Saturday, April 1, 2017

(9) Supplies

Morning Coffee

"What do we need to take on this trip?" This simple question has consumed much of my spare time over the last 10 or 12 months. A little voice repeating this question at times wakes me up at 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning. My angst is more of my own creation than it is of this journey. Yet the question is a little bit tougher for us because we've chosen to make the journey in a 1959 automobile and because of our plans to camp most of the way. We also plan to prepare at least half of our meals on the road, over a Coleman stove. Certainly this trip would be much simpler if we were driving a brand-new car, sleeping in a motel and eating in restaurants. But what's the fun in that?

By un-complicating things it seems that I have complicated things. Suddenly I have to worry about spare parts and what tools to to take a long for the inevitable repairs.
From Station Wagon living
Ford Motor Co.

Linda and I are certainly not the first coast-to-coast travelers to confront questions of what supplies and camp items to take on our journey. Emily Post and Frederic Van de Water faced the same questions. Interestingly enough both employed a similar approach in solving the problem. Ultimately they laid their clothing or their camping gear and supplies out and compared the size of the pile to how much room they had in the car. Both were seeking a "Goldilocks equation", that is making sure you have everything you need without taking too much.

Van de Water was a little more successful in estimating his needs than Emily Post. Post had to ship things home from the road. Van de Water and his family shipped some of their clothing ahead to San Francisco, deciding that most of their clothes were not needed on the road.

The lesson learned is that if you aren't going to need something don't take it. The proliferation of stores and the wonder of overnight shipping allows you some wiggle room in your estimates. But if you don't need it, don't take it!

When the California Missions were planned along El Camino Real in the 18th century, the missions were established a day's journey apart (walking distance). In crossing the United States by auto, our modern-day equivalent to the California missions are Walmart, Lowe's, Menard's and NAPA auto parts. I know that I will never be more than a day's drive from the supplies I need to complete this trip. If the parts aren't at one of those stores there is always the Internet.

I think today's travel has become much more individualized. What equipment, supplies and repair parts need to be taken along depends on the style of travel that one chooses. Traveling with a new car and staying in motels requires little more than a cell phone and either of road atlas or a GPS. Certainly having towing on your auto insurance policy would also be of aid.
Model T Camping,
Ford Motor Co. Photo
Crossing the continent in the 19th century meant being self-reliant and trusting skills of yourself and others in your party. Crossing the Lincoln Highway in the early 20th century still meant being self-reliant, but was considerably easier. The 1924 edition of the Official Road Guide of the Lincoln Highway provided a list of supplies and provisions. It also reviewed the list of provisions for 1866. In 1924 the 1866 advice of taking along a cast-iron woodstove was no longer relevant. No longer relevant to us today is the 1924 advice for patching inner tubes and tires. If we don't pack enough food we might have rumbly tummies for an afternoon but we certainly won't end up like the Donner party.

Even taking into account automobile repairs, the Internet and overnight mail have made things easier. Should something break on my Ranchero I can contact Summit Racing ( and order what I need and it will be shipped to me, wherever I am, within a day or two.The people that I speak with over the telephone will undoubtedly be knowledgeable and helpful.

Making this trip is now much easier than it would have been in the past, but it still requires some degree of planning.

Lakeview Motel, Donner Lake, Ca.

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