Monday, April 27, 2015

Southwest Trip Expense Report

Though it's hard to put a price on this .... 

The Desert Southwest Winter 2015 Tour proved to be the least costly roadtrip yet! 
114 days/ 16 weeks 2 days
5,480 miles

    $ 854

       (51 %)
(40 nights)       

   $ 778



     $ 43

   $ 1675
Average Cost
$14.70 /day

$104 /week

Credit this solely to steeply lower gas prices.  The range of fuel costs for this trip was $1.89 – $2.37 per gallon.  The result: only 51% of my travel expenses were incurred at the pump, 

Compare this to as much as 89% on other long trips.  

Another notable take-away from this tally is that, had I boondocked the entire time, my trip costs would be halved!

I’ve never spent anywhere near this amount on campground fees before, and yet managed an average nightly cost of less than $20.

Note: as always, the expense report does not include groceries, dining out, sightseeing etc...  I would be buying food at home anyway and those other miscellaneous expenses are met from the weekly pocket money I would also be spending at home.

Here's an example of the way to cash-flow some fun!

I share this data in order to give other some-timers and wanna-bes an indication of just how affordable this type of extended travel can be.  

Hope this helps some of you out there! 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Home Again. Again!

How sweet it is!

 (And not just because my own personal chef is back in the kitchen where he belongs).

Along with his sous chef.

People often tell John he should open a restaurant.  But he always says he'd rather just cook for me. I've come to terms with that.  ;-)

Last night’s entree, pan-fried trout.

Topped with lovely golden brown almonds.

And fresh parsley and chives from the garden.

Add some whipped garlic potatoes and snow peas on the side, I dug in and almost made up for 4 months with no home-cooking.  What a feast!

I’ll spend the next few days moving out of the GDB, cleaning, doing laundry, and re-packing so she’ll be ready for the next trip.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Almost Home

A visual clue that you are in the Deep South.    

Yet, even blindfolded, you would know it once the air smells of honeysuckle and fried ham.  

Springtime is truly brilliant in these parts.  (I only hope the dogwoods and azaleas have waited on my arrival to peak). 

Spent last night just east of Baton Rouge at Cabela's.  

You never know where you’ll end up for the night on a road trip! 

I especially like staying at Cabelas's and Bass Pro Shops.  The parking areas are large, well-lit, level, quiet, and often contain dump and water stations.  And I've never been turned away when requesting to overnight.

Today brought a much-anticipated stop in Gulfport, MS for lunch.

I always try to manage lunch or dinner at the Blow Fly Inn when traversing I-10/ The restaurant is situated on a bayou and the menu is as pretty as the scenery from your table.  

After considerable time spent drooling over the menu, I opted for the Shrimp & Grits: sauteed jumbo shrimp, sausage, mushroom, bell pepper, in a rich cream sauce over fried grit cakes.  The smoky combination of flavors is to die for.   

[And, yes, Debbie .... I got some on my nose.  Only it wasn't as much fun without you there to notice].

I love the underated Gulf coastal areas of MS and AL.  The drawback is that this part of the globe is only comfortable a few months out of the year (unless you are a reptile or really into sweating).

Visit at just the right time though, and you will experience incomparable pleasures.  

Home tomorrow!     

Last night, John and I devised a menu for the next 4 days.  Tomorrow night is trout amandine, whipped garlic potatoes, and my favorite Chardonnay. 

All that ... and Doris too!

Monday, April 20, 2015

East Texas

What a thrill to experience the peak of wildflower season!

I spent the weekend in Austin visiting Sharon (standing) and sister Lisa (seated).  

I’m overnighting in Houston and that means tomorrow brings a release from the gravitational pull of Texas.  It always feels like an accomplishment to cross that state line. 

Driving through the traffic and sprawl of Houston can be intimidating.  Note the 7 lanes of interstate. 

Right-hand lanes continually disappear and jarringly reappear, making it difficult to just commit to a lane as heavy traffic encases you at the speed of sound.  This seems to go on forever and it’s always a relief to survive intact.  

What would we solo travelers do without the calm guidance of GPS?    

My interior decor project continues so I couldn’t resist a stop here.

The massive store is filled with gorrrrgeous things (as Patsy and Edina used to say). 

I finally find a use for the cup holders in the rear living area of the van. 

In other news, earlier in the week, I added a bit of whimsy to the galley.  

 Only 676 miles from home!

Friday, April 17, 2015

West Texas

Mention crossing Texas to road-trippers and you’ll get an eye-roll.  Mention traveling through West Texas and you’ll get the eye-roll and some profanity as well.

Actually, the landscape between El Paso and San Antonio is quite lovely.  

It’s just the endlessness of it that causes the whining.  The sprawling mesas, green this time of year, impart a sense of unmatched vastness. 

Not to mention the buttes.

At the moment, the wildflowers are stunning, though not meant to be photographed at 65 MPH. 

I stayed behind the slow-moving thunderstorms all day, only reaching them about 40 miles from my destination.  After 4 months in the desert, the rain is a novelty. 

My radar map proved invaluable today.  It's free from Amazon.  I also find it useful as a quick-reference roadmap. 

Spending tonight at Exit 505 – which means I have only 43% left of Texas. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Exit Zero

About 5 PM today, I cross into the great flat beyond that is Interstate 10 through Texas. 

Texas Forever.  That’s what the kids on Friday Night Lights always said.  To that I respond – Yes.  It Is.  I mean, the state takes up 6 pages in my Atlas and probably yours as well.

Only 881 miles to go.  

There are much worse problems to have. The bonus is the impending visit to my old bud Sharon in Austin.  That’s rather like being sentenced to 30 years and then getting paroled after 6 weeks. 

So the next few days will be about cranking out the miles while dodging tumbleweeds. Not such a tough assignment with: a comfortable driver’s seat, podcasts in the queue, and plenty of  hi-calorie snacks.

I’m here for the night.

Parked under a flag the size of a football field. In 25 MPH winds, it provides a loud arrhythmic soundtrack.

Last night was spent parked among the Big Boys at the bustling Love’s Truck Stop in Benson, AZ.   

The microcosm of a truck stop always fascinates.  It’s a glimpse into a purely American subculture and I highly recommend it.  In the unlikely event a publisher ever approaches me to write a coffee-table book, I would do one on Long-Haul Dogs and The Truckers Who Love Them. 

Two days ago, in Tucson, I overnight at one of my favorite blacktop stops.  

The GDB has a doctor’s appointment the next day in order to address a short list of nagging issues.  All is well!  

I spend the waiting time scurrying in and out of the newer model Roadtreks but find, once more, I wouldn't trade the GDB for any of them. 

Pictured below is one of a series of dust storms along 1-10 in New Mexico today.  Visibility goes to ZERO when a storm like the one in the distance reaches the interstate.   Chilling to think about that happening at 75 MPH.  

Saturday, April 11, 2015

So Long San Diego!

The GDB is finally pointed east.  It’s time to get back home.  I miss my house, my peeps and my pup (who, as you can see, is not into cuddling).  

To think I left home on New Year's Eve and here it is mid-April!

After one last happy hour with the gang last night, we say our goodbyes.  Until this summer, that is.  When there is certain to be more of this

and this

Karl Strauss Brewery in La Jolla

and ....

San Diego was a blast but I'm ready to leave the congestion behind and head out for the highway.  I'm back in Alpine tonight where it's blessedly quiet.

I’ll long remember the glorious views from our hike around the Torrey Pines Nature Reserve. [See also Gayle’s write-up that includes an unforgettable Sea Lion pic].  

Gayle and Suzanne

Jim takes his best shot. 

The Torrey Pine species is found in only 2 places on the planet and provides an ideal example of how Nature does things in Her own perfect time.

Speaking of nature, this is what happens when hikers have to pee.

Now for something completely unnatural.  

We visit the Gliderport situated atop Torrey Pines' famed bluffs.  It is quite a sight watching these daring souls take off and land. 

 And so we come to one last night on the town.

The Hamburger Altar is a good sign we are in the right place.

I order the 50% beef 50% Bacon Burger with 3 toppings - Vampire Sauce, Cole Slaw, and Fritos. 


Our waiter is fascinated by this group of nomads.  He wants to know if we all travel in the same RV. Debbie explains that, yes, we are Jim's sister-wives.  Too funny!

Untill next time!