Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Soooo…What’s it like? Summing it all up.

The Route- Jan. 14th to April 25th 2014
So how’d you spend your winter? We headed south on our inaugural snow birding trip to the sunny and warm latitudes. 

This is a little wrap-up for this year as I won't have much to blog about through the summer.  We will stay at our home park, fishing, boating and spending time with family, until this fall and our 2nd winter trip south starting sometime in November or December.

We started in my mother’s driveway(1), went to Florida to see Detra’s Mom(5), jumped on a cruise ship with friends Dean and Laurie (6), ate the best BBQ ever at The Shed in Biloxi (9), rode into Texas for awhile(11,12,13), stopped to visit Elvis(15), blew into Chicago to hang out with Brian,Jodie and the boys(17) and ending up full circle in the same driveway we left 31/2 months before(19).  Now there was plenty of filler along the way, fishing, biking, hockey, site seeing, some education in science and history, relaxation and the discovery of a new passion, eating at Diners,Drive-ins and Dives restaurants.  We met lots of interesting people, all were good with exception of one gentleman in Florida who didn’t think I should ride my bicycle through HIS neighbourhood, on HIS street and threatened to kill me.

Our new GMC 3500 HD truck and Big Sky trailer were a perfect way to travel to and stay in comfort at different stops along the way.  I am so impressed with this truck and how well it tows this big 5th wheel.  We didn’t have any white knuckle moments while towing near 17000lbs of trailer and bikes behind us.  Fuel mileage was good and actually got better as we put more miles on the new diesel engine.  It is a very comfortable place to sit and watch the landscape scroll by in front of you.

The 5th wheel trailer, at 38ft is plenty big for the two of us.  We didn’t feel confined at all.  It helps that all of North America is our backyard and we spent most of our time outside seeing and doing things.  We can declare it marriage healthy as we didn’t really get on each others nerves the whole 24/7 time we were together.  I don’t know that we did that when we were at home with all the distractions of work and family.  No real issues here either (the trailer, not the marriage), except the odd loose screw (the trailer and the marriage) and a clogged black tank valve which I don’t want to mess with again, mess being the operative word here.  The fix for this required crawling under the tank and undoing the pipes and remove the blockage.  For those who don’t know, the black tank is for the toilet waste…we shall never speak of this again.

There were times we were cursing the highway dept. of various states, huge bumps without warning, horrible expansion joints that were the perfect frequency to make you go crazy like water torture and one particular bump/valley combo in Houston that I thought the trailer would break in half.  We had no major problems, knock on wood, while travelling, except dragging Detra’s new bike down the highway for 45mins. when it fell off the back of the trailer.  We changed our bike rack and shouldn’t have that problem again… hopefully.

The process of picking places to stay was one of the most irritating things for us in the beginning.  We improved as we went along and now it is less stressful.  There were good parks and bad parks and deciphering the info on websites and brochures is an art we will master.

  Our two dogs,Abby and Pepper could not have been better at travelling.  They had great fun marking territory at dozens of stops along the way.  Once in the truck they were fast asleep until the next splash fest down the road.  Abby didn’t eat anyone’s shih tzu or small child (though she did take a run at an unfortunate King Charles spaniel) and Pepper adapts pretty quick to new surroundings, even though he is blind.

The Diner's, Drive-in's and Dive's restaurants have become a major part of our lives.  We dream of fried this and BBQ'd that, at interesting places all along our route and in some cases way off the intended route.  If eating can be called a hobby, you can say we've become avid DDD hobbyists.  All these establishments were worth the visit and we enjoyed them all but, The Shed BBQ in Biloxi and the corned beef hash at The Magnolia Pancake Haus in San Antonio were stand-outs for me. If you are in the area or better yet book a flight, you won't be disappointed.  DDD has added a whole new dimension to our travels that we hadn't even thought of until the GPS barked that we had driven by one in Georgia on the way south.  In the future we'll just have to tune into The Food Network to see where our travels will take us.

A great thing about this way of life is the sense of freedom you have.  We can go anywhere,
anytime we want, to a degree.  There are still government rules on both sides of the border we have to live by that can complicate things.   Fulltiming is a little trickier for Canadians than U.S. citizens but it is manageable.  Budget is always lurking in the background making us be responsible adults even if we don't want to be.  Economically speaking this is a relatively cheap way to live and travel.  Park fees and fuel are the major expenses but they can be controlled if you spend a little more time at each stop.  If you remember you aren't on vacation and take your time you can get a real sense of a cities or towns you visit along the way and save money at the same time.

San Antonio has become one of our favourite places, we spent a month there and enjoyed every minute.  Festivals, shows, historical sites, Riverwalk and a fantastic park system kept us entertained day in and day out.  On a larger scale, the Lone Star State in general was a nice place to spend part of our winter and yes everything is bigger in Texas!  The state offers up big cities, small coastal towns and every activity you could want to keep yourself occupied.  I can see us spending more time here in the future.

Detra at a Corpus Christi fishing dock. No she didn't catch this one.
 We will be sitting in one spot for the summer so I won't have much to write about, if you couldn't tell from the long gap since the last post.  We have been babysitting Logan often which is great!  Jeff and Terri have been in and attended a pile of weddings so we get plenty of time with the cutest guy ever.  We have been visiting family and friends which is fun for us but not that interesting to blog about. 
So if anything exciting happens I'll let you know but until then, have good summer and we'll see you in the fall when the wagon wheels start rolling again.
Home for now...

 Static Scott