Van Camping Journey Across The US

This year, we stretched our traveling limits on a van camping journey across the United States.  We drove all the way to Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Tenessee and North Carolina from the Bay Area in California.  Living the #Van Life is amazing.  I installed a new 360-watt off-grid Renogy solar system to power a 63 quart Arb fridge freezer giving us the ability to be almost self-contained.  We have not figured out the bathroom thing yet.

The Van Camping Journey Accross The US Route

All 7500 miles of this epic traveling adventure was amazing!

We left our abode in Fremont California at 630 AM on a Friday morning and drove over snow-covered Sonora pass. Sonora pass usually opens early to mid-June.


Buckeye Hot Springs

Our first adventure was soaking in Buckeye and Travertine Hotsprings in the Eastern Sierras. Buckeye is super clean and accessible for most people.  Beware that clothing is optional.  We soaked here during the day and it was not an issue.  There are several soaking areas.  The hot pond on the top of the hill near the parking lot offers the most privacy and I have never seen clothing optional bathers.

We camped outside of Travertine Hot Springs on BLM land and I soaked again in the morning.  The rest of the family was too tired and opted out of soaking!

Valley Of Fire State Park

We left the eastern Sierra’s and sprinted to Valley Of Fire State Park in Nevada.  It’s been on my bucket list for years and I finally put in the itinerary.  Valley Of Fire is a gem.  For example, the colors of the red rock are amazing and much different than any other park visited.

The 2 campground fills up early.  Arrive before noon to secure your campsite. First come first serve. We shared a spot with wonderful German couple.   Bathrooms are clean and showers are available.  It gets hot. Do all your sight seeing and hiking before high noon.

While driving around Valley of Fire State Park, I started hearing a chirping noise inside the engine compartment. Replacing the serpentine belt and alternator pulley solved most of the chirping noise. 

Paris Arkansas Alternator Replacement

Additionally, I notice the alternator voltage dropping below 12 volts.  I ordered a new Bosch 135 amp alternator on Amazon and had it delivered to our friends home in Arkansas where I installed it in their front yard.  Providentially, the UPS truck arrived at the same time as us.  It was about 50 meters ahead of us rolling down the driveway.

With 650 miles to travel to the Appalachian mountains in Tennessee, I wanted to ensure that everything was running correctly.

Chilhowee Campground

This campground perched on top of a 2500 foot mountain was a great introduction to Tennessee mountain camping.  The 7-mile scenic drive up a steep paved mountain road is worth the drive!  It’s so peaceful in this remote campground.  We hiked 3 miles round trip to Benton Falls early morning.

Indian Boundary Campground

Indian Boundary Campground is the prize of the southern Cherokee National Forest. Hiking, un-motorized boating, swimming, fishing, and kayaking are popular activities.

The wooded camping area lies in a flat beside a clear lake and is surrounded by mountains. The sites are spacious with plenty of tree covering offering shade.  We relaxed here for 2 full days.

Over 87 campsites are equipped with firerings, picnic tables, lantern posts and electrical hookups, with easy access to drinking water, showers, flush toilet facilities and an on-site dump station

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