We arrived at home about a week ago, and man we were ready. Here are the final numbers for Our Great Adventure:
- 79 days
- about 11,000 combined miles on RV and car
- 20 states
- 11 national parks
- about 4,000 photos (which I am editing and culling)
It has taken us until today to unpack the RV, clean it out, and get it winterized. It still needs a good wash on the outside and a new coat of wax, but it’s cold in New Hampshire now, so that might have to wait until spring.
I still have a lot of thinking to do about all the places we saw and all the things we did on our trip; I know I didn’t write nearly often enough while we were on the road. I am clearly not a vagabond writer! I think I could do it if I were anchored in one place, even if that place was not home; but traveling takes a lot of energy and there simply was not enough to go around as we journeyed all over this great country. Being on the road for about three months was amazing, though, and it was worth the sacrifice of not writing.
Once the calendar pages neared September, it was fascinating to see how the make-up of visitors in campgrounds and national parks changed. Families disappeared, predictably of course, as back to school brought people home. Now we saw older couples, most of whom traveled with dogs (as do we). There were no more tents, and very few small-sized RVs. Our camper is one of the smallest ones made, and we were dwarfed by the huge rigs, like tour buses, many towing vehicles painted to match their rig. We were now among the “full timers,” those brave people who have sold their homes to live freely on the road. We have always talked about maybe doing that one day, but now we know that our little rig is much too small for permanent occupancy.
We bought our little camper – it’s 21 feet long – in 2001, just before my son got married in South Dakota; it was slightly used and a great deal. We knew he would be living there permanently, and so it was a sensible way for us to make sure we would be able to afford to travel out there and visit on a regular basis. But the approximately 100 square feet of living space – and only 25 square feet of that is available floor space (which means if we want to pass one another going fore or aft, we have to squeeze way over to the side to allow for that passing space) — can be a challenge, especially when you add two dogs, albeit small ones, to the mix. Newer camper models have sections that slide out, adding a considerable amount of valuable floor space, but we bought ours just before that feature was commonly available. We’ve done a little bit of renovating, changing the fixed table and two bench seats into a U-shaped seating area with thicker cushions that are much more comfortable to sit on and a table that stores away when not in use. It works for us, but three months is about as long as I think we could manage.
Full-timers, though, have made much more of a sacrifice than I think I could make. I need a home base. I need my books, and my garden. I need my friends and my church. And most of all, family. I need my family, and that’s what makes the whole thing hard, having family in such distant places.
We are thinking that next summer we’ll just go to South Dakota and park there. For as long as we can. We can do short trips from there – we didn’t go to Yellowstone this summer because it’s not terribly far from western South Dakota, and we so want to spend a bit of time in Cody, Wyoming, where they have the Buffalo Bill Historical Center which houses several museums including the Whitney Gallery of Western Art, the Draper Museum of Natural History, the Cody Firearms Museum, and the Plains Indian Museum. The Center is now affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution. There are other places we want to re-visit as well, and having the Black Hills of South Dakota as our home base is a great plan.
How ‘bout that – I’ve only been home for about ten days, and I’m already planning our next adventure!
Life is good.