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A beautiful Friday morning here in Vancouver (has summer finally arrived?) and our family of four are frantically packing our Escape Hybrid to start a 24-day road trip which will take us over 10,000 kilometres across the U.S. midwest and back home via the Canadian prairie.

A brief summary of our "vacation" features stops in Spokane - Nez Perce Park - the NW Passage Scenic Byway - Yellowstone National Park - Devils Tower - Mount Rushmore - St. Louis - Chicago - Milwaukee - Minneapolis - Winnipeg - Regina - Medicine Hat - Fernie - and Penticton.

This will be our second driving vacation since purchasing our 2005 4WD Escape Hybrid - the first was in June 2005 when we toured down the Pacific coast to San Diego and returned home via Las Vegas & Salt Lake City (averaging 7.9 litres per 100/km with a fully loaded FEH + 4 occupants).

I'll post some comments, photos and mileage results when we return in late-July.

:thumb:
 

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Have fun, and have a safe trip!
 

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Sounds like fun. Can I come with you? :play:
 

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Have a fun and safe trip!! We'll be here waiting for pics!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hello everyone... sorry for the delay in posting, but I discovered that it takes about a month to recover from a 24-day road trip (and catch up on all the tasks left incomplete at home and the office). ;)

Anyway, suffice to say our Road Trip 2008 was a success, with 9,557 kilometres (5,938 miles) travelled over the 3+ week period by our family of four with a fully packed 4WD 2005 Escape Hybrid.

First comment - the FEH performed flawlessly. Not a single problem or annoyance to report except for two nasty rock chips in the windshield and a mass of bugs across the front surfaces that almost required a blowtorch and chisel to remove.

Our overall mileage (calculated via an Excel spreadsheet enroute… I took my MacBook along) was a significant improvement over our first Hybrid Road Trip (same vehicle) in June 2005 which averaged 7.9 litres per 100 kilometres (or just a smidge under 30 miles per US gallon).



A few observations from our grand adventure:

- before departure I expected to see lots of pick-ups and other work-related trucks through the U.S. mid-west and Canadian prairies, but was surprised by the number of mid-size and smaller cars on the roads. Further, the number of Prius hybrids on the road was also interesting - they were a reasonably common sight through all 12 states and 4 provinces.

- traffic on the roads was noticeably less than what we encountered in June 2005 (though that trip was down the west coast to southern California and back north via Nevada & Utah). At times it seemed we had the Interstate to ourselves, and when we often travelled secondary/regional highways, there was even less traffic.

- many more Escape Hybrids were encountered… I recall only a few from our 2005 trip, but we often spotted FEHs during this drive (including a long run with a white Escape Hybrid from California during the drive from Kansas City to St. Louis). Also saw our first Escape Hybrid deployed as a taxi cab (in Chicago).

- with maximum speeds on some Interstate's as high as 120 km/h (75 mph), we often set the cruise control to less than the posted maximum (typically 105-110 km/h or ~ 65 mph) which kept the engine close to the 2,000 rpm mark and significantly improved the mileage. Destinations were still reached in good time, and I began to watch the tachometer more than the speedometer, allowing the vehicle to slow down when climbing hills to stay in the same RPM range (and staying in the right lane to allow others to pass… it's always fun when the fully loaded Winnebago towing a large boat flies past you).

- while not always true, it often seemed that the largest vehicles on the road (the Escalades, Expeditions, F-350 and Ram 3500s, Navigators, Durangos, Grand Cherokees, etc.) were the ones blowing by us like we were standing still (sometimes with a boat or camper behind). Their resulting mileage must be quite low, as the increased speed (80+ mph) would impact fuel consumption; either their fill-ups are a business expense/write-off or they just don't care. Smaller vehicles would often be throttled back like ourselves, travelling at or slightly below the posted maximum speed limit.

- the strong headwinds (and crosswinds) on the prairies often reduce mileage as much as the hills do when driving through mountainous terrain.

- a GPS (in our case a Garmin nuvi 250W clipped into a dash mount) is a life/marriage-saver. Numerous times we encountered closed on/off ramps or other construction detours, or had to retrace our steps to our hotel after touring around a city, and the GPS was great. Getting hungry? Get a list of nearby restaurants by category. Running low on fuel? See what outlets are close at hand. Etc. etc. And, of course, no more relying on the wife to read the map and provide directions! Priceless.

- the worst drivers on the trip? Regrettably I have to admit they are right here in Vancouver, B.C. I expected worse in many of the large U.S. cities (or back roads) we travelled, but the final hour of our trip through the Fraser Valley on the Trans-Canada and back into the heart of Vancouver was by far the craziest. Traffic volume was higher, and aggressive driving habits far more prominent than anywhere else. Every roadway has it's odd idiot, but we win the prize for the most - from motorbikes racing along the shoulders of the highway (both sides) to sudden lane changes with no signals, my city is horrendous. I'd rather enter Chicago, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Minneapolis or countless other U.S. urban centres at rush hour than do the same in familiar Vancouver. Part of the problem is that our highway systems are nowhere near as developed as in the United States - we pride ourselves on the lack of massive, multi-lane, multi-tiered freeways in most cities (keeping neighbourhoods intact and controlling sprawl), but the result is more congestion and slower road speed which is a frustrating driving experience (leading to more aggressive behaviour). I'll keep the set-up we currently have in the hope it will discourage sprawl and encourage transit, but I have to admit it was sure nice driving the highways south of the border.

- our two best legs for mileage were the last two, through the mountains of the south Kootenays, Okanagan, Coquihalla & Fraser Valleys. The results were surprisingly good (among the best we have ever achieved), and I can only attribute it so lack of any head/cross winds, minimal use of air-conditioning (cooler temperatures), and better driving habits as we were on familiar ground and nearing the end of the vacation, so we often slowed down to 90 km/h (55 mph) to enjoy the scenery (and prolong the holiday?)

Not sure how many more of these "classic road trips" we will take as a family, but the Escape Hybrid was a stellar performer. I've included a few photos below from the trip - our daughters didn't mind the travel as they had an annotated map to track the journey and we would discuss what areas/sights we would see the next day at bedtime the evening before. Stories & legends relating to places like Yellowstone, Devils Tower, or Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump would further stoke their interest, and the dual-screen DVD system assisted during a few of the longer driving days (Keystone - to - Omaha or Milwaukee - to - Minneapolis via Spring Green).



Above images (starting just beyond the bottom left corner of the map in the centre):
- Grand Coulee Dam in Washington State
- Idaho/Montana border at the Lolo Pass in the Rocky Mountains (Lewis & Clark Trail)
- abandoned mine pit frame in "uptown" Butte, Montana
- Roosevelt Arch at north (Gardiner) entrance to Yellowstone National Park
- a must for wayward Canadians - dining at a White Castle in St. Paul, Minnesota
- visiting Devils Tower in Wyoming (unfortunately no close encounters of the third kind)
- preparing to shop at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota
- near Calatrava's addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum
- touring the Minnesota Capitol Building in St. Paul
- entrance to the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach, Manitoba
- Menzie, Manitoba… site of the Ukrainian National Home
- farmstead near Menzie, Manitoba
- looking for Shamrock, Saskatchewan
- historic courthouse in the Rocky Mountain community of Fernie, British Columbia
 

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Sounds like one heck of a nice trip. I am sure your kids will remember and treasure for many years to come.

I also like the spread sheet you made. Very informative. :thumb:
 

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Glad all went well, HA! Nice write-up!
Umm.....pics???
:D
 

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Wow, that was quite the adventure, HA !! I am sure that all of you had a wonderful and most memorable time. :)

jonas1022 said:
I am sure your kids will remember and treasure for many years to come.
Oh yes, most definitely !! :)

Dasha said:
Nice write-up!

:D
Yes, excellent write-up. Very thorough and informative, although we would not have expected anything less from you. ;)

(Dasha, the pics are there, took a while for them to load. At least they did on my computer. :) Yep, sure did. ;) )
 

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Awesome post there on your trip HA!!!! Glad you and family had a great time. But, I see you didn't take a side trip to the Detroit area. I-275, I-94, I-96/696 and I-75 would I'm sure, changed your mind about worst drivers. :rant: Although with the ongoing road construction, you may have squeezed out better MPG/KPG. :)
 

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Colleen said:
(Dasha, the pics are there, took a while for them to load. At least they did on my computer. :) Yep, sure did. ;) )
Yep, I see 'em now! I think I was in too much of a hurry this morning and didn't see 'em load. :D
VERY NICE pics, HA!! :thumb:
 

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Most excellent road trip HA!!!!

Thank you for sharing the pics. :thumb:
 

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Thanks for sharing this insight into the classic family road trip. The pictures are great, and your writeup was excellent. We took a trip like this when I was a kid (about 40 years ago, I was 14 or 15), from Mich through Missouri, across the southwest to AZ, then up to Yellowstone, across to ND, down through Chicago, then home to Detroit. This was in a '64 Ford Stationwagon, with a homemade plywood rooftop carrier and pulling a popup camper (and no AC or DVD players!). I remember that the only times my Dad let Mom drive was when he needed to stick his right arm out the window to even up the tan!

Thanks for sharing, and thanks for reminding me of my own trip. I think I'll call my brother in Nebraska and reminisce.
 
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