Best Grandparent advice: It is easier for the girl to run with her skirt up, than you with your pants down.
While the grandparents and the kids have each other wrapped around their fingers, Scott and I are steeling a few moments to take a breath, take stock and just be grateful.For me, that meant retracing our steps, working out what we’ve learned and finishing the expense sheet so we can make some educated guesses about the future.
Spoiler: there’s nothing new here. We fit a lot of living into 3 months. Since they go hand in hand, here our expense summary for the same 3 months. That way you can have some context to go along with numbers…. it becomes obvious why the numbers are high when they’re high and why they’re low when they’re low.
We started the month in Kentucky where we visited Mammoth Cave National Park and waited out the Labor Day weekend crush. From there we beat feet to St. Louis for a trip up the arch and an overnight in… where else?!… a casino parking lot.
We headed north through some rather unremarkable territory to the Winnebago Factory in Iowa and dipped into Minnesota where we had our first below 30 degrees F night (discovered we have a furnace! BONUS!!).
After taking in Mount Rushmore (surprisingly very cool) we made our way to the Black Hills of South Dakota and got ourselves positioned for a visit to one of the Big Bucket List items in early October.
We put some serious miles on the RV. We were driving more than we were staying put. It was busy and tiring but we made time (as much as we can) and we honestly thought we still had a chance to make the push to Vancouver. We were eating really well (which you can see in the numbers).
Finally we started flirting with dry camping and, it’s important to note, when we were in campgrounds it was my favorite time of year: “Off Season”.
Yellowstone. Need I say more?! It was everything it’s cracked up to be. Since everyone wants to go, they can charge accordingly (and they do – even in the wonderful ‘Off Season’). We had an encounter with a wild momma grizzly and her cub. (They could have charged us anything and I would have said yes.)
We had planned to continue our northwestward trajectory but Utah got in the way. Utah, you enchantress you.
After a few days in Salt Lake City, we couldn’t say no to the Grand Staircase: Arches National Park, Canyonlands (skipped it), Capitol Reef National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and… last but certainly never least…. Zion National Park. I would also highlight Moab as a destination in and of itself as well as Goblin State Park.
Horribly inefficient with our route planning though we were, we headed back north through no-man’s-land Utah (aka The Weirdlands) to hit the Bonneville Salt Flats (under water) and Halloweened at Circus Circus in Reno, NV.
During this month we honed our new boondocking skills, hiked enough to warrant a new $350 backpack to carry Jack in and everyone threw up in the Chief at least once (except Evie).
We drove quite a bit but made an effort to slow down and enjoy more.
We braved the Donner Pass in early November (good recommendation, Eric) and arrived in San Fransisco earlier than planned.
We headed north to do some Northern California Redwood Forest exploring before Nate and Grammie Denise flew into town for a fabulous long weekend. In total we spent a week at Auntie Ang and Uncle Brock’s house before driving down Rt 1 to LA for a weekend with good friends in Manhattan Beach.
Due east from LaLaLand we spent a week boondocking outside Joshua Tree National Park. It was here we met a magical creature group… other full-time families. Hello, Friends. (Wicked Wanderers and Friends)
Lake Havasu was a sight for sore eyes by the time we crossed into Arizona. The desert really gets to this New England gal!
By November we were staying put more than we were driving (fast learners). When we flew home for the holidays in December we were decidedly well-rested and relaxed vice tired and road wary.
If we fit all this into September, October and November, we can’t wait to see what’s in store for January, February, March, April and May!
We need to be in Bangor, Maine by early June for Mariah’s high school graduation (yes…. it’s this year…. yes… that’s impossible…. agreed… she’s still 3 in my mind too.)
After that we’ll mosey down the east coast to Virginia because I have to be in WDC by 10 July. That’s D^2 day…. Decision Day. Will I quit or go back to work? Still undecided at this time……..