Monday, December 31, 2012

12 Travel Review / 13 Outlook

New Years Eve marks 5 ½ years that we have been on the road and we still don't plan to stop traveling any time soon. Meeting up with friends and family continues to be the best thing about our lifestyle. While we have been to many of the “most well known” national parks, we still have plenty of places that we have not visited on our to do list. In 2012 we stayed in 58 places and had extended stays at Betty's in Louisiana, back in WashPA and in Central Florida. These longer stays help control campground costs that were up over last year but still under our budgeted amount. We started the year in Arizona then traveled to Louisiana. Next we meandered along the Rockies into Canada. Then we traveled along the US Canadian border on our way back to WashPA and finally down the Atlantic coast through the Carolinas and are ending the year in South Florida. We stayed in 19 states and, for the first time in Opus, we visited Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. We put 10,391 miles on the rig and 10,710 on the CRV. Our original plan for 2012 was to go North to Alaska but that did not happen.

2012 started with a week at the Sun Life RV resort in Mesa where we spent the holidays with many friends we met there and with Sharon and Alan who we have crossed paths with several times since going on the road. We spent two weeks out in the desert in Quartzite with Hank, Joe, Marcia, Ron, Linda, Sal, Bobbie, Jim, Bobbie, Dave, Kathy, Leland, Cathy, Marty, Trisha, Steve, Sandy, Mike, Sandy, Bob and BJ all Class of 07 mates. A fun time was had by all. When we learned that Betty was being inducted as a Living Legend into the Acadian Museum in Louisiana, we decided to make the 1600 mile trek because we HAD to be there. The induction was during Mardi Gras so we got to do that wonderful celebration for the second year in a row. Isn't it great having a house on wheels? As always, it was well worth the trip and we had a great time at Betty's with our many old and many new friends Jim, Cookie, Ruth, Wendell, Marvin, Russ, Lori, Dave, Pricilla, Cal, Marie, Richard, Lynn, Bob, Judy, Dave, Sarah, Jocelyn, Gervais, Linda, Dan, Merlene, Buzz, Sandra, Paul, Peggy, Don, Stella, George, Judy, Omer, Sylvia, Jim, Judy and, of course, the best hostess in the land, Betty. We left Abbeville in early April heading to Alaska. That is when “our plan” began to change. At the Cummins service center in Houston they told us Opus needed a new, very expensive, turbocharger. We had the work done and a week later were still planning on Alaska after a stop at the Escapees headquarters in Livingstone where we saw Marvin, Mark and Renita. Our plan changed in Kansas when the rig continued to have the SAME problem. We finally got everything taken care of at a great Cummins dealer in Garden City, KS. I am really convinced that we got robbed by the service center in Houston, but I have no way to prove it. After this second big repair we were two weeks and many dollars behind so we decided that Alaska would have to be a future adventure.

At that point we looked at the map and realized that Bobby and Jim Chapman were only 300 miles away in Alamosa, CO so we called and ended up spending a couple of weeks with them while they showed us around their beautiful neck of the woods. It is always great having personal tour guides. We have been trying to get to Santa Fe and Taos since we hit the road and it was really close so we headed that way. Bobby, Jim, Rick and Terri, whom we met at Betty's last year, told us that on our way to Taos we had to stop at Ojo Caliente Spa and oh what a wonderful place. We had a great time soaking in the mineral springs and getting spa treatments. We then spent a few days exploring the art scene in Santa Fe and the 1000 year old pueblo in Taos. It was than time to head north with a stop in Colorado Springs and a visit to Carhenge in Nebraska. This was followed by a visit with Leland and Kathy at there summer place (RV parking spot) in Billings and a couple of days with Mark and Renita in Great Falls before they crossed into Canada on their way to Alaska. We figured we could still visit Banff and Jasper that had been part of our Alaska itinerary because they would not be too far from a service center if one was needed. Fortunately, that was not necessary and the Canadian Rockies, Columbia Icefield and all the animals were great. We next went back and forth across the border with stops in Montana, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, North Dakota, Ontario and Minnesota as we traveled east. In Winnipeg we had RV friends Gary and Anita as personal tour guides to show us their beautiful city. In Montana and North Dakota we had a brief encounter with WashPA friends John, Patrice, Ron and Becky who were on a cross country train trip. We traveled the same route we used on our 1982 transcontinental bicycle trek. In Minnesota we had lunch with Dave and Sarah before heading to Mackinac Island in Michigan. It was then on to Paris where we saw the Eiffel Tower and Tony and Mary Beth. Next Richard and Valerie showed us some of Detroit which included the Eastern Market, the Henry Ford Museum and a trip back in time at Motown. It was then on to Bowling Green to go to Tidball's, a blues club, that I soon learned was in Bowling Green, KY not Ohio. HUH! On one more stop in Ohio we had a great few days with Nanc's family in the beautiful river town of Marietta.

Then it was a two month stay in WashPA visiting doctors, dentist, family and friends. We loved having those great pizzas John made in his new, outdoor, wood fired oven and seeing all our old friends with the Wednesday Lunch Bunch Tom, Georgie, John, Patrice, Bill, Kim, Linda, Lena, Pat, Peg, Ken, Dave, Jackie, Sandy, Paul, Ron, Becky, Carol and Chuck. I'm sure I left someone out, sorry. Another big part of being in PA is getting to hear the local musicians and eating at our favorite restaurants, Union Grill, Burgh's, Al & Rubens, the Back Porch and many others. I also got to go fishing with my new lifetime senior citizen's license, but did not get any BIG fish like last year. The old card club Mike, Sherri, Tim, Di, Tom and Georgie got together twice for evenings of food, fun and cards and went to a Pirate game in Pittsburgh. We saw Nanc's family Michelle, Keith, Judy, Bill, Betsy, Lou, Jackie, Emma, Bobbi Jo, Scott and Haley at Haley's birthday party. It is amazing how much the kids have changed in just the few years we have been on the road. We also got to have dinner and get caught up with my brother Rick and his wife Denise. We did a short road trip and had lunch with Class of 07 mates Tom, Paula, Ron and Linda in Northern PA. We also got together with Buzz and Sandra, whom we met at Betty's in the spring, and had lunch at Primanti Brothers in Pittsburgh. All our travel is wonderful but it is always great seeing old friends and family in PA.

We left PA on October 1st and headed south to follow the warmer weather. The first stop was Antietam Battlefield to walk the Tidball Trail that honors John C. Tidball, a Civil War artillery officer who is a distant relative. I have since read “No Disgrace to My Country,” a biography of Tidball's life and the many historical events he participated in during his forty years in the army. It is a great read if you are interested in US history from the early 1800's to 1900. We then went to Charlottesville where we had a great visit with Richard and Valerie and toured Monticello. While there we had one of those on the road encounters that happen more often than you would think when we learned that our old stix and brix neighbors, Jeff and Joanne, were in the same RV park. It really is a small small world. Next it was on to the Outer Banks where we saw Mike and Sherri and the kids Carrie, Brian, Tracey and Lori and grand kids Al, Ashley, Coleman, Andrew, Benny, Garrett and Malyia. I had a great time surf fishing and we had dinner with Tom and Georgie who had rented a beach front cabin for a week. Heading farther south we stopped to see Brian and Lori and the kids again and then spent a week touring historic Charleston. While there we were happy to celebrate the reelection of President Barack Obama for FOUR MORE YEARS!!!!!!

We arrived in Florida on November 12th and spent a few days revisiting St, Augustine and the Cape Canaveral area. It was then on to Orange City for a month where we celebrated Thanksgiving with Nanc's sister Judy and her husband Bill. We both had birthdays in November and Nanc's was most important as she is now eligible for Social Security. GREAT!!!! While there we flew to the Dominican Republic and had nine wonderful pampered days at Secrets Royal Beach in Punta Cana. As the year ends we are near Jupiter to spend the holidays with our WashPA friend Mary Lou. It is amazing how much better the weather is here than it was only 150 miles to the North in Orange City.

Like everyone else our year was not all peaches and cream. We did have a few low points along the way, some caused by my stupidity, some by weather and some mechanical. One of the worst was when I got Opus stuck in a wash in Quartzite. It was unbelievable how so many people came to our rescue and got us unstuck without causing any damage. Next were the big RV repairs in Texas and Kansas that were a real drain on the wallet. In Banff the weather came down on us when we had a whole day of snow, BBBBBRRRRRRRRRR. Finally, our month on the Outer Banks was cut short by almost two weeks because Tropical Storm Sandy took out the road making our return impossible. All that said the good far out weighed any bad that has come along. Of course all these adventures are documented in blogs about each stop along the way.

As we look to 2013 our plan is to head to the Keys for January and then slowly travel as far north as Betty's in Abbeville for a two month stay starting near the end of February. In the spring we want to visit the Louisiana coast and go the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Next, we will head north along the Mississippi on the Great River Road and hope to tour some of the Southern Civil War Battlefields. Then we will go back to WashPA with a stop at Tidball's in Bowling Green, KY. (see above) After a couple of months of doctors, dentist, friends and family in PA we will be moving slowly west and hope to do the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta again. We will then go to Mesa for a couple of months and plan to spend next winter in the Southwest.

1 comment:

John and Lora said...

Sounds like you had an overall great year and saw lots! Maybe we can catch up with you two again next winter: our "jello-y" plans so far are to spend the winter in Tucson and we'll probably head up to the Phoenix area a couple of times to visit John's brother and wife. Enjoy the warm for now!!