Our Planned Route: Winter 2016-2017


Sandhill Cranes at Jasper-Pulaski Wildlife Refuge

Our motto for Odyssey 1.0 was “we’re doing it!” RVing for four months was a new experience for us, and it felt somewhat risky at the time. Since we loved it so much, our unofficial motto for Odyssey 2.0 is “we’re doing it again!” Since last year’s trip worked out so well, we’ve decided to essentially repeat the broad outlines, but with a few modifications. Our route is summarized here, but below is the thought process behind our planning.

Last year we moved, on average, every 3.5 days – although we stayed a week or two in some places. While that wasn’t a crazy amount of travel, we decided that we would like to move a bit less this year and also try an extended stay in one place. This accomplishes several things: it saves the effort involved in setting up, breaking down and driving to the next campsite, which also in turn obviously saves time and fuel. It also saves the non-trivial effort involved in searching for, reserving (if necessary) and finding (physically) new accommodations. Finally, most RV parks and resorts (but not state or national parks) give you a discount if you buy a week, month or season at a time. So signing up for a month at a luxury RV resort may end up costing less per day than a state park.

An intangible benefit of a longer stay is the chance to get to know the place and the people who live there better. The downside is that, if you don’t like the place or the people you’re sort of stuck with them, but with careful research you can minimize those risks.

So with this idea in mind, and also with the sense that we liked Texas a lot more than we thought we would, we started asking around for places to stay in the Lone Star State. We got a good recommendation from friends Sid and Julie that we met last year in Fredericksburg while on our way home. They’re full-timers, currently living at Rayford Crossing, an RV resort in The Woodlands, just north of Houston. After talking to them we decided the place sounded great and booked the last spot available there for the month of December.

Since we’re starting in Texas this year, our route from home will be a bit more easterly than last year, going through Springfield IL, Cape Girardeau MO, and Memphis, crossing into Texas near Texarcana.

After Houston, we head for the border. Last year I started a photography project about the US-Mexico border provisionally called Border Patrol, and in the interest of doing more work there we are going to start at the eastern end of the border at Brownsville, stopping along the away to see former work colleagues of Maureen’s in Harlingen. From Brownsville we will spend a few weeks heading back up the Rio Grande, stopping again at Big Bend National Park.

Then we’ll dash west across southern New Mexico to the Tucson area, spending a few weeks there at places we stayed at last year, before heading to the Phoenix area. We’ll spend some time at McDowell Mountain again, but also at some places that are new to us. Maureen’s former work organization has its annual meeting in Scottsdale in February, so we plan to meet up with them then.

After that we reverse course down to Tucson again, stopping there for the Escapees Escapade, essentially a convention for its mostly full-time RVer members. Then we pretty much have to high-tail it back home so Kevin can be back in time for a photography event in mid-April. Hopefully the snow will be melted by then!


We’ve already booked half of the nights for this itinerary. The other half are penciled in and subject to change (some campgrounds are first-come-first-served and others we may reserve if space is starting to look tight). We tried to make reservations for the times we know will be tight: holidays and spring break. We may not boondock as much on this trip, because we won’t be going all the way to Quartzsite, where boondocking is plentiful. But we are well equipped to take advantage of “primitive camping” rates (no hookups) that are sometimes offered at state parks.

In preparation for our trip, I tackled some RV maintenance jobs:

  • Grease wheel bearings – this hadn’t been done since the trailer was new, so it was time. Aside from the mess, this was a relatively easy job.
  • Satellite dish – we often stay in areas far from broadcast TV coverage, so this will give us the option to stay current on “Modern Family” and “Monday Night Football”
  • HDMI switcher – so we can watch Netflix, Satellite or DVD through one receiver
  • Restring a window shade – the poor design of these things almost guarantees they will break
  • Repair breakaway cable – this activates emergency brakes on the trailer should it come loose from the hitch; it had somehow been sliced, so it was replaced
  • Lubricate slideout seals – just preventive maintenance
  • Change oil in generator – backup for solar in case we get a lot of cloudy days, or want to use A/C or microwave
  • Winterized the plumbing – As it has been for most of the country, late fall in Northwest Indiana has been unseasonably mild – there hasn’t even been a freeze yet – but since it’s forecast to drop below freezing this weekend, I decided to take care of this job. I took a different approach this year, using an air compressor to blow out the lines instead of pumping antifreeze into the pipes (which leaves a taste that lingers for weeks).

We’re much more confident about this year’s trip than last year’s. That doesn’t mean that we won’t encounter “adventures” along the way, but hopefully we’re experienced enough and well equipped to handle them. While the novelty of RVing has worn off a bit, our need to hit the road, escape winter, see new places, and meet new and old friends hasn’t changed.

A few days ago we went to see 10,000 sandhill cranes congregate at Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area, a resting point on their migration south. They know the weather is changing and so do we. We’ll be right behind them: launch date is only a few weeks away!