Hog Hunting and East Coast Road Trip 2012

Extended road trip through the Southeast

20120414 through 20120827

Last update:  20120828 from San Diego, CA

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Storm clouds gather over the plains in southern New Mexico near City of Rocks.
Fujifilm X10. All photos copyright, Bill Caid 2012. All rights reserved.

New Capability - Track our current location!

After our mechanical issues that we suffered in southern Utah several years ago, we purchased a SPOT geo-location transmitter. This device reports your position through a satellite network and plots your path on Google maps. Additionally, the device has the ability to send messages through the satellite indicating that you are "OK", "Need assistance" or are having an emergency event. We hoped to not use the emergency capabilities of the device, but after the last trip, we felt that being prepared was the best solution. To follow our progress and see our current location in "near real time" see http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0W876btSW8SH7xrG6Z70n0NhXS9sne7me Bookmark this location to see our position over time. It shows the last 50 positions.

Go directly to the Trip

The Team and Equipment

The away team for this trip consisted of only one vehicle and 2 folks. Kathleen and I went in our turbo-diesel Mercedes 1017A expedition camper. We would have loved to go with another vehicle, but this was planned to be an extended duration trip and therefore would have been a great imposition on any partners who had "real" jobs. As always, we were prepared for primitive camping. But, analysis of the available road system suggested that we would always be within several day's travel of "civilization" most of the time.  Indeed, most of the travel route would be on paved highways in one form or another. This will be in radical contrast to our other trip, but may turn out to be a welcome change.

This will our first "really extended" road trip in the 1017A into areas that are really hot.  Unlike our Unimog, the 1017 does not yet have air conditioning in the cab.  So, traveling through the southeast will likely be somewhat uncomfortable.  AC is on the list of things-to-do but did not make it into the work queue because of home repairs and other trips.

Packing this time was a bit more challenging than usual in that we had to bring our hunting "stuff" and support equipment.  The biggest issue is that the rifles are long and have a big "footprint" in the camper and therefore present some additional challenges for secure storage.  But, based on a different requirement on a previous trip, Kathleen and I constructed several roof-mounted trays that were able to safely accommodate the rifles.  For this trip, we brought our Sako stainless steel FinnLight .30-06 with Trijicon scope and a Tikka Lite stainless .270 with Nikon scope.  These weapons, in addition to our Ed Brown and Nighthawk .45s would be the hunt hardware.  On our previous trip, we used a loaner .30-30, our .300 Savage lever gun and .45s and got 4 hogs; 2 with pistols, 2 with rifles.  This trip, we got 5 hogs, all with rifles; we never got a shot opportunity with the pistols.

The Trip

In 2010 we went feral hog hunting in Texas and had a good time.  In addition, we enjoyed the southeast.  So, we decided that we would attempt another hunt and east coast road trip.  From the hunt in Texas, we are going to continue east and meet our friends, Bob and Kitty Ragain, in coastal Louisiana for a road trip north along the Mississippi river.  From there the "collective we" will travel to Southeast MogFest to meet with other Unimog owners at the Windrock OHV area in central Tennessee.  From there, we have no formal plans -- yet.

We started our trip east with a stop in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to camp with some of our ex-Musicmatch work-mates.  We were "blessed" with a late-season winter storm of epic proportions that started on the first day of the camping trip.  Kathleen and I were the only members of the group that did not wimp-out.  We ended up spending a very rainy, very windy night in the high desert all by ourselves.  It was cold,  but we were not uncomfortable.  We hunkered down in the camper and watched a movie.

From Borrego, our plan was to cross the desert east of Yuma, AZ via the Kofa Wildlife Refuge.  This path would be new to us and should involve at least 100 miles of trails and dirt roads.  In addition, we would visit the Painted Rock petroglyphs near Gila Bend, AZ.

Trip Details

The link table below contains links to the daily adventures that include photos and dialog.


Links to Daily Adventures
Part Dates Adventure Locations
San Diego to Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ to Morenci, AZ
Morenci, AZ to Guadalupe Mountains, NM
Guadalupe Mountains, NM to San Marcos, TX
Hog Hunting in Gonzales, TX
Gonzales, TX to Calcasieu Parish, LA
Allemond Point Camp
Allemond Point to NOLA
NOLA French Quarter Walkabout
NOLA to Bay Springs Lake, MS
Bay Springs, MS to Southeast MogFest Part 1
Southeast MogFest Part 2
Greenback, TN to Hunting Island, SC
MCAS Beaufort, SC
Hunting Island, SC to Chapel Hill, NC
Chapel Hill, NC to Warrenton, VA
Warrenton, VA to Melville, NY
Jones' Graffiti Bathroom
Niagara Falls, NY
Niagara Falls, NY to Green Back, WV
Green Back, WV to Clintwood, VA
Clintwood, VA to Memphis, TN
Memphis, TN and Graceland
Memphis, TN to Osage Hills, OK
Osage Hills, OK to La Junta, CO
Maintenance Actions in La Junta, CO
20120724-25 La Junta, CO to Lake Isabel, CO
20120727-29 Lake Isabel, CO to Meadow Creek Lake, CO
Meadow Creek Lake, CO to Saratoga, WY
Saratoga, WY to Flaming Gorge, WY
20120804-05 Flaming Gorge, WY to Echo Park, WY
Echo Park, UT to Craig, CO
20120807-09 Craig, CO to Durango, CO
20120809-10 Durango, CO
20120811-13 Air Conditioning Installation Part 1
Air Conditioning Installation Part 2
20120817-19 La Junta, CO to Iron City, CO
Iron City, CO to Blue Mesa Reservoir, CO
Blue Mesa Reservoir, CO to Uncompahgre Plateau, CO
Uncompahgre Plateau, CO to Anticline Overlook, UT
Anticline Overlook, UT to Flagstaff, AZ
20120824-27 Flagstaff, AZ to San Diego, CA



We traveled the entire width of the United States, from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic and from the Mexican border to the Canadian border.  We logged just over 20,000 kilometers and the trip lasted 136 days.  During this time we had a few breakdowns, but nothing major.  Thor performed great; the camper and associated system less so.  We were able to forestall the really serious failures on the camper subsystems by watching carefully and acting as soon as practical.  The one failure that proved most annoying was the Honda generator.  We ended up giving the Honda some stale gas and that was all she wrote.  The carburetor will have to be serviced by the factory since our inspection (twice) suggested that one of the issues is the electronic throttle control.  Lack of the generator prevented us from using the air conditioning when in remote camps, but as it turned out, that was overridden by the failure of the camper's air conditioning unit separate from the generator.  For the camper a/c, the condenser will freeze up when operated in extreme humidity (like most of the east coast that we traveled through...) and water buildup in the internal parts of the unit finally destroyed the control switches.  The fix is pretty simple (replace an entire sub-assembly) and not debilitating in cost (about $150) but annoying nonetheless.

The major annoyance with the camper was the fact that 2 of 3 overhead cabinets have come loose from the roof.  The last one to fail was almost on the floor when I spotted it.  The solution is simple: replace screws that (attempted) to go into steel beams with through bolts that will hold "no matter what".  With the extensive dirt road travel that we did, the vibration and hammering due to rough spots in the trail the cabinets were bound to fail.  The good news was that we had the right tools with us to implement a campsite repair.

We started the trip with a damaged tire, but we checked the tire pressure carefully each day before operation and were able to bring things back in one piece in spite of the 1/2" bolt through the tread of the tire.  The tires have been worn to the "wear bars" during the course of the trip and will have to be replaced as a set.  We will likely run these tires for another 10,000 km before we switch them out, but they will eventually have to go.

Traveler's Advice

If you go to Kofa, you must be self contained and self reliant.  There is no cell service in the outer areas of the refuge and the roads are rough.  Be prepared with extra water, appropriate clothing and tools.  The deep south can be hot in the late spring and summer, so be prepared.  And, don't forget, our insect friends consider this area to be their own.  Humans are merely a food source for them and they will treat you as such.

Regions of the southeast and the southwest can be very, very hot during the summer.  Take adequate precautions if traveling in these regions.  You must drink adequate water and consume sufficient electrolytes to compensate for the head and consequent dehydration.  Our experience is that you will drink much more water per day than you expect.  At one point we drank about 6 liters each during a hot day, so having adequate water available is a must.

Keep your eyes open for unusual happenings when you travel.  We were repeatedly surprised with some of the things we saw, one a few of the odder things were captured on digital images.


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Copyright Bill Caid 2012