We have been back at the stick built for a few weeks, busy catching up on family, mail, cleaning both the stick and Tana, and mowing, mowing and more mowing. We have dead car batteries, dead limbs to cut up that need to be drug into the woods. Both mowers have issues like bad switches, need oil changes and the Gravely gave us a cheap thrill when it would not re-start and we feared the motor blew up. So happy to report that did not happen, and after several phone calls to our local mower fixer up dude and friend, Ron, the Gravely is now back in the pole barn, and it runs! I am faced with weeds everywhere, just like this (hey a partial selfie, see, there I am in the very bottom of the photo, well, my fingers anyway):
THE Trip, THE Encore' was 9.5 months in duration I decided we took "long timing" to the extreme, and so I now deem us as "extreme long timers".
We drove/drug Tana about 8,400 miles, a big circle, more or less, with a few zig zags tossed in for interest. We drove another 9,000 miles living, running errands and site seeing.
We drove through nineteen states and spent at least one night in sixteen of those.
We drove through, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and back to Michigan.
We did not stay over night in Indiana, Kentucky, or Alabama.
We visited a bunch of national parks and a few state parks along the way. Big Bend National Park in Texas. Death Valley in California. Yosemite National Park in California. Glacier National Park in Montana. Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. Fort Davis National Historic Site in Texas. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Las Vegas AND Red Rock Canyon State Park in California. Mount Rainier and Mt. St. Helen in Washington. One of my favorite photos, taken at Yosemite:
We drove mountain roads, hanging on cliffs, well it felt that way in the passenger seat! We drove on a beach on the Pacific Ocean. We drove large portions of the Pacific Highway in California and Oregon. We saw so many beautiful waterfalls, all taking away my breath.
We left with 2 senior yorkies and happily returned with 2 senior yorkies. Considering their medical conditions we feel very blessed.
I did NOT count the numbers of photos I took. I bought a new camera along the way, Sony Too. I have 5 batteries and carry them all with me, there are days I need to charge 2 or 3 at the end of the day.
Data management is quite time consuming. It involves daily backups and twice a month full data backups to external hard drives, I have three. I also have taken photos with the iPhone, iPad and my little Panasonic camera. Sony Too is still my camera of choice, quality and focus are better, in my eyes, anyway.
We had wonderful weather, for the most part. We had 97 degree temps in Glacier National Park, 5 degrees warmer than we had in Death Valley. We had a few nights below freezing, experienced deluge rains in Quartzsite, rain in the desert is a force to be reckoned with, and note we were not there during monsoon season.
We (make that Man) did repairs along the way, had that flat on Tana that caused some damage to her belly, we lost some parts. The parts have been replaced and Man "wacked" the damaged areas a bit and on we went. While the tires were being replaced and moved around, Man was able to get a repair done down under Tana, hidden between the tires that he just could not reach with the tires on. The landing leg breakdown was more serious, grounded us for a week in Seaside Oregon, and that FAIL will never be forgotten by the fur kids nor yours truly, as we were inside during the FAIL. Noise was startling, and the motion of the fall, un-nerving. The FAIL caused us to change our intended route, said change was meant to be, Portland and the Columbia River and the falls were gorgeous. That FAIL also lead us to stay near Mount Rainier for the 4th of July holiday, talk about taking a FAIL and coming out with a WIN!!
He fixed the Splendide (washer/dryer) exhaust vent. We had refrigerator issues the entire trip, luckily we only lost a bit of food and he was able to get it to run on propane while we were boondocking in Quartzsite for two weeks. Man tweaked and tightened and fussed with minor repairs all throughout the trip, like tightening light fixtures so they would not fall down while underway. Every day tweaking when you live and roll your house down roads that treat your house poorly, earthquake living on wheels.
There were a number of U-Turns, the most famous, or maybe infamous, was on the way to Quartzsite when we unexpectedly met up with MOC friends Ron & Mary and Coleen & Ray. Soon we were caravaning, and having lunch, and well we did the 4 RV unit U-Turn. They are still teasing, err, talking about it.
There were rants along the way. If you are a Facebook friend, you will remember the Discover card rant. It was long and ugly. Once ALL the issues were handled we never had another problem with Discover the entire trip.
And of course the blown tire created the Good Sam rant. Thanks to the smart phone recording recent calls I was able to prove that they have employees/contractors in states such as Tennessee. They also heard, with much angst, loudly, that a 3 to 4 hour delay for a tow truck in a major metropolitan area is not acceptable. The stories told to us by fellow RVing friends were discerning and yes Good Sam heard that as well.
I had the opportunity to have meetups with several virtual blogging friends. We had meetups and camped with many of our RVing MOC family. These meetups and time spent with virtual/real friends are special beyond words. We are always deeply touched when friends take the time out of their lives to meet us, usually with very short notice. Special moments, dear to our hearts, long remembered.
The posting of THE Trip, THE Encore' trip logs/photos and stories will continue for some months to come. The actual trip has come to the finish line, the virtual trip will carry on and on, and - - - -
* Some have asked, where are you off to next and when. Well, hopefully around November 1, 2013. Where - - have NO clue!