Friday, June 28, 2013

2013 Western Trip Summary - Day 34


Honey, I'm Home!!!!  My five week journey has come to an end.  I was on the road for 34 days, traveled thru 15 different states, and logged almost 6,600 miles.  I had a very good time.  I saw some great aspects of this country that I had never experienced.  I got to travel at my own pace, stop when I wanted, and change my route and itinerary as needed.  But it sure feels good to be HOME!

My trip is all chronicled in the previous blog entries so I won’t attempt to repeat or summarize.  But I will outline some observations and high points.

What Worked Well

My Roadtrek motor home.  It was my home, restroom, and transport for 34 days;  a new record for me for being on the road and sleeping in the van.  It served me well and ran without incident.  It got me down the interstates, down the back roads, over the scenic roads, into small campsites, and into all the places I wanted to go.  I was pleased with my gas mileage with an average of 17 mpg over the 6,580 miles.

My new Canon SX50 HS Super Zoom DSLR.  It was compact, fast, and easy to handle and it let me shoot wide angle and zoom to get the pictures, without having to carry a bag full of lenses. It also took great photos and movies.

My Annual Pass for all the National Parks.  I bought it in FL in the spring and I didn’t have to pay any entrance fees to the seven National Parks and Monuments I visited.  So far, it has more than paid for itself.

Boondocking at truck stops, Walmarts, Sam’s Club, and Cracker Barrel. I spent 9 of the 34 nights at these spots. It was a new first for me.  I always asked permission and the people were all very accommodating.  Other than the noisy one in Youngstown, they all worked out very well.  I used the website overnightrvparking.com and this site gave me the up to day info on where I could park.

Making no reservations other than at Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain National Park and it worked out well for me. Other than in Cody, I was able to get an overnight stay at all my preferred sites.  I also ran a couple days ahead of schedule and changed my route home so I didn’t need to rebook anything.

Observations

The economy is definitely picking up because there are a lot of people on the road and in the parks and campgrounds.  The campgrounds in Yellowstone were all full during my stay and the other places I stayed were all pretty full at the end of the day.

The RV industry must also be doing well because I saw lots of RV’s, mostly motor homes, on the road. Also, there were lots of rented RVs in the national parks.

The trip validated for me that this country has so much to see and experience.  You just have to make a plan, go, and not be afraid to venture out.  I also went off the beaten path and changed my route in some places to explore something that I happened to see or hear about. 

The people I met were positive, engaging, and helpful.  There was the guy who promptly filled my propane tank in Abilene and marveled at my Roadtrek, the Chevy dealer in Waukee who took me right in to get my oil changed without an appointment, the campsite owner in Custer who told me where to go in Custer SP and gave me the recommendations on restaurants, the truckers I ate with at the truck stops, and all the park rangers who greeted me and gave me input and directions.

Trip Data

A quick comment on miles.  My average was 193 miles/day.   When I was moving to a new town, I tried to limit driving to around 250 miles.  I wanted to be able to stop and smell the roses along the way.  On the way home I did a couple of 400 mile days but at that was the max for me.  

A quick summary on the expense side of this trip.  The 34 day road trip cost me $3,118.  The big items were $1,345 for gas (ave. of $40/day), food was $713 (ave. $21/day), and camping fees totaled $719 (ave. of $21/day).  The rest was for supplies, entrance fees, laundry, showers, and souvenirs.  For everything, the average cost per day was $92.  Not too bad for a 5 week trip.  Without an RV, you’d pay close to that just in hotels.  I could have cut the food bill down by cooking more of my own meals, but, hey I was on vacation!

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