Prius as a Toad

I am doing this post simply because I wish I had found one like it when I was trying to decide which vehicle to purchase as a Toad for my full time travels. For the first eight years I had my 2004 Allegro motorhome, I always towed my Goldwing motortcycle in an enclosed trailer. But I knew for full timing, I would want to have a more practical solution for my alternate transportation. The bike was great, but I always traveled in nice weather when I was vacationing and now with being on the road twelve months a year, I would certainly encounter more week long periods of rainy or cold weather than before. Thus a car would be a more practical mode of transport.

I knew I wanted something light to put as little stress as possible on the motorhome. Great mileage to offset the 8 mpg in the RV would be nice. Reliability. Amble storage area and easy access for my photo gear. A reasonable price. One that could be flat towed.

In my early days I owned 3 different Toyota vehicles and had great luck with all of them. After test driving many vehicles, I settled on the Toyota Prius. The one drawback with this vehicle was that it could NOT be flat towed.

Prius as Toad

I figured that based on its outstanding gas mileage and reputation for reliability, I would have to put up with the inconvenience of having to use a tow dolly. By the way, Toyota claims 49 and 50 mpg on its advertising and, lo and behold, it actually is close to that. For my first 11000 miles I have averaged an overall 52 mpg.

Prius as Toad

Now, back to the reason for this post.

No where could I find a definitive answer to whether or not this vehicle could be used as a Toad. Toyota would not say that it could, but never really said that it couldn’t.

Safety Chain Attachment points on Prius
Safety Chain Attachment points on Prius

Maybe these attachment points were factory installed for another reason, but it seems they may be there for attaching safety chains when you use the Prius as a Toad, certainly is what I use them for.

After searching the internet and finding as many posts saying you can’t as saying you could use the Prius as a Toad, I finally found one authorized Toyota Service Manager who said he saw absolutely no reason it couldn’t be towed on a dolly. My decision was made.

To date, I have towed the Prius over 11,000 miles and had absolutely no problems. If you are considering using a Prius as a Toad, I would say, you couldn’t make a better choice.

 

August 2, 2013 On the Road

Upper Peninsula of Michigan to Grand Rapids, Minnesota

Traversing the Mackinac Bridge
Traversing the Mackinac Bridge

Crossed over the Mackinac Bridge just after dawn and with foggy, hazy conditions, couldn’t get any decent images of a very impressive structure. Wide enough lanes for the motorhome, although it might have seemed a bit tighter if there had been any other traffic on the bridge with me.

 

Route 2 west on the Upper Peninsula is quite a nice drive, mostly in fair to good shape, a little washboardy, with lots of Roadside Parks and Rest Areas. Stopped at a couple of the Roadside Parks, where they had picnic areas and sandy beaches with people swimming in Lake Michigan. Weather was once again very nice after the early showers, temps in 70’s with blue sky all day. A little more traffic than I expected, but nothing bad except in the one or two large towns Route 2 passes through. Scenery nothing spectacular but sections with views out over Lake Michigan were quite nice.

Wisconsin Route 2 again was pleasant farmland and rolling hills, pretty, but nothing that made me want to stop and stay a while. The road was quite bad in most places, really needs some work.

Probably as a result of road conditions, I had my first close call with the Toad today. With the washboard roads, the front right side wheel harness on the Prius all but let go. When I stopped for gas and did my normal go around check, I realized I would have to dismount and remount the Toad. Fortunate that I did, because when I went through downtown Superior, the roads were so bad ( as bad as anything I have ever experienced, all through the downtown area ) that 15 mph had me fearing I was going to lose the motorhome’s suspension and surely would lose the tow dolly. Had to slow to about 7 or 8 mph in an attempt to keep the wheels on the road. No place to stop and check if I was still in one piece so was very relieved after 15 minutes of this to see the entry ramp for the bridge to Minnesota.

After crossing the bridge into Duluth, I managed to lose Route 2. Whether there simply was no signage or whether the road construction confusion had me missing the sign for Route 2, I do not know. It soon became evident that I was off my route so I stopped for a quick map check, had to turn around and then got put on another construction detour that again just about destroyed the motorhome and I finally limped back on to Route 30 that would get me back on Route 2 and gratefully saw a sign for the welcome station just ahead.

But of course, Route 2 veered off just short of the rest area. So, I figured I still had a few more hours of daylight, no reason to panic, and there has to be a Walmart or a rest area somewhere down the road. Turns out, there isn’t!

I don’t like driving in the dark as a general rule, because my one major complaint with my Allegro motorhome is that the headlights are all but useless, have been from day one and no one has been able to come up with a solution. They aren’t just a little dim, they are downright dangerous because they are next to useless ( anybody in Red Bay reading this? ). And Route 2 through this section of Minnesota looked to be moose heaven and the thoughts of a large dark object looming suddenly in front of my dim headlights just wouldn’t leave my head.

Getting very road weary I stopped in Swan River, got out the IMac, and turned on the inverter ( I know, maybe it might just be time to get an iPad ), and went online to see if maybe Grand Rapids had a Walmart. Turns out they do, so back onto dark moosey Route 2 I go. Just before Grand Rapids, there suddenly appeared a 24 hour truck stop/ gas station with a mostly empty lot out back, so I pulled in, breathed a sigh of relief, had dinner and hit the sack. Turns out to have been a nice place to stop, little truck traffic, the temps dropped down into the 50’s, and the only noise was the humming of a few thousand mosquitos, fortunately, on the other side of the screen behind my head. A good night’s sleep, after a truly long day on the road.

 

 

August 1, 2013 On the Road

Berlin, Ohio to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

Packed up and left Scenic Hills Site 45 at 9 AM. Drove west on 39 to west 30, then north on 15, 75, 475/23, and then back on 75 to a rest area a little short of the Mackinac Bridge connecting Lower Michigan with Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Relatively easy drive, roads in fair shape and once out to the interstates, flat farm country. Nice farm scenery, nothing that made me want to stop though.  Stopped at huge Walmart around exit 282, really nice new store, for fried chix and some staples. Put in a long day, stopped at 8:30 and spent the night at the very last rest area before the Mackinac Bridge, a smallish rest area, probably parking for 10 trucks and RV’s.

Empty when I stopped but, sure enough 2 truckers pulled in, one on either side of me, with the whole lot empty and NO legal spot to my drivers side. Think that’s not intentional! They did shut down though after about an hour or so and I was watching a movie while they were running, so no problem. Actually got a good night’s sleep.

Weather remains nice, high 70’s mostly, couple brief showers, and it is cooling down nicely tonight.

July 26 – 30, 2013 A Week in Amish Country

Haystacks and Barns at sunrise Holmes County, Ohio
Haystacks and Barns at sunrise Holmes County, Ohio

Holmes County Amish, Ohio

Took this sunrise haystacks in the field photo from behind the parking lot of the “famous” Heini’s Cheese Factory.

Barn advertising Heini cheese factory
Heini Cheese, really?

Sorry, please forgive me, but before I go on, I have to wonder what would give cause to an individual with a last name of Heini, to think it a good idea to use that name for his cheese factory. Smith, ok, Johnson Cheese Factory, yes, but Heini Cheese? Really.

The name bothered me so much, I went to Howard Butt’s cheese shop across the road for my pound of cheddar. 😉

I got myself reassigned to a new site up on the office level of the campground and now have good Verizon signal for the internet. Although the atmosphere might be better down below       ( you are located near a farmer’s enclosed deer pen and can watch his horses in their pasture ), I need the internet to work on getting this blog going.

Went down to Der Dutchman in Walnut Grove for their dinner buffet and found it a little less than it was billed. Fare was limited in choice and very ordinary, certainly, not bad, just nothing I would bother with again ( I am on a budget, so dining out has to be a rare pleasure ).

After driving around the area for a few days, I found going north and east from Berlin on 77 and 241 to be the most productive area for photo opportunities of the Amish countryside.

Image of family loading horse buggy with groceries
Grocery Shopping
Family in Horse drawn buggy
Heading to Sunday services

 

Haystacks and barns, Amish country
Haystacks and barns, Amish country
Amish Country Farmscape Panorama
Amish Country Farmscape Panorama

While out taking these photos, I stopped at an Amish farm stand and bought half a dozen ears of corn and a couple huge garden fresh tomatoes ( $1.25/lb what a steal ). Both were delicious!

The last two days here were rainy, so stayed in and worked on trying to get this blog going. Installed MAMP and WordPress on my iMac co I could work on this when I do not have an internet signal. Also reenrolled with Lynda.com ( a great resource I highly recommend to anyone wanting to learn just about anything ) to take a few WordPress courses. This is starting to eat up more of my data usage with Verizon than I like and I am sure I am going to be paying some overage charges this month spending all this time online.