I started planning the trip in June. Here’s what I came up with:
As planned, the trip was 18 days and would cover 5,291 miles, with 76 stops along the way. I was intrigued by the idea of doing a 3 week trip mostly without staying in a formal campground. Our camping would either be in Walmart parking lots that allow overnight parking, or dispersed camping (primarily in the Western US, camping on federal Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands, in which camping pretty much anywhere is allowed). This would be dry camping, that is, camping without hookups. We would carry our own water and electricity (on-board water tanks and batteries with solar panels), as well as propane for refrigeration, heating, and cooking. Basically, 3 weeks of truly off-grid living. The trip was not only a family sight-seeing trip, it was also a sanity-check for the idea of spending a good amount of time RVing when we retire.
We were supposed to leave today at 7pm. This turned out to be wishful thinking, as we weren’t packed yet. We left around 11:30pm. We hadn’t even started and we were already 4 1/2 hours behind schedule!
As we entered New Jersey, I noticed that the truck steering was quite jittery. We pulled over, and visually I confirmed what I was feeling at the wheel – the additional load in the RV and SUV was causing the front axle of the SUV to have less weight on it. I adjusted the weight distribution hitch so that the SUV had equal weight on both axles, and the problem went away.
We were supposed to sleep at the Walmart of Clarion, PA, but instead stopped at the Walmart of Stroudsburg, PA at about 1am. We had only travelled 81 miles. Our first Walmart camping experience! By 1:45am, we were asleep.