Father’s Day 2020 Road Trip Planning Guide

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Road Trip Planning guide

I was sitting back the other day, actively trying to deny the fact that the head gasket is probably failing on my Bronco when I remembered that Father’s Day is just around the corner. I started thinking about what I could get my dad that he would actually get use out of. I could get him yet another tool or something, but I know I’ll just catch him using the same old hammer and a crescent wrench anyway.

The food dehydrator I got him hasn’t been plugged in yet, the chainsaw I bought him broke after just one summer (and went back to the one he bought 25 years ago), leaving the only thing I got him that he actually uses is a magnifying glass to stil read National Geographic. I steadfastly refuse to expand his collection of white New Balances, so what could I do?

I decided to say screw all that. We’ll go on a road trip instead. Boom! Nothing but beef jerky, dad jokes, and the open road! The wind in our hair (er, over his bald head)! Seeing the sights! Father/son bonding the likes of which this pandemic has ever seen!

What We’ll be Needing on the Trip:

I was sitting back the other day, actively trying to deny the fact that the headgasket is probably failing on my Bronco when I remembered that Father’s Day is just around the corner. I started thinking about what I could get my dad that he would actually get use out of. I could get him yet another tool or something, but I know I’ll just catch him using the same old hammer and a crescent wrench anyway.

The food dehydrator I got him hasn’t been plugged in yet, the chainsaw I bought him broke after just one summer (and went back to the one he bought 25 years ago), leaving the only thing I got him that he actually uses is a magnifying glass to stil read National Geographic. I steadfastly refuse to expand his collection of white New Balances, so what could I do?

I decided to say screw all that. We’ll go on a road trip instead. Boom! Nothing but beef jerky, dad jokes, and the open road! The wind in our hair (er, over his bald head)! Seeing the sights! Father/son bonding the likes of which this pandemic has ever seen!

Getting Ready:

I figure my Allroad is the best choice for the trip over my hilariously inefficient Bronco or his cramped single cab Ranger. Plus it has plenty of room for all our camping gear, fishing rods, a nice big cooler, and enough beer to give a small moose alcohol poisoning. You know, the essentials.

We’ll also be seeing quite a few trails along the way, so some traction mats and recovery straps are in order just in case (I doubt we’ll need them, but better safe than sorry). This is another plus for bringing the Allroad over his 2WD Ranger, and we won’t be hitting anything difficult enough to need the Bronco.

As with any trip that will see mileage in the hundreds, there are a few things I need to nail down and make sure are solid:

Pre-Trip Preventative Maintenance:

Change your brake pads and rotors yourselfEspecially with something as uh, “tempermental” (putting it nicely) as my Audi, it’s important to make sure everything is in tip-top shape before setting off. Given that this is an aging, over-engineered twin turbo V6 with complicated air suspension, there is a lot to go wrong.

That means going through a little mental checklist on things to check and replace:

The List:

  • When’s the last time this thing got an oil change?
    • Ehh, it’s been a bit. OK, I’ll do that.
  • How are my brakes looking?
    • Wow, somehow plenty of pad and rotor life left. How have I owned this since 2016 and never touched the brakes?
  • Any leaks that I should be worried about?
    • Hmm, a little bit coming off the passenger side turbo. I’ll tighten those oil line fittings and see if that fixes it.
  • How’s the coolant look?
    • Ehhh, not bad enough to want to flush it yet.
  • How are my tires wearing?
    • Hmm, driver’s side front tire is wearing a little faster on the inside. Time for an allignment.
  • Any warning lights?
    • Surprisingly no. It’s been quiet… too quiet.
  • Anything else weird going on?
    • I’ve been having some strange ABS issues intermittently on turns. I’ll pull the wheel sensors and clean them, see if that helps.
  • Belts and hoses good? Battery OK?
    • Yep, yep, and yep.

With that out of the way it’s about as ready as it can be. Luckily we won’t ever be too terribly far from civilization.

What I Wish I Could Take:

Diablo Drop Off in Anza Borrego

Man, I have too many hobbies. If I had the ability and self control to just stick to one thing and put my money towards just that (and savings) then I’m convinced I would be a happier man. Even narrowing things down to just one car project would do wonders for my bank account (and relationships). But no. I’m stubborn and can’t pass up deals when I see them, and I put myself in this mess.

If I were to dedicate my spare time and disposable income to just my Audi, I would absolutely love to build a drawer system for the back. Think Decked, but made with more plywood and expletives. From there I’d outfit it thusly:

Dometic Fridge/Freezer:

My buddy Jeff changed blew my mind last year, we were running the Arroyo Seco del Diablo Trail out in Anza Borrego (in the picture above). It Dometic Fridge and Freezerwas maybe high 80s, low 90s, and we stop for a break at the top of the trail just before Diablo Drop Off. He opens up the back of his Land Cruiser and hands us each an ice cold icecream cone from his Dometic freezer.

No melting ice to deal with, no annoying leaks, no waterlogged hotdogs after all day in the sun, just a perfectly frozen ice cream cone. It really makes going back to a gigantic cooler and buying ice that much more annoying now. At some point I will have one of those fridges.

NextBase Dashcam:

Dash cams are underrated. Not only can they help you to CYA if you’re ever in an accident or someone bumps into you in a parking lot (more on that later), but they can also help you capture other crazy stuff happening on the road in front of you. Whether that be a hit and run involving someone else NextBase 422GW Dash Cam with Alexa Functionalityor something completely wild, like a bear unicycling on the sidewalk (they’re supposed to use the bike lane).

There are a million choices for dash cams out there, but I like the NextBase for a few reasons. One, they have the bump sensing capability that will automatically start recording if the car is parked and it feels someone bumping into you. With the front and option rear cameras, this can be handy for getting the license plate of anyone hitting you in the parking lot, or even someone breaking into your car.

Also, the higher end models have Alexa functionality built in that allow you to ask for directions, play music, or set a timer completely hands free. Pretty cool, huh? I have no good excuse as to why I haven’t picked one of these up yet, because I keep meaning to. You know what, screw it, I’m going to put in my order right now.

A Roof Top Tent:

OK, that might be a little weird with me and my old man up there, but we would probably just switch off with one of us sleeping in the Audi below A popup and fold out style RTTand the other taking the tent. This is another one that I would probably have by now if I wasn’t dropping so much cash on other projects all the time.

ARB set the industry standard here with their Simpson line, and they’re actually not as expensive as you might come to expect from them as a brand. They’re still at a premium over some other brands, but there are also much, much more expensive options on the market.

There’s Tepui, TJM, Smittybilt, Tuff Stuff, Body Armor, Raptor Series, the list goes on and on. Expect to pay $800-$1,000 for more extry level models, $1,500 for mid-range, and then prices easily climb above $2,000 once you start getting into the hard shell tents. These are great for lessened drag and wind resistance while out on the road, but that with that comes one hell of a price tag.

Where We’re Going:

Oh crap, I forgot I have to set a destination. Hmmm, now that I think about it, I should probably tell him that we’re going on a trip too. I hope my sister didn’t have anything special planned, because we’re taking off. Maybe I should have told her too…

What was I saying before about priorities?


Have summer road trip plans of your own? Any questions on what to bring? Drop a comment below!

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Garrett Davis
Garrett has something of a sickness when it comes to cars, working on everything from Jeeps, to sports cars, to over-engineered German nightmares. Currently he is embroiled in an Audi Allroad offroad project, and is slowly losing his grasp on sanity.

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