It is really hard to believe that our retirement and RV lifestyle is now in its tenth year. While we still don't have an exit plan we have started to give serious thought to at least finding one place to spend the winters. Having a monumental birthday, turning 70, makes one realize that you cannot go on forever. That said, we are not planning on hanging up the keys any time soon. In 2016 we put 7496 miles on Opus and 9,809 on the CRV. We started the year at the Elks in the Keys and are ending it in Mesa. In between we spent a month in Christmas, FL and then headed to Betty's for a couple months. From there we meandered through Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio where we visited friends and added a couple state capitols to our list. After a week in WashPa and fishing at Pymatuning we headed through New York on our way to Quebec to celebrate our friend Mado's birthday. Next we went to Vermont to tour and attend the Escapade before returning to WashPA for our two-month stay. We left there at the beginning of October and headed to Michigan and Indiana for RV repairs and service. From there we went to Springfield, IL and Topeka, KS to tour capitols and then on to Ojo Calienta. After Ojo we drove to Mesa where we will be until 2017. Our average travel day was 197 miles. We stayed in 38 places, four for a month and two for two months, so we only traveled a total of four months, a new low. We spent an average of $20.38 a day for RV sites. While RV parks are getting more expensive, we also stayed in free places (friend Wally World and service shops) a total of 15 nights which helped lower our average cost a good bit. We averaged “only” $2.19 a gallon for fuel, by far the least we have spent in our time on the road.
We had a fun time in the Keys for a month to kick off 2016. Many of the same folks whom we met there were back this year. It turned out to be the first of four times we would see Joe and Kathy. In February we stayed at the Christmas RV park and crossed it off the list of future stays. Joe and Kathy were there for part of the month and Mike and Sherri and John came south for a visit. We took our first cruise while there to the Bahamas, an experience that did not impress us. We then moved to Cedar Key, a very neat old Florida town on the west side of the state. We added it to our will return list if they have recovered from the hurricane that did heavy damage in the fall.
It was then on to Louisiana for our annual visit to Betty's. On the way we stopped in Breaux Bridge and were surprised to find Joe and Kathy who were there waiting out the weather in Texas. We had our usual fun time at Betty's with so many RV and local friends we can't list them all. Tom and Georgie and Rick and Denise came down for visits and we got to share a bit of Cajun culture with them at Touchets, Museum Cafe, Tabasco, Cafe des Amis, Fred's and many other places. We always love staying at our friend Betty's. While there we took our second cruise out of New Orleans to Mexico, Belize and Honduras. When we were in the Keys we learned that Joe, Kathy, Paul and Trudy were going on the same cruise, so we had a fun time with them. Right before we left Betty's I had some kind of reaction to something which resulted in a rash all over my body that required a couple of visits to the ER. It all turned out fine. On the day we left, the alternator on Opus died and we ended up only making it 45 miles before having to stop for a repair that meant a few days stay in Breaux Bridge while we waited for parts. Just a small bump in the road, but enough to change our travel plans.
We headed north to Memphis where we checked out Beale Street and the National Civil Rights Museum. We then stopped at Charles' and Sandy's for a wonderful visit with two of the greatest hosts. They took us to a Styx concert, Arrington Vineyard, and the George Dickel and Prichard Distilleries. In Frankfort we toured the Buffalo Trace Distillery and the state capitol before moving to Ohio to tour that capitol. Next we stopped in Seneca Lake to see Jim and Darlene who retired and moved into a beautiful new place at the lake. We were near WashPA so we did a whirlwind four days to see many friends and check out our favorite old eateries. Then it was on to the Sharp's cabin for a bit of fishing with Mike and Sherri.
During our stay in Campbell, NY we watched the Pens take another Stanley Cup, HOORAY!!!!! From the Catskills we toured the site of Woodstock in Bethel Woods, the Franklin Roosevelt sites in Hyde Park and then went to West Point where we visited the grave of John Caldwell Tidball. From Schenectady we visited the New York capitol in Albany and Saratoga National Historical Park. In upstate New York we checked out Lake Champlain and Plattesburg and did a day trip to Montreal. Next we moved on to Quebec City where we toured the old city and the Citadel. From there we went to Petit Lac Ha Ha to see our many Quebec amis and to celebrate Mado's 80th birthday. While there I got to fish, we toured the Saguenay Fjord and climbed to the top of Mt. Du Four with Rick.
From Quebec we headed to Vermont where we toured the capitol, Ben & Jerry's and attended the Escapade near Burlington. While there we got to see many Class of '07 mates and other RV friends. We also had dinner with Michael McCormick, a former student who works there. It was then back to WashPA for our annual two-month stay for doctors and dentist appointments. As we get older we have more of those and already have appointments scheduled for 2017. We had a fun time with many friends and family, again too many to list, enjoyed dining at our old favorite haunts and rooting on the Pirates. Of course we had John's great pizza and went out with the retirees' lunch bunch. Tom, Georgie, Rick and I cheered for Nanc in the Great Race where she finished fifth in her age group. While we were in WashPA we did a trip to Lake Norman, NC to Rick and Denise's place for a week. We were joined by Betty, Brett, Dylan and Samantha who brought several tons of Cajun food from Louisiana. Back in WashPA we did a couple RV projects, removing the Diamond Shield and replacing the microwave/convection oven. We loved our time in WashPA but by the beginning of October the temps start to cool down and it is time to hit the road.
We had two scheduled stops for Opus service and repair. We first headed to Spartan Chassis in Michigan for annual service and inspection where they found we needed new airbags. While there we toured the state capitol in Lansing. We next went to Duncan RV Repair in Elkhart where we had several issues dealt with including a bad toilet valve (new toilet), broken door lock (new lock), batteries not holding charge (new batteries) and neither AC/heat pump working (minor repair). From Elkhart we headed west, first stopping in Springfield to tour the Illinois capitol and the Frank Lloyd Wright Dana Thomas House. We then moved to Topeka to tour the Kansas capitol and the Brown v Board of Education NHS. Next was a few days at Ojo Calienta Mineral Springs in NM to soak our bones before going to Mesa, AZ. We ended 2016 in Mesa where we got together with many friends and just kicked back and enjoyed retirement. Also while in Mesa we went on vacation to Secrets Silversands in Mexico. Being here for two months has made us decide that when we look for a place to spend the winters it will be in Florida and not the Southwest. We like the weather there much better than here.