedule and the owner had no problems coming in a day early and even offered to have us stay a 2nd night if needed. The owner remembered us from our initial visit and was a joy to just sit and chat with over wine tasting. It’s like have a personal friend in Lewiston.
Blown Away Ranch was so quiet. Really, really quiet. The uniqueness of the location, the ranch’s history and operations that they share with their guests was what made it special. They also have a little hut setup with eggs, any fresh produce, ground wheat, and morning cinnamon rolls for purchase.
If you do hit the road, we’d recommend checking them out. You do need to be in a fully self contained rig with includes a toilet to stay overnight. Here’s our affiliate links. Please consider using these as it does provide us with a referral fee and a discount for you too!