In case you’re late to the show:
Here are our Fourth Month (December) travel expenses:
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Propex HS2000 Heater Installation
We’re about to take a long drive north to chase the snow. We look forward to it, but we’re worried that our Webasto heater might fail again and that prevents us from being super excited about this new chapter. First time our Webasto failed, it was 2 AM, outside temperature was -15F (-26C) and we were pretty much in the middle of nowhere. No fun.
We planned this trip for so long and we want to enjoy it to the fullest. Let’s fix this once for all:
We estimate that the Webasto has accumulate over 250-350h run time since we installed the new burner assembly. We’re happy to report it’s still working fine 🙂
Webasto VS Propex Heater
Since carbon buildup is more likely to occur when the Webasto runs on “low”, we plan on using the Webasto for “boost” in the evening and in the morning, then use the Propex at the lowest setting during the day when we’re out there (to prevent the interior from freezing; the lowest setting keeps the van at around 3-5C (37-41F)). That’s the plan anyway; we will try and adjust.
Welcome to winter solstice! Days are short and the solar panels don’t generate as much power as they used to in summer… but with the help of the alternator, we manage to bring the charge of the battery back to 100% (or close) almost everyday.
Driveshaft Coupling Replacement
Transit owners, have you inspected your driveshaft coupling lately? Ours was replaced at 22k miles under warranty because we found 3 cracks on it.
In case you’re not aware, there is a recall on 2015-2017 Ford Transit because the flexible driveshaft coupling (a.k.a. guibo) may fail; the recall intent is to replace the guibo every 30k miles (cracks or no cracks; ours was replaced before 30k because we had multiple cracks already). For more info: https://ford.oemdtc.com/2874/17s15-driveshaft-flexible-coupling-replacement-2015-2017-ford-transit
Meanwhile don’t panic; just check your guibo periodically (it’s in between the front wheels, easy to spot)! If there is no crack, there is no need to replace it (unless you’re over 30k already)
Before heading north, there are a few things to do that will make our winter living easier:
Carrying snow chains is something we got really good at, but it would be wise to get better at putting them on! Indeed, it requires a little bit of practice and doing it under the Arizona winter is much more enjoyable than under the blizzard.
We consider snow chains a safety device rather than a gizmo, so we splurged on a set of high-quality Thule / Konig XG-12 PRO snow chains. With their patented system, they’re simple to install and don’t require to move the vehicle during installation, nice! Here is our “home-made” installation/removal guide along with our thoughts on them:
We got tired of emptying the 4 gallons grey water tank everyday, so we added a 2 way wye valve to route the water into the Aquatainer OR directly through the floor (we use biodegradable soap), depending on where we’re parked.
All the details (material/pros/cons/notes) are in the “Grey Water Tank” section of our Water System article:
O.K., the interior shower was tested and works, but we renamed it to “emergency” because it’s so much logistics that we would prefer not to use it. It’s been an interesting experiment, but there are a lot of downsides to it:
– The curtain takes forever to dry and uses a LOT of our space (we will probably have our winter gear drying too at the same time).
– It’s a 2 person job: 1 taking a shower, 1 activating the shower pump, giving the soap and shampoo to the other, etc.
– The pan drain works but we have to make sure the hose doesn’t raise higher than the pan or it will overfill.
– For now, the drain is routed through the side door; it’s fine here in Arizona, but in Canadian winter…
Tales from the Road
Fourth month traveled road:
Viva Las Vegas
We had the chance of having dinners with really nice people in Las Vegas and we were pleasantly surprised to find that there it is, in fact, a “normal” city with “normal” people outside the Strip. We also took the opportunity to assist to Cirque du Soleil “Mystère” show and it was really incredible!
Of course we visited the Strip:
We left and never came back. True story.
While most people head to the Hover Dam after Vegas, we headed for Boulder AZ. There are some sweet lines here!
Gold Strike Hot Springs (or “Warm” Springs)
Here is the trail to get there: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/nevada/gold-strike-hot-spring-trail
Very, very impressed by Flagstaff! Riding the desert for the past few months was awesome, but having our wheels back on “normal” trails (in our own definition) again felt just right.
This video is “Wasabi” trails (Upper & Lower):
Worth mentioning “Pickle”, “Ginger” & “Can I”. They RULE. If you need more steep in your life, these trails are the answer.
And at last, we felt in love with Dark Sky Brewery. Great beer, great place! (Mountain of Mosaic is the best IPA we had in a looong time)
Flagstaff, we’ll be back…
Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)
First of all, the National Park Beer store is AWESOME! We found “La Folie” (New Belgium Brewery) and it was much cheaper than anywhere else we’ve seen it! Our expectation was deliciously fulfilled.
Secondly, it’s possible to sleep for FREE 30 minutes from the Grand Canyon Village in the Kaibab National Forest. Nice! We were there during the Geminid Meteor Shower and very much enjoyed the show:
Unfortunately we couldn’t make it to the North Rim because there is a big gap in between:
Beautiful, beautiful Sedona. Here, the green vegetation meets the red rock and it looks spectacular!
We stayed south of Sedona a few days:
And on BLM Road 525 a few days as well:
Fourth Month’s Favorite Trails
What defines a “Favorite Trail”? It’s a trail/ride we would plan again on a next trip; in other words, it’s a trail/ride that we think is worth the detour!
Antoine’s Top 5
1- Hiline, Sedona (Arizona)
- Hiline on Trailforks
- Hiline starts as a mellow but steady climb on a ridge line; you will be rewarded with a magnificent view over Sedona. Enjoy the view and let go the brakes for a fast and flowy decent over slickrocks. Then get ready for three or four steep and technical sections. Note the words in bold in the previous sentence. In doubt, it’s OK to walk through these sections.
2- Hangover, Sedona (Arizona)
- Hangover on Trailforks
- If you can ride down the steeps of Hiline, you can probably ride Hangover. Except the exposure here is extreme. No joke. There is no room for error.
4- Can I, Flagstaff (Arizona)
- Can I on Trailforks
- Steep. Did I mention steep? Steep, slow and technical. Can you modulate your brakes? Try to ride it, not to slide it 😉
5- Ginger, Flagstaff (Arizona)
- Ginger on Trailforks
- Similar to Can I above, but a little less steep. Anyone comfortable with steep descent skills will like this one!
Follow Antoine on Strava: https://www.strava.com/athletes/697494
Antoine Ride Logs on Trailforks: https://www.trailforks.com/profile/atoine/ridelog/
Isabelle’s Top 5
1- Hiline, Sedona (Arizona)
- Hiline on Trailforks
- This trail got it all! It starts going up on a ridge that is just challenging enough, then it goes down on a sweet, fast, long slickrock to finish with a technical descent. Did I mentioned earlier I love technical challenges? This one is just perfect to push my limits! I could do it over and over again! Plus, the view is amazing at all time!
2- Broken Arrow, Sedona (Arizona)
- Broken Arrow on Trailforks
- This trail can be ridden in both direction although it is most fun downhill! I think it worth doing the little detour to Submarine rock (on the way up, not to interrupt your descent!) just to look at Pink Jeeps going down the steep jeep trail; kind of impressive!
3- Mescal/Chuck Wagon, Sedona (Arizona)
- Mescal on Trailforks
- Chuck Wagon on Trailforks
- These two trails are just great to start with when arriving to Sedona; they are not super flowy nor particularly technical, but just fun to ride! Being on the slickrock of Mescal provides a nice view of the surrounding and I really enjoyed riding in Chuck Wagon forest (I don’t know if there are any similar forests, but this one seemed unique to me!).
- Be aware, both trails can be very busy. We met A LOT of hikers all the way.
4- Sunset/Schultz Creek, Flagstaff (Arizona)
5- Pyramid, Sedona (Arizona)
- Pyramid on Trailforks
- This short trail has a long continuous descent! Enjoy!
Follow Isabelle on Strava: https://www.strava.com/athletes/4915282
Isabelle Ride Logs on Trailforks: https://www.trailforks.com/profile/irichard/ridelog/
The Arizona sun and warmth is nice, but it’s time for us to head north and chase the snow. Here we are a few days later:
TO BE CONTINUED…
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Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine 🙂 In 2017 we sold our house (and everything in it), quit our engineering careers and moved into our self built campervan. We’ve been on the road since then and every day is an opportunity for a new adventure; we’re chasing our dreams and hopefully it inspires others to do the same!