What a Year It Has Been! Our Favorite Spots, Yearly Summary, and Future Plans...
Wow! 8800 miles in 26 states driven in our new-to-us motorhome, Pearl, and it all began with a flight back to the US from Mexico, where we'd been living in Playa del Carmen for most of the previous year.
The map above shows our 2016 travels in purple. We made it as far north as Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana; as far west as eastern Idaho and Utah, and to quite a few spots in the midwest and southeast. There are obviously many places we didn't get to, but for one year, we traveled far and wide!
Our Top 10 Campgrounds of the Year.
During our first year on the road, we've been to lot of camp spots of all styles, from one night to a month at a time, from county and city parks to commercial parks to national parks. We've enjoyed the luxury of full-hookups at times, and other times we've boondocked with no hookups at all, and everything in between.
We've been in sites with no internet/cell/TV signals at all to the occasional "luxury site" with cable TV and plenty of bars on our Mifi (internet) jetpack. We've stayed in quiet, dark spots where sleeping came easy and bright, noisy parks where we had to use ear plugs and put black plastic over our windows to keep the intrusive sound and light out.
In the order in which we stayed in them, here are our favorite spots where we camped this year. You can click on each one for our blog post telling more about them. These all happen to be public parks; although we've stayed in some nice commercial parks, none of them quite cracked our top 10.
It's been kind of amazing. We started the year as novice RVers and now, after living full-time in Pearl for nearly a full year, we still have much to learn, but we have come a long, long way. We've had to make our share of small repairs, buy new house and starting batteries, and install a new water heater, but have not had an accident or a breakdown along the road...knock wood!
We've driven back roads through many charming small towns, been awed by the beauty of our country in national public lands, and have explored some interesting cities. We took some incredibly beautiful hikes in numerous states, but as you know, our number one passion is bicycling, and over the course of the past year we've been privileged to ride in some super special spots.
Our Top 10 Places to Bicycle of the Year.
In the order visited and ridden, these are the cycling spots that were highlights for us over the past year. Click on each for a blog post, if you want the deets!.
So What Is Next?
After racing around all over the US this year, we're really enjoying staying put for awhile -- especially since we're in Florida, one of the only spots we'd even consider spending the winter months since we are not fans of cold weather. We're getting some improvements and much-needed maintenance projects done on Pearl and need to take her in to the dealer where we purchased her last January for some service also.
After this? We haven't decided what 2017 will bring but are mulling over a few ideas. In the meantime we are planning to do several posts sharing some of our experiences in Mexico, since we'd taken a blogging break in the latter part of 2015. We'll bring those to you this winter.
To those who are still with us, thanks for following along on our travels. We hope that our posts have been interesting and perhaps even inspiring.
Best wishes to all our readers for a happy and healthy New Year!
We've been busy doing projects this season as we are staying put for awhile in Florida. We still have a long to-do list, but some really nice improvements are happening. Here's another one Barry recently completed.
Sometime prior to selling Pearl, our 2007 Newmar Bay Star, the previous owners had removed the gas stove and cooktop and replaced it with a brand-new electric True Induction cooktop. We liked the cooktop, but it left us without an oven, just a large storage "hole" where the oven used to be.
This photo from the dealer shows the "hole" under the cooktop. They had put a black Newmar portfolio with all Pearl's manuals inside it.
Since Pearl's microwave doesn't have an convection function, one of our first RV purchases last winter was a large "toaster" oven that does a lot more than toast: it bakes, broils, and convects. We love it. It's large enough that we can roast veggies or a turkey breast, do some baking, or heat a casserole.
But its size was also a problem as it wouldn't go into the hole front-out. It had to be stored facing sideways and pulled out every time we wished to use it. We could either put it on top of the cooktop or onto our aluminum folding table. Functional but hardly convenient.
Another inconvenience in our cooking setup was that to use the induction cooktop, we had to run the power cord from underneath it up to an outlet above the countertop.
So, after living with these inconveniences for months, we knew we needed some changes!
First, Barry wired up a new outlet so the induction cooktop could stay plugged in underneath all the time. He also installed a switch that activates the outlet. The red light by the switch illuminates when it is "hot"; a good reminder to turn it off when we're through cooking. We can plug the oven into the new outlet as well.
His next step was installing a pull-out shelf for the oven. Here's how it looks fully retracted..
When we want to use the oven, we simply pull out the shelf. This would not be safe with young children around, as the oven walls get hot when it is in use, but for us, it's just fine.
We tried it out to bake the holiday pumpkin pie, and I'm pleased to report it was a complete success!
The pull-out slides Barry bought are very robust and won't let it the shelf come flying out when we are underway. They have good holding power when the shelf is pushed in.
A few finishing touches remain; I hope to find a matching drawer pull to make it even simpler to pull out one-handed. I also plan to polyurethane the drawer surface and touch up the stain and poly on the outer drawer face. But the functionality is there, and it's so nice not to have to pick up and carry the large oven over to another spot to use it.
Stay tuned as we have more improvements to come!
It's that time again! We can hardly believe it's Christmastime already, especially since we're in central Florida, where the balmy temperatures lull us into thinking it's still summer.
This entire year has been kind of seasonally upside-down for us, as we began the New Year in tropical Playa del Carmen, Mexico, then flew into Florida, where we bought Pearl and spent the rest of the winter. Summer brought us snow in Yellowstone National Park in August and several other spots with below-freezing temperatures and frost at high elevation. And now we're back enjoying a winter holiday season with temperatures in the 80s. No wonder we're confused!
We never got around to taking a Christmas photo this year, so I'll close with this one from 2013 at Ocean Isle Beach, one of my favorites. Sure, all of us are a few years older and have a few more gray hairs, but who's countin'?
Our sincere wish to our friends, families, and other readers is for a very Merry Christmas and happy holiday season!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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