Thursday, December 31, 2015

'15 Travel Review / '16 Outlook

We are now in the ninth year of our RVing lifestyle and love it so much we continue to say we don't have an exit plan. This year we slowed down a great deal after driving to Alaska in 2014. We only put 5626 miles on Opus and 10,364 miles on the CRV. For the first time we are ending the year in the same place we started, South Florida. We began 2015 in the Keys then headed to New Orleans and Texas before a couple of months at Betty's. We then explored the Southeastern states and Eastern Pennsylvania, adding several state capitols to our list before our annual visit to WashPA. Then it was south to the Outer Banks for a month before heading to Florida in November. Our average day of travel was only 156 miles per trip, a new low for us. We stayed in 36 places and still managed to keep our camping expenses under $22.00 a day even though we only had free spots two nights. One area where we saved money this year was the cost of fuel. The most we paid was $3.20 a gallon in Pennsylvania, the only place above $3.00. In South Carolina we filled up for $2.20, the lowest we have seen since 2008. That sure is a big money saver compared to last year when we often paid over $4.00 and as high as $6.00 in Canada.

We had a great January in the Keys spending time with many of the people we had met there on previous visits. Tom and Georgie did a personal mail delivery and we did a day trip with them to Key West. The first couple of weeks of February we stayed in Central Florida waiting for the weather to warm a bit. While there we visited Nanc's sister Judy and her husband Bill and had a couple of repairs done on Opus. We then did a three day sprint to New Orleans for the Jonsson-Frayer Cultural Clash, a celebration of Swede Karl's and American Marissa’s marriage. It was great spending time with Marissa's parents Richard and Valerie while there. Next it was on to Rainbows End in Livingston, TX where we could leave Opus while we spent a week at Secrets Silversands in Cancun. When we returned from Mexico we found that Marvin, John and Joyce, who we met at Betty's, had pulled in and we spent some time catching up with them.

From Texas is was a short hop to Betty's in Cajun country for a two month stay. We try to get there every year and have made many friends both locals and RVers. Well over 100 people passed through the park while we were there and most of them we have met on previous visits. In addition to all those friends, Tim and Di flew down from WashPA and we gave them the full immersion Cajun experience including a swamp tour, music in the square and at the local bars, great food and of course a chance to enjoy Betty's hospitality. Even with all the friends we have there, the number one reason we return is Betty, she has become much more than a great hostess she is now a great friend.

From Abbeville we started our trip through the interior of the Southeastern states with a visit to Natchitoches, an historic old river town in northern Louisiana. From there we went to Jackson to tour the first of seven capitol buildings, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey on our way to WashPA. Along the way we visited many civil rights sites that celebrated to lives of Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and others in Selma, Montgomery, Tuskegee and Atlanta. In Plains, GA we had one of those experiences that now ranks near the top of our RVing adventure when we got to meet President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn. We also visited the Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta. In Columbia we were witness to another civil rights event when we were in the gallery as the South Carolina legislature debated the issue of removing the confederate stars and bars flag from the capitol grounds. It is not often one gets such a close up look at history as it happens.

Our next stop was Lake Norman in North Carolina where we spent two weeks visiting with my brother Rick and sister-in-law Denise. While there we had a great time getting caught up and enjoying the 4th of July with the Antonetti's, friends from our hometown. Also while there we had to have a new fan motor installed in the rear air conditioners. Next it was on to Virginia where we got to spend some time with Chuck Lee and our RV friends Richard and Val who took us on campus tours of Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia. We then headed to Eastern PA where we met up with friends Mel and Alora, toured the PA and NJ capitols, Amish country, Gettysburg NMP, Valley Forge NHS, Longwood Gardens and the Brandywine Museum. We had another AC issue and needed a new board installed on the front AC while there. Hopefully this will be the final fix with the AC.

It was then on to Western PA where we first stopped in Confluence to do some biking before moving to WashPA for a two month stay. We had a great time with friends and family, supported many of our favorite local restaurants and took care of doctor and dentist visits. As always, at the top of our to do list was John's wonderful wood fired pizza, a Pirate game, some fishing, and Nanc running the Great Race. A sure sign I'm getting older, I had to have a growth removed from my back and was told I may need cataract surgery next year. Even though we have traveled to all 50 states and most Canadian provinces Western PA will always be home.

Our first stop when we headed south was to get new rear tires on Opus after which we discovered a problem we had been having with one tire loosing air was a faulty air monitor. That taken care of we headed to Hatteras Island for four weeks. I did some fishing and we just kicked back and enjoyed the beach. We did have visitors for half our stay starting with Mike and Sherri who stayed with us for a long weekend. The next week Tom and Georgie were at the Outer Banks Motel so we got to spend a lot of time together. We had a surprise visit when Jean Paul and Celine showed up at the Sands of Time Campground. And then Valerie and Richard stayed in Buxton for a long weekend and we got to show them around including a day trip to Ocracoke. We ended our stay celebrating our 46th anniversary at the beach.

It was then on to Florida with a stay in Raleigh to tour the capitol. In Florida we had annual engine service done on Opus and then spent a week at the Escapees park in Bushnell where we gave Opus a much needed bath and got to see Wallace and Wanda. From there we moved to Tampa East RV Park for a month. While there we flew to Secrets Akumal in Cancun for a wonderful ten day stay where I got to swim with sea turtles. When we returned we got together with Mark and Renita and Jean Paul and Celine to get caught up with what they have been doing. We also visited the wonderful Dali Museum in St. Pete.

For the holidays and the last two weeks of the year we returned to Jonathon Dickinson State Park to be close to Mary Lou. This is the fifth time in our nine years on the road that we have been here for Christmas. Jupiter is a great area with a lot to do and many great local restaurants. Mary Lou kept us busy going to two plays, Billy Elliot and The Producers, and a movie, Star Wars. We also enjoyed the Jupiter Jazz Society Sunday jam session and a great local duo, Pam and Dave. We always have a great time spending the holidays with Mary Lou.

As we start 2016 we are once again at the Elks lodge in Tavernier, Florida for the month of January. In February we will be in Christmas and have reservations to take a four day cruise to the Bahamas during our stay. Cruises are part of the travel club we bought into, so this will be our first cruise to see how we like it. In early March we will be heading to Betty's RV Park for a two month stay. While there we will be taking our second cruise, a seven day trip to Central America out of New Orleans. In May we will be slowly heading to Vermont for the Escapade. Along the way we hope to add a few more state capitol buildings to our list and explore a bit of New England. In early August we will be back in WashPA for a couple of months. I already have doctors appointments in August. In October we will slowly head west toward Mesa (sure hope it is warmer there next year than this year) while adding a few more capitols to our list. As always, the plan is a mostly a blank sheet with where we will stay and what we will do being filled in as we travel. Of course, seeing friends along the way will be a big part those plans.

1 comment:

The Hesters said...

Always enjoy reading about your adventures! We are in Yuma this winter but are planning to be in Florida the end of 2016. I know you will have a blast during your two months at Betty's! Enjoy good times and safe travels in 2016! Hope our paths will cross again at some point!