A Mid Week Adventure: 4400 Miles in 6 Days

Ya, you read that right. 4400 miles in 6 days. Why you ask? Well, what had happened was… My Go Fast Camper was sitting in Bozeman Montana mocking me, and I really wanted to get out and use it. But let’s back up a little.

Each year my wife and I take a at least one long two week trip. Last year it was from TN to Vegas then off-roading across all of Utah before heading home. You can read all about that here: The Excuse: A 4400 Mile, 12 State Adventure

During last years trip I was really thinking about how much nicer it would have been to have a camper like the GFC. When it was raining and we were stuck in the RTT, or when we were packing up in the snow I kept thinking how much I wanted a GFC. Well, come first of the year I decided to order one. :spending:

Unfortunately it didn’t look like it would be ready by October which is when we take our big yearly trip. While browsing the forum one evening I found a gentleman that needed to sell his earlier preorder spot. With no hesitation I bought, then sold my spot. Before you know it, the camper was in production and finished! Even though it was a 30 hour drive from Tennessee to Bozeman it was still cheaper in gas to go get it than it would have been to have it shipped. Plus I’d have it sooner.

First order of business was a co driver. My father offered to go with me so that was taken care of. Or, so I thought. With less than a week to before we left, he had to back out due to work. Amazingly a friend of mine from Michigan, who I’ve only met once, volunteered to make this crazy trip with me. We found a ferry from MI to Milwaukee was the most cost and time efficient way to meetup. With that settled, I stripped the truck of it’s rack and tent, and installed the kb voodoo bed caps. I did a quick differential and transfer case oil change and finally threw all new filters and windshield wipers on the truck. With everything ready I counted down the hours before the start of our crazy adventure.

The morning of June 26th, my alarm woke me up around 4 am. I took a quick shower, threw my bathroom stuff together and finished loading the truck. Just after 5 am I was rolling towards Milwaukee. The GPS said it would take around 11 hours. That put me there way ahead of the ferry, but I didn’t want Matt to be stuck waiting on me to get there.

The trip up was uneventful. I got there with plenty of time. I took the opportunity to find a starbucks and log into work for a bit before running back over to the ferry dock. Once Matt jumped off the Ferry we made our way out of Milwaukee knowing we had 20 hours of driving to go and only 36 hours to get be at our destination.

After a few hours on the road we decided to make camp at McMullen Memorial County Park. It was a beautiful spot to camp, but with us arriving so late we didn’t want to drive around with my big lights on accidentally waking people up. We took a look at the map and decided to hike about a 1/3 of a mile out to the primitive camping area. I’m so glad we did! We found a huge campsite with plenty of trees for our hammocks right on the edge of the Wazeda Lake. It was perfect! It didn’t take long before we were both out cold.

With our alarms waking us up around 5 am, we each stuck our heads out of our hammocks and found a beautiful sunrise over the lake. It was the perfect way to wakeup for a long day’s drive. We quickly packed and made our way back out of the park.

Our first stop of the day was probably the most diverse McDonald’s I’ve ever been too. Half the tables were taken by Mennonite’s who were all riding in 12 passenger van. The other half a complete cross section of America. White, Black, Asian, Hispanic… It was a super happening and diverse place that morning! Oh, and that was my first time using a fully automated ordering system. It seems I don’t get out to each much… :D

The day was long. We shot across Minnesota and into North Dakota. I’m pretty sure the only time we had to move the steering wheel was when we had to jump off of I-94 for gas. Let’s just say it wasn’t the most exciting stretch of highway either of us had driven. Oh Ya, we did hit a bit of a storm on the way I got to see my first shelf cloud in person!

After escaping the oh so exciting Wal-Mart of Billings MT (don’t ever go there) we made our way to Itch-Kep-Pe Park in Columbus MT. Once again we arrived well after dark. If there had been another campground within 50 miles, we would have gone. This may have been the single worst camping area I’ve stayed at. I appreciate the city has provided a free place to camp, but now I understand why most places have limits on how long you can stay. As we drove by Meth Production Facilities half covered in weeds and vehicles that looked like they haven’t run in the last 2 decades we weren’t sure we wanted to stay. But after a 14+ hour day we were too tired to keep going. We carefully got out of the truck doing our best to lookout for needles and broken glass pipes. Our hammocks were quickly setup, pistols carefully positioned in the hammocks, and a couple quick beers were drunk. We were both able to drift off to the sound of train horns and rumbling rail road tracks…

In the morning we found maybe we were being dramatic. The sites were large, the old trees beautiful, and the broken down cars were, well… still broken. Once again we quickly packed our gear and ran to the nearest McDonald’s for a quick bit to eat. After completely confusing and frustrating the poor lady behind the counter I stepped into the restroom. When I returned Matt had apparently apologized for me and all was well. It was early, and I suppose my communication skills weren’t up to par. :anonymous:

With a little extra spit in my food, we made our way the last two hours to Bozeman. We got there about 30 minutes before my install time, but they worked us right in.

Matthias is one efficient installer! He had the foam slapped on the truck, the GFC up on a crane and was backing me in within 10 minutes of me getting there. With the install done in under 30 minutes we took a few minutes to walk around and see the operation. Those guys are awesome! It’s really impressive to see everything that goes into making these campers.

The Purple frame is gonna look so SWEET on someone’s rig!

While the install was happening trouble rolled up in her Tacoma. :D A good friend of mine has been living out of her GFC for around 2 months with an estimated 5 months to go! She’s been traveling the US and happened to be close by while I was in MT. We had planned on meeting up for a couple days before we headed back east.

With the install done we started making our way towards Yellowstone only to get a message from the owner of GFC. He was in town and not far away working from a local coffee shop. We decided to run over there for a bit and chat. Graeme is a super nice and genuine guy! It was great to meetup and talk for a bit. Rebecca had some concerns and thoughts about the camper and Graeme was awesome about listening and trying to work with her to address those.

After coffee got back on the road to Yellowstone. We made a quick stop in Big Sky for lunch. Well, we thought it would be quick at least. The pizza was great, but the 45+ minute wait wasn’t ideal.

Once entering Yellowstone we stopped and looked at a couple beautiful hot springs, just about walked up on a Bison grazing near the boardwalk, and even made our way down to Old Faithful. Luckily we only had to wait about 20 minutes before seeing it go off. Pretty amazing to see it shooting 80 feet into the air!

Stick around for part 2!

5 Likes

From Old Faithful we headed down to Jackson Lodge in the Grand Tetons National Park. It was completely unexpected. It’s HUGE! And the view is beautiful! Absolutely worth the stop. After a quick snack of Fries and and Milkshake we continued to our stop for the night.

We were recommended a camping location with beautiful views of the Tetons, but after arriving we found every single campsite packed with RVs, 5th wheels and full on buses. It was impressive to see how buses and 5th wheels had managed to get up the steep gravel roads.

Eventually tired and grumpy from looking for campsites we settled in for the night. Our view partially blocked by trailers, I was still excited to try my new GFC.

The next morning we awoke early to see the pink skies begin to touch the mountains in the distance. It was absolutely gorgeous! While we packed up a few of the trailers began to pull out. I quickly moved the truck over to get some better pictures of the truck with the mountains in the distance. Ya know, because do it for the Gram? :rofl:

From the Grand Tetons National Park we split off and began our trip back east. The trip back out of the Tetons was spectacular. We drove out on US-26 passing beautiful lakes, mountain peaks, and tons of snowmobiling tracks.

From the Tetons we booked our way nearly due east until reaching Hot Springs South Dakota. We grabbed a quick bite to eat while we checked our maps and made some plans. We decided to take some time and see the sights since we were so close anyways! We made our way through Wind Cave National Park, through Custer State Park, and up into the Black Hills National Forest. We enjoyed some beautiful drives and saw plenty of Buffalo! We ended the evening by stopping by Mount Rushmore just before sunset. Still not sure it was worth the $10 parking fee for the 8 minutes we were there. o_O

After checking out a few maps we discovered that we could enjoy some dispersed camping just about anywhere we wanted. We found a great little trail that was just difficult enough to keep the VanLifers away. Once we settled into our little slice of heaven we busted out the Thermocells to keep the bugs at bay. Another gorgeous sunset over the mountains… Life was good!

The next morning we set out early for our easterly trek home. Luckily we were passing right though the Badlands National Park. At first we were pretty disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, the little white islands sticking out of the grass were neat, but it wasn’t anything to write home about. Once we entered the park, paid our dues to public land usage, and started out of the valley, the views got better. Then we made a last second decision to stop in a parking lot full of cars to see what was going on. After seeing everyone climbing around on the formations we decided it was worth stretching our legs, and man I’m so glad we did! Just pass the little hills was an incredible and other worldly landscape that we both wish we had time to explore!!

From the Badlands we stopped by a Minute Man Missile museum. I mean, it was less than 1000 feet out of our way, so why not!? It was short but really neat. Unfortunately the actual silo where you can see the missile was 15 miles out of our way and we opted to catch it next time.

While there we met a great older couple who were traveling the country in their 19 Tacoma longbed. He had built a great set of drawers and water tanks in the back of the bed, with a CVT tent on the roof. Now the stop was doubly worth it!

From the museum we booked our way east across South Dakota. I think we even had to turn the steering wheel a couple times! Super exciting… :annoyed:

For Matt, the trip ended in Milwaukee. With his Ferry leaving at 6am we knew we needed plenty of sleep so we grabbed a hotel, then went out for dinner. Sleep is overrated anyways.

The next morning I dropped him off at the Ferry dock, ran back to the hotel to get some remote work done, then started my journey home. The drive home was uneventful though I did manage to get 18mpg with the GFC! So that’s a really big improvement over the rack and tent.

I know this trip wasn’t nearly as exciting as our off-road treks across Utah, but I figured a few of you would enjoy the pictures of our whirlwind trip. We’ll have another trip in just a few months! This time our wives will be joining us on a northern trip. You’ll just have to wait and see where all we go this year!

8 Likes

Thanks! I love doing trip reports. Should have the videos from this trip out on the youtubes soon. Just in time for another 2 week adventure up to the UP and Canada.

1 Like

Amazing and thoughtful GFC adventure story! Thanks for sharing

1 Like

First video from the trip is now live!

3 Likes

Nice vid. How did you do the map animation—an app or just stop animation? I’ve been wanting to do something similar, but with a retro-looking map.

1 Like

Thanks! I used a couple screenshots from google maps. One with the route and one without. I traced a new line on the map in Adobe After Effects then used some masking and 3d effects to make the line appear and the camera angle move. There are some great plugins to do something similar but I couldn’t justify the money. I’m slowing teaching myself After Effects. I just finished up the into animations this weekend.

2 Likes

Cool. Thanks for sharing your technique.

1 Like

I met up with Rebecca in the Tetons after your install! What a small world!

1 Like

Oh really?! How cool! Definitely a small world.

@ScenicCityOverland — I just came across this story tonight and the title struck me. I started to read and first line cracked me up.

I received my email today and had planned to schedule it out two weeks from now until my wife said that wouldn’t work because no one will be at home to take care of our dude when she’s at work - I work from home now - all summer activities cancelled. Anyhow, we had planned to do a big 2 week trip to pick it up but with the current environment, we felt it safer if I just went, well me and the dog… So - email - all night planning - 3500 miles adventure starts Tuesday.

Why? Because my GFC is in Belgrade, mocking me.

Thanks for the laugh and the great story. Looks like it was an awesome adventure.

Blue

2 Likes

Congratulations! You will absolutely love it. We did a two week trip to the UP and Canada in ours this last fall. It’s the perfect road trip vehicle and so much faster setup and takedown than our previous setup.

And thanks for the compliments. I love writing these stories and had a few more on ExpoPortal from other trips. Plus doing the YouTube videos from these trips is fun.

What part of the country are you coming from?

1 Like

Hey man, I just got back. I left from Oklahoma, took as many beautiful highways as possible and clocked ~3200 miles in 6 days. Me and the Dog. It was an incredible trip.

I’ll post some pics soon - The new camper performed wonderfully. I did get caught in a couple crazy thunderstorms which felt like the camper and my truck were about to get ripped apart and rolled down the valley, as well as the learning curve for the truck. Mileage, wind, new mass driving in rain sheets and mud, 400 straight miles of cross and headwinds from Colorado back to Oklahoma…really murders the gas mileage. Next upgrade was going to be suspension, but I think it’s going to be gears instead based on the trip. I can get an add a leaf for now and save for a daily driver lift and leafs setup early next year.

I can’t express how happy I am with the thing though. Setup, tear down, leaves so much time to set up the rest of camp. I look forward to taking the family out this weekend and every other available weekend.

-J

5 Likes

Sorry for the delay, let me add a couple images from my trip. I’ve done a few since too! This thing is awesome!

3 Likes

new tent design looks good

2 Likes