While reflecting about our first year on the road Dave came up with a list of “tips” for any of you who are contemplating following in our footsteps. Here they are –
Lessons of the First Year on THE ROAD First things first. We are all for doing "The Family Thing". Take care of your family obligations before you ditch your jobs. Pay the bills, make mortgages, pay for family trips and holiday traditions, maintain medical coverage, buy clothes, fund school projects, field trips, sports and buy more clothes. And, LOVE EVERY MINUTE OF IT! Even the hard, painful and scary moments because you will survive them as well and your children will turn out pretty DAMN FANTASTIC. Don't miss this part of life. Your family provides you with most of your greatest memories. Now here are the lessons we learned during the First Year on the Road. 1. Travel with your BEST FRIEND. You will spend a lot if time together so, you need to LIKE each other and "play by the rules". 2. Don't wait until you can AFFORD to live the life you dream of. Find a level of poverty that you are willing to accept and start living it NOW! 3. Retire THE SECOND you can. You get ONE shot at this life, are you going to be HAPPIER at work or at play? 4. People who collect stuff will NEVER be able to collect enough stuff. 5. The only things you "can take with you" are the things you learn, the relationships you have, your traditions and your memories. (Thanks Dad for saying this a zillion times while I was growing up.) 6. Learn more. Visit as many Museums, Libraries, National Monuments and historic sites as you can. 7. Love your family and keep in contact with them. 8. Make as many friends as you can. 9. Think of EVERYONE as a potential friend. 10. Have NO enemies. 11. Celebrate important days. 12. Make everyday a reason to celebrate. 13. If you want to collect memories and have great stories to share in your old age and pass down to your great-great grandkids, you need to hit the road and make your own and write YOUR story. Have as many BIG adventures as possible! 14. Be SELFISH! You were Selfless during the previous period of your life. This time is ALL ABOUT YOU! 15. This country is FULL of beautiful places and REALLY nice people. Go out and FIND them. 16. It (our RV home) is not too small. It has a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, TV room and a 3,794,083 square mile yard. 17. Wal-Mart, Cracker Barrel, Flying J, and Interstate Rest Stops are a few of the BEST RV resorts in the land. 18. Friend's and Family's driveways ARE the best RV resorts in the land. 19. Money is ALWAYS an issue in relationships. Making more just makes it a bigger issue. 20. Live within your budget and start every month with a zero balance on your credit card. (Thanks Roberta) 21. Only use your credit card to earn airplane tickets so you can visit grandkids without driving all the way across country a couple time a year. 22. Know where you’re going to sleep by 3 o'clock in the afternoon. You'll sleep better. 23. Going 55mph REALLY does increase MPG but, you don't make very many friends with truck drivers. 24. Be Spontaneous. Wake up every morning and decide which direction and how far you’re going to go that day. 25. At crossroads, flip a coin. 26. RV's have what's called "Wal-Mart Waggle" which translates to,"HOLY CRAP! That pot hole was freakin HUGE!" or "Why the hell are driveways all of a sudden engineered at 45* degree angles?" In order to avoid having EVERYTHING you own and all your food from ending up on the floor, BE PREPARED! 27. Have a checklist to remind you to shut and lock cupboards and fridges, to lower antennas, retract level- ing jacks, and to stow electric cables and water hoses. 28. Upgrade the Rear Suspension! Best $250.00 we have spent so far! 29. It is NOT possible to use too much "museum glue", double sided tape, "anti-slide cupboard material" and as many "craft glue dots" and "sticky dashboard mats" as possible. In other words if you don't want "it" on the floor.... GLUE "IT" DOWN! 30. Exercise at least every other day. Hike, ride a bike, work out at Anytime Fitness (Yes, that's a plug. They are open 24 hours a day and EVERY ONE has a shower.) 31. Shower at least every other day in order to keep your partner from fleeing. (Flying J, Anytime Fitness, family and friends have the best showers. RV parks are iffy proposals at best; some great, some not so good.) 32. LAUGH, HAVE FUN, PLAY GAMES and LAUGH SOME MORE! 33. Sirius/ XM Radio are required. You have to have your mix of Grateful Dead, Acoustic Coffee House, Classic Vinyl, Blue Collar Comedy, NPR (Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me and Prairie Home Companion), and MSNBC (Keeps you up to date on the "need to know" events of the day.) 34. Wi-Fi. Still a lesson being learned. McDonald's, Borders, Barnes and Noble are reliable. 35. Starbucks... Duh! Great atmosphere. Best Coffee, Free Wi-Fi, and they let you sit there ALL day, just cause they're really nice. 36. Plan your wardrobe VERY carefully. Most of your clothes have to be 3 season with a couple heavy winter coats. Almost no storage for EXTRAS. Limited space for dirty clothes means doing laundry in 3 loads or less and laundry-mats are not always the nicest places in town. 37. Boondock as many nights as possible. Why "pay to sleep"? It's more fun to "pay to play". 38. Install Solar Panels on your roof and an inverter inside the coach. Upgrade the batteries and rewire them in series. Before...1 night before the batteries went dead. After... 4 or 5 days before we need to "plug in". 39. Never, EVER overfill the grey water and black water tanks. YUCK! Dump the tanks at 90%. 40. Don't overstay your welcome. You want, no YOU NEED, to maintain healthy relationships in order to have a place to park the next time "you’re in town". And finally, it's important enough to repeat... Travel with your BEST FRIEND.
We returned to Wisconsin for the 4th of July weekend because our friend had invited us to see the 4th of July fireworks from his pontoon boat on the river. It was an offer we couldn’t refuse!
This little guy apparently had been living on the boat while it was stored in Harold’s garage and when we got the boat into the river he decided to come out rather than go for a swim! We convinced him to run off into the nearby woods to start a new life – we were NOT planning to bring him back to Harold’s house after the trip!!
Dave lights a sparkler…
One place we missed on our first visit to Wisconsin was Devil’s Lake State Park, so we made sure to get there this time. It was just a short drive from Harold’s house and we spent more than 4 hours hiking there.
Established in 1911, the park contains 9500 acres of forest, marshes, meadows, effigy mounds, quartzite bluffs and a 360-acre lake that is located between 2 glacial “plugs” in an abandoned valley of an ancient river.
You can see the lake, as well as the mountain, is enjoyed by lots of people too.
(We took this trail back down because we were told that the
alternative trail was very steep!)
We camped with our new friends at a lovely place in Minnesota for the week. The weather was too hot when we arrived, cooled off too much for a few days, and then gradually warmed up again until the heat and humidity were unbearable the last 2 days. But we had a great time and made even more “new” friends at the campground – which means even more driveways to park in in the Midwest and Canada in the future!
From there we headed to the Minneapolis area to wait for our trip to California. We boon docked a few nights, but the heat and humidity were intense!! We spent the days rotating between Starbuck’s, Barnes & Noble, and the local movie theater just to stay out of the heat. Saw a few good movies – Harry Potter (a nice ending to the series), Super 8 (well done & entertaining), Cars2 (cute but too long), & Larry Crowne (a lovely romantic comedy with a great cast). When the nighttime heat got to be too much for us we looked for a campground to spend the last 2 nights before our flight. We found “Peaceful Valley” in Le Sueur, MN – once the home of the Jolly Green Giant!
We will be in California July 22-29, without a computer, so look for our next entry in early August.