Monday, July 24, 2017

Year Ten Summary

Here is the summary of our ten years on the road. The first column of the summary is the total for our whole time on the road, the second is the ten year average of the total and the third is the info for the past year.

THE LIST........................ TOTAL.........AVERAGE.........YEAR 10
Motorhome Miles...................89317................8932...............9179
Average Miles Per Day..............24.4.................24.4..................25
Average Trip...............................173..................173.................187
Gallons of Diesel Fuel............11466................1147...............1180
Cost of Diesel Fuel.................38629................3863...............2916
Average Cost Per Gallon...........3.37.................3.37................2.47
CRV Miles............................107096..............10710...............9805
Camp Sites..................................514....................51..................49
Average Nights in Each...............7.1...................7.1..................7.5
Cost of Parks per Day.............71953.................19.68.............18.79
Number of States(Provinces)......50(11).............17(2).............24(0)
National Parks Monuments.........169.................17.....................9
Blog Posts....................................734.................73...................59
Days of Exercise (Jim)...............1833...............183.................135
Days of Exercise (Nanc)............2479...............248.................271
Number of haircuts (Jim)...............0....................0....................0
Friends & Family...........Priceless...........Priceless..............Priceless

Once again writing a yearly travel summary makes us realize how fortunate we have been. We have now been retired and living in Opus, our house on wheels, for ten years. In that time we have put 89,317 miles on the RV and another 107,096 on the CRV while visiting all 50 states and 11 Canadian provinces. We also visited six countries; Jamaica, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Belize and the Bahamas for vacations. It has been, and continues to be, a wonderful experience that has exceeded all our expectations. While the opportunity to visit great and beautiful places all over North America is fantastic, it has been making and seeing so many friends and visits with family across the country that has become the best thing about our lifestyle.

This year we put 9,179 miles on Opus and 9,805 on the CRV. We visited 24 states, the most we have done in our ten years on the road. We stayed in 49 places at an average cost of $18.79 per night. This is $4.25 less than last year and $0.89 a night less than our ten year average. The main reason it was less is we had 36 free nights. That said, several of those stays were “free” while having work done on Opus, so that expense was just in another column. We did spend a bit more per gallon for fuel than last year, but it was $0.90 a gallon less than our ten year average.

Since this is our tenth anniversary of fulltime RVing, we decided to list our top ten happenings we have experienced during our travels. While we do new and interesting things very often, these stand out as the ten best reasons we love our lifestyle.

  1. Betty's RV Park in Abbeville, Louisiana – Anyone who reads the blog knows we love going to Betty's. When we went on the road with a list of the many places we wanted to visit, Betty's was the only RV park on the list. We have been there nine times and if you add the time up we have spent more than a year there. We love the food, the music, the culture, the friends we've made, but most of all we love Betty who has become a dear friend and makes it all happen.
  2. Meeting and seeing friends and family on the road – A big part of this is the many people whom we have met at Betty's including not only many RVers but also the many local Cajun friends we have made. After Betty's, the next biggest source on new friends has been the Escapees RV Club where we have made many friends over the years, especially our Class of '07 mates. The other part of family and friends is having people come and visit us around the country and share what we do. It's also amazing how many times we put our location on Facebook only to get a message that we have friends in the area. Our travels and the friends we've met have enriched our lives beyond words.
  3. Escapees RV Club and Escapades – Since Opus was the first RV we ever owned, the learning curve was very steep. Starting with RV Boot Camp and the Escapade in Goshen in 2007, the Escapees have been the greatest resource for all the much needed information and support any RVer needs to live this lifestyle.
  4. National Parks -- As we have traveled all over the United States and Canada, we have gained a greater appreciation of the foresight of those who fought to preserve the natural wonders and historically significant places in both countries. Visiting Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Zion, Arches, Mesa Verde, Gros Morne, Banff, Jasper and so many others, it leaves you in awe at the continent's natural beauty.
  5. Alaska – Without a doubt the last frontier is the most beautiful place we have been. The distance you need to drive to get there is rewarded with a pristine environment, incredible views, and an unbelievable up close look at whales, moose, bears and many other animals. Of course, the fishing was the best I have ever experienced.
  6. Meeting President and Mrs. Carter – While it was only a hand shake and a quick photo op, we were awed by the humility of a former president. Here is a man who held the most powerful office in the world and has had such an important impact on the world both during and after his time in office and yet he is willing to stay and meet every person who attends his church each Sunday.
  7. Ballooning – The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta was always on our to do list, but getting to be part of the crew and then getting to fly literally took the experience to new heights. The Liberti family became friends and welcomed us into their family not only for ballooning but for Christmas and family celebrations. Once again, it is not just the experiences but it is more about the people we meet.
  8. Newfoundland and Labrador – We have visited and have friends in all the Canadian provinces, but Newfoundland and Labrador were unique experiences. In some ways, they make the top ten because they are so far away and not easy to get to. That said, once you are there you find a place of great beauty and historical importance. Standing on the shore to watch humpback whales feed less than 200 feet away still ranks as one of our all time top experiences. Of all the people we have met in ten years, the people here had to be the most open and welcoming. From the moment we arrived on the island long after dark and someone stopping to ask if we needed help, to others inviting us to stop by and have water from an iceberg that had grounded in their front yard, the people were the friendliest we have met.
  9. Rose Parade – When I was a kid we were one of the last families in town to have a TV, but also one of the first to have a color TV. Watching the Rose Parade was a very big deal with the living room being standing room only with many family, friends and neighbors. I guess this was why the parade was on my bucket list long before I knew there was such a thing. The experience did not disappoint. Going on the Escapees Rose Parade HOP, getting to work on a float, being up close to the parade and seeing all the floats on display after the parade was a wonderful experience we would recommend to all.
  10. Freedom – We don't mean the proud to be an American kind of freedom, but the freedom to do what we want for as long as we want. While many people visit the same places we do, most of them are restricted by time constraints. Alaska may be the best example, as we know many friends who have had wonderful trips there lasting for a week or two. When we went in 2014 we were north on the lower 48 for three months and in Alaska for two months. The freedom to have so much extra time to explore is something that non-fulltimers don't often experience. Many times in the past ten years we have been staying someplace that we discover has much more to do than expected and we were able to stay longer. Other ways we are free are the times we have realized we are only a couple hundred miles from where our friends are and able to just pick up and go to visit them. No doubt being a fulltimer in a house on wheels has given us a lot of freedom.

It was very appropriate that year ten on the road started at the Escapade in Essex Junction, VT where we met up with so many old friends, including many Class of '07 mates. We took a more active role at the rally that led to another job at the next Escapade. We enjoyed having dinner with a former student, Michael McCormick, who lives in Burlington. From Vermont it was a quick trip to WashPA for our annual two month visit with friends, family and doctors appointments. We took in a Pirate game, played euchre with the old card club, had John's wonderful wood-fired pizza, ate at several of our local favorite restaurants, and enjoyed hearing the local musicians. We got to see way too many friends to list here. Nanc ran the Great Race in Pittsburgh and finished very well in her age group. (How predictable are we? I copied and pasted the part about our stay in WashPA from last year.) One thing we did do that was different was driving the CRV to Rick and Denise's place on Lake Norman for a few days. While we were there, Betty and her son Brett drove up from Louisiana with enough shrimp and other Cajun food to feed an army. Betty's grandson Dylan and his wife Samantha, who live near Lake Norman, came over and we all a wonderful weekend of food, fun and friends.  Who knows, maybe we will do something else unique this year to change things up and add to our blog:-)

We left WashPA on October 1st and the first night out the new microwave/convection oven nearly caught on fire which started an ordeal that lasted until a week before Christmas. We went to Spartan Chassis in Michigan for our annual maintenance. They found that Opus' airbags needed replaced so the bill was a bit higher than we expected. While in Michigan we toured the state capitol, the first of 12 we added to our list this year. We then went to Duncan RV in Indiana for service on the AC and a toilet that would not hold water. The toilet was replaced, but the problem with the AC was a couple loose wires that were not properly connected when we had the AC worked on last year, so the bill was less than expected.

From Elkhart we headed west first stopping in Springfield, IL to tour the capitol and the Dana–Thomas Frank Lloyd Wright house. Next was Topeka for another capitol, the first we have toured that allowed you to climb to the top of the dome, and the Brown v Board of Education National Historic Site. We then traveled across Kansas and Colorado to Ojo Caliente, NM for a few days of soaking our bones. The last two months of 2016 we stayed in Mesa, AZ where we have been several times before. While there, we flew to Riviera Maya for a two week vacation. Rick and Denise came to Mexico for the first week and we had a great time of fun and sun. While in Mesa, it was great seeing old friends Linda, Bobbie and Jim, John and Sharon, Allan and Sharon, as well as making new friends at Good Life RV Park.

We started 2017 in Yuma where we had the peeling clear coat on Opus' roof repainted. While there we had a big gathering with Dan and Merlene, Rick and Barb, Tom and Ann, Dan and Peggy and Clay and Christy, all friends from Betty's RV Park. We had a fun Betty's happy hour west. We are also glad that we got to see our friends Dick and Joan who live in Yuma, as we learned just recently that Joan had passed away.
Our next stop was San Diego, CA for a month of exploring that included Balboa Park, Torrey Pines, Coronado, whale watching and a day trip to LA. We were in the same RV park as Bernie and Dodo and in the park next door were Paul and Trudy. Mike and Sherri flew out for a week, so we had a fun time with many friends.

In the middle of February we went back to Arizona for several weeks in Tucson. For the first part of our stay we were tourists going to the Desert Museum, Biosphere 2, Titan Missile Museum, Mt. Lemmon and Tubac, along with seeing friends Don and Sharon, John and Sharon, Alan and Sharon and Carl and Vickie. For the last couple of weeks we moved to the Pima County Fairgrounds to attend the Escapade where we were co-coordinators along with John and Lora. We worked hard but also had a great time with too many friends to list here, including Class of '07 mates.

From Tucson we went to Deming, NM to relax after a busy time at the Escapade. We did go to the Pink Store in Mexico, always a favorite stop, and finally visited the Deming Museum. We then headed north checking several things off our bucket list. From Socorro we visited the Trinity site, where the first atomic bomb was exploded, and the Very Large Array, the huge radio telescopes. We then spent two weeks in Albuquerque where we got together with old friends Larry and Amy. We left Opus there and flew to DC to celebrate Nanc's sister Michelle's birthday with her husband Keith. Also joining us were Nanc's sister Judy, who drove in from Ohio, and her brother Dave and his grandson Braeden who flew in from Seattle, so it ended up being a family reunion.

From Albuquerque we went to beautiful Canyon de Chelly National Monument and then on to Monument Valley in Arizona, two places that have been on our to do list since we went on the road. In Monument Valley we crossed paths with Wallace and Wanda, the first Escapees we met ten years ago. We then went to Cortez, Colorado for a week with a stop at Four Corners on the way. While the weather turned cold in Cortez we still got to tour Mesa Verde National Park, Anasazi Heritage Center and Durango. We had a bump in the road the day we were leaving Cortez when Opus would not start after we fueled up. That meant a long wait and the 75 mile tow to Farmington, NM. Good news, the repair was very simple (bad fuel filter) and we were on the road to Salt Lake City, Utah the next morning. In SLC we toured the capitol and LDS Temple Square.

While in SLC we called Joe and Kathy who live in Nevada 250 miles away and ended up spending four days parked by their gorgeous log home. They were great hosts, showing us their neck of the woods and sharing travel tales. We then went to Boise to add the Idaho capitol to our list. From there we turned east to Helena, MT for another capitol tour and to check out the state museum. Next was a short drive to White Sulphur Springs to soak our bones. We then took three days to drive the 550 miles to Bismarck with a stop along the Yellowstone River and at Teddy Roosevelt National Park. In North Dakota we toured the capitol and took a break from moving a couple times a week.

We moved on to Pierre, South Dakota where we toured their capitol. Then we spent a couple days in Mitchell checking out the Corn Palace and the McGovern Center. While there we discovered a problem with the slide that took several calls and three weeks to finally get repaired. Our next stop in South Dakota was Sioux Falls were we enjoyed Falls Park and the Sculpture Walk. While there we had a great visit with my cousin Grace and her friend Marlene, whom we had not seen since before we went on the road.

We then moved to Omaha, NB to see about getting the slide repaired, which did not happen. We made the most of our stay by going to Lincoln to tour the capitol, visiting the Durham Museum and a Lewis and Clark National Park Service site and taking in a College World Series game. The best thing about our stay was what did not happen. We were within a couple miles of a very destructive tornado that caused a lot of damage locally. This was the nearest we have ever been to really bad weather in our ten years of traveling. From Omaha we went to Des Moines, IA where we toured the capitol, took in an art show and had dinner a couple times with JC and Gloria, more friends we met at Betty's. Next we went to Iowa City to visit the Hebert Hoover sights in West Branch. From there we finally got the slide fixed at Lasso E RV in Anamosa, a service place we highly recommend. It was then a two day trip to Indianapolis, IN to visit the capitol, the state library and the Indy Raceway Museum.

Our plans changed because of that slide issue. We decided to spend a couple days near Louisville where we toured the Louisville Slugger factory, the Muhammad Ali Center and did a bourbon tasting, always a must in Kentucky. Next we added our twelfth state capitol of the year in Nashville, TN. We also toured the Parthenon and did some honky- tonking on Broadway, where no catfish were seen. The best part of this stop was seeing Charles and Sandy and Ray and Wendy, two more couples we met at Betty's. From there we went to the Escapees park in Heiskell with our only plan being to give Opus a much needed washing and waxing. We did take a day to visit Oak Ridge, the site of the WWII Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb. There is a very good science and energy museum there as well.

We are ending year ten on the road with family and friends at Rick and Denise's beautiful place on Lake Norman. Nanc's sister Michelle and her husband Keith drove down from DC and Betty's grandson Dylan and his wife Samantha were also there. We had a great time on the water with all Rick's toys; kayaks, paddle boards, jet ski and power boat. It was a great time and the perfect way to end year ten with family and friends at Lake Norman.

It sure has been a wonderful year, seeing so many new places and returning to some we have been to before. But, as we soon discovered when we went on the road ten years ago, the best part of what we do is making and seeing friends and family all over the country.

So what does the future hold? While we always say we have no exit strategy, we have begun to think about where we might land when we slow down our travels and maybe someday actually settle down. This past winter confirmed what we had been thinking, we will not end up in the Southwest. We got really tired of the dry desert with so much dust and the constant wind. We do want to be someplace where the winters are warm and, since we crossed Texas off the list long ago, Florida looks like our spot. This decision means we are going to do some serious looking over the next couple winters.

We are starting off year eleven in North Carolina and will be making our annual two month visit to WashPA. From there we will be heading to Florida where we already have reservations for month long stays on the west coast near Naples and on the east coast in Jensen Beach. We are spending the holidays in Jupiter near our friend Marylou and will be going to the Elks in the Keys for January. These extended stays in Florida will give us a chance to explore these areas as possible spots to land when we slow down. In February we are going to Mardi Gras at Betty's RV Park in Abbeville where we plan to stay for a couple months. In the spring we want to visit the Hill Country of Texas and then tour a couple more capitols on our way to the Escapade in Sedalia, MO where we will once again be working. After the Escapade we will be heading to New England to add those capitols to our list. As always, we will head back to WashPA for our annual visit and then work our way south to Florida for the second year in a row. Of course, all these plans are written in the sand and may be changed by the tide. If that happens, the great thing about our lifestyle on wheels is that we will be meeting friends and family while still being able to sleep in our own bed wherever we go. LIFE IS GOOD!


Palamine said...

I think we met briefly at the 1st Blogger Fest in Quartzite but it was too brief. Wonderful words about Betty and we all agree. I am going to send you a friend request. Please accept so I can follow you more closely.

Jan Mains said...

I was surprised that Toni and Doug know you. Great blog.

heyduke50 said...

looks like we may be wintering just north of you in Bonita Springs Florida. If we are there at the same time there is no doubt we will have to meet up again... Toni, pretty sure they didn't attend the 1st bloggerfest.