Tuesday, December 31, 2013

13 Travel Review / 14 Outlook

We are now in the seventh year of our retirement and our full time RV lifestyle continues to exceed all expectations. Traveling around the country seeing and doing all kinds of things and spending time with friends and family is great. We revisited some of our favorite places where we spent time with old friends; the Keys, Betty's RV Park, WashPA, the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta and Mesa. And, of course, we did a few new things along the way. We stayed in 32 places and put 5,606 miles on our rig, Opus and 9,149 miles on the CRV while traveling from Florida to Louisiana back to Pennsylvania and then west to Arizona. This is the fewest miles and the least stops we have made in our years on the road. While our campground costs have gone up a bit each year we are still under our budgeted amount which is a good thing. 2013 was also the first full year that Nanc had Social Security and a pension so we had a nice increase in cash flow.

We started the year in the Florida Keys where we enjoyed the best winter weather we have had since we hit the road. It was shorts and t-shirt temps for the entire month of January. We saw many of the same people we met there two years ago and had a great visit from Tom and Georgie. In February we started heading north to LA. Mike and Sherri joined us in Fort Myers to see the sights and escape the PA weather. We next headed to the SKP park in Bushnell where we washed and waxed Opus and had a fun time with Wallace and Wanda. We left there and headed to Betty's for a two month stay in Cajun country. We did the drive to Abbeville in only two days and set a new personal record, driving 430 miles in one day, to miss some expected bad weather. (Not something we plan to do again.) Our time at Betty's was filled with all the usual fun and friends that makes this our favorite place to stay. To check out all our Cajun country experiences you can click on the Betty's RV Park link under labels on the left side of this page. If you are an RVer and have not been to Betty's you need to add it to your to do list.

We left Betty's near the end of April and checked the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival off our bucket list. This is a fantastic event that we plan to do again. Over 400 acts of all types of music over two weekends. We next headed to the Louisiana gulf coast on Grand Isle where we got together with Mark and Renita. Lanny, the owner of the Island House RV Park there, had an uncle who was a Tidball. I'm sure he had to be a distant relative. We then headed north up the Mississippi River and the Natchez Trace through historic Natchez and Vicksburg where we toured a couple of National Park Service sites. At the Illinois Memorial on the Vicksburg Battlefield we found that a Tidball had served in that siege. In Clarksdale we had a wonderful music experience at The Crossroads on the Blues Trail. The musical talent was fantastic. In Tupelo we visited the birthplace of “The King,” Elvis.

In Tennessee we spent a week with Charles and Sandy who were wonderful tour guides and hosts. While there we enjoyed the Nashville music scene and toured the Jack Daniels distillery. In Bowling Green, KY we finally made it to Tidball's, a neat little bar with great music. We spent the evening with owner John Tidball who has to be a distant relative from somewhere down the family tree. It was then on to Bardstown, KY where we spent a week doing the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, which left us in high spirits. In Marietta, OH who spent time with Nanc's family and stocked up on Rossi's Pasta.

It was then on to WashPA for two months of friends, family, doctors and dentists. We enjoyed the Three Rivers Arts Festival, took in a couple of Pirate games, played euchre with the old card club and checked out the local music. Even though our house has wheels and we have been all over the US and Canada, Western Pennsylvania will always be home. It was great seeing most of Nanc's family together for the first time in years and spending time with my brother Rick and his wife Denise. Seeing all our old pals and former co-workers at the weekly luncheons and checking out our old favorite restaurants that have the local Pittsburgh flare is something we really enjoy. But the top food experience was John's fantastic wood fired pizza. We look forward to those visits each year.

In the middle of August we headed west with a stop in Elkhart, IN for RV service. We ended up spending two weeks there while having the refrigerator cooling unit replaced, having AGM batteries installed and getting a few more minor repairs taken care of on our nine year old rig. We next did a week in Hannibal, MO where we loved checking out the many Mark Twain sites. It was then on to Branson, MO. We were not really that impressed with Branson and have put it on the been there done that list. We did visit Eureka Springs, AR while in Branson and really liked this eclectic little town. In Oklahoma City we checked out some Route 66 sites and the capitol building. In Amarillo, TX I had a steak at the Big Texan, not the huge one, and we spray painted our names on the cars at the Cadillac Ranch. It was then on to Las Vegas, NM not NV to check out this old west town that has been the location for several movies. Next was a return to one of our favorite stops, Ojo Caliente, where we spent a few days soaking our bones. We then had our second visit of the year with Mike and Sherri (really two) and explored Taos and Santa Fe with them before heading to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. They both loved it and still tell us how great it was every time we talk to them. Of course, we had a wonderful time at the fiesta with the Boomers while crewing and getting to fly with Mike Liberti. The fiesta remains on our do again list.

As 2013 ends we are in Mesa, AZ where we have been since the middle of October. This is one of our longest stays in one place and we use the time to get caught up with many RV chores, do some exploring, visit with many friends and just kicking back a bit. John and Patrice visited us for a couple of days soon after we arrived and we took a vacation to the Rivera Maya to celebrate our anniversary. It was great seeing our friends who live here and several RV friends who stopped by as they were traveling through the area. We were invited to Allan's and Sharon's for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. On Christmas Eve we went to Mike's and T's and on Christmas day we had Allan and Sharon over for brunch. So while we were not with family, our holidays were full of friends. We had an escape to Scottsdale for a spa day, toured the state capitol and did a art gallery tour in Cave Creek. And, we crewed and got to fly with Mike a few times in the last two months. With a few exceptions, (three days in December when it was warmer in WashPA) most of the days in Arizona have been sunny and warm, but as soon as the sun goes down the temperature quickly drops below comfortable shorts and t-shirt levels. This is much different than Florida where the night time temperatures stay at a more comfortable level. That said, it's not WashPA weather.

At the beginning of 2014 we are heading to Lake Havasu, then down to Yuma and in March, to Desert Hot Springs. We may stop for a couple of days in Quartzite along the way. The plan for our 2014 travels is to head north to Alaska for most of the summer. We will then head back to WashPA for our annual visit before going back to Betty's in the fall. We plan to continue our east west winter routine by going to Florida for the winter. As we always say these plans are written in the sand and are subject to change as we desire or as needed.

1 comment:

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

Sounds like you are going to put a few more miles on Opus this year!Safe travels and clear skies.