After 20 days and 2350 miles we are home. Betty, Bailey, and I arrived back on Friday after a tremendously enriching RV trip. Regular blog readers know we ventured from our home base of Scottsdale, through southern Arizona, across southern New Mexico, and ended as far east as central Texas. Our return took us through Big Spring and Amarillo, Texas, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Flagstaff, Arizona before returning to the Valley of the Sun.
We spent $1,100 on gas, or about 45% of the total cost of the trip. We rented a car for a week in Fredericksburg, Texas and one day in Santa Fe. That $256 was some of the best money spent. It allowed us to explore without having to maneuver a 30 foot monster in and out of small parking spaces and on narrow mountain roads. Enterprise picked us up at the RV parks and returned us after each rental.....loved it!
Along the way we battled almost continuous winds. Most days, gusts as high as 45 miles per hour were not uncommon. The shorts and T-shirts rarely made it out of the suitcase. Temperatures stayed in the 50s or 60s during most days and in the 30s overnight.
As I noted in RV Travel and Lessons Learned I am spoiled by Scottsdale's warm weather and mostly calm winds. For many parts of the country April is a month of violent contrasts and weather extremes. Frankly, when we picked the dates for this trip we had no expectations that the weather would be the way it was. Live and learn.
We began this trip with high expectations but a realistic understanding that our ideas would be tested. Living in such a confined space, with a nervous dog that tended to bark at any distraction, and having to adjust to a rather substantial change in how we normally live, might work..... and it might not. There was a chance the money we spent on the RV might turn out to be a huge mistake. Even the vehicle itself was going to be put to the test. Previously we had never traveled more than 90 miles from home.
With a great sense of relief I can honestly report this was a positive adventure Betty and I won't soon forget. We have proven to ourselves that we truly enjoy the freedom RV travel provides. The simplification of life and the changes in daily routine are very attractive. The ability to be self-contained and to go where and when we want is a joy.
Betty was able to take thousands of photos which she will turn into a tremendous memory of this trip for us to enjoy for years to come. We both were able to read several books each. I wrote posts and had time to think about the blog's future direction. I even came up with a business idea that will allow us to write off many future trips. Even Bailey began to learn that the world isn't as scary as she thought and maybe every other person and dog isn't something to be afraid of.
We have just barely unpacked and started to scrub the RV inside and out and are already thinking of our 7 day trip to Payson and Show Low, Arizona in June and our three week trip through California in October. Add to that a non-RV month in Portland in August and 2013 is shaping up to be a very good year. We have discussed spending at least two months next summer in Flagstaff. Betty and I seem quite committed to avoiding as much of a Phoenix summer as we can from this point forward. 28 summers is enough.
Over the last week of the trip I began to put together a list of what I had learned about RV travel. Three weeks on the road should produce something more lasting than good memories and 3,000 pictures. Here is what I have come up with:
...It is just as easy to over pack on an RV trip as for any type of vacation. Lots of heavy canned goods and too many clothes complicates things.
...A good Internet connection is important to a blogger, e-mailer, and Netflix watcher! WiFi is widely available but varies in quality tremendously. I am going to spend the extra money to turn my cell phone into a WiFi hot spot.
...It is important to have at least one goal a day. Otherwise, it is too easy to spend hours just reading and napping. Of course, that "goal" could be something as simple as working with Bailey for 30 minutes on her social skills, or rearranging the storage bins underneath R.T. It could be visiting a nearby park for a picnic and hike. The point is, something should be on the agenda.
...RV parks rarely look like the pictures on the web site. Even so, most are quite acceptable. During this trip we stayed at 12 different parks. Only two were really substandard. Both were rated well by Good Sam Club which makes me question their standards.
...It is very important to put things away after use. An RV is too small to allow any clutter. What you can get away with at home won't work in 200 square feet.
...It is too easy to slip up on personal hygiene and basic health maintenance, like washing often enough, flossing and vitamin-taking. I have discovered, though, that in cooler climates it is OK to not shower every day and still be allowed in polite society.
...Once a week, we need to perform a major cleaning of the inside of the RV. Wash the sheets, wipe every surface down, sweep out every corner, disinfect the kitchen, and spend extra time cleaning the bathroom.
...Betty and I need private time, even on an RV trip. It could be a long walk alone, or one of us in the back bedroom while the other stays in the living area. In Fredericksburg, Betty had a tremendous time alone one afternoon after I dropped her off downtown. She went into virtually every store, took all sorts of photos, and spent time on a bench just people-watching. When I picked her back up later that day she was completely refreshed.
...Don't plan a trip that involves changing location every day. At least once every 3 days, it is important to stay put for two or three nights. Setting up camp, tearing it down the next morning, driving five hours, and setting up again can become exhausting and cause unnecessary tensions.
...Some of our future trips will be best taken without the dog. Bailey can spend 3-4 hours alone in the RV without a problem. But, if we have a full day planned away from camp, having a dog along limits what can be done.
...Three weeks on the road is not too long...quite the opposite. I don't think we fully relaxed and started to completely enjoy the change of pace until the start of the second week. Betty and I are giving serious thought to least two months in the RV next summer and a two month trip to the upper Midwest at some point down the road (pun intended).
For lots of pretty pictures be sure to click on the link at the top of this page that says: Some Recent Photos From Betty's Camera: Wildseed Farm in Fredericksburg, Texas