I have previously written blogs about our early days of camping and RVing. When we got married in 1970 Hubby Luke was already living in a 22-foot Terry travel trailer. We proceeded to move into apartments, duplexes, condos, and real houses while starting our family with one daughter and both of us working full-time.
Camping was normally close to home and we can even say we have even tent-camped. Our GMC Carry-All that Luke had used to pull his trailer was furnished with ply-wood bunk beds and air mattresses, a porta-potti, a K-Mart cardboard storage trunk we used as our pantry, and a Coleman stove and lantern.
|The elevation of Mt. Shasta popped one of the air mattress sections.|
|Luke and Robin at Ice House Reservoir Campground, about 55 miles from our current home. Changing very messy diapers by flashlight was not a fun night in the tent.|
"See the USA in a Chevrolet..."
Do you remember those lyrics? Our travels in those early days did include multiple cross-country trips in converted vans and small Class C RVs to visit the Rinehimer family in Pennsylvania. We would drive across the Trans-Canadian Highway in one direction and then take Interstate 80 in the other direction. Our only stops would be overnights in rest areas, small private campgrounds or turnpike service centers. Luke would get on the interstate very early in the morning while Robin and I slept. When he was hungry for breakfast he'd pull off on a ramp, find a place we could stop to eat in the rig, and then he would nap while I drove the next two hour shift. This would go on until dusk with absolutely NO TOURIST STOPS.
|We owned two different American Clipper 21' Class C motorhomes. This was a bunkhouse model.|
Since most of these trips happened during school summer vacations, Robin spent most of her young birthdays in August playing "find the birthday presents in the camper" where I had managed to hide them. To this day she does not get excited about remembering her early RVing days.
MOVING UP THE RV SIZE GAME
In 2004 we knew we wanted to "travel extensively" in our golden years. We had already owned a variety of recreational vehicles but it was time for upgrading. After a New Year's Eve trip to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl Parade with Luke's mother and a German Shepherd in our used 22' Itasca Spirit we knew we needed something more comfortable.
Later that year we purchased a brand new 2004 Holiday Rambler 24' Atlantis Class C. It still did not have a bedroom so I opted to sleep on the couch while Luke got the overhead bunk that he shared with my golf club bag!
|The 24' Atlantis sitting in my niece's driveway in La Pine, Oregon|
WHERE WE'VE BEEN...It is much easier to list where we have NOT been. We have missed the New England states, including Boston and the metropolitan cities of New York City and Chicago, and the states of Florida and Louisiana. We had planned to do these last two states on a southern journey across the USA but we all know what happened in August, 2005 -- Hurricane Katrina hit! We have never made it to New Orleans or down to Florida to see the major tourist attractions of Disney World, Epcot Center, Cape Canaveral, or anywhere along the Florida Gulf Coast. SOMEDAY we will get there so I guess we do have a "bucket list".
I started keeping track of our travels in Excel spreadsheets back in 2004. I separate trips by their "seasons" - Winter or Winter/Spring, Summer or Summer/Fall. I have a 3-inch loose leaf binder full of log sheets and I can tell you EVERY NIGHT AND EVERY PLACE we have camped by date, city name, campground/RV park name, GPS coordinates, fees paid with or without discounts, WiFi availability, and the miles driven that day! I normally also add "comments" about the type of utilities or special features of the place. I also track all of our RV and towed car fuel expenses and use formulas to calculate averages.
Since 2004 we have traveled in our motorhomes a total of 130,260+ miles!!! Including a flight to Hawaii and driving the RV to Alaska, we have visited 43 of the 50 states plus Mexico and seven Canadian Provinces. We have not done the popular RV tours of the Maritime provinces. We have also towed our Honda CR-V since 2006 so it has 122,553 miles towed plus another 117,000+ miles "driven" while out sightseeing or running errands. The ol' gal is now pushing 240,000 miles and is still performing well. We do monitor ALL her miles to keep track of tire wear. Scroll to the bottom of this blog to see the States and Provinces Maps Visited.
BEING TOURISTS...The night before writing this blog I did not sleep. My mind was wired into recalling EVERYWHERE we had been. I decided not to list each and every place but thought I could summarize our style of traveling and "some" of the tourist places we have been.
AMERICANA AND HISTORICAL STOPS:
|Grandma with her camera bringing up the rear|
On the East Coast we'll start with Washington, D.C. where we have visited the White House, Congress, and many of the Smithsonian Museums. With Luke's family from PA we have taken the grandkids and their cousins to see Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.
We have also spent time touring Gettysburg with a park docent driving our car while describing the Civil War battlegrounds.
|Cousins at the Liberty Bell|
|Gettysburg Docent detailing the Civil War battle locations|
We have seen the homes and libraries of a few American Presidents. Included in that list is Jefferson's Monticello and the Hoover, Eisenhower and Truman Presidential Libraries. There are many more we have passed by but never have stopped at.
STATE AND NATIONAL PARKS & MONUMENTS:
We are not hikers but we have tried to camp at all the "biggies" including Yosemite and Sequoia Parks that are just down the road from us. We have made multiple stops at the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Death Valley, Moab, Lake Havasu, the Bandlands, Great Smokey Mountains, Custer, Mt. McKinley/Denali in Alaska and Mount Rushmore to name just some of them. Typically our visits include stops at the Visitor Centers, taking Ranger tours, watching historical videos, and buying souvenirs at the gift shops.
Some folks travel with a Parks Passport and get pages "stamped" each time they visit a new location. Others collect hat pins, coffee mugs, Christmas ornaments, or clothing and hats. A relative teased me once after seeing so many photographs of us wearing clothing emblazoned with location logos. "If you didn't travel, what would your wardrobe look like?"
I am a collector of SOUVENIR MAGNETS as my home refrigerator will attest. I love to stand in front of the double doors and review our many stops. To see some of the magnets, click on the photo and then "zoom in". As you can see I still have lots of room on the lower freezer door so it is still time to keep traveling.
HALLS OF FAME:Husband Luke had a chance to visit the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. I while traveling for work. My claim to a Hall of Fame visit was to the Major League Baseball museum in Cooperstown, NY in 2015. Our grandson Tanner was playing nearby in an All-Stars Youth Baseball Tournament during MLB Hall of Fame Induction Week and I was delighted to spend hours there. [You can read about my love of baseball in Saturday's "S" blog in the Archives.]
|Willie Mays' bronze plaque in the Baseball Hall of Fame|
|Standing with Grandson Tanner next to the Barry Bonds Hall of Fame display of Home Run #562.|
Other sites we hope to hit together include the Football and the Rock n Roll Halls of Fame. We are not into other music genres so we'll pass on others that might be on your list. We have visited Memphis and Nashville but enjoyed the BBQ more than the music.
INDUSTRIAL MANUFACTURING AND GEOGRAPHIC REGIONS:
Our travels have taken us up and down all of California, the Southwest, Pacific Northwest, the Upper Midwest, down the Mississippi, along the Eastern coastal states, down into parts of the South and into Texas. As "tourists" we seek out notable landmarks and enjoy touring manufacturing plants along key thoroughfares. We have followed the Lewis and Clark Oregon Trail from the top of the St. Louis Gateway Arch and starting point museum across their mid-western route to Oregon and the nicely done Interpretive Center near Baker, Oregon.
|Luke driving through Downtown St. Louis with the Arch in the background.|
|We visited this Oregon Trail Interpretive Museum with the Golden Spikes railroad enthusiasts last year during a week's visit of Eastern Oregon.|
While attending multiple RV rallies with the Escapees and the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) in Gillette, Wyoming we have learned much about coal mining history and the changing mining technologies, coal train transportation, and environmental issues. (Luke grew up in a family of PA coal industry workers so he has a special interest in coal.) We have followed a 100+ coal car loaded trains from Wyoming to Duluth, Minnesota and watched them off-loaded by conveyor belts onto 1,000' lake ships to continue through the many locks to electrical generator processing plants throughout the Great Lakes. We were on the American side of Sault Ste. Marie located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and took a tour boat through the Soo international locks into Canada and actually shared a lock with one of those huge lake ship. Duluth also has a wonderful Coast Guard Great Lakes Museum with nearby free RV parking.
|1000-foot ships passing our Sault Ste. Marie Elks Lodge river front campground site.|
Our current motorhome was built at the Winnebago factory in Forest City, Iowa and we have visited that plant many times for service repairs, tours, and rallies. The entire northern portion of Indiana, near Elkhart, is also known as the hub of almost all recreational vehicle manufacturing. There is also the cultural exposure to Amish Country when visiting adjacent communities of Nappanee and Shipshewana, Indiana.
We have toured nearly every plant and watched RVs of all sizes built from the frame up. We have also visited RV plants in Red Bay, Alabama, Southern California, and in the Harrisburg, Oregon area where our Monaco coach was built.
If you enjoy factory tours like we do there is a wonderful guide called Factory Tours USA. Where ever you travel you can find yourself being a "tourist" snacking on local delicacies or tasting beers at a brewery. Fun tours also include the Hershey, PA Chocolate Factory and the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield, CA.
SPECIAL INTEREST IN MILITARY, AERONAUTICS AND SPACE SITES
Luke's career was spent working with the Air Force and as a Department of Defense (DoD) retiree we have the privilege to stay at "FamCamps" on military bases around the country. We have had a chance to visit some of the best military museums and restored aircraft displays. Topping this list would be Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio and "Air Force Bone Yard" at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson and their associated military museums. We have toured the Huntsville, Alabama NASA training facility but have not made it to the Johnson Space Center in Texas or watched a launch from Cape Canaveral. We have stayed at Edwards AFB in Southern California but never witnessed a Space Shuttle landing.
At all of the above bases, the restoration of the aircraft and the docent tour guides are volunteers who were often crew members on those very planes. Two private aircraft museums worth a stop are located at the Palm Springs Air Museum and National Museum of Nuclear Science & History just outside the gates of Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque, New Mexico.