2012 Year In Review

I figured it might be interesting to summarize our life, travels, and such once a year…that way I’ll always have easy access to the answers to questions like “what did we do that year” and our readers might find it interesting reading. I’m going to not repost a whole bunch of new pictures as all of our individual posts have those but wanted to post sort of a State of the Laubenthal writeup.

We spent the first half of the year (Jan to Jun) taking care of getting ready to head out on the road. Having made the decision to sell our home in Fairfax, VA in late 2011 and having already made the decision to buy our new home from New Horizons RV in Junction City, KS…it was just a matter of carrying out the plan. 

Of course; this entailed a quick week long driving trip out to South Dakota to handle our drivers licenses, voting registration, and residency…we wanted to get out from under the VA state income tax burden and property tax burden once we no longer lived in the state. Research indicated that the best options for us were TX, FL, and TX for residency. FL fell out since you either need a “real” address and not a mailing service, TX fell out since you have to take a driving test in the vehicle you will be RVing in (if it’s over 23,000 pounds I think was the number; but in any event the limit was less than BAT and the house weigh) and we didn’t’ have the rig yet. So SD it was. We drove out to Box Elder on the western side of the state near Mount Rushmore, spent an overnight to meet the legal requirement for residency, spent 4 hours handling voting/driving/registration/residency and headed back home. We did have a side trip over to Mount Rushmore the day we arrived (OK but not nearly as impressive or large as you think it is based on all the pictures you’ve ever seen) and had a quickie 6 hour tour through Badlands National Park as we headed back east (way cool, one of the most impressive parks we’ve ever seen). Seeing it one can easily understand why outlaws hid out in the Badlands way back when…there can easily be people a couple of hundred yards away from you without ever knowing they were there. Best of all; we made it from VA to SD and back in the middle of winter with no snow, no really cold weather, and pretty much no traffic.

We also had a quick trip to out to Los Angeles for a Saint-Säens concert…while there we made a run out to Palm Springs to visit the Sands RV Resort located in nearby Hot Springs. We may winter over there at some point…this is a very nice park with a golf course and a lot of activities although the sites are a bit closer than we would really like.

Getting back home we finished up the business of 

  • getting a Home Equity Line of Credit to pay for the rig with the idea that this would be paid off when we closed on our mortgage free home in Fairfax
  • ordering BAT through the local Ford Dealer since we wanted to drive it a bit before picking up the rig so that any new truck issues would be resolved without having the rig behind it
  • finalizing our order with New Horizons…we learned some things from this process and would be happy to elaborate for any one who would like to know the things to both do and not do when ordering a new RV. There were a couple of issues that should have not come up…not knocking New Horizons a bit since so far they’ve resolved all of the issues satisfactorily (albeit with a couple still outstanding).
  • Putting the house on the market with associated cleaning, painting, and maintenance

Once we got the offer on the house there was the back and forth with counters, counter-counters and such until we finalized the price then there was the inspection, negotiate on the issues found, convince them that despite the inspector’s claim that the HVAC was inadequate the fact that it cools the house down to the 60’s on a 95 degree day made the inspector’s claim bogus, etc, etc, etc.

We headed out to Junction City with BAT in early June with a stop by Knoxville to leave some furniture at Neil’s sister’s house, spent a week doing the pickup, punch list, training on RV systems deal then went to Kansas City for another concert followed by a 3 day drive back to Fairfax where we parked the rig in the driveway. Again; now that we’ve done this we know the things to do an the things not to do when picking up your RV…wish we had figured those out ahead of time as some of our issues with the rig would not have happened if we had been smarter. Again, not knocking New Horizons…all new RVs have issues and ours are/were actually pretty minor. However, in hindsight we could have been and wish we had been a little smarter.

In any event we finally got to the end of house selling  and moving out road and moved out to the local RV park at Bull Run State Park in Manassas in early July.

Connie went back out to LA for her convention while Neil handled a few final things; we closed on the house, then started our actual life on the road on 7/23 when we pulled out of Fairfax for the last time.

Over the next 5 months or so we traveled through upstate New York, New England, visited Acadia National Park, ate a lot of lobstah, watched the leaves turn, headed west through Vermont and New Hampshire for more leaf watching, froze our buts off as the weather started to get cold (we spent a lot of time out hiking in the cold weather; the rig itself is actually quite comfortable down to the low 30’s which was as low as it got…although we did use a lot of propane for the furnaces); then headed south for the winter with stops back in Fairfax for Neil’s Elks initiation (think cheap campgrounds and even cheaper beer), Richmond to visit Bryan (the human kid), Knoxville so Neil’s sister could see the rig, northern FL where we stayed at the Suwannee River State Park campground for a week, a couple of weeks at Ortona South COE campground near Lake Okeechobee then arrived at our winter home here in Fort Myers.

We then got caught up in the whole Connie finding a choir to sing in for Christmas, buy the presents, mail the presents thing and before we knew it it was New Years.

What do our plans for 2013 entail?

We’re still working on the fine details of this but so far we’re planning on leaving Fort Myers on Mar 1. After a week at the Sun N Fun Resort in Sarasota (we wanted to check out staying in a “resort” area vs just staying in a regular RV park or state park to see if that better fits our life style…we don’t think it will but want to validate that assumption) and a planned couple of weeks at the Low Key Hideaway in Cedar Key (Tiki bar, RV sites hang over the water, sunsets, fishing for Connie) we are planning on stopping up in the other LA (lower Alabama) for a couple of weeks to visit family. We’ll likely stay at either Gulf State RV Park or the Escapees Park in Rainbow, Alabama. From there we’re meandering west to visit Austin, TX as a potential eventual settling down place before a concert in Plano and then the New Horizons Owners Group Rally in Kerrville, TX the last week of Apr. After that we’re headed to Colorado Springs for a couple of weeks via a couple of days stopover in Junction CIty to handle a few warranty issues on the rig. From Colorado Springs we’re headed through WY and MT up to Edmonton, Alberta for a concert in early June, then we’ll visit Banff National Park again (maybe there will be some wildlife out in June, there certainly wasn’t any out in early October a couple of years back when we visited) and Jasper National Park with arrival via a stopover in Vancouver in Seattle for another concert in late June. From there the crystal ball gets a little more cloudy. Our current thinking is that we’ll do the Oregon/Washington area for a month or two then head generally east/south through the northern sections of the Rocky Mountains arriving somewhere in southern TX for a wintering over in November or so. Alternatively; if Connie decides she doesn’t like any of the RV parks in TX we may head for Desert Hot Springs instead since we know we liked that park. If we do that then we’ll have to decide whether to still do the eastern side of the Rockies and head west on I-10 back to southern CA or stay on the west side of the Continental Divide. Alternatively; since RVers plans are usually set in Jello (although our Jello is still in the box at this point) we may do something else entirely. The only things actually fixed here are the concerts in Plano, Edmonton and Seattle since we already bought those tickets and the rally in Kerrville.

That’s about it for our year in review and our current plans…any good ideas of things to do, places to go, or people to see would be much appreciated.

 

Statistics for the year:

  • Countries visited: US and Canada (2)
  • States visited: Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri, Kansas, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Georgia and Florida (22 or probably about 32 if you could all the ones we were in twice)
  • Miles on the RV: 4762
  • Miles on BAT: 7769, this includes all the RV towing miles above plus a couple thousand driving it around after we picked it up to break it in the trip to Kansas via Tennessee to pick up the rig
  • Miles on the car: don’t know for sure but about 17,000 since we do all of our daily driving in the car instead of in BAT since he gets much lower mileage and is a lot harder to find a parking place for
  • Campgrounds stayed in: 26, complete list below. Best view we parked at is Ortona South in FL, best park is Seminole where we spent the winter (probably because we were here the longest), best short term stay is Sweetwater Forest in Cape Cod although this was pretty much a tie with several others because we really had no short term stay that was clearly the best. We had a few crummier places but mostly liked the better ones equally but for different reasons.
  • Thing we wish we bought sooner: the little table to sit between our two zero gravity recliners and hold up our beer
  • Thing we wish we hadn’t bought: the site we chose sight unseen in French Creek State Park. This was far and away the worst place we parked; it took us over an hour to get successfully backed in and only a little of that was our newness to RVing and non-familiarity with backing the rig. The site was waaay too small for a rig our size and the road getting waaay too narrow. Add in the fact that it was an electric only site with a really, really nasty bathhouse and Connie definitely wishes we had gone somewhere else. Still, live and learn.
  • Things we wish had been done right the first time: New Horizons ordering the correct mattress that was less hard than a concrete pad and the less than fully correct installation/wiring we got on BAT when the after market electrical stuff was hooked up to power in the truck.

Campsites we stayed in

  • Walnut Grove RV Park 10218 Johnson Drive Merriam KS 
  • Whittington Woods Campground 14297 State Highway 7 Whittington IL 
  • Robert Newlon Airpark RV Park Huntington WV 
  • Bull Run Regional Park 7700 Bull Run Drive Centreville VA 
  • Little Bennett Campground 23705 Frederick Road Clarksburg MD 
  • French Creek State Park 843 Park Road Elverson PA 
  • Fla Net Park 10 Flanders-Netcong Rd Flanders NJ 
  • BrookNWood 1947 County Route 8 Elizaville NY 
  • Wolf’s Den Family Campground 256 Town Street East Haddam CT 
  • Sweetwater Forest 676 Harwich Road Brewster MA 
  • Hanscom AFB Family Camp GPS 42 28.38N 71 16.8W Lincoln MA 
  • Meadowbrook Camping 33 Meadowbrook Rd Phippsburg ME 
  • Timberland Acres 57 Bar Harbor Rd. Trenton ME 
  • Cannon Mountain RV Park Franconia Notch State Park, Route 3 Franconia NH 
  • Apple Island Resort 71 US Route 2 South Hero VT 
  • Ledgeview Village RV Resort 321 State Road 149 Lake George NY 
  • Susquehanna Trail Campground 4292 State Highway 7 Oneonta NY 
  • Harrisburg East 1134 Highspire Rd. Harrisburg PA 
  • Bull Run Regional Park 7700 Bull Run Drive Centreville VA 
  • Pocohontas State Park Chesterfield VA 
  • Overnight Interstate Park Roanoke St. Christianburg VA 
  • Racoon Valley RV Park 908 E. Racoon Valley Rd Heiskell TN 
  • High Falls RV Park Jackson GA 
  • Suwannee River State Park 3631 201st Path Live Oak FL 
  • Ortona South (COE campground) 4330 Dalton Lane SW Moore Haven FL 
  • Seminole Campground 8991 Triplett Road N. Fort Myers FL

Time to go run. Cyas.

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About Gunther

The full time RV travels and experiences of Gunther the Bear and Kara the Dog…along with their human staff neil and Connie.
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