Note: This article is intentionally time-late and void of names in order to protect the privacy of our Marine. Everything written here is perishable info that is outdated.
My plans to take the car on more road trips and camping adventures hasn’t exactly come to fruition. Most of that is a result of procrastination and spending money on other interests/projects. Hot weather played a significant part in the decision, too. A change in my daughter’s career choice has impacted our ability to hit the road, as well. We had counted on her as a house and cat sitter when we’d leave for a few days. She made a sudden decision to join the Marines around the same time that I was kicking around the idea of camping and “microlanding.” She surprised everyone; now we have a Marine!
This entry is about the trip with our baby trailer to retrieve our daughter from Parris Island. First, I’m going to share a little about why this trip was special. I went to Coast Guard boot camp over 30 years ago. It was a tough experience, but it was only eight weeks long, which is an eternity for a 18 year-old, if I recall. Marine Corps boot camp is 13 weeks and, without a doubt, the toughest of the five armed service boot camps. However, less than a week from becoming a Marine, she suffered a setback that sent her all the way back to Training Day 1 as a result of what I will label as “social drama.” In short, she was in boot camp and training continuously for 22 weeks! Ironically, the setback did her some good. She earned a meritorious promotion and graduated in the top 10% of her series. We’re quite proud of her tenacity and determination to achieve her goal of becoming a Marine!
New Marines leave Parris Island with two 50-lb sea bags, a large garment bag, and a duffle bag. All of that can fit in the GTI with the rear seats folded down. However, this trip required a back seat; plus, my wife and I were packing for three days. We considered using our ShowCase 15 roof top box. Sea bags are too thick to fit in the box, but could fit in the trunk while everything else went into the box… I think. We weren’t sure if we wanted the extra noise on this trip. Then my wife got a request to bring small cheesecakes for some of the new Marines. Packing a cooler for cheesecakes sealed the deal: BABY TRAILER. I was already leaning toward bringing the trailer because it’s quieter and, believe it or not, gets better fuel economy than carrying a roof top box.
The trailer was almost empty for the 500-mile drive to Parris Island. We packed a 12V cooler for the cheesecakes and other goodies. The cooler was also a good choice for packing lunches for “Family Day.” It helped us avoid waiting in long lunch lines with well over 1000 visitors that day. My duffle bag traveled in the trunk beside the cooler. My wife’s suitcase went in the back seat, which went against my usual practice of keeping the interior clear. Be that as it may, the suitcase was wedged behind my seat back, which seemed safe enough. We averaged 29 mpg during our high-speed Interstate drive. The next tank was a dismal 22 mpg due to plenty of idling while at Parris Island. It was hot and humid; we wanted AC for our “lounge” and to help the cooler maintain its temperature of 35° below ambient. I employed some creative parking to minimize my impact on the thousands of fellow visitors. I shared some photos in an album below. I have more “stunt parking” photos in this article.
The drive home was uneventful. We averaged 29 mpg for the return trip. Our daughter was home for ten days and spent most of her time out with friends, much to our chagrin. I understood her desires since I had done the same thing when I visited home as a young man. Next, we drove her to Camp Geiger, NC for combat training. This was a different experience because she asked if a new friend could join us. They were in the same boot camp platoon and would train together at Camp Geiger. Therefore, the load would now be four passengers, four sea bags, two garment bags, and two duffles: BABY TRAILER!
The baby trailer was completely stuffed! Thankfully, we didn’t need the cooler. So, my wife’s and my overnight bags went in the trunk, along with roadside emergency supplies. I suspect our combined vehicle weight was around 4700 lbs! My informal calculations estimated that we had 700 lbs of “meat” and baggage in the car and another 800 lbs in tow. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any photos. The girls had gone out to breakfast with friends and delayed our departure. I’m one of those mission-oriented types who can be a bit cranky, if delayed, until we’re on the road. As a result, I packed the trailer hastily without taking photos so we could make a swift departure. I wanted to get to our hotel before dark since backing a short black trailer at night can be a challenge.
Our highway speeds on this trip were slower than when on the Interstate. That contributed to our heavy load achieving 28.7 mpg! We averaged 33.6 mpg on the return trip with just me, my wife, our baggage, and the empty trailer, for a round trip average of 30.5 mpg. You may recall that I had recently updated my APR Stage 2 programming. I didn’t test it much prior to our trips. So, my next tank averaged just 25 mpg since I did plenty of speeding during my commutes to celebrate being light again. HAHA! I still think the new Stage 2 tune can return good MPGs if I can control myself. I need to drive my “test circuit” at the speed limit to see what it can do. I’ll be sure to share my results. Check out the photo album below for the photos that I did manage to take.
Proud Marine Parent,