3 Years Around North America, Plus a Few More

Umnak

Adventurer
New Shoes and Glass

New Shoes and Glass

It was time to get some new shoes for the Sprinter, and replace its spider-web damaged windscreen during our month long stay in Silver City — post to come soon about this interesting town.

The windscreen had been hit by a Yukon mosquito (stone from a passing semi) somewhere outside of Watson Lake last summer. I’m sorry that I don’t have a photograph that does the damage justice. It became a spiral about a hands width across, and while it didn’t enlarge after the initial hit, it was deemed un-repairable by two glass shops.

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I waited until now to replace it, as most of our funky road driving is behind us at this point. It took the local auto glass place two attempts to install the windscreen. The first attempt left me worrying about the ability of the installer, as the glass seemed to be misaligned slightly and the adhesive was oozing from the sides. I gave it a couple of days then spoke with the owner about having the glass and the hood cleaned up -- they had left adhesive globs. Fortunately, it rained and snowed during the weekend and we were camping in the van.
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I was stunned to see a steady drip of water flowing out from the top of the windscreen as we ate breakfast. Needless to say, I was pissed. My next conversation with the owner was a bit more abrupt. They reset the windscreen the next day and I have no doubts about who was involved in that operation. The owner of the shop asked to keep the van overnight for it to set then showered the windscreen with water when I came to pick it up. Second time must be the charm.


The Michelin AT2 tires had about 55,000 miles on them and, while they were still showing a reasonable amount of tread, I wanted to put new ones on for the remaining few months of our road trip. We will be selling the van in March and by then the tires would be too worn for me to feel comfortable selling as is.

I wanted tires with a bit more capability for forest service and gravel roads. We have taken the van places that we probably shouldn’t, and I don’t see that changing in the next few months.
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The Michelin’s were good, but often clogged up on wet dirt and were awful on mud. Recent reviews of the next generation of the LTX AT2 were not as promising as the original tire, so it was time to look around. After much reading, and a few conversations with other Sprinter owners, I narrowed the search to BF Goodrich’s AT K/O and Goodyear’s Wrangler AT Adventure. I went with the latter after running into a guy who works at the local tire dealer in Silver City. He has spoken with a lot of truck owners with both tires and said that the people with the Wranglers seem to buy them again and tell him they are quiet on the highway. Both tires are expensive and capable, and I look forward to seeing how they perform as we head back out next week.

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Umnak

Adventurer
A Month in Silver City, NM

A Month in Silver City
Shops.jpg
We like southwest New Mexico and decided to stick around for the rest of 2017 after leaving the hot springs. Silver City has about 10,000 people living in the foothills of the Gila Mountains. We visited the downtown area a few times over the past year, and felt the combination of art galleries, restaurants and shops would make for an interesting December.

Downtown.jpg

When we stopped in Shelby, North Carolina two years ago I decided that a small town needs a few things to make it worth the stay. Those include a decent local coffee shop, a yoga studio and a brew-pub. Downtown Silver City has all three and more.

Serenity House.jpg
We found a suite of rooms in a downtown B&B called Serenity House. The house was built in the late 19th century as competition for the town's major brothel, which was across the creek separating the main business areas. The story we've been told is that the Madame of the other brothel had the mayor and city council as clients and, so, after a few months, this became a more respectable, though less entertaining rooming house.

View from B&B.jpg
It has been a remarkable place to stay. The rooms are nice, the people who live here welcoming, and the use of the kitchen a welcome change from using the Snow Peak Baja Burner. As an added benefit, it is close to everything we wanted to do and see here.

Tranquil Buzz.jpg
Tranquil Buzz Coffee is just a couple of blocks away. Indeed, it was the coffee shop owner who told us about the B&B in November when we stopped and asked about places to rent in the area. We stop in every other day for an Americano and to visit with the regulars, who have been welcoming and informative. There have been music events every Sunday afternoon, culminating in a Christmas Eve Jam Session followed by a potluck, which we were invited to attend.
Tranquil Buzz 2.jpg

Additional music is offered at the local Little Toad Creek Brewery, also just a few blocks from our house. The beer is good and the food is exceptional. The music has been a bit of a disappointment. Twice bands canceled their gigs on Friday nights, the local talent here is less than those who play at the coffee shop.

The Lotus Center yoga studio is even closer to our place than the coffee shop. It's been good to get back to a regular schedule after a few months on the road. Eve practices her fiddle while I'm there.

View From Boston Hill.jpg
Boston Hill is a city open space that was heavily mined in the late 19th and early 20th c. The Spring Street Trail Head is less than two blocks from the B&B. We carved out a 4 mile hike including a stop atop the eponymous hill which provides a nice view of the mountains south of here in Mexico. It has been a real treat to not have to drive anywhere for a hike.
CDT.jpg

More hiking is available within a few miles of town in the Gila National Forest. Two areas that we've explored most often are the Dragon Fly Trail, with petroglyphs along a wash that seems to flow all year long, and the extensive options at Gomez Peak including one that connects with the Continental Divide Trail.
Dragon FLy.jpg


Eve joined a Friday morning coffee group at Javalina Coffee at the invitation of a woman who has become a good friend. This has helped her understand the benefits of not working, which I'm really happy about.
Gomez Peak.jpg
We head out early January and will be in Joshua Tree mid month. We've rented the Think Tank again for the remainder of January and look forward to spending time in the park and in another very unique and welcoming community.

More pictures at https://www.flickr.com/photos/umnak/

Happy New Year!
 
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Umnak

Adventurer
Sunny Flats, Cave Creek Canyon, Chiricahua Mountains

Sunny Flats, Cave Creek Canyon, Chiricahua Mountains

We spent two nights at Faywood Hot Springs after leaving Silver City on January 2. There is no doubt we will return, though it probably wont’ be until 2019.

Borerland Cafe.jpg
From Faywood we drove to Columbus, NM and the Pancho Villa State Park. Villa’s troops, though not necessarily Villa, attached this town in 1916 after negotiations with the US broke down and he was not the governments chosen Mexican revolutionary. One night at the border town was more than enough. The park is flat and within sight of the border. The glaring lights paired with empty buildings along Main Street offer little hope to those who would like to join us here. — I saw no wall!

Overland.jpg
An early Overland Vehicle sits out in front of the Pancho Villa Museum.

The best part of the stay was our breakfast at the Borderland Cafe, where we were served by a young Mennonite woman who had moved to the area from Hagerstown Maryland. The owners, a young Hispanic couple, said they returned here after 10 years in Austin, looking for a simpler and quieter pace. The food was very good.

On the road.jpg
The few cars we saw on our way west were Border Patrol. The drivers looking bored with the empty roads.

We stopped at the Chiricahua Desert Museum on our way west to Portal, AZ. Anywhere else in North American this would be a tourist trap, yet here it seems normal and one is not too upset about having paid the entrance fee to see stuffed snakes and beer bottles with some relation to reptiles. We left quickly.

Portal PO.jpg
The Portal Store and Cafe is as varied in practice as the mountains surrounding it is varied in colors. The price of two americanos ranged more than $5 over the course of three visits and four days. Still, there was wifi and since AT&T has ****ty presence in the southwest, worth the uncertainty.
Portal Store.jpg

The Sunny Flats campground and surrounding Cave Creek Canyon is one of the most scenic places we visit over the past three years. The columns and domes change color with the arc of the sun. The formations are awesome — and that is a work I seldom use.

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The area is known for its birding, and there were a number of people stumbling along the trails with binoculars. I couldn’t resist teasing one couple about a parrot-like bird I had seen just up ahead.

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There are animals that have only been seen in books. We were fortunate in seeing a group of Coatimundi cross our path early in the walk up the South Fork of Cave Creek. They stopped to size us up, then split in two groups and fled the trail.

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Another long hike surprised us with a compound that is owned by the American Museum of Natural History. We had missed the trail head we had hoped to walk as a result of staring at an old barn.

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We left after three nights and headed to Douglas, then Bisbee AZ.
American Museum.jpg
 

Umnak

Adventurer
Bisbee, AZ

Bisbee AZ
JonQuil.jpg
The Jonquil Motel sits along Tombstone Canyon which is also Bisbee’s Main Street, though the 1930s buildings are removed from the galleries and antique shops closer to the town’s center. JonQuil2.jpg

We had been told Bisbee is a Silver City on steroids. Our first impression — we were there for three days — wasn’t positive. I do not like places where graffiti is allowed to remain on buildings, and streets are littered with empty cans. Combined with the general shabby condition of the buildings, one is left with a sense of a place in decline.
Bisbee.jpg
We did find a few places open on our second day in town, and enjoyed the only open gallery we found during our stay.

The Quarry Bar looks like a dive managed by Punk Rockers. We walked in to head banging music and sat at the bar. The three tables at the Vietnamese restaurant down the street were filled and I had read that the food here was good. The bartender and server seemed dubious as to whether or not we would stay, but gave us menus and a verbal list of what was left. The last of the meatloaf had been ordered by the couple from the UK who were sitting at the bar. We went with cheeseburgers and fries, and were very impressed with our decision. The meat was very good and the homemade buns even better.
Slow.jpg

The Grand Salon had live local music, which was good, and we stopped for a local stout on our way back to the motel.

We saw this wonderful vehicle on our way out of town.
Hilary.jpg

My take-away is that Bisbee is a funky little town not sure of its place in the world.
 

Ashton

Newbie
Loved seeing the pics of Silver City and so glad to hear you loved it! The mines in and around Boston hill can be accessed, but are often done so by less than savory characters. Still, if you were able to the next time you are in town, they can be a real interesting walk around.

Also, check out the theatre productions at WNMU next time around, they play movies in their theatre but also have live productions. Virus theater is active sometimes too, and when they are they are quality. Lotus has a great yoga studio... my mom also teaches (and has done so for 40+ years) Kundalini yoga and I'm sure if she is in town she would love to share her 20+ years of experience in the area, a cup of tea and some yoga. We also have land you can boondock on out in Gila, not much to explore there except the wilderness, serenity and calm energy.

Safe and happy travels!!
 

Umnak

Adventurer
The Sprinter is for sale

2006 Sportsmobile 2500 Sprinter
Price: $47,000
Clean Title. VIN: WDOPD744465964791
High Roof and Extended Body with 158” Wheel Base. Approximately 21’ long
Starboard.jpgforward.jpg

We have enjoyed our 3 Year Road Trip around North American with the Sprinter, which we purchased in 2014 from Sportsmobile Texas where it was on consignment. The Sprinter will be on the Olympic Peninsula in Port Townsend, WA at the end of February. We are currently in Joshua Tree and plan on heading north on the west side of the mountains toward the end of January. We would consider showing the van as we travel.
Cabin to the rear.jpg Coach 1.jpg

Sportsmobile Texas built the van in 2007. It was used sparingly over the next 7 years ending with just 13,500 miles in December 2014, when we picked it up in Austin. They had completed some modifications after our purchase, including 200 watts of solar and inverter, diesel heater and reconfiguring the couch to a partial platform bed for additional storage.

Baja Stove.jpg Heater, Solar and Inverter Controls.jpg
The van does not have house propane. I’ve used a Snow Peak Baja Burner exclusively as it allows us to cook inside or out without duplicating cooking devices. The solar panels power everything adequately, including the microwave.

Bath.jpg
It’s a great vehicle for living in for a weekend or a a few years.

We are selling because we plan to be out of the country for a while, and don’t want to have to store the van while we are gone. And besides, it needs to be used, not sitting in a Geezer lot.

Miles: Currently 70,300 but will probably end up with a little over 73,000 when sold.
Mileage 1:22:18.jpg

See http://forum.expeditionportal.com/threads/189536-B-2006-Sportsmobile-2500-Sprinter-B for details here

see https://www.flickr.com/photos/umnak/...57645682662186 for more images
 

FrenchieXJ

Expedition Leader
Regarding the previous post WTF?
Hi Umanak,

I saw this earlier this earlier this evening myself. At that time the poster human or computer had 4 post. I see that it is up to 9 post now.

The way to report this is in the lower, left corner of every post is a little triangle. Put your cursor over it and a window pops up and you can report it.
I only learned this a bout 6 months ago. This is our form and if we work together with the moderators keeping them informed we can help to stop this.

Frenchie
 

whitedog9

New member
Greetings,
A couple questions- I apologize in advance if I missed this info in your write up.

Does this van have 4x4? If not( I assume that it does not) do you wish it did? How often would you have used it if you had it in the 3 year trip that you have taken? If you had it to do all over would you have purchased a 4x4 rather than a 2-Wheel drive? Have you ever been stuck where you could not get out? If not 4x4 is it front wheel or rear wheel drive?

How does it handle in the snow/ice/sand?

What is the headroom in the van? I am 5'10”, my wife is 5'7” in height.

We currently have a 4-Wheel camper on the back of out 4wd Dodge Ram 2500. We have spent about 10 months with this set up and have enjoyed it but want to transition to a van.

That's all for now and thx for your reply,
Reggie
 
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whitedog9

New member
Greetings, I posted a reply to you last evening (Monday). I just want to be sure you received my communication. My wife and I are interested in seeing your SMB. We live in Georgia. We are thinking that I could fly out to Calif. or ? and dovetail with you to look at the vehicle. We are serious buyers.

By the way what do you mean by cramend (sp-?) driving?

Thank you for your reply,
Reggie Ogg
 
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Umnak

Adventurer
Sorry about the delayed reply. We’ve been in the desert.
The van doesn’t have 4wd. There have been a few times that I wished it had 4x4, wanting to go up a wash or a 2 track that seemed marginal. That being said, we’ve gone places with the Sprinter that were pretty awful. The last 12 miles into Chaco Canyon, up a forest service road rutted and steep. And we’ve driven through streams. I thought once we would be stuck in the mud outside of a Navajo rancher’s house, we had stopped to ask him directions, there was a lot of mud. The van did quite well coming out of the mud which was halfway up the wheels. I turned off the antiskid option rocked it once and we were out. The Michelin tires we started with were awful in mud, however they did well from a stand still. I think the new tires will perform better.
Headroom is just under 6’ except at the AC which is toward the rear.
I’ll send you an email tomorrow from Palm Springs. Perhaps we can meet somewhere up the coast or when we arrive in Seattle.
The full Cramden refers to the non adjustable steering wheel. Cramden was the bus driver on the Honeymooners tv show.
 
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Umnak

Adventurer
Hi Umanak,

I saw this earlier this earlier this evening myself. At that time the poster human or computer had 4 post. I see that it is up to 9 post now.

The way to report this is in the lower, left corner of every post is a little triangle. Put your cursor over it and a window pops up and you can report it.
I only learned this a bout 6 months ago. This is our form and if we work together with the moderators keeping them informed we can help to stop this.

Frenchie
Thank you. It seems that the weird post is gone now. I’m going to delete my WTF post so as not to confuse readers who might assume I’m now referring to my original post.
 

Rufant

Active member
Bisbee, AZ

Bisbee AZ
View attachment 432469
The Jonquil Motel sits along Tombstone Canyon which is also Bisbee’s Main Street, though the 1930s buildings are removed from the galleries and antique shops closer to the town’s center. View attachment 432471

We had been told Bisbee is a Silver City on steroids. Our first impression — we were there for three days — wasn’t positive. I do not like places where graffiti is allowed to remain on buildings, and streets are littered with empty cans. Combined with the general shabby condition of the buildings, one is left with a sense of a place in decline.
View attachment 432472
We did find a few places open on our second day in town, and enjoyed the only open gallery we found during our stay.

The Quarry Bar looks like a dive managed by Punk Rockers. We walked in to head banging music and sat at the bar. The three tables at the Vietnamese restaurant down the street were filled and I had read that the food here was good. The bartender and server seemed dubious as to whether or not we would stay, but gave us menus and a verbal list of what was left. The last of the meatloaf had been ordered by the couple from the UK who were sitting at the bar. We went with cheeseburgers and fries, and were very impressed with our decision. The meat was very good and the homemade buns even better.
View attachment 432473

The Grand Salon had live local music, which was good, and we stopped for a local stout on our way back to the motel.

We saw this wonderful vehicle on our way out of town.
View attachment 432474

My take-away is that Bisbee is a funky little town not sure of its place in the world.
G’day Umnak,

Just wanted to say I have thoroughly enjoyed dipping in and out of this report over the last year or so. Thanks for taking the time to post it up. Great pictures and words.

All the best from Down Under.

Cheers,

Anthony
 
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