Posts Tagged With: across America

Backroads Across America: A Destination Called Home

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Our lap around the United States took us to 25 states in 61 days, covering 9,833 miles.   We spent 58 nights in RV parks, state campgrounds and one federal camp. We stayed three nights in motels when the weather was just too much.

The average cost of our RV stays was $39. We paid $11 at a fantastic Corps of Engineers campground and $15 in Bowie, Arizona, which turned out to be one of our favorites. It was quite rustic, but charming. All our camps had at least electric and water hookups; most also had sewer. The high was $70, just outside Charleston, S.C.

Could we have done it cheaper? Sure, but we usually opted for location and convenience, which push the rent higher.

Weather. After riding out a tornado warning in Texas, Sue watched the alerts and we stayed away from anything labeled “severe.” That is one reason a few states in the middle are not colored in. We wanted to go up the east coast of Michigan, but winter in May kept us away.

Warm (70s and 80s), dry weather, with rare exception, took us east across the southerly route. It got cool and damp in North Carolina and remained that way much of the way home. But, we got some great weather in South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.

So much for the statistics. It was our longest-lasting trip and we are sad to see it end. Sue is especially happy to be home, but we both miss our little trailer. It convinced us that RVing is a great way to see the USA. Overall, trailer life was easier and more fun than we expected. No, our blog has not been hijacked for advertising, that’s how we feel.

We learned you can’t see as much as you would think, but you will see much more without a bucket list. We traveled day to day without an itinerary. We drove for a couple of days, then stayed put for up to four days to explore an area without pulling the trailer.

The highlight? Spending most of a week with our son Chris and his girlfriend Gail in West Virginia, the hardest place to leave.

Surprises galore, but no regrets. Big Bend, New Orleans, the Gulf Coast, Florida, Nashville. Nope, didn’t go there. Chiricahua, Bowie, Saguaro, Warm Springs, north central Indiana. All five stars, just jumped out in front of us!

Was it easy? Absolutely not, but the best trips have challenges. Call us crazy, but we think overcoming hardships is part of the joy of travel. Towing a trailer into a hard wind is no fun, but the smell of coffee from your own kitchen each morning is a dividend.

So, we have left the road behind, but just for a spell.

 

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Backroads Across America: Surprise! Here’s Yellowstone!

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“It has to be one of the best RV parks ever! We have been staying there every summer for years.”

My ears were tuned in as I sipped a glass of wine a couple of days ago at our RV home near Little Bighorn Battlefield in southwestern Montana. I overheard a full-time RVer tell a neighbor about a five-star resort near Yellowstone National Park.

So, after a little investigative work, here we are, at the Yellowstone’s Edge, our trailer  perched next to the fast-moving Yellowstone River. It is one of the best places we have stayed on our journey, now in its ninth week. And, like many of the best parts of this adventure, it was unplanned.

We just finished a fabulous day in Yellowstone. There were bison, bear, elk, pronghorn. Brilliant skies, temperatures in the 70s, and the scenery wasn’t bad either.

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We started at Mammoth Hot Springs, near the north entrance to the park and about 30 miles south of our campground.

Lamar Valley, considered the place to go for wildlife viewing, was next. On the way, we hiked to a waterfall and saw another next to a pullout. By that time, a tailgate lunch was on the day’s menu.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe later ordered bear and bison, and there they were!

On our return drive, the leader of a bison herd carefully stopped traffic, including the UPS truck, so the moms and calves could cross the road. None of us tested his resolve.

Bear paparazzi? Yep, they were camped out, watching several bear who were enjoying the afternoon high up a tree. Park rangers struggled to keep traffic moving and direct curious pedestrians off the highway.

Later, it was time for one more bear. A stop for coffee, then back to our wee trailer.

After a brief rain shower and refreshing showers in our home, the sun is out again as we sip our happy hour wine. What’s next? I am listening!

 

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Backroads Across America: A Taste of Our Country

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Until Thursday, northwest Indiana was not on our itinerary. A fortuitous detour delivered us here and today was one of the most rewarding days of our journey, now in its seventh week.

“This feels like America,” we concluded several times. Rolling hills with farm after farm, neatly kept. White farm houses, porches screaming for an afternoon nap. A simple, but hard-working life.

We criss-crossed the Heritage Trail in Amish country. Indiana is home to more than 50,000 Amish, putting it close behind Pennsylvania and Ohio in Amish population. Horse-drawn buggies speedily clipped-clopped everywhere. Several pulled into a farm where many bicycles and no cars were parked. Many in traditional Amish dress milled about. Children ran and played. “A wedding?” Sue wondered.

We had a delicious lunch at an Amish restaurant, then watched a woman hold one of her many grandchildren while working at her loom, weaving rugs. All made out of fabric from recreational vehicles, she told us.

We walked around neighborhoods in Goshen that were lined with huge trees and century-plus-old homes. A dome topped the town’s original courthouse. An Amish buggy traveled down the main street. We perused an old bag factory now filled with shops and a cafe.

A wonderful day in the neighborhood!

 

 

 

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Backroads Across America: BBQ, Board Games and Breakfast

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s been a whirlwind of a weekend since arriving in Charleston, West Virginia.  Chris and Gail enjoyed a mini vacation when they spent Saturday night in a cabin at our campground.  We enjoyed having them “right down the street,” if only for one night.  After a barbecued steak dinner at the cabin, followed by two highly competitive rounds of our dice game Yamslam, Reg and I headed back to our trailer to rest up for the Sunday breakfast we were hosting.

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Chris has been working at Gritt’s Midway Greenhouse for the last year, and today he gave us a tour of the company’s retail store and 20+ greenhouses.  We weren’t quite prepared for the scale and quality of this family operation.

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A kaleidoscope of colors and textures greeted us as we wandered through most of the six acres of production greenhouses.  We saw flowers, vegetable plants, house plants and potted blooming plants, all grown and nurtured to supply Gritt’s retail and wholesale operation.

 

 

 

As amazing as all of that was, the greenhouse where the tomatoes grow surprised us most of all.

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We were fascinated with the 1.5 acre hydroponic tomato operation.  These are vine ripened tomatoes and the plants produce continually except for the months of December and January.

We were tempted to sneak a couple for our dinner!

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Backroads Across America: Scenes From the Rearview Mirror

Today was a turning point…literally.  This morning we headed left out of Hickory Knob State Park Campground, where we spent the last two nights, and watched as South Carolina disappeared behind us.  Today marks the point of our trip when we get serious about heading west and eventually returning home to Oregon.


Hickory Knob was a perfectly fine place for our two night stay, although neither Reg nor I could put a finger on why we didn’t love it.  Our site (pictured above) was tidy and spacious, surrounded by trees – I assume some were hickory trees – and the bathrooms were clean.  I gave my hair a good sudsy wash and powerful blast from my blow dryer, which was a real treat!  


From our campsite, we  walked nearly all of the 7-mile Lakeview Trail Saturday morning, following a part of the shoreline of (controversially named) Strom Thurmond Lake, a 71,000-acre reservoir forming the border between South Carolina and Georgia.  The sheer size of the lake is unbelievable and it appears to be a fisherman’s paradise.  It felt good to lace up the hiking shoes and follow the blue markers along the dirt trail.  As a reward for our enthusiasm, we lazed around the campsite for the rest of the afternoon!


This morning, on a road as straight as an arrow, we aimed for Asheville, North Carolina where we hope to stay dry during our four-day visit.  As South Carolina vanished in the rear view mirror, we wondered what new adventures await us on the return trip.


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Backroads Across America: Georgia offers State Park stay

 Yesterday we managed to reserve Saturday (tonight) and Sunday night in FD Roosevelt State Park in the beautiful state of Georgia.  I suspect we may have snagged the last spot available for the weekend.  After I checked us in (and realized we had lost yet another hour when crossing the border into Georgia), I was handed a yellow tag and sent in search of an empty campsite with a matching yellow, tag-free pole to stake our claim.  


What a surprise to have found this site so easily.  We quickly set up camp and sat down to enjoy the view.  Knowing we have two days here allows for some much needed R&R for Reg.  We’ve come over 3,500 miles and in another week will meet up with our son Chris and his girlfriend Gail.  After that, we’ll begin to think about the return trip.  Until then, we have much more to see!


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Backroads Across America: Historic Natchez, Mississippi

Perched on the bluffs above the Mississippi River is the historically rich town of Natchez.  The area was home to the Natchez Indians when the French arrived in 1716.   Soon after, with the arrival of English and Spanish settlers, the inevitable territorial tug-of-war began.

In 1797, the first American flag was raised and the Mississippi Territory was established.  Statehood followed in 1817.

Natchez is proud of its history and a great number homes and buildings date back to the late 1700’s and early 1800’s.  Its proximity to the Mississippi River and fertile, cotton producing land created great wealth for landowners in the early days.  However, it’s important to remember the riches came at a great cost.  Slavery allowed the landowners to become rich beyond their wildest dreams.  By 1860, Natchez had more millionaires per capita than any other U.S. City.   Life for most came to a screeching halt with the end of the Civil War.  Fortunes were lost, plantations were returned to the banks and the cotton markets never completely recovered.

By chance, we arrived in Natchez during the annual Spring Pilgrimage month when many of the historic homes are open to the public.  Above is Brandon Hall, dating back to 1856.  This dapper gentleman on the right greeted us as we began our tour, filling us in on the history of what used to be a working plantation.  The home currently operates as a bed and breakfast. 

Below is a view of the pond from the front yard.

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