Family & Friends Tour Concludes: Part Two of Two

This Part Two recap of the Family & Friends Tour provides statistics and other details of our trek across the miles.

Diverse Landscapes
We certainly experienced diverse landscapes these past 8 1/2 months. Miles of vastness met us over the Great Plains of the Midwest, across the windy flats between volcanic remnants in New Mexico, and throughout the high desert of western Texas. Crashing waves along Oregon’s coastline were thunderous and persistent, whereas the surf along the Gulf Coast in Alabama and Florida was much smaller and quieter in comparison. The many ranges of the Rocky Mountains with jagged and rocky precipices were stark in contrast to the more rolling and gentle Great Smoky Mountains. The hub-bub and traffic of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex was a night and day difference to the much quieter and sensible pace of my hometown of Belle Plaine, Iowa.

Pacific Coast, Brookings, Oregon, November 2018
Hiking at Kartchner Caverns State Park, Benson, Arizona, February 2019

Dotting the Map
From July 29, 2018 through April 15, 2019, we stayed at 59 different locations. This includes private/national park/state park/city/county campgrounds, boondocking on BLM/National Forest Lands, overnight drycamping/parking in casino or rest area parking lots, parking the trailer on the driveways of family or friends thereby staying in their comfy homes, and several hotel stays with the truck/trailer combo taking up parking lot space overnight.

Welcome to California! November 2018

We have camped in 23 states, yet been in 25 states. The two states where we didn’t camp were South Carolina and Florida for day-trips without the trailer. The 23 states in which we’ve camped (listed in order) include: Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia. In 14 of these states, we stayed in State Park campgrounds. In several states we have  12-month State Park passes to enjoy discounts. Our National Park Senior Passes save us roughly 50% on national park campground fees. In our future slower pace, we look forward to more national park, BLM, or National Forest stays to support a more budget-friendly retirement!

Kartchner Caverns State Park, Benson, Arizona, February 2019

Travel Highlights
Some of our favorite travel highlights includes places and cuisines. Favorite places include Mesa Verde National Park (Colorado), Craters of the Moon National Monument (Idaho), Redwoods National and State Parks (Oregon/California), Death Valley National Park (California), Brazos Bend State Park (Texas), San Antonio Missions National Park (Texas), Gulf Islands National Seashore (Florida), Bandolier National Monument (New Mexico), and adding South Carolina to our list of states visited. [Steve’s up to 49 states and I’m up to 44.] It’s of no surprise that we visited numerous national or state parks, since it’s part of our retirement goal.

An American Alligator in Brazos Bend State Park, near Needville, Texas, February 2019

Another highlight was the more regional cuisines across the United States with a virtual bushel-load and bakery-case of tasty, local flavors. Clam chowder along the Oregon coast, a Friendsgiving feast in Reno, Nevada, Tex-Mex fare in New Mexico and Texas, barbecue across the southern tier of states, and fish (fresh and fried) in Texas, Louisiana, and Alabama. Hands-down, one of the most festive food stops was at the Elberta Sausage Festival in Elberta, Alabama (rich in German heritage).  Family and friends often prepared delicous home-cooked meals. Suffice it to say, the abundant caloric intake from both of us now has us on a journey to decrease our mid-sections!

Elberta Sausage Festival, Elberta, Alabama, March 2019
German Sausage with Sauerkraut

Mileage to Date
As of May 22, 2019, we have covered 27,967 miles in the truck and 16,215 of those miles towing the trailer. Perhaps not so surprisingly, we have acquired many additional truck miles in instances when we’re visiting several different family members or friends in a general locale or making the most as tourists or outdoor enthusiasts. We also put the trailer in storage for three weeks in Tucson for most of January 2019 in order to make just a road trip to and from Denver with the truck.

Concluding our Family & Friends Tour, Virginia, April 15, 2019

More Details to Come
We have been asked what our full-time RVing costs look like. We are currently in the process of calculating diesel, DEF fluid, truck & trailer servicing, campground fees, etc. Once we have reviewed these costs, we will share them.

I hope that you enjoyed this two-part recap of our Family & Friends Tour.

“Living Life at the Speed of Sanity”

– Diane (and Steve)

Family and Friends Tour Concludes: Part One of Two

We officially concluded our 8 ½ month Family & Friends Tour (F&FT), which we launched on July 29, 2018 from Denver, Colorado, in conjunction with our full-time RV lifestyle. As a perfect finish, we dined with my cousin, Jeff, and his partner, Mary, in Warrenton, Virginia, on April 15, 2019. (We hadn’t seen Jeff in 10 years and hadn’t yet met Mary). What an amazing and memorable Tour! Then the next morning Steve and I drove away from Charlottesville, Virginia to begin a quick dash west to Colorado and then Montana.

This post is Part One of a two-part recap of our F&FT.  Part One provides insight as to why we visited folks across the country and how fulfilling we found it.

July 29, 2018 Speed of Sanity Kickoff from Denver, Colorado and with daughter Stephanie’s good wishes for us!

Family, Friends, Acquaintances
Our hearts are absolutely full after having experienced time with many many people as part of the F&FT. These folks include family members, friends, acquaintances, and lovely visits with townspeople or other RVers along our journey. Our first trip out of retirement was to commit to possibly 8-12 months of travel to visit many people, to see beautiful parts of the United States, and to experience Americana along the way.

Life is about the Relationships
For years we have championed the significance of the many relationships and connections that we have made over the years in numerous communities and settings. Our mantra has been: “Life is about the relationships, not the stuff!” With respect to the mindset of our tour, have you ever been to a reunion? This tour was much like having many reunions over the months.

Over our lifetime, we’ve had many opportunities to share in carefully planned reunions or informal gatherings with family or friends. There were also baptisms, confirmations, graduations, weddings, and memorial services, where family and friends come from near and far to celebrate together.

For our Tour, we had fun planning our route based on family and friends, who we could visit while at the same time appreciate the beauty of our country plus escape wintry weather. Over and over again, we gathered with loved ones in their homes or at a favorite restaurant of theirs. It was like a reunion, but done almost one on one or family by family without a large gathering. We had time for longer and/or deeper conversations. Hands-down, it was such a pleasure and something that will remain with us.

McLennan Plumb Descendants gathering in Belle Plaine, Iowa, August 5, 2018

An Example of Small Town Hospitality
There were frequent times when we’d pull into a small town’s gas station or step inside a community’s public library, where we immediately experienced warm hospitality through a very nice conversation. In these situations, curiosity tends to lead the way whether we are the ones asking questions or the other party is seeking information from us. Where else can one enter a small town such as Cawker City, Kansas with its population of 469 (according to the 2010 Census), and end up having exchanges with several people over the course of two hours?

Our brief time in Cawker City will remain imprinted on our memories, perhaps since it was our first planned stop as full-time RVers. After all, we wanted to see the world’s largest ball of twine!

Largest Ball of Twine, Cawker City, Kansas, July 31, 2018

The folks we met included: Kathy, the librarian at the Cawker City Library; Linda, the caretaker of the largest ball of twine; the college intern (we didn’t want to interrupt his thoughtful work to catch his name) intently cataloging a rock collection at the historical society located in the former Hesperian Library; a trustee of the Cawker City United Methodist Church (he paused, rolled down his pickup window, and told us who he was) offering to open the church for us to view the historical 1886 Pilcher’s Brothers organ plus gave us a fresh muskmelon; and, Steve Richardson, Historical Society president and restoration specialist enthusiastically provided us an impromptu tour of the ongoing façade and interior renovation of the 1869 Ledger Building.  

Family & Friends Tour Concludes on April 15, 2019 with Dinner in Warrenton, Virginia with Jeff and Mary

Thank you to everyone who cheered us along our Family and Friends Tour! Despite having this Tour officially concluded, we look forward to seeing more of you who we weren’t able to see this past year. Stay tuned for Part Two of our Tour recap!

“Living Life at the Speed of Sanity”

~ Diane (and Steve)

Connectivity Woes

Folks, if there is a primary challenge that we face as full-time RVers, it’s connectivity woes! I traveled 16 miles from the campground to find a Starbucks. Despite our having Verizon Hotspot the cell service wasn’t strong enough to use it at the campground.

Then, I was contentedly editing photos at Starbucks using my PicMonkey editor when its site quit working. I thought, “Aha! I will just write a blog post instead of editing photos!”

Then…BINGO!  My HP laptop froze up. So, here’s a photo of the blank screen.

Connectivity Woes…Blank Screen

I will just use my Google pixel phone to create this blog post, one character entered via my thumb tio at a time. (Whiner!)

Yuppers! It’s amazing what we take for granted. In our former “stick and bricks” homes, having access to the internet and a strong cell signal spoiled us rotten.

Perhaps the Speed of Sanity to which we aspire is being reinforced through lessons such as today.

From Beautiful Tennessee, Happy Trails and Connectivity to Ya’all!

~ Diane