Thursday, August 25, 2016

Retirement Travels - Year Two

The Winter Travel Season of 2015-16 was, by-far, more extensive, ambitious and a whole lot more fun. Why? Why not? Gas prices were low and campground fees in some areas had not risen as high as other places. It pays to shop around - as always. Over the course of the season, I traveled 4447.9 miles, driving 82.7 hours total and spending $956.29 in gasoline expense. Of course, these are the estimates provided in the Good Sam online software.

Those actual gasoline expenses weren't tallied, but they are accounted for in my budgeting software. The estimates also don't include the two trailer tires and two engine oil changes along the way. I'm good-to-go now, though.

My itinerary was the main reason I had such a great season. I planned to spend Christmas in New Orleans and New Years in south Texas, but I frequently change plans -- just because I can. I did get to spend the 180th Anniversary of the Battle of the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas. That was a thrill as well as a time of reverence and remembrance of those brave men and women who taught us the value of freedom from political tyranny by the price they paid. A visit there should be on everyone's list of places to appreciate up close.

As a Good Sam member, I have use of their online Trip Planner service - finding camps along the way.
I've noticed a sharp increase in those camp fees since so many Baby Boomers decided to retire and take to the roads. And here I thought is was just my idea. I should have known I got it from somewhere else. Even the state parks have raised their fees.

In all fairness to state parks, they do give campers fair value if you want the wild forest and as-real-as-you-can-get experience of camping from an RV perspective, but the comfort of a water and sewer hookup at your site are usually non-existent, but clean, potable water is available at many convenient sources throughout the parks. Most include a picnic table and fireplace ring, which is also enhances the woodland experience. The beauties, wonder and experience of nature are their hallmark features - a quiet respite for travelers. Sites are spaced well-apart for enhanced privacy, too. As a rule, only a maximum 14-day reservation is allowed, however.

National Parks have also, but thanks to the Senior Pass (a lifetime pass), those fees are half-price for us old folks. Since most of these are out West, it takes more gas to get there, so it evens out. The experiences there are about the same as state parks but they offer much more in the way of hiking, biking, kayaking and assistance from Park Rangers and their assistants. At state parks, you hardly see a Ranger, that I've noticed.

In Arkansas, I even self-served my stay at a machine in the lobby of the old Ranger Station. I pulled into the most convenient available site, memorized the site number, went to the office and input the information and my credit card. The machine spit out a ticket listing the day of my check-out, which had to be clipped to the post beside my site. That was interesting.

On this trip, I also got the opportunity to put my newly delivered kayak in the ocean waters off the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. On my very first trip out, I saw a dorsal fin rise about the water surface and freaked out at the possibility of a shark feasting off-shore, but it turned out to be a friendly dolphin. That was cool.

In my month-long stay on Galveston Island, I took advantage of their version of Mardi Gras. The park rangers in New Orleans suggested that Mardi Gras in New Orleans might be too crazy for novice travelers, so we continued on our journey. I was totally unaware of the celebration in Galveston.

Okay, so, that's a little highlight reel for now, but rest assured that I'll be back with scenes and adventures from each park I visited and the sights along the way. I may, also, have some video to put up. I wish I had my video camera set-up so I could show you the dophin I saw and the alligators I didn't see on another kayak trip through the bayou in Mississippi.

So, I'll leave you with a satellite map of my trip - also an option on the Good Sam website. Enjoy your day and get yourself out there! Life is getting shorter every day. Nobody knows that better than an older person. That's my advice to you - take it or leave it, but enjoy yourself.

Cool, huh?
Check back with us later.



  1. that's quite a trek, my friend :)

    1. All part of living my dream. This is a great country and I want so see it personally for as long as I can.