Normally we do not review a month separately but April 2008 was not an ordinary month. We put a record number of miles on the motorhome and added four 400+ mile travel days, including a new record of 437 miles.
We put 3,795 miles on the motorhome this month from Waynesville, NC to Eugene, OR. This is about 700 miles more than we had planned, but we had to deviate from our planned routes for severe weather. We were planning to go through Memphis, TN, Branson, MO, and Wichita, KS on the way to Colorado. We ended up diving south to Lafayette, LA instead of going to Memphis to avoid severe weather and from the weather reports we are glad we did. We also had to put in a long drive from the Fort Worth, TX area to Lakewood, NM (Carlsbad area) instead of heading for Lubbock due to another bout of severe weather. This last was our longest one day drive ever. We have friends who routinely drive more than 500 miles in a day, but for us these were long days.
How did we find ourselves in this situation? Normally we take two months to cross from Florida to the Pacific Northwest in spring. Also we normally stick to I-10, which is mostly south of the severe spring weather in the middle of the country. A bunch of reasons changed our plans. We wanted to visit our friends Ken and Carolle before leaving the East Coast and originally were going to meet them in Atlanta where Ken was having medical treatment, but the medical treatment was delayed so we had to catch them in Jacksonville in late March. Since we were going to visit our friends in Steamboat Springs, Colorado we decided to take a more northerly route and that caused us to decide to visit Memphis, Branson and Wichita on the way. Since the weather had curtailed our exploration of the Blue Ridge Parkway in fall we decided this was a perfect time to revisit that area. Our plan worked well on seeing more of the Blue Ridge Parkway, but then things changed and we ended up in Louisiana.
We enjoyed our short visit to Lafayette, Louisiana area even though it was not planned. We decided that we should be safe to move back to I-20 and see a bit of Dallas/Fort Worth and then we could head to Lubbock, Texas followed by Albuquerque, New Mexico and then on to Colorado. The plan looked good until the weather forecast again changed and we found ourselves again being threatened with severe weather while close to Fort Worth. A 2AM hail storm with 1/2" hail told us worse was on the way. Lubbock was off the stopping spots and we ended up doing a one day drive to Lakewood, New Mexico instead where we had high winds but no tornadoes or large hail.
Albuquerque worked out and so did Colorado. We did get snowed on in Colorado and dealt with some cold temperatures, but that was something we knew could happen. It was worthwhile seeing friends we had not seen in years.
Our last 400+ mile drive of the month was planned when we realized it was better to do that than do a string of travel days. Before this April we had driven two 400+ mile days, now we had six on our records.
The time between Utah and Eugene, Oregon went pretty much as we had originally planned except we only spent two nights around Bend, Oregon due to cold weather.
Coming out of this month we have decided that we do not want to travel anywhere near that many miles in a month again. We will also reserve travelling across the country north of I-10 for fall, in spring we will stay south.
The other question that comes up is how have fuel prices affected our travels? Believe me we do not like how much it is costing us to travel now. We remember being unhappy in October 2002 when we encountered unleaded at $1.559/gallon in Santa Fe, New Mexico when we were used to $0.959 to about $1.409 in the months before that. Our last fill up as of this note, on May 1st in Coburg, Oregon, was at $4.319/gallon of diesel. We expect to pay more in the coming months. In April we spent $2,021 for diesel crossing the country. That hurt! Using $4.50/gallon from now on we expect to pay out about $8,000 in diesel in 2008. We can handle this but it does hurt. We know others who are on fixed incomes and they are not prepared to pay so much for fuel, causing them to rethink their retirement.
Fuel prices and a general downturn of the economy are definitely affecting RV sales. Four RV manufacturers have closed up in the last few months, National RV, Travel Supreme, Western RV (Alpine Coach, Alpenlite), and Alfa Leisure. We have friends who own products from all of these manufacturers and we feel for them. Our previous motorhome was a Dolphin from National RV and an Alpine Coach from Western RV was our second choice behind our Dutch Star. We did look at both Travel Supreme and Alfa Leisure products and though they did not end up being what we wanted we know many happy owners who now find their RVs are orphans.
Luckily we will not be traveling so far in May but we will have some months where we travel more than 1,000 miles and October might be over 2,000 miles. That does mean we will probably spend over $1,000 for diesel in a month at least once more before the year is over. We still are enjoying the RV lifestyle and expect to keep it up for the foreseeable future.
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