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.
I had envisioned spending the whole summer in one spot. Enjoying a sense of peace and quiet. Savoring our little slice of Island Life nestled amongst the trees, with its peek-a-boo view of the bay. Summering on the southwest side of Fidalgo Island. To being stationary for a while and reclining into a day-to-day routine that did not involve packing and unpacking, sightseeing, and lots of driving. I was looking forward to having the time to start and finish some much needed projects inside and outside of Betty Jo.
We have been back for three weeks now and I am feeling - ANTYSY! This surprised me, how much I needed to be on the road. I had a little inkling of being antsy while we spent a month in one location in Florida, but there was so much to see that it didn’t really take hold. Now, however, in a place familiar to us, it is hitting and hitting hard. I find myself craving to hitch up and just go. I have to often work hard to calm the antsy down. We had planned to do some short trips over the summer, but I was craving more than that…I wanted to hit the road and never turn back. Life doesn’t always cooperate and allow what we want to happen, as much as I want this, now is not the time.
The practical side of me says to be patient. To take this time to take care of business. I tell myself to be grateful. With gas prices soaring, the wild weather of Mother Nature roaring across the country, I tell myself this is where we are meant to be and to ride out the storm. The road will still be there come Fall. But still…the twinges of antsiness pinches me, reminding me — I am not finished, not yet.
For now, I will satisfy myself with short jaunts, looking back, and planning for what is to come.
In the meantime… Here is a look at some of our favorite spots.
After a few miles, it all starts to blend together.
I cWe started this RV journey in February of 2021, with two maiden journeys under our belt, we , hit the road full-time in August of 2021. We have been on the road full-time, for only a short nine months. We have driven over 20,000 miles since our journey started. And we have stayed in over fifty RV parks, Harvest Hosts, state parks, and national campgrounds in the last fifteen months.
We settled down in November, December, and January for the winter months, staying in three different RV parks for 30 days at a time, with a few short stops in between.
On February 9, we left our last winter campground and we have been on the road ever since. For medical reasons we needed to return to Washington state by May so we have been slowly working our way from the southeast coast to the northwest coast.
When we first hit the road, travel anxiety took its foot hold, after all, it had been three months since we had “really” traveled. We felt like newbies again. Once we got back into the routine, travel days became a little easier and being on the road is now just a way of life, again.
Since we left the east coast in February…we have been to twenty-one RV parks and one host site. We visited - South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah.
When we first started our cross-country journey, we had learned our lesson about traveling hard and long days, travel fatigue set in almost immediately, so this time was to be different. We kept our travel days light, traveling around 100-175 miles. We stayed in a location for at least a few days, sometimes a week. Yet, mid-way through and about the time we hit Arizona, travel fatigue hit, again, and I started to notice that everything was blending together. I often found myself referring to my calendar to check where we were last? What was that name of that RV park we stayed at? Was it really only just a few days ago that we were at ????
I found I could not always remember some things - like the name of a park. This is not like me and it was unsettling to say the least. As I have aged memories seem harder to hang onto, to be expected I suppose. But this wasn’t just memories fading away, it was that everything we have been doing just started to blend together, like one really long memory. Memories that were just only a week old, started to feel like a lifetime ago. Life was moving too quickly. And it was always a rush onto the next memory-making adventure.
I have met RVers who full-time and move at least once a week, sometimes twice a week, and have been doing this for years, I wondered - do the places they visit and the memories they made start to blend together too?
On the road, life still happens and there are still deadlines to be met. Staying in one location for a lengthy amount of time is not always feasible, and not always desirable. After all, we hit the road to see the places we have always dreamed of. To experience life in a way we didn’t when staying in one spot. And to answer a longing once buried inside.
It may all sometimes blend together, but I can at least say I can say I was there, even if it was only last week.
There is always this discussion on twin beds vs queen, when it comes to an Airstream.
My vote — a QUEEN!!!
Last night, a blizzard hit Amarillo, Texas. Snow and 30 mph winds wreaked havoc all night long. I woke up around 4:00 am from the howling of the wind outside. I got up to use the restroom and found out our power went out sometime before then. Luckily, (I seem to be using that word a lot lately) we upgraded our batteries last year to AGM Lifelines and Tony added a Victron battery monitor so he could monitor our batteries with his phone. And, luckily (there is that word again), we have a queen bed so we could SNUGGLE!!!
Our furnace was running constantly at this point, we had it set to 61 when we went to bed, to keep us, and Betty Jo warm. But since the power was out and the furnace was running on battery power, we decided to turn it down and monitor the usage. At 4:00 am our battery power was at 95%, we turned down the furnace to 58 and I set our alarm to wake us up about every 45 minutes so we could check the batteries, and to make sure we had not frozen to death. By 5:00 am we were down to 91%. Then at 9:10 am were down to 87%.
Our fridge was drawing about 14 watts, luckily (again) it switched to propane. So the only items running on batteries were our fridge and the furnace.
By morning, the sun started peeking through the clouds and added a little juice to our batteries through the solar panels.
Thanks to our queen size bed and layers of blankets (and long sleeve shirts and socks) we snuggled together and stayed pretty toasty. Even, with the furnace set to 55, Betty Jo stayed fairly warm as well.
1. THE WINDOWS - Out my window... I see a dream, a reality, incredible beauty, a moment of gratitude.
My favorite feature of Betty Jo (and any Airstream) are the windows - and there are a lot of them. Before I start my morning routine I open all the curtains to let the light burst in. I need LIGHT!! And, lots of it.
And, then there are the views from each window… a frame of nature’s beauty promising a day of greatness. As I open each curtain, I stop and take a moment to enjoy the view. I am filled with gratitude of what each day brings and the enjoyment I get from receiving.
As an RVer, one thing you can count on is CHANGE - in location, in landscape, in the weather, and your neighbors. Often, when I open the curtains in the morning I will find a neighbor gone, or replaced with a new neighbor. The weather offers its own drama to the view or provides a stunning beauty that changes, oftentimes in minutes, leaving you breathless with awe and anticipation. Each location has its own rewards and contributes to the incredible view and journey we are on.
2. Her Name
In life, Betty was a feisty and adventurous woman. Born in 1924, she was far beyond her times, as a woman who enjoyed life and excelled in her career and adventures. A photographer, a sailor, a teacher, she lived her life to the fullest.
It is only right that Betty Jo, the Airstream, continues Betty’s adventurous spirit, taking us on travels we only dreamed about.
I am grateful to Betty for this opportunity and grateful that everyday I feel she is with us in spirit and still watching over us.
3. Her shining beauty - inside and out.
Airstreams entice you with their beauty, their shining exterior, their quality, their aerodynamics. But it is not just her aluminum shell I admire – Betty Jo has a natural beauty, a shining quality of uniqueness, a sturdiness, and a protective nature providing us with a solid home, much like her namesake.
4. Towing - She’s a natural at it.
Betty Jo has a solid streak of independence but when being towed, she is a natural at following and obediently staying on course. Her aerodynamic figure makes her the perfect partner for our Ford F-250 (Jack) truck. Her low center of gravity keeps her weight balanced and easy to tow.
5. Her Quirks
I swear, Betty Jo (the Airstream) has the same personality as her namesake - she can be determined or stubborn, she loves attention, most importantly she can be PROTECTIVE and generous.
In this first year together, I have learned to recognize her various moans, groans, and creaks and what they mean. I can tell when she is satisfied and settled in her spot, and when she is not quite comfortable. She sparkles brilliantly when she has a bath. She enjoys (as much as I do) when we are able to open all the windows and let in fresh air. She revels in sunshine and is quiet in colder weather.
When we name something, it is no longer just a “thing”, we make a connection, and in Betty Jo’s case - it makes her a home.
It has been almost a year since we bought Betty Jo. A year of learning, determination, crying, laughter, stress, adventure… most importantly a year of living.
As we roam the roads and highways, looking for that next fantastic stop, keep track of our travels in our Airstream - Betty Jo