Patapsco Valley State Park
Ellicot City, MD
TRAVEL DAY - 111 milesLUMS POND STATE PARK
PATAPSCO VALLEY STATE PARK
Today's drive was a lot different than all the others. We have been heading north for the last three months along the coast of the eastern United States and have experienced very little difference in the elevations of our campsites. To be more precise, our highest elevation up until now was at a whopping 212 feet and that was at our only inland campsite back in South Carolina. Well that record stands no more! Tonight I'm happy to announce that we are sleeping at an elevation of 427 feet above sea level. You may say that doesn't sound so high, but you need to realize that for the last 55 years I have been living in a state where the highest natural point is at Britton Hill, a 345 foot tall hill in northwest Florida, along the Alabama state border. I might also add that hill was 587 miles from my home in southeast Florida whose elevation was a mere 11 feet above sea level. You might be wondering how I remember all that information, well we're keeping track of all that stuff and more on our STATS page. Check it out if you're into that kind of information.
In order to arrive here at Patapsco Valley State Park in Maryland we had to cross over a lot of hilly terrain where ROVER, our truck, had to pull THE POD, our trailer, up and down like a roller coaster. ROVER handled the challenge just fine, but the driver, one of the TWO PEAS, only scored a self evaluated grade of C+ for his efforts. I'm still new to this whole idea of towing my 7600 pound home behind me on flat ground, now add in what seemed to be mountains to this native Floridian, it created a whole different set of challenges.
I graded myself a C+ because after all a C is a passing grade and we did survive the trip. I added the + because by the end of the day I was getting the hang of using the tow/haul mode transmission feature that came with ROVER, in conjunction the cruise control feature that most of us are used to. Here's how I did it, let me know if anyone with experience at this has a better idea.
First off I usually tow the trailer a little slower than the posted speed limit. So when approaching a hill I would set the cruise control to 5 MPH less than the speed limit and made sure the tow/haul mode was engaged. I then drove the truck like you normally would up the hill. If my speed dropped 2 or 3 MPH below the cruise control setting it would engage and accelerate the truck, this way I could concentrate on the steering and let the truck worry about the speed. Near the top of the hill I would completely remove my foot from the gas pedal and get ready for the descent. When our speed exceeded the cruise control setting by 2 of 3 MPH the tow/haul mode would engage and down shift the transmission to maintain my speed, saving me from having to ride the brakes all the way down the hill. This idea of riding the brakes is where most people get into trouble because once you over heat the pads they lose their ability to slow down your vehicle. For most of the smaller hills we encountered on today's trip this strategy worked well for us, but when we get up into the real mountains next week I'd better have this completely under control.
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