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Road trip car adventure...
Old 10-15-2011, 12:02 PM   #1
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Road trip car adventure...

DH & I took a long planned drive to Colorado, spend a week on a rail fan tour, then spend several weeks visiting National Parks in the SW before heading home.

I got the 2002 Jeep washed & vac'd, oil changed and the dealer give it a quick check-up, said it was good to go. First night in Twin Falls, filled it with gas and headed to Wyoming. About 20 miles out of Burley Idaho Jeep died. A spring thingy on one of the pistons broke. The cost of repair was about $2,000 less than the value of the car. Sold the Jeep to the shop and rented a car in Twin Falls to drop in Denver. The rental car was small but we managed to stow the stuff in the Jeep and proceed, about 6 hours behind schedule. We soon learned why the rental car folks offered it as a one-way, it had no zip.. it came to them as a one way out of Portland and they wanted it gone.

I looked at the map and felt that we could overnight in Kemmerer Wyo. Good sized town (for that part of the country). I don't know what on earth was going on but the town was full of electrical company trucks and every room taken. We drove on, through thunderstorms, in the night. I used the Garman we had recently purchased and searched for Little America, mentioned by one Kemmerer hoteller. I found it and called once I had cell service, booked a room. When we pulled in another guy raced ahead of me to registration, obviously desperate for a room. It was easy to be gracious as ours was pre-paid... found out they were from Portland too. They booked the last room.

That night I got on the internet to search for a one way car rental from Denver to home after our tour. Costo travel produced a great quote on a mid-size car, reserved it.

I learned from the rental car agent that inter-state one way rentals are more expensive than intra-state one way rentals so I called ahead to Golden to see if we could save $ by 'turning the car in' there and renting onward. Yes, that cut the charge by half... he was happy to do that if we would keep the car so he didn't need to clean or wash it. When we arrived to do the paper work, he looked at the vehicle make & model and verified that we weren't leaving it with them.

When we reached Denver we found that our car rental company had a desk in our hotel. As we negotiated with them to match the Costco quote they tried to make a deal that included the car we brought them. DH said, no way... not even for free! Ultimately they did match the Costco quote.

Returned home a few days ago, just purchased a 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe. Our Jeep was the second one that had mechanical problems, DH has had his fill of the brand.

Maybe the Jeep died from shock... I cleaned it. Bad car karma. I think I will clean the new one regularly so it becomes accustomed to that state.

My other lesson is that a Garmin can make a huge contribution to quality of life on a road trip.
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Old 10-15-2011, 12:56 PM   #2
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Okay, so what WAS the anemic car that none of the rentals wanted to take back from you? Inquiring minds want to know.

Reminds me of our story of driving Hwy 101 from Seattle to San Diego. (That was our BC to BC trip - British Columbia via boat to Seattle, rental car to SD and then bus to TJ in Baja California.)

First car out of Seattle was new (less than 6K on od). It got as far as Portland. It quit for no apparent reason, but fortunately in a small town. I called the rental co. and they said they would flat bed a replacement to us during the night. Sure enough, next AM, there was a clapped out old rental parked outside our motel room. It must have been 2 years old w/80K on the od. Within miles, the headlamps burned out, so another call to the rental co. to authorize replacement. A few miles later, the brakes began to squeal constantly. Another call and told we could get them fixed, but it would take a day to do so. I pulled the wheel from the offending brake and pried the little "tuning fork" off the rotor to stop the noise. We drove the rest of the way, more or less uneventfully. I think the car probably had a new rotor in its future when we turned it in. I didn't tell them the whole story. They did give me the final bill minus the extra mileage bill we should have owed. Nice touch, I thought. Made me feel guilty about the brakes for, I don't know, maybe 10 seconds at least.
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Old 10-15-2011, 01:29 PM   #3
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A Ford Fiesta. It is a good city car but not the greatest for a long road trip and obviously not popular in intermountain states. It had only about 12,000 miles on it and was very fuel efficient. Twin Falls to Little America on a tank of gas.
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Old 10-15-2011, 03:52 PM   #4
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whoa. What a car trip story! Thanks for sharing. I have read about other folks finding great rental deals through Costco. I need to check up on whether you must be a member. We have no Costcos near us, so don't want to join--just get the deals.

DH and i are semi-planning a road trip next July from Arkansas NW corner of US and then down the coast of CA and back across to Arkansas. I am leaning toward renting a car as a hedge against our car breaking down. It is a 2008, but road trips with major car expenses are so not fun. Especially in the desert and/or on a Sunday (my two experiences).
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Old 10-15-2011, 05:26 PM   #5
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Maybe the Jeep died from shock... I cleaned it.


Thanks, I was going to clean mine today... until I read this.
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Old 10-15-2011, 07:46 PM   #6
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Ohyes, I would rent. Unless you are dying to see the road from say Arkansas to Seattle fly out then rent a car. One thing to consider is that many car rental companies have a lower rate for adjoining states. So, price out a car from Seattle to Portland, then Portland to San Diego, flying back to Arkansas. If you don't want to do a one-way rental make sure that your contract doesn't limit miles or states.

It takes time to noodle this out.
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Old 10-17-2011, 08:11 AM   #7
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Reminds me of a revelation I had on our last road trip: when you are retired, "vacations" are likely to be MORE stressful than staying at home, rather than less.
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Old 10-17-2011, 08:18 AM   #8
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Reminds me of a revelation I had on our last road trip: when you are retired, "vacations" are likely to be MORE stressful than staying at home, rather than less.
Probably more applicable to tent camping on the road than staying in the Waldorf.

OK, once I saw the hotel bill, maybe not....
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Old 10-17-2011, 10:43 AM   #9
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We stayed in a tent-cabin in Yosemite for a couple nights. As camping goes it was great! Our last night it rained heavily and I was sooo glad we weren't in a campground or one of those climbers hanging off the face of El Capitan.

We are both in our 70s. The hike to the bathroom in the middle of the night was more of an issue than it was in our youth, but now that I think about that we didn't need to hike to the bathroom in the middle of the night then.
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Old 10-17-2011, 12:49 PM   #10
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Reminds me of a revelation I had on our last road trip: when you are retired, "vacations" are likely to be MORE stressful than staying at home, rather than less.
If you're on the road with an itinerary, that can be a series of stressful plan changes.

When we're parked in a city with "What should we do today?" choices and nowhere in particular we need to be, that's a much lower stress. When we vacation on a neighbor island we'll spend hours just watching the beach scene or working on our laptops. We don't have to think about yardwork or housecleaning or maintenance or any of the daily minutiae.
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Old 10-17-2011, 03:44 PM   #11
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Once we resolved our transportation issue we had a great time. It was comforting to know that we can swing with the unexpected.

The train tour was a lot of fun. After the Grand Canyon, Brice, Zion, Canyon De Chelly, Yosemite, and Mesa Verde (my favorite) we were all canyoned out. Husband's high point was discovering Mary Colter, he wondered why she isn't included in architectural study books.

One of the more interesting parts of the train tour was when our guide (out of Seattle) told us about his experiance with a tour group in Egypt as the revolution unfolded. One of the group members collapsed as they were lining up to be loaded on a charter out. She was pulled out of line by medics and prevented from re-joining the group by Egyptian immigration. A representative of the American Consulate materialized and insisted that she go with him. She ended up on AF II and beat them all home.
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Old 10-17-2011, 07:08 PM   #12
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Reminds me of a revelation I had on our last road trip: when you are retired, "vacations" are likely to be MORE stressful than staying at home, rather than less.
This is an interesting thought. When working, we went on road trips during nearly every vacation. Since retirement, we have only gone on one brief road trip and haven't been inspired to go on more. Perhaps your comment explains that. Well, plus the price of gas.
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Old 10-17-2011, 07:51 PM   #13
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Once we resolved our transportation issue we had a great time. It was comforting to know that we can swing with the unexpected.

The train tour was a lot of fun. After the Grand Canyon, Brice, Zion, Canyon De Chelly, Yosemite, and Mesa Verde (my favorite) we were all canyoned out. Husband's high point was discovering Mary Colter, he wondered why she isn't included in architectural study books.

One of the more interesting parts of the train tour was when our guide (out of Seattle) told us about his experiance with a tour group in Egypt as the revolution unfolded. One of the group members collapsed as they were lining up to be loaded on a charter out. She was pulled out of line by medics and prevented from re-joining the group by Egyptian immigration. A representative of the American Consulate materialized and insisted that she go with him. She ended up on AF II and beat them all home.

That is a great story. That consulate staffer deserves a gold star.
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Old 10-18-2011, 08:56 AM   #14
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Probably more applicable to tent camping on the road than staying in the Waldorf.

OK, once I saw the hotel bill, maybe not....
Very true, and I've considered that. Still, I think the stress level is a little higher on a trip. Like when the desk at our four-star hotel in St. Louis called at 1:30 AM to tell us that our late luggage arrived from the airport. Plus the general stress of paying a lot for things that, at home, are normally free or almost free (e.g. parking).

In SF recently, we'd missed the fine print at a parking garage that said "This garage is for Kaiser-Permanente customers. All others pay $12 per hour." I was able with much pleading to get our $60 fee reduced to $10. But that stress can happen on any kind of trip.
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Old 10-18-2011, 09:46 AM   #15
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Like when the desk at our four-star hotel in St. Louis called at 1:30 AM to tell us that our late luggage arrived from the airport.
Or the night the automated wake-up-call system malfunctioned in the hotel and called every guest at 1am, 2am, 3am, 4am...
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Old 10-18-2011, 09:56 AM   #16
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Old 10-18-2011, 10:17 AM   #17
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Reminds me of a revelation I had on our last road trip: when you are retired, "vacations" are likely to be MORE stressful than staying at home, rather than less.

I agree there is stress with vacations but there is also priceless memories . Look at your blog . That time with Jenny will always be a special memory . She 'll soon be married and raising a family and will not have the time for your adventures .
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Old 10-18-2011, 10:33 AM   #18
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I agree there is stress with vacations but there is also priceless memories . Look at your blog . That time with Jenny will always be a special memory . She 'll soon be married and raising a family and will not have the time for your adventures .
Yes, exactly right. One has to learn to accept those stresses. So much depends on your reaction and attitude towards them. but right now I'm enjoying being home with little that need to do.
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Old 10-18-2011, 11:12 AM   #19
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...but right now I'm enjoying being home with little that need to do.
You're just saying that because you've already filled the woodshed!

I'd like to live in one of those "little that needs doing" homes too. But I never have.
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Old 10-18-2011, 11:41 AM   #20
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You're just saying that because you've already filled the woodshed!

I'd like to live in one of those "little that needs doing" homes too. But I never have.
It's all a mindset. If you really don't like doing things around the house (which I question, since you really do seem to enjoy these things), then hire someone and put that in your budget. I carry a collection of phone numbers with me everywhere... plumber, electrician, handyman, roofer, paint/drywall expert, tree service, lawn/garden guy, pest control, and so on. People need work and their fees are very reasonable these days, so the overall cost has not been excessive.

Something that really helped was to convert my back yard from trees and lush jungle to just plain grass, which my lawn guy mows. It isn't as pretty but it freed up my time quite a bit.
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