Our Trip is Over :-(

Was our trip great – absolutely it was phenomenal! Mike and I had a really, really super time and neither of us was ready to come back to the real world. We have been back just a few days and life is already hectic. What happened to getting up in the morning and not even knowing if you were going to stay put or go somewhere, as yet undecided, during the course of the day. What a fabulous feeling that was.

I am writing this note while on a business trip in New York. I have a coat with me that is far too warm for the weather. It just served to remind me again how nice it was to carry our “house and wardrobe” with us on our trip. You could, and I did occasionally, change multiple times in a day if the activities or weather warranted it. We tell people that we didn’t miss our home and belongings because we had them with us. Our family was on the end of the phone and some came to visit us during our trip.

I thought that I would make this note a summary of many things including the highlights and lowlights (if I can think of any) of our trip.

Most amazing:
Believe it or not the answer to this might just have to be the weather. It was really unbelievable that we could spend 92 days in such gorgeous weather. When we were in the Jasper area we had some drizzle and low clouds which was disappointing because we were in the mountains. Other than that our luck was just superb. It sometimes rained at night time and very occasionally when we were driving. We once got drizzled on running into a restaurant at lunch time. Although the temperature varied quite a bit that was never a problem. We had multiple sets of clothes with us and could adapt easily. We both like travelling in the cooler fall weather. In Utah it was quite hot but it didn’t bother us like it does at home. We did have to drink a lot of water. I am guessing that we didn’t feel the heat as much because of the dryness at the altitudes we were staying at.

The other response to “Most Amazing” was that Mike and I quite successfully lived in a relatively small space, didn’t go berserk and didn’t kill each other.

In reality we both liked the national parks in Utah the best. We have been to Banff and Jasper before and know how gorgeous they are and the weather wasn’t as good there on this trip. The Moab area and west towards Bryce and Zion Canyon were new to us and absolutely the highlights of the trip. Our specific favourites would be Arches and Dead Man’s Point near Moab and Bryce Canyon which is small but wonderful.

Slightly lower down on my list but still pretty amazing were the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico.

Most disappointing:
I missed my king size electric bed – does that count? Actually I was most disappointed in T-Mobile and our access to the internet throughout the United States. We spent $170 to have unlimited data access from T-Mobile while we were travelling in the US. Unless we were in a major city our chance of having data access was slim. In the major cities we often had internet access at the campgrounds, that wasn’t when we needed T-Mobile for. Mike built me a desk to use while he was driving. The problem was that most of what I wanted to do required the internet. Some of the other telephone vendors probably had better US coverage but they didn’t offer large data plans for a phone or my “phablet” which really means “big phone almost a tablet”. We had hoped to watch the Canadian news at night on my device and that didn’t work very often at all even though T-Mobile had told me it would when they sold me the package. It was very surprising how much of the US has really poor coverage if you are mobile and travelling around.

I was sorry to have stayed in Albuquerque during their big Balloon Fiesta and not see a single balloon. Since we didn’t know the Fiesta was even happening until we arrived there I can’t say that it was a real disappointment.

Biggest Surprise:
Our biggest pleasant surprise would have to be our bicycle riding. We bought our bikes about three years ago and have almost never touched them. By the end of the trip we were often stopping in the middle of the day when we saw some nice flat bike paths, either in town or in state parks, and taking the bikes off the motorhome for a short ride. Our riding stops really increased in the last three weeks of the trip. Previously we would have commented on the “nice bike path” and driven on by. I wish we had put a little more thought or effort into it sooner. Hopefully we will keep it up somewhat now that we are home. On my first bike ride after we got home I took my cell phone with me only to lose it while riding. I found it later in the day. A car had driven over it! Kudos to Samsung since it still works. I can’t use it because the screen is badly broken and three days later I still have a small sliver of glass in my finger from swiping it. I have currently put it in a plastic bag and it seems to work. It turns out that it is more money to fix the screen than to replace it if I am willing to buy into a two or three year contract.

Another surprise, not quite as nice as our biking expeditions, was my not starting on various tasks that I was hoping to do in the three months away. Some of this was due to the lack of internet but much of it was to do with the lack of free time and energy. I had planned on taking things very slow and easy. Mike still felt like there was a lot he wanted to see and he knew the clock was counting down. The three things that I had hoped to get into in all our “free” time were: some Family History research, taking an online French course and watching and investing in the stock market. None of it happened in 92 days.

Best Prep Work:
Most people would say that the planning they did ahead of time was really great and helped a lot. We can’t say that because we basically didn’t do any. We even changed our route an hour or two after we left home on day one. I really mean it when I say that nothing was firmly planned. What I did ahead of time that worked really well was that I recorded a lot of movies and full TV series largely from Netflix. Due to the lack of internet these came in really handy in the evenings. We actually put a little bit of thought into the technology we wanted to use on board. Some of our electronics were new and unusual and worked quite well. I will have more details in a later entry.

Canada’s Neighbour to the South:
As always we have found Americans to be very friendly. Overall the retail workers in the US seem to be more helpful and willing to assist than the retail workers in Canada. What was disappointing was the number of Americans that we talked with that had never heard of Toronto. I don’t tell Americans that Mike and I are from Mississauga because I don’t expect them to have heard of it. Mississauga’s population is only about ¾ million people. I did expect them to have heard about Toronto given that Canada shares a fairly large border with the US and it is Canada’s most populous city. I checked on Wikipedia and there are only two cities in the US with a larger population than Toronto: New York and Los Angeles. The City of Toronto is bigger than Chicago and Atlanta and Dallas and all these well-known places. It also has a larger population than Detroit, Seattle, Denver and Washington combined.

Cost Summary:
If we just consider the cost of the campsites and the fuel we travelled about 20,000 km in the car and motorhome together and they cost us about $9,000 Cdn. For my American friends this is approximately 12,000 miles and $8,000 USD. You can compare this to airfare, car rental and hotel on a normal vacation except that we spent 92 days on our holiday. Food doesn’t count because it was probably cheaper since we barbequed more often, at least at the beginning, instead of always eating in restaurants like we do at home. The big ticket item that is missing from this equation is, of course, the cost of the RV. I honestly believe that if we wanted to sell it right now we would lose very little on it. This means that in addition to having a great 92 days we actually spent less money than I had expected.

Future
We could wrap up our thoughts about the trip in one statement: “Outstanding, when can we do it again?” At some point in the future Mike and I will retire and taking our motorhome / mobile office to Europe for a year or two is definitely on our agenda.

Hopefully over time I will add a few more notes on the technologies we used on board that helped make life simple and additional information about purchasing vehicles in the US and the mods Mike made to this motorhome. In terms of the basic coverage of our trip this blog has replaced the letters we normally send home to our family and friends and I hope you received some enjoyment reading about the different places we visited. Thanks for your interest so far.

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