Cross Country Move

xj_scuba

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I just finished a cross country move from California to Rhode Island. My fiance, dog, and I camped in only undeveloped sites from Cali to South Carolina, coast to coast, before making our way north. The run north was just staying with family. Here are the pictures and some details from the trip. I apologize for the lack of actual wheeling pictures, much of that happened at night, and I was driving.

Rig details: 2019 JLUR, stock suspension and tires
ARB Borah wheels (protection ring config)
Artec full aluminum skid system, Metalcloak steering stabilizer relocation and skid
Artec front bumper with lower skid, Quadratec Stealth winch, and KC Pro6 lights
AEV rear bumper and tire carrier with 10.2 gal fuel caddy, on the spare is the Rockslide Engineering EZ Rack kit with a 3.5 rotipax and a custom mounting solution for the traction boards, shovel integrated into the spare tire carrier, Rigid Industries DSS-side shooter on top of the tire carrier and Baja Designs scene light in the bumper
Thule Tepui Kukenam 3 RTT (with the canopy insulator), Thule Overcast awning, mounted on 3 Thule gutter mounted cross bars
Dometic 45 CFX in the trunk
All that, plus winter camping supplies for 2 people for an 11 night trip, 7 gallons of water and spare propane bottles for our space heater and stove. We were riding HEAVY. The rear end was definitely sagging.

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We started our journey in Santa Cruz, CA. We stopped through Trona Pinnacles the see the site and take some pictures, definitely worth a visit and there were some really nice, scenic camp sites.

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After that quick stop we continued straight to Geologist's Cabin in Death Valley via Coyote Canyon Road. It was during this drive that we realized we should have left earlier in the morning. The sun was setting as we entered the narrow turns of Goler Canyon. Taking the road at night, solo was not necessarily the best decision. We didn't have time to stop at the various mines I've seen on so many videos, and the route seems a whole lot sketchier. I've driven a fair share of trails before in my JL and in my previous XJ. However, I'd never taken the jeep out quite this loaded. The loss of ground clearance was clearly noticeable as we dragged belly and slammed rocks through the night. There were multiple times where we had to get out and assess how best to approach an obstacle. The stress coming from the passenger seat was palpable as the evening wore on.

We finally made it by around 11. Unsurprisingly, there was a crew already there so we found a flat(ish) site down the hill a ways, heated up some smoked sausage from Corralitos Sausage Company and called it a night.

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We woke to a beautiful sunrise and got ready to drive to the classic attractions in Death Valley via Butte Valley Road. We were cruising along, enjoying the view, when I caught a rock the wrong way and this happened. Tore a nasty gash in the sidewall.

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After a quick(ish) swap we were back on the road and rolling towards Badwater Basin, Devils Golf Course, and Zabrinski Point. They were all cool spots, but we wished we had more time (and no dog waiting in the car) to explore the badlands of Zabrinski Point.

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After Zabriski Point we were on our way out of Death Valley and out of California. It was way too short a visit to Death Valley, I would love to visit again and spend time explore the park with someone who knows the history.

We drove through Las Vegas where the guys at Discount Tire off of W. Craig Road absolutely saved our schedule. I gave them a call 2 hours out asking if they had a replacement tire in stock, thankfully they did. We arrived, gave them the keys, and walked down the road to grab some lunch with a predicted turn around time of 2.5-3 hours. Not even 1.5 hours later I got a call saying the car was ready. I can't overstate how much I appreciated their incredible speed and customer service. We still had 5.5 hours left to drive to our Grand Canyon site with 43 of those miles off pavement and were eager to get to it.

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As we were driving out to our site in Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument we encountered sunset on the trail (again), and snow. The snow started out slow but grew heavier as we climbed. There was minimal accumulation but visibility was limited. We continued on with the knowledge that our campsite was at a lower elevation, we had a heavy duty set of tire chains, a functional Garmin InReach, and a weather report that indicated the snow would pass quickly. That perseverance was rewarded with a truly breathtaking campsite, even in the dark.

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After another quick dinner, this time precooked tortilla soup, we called it a night. The views we were greeted with in the morning were unbelievable. We hiked halfway down the trial to the Colorado before turning around to continue on our journey. (I refuse to apologize for the excessive number of pictures in this part, it was freaking incredible)

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The view from our tent.
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A quick breakfast before hiking.
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The joyful face of a dog no longer trapped in a rattling, bumping, boring jeep.
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We made some turkey wraps to eat along the way before hitting the road. The route through Parashant towards our next destination, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, was far more enjoyable than anticipated. Google took us over groomed dirt roads, wooded paths that seemed like they hadn't seen rubber in a few seasons, beautiful fields, multiple gates (none locked), and pleasant open dirt road that lead us into Utah. It didn't feel like the fasted route, but boy was it fun and stunning.

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We FINALLY arrived to a campsite with the sun still in the sky. I was able to get camp setup why my fiance played fetch with our dog. We ate a nice dinner and finally were able to enjoy a fire before bed.

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A quick peek of our trunk setup with clothing bags removed.
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And this is where I'll end the first post. More to follow tomorrow.

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AndrewBJeep

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This looks... like an absolute dream. I can't wait to hear more about this. Where did you find information for camp-able locations? Thanks!
 
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xj_scuba

xj_scuba

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We awoke in Grand Staircase-Escalante to a frosty morning, ready for a day of hiking. First up was Lower Calf Creek Falls Trail, a mild, 6.7 mile, winding hike through a riparian ecosystem. It was a very pleasant hike, great for dogs who love water and ends with a nice waterfall.

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A short drive from there we hit Tunnel Slots Canyon Trail. The 6.5 mile trail wound in and out of desert washouts and culminated with the slot canyons which fed out into a climb up a boulder strewn climb. The ground at the top was strewn with moqui marbles, a geological feature I had never encountered before.

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Since we spent the day hiking, the plan was to drive through the National Monument and camp on the other side. Giving us a short drive after a day of hiking, putting us closer to our next destination, and giving us a good view of the monument from the Jeep. The road turned out be far more rugged than expected. It was definitely a 4x4 trail rather than a dirt road. We encountered rocks, ice, snow, mud, and cows. We fought through and past all of that, with my partner getting out to spot me through the cracked ice segments and almost slipping and falling on her backside. The campsite I had found via satellite view ended up being a narrow, rocky site, deep in a canyon. Not fit for camping. We didn't want to put up camp in such uneven, wet terrain. We also had an early morning planned to get to our next site and I didn't want to have to navigate the snowy/muddy slopes after they had all night to ice over. With all that in mind we decided to push on into sunset to find another site down the trail. After an additional hour of driving we were successful. We found a clearing just off the road that was protected by trees, but flat and up out of the canyon.

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We were up before dawn to drive into Flagstaff. The winding mountain road provided many beautiful sites as the sun rose.

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Our first stop of the day was in Flagstaff, we had to sign and mail some papers, my fiance had to have a virtual job interview, we grabbed lunch, and filled our water jug.

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The sandwiches at Proper Meats + Provisions were absolutely incredible.

After the quick stop in Flagstaff we swung through Petrified Forest National Park. It was a nice place to see some unique landscapes, petrified trees, and stretch our legs on pet friendly trails.

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(Petrified wood)

After Petrified Forest we continued on to Gila National Forest. We drove into the forest at dusk, narrowly dodging a dog, elk, and javelina (didn't even know the last one was a thing). The campsite we arrived at was nice and low key, flat and open, perfect for some pre-bedtime fetch with a dog who'd been cooped up in the jeep all day.

The next day we explored the Gila Cliff Dwellings, extremely well preserved, 700 year old, Mogollan structures build inside naturally occurring cliffside caves.

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After hitting the cliff dwellings we went straight to our campsite to unwind after some long days of travel. We got to a nice private site WELL off of any main roads by early afternoon and spent the day reading, playing fetch, and cooking up some loaded quesadillas.

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We woke up for another early, frosty morning, eager for what the day had in store for us.

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More to come tomorrow.
 
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xj_scuba

xj_scuba

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Day 7 involved driving across New Mexico from Gila to Carlsbad. Our first stop of the day was in Los Cruces to print, review, and sign the paperwork for buying our first house. (If you are planning a long overland trip like this, I do not recommend buying your first house in the middle of the trip.)

After that and a quick lunch we made our way to White Sands National Park. It was another great pet friendly stop. However, I would recommend trying to hit it at sunrise or sunset rather than midday like us for more dramatic lighting.

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After White Sands we continued on to Carlsbad for a provisions restock at Walmart and to meet up with a friend from college. The site we planned to stay out turned out to be in an active oil field and therefore was not an option. This was our first time camping in an area where BLM land is leased out for oil extraction. We successfully readjusted and found a new site. Dinner was steak and veggies on the skillet with a side of boxed rice pilaf.

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Day 8 started with Carlsbad Cavern National Park. Not pet friendly but they do have kennels to board your dogs while you explore the cave system. The expansive system with it's diverse and awe inspiring structures were absolutely INCREDIBLE. The pictures do not do it justice. I definitely want to visit again when the guided tours that explore deeper into the caves are running.

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During out time in the cave our POA closed on the house. After Carlsbad we drove 10 hours to Padre Island National Seashore, the lack of public land in Texas made for some long days of driving. We arrive at Padre Island at around 0100 in a heavy fog (meteorological and mental). We drove about 12 miles down the beach, threw up the tent, and called it a night.

We woke up to a nice warm morning and made some french toast and coffee. After breakfast we spent the day relaxing on the beach. Playing in the waves, lounging, reading, napping, and all in all enjoying a zero day.

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A little champagne to celebrate closing on our house. I had forgotten the traumatic week I had put this bottle through and the cork shot me in the face as soon as I took the cage off.
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The next day we woke up to get an early start for the drive up the east coast of Texas. We stopped in Houston for lunch at Pinkerton's BBQ. It was out of this world. The brisket, the pulled pork, the sauce, the ribs, the sausage, the beans. Every single aspect was incredible (except the mac and cheese, that was a little boring) I would go back in a heartbeat. If you're ever passing near Houston I can't recommend that place enough.

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I'm getting hungry just thinking of this meal.

We continued on to Sabine National Forest, where our next night was scheduled. Unfortunately, we struck out time after time trying to find a campsite. We hit countless locked gates and roads unpassable due to downed debris (too much to clear), the one or two clearings we found had hunting blings which didn't feel all that inviting. Our struggle got so frustrating that we said 'screw it' and decided to push on to our next stop in the Ozark National Forest where we knew we had a solid campsite. The drive took us through a truly tremendous thunderstorm and late into the night. We arrive to our riverside clearing at 0200 in the morning, too exhausted to appreciate the beauty as the sound of the running river lulled us to sleep. We had driven nearly 14 hours and 850 miles, not including our search for a campsite in Sabine and the time driving off the beach in Padre Island. Not every stop can be a success, that risk is part of what makes the adventure exciting. In our after action review we realized that Sabine is an incredibly spotty National Forest. Unlike all we had explored previously, most of the land within the Forest border is private with random spots of public land. If you plan to drive through and want the spend the night, I recommend closely analyzing the map on the Forest Service website to ensure the sites you're looking at are actually public land.

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I hadn't planned any activities in the Ozarks so after we woke up is was back to the road.

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It was a beautiful place, I wish we had put a little more effort into exploring this area but after 10 days into the trip we were getting a little trail weary.

Our lunch stop was at Germantown Commissary in Memphis, TN. It was another incredible meal that left me way too full.

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We stopped at Prince's in Nashville for a hot chicken sandwich for an early dinner (okay a really early dinner. Whatever, we just wanted some Nashville Hot Chicken). Ended up splitting one sandwich because we were still so full from lunch.

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We spent the night in Nantahala National Forest. I absolutely want to come back here and explore but it was our last stop before a real bed and more importantly a real shower so we spent the night and moved on.

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On day 12 we finally made it to Charleston, SC. Not our final destination, but the end of our camping expedition. It was an absolutely incredible trip.

I'll post my take aways and pictures from one last stop tomorrow.

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Looking out over the Atlantic.
 

Thx1158

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Awesome pics! Thank you for sharing this.
 

Discount Tire

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@xj_scuba,

What an amazing adventure. Thank you for taking the time to put this photo travelogue together with an excellent time line that brought us along with you.

It sounds like you guys had a great time along some challenging trails. It looked like you had your trip planned out very well to make the most of your trip.

This would make a great magazine article with the outstanding photos to help enhance the story.

I'm glad to hear the Discount Tire store in Flagstaff was able to get you safely back on the road quick. Brian the Manager at that store has helped me in the past as well coming home from Sand Hollow UT to Phoenix AZ.

I have to say you had some of the best campsites, especially having to get to some in the dark.

We appreciate your support, stay safe on the trail.
 
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xj_scuba

xj_scuba

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@xj_scuba,

What an amazing adventure. Thank you for taking the time to put this photo travelogue together with an excellent time line that brought us along with you.

It sounds like you guys had a great time along some challenging trails. It looked like you had your trip planned out very well to make the most of your trip.

This would make a great magazine article with the outstanding photos to help enhance the story.

I'm glad to hear the Discount Tire store in Flagstaff was able to get you safely back on the road quick. Brian the Manager at that store has helped me in the past as well coming home from Sand Hollow UT to Phoenix AZ.

I have to say you had some of the best campsites, especially having to get to some in the dark.

We appreciate your support, stay safe on the trail.
Thank you for the kind words. I'm sure the crew in Flagstaff are also fantastic, but the guys who helped me out were in Las Vegas at the 2715 W Craig Rd, North Las Vegas, NV 89032 location. Just want to give the right shop credit for keeping us on the road and trails.
 

Discount Tire

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Thank you for the correction on the store location. I guess I was thinking about my experience with Discount Tire when I needed help. I was coming back from Hurricane UT to Phoenix and had battery connection issues, I wanted to get into Flagstaff before dark as my new battery's would not make it home in the dark. I ran into the back room asking a guy for a screw or something I could use to make a connection. It happened to be Brian the Manager, who said let me look at what you are trying to do. He looked and said I'll be right back I have some connectors in my truck. He fixed my battery connection and I was on my way.

It is the Discount Tire way of always doing the right thing and helping people. I'm not sure if I even said I worked for Discount Tire at the time, but I did call him on Monday and thank him.

I appreciate you replying so I had a chance to look through your post again. Keep up the good adventures and be safe.
 

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