Posts Tagged With: rv trips

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: Yeah, South Dakota!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATo be honest, Tuesday’s drive, 320 miles across the fairly flat farmlands of northern Iowa, was uneventful. We were not tempted to pull off and explore. The two Misses rivers on either side of Iowa were beautiful, though.

As we left North Sioux City in southeastern South Dakota this morning, the landscape quickly became more engaging. A walk along the Missouri River led to a meeting with a fisherman who had bagged a 29-pound big head carp, aka Asian carp.

Then we saw a bridge across the river. It led to Nebraska. So we drove across and found the Gavins Point Dam (above) built by the Army Corps of Engineers. We drove across the dam, back to South Dakota, to explore more backroads leading to our campground in Kennebec.

The rolling hills of southeastern South Dakota (top photo) are cattle country. We passed many trucks with cattle carriers heading for market. Lots of livestock, many with calves, roamed the rolling hills.

As Sue prepares our pasta and salad dinner, the skies are turning mostly blue, just in time for our visit to the Badlands and Black Hills.

After nearly two weeks of cool, wet weather, warm and dry have returned!

 

 

 

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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: Squeezing in Our Campground

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We’re spending the night in southern Virginia where spring is just beginning to show its colors.  Our campsite was surrounded by trees, but there was barely a leaf to be seen.  It looked quite winter-like.

A good night for what Reg calls “Comfort Food.”

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Although he rolled his eyes when I dropped this in our grocery cart the other day, we thoroughly enjoyed our Deluxe Kraft Macaroni & Cheese dinner, incredibly easy to make with the enclosed packet of squeeze cheese!

And what better way to dine on this gourmet delight than from good old fashioned TV trays!  Bon Appétit!

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Backroads Across America: Hello Ol’ Man River

Two traveling days have taken us from the Texas Hill Country to the banks of the Mississippi River, just across from Natchez, Mississippi.

We have ambled along backroads lined with lush green grass, forests (even some pines) and rainbows of wildflowers. The beauty of the Hill Country continued through most of eastern Texas. Today, in Louisiana, it was more of the same colors without the hills.

We missed the picnic areas and rest stops of Texas today and settled for lunch in the trailer parked at a gas station. We passed no picnic or rest areas across Louisiana.

This is our third straight RV park next to water. In the Hill Country, it was the Guadalupe River.  Sue found a fantastic spot last night on Lake Livingston in eastern Texas. We walked along a wonderful path next to the Mississippi tonight after dinner.

Quite a river, indeed. I think we’ll settle here for a spell.

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Backroads Across America: Visiting the LBJ Ranch

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Texas Hill Country is a beautiful part of Texas and the lifelong home of Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36th president of the United States.

A driving tour took us around the 2,800-acre LBJ Ranch, where the president spent 474 days, or 25 percent, of his presidency. We caught a glimpse today of Lucy Baines Johnson, who was visiting the place where her father was born and she grew up.

A tour of the home showed its unpretentious, relatively small rooms where the president hosted chiefs of state. He signed many bills on the front porch. Several rooms featured three televisions where the president could monitor news reports from CBS, NBC and ABC.

John F. Kennedy visited as president-elect and would have spent the weekend with First Lady Jackie after their Dallas visit were it not for his assassination on November 22, 1963. As requested by JFK, a pecan pie baked by the ranch chef awaited his stay. He had remembered the dessert from his first time there in 1960.

LBJ hosted many barbecues on the front lawn leading to the Pedernales River. He also presided over countless meetings under a 400-year-old oak tree in front of the house. He died at the home in 1973 at the age of 64. Lady Bird lived at the ranch until 2006 and died in Austin the following year.

An aircraft hangar houses a small jet used by the president to get back and forth from Austin or San Antonio during his 74 presidential trips to his beloved ranch. The ranch landing strip was too small for the 707.

A modest white building housed Secret Service agents and an adjoining “LBJ green” structure was home for the flight crew. It doubled as a communications center.

The Johnson family cemetery is the final resting place for many family members. LBJ and Lady Bird lie beneath the largest two headstones.

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Backroads Across America: El Paso wins lowest gas price

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A small Texas town dresses its jail community service workers in classic prisoner garb.

Tidbits from the road:
Temperature change: It was 89 degrees in Las Vegas and just 32 in Williams, Arizona the next night.
Gas prices: El Paso wins the low-price battle at $1.98 a gallon…so far.
High and dry in the desert: Gas stations are few and far between in the Southwest, so we have almost always filled up at every chance. The lower mileage that comes with towing is a big factor.
European views: Four folks from Germany about our age were parked next to us in El Paso. This is their fifth tour in the U.S. in rented motor homes. They love driving this country because of its diversity and scenery. This year, their friends in Germany questioned their trip, though. “Americans are angry, don’t go there,” one German said he was told. He brushed off the warning, saying he likes the people here.
Rough roads: Our Mariposa friends the Chappells drove to Alaska last year. Doug said the roads were so rough a window broke in their camper. The roads in Arizona may not be much better, even on Interstate 40. We were bounced around so much that normally sturdy drawers in the trailer were tossed open, requiring some minor repair. Beware!
Speed: Once we left California, truck and trailer speed limits mirror those for cars. So, the limit is often 70 or 75 and it is not unusual for a truck or RV to be going 75. Really? What are these states thinking? Do I sound like an old man in a pickup?

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Backroads Across America: Thinking Small in Texas

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Small-town Texas was on display today as we drove southeast to the Hill Country, where we are staying for a few days at the By the River RV park in Kerrville.  Our site is on the Guadalupe River and spring green is the color of the month. What a view for happy hour! It is quite a change from the stark desert scenery of western Texas and much of our journey through Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico.

Brady, the geographical center of the Lone Star state, and Mason were welcome chances to walk and soak up the atmosphere.

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Backroads Across America: Where to Park the RV?

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So, where do you want to park your RV? Nearly two weeks into our cross-country adventure, our feelings about this question have evolved.

Last year, when we first got our wee trailer, Oregon State Parks were perfect. Lots of space, privacy and beautiful scenery. We thought we would stay in these kind of parks on this trip, and we still may do that. But, much of the time, they require planning and booking. That is not what this adventure is about.

So, what do we look for on this trip? Convenience, amenities, dependable facilities, and location come to mind. So, we chose a concrete pad in Las Vegas (shown above), a short walk to the Strip. And the KOA in Tucson, which allowed us to visit with Reg’s college friend. It also had a pool, a great way to unwind after a day in the truck! See the photos above for the Tucson pool, plus a shot of the covered area, with a solar panel roof. Also, in the photo at bottom right, our site offered a patio with table and chairs.

Tonight, we are at another KOA in San Angelo, Texas (top photo) on our way to the Hill Country. We have also stayed at several Good Sam parks. We don’t spend much time at any campground. We have stayed more than one night several times, but are out exploring during the day.

Like our son Andrew pointed out about good coffee, sometimes you just want something dependable when convenience matters. So, you grab a Starbucks when there might have been better coffee a few blocks away. We  are happy with the chain RV parks so far. We know what to expect.

As for the rest of the trip? Who knows?

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Backroads Across America: Painting the Sky

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The sun set on our Arizona adventures and we moved on to El Paso, Texas. El Paso is not our favorite place, but it is conveniently placed between Bowie and Carlsbad. Plus, we found an RV park where, if folks opened their windows, we could shake hands with our neighbors without stepping out of our trailer!

 

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