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VA-CA-VA... Again!

StealthGTI

Drag Racing Champion
Location
Newport News, VA
Car(s)
2017 GTI Sport
It's time to hit the road again. You may recall my "Coast-to-Coast" thread from November. My wife and I had driven to CA to retrieve my mother's cremains and some of her effects. What we didn't expect was to have a change of heart regarding our desire to bring more of her things home with us. Unfortunately, we were at my limit for cargo capacity in my GTI. We immediately made plans for a return trip. We had two significant concerns: 1) Winter was coming; so, we needed to wait until at least March. 2) Unloading/reloading my utility trailer each day was a pain! Plus, it was an aerodynamic disaster. I decided to speed my efforts to finish the conversion project that I had started on my cargo trailer. Using the cargo trailer MIGHT improve aerodynamics, but would certainly allow me to leave my cargo locked in the trailer each night.

Here is the nearly-finished cargo trailer conversion:









I weighed the trailer at 760 lbs (345 kg). I don't want to travel with a rooftop cargo box. So, the spare tires and fluids that once rode on the roof will now ride in the cargo trailer. I know that will instantly add another 100 lbs. I will also carry some moving blankets, collapsed cardboard boxes, impact wrenches, other tools, and E-Track hardware. I'm hoping to leave below 1000 lbs (454 kg), which will allow me to bring back up to 500 lbs of return cargo. We'll see how that works out.

If you recall, we brought home my mother's three cats. Combined with two of our own, boarding them for 16 days would be quite expensive. So, my wife will stay behind with them and then fly out for a weekend to choose what's coming home with me. We have someone who can stand to care for five cats for three nights.... but not for 16. LOL!

I'm looking to return to Tail of the Dragon, central Texas, White Sands, the Very Large Array, and Kingman. With longer days, there are a few photos that I hope to get that I missed last time. I also hope to visit several new places. I'll update as I travel. Of course, I hope to make the trip without any mechanical issues... a redemption for the GTI after the last trip. ;-)

Thanks for following along!

Scott
 

CaptainRatty

Drag Racing Champion
Location
Winston-Salem, NC
Car(s)
MK7 GTI
Looking forward to following along, you always do a good job with documenting the journey. Safe travels.
 

swcrow

Autocross Champion
Location
Virginia
Car(s)
7.5
subscribed!
 

StealthGTI

Drag Racing Champion
Location
Newport News, VA
Car(s)
2017 GTI Sport
Thanks, Everyone!

The trailer is loaded and ready to go. Rain is killing my flow. But I get things done when I can. Here's the interior as it will ride for the outbound trip...



I don't think I mentioned that I'll be traveling with a refrigerator and battery back-up. It's installed, running, and ready for food.



I'd be tempted to hide the trailer somewhere for a couple runs up and down the Tail

I've been on the Tail many times. My only goal for this run is to get some rolling shots of the cargo trailer. :cool: I'll drive to a scale tomorrow so that I can see if I was successful at staying below 1000 lbs.
 

xXDavidCXx

Drag Racing Champion
Car(s)
2017 GTI SE DSG
Did you compensate the tounge weight with stiffer springs or adjustable shocks?

If not, this will make your ride be more comforable and arguably safer.

Also, I was looking in OBDeleven yesterday and saw a trailer/towing seting.
 

StealthGTI

Drag Racing Champion
Location
Newport News, VA
Car(s)
2017 GTI Sport
Thanks for the notes, everyone.

I visited a scale to weigh everything. Unfortunately, the video of that visit got corrupted and the specific numbers are lost. BUT - I do know that the trailer itself weighs 1060 lbs, which includes the extra fuel. So much for staying below 1000 lbs for the outbound trip. The good news is I will be past the scarce fuel areas by the time I load cargo and can empty the fuel can in CA.

Did you compensate the tounge weight with stiffer springs or adjustable shocks?
If not, this will make your ride be more comforable and arguably safer.
Also, I was looking in OBDeleven yesterday and saw a trailer/towing seting.

I've considered installing supplemental airbags. But my towing habits don't require it. My tongue weight is currently 125 lbs, which is certainly less than the weight of any of the passengers that I normally carry. The car is not substantially loaded. So, the ride is fine. As for the OBDeleven setting, I suspect that just changes the shift points for the DSG, which does not apply to my car.

I left SE Virginia and set a goal to reach Cherokee, NC. Cherokee is less than two hours from Tail of the Dragon (TOTD) and close to a car wash that I use to tidy the car before being photographed on the Tail. Unfortunately, my first day on the road was either rainy or gloomy. So, I didn't take many photos.

Here is a stop at a lonely rest area...



It was still rainy the next morning... no car wash for TOTD. When I arrived, I was surprised to see just about everything closed. Either they close shop when they don't think motorcyclists will ride or the storms that had passed through the area were more severe than I had realized. Regardless, I was already carrying a TOTD sticker from a previous visit. I tagged the trailer with it and hit the road, not expecting to see any photographers on a day when little money could be made. It was nice to have the whole road to myself. I saw just five other vehicles, all going the other way.

I was almost done with the route when I was surprised to see ONE photography station: KILLBOY, the original TOTD photographer. I was pleased to buy these photos (and others)...







Next, I found a Krystal for lunch. Somehow, visiting Krystal became a tradition anytime I visit Tennessee. I like their chili-cheese pups (miniature hot dogs). I also learned that their corn pups are awesome, too!



Here is one of many fuel stops. I refuel at 1/2 tank and have been averaging about 22 mpg so far. That will change in Texas. If you followed my previous road trip with a trailer, then you know we had a couple of unnerving experiences with running too low on fuel. Once out west and averaging just 19 mpg, the bottom half of the tank disappears too fast for comfort. I learned to refuel nearly any chance I get. I typically stop every 100-150 miles, anyway, depending on my bladder. ;-)



I stopped in Forrest City, AR for the night. From there, it's off to central Texas to visit family and capture some photos that I had hoped to get last time. I will share them later.
 

StealthGTI

Drag Racing Champion
Location
Newport News, VA
Car(s)
2017 GTI Sport
Time to play some catch-up! My visit to central Texas was pleasant. We're not far from a relatively obscure attraction, Falkenstein Castle...



I had hoped to take that photo at sunrise, which I did, with the sun shining on the castle while the car was still shaded by trees. Unfortunately, it was very overcast. The photo is still decent, though. There was a sunset photo I wanted to take from a small picnic area. However, there was a family gathering at the site. So, I just took the photo on the same overcast morning as the "sunrise" over Falkenstein...



I stayed two nights and then proceeded to Alamogordo, NM. Traveling solo this time, I was able to get on the road nice and early to improve my chances of getting to White Sands National Park before sunset. I was successful and took a LOT of photos. BUT, in my haste to get as many angles and settings as possible while racing the sun, I neglected to take any quick-shareable photos with my phone. So, I'll have to share those later. In the meantime, I'll share something from nearby. Did you know that the German Air Force trains in our desert from Holloman AFB? Here is one of their first planes to train there, starting in 1996. I call this photo "Germans" (car and plane)...



There are other planes in the park, too...



I hoped to get a haircut while on the base, but just missed their window for closing. After the sunset photos, I returned to my hotel where I was able to park right under my window. HAHA!



The next morning, I hit the road and traced a lot of the same roads as we did during November's trip. This time, I stopped for a photo at the Valley of Fires, which is a lava field in New Mexico...







I also revisited the Very Large Array near Socorro, NM. They had changed the size of the array (moved the dishes into a tighter circle); so, I couldn't get the same close shot as last time. I got this shot instead...



The site has been closed to visitors for a year. So, I couldn't move-in for a closer shot. I continued toward Flagstaff. The difference this time is that I was on the road earlier and traveling with longer days. That meant that I reached the Petrified Forest with plenty of light left in my day.



As a kid, it was easy to imagine the petrified forest as a bunch of standing stone trees. But that's not the case. They're all fallen trees that were preserved long enough to petrify...





It was colder than when I last exited the car. So, my walk through the main tour area was brisk. I drove a little bit of the Painted Forest tour road, but didn't want to commit to the entire 25-mile one way tour. This was not a planned stop; I wanted to keep moving toward Flagstaff. But I DID plan to stop at a meteor crater near Winslow, AZ. It was even colder and the winds were picking up. Funny thing: I'm not a natural with "selfies," as evidenced from the shot in front of the log above. I don't "smile on command." ;) As a result, I don't take many selfies. But I figured I'd shoot one for my wife. There was a patient couple waiting for me to get my shot. But every time the countdown time reached zero, a gust of wind would blow my phone. It was getting ridiculous! My laughter actually wound up presenting a decent selfie at the crater...



It's hard to capture the enormity of this crater in a ground photo. I snapped this from satellite imagery just to show the size when compared against the two parking areas at the site...



As I pressed toward Flagstaff, I discovered why the temperatures were falling so quickly...



Thankfully, I got settled in my hotel before rush hour and poor road conditions...



More to follow...
 
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