Coast to Coast: The Plan

My brother (from central Texas) and I recently visited my mother in central California for what we were certain would be our last chance to see her alive. She was 72 and had suffered from a rare neurological disorder for about seven years. Sure enough, she died two days after we left CA. We quickly made a plan to return for her memorial service. He and his wife would fly from Texas, but I made a plan to drive so that I could retrieve her cremains and some personal effects. My wife would join me.

I prepped the car by changing the oil and filters and then having the intake cleaned of carbon deposits. The intake cleaning was a bit premature, but it was good insurance that I would not have to deal with potential intake issues while 3000 miles from home. This photo shows a look at the intake with 106,000 miles of gunk. The cleaned valves are shown in the album below. They didn’t look bad at all! I also had the mechanic inspect key areas that might present a problem on the long road trip. The car was in excellent shape for the trip! See this video for more details about our preparations.

My daughter planned to join us from her USMC air station in NC by flying to Fresno. So, I loaded the rooftop cargo box to free-up some room inside the car for her. My wife has dietary restrictions. Plus, a lot of areas are still locked-down with dining rooms being closed. Therefore, I invested in a 12V refrigerator/freezer that would enable us to travel with our own food and shop in grocery stores instead of restaurants. I also purchased a WeBoost cellular signal booster. Recalling some areas in New England with no 4G/LTE coverage, and knowing we’d see plenty of dead-zones out west, I decided to see if it would mitigate our connectivity challenges while in sparse coverage areas. I’ll share more about the WeBoost in a separate entry.

I said this is a “coast-to-coast” trip. We don’t live on the coast; and neither did my mother. So, about a week before the main trip began, my daughter and I took a side trip to Chincoteague, VA to take a few photos at the Atlantic Ocean. Look closely at the full-size version this photo (click it) and you’ll s ee a porpoise jumping in the background. We got stuck in the sand while attempting to back into an area for a quick photo. A quick, gentle push was all it took to be free. I’ve shared more photos in the album below, as well as a video here. East Coast photos: CHECK! 😉

My mother had three cats. They were with a good caretaker. However, that caretaker was having second thoughts about keeping them. Seeing my mother (and her good friend) wither away without getting to enjoy retirement had her thinking that she and her husband might like to travel while they still could (he’s 80). I don’t blame them! Seeing my mother fall ill just as she was leaving the workforce has me wondering if now’s the time for US to enjoy some domestic travel. My wife and I are “cat people.” So, we made a new plan that involved bringing them home. Having more cats will kill our travel plans for a while, but Mom would be pleased to know that her babies are getting to stay together. See this video to learn more about our change of plans.

Our plan to pack the cats in three kennels for travel inside the car meant that there was no room for the refrigerator and Mom’s personal effects. What to do? That’s right: BABY TRAILER! I wired a 12V extension cord from the trunk to the trailer box and then placed the fridge in the front section of the trailer for a smooth ride. We carried our luggage in the trailer, too, opting to put more weight on the separate axle than on the car. With the trailer along for the ride, I opted to carry full-size spare tires for the trailer and the car. Sure, the donut spares are still under the trailer and under the electronics panel, but having full-size spares added a layer of security. I carried the tires and some tools/fluids in the cargo box. My rooftop load, including the rack and box, was right at Volkswagen’s specified 165 lbs (75 kg).

We quickly ran out of room in the trailer and opted to use the upper cargo deck. That meant using the BougeRV cargo bag that I had reviewed last year. It looks like this bag will be put to a long-term test now. 🙂 I also recognized that the high load would increase our aerodynamic load in a dramatic fashion. It was my hope that the rooftop cargo box might help by acting as a faring of sorts. But who am I trying to fool? HAHA! Next, I’ll share the first leg of our journey, which will be convoluted due to a silly goal.

Packed and Ready,


About Scott

I grew up near Houston, TX and served in the U. S. Coast Guard for over 30 years. I have an electronics background and continue to work in the electronics engineering field. I taught myself the basics about automotive systems as well as how to perform some of my own maintenance (cars and bicycles). I became involved with Amateur Radio and computers in 1995. The explosion of technology has made my job and several of my hobbies quite interesting. My hobbies include Volkswagens, bicycling, photography, electronics, amateur radio, web management, and reptiles. Visit my websites to learn more.
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