Coast to Coast – USA cross country with a Ford E150

Twinky on the road from East Coast to West Coast. Twinky is a big, blue Ford E150 Camper Van with room for seven sitting people and when we flip the bench, there is enough room for two sleeping guys. We planned to mostly drive but a nap every now and then wouldn’t hurt. We’re moving from NYC to SFO and take the big guy with us.

* We’re preparing a big move!

* Everything packed, we’re waiting for the movers. Twinky is excited and we’ve got enough time for a last brunch in Williamsburg.

* Floating with 5mph down Brooklyn Queens Express Way. New York is crying a river onto the streets. Rush hour is more a creep hour. Basti is steering the boat. I’m getting the SPOT ready. Check…

* Driver switch. I’m driving and Basti is feeding me with baguette, olives, pickled mini paprika and salami. And is taking a nap for 40 minutes.

* The SPOT tries to push messages through the thick cloud blanket above every 10 minutes. We’re on the road. I take a nap on the sleeper’s seat (middle row, cozy with pillow and sleeping bag, with Gundel’s leaves around)

* Two hour shifts work well. Twinky is a race elephant won up hill against Harley Davidson Truck. Now we’re in West Virginia: Wild and Wonderful! Quick break at Little Sandy’s before Basti’s shift starts. Good night!

24/05 4:30 – 6:20am: A Food Lion parking lot is our night camp. Voices outside of the door wake me up. Basti became friends with an overexcited Pool Boy, age 45, happy to have visitors in West Virginia.

* The electricity inverter for the cigarette lighter doesn’t produce enough electricity for the water boiler so we’re getting a coffee at a 7elven.

25/05 3:11pm EDT: We’re in Kentucky since… I don’t know. Driving, Sleeping, Driving… Forests, hills, trees, cliffs, meadows, deers, more green, more trees…. It’s beautiful! And we’ve got 753 miles since we started driving yesterday at 6:30 pm. The GPS directs us to Denver, CO. Estimated arrival in 16 hours.
Traveler’s mood: Basti happy, Inge sleepy, Twinky, the long distance horse wants more, Gundel the moneytree is confused, SPOT is popping messages.

25/05 5:47pm CDT: Twinky likes Indiana: tempo limit 70 signs garnish the straight road, only a few competitors here and there, gentle hills, endless corn fields, passengers properly fueled with coffee, afternoon light
paints everything in smooth orange.

25/5 11:18pm CDT: Basti is merciless. After 2 hours sleep at a rest area, curled up on Twinky’s bench, Basti wakes me up. To drive further. My eyeballs are still curled up, I’m a licked stamp, all sticky. And stinky. Want to shower, soft, hot water dripping, thinking about the luxury shower that we just gave up in Brooklyn. Instead I get a hand wash machine in the bathroom of the rest area. Soap-wash-blowdry in a sanitized opening in the wall. Would love to wash my face with ice cold water, but my head would not fit in this thing.
Driving further towards West. Merciless.

26/5 8:22am CDT: 1269 miles. 7 hours of sleep in a Rest Area in Missouri, next to a Fedex van and some campers. Breakfast on the road: Choco Puffs with milk and coffee out of styrofoam cups. The spot had stopped tracking 11 hours ago so I’ve sent a manual check in. Kansas City is on the horizon.

26/5 12:29pm CDT: 1487 miles. After a biobrake, Twinky gives us a ‘Service Engine Soon’ light. The engine is not running very smooth anymore, shaky, especially uphill. And there’s a lot uphill here.
Only cows and cornfields around and in front of us the never ending US70. Well, and lots of other trucks and cars. Lady of small Gas Station: Naa, over holiday weekend nothing is open around here. Only option is 34 miles further West in Russell.
There are over 1500 miles to go till San Francisco, so fixing whatever is wrong would be better, especially before we take the loneliest road in America.

26/5 2:27pm CDT: Russell, Kansas. Guess, the folks wouldn’t like to hear it called village, but town would be exaggerated. The shops are about to close for Holiday weekend. Jake’s Repair fixes only jetski and motorcycles but sends us down the road to B@C. Closed. We’re driving back to an open garage that we saw earlier. It’s Karst Kustoms & Sales. Looks like they know something about trucks and vans.
Kevin, the owner, plugs in the mini computer. It tells me it is broke, he says and smiles at me, then pushes the little buttons, plugs and unplugs the computer and finally says Guess it’s a core pack or spark plug. Nobody will fix that before Tuesday.
Can we keep driving?
He calls his buddy Dave to discuss the thing. … It’s a Ford …. they’re going to California… the car is full with stuff… and a marihuana plant... He looks at Basti an says Nooo he wears Flipflops !!…. all right. Hangs up.
Kevin explains the way over to Dave, You might get him to work on it. He is a nice guy. Skinny guy with green teeth. Smiles.

So we look for Dave, two streets further. We find him in the small office of his garage where two cars lie around disassembled. He listens to our story but tells us right away that the earliest time he could work on it would be Tuesday. We try to convince him to at least look at it. Sure I can plug in the computer but that costs $45. He is a lot pricier than Kevin. Basti: We started in NYC and need to go to SF by Monday and we’re now in the middle of nowhere. Uuh, if that helps? Dave looks at the two guys sitting in his office. I’ve got another project to work on over the weekend. And with this we’re kind of kicked out of Dave’s empire.

27/5 8:08am MDT: We’ve made it to Denver. After Dave, our last hope in Russell had kicked us out, we called AAA roadside emergency assistance. Their drivers can only tow, exchange tires and help with dead batteries. But they gave us name and address of a 24×7 service in Hays, 34 miles away. Sitting around in Russell and waiting till Tuesday … Not an option. So we bought 4 gallons of water, just in case, and drove to Hays, back on US70.
Lots of sand in the air, 30 kts coming from South, pushing Twinky to the right. We make plans for the case that the car breaks down: the kites might be able to bring us to Denver with this storm.
Prairie, flying bushes, trucks balancing on one small lane as the other one is closed for constructions.
Signs next to the road talk about raccoons, buffalos and rattlesnakes. Where would you use a jetski here?
The 24×7 service was unfortunately just a gas station and the tired guys there didn’t give us any hope that we could find someone to work on anything over the weekend.

Hmm… Sitting in Hays till Tuesday? The car is driving, a little shaky but running. AAA could just tow us somewhere. Where would they tow us anyway? The closer we are to a bigger city, the less the towing would cost. Another last check of water and food reserve and off we are in the direction of Denver.

On even terrain, Twinky is running smooth like a jaguar (with the shape of an elephant) but uphill it is more a hopping movement. After a good gulp of Gas he roars, jumps and then shows the others on the road what a big, blue butt is.

We even took scenic route 86, away from US70, an up and downhill challenge through Hobbit land.

Currently we are driving up the Rockies after a good night of sleep in a cozy bed and thoroughly showering in a Hotel in Denver. The Service Engine Soon light is still on, we’re hopping up the mountains. In a small city called Salina will be the decision point. Is Twinky in ok shape for the loneliest road in America or do we take the detour over Salt Lake City?

28/5 10:42 am PST High Desert of Nevada: After miles and miles in the loneliness of US50 and after Twinky had climbed over another mountain chain a giant sand dune appeared. A trailer village to the Sand Mountains feet sparkles in the sun and quads and motorbikes race up the dune like angry ants.

28/5 6:59am PST Loneliest road in America, Nevada: We’re on the Moon. The surface is covered with a foot high dry, light green bushes. We’re riding our Moon Elephant over the wide, deserted platform and follow a path that curls between the hills and mountains. There’s a snow peak to our right. The Elephant fights its way uphill and would never, never give up. Attack from a Lizard that jumps from a rugged stone wall to our left but is scared away by the pure size of the Elephant. With strong strides we move up the hill and around the beige-green rock to enter another dusty plateau. In the distance a stone sheep herd chews the hard branches of the moon bush. The horizon is a snow covered mountain chain.

We arrived in SFO!! Twinky catches breath at a steep parking lot in Mission District. And we’re eager to explore more of the Wild Wild West soon.

Did you do this trip yet or are you planning to drive cross country one day? Let me know in the comments below!

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