Where to go and when?

Discussion in 'Trip/Travel Questions' started by Craig Zerbe, Jan 10, 2019.

  1. Craig Zerbe

    Craig Zerbe Well-Known Member

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    Starting later this year, my wife and I will have a Class B van/coach and plan to do lots of traveling. I have started to put together a list of places to go and when. Some based on personal experience, some based on where there are photo workshops are going on (I figure if there is a workshop it ought to be good) etc.... Wonder if any of you might have a list of suggestions you could share? Some months, like December and January, are a lot slimmer than others when it comes to optimal photo ops. Months like October I wish I could be in 10 places at once. Please share your lists if you have them. Thanks.
     
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  2. Ben Egbert

    Ben Egbert Forum Helper
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    Being in North Carolina, it's a bit hard for a westerner to make suggestions. I would not want to drive cross country in a van in winter, especially some passes. Maybe a southern route to catch places like Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion. Spring and summer, the Tetons, Glacier, the Pacific Northwest. And as you said, fall is about everywhere.
     
  3. JimFox

    JimFox Moderator
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    That is sure going to be fun Craig!

    Off the top of my head you of course have lot's of places for fall colors. Though you would need to decide for it whether you wanted East coast or West coast. I could suggest hitting up Yellowstone the 3rd week in Sept since fall colors isn't a big deal there, then the 4th week in Sept hit the Tetons. From there follow the Fall Colors down in to Colorado spending a week or two there following the progression of the fall colors in the passes off the I-70 west of Denver and then heading over towards Ouray. After that head west and hit the fall colors in the Eastern Sierra the 2nd week of Oct. They fall colors will be fading at that point there, but you should still find some good scenes to shoot. Then swing over so that you can be in Yosemite around the 4th week of Oct into Nov as that's when the fall colors look best.

    After that, I would head North up into Oregon and Washington. There are just too many options to list there. I would suggest a bit of a loop, where you go up more off the I-5 and hit places like Crater Lake, Mt Saint Helens, Columbia River Gorge, etc. Then on the way back south take the coast hitting up places like Cannon Beach, Bandon Beach, down into the Northern Calif where you can shoot the Redwoods. That would take you into Dec.

    From there head to SoCal and shoot our awesome beaches here, like Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, etc. Head down to San Diego and shoot La Jolla and the awesome beaches there.

    From there head back up East and North and go to Joshua Tree, then Trona Pinnacles, you can hit up the Eastern Sierra again before heading East to Death Valley. Then from there head to Valley of Fire north of Las Vegas. You can also see Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas. Then head to Arizona and shoot all of the awesome places there, again too many to name them all.

    You will have a blast, and to Ben's point about the weather, it's totally easy to plan a more northern route in Sept and Oct, and then later in Dec and January have a southern route when heading back East so that you can avoid the worst of the snow. With chains you can navigate through some of the snow storms when you are south enough to say shoot the snow in the Grand Canyon. I don' t think you would want to navigate the snow in the winter time in say Wyoming though.

    If your RV doesn't come with a Wifi Hotspot, be sure to hit up Alan. I know he has a very good wifi hotspot set up on his RV so that even when he is traveling in his RV we don't even know it here because he is still able to stay online with us.

    And for sure when that time comes, we have a lot of FocalWorld members spread out across the US and it will be awesome to meet up with you and your wife on occasions.
     
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  4. Bill Crawford

    Bill Crawford Well-Known Member

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    I have similar asperations. We are planning on getting a motorhome and towing so kind of a very capable 4WD. My knees are shot, so I can't hike near as far as I like. We enjoy finding those out of the way places, where we can avoid the crowds. Eastern Oregon has a lot of beautiful country to explore without the traffic jams. Since you are from the East coast, you've probably never experienced the dark skies that we have out here in the Wild West. If you're interested in night photography, there are places where you can drive to 7 or 8000 ft. and have almost no light pollution. I'm looking forward to meeting some of the FW folks on the road. Here's a shot I took from Marble Pass, near Baker City, Oregon. It's at 7000' and very dark. Good luck on your adventures! Maybe we'll see you on the road.
    _MPH0049-3.jpg
     
  5. Craig Zerbe

    Craig Zerbe Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for all the suggestions. While there are a lot of travel resources, they are often not from the photographer's perspective. i.e. many would say don't go to Grand Canyon in August because of the crowds, but that is when the monsoon season is in full swing. Our RV/Van will be "semi" 4 season - want to avoid temperatures much below 20, unless it is just for a few hours at night. I can go colder, but would need to winterize the van, which means no running water. Finding interesting stuff in the mid November to mid March time frame is more of a challenge. Sometime it does not have to be about photo ops, my wife and I just enjoy exploring new places - she would prefer less time on "cold" locations.
     
  6. Craig Zerbe

    Craig Zerbe Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Bill. We actually lived in Bend, OR for 4 years and I gave imaging lectures at the Oregon Star party for a couple of those years. Did not spend much time east of Bend, or at the Oregon coast, which I think could be a good off season location (living in Bend though, it seemed the weather report was mediocre at the coast anytime of year....). My Astronomy imaging was mostly Lunar and Planetary, so dark skies were not essential. I do remember at the start party you could practically see the milky way down to the horizon. Hope to get to Palouse area too. Our van should be able to get down most any dirt road you would take a car down (just 21' long and 6 1/2" clearance - better than most cars), but we will either avoid the 4 wheel drive areas, hike, or in a rare case rent. I don't want to be towing anything. I can pretty much park in a normal parking spot. _DSC1210-Edit-Edit-Edit-Edit-Edit.jpg Ptolemaeus.jpg
     
    #6 Craig Zerbe, Jan 10, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
  7. JimFox

    JimFox Moderator
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    Hey Craig it looks like you need to be adding some photos to our Astro Forum! :)
     
  8. Craig Zerbe

    Craig Zerbe Well-Known Member

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    JIm, sold my big telescope equipment a number of year back - another expensive hobby. Those lunar images were a lot of work. I would use a special B&W video camera 640 x 480. Would mosaic and stack 100s of images... This was back in 2001 m091001a.jpg
     
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  9. JimFox

    JimFox Moderator
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    This is awesome Craig. Posting photos out of your old archives would be awesome, just post them in the Astro Forum. :)

    We have a couple of guys really into Astro now, I am into it as far as shooting the moon at this point, but seeing what you have shot, you have some inspirational photos. And even though they were taken long ago, none of us have seen them and I am sure they would be enjoyed. If you can go into the Astro forum and post an astro photo now and then, that would be awesome. :)
     
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  10. Bill Crawford

    Bill Crawford Well-Known Member

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    Well, it looks like you know a lot more about astro than I do! Bend is a beautiful area, but rather expensive now. I agree with Jim- let's see some more of those images!
     
  11. JimFox

    JimFox Moderator
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    BTW Craig. What is it you are getting? Lot's of us either have some type of RV or are looking at RV's.

    I had looked at getting an RV, but for me I didn't want to tow anything but still wanted to be able to get to some of the out of way places I go that require a 4x4. So I have pretty much settled on getting a 4x4 Sprinter Van and building out the inside next year. But nothing is set in stone, so I am very interested in what everyone is getting or has and why.
     
  12. Craig Zerbe

    Craig Zerbe Well-Known Member

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    Jm, We most likely will be getting a Winnebago Travato KL. This model, for us at least, seems to have the best combo of features. Anything this small is a bunch of trade offs.

    There is a large bathroom in the back. Easy to use in the middle of the night. My wife has some mobility issues, and some class Bs like the Roadtrek, she could not bend her knee enough to use the toilet. The twin bed configuration also make getting in and out of bed easy. No crawling over the other person or scooting to the end of the bed to get out. Don't know about you, but I am old enough that I generally need to get up at least once in the night. The bed's can also be quickly reconfigured to a "single" larger bed if you want to sleep that way or have snuggle time.... The beds are also fairly large for a class B, at 30" wide and quite comfortable. Many of the Sprinter models are 24', 3 feet longer than the Travato. When we rented a Travato, we were often able to just park in a standard parking spot. At 24' this would not be possible, removing one of the big class B advantages. Some are built in the shorter chassis, but then they can be rather cramped. Like any Mercedes, BMW etc... my experience is that anything you get repaired or serviced costs 3x what a GM, Ford or Dodge would. The kitchen has a micro/convection oven so we can bake, if desired. The front seats swivel and the passenger side has a nice work area. The driver side setup is not workable for laptops, but works for eating or looking at the iPad. There is a long table that can be setup between the beds to eat or work as well, and the TV has an extender arm that should allow me to replace it with a high quality 24" monitor to use at either work station. The new "L" model variant has a large 30 amp Lithium battery setup, that would allow one to run anything, including AC , in the van without being plugged in. Front wheel drive will help in bad weather. There is some insulation, heated waste tanks and the water lines are inside (many class Bs do not have this), so using the RV at or a little below freezing should not require you to winterize. Last year they also added double pane acrylic windows as an option. The twin bed configuration with the bath in the back also gives the interior an open feel. There is actually a fair amount of storage (but nothing like a B+ or C). The Coachmen Crossfit by comparison had very little. There is also a great Facebook group for the Travato. I see people posting issues they have, and helpful answers often coming back within minutes.

    Down sides. The Dodge driver area is a bit dated and while not uncomfortable, would not win any awards in my book. There is not a huge towing capacity (I don't care). The fit/finish work inside is much better than other towed campers we have looked at, but it's not a "premium" high end finish either. The holding tanks are not very large and probably will require dumping every 3-4 days. Less, if not conservative in your showers....

    While not 4x. The van normally has 6 1/2 clearance and many add Sumo Spring for added stability and an extra 1" of clearance. This would have gotten you to the True Grit field easy, but not some of the the rougher forest service roads. People carry those "boards" with them, in case they get stuck. Also, does not come with a spare tire, though some add one.
     
  13. JimFox

    JimFox Moderator
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    Hey Craig, that looks like a very cool idea. Thanks for the info. I have heard similar comments about the Mercedes maybe having more issues and then more expensive to repair compared to a Chevy, etc.. I like the layout you chose, that would work really well. I had decided as I said on a 4x4 platform like the Sprinter, but there is something to what you are getting too. So thanks for sharing, all the information I can gather will all help in the end.
     

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