2013 Western U.S. Expedition

Traveling the Wide-Open West in Style

20130514 - 20130707

Final update: 20130709 from San Diego, CA

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Sunset view of Marble Canyon from the north side of the Colorado River from our remote campsite at Horseshoe point.

All photos copyright, Bill Caid 2013. All rights reserved.

The Trip

Late in 2010, Kathleen and I purchased a lightly-used Mercedes 1017A military cargo truck and converted it to an expedition camper.  This process, like most construction projects, adhered to the so-called "80-20 Rule".  The 80-20 Rule states that 80% of the work will be completed in 20% of the time, but the remaining 20% will take 80% of the time.  We started this effort in October 2010 and was "essentially" complete in mid-June 2011.  The number of details that required attention was tremendous, as was the fabrication effort, but the truck is ready for an extended test drive.  The chronicle of the build-out of the truck and camper can be seen on 1017A Camper Construction Page

The first use of the rig was some small outings in San Diego county, a trip to the Overland Expo and a week in Baja in 2011.  The Baja Expedition is detailed on Baja Trip 2011  and demonstrated that the concept was viable and that the platform was sufficiently stable to execute a long trip  To be sure, the Baja trip showed that there was some effort required to address some issues, a front bash plate protecting the radiator in particular, but most of the items were nits. 

Since then, we have completed several extended trips in Thor including an extended western US trip in 2011 and a full cross-country trip in 2012 that took us through the south and as far north as Niagara Falls, NY.

The western U.S. is one of our favorite areas, Mexico notwithstanding.  It is sad that the political situation in Mexico prevents widespread travels without the constant, nagging fear of being kidnapped or killed by the narcos.  But, since Mexico is not a candidate, both due to actual climate and political climate, we settled for the west.  Our planned route will first take us to the Tucson, AZ area and then north to Flagstaff, AZ for the Overland Expo.  At OvX we will hook up with some U500 expedition camper guys and do some exploring in the Grand Staircase area of southern Utah.  Since the U500 guys have "day jobs", that portion of the trip will only be about a week.  Once they return to civilization, we will be on our own and will likely continue north.  It will be hot when we depart, over 100 degrees in the desert and sadly our air conditioning unit that we added to the cab is on the fritz.  But, no matter, we will persevere.

Tracking Our Location Via The SPOT

Some years ago, after a scary mechanical failure in the canyons and mesas of southern Utah, we decided that we need a better way to advertise our position and call for assistance if needed.  Kathleen found out about the SPOT which is a GPS locator that transmits your coordinates via satellite so that others can see your location.  The location is plotted on Google maps and a "bread crumb" feature is available for an additional fee.  We have the enhanced service, so you can see our historical path back 50 updates or so.  See our current location plotted on Google Maps in Real-Time via SPOT satellite geo-locator device.  This page is "book-markable" and is updated approximately every 15 minutes, but may miss updates due to inability of our transmitter to reach the satellite.  The communication is "open loop" so the device never knows if it's messages are actually going anywhere, it just keeps trying until the next update is available.  If we are in a congested urban area with high buildings (like Manhattan) or in deep canyons, the position may not update.  We try to send an "OK" message once a day just to let everyone know that we are, in fact, OK.

Connecting and Contacting Us While on the Trip

Because of internet connectivity issues on a previous trip, we purchased a MiFi cell phone modem that allows us to connect nearly anywhere there is 3G service via cell phone (which is most of the cell phone service area available today).  But, as we all know, cell phones are useful many places, but not everywhere has coverage, particularly in the remote areas of the western U.S.  Our phones and the modem are enabled daily so you may contact us, although it may take a few days for us to respond.  But, we will respond.  If you are close to our current position or planned path and would like to meet, just give us an email or call and we will do what we can to hook up.  If you are on the moglist (tx4x4.com) or BenzWorld, my cell number is available there.  My email, spelled out, is "bcaid at yahoo dot com".

Trip Details

The link table below contains links to the photos and dialog for each of the days of the expedition.  This table will be updated as the trip progresses.

Links to Daily Adventures
Part Dates Adventure Locations
San Diego, CA to Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ to Flagstaff, AZ
Marble Canyon, AZ to Grand Staircase Escalante NM, UT
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument UT
GSENM: Early Weed Bench to Boulder, UT
GSENM to Capital Reef NP
Capital Reef to Cathedral Valley, UT
Cathedral Valley, UT to Book Cliffs, UT
Nine Mile Canyon and Sandy Wash, UT
Sandy Wash to Green River and Vernal, UT
Green River to Southern Wyoming
Southern Wyoming to Thermopolis, WY
20130604-05 Thermopolis, WY to Cody, WY
Cody, WY to Beartooth Mountains, MT
Beartooth Mountains to Great Falls, MT
Great Falls, MT to Glacier NP, MT
20130616-19 Glacier NP, MT to Grand Junction, CO
Grand Junction, CO to La Junta, CO
20130624-26 Thor Maintenance Actions in La Junta, CO
La Junta, CO to Durango, CO
Durango, CO to San Diego, CA



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Copyright Bill Caid 2013