From the Pacific Northwest to the southern state of Florida.
We took our time traveling over countless miles and wandering through fourteen states to reach our final destination of Tampa, Florida. When we left Washington on September 21st, we had a goal of reaching the Tampa area by the first part of March.
Many would say, that is a long time to travel across country, but when you live on the road — it is just one day at a time, one destination at a time, one mile at a time. You will have specific dates and specific locations you need to incorporate into your plans, you then decide to either beeline it or take your sweet time getting there while enjoying the journey to the destination. That is what we did.
We had a few specific destinations on the route we wanted to visit, otherwise our plans were based on a whim of where to next. As usual, weather played a big role, often dictating changes to our routes.
As we got closer to the final destination, I noticed travel fatigue started to hit and a deep desire to just reach our last stop took hold. I was ready to just stay put.
Since I wasn't sure when exactly we would reach a destination, I wasn't able to plan too far ahead. Unfortunately, that meant it has been more difficult to find places to stay as we got closer to Florida. It was still Snowbird Season, meaning most places were full. I knew I was taking a huge chance, but sometimes life is not always planned. I just had to go on faith that we would find something or accept that we would spend a lot of nights in truck stops.
Gems Along the Way
The route from Washington to Florida had some beautiful twists and scenic turns. We picked up a National Park Passport and made it goal to get as many stamps as possible, not sure why we didn't discover it sooner. We journeyed back in time visiting historical places.
And, we discovered new campgrounds that became favorites.
Curt Gowdy State Park - Wyoming
This gem of a park is nestled in the foothills just west of Cheyenne and on the edge of Medicine Bow National Forest. The campgrounds are spread out with a focus on the lake and reservoir. In the summer, I imagine the lake is bustling with activities while the loud hum of boats and jet skies fill the air, but in the Fall, it was peaceful and quiet. A relaxing oasis that fed the soul with gentle quietness.
Some of the sites come with electricity only, a few with electricity and water, and the rest provide no service. There is no dump station in the park, so keep that in mind. There are bathrooms (vault toilets) spread throughout the park providing the basic needs. The sites are spread out so neighboring sites are nearby but not close. The sites come with a priceless feature no matter the location - A VIEW. Whether it is a view of the lake or the surrounding hills, nature provides a beautiful show.
There are a variety of trails weaving the way around the park, an invitation to stroll and enjoy each step. Cruise around on a bike to explore the many offerings within the park or enjoy the solitude of floating on the lake in a canoe or small boat. No matter how you experience Curt Gowdy State Park, it will be a memory to cherish for a lifetime. Visit the website.
Chatfield Dam State Park - Colorado
We stayed in D loop, a newer loop, which offered full hookup and large sites, most of which are pull-through. Well maintained and clean, you could see the pride in each campsite. No wonder it is a favorite with the locals. I was pleasantly surprised to find a nice building in our loop with clean bathrooms and showers. I was even more pleasantly surprised to find a nice size laundry room in the building.
This large park offers a variety of outdoor activities; miles of trails for walking or bike riding, fun on the water, fishing or bird watching, a model airplane park, wildlife viewing areas, a corral for horseback riding, and so much more. Visit their website.
Lost Dutchman State Park - Arizona
This state park made it to the top of our Bucket List of places to stay and the top of list of favorite campgrounds. We were in the new loop with electric and water. Nice sites with lots of space in between others. And the VIEW - that alone makes the park worth it. They take great care in this park, keeping the sites clean and well-groomed. The trails are marked and most are easy for just a stroll through nature. Quiet at night and just about dark enough for night skies. The Rangers here are friendly and helpful. Definitely a park everyone should stay at, at least once. Visit their website.
Twin Peaks Campground in ORgan Pipe Cactus National Park - Arizona
STUNNING! And tied with The Lost Dutchman State Park for favorites. We needed a night stay on the way to Tucson. As soon as we pulled in, I fell in love with it and so regretted we could not stay longer. I love campgrounds with a good layout and this campground had it. All sites are pull-through. Easy to navigate. Privacy in between sites. Gorgeous use of the landscape. Lovingly cared for. Fun and informative ranger programs. Clean bathrooms. Solar powered showers in some of the buildings, but wait until the sun as a chance to warm up the water. Dump station is there, but you have to drive all around the campground to get to it. A must stay.
Visit their website.
Too Many Favorites to list
Each place we visited was just as incredible as the last. There is a quote, "it's not the destination, it's the journey" but that quote is wrong. For me, it was the destinations that were the best part of the each journey.
These last five months was more of a journey of self. After two years on the road, we discovered more about ourselves and finally became more comfortable with some of our newfound skills.
We also decided it was time to change.
Staying focused - Routine and List
It is important to have a list for breaking down and setting up camp. You can't always rely on memory or routines.
One of the first things we learned when we started the RV life, was to make a checklist for setting up and a checklist for breaking camp. I have a list for the inside of Betty Jo and one for the outside and one for the Pro Pride Hitch. When we made the list, we went through the routine with the hopes of remembering everything — we didn't.
Part of our routine when breaking camp is to turn the fridge off before we turn off propane. During our first maiden voyage, I noticed the next day that the fridge wasn't on when we were breaking camp. I thought maybe it was broke. Turned out, I had forgotten to turn it on. Whoops! And, it was not on the list of things to do during set up. Double Whoops! It immediately went on the list and is now one of the top priorities when setting up camp.
We have developed a steady routine that works for us. My husband has ADD and it is critical to have a routine, to minimize distractions, and stay consistent, but sometimes — well, sometimes, routines get disturbed and staying focused becomes a challenge. Thank goodness for the LISTS.
We were in San Diego in January during the massive rainstorms. The campground we were at was soaked. The road into the park was narrow and only had room for one so I wanted out of the park before new people came in. Tony was still going through his morning routine, I was inpatient and I went out and started to break things down. This screwed up his routine for breaking down and it made him a little flustered. But, hey, we got out early.
While in Big Bend National Park area, during our routine for breaking down, I discovered a flat tire. As you can imagine this little bolt threw off our routine. We got patched up and left for our next destination (thankfully it wasn't far), but it disrupted the flow and it took us a while to get back into it.
We are in a wonderful boutique RV park in the Panhandle of Florida. The sites are all back-in and clustered together. We arrived on a Sunday, and of course, everyone was outside to watch. Thankfully, the generous Camp Host came over to greet us and guided Tony safely and quickly into the site. Unfortunately, it through off his rhythm for set up and we missed an important step, luckily we didn't break anything. It took Tony (and I) a little bit of time to get back into the rhythm.
Everyone is different. Some of us (me) like things organized and structured. If traveling with someone who easily gets distracted it is critical to have a routine. To set limits. To create a structure that helps them stay focused. We, both, check the other's work, just in case. Once Tony has a routine down, he is great at sticking to it and is methodical upon completing it. Then a distraction comes along and throws it off, that it is why it is so important to have a list to refer back to.
A Look Back at 2022
December 31st is a day we tend to look back before we look forward.
As I scrolled through photos of 2022, I was amazed at all that we did. Did we really do all of that in one year? It was our second year on the road and it was filled with some of the best memories and unforgettable tiny adventures.
Our Journey starts in January
Our year started as we headed up the east coast after leaving Florida, our destination was Mrytle Beach, where we spent a month on the Atlantic coastline. Our first stop was in St Augustine, it was too brief to explore. Then onto Savannah, Georgia. Everyone said I would love it, and I did, but not as much as I expected to. But I did love the state park - Skidaway Island State Park.
Myrtle Beach in January ranges from warm and pleasant to downright cold. We stayed at Ocean Lakes, right on the Atlantic Coast. All we had to do was walk out the door and walk over the dune and there is was in all its glory - the Atlantic Ocean. I am not an early bird but I did wake up to video an east coast sunrise and it was SPECTACULAR. Luckily, it was off season, during our stay, otherwise the campground would have been packed. With over 900 RV sites and around 2200 vacation homes, this place in the summer turns into a small city.
We had an enjoyable lunch on the water in The Murrells Inlet Marsh Walk. We visited Atalaya Castle, a beautiful historical home in Huntington Beach. We experienced our first Ground Ice Storm, waking up to find the truck and the Airstream caked in thick ice. And, oh, the SUNSETS. And the walks along the beach. It was heavenly.
On the Bucket List of places to visit was Charleston. I fell in love with this town and the area. If I had known, I would have booked a month here instead of Myrtle Beach, the 10 days we spent was just not enough time. I love history and especially older architecture, so I was in heaven in the city. And we visited the Boone Hill Plantation, such beautiful grounds. On our last night, we found our favorite BBQ at the Swill and Swine. We stayed at the Oak Plantation Campground, it was nice place to spend our time.
Top of my list of favorite adventures was a Ghost and Graveyard Tour in Charleston. We spent our Valentine's Day, dining on good food, then visiting the graves of Charleston's past. Unfortunately, we did not see any ghosts.
We left the east coast on February 17th, it was time to start the trek back to the west coast. But first, a detour - Route 66. A Route full of history and nostalgia. On the way to the route, we stopped in August, GA, staying at the Heritage RV Park. After a quick drive through Atlanta, our next stop was a new park, Time Away RV in Lincoln, Alabama. A delightful find was Tupelo, MS, the birthplace of Elvis Presley. We didn't stay but a few days, but it was small town of mixed history and today's culture. We really enjoyed it. We stayed at Campground at Barnes Crossing.
A favorite campground of RVers is Tom Sawyer RV park in West Memphis, Arkansas. It is located right next to the Mighty Mississippi River. While in the area, we had to visit Graceland. During our stay, the river was right at flood stage. We left a day early because a storm was coming and I was worried about flooding, not from the river but from the areas surrounding the park.
March/April - Route 66
Route 66 was a highlight of the year. We only did part of the route - out of St Louis to Needles, CA. It was fun, filled with nostalgia, and kept us engaged. You can read all about the route, including where we stayed, just visit the home page where we list all of the articles. Extraordinary activities while on Route 66, included; the Grand Canyon, Chaco Cultural Historical Monument, Palo Duro Canyon, Old Town Albuquerque, and Painted Desert/Petrified Forest.
End of April
After Route 66, our intentions were to travel Hwy 395, through California, Nevada, Oregon, and into Washington, but high winds, deep snow in the Sierras, and the high price of diesel required us to alter our plan — and it was worth the change of plans.
We ventured toward Las Vegas, staying a few days a the Lake Mead RV Village (the private park), while we explored Hoover Dam and Valley of Fire State Park — a must place to visit. In Vegas, we stayed at the Las Vegas RV Resort, nice park, clean, and close to action without being right in it.
May - National Parks and More
May was filled with scenic drives, breathtaking landscapes, and unexpected beauty. After leaving Vegas, we headed to St George, Utah, our first stop for National Park beauty — Zion. Traveling this time of year was perfect for weather and minimal crowds when visiting such scenic and popular locations. In St. George, we stayed at a new RV park - Desert Canyon RV Resort. Beautiful location, nice sites, and friendly staff.
Bryce Canyon was by far my favorite. The whole area surrounding it was filled with stunning beauty. Hwy 12, a scenic byway, aka “A Journey Through Time Scenic Byway” is a road trip that should be on everyone's list of scenic drives. We stayed at The Riverside Ranch RV park in Hatch, Utah. There are some great campgrounds along Hwy 12, and a wonderful state park campground at Kodachrome Basin State Park, the park is worth a visit no matter what.
After leaving the beauty of the National Parks in Utah, we headed north to spend a couple of days boondocking at the Salt Flats. We opted to try Hwy 93 in Nevada and what a gorgeous drive. We stopped for lunch and experienced a relaxing location with a remarkable view. It was a long drive that day but the weather was perfect, so was the drive.
From the Salt Flats, we continued on Hwy 93 to Twin Falls, Idaho and grabbed Hwy 84 towards Boise. After a few days and doing laundry at the beautiful Ambassador RV park in Caldwell, Idaho, we discovered another scenic drive — Hwy 95, along the Salmon River.
Summer - Moochdocking
We spent the summer back in Anacortes, WA moochdocking on a friend's property. Spent time with friends and family and just enjoyed the downtime.
September - Time to hit the road
We took our sweet time heading to our winter location of Arizona, journeying through Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, and spending a week with our son in Colorado. Our two favorite campgrounds were state parks - Curt Gowdy State Park in Wyoming and Chatfield Dam in Denver area. Highlights were the Harvest Hosts we stayed at checking out Fall colors with our son.
October - Was filled with History
We spent a good part of October in the state of New Mexico, a state filled with history and rich culture and aliens and white sand.
November - Family
We spent the month in Tucson to visit my dad and my sister and her family. Our youngest son drove down from Colorado for Thanksgiving and to visit his Bucket List destination — Tombstone.
We finished the year quietly in the town of Camp Verde, AZ. We stayed at a delightful park — Verde Ranch RV. Visited historical monuments like Montezuma Castle and the historical town of Jerome. My Bucket List destination in Arizona was Sedona and it did not disappoint. Our favorite campground this year and in Arizona was Lost Dutchman State Park.
happy new year - may 2023 be filled with happy memories and tiny adventures.
$898 a month Average
This is our second year on the road, this time I was determined to save a little money. I had discovered a few secrets in our first year; 1. Stay a week, or even a month and save. 2. High end RV resorts are great, but sometimes the cost is too much. 3. The season and location make a difference in costs. 4. Maybe TRY boondocking more? 5. Still like my creature comforts.
This year, we did so much better on our monthly average. In the first eleven months of 2022, we have averaged around $898 per month in nightly stays. April was our most expensive month in nightly stays, we spent $1689 for the month.
Here is a breakdown (approximately.)
January we were snowbirds so we stayed a month in one location. $865.00 for the month.
We stayed in four different (private) RV parks as we started our trek from the east coast to the west coast. South Caroline, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. We stayed almost 10 days in one park. Cost for the month $923.00
Route 66 - we started just outside of St Louis.
With the exception of one night (we moochdocked) we stayed in private RV parks, most averaging under $40 to $45 per night. Cost for the month $1510.00
Route 66 through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, then into Nevada (Lake Mead - private park) and Las Vegas and ending in St George. All private parks. From $35 to $60 per night. Cost for the month $1689.00
Heading back to Washington state. Utah, Idaho, Washington State. Mostly private parks. We did boondock at the Salt Flats in Utah for a couple of nights. Cost for the month $1054.00
June and July
We work camped and our site was paid for.
Cost for the month $650.00
We left Washington state and started our trek for Arizona.
Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming.
Three nights of Harvest Host - Cost $63.00
City park in Idaho
Little America in Wyoming has a new RV Park
Curt Gowdy State Park in Wyoming
The rest were private RV parks
and two weeks at a friends (cost $325.00)
Total for the month $1185.00
Colorado, New Mexico, AZ
City park in Brush, Colorado
Chatfield Dam (state park) Littleton, Colorado
Private RV park for a month $650
State Park (AZ) $ 105.00
Total for the month $755.00
Total for January to November - $9887 or $898 per month in 2022
December we will be staying in one place for a month and the cost should be around $1200.00
Touches of History
Old New Mexico - Taos, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Chaco Cultural Center
New Mexico is a state rich in history. I have great respect and admiration for cultures who preserve their history and continue embracing it and incorporate it into their lives, especially in this ever-changing world where many have lost their pasts and their traditions. I have always been particularly fascinated with Native American culture since a young child.
Visiting New Mexico, a state which embraces and preserves its history, has enriched our journey across this great country.
When I was in my early twenties and newly married, we were stationed at the Air Force Base in Clovis, New Mexico, at that time I was not as interested in New Mexico and its history, in fact, I found the area dry, hot, and boring. Today, I am grateful for this chance to revisit it and that years of wisdom has provided me the ability to appreciate it, something I should have done when I was younger and more ignorant.
Old Town - Albuquerque
The historic heart of Albuquerque is Old Town Plaza, where the pace slows and pedestrians find refuge from fast traffic. Old Town's official beginning took place on April 23, 1706, when Francisco Cuervo y Valdés, the Spanish governor of New Mexico, certified the founding of the Villa de Alburquerque. Spain's Laws of the Indies, in effect at the time, required setting a plaza at the center of any villa. - Visit Albuquerque
We visited Albuquerque in the Spring of 2022 as part of our Route 66 tour. No visit is complete without visiting Old Town Albuquerque. Even though it is more of tourist destination now, there are still bits of history peaking through. The shops and restaurants lure tourists in to purchase their wares, but for me, it was a journey through time.
Chaco Culture National Park
For all the wild beauty of Chaco Canyon's high-desert landscape, its long winters, short growing seasons, and marginal rainfall create an unlikely place for a major center of ancestral Puebloan culture to take root and flourish. Yet this valley was the center of a thriving culture a thousand years ago. The monumental scale of its architecture, the complexity of its community life, the high level of its community social organization, and its far-reaching commerce created a cultural vision unlike any other seen before or since.
Our son recommended that we visited the Chaco Cultural Center, a National Park located in NW New Mexico. The drive to the park was a nineteen-mile long dirt road, but when we reached our destination we were awestruck by the landscape and grateful we arrived.
This magical place is filled with history and deserves to be remembered.
I had to use my imagination of what it must of been like when hundreds of people lived there - The river was flowing and was filled with fish. Wildlife roamed the area. It was filled with activity, each tribal member playing an important role.
Today, the remnants from a culture long past, resonated of a people with deep traditions and community. I was grateful for the preservation of this unique and amazing cultural center.
Taos, New Mexico
Today, Taos is a community overflowing with a long proud history, three cultures living side by side, and a heritage of colorful people. Its diversity makes Taos a very interesting and desirable place to live and do business. - Learn more about the history of Taos
Taos has been at the top of places to visit since I was a young girl, along with Santa Fe. I am not sure what originated that longing, but it has always been there.
Taos is a mix of cultures, which makes it an interesting place to visit. You will find a large mix of Native American and Spanish influence mixed with earthy-type hippies, and dumpy areas outside of town filled with run-down RVs and mobile homes.
The Old Historical Plaza in downtown Taoes, much like the one in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, is a look back into time, yet caters to today's tourists. Shops and restaurants are littered throughout the plaza, which extends down a variety of side streets and often mixed in with residential and office spaces. The Adobe buildings are prominent in the area.
A must visit is the San Francisco De Asis Catholic Mission Church. And we enjoyed learning more and The Earthship Biotecture home just outside of Taos. Not to mention the surrounding areas filled with natural beauty.
Taos promotes itself has a town full of history, which is true and still remains, but also art and they have a well-known ski resort. Located at the Base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Tao seems like it is in a world all to itself.
Hugging a small branch of the Rio Grande River, Taos Pueblo is a centuries old Pueblo Indian settlement. A powerful reflection of the cultural interactions between the American Indians and the Spanish, the pueblo provides remarkable insights into the heritage of the American Southwest. Its adobe residences and religious structures have survived since as early as the 13th century. The best preserved of the pueblos found north of the borders defined by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848), Taos Pueblo symbolizes a culture whose traditions originate with Anasazi Indian tribes that once lived in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado, and whose descendants still reside there today. Taos Pueblo is a thriving traditional community of Pueblo Indians that has survived with its cultural integrity intact for hundreds of years while borrowing from Spanish and Anglo American cultures over centuries of contact. The ancient pueblo is a stunning example of traditional Native architecture that has retained most of its original appearance through the efforts of the community's resistance to modernization and outside influence. - Taos Pueblo a National Historic Site
It was here, where I felt history pulling me back in time, the strongest. The Taos Pueblo is a Living Pueblo, still practicing many of the same traditions from thousands of years ago. Some modernization is evident but each home still has no running water, no plumbing, and no electricity. As many as 150 residents live there during certain seasons. Some of the homes have been converted into art studios and shops for tourist to spend money and help support the history and make a living.
I was so immersed in the history, I found it hard to leave. I could spend hours here learning more about the people and their traditions but out of respect I did not want to intrude.
It was also here where I felt the most grateful - grateful they still practice their traditions and teach each generation their culture and all it stands for.
Santa Fe is the oldest capital city in United States and the oldest European community west of the Mississippi. While Santa Fe was inhabited on a very small scale in 1607, it was truly settled by the conquistador Don Pedro de Peralta in 1609-1610.
We only had an afternoon in Santa Fe so naturally we visited the Old Historical Plaza. I wished I had visited many years ago, long before it became the popular and over commercialized place it is today. The history was still present but it was often overshadowed (for me anyway) with the crowds of people and the blatant commercialism of today's society and stores filled with items to rich for most people to enjoy.
The highlight of our visit was the Native American father and his two children performing in the central plaza park. He told stories of their origins for each dance and went on to explain why he teaches the dances to his children today. He often commented on how important it is to teach children their history and what it means for them now.
For me, history is an important part of who are today. It is an important reminder of who we were and why we should remember. The Taos Pueblo was a visit back in time but it also showed how history and today can blend together, keeping what once was while embracing what is.
As we roam the roads and highways, looking for that next fantastic stop, keep track of our travels in our Airstream - Betty Jo