Thistle Dew Too's Maiden Voyage
Well, we're home now. We got back a little earlier than planned, since this was our first time driving across the country (note to self: spend more time out west ;-) We covered 17 states (some only briefly): CA, OR, ID, WY, SD, NE, KS, IN, IL, MO, KY, OH, WV, PA, NY, VT, NH.
We had a great time, and found our "RV legs" pretty fast. We had virtually no problems, and only one newbee "D'oh" moment while trying to dump our tanks.
Here's a quick financial synopsis, by the numbers:
- days/nights on the road = 56 days and 55 nights
- miles driven and miles/day = 7502 miles and 134 miles/day
- avg cost/day and avg cost/mile = $124.18/day and $0.93/mile
- gas mileage (avg mpg/tank) = 9.2 mpg (driving 55 mph or less)
- fuel (total, avg/day and % of total) = $3148.56 / $56.22 (45%)
- supplies (total, avg/day and % of total) = $1632.00 / $29.14 (23%)
- groceries (total, avg/day and % of total) = $1321.58 / $23.60 (19%)
- camping (total, avg/night and % of total) = $674.45 / $12.04 (10%)
- eating out (total, avg/day and % of total) = $168.88 / $3.02 (2%)
- propane (total, avg/day and % of total) = $9.04 / $0.16 (1%)
What did we like best about the RV adventure? "Nowhere to be, and all day to get there." That is to say, we planned our itinerary one day at a time, and made only one campsite reservation the entire trip. It was incredibly liberating.
Some surprises? We really liked driving 55 mph. One of us has been known to be a bit of a speed demon. When we lived in Germany, he white-knuckled the autobahn at 115 mph, and enjoyed it. Before this adventure, cruising at 75-80 mph was typical. So we weren't sure what life would be like "in the slow lane." Well ... it's darn relaxing ;-)
Internet on the road was great. We used a cellular modem, external antenna, amplifier, and router to have almost-always available internet access for our two laptops. If I recollect correctly, we were only without internet access 2 out of 55 nights. You can read more about our set up here.
Taking "navy showers" is not a problem. We didn't feel deprived or like we were roughing it as we tried to match Andy's 1-gallon showers. And while we probably didn't reach that level of stinginess, we never ran out of fresh water, and never filled our waste tanks. Boondocking is what we like best.
On the other hand, we installed an over-the-top solar system (500W solar panels and 520Ah AGM batteries), and were pretty much energy "hogs". We used our inverter regularly, and therefore were able to run our microwave, toaster, and hairdryer on demand, without having to fire up the generator. Indeed, we only ran the generator twice when high temps warranted daytime A/C. However, warm and muggy nights did cause us to seek out electrical hookups more than we wanted to allow us to keep running the A/C so we could sleep comfortably.
We found the 2000 26.5' Mid-bath Lazy Daze very comfortable (if somewhat cozy) for two people; frankly, we can't imagine how large families manage to keep from coming to blows (Tessa, we're waiting on your reports ;-). But storage both inside and out seemed generous for our needs.
So we drove our new-to-us rig with over 80,000 miles on it across country, and added another 7500 miles with no maintenance issues (thank you Ed and Carol Daniels for your fastidious upkeep, and Lazy Daze for your outstanding quality). We thought the ride was quite comfortable (except for those California rattle traps called interstate highways -- OMG!).
Our next big (cross-country) adventure won't be until January 2009 (this time we'll be heading east-west via the southern route). Until then, we anticipate exploring our own beautiful state and New England region.
Woo-hoo ... we're RV'ers!