This Ain’t My First Rodeo


I lived in Coppell, TX for a few years. This was before I rode a Harley or drove a Jeep. Looking back, I think about all the fun I missed. Fast forward a dozen years. I sold the Jeep and upgraded to a 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, and built it for Moab and overlanding. I’ve been spending my vacation time going off roading with friends in Moab, the Colorado Rockies, Sedona, etc. Not to mention Big Bend National Park, where I did the Black Gap 4×4 Trail a couple years ago. I moved to Texas to inch myself towards the four corners area, where I plan to eventually retire. Texas is the first step in my long journey.

Here’s a great video review of the Black Gap Trail.

I originally planned to blog about each day’s trip. But I realized nothing of interest happened. Other than a tree falling in front of me when I was parked on the side of the road checking in with my colleagues. Well, my gas mileage surprised me a bit, will cover that in a bit.


I decided to use my Garmin Overlander for navigation. I made sure the lifetime map and firmware were updated before I left. iOS Maps requires cell tower reception to download maps while you drive. Good luck with that if you’re driving in areas without decent cell reception. Second, while Apple boasts improved GPS capability, location services is still reliant on cell towers, WiFi, and Bluetooth (or a mix of those).

You’ll know when Apple gets serious about your iPhone’s GPS capabilities when they provide a native app that shows how many satellites the iPhone is locked on to, and the signal strength of each one. Currently your iPhone locks in to three satellites, compared to a dozen or more for a true GPS. I carry a Bad Elf GPS bluetooth device for those times when I need to rely on my iPhone. It provides true GPS functionality and capability for any application that uses Apple’s Core Location service. However it doesn’t magically cache the entire US map on your iPhone.

I wanted to use my Jeep’s Uconnect 8.4 navigation device, but it came with a 2019 map, and FCA (Jeep’s parent company) wants $150 to update it. Despite their partner company falsely advertising free updates for three years. I’m not going to pay for a map update. Maybe if I didn’t have the Garmin Overlander, since I hate iOS Maps (outside of urban areas where A-GPS, even with it’s dependancies and shortcomings beats GPS).

The farther I traveled West, the more folks I was able to communicate with on 2M (146.520 MHz). Never made contact on 70cm (446.000 MHz). As expected, CB (27.185 MHz) was noisy with a bunch of truckers screaming over each other. Tip for truckers: move over to 10M and dump CB. 🙂


Uhaul has a 55 mph speed limit for their trailers, so I knew the 1,500 mile trip would take longer than it would if I kept to the speed limit. This meant 5 days of traveling at 300 miles per day average. I decided to reserve an AirBnB at or near each stop. Price is lower than decent hotels, and I wouldn’t have to worry about vandalism or theft. I made sure I brought a king size waterproof dog blanket to protect the AirBnB linens, and it’s the respectful thing to do.

Day 1: Staunton, VA A truly dog friendly place, Koda and the owner’s dog got along great. The owner helped me navigate my Jeep and trailer so I could par in her driveway. In the early morning I was surprised she even arranged it so I had plenty of space to get out. Loved the neighborhood, great host, highly recommended!

Day 2: Newport, TN Got there early, was able to log on to check in with friends and family. Koda fell asleep right away. Loved the smell of the air, so clean, so fresh. The host was incredibly nice, great AirBnB, definitely would recommend.

Day 3: Dickson, TN Beautiful farm area, the cottage was old but in beautiful shape (renovated). There’s a hay barn a few yards from the entrance. I love falling asleep to the sound of birds and crickets. Another top notch AirBnB.

Day 4: Benton, AR I had high hopes based on the photos in the AirBnB listing. I was not disappointed. The owner is a retired Lieutenant Colonel (US Army), he recognized my US Army sticker, so we had a great chat. The neighborhood is beautiful and the house was incredible. Definitely a place to stay if you’re passing through the area.

Day 5: Carrollton, TX the last stop was 35 miles from my new home, but necessary since I knew I’d get to Texas late. A cozy AirBnB, quiet and secure. I definitely would recommend this AirBnB to anyone coming to the area.


I use Fuelly to keep track of my mileage, which isn’t great for a Jeep. Surprisingly my average went up during the trip, despite schlepping a 2,500 pound trailer. The 55 mph speed definitely helped.


I’ll spend the next week or two getting a bed, desk, and chair. Since Koda and I live in a studio apartment, I’ll be buying a twin bed, and a 48″ desk, and an ergo chair. That ought to be all I need, other than a wall mount for my TV. For now. 🙂