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.
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
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.
Boondocking our way to Denver
Boondocking is basically camping without hookups. It means we have to be fully self-contained. It also means we need to conserve our resources, such as, power and water.
"You're off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So... get on your way!
We are twenty months into RVing. After a couple of practice runs, we glamped our way from the Pacific Northwest to the Southern tip of Florida. Our nightly rates ranged from $10.00 to a whopping $125 for Fort Wilderness Campground at Disney World, we averaged around $50.00 a night.
After moochdocking for the summer in Anacortes, WA, we are working our way to Arizona for winter via Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. This route, we decided to Boondock more, at least five nights a month, and to really take advantage of our Harvest Host Membership, this should help our nightly budget.
(This article has a Harvest Host affiliate link, you join via the link you save a little and we get a little. Enjoy!)
For us, this will be a bit of a challenge; 1. We are more of the glamping-style RVers, but that can be a bit costly. 2. Boondocking will involve a new skill set and learning how to locate and plan locations for our size rig of 50’ total with the truck, and then there is our comfort level. 3. More Nature-like. I am a city girl so “camping” in nature is not something I am familiar with and I am not always comfortable in that setting, so pushing the limits is a new mantra for me.
Our first Harvest Host stop was a coffee stand, connected to a farm, in the small town of Boardman, Oregon. Just a smidgeon off Highway 84, we pulled into a large gravel parking lot with fields on two sides. It is late in the farming season so we missed most of the fun. After checking in, we parked by the edge of a driveway, leveled the Airstream, and wandered over for an iced coffee and fruit smoothie, a delicious treat on a warm travel day.
As the day came to a close and evening started to settle in, we were treated to a brilliant sunset glowing on the remaining sunflowers hanging on to the last minute.
Harvest Host #2 was a delight - A goat farm in Idaho, just outside of Caldwell. As a city girl, I didn’t get much exposure to farming or farm animals and one of the things I love the most about Harvest Host is the exposure to great farms and their farmers and learning more about them.
Our host was fantastic and so cordial. You could tell how much she loves her little farm. They have a variety of well-loved goats, a couple of happy pigs, a llama whose sole job is to protect the goats, horses that just hang out, and a small herd of cows (many of which had been bottle-fed and raised by our host.)
After an informative tour of the farm and an interesting story of how it came to be and how it operates now, we walked back to the Airstream for a late supper and to settle in for the night.
Harvest Host #3 was odd. There wasn’t much to choose from in Evanston, Wyoming, it was either the parking lot of Walmart or the parking lot of a local bowling alley with a restaurant that served pizza. We decided pizza sounded better than the noisy parking lot of a Walmart. The host was accommodating but not much interaction. We ordered a small pizza and called it a night. The place closed at 10:00 p.m. on a Sunday, so the few patrons who had been inside drinking piled into their cars and left us with some final peace and quiet.
It’s strange to me (still) how in some places we park for the night, I sleep soundly and confidently, while in others (like the bowling alley) my sleep was restless and uncomfortable. It wasn’t because I felt“unsafe” at the bowling alley, I felt safe, it could just be the way we were parked. Who knows?
Our first Boondocking spot was to be at Jug Hollow Dispersed Camping at Flaming Gorge in Utah. I had read the reviews and input the GPS coordinates and felt as ready as I could be. Our first Boondocking on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) was at the Salt Flats in Utah, it took me a night to “feel” it, so we stayed an extra night and I became more comfortable with the idea and the location. This time I felt more prepared and I was kind of looking forward to it - until we got there.
We pulled into the road then got out and walked around, we were judging how comfortable we felt going down a bumpy road like this. The reviews said it was a bit washboard and about 5 miles in but take it real slow. Just as we were contemplating it, a local pulled up and said it was a really bumpy road and maybe we shouldn’t try it, maybe he didn’t think our fancy schmancy Airstream could handle it. He suggested we try Antelope Flats Campground just up the road about a half mile. We were already a little leary and uncertain so we accepted his advice and did just that, only to find out Antelope Flats Campground was closed for the season. I wasn’t feeling good by this point so we gave up Boondocking and called it a bust, then went in search of an RV park - back to glamping.
We have another Harvest Host in mind as we continue our journey from Wyoming to Denver - a buffalo farm in Nebraska. Then it’s back to glamping with full hookups at Chatfield Dam Reservoir just outside of Denver before we continue on south.
We may not be Boondockers, but we're giving it a shot. Who knows, we may discover we are.
We have been taking advantage of our stationary summer and doing some minor repairs and upgrades to Betty Jo (the Airstream.) Including, a CURTAIN MAKEOVER.
1. We replaced the hand towel holder in bathroom.
2. Touched up surface spots on the ProPride hitch with a good cleaning and paint job.
3. Greased/Lubed and silicon sprayed all moving parts keeping them flexible and smooth.
4. Tightened all screws, nuts and bolts. We do this quarterly.
5. Cleaned and sanitized the fresh water tank.
6. Took everything out of the back of the truck to give it a good cleaning.
7. She will get a good cleaning before we hit the road in mid-September.
It was the little touches that were a real treat this summer. Living in her for over a year now, there were some changes we wanted to make. As much as we love our Airstream, most of her surfaces are a bit on the hard side and it was time to add some soft touches and some color.
The Sink in the bathroom
We replaced the drain piece in the bathroom sink. The previous one was getting scuzzy and cracking. The new one added a clean and shiny look to the sink.
THE PRIVACY CURTAINS
The accordion-like fabric that came with our 2018 Flying Cloud allowed for privacy in the bedroom or separated the bath area from the living space, but it was harsh fabric, not to mention not an exciting color. We decided to add a little more color and softness to the space by replacing them with a curtain.
PIÈCE DE RÉSISTANCE- Curtain makeover
White.... White.... White.
After years of living in white wall apartments I find I am not too tolerant of that color so I have to "add" color.
I knew this project would be very time consuming and would need some skills I may be slightly lacking in so I waited until our return to Anacortes and recruited the help of a friend, who also happens to be a quilter.
I had found this video on how to makeover the Airstream curtains using the existing curtains. This made perfect sense to me - you already had the template with the existing curtains, they come with all of the hooks attached, and the blackout material is already incorporated into the design. Why reinvent, if it is already working.
My friend and I picked a day we could shop for fabric. We found these lovely designs on the sale rack at the local fabric shop. Same designer, similar color scheme, a slight variation on the design.
We picked a couple of nice days and washed the curtains on the gentle cycle. I had read many warnings about drying the curtains in the dryer (because of the blackout material) some had good luck on low, but since I was using an older washer/dryer set that was not mine, I opted to lay them out in the sun and let nature do the job.
We did one room at a time starting with the living area. Our flamingo beach towel and large pillows made for a temporary curtain solution to provide privacy at night. Once the living room curtains were done, we put them temporarily in the bedroom for privacy, while the bedroom curtains were being sewn,
Then it came time to iron the new fabric, measure, cut, and sew. We removed all of the velcro patches before starting - make sure when reassembling that they line up correctly. We also numbered the curtains in the order they came of the tracks.
After a few lessons, I took over preparation of the curtains for sewing - measuring, cutting, and pinning the new fabric to the curtains. Gale expertly sewed the edges, finished the corners, cleaned up around the snaps, and made the final product a work of art.
I could not be more pleased with the results. I only had a vague idea of what I wanted when we started this project, but nothing concrete. When I saw this fabric it just sang to me and next to the aluminum walls, the fabric and the walls shine.
It's the little touches that make a home a home.
A BIG THANK You to GALE. You have our deep appreciation and gratitude.
The Living Area
As we roam the roads and highways, looking for that next fantastic stop, keep track of our travels in our Airstream - Betty Jo