It began in the summer of 2016. July to be exact. I quit my job, put my stuff into storage, got into an RV, and traveled across America, twice! The journey began with me and my wife. We bought the RV to start a new life out west thinking this would be what would heal our relationship. Get away from New York State, start over, it will work. Maybe a different state would bring us closer together? Maybe the mountains? The hills? The people? A quieter place to live?
Sadly, our vision for the future did not connect and we, unfortunately, went our separate ways. Why write this blog post? Try and stop me! Your America is beautiful and free! Our country was founded on the belief of freedom and prosperity! Traveling across 20 States in America and I've got nothing positive to say? Yeah right! Try and stop me!
My journey across our beloved country started from Clifton Park NY. All things were in place, and after I backed up and ran over someone's mail box ( hahahaha! ) I put it in drive, made my way to the interstate and said “BYE! BYE!” to NYS! My nerves were beginning to stir up from the back of my neck down to my stomach. What was I getting myself into? What will I see? What if something freaking goes ballistically wrong?
This was the complete opposite of what everyone else was doing and people could not believe that I was actually getting it done. I drove for 8 hours on the first day and I honestly don't remember where I stayed. I didn't care at this point. How many people could honestly say they started traveling across America at 32 years old in an RV? It didn't make sense to rush into this every single day, so I comfortably drove 3.5 to 4 hours per day to each RV campground. 5 hours was only for the RV parks that I knew would be the most affordable.
Most of the United States is VERY flat! Only in the popular areas was it mountainous and hilly. Now, don't get me wrong, that portion of America that has hills and mountains is very large, but I think a lot of states are flat.
I Don't Think We're In Kansas Anymore…Or Are We?
One of the largest man-made lakes in Kansas is also one of the prettiest spots I stayed at. Just over 24 miles long and loaded with bass, Milford Lake was actually quite interesting to see up front. It is strangely surrounded by rolling hills.
The RV park was called the “Milford State Park”.
Even though I was driving a 36 foot RV with a Honda Civic in tow, the RV park was ready to provide a place to stay. Most always do. One thing I'll say is that I would probably go with a different tow for a car. My old tow was the kind where you drove the car right onto it and then strapped it down. That only works if you are flat solid ground. And don't try to put your car on a road that “looks flat”. That will be for later when we actually got to Colorado. Yikes…
Estes Park, Colorado & The Trail Ridge Road
The sight of the Colorado Rockies is JAW DROPPING and will make you feel like a kid again! When I was a good 10 miles away from the Colorado Rockies, I could see them peaking over the horizon. Jagged edges of the highest mountains I've ever seen were visible and the excitement was stirring up inside! As I drove the RV closer, it became obvious that I was finally stepped in the Rockies! I visited my grandmother who still lives not to far away from Boulder. I got to see her and my Uncle and extended family. I was really glad to have reconnected with them.
Interesting story! It was August and the 2016 Summer Olympics were in full swing! Go USA! But out of nowhere, my antenna suddenly broke and would not fully extend upward. I could not get any channels and needed to figure this out to watch the Games of the XXXI Olympiad! As I was laying there on my little couch, I was staring right at the crank that raises my antenna. My eyes saw the company brand and phone number, but THEN, I read the street address. They were located in Longmont, Colorado? I quickly searched on Google Maps and was BLOWN AWAY that this company was 45 minutes away from my current location!
I called them up immediately and gave them the part number for my antenna. They actually had the piece, brand new and in stock! I can't stress how God's timing works together for those that love Him and are the called according to His purposes! I made a B-Line right for Longmont and they actually had the part in stock! It was like $15 and BAM baby! I was back in Olympic business! It's really important to laugh at challenges and take them head on. I truly believe that we could overcome a lot of obstacles, achieve our dreams, change habits, and be delivered from our greatest fears if we face them. Granted, we need God's help!
The mountains look like one BIG rock. Estes Park, Colorado is around 7,550 feet above sea level and the mountains from the base to the peak are over 6,500 feet in some areas. Over 1 mile high? SO Mesmerizing and Majestic! The whole scenery looks like a shot from The Lord of The Rings. As you gaze into the purple mountain majesty, you feel somewhat prepare to fight off any orcs running over the hills in front of you. Yeah bring it, I bought bear spray that could take out a Grizzly, and I ain't afraid of no “orc”!
Breathtaking Views of The Trail Ridge Road
When Do The Locals Hike in Estes Park Colorado?
I made the unfortunate mistake of leaving too late and getting out to late. The locals love to get inside the park right around 9 am sharp. That's, out of the car and on the trail at 9 am. One of the most impressive things about these people is that they ALL leave together! It's like a state trooper blows the Horn of Helm Hammerhand and all the locals retreat back to their cozy Hobbit homes at the same time. Me on the other hand? Didn't see the writing on the wall I guess. The dark clouds of Mordor looked cool for a selfie. It seems like their cars started themselves before the people even grabbed for the keys. They were racing on out of the mountains around 1 pm in the afternoon. ALL of them! Because every day around 1 – 3 pm, there is a thunder and lightning storm that you should avoid. I kid you not when I say that lightning was striking all around me and it started to freak me out a little bit.
I saw a Forest Ranger booking it passed me down the mountain and I asked if it was not safe to go any further. He said, “Well I'm not staying up here! You should turn around right now.” I followed the guy's advice and started heading back. I'm glad I did. One of the obvious signs of a lightning strike is the hair on your head and your arms will begin sticking straight up! This was one of the photos I was able to quickly take a snap-shot of before turning back.
My Conclusion of Kansas & Colorado
What I want you to do is write on a post-it note and slam it on your fridge to visit these places 90 days from today! Braving the unknown really made me nervous and excited for this new journey. But you want to know something? I use this as feedback for something great! I would never have seen this amazing part of our beautiful country had I sat around watching it on TV. Get our butt out there and take amazing photos of MAJESTIC mountains!
What To Consider Before Driving an RV Across America
The thought of driving a 36′ beast across the country seems daunting, and a little scary, but once you have a plan, it's really not difficult. Heck, retired people love RV's and I saw them at every RV park! One of the things I kind of think I would have done differently was renting an RV, instead of buying one.
Because as soon as you are done using it, you give it back to the company you got it from. But if you buy your own, now your stuck with it and will probably have an RV loan to pay each month. Not only that but insurance goes up as well, not by much, but you will be paying for an RV that you are using.
I only say “I consider it” because moving out west was the plan. Instead of a cramped box truck, put all stuff in storage and send it out to you later on. Or you could easily rent out a POD and they will ship the storage container right out to you.
Fuel consumption will blow your wallet right out the window. If you are looking to drive a good 3,000 miles, simply tack on $1 per mile and that's about a good average of what you will probably pay. It's good to over estimate but this is right around what you will most likely pay.
How To Save $1,000 in RV Travel Expenses
You will want to know all the little tricks on how to save money here and there in your RV, but I think this is a big one. When you stay overnight in a remote area that is not all that pretty, like mountains and hills and the ocean, you will find it to be much cheaper than staying by the ocean for example. We are talking about a difference of $20 per night vs $50 – $75 a night!
Walmart parking lots are your go-to for a quick overnight stay and that will absolutely cut costs. Most Walmarts are very friendly to RV travelers ( which we all thank you for! ). Walmart will only ask you to park as far away from the entrance as possible. So park way in the back and I guarantee that you will start to see other RV's already pulled over in the back.
A word of caution, some Walmarts do not want overnight parking and they have signs all over their parking lots. But here's what I did to solve that problem. I was wicked tired from the long drive and I simply walked right up to the customer service desk and asked them plainly. “What are your policies for RV's staying overnight?” That's it. That's all I asked. And they politely responded, “We'll let you stay tonight. Just do some shopping and you can leave in the morning.” Also, please refrain from using your generators at 2 am! I asked someone to shut theirs off and they started it right back up. UGH!…
All across America, the Walmarts were super cool about me staying overnight. I would say ONLY ONE in some dumpy area near Erie Pennsylvania did they give me a REALLY hard time about it. I was the only one and could have quietly kept to myself.
Great RV Tips For Cell Phone Providers
Hands down, Verizon beats them all, but now matter where you go, when you are in the mountains, you will not have enough cell phone service to send a text. I kid you not! Verizon was the most reliable but they were getting ridiculous with there random fees so we dropped them for AT&T and T-Mobile. The reason why I had two was in case one provider wasn't working, I could rely on the other one. This actually came in a handy a couple of times! One really cool benefit of going with T-Mobile is a service they provide called “Binge-On”. For a flat rate of $70, all data streaming in 480p from YouTube, or Pandora, or Netflix would not use any of your data. As long as you had good cell phone coverage, you could stream as much as you wanted without burning through your data plan
Most of the flat states or flatter sides of the mountainous state build their cell phone towers close by the roads. I didn't see any issues and actually was relieved when my emails started buzzing in. I jumped on a podcast and listened away!
Stay tuned for my next blog post about Glacier National Park in Montana!!!