Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wrap up by the numbers

We left on our first big motor home trip August 2, 2011 and got back to Salt Lake City December 6, 2011.  Here’s a wrap up by the numbers:
Length of trip: 126 days
States visited: 17  
Miles traveled: 6,180 
Most expensive campground:  Lake Pontchartrain RV Park in New Orleans at $56 a night.
Least expensive campground (besides the free places):  Leith Run National Recreation Area near Marietta, Ohio at $10.60 a night.
Average spent on campsite (does not include nights at my mom’s or at friends):  $19 a night.
Top five expenses in order, starting with the most expensive: RV gas; campsites;  RV repairs, groceries; eating out.
We stayed overnight (and longer) at 33 places:
16 state parks
4 private campgrounds
2 wineries
2 homes of family
2 National Recreation Areas
1 BLM land
1 WalMart
1 Indian Casino
1 friend's home
1 military base
1 Army Corp of Engineers campground
1 hotel
And now some subjective thoughts:
--Most picturesque towns:  Port Gibson, Mississippi and Marietta, Ohio.  During the Civil War General Grant supposedly said Port Gibston was “too pretty to burn”; Marietta is on the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingham Rivers and has lovely old mansions.
--Most interesting historical sites:  Lincoln Boyhood Home; Vicksburg, MS National Military Park; and the Marietta Ohio/Parkersburg, West Virginia area.
--Favorite single place we visited:  Hard to pick, but Bev says the Henderson home in Parkersburg, WV.  Jim says the Gulf of Mexico as he’d never seen it before and he likes the beach.
--Best “wow” moments:  Looking at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers near Cairo, IL; how the flooding of the Missouri River impacted Niobrara,NE; and every time we crossed a bridge spanning the Ohio or the Mississippi Rivers.
--Least favorite park:  Chain of Lakes, Indiana, but only because it was the last weekend before school started -- so it was crowded and everyone was noisily getting in their last hurrahs.  It would likely be wonderful in the off season,  especially with a kayak.
--Favorite foods:  Beignets in New Orleans; the Mexican food in Deming, NM; the cod and mussels at Sandy and Carl’s; and anything my mom makes.
--Nicest campgrounds:   Leith Run near Marietta, Ohio, because it was small (only 19 sites), we were so close to the Ohio River and our fellow campers made it feel like we were living in a friendly neighborhood; Balmoreah, TX because it is a watery oasis in the desert with white adobe buildings and red tile roofs; Rockhound State Park in NM because of the views, stars, cactus and large campsites; Muscatine, IA Army Corps of Engineers site which was right on the Mississippi.
--A place we could probably move to:  Tucson, AZ
We’re having fun at home in Salt Lake City (but it's cold!) and will resume our travels and our blog after the holidays.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Homeward bound for the Holidays

Tonight will be our fifth night at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base's Agave Gulch FamCamp in Tucson, AZ.  Tomorrow morning we’ll take our motor home to an RV storage facility, and then start the drive home to Salt Lake City in our tow car.  We’ll come back to Tucson sometime in January and figure out the rest of our winter travel plans.  Both of us are looking forward to staying in one place for a while, and think Tucson might be a good first choice.

We’ve done a little sight seeing, but mostly we’ve gotten the rig ready to store. Since it can get chilly in Tucson (the area is having a cold spell right now, which means night time temps hover around freezing--although we were told that last year Tucson had several days where it never got above 19 degrees) and we won’t be around to monitor things, we drained our water and storage tanks and added antifreeze.  We also gave the rig an extra thorough cleaning.
To our Salt Lake friends:  See you soon.  To everyone else: I might not be posting much while we’re in Utah but at the very least will pick this back up in January. Have a wonderful holiday.
And:  Happy birthday today to my Mom on #91.  I love you!
Jim at Tucson's Barrio Brewing company where we had lunch.
A shot of the Pima County courthouse.
The “Occupy Tucson” campsite in downtown Tucson.
Jim and Cooper taking a break from cleaning the rig.
Our rig lined up with the others at FamCamp.  

Friday, December 2, 2011

Wild Blue Yonder

We’re camping at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base's "Agave Gulch FamCamp," in Tucson, AZ.    The campground is right on the military base.  It’s the ultimate gated community where you also hear reveille every morning and the Star Spangled Banner every night. And everybody  -- even people driving cars -- stops while the music plays. 
FamCamp has nearly 300 rig spaces with electricity and water, a laundry, dog walking area, and a dog wash. Plus, we have access to most of the services on the base -- gas station, the commissary where we can buy groceries, a “BX” which is a department store, fitness center and more.  The staff here has been great; we can see why it’s been voted the best military campgrounds for the last few years running.
We’ve met several of our neighbors.  The first two were Vietnam vets being treated at the nearby VA Hospital for Agent Orange-related diseases.  I’m grateful the closest Jim got to Vietnam was its shore.
Our view from the edge of the campground.   Campers can stay at the FamCamp for 21 days and can extend for another 21 days if no one is camping in the base's overflow area (a campground without water and electricity) waiting to get in.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


In order to get a camping space, we try to arrive at new locations on Mondays and Thursdays. On Mondays the weekend crowds have just left.  On Thursday they haven't yet arrived.  So far it's worked out great and I was skeptical when Rockhound State park in south central New Mexico told me they might not have a spot available on a Monday night.  
But I got on line and paid the extra money it cost to get an advance reservation.  I’m glad I did.  There might have been an open space or two, but that was all.
And I can see why.  The camp grounds were nestled at the foot of the Little Florida (pronounced Flo-Rita) mountains.  The cactus was beautiful. The night time stars were wonderful.  Our campsite was huge.  Three are two other State Park nearby (Pancho Villa State Park and City of Rocks) and nearby Deming, NM has a great Mexican restaurant (Si Senor) and a brew pub and Jim wants to go back.
Bonus that has nothing to do with our travels:  Today I read my adopted hometown’s newspaper, the Salt Lake Tribune, and this was one of the headlines:
The last line of the story is my favorite:  "The dog and any ducks within range at the time of the accident were uninjured." (The hunter is OK, too, except for his pride.) 
Jim hooks up the water and electricity to our rig at Rockhound State Park near Deming, NM.  Our tow car is parked on the other side of the picnic table shelter to the left; normally at a state park, another rig would be where our car is, if not closer.
A scenery shot.
Visitors' Center at Rockhound State Park.  
You can just barely see a dark spot in the middle of this photo -- it's a blimp outfitted with cameras and high-tech equipment and tethered over the US-Mexican border for use by the border patrol.  Also, between El Paso and Las Cruces, all the westbound traffic on Interstate was pulled over by the border patrol.  We were waved on, as were other cars near us, but a pick up truck was being thoroughly searched.  
More scenery.  I'd love to be here when the cactus blooms.
The campground with our rig and tow car in the foreground.  This photo and the scenery shots were taken from two mile hiking trail that makes a half circle around the campground and includes a walk through a desert arboretum.  There is also a well-marked display of desert plants near the visitors' center.