Well, its finally over. The first post-retirement RV adventure.
We traveled a total of 8,617 miles in our RV to the west coast and back (excluding our trip to Hawaii). We were gone for 170 days of which 147 days were on the road in our RV making a total of 50 stops along the way. We spent 53 days getting to my sister’s in California before leaving for Hawaii. We spent 41 days on the west coast, most of which were along the coast of Oregon. The return to Florida took an additional 53 days with a longer stop in Colorado.
Overall we spent an average of about 3 days at each stop. The trip west was a bit faster averaging 2.5 days/stop. We slowed down on the west coast (4.1 days/stop) and on the return home (2.8 days/stop).
What We Learned
- Length of stay: We simply traveled too far and too fast. Much of this was dictated by our trip to Hawaii which meant we had a date certain to arrive in California and once there our return was ultimately determined by the date we wanted to be back home in Florida. Our most relaxing were stops of 5 days or longer. Our longest stop was 10 days and we had 4 stays of a week or longer and 8 stays of 5 days in various locations along the route. That meant that we had 38 stops of 4 days or less.
- Miles/Day Traveled: Our longest day was just under 300 miles and most days were between 150 and 250 miles. This was perfect.
- Weather: Although we left in early May, we underestimated how hot it would be as we traveled west. Once we hit the west coast temperatures moderated but the wild fires in California and Oregon during August and early September required we hang out on the Oregon coast rather than trying to go further north toward Glacier and the Grand Tetons. In the future we will travel “in search of 70 degrees”…perhaps traveling earlier in the spring and after the first of August unless we’d be heading north to Canada or Alaska.
- Campsites: We had reservations for virtually every stop heading to the west coast. This meant it was hard to be flexible in changing plans. Once we got to California and Oregon we were able to get reservations with much shorter notice despite the number of “locals” who were also looking to escape the fires and smoke by camping on the Coast. The same was true on our trip home where reservations a week or 10 days in advance were more than adequate. In the future we’re going to try and be more flexible and attempt to “wing it” with more short-term reservations (other than Holidays).
- Boondocking: We spent only one night truly boondocking (outside Natural Bridges National Monument). We’d like to do more boondocking and feel that traveling at a slower pace and spending longer in an area will help us find good boondocking locations.
- Dry Camping: We fared well in locations that didn’t have power or water. Using nominal water and power conservation we were easily able to go 5-7 days without hookups. With our solar we were able to keep house batteries in good shape and never had to run our generator to replenish battery power when “off the cord”.
Our next stop after Little Rock was going to be New Orleans but we decided to overnight in Greenville, Mississippi to break the trip. Our overnight was at the Washington County Convention Center, a huge facility just outside town with water and 50 amp electric.
It didn’t take long to decide we’d spend an extra day exploring Greenville since we’d happened upon the Delta Hot Tamale Festival held annually in mid October. This 3 day weekend features local and regional art, music and tamale makers from around the south.
The history of the hot tamale in the Mississippi Delta reaches back to at least the early twentieth century. Some hypothesize that tamales made their way to the Delta when migrant laborers from Mexico arrived to work the cotton harvest. African Americans who labored alongside Mexican migrants recognized the basic tamale ingredients: corn meal and port. Others maintain that the Delta history with tamales goes back to the U.S.-Mexican War one hundred years earlier, when U.S. soldiers traveled to Mexico and brought tamale recipes home with them. Others still argue that tamales date to the Mississippian culture of mound-building Native Americans.
The music of the Delta embraced the tamale as early as 1928 when Reverend Moses Mason, recording as Red Hot Ole Moses, cut “Molly Man”. Then, Legendary Robert Johnson’s “They’re Red Hot” in 1936 furthered the link between tamales and the blues!
Another Greenville landmark was our choice for dinner after getting the RV parked. Doe’s Eat Place was established in 1941 by Dominick “Bid Doe” Signa and his wife, Mamie. Doe’s father moved to Greenville in 1903 and opened a grocery store in the building that now serves as the restaurant. At first Signa ran a honky-tonk, strictly for blacks, in the front part of the store. Because of racial segregation it was socially unacceptable for whites to come into Doe’s. When a local white doctor began to stop at Doe’s for a meal between house calls, Doe would serve him steaks in the rear of the store. As word-of-mouth spread about the steaks Doe decided to start a restaurant in the rear of the building. The restaurant has been racially integrated since the beginning and is still run from the building in which it started…a relatively small and shabby building in the middle of a downscale neighborhood.
The menu is simple….Hot Tamales (get them with homemade chili), house salad, steaks (the Porterhouse is more than enough for 2) and fried or boiled shrimp both served with homefries!
After dinner we headed over to the Walnut Street Blues Bar.
Next morning found us taking in the Festival in downtown Greenville. It seems most of the town turned out to listen to music on several stages set up around town, eat hot tamales and browse crafts and local art. Sometimes the most enjoyable parts of an RV adventure are the things and people you simple stumble upon while making your way down the road.
Kansas City…in the heartland of the US…from the Wizard of Oz…To Presidential Libraries…Jazz and the Blues….and BBQ, Who Knew?
Today we visited Kansas Cities #1 visitor attraction….the National WWI Museum and Memorial.
In 1919…just weeks after the end of WWI, more than 83,000 people in Kansas City contributed to a fund, raising $2.5 million in 10 days (more than $35 million in today’s dollars). In 1921 the site was dedicated and the facility opened in 1926 in front of a crowd of 150,000 people, including President Calvin Coolidge.
The Memorial originally consisted of the 217-foot-tall Liberty Memorial Tower and two Exhibit Halls.
In 1994 the Memorial closed due to structural deterioration of the Memorial courtyard. Once again the people of Kansas City voted to restore the Memorial and create a Museum to house not only their own extensive collection of artifacts but countless similiar collections that had waned in attendance as time passed from the end of WWI in 1918. Death of the Last Known WWI Veteran
This was an impressive museum. Our tour lasted 2 1/2 hours and covered much, but not all of the history and artifacts present. Tickets purchased are good for 2 days attendance and it’s clearly more than can be seen in one day.
Although I was marginally aware of what started the war (the assassination of Archduke Franzmeier Fernidad of Austria-Hungary), I had no understanding of how the transition from 19th century led to the top causes of WWI.
There’s a LOT to unpack here that is relevant to today!
I had not realized how late the US was enter into WWI. Although the war was principally a European conflict started in 1914, the US didn’t enter the war until April 1917 and the war officially ended November 1918. The war was essentially a stalemate prior to the US entry and it was the entry of the additional US troops that hastened the end. Not only did it impact the role of the US in world affairs, it also had a significant impact on the economy and military-industrial growth of the country….to this very day!
The saddest part of this story was the human toll the war took…and that was before we consider the weapons and technology of death the world possesses today. Take time to reflect…and pray…that this “progress” is history…and not our future.
Bella Winery in Healdsburg with dear friends…old and new. The picture says it all.
Simi Valley hosts the Presidential Library of Ronald Reagan. As we walked up to the front door from the parking lot we met an amazing man who would become our
our personal docent for the day…and a Floridian to boot! RW was making his inaugural visit to visit two special features of the Reagan Library….President Reagan’s final resting place and Air Force One
As a young Air Force security officer RW was assigned to Air Force One during President Reagan’s term as one of a contingent of Air Force personnel who’s job it was to protect Air Force One during the greatest number of world-wide travel miles of any President until that time. It was obvious…and we could feel the love RW had both for the President and this aircraft. We learned a lot from him and will be forever grateful for having spent time with him.
Even more amazing is that RW had recently retired, sold his home and was traveling the country in his own RV.
The Regan Library reminded us of what a remarkable man Reagan was before, during and after his Presidency.
It was sobering to us to remember that the Reagan presidency will began almost 40 years ago! Equally sobering for us was to consider the following:
No one wants war! Yet we believe that those who can’t defend themselves are likely to become victims and being prepared can never be taken for granted.
As with other libraries we’re reminded how important it is to understand Presidencies in the context of their time.
This was a wonderful experience.