Saturday, December 30, 2017

Our Second RVenturous Year On The Road

Technically, our second 12 months on the road ended in October. As life goes, time slipped away ... so as we prepare to welcome the New Year, I have decided that it is a good time to "recap" our second RVenturous year on the road.

Our Second Year on the Road:
The "Numbers"

Doug developed a spreadsheet this past year, so we have been able to keep track of our travel miles and fuel. The Wildebeest still likes her diesel diet, but we are happy that the MPG average is improving after a few visits to the RV service "spa".

Since October 2016, the Wildebeest has traveled 7085 miles. For those of you who are curious or just want to feel better the next time you fill up your car ...

Average price of diesel/gallon ... $2.60

Average miles per gallon ... 7
Total cost of diesel for the 15 months ... $2843

Since Oct 2016, we have lived in 53 different "homes" ... each with a unique and beautiful "yard" such as our view of Picacho Peak, Arizona (above) and Grand Lagoon at St Andrew's State Park in Florida (below).

Nine of these "homes" could be considered a "one night stand" as we boondocked overnight in the parking lots of Walmarts, casinos, Sierra Trading Post, and RV repair shops. While these stays are considered "free", the nights spent at the repair shops in Utah and Michigan were not quite a "bargain".  

Our second year on the road brought us into 21 states of which 13 were new stops for the Wildebeest. 

We are happy to add Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Louisiana to RVenture location map that can be accessed here

During our second year journey, we were able to visit and photograph seven State Capitol Buildings including:

Denver, Colorado
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Phoenix, Arizona
Cheyenne, Wyoming

In September, when we made a car road trip to Virginia for a family wedding, we were able to visit the State Capitol buildings of:

Richmond, Virginia
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

and the National Capitol Building in Washington DC

We were able to increase our construction skills and meet a lot of great people as we volunteered on five more Habitat for Humanity builds.

We enjoyed working and getting to know the communities of:

Kearney, Nebraska
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Baraboo, Wisconsin
Marquette, Michigan
Mandeville, Louisiana

As any RV owner knows, the number of RV repairs/improvements can be endless. In January, Doug took out our RV washer/dryer and repurposed the cabinet for more storage. In May, while I worked in Rochester, Doug busied himself with repairing the heater, tracking down the cause of a leaky window, 

... and successfully reinstalling the awning above our door. When I saw how much the professional mechanics charge per hour, I have decided that I definitely need to keep him around!

We visited 13 National Parks, Monuments, Seashores, and Lakeshores including:

Great Sand Dunes National Park
Bandelier National Monument
White Sands National Monument
Organ Mountains National Monument
Capulin Volcano National Monument
Saguaro National Park
Joshua Tree National Park
Zion National Park
Bryce National Park
Gettysburg National Military Park
Mammoth Cave National Park
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Gulf Island National Seashore.

We bought the "America the Beautiful" pass last January for $80 and happy to say that we definitely got our money's worth!

Our favorite National Park so far: the beautiful Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park.

Mammoth Cave National Park was the only park that was disappointing for us. The only way to "see" the caves is to pay at least $15 each (some tours cost even more) to be packed in a small portion of the caves with about 100 other people. It was slow going through small narrow passages with not much opportunity to really see and learn about this unique cave system.

Our Second Year on the Road:
The "Favorites"

Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama was our favorite "home" this past year. Located on the Gulf of Mexico, the campground provides roomy full hookup sites with easy access to bike trails, beach fronts, volleyball and pickleball courts, and ...

... wonderful natural encounters with blue herons, monarch butterflies and with "Lefty" the resident alligator.

During this second year on the road, Doug continued his search of local craft breweries. His favorite: Accomplice Beer Company in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Their "self serve" tap room allowed him to try small amounts of a number of beers.

Since he also started collecting coasters from the breweries that we visit, it is always a win-win situation when I can visit a national park that just happens to have a craft brewery with their own coaster nearby.

Our favorite restaurant this year was MishMash in San Diego, California. Located next door to Iron Fist Brewery, they hand delivered their unique and delicious sandwiches as we enjoyed the SoCal sunshine on the patio.

Our favorite natural area this year had to be the southern California desert in the midst of their super bloom this past spring. 

We enjoyed the hiker's paradise that included beautiful blooming cacti in the warm sunshine,

... and the cool refuge of the desert oasis.

We continue to appreciate the welcoming embrace of our faith community wherever we may be. The beautiful southwestern art, lively congregation, and delicious Mexican lunch at St Genevieve made it a welcoming "home" while we were working with Habitat for Humanity in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

But as the saying goes, "there is no place like home", and we always look forward to joining in the praise when our travels bring us back to Rochester.

We discovered some primo biking paths around the San Diego harbor,

... but still rate the bike paths around Minneapolis and St Paul as our favorite.

We were able to visit a favorite tourist attraction three times when we were near Pensacola, Florida. The National Naval Aviation Museum tours gave me (the history buff) wonderful stories of so many heroes. Being able to watch the Blue Angels air shows close up kept us coming back!

Our Second Year on the Road:
The Everyday Surprises ... Better Known as Blessings

While we love our travels, our favorite times are when we can drop in and stay a while ... with family and friends! 

Whether we are relaxing around the campfire at Lake Carlos,

... or shopping/sightseeing with one of our favorite camping buddies,

... or visiting friends who continue to grow more precious each time we see them,

... or seeing young campers develop into beautiful teenagers while volunteering at Camp Ihduhapi,

... or spending Mother's day with these two special young men,

... or gathering with family at the college baseball world series,

... or boondocking in their backyard and hanging out on the front porch with Doug's family,

... or capturing the precious smile of one of our newest hometown friends,

...we are grateful for the blessing of another RVenturous year together!

So, what's in store for 2018?

RVentures goes "international" tomorrow as we fly to Bogota, Colombia for a two week visit with Doug's college friend!

Until next time ... appreciate the blessings of your special travel companions ... and enjoy the adventures in the New Year!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Christmas Greetings

While hanging out in the comfort of our "little" home, a beloved Christmas song is playing on the radio ...

🎶 Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas 🎶

... and we reflect on the many "little" blessings that we have experienced this year.

January Blessings ...

Learning the game of pickleball
and sharing lots of laughs
in Tucson, AZ with friends Joanne and Gary

... and enjoying sunset through the saguaros.

February Blessings ...

Beaches, bike rides, and more beaches
with friend Dave in San Diego
... and sunsets over the Pacific Ocean.

March Blessings ...

Hiking in the southern California desert during
their spring wildflower "super bloom"

... and enjoying the sunset views
while relaxing in the hot spring spas at our RV park.

April Blessings ...

Beautiful sights at Zion and Bryce National Parks,

... and evening lights of the Las Vegas strip ...
not quite as spectacular as a natural sunset.

May Blessings ...

Returning to Rochester MN
for work, time with friends, and a walk among the bluebells,
... before taking in the sunset over Chester Woods reservoir.

June Blessings ...

Bike rides and brewery tours
in Minneapolis with sons Adam and Kevin

... and sunset over Lake Independance
where we once again enjoyed
camp hosting at Baker Park Preserve.

July Blessings

A primo lake front site at Lake Carlos State Park

... while enjoying sunsets and
   campfire stories with dear friends.

August Blessings

Exploring local sights like Devils Lake and Pictured Rocks
while building for Habitat in Baraboo, WI and Marquette, MI

... and savoring a "Great Lakes" sunset.

September Blessings ...

Sightseeing in Washington DC
and time with family and friends

... as we celebrated niece Alyssa's wedding.
Having too much fun ... missed that sunset!

October Blessings ...

Meeting up with Joanne and Gary once again
as we explored Nashville and New Orleans
and did another Habitat build together in Mandeville, LA.

Once again, missed the sunset ...
too much "country music" fun with friends!

November Blessings ...

A month at Gulf State Park flew by as we enjoyed
beach walking, biking, volleyball and pickleball

... and made it a priority to see
the sunsets over the Gulf.

December Blessings ...

Signs of Christmas from the Gulf Coast beaches

... and in our "little" home

... remind us of the greatest gift of all ...
the gift of each other as we enjoy another year
of RVentures together.
Thanks for following along!

Until next time ... Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas ... and enjoy your adventures in 2018!