Friday, December 26, 2008

One Year on the Road

Yes, it was one year ago today that we left San Jose, California and as I wrote then “Today truly was the first day of the rest of our lives”. Where has the time gone? It doesn’t seem like we have been on the road a whole year. Yet we have been to so many places and done so much it seems like it has been longer than a year.

So, how has life on the road been? Incredible!  As I wrote earlier, we have travelled 25,000 miles, visited 17 states, 5 Canadian provinces, and 14 national parks. We couldn’t begin to tell you how many national monuments, museums or historic sites we have seen!  We have had the opportunity to visit places we have always said we would go to “someday”. Like: Carlsbad Caverns, Mesa Verde, Arches and Canyonlands National parks. We have visited some wonderful places that we never knew existed, like: Walnut Canyon National Monument, Wupatki National Monument and the “Valley of the Gods”. We also were able to revisit some places we had not been to for many years, like Banff and Jasper National Parks. Above all we were able to fulfill our dream of spending the entire summer in Alaska and to explore the Yukon.

From our very first night on the road, when we met Jim and Ellie Meacham , we have met so many wonderful people; way too many to list them all. We have met in “real time” several bloggers whose blogs we follow. Many people that we have had conversations with through forums and emails and an incredible number of people along the way that we now stay in contact with. Part of the year we travelled with our friends Fred and Jo Wishine and met up with them several times when not traveling together.

No doubt many of you are wondering:  where is the best place you have been? There is no “best” place. If you have been following the blog and seen the 1,000s of pictures that Kathy has taken, you know that America and Canada are extraordinarily beautiful countries. We really enjoyed staying in Homer, Alaska for three weeks, our two weeks in Fairbanks, Alaska, the Williwaw Forest Service campground near Portage Glacier in Alaska, the two weeks at West Yellowstone in the snow, Jasper National Park both on our way to and from Alaska and Monument Valley even if it was windy. The worst place we stayed had to be the RV Park outside Aurora, Illinois.  It was the only RV Park near our son’s home! There we lost power everyday and water about every other day.

We have had many wonderful adventures and tours during this past year, but the most outlandish thing we did was the flight seeing tour of the summit of Mount McKinley! At 20,000 feet and only 2 miles from the summit; it was something that we didn’t even know was possible!

We did a “best guess” budget for the year based on what we had read on various blogs and RV forums. However, everyone has differences in lifestyle and travel style.  No one could have guessed that diesel fuel would be so high this year. The highest we paid was $6.34 a gallon in Dawson City, Yukon and the lowest was $2.29 a gallon in Morgan Hill, California this past week. From previous trips we knew that everything is more expensive in Alaska and Canada. Alaska and the Yukon due to the shipping costs  and all of Canada due the high taxes.

For our Birding Year we ended up with 245 species and 12 life birds. Neither is close to a record year for us and given all of the miles we travelled I am surprised we didn’t see more species and life birds.

Our first year general impressions include: both retirement and fulltime RV are actually better than we had expected, it’s great to never wake to an alarm clock, and fantastic to have the time to extend our stay whenever we like. Even with all of this time we don’t get as much exercise as we expected, the days fly by and there is still is always something that needs to be done. As Californians we expect the weather to be perfect every day, but in the rest of the US and Canada it RAINS and SNOWS even in the summer.

Our plans for year 2 is to tour the eastern half of America and possible visit eastern Canada as well. We let the weather decide where we go and how we get there. Hopefully we will get in more birding and astronomy during year 2 than we did in year 1.

In closing, we would like to thank you all for following our travels and we look forward to meeting more of you this coming year.

Fulltime RVing truly is “a wonderful life”.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

To all of our family, friends and blog readers:



Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How are you and where are you?

Since it has been almost a month since our last blog entry we have gotten a few inquiries asking if we are okay and a few asking where we are. First we are both fine and secondly we are in our former hometown of San Jose, California. We have been very busy getting our annual doctor and dentist checkups taken care of and visiting family and friends. We have had something going on every day since we have been back.

To bring you up to date on our travels, both Kathy and I have sisters that live in the greater Los Angeles area between I-5 and California Highway 14.  There aren’t many choices of RV Parks near there, but the closest one to them was only 50 miles off of our route back toward San Jose. We decided to make a small detour to visit with them for a few days. I wrote back on January 4th that while we were staying at this RV Park “the wind started to come up and the wind got stronger and colder all night.” This time the wind blew day and night from the moment we arrived until we left. However it wasn’t cold, this was the Santa Anna wind that comes off the desert and causes the fierce wildfires that are all too common in Southern California. We were there during the recent Sylmar, Newhall Pass and Freeway Complex fires. We were not close enough to be in any danger, but we could see the smoke from the fires during the day and the flames at night.

After a nice visit with our sisters we decided it was time for an ocean “fix”. It had been three months since we were last at the ocean back in Homer, Alaska. We decided to go to Morro Bay, California,  it is on California’s central coast north of San Luis Obispo. One of the best kept secrets of California are the coastal areas in the fall. There is usually less fog than in the summer months, the days are surprisingly warm and the crowds are gone.  We picked the Morro Dunes RV Park for our stay. The park was less than half full and is just across the road from the beach and Morro Rock.

Morro Bay is a typical California beach town with the usual string of motels, galleries, restaurants and curio shops. We did the obligatory stroll on the waterfront. Visited the galleries, curio shops and ate at the Great American Fish Company.  

Raider loves to run on sandy beaches and with the weather so nice he got two very long beach walks each day. He would run too exhaustion and then need to sleep until time for the next beach walk. 

After a great week in Morro Bay we had an uneventful trip to San Jose. We are staying at the Coyote Valley RV Resort where our adventure started 11 months ago. In those 11 months we have travelled 25,000 miles, visited 17 states, 5 Canadian provinces, gone to 14 national parks and spent $7,000 on diesel fuel. We will be here until just after Christmas and then back on the road for a new adventure in 2009.

Morro Bay slideshow