January 6, 2014

RV Dreaming For A New Year

I just received my Good Sam RV Travel Guide for 2014. About the size of the New York City Yellow pages, this massive resource is from one of the major RV organizations in the country. Besides the listings of over 13,000 campgrounds all across the U.S. and Canada, it has whole sections devoted to RV trips of a lifetime, maps, rules of the road, maintenance hints, and hundreds of dollars in coupons. Just flipping through it gets my travel juices flowing. 

I will admit that the reviews of some the RV campgrounds, and especially the photos used in the display ads, are not always representative. The Good Sam rating system is prone to higher scores  than I would agree with for some facilities, too. I make it a point to check review sites and the campground's own web site before booking space for a trip. But, even with those limitations, this directory is where I start every trip's planning.

With a major RV adventure on the books for this summer, I had been anxiously awaiting the new directory. Betty, Bailey (the dog), and I are sketching out a  trip from our home base in Arizona, northeast through Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, and ending in Wisconsin. After three full weeks exploring the Badger state, we return by way of South Dakota, Wyoming, and back through Utah, and crossing the Arizona border south of Las Vegas before arriving home in Scottsdale about 4,000 miles and a little over two months later.

Why Wisconsin as our major exploration stop? Over twenty years ago Betty went on a solo vacation there. She spend two weeks driving all over the state, filming waterfalls, lovely state parks, and cute small towns. A few months ago she dug out those old VHS tapes and we watched them together. Wisconsin is beautiful, green, and welcoming. While I had occasional business trips to Milwaukee and Madison I had never spent any time exploring. After seeing those old tapes, we knew what our destination should be for this summer.

As my post of a few weeks ago noted,  the concept of a Gap Year has sort of captured my imagination. It isn't practical for us to be gone for a full year, but several long trips broken up with a few months at home, sounds doable. We are itching to shake up our lives and routines.

Both Betty and I came to the solution of one major problem almost at the same moment: how to get home for the break period without having to drive the RV back 1,000 or 2,000 miles, and then driving those same miles again to pick up where we left off. The answer was obvious: put the RV and towed vehicle in storage when we are ready to take a break and fly home. When that time off the road is over, fly back to where the RV is, and begin the next phase of the adventure. A simple solution to a perplexing dilemma. Not so fast.

What about Bailey? We will not ship her in the cargo hold, nor buy her a seat in coach. So, we compromised. We will leave the RV in storage and drive the towed vehicle back home (and then again back to the RV). That just means more time to explore the back roads of our country.

So, the question we are wrestling with at the start of this new year is do we see how we like being away for a good chunk of this summer and then build "gap" trips into future years? Or, do we decide to roll the dice and add a few more long trips to this year?

I preach the need to take risks and step out of the box. I think it is time I began to listen to my own words and see what happens.




Note: I have learned this blog has been picked as one of the Top 50 RV blogs by Florida Outdoors RV, one of the major dealers in the Sunshine State. I appreciate the honor and invite you to check out the whole list. There are enough blogs listed here dedicated to RVing and travel to keep you busy for months!





22 comments:

  1. All things being equal (costs not too onerous, etc), and the fact that you appear to be loving the RV lifestyle, I believe you guys already know what you will do. Hope you enjoy those extra gap trips this year. Sounds like they will be a great time!

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    1. Where to go? When to go? Those are the questions.

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  2. My father did the RV thing for about 20 years of his retirement and what he did was each year take longer and longer trips, 1 month, then 2 months and so on until he was up to about 6 months away at any one time. As he got older the RV trips got a little bit shorter until he finally stopped altogether at 83.

    All you can really do is try it and see how it goes - kind of like retirement itself.

    - David

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    1. Our motivation is directly connected to age and health, too. There will be a point when navigating a 30 foot long vehicle will be unfair to other drivers and my own well-being! And, who knows, we might decide after several long trips that we prefer closer to home, shorter jaunts. But, we will never know until we try.

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  3. I agree with Chuck, from the excitement in the posts related to your trips in the RV..and the plans you're making for this summer,I bet you and Betty just keep on going! I expect you'll add some more long trips to your adventures in 2014!! Why not??!! There is so much beautiful country to explore here in the U.S.A.. You're giving US the courage to get out there and try something new,too.. 2014 is going to be a very enlivening year,don't you think!!?? So many opportunities!! Your summer trip sounds gorgeous.. where will you be going this Spring??

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    1. Spring trips are a problem this year. Betty has a church commitment that means being gone for more than a 2 or 3 day long weekend is not feasible through Easter. Except for a 2 day trip at the end of April and a three day getaway to Flagstaff in June, there is nothing scheduled before we leave in early July for the summer-long.

      Maybe, just maybe, we can squeeze in a few nights at Usery Park or Dead Horse Ranch in the meantime. If I'm not careful I will forget how to hook up the black water hose.

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  4. Bob, just be sure to cross reference the RV parks you are considering with RVParkReviews.com and TripAdvisor.com. I continue to be impressed with user reviews on both sites. With over 30 new RV parks and campgrounds on our agenda for 2014, my usage of both has been very heavy, but it's time well spent for sure.

    At the end of our lives I suspect we will primarily regret the roads not taken, so I encourage you to enjoy your precious time and health now. This moment is the only guarantee we have. :-)

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    1. Absolutely. I use both plus Google reviews where available. Good Sam's 9.5 or 10 aren't often what I would give a park. We will have close to 30 new parks for our trip this summer, too, so it is a bit of a roll of the dice no matter what sources are checked. But, with an RV, if a place is really substandard, I am willing to eat one night's fee and move.

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  5. Just let me know when you're ready to hit the Jersey Shore!
    ;)
    b

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  6. How exciting for you and Betty! Would love to be in your shoes and travel the country. So many new things to experience, new sights to see, new adventures as a couple. Go for it and enjoy...enjoy..enjoy!
    Sue in Colorado

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  7. I'm betting you will have a great time, but it is good you are doing it now. As for me, it makes me tired just to think about it! But we are 10 years older than you. At this age we prefer a vacation home base and little day trips. Happy traveling! Looking forward to hearing about it.

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    1. We are actually homebodies, so this trip (and those planned for future years) are kind of forcing us out of our comfort zone while we can still do so. At some point, day trips or long weekends will be what satisfies us.

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  8. Not a lot of spots near Omaha...however...there are two really inexpensive city spaces available...both have water and electricity, both have decent shower facilities...both have dump stations...one is Lake Cunningham...nice in the grass and lots of trees with a lake...we found it to be located close enough to enjoy Omaha ....nothing fancy but friendly folks...again a city park...15 dollars a night...
    north of Omaha in the town of Blair, there is John Hardy park...about 12 sites on concrete with grass and trees...water, electricity and a shower/bathroom...again NOTHING fancy...a slot to put your money in an envelope....the benefits....very low cost...15 dollars a day...we have family there so we use the trailer as our sleeping sanctuary when visiting the many grandkids...
    there is a KOA in Gretna...it is not bad...but it is way out away from Omaha...
    that was pretty much it...For our time there...we usually stay at both places for a week or two each...safe for us and again inexpensive...not for everyone that needs tons of amenities...but for someone on a very tight travel budget..it really hits the spot...

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    1. We are stopping in Grand island for a night or two. Omaha would be a good mid point stop between there and Des Moines. I will definitely check out your suggestions. Thanks, Tina.

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  9. Ah, you'll be tooling around in my beloved home state. Looking forward to the accounts of your travels in the Badger State.

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    1. We are looking at roughly 3 weeks in Wisconsin, covering Door County, Marinette, Woodruff, Spooner, and the La Crosse areas before heading to South Dakota. That should give a full dose of the beauty of Wisconsin.

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  10. Bob - While in Wisconsin, be sure to spend a little time visiting the "Tunnel Trail" which runs between Elroy and Sparta. It is a "rails-to-trails" conversion with 5 long tunnels cut right through mountains, located in beautiful,hilly, farm country. Walking through one (or more) of the tunnels is really a fun experience (and refreshingly cool even during the heat of the summer). Another scenic bike trail runs between northern Milwaukee and Sheboygan, visiting the towns of Cedarburg and Port Washington among others. You can eat lunch outside along the sidewalk in Cedarburg, or alternatively at one of several restaurants harbor-side in Port Washington.

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    1. Thanks, Don. I have printed out this comment so I can take it with us on our trip. We will be in both Wisconsin Dells and La Crosse which puts us not too far from the trail at Sparta and Elroy.

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  11. Whether you are sports fans or not, a tour of Lambeau Field in Green Bay is a unique experience. Cost is a mere $11 per person. With Door County on your schedule, you'll be passing right by. One thing for sure--there's plenty of parking!

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    1. After the loss a few weeks ago I imagine Lambeau is pretty quiet.

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