It’s a new year (and a new decade, whee!) so time to look back at my Vagabond Life in 2019 and celebrate the stats!
Only two new states this year: Montana (three nights in Missoula) and Ohio (a one-nighter at a KOA in transit from PA to CO, but it still counts). So my count is now up to 40 out of 48 states (because I’m never driving to Alaska and the Alto can’t swim to Hawaii).
This year’s map includes Canada, since I hit up British Columbia (mostly Vancouver Island). Let’s be honest, though, and admit that I’ve only seen the southernmost parts of BC, Ontario, and Quebec, despite the map making it seem like I’ve toured them all more extensively than I have.
You might be able to figure out that I really like state park campgrounds. They vary in quality and price, but overall, they are a good deal, especially in the South, where hookups help battle the heat and humidity and boondocking opportunities are harder to come by than in the Southwest.
|Corps of Engineers||27|
|Tenn Valley Authority||11|
You might also notice that I’m short about 13 days. Yes, even vagabonds take holidays so I don’t count those in the mix.
Campground Stats by Year
Favorite Campgrounds of 2019
Of all the new places I stayed this year, these five were the standouts:
- Modoc Corps of Engineers (COE), Georgia – kayaking from my site, good cell, and well-spaced sites about an hour north of Augusta. Also nice concrete block bath houses for tornado warnings.
- Grayson Highlands State Park, Virginia – Wonderful hiking trails (including the AT), dense green foliage, and well-spaced sites. Cell signal in one area only, but I was on vacation so I didn’t mind.
- Albeni Cove COE, Idaho – Tiny park about 20 minutes from town, great boat launch and good paddling.
- Pacific Rim National Park, Vancouver Island, BC – Long, windswept beach with huge logs weathered silver by the elements, wild surf, and blue skies. It was coming home to the Pacific Ocean for me and I hated to leave.
- Wright’s Beach State Beach, California – Another Pacific Ocean beach, with camping right on the sand. Listening to the surf all night? Priceless.
By the Month Stats
Gas prices were all over the map this year. Biggest hit was paying more than $4 a gallon for California gas, ouch. The highest month for both trailer miles and gas was July, where I went from Pennsylvania to Denver, Colorado, in one grand burst of roadtripping. Lowest month for all three categories was February, where I was once again in residence at Huntington Beach State Park for the month, and their half-price deal definitely helped the Lodging budget in 2019.
November and December lodging was crazy for two reasons: California State Parks cost a lot and I ran into a stretch of cold and rainy weather. I bailed out of two dry (no electricity) campgrounds and holed up at an RV park on the Russian River that had nice electricity and even better free wifi. It cost more, but in the end it was worth it, both for my comfort and for my contract work.
Trailer miles for these first four years of my vagabond life:
I guess that table explains why I did more trailer mods and upgrades this year than in the previous three years combined. With the help of generous and talented friends, I added a permanent surge protector, switched to a Lithium-Ion battery and solar controller, installed a new table mount that has changed the way I feel about my table, and bought new cushion covers for all the cushions. Oh, and a new set of tires, too. I’ll write more about those changes in a separate post.
Things That Went Well
The Southern Tour was a deep and hard look at US history from post-Civil War to present day, and the racism that pervades every aspect of every day. I’m still learning, still working on my own racism and white privilege, both things I did not understand at all until last year. I’m late to all this, but determined to work on myself. If you didn’t catch the posts, here is a link to them, along with the reading list of books I’ve learned from over the past two years.
The year’s other theme was more ad-hoc, what I call in retrospect the “Hanging with Friends” tour. From Gainesville, FL to Asheville, NC, Pennsylvania to Indiana to Colorado, and then returning “home” to the Pacific Northwest and California, I managed to catch up with a lot of friends, old and new this year. I camped with Alto owners a lot, sometimes planned and sometimes accidental meetups that found two of us at the same campground. I’ve realized once again how rich my life is because of the people, so if I met you on the road in 2019, thanks for sharing your company.
I stepped out of my solo ways and my comfort zone to attend two women’s weekends, one for writing and one for, well, social fun and flamingos. I loved the flamingo ladies so much I’m planning my Spring around a week of camping with them again.
Things That Didn’t Go So Well
Passing that last gas station in Kansas on my way to Denver. I was so sure there would be another gas station in the next 150 miles and my tank was more than half-full so I wasn’t worried. I should have been. I coasted into the eastern edge of the Denver metro area with 20 miles left in my tank. Never again will I pass up a gas station when I’m near half-full and unsure what the road ahead holds.
Driving across the LA Basin with a trailer. It took me over three hours to go the last 80 miles, so just imagine how much fun that was. For those who know LA, I went from the 101 to the 134 to the 210, passing through interchanges with the 405, the 5, the 605, and the 57. With a trailer on the back of my car. Try that sometime if you want white-knuckle excitement.
Looking ahead to 2020
Wait, we’re already IN 2020! I kicked it off on in the desert southwest, where I’ll hang out a bit longer before trekking home to Gainesville for a respite before my Big Summer Adventure (TM).
I will never lose the love for the arriving, but I’m born to leave.