The Answer to Your Question Is . . .

We’ve been parked back in Punta Gorda for two weeks now, enough time to reflect on the GOAT trip and change from “on the road” mode to “parked” mode. That means the coach has been detailed on the outside and every inch on the inside and basement have been cleaned, vacuumed and rearranged for non travel living. I’ve made several trips to the storage unit to take the Blue Ox towing equipment to storage and bring back my bike, our Thanksgiving decorations, etc. We’ve been able to see friends Kitty and Rich, Margie and Al, doctor’s appointments, dentist appointments, and I even volunteered again at the church pancake breakfast. This is normal boring every day life, unless your life moves every couple of days. Part of this post, besides reflecting on the trip, is to answer the questions we’ve been asked:

How many stops did you make? 38 campgrounds. It was planned as 37 but we couldn’t take the heat in Lake Havasu City, AZ.

Which campground was your favorite? Willow Tree Resort – Longs, South Carolina. Lot’s of site space, nice clubhouse, the lake, and shade trees. It is beautiful.

How many states did you visit? 20 on this trip. We’ve been to 32 of the lower 48 in total.

How many miles was the trip? 7,232 on this trip. Since we purchased the coach we’ve driven 16,092 in total.

How much were the campgrounds? It really depends on the location and time of year. Our average nightly rate for this trip was $57.00

What was the biggest expense? No surprise, just like you fuel. And the more you move, the more that costs. I get why people live in their RV in Florida in the winter and Michigan in the summer. The site doesn’t cost that much, your “house” is paid for, and moving twice a year keeps this cost down.

Is living in a motor home cheaper than a house? Definitely not! And we were lucky with no major maintenance issues, spelled $$$$. We did routine preventative maintenance and only had two issues on the trip, a torn topper on the coach and a tire on the toad. If you take into account how much our former home has appreciated in value, versus how much the motor home has depreciated you don’t do this to save money. Yes, I’ve been told when you go to sell, the prices are way up, even on motor homes, so you will do well. That remains to be seen. But, like a cruise, or a fly-in vacation, or a summer home, it costs money to vacation and enjoy experiences you would not have if you stayed home. To go to all the places we did on this trip and for as long as we were gone, I don’t know how you would do it for less expense.

But aren’t those experiences “priceless?” I think so, but this was my idea in the first place. Kathryn was a trooper and soldiered on considering her health issues, but is glad to be back in a permanent location. I loved the trip, but as the quote says:

Go Confidently In The Direction Of Your Dreams! Live The Life You’ve Imagined. Henry David Thoreau

Did you go to Glacier National Park? I get asked this all the time. Glacier is a favorite for RV’rs. The answer is no. From Bozeman, we were heading South to Yellowstone, so to go North to Glacier would have been a dead end only to turn around and come back again. It would have made sense if we were going on to the West Coast or Canada.

So where did you go? If you are a regular reader, I apologize in advance for this recap. We visited the National Parks – The Badlands, The Black Hills, Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, The Grand Tetons, Devils Tower, Arches, Moab and Zion. We also visited The Crazy Horse Memorial, Sedona, The Moulton Barn, The Hoover Dam, The London Bridge, The Eiffel Tower, and Old Faithful. We drove the Needles Highway. I went horseback riding in Montana and hiked in Wyoming, Montana, Utah and Arizona, and discoved my new #1 favorite hike, The Cascade Canyon Trail in the Tetons. We discovered what is a petroglyph? I saw Pueblo ruins and cliff dwellings. We rode in an Amish Buggy, a gondola in Venice, and stood on THE corner in Winslow Arizona.

And as if all that wasn’t exciting enough, there were the unexpected things you don’t know are out there, you would never drive to see, but get to discover because you were there: The Dignity Statue, Saint Peters Rock Grotto, the town of Farmer, SD, The Chapel in the Hills, a nine foot chicken in the middle of a field, the original Burger King Restaurant, flying five blocks eleven stories high on a zip line, and the chance to drive an excavator.

What was your favorite experience? That’s like asking which is your favorite child. I’ll just pick the top three in no particular order – flying over the Grand Canyon in a small fixed wing airplane, (an amazing birthday gift from my wife) standing onstage with other Veterans at Mount Rushmore for the nightly retiring of the colors, and lifting off at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in a hot air balloon with more than 500 hundred other balloons.

Did you drive all of Route 66? No, just the section from Seligman, AZ to Elk City, OK. Even with this small section you get the importance of The Mother Road in the history of our country.

Did you see any one you know? Oddly enough, we met a couple in Livingston, MT who live a mile away here in Punta Gorda. I had a reunion with one of my former high school classmates, (SHS ’66) and of course we got to see more than a dozen family and friends.

Who won the “Burger Across America” Challenge? Little did we know, but it was over early at Stop 14. Forget the Corn Palace in Rapid City, go down the street to The Old Train Depot Restaurant & Pub. No comparison! Do you think they deliver?

Isn’t this lifestyle a lot of work? Yes it is! It’s not like the poster where all you have to do is park next to the lake and toast marshmallows over the campfire every night. There is the route planning, researching and booking campgrounds, packing, (if you don’t have it with you, will you find a place to buy it) making appointments, (in our case we needed a vet for usher’s rabies shot) fuel stop planning, (there isn’t always a truck stop on your route and you don’t stop at the local convenience store when you are 40′ long and 13′ tall) and the ability to deal with issues that come up while on the trip itself, like a low overpass that is not on the map, the campground that is not what the reviews said it was, a bad neighbor who runs his coach all night long, even though he is on shore power?! And you still have to do laundry and shop for groceries somewhere along the way. Like everything in life, it’s a trade off. To get this you give up that.

Would you do it again? In a heartbeat! I still want to travel, Banff, Prince Edward Island, but we don’t need a motor home to do that.

Now what? We are living in a beautiful motor home with a site right on the lake. We put our name on the waiting list for an apartment in Venice to where we think we would like to move. There are 112 people on the list so there is no estimate how long that will take, but we are in no rush. When one we like becomes available, it will be time to move and sell the coach. Until then, we are looking forward to reconnecting with friends and the holidays! I am reminded of the Ruby Sue quote from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation:

“I love it here. You don’t got to put on your coat to go to the bathroom and your house is always parked in the same place.”

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