Looking Back At 2011

 Posted by at 1:01 am  Nick's Blog
Dec 312011

Well, another year bites the dust, and tomorrow we start a brand new year. I’m always excited when a new year rolls around, and we have a lot of things we want to do in the next twelve months, but for today, let’s take a few minutes and look back at 2011.

It was a busy year for us, and we managed to cross several things off our bucket list along the way. We are ending the year at the Escapees Sumter Oaks RV Park, near Bushnell, Florida, just 50 miles from where we started it, at the Orlando Thousand Trails Preserve. But between then and now, we covered 9,842 miles in our Winnebago motorhome.

In early January, we drove to Arizona, with stops along the way in Long Beach, Mississippi, and Livingston, Texas. Between visiting family in Apache Junction and Tucson, our rally in Yuma, some time spent in the Verde Valley, and a visit to our old hometown of Show Low, Arizona, we spent about three months in the Grand Canyon State.

From there, we made a spur of the moment decision to go to the Thousand Trails in Las Vegas with our pals Greg and Jan White, and then we paid a visit to the Escapees Park Sierra in Coarsegold, California. This was our first  visit to this friendly park, but it won’t be our last. I’m not a big fan of California, but we loved Park Sierra! It was a great base from which to visit Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks, and everybody there treated us like family.

Yosemite Falls 8

We spent several weeks traveling up the coast, through the California redwoods and then the wild and beautiful Oregon coast. If God has a special place where he goes on vacation, I bet it’s somewhere between Brookings and Lincoln City, Oregon! We “oohed” and “aahed” our way past mile after mile of dramatic scenery, stopping in friendly little towns to browse the shops, eat fresh seafood, explore the lighthouses, and drink in that crisp salt air.

Coastal view 5

Port Orford beach 4

Haceta Head lighthouse 3

We met up with Greg and Jan again, and spent some time at the Thousand Trails in Long Beach, Washington. From there, we made trips back across the intimidating Astoria-Megler bridge to the charming town of Astoria, Oregon. Many years ago, I had newspaper interests in this part of the country, so it was nice to go back and see how much it had changed, and how much had stayed the same.

Our next stop was Bremerton, Washington, the perfect base from which to explore the Olympic Peninsula, or to catch the ferry across Puget Sound to Seattle for a day of playing tourist.

Ferry and Space Needle

In all of our years on the road, we had never been to North Dakota, so we remedied that on our trip back east, even taking a side trip down the whimsical Enchanted Highway, where larger than life sculptures greeted us from alongside the road.

Tin Man

Visiting the Soo Locks was another thing to cross off our bucket list this past year, where we spent hours watching the big Great Lakes freighters passing through the locks. Though we only spent a few days in Sault St. Marie, Michigan, we know it’s a place we’ll return to again.

Saginaw coming in

We visited family in Traverse City and Muskegon, Michigan, then paused at Elkhart Campground in Elkhart, Indiana for a breather, before going to Celina, Ohio for our eastern rally. From Celina, we spent a wonderful week with George and Amy Smith and their family at Smith’s Campground & Cabins in Loudonville, Ohio. Did you ever pull into a place for the first time, and feel like you had come home? That’s the way we felt at Smith’s, and we’ll go back again to soak up the hospitality and float our kayaks down the Mohican River, which flows right past the campground.

On our trip south, we crossed a couple more things off the bucket list, including stopping at the Wheels Through Time motorcycle museum in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, and paying a visit to Savannah, Georgia, a city we both fell in love with immediately. It may have gotten crossed off the bucket list, but Savannah was immediately added to our “Must See Again” list!

In addition to all of our travels, we have had some wonderful times, made some wonderful friends, and said to goodbye to some folks we loved, including my cousin Terry Cook, our longtime friend Tim Moran, and another fantastic guy, Paul Anderson. We miss them, but we know they’re sitting around the big campfire in the sky together, and we’ll see them again.

Our business has continued to thrive, and my venture into fiction writing has succeeded beyond my wildest expectations. And, after thirteen years as fulltime RVers, I can tell you that Miss Terry and I are even more excited and in love with our lifestyle than we were the day we first hit the road.

I hope the past year was good to you, and that 2012 will be even better. And I hope we’ll cross paths somewhere in our travels.

Thought For The Day  – You have to take the good with the bad, smile with the sad, love what you got, and remember what you had. Always forgive, but never forget, learn from your mistakes, but never regret.

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Nick Russell

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  6 Responses to “Looking Back At 2011”

  1. Family you are! We so enjoyed finally meeting in person Terri, you, Greg and Jan! You all are like family to us! We believe family does not mean blood!
    2012 our paths will cross in Florida and then again after your rally in Celina this year! We are your breather after the rally!
    See you when you get back to Thousand Trails, our schedule will be at a dull roar by then, hopefully!
    Happy New Year! Hug Miss Terri from The Smith’s!!!

  2. Happy New Year, Nick! You guys certainly lead a rich life, keep it up. Bob

  3. Know that you guys are an inspiration to many of us “wannabe’s” out here in cyberland! Our rig is in mothballs up here in Minnesota but we are looking forward to the 2012 season. Every time we take the rig out we tell ourselves that we are practicing for retirement (while enjoying life now)! Thanks for all you and Terry do to help keep the dream alive for people like us. Happy New Year to both of you!

  4. Happy New Year to our dearest friends who we love dearly. We are looking forward to seeing you soon. We hope your travel plans still include a stop here at Lone Star Corral, here in Hondo TX. If not we will see you in March at the Rally. Please stay safe on your journey.

  5. Great post Nick! Thanks for the reflections.

    Sharon & Ron

  6. Nick and Terry;
    What an adventure you two have had this past year in between all of your other accomplishments.You have kept us all informed and enlightened and sometimes even awestruck with some of the posts that you have made.
    Thanks for all of it.
    Our target this year is the North West and those pics that you just posted made me itch to unhitch…
    Happy New Year to the both of you guys
    Mark & Lydia

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