After we bought our RV last year, we took a few short trips and one long one to test out the systems and learn how to RV. We were complete newbies, but now feel like at least “intermediate” level RVers.
2015 has been busy: moving to a new house and other family priorities have left little time for camping. But Maureen and I have agreed on one goal: escape winter! I’ve lived through about 55 Chicago winters and I don’t need to experience another one to find out what it’s like. We’re going to be a bit late leaving town because of some other commitments: Thanksgiving, framing artwork for an upcoming gallery opening, and finishing up some projects at the new “stick house”. But we’re about done with those things, so I thought I would share our thought process on where we plan to go.
My overall strategy is to minimize total distance traveled while getting warm fast. The trailer is winterized so it can withstand freezing temperatures, but I want to quickly get to where the nighttime temperatures are above freezing so that we can start using our fresh water system.
My other guidelines for selecting a route were:
- drive no more than 250 miles/day
- stay for at least 2 days at each stop – preferably up to about a week (this has to be balanced with “get warm fast”, but we’re trying to enjoy a bit of time in each place we stop, avoid constantly being on the road, setting up and breaking down camp)
- route near waypoints/destinations of interest: friends, landmarks
- use a mix of State Parks, National Parks, driveway surfing and boondocking. This will keep costs down while giving us the generally peaceful, natural experience that we like. We may stay in one or two commercial RV parks (e.g. KOA) – they have their advantages, such as better amenities (like full hookups, laundry, and WiFi) – but they tend to be crowded and more expensive. We’ll see how this mix works and adjust as we learn more.
The resulting route takes us on a generally southwestern heading until we reach Dallas, at which point we head west toward Tucson, staying close to the US-Mexico border. After Tucson we plan to swing up to Phoenix and then head west toward Los Angeles, spending time at stops along the way.
From Michigan City, IN to Deming, NM
- Springfield, IL – driveway surfing to see Maureen’s college friends Becky, Paul and their kids
- Saint Robert, MO – overnight at a WalMart
- Bella Vista, AR – an independent campground, to see the Crystal Bridges museum
- Canadian, OK – Arrowhead State Park, hopefully it’s warm enough by this point to fire up the plumbing system!
- Mineral Wells, TX – Lake Mineral Wells State Park
- Colorado City, TX – Colorado City State Park
- Carlsbad, NM – at the KOA to do laundry and spend a day at the Carlsbad Caverns National Park
- Deming, NM – overnight at a WalMart
- Tucson, AZ – hoping to score a spot at the Gilbert Ray Campground, a county park (roughly Christmas to New Year’s Day)
- Phoenix/Scottsdale, AZ – McDowell Mountain Regional Park
- Quartszite, AZ – Boondocking at the La Posa South Long Term Visitor Area while we attend the big RV show and an Xscapers Convergence
- Palm Springs, CA – Joshua Tree National Park and visiting Maureen’s friends
- Huntington Beach, CA – Sunset Vista RV Park – camping on the beach! (mid-February)
From Deming, NM to Huntington Beach, CA
From there we will turn around and slowly start making our way back home. I haven’t planned our return route yet, but depending on the weather we may take a somewhat more northerly path along old Route 66.
Certainly this whole plan is subject to change due to weather, whim, mechanical issues, or unforeseen events. We will be trying to keep our Odysseeing Attitude intact: slow down, go with the flow, expect there to be bumps in the road, but wherever we are, be present and grateful that we are able to take this grand adventure!