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”.