Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year to all our RVing friends and to our family who follow our travels and travails!

Mary and I are both hoping that 2012 will bring us as good and enjoyable a year as 2011 did. We had a wonderful long summer of travel, camping, sightseeing, and kayaking. We saw old friends and made some new ones and both old and new friends brought us a great deal of enjoyment.

In our summer of travel we first went to two different places in Iowa, one where we lived for seven years in the early days of my United Methodist ministry (after some 15 years of Baptist ministry). That was at the Churdan and Lanesboro United Methodist Charge and we lived in Churdan. We were able to worship with the Churdan church and visit some dear friends from our time there. We also visited some friends from our days in Perry, IA, who have since moved to Reinbeck. It was great to see all these people who have been part of our life for many years.

Our FIRST RV, 2006 Fleetwood Fiesta 26Q
After Iowa, we traveled through Missouri, stopping for a night in Peculiar, and then headed on into Oklahoma. We camped at a nice COE campground in eastern OK and then headed to Shawnee for the Fleetwood Motorhome Association Rally. Now that was an eventful week! We met some friends from the previous year's rally and made some new friends. We learned new things in educational seminars (on different aspects of RV living). We bought some handy things and we looked at LOTS of new motorhomes. Before the week was over (actually as the week was coming to an end), to our great surprise, we bought a NEW 2012 Fleetwood Terra 34E Class A Motorhome!

The NEW RV, 2012 Fleetwood Terra 34E
It actually wasn't easy to say goodbye to our 2006 Fiesta 26Q, our very first motorhome. It was a great choice as a first RV and will always hold a special place in our memories. However, the Terra 34E is proving to be a great home on wheels. In making this move, we went from 27' with no slides to 34' with two slides. That was a lot of increase in square footage.

After Shawnee, we drove across OK to the panhandle of Texas after a short stop in Oklahoma City to get some warranty work done on our NEW motorhome. That would be our first of multiple stops for warranty work we would have to get done. One of the things we learned in this experience is that RV manufacturers seem to rely on dealer service departments to finish the last 5-10% of the manufacturing and quality checking process. We have repeatedly been assured that this is not uncommon at all.

In TX we visited the Palo Duro Canyon State Park, just south of Amarillo. From there we headed into New Mexico. Fourth of July was at Brantley Lake State Park in southeastern NM where we also visited Carlsbad Caverns. We drove from there to Las Cruces where we played tourist while some more warranty work was done on the coach. We got to see White Sands Missile Range Museum and the White Sands National Monument while we were there.

From Las Cruces, we drove to Albuquerque where we spent several days seeing the sights and visiting a dear friend from my days as Housing Mediator for Small Claims Court in Dane County, WI. Next, we drove north to Santa Fe where we camped for a week and traveled around in the "toad," our Honda Fit Sport. We also went to Taos while we were camped in Santa Fe.

After three weeks in NM, we headed north to Colorado where we stopped in Salida for several days along the Arkansas River. There we were able to get in some hiking and enjoyed watching the white water and stunt kayakers playing in the river. We also got to ride the Royal Gorge Railroad route up into the Royal Gorge on the old route of the Denver and Rio Grande Western RR. In the course of taking that trip, we decided that one of our RV goals would be to ride every operating tourist railroad in the US (there are MANY of them!).

We headed home after Colorado enjoying the leisurely travel that an RV affords. We camped in Nebraska and Iowa on the way home. After a short while at home in Beloit, WI, we headed out on phase 2 of our summer, heading first into NW WI. We rode another tourist RR and kayaked with some friends from our days in Baraboo, WI. Then we went over to Eagle River and kayaked several of the lakes over there. Another of our goals is to kayak in every one of the chain of lakes around Eagle River and Three Lakes. There are something like 27 lakes in the chain that are joined together.

After a few days camped near Green Bay so we could visit Mary's sister, Kitty, we finally headed for home in Beloit just before it was time for Mary to return to her teaching and librarian duties in Madison. All told we were on the road nine of the twelve weeks that were available for travel in the summer of 2011.

Over the next few months, I'll be working at planning the trip that begins in the summer of 2012. It is my hope and intention to write about that planning so others can follow the development of the trip and maybe even make some suggestions about places to go and see during that trip. The 2012 trip is going to head toward the Northeastern United States. We'll hit the Fleetwood Motorhome Association Rally at the end of June in Indiana. From there we'll head further east. We will definitely make stops in the Adirondack Mountains in or near Saranac Lake where we lived for five years when we were first married. We'll try to connect with some friends remaining in the area from those days. We'll also plan to visit Barb and Mike Hemken in Glens Falls, NY (another of Mary's sisters) plus visiting some other friends in NY. From there, we don't know where we'll go or how long we'll be gone. We will come back to WI at some point to do some more kayaking in the lakes of the chain around Three Lakes. As we encounter tourist RRs we'll also take some trips to continue to reach that goal. So if you've got some "must see" places in the NE states, I invite you to make your recommendations and suggestions of places worth a visit.

Happy NEW YEAR to all of you. I look forward to traveling with you or having you travel with us through what I'm able to write about our rambling and rving in retirement. The big question of the year is whether or not Mary will join me in retirement and what we'll do after that if she does. Full-timing is definitely a consideration.