Trans USA & Canada Week 1, 5/25-5/30

Day 2 (5/25/15): This day was spent unpacking the trailer and vehicle and storing the remainder of m my stuff at my parents house.  Along with this I fixed some of the issues I had yesterday and potential problems I foresee having. I  through nylon nuts or double nuts on all the bolts that did not have them already. Along with this I mounted my spare winch in a different way so it would not hit the spare tire as soon as it did before. And my mother sewed up a quick cover for it to keep all the dirt and UV light off of the synthetic line.
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Along with this both of my mud flaps were ripped off within the first hr of driving yesterday. I think the higher interstate speeds somehow sucked the mud flaps in. I recovered both and mounted them a better way this time. I used a large barn door hing. Using self tapping screws mounted it upwards into the aluminum corner piece. Then used a duplicate copy of the hinge and sandwiched bolted the flap to hold it secure. If they rip this time I’m going to have to go with a different material.

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Day 3 (5/26/15): Today started off as a simple day of just reorganizing everything to make it fit better. I installed the mattress with sheets and everything was going good. Then I hooked up my vehicle to take some family photo’s for my parents and my dad realized my leaf springs were just sagging to much. So off to the races. I quickly jacked up the trailer and removed one of the leave springs. Alcan 1250lbs we ran to a trailer supply shop and picked up some generic ones that are rated for 1750lbs. I installed them and 1/2″ longer shackles and everything is looking much better. Tomorrow if I have the time. I’m going to take my Alcan and spare generic springs and combine them to create a spare heavier duty trail set that will flex better then the generic ones. My tongue weight is  just to much so once I hit Colorado I will have Insain fab add a extra foot of tongue to help lighten that load and maybe move the axle 1″ forward if possible. Hopefully these leaf springs will hold up and I won’t need to upgrade to heavier ones again.

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Day 4 (5/28): Today was a pretty easy simple day.  I was traveling from my Parents house in Murray, KY to a friend’s house in Mufroborro, TN. Taking the interstate would have been a simple 2 1/2hr drive.  I for this reason I decided to take the back roads which would take 3 1/2hrs instead. Before I left Murray, KY I stopped by a Kroger’s and finished filling up my galley with necessary food.  There is no point in starting a journey like this with an empty Galley. As I drove to TN It started raining about a hr into the trip. The roads were wonderful. Up and down foothills turns every couple hundred feet. These were going to get me In the mind set for the next day. I arrived in Mufroborro just on schedule slightly passed 5pm and showed up at the Boyd’s and showed off the trailer and had some fun Nissan talks with them. That night I slept in my camper for the very first time.

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Day 5 (5/29): I woke up well rested even though I was up pretty late the night before. I have to say my camper is very comfortable. I left from my friend’s house around 8 or 9am. I went to home depot to pick up some window/door seals since my door was still slightly leaking. I put another round of seal on the door and this has seemed to fixed the issue since I ran into more ran later on but more on that later. While I was at home depot I was spotted by a friend of a friend who has seen pictures of my vehicle before. I talked to the gentleman for a little while then took off.  I headed to the trail head for the TAT (Trans-American trail) it was about a 2.5hr drive.  At the trail head is a gas station where I filled up. While I was there I met a few young locals in old beat up pickup trucks and started talking to them. They offered for me to go “mudding” with them but I was so accuse about getting on the TAT I turned them down. I then headed down the TAT following my GPS, below is a picture of what I call the true trail head for the TAT.

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And off down the TAT I went. It essentially was a rundown gravel road at this point wide enough for 1.5 vehicles and no very many places you could pull over. So I was happy when I did not run into anyone going the opposite direction as me as I did not want to back my trailer around some of these corners and hills to one of these spots.

Here is the first stream crossing I came across. This was the smallest one of the day.

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And here is the third stream crossing I came across. There were a total of 5. This was by far the most unique one as it had a couple ridges of rocky edges the water flowed over and due to the trail you had to drive down this with either tires or just one side, I choice the latter.

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As I traveled down the trail I would say there was probably a good 15 miles of this type of path before it switched back into a narrow 1.5 vehicle width paved winding road. After about 10 miles of that it switched back into a nice gravel road and I found myself headed towards a place called the Cherokee Nation Forest. It was a beautiful area as you can see from the picture.

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Cruising through rolling hills on a gravel road with very few houses in sight. Normally when I came across a house the owners were outside most gave me a weird look but as I waved they would wave back and smile. I’m sure they don’t see to many off-road vehicles pulling an off-road teardrop camper. As I wondered further down the TAT and it would switch back and forth between gravel and pavement. I quickly got into the grove of navigating from my GPS and understand the path drawn on it. I did have to make a few U turns and a couple of them were interesting since I’m about twice as long as the road is wide. But the trailer pulled great and did as I asked of her. I soon came upon a sign that said Cherokee National Forest. So I was headed to this place as so many miles ago I saw a sign for. And quickly after that there was a sign that said camping only in designated spots. My ears perked up at this one as I have marked quite a few free camp grounds on my gps but none of them where within a few hours of driving. As I drove down the long gravel road filled with small pot holes that followed a stream I came upon the first camp site. Wow the parking spots where filled. It looked like they were living there not camping them. There were two old rundown RV’s and numerous tents. The occupants looked to be about in the 30’s. So I threw it back into gear and continued down the pot hole road. After another few miles I came across another camping sit. There were a few parking spots for cars and one camp site a short walk away from one of these and another that had a drive into it for a camper. But this one was occupied by 3 personal and the other one looked like it was being used again. I decided to park my vehicle and talk to them and there was a sign which looked like a map so I could get an Idea of how many campsites there were and maybe there was a remote one I could get to that was not as popular.  As I got out of my vehicle and started walking towards the map. A middle age guy with no shirt and quite the beer belly came walking and talking to me. He quickly explained to me that the other car there was not theirs and the other camp site without the drive was abandoned last night. There were people staying there last night and they took another vehicle into town and while they were gone that’s vehicles window was broken out and stuff got stolen. When they returned they packed up their tent and left their trash and the vehicle. So I could take that spot. I trying to be the nice guy and not wanting to drive further kept the conversation going. I guess the middle age guy and lady there were just helping out the older guy who was his uncle and currently homeless. They were bringing him food and beer and helping him dry out his tent since last night he got rained on and got all wet in the morning.  Since I explained to them I could not take the other spot since I had a camper. They offered to move their car over and share the spot with me. So I backed my camper into the spot with plenty of space left over. I sat down at the picnic table with the older guy and started talking. I soon came to the realization he was missing a few teeth. No big deal I’m missing one. Then I quickly found out he used to be a fireman and he drinks to get all the dead bodies out of his mind and he is recently homeless after 35 years his wife left him. Then stuff started clicking for me. I found out they were at the camp site when the car was robbed but did not hear the window break even though it was 50ft away. I started looking at my vehicle and trailer vs theirs with 3 of them there and started not feeling safe. The nephew informed me that him and the lady were going to leave and he felt more comfortable with me staying there with the older gentleman. But I soon realized the nephew and the girl were meth heads and what if they came back in the middle of the night not to mention there arguing and there unpredictive personality. The old guy seemed fed up with the crap. And I think he could tell I was nervous. So I quickly turned to them and asked them how far down the road is the nearest town. They asked what I wanted. I said to get some food. They offered me there food which was just sitting out yet to be cooked and not in a cooler or anything. I said I would like to supply some of my own. They would not give me directions. The nephew told me he would show me the way when he left. I was thinking this is my out. But it is starting to get later and alter. It was close to 6pm by this time.  Well after some unique words between the female and nephew and a few 1st grader hissy fits on both ends they were ready to leave. I followed them out of the park. And as we were headed toward dollar general I was hoping they would not wait around for me. As the nephew said he had to drop the bitch of at her boyfriend’s house. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot. I pulled up next to their vehicle and said “Ohh that was simple” and reassured them I could find my way back. I pretended to park. Got out grabbed a few things from my camper and as soon as they were down the road out of site. I booked it back and continued heading down the TAT not caring where I was going to sleep that night. I continued to drive down the TAT as it started getting darker and darker. I looked up and these big dark rain clouds where coming in and I drove toward them. Yeah another night not cooking food and having to find something somewhere I drove on for another two hours toward my next free camp site I marked through winding blacktop roads as everything since the park has been blacktop now. I soon came upon a medium size town as the rain was letting up. I noticed a Wal-Mart there. And I thought to myself. I told myself I did not want to stay in one’s parking lot but it is better than being robbed or mugged by a bunch of meth heads. And who knows what the next campground had in store for me. So here I sit right now parked in front of a semi in a Wal-Mart parking lot writing this all down. Hopefully tomorrow has some adventures for me with a safer and better place to rest my head. I guess the only good thing about this sleeping spot is McDs has free wi-fi.

Day 6 (5/29): Today I was petty uneventful after yesterday. I woke up in the wal-mart parking lot. Packed up my stuff and head back down the road a few miles to where the trail was. Pretty quickly after getting on the trail I started climbing a mountain going through all these tight switchbacks. At spots I ended up having to go down to first gear. Then once you reach the top I drove through what looked like a nice farm yard for about 10miles. Then it was time to go down a set of switchbacks. I ended up doing two mountains like this. I have to say it was fun and challenging. The road was narrow and you had no idea how tight the corners were or if there was a vehicle coming since they were all blind. I luckily got lucky and did not run into anyone around any of the corners. Also as a note, as I headed up the second set of switch backs my dash blew up with ABS, Slip, VDC light. There are several causes for this to happen. But after a quick look at the ABS sensors and lines I did not see an issue. So I will be headed to a dealer in the morning. As I continued on I was just weaving my way through some narrow back roads. Some nice main roads. And I kept going in and out of forests to farm land.

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As I continued on I came across this very interesting water cross. This was the first of 5 like this.

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There was a nice park next to it with a church across the street. I decided to talk to one of the guys that were swimming there with his family. He was unsure if I camped in the park if the sheriff would mind and also told me sometimes a bad crowd shows up to the stream at night. With what happened the day before and it being a Friday night. I decided it would be better to find a different place. As I travelled along I saw a few signs for a Davey Crochet State Park. So I turned off my path and headed that way. For park right outside a city it is a pretty good price ($8/day) and has a nice stream flowing through it. I had my first big meal of the trip and got a nice hot shower and am ready for tomorrow.

Day 7 (5/30): Today I woke up early and headed a hr south to Florence, Alabama. Where they have a dealership which is open today. I’m guessing this will be an all day affair. Hopefully it will be something simple like an abs sensor. I will update later with more details.