Between December of 2017 and January 2018, I covered 8,800 miles in my 2013 Honda Odyssey Camper.
Actually, it was more than that, but I forgot to check the odometer before the trip. So the best approximation I could do was to check the distances between cities on Google Maps, which doesn’t include the side trips.
I’ll write some more detailed posts about some of the places I stopped, but for now, here’s a “photo album” of my route.
This is Detroit, MI in December. Around 0 deg F with a 40 mph wind. Time to GTFO!
I finally broke free of the snow in Oklahoma. There’s not much to see in eastern OK..
First stop, Christmas in Austin, TX! I’m not sure what this sign is supposed to look like, though…
Austin BBQ and FREE BEER! No kidding, they were passing out free beer as a promotion. Usually I’m not a fan of flavored beers and shandys, but this Karback Radler was quite good!
Stealthy in Austin, TX. Stealth camping is possible in the many apartment complexes around the city. The trick is to avoid the numbered spots, which are usually assigned. Note: I’m not blocking the hydrant –the zone is in front of the van. Austin proved colder than expected with temperatures falling to 19 deg F one night!
Ever do a Disney Marathon? Neither have I… I’m just there to meet up with friends who DO run!
Dirtbagging at Disney World! Yep, it IS possible to stealth camp at Disney. I’ll have to do a post about this.
Heading back west, I managed some pretty good fuel mileage (between 30 and 31.5 mpg and a 600+ mile range). That went to hell when the speed limit went back up to 75 in Texas. For the record, it dropped to 25.5 mpg at 78 mph.
Another stop and an overnight just north of Austin, on my way to RTR! It’s hard for me to pass up a new craft beer (just look at me!).
I just made it to Aguirre Springs Campground in the Organ Mountains, NM before dark. Aguirre Springs will get its own post in the near future. It’s a small, but well-located spot overlooking White Sands, NM. Be aware that you are at 6000 feet if you stay here, so it gets cool at night (22F while I was there). On to Quartzsite, AZ!
That deceptively tiny sign says that I’ve finally arrived at the Rubber Tramp Rendevous (RTR), a gathering of 3500+ van dwellers and RVrs that meet annually near Quartzsite, AZ. The gathering is organized by Bob Wells, who has been living in a van for 20 years.
One of the many learning shops that were put on throughout the RTR. Bob Wells (blue t-shirt in the middle) mentioned that some people at RTR do not like to be photographed. Some have fled unsafe relationships and it could endanger them to post their photo. This isn’t the best photo, but no one is facing the camera, so I used it.
The 2013 Odyssey Camper at RTR (solar panel in window)
RTR was great! Thousands of like-minded people to learn from and help. I’m sure there was a minor issue or two but I saw nothing but happy people, pretty sunsets, and starry skies.
The sky around Quartzsite is plenty dark enough to see the Milky Way and a million stars!
After six days of RTR it was time to move on, as I had a lot of ground to cover.
My first stop after RTR was at Walmart in Parker, AZ to get some provisions for the next 10 days on the road. Plenty of RVs spending the night here, but I was heading for BLM land!
On to Lake Havasu City, AZ. That’s the London Bridge! There is a decent brewery/restaurant on the right, as you come off of the bridge. That’s where I’m standing…with a beer…
The Odyssey under the stars, just north of Lake Havasu City.
I had an awesome overnight at the Craggy Wash BLM area, just north of the Lake Havasu City Airport. I highly recommend this spot, but only if you drive WAY back in, away from the clustered RVs. I was a good 1000 yards from the closest camper.
Since I was right on the CA/AZ border I just HAD to cross over to California. If for no other reason than to say I had driven from Florida to California.
State Route 10 in Arizona is also part of the old Route 66 and one of the more interesting stretches of this legendary highway. I picked it up just north of 1-40 on the California border.
What a great drive on the Oatman Topock Highway! This is the old rt. 66 and the road runs north from the CA border at I-40, back to I-40 at McConnico. The road is twisty and the scenery, stunning. It’s a MUST drive in a car or small RV.
Halfway up this stretch of the old Route 66 is Oatman, AZ. The Oatman Hotel is where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard honeymooned. Sure it’s a tourist stop, but the mules roam free and the beer is cold!
The Oatman Hotel has a great little bar “wallpapered” with dollar bills. Just one, I have a long drive ahead.
I left Oatman around 1pm and took the quickest route to my next stop and the zenith of my trip, the Grand Canyon!
I’ve wanted to go to the Grand Canyon since I was a kid. I won’t bore you with a lot of photos because no photo does it justice, just put it on your bucket list!
At this point, I had gone about 7 days without an actual shower, so I booked a room at the canyon. If you want to see more about
my stay at the Bright Angel Lodge, there is a post here.
In my opinion, the best views on the south rim are between the eastern entrance and the visitor’s center. A shout out to my German friends that took this photo for me!
The Grand Canyon is (of course) one of the Must-See National Parks! I spent two days hiking around the rim and will undoubtedly, return.
When I saw that I was going to pass through Winslow Arizona, there was only one thing I could think to do…
I waited here for awhile, but no girl returned to this flatbed Ford. Note: if you go to Winslow, do not be surprised to run into panhandlers and homeless people (wait, am I one of those?). I had two COUPLES ask me for money and a few other solo acts come to me. This happened at multiple local spots, so I’m pretty sure I wasn’t “marked”. It’s just one of those “bars on the windows” kind of towns.
I discovered that I’d be passing the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest (essentially adjacent parks) on the way back and stopped for an afternoon.
Some of the petrified trees I found in the park were over 10 feet in diameter and others, over 60 feet long!
The Painted Desert reminded me of Badlands National Park, albeit with brighter colors.
I usually sleep in the Odyssey (because that’s the whole point here) but I could not pass up this bit of nostalgia in Holbrook, AZ
The Wigwam Motel is a worn remnant of the old Route 66, but the rooms were clean and the lobby is worth a few minutes of your time. Holbrook is not the nicest town around, but I felt safe during my stay. If you are going to the Petrified Forest you can park overnight at the gift shops near the western entrance. But I suggest you consider the Wigwam Motel instead! Note: the rooms only accommodate two people.
While at the Grand Canyon I learned that a friend and mentor had passed away back in Boston. The site seeing part of my trip had concluded and so I headed back to Michigan to pick up my wife for the wake. We immediately headed east through Canada, to pay our respects. It was nice to see old friends in Boston again, but of course, our visit was tempered by the sadness of loss.
The unscheduled trip to Boston and back added the final 1500 miles to the odometer for a total of over 8800 miles of travel in a month. Over 120,000 trouble free miles on this Odyssey so far!
Whew, I think I’ll rest up for a couple weeks.
Here’s a one minute video of how the van was set up for my “Phase 1.5” Odyssey Camper trip.
Thanks for reading!
If you are looking to save some real money on campgrounds (like 100s of dollars),
check out my reviews of discount camping clubs, here. These discount campsite programs are well worth the money, but you have to pick the right ones.