2018 was a bit shorter as vagabond years go, since I pulled into my winter home in Gainesville end of October, so might as well go through the stats while things are fresh in my memory (and my spreadsheet) and summarize the last 10 months of traveling.
I started 2018 by trekking across the country, starting with New Mexico and ending in Florida, where I established legal residency in order to have a base of operations, voting rights, and access to health care. Now my car, my trailer, and me all have valid Florida licenses 🙂
I also hit up the Canadian Maritimes, spending time May-July in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec. I barely scratched the surface of all those places so I’ll be going back at some point to see more of those places.
Where I spent 294 nights vagabonding this year:
- Public campgrounds: 234 nights in 57 places (National, State, County, and Corps of Engineers parks in the US, and National and Provincial parks in Canada)
- Driveway surfing: 31 nights in 5 places
- RV parks: 27 nights in 9 places
- Hotels: 2 nights in 2 places
The remaining nights were either vacations (two this year, one in Florida and one in Virginia/Tennessee) or my residency in Florida.
Favorite Campgrounds of 2018
New places that I fell in love with, in no particular order.
- Sea Rim State Park, TX: you have to drive through refineries to get there, but it’s worth it)
- Huntington Beach State Park, SC: a month’s residency for half-price in the winter)
- Hunting Island State Park, SC: home of my favorite tree)
- Outer Banks, NC (Ocracoke and Oregon Inlet): no hookups but plenty of beach
- North Bend Campground, VA (Corps of Engineers): pick the right site and you can launch your kayak right from your campsite!
- Hungry Mother State Park, VA: wonderful hiking trails and a running path along the lake.
- New River Beach Provincial Park, New Brunswick: beaches and coastal forest hiking trails.
- Blomidon Provincial Park, Nova Scotia: windy and wild and wonderful
- Five Islands Provincial Park, Nova Scotia: watch the Bay of Fundy do its thing 24×7
- La Jolie Rochelle, Quebec: riverside camping at its best, in the middle of nowhere.
Mileage by Month
The big trip from across the country in January really pumped up the volume. After that, I mostly stayed longer at places and moved less, staying on the east coast of the US and Canada the rest of the year. Compared to 2017, when I put 13,800 miles on the trailer, this year was relatively slow-moving and I liked that style better, too.
Total towing miles: 9422
Gas by Month
I bet just by looking at this chart, you can guess when I was in Canada. Yep, that’s right, folks, Canadian gas costs more than US gasoline, at least this year. February and March were the low months, appropriately enough since I spent much of them in the Low Country of South Carolina and Georgia.
Total gas: $2,557
Lodging by Month
Things were fairly even until I got to July and three different RV parks around Quebec. Not cheap, but it was worth it to camp with friends and have a great month of it. I’ll be looking to cut down on lodging costs in 2019 by doing more boondocking (yay for the western US and BLM land) and more national parks/forests/Corps of Engineers places where I get discounts off the nightly rate because I’m old.
Total lodging: $6,660
Things that worked well this year:
- Less driving, longer stays. I like really getting to know a place rather than moving every 2-3 nights, so I stayed 5-7 days at some places and that worked out well.
- Tripping to Canada. The big incentive for heading north was the massive Safari Condo/Alto rally to celebrate their 20th anniversary. The Maritime provinces were amazing and Quebec was a delight, despite my almost complete lack of French literacy.
- Camping with friends. I did this in the Spring, before and after the Alto rally and then again this fall, and really enjoyed it each time, so I’m planning more of these adventures in 2019.
- Getting in shape on the road. Yes, it can be done. I’ve lost more than 30 pounds this year, started running a bit, and hike or walk almost every day for at least 30-45 minutes. And I’ve eliminated caffeine (except for whatever is in chocolate, because, well, chocolate…) and mostly eliminated fast food and drive-through dining. As a result of all these changes, I feel better than I have in many years.
Things that didn’t work out so well:
- Heading north in March. Winter hung on this year later than usual, so I was fighting cold and windy conditions most of the way up the coast till mid-May.
- Go-go-go mentality. I really hadn’t thought about taking a break or staying somewhere for a few months since I started this vagabond thing. Turns out that’s exactly what I needed to do after 18 months on the road, so I pulled off in Florida and am hanging out in the world’s smallest RV park for most of the winter.
This wraps up my third calendar year of the Vagabond Life. In those three years, I’ve crossed the country four times, stayed in 225 different places, and put just under 31,000 miles on my Alto trailer. And taken about 6500 photos. I wonder what 2019 will bring.
And how did society tell you to live? A successful life, a prosperous life, a life of progress, of achievement, of getting bigger. It took a strong person to say, Hey, wait a minute. Abbey agreed with Thoreau that there were good lives other than those most of us call successful.
All the Wild That Remains:
Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner, and the American West