We’ve left California and are just short of the half-way point of our trip, so it seems like an appropriate time to look back a bit. This is now a longer trip than I’ve ever taken, and twice as long as Oma and I have ever managed together.
I’m happy being on the road. Annie is very comfortable, and really seems like home. This isn’t really surprising me – in many ways this is just a longer version of all of the traveling that Oma and I have done in the past.
I’m really happy with every option and customization we made. So far, I would not change anything that we specified. While it is always nice to have more space, I think the size we chose (the smallest sold in our model year from our manufacturer) is perfect for us. It is big enough to be comfortable while being small enough to fit in most RV-friendly campgrounds. We would definitely be more limited on both campsites and campgrounds if we had chosen a longer trailer.
We have one issue at the moment, which we are planning to just wait until we get back to resolve: our kitchen vent motor will not raise the vent, which doesn’t sound like that big of a problem except that it is about 9′ up. It’s enough trouble to raise and lower it manually (I have to stand on a chair and even then it’s a reach) that I’m mostly not bothering. The slide coming out is sort of a second issue, but it’s not clear that there will be any specific fix. It’s just not supposed to happen, and the brace we’re using will prevent it from happening again. Other than that (knock on wood), the trailer is operating well.
Repositioning and distances
The drive down to Texas – four straight days of driving – was definitely not something we want to repeat if we can avoid it. This trip, that is just the way that the timing worked out, but next time I definitely see us staying put for a few days in the middle of the drive down.
It seems that two days of driving in a row is our limit. And while shorter days are always better, at least in the abstract, we (including the animals) are handling up to 400 mile days (8-9 hours on the road, with stops) pretty well. In the future, I’d probably plan for slightly longer travel days (when required) and fewer short overnights. This is exactly what we did on the Grand Canyon-to-Sequoia leg. I had allowed for three shorter driving days, and instead we did two longer days with a day off near Barstow.
As I mentioned, our early trip was much faster paced than we’d do again, given the option. Our ten night stop outside of Yosemite National Park was perfect, and it seems like 1-2 weeks is a nice time to spend at a “destination.” We’re not planning to make much in the way of changes for the rest of this trip, and part of our pace challenges are just because we are traveling so far in a short 3.5 months, but I expect that we’ll slow down a little (or a lot) on most of our future trips. That said, figuring out how to better handle traveling long distances in a (relatively) short time is something we are talking about, since staying on the road more than 2-4 months is challenging right now, and some of the places we want to (re)visit are a long drive from home.
We’ve had a relatively large proportion of full-hookups (electric, water and sewer – all the comforts of home) so far on our trip. The rest of the trip will be more of what we’ve been used to – electric and perhaps water, but no sewer. That means we have to watch our water use – “navy” showers, and definitely no use of the clothes washer.
We’ve both really enjoyed the luxury of the full hookups. Combined with longer stays, it will be interesting to see what we decide to do on future trips. I would not trade some of the really beautiful locations (Elephant Butte Lake State Park, for example) for full hookups, and I absolutely want the ability to be totally self-contained so that we can stay wherever we want to be (gift shop parking lots at national park entrances, anyone?). But if we can’t get exactly what we want, then we may be more inclined to a decent campground with full-hookups in the future.
The blog has been enjoyable to write, but it does take a lot of time. A lot of time. We’ve spent relatively little time reading books because so much of our down time is writing and editing pictures. It has also forced a completely different approach to how I handle editing pictures. In the past, I’d edit after a trip. Now we’re having to edit as we go along. Sometimes that’s not so bad; but if there are hundreds of pictures to review and edit (with many good ones), selecting a few for the blog can take a lot of time. Oma had her blog post on the Grand Canyon written more than a week before we had finished editing the pictures.
For that reason, our lag (time between when something happens in the real world and when it appears on the blog) on posts is also a little longer than I had originally thought it would be. My goal initially was to be posting about one week later than real time. We started falling behind right away – the initial drive down did not leave much blogging time, and our time with the kids/grandkids was also very busy. As soon as we started catching up from that, we hit five national parks in relatively quick succession, taking tons of pictures that had to be edited down for the blog. We’re currently running about three weeks behind on blog posts. I’m pretty sure that we’ll maintain about that for the rest of the trip and not fall further behind, but I doubt we’ll catch up too much either.
Oma and I have a lot of camping experience, but most of it has been traveling light in a van or truck. We have experience with 2-3 week trips, but we’d never been able to go longer than that. We both have some experience with trailers and motorhomes thanks to our parents, and our five years with our former fifth-wheel was extremely useful in selecting what we wanted in our new trailer. All that said, setting out together for almost four months was going to break a lot of new ground for us. Would we survive being together all of the time? Could we handle living in a 31′ trailer for months?
It seems the answer to both questions is, “Yes.” So far, my only regret is that it’s all been too quick. I would have loved to spend much more time at the Grand Canyon and Sequoia. There were many interesting places that we’ve passed by that I wish we could have spent time at. Even on the remaining part of the trip, we won’t be able to spend as much time as we’d like just because there are so many things we want to do.
It’s a nice problem to have, one that we can hopefully work on over the next twenty years.