Clear warm evening in Rocky Point at 83 Degrees F
When I first imagined what RVing would be like many years ago, I pictured an idyllic ramble around the country, taking my time, staying wherever I felt like staying for as long as I wanted, and just picking up and leaving when I felt like it. That might work in the desert southwest now and then, but not so much for a three month sojourn through Texas and Florida and back, during prime season.
In the midst of all the other doings around here, I have been trying to get a handle on those plans. Usually I like this part, and open up the various apps that Nina discussed so well in a recent post, start up my old copy of “Streets and Trips 2011”, open up Google Maps and my Google Calendar, and start planning a route. Even for our trip to Alaska, this was a fairly straightforward process. We didn’t even make reservations for that entire summer on the road.
Florida in February is a completely different story, and as Sherry warned me, I should have started six months ago! I not only have to plan a route, I have to know EXACTLY when I plan to be in any particular place and make real honest to goodness reservations. Ack! How in the world can I be sure that I’ll be in Chiefland, Florida on a specific date when there are many months and thousands of miles between me and that date?
I have dreamed of a winter in Florida with my kayak in tow ever since I started visiting Bel in Ocala back in 2000. Mo and I got our boats to Florida on our cross country trip in 2007 for one magical float on the Silver River before we trundled on back west to buy the new motorhome in Texas and continue toward home. I have read the blogs avidly, ‘pinned’ campgrounds and rivers and events, and they created the beginning of my google map. The problems only begin when I try to link them all up, figure out the route and the miles and the DATES…and then make reservations. Only by now, I have been working on this for a few months, and I am too late for some of the places I wanted to go! Yup. Sherry was right. I should have started this six months ago, but somehow I was too busy TRAVELING then to be thinking about what I was going to be doing in 2014.
Before I go into the ‘plans’, I want to remember the fun things I have been doing NOW.
Would you eat dinner in this place? We did, and it was a fantastic experience. The Cowboy Dinner Tree used to be just that. It was a big old juniper tree out in the Oregon Outback near Silver Lake where they parked the chuck wagon for the cowboys. It has evolved a bit, and now people come from who knows where to fill this place up every weekend. Reservations required, two choices: chicken or sirloin. Dinner comes with salad, rolls, bean soup, potatoes, iced tea or lemonade (oops another choice) and dessert.
It isn’t cheap, and it takes two hours to get there. We rode with some local Rocky Point friends so the distance was irrelevant, and the experience was priceless. It is a “thing” and I am glad we took the time to do it. Although I brought the completely ridiculous steak home and made fajitas two nights in a row and then two more dinners from the chicken. Sheesh!
This week was bittersweet in a good way. I worked the very last time for soil survey. Sequestration and budget cuts and no federal budget all combined to end my contract career, so I retired for the second time. So I am really really retired now. Completely. It makes for some nice travel time, and is the reason I can manage to be off work long enough to take off next winter for three months instead of just a few weeks at a time. I’ll be poorer, but richer in time. I am pretty sure it is a good thing.
Another delight this week was a visit from Vermont friend Jeanne, (yes the famous adventure woman, Jeanne, that I have written about before). Only this time she brought along her sweetie, Alan, and he won Jeremy over in about two seconds and won me over about two seconds after that. Jeanne, you done good!! As did you, Alan. A pair made in heaven, or as all Jeanne’s friends say, a Danielle Steele novel. It is just romantic beyond imagination. He is a forester, she is a botanist, they both had basically given up on finding a soul mate, and they met in the woods at work! Isn’t that just incredibly perfect?!
We were on the water by 7 with beautiful partly overcast skies, perfect water, and lots of birds. Jeanne and Alan planned to see Crater Lake later in the day, but weren’t in too much of a hurry to miss out on pancakes and bacon for breakfast before they left.
After all the smoke that has been here, I was so glad to see perfectly clear skies by the time they got to Crater Lake, blue and smoke free and gorgeous. At least on the web cam. I had to keep checking to be sure that Alan’s first view of the lake would be wonderful. Jeanne wanted to show him all the cliffs she used to ski down when she lived here. Crazy woman.
Now back to the planning thing. Which is pretty much how that planning thing has been going. I work on it awhile, then something comes up and I get back to it later. Which is why I missed out on Myakka Springs and a couple of other places I wanted to see in Florida. Completely Booked!! We did manage to have a conversation with John and Carol from Our Trip Around the Sun who are going to be at Ding Darling Refuge on Sanibel Island and yes, I arranged a day, at 7 in the morning, when we will meet for a refuge trip that will hopefully turn up some spoonbills. Big on my bucket list. And yes, I have planned that specific day and specific hour from 3500 miles and six months away.
I know, I know. I have no right to complain. If you haven’t read Erin’s post about her plans for the next three months go check it out. That is planning on an Olympic scale! I think they have so many vacations nested in their vacation that it reminds me of those little Russian dolls. Ours will be just a bit simpler. We only have a simple vacation with a cruise vacation buried in the middle there somewhere.
We will amble through California, Arizona, New Mexico, and into Big Bend country in Texas, wander off to the coast at Port Aransas where I will get to walk the beach with Erin and watch her with that famous camera! We will continue east toward New Orleans, where we will take a 9 day break for a little cruise to the Western Caribbean, and after returning we will amble off to Florida for a month of kayaking and beaches. There is a saying about Florida, “I came for the beaches, but I stayed for the rivers”. Ahhhh. We will go as far as Key West, then amble back up the coast.
I have mostly reserved everything along the way. I think we will be in Blue Springs on Monday morning, March 3, at 10:02 AM. Or something like that. I know, the best laid plans can be severely disrupted, and I am trying to accept that with equanimity. Still. Those reservations are all prepaid, for Pete’s Sake! When we leave Blue Springs a few days later, I have no plans except for going north and west. I have no reservations. I have lots of blog posts about COE campgrounds and great places to see along the way, but we are going to actually stay loose during this part of the trip. For the month of March, we will just move gradually west and north toward home, following whatever route the weather and our mood dictates. I’ll let you know how that goes as well.
It is so great to have Deborah here to house sit for us while we are gone. She wants to keep the home fires burning and I’ll leave my truck with her so she can get back and forth in the snow. We will be bringing Abby, but I have decided to let Jeremy stay with Deborah for the trip. At least for now that is what I have decided. I’ll let you know how THAT goes as well. Sigh.
Lots coming up. More to tell, but this post is entirely too long so I’ll save it for later.
Next: MoHo interior renovations and we are soon off to the far northeastern part of Oregon!
15 thoughts on “Who said planning is the fun part?”
Delightful story about Jeanne and Alan. He must be great if Jeremy approves!! Sounds like you have quite the trip planned – now that you are re-retired haha. I don't like making reservations but I bit the bullet and made some for this weekend and the coming week. Glad I did as everything on the coast is FULL UP. It would be hard to make reservations as far in advance as you are doing now. I'm sure it will all work out and you guys will have a great trip.
So glad you managed to get February worked out. It is THE worst month in Florida. But, if you got reservations in the keys you've done something I never could. I hate making reservations too but both winter and summer it seems I have to or I am moving every two days. Hate that even more. Wonder if you will actually stay retired this time?? :-))
Congratulations on your second retirement!
I couldn't agree with you more on reservations. Hate, hate, hate them! I spent hours and hours putting together our summer trip this year, only to have to cancel when a family matter came up. Bye bye time, bye bye money 😦
Your trip South sounds fabulous though. Have a great time!
Those are some beautiful pictures! And it looks like you are enjoying your kayaking with all your friends.
What great plans. That is how I would love to travel. If you hit AZ. give me a call and maybe we can meet up somewhere. I don't know when you might come through her but it can be hard to find a place to park also. Maybe by time you get here my camper will be here too. This is taking so long.
I know they are necessary at times, but I do not like to make reservations at campgrounds. I think leaving Jeremy at home is a good idea, since you would have to use a kennel while you are cruising.
Never realised planing an RV trip can be this rigorous, especially estimating the time it takes to travel over the distances.
So one cannot entirely be whimsical about spending time on the road if one has to get to some place to make good on the reservation made.
Jeanne and Alan's story of how they met made for wonderful reading.
The pictures are lovely.
I have to thank Randy Warner especially for all his great information on Florida Military Family Camps. It is the reason we can stay in Key West without reservations there.
That has given me something to think about. We want to see so many places. So far I have made specific reservations months ahead for National park sites with hook ups. These have been the core of our trips and we have tried to go day by day around them. I figure the worst that can happen is I cancel and loose one night fee. I can live with that in exchange for knowing I have the place I want secured well ahead of time.
Is it to early to book a spot in the Keys for 2015?
Congratulations on retiring (again), giving you more time to travel and play!! Sometimes less (income) is more (fun-time).
Your winter plan is ambitious, and – yes – Florida in winter is a popular destination, but holy moly, I couldn't plan that detail. You'll do fine, no doubt, regardless of the best laid plans, uh …!
(ps: There really aren't any good places to park the RV in Key West.)
Well, we've changed plans and will be heading to FL with no advance reservations. Hopefully we'll find somewhere to stay instead of just large parking lots.
Good luck with your reservations.
We are so looking forward to meeting you & Mo this winter and so glad you made reservations 3500 miles away. Hopefully the Spoonbills will cooperate along with the best made plans.
Congratulations on your second retirement. Free at last!
I have so enjoyed checking out Nina's blog and all her information about route planning. I learned so much and have spend several hours checking out some other posts.
Safe travels and happy planning. Think about the Rainbow River for another kayak paddle. It's a beautiful river and near a great state park.
Wow…that's quite the epic trip you've got planned. And I know EXACTLY what you mean about those FL reservations. Almost tore my hair out when we went there a few years back. By the way don't give up on spots that are booked…if you keep checking you might get lucky.
Can't wait to follow your blog over!!
P.S. Cheers for the shout-out too 🙂
Wow…that's quite the epic trip you've got planned. And I know EXACTLY what you mean about those FL reservations. Almost tore my hair out when we went there a few years back. By the way don't give up on spots that are booked…if you keep checking you might get lucky.Can't wait to follow your blog over!!NinaP.S. Cheers for the shout-out too 🙂
Reservations in summer and winter is the cost of admission to the lifestyle.