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A year ago for this trip we bought our used '06 EX-L, it was fine except for the known issue of motor mounts, the existing (stock?) brake pads in front made grinding noises and seemed to have little stopping power. Kids complained a lot about the intermittant sound on DVD's through the headphones. Fast forward through a myriad of various repairs and upgrades, the brake recall, etc. This year after finally I figured I finally had issues delt with, and had fixed the DVD cable via TSB and new part. Had upgraded to 18" MDX sport and Kuhmo tires, and the day before the trip I bought a Honda hitch at the dealer via a 15% discount coupon they sent me. The mounting went pretty easy and it does fit well. Was at about 60% oil life and right before the trip did my first drain and fill of tranny using the new Honda fluid. With the DVD cable fix, the hitch and other stuff I was doing at least this partial step was better than nothing, figured when I got back I'd do another.

We mounted a Yakima Full swing 4 bike hitch rack, loaded our 4 mountain bikes, loaded camping gear and luggage, cooler, etc. We use a GPS and radar, had to use a 12v splitter to also charge cell phones...

We left about 9pm from Houston, the intent was to have miss less work that way and also arrive at a selected TN park in time for a swim and some picnic lunch, let the everyone get some exercise. Van drove great, aside for creaking and stuff from L sliding door - getting worse, but it had a lot of power even fully loaded, and my brakes were great - high pedal and firm, no mush, lots of stopping power. With speed limit 70 most of the way through TX and AR and TN, we hauled the mail most of the way, hitting 78-80 or more for long stretches.

I got my 10 YO to do the math on fuel stops to keep her summer skills up, she computed 24-23 mpg the whole way. Van running great - for once all the crap was fixed! Having the kids headphones working was REALLY a bonus. Only thing was we were in such a thrash with all the stuff to get out of the house we forgot adult Cd's totally. I did have my little MP3 player and headphones, which came in handy during the night shift driving, but made mental note for the next project to do the AUX port project if possible.

We stopped at Long Hunter SP in TN Park Link and kids played with other kids, we heard one kid in a very thick TN accent ask my daughter where she got that accent from! Then we went to the southern end of the park where you can swim and there's a mountain bike trail. My oldest and I did the trail which is sort of beginner/intermediate with a lot of rocks, but great fun. Afterwards, we went to the swimming area of the lake and jumped in for a much appreciated cool-down.

In Lynchburg VA, I found a lot of mountain bike trails close by, both in town and by Peak Views park (I think the name) and they had pretty challenging stuff there as well as some more open higher speed stuff. Climbs had me (flatlander) puffing a bit but good to get exercise.

On way back, we drove straight through to AR mount Magazine SP, highest point in AR. Switchback roads and thick forests, little commercial development around the park and surrounding national forest mean you bring your stuff with you! Only 18 camping spots exist, so glad we made reservations. Did some hiking and camped out, first night was good and breezy, cool but next night was sweltering and until 1 am no breeze...thought about packing up and getting in the van to get AC!

Made it home on time after hitting Dallas and high speed through 45 south. Good new rest stop at MM 123 with pond and stuff. 15% oil life left, came up in TX on way home.

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