Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Travel Review / 2012 Outlook

The end of 2011 marks 4 ½ years of being on the road full time. We continue to be in awe of the many wonderful places we have had the chance to visit, the sights we have seen and the many friends and family members we get to spend time with while traveling. We stayed in 46 places, a new yearly low, as we had three extended stays which resulted in the lowest cost for campgrounds we have had in our time on the road. Our travels took us from South Florida to Arizona with many northern locations in between. We stopped in 20 states while putting 8,348 miles on Opus and 11,386 on the CRV. We stayed in Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Hawaii for the first time which means we have stayed in 49 states since July 2007. We added 20 National Park Service sites to our passport and continue to feel that these national treasures are one of our country's greatest legacies.

We are so happy we had the chance to start the new year with Jack and Mary Lou in Jupiter as Jack passed away this summer after a valiant struggle with cancer. We then moved on to the Florida Keys where we enjoyed the warm weather and spent time with Joe and Marcia. During a week in Fort Meyers we watched the Steelers win a big game at a Steelers bar on Sanibel Island with a former colleague, Janet Scariot Murry. We then stayed at the SKP park in Bushnell where we saw Wanda and Wallace, Charlie and Sherri and Joe and Marcia. It was then on to Betty's in Abbeville, LA for seven weeks of fun, including many Mardi Gras events. We enjoyed time there with many old RV friends and made many new ones, including a group of over twenty who were there for the whole month of fun activities. While there we got together with Valerie and Richard and had a personal mail delivery from Tom and Georgie. As always, it was great to once again see the Louisiana friends we have made during our many visits. On our way to WashPA we did some diamond mining in Arkansas (no luck), were emotionally moved by the Oklahoma City Memorial, visited the homes of Presidents Lincoln, Truman and Clinton and soared to the top of the Gateway Arch. Luckily we were able to dodge the severe weather that pummeled the South and Midwest this past spring. A stop at Spartan Motors did bring some bad news as we needed new ball joints and tie rods. Oh well, just like a stix and brix a house on wheels needs a lot of maintenance. We spent six weeks in WashPA catching up with family and friends while doing doctor and dentist visits .

Our first stop as we headed west was a few days of fishing with Mike and Sherri at Pymatuning where I CAUGHT FOUR VERY LARGE WALLEYE. It was then a stop at Camp Newmar to have a few maintenance issues taken care of. In Michigan we visited Tony and MaryBeth then explored the US side of the Soo in the U.P. In Wisconsin we visited George and CeCe, tried to see my old classmate Barry Alvarez and got our fix of Frank Lloyd Wright in Madison and Taliesin. We zipped across Minnesota and North Dakota to Roosevelt National Park where we met up with 07 mates Mark and Renita. After a week of exploring the Black Hills of South Dakota, it was on to the Escapade where we volunteered and got to spend time with many RV friends and 07 mates. It was then on to Cody and Yellowstone where we had a wonderful week long visit with Mike and Sherri as part of their road trip through the West. While there we saw grizzle bears, buffalo, eagles, a Peregrine Falcon and got to watch a pack of wolves trying to run down three elk in a fascinating display of nature that few people have ever seen. We had a small hitch in our plans upon leaving Yellowstone as we had to be towed to Idaho for an RV repair that turned out costing “only” $300 which, when it comes to repairs of a diesel, is not too bad. We then sprinted to Albuquerque for the balloon fiesta with the Escapees Boomers. We had a chance to see friends Larry and Amy and were rewarded for a week of balloon crewing with our first ever hot air balloon ride. WOW!!!!

We finished the year with our longest stay in one spot (90 days) in Mesa. Here we spent time with RV friends Alan and Sharon, an old school colleague Linda and her mate Mike and made many new friends in the park. We had visits with 07 mates Mark and Renita, Joe and Marcia, Ron and Linda, Steve and Sandy, Mike and Sandy, as well as, Dan and Merlene. While here we did more ballooning with Mike and T and were invited to their home for a great Christmas Eve dinner with their family. After Christmas my brother Rick and his wife Denise flew out and stayed with us for a few days during which we drove to Sedona to see Nanc's sister Michelle and her husband Keith who were vacationing there. All these visits made for a great holiday. Meeting so many people and making so many new friends is the best part of the fulltime lifestyle. That said, while being with friends and family is fantastic, the high point of the last part of 2011 was our two week trip to Oahu and the Big Island of Hawaii. We can now say when people ask what are you planning to do when you no longer travel that our plan is to retire in Hawaii. Just remember what I always say about our plans.

As 2012 begins we are planning to spend January in Arizona, including some time in Quartzite getting together with many of our class of 07 mates for a five year reunion. We were going to stay out West for the rest of the winter but we learned that Betty is going to be inducted as a Living Legend in the Acadian Museum so we are off to Louisiana for February and March. Isn't it great having a house on wheels? We are then going WAY up North to visit Alaska and the Canadian prairie provinces. We will return to WashPA near the end of summer for our annual visit and hope to do a month on the Outer Banks on our way to Florida where we will spend next winter. As always, these plans are written in sand and may change with the rising tide.


Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

Nice post, glad you casually mentioned the four big walleyes.

Anonymous said...

Love your trip this year.. if you are planning on seeing the Prairie Provinces... remember us.. we would look forward to seeing you again... we will be in Winnipeg all summer.

Gary & Anita Heke