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.
As we roam the roads and highways, looking for that next fantastic stop, keep track of our travels in our Airstream - Betty Jo