3rd quarter 2022: WheRVe we been?

Remember that time we left Maine in August and drove all the way to southern California for our pumpkin patch jobs that started in September? That was in 2019, and although the line on the map below makes it look like we’d perhaps forgotten that 3-week endurance test, we most definitely had not.

This year we made a similar diagonal, from Nova Scotia to New Mexico, but took closer to 6 weeks to do it.

We is smarter.

Being a little more pressed for time than usual, I’ll jump right into the maps and a quick sampler of our 3rd quarter travels. We’re currently in Albuquerque for the 50th Annual International Balloon Fiesta, volunteering with the Escapees Boomers, and our training/crewing schedule is going to have us keeping unusual hours. Hello to 4:00 a.m. wake-ups, afternoon naps, evening glows, and the sights & camaraderie that will make it all worthwhile.
From July to September, we racked up 8 US states, 5 Canadian provinces, and 6019 miles — only as measured directly between overnight stops, not all of which are on the map — on a jaunt that took us from MA, NH, ME to NB, NS, PEI, QC, ON to MI, WI, OK, NM.
We put way more miles than that on the truck, sometimes with the camper on, sometimes without, as we ran errands and visited people at each location.
(Map does not reflect actual routing.)
Just for giggles, I also made this very rough map of the counterclockwise loop we’ll have completed by the time we get back to San Antonio next month. We took off in Road Island in late April, and will return almost exactly 6 months later. It’s been a lot — in a good way.

Slide Show 1: NH & ME

Slide Show 2: NS-PEI-ON Canada

Slide Show 3: MI-WI-OK

Where to next?

After our gig here at Balloon Fiesta, we’ll head toward Sedona, AZ, for a week of volunteer preservation work with HistoriCorps at Crescent Moon Ranch. We’d first heard about this organization last summer, and immediately signed on for an October 2021 project in Oregon, but it was canceled on short notice due to excessive wildfire smoke. When the Sedona project popped up for this fall, it took all of two minutes to decide that the detour would be worth delaying our return to Home Base San Antonio by another week.

So yes, after that, we’re back in central Texas for the winter, for the usual visits with family & friends, all the winter holidays, and the doctor-and-dentist-go-round. We’ll also move out of Road Island (~150sf) and back into Tex (~320sf), and won’t that feel all kinds of extravagantly spacious!

We started full-timing in August of 2015, but I didn’t think to do an annual review until the end of 2016, and it was just a listing on Facebook of places we’d visited. After that, I started using a quarterly format.

WheRVe we been? Our travels, 1st quarter 2022

We were in only two places, but one of them was way more than one place, we did not get there by RV, and we lived for two months out of two carry-on roller bags and two backpacks — which makes us two crazies!

It was Mexico.
Mexico is way more than one place.

January ~ Texas

We began 2022 the same way we ended 2021, as guests on a friend’s property in Boerne, TX, helping out around the place to earn our keep. And because we unexpectedly bought a truck camper and had to pack and prepare for two months in Mexico, we spent most of January dealing — rather giddily, I must say — with both of those things.

Our fleet
Tex, the 2018 DRV Mobile Suites 38KSSB
Road Island, the 2013 Lance 1050S

February & March ~ Mexico

First, let me disabuse you of the notion that we packed suitcases and flew to Mexico to make our way around on our own. We are brave enough to do that, mind you, but that wasn’t our method for this trip.

Instead, we had places to land, and knowledgeable and experienced guides — specifically, Tim’s parents, who have been spending winters in Mexico since long before I joined the family 30 years ago. We traveled together with them, and also used their expertise to seek out adventures of our own, and it was the perfect blend of reliance and independence for our first lengthy international sojourn.

(Plus, this wasn’t our first trip to Mexico. We’ve flown down for brief visits over the years, walked across the border for dentistry, and even driven to the northern Baja in an RV caravan.)

We spent our first month on the mainland, in Ajijic, an hour’s drive south of Guadalajara, on the northern shore of Lake Chapala. From there, we also took a 10-day road trip with Tim’s parents to the towns of San Miguel de Allende, Angangueo, Valle de Bravo, and Pátzcuaro. Here’s the month in brief: food, people, landscape, architecture.

We spent our second month on the Baja, in San Jose del Cabo, where several members of Tim’s family gathered for a mini-reunion. All the cousins, siblings, in-laws, out-laws, etc. had flown back to their homes by the 10th, so Tim & I had the rest of the month (and the condo!) to ourselves. Here’s another little taste for you.

We liked this interlude so much that we intend to make it a winter habit. Maybe not next year, and probably not every year, but the more we explored Mexico, the more we wanted to explore, and the more comfortable we became with the idea of doing so on our own. The weather is fantastic, the tacos are cheap, the people are welcoming, and quite honestly, spending two months hopping around between inns, apartments and condos that someone else has to maintain? Pure gold. Respite we didn’t even know we needed.

Wait. Only 2 carry-ons each? EACH?

Pack less, do more.

We stayed in 12 different places, and went on two road trips (one of which crammed 4 adults in a small sedan) so being able to pack quickly and lightly was a necessity.

I won’t bore you with my detailed list, but I will tell you it was a challenge packing for two different climates. We needed winter clothes for part of our February visit to the mainland, during which we spent a week at elevations of 7,000-10,000 feet. Didn’t wear any of those the second month, on the Baja, but then my bathing suit, shorts and tank tops didn’t exactly make it out of the suitcase during that chilly first month.

Yes, there’s a third suitcase in that first picture. The blue one on the left contained items Tim’s parents had requested, as they’d already been in Ajijic since November, and shipping from the states is expensive and unpredictable. It was easier for us to fill a bag and check it — and then donate it to a charity resale shop before leaving Mexico.

Where to next?

We’re currently back at the ranch, preparing to take Road Island (the truck camper), into the upper right corner for the summer. First stop is in northern VA for a wedding at the end of this month, then we’ll travel through the northeastern states, including stops in the four we need to complete our RVing map of the Lower 48 (DE, NJ, RI, CT). Might even throw in a roll through the Canadian Maritimes if time and border policies allow.

As per our typical practice, we’ve made almost no reservations, and have only a vague mental outline of where we want to be and when. We are aware of the risks. But in nearly 7 years of full-time travel, we’ve never found ourselves homeless, even in Tex (our 41′ fifth wheel), even in northern states in the summertime.

Sorry if I’ve made you Capital-P Planners cringe. I just can’t do it your way, any more than you could switch to mine, so it’s a good thing we can all still enjoy sitting around the campfire together, swapping stories, sipping our beverages of choice, and by the way can I pet your dog?

We started full-timing in August of 2015, but I didn’t think to do an annual review until the end of 2016, and it was just a listing on Facebook of places we’d visited. After that, I started using a quarterly format.