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.
From pre-newbie to newbie, to semi-advanced newbie, back to almost-newbie….Again.
We were pre-newbie in January of 2021 when we started looking for an Airstream and dreaming of RVing full-time. Then newbie reality hit once we found the Airstream in February of 2021 and had to tow her home. From then on it was a whirlwind of crash courses on RVing, and everything associated with this lifestyle and owning an Airstream.
After a couple of Maiden Voyages, we left our hometown of Anacortes and headed east. Each mile gave us just a pinch more experience and a tad more confidence. Pushing us toward becoming semi-advanced newbies.
We wintered in Florida for two months, then six weeks in South Carolina, being stationary for so long we found it hard to get back into the routine of being on the road when we finally left to head west. By the time we reached Washington state, we were semi-advanced newbies once again, even advancing toward ‘advanced’ newbies
For medical and dental reasons we returned to our hometown where we are moochdocking on a friend's property. When we finally hit the road again in mid-September. We will have been in one place for almost four months. I am starting to feel the anxious butterflies in my stomach as we get closer to leaving, and when I think about hitching up. Just like when we left South Carolina in mid-February, I suspect it will take a few trips to get us back into the routine of travel days - and I am newbie nervous.
It’s been months since I have had to plan a route and I am finding it takes a while to fire up the brain neurons (blame it on older age) that remember how I did it before. I finally picked an afternoon, knowing I needed enough time to focus on the task, I got as far as an outline of where we are heading.
This trip, I am planning (and I use that term loosely) is to try more Boondocking, another learning curve, and another newbie skill to acquire. Our route is Oregon to Yellowstone to the Tetons to Colorado to New Mexico to Texas, settling in Arizona for the winter. We will throw in a few Harvest Hosts and RV parks to mix it up a bit. For me, Boondocking tends to add to the anxiety, I prefer to know where we will be staying and when. And I found I am more of a mid-scale RV park type of RVer so this type of camping will be a change, to say the least.
This route will be more of a wing it route, how else will we acquire this skill and know if we like it or not unless we try? It is also part of this plan to help weed down our budget for nightly stays.
I feel a little more confident approaching Boondocking now with the skills we have acquired and the experience we have under our belts versus when we were brand new newbies. Boondocking will add to our experience of RVing - and to the thousands of photos we have collected since we started this journey.
We are allowing about two months for this route so by the time we get to Arizona we should be semi-advance newbies again (maybe even advanced newbies,) with new skills, new experiences, and new “I Learned That” attitudes.
There are drawbacks to Rving Full-time, but then there are drawbacks to many things in life. The rewards often overshadow the drawbacks, creating memories that last a lifetime, making this life just a little worthwhile.
1. Medical/Dental Emergencies - With today’s busy doctors and dentists, it is hard to get an appointment when needed, and it can often be hard to stay in an RV spot long enough to receive the care you might need. When I broke a tooth in Myrtle Beach, I obtained an appointment with a dentist quickly enough to have it looked at, but it was three weeks before they could get me in to fix it. Since, I was unable to find an RV spot without moving several times, I opted to wait until I returned to our home state. Thankfully, the tooth did not hurt.
2. Making Friends - One of the benefits of RV traveling is meeting new people. It is also a drawback. We have had the good fortune to meet the most amazing people on our journey, some we will stay connected with online, but many we will never meet again but will remember with fond memories. We are usually so busy in a location, zipping around doing tourist stuff, returning to camp late, so there is no time to interact with others. When we do meet someone in the park, it is often the night before we leave or they leave, giving us a few precious moments to enjoy their company. Then it is a quick goodbye before we are off to the next location, the next adventure, the next travelers to meet. Our connections with others may be short, but oh so meaningful.
3. Family and Friends - Thankfully, there is Facebook and other online platforms that help keep us connected to the loved ones we left behind. Phone calls help keep the connection strong and give us a sense of belonging, but there is nothing like a good hug, a face-to-face conversation, a meal with those who know you, or a solid shoulder to cry on.
4. Travel fatigue - The thrill of the adventure, the anticipation of the next location, and the beauty of the road attracts many to this lifestyle but the constant set-up and tear-down, the go-go-go, and the eternal moving can wear on a person. We discovered very early on that we needed to pace ourselves, to allow for days of downtime. We have been stationary for a few months now, creating a different kind of travel fatigue and we are anxious to hit the road.
5. Privacy - or lack thereof - Being on the road full-time, you are constantly engaged with your travel companions in a small space, day in, day out, allowing little time for privacy. Most of the time, this is not a problem, but once in a while we have to remind the other, “I just need a moment, please.
6. The constant route planning - I thought I would enjoy this since I love to plan, but the hours I can spend route planning and researching and worrying about where is our “next home”, can wear on me. I often wonder if I would love to “just wing it,” but still being a newbie and someone who needs to know “where to,” I think it would be rather stressful. I am getting better at it though.
7. Eating out - Food, Food, Food. Traveling provides the opportunity to taste the world in a new way. It is hard to resist the temptation of trying something new, tasting the cuisine of an area, or enjoying an old fashion diner, but this adds to the bottom line and blows up a well-planned budget. Yet, it is often worth every bite, every morsel of deliciousness, every delectable adventure.
8. - PARKING. Damn, we’re BIG. - When hitched, we are about 50’ in length, too long to just pull in anywhere. This means we have to be cautious when it comes to gas stations, even worse, parking lots, or heaven forbid narrow roads. Even when not hitched, our truck is too big for some roadways and too big for tight parking lots. In some of the towns we have visited, our truck struggled through narrow lanes and tight downtown roads, and forget about finding parking that fits a large truck. I would often find myself missing the days when I had a small Subaru that could fit just about anywhere.
9. Weather - Weather is a constant concern. An Airstream owners greatest fear is - HAIL. We always try to travel on good weather days.
10. Break downs and Maintenance - One of the hazards of RVing is breaking down or a blown out tire. The highways (and back roads) in this country are a challenge to say the least, some are downright dangerous and can destroy a rig with every bump. Most RVs are not meant to be lived in full-time, add the constant miles, the less-than-superior quality, the bouncing, and the RV will start to need maintenance sooner, rather than later. This is a costly expense of RVing.
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.
I thought there would be more to see on Route 66 in Amarillo, and the surrounding area, so I booked us for a week at the RV Park — I was wrong!
Our first few days, we were pretty much stuck inside. First, high winds, then rain, then snow, then snow with high winds. It was three days before we could resume our Route 66 adventures. Three days of cold, wet, and high winds.
The winds eventually died down then the warmer weather came hitting 80 a few days later. It was hard to tell who was moodier at this point - Mother Nature or Me
On our first day on the Route, we did lunch at the Midpoint Cafe. It was…Nostalgic. The food wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. Of course, like any other Route 66 traveler, we had to take our photo at the Mid Point Sign.
My favorite sites along Route 66 are old gas stations. Some of my best childhood memories were the summers I spent with my grandpa. He owned a Chevron in Sterling, Colorado, where I spent many a summer with him at the gas station. My main job, (probably to keep me out of trouble) was to keep the gas pumps clean. I had my rag and a bottle of Windex, and I took my job seriously. When customers would pull in, grandpa would greet them, fill their tanks, wash their windows, and send them on their merry way with a smile. Sometimes, I was allowed to help. I would clean the side view mirrors. I had access to all of the bubble gum I wanted and my little chair, where I often sat and just watched my grandpa work on cars. I treasure those times with him, and Route 66 is flooding me with memories of a time when life was so simple.
After lunch, we resumed our Route 66 drive and did the old and new of Route 66 through Amarillo. Sorry, but I was a bit disappointed. What remnants that remain are more than run-down the luster long forgotten. So many other states and towns are renovating their route 66, embracing their history, welcoming visitors, and inviting them to times past and times present, but Amarillo seems tired and forgotten. You can locate parts where they are trying. But, the draw, the magic — it just wasn’t there. At least not for me.
Oasis RV Resort was a nice RV park with big sites and clean. Over the week, I watched as RVers came in for the night, leaving early the next day for their next location. Amarillo was just a stopover, a place to rest the heads of weary travelers traversing the long miles across Texas. Another sign that Amarillo didn’t seem to have much to offer travelers.
We ventured off the Route and drove to Palo Duro Canyon for an afternoon. The Canyon is the second-largest canyon in the United States. The canyon is about 120 miles long and 20 miles wide and is up to 800 feet deep. We ventured down the canyon, stopped at the Trading Post for lunch, then met a fellow Airstreamer (Two Peas and the Pod) in one of the campgrounds. It was the most beautiful part of our week and worth the drive.
We waited until the snow melted before stopping at Cadillac Ranch. You hear about these places and you think, “I must go there, too,” this was one of those places. I expected more to it. I guess I expected them to make more of a big deal of this iconic place. But it’s just ten old Cadillacs buried in the ground. No monument, no fanfare, no parking lot. You park on the shoulder and walk in through a gate. There was a truck selling spray cans, a must for anyone planning on the full experience. Children were having a blast. What more could they want - mud to splash in, spraying cans of paint, and the freedom to deface property with full zeal.
We spent a week in Amarillo, a long week. Maybe it was the weather? Maybe it was my mood? Maybe it was the dreariness? Whatever the reason... Route 66 in Amarillo was just not as magical.
Now, time to move to New Mexico. May Route 66 in New Mexico be filled with Enchantment.
As we roam the roads and highways, looking for that next fantastic stop, keep track of our travels in our Airstream - Betty Jo