Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Thoughts on our 2011/2012 USA Tour

Cassia and I arriving at the cabin last week - with Derek arriving ahead of us by a few days - marked the end of our traveling and the official end of our 2011/2012 USA (and parts of BC) Tour.

We were in the USA for a total of 5 months and 5 days and 'on the road' exactly 6 months - we pulled out of Skihist October 13th, 2011 and arrived back here on April 13, 2012.

It was quite the trip indeed!

So, if you are up for it - I sure am! lets spend this post looking back and reminiscing a bit - we saw some great places and met some great people. It's crazy I know, but even now it seems so long ago that we were

... riding the train at Landa Park, 

... running on the beach at Siesta Key, 

... looking at the alligators at the Everglades or 

... eating some really great seafood in Louisiana.

I'm also going to let you in on our favourite places and days and even our OOPS! moments.

Let's get started!

First off - for all of you who have stumbled onto our blog recently and haven't gone back to the beginning I'll list off our route by State accompanied by some of our favourite pictures.


Our first stop was near the Chief Joseph Dam.

Our first day on the road in the USA - little does Cassia know how much time she will be spending in her car seat. She is and was a GREAT traveler throughout the whole trip.


We spent the night at the Baker City Visitor's Center just off the Interstate. Not an official boondocking spot but no one ran us out and we had wifi for the evening. The next morning we strolled around the historic area of Baker City. Worth a stop if you are going by.


Our first destination was a visit to our friends in Nampa. We stop each spring and fall as we go by. On a beautiful warm fall day we followed them to the Birds of Prey area.

Our great friends K and J on their Vulcan. Nice....


We only stayed in the Moab area for a few days (as opposed to the planned two weeks) as the cold winter winds were already biting at our heals in late October. Thankfully we had a warm day while touring Arches National Park.

Arches National Park is a bucket list kind of place.


We were happy to drive through Monument Valley for the first time.

Canyon de Chelly. A National Park worth visiting. We enjoyed free camping at the Cottonwood campground, our first (and last) Navajo Taco on our trip and a fairly strenuous hike down to these ruins.

New Mexico

A highlight for Cassia - and Derek - a visit to Smokey Bear's grave site. Cassia still talks about Smokey Bear - I don't think she will ever forget this memory.

The Roswell UFO Museum and Research Center. We won't talk about how well Derek blends in....LOL.


We spent a wonderful few hours in Fredricksburg and lunch here at Hondo's. Great food and a great gospel band on this Sunday afternoon.

A train ride at the wonderful Landa Park. We visited it several times while in New Braunfels.

Great teaching and hospitality from Pastor Jerry Lockhart, here with his wife Barbara from the Berean Bible Church. Rightly Dividing the Word.

A super campground at San Augustine called Mission Delores Visitor Center and RV Park. We ended up staying for a week because it was so lovely. The free wifi didn't hurt either.


Our first trip to Louisiana began with a stop in Natchitoches just before their annual Christmas Festival. We enjoyed the music and lights and of course the famous meat pies from Lasyones.

Just east of Nachidoches we stopped for a few days of camping at the Gum Springs campground in the Kisatchies National Forest. The price was right for $3 per night. We had the entire campground to ourselves for the two nights we were there.

A lot of firsts on this trip. Our first time at the Mississippi River. This picture was taken by the friendly visitor center lady in Vidalia.


Just across the Mississippi River we spent a few days touring the beautiful city of Natchez. We highly recommend touring the historic area of  Natchez - and not just visiting the Walmart! We boondocked for two nights at the Natchez Welcome Center. We wrote and asked for permission ahead of time with no trouble at all so you could probably consider it an official boondocking spot.

After all that walking we were happy to sample a fine cup of coffee.


How could we not stop at the boyhood home of Hank Williams Sr. in Georgiana. Not only is the house there but the most friendly people anywhere live in this town also. We met several residents on our tour of the downtown as we waited for the museum to open. We met a few more up the highway at Priester's Pecans that recognized us as the 'people with the big husky' walking around their town.

We met up with Pastor Jerry in Montgomery at the book of Acts seminar at Pastor Steve Gotberg's Grace Bible Church.  We spent a week parked behind the church and truly enjoyed fellowshipping with Steve, his wife Kim (both above) and the congregation.


We found THE BEST PIZZA in the whole world at Moonspin Pizza in Thomasville. Strolling the downtown and historic area of Thomasville was a highlight of our trip for sure!

We spent a few wonderful days in Valdosta visiting with Pastor Edward Louis - his wife Lisa and daughter Imani and the congregation of the Grace Fellowship Bible Church.


Ahhh Micanopy. We TOTALLY fell in love with the town of Micanopy. 

What is one of the first things you do in Florida? Stop by a fruit stand for oranges. This was one of the best family owned stands - Sparkman's -  that we found and a true example of 'old Florida'. 

And the second thing you do? Head to the beach! We found some great beaches around Sarasota. The weather around Christmas time was just perfect for beach bumming.

We all know that Florida has oranges - but strawberries? Yup - the area around Plant City is where they are grown. We visited the Strawberry Palace shown above just south of Plant City a total of 3 times!

Our timing was perfect to meet up with Pastor Curt Crist and his wife Debbie from Ashville North Carolina. We sat in on a wonderful bible study in Plant City.

An early morning walk in Apalachicola - another town we loved.


We didn't stop during our second time through Alabama. The weather wasn't great and in fact pouring very hard as we drove through Mobile.


We spent the day driving from one side of Mississippi to the other along the coast. We stopped briefly across the street from the Biloxi Visitor's Center. We were shocked to see all of the damage done to this area by the past hurricanes.

Going back over the Mississippi River as we drove through Baton Rouge.


Lake Fausse Pointe State Park. Our favourite state park visit of the whole trip. In fact, our 24 hour stay here was my favourite 24 hours of the whole trip. The day and evening were warm, we could hear nothing but the frogs and free laundry and wifi to boot.

Our seafoond dinner at Shucks in Abbeville will long be remembered as one of the best meals of our lives. Renee - our server and the manager of Shucks - could not have treated us any better. 

Shrimp etoufee - THE best thing that I have EVER eaten! EVER!

My favourite moment in time during the entire trip - also my most favourite photo. There were a string of photos of Cassia and Derek dancing which I love - this picture I like the best. This was at the Spoetzi Brewery in Shiner - home of Shiner beer.

Cassia meeting her first long horn steer, VERY close and personal.

Cassia and I playing in the backyard of Pastor Jerry's - our return trip to New Braunfels at the end of January.

As we are leaving Texas on the west side near El Paso. So long fine state of Texas - see you again sometime.

New Mexico

The Pink Store in Palamos Mexico - our only trip into Mexico this year.

Pancho Villa State Park where we have camped twice now. A great park and easy access to Mexico.


Fellow Canadians, travelers and bloggers - we were thrilled to meet and dine with Trent and Teresa for the afternoon just west of Tucson - after following their blog since October 2011.

Spending some time in the Arizona desert. We were thrilled to find the Buckeye Hills Rec Area just west of Phoenix - a free campsite.


Traveling home through Nevada's east side.


Our return visit to our friends in Nampa. Two little girls playing with many many stuffed animals.


Descending into the Pendleton, Oregon area.


So nice to see so much green grass on our way home through the Walla Walla area.

We didn't spend much time there but we loved the town of Dayton and Woody's Pub and Grill. 

We had a really great breakfast at the Cowboy Cafe in Davenport - our last meal in the USA this trip.

British Columbia - HOME!

Our greeting as we entered Canada and our home province of BC.


It sure was hard to pick just a few pictures from the 4,000. 

We would be the first to admit that we probably took on a little too much for this trip. Derek and I are fairly restless and always happy to move on and see new things - but even we were starting to get tired of seeing new. 

Ok so - what did we think of it all?

Our first oops! moment:

Well, I can't say that there was much we didn't like although if you have been following along with us you will know that the single most disappointment of the whole trip and our largest - oops! moment was our 12 hour ordeal of getting down to Key West and back again. 

Our fault really for heading down between Christmas and New Years without a reservation for camping. To top that off we got to Key West in the dark and tried to maneuver through it's narrow streets with the truck and trailer.

That was pretty dumb!

Our second oops! moment: 

Not really OUR oops! moment - I take no responsibility for our trip down Kingman Wash in Arizona. Solely Derek's oops! moment. Thankfully he also got us back out again no worse for wear. I have to say I seriously began to doubt his ability to think clearly on this one!

Nough' said - right? right!

Ok - now that I think about it that comment was a bit harsh - for the record I was questioning MY ability to think clearly when I had us take route 191 in Utah which you can read about here.

What we think of Florida - now that we've been there:

We like it just fine thanks. Of course everyone has an opinion about visiting Florida during the winter season and it all seems to be true. It is busy and it is expensive. However, we found some really wonderful spots (like the Everglades) that would encourage us to visit again. It is always nice to visit a place and then go back knowing where you want to go and where you don't. 

Too bad it is just so darn far away from here!

Our favourite beach in Florida.

We were huge fans of the Sarasota area for the beaches. The public beach on Anna Maria Island and just south of there were the best - we also liked Siesta Key beaches. 

Coquina Beach was hands down our most favourite!

Our favourite State in the USA:

LOL as if that isn't obvious!  After all the travels we still love Texas the best. Now, don't get me wrong - I could come up with quite a list of great things about each of the states that we visited - it isn't that we don't like the OTHER states. But for us, Texas is comfortable - we like the climate, the landscape (particularly around Hill Country), we like the food and we like the people. 

We just like Texas best.

Well, that's it for me and this post! I am all but tapped out between loading all the pictures and scouring my brain for our favourite moments. The 5 months and 5 days were just so crammed full of great things I may as well just say

We had a great trip!

Next post:
You may want to check in to the next post where I will let you in on how much this trip actually cost us! I think I will be ok with it - I think we did well and the fact that we still had a few dollars left in our pockets when we got home made it even better.

On another note - I hope to get all of this trip stuff posted soon. I feel like I am living in the past and you are not up to speed on our life now - I feel like I've left you behind.

Well - to get you up to date quickly - Derek and I are VERY busy getting our two parks cleaned up for opening day this Friday. We are VERY VERY sore from all of the physical activity - picking pine cones (thousands I bet), raking, sweeping, weed wacking, mowing and the list goes on. I have been taking pictures and will post about them soon. 

AND! Before I forget - we have found our Camp Hosts for the summer and they are arriving at Skihist on Monday.

Let the camping season begin!

Soon I'll also be posting on what our plans are for next winter! and the plans I have for this blog ( I know, I know I keep hinting at that - sheesh).

Thanks for visiting!


Today's Interesting Link: I thought I would add to the publicity that Boondockers Welcome seems to be getting these days on fb. I haven't really had a chance to take a look around but it seems to be a good idea and good resource - coachsurfing RV style.


  1. Wow, that was quite the post. I know when I did the highlights of our winter in Mexico it was hard trying to keep the picture content down to a minimum. If fact I had to split it into two parts and it was still hard. I am so glad you had such a great winter. Your pictures are beautiful. Cassia looks like she was having the time of her life. I can't wait until Kevin and I can make it to some of the states in the southwest and along the west coast. There just seems to be too much to see.

    Don't forget to vote for us, aussieexperiences.com/contest/entry/red-centre-kevin-read/

    Kevin and Ruth

  2. A great summary of your winter travels. I have tried for few years but we always enjoy all our travels so much I can't decide what the highlights are.

  3. WOW!! I think the best part of a blog is that the people who find it and read it regularly, are sometimes right there with you via the pictures! And you are a great shutterbug! I know while I was in Quartzsite and you were in Florida, it felt like I was right there too!

    Will be looking forward to the cost post.....its amazing how little I actually spent in my 6 months out west on a day by day, but when it was all totalled up it was a little scary! But I had a fantastic 6 months on the road, and sounds and looks like you did as well!

    Stay well!

  4. Teresa you did it again !!

    This post was definitely a labour of LOVE.

    Since we have been home, we don't get a chance to peek in on our blogging family as often as we would like to.

    We were smiling ear to ear as we read your highlights.

    It was so wonderful to meet up with your family in Arizona, and was one of our highlites for sure !!

    There are so many RV'ers out there that need to find your blog, because it is one of the best !!

    Take care ... Tnt

  5. I loved reading this! And we LOVE Texas! Glad you enjoyed our home state!

  6. Hi Teresa,
    My name is Jane and I'm with Dwellable.
    I was looking for blog posts about Coquina Beach to share on our site and I came across your post...If you're open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
    Hope to hear from you :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...