Seven months have passed since we left Florida in April 2017 and began our long planned journey west – across America literally. Previously in 2015 and 2016 we traveled through most East Coast states – Maine to Florida, including a side trip to the Kentucky Derby.
We have traveled from the eastern seaboard to the west coast – to the US northwest border and to just miles from the Mexican border. Our current motor coach has added approximately 20,000 miles since her maiden voyage in August 2016. We have stayed in campgrounds of all sizes and shapes; some with amenities and some simply parking lots; either privately run, state parks or franchises like KOA, and Thousand Trails. Ninety-two of them in 2017. If you add in our 2015-16 stops when our adventures began, the total is probably 175. Many we highlighted in this blog, others we would not mention or revisit. Many were ideally located for our purpose, and others were that stop you needed a particular day. Many were run by couples or families and had that small town flavor we so appreciate and have grown to love. A warm welcome at the end of a travel day is often the best cocktail – until you get the wine or gin chilled.
We have met all kinds of Americans – this country is illustrated like a children’s book with diverse and vibrant colors – that makes it such a special place. Its vast landscapes of hills and mountains, deserts and seashores, plains and prairies are reflected in her people – black, white, brown, red, yellow, and all possible mixtures. To sample all of the world’s climates – you never need to leave the United States. From salted desert to the snow covered mountains it is the most amazing collections of cultures and ethnicities – truly wonderful place to live and to visit!
By now we have met thousands of people in the 39 states where we traveled. Ninety-nine percent were friendly and pleasant, and eager to share information about their town, city or farm or park. We were often surprised by the accommodating nature of people, but happy to make new friends and share travel stories. Without exception, people expressed interest and excitement about our journeys, often wanting to hop onboard to join us. We always say the coach sleeps two humans and two dogs – no more! Some people in their silver years said this was what they wanted to do in retirement. We hope they do! Some had been traveling and were resting. We offered encouragement and relevant tidbits – we said this was the best decision we ever made – except getting married twenty-five years ago.
The coach, our travels and this lifestyle are more fun than we ever imagined. Sure there are a few downsides – changing neighbors; being mindful of weather always; dealing with roads, either in need of or under repair; altitude and gradient challenges; missing family and friends left behind, but the upside is changing neighbors and meeting new people, experiencing unimaginable weather up close and personal, riding the scenic byways you never knew existed, absorbing landscapes and topography you couldn’t have imagined. Our goal has been to see as much as we could – thirty-nine states later – now we hope to visit all forty-nine contiguous states and we’ve added parts of Canada and Mexico.
People always ask which state or place was our favorite. While we anticipate the question, it remains very hard to answer. Frankly it’s better not to decide, not to pick the best. Each place has its own special meaning or significance in our memory – each place is unique. Each national park, historic site, native reservation, city or town, landscape or environment has qualities setting it apart from the one before. I once heard some one say “she had seen enough of something – they were all the same after all”. We couldn’t disagree more. We find something distinct about each new stop, place or city town or state and we delight in our discoveries.
“There are places you’ll remember all your life…”
Montana sticks out as a rare beauty – it’s range of topography was breathtaking. Glacier National Park was astounding even in a brief four-day visit. Oklahoma City was funky and fun with an unexpected vibrant cowboy spirit. Joshua Tree National Park was sweetly surprising – we’ll spend a “starry night” there someday. Kansas was one continual wheat field embracing its “Dorothy” identity with abandon. The Dakotas were a feast for the eyes with wild ponies and bison often sharing the road. Utah is a scintillating geological show – one strange color shaped rock formation after another. Washington State is where the big green trees rule. Oregon is memorable for its giant volcano, Mount St. Helen and Columbia River, where currents carve memories into hillsides. The North and South Rims of Grand Canyon were beyond expectations, they define “awesome” and are truly a photographic banquet. Can’t forget magical Albuquerque, pueblos and balloons – a bucket list item with such surprises!
So what next…
After a fast trip through Texas, and the Gulf states along Interstate 10, some trip recovery in Florida, then holidays in Mount Pleasant SC, where snow and freezing temps have delayed our return to LaBelle FL. Once there we will spend for three months at Riverbend RV Resort, where we own a site, and have made many friends. It’s a good place to recharge your batteries and enjoy warm winter weather.
In late April 2018 our trip west and north to Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, will begin. There we join up with a Fantasy RV Tour for the Ultimate Alaska trip traveling north through British Columbia and Alberta to explore our 49th state during July and August.
During our Florida hiatus, you can expect the blog to continue with stories and comments about traveling the USA by motor coach. Thanks for following us and being along for the ride.