Thursday, December 31, 2015

Reflections on a year well spent!

As always at this time of the year, I like to look back and see what we have done, where we've traveled and "tally up the year".  Each year is different (yea!) adding it's own adventures and it's own challenges into the mix.  This was "year 4" for us, so a bit more experienced, and a bit more wear & tear on the coach, (and us) as we found out.

I love flipping the calendar backward, looking at all the places we've gone, revisiting them, so to speak.  It's an extra little reminder of what a wonderful life we have...this vagabond adventure of ours.  Seeing this incredible country, visiting great landmarks, National Parks, fabulous beauty, meeting interesting people and seeing old friends... all of it. 

When I do my "tallies" at the end of the year, I'm always amazed at the numbers...they are never as low, or as high as I imagined them to be.  Keeping track of our campground receipts is done by "stuffing" them into a small plastic bag that I keep up at the front 'Co-Pilot's' seat with me.  I don't pay to much attention to it all year, just making sure to carefully add each receipt to the bag so that at the end of the year I have them all in one safe place for my year-end calculation and blog.  Additionally, I mark our calendar with each campground we stay at, so I know how many campgrounds/nights we've paid vs nights we've stayed with family or friends, or at our time share.

Jack keeps track of mileage, gasoline, propane and maintenance costs.  Having a 2007 RV, she has started "showing her age" a bit, so this year's maintenance and repair bills were higher than ever - but, I kept reminding myself, if we had a sticks and bricks house, it wouldn't be much different!

This year's travels took us from 'coast to coast' as we wanted to see our eastern grandchildren and spend some time with them.  We also had a nephew getting married in Baltimore MD, so what better time to check off one of my bucket list items: Washington DC, while we were so close!  That was something I had wanted to do for most my life, and was not disappointed one bit!  I had high expectations, and they were even exceeded!  Such a thrill to go up into the Washington Monument!  I love our country, and to spend days visiting so many of the Smithsonian Museums was truly a dream come true.  I even had one of my pictures published in the Humanities Magazine and got to meet their Art Director while I was there.  So cool.

Another change this year was meeting up with special friends.  Usually we travel pretty solo.  Not that this is our preference, it's just that this is the way it just seems to be.  In February, we were able to snag a large two-bedroom suite in Orlando in our time share, so we invited some friends to join us.  It turned out one couple could make it the first week, and another the second week!  Yea!  Then, later in March, we joined some friends in Arizona for a couple of days, then were able to meet up with others in Vegas in April, and visit with Colorado friends in May & then they joined us in NM in Oct for a few days!  We made a quick stop at our friends in Utah before heading to family in WA for the holiday.  That's more "company" than we've ever had, but not nearly enough!  Here's hoping 2016 brings even more!

The ups & downs of the year...I have to say that the ups have mostly been the people and the places we visited (I guess no surprise there) and the downs have been the amount of repairs to the RV (& to me).  We've also not had the best weather this year as well as we've run into some really nasty spots along the way, from freezing slush to flooding!

Besides what I've already shared, I'd say some of the highlights this year have been the Great Smoky Mountains and Tennessee in general.  I loved Chattanooga and visiting Ruby Falls and Rock City and even seeing Dollywood!  We love train trips, and taking the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic RR through NM was an absolute delight.  We stayed a month in Albuquerque NM, traveling all over the area, really enjoying our stay there.  Of course, starting the year off taking a Caribbean cruise is pretty wonderful, then coming back and discovering the two great towns of Ft Pierce and St Augustine FL was fun lead-in to meeting up with our friends.

Here's our stats for the year:

We stayed at 58 campgrounds, for a total of 302 nights
Total campground fees: $11,293.36
(That averages about $37.39 a night, which is about right...some places were really low,  but overall, most places averaged around $40 a night with discounts)
Mileage for the RV: 13,984
Mileage for the toad: 12,268
Gasoline for the RV: $5,427
Gasoline for the toad: $1,210
Propane: $338
Maintenance & Repairs RV: (oil change, roof sealing, skylight replacement, waste connector replacement, wind shield wipers & motors(twice), slideout fix,  2 tires, hot water heater, water pump) $6,822
Maintenance on the toad: (4 tires, wheel bearings, brakes, 60,000 mile check-up) $4,055

Well, here's to next year!  This will be year number 5 for us, and another exciting one, I'm sure!  I know we are looking forward to it, so hopefully we will see you...down the road!

...on the road in California,  Marie

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