Happy Anniversary!!! Wow, so here we are September 5, 2018, we have been on the road for ONE YEAR! This blog will summarize our travels and provide a chronology of where we have been, what we have done, who we got to see and a few stories of the challenges we have faced being full time RV’ers.
To prevent leaving someone out, we are not naming names, you know who you are! We have treasured connecting or reconnecting with family, high school friends, shipmates, and IG peeps to share the memories and tell a few tall tales.
We left Virginia Beach and headed for Staunton, VA to get the finishing touches done on the RV. Our first destination was Gettysburg, PA. We toured the battlefield and then hit the road to Lancaster for a few days to visit the Lancaster Market and get our Amish fix of goodies at Rooster Street Butcher and Stoltzfus Meats. We found spectacular camping on Lake Ontario between Niagara Falls and Rochester and really enjoyed that area. The New York Finger Lakes were amazing. Letchworth & Robert Treman State Parks had awesome trails and many scenic views and had our first experience at how difficult it can be to level up a forty-foot motorhome.
Traveling in New England in the fall was pretty cool. We stopped in Newport, RI, enjoyed the Cliff Walk and spent some time with Jessie, who was finishing up grad school at Northeastern University. We did some sightseeing in the Boston area before we headed up the Maine coast to Acadia National Park. The Maine coast was rugged and beautiful, hikes, scenic drives, Co-op stores and Farmer’s markets galore. Oh…try a lobster roll… a Thurston’s Lobster Roll…you won’t regret it..
October 10th. We continued our journey south through the New England states to New Jersey at a military campground which allowed to visit New York City. Ah yes,,, the Big Apple. I managed to get a traffic ticket right in front of Madison Square Gardens. OOOPS!! We had real NY bagels in Dumbo in hopes of catching a sunrise over NYC. Clouds and fog forced us to go to a waterfront flea market, instead. We then, breezed through Pennsylvania, Maryland and back into Virginia so we could do a little fly fishing near Warm Springs, before heading off to Tennessee.
Nashville and Memphis are still on our bucket list for return trips. So much to see and do. Graceland, Beale Street, Sun Music Studios, Country Music Hall of Fame, Grand ole Opry. Be sure to check out Acme Feed & Seed, a cozy intimate spot for live entertainment!
Bourbon Street was calling, next stop New Orleans. The French Quarter, the Battle of 1812, Museums, Po-Boys, Muffulettas, the beautiful houses, cane sugar harvesting, we had a memorable visit.
We then spent the month of December in Florida. Pensacola, Ocala, Port Richey, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Naples, Miami & Key West. Spent the Christmas holiday with family. The State parks were well maintained despite the havoc caused by an earlier hurricane. We did an overnighter in Key West and saw firsthand, the damage and destruction from Hurricane Irma.
We discovered a recurring theme… “So much to see-So much to do”. When you plan to visit an area, you don’t realize you could spend days at the Ringling Museum instead of hours you allotted. The proximity of our campsites to the location of our interests also has made us rethink where we stay to what we want to do. Initially we were doing two-three stays at campgrounds and as the journey continues you will see we tried to stay longer at places to enjoy the area more and have some built in down time.
Go west young man…. Go west! We left Florida, spent New Year’s Eve in New Orleans, a 2-day pit stop in Mississippi then off to the “Lone Star” state – Texas.
Happy New Year. Our first stop was in Livingston to become Texas residents. We quickly found that Texas State Parks were awesome and would stay at many in the upcoming months. The Texas coastal cities of Galveston, Corpus Christi, Brownsville brought some chilly weather but some amazing beach walks, beach drives and many scenic day trips for us to discover museums, historical landmarks and be introduced to the “street taco”. Debbie has never found a street taco she didn’t like.
By February we were on our way to San Antonio. The historical Missions were beautiful, we fell in love with the New Braunfels area and found Crane’s Mill Park on Canyon Lake to be a restful camping haven. RV-Freightliner oil changes are much different than going to Jiffy Lube.. First of all, you are taking your home with you!
Jeep oil change 5.5 quarts-30 minutes Freightliner oil change 6 gallons-half a day
Short stays in Austin, Gatesville and Denton allowed us to see friends and family but the weather was not cooperative. Cloudy, foggy, overcast and some freezing temperatures made camping life somewhat challenging, but nothing that a stiff drink and a crackling campfire couldn’t overcome.
Our adventure was about to get real.. Dry camping at Big Bend State Park – Upper Madera Canyon. Broadside winds in excess of 45 mph made us sing “Rock & Roll Hootchy-Coo” for one night but the amazing views of the Rio Grande River and a trip to Big Bend National Park made the primitive campsite a gold mine.
Onward to the “Land of Enchantment”. Hatch, Truth or Consequences, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Aztec provided us a month of ghost towns, old towns, Museums, National Park landmarks. New Mexico State parks have the best value in the country…bar none! Ten inches of snow at Heron Lake State park may have dampened our spirits but the week at Navajo Lake State park made up for it. Fly-Fishing on the San Juan river was a memorable experience. Jemez Springs National Forest was amazing, and Kirtland AFB FAMCAMP in Albuquerque was very accommodating.
April was a full month of Utah’s National Parks. On April Fool’s day / Easter we visited Monument Valley and spent some of the best “boondock-camping” EVER in the Valley of the Gods and Goose Island. Arches NP, Canyonlands NP, Dead Horse SP, Capitol Reef NP, Bryce Canyon NP, Kodachrome SP, Pine Lake National Forest and Zion NP. Sensory overload! Still had some snow challenges and cool temperatures to deal with but well worth the adventure. Breathtaking vistas, amazing off roading, and some incredible hikes. Still on the bucket list (LOL).
May??? What happens in Vegas – stays in Vegas! Jessie visited us for Mother’s Day, Deb and I renewed our wedding vows, Las Vegas style at the Little White Chapel, intrigued by Fremont Street, the Strip, the Bellagio and enjoyed day trips to Lake Mead Recreation area and Hoover Dam. Our toasty adventures in Arizona were about to begin. The Grand Canyon is appropriately named. Its grandeur cannot be captured on film. Sedona, Oak Creek Canyon and Jerome were beautiful, but the crowds dampened the experience. Deb and I enjoyed a day of solitude in Sycamore Canyon in the Coconino National Forest. Short stays in Tucson and Phoenix allowed us to visit museums and national parks and enjoy local cuisine. Memorial Day weekend in Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park left us bound for the California coast.
We spent nearly two weeks in San Diego to catch up with family and friends. Deb got to experience many of the scenic places (Point Loma, Cabrillo, Balboa Park, La Jolla, Coronado) and eateries (Mary’s donuts, Point Loma Seafood and Filippi’s) that I have been telling her about for years.. We got to see the Padres play at Petco Park and dined in the Gaslamp Quarter. A visit to Seal Beach and Point Mugu gave us the opportunity to see LA, Hollywood, visit parts of Ventura county and see the Mission at Santa Barbara.
How fortunate we were to visit Yosemite in June. What a spectacular spiritual experience. Mariposa Grove, Glacier Point, Tunnel View, El Capitan, Half Dome, the falls, the valley, Tioga pass, just mind-numbing beauty and splendor. Soon after, wild fires raged on forcing management to close the park due to fire hazards and unhealthy smoke conditions. We spent Fourth of July in Monterey. Got to revisit Big Sur, Carmel by the Sea, Carmel Mission,17 Mile Drive, Dali 17 Museum, and enjoyed many hikes on the beaches with the dogs. Another place that no matter how long you stay, you run out of time before you run out of things to do.
San Francisco was intended to be a 10-day visit that ended up being a month. We had some recurring RV issues that required going to a Jayco service center. Getting an appointment was the challenge. Fortunately, we were able to get in a “timely fashion” which coincided with the wildfire challenges we were facing in northern California and southwest Oregon.
Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown, Little Italy, Coit Tower, SF Museum of Modern Art provided us many photo opportunities and some awesome walks. Since we were staying at Travis AFB, it allowed us to venture out to Napa, Sonoma, Point Reyes National Seashore, Bodega Bay and even up to Sacramento to visit old town and the train museum. Deb and I discovered Napa Farmer’s market.. wowza, what an experience. Classic farm to table goods available. The local flea market wasn’t too shabby either. When the Black Pearl was back to 100% and the wildfires continued to rage up north and after talking to my sister, Deb and I decided to cancel our plan of going to the Pacific Northwest. (this year)
Early August seemed like a perfect time to go to Salt Lake City! Interstate 80, straight shot, Upper 90s – Lo 100s, Bonneville Salt Flats, on your mark, get set, go! A nice RV Park at Hill AFB provided us a home base to visit SLC, the Mormon Temple Square, Francis & Bountiful Peaks, Antelope Island State Park, managed to find a taco cart and mingled with the locals at some thrift stores, found an Ogden street fair, went to Lavender Vinyl where Deb found a Donnie Osmond album and found Farr Better Ice cream which at the time we thought was the best ever…until we discovered raspberry shakes soon after in Garden City…. More to follow.
Next stop – Grand Teton National Park. HWY 89 is a beautiful journey from Brigham City to Logan, then becomes a scenic byway through Logan Canyon. Rolling hills, following the Logan River, just awesome. The scenic byway culminated at Garden City. In that town, each diner touted itself as the world’s best burgers and shakes. Merlin’s Diner won hands down! Raspberry shakes were “over-the-top” LITERALLY (see photo album) and absolutely delicious.
An overnight stop in Alpine, Wyoming was necessary, so we could easily get to Grand Teton NP in the morning. We didn’t spend any time in Jackson Hole, driving a 40 foot rig and towing a Jeep didn’t offer many opportunities to “pitstop” in town and the mountains were calling. We stopped at the visitor center near Moose and spent about 4 hours boppin around GTNP before we went back to hook up with the Black Pearl and get to our destination at Dubois. Rain, wind and smoke-filled haze limited the fun meter but we made the best of it to see the highlights of GTNP and take a day trip to Yellowstone NP to see the Upper and Lower falls and witness the herds of bison in the meadows. No shortage of scenery to see on both sides of the continental divide on HWY 26. A side trip to Brook Lake gave us our first glimpse of a couple of moose. Staying at the Dubois/Wind River KOA was a pleasant experience. Being right on the river was nice, even though the consistent high winds limited our fly fishing and ability to have campfires.
Continuing on, an overnight in Casper, Wy. was our next stop before we made it to Loveland, Colorado where we camped at Carter Reservoir – Eagle Campground. Less than 30 miles from Estes Park, a nice drive up the Big Thompson Canyon and we were on the doorstep to the Rocky Mountain National Park. A day trip down the Peak to Peak highway to visit the Church on the Rock, another one up into RMNP on Old Fall Road to the Alpine Summit Village and some adventurous off roading in Boulder Canyon wrapped up this short stay.
Deb and I seldom make long range plans (reservations) to any area we visit. We have been wingin it. Well? Labor Day weekend, our luck ran out. So, we landed in Cheyenne, Wyoming at F.E. Warren AFB FAMCAMP for the weekend and now, here we are in Denver celebrating our 1st Anniversary of being fulltime RV’ers.
2018 is slipping through our fingers. We will be going back to New Mexico to see some of the places that we missed last spring. Georgia O’keeffe’s Ghost Ranch is high on the list as well as Taos and a couple of fly fishing adventures before we check out the Albuquerque BalloonFest and make our way back to Texas for the winter. Deb and I are already planning and plotting our See America 2019 adventure. Stay tuned…
Please visit our Flickr album to view photos from the past year. Alwaysondafly#1