April 21, 2013

RV Travel and Lessons Learned

Betty and I are spoiled. Living in Scottsdale has lots of advantages. OK, there are a few not so good parts like high costs and searing summer heat. But, one thing we take for granted is warm, sunny weather in April. We rarely have windy conditions any worse than a gust high enough to make me crank down the backyard umbrella.

So, the last 14 days on our RV trip have been eye-opening. The winds have blown pretty much without ceasing since we drove through Southern Arizona, traveled across southern New Mexico, and have spent the last 11 days in Texas. In Fredericksburg there were two days when the wind was under 20 miles per hour most of the time. We celebrated the relative calm. At home those days would have been considered a gale!

Driving a 12,000 pound RV through wind gusts of 35 or 40 miles per hour and steady breezes of 15-30 mph has tested my driving skills and patience. But, after getting used to how R.T. reacts in the wind we have simply accepted this as normal. Santa Rosa, New Mexico has had afternoon winds over 40 miles per hour as I write this.  

It has been cold, too. In fact, the area around Amarillo had two nights of a hard freeze, with overnight lows in the 20's. Looking ahead to the next several stops, Santa Fe and Flagstaff have had lows in the teens! If things don't warm up we may decide on a different route home. An RV is poorly insulated to begin with but in temperatures below freezing there are concerns of frozen or burst water pipes and plumbing. The propane furnace does a decent job of keeping the living space comfortable but not being able to go outside much does make the small space close in a bit.

I have learned that April in Scottsdale does not represent April in many other parts of the country. Future trips will involve a bit more research into weather and wind averages!

Since we left Fredericksburg we have spent nights in Big Spring and Amarillo, Texas and are now in Santa Rosa, New Mexico. At the end of the trip I'll post a list of all the parks where we have spent time along with some feedback just in case you ever find yourself passing through in your RV or tent.

I have already shared the dodgy nature of Wifi availability. I will add that the pictures of an RV park on their web sites and in directories usually involves a few liberties with reality. They are never quite as nice as described or photographed. So far we have not stayed at any place that made us uncomfortable. But, as a general rule, bathrooms and showers are usually in need of some repairs and upgrades, swimming pools don't really belong in RV parks, and those who live in these parks for months at a time aren't really focused on keeping their site neat.

Even with these glitches, the trip remains a real joy. Bailey is becoming less nervous with the travel and different accommodations most nights. The number of meals Betty prepared and froze ahead of time will run out the night before we get home...right on schedule. How did she do that? I give her complete credit for such good planning. 

We are actually under budget even with $125 gas bills every time I pull into a service station. We are eating most of our meals from our supplies. A dinner out once every 5 or 6 days and a lunch from a fast food place (usually Subway) every 4th or 5th day gives us enough of a break to not get tired of what is in the refrigerator or pantry. The RV parks have averaged $35 a night, after an RV travel club 10% discount. There may be enough left over at the end of the trip to allow us to buy two urban bikes and hitch for the next trip.

A few nights ago after dinner we were playing a board game and I asked if Betty felt the trip was too long, too short, or just about right. Like me, she thinks this three week adventure has been the right length, and sees us tackling longer trips in the future with no problem. 

Betty will not leave the RV without her camera. I have lost track, but I think she is already close to 2,000 pictures with 6 days still to go. Here is a very small sample of more photos from the trip so far. I'll be adding more to the link at the top of the blog sometime in the next few days. 






















Holding onto door to keep from being blown away in Amarillo


Oh, by the way, we have discovered that every town in Texas with a population larger than 1,800 has a DQ restaurant. Betty likes their dipped cones so she is pretty much in dessert heaven! Who knew?

16 comments:

  1. Windy! We found the same thing on our 2011 road trip from Seattle to Iowa. I had no idea.

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    1. I was sitting outside of the RV in Santa Fe this afternoon when a gust that must have been 40 miles an hour almost blew me out of my chair! It lasted 30 seconds and then the wind stopped. Always an adventure.

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  2. Love the photo of the gate with the red and purple flowers!

    Can sympathize with your comments on full time RV residents vs those just passing through. We have had three negative experiences, and I now expressly request that we not be placed in a spot near full time residents. Our purposes for being there are simply at odds with theirs, and there seems to be no getting around it.

    I utilize RVParksReview.com extensively to research RV parks. Their travelers reviews are unedited and almost always spot on. We've had consistent good luck as a result. This summer will be a good test as we visit 8 new RV Parks and campgrounds, relying on RVParksReview feedback.

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    1. I will start to use the RVParksReview site. The descriptions and ads in the Good Sam Directory are somewhat fanciful. I have also made note of the parks you mention in California for our visit next fall.

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  3. Apparently you are not a Larry McMurty fan, Bob, or you'd know about Texas its Dairy Queens. I really want to visit Hill Country and Austin, rather than read about the area.

    The rusty red horseshoe and star garden art is a good one.

    When we had a fifth-wheel, I was surprised at how much some of the RV parks cost. Do you have a Next Exit or Exit Now book? Even now, when we are not pulling the fifth behind us, we like knowing what restaurants, gas stations and motels are coming up.

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    1. I have read some of Larry's books but missed the DQ references.

      There are several apps available for my phone that I will start using. The Good Sam directory is too heavy and their ratings are somewhat suspect. I have read about the book you mention but have found my GPS has virtually everything I need to find along with turn-by-turn directions.

      I have been averaging about $35 a night on this trip for RV parks. Boondocking and state parks maybe part of our mix because of the cost factor.

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  4. In one of his books, the local DQ sees a lot of action and I vividly remember seeing DQs all over Texas.

    Our current GPS is much more informative about the motels and restaurants that we've passed, rather than being helpful about what's up ahead. We're in the market for a new one with free updates. So, maybe that's why we find the exit guides helpful.

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  5. Hi, Bob. I just visited family in South Texas, and returning from Alice, TX, to Buda, on what seemed like a little backroad highway, we must have passed at least 5 DQs in a 2-hour time frame. Not only that, but my cousin, who traveled that road quite often, picked one DQ for its food and another for its ice cream. I had no idea that there would be a difference.

    I also had no idea about those big winds back there. It is good to know about some of the weather we may run into, but also good to be reminded that our weather out west is not typical of the rest of the country. Sometimes we can take our nice weather for granted.

    You and RV Sue both blogged this week about some of the not-so-enticing aspects of the RV life, and I appreciated reading both.

    Thanks to Betty for all the gorgeous photos. I especially enjoyed the one with garden bordered with bluebonnets and the one with the horseshoe/star. Oh, and the one with Bailey, of course!

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  6. Better you than me. I'm more of hotel kinda girl. Glad you're having a mostly good time.
    b

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    1. I spent so many years in hotels I think I'm burned out on them. That being said, there are places, like Hawaii or a local resort that have hotels I'll stay in anytime!

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  7. Sue in Northern ColoradoMon Apr 22, 08:34:00 AM MST

    I'm enjoying "traveling" with you, via your posts. The pictures are beautiful! My husband plans to retire within the next year and we hope that we can get on the road and see some of the country. We can't afford the RV, but just enjoy traveling in the car. Can't wait!

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    1. There is a freedom on the road that I just can't explain but it is there...just waiting to be experienced. It doesn't require an RV, just a sense of adventure.

      Betty has taken some amazing photos. I hope to find the time to put some on a link at the top of the blog before we get home. But, there will certainly be many after we return.

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  8. Cari in North TexasMon Apr 22, 02:30:00 PM MST

    Yep, DQ is definitely a Texas institution! Their bathrooms are consistently small and poorly maintained, but their ice cream is a real treat. I'm sorry you aren't having good weather on your trip. March and April are notorious here for unpredictable weather. Be grateful you haven't been in a tornado warning area :-)

    Thanks for your insights into an extended RV trip. Good suggestions from your readers, as well. I'm taking notes, with plans to rent an RV like yours for a week in June to try it on for size.

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    1. The RV park in Amarillo actually had a storm shelter. Thankfully, we didn't have a need for it. Locals told us that the wind in Amarillo never stops. I had a client there years ago but I don't remember the wind being such a factor.

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  9. One of the things we had to learn to live with in Prescott Valley is the relentless wind-especially in spring. It's warmer the last three days, so I'll take the wind. In the end, I prefer the wind over your summer heat. I guess we pick our poison, huh?

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    1. How about no wind and no heat? San Diego comes to mind, but Southern California is a nice place to visit but I could never live there.

      We are in Holbrook this evening...cold and rather calm. A nice break.

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