September 11, 2014

Back Home Safe And Sound

Our great RV summer adventure is over. After 12 loads of laundry and several days of unpacking, our life is beginning to assume a normal routine. There are still important things left to be done to the RV before we can close it down until our January trip to the Palm Springs Film Festival. But, we are safely back in our home.

Several readers have asked for an idea of what something like this costs. As you might imagine, I kept rather detailed records of what we were spending. While I am not comfortable sharing exact dollar amounts here are some final percentages:

We spent 6.5% more than I had budgeted. Almost all of that over-spending went into the gas tank of the RV and car. About a year ago when I started planning this trip I had not anticipated the significant increase in gas costs, the full effect of towing a car behind the RV, and the difference in fuel costs in different parts of the country. Frankly, I though gas in the Midwest and Rocky Mountain areas would be cheaper than in Phoenix, but not so. Prices approached $4.00 a gallon in several areas we visited, making $125 stops at the pump not uncommon.

Of the total amount spent 43% went right into the gas tanks. In fact, our trip was shortened by about a week because of the cost of fuel. 26% of the total paid for our nightly campsites and 13% for food in the RV. The rest was spent on gifts, mementos, stuff for Bailey, occasional meals out, and admissions to museums and parks.

We spent somewhat more than $115 per day for this 5,160 mile trip. A decent hotel, meals, and gas costs for a typical vacation is usually more than that so the RV approach is less expensive, but not substantially. 

Importantly, Betty and I agree that this time away was worth every penny. We grew as individuals and a couple. We saw things that enriched our lives and gave us a new appreciation for the beauty and vastness of this country. We gained a renewed love for where we live and the blessings of our life. We not only survived being in a very small space together (with a dog!) but enjoyed it tremendously. 

Disappointments? Sure. The weather was not cooperative for most of the trip. The first three weeks were spent in places having heat waves that almost rivaled temperatures in Scottsdale. That was followed by cold snaps that meant we had to wear sweatshirts and coats, plus run the RV's furnace while we slept. We were able to set up our outside grill only twice. The bugs and flies were so thick that eating or sitting outside to read and relax, became the exception rather than the norm. As I mentioned in an earlier post, too many of our roads and Interstate highways are falling apart.

But, none of those irritations was enough to cause us to question the trip. The friendliness of the people we met, the beauty of the countryside and the thrill of each new discovery made the journey one we will cherish forever. The planning for next summer's trip to Oregon has already begun.

Betty took almost 14,000 pictures...an amazing average of 230 a day! Many of them are stunning and awe-inspiring. Several will eventually make it onto our walls at home.

I will have posts over the next several months that highlight many of the best. But, to whet your appetite here is just a handful of some of the RV parks that we called home or places within a short drive





Putting dozens of patches on the RV spare wheel cover










See the finished wheel cover!


Devil's Tower as seen from our campsite







The Falls at Sioux Falls were just 10 minutes away



Yes, a Las Vegas RV Park Pool




30 comments:

  1. Welcome home! Beautiful photos!!! So much to explore in this beautiful country of ours.

    I'm curious about how you handled the mail. When we leave for FL, we will have mail forwarded. We get our bills electronically, and pay the same way. The only glitch we ran into last year was that we failed to notify our banks regarding our temporary address change, and one bank deemed us as having a "bad address". We straightened it out when we returned home, but a bit of a hassle, especially during tax season. I would assume this issue to be even more of a challenge when traveling the countryside.

    I hope to see Devil's Tower in person some day. Awe inspiring.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Devil's Tower is simply overwhelming. But, frankly, I was more taken by Mount Rushmore. The setting and the story behind this massive monument are almost unbelievable.

      Regarding our mail, we had all of it forwarded to one of our daughters. She let us know about anything that looked important, otherwise she just held it all until our return. Virtually all of our bills are paid on-line, automatically through our bank so only an occasional bill had to be dealt with.

      There are several mail forwarding options if you plan on being in a particular location for a set period. Others will bundle all your mail and send it to an address you specify.

      Delete
  2. Sounds like a great trip! Looking forward to seeing more photos.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are so many good pictures I could turn this into a photo blog if I wanted to!

      Delete
    2. Maybe Betty should start a photo blog?!

      Delete
  3. Bob, glad to hear that you and Betty had a good time and are safely home. Found the breakdown of expenses to be interesting. Hubby and I continue to go back and forth over motorhome vs hotels. Well, we just got back from a trip where we stayed in a very good hotel, albeit, an older hotel. Had to come home and Hubby has been sick in bed with upper respiratory problems for 5 days. (He's seldom sick) We both noticed a "strange" odor from the airvents at the hotel and we woke each morning with scratchy throats. Now we're wondering if poor air quality might have been the source of his illness. The great thing about camping is that you can control the cleanliness of your camper. Looking forward to more beautiful pics from Betty!! BTW, I think your expenses on the road seem very reasonable--good for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good point, Pam. A camper is your own world to control, though that does mean you have to clean and maintain the space much like your home. In that sense it is a working vacation but can be cleaner than a hotel situation.

      During those rare times when I am forced to fly somewhere I shudder to think of all the diseases and germs in the air, on the seats, and blown across the aisle by the man sneezing nonstop. Ugh!

      Delete
  4. Beautiful pictures! My hub retires next year and we are looking forward to lots of travel time. Thanks for the info!

    ReplyDelete
  5. As a longtime RVer, we've gone from vans to pop-ups to travel trailers to motor homes. Travel trailers, for us are best and thanks to new lightweight innovations in these, we've settled on a 17 ft, state-of-the-art, somewhat luxury R-Pod. It's minimalist camping, for sure but easy on the gas (20mph) and most regular vehicles can tow it.
    http://thriftyat60.blogspot.com/2014/08/minimalist-camping.html
    I refuse to sleep in hotels and because we have a dog, we get the worst rooms when we do (plus pay non-refundable pet fees). Airflights are tottally out of the question. RVing has come a long way. We've discovered newer RV Resorts that have many amenities (WiFi, heated pools, jacuzzi, great private showers, excellent laundry facilities) and will only stay in these from now on ($40 to $60 a night).
    We do almost all of our living outside and if the weather turns, we leave.
    I did all my air travelling while still employed AND much younger.
    Getting to really enjoy our retirement RVing lifestyle more and more.
    Your trip sounds inspirational. Looking forward ourselves to going out west.
    Betty had a sewing machine! I never saw that one before!
    Yes, RVing has come a long, long way since we first started out back in the 1960's (my dad converted a VW bus into a camping bus. What fun and fond memories!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. During the last 20 years of my career I flew an average of 100,000 miles a year. That is enough time in an airplane for any one person in a lifestyle.

      If you have a specific source for the RV resorts you mention I'd love to know about it. Too many RV campgrounds now call themselves a "resort" but are far from being one. That handle has been cheapened by inappropriate use. So, leave another comment if you can. That type of accommodation is more my style. Boondocking holds very little appeal to me. Give me a hot tub!

      Betty's sewing machine is about a year old. It replaced one she had for all of our married life and was too heavy and too prone to breakdowns to take on a trip.

      Delete
    2. Bob, two that I can name off hand, is the one we stayed in Hopkins Michigan: Hidden Ridge RV Resort:

      http://www.goodsamclub.com/travel/campgroundsandrvparks/generalinfo.aspx?cgid=260000740#

      And the other one is in Naples, Florida called Club Naples RV Resort:

      http://www.goodsamclub.com/travel/campgroundsandrvparks/generalinfo.aspx?cgid=230000573

      Both are from Good Sam, so we get a discount. Apparently, this company called Sun RV Resorts is buying up all these run down RV parks and redoing them over with everything imaginable. My husband and I kept extending our stay in Michigan because we didn't want to leave the resort. Who knew? Some of the resorts, if you're a first timer offer fantastic discounts. For example: two months in Naples would have cost us $2250 (full hook up), but for our first time there we were only charged $1855. That's $927 a month at peak, prime time!
      After a long day of hiking, walking, kayaking, whatever, you want that hot tub! Trust me. And you can spread out in your own private, super hot shower. Love it!
      RVing is big business now and I love it. Thanks to you, you helped me get back in the swing of things. I had almost (God forgive me) bought a Florida condo!
      And it's OK to discuss costs. We all do at the RV parks. My neighbors help me save a ton of money. Plus Good Sam has a daily newsletter with daily points and saving techniques.
      Happy trails!

      Delete
    3. I do have some pics from Hidden Ridge in Michigan:
      http://thriftyat60.blogspot.com/2014/07/first-week-rving.html

      Good luck!

      Delete
    4. The Oasis RV Resort in Vegas was certainly upscale, but it had several drawbacks: no shade, which in Vegas can be a problem, low voltage so our AC wouldn't keep running, and a problem with hot water in the showers. The pools, spa, and fitness room were very nice and the price was not too far above what we usually pay.

      I will check out the Sun RV sites and look at your pictures. Thanks!

      Delete
  6. Sounds like an outstanding trip, Bob, regardless of the bugs and costs. Happy for both you and Betty. And while costs may have been higher than expected, not hugely so. You'll remember this trip for the rest of your lives (unless you have so many that they supplant this one). That is priceless.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Betty and I are big believers in experiences instead of things. This trip will pay dividends forever.

      Delete
  7. Welcome home! I'm glad the three of you had a good time, even if the weather and the bugs didn't always cooperate. So many things to do and see and places to go! I look forward to re-living some of your experiences through those fantastic photographs. Here's to next time!

    That Other Jean

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Next summer will likely be spent in the Portland area, with day tours around Oregon and Washington. One way to hold down gas expenses is to get somewhere and then park the RV for a month or more.

      More photos are guaranteed!

      Delete
  8. Hi Bob,
    I enjoy reading your blog. I just retired this past June and my husband and I bought a small 26ft motor home. We've been on several week long trips and are planning a longer trip in 2014. We travel with three small Bichon's. I know you debated traveling with your dog. How are you able to go to restaurants, visit monuments ant attend county fairs when the RV parks seem to forbid leaving dogs in your RV?? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll have a post about traveling with Bailey in the next week or so. The short version: most RV parks don't want you to leave the pet tied up outside, but few prohibit leaving the dog while you are away for a few hours. We are never gone for more than 5 hours and always leave the AC on. Bailey doesn't bark, she just sleeps by the door waiting for our return.

      Delete
  9. Enjoy following your "experiences". What camera does Betty use? She's quite talented. Glad to have you back.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Betty uses a simple Canon Point and Shoot camera. The real artistry is in the editing, plus she takes most pictures at either 7 or 14 mp so there is plenty of digital data to manipulate.

      Glad to be back, Judy!

      Delete
  10. Betty's pictures are great and you snapped a good one of her at work on the spare wheel cover.

    There were a few reasons why we decided to sell the big diesel truck and fifth-wheel in favor of staying in motels again but the biggest one might have been our disappointment with most rv parks.

    Mt Rushmore was probably one of my favorite destinations ever.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Betty and I talked about the fate of many RV parks when the current crop of owners retire. Many of the ones we met are in their late 70s and 80s and want to sell and retire but are having problems finding a buyer. Will the parks just close down or be sold to a land developer? I don't know if owning an RV campground is something many folks in their 40s or 50s aspire to.

      Delete
  11. Lovely photos. My parents RV through the winter and thoroughly enjoy it. How difficult was it to learn to drive a larger vehicle (with trailer)?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Driving a Class C motorhome like ours is not difficult, even towing a car. There are just some important adjustments to normal driving: stopping distance increases dramatically so you have to anticipate what will happen in front of you, backing up with a towed car is impossible so you must always be sure to not get into a dead end situation, and turning a corner requires a much wider swing to avoid the curb.

      Otherwise, it is just like driving a car, albeit a very large car with no rear view mirror!

      Delete
  12. Cost seems reasonable to me since we're going away next week and the cottage alone costs $1200 which is $170 a night -- and it's not the most expe4nsive place, by far. And you know what? B's probably going to want to eat, which will drive up the cost even more!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My answer to the eating issue? Pick that week to go on a juice fast. It is good for you and keeps that pesky budget in check.

      Delete
  13. So fun to see you posting again! Ken and I are still enjoying our new mountain town, getting to know people, setting up volunteer activities, no RV at this time, still investigating all options.I would LOVE to spend a month in Oregon/Washington state sometime! We wanted a Casita, but it seems my OLDER Highlander will not tow it readily, we would need a new vehicle. Not on the agenda just now.. we're taking some day trips and quick overnights to Prescott,Cottonwood, etc. and putting our kayak in the lakes, doing some antique-ing. Ken is joining the Payson Packers, for weekly hike son Tuesdays. We find using airbnb is an awesome way to save money on lodging.We are staying in Prescott one night in October for just $45!!!! Still checking out how we may get into an RV, though.. I feel I want get on the road next summer!!One way or another!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You two have had a summer busier than mine! It sounds as though the move out of the Valley to the mountains has been just the ticket

      Betty and I will make it to your neck of the woods one of these days (before the snow flies!)

      Delete

Inappropriate comments will be deleted