In an effort to catch up and summarize my travels to-date, here is a rather long entry with a few photos of some of the places I’ve been and perhaps an observation or two as well.
My travel to date consists of several “phases”:
- Move out of my apartment in Arlington, VA and into the RV…and get used to the whole living-in-an-RV lifestyle.
- Travel to Florida to finish registering my vehicles and generally make sure everything was set to continue my residency in Florida.
- Get up to Montana for my cousin’s wedding.
- Get back to Florida to finish up with several medical appointments.
- Get down to Key West for Fantasy Fest 2015.
Moving out of my apartment and getting rid of most of my furniture was really no big deal. In my 26 years in the military, I’ve never gathered much in the way of furniture or other objects. Perhaps when I’m older I will wish I had items around me to remind me of my travels but the feeling I get today of living fairly “minimally” brings me a lot more happiness. Basically, it all went to Goodwill…furniture, clothes and some household items. A few items went into boxes destined for mom’s attic and the rest went with me into the RV, mostly clothes and dishes.
I jumped into this new life of mine feet-first. While I had purchased the RV about 6 months before moving into it, I had not spent one night in it until I left my apartment on May 11, 2015. I had always intended to at least get a few weekends of camping in it to familiarize myself with it but my last job in the Navy kept me pretty darn busy right up until the end…plus that period was mostly over the Winter.
My first few nights were spent at a the KOA campground in Annapolis, MD…here is a picture of that first night.
This was a night of firsts….first time hooking the RV up to park services, first time using all of the systems…first night sleeping in my new home. It was great and I woke up knowing that I had chosen the right path.
That is not to say there haven’t been the few things learned the hard way. Perhaps the most important was discovering what happens when one starts an RV and puts it into gear while it is still up on its hydraulic level stands. It turns out that RVs really hate this but luckily Fleetwood anticipated just such boneheaded activity by new owners by putting in an emergency jack stand retract function into the system. I got lots of angry beeping and blinking lights from my new home but the system preformed flawlessly and I did no damage. Most of my other mis-adventures centered around hooking up the Jeep for towing. Turns out that leaving the parking brake on and leaving it in gear have completely different effects on the RV….but I know both of the well now! Let’s not even get into discovering one time (after a couple hundred miles of towing) that I left a cotter pin out of one of the attachment points…. I’ve learned a LOT over the past several months!
So, after spending time in various parks all over Virgina, including Crozet/Charlottesville, Richmond, Williamsburg, Virginia Beach and Cape Charles learning all sorts of new things daily about my new RV, I then headed down to Pensacola, Florida, stopping a few days near Atlanta to visit my Dad. I spent a few weeks here and in nearby New Orleans visiting friends and getting all of the administrative work done to register the RV and Jeep. Say what you want about DMVs but I have no complaints how they do things in Escambia County. Things got a little complicated with the RV but the two ladies that helped through that process were awesome!
After Florida and New Orleans, it was off to Dallas, TX to visit with some friends form my days in Japan and then off Montana! It was a long drive but I’m so glad that I did it. Putting all of those miles on the RV over a lot of different terrain really gave me the confidence that I can drive it just about anywhere! Here are some pictures from along the way.
One of the things I’ve really enjoyed is staying in some very small towns along the way…such as Goodland, KS:
Or Greybull, WY:
Its a different pace to life in these small towns and I can’t wait to visit more all over the USA….and Canada.
My trip to Montana was to attend my cousin’s wedding in Big Sky. Since I was not ready to try any “boondocking”, that is camping without any hookups, I stayed in nearby Bozeman, MT. Bozeman if a fantastic place…at least in the Summer. I’m sure it is great in the Winter too but I’m not brave enough to try staying there in an RV anywhere it gets below freezing on a regular basis. At least not yet! I did get to see some bears in Big Sky as well as take care of a few chores:
And of course I spent some time in Yellowstone National Park:
One thing is for certain…I did not get to spend enough time in Montana/Wyoming. The Veterans Administration (VA) had different plans for me. While I was in Bozeman, I got a call from the VA letting me know that they were ready to schedule my retirement medical appointments right then! Unfortunately all of these appoints had to be done near my retirement address…in Florida…thousands of miles away. No, they could not do them in Montana. I had to go back 😦
After Yellowstone, I did get to spend a few days in Greybull, WY where I got a chance to put the Jeep through its paces off-road in the McCullough Peaks Heard Management Area. This is an large tract of land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) where they preserve a fairly large heard of wild horses. It was a fun day roaming around in the back-country but it did convince me to add one modification to the Jeep…a winch…later on back in Pensacola.
So I was off on a mad dash back across the country to Pensacola, FL to take care of that little bit if business. Luckily I was able to stay at a pretty nice park right on Pensacola Beach:
After I was done with my VA medical appointments, it was time to head down to Key West, FL for Fantasy Fest 2015 held over Halloween weekend. It was a great time. I picked up some friends that flew into Ft. Lauderdale, FL and the next day we drove down to the Keys. We camped on an open field on the Naval Air Station within walking distance to all of the fun and games on Duvall Street.
There were no hook-ups at this RV park so this was my first time boondocking. We could run the generator during the day but had to shut it off at 10pm each day. Of course it was hot and muggy! Still, the RV did well and everyone was pretty comfortable. I don’t have any other pictures of Fantasy Fest…probably a good thing!
What’s Next: I’m now back in New Orleans and will probably spend a good part of the Winter here. I’m planning on taking a quick trip up to Virginia to help my mom move into her new house sometime during the holidays. After that it is off to California! I’m also looking into a volunteer opportunity at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area starting next Spring.
In the meantime I’m going to try and pay a lot more attention to this blog! I’ve also discovered that I need to do a better job of getting the camera out and documenting my travels. Hopefully I’ll get to this at least once a week. At least that is the plan!