2017 Wrap Up

Well…another travel season (and calendar year) is in the books. Yeah…I know I said that last year and I’ll probably say it again next year…but heck, it’s true so why not go ahead and say it.

We opened 2017 with Connie still having eye problems. She had undergone dual eye surgeries back in late 2016 to correct her detached retina and then to remove the scar tissue and her vision improved after those surgeries…but then got worse again. Another trip down to the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Naples to verify that the common side effect of a vitrectomy had occurred…sure enough…it did and she had a cataract in her one working eye. 

So…we went ahead and she had cataract surgery…much less stressful than the first two…and by early May she was good to go so we headed off for our summer’s travels on May 15.

Our first real stop was Camp Horizons in Junction City KS to get the slide seals on our rig replaced…the intense sun of 5 winters in FL resulted in deterioration of the exposed portions of the driver side seals…those are the ones that face south when we’re at Seminole Campground in North Fort Myers. While we were there we went ahead and had all of them replaced as well as our electric cord reel which was showing signs of impending failure. We spent 12 glorious (not) days in Junction City before heading west for some actual Fun Stuff©.

We transited across CO and into northeast UT…we thought about stopping at the National Parks in CO but decided since they were all pretty much located on or close to US Route 50 decided to leave them until the 2019 travel season when we’ll reschedule our Route 50 trip to include (at least what we’re thinking as of now) a drive westward from Boston to OR on US Route 20 then back eastward on US 50 from San Francisco to Ocean City MD before heading back down the east coast at the end of travel season 2019. Given that decision…our first real stop for the summer was Arches National Park in Moab UT…we were there in 2013 but it was just after Neil recovered from his broken foot and we missed many of the hikes we wanted to do…he just couldn’t walk very far that fall. 

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From Moab we headed south and visited Mesa Verde NP in SW CO, Four Corners Monument, Monument Valley, Lake Powell on the Colorado River, Grand Canyon NP, Bryce Canyon NP, Cedar Breaks NM, and Zion NP…all pretty much in the desert SW in the middle of summer…yeah, I know…not the smartest time of the year to visit that area. I gotta tell ya…it was hot but that actually wasn’t the worst part of the summer temperature wise. 

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Next…we headed north to Salt Lake City and then Reno NV before continuing on into northern CA where we visited Mount Shasta SP and Lassen NP…and the hottest weather we had all summer was the week we stayed in Redding CA…112 degrees several days and this was actually most of two months before the fires in that area.

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After a stop in Canyonville OR for a week we continued on up to Salem OR where we were on the edge of the total solar eclipse path…then onwards to Port Angeles WA on the Strait of Juan de Fuca west of Puget Sound…where we spent 10 days in Olympic National Park. We caught the solar eclipse in late August outside of Salem OR…we weren’t quite in the totality path so Neil got the best photo of it he could.

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Heading eastward…we stopped in Coeur d’Alene ID to visit our college friend Joe Claxton and his bride Nicki…then in Missoula MT and West Yellowstone MT to visit Yellowstone NP and Grand Tetons NP. 

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Continuing eastward…we arrived in Spearfish SD for the every 18 month NH Owners Group rally. At the completion of the rally we departed in company with our friends Bill and Linda Napier to Longmont CO to visit Rocky Mountain NP and then Colorado Springs CO before arriving in Albuquerque NM for the Balloon Fiesta…where we spent 5 days boondocking, running the generator in the morning to recharge batteries, and watching hot air balloons of all shapes and sizes inflate, take off, and land.

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After 5 days…we had all had enough of hot air balloons so we bid adieu to Bill and Linda as they were continuing south into Arizona for missionary work related to their church back in NC. We headed east across I-40 and were mostly in transit mode with stops in Amarillo, Oklahoma City, Little Rock, Jackson MS (although we did stay 2 nights in Jackson to visit the Vicksburg Battlefield) to Foley AL where we stayed for 5 nights before continuing onto the Low Key Hideaway in Cedar Key FL for 10 nights…then continued on to North Fort Myers where we pulled into our site 101 at Seminole Campground on November 1.

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First up on our arrival was getting setup for the winter of course…we sandwiched that around choosing and buying the latest addition to our family…Little Red the Mazda CX-5. As you know…we started full timing with both a truck and a car but donated the car in May 2016 when Connie suffered her detached retina. We’ve been a single vehicle family since then…and both of our thoughts on 1 vs 2 vehicles have changed. Previous to her surgery…Connie was firmly in the two vehicle camp but her experience traveling in the truck with Neil the past 2 seasons has changed her mind and she would have been happy to stay with just the truck. Neil on the other hand…was originally in the 2 vehicle camp but not as firmly as she was. After spending 2 travel seasons with just the truck…he can see why a lot of people like to travel that way. However…from a “the big truck is a pain to park” standpoint he’s of the mind that having the car in addition is worth it and from an economic standpoint having two vehicles isn’t much more cost than having just the truck. Sure…there’s extra gas, insurance and maintenance on the car but that expense is mostly made up by the drastic reduction in annual mileage on the not very efficient truck. For instance…we’ve put almost 40,000 miles on Big Red since picking him up in May 2016…but only 10,500 of them have been towing…the rest were either Fun Stuff© miles during travel season or daily driver stuff last winter. The additional 25,000 miles work out to about about 2,000 gallons of diesel where in a car it would have been about 900 gallons of gas…considerably less fuel cost for the not towing situation. The single vehicle still wins out overall dollars wise…but it’s only a couple hundred bucks a month tops and unless cost is the driving factor the convenience of parking wins out in his opinion.

We quickly got into our regular winter routine…choir practice an Elks bingo on Tuesday, Tacos at the Elks on Thursday most of the time, and at least 1 (sometimes 2) other nights at the Elks along with bike rides, grilling, eating dinner with our friend Jeff on most Sundays, and just generally enjoying the warm weather.

We did take a quick trip in early December up to Midlothian VA to see the human kids Jen and Bryan new house…but mostly to see grand baby Alex who had his 3rd birthday the week after we were there. He’s right at the great age where he’s old enough to have a conversation with and to be able to help you with various things…but still young enough to be interested in having a conversation and helping with things. We’re planning on stopping by in early May on the way north to the Canadian Maritimes and he’s excited about coming over and spending the night at granny’s house.

Our travel plans for next season are pretty much firmed up from a high level point of view…we’ll travel north starting May 1 with stops in Midlothian for grand baby time and Fairfax VA for financial guys time before continuing up to Boston again and then up the coast of ME on US 1 to the border. We’ll cross in mid June and spend until about Labor Day in Canuckistan. Mostly we’ll follow our aborted plans from 2016 that were overcome by the eye surgery…with some minor rerouting due to crossing the border near St. Andrews on the coast instead of farther north…and including the ferry trip for 3 weeks or so over in Newfoundland. We’ll add a couple weeks to the schedule to pick up some of the areas we passed on originally before getting back into ME in early September. From there…we’ll watch the leaves turn and attend New England fall festivals until it’s time to head first for Midlothian to see Alex again and then another 10 days in Cedar Key FL before arriving back in Fort Myers on November 1.

Alabama’s football team had another pretty successful season…losing only to Auburn in the Iron Bowl during the regular season but still was selected for the playoffs.

Stats for the year

  • States visited: 25…we’ve now parked overnight and done something in 49 states…I’m pretty sure we ain’t getting the rig to HI anytime soon
  • Big Red miles: 21,955
  • Towing miles: 9,207 miles on 39 towing days
  • Car miles: 3,418
  • Campgrounds: 29
  • Northernmost and southernmost points: Fort Myers FL (26.721138 N, 81.810228 W)  and Cape Flattery WA (48.385567 N, 124.726170 W) Cape Flattery is the northwestern most point in the lower 48 states.
  • Easternmost and westernmost points: Fort Myers FL (26.721138 N, 81.810228 W)  and Cape Flattery WA (48.385567 N, 124.726170 W)
  • Connie Meets the Town Drunk: 0
  • Bicycling miles: 545 on 44 rides during the 6 months we were in FL…there were only a couple during the travel season
  • Hiking miles: 28 on 16 hikes…this came from Neil’s tracking program but we didn’t always use it…there were actually more like 30 hikes…I’ll try to do better
  • Photos taken:12,246 for 443 GB
  • Photos published: 926
  • Blog posts published: 60
  • Blog views: 5,068…no blog comment stats as WordPress stopped sending the summary out and I’m way too lazy to add them up myself


That’s about it…glad you could ride along with us. I’ll keep posting the rest of the winter here in sunny and warm (well, actually pretty cool the early part of January 2018 when I’m typing this)…but there won’t be nearly as much Fun Stuff© as there is during the travel season. That will start up again on May 1.


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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