2014 & Year 5 Round-Up -> 5,000 Miles, Aliens, Painted Hills And An Island Adventure
Every year, as we wind down our year of travels I look back at our adventures and write a little summary post. It’s always fun to do this, even though it takes time to work through all the details and I’m almost always amazed at how much we accomplished.
By pretty much any standard we are “slow” RVers. Most of the folks I know travel over 10-20 thousand miles per year, criss-crossing the country and seeing countless states & stops. We realized in our first year, after we did such a trip (and it almost killed our RV wanderlust), that we just weren’t built for that kind of traveling. Our second year we slowed down, motored back out west and that’s where we’ve been ever since.
The point is you can travel extensive distances in your RV, if you want to, but you don’t have to. Fulltime RVing is a lifestyle, just like any other, and one size does not fit all. You can cross countries & oceans, or puddle round a few thousand miles and have just as good of a time, and you can cater that to your budget, interests and the extent of your travel lust. It’s all a choice.
This year we planned a ~5,000 mile extravaganza with 4 months of volunteer work (in the summer months) and two brand new states. Our final tally ended up at 4,959 miles traveled with “the beast” including 43 stops, 4 ferry crossings, one Island Hop and a visit with Aliens. The vast majority of these legs were short ones. In fact 21 (just about half) of our drives were below 100 miles and our shortest travel day was a measly 35 miles! JUST our kind of relaxed pace.
Our year started where it ended, in gorgeous Borrego Springs, CA. We spent the next few months traveling and boondocking around Arizona exploring a few old spots and a ton of new ones. Highlights of the trip included seeing the Organ Pipe cactus in southern AZ, experiencing the grasslands of Buenos Aires and eating mole in the cute, little town of Tubac. We tagged in a few social get-togethers, and did our usual trip to Mexico for our dentals, but otherwise it was just several months of bumming around and free-camping on Arizona Public Land, my most favorite thing to do in winter.
Little Green Men In Nevada
From there we passed into a brand new (for us) state, Nevada. I’d dreamt about traveling the Extraterrestrial Highway since my teenage years and it ended up being the perfect geek-out for us. We started the trip with several adventure-filled weeks at Lake Mead where we discovered the hidden gem of Valley of Fire State Park and progressed deeper into the state to unexpected wildlife, amazing petroglyphs and, finally, little green men.
What followed was a brief and rather exciting abduction, but thankfully Paul was returned to me, and we were able to continue for a wonderfully unpopulated drive through the west of the State, before it was finally time to leave 5 months of boondocking and enter back into the green of the PNW. Nevada was one of the most remote and unexpected places we’ve been in our RVing years and there’s no doubt we want to return.
Painted Hills, Beer & Wine In Oregon
Ahhh….green, lush Oregon. For the first time ever we drove through the Eastern part of the state. Our goal was to hit a spot that had been on my wish-list for many years and my-oh-my what a treat it was. The geological sculpture that is John Day and The Painted Hills is something everyone should see at least once in their lifetime. We spent a week in the area, absorbing it’s most intense and totally unique beauty. Put this on your lists folks!
From John Day we splurged on a month of gastronomy, from beautiful Bend (can you say endless outdoor adventures and 18 craft breweries!) to the wine valley of McMinnville and the fabulous Spruce Goose. With bellies full and wallet somewhat emptier, we settled down for a month of volunteering at gorgeous North Head Lighthouse on the southern WA coast. The first half the year was complete.
WA Coast Discovery
With the warmth of July on our heels we commenced our WA coast discovery, another brand new route for us. From beautiful Cape Disappointment we followed the ocean to the fishing village of Westport, the remote (and humid) gorgeousness of Kalaloch, the werewolf-populated reservation at La Push and finally our most NW edge, the wild and untamed Cape Flattery. We bagged 3 new lighthouses in the process and experienced all of the moist, wild, crazy nature of the Olympic Peninsula. Well worth it!
From the edge of WA we drove inwards to catch the lavender festival at Sequim, bagged yet another fabulous lighthouse (with 11-mile hike no less), followed by a few weeks of civilization at the historic (and fabulous) Port Townsend. We topped the trip with our first ferry crossing and a quick wisk across Whidbey Island. Our WA coast discovery trip was complete.
Epic Island Adventure
Now came our Island Adventure. Late 2012 I had the crazy idea that it would be awesome to take “the beast” onto an Island and just live there for a while. After a several months of intense searching we landed a volunteer job at the top of Mount Constitution on Orcas Island, a place no beast had ever been. It was a epic trip to get there, and an even more epic drive to get to the top of the mountain, but what a cool spot! Our month there was yet another of the highlights of our year, and we enjoyed trips around the Island, trips to San Juan Island and Lopez Island and a few more lighthouses. It was an Island living experience we’ll never forget
Cape Blanco & Hwy 395
Having reached the apex of our northward journey we met the end of summer by driving south to another old-time favorite volunteer position at Cape Blanco Lighthouse. Our two months there were magical, as they always are, and the Cape pushed the limits of beauty and craziness, sending us off with a 90 MPH wind storm, the likes of which we’d never seen before and hope never to see again. Whoo wheee!
From here we decided to join up with buddies Technomadia and, despite the lateness of fall, caravan down our ever favorite Hwy 395. It was a gorgeous, epic drive with winter nipping our heels, but a fabulous mix of hot springs, scenic boondocking sites & meet-ups with other nomads. We ended the trip with a stop at Trona Pinnacles followed by a month of jello-blobbing at Sam’s Family Spa, and a completion of our year circle with Christmas in Borrego Springs.
That’s it folks. Amazing what a mere 5,000 miles can hold, is it not? Next post I’ll be doing a review of our favorite campgrounds of the year next as well as an update on how much we spent on camping fees. I’ve kept a detailed map of all our trip stops, routes and blog posts (linked in) in the pic below so if you’re looking for an evening (or ten) or reading, just click and enjoy!
I have no idea if we can make 2015 as epic as this year, but your bet your RV wheels we’re going to give it a try. Here’s to more adventures next year!