OXWest-17 in a rental Sportsmobile

So this trip report is coming up a year overdue. :eek: Last year we had an opportunity to meet back up with our friends at Adventure Travel Sports Rentals based in Golden, CO for another family trip in the rental Sportsmobile. We took a similar trip back in 2015 and fell in love with this van so we knew we would be back at some point for another trip. We had paid and planned to attend OXE-16 with our brand new bed rack and RTT setup on the Dodge but after my grandmother's passing/funeral we had to bail on that part of our fall break. Thankfully the OX folks understood our circumstances and allowed us to transfer our credit to a '17 event. Everything just sort of came together and after booking some plane tickets we began making plans to attend our first OXW event.

The plan was to fly to Denver and pick up the van and make our way to Flagstaff over a 3 day period all while camping dispersed and seeing all we could see. We would spend 3 days at OXW-17 and then make our way back to Denver for our return flight home. It was a whirlwind trip but we had a lot of fun and have a whole new list of thing we want to go back to.

What follows is the trip report I started last year once we returned home. I wrote the first half of the report and forgot to finish it. For anyone who's written one of these knows how much can go into doing one. Please bear with me as I post the old write up and get pictures where they belong and as I write the second half of the trip a year after we finished it.

...and the journey begins... IMG_20170509_122359765_HDR (Large).jpg IMG_20170509_133348026_HDR (Large).jpg
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Day 1
Bags packed and ready to roll, we awoke early and took our shuttle to the airport. By lunch we were landing in Denver, CO and were promptly picked up by a Lyft driver who took us to the warehouse where the rigs are stored. Gaylord was putting some finishing touches on a Landcruiser 60 series that he had just overhauled to add to the rental fleet. It was now set up with an LS motor, Free Spirit Recreation RTT, Snowmaster fridge, and custom rear drawer storage.

Our goal for the day was to try and make it to the Moab area but understood that was going to be a hard one to meet. Not having had lunch yet and wanting to get on the road we packed our home for the week and off we went. We stopped in Idaho Springs at BeauJoe’s for a mountain pie before hitting the road once again. Frequent stops made the long stretches of road less of a burden and allowed some quick pictures.

Snow was still on the passes and my son couldn’t wait to get to play in it for a bit.

A grocery stop in Glenwood Springs and then it was on to find camp. Moab was still a few hours away, we hadn’t had dinner, it was dark now, and everyone was tired. My wife dove into the guide books in the van and found a little area called Rabbit Valley close to the CO/UT border. There was dispersed camping not far from the interstate yet far enough we couldn’t see or hear it. We setup and got settled for the night. We had been up for 22 hours (kids included) with only minimal cat-naps. IMG_20170509_160001765_HDR (Large).jpg IMG_20170509_165038116_HDR (Large).jpg IMG_20170509_170033250_HDR (Large).jpg IMG_20170509_165154716 (Large)-edit.jpg IMG_20170509_165837809 (Large).jpg
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Day 2
We awoke to a light rain, fixed coffee, and a cold cereal breakfast so we could get back on the road again. Since we had gotten in so late we had a look around for a bit and took a few shots of camp before we left.

The obligatory stops at the CO and UT border signs.

The drive into Moab along hwy 128 through Cisco was beautiful. There was no shortage of camping opportunities along this route.

The plan was to fuel up in Moab and then head to Arches NP for some sights and a picnic lunch. When researching for this trip I found that the Devils Garden CG was closed this season due to construction. En route to the park we also discovered delicate arch was closed for road construction as well. When we pulled into the entrance we were greeted with about a half mile of cars waiting to get in and decided this park would have to wait for another trip due to the closures. Disappointed, we turned south down Kane Creek Rd to find a lunch spot and plan our route towards Flagstaff. We had our sights on Comb Wash Road for the night and was hoping to tackle Kane Creek Canyon this afternoon which would eventually put us back onto hwy 191.

The Moab Trails guide book, the trail head marker, and other maps we had on board all conflicted on how difficult this trail was supposed to be. I had wheeled in Moab back in 2009 with our well-equipped Jeep XJ, to include Pritchett Canyon, so I had a pretty good idea of what difficult looked like. After much debate, we decided it was in the best interest of time to go back through Moab and continue. It may have been do-able but we weren’t willing to risk it this early in the trip. Edit: A month after this trip I was talking to a 4-wheeling friend and asked about this trail and from the sound of it we made the right decision given the circumstances.

Once heading back north toward Moab again, we made a quick stop at Moonflower Canyon for me to air up the tires to street pressure and prepare to get some miles in. Our ride south on 191 was enjoyable and scenic and the cooler temps were nice as we gained elevation. South of Blanding we headed west on 95 to head toward Comb Wash.

Comb wash campground gave us a bathroom break but there were already too many folks camped in the campground for our taste so we decided to forge out to find a dispersed site. After a few misses we had a hit on a great secluded spot next to the wash just in time to setup and get some dinner going. IMG_20170510_093342051_HDR (Large).jpg IMG_20170510_093422612_HDR (Large).jpg IMG_20170510_093902866_HDR (Large).jpg IMG_20170510_102057717_HDR (Large).jpg
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Day 3.

Thursday was our day to make the final push into Flagstaff. We needed to be there before registration closed and meet up with the other ATSR guys to get rigs cleaned up and presentable for the ExPo.

After breakfast and breaking down camp, we started working our way south through the Comb Wash valley. One of the guide books we had been looking at suggested stopping at some petroglyphs which try as we may we could not find. Looking at the cliff walls to the east it seemed that most of them were out of reach to reasonably get to with kids in tow. This will have to wait for another trip. The valley was much more scenic that I thought when we first added this to the list of to-do’s and I’m glad we did it. The road was mostly graded dirt and followed along the wash proper as it wound its way through the valley. The trees and greenery seemed to highlight exactly where the wash traveled as the vegetation followed the water. The occasional cow (or bull) would be around the corner to make sure you kept your eyes on the road. IMG_20170511_091938090_HDR (Large).jpg IMG_20170511_093700571 (Large).jpg IMG_20170511_093729668 (Large).jpg IMG_20170511_095328176_HDR (Large).jpg
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Exiting out the south end of the wash put us onto hwy 163 where we made our way into Mexican Hat for lunch and to top off the water tank in the rig. Lunch was a Navaho Taco at the Olde Bridge Grill Café overlooking the San Juan River.

From there it was on to the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park Visitors Center but were once again met with long wait lines and steep fees so we felt in the interest of time we would pass. IMG_20170511_112425943 (Large).jpg IMG_20170511_113333143 (Large).jpg IMG_20170511_122353345 (Large).jpg IMG_20170511_124222096 (Large).jpg IMG_20170511_131714255 (Large).jpg IMG_20170511_131737622 (Large).jpg
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Our next stop was to check out the Dinosaur tracks attraction just before the intersection of 160/89. We had read beforehand that this stop is typically a must do, especially if you have kids in tow. Take the ‘facts’ that are presented here with a grain of salt as not all are true. Guides walk you through the area and explain what things are for tip ‘fees’. Tracks were highlighted with a squirt water bottle to get a contrast you could recognize. There are of course opportunities to purchase handmade jewelry and items from the locals which we did. The kids loved it and my son took a bunch of pictures here. IMG_20170511_143437500 (Large).jpg IMG_20170511_143752187 (Large).jpg IMG_20170511_144732575 (Large).jpg IMG_20170511_150025557 (Large).jpg IMG_20170511_150139274 (Large).jpg
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Continuing on we made the final push into Flagstaff. We met up with the all the ATSR guys on the outskirts of town at a car wash to clean up rigs. From there we convoyed all 4 rigs into the ExPo grounds. Check in was quick and painless and then we made our way to our booth site which would be our ‘camp site’ for the next 3 nights. Getting settled in we found ourselves right in the thick of it with all the biggest names in the industry as our next-door neighbors. Expedition Portal/Overland Journal, Equipt, Main Line Overland, Expedition Overland, Goose Gear, Dometic, Rigid, and Four Wheel and Alaskan Campers were just some of many. IMG_20170511_164520519_HDR (Large).jpg IMG_20170511_165226088 (Large).jpg IMG_20170511_175258081_HDR (Large).jpg

These are technically from Friday morning. Waking up in the middle of it all was pretty cool. Empty booths and streets didn't last long.
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Day 4

Friday morning we hitched an Uber to town to grab a proper shower, a big pancake breakfast at IHOP, and some groceries to fill in our pantries. All were needed.

Expo West-17
Each day we had plenty of opportunities to get out and see all there was to see at the Expo. The weather was incredible and having a home base to come back to was great. We would pack up our personal belongings and tidy up the van for visitors stopping by to talk to the ATSR guys. We did a bit of talking ourselves since this was our second time in this rig and we knew first hand how a family of four fit and operated here. We got the opportunity to speak with a number of folks from current Sportsmobile owners looking for interior ideas to aspiring renters and folks passing through. We had attended a few East events and I have to say I got the most out of being at this one. Not because it was the bigger event but because being in the middle of it all for the full 3 days meant there was plenty of time to see and do most everything. IMG_20170512_081704446 (Large).jpg IMG_20170512_081737829 (Large).jpg
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Random pictures from Expo.
-Briefly met and Monika Wescott from the Turtle Expeditions.
-My son found a rig he wanted to drive.
-My daughter won a raffle at the Step 22 kickoff party and brought in a really nice recovery bag that we now use for road trips.
-I found a rig I wanted to go home with. :) IMG_20170512_131850418_HDR (Large).jpg IMG_20170512_125120948 (Large).jpg IMG_20170512_165739465 (Large).jpg IMG_20170512_165143624 (Large).jpg IMG_20170512_163529637 (Large).jpg IMG_20170513_095751903 (Large).jpg
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Being a Scout guy I spent a good bit of time talking to the guys at Anything Scout. Their orange Scout 2 was really something special and just the sound of the door closing brought back memories. I'm hoping to dig back into my Scout project at the end of this year after being on the back burner for over 10 years now.

One of the couples that was a real pleasure to talk to was Shayne and Sandra from Aussie Expeditions. Their Defender 110 had an insane amount of thought put into it and was a joy to talk through some of thoughts behind that rig.

-Another piece of true craftsmanship was the all aluminum and hand bucked rivets camper from Aero-Continental. IMG_20170513_105706423_HDR (Large).jpg IMG_20170513_110456752_HDR (Large).jpg IMG_20170513_125301296 (Large).jpg IMG_20170513_142703273 (Large).jpg
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There were parties in the evenings.....

And breakfasts in the mornings....

But before we knew it it was approaching noon on Sunday and the road was calling to us. We checked off our final go-see's and said our goodbyes and rolled out toward the Grand Canyon. IMG_20170513_185822951_HDR (Large).jpg IMG_20170513_193452114 (Large).jpg IMG_20170514_080116312 (Large).jpg IMG_20170514_081458963_HDR (Large).jpg
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Not getting on the road till lunch time and an expected 4-ish hour drive to where we thought our campsite would be meant we needed to get moving. We stopped a few times along the way and at some point realized that the North Rim wouldn't even open their gates to the National Park for the season till the FOLLOWING day! Ugh, so much for that campsite on the rim I was dreaming about. It looked like there were plenty of camping spots in the National Forest so the plan morphed to staying there for the night and hitting the Park the following morning fairly early. We wandered around the back roads for a short while before finding a suitable spot in a secluded area. IMG_20170514_171601559 (Large).jpg
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The following morning we awoke to clearing skies, coffee, and a quick breakfast. We broke camp early and made our way back to Jacob Lake to fill up on fuel and check out the Kaibab Visitor Center. None of us had ever been to the Grand Canyon before and from what we had read, the south rim just didn't sound like our cup of tea with the crazy crowds and such. Maybe on another trip but for this trip if we only had time to check one of them out it would be the north.

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Well I just now figured out something with the new picture posting format. I guess I need to go back and fix my other posts. :p

Edit: Done.
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