We spent our first night as full-time RVers on July 9, 2003 so that makes it eight years on the road on July 9, 2011. Our original plan was to be on the road two to five years, but now we can't see an end in sight. We did give a five year retrospective in 2008 and could have waited until year 10, but some challenges are causing us to wonder if we might have to come off the road before that date. Eight years is also a nice, even number and covers 4 winters in the Southwest and four winters in the Southeast.
In eight years of full-timing we drove our two motorhomes 103,154 miles and camped in 49 states and 6 Canadian provinces, or an average of 12,894 miles per year. This is in addition to about 18,000 miles we put on the first motorhome before we went full-time in which we camped in 12 states. For most full-timers our yearly average is a lot of miles, but a few put 25,000 miles or more on a year and leave us in the dust. We put approximately 113,970 miles on the CRV during these eight years. That means that we drive the CRV only a little more on average than the motorhome.
When we retired early, the main reason was medical. Since medical care is very important to us, we come back to our long term providers in the greater Seattle area each year in spring. Since we also have family in the general area, we have another reason to come back to the same area to visit each year. Many full-timers do not go back to their old home base each year, but we do. Those who do not go back have the luxury of visiting the East one year, the West another and some even visit the center of the country for a year. We also have friends whose home base is more in the center of the country so it is not so far to visit as Washington state is from the East coast. Others visit their home base more often. Some good friends go back twice a year in spring and fall to California.
Fall we have enjoyed much of the northern US, including New England, Virginia, and Kentucky. Early fall, the temperatures are pleasant and there is room in campgrounds in many areas. Later in fall, we need to be further south and places like Savannah, GA, are wonderful in November. The fall foliage is very nice in New England early on and then further south as fall progresses.
In winter, we want to be south, as far south and at low elevations to be as warm as possible. In winter, the days are short and the influx of snowbirds makes it best to stay places for longer periods, months instead of days and weeks, to get a decent campsite. Mexico is probably the real place to be in winter, but having spent winters in Southern California, Arizona and Florida along with some time in southern New Mexico, southern Texas and the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, our favorite winter destination is southern Florida. Our next favorite would be Mesa, Arizona followed by San Diego, California and the Indio/Palm Springs area of California. We have friends who strongly disagree and think that if we spent more time in their winter choice of Yuma, Arizona, the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, Orlando, Florida, the Gulf Coast, or many other places in Arizona we would fall in love with these places and move them to the top of our list. After eight years, we think we know what we like and respectfully disagree. These might be the best places for our friends, but not for us.
Spring we have learned we do not want to be in Tornado country. So we stay on the Atlantic Ocean coast and I-10 and below until the Rocky Mountains where we can move further north. Spring is also nice in Florida, Georgia, the Gulf Coast, Texas, New Mexico, and Utah.
The national parks of both the United States and Canada are very worthwhile. Some favorites are the Everglades, Shenandoah, Death Valley, Yellowstone, Banff, Grand Canyon, Zion, and Arches. We have no doubt that if we spent more time in some of the others like Mesa Verde and Bryce, they would end up as favorites also. There is a reason why someplace is a national park.
In eight years we have not been as free to see everything as we would have liked, especially places far east of Washington State. Just in the U.S. we haven't seen that much of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, New England and someday we will get to Greenfield Village by Detroit. On our list we also want to visit the Canadian Maritimes, Quebec and southern Ontario. Someday we also plan to camp in Mexico.
Actually this one is easy since we often enjoy seeing places a second, third or fourth time. Places change, we notice differences from prior visits, we find new attractions, the weather is different so the experience is different, thus our experience is different each visit. One way to really experience a place differently is to go with friends instead of alone, it changes everything and makes it a new experience. So, no specifics on places we want to visit again since the list is huge and keeps getting larger.
Year 1, July 9, 2003 through July 8, 2004, we drove our original motorhome from odometer reading 19,060 to 35,215. We traded it for our current motorhome for a total of 16,155 full-timer miles. When we took possession of our current motorhome in May, 2004 the odometer read 2018 miles and on July 8, 2004 it read 4251, so we drove it 2,233 miles during our first year on the road. That means we drove a motorhome 18,388 miles in our first year on the road and this was all in the lower 48 states. It looks like we traveled a lot. In fact we slept in 45 states that first year. In order, we camped in WA, ID, WA, ID, MT, ND, MN, WI, MI, OH, PA, NY, VT, NH, ME, NH, MA, RI, CT, NJ, PA, DE, VA, MD, VA, NC, SC, GA, FL, AL, MS, LA, TX, NM, AZ, NM, TX, OK, AR, TN, KY, WV, OH, IN, IL, IA, SD, NE, IA, MO, KS, NM, AZ, NV, UT, ID, OR, and then back to Washington. We had camped in the missing three states, CA, WY, and CO before being full-timers. We were nuts and knew it. But now we could relax a bit since we had the 48 states covered.
Year 2 was much more leisurely, we only drove the motorhome 9,906 miles. In order, we camped in WA, ID, WA, OR, CA, NV, UT, CO, NM, AZ, NV, CA, AZ, CA, OR, and back to WA or only 9 states. We only had the state of WY left that we had not camped in as full-timers.
Year 3 we went to Alaska so we put 15,198 miles on the motorhome. We also added Canadian provinces and Alaska to our map. In order, we camped in WA, BC, AB, SK, MB, ON, MI, IN, KY, TN, AL, FL, AL, MS, TX, NM, AZ, CA, OR, WA, ID, BC, AB, BC, YT, and finally AK for 21 states and provinces.
Year 4 we started in Alaska and we put 14,682 miles on the motorhome coming back to the lower 48 states with a side trip to Indiana and Michigan. In order, we camped in AK, YT, AK, BC, WA, ID, MT, WY, SD, IA, IL, IN, MI, IN, IL, AR, TX, NM, AZ, NV, CA, NV, CA, AZ, CA, OR, WA, and then ID again. 19 states and provinces, similar numbers to Year 3. Since we camped in WY this year we have now camped in 49 states and 6 Canadian provinces as full-timers. Unless we fly to Hawaii and rent an RV someday we will probably only camp in 49 of the 50 states. We have visited Hawaii, but not by RV. Canada still has provinces we want to visit and some day we might camp in Mexico.
Year 5 found us not slowing down much since we drove the motorhome 14,022 miles. In order, we camped in ID, WA, OR, WA, OR, ID, UT, WY, NE, MO, IL, KY, WV, PA, VA, MD, DE, VA, NC, GA, FL, SC, NC, AL, LA, TX, NM, CO, UT, ID, OR, WA, ID, MT, WY and we ended in MT. Lots of miles and 24 states.
Year 6 found us really slowed down since we drove the motorhome only 8,015 miles. In order we camped in MT, ID, WA, OR, CA, NV, UT, NV, AZ, CA, AZ, CA, OR, and ended back in WA for only 9 states.
Year 7 showed we might have rested the year before but we were again ready to drive since we put 13,091 miles on the motorhome. In order we camped in WA, MT, ND, MN, IA, IL, IN, WI, MN, WI, MI, OH, IN, OH, MD, VA, PA, VA, NC, SC, GA, FL, AL, LA, TX, NM, UT, ID, OR, and then back to WA. 24 states and many miles again.
Year 8 we only drove 9,852 miles on the motorhome so maybe we are finally slowing down a bit.. In order we camped in WA, MT, ND, MN, WI, IL, IN, MI, IN, MO, OK, TX, NM, AZ, NV, CA, OR, WA, OR, and ended in WA again for a total of 16 states.
States we have camped 100 or more nights - AZ, CA, FL, OR, WA
States we have camped 50 to 99 nights - AK, IN, NM, TX
States we have camped 25 to 49 nights - ID, MI, MN, MT, NV, UT
States/provinces we have camped 10 to 24 nights - AL, CO, GA, MO, ND, OH, SC, TN, VA, WI, WY, BC, ON, YT
States/provinces we have camped 1 to 9 nights (we need to spend more time in these) - AR, CT, DE, IL, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MS, NE, NH, NJ, NY, NC, OK, PA, RI, SD, VT, WV, AB, MB, SK
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