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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.