It’s that time of year again. The start of a new year and time to look back on where we’ve been over the past 12 months. In general this was a slow travel year for us. While we did tow a total of 6,830 miles, the majority of those miles were made during the final three months of the year as we transitioned from west to east. Throughout the rest of year we slowly meandered around a small number of states taking our time to explore, hike, and eat our way through Arizona, Colorado & New Mexico.
A few statistics for 2014…
Number of States: 8
Number of overnight stops: 63
Where we stayed: 20 State Parks, 12 Boodocking locations (5 BLM sites, 7 National Forest sites), 9 Private Campgrounds, 9 Parking Lots (5 Walmarts, 2 Casinos, 2 street camping), 7 National Forest Campgrounds, 5 County Parks, 3 National Park Campgrounds, 2 Private Homes, 1 National Forest Campground, 1 BLM Campground, 1 Army Corps of Engineers CG
Free vs. Paid: 23 free locations and 40 paid. Not bad considering we spent the last 3 months of the year in states that offered very little in the way of free camping options
Monthly Average: $436.39
Nightly Average: $14.35
As expected we spent almost $1,000 more than in 2012, and our daily average rose by nearly $2/night. But we’re still happy with those numbers considering that before we started full-timing we budgeted for an average daily camping fee of $25/night and we have yet to come even close to that number.
Sunshine & Cactus in the Southwest
We spent the first two months of the year soaking up the sun in the southwest. Starting with a few weeks of desert dwelling & fabulous boondocking near Borrego Springs, CA. From there it was onto Quartzsite, AZ for our first experience at the giant RV show. Next up was three weeks in Phoenix where we enjoyed the awesome biking trails at Usery & McDowell Regional Parks, and then south for a repeat visit to one of our favorite parks, Gilbert Ray on the west side of Tucson. Our Arizona tour finished up with a week of secluded boondocking at the Las Cienegas National Grasslands, a week in the funky town of Bisbee, and one last Arizona Boondock near the eastern edge of the state in a peaceful and remote location called Indian Bread Rocks.
New Mexico had long been on our list of states to visit, and we did it right by spending three months slowly making our way around the state, taking advantage of the large number of state parks. We started in the southwest corner of the state at City of Rocks State Park and ended at the very northern edge at Heron Lake State Park. In between we made stops at Caballo Lake SP, Elephant Butte SP, Oliver Lee SP, Bottomless Lakes SP, and several others. We also made time for two visits to White Sands National Monument, some boondocking among the pines in Cloudcroft, a trip down below at Carlsbad Caverns, a stroll through the amazing rock formations at Tent Rocks, a few hikes in Bandelier National Monument, and some time in the historic cities of Albuquerque, Santa Fe, & Taos.
Rocky Mountains & Wildflowers in Colorado
After falling in love with Colorado during our short trip through in 2012, we decided to return the following year for an extended amount of time. Over the course of three months we explored from north to south and west to east, hitting up nearly every corner of the state except for the very eastern edge (too hot & flat for us). Along the way we discovered some fabulous boondocking spots in the national forests near Durango, Crested Butte, Leadville, & Steamboat Springs. We tackled a few high elevation hikes in Telluride and the San Juan Mountains north of Durango, basked in the beauty of the mountain wildflowers, explored mining towns both current and long abandoned, saw our first concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater, marveled at the rock formations at the Colorado National Monument, and spent a week playing in the sand at the Great Sand Dunes National Monument.
Heading East in Texas & Louisiana
With our intention to winter in Florida in mind, as the months rolled by and fall set in we knew it was time to start heading east. But first we made a stop in Albuquerque for the International Balloon Fiesta where we joined 200 other Airstreams in a prime parking location right next to the launch field. It was four days of social gatherings and balloon watching. From Albuquerque a series of long drives took us into Texas where we went straight to Austin for two weeks of eating our way around the city. Our only other stop in Texas was the Houston Airport where we left the Airstream and flew east to visit family. Upon our return we continued east into Louisiana for a week at the lovely Palmetto Island State Park where we made friends with the Armadillos, canoed through the swamps, and toured the Tabasco Factory. Finally it was onto Bayou Sengette State Park near New Orleans where the dreary weather didn’t stop us from getting into the city for a day of sightseeing.
The Emerald Coast
We spent a month exploring the beaches and state parks along the gulf coast. Starting in Gulf Shores, Alabama where we got our first taste of the white sand beaches and emerald green waters that give this area its name. On into Florida we stayed at Grayton Beach State Park, St. Andrews State Park, and St. George Island State Park. In addition to the lovely beaches we enjoyed a Thanksgiving visit with family, several gathering with other RVers, a day trip to St. Joseph Peninsula, and an unexpected stop in the lovely town of Apalachicola.
Central Florida & Down to the Keys
The final weeks of the year were spent in central Florida at Highlands Hammock State Park. This historic park offered us a glimpse into old Florida. We marveled at the dense jungle-like environment, walked the boardwalks through the cypress swamp, and even took an airboat ride in search of alligators. After a short stay at Grandma’s house for Christmas we headed south to Keys where we have settled in for an extended stay in the tropics.
Finally, we have to give a big shout out to all of you who are following along on this amazing journey. This was an incredibly social year for us and the number of fellow RVers, or soon to be RVers, who we have met in person or online continues to astound us. We truly appreciate all your comments, emails, advice on where to go, where to eat, and where hike/bike/walk. Thanks to everyone who has reached out to us in 2014 and we can’t wait to connect with more of you in the New Year!