Fetching First Stuff Trip

This is the first article of my Trip Report. I don’t know how many will be in the series, I’m just going to start describing things and see what it takes.

The Flight Out:

Florida Friend went with me to help pack and drive back. We flew out of Tampa and that was fairly nice. The airport is a bit more cozy than Orlando, but big enough that you still have amenities like a bar ;-)

Unfortunately, the bar / food shack has gone to some kind of electronic “order from your table” with a QR Code thing you are supposed to shoot with your phone and then some kind of enter your order on your phone. Since “I don’t do that”, we got to sit for a fairly long time waiting for the “server” to recognize that we needed service. (Instead she was busy being janitor of the seating area). After standing, waving, and starting to walk around looking curious, we were asked if we needed service (and then she took a moment to put away the broom…) Eventually we got our order, though my “Scotch & Soda” turned into “Bourbon on the Rocks” between order and delivery… I’m no fan of Bourbon… but whiskey is whisky… sometimes.

For most of the time we were at the table the “server’ was busy talking to the checkout clerk. The movement to “electronic ordering at the table” looks to me like it just kills the service mentality and customer awareness.

We arrived about an hour earlier than expected. Then we discovered that our first flight was going to arrive at the “hub” airport a bit late, giving us only 20 minutes to change planes… so the airline re-routed us to another flight. OK… We now had an hour later departure, but our arrival time at the other end was only about 30 minutes later. The only big change was that our “Plane change” in Chicago? turned into a change in some other city. Salt Lake I think… You reach a point where plane change cities are all the same…

The Hotel:

Landing in San Jose, we took Light Rail to where I had the Subaru waiting at The Mechanic. Walking from the Light Rail to The Mechanic, we passed by a “Hampton Inn” by Hilton. Having nothing planned, we asked for a room. I’m pretty sure we were told it would be $134 / night, but at check out it was $154… PLUS a $15 / night “occupancy tax” plus a few cents of “tourism tax” – way to go California…

So “note to self”: Avoid staying in hotels in California and add at least 12% to whatever price you think you will be paying. The Hotel was very nice, included an OK Breakfast Bar (the “typical” canned foam egg dishes with OK bulk breakfast meats and various high starch options like DIY waffles and cold cereals).

Minor Tasks:

We did pick up the Subaru and had wheels for the week. Nice that.

Tasks at that end included re-upping the registration on the Subaru & the 240 D (that is basically non-op at The Mechanic for a fix up); plus a run to the P.O. Box that was set up when we sold the house, but didn’t have a new place yet. That all got done over a couple of days.

The Stuff:

I had 2 storage units full of “our stuff”. One goal was to close out one of them. The one that was the target was an “odd shape” at the end of a row of 10 x 10 foot units. It had a wedge shape on the end to accommodate an emergency exit and turn of a hallway. I originally took it as I was only charged for a 10 x 10 but this was more like a 10 x 14 volume, but oddly shaped on one end. The point? I had more than a 10 x 10 worth of stuff in it… The other unit is about 10 x 20 ish.

Long story short, we were able to empty it into the Truck in about a day. More on this later, but first, about that Truck…

The Truck:

A few months ago I’d priced a UHaul rental truck, 20 foot box and 26 foot box. They were running about $5k and $7k for a coast to coast run. In the Hotel, I went to book a truck and found out prices were now more like $7k and $10k. WT? OK… ought to have checked it again before booking the flight out.

Next surprise was availability. None in San Jose, and spiraling out from there, none in Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Gilroy, Milpitas, Palo Alto… I decided to jump the search “way out” and checked places in the Central Valley and up into the Sierra Nevada. Reno, Nevada had a truck, and it was about $600 less too. But that’s a 200+ mile run up the Sierra Nevada mountains to get it. Moving closer, there was ONE truck available in Lodi (from Tio’s Tires…) and another in Stockton (at a gas station). OK… Stockton is only 1 1/2 hour drive away, so we booked it.

Next day we drove over and picked up the truck. After about 20 minutes on the phone with The Bank they allowed me to spend the money I’d deposited in my Debit Card account… They were “protecting” me, you see… I’d opted for the 20 foot box for 2 reasons. 1) We were going to be weight limited so the added volume was pointless. The available specs for weight said 10k lbs each truck, though some places seem to say that the 26 footer might be 12 k lbs. Maybe. At about $2k more, or $1 / lb of “maybe”, that wasn’t compelling. 2) Nobody had a 26 footer anyway.

I also learned that Uhaul has “local” trucks with their locks on them (and master keys for a region), and they have “long haul” trucks with BYOLock. The two groups do not share trucks… so a site may have a lot of trucks, but none for “1 way” out of area.

Upon paying, the $7200 quoted price turned into $8000 on the card. WT? Seems that California has a “Sales Tax” on a truck rental. So $800 kick in the pants on your way out of State. OK, had I realized that, I’d have likely sunk the $800 into fixing the ML. OTOH, I had stuff I wanted to get moved NOW, so… The general observation is that California has put Sales Tax on rentals of stuff, be it hotel rooms or trucks. Maybe it was always that way and I just didn’t notice as sizes were smaller. But the “end of the day” I was out about $1000 more than expected due to “rental taxes”.

For future runs (no more than 2 I think), I’ll plan to NOT rent trucks nor rooms if at all possible. Camping is my friend, I think.

In retrospect, it would have been better to have flown into Reno (who had a truck), rent it there for about $600 less, and likely have also had a much lower sales tax hit too. Then driven down to San Jose, picked up my stuff, and headed to Florida. Being almost all down hill, gas to get down the hill is nearly none. About 10 gallons would likely do it. Also, gas in Nevada is cheaper…

The Traffic:

California traffic has gotten worse in the last year. From Stockton to San Jose we were in “slow and go” until about 10:30 AM and about 30 miles from goal. That means the roads are only “open” from about 11 to 2 pm. Jammed up until 10 and after 3 for sure. So we’re down to a 3 hour window of clear driving mid day, and some in the dead of night. OK, so planned to leave town during that window.

We’d checked out of the Santa Clara hotel to pick up the truck.

The Loadout:

We took about 7 hours to load that first storage unit into the Truck. Partly that involved packing 3 book cases of books into boxes. Also taking down a shelving unit or two. This was largely just a “load and go” without any selection nor dumping things like Old Monitors. Why? Because they have no garbage facilities available to you at storage places… So since “everything must go” to close the unit, we just loaded it all into the truck.

Given the final weight after shuffling stuff at the 2nd unit, and that more weight came out than went in… my best guess is we put about 12,000 lbs into a 10,000 lb truck. LOTS of books, heavy old tube monitors, wood furniture, boxes of goods.

We then headed south to the next storage unit. I’d put that stuff just at the south border of San Jose to avoid the need to deal with City Traffic to get to it when coming from Florida. It was stuff I’d just rapidly emptied from the house when it was in escrow. Not a lot of sorting, just stuff in a box and haul… Being dead tired, we checked into a “much cheaper” hotel.

That Hotel was a no-name older place. It was “only” $120 / night (with AAA discount…) Hotels in California look to have about doubled in price over just a few years ago. In future I’m not going to be staying in hotels in California. Costs are just too high. I’ll sleep in the car / cab or back of the truck / trailer if not loaded full yet. I’ll also plan things to have minimal time in California (much easier now that the misc. tasks are done and I don’t need to do anything but “load and go”.

Storage Unit #2:

We got to unload about 1/2 of the truck, unload about the same volume of the 2nd unit, and then shuffle stuff around. Why? Take the trash stuff out of the truck and put them in unit #2 (for a future run to the garbage dump) and load the truck with stuff we actually wanted to take to Florida. All told, likely moved another 9,000 lbs of “stuff”, with 5,000 out and 4,000 in.

I did manage to find a lot of the heat sensitive stuff (photos, seed archives,…) that I wanted to get moved, along with a load of books I care about, and a few boxes of Kitchen Goods so I can do some more interesting cooking ;-) Plus some various odds and ends. We now have a proper dining table & chairs. One card table is now folded and stored. The Florida room has a nice dinette set in it too. Some boxes of files are moved too. I’ve got a few boxes of clothes. Spouse got her book collection. Oh, and we now have dressers in the bedroom. So all in all a decent value add from this trip / load. (there’s other stuff too, this is just the highlights)

A quick run to a nearby truck scale showed we were about 700 lbs over GVWR. Not enough to really matter, but enough to give me grief at a weigh station. As most of the very heavy stuff was in front of all the tables, chairs, wall hanging photos and posters, and other furniture: To lower the weight by 700 lbs would require unloading about 1/2 the volume, taking out some heavy bits, and then putting that 1/2 a truck back in. Being Dead Tired, and not wanting to spend another $150 / day on lodging and food, I decided to just keep it loaded ‘as is’ and plot a course out that stayed away from scales.

That is both “not as hard as you think” since several states, like Texas that is 1/3 of the trip, just don’t care about anything small; and “harder than you think” as each State is different, some are a PITA, and those include both California & Florida that make up another 1/3 of the trip. Then there’s the “issue” of Arizona and Colorado making a bit of a wall of PITA. (More on that in Part 2, as nominally Colorado doesn’t care under 26,000 lbs. but on entry to the State I saw a sign saying anything over 10k lbs or towing a trailer had to stop. Lucky for me the weigh station was closed. But it lead to a bit of unplanned “adventure” as I changed routing on the fly…) In Part 2 we’ll cover the trip; that was significantly impacted by the decision to dodge being weighed.

Next Trip I’m planning as more “sort and dump” before a “load and go”. It doesn’t matter if it is a rental truck or “arrive with tow vehicle and trailer”: I want to take a day or two to sort out “stuff to dispose” and take it to the dump / give away. I’d intended to do this prior to selling the house (to avoid moving it at all) but the sale went fast, so it was just “load everything and store it” to exit the house. I’ve got 3 file cabinets full of papers to sort through, looking for those papers that need keeping out of the bulk that do not. Then there’s the “go through old electronics and figure out what’s to keep, or not”. Do I have enough to read my old media, but no more? Which parts work? Etc. I’ll get as much of that done and dumped as possible in the time available, then.

Left to move? Probably about one more truck load, maybe two. Several book cases. A lot more books in boxes. More kitchen stuff like my Kitchen Aid mixer… My Office Equipment (after I decide just which Old PCs & Such to dump along with old monitors…). More clothes and things like my fishing gear. Some boxes of food (just tossed canned goods and such into boxes to get out of the house fast – may give some of it away…). Lots of camping gear. A desk and a couple of more chairs. 3 or 4 more tool boxes (general purpose, plumbing, other specialty…) Basically all that stuff of life that is in a normal house.

Due to the price hikes / cost explosion: Next trip will largely be a “toss whatever isn’t worth moving” and a “move what you really want to keep and is worth it” load of the moving appliance. Then there will be a “Sit and stare at what is left, if anything, and decide”. IF there is stuff that I really want to keep, but no room in the truck / trailer: Then it will get moved into a smaller storage unit for picking up “someday”. By definition the first 2 loads will have moved most of what we care about that has any time sensitivity to it. IF, as a random example, I’ve got $2000 worth of various camping and survival gear that I do want to keep, but don’t need in Florida Right Now: It can sit in a small storage space until some time I’m in California to visit family & friends and then can come back with me in a Station Wagon or trailer then. We’ll see what, if anything, is left after the Garbage Run and Run #2.

The Rest & Visit:

We then went over to the Central Valley and spent the night with Florida Friend’s Brother. Long shower and finally clean for the day. Had a wonderful Salmon dinner. A nice long sleep.

Next morning I headed out with the Truck. Florida Friend spent another day or two visiting, then headed out with the Subaru (loaded with camping / survival gear as that is its role). I was going slow to save gas, and needed to bypass weigh stations so taking a longer route. Meaning he would pass by me on about day 3 or 4 in any case.

Coming up:

The next installment will be “on the road again!” ;-0 but in a big truck.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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25 Responses to Fetching First Stuff Trip

  1. p.g.sharrow says:

    @EMSmith; sounds like a real adventure.
    I’ve done that several times, but a whole farm of stuff. That is why I recommended disposal of as much as you can and just move money. That minor stuff into storage for a 3rd pickup should be considered as a never pickup that will cost too much of your life to make that 3rd trip and those storage costs will pile up.
    As someone that has closed out several chapters of his life and started over anew I don’t envy your transition. My recommendation is to do that second load and close that door and don’t look back. Only take things that you need and can’t replace. The rest will just be junk and clutter in your new life. At least with your blog you can take most of your friends with you! That is a BIG thing with long distance moves. I value this place more then you think. pg

  2. E.M.Smith says:


    Generally, yes. The “problem” is that much of my “stuff” is stuff that can not be replaced or has some attachment to it that can not be replaced.

    One example: My favored old White Box PC and my First Mac. Both work. Both let me read old media that I can’t read on anything else. Until I get the time to go through that old media and assure the data on it is either moved forward or tossed, I need a way to read the archival media. Even then, I’m keeping my first Mac and its “Mac Sack” as a nostalgia antique.

    Similarly, my Mom’s dining table and chairs need to come (for the breakfast nook) and so does my Spousal Desk (she did the finish on it herself when a kid…). Ditto my old Schwinn Varsity 10 Speed that I’ve had since about 1969…

    The Books make up the bulk of the weight / mass. It is a lifetime library. I’ve wanted to have a proper library with those books in it for decades. This is my chance. So they will be moved. These are not just pulp novels. One set is my “restart the world” set. Some from the 1800’s to early 1900’s. How to set up a Foundry (with the old techniques), Henley’s book of Formulas, Processes & Trade Secrets (full of things like how to make glue and bond glass to platinum wires), 2 books on how to make steam engines and old style Diesels. (Hey, somebody needs to know how to restart the world after the next comet strike, or if the GEBs succeed…), a CRC Handbook with a world of chemistry in it, etc.

    Most of the “meh” stuff was squeezed out over the years, or was left to be dumped. (Things like a Kayak & a rototiller, for example…along with ALL my snow gear).

    The stuff most likely to be dumped? A couple of old Big Tube Monitors (once I figure out how to do that these days in California…). Several old press board book cases (presently holding boxes of stuff in the storage unit, but most likely I’ll just buy new ones here that are better). Similarly those three filing cabinets full of 25 years of filing (after I find and pull out things like property deeds and birth certificates and such…)

    There’s a few other “not leaving behind” things like a $250 or so Kitchen Aid mixer (even if it just goes in the wagon…) and some other equipment.

    Do realize that I’ve still got family & friends in California and will be making that drive a few more times in any case. Mostly just a question of “wagon or trailer”? I also still have one car there, but being painted and fixed up, so likely one ‘fly in’ trip for it (and a full load in it, plus the roof rack for it and whatever can go on top)

    As for the “3rd batch”: It is entirely up for grabs. At present, I don’t even know if it will ever happen as I don’t know how much ends up in the trash run and how much goes into the “2nd run”. (Or even how big the 2nd run batch will be). The 3rd batch could well end up zero. I just don’t know. (We went from “put up for sale” to “escrow closes in 30 days” kind of instantly and I thought I had a couple of more months of “sort and toss” time, but didn’t; so a fair amount of stuff ended up “boxed and stored” that really needs to be sorted out on trip 2. (Really needed doing last trip, but still not enough time as 2 storage unit tickers were running plus heat rising… so closing 1/2 of the storage units took precedence over more compact packing or reduced volume used in the one being kept in any case…) As it was we were rushed for time pretty much every day. (Missed a BBQ Lunch with friends as we worked to empty Unit 1 “same day” as truck pickup. What we thought would take “a few hours” took all day and we finished with just 30 minutes to “closing time”… but “got ‘er done!”)

    So “next trip” will be largely to sort, toss, and size. Then decide on mode of movement and size of mover. (It might be a “just sort and toss” trip with a $19/day local truck to the dump, or it might be “rent another big truck and haul a load”. All TBD once I get to sorting things inside the unit.) I’m hoping to have the ML fixed so I can just pay gas and drive instead of rent, but whatever…

    Getting the first storage unit closed and gone AND getting the “Urgent” stuff moved was a real game changer. (2 lifetimes of photos can’t be replaced… nor can the seeds that I personally developed; and while the other seeds could mostly be replaced at about $3 / packet, the preservation testing can’t and they were closer to $0.75 / packet when bought, so many $hundreds to replace. I just need to get them into a freezer again before a year expires… so I can continue the test of longevity in a retail freezer).

    Up for grabs?

    Things like 3 x 8 foot long “Gorilla Racks”. Presently holding all the neatly boxed books and other boxes of goods. I don’t really need them here. OTOH, they break down fairly small so if, at the end, there’s room in a truck, well, I’d toss them in. If not, I’d let them go. Bought for about $125 each decades ago I shudder to think what they sell for now. But I’ve got my use out of them. The old ‘fridge. Would do very nicely in the Florida Room as a Beer Fridge, but if it doesn’t make it in Trip 2 (with things I know I want to keep), well, it is unlikely worth a trip by itself. (Then again, I looked at new ‘Fridges and they seem to be running $1000 and up ! so enough to justify a corner of Trip 2 if open…)

    Looks like about $400 each now for Gorilla Racks, so call it about $1200.

    Most likely they will stay in “Group 3” holding anything left for most dense packing possible / smallest storage unit size & cost; until I finally close things out. Then “we’ll see”. FWIW I intend to have all this done and all storage costs in California closed out by Thanksgiving, regardless. So looking at maybe 2 more months of storage unit costs. Insignificant compared to everything else. I’m pretty sure that by December “world events” are going to make long distance driving “problematic” and will be “encouraging” a hunker down at home…

    But as usual “we’ll see”…

  3. Ossqss says:

    Wow, that is incredibly expensive for a U-Hall rental. Did you peek at some independent truckers who had a 40′ box trailer? One trip and done type of option.

    I guess I am just out of touch with moving. My last move was 2 doors down the street 20 years ago.

    Oh well, good luck!

  4. H.R. says:

    @Ossqss – Your whole neighborhood is really nice. Two doors North or two doors South are nice places. Was it because of the lot at your current place? It is a very nice lot.

    P.S. Is the Linger Lodge open yet?

    P.P.S. Marsha’s Buckeyes are in, and it seems there is no price increase over last year. I was expecting them to be up by $3 or $4, but nope, same price. Last year, they were in short supply, and I wasn’t sure I could get any to bring down. Plenty on the shelf this year.

  5. Ossqss says:

    @HR, the move was induced shortly after I had to paint the old wood house and I was able to buy the new house with no realtors. The fully brick/no paint home was very appealing. Albeit the lot on the old house was much larger.

    The Lodge is indeed open, and they sell Busch Light pounders! (16oz).

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    @Ossqss: Anything and everything OUT of California is expensive.

    Four reasons:

    1) Gas in California runs about $5+ / gallon, Diesel about $6.50+. So there’s a huge fuel cost bump as it’s several hundred miles just to get out of California. Taking I-10 it’s about 800 miles. At 8 MPG (near what I got) that’s $650. Just to get to the exit from SF Area. About 500 miles via I-40, and about 200 via I-80.

    2) Taxes. As noted, California is loading on all sorts of taxes on just about everything. I bought a stick of wood at Home Depot last year and discovered “Lumber Tax” on top of Sales Tax. This compounds through the system into higher prices for everything too. Hotels to fast food and more. Like $10 to $12 for a MEDIOCRE Fast Food meal. So your driver’s costs are way high. (We’re talking Burger King #1 burger meal range. i.e. the modest meal..)

    3) No Equipment left in California. As noted I had to drive 90 miles to get one truck (out of the 2 available in an area surveyed of about 3 million population). The company has to pay someone to drive that truck back to California to rent it again, so prices go way high. The SAME TRUCK from where I live in Florida back to San Jose costs $2654. (just checked it) So about $5k more to leave California… (The 26 foot truck is $3014).

    4) California’s war on trucking. Between AB5 classifying contract drivers as employees (and driving about 75,000 independents out of business or out of State) to the CARB rule banning any ENGINE older than 2010 (so any old trucks with fine working engines were mandated a massively expensive and often technically impossible engine swap to a new crate engine that’s not available in quantity… so mostly just left the State). This drove another huge tranche of drivers AND their trucks out of the State to other places to make a living. You are forbidden to drive YOUR truck into California if the engine is older than 2010 even if you live in another State and are registered in another State and are legal in another State.

    So put that all together:

    Huge demand to Get The Hell Out runs into no equipment to do the move, no truckers and trucks to do the move (other than a much smaller pool with very expensive new equipment), fuel and food and lodging and all manner of other costs through the roof, and IF you want to get an out of State trucker to drive in and get your stuff, only folks with newer trucks can do it (and you get to pay gas both ways…)

    The only exception is if you own your own truck, are NOT a commercial driver, and are moving your own goods. In theory I could buy a 2005 box truck here for about $8k and use it (as long as under 26000 lbs GVWR). But you can bet I’d be pulled over and need to “educate” every single cop and weigh station and inspection station and “port of entry” operator, to this “exception” every day I was in California.

    I am considering it though… given the surprise $3k extra costs (between the UHaul rate bump over a couple of months and the almost $1k of surprise taxes…)

    I do know I’m not going to do a UHaul rental again unless something drastic happens. It would be cheaper to just get a E350 Van and visit friends a lot while shuttling one load at a time coast to coast… I’d have done that this time except that we didn’t know about the price bump or the “sales” tax on rentals until we’d already flown in and all was scheduled.

  7. E.M.Smith says:

    Um, anyone setting up a run to Linger Lodge?

    I think I’m now about 45 minutes from it… maybe… I.E. I can be there just about any given day for lunch or dinner… Just sayin’…

    BTW, Florida Friend makes regular runs to Tampa too. He’s in some club there. So there’s times I’m thinking I might be there to look over his club and the local “amenities”…

  8. H.R. says:

    You mentioned an E350 van. That strikes me as a good idea. You can put a tow hitch on it for a trailer either rented or your own.

    But when you’re all done, you can make that into the camper-van you’ve discussed here and there, and it can still tow a trailer when the need arises.

    We also know that you are considering a Subaru minimalist camping trekker and a big@$$ motorhome. Obviously, all options are still on the table for you and eventually you’ll home in on one of them.

    We did see that video here of the teenage girl that made a sweet little camper-van. All I can remember is that we were all impressed with her willingness to tackle the project and that the result was really good. I don’t remember your take on whether that was a direction you’d consider, though.

    Anyhow, I thought I’d bring up the van conversion possibility in case moving stuff was foremost on your mind. I know you can walk and chew gum and think about more than two things at once (😉), so that may have been what was on your mind when you mentioned the E350. But I thought I’d pipe up just in case you might want to give it a little extra consideration. Mobile blacksmith shop maybe if the SHTF?

  9. philjourdan says:

    Your comments made me laugh! It reminded me of Rush Limbaugh’s battle with NY about taxes after he moved to Florida. remember that is the state that was going to tax (or did tax) the volunteers at the outbreak of COVID based upon “Imputed Income” even though they were working for free! Liberal paradise!

    So how much would it cost to rent a truck in say FL and drive it out there and back? Just curious as you did not mention that option.

  10. H.R. says:

    @E.M. re Linger Lodge:

    It has been the official venue for the Annual Chiefio’s Blog Christmas Gala and Dodgy Proceedings.

    Then the property was sold and it’s been closed for a couple of years while the whole complex was redone and upgraded. As I understand it, they didn’t mess with the Linger Lodge too much, if at all. Mostly the closing had to do with digging up all over the rest of the property. Ossqss can confirm, nix, or supplement that info.

    Meanwhile, I’m going to go check out the current menu to see if “Roadkill of the Day” special is still on offer.

  11. H.R. says:

    Whoa! Prices are up, but they are up everywhere. The first time I met with Ossqss, the River Sampler was $18 or $19. It’s now $24. They are holding the line on prices pretty well, considering recent inflation.

    Next year will see a lot of restaurants go under as people have to spend their eating-out-money on gas, utilities, and food for the fridge while restaurants will have to raise their prices due to their costs going up.

    Florida restaurants may be in better shape because a lot of people take a week or two in the Winter to escape the frozen North. They are not cooking in their hotel room and are expecting tourist pricing at restaurants and have already pre-bit the price bullet and will eat out regardless.

    I’m expecting the neighborhood restaurants that don’t have the advantage of tourist traffic and that depend on local families to have a really rough go of it if they survive at all.

  12. E.M.Smith says:


    Yeah, escaping California has it’s “issues”… I’ve considered the rent here / round trip options. “The Problem” is the “included miles is about 3.3 K (or about 300 extra over shortest route) and anything over that you get about a $1.3 / mile surcharge. So roughly a $4 uplift for “milage”. Added to the $2.5 K of the rental is $6.5 K that’s close to the $7.2 K “face value” of the one way rental. But… now you get to add the (roughly) 3000 miles / 10 mpg = 300 gallons x $4 / gallon = $1200 of gas leading to a $7.7 k, which was higher until I got stuck with the $800 “surprise!” “sales” tax on a rental…

    So there may be an optimization where I drive to, say, Dallas and rent one there for a “one way” to Florida, then drive to California and back to Florida, and then fly back for my car… (or maybe fly in to Dallas…)

    But all that got run over by my need to just “Get It Done” for the first batch. We’re down in the few $Hundreds of gain in any case, not $Thousands. For $Thousands I’m back at “fix the ML and get a trailer”.


    There was an E350 older Ford Diesel 7.3 for sale that I was tempted to buy, but decided to get one batch done first (for low risk and not delaying to search for and find a trailer). It was about 340,000 miles (on a million mile type engine, but then there’s the rest of vehicle and things like starters and generators…)

    But the idea is still on the table even if that particular vehicle is gone.

    Part of what I learned was a lot about Weigh Stations. In some States, anything towing must pull in. In almost all States, unless towing, a Pick Up Truck gets a free pass (unless it has a “Utility Body” in some States), as do RVs (again, unless towing).

    So that added a bunch of complications that I’m now working through. (I may just do another “Bleed money and get a run done” if time runs low again…) So “the deal” is that now I must balance “legal GVWR vs Cargo Weight” vs “Weigh Station Hassle”.

    An RV typically (from what I’ve seen so far) has about 2000 to 3000 lbs internal load and a 5000 lb tow capacity. Around 7k to 8k max load even with a trailer (as it is largely full of crap already – tanks, furniture, etc). A Pickup or Van has about a 2000 to 3000 lb load capacity AND a 10,000 or so Trailer Tow Capacity. Plus gets a Free Pass in most states (except those with “Trailer must stop” that includes Colorado and is also tempered by the fact that many States have a 10 k GVWR bypass AND the GVWR is the COMBINED Truck & Trailer… Oh, and some treat Vans differently than Pickups…

    So it’s a very complex solution space and I just need some trip recovery time before I feel like dealing with it again.

    So you’ve got the key values of 26,000 lbs for some States, 10,000 for others, ALL Trucks for some States and All Towing for others. Cross that with Truck vs Van vs “Truck” (including rental vans) vs… and it’s a pretty good spreadsheet…

    FWIW, data on various vehicle weights and loads (so GVWR – Weight to give usable load) is often hard to get or unavailable. The UHaul 26 foot states on their web site it is the same load ( 10k lbs ) as the 20 foot, yet P.G. checked with a driver who said it was 12.5 K or some such. Adding a certain risk. Oh, and the Info Page on GVWR cut offs said Colorado was 26,000 lbs yet on entry the Weigh Station Sign said 10 K… so luck for me it was closed…

    So it’s a solution in a few dozen unknowns several with significant risk bands. Now go solve… (Not to mention the $$$ variables…)

    And yes, I’ve considered the utility of a van (or Trailer!) conversion to camper after moving… BTW, the Subaru is already loaded with the stuff needed for camping. Has been for about a year. Not a “conversion” but a cot & camping gear and the cot can be set up inside it.

    Nice to know about Linger. BTW, I’ve had Road Kill… and I liked it! (A pheasant my Dad hit, so we knew it was fresh ;-)

  13. H.R. says:

    Yeah, you wrote about the quick fix to make the Subaru tolerable for camping but had no time to do any of the neat stuff that was done in the video(s?) you posted. That was for another day… maybe.

    The reason I thought you might consider for a van is you mentioned making several trips back to The People’s Republik of Kalifornistan to visit family and friends. But if ‘several’ is actually only two or three trips, then a van is no bueno and git’r done is obviously the better option.

    So… you have a sailboat to satisfy your waterworld wanderlust. We know you like camping of all sorts, rough, roadside, or campgrounds. Maybe after you settle in, a couple of days’ work installing a few of those ‘gee whiz’ features on the Subaru is all you’ll need after all.

    I checked the menu, and unless I missed it, the Road Kill Special is no longer listed. *darn*

  14. E.M.Smith says:


    I tend to be a minimalist. Just enough is good enough. So I did some hunting and found a cot that fits the Subaru Just Fine AND the spouse ordered a foam wedge for the bed that she hoped would be more comfortable (it wasn’t) and got an adjustable bed instead. However that foam wedge is just the right slope to “fix” the Subaru height difference from folded down seats to rear deck… So I have 2 “solutions” to the sleeping platform.

    The sleeping platform was the most important and hardest bit…

    With that solved, I see no need to build one from plywood (or ‘whatever’).

    The rest (storage, kitchen, etc.) is just as solved. I’ve had a “Travel Kitchen” for decades. A few in fact. Big one in a tub. Smaller one in a shopping bag (Trader Joe’s)

    So I’m not seeing a big need to do much more with it. I want to put some time into actually camping with it, then I’ll know if there’s more to do. Essentially, I think I’m “done enough”, but using it will point out any missing bits.

    At this time my “Camper Build” urges are turning more toward a “Cargo Trailer Conversion” and / or just buying an RV. Things where you can get a real water tank, sink, maybe even a shower built in; and certainly a WC of some kind. Even if just a porta potty and curtain. But that’s all for the future when the moving stuff is done. I might get one to move the stuff, but loading the space with camping accommodations would come later. When to-ing and fro-ing on the freeways, I’m comfortable with just a reclining seat and sleeping bag, plus travel kitchen. (Flat of water, food bought at time of departure; there’s plenty of rest stops and gas stations for the bathroom…)

    Basically an insulite pad and sleepy bag on the floor of a cargo trailer or van would be “just enough” when outbound, swapping to either a recliner seat or set out cot on the return. Then make it a fancier camper build when done hauling stuff. Still a possible.

    (All things are possible until you make the decision and head down a path. Even then, if things go all FUBAR, you can retreat and try another path…)

  15. jim2 says:

    Moving is such a huge PITA that you probably should do the easiest thing even if it’s the more expensive option. JMO.

  16. philjourdan says:

    @EMS – I see you did your homework on that. Was pretty sure you had costed out all angles, but figured I would mention it. Next time, move to Texas for 6 months (almost like FL except fewer beaches) and then to FL. That way you can rent round trip! :-)

    The “many” times we moved across country, we had a helping hand. Military paid for the move!

  17. E.M.Smith says:


    That’s exactly why I did the 1 rental truck run. Now that the heat decay issue items are off the table, I can choose to optimize or to just “Get ‘er done!” as I like it.

    FWIW, the ML goes in for a “How much to make it work again” shop visit on Tuesday and I’m looking at about $4k Lincoln Navigator prices as an alternative Tow Vehicle (plus add a trailer for a few K more…)

    Likely a decision next Friday and then the next run gets done…


    As the Spouse is a Texan Family, and “Uncle Ken” lives near Dallas, I’ve pondered just buying a bit of land in Texas and making it a storage spot…. A few acres and an RV and “all is good”… Heck, I’m pretty sure Ken would loan me his truck AND let me put an RV on his dirt. But that’s more of a Last Choice if I can’t just get it done…

    Frankly, as of now, with the first and most important stuff done, moving the rest is more of a sanitation measure and less of an “I want it NOW!” issue…

    As of now, I’m a Floridian with all I really need around me. Everything else is just “Clean up on Isle Kalifornia!” for purposes of doing the right thing and being responsible about junk…

  18. philjourdan says:

    The good thing about Texas (vs FLA) is there is a lot of spare land! At least for now. I suspect that will not be the case as both the illegal immigration and the flocking of awakened (versus WOKE) people from blue states propel Texas to the most populous in about 20 years. California has the beaches and the Bitches. And taxes galore. They will turn paradise into hell. Because that is what liberals do!

  19. E.M.Smith says:


    Um you have a mistake in your comment. “will turn” ought to be past tense “have turned”… I left for a bunch of reasons. About the only thing left of interest in California was the weather… and that was not enough.

    Santa Cruz closes the beaches at 10 PM. It is about a 30 minute walk from the beach to the car parking area (and don’t forget to pick up your stuff, put out any beach fires, etc.). BTW, the police start issuing parking tickets PROMPTLY at 10 PM. So in reality, you need to start prepping to leave at about 9:15… but they don’t tell you that.

    You are forbidden to do most of the actually fun things you want to do at the beach.

    Fishing licences have gotten quite expensive AND the regulations are insane. Some fish can only be caught in about a 100 foot stretch of a given river. Others you need to be a professional fish biologist to know if you have a legal one, or not (better get good at counting “rays” in the fins, spotting minor color variations, and knowing your sub-species).

    Camping or cars on the beach? You must be kidding… Heck, even parking in the parking lot back at the road is limited with tickets at night.

    Then there’s the 50 gallons of water per person per day. So if the spouse and you both take a shower, you can’t run the dishwasher, cloths washing is right out, and forget about watering the lawn that day (which, if it isn’t watered regularly, turns brown and dies. It is a functional desert for 6 to 9 months of the year after all…) Oh, and IF you want to grow food in a garden, better not expect to take a bath that day…

    Then there’s the “spare the air” days that seem to be random. I had a fireplace in the house (now forbidden in new construction BTW) and was grandfathered in; but in winter when the air is still you get a ticket if you use it…

    And on it goes… “Lawn Police”, “Fireplace Police”, “Water Police”, “Beach Police”, “Fishing Police”… can you say “Police State?” I knew you could…

  20. philjourdan says:

    @EMS – DAMN! How could I have made that mistake! Yes has turned. I lived there back in JB Senior’s tenure and it was a nice place to live (and I know that dates me). But even then I found out that CA Education (from 4th through 10th grades) left a lot to be desired! I moved to VA in the second semester of my sophomore year and found out I had to catch up!

    Fortunately I had some of the best teachers of my academic career (except the German Teacher!) who gave me time and direction and allowed me to catch up.

    One of my top 2 teachers was my Math teacher! Ronald Chandler! You never forget the best.

  21. cdquarles says:

    We left California in 1962, for different reasons; but we, or at least I, am glad we made that move 60 years ago. I visited again in 1983, and while visiting was great; you could see the decline, in places, then.

  22. E.M.Smith says:

    Just a couple of notes on the Mercedes Trailer Trail Of Tears…

    After a few dozen visits to various folks in a circular firing squad… Mercedes Dealer sends me to RV Sales Place that sends me to Cargo Trailer sales place that sends me to Dealer that…

    I FINALLY got the Mercedes Dealer to say they got nothing for either a trailer adapter or a brake controller and don’t DO aftermarket stuff. So I could at least break the circle…

    Eventually a different RV Dealer sent me to Northern Tool & Equipment where a couple of younger guys decided they were bored with nobody else to wait on so spent about 1/2 hour digging around in their computer system and on line. Found a reference to a “fix” to lights not working (for LED lights) – that was also then causing a plug in brake controller to not work as the Mercedes “multiplex wiring” aka computer was administratively doing Stupid Stuff. (LED trailer running lights just blink, that I think is what is called “hyperblinking” and brakes do nothing…) A 20142 adapter.

    Searching on line found
    Trailer Connector Adapter w/ Lamp-Out Sensor Bypass – 7-Way RV to 7-Way RV – Vehicle End – 20142

    With folks with various Euro vehicles AND newer FORD trucks saying it fixed the issue.

    The basic problem is the “light bulb out” sensor circuit looks down the line and does not see a tungsten resistance, it sees an LED with the wrong taste to it. So then administratively does Stupid Stuff (varies by car – can be no light, blinking lights, light out notification, no trailer signal so no 12 VDC turned on the “straight power line”… etc.) The “adapter” puts resisters of the “right” size in the line so the sensor is happy so the computer is happy so it doesn’t do Stupid Stuff. And all is well again. Supposedly.

    I’ve ordered one for delivery in a few days and then will re-visit the trailer dealer and hook up to their trailer again and see if it works as advertized. Then if it does, buy the plug in Bluetooth wireless brake controller and then get the trailer. (And then be able to go get my stuff… now that the ML is working again… after it’s Hind Brain SAM Module was replaced for $900…)

    BTW, there are 2 different styles of brake signalling too. It looks like Europeans use some kind of Pulse Width Modulation, so you must get a plug in brake controller that knows what to do wit that. Supposedly a Curt model C51180 does. “We’ll see”…

    There’s just way too much computer crap between the brake pedal and the tail lights. Including an “App” for either Apple iPhone or Android to control the brake controller… via Bluetooth…

  23. Ossqss says:

    I would use caution using older BT connections. They are good for 30′ line of sight without obstructions. Your phone may be the weak link.

  24. Terry Jackson says:

    Old Tech was a Surge Brake. No connection needed. Down side was they may over apply on long downgrades. Had to be installed on the trailer. The brake light connection was still needed. Opinion: you love Mercedes, but a mid to late 90’s diesel truck is a better solution. Decent torque, decent mileage, and easy towing options.

  25. E.M.Smith says:


    I love OLD Mercedes… The newer ones not so much.

    I’d wanted a Dodge Cummins or FORD Powerstroke 7.3 (and looked at them), but since at the time it might also have needed to be a Spouse & Me escape California vehicle, I had to compromise to get acceptable ride quality and “step height” to get in for the spouse (who had just gotten a knee replacement and does best in Mercedes seats).

    This ML, being a Turbo Diesel, has very good mileage (got about 18 towing a car hauler with a Mercedes Wagon stuffed to the top with stuff, so heavy, on a very heavy UHaul trailer), climbed mountains with ease while towing, did 70 to 75 easy too. Only real downside is nobody has a clue how to set them up for towing American trailers…

    Capacity is a bit light compared to heavy duty pickups, but comparable to a lot of USA Sport Utility Vehicles and better than many (including Jeeps) at 7200 lbs.

    UHaul had to send me across town (about 20 miles round trip) to get the “European Type” 7 pin RV to flat 4 adapter to get the car hauler lights to work… $19 and I still have it.

    But that trailer had a Rube Goldberg kind of automatic brakes. Big spring between hitch / front section and trailer part of iron hitch frame. When you put on the brakes, this would compress and put on the trailer brakes… I ought to have asked more questions and gotten more clue then; but I didn’t.

    NOW I know it’s a computer “testing for incandescent light out” vs “LED Lights” thing. (At least that’s what I hope it is…) So the car just needs to “see” a regular bulb resistance and it’s good to go. That’s what the 20142 adapter does. Then I can plug in the brake controller “someday” when I’m ready to break camp…

    Or so it seems right now.

    The big issue is not that I have to buy an adapter and brake controller. The big issue is just that nobody knows what fits the Mercedes. Even when they stock it. Oh Well. I think I’m pretty much ready now though. The T-20142 is on its way, and the brake controller is in stock at both the trailer stores I wend too today (it fits all sorts of things…)

    With luck, that’s history now.

    Oh, and I also almost bought a Lincoln Navigator a couple of times. 2 didn’t make it because the owners swapped the air suspension for springs, turning it into a FORD Excursion with fancy interior… and 1 was rejected for frame rust. The Mercedes didn’t have those issues. (BTW, I still might buy one… there are a very few with the Diesel in it. One without rust and with that engine? I’d buy it in a heart beat…)

    Basically the ML was bought after about a dozen other test rides didn’t work out… oh, and several Pickups were sold before I could wave money at them. But I was trying…

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