January 11, 2013

R.T. the RV and Our 2013 Travel Plans

On New Year's Eve Betty and I took a look at our calendar for the upcoming year. After reviewing our budget and our desire to hit the road when we can, we sketched out our travel plans. This will be the first full year we own an RV so our first reaction was to think about all sorts of extended trips we might take. "Let's be gone for months at a time! Let's drive to Alaska, then Maine, then Florida, and then home!"

After a deep breath we reached a wiser decision: to step gently into the RV world rather than plunge in head first. We need experience with this type of vacation and lifestyle. We have to see how Bailey, the dog, will handle being inside a rolling box for long stretches of time. Frankly, we have to see how we will react to that same scenario. For the trip I just described our yearly travel budget would probably just pay for the gas. Also, I have to see how my dad will handle going several weeks without our visits and closeness.


Nothing prettier than the Oregon coast
After our tremendous time in Oregon last summer we have decided to spend most of August there. That will involve renting a condo from a friend, so no RV will be required. Betty, Bailey, and I will drive up and back while letting our oldest daughter and her family have some fun in R.T. while we are gone.

So, what about RV trips?  Betty has a commitment at church that will make it tough for her if we were gone for even a week at a time until Easter. That means for the first two or three months of the year we will probably restrict ourselves to a few 3 or 4 day jaunts. With most of the country too cold to visit, we will certainly make a trip to the Tucson area and maybe the wine country around Patagonia. Southern California is a possibility but that is a lot of driving for just a few days. More likely a place like Lake Havasu or Palm Springs would make sense for these excursions.


Several years ago I wrote a travel book about Arizona. I only printed a few copies for family members but I believe there is a market for it. After all this time I have to freshen many of the pictures and update the information. April is looking like the perfect time to spend two weeks traveling around the state and working on the book project.

By June the heat in Scottsdale is over 100 degrees every day so that means it is time to head north. We are thinking of a 2 week trip across Northern Arizona along Route 66 and then into parts of New Mexico. Betty has never been to Santa Fe or Albuquerque. I think we'd enjoy small towns like Las Vegas and Taos, too.


In August we are off to Hillsboro, Oregon to see blogging buddies Barbara and Earl Torris and Galen Pearl. Missing the hottest month of the year in Phoenix made this a no-brainer! Our youngest daughter will probably join us for a week or so. She is giving some thought to relocating to Portland. The weather and lifestyle fit her very well.

Come October we are heading west: two or three weeks in California. There are so many tremendous state parks in the southern and central part of the state that our toughest job will deciding which ones to pick. Meeting blogging friends from that part of the state, like Early Retiree Tamara, her husband, Mike, and Sonia and Duke Marsh would be lots of fun.

Add it up and we will be away from home almost three months this year, half of that in the RV. Assuming all goes well, the tentative goal for 2014 is four months of travel, all of it in R.T. and most of it in the Midwest and East.

Just like the rest of retirement, this schedule is simply a plan and open to adjustment. Except for August in Oregon we are open to add or subtract as needed. We have talked about a trip to San Antonio but nothing firm is on our plate.

So, this is where you can help. Where should we go that we might have overlooked? What trips of 7-14 days from the Phoenix area do you recommend? What are your plans for this year? Maybe you will be someplace that sounds perfect to us.

For those wanting to see a few pictures of the inside of R.T. here you are:







Betty and Bailey enjoying a relaxing lunch

41 comments:

  1. Sounds like a fun filled year. We are going to Newport Beach, CA and to Lake Tahoe for family weddings and mini-vacations. If you haven't been to Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks I highly recommend them as well.

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    1. Actually, we have not been to Yosemite Park but have talked about it. Luckily, being retired we could avoid the summertime crowds. Thanks, Juhli. Yosemite is one for me to add to our list.

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  2. So much to see. You really cannot go wrong with a trip almost anywhere in the US.
    Yellowstone, small towns in the Midwest and East, Hannibal Missouri, DC, the Snake and Columbian rivers- there is so much to see. You only need to figure out if you are more interested in the destination or the journey. Only :>) Happy voyages in R.T.

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    1. Certainly we are focused on the journey rather than the destination. I am looking forward to be as unstructured as possible on the longer trips. We'll pull out our RV park guides when we are starting to get tired and see what is available.

      We are small town people, particularly with an 30 foot vehicle. I have little interest in driving through Chicago or Boston in R.T. We prefer small towns and friendly people.

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    2. Remember our door is open if you roam through this part of the country. We are 1/4 mile from the lake and half way to everywhere!

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  3. The more we are in our RV, the more we want to be out in our RV . . . my prediction is that you and Betty will feel likewise, and will end the year with 60+ RV days.

    Remember to pencil us in for lunch or dinner in Portland in August. We'll be at the Sandy Riverfront RV Park, near Troutdale, from August 15 - 22.

    Have you decided what to do yet about a tow vehicle? Interestingly, here where we are currently, surrounded by RV'ing snowbirds, many couples elected to have one spouse drive their extra vehicles down separate from their rigs.

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    1. I do have you penciled in for a Portland visit. We arrive on the 1st and leave on the 22nd.

      I am still torn about the tow vehicle situation. I have gone back and forth between a dolly and 4 down towing so many times I am getting whiplash. Our 2 cars cannot be towed 4 down. So, that implies a dolly. But a dolly takes up room I don't really have at home, and is more of a pain when at an RV park. It adds a fair amount of expense for the dolly and the auxiliary braking system.

      Then I think about trading in both cars and getting a 4 down car that we'd use at home and on the road. Several Ford products, Jeeps, and others will work. But, that means another $15,000 or so on a car.

      Driving a vehicle along with the RV seems to defeat the fun of traveling together and adds gas and maintenance expenses. Also, where does Bailey go?

      How about hybrid bikes? Is that practical for getting to a store or local sightseeing? If the campsite is in a state or national park that probably isn't practical.

      How much work is it to pack everything away to drive the RV to sightseeing locations and then return each evening to re-set up camp?

      As you can tell I am really no closer to an answer than I was 4 months ago. Help!

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    2. It's a lot of work and hassle to move your RV each day, particularly a 30 footer. A lot. Bikes might be the best way to start for your first few trips. Here is Palm Springs, as an example, 90% of what we've done over our week here was reachable by foot or by bike. There's really no need to rush and have everything solved immediately. Much better to evolve into what will work best for you both over time.

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    3. Thanks, Tamara for your prompt response. I agree that we can take our time about what works best. Bikes are easy to fit on the back of the RV and obviously a lot less expensive than the other options.

      I'd also like to make use of local transportation options like buses when possible.

      So, taking your suggestion we will probably just take this decision slowly over time.

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  4. I think cruising along Rte. 66 sounds like fun. I wanted to create a promo with VW and Guy Fieri to hit all the Diner's, Drive-in's and Dive's along that route. It could happen.

    It's funny though because we have the same glitches with dogs, schedules, etc. All of it will work out eventually. Love the shot of Betty with Bailey! I see who gets the cushion in your family, too. ;)
    b

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    1. There is quite a lot of Rt.66 still in very good condition. We have done the Arizona sections before when I was writing my travel book. Since I have decided to freshen it and publish it, we do need to retrace some of our steps.

      Bailey is a diva and she knows it.

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    2. Barbara, I really love the "Road Food" books by Jane Stern as well. Im unsure from memory if any of her places are on route 66.

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  5. Love the quilt! I am a big Santa Fe fan and am sure you will love the area. Im not sure what you have planned in California but San diego and then up the cost is a lovely drive. and any of the parks in Utah or northern New Mexico are worththeir own trip. Our drive down through Moab, the Arches national park and then to Monument valley was very memorable. I think three months sounds like a pretty good time frame to be away from home.....my experience is much more than two weeks is too much for me (but then Im the one talking about driving to California, up to Washington and Vancouver, across to the Dakotas and back down),

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    1. On our big driving trip of two years ago we went through Bryce and Zion Canyons on the way to Olympic National Park in northwest Washington state. We have been to Monument Valley but not for several years so a return trip there makes sense.

      Betty has plans to make several quilts. I bought her a new quilting sewing machine for Christmas to help her with her projects.

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    2. Great! Im sure she loves it. I could downsize many things but you will have to take my Janome quilting machine at our own risk.

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  6. Sounds like a great plan! In addition to the book on Arizona, perhaps you could also write something about your Route 66 experiences.

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    1. Route 66 will certainly produce several blog posts!

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  7. Hi Bob, I live in SoCal and I'm planning on taking a motorcycle trip across the US this summer.

    My goal is to get across the Mississippi River as quickly as possible and then settle down to a few hundreds miles per day. I find the eastern US a lot more interesting than the southwest.

    I know I'm painting with a broad brush, but I like trees and lakes and I think because the eastern US is older it has more character.

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    1. After 28 years in the desert you'll get no argument from us. Northern California, The Pacific Northwest, the Mid West and New England are areas we want to spend lots of time soaking up the green.

      That motorcycle trip is quite ambitious. You should have a great time.

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  8. When you are planning your California trip, remember the so-called Central Coast....Santa Barbara to Monterey or so.

    San Luis Obispo County has some great ocean & inland vistas, from Morro Bay & Hearst Castle to the Paso Robles Wine Country. I am not sure driving a 30'RV would be a lot of fun up Highway 1 from Morro Bay to Monterey but the scenery is awesome.

    October is a great time to come....many of the areas high tourism seasons are summer (when it is foggy & cold) & the holidays.

    As a relatively new retiree, travel is oone of the items on my bucket list......what a great post!

    We have two small Chi-Weenies (chihuahua/doxie mixes)---who also rule the roost....especially the small (4lb) female, Squeak. She KNOWS she is the queen, now she just has to train the rest of us.

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    1. I would not take the RV down Route 1. We have driven a car up and back a few times and even that leaves Betty with white knuckles.

      October should be perfect. We had originally thought about June but realized the crowds would be much worse. We are looking at the sections of California from north of L.A. up to the southern end of the Bay area.

      Bailey was 1 year old yesterday but acts like a full grown Queen, too.

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  9. I Meant to add that I am a big reader of "day trip" type books. Although I enjoy the journey I also enjoy finding a "home base" from which to explore. If there is not that kind of book in Arizona, that might be a wonderful idea. And while there are many books on route 66, most of them I find not very helpful. I actually continually refer to one website when I travel on it.

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    1. I don't want to reveal too much about the book but it avoids the high traffic-high profile places and focuses on towns or locations off the beaten path in a unique presentation.

      Our favorite Route 66 book is by Richard & Sherry Mangum. It is a tremendous resource for the portion through Arizona.

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  10. I haven't had the chance to RV yet -- still in the convincing stage with DH -- but we have been down to Pismo State Beach a few times and the north campground there is very appealing to me. There are plenty of pull-through spaces on the perimeter road, and there is plenty of grass for Bailey, too. You're just over the dunes from the beach. It looks to be a very clean and pleasant RV area!

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    1. Tamara has recommended that place, too. It is on my list.

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  11. One of my favorite places to camp in CA is the state beach camping area at Carlsbad. It is a nice place located on the beach. Across the hwy is a shopping area so you have the best of both worlds, access to "town" and the coastal area which feels like it is off by its self away from the business of the rat race and crazies. There are showers there and the spots on the cliff are the most beautiful. You have to act fast if you want a place for the summer. They may be all taken by now.

    Also Big Bear Ca., which is a bit pricey camping wise, is a wonderful place to visit. There is so much to do in Big Bear even in the summer months. It is quiet and peaceful even in the village you will feel rested and relaxed. Madlon's, Pongs (my favorite place ever) both located on Big Bear Blvd. and Boo Bear's in the village are my favorite places to eat. Excellent food and ambiance that is wonderful. Check out some web site you may like these places. On my website I have some links posted in older blogs but they should be easy to find.

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    1. We like the Calsbad area so I will check out the state beach area you are talking about. We have never been to Big Bear Lake. I'll take a look at your links. Thanks!

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  12. I have friends that leave Montana in November and return in April. They visit us late December in San Antonio. They tell me that the Alamo Fiesta RV in Boerne Texas (very near San Antonio) is one of the best RV stops they have seen.

    Just don't come between June and September because of the intense heat. January and February can be cold and wet also. Happy trails.

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    1. San Antonio and that area are best in October or early November or mid-spring. I had a business client there that required four visits a year for 12 years. San Antonio can be brutal in the summer. If I want heat I'll just stay in Phoenix!

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  13. Isn't it wonderful to have all these options?

    We're not RVers anymore, but still love making travel plans for the year.

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  14. No one has mentioned one of the most traveled to destinations in the country, namely the Smoky Mountains here in TN. You can visit Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg on your way to the Mtns as well. You might want to do that during the off-season; summertime traffic can get pretty busy cutting through those towns (the main Smoky entrance starts just outside Gatlinburg) although there are ways to get around them.

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    1. The Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Parkway are on our must-do list at some point. It has been probably close to 40 years since I have really explored your beautiful area of the country. Even though I had business clients in Knoxville and Nashville, there was never time to sight-see.

      Tennessee is on the list.

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    2. Let us know whenever it makes the list, Bob. You'll unwelcome at our place.

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    3. I am going to assume you meant we'd be welcome!

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    4. No idea what my mind was seeing when I typed that message. You assumed correctly!

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  15. Your mention of the drive to Alaska reminded me of my drive up there in my younger years, back before the pipeline, when the highway to Alaska was still gravel for miles at a time.

    Glad the Oregon visit is locked in. All the rest will be icing on the cake!

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    1. I've seen a few videos of RVers driving up the Alaskan Highway (most of which is in Canada!) and it still looks quite rural and lonely.

      Alaska may be seen from a cruise ship rather than R.T.

      Blogging friend Early Retiree Tamara and her husband, Mike, will be at an RV park in Troutdale in August and want to meet up for lunch or dinner. Oregon is the place to be in the summer!

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  16. If Bailey wouldn't mind, I have a cat I will sell really cheap...he can be a pill! His name is RV so he would fit in the R.T. perfectly.

    I love this post Bob. You are having such a wonderful time just dreaming...I can tell.

    b+

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  17. Bob - You should consider a trip to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks in southern Utah. Both offer beautiful campgrounds amid scenic grandeur that is unmatched anywhere. I personally have camped in both parks, and found the hiking and nature watching spectacular. The parks are probably about 5 hours drive from Scottsdale.

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  18. Oh my, such a beautiful and inspiring trip. You look so happy with that campervan as a ride. You both deserve that break.

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    1. Thanks, TCC. We are enjoying it tremendously.

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