So, here we are: 2017 is almost entirely in the history books while 2018 awaits. Wow, this year really flew, even more so than last. And it was a great year – not for the planet, or humanity, or intelligent life, obviously, but for the Chapter 3 gang, it was pretty good. So, I wrote this very long post that chronologically recapped our year of travels but Kevin was like, “It’s good, but I don’t think many people are gonna want to read that whole thing” and I thought: “Dammit, Kevin…” But…. the guy had a point. No one wants to read thousands of words about our past travels. Hell, most people don’t want to read thousands of words about anything. The Kardashians didn’t become billionaires because Americans are reading a lot. Hell no they did not. And reading long, chronological, year-in-review posts is not what people come to this site for in the first place. What do people come here for? I have no idea. Seriously. I have no idea.

But I wasn’t going to toss that article in the trash because a) it took forever to put together and b) I can’t remember crap, so it will help me a year from now when I’m like: “We were in Maine? Really?? I don’t remember that at all…”

So, if anyone wants to read a very long, detailed, recap of our 2017 travels, they can find it here

Otherwise… 2017…. Let’s discuss…. (in an abbreviated fashion)

2017 Recap

We began our year in St. Augustine, Florida where we’d spent the holidays with Kevin’s folks and extended family. We then made our way west, stopping at several beautiful Florida state parks, New Orleans, and Galveston before hitting our westernmost point of the year: San Antonio, Texas. By the end of March, we’d also visited Austin and Dallas.

As winter turned to spring, we started back east, stopping in Hot Springs, Memphis, and Nashville before meeting up with friends in Lexington for some bourbon tasting. We then attended the Kentucky Derby before starting back toward Virginia in order to attend a wedding and visit our friends and former colleagues in the D.C. area.

As it got warmer, we chased the nice weather up the East coast, stopping in Gettysburg before landing in lovely Vermont. We then crossed New Hampshire before starting an extended stay in Maine. From Northern Maine, we crossed the border into Canada and spent the rest of the summer touring the Canadian Maritime Provinces.

As summer turned to fall, we started west across New York State, Ohio, and into Indiana, where we stopped so we could attend the Chicago Marathon. After the race, we headed due south, stopping for a second time in Nashville, before coming to rest here in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

2017 By the Numbers

Number of miles added to Barney in 2017: 8,847

Number of miles added to the Xterra in 2017: 10,003

Number of states visited (camped at): 18 (Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Indiana, Alabama.)

Additional states driven to or through: 2 (Maryland, Mississippi)

Number of Canadian provinces visited: 3 (New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia)

Total number of campgrounds stayed at: 56

Government operated (ie: state and county parks): 18

Privately operated: 37 (11 of which were “transit” stops – meaning we stayed two nights or less while on our way somewhere else)

Other: 1 (Getting warranty work done)

Best and Worst of 2017

Favorite Memory

Kevin: My favorite memories were hiking the South Bubble Trail and Beech Mountain Trail at Acadia National Park in Maine. The South Bubble Trail was physically and mentally demanding, and represented the first time we’d had to tackle a challenging trail.

Clinging to the side of the South Bubble Mountain

The Beech Mountain Trail was less physically challenging, but it had the benefit of traveling through several different environments before rewarding us with fantastic views from the top (including the featured image at the very top of this post).

Both were fun hikes that made us feel like we were really hiking rather than just strolling through the woods….

Laura: My favorite memory was the day we took a very long, scenic, drive up to the northernmost point of Nova Scotia. Once we got off the main route, we found deserted roads and quiet viewpoints from which to take in the spectacular scenery.

When we finally reached the top of Cape Breton Island, we found a tiny restaurant perched on a cliff overlooking a small beach full of neat rock sculptures. A light lunch, a beer, and a walk by the ocean completed the day perfectly.

Dixie: “My favorite memories were when my grandparents came to visit for Thanksgiving and Christmas and gave me tons of attention and ALL the treats. I mean they know how to hook a puppy up. They just give me whatever the hell I want!! It’s like Christmas and my birthday every time they’re here! And yes, sometimes all those treats lead to me having an upset stomach, but whatever… Look how happy I am!!

Least favorite memory:

Kevin: Having to deal with Dixie’s diarrhea

Laura: Having to deal with Dixie’s diarrhea

Dixie: “Don’t look at me. Talk to grandma and grandpa.”

Favorite city:

Nashville: I have already yammered on about all the reasons we love Nashville here and here… but, it comes down to this: Great music, fun bars, lots to see and do, and the Parthenon.

Least Favorite City:

The Alamo was overrun with visitors while we were there….

San Antonio: This really was likely a result of timing more than anything… we were there during Texas Public Schools’ spring break so there were about a million people at every site, and it was just a bit overwhelming. Our campground was also one of our least favorites, so there just wasn’t much to love about our visit. We would give the city another shot though.

Best Food Experience

Franklin Barbecue: Franklin is THE most popular barbecue place in Austin. People sometimes stand in line for 4 to 6 hours to eat there. We weren’t even planning on trying to visit, but, we walked up on a lark and got in in less than an hour… AND the kitchen staff sent us home with a free to-go bag of extra food. It was awesome.

What most people see at midday….

What we got to see…

Most Disappointing Food Experience:

Lockhart, Texas: This town is known for its barbecue and is, supposedly, the best place to go for real Texas Barbecue. We had high expectations for it, but we just weren’t feeling it. It was fine, but we had more fun at the less pretentious restaurants closer in, and the food was just as good, if not better, than anything we had out in Lockhart.

We enjoyed the architecture more than the barbecue….

Favorite State:

Vermont. No question about it, we just loved everything about this low density, high ratio of cheese-to-humans state. Good food, good beer, good maple syrup, and everything is gorgeous…. Love it!

Least Favorite State:

We didn’t have one. While there were a couple places that didn’t really grab us, we can’t say we spent enough time in any of them to fairly assess a question like this.

This is not a subliminal message.

Favorite Campground:

Gulf State Park, Gulf Shores, AL. I have a whole post coming about this park, but suffice to say, it combines everything we love about state parks with all the amenities we usually only see at private parks. Plus it’s affordable and in a fun location.

Kevin dipping his toes in the Gulf of Mexico

Favorite National Park/Monument/Historic Site:

Acadia National Park. While we visited numerous state and national parks, national historic sites, museums, and monuments, Acadia was our favorite. We spent hours exploring the park and only saw a tiny fraction of what was there. The views are fantastic, the hikes were memorable, the carriage roads were unique, and there were a ton of options to keep us occupied. We loved it.

Jordan Pond
Jordan pond – one of many gorgeous places in Acadia National Park.

Hitch Itch Sets In….

We’ve spent two months in Gulf Shores and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed our relaxing stay; it was just what we needed after our overly hectic fall. But, as we wind down to the end of our reservation, we are feeling ready to move on. Our eight week stay here has been our longest by far (our lengthiest reservation before this was just two weeks), so we’re definitely feeling the pull of the road. However, we’re also cognizant that the weather is having a significant impact on our desire to go.

While our first month in Gulf Shores was ideal with daily temperatures in the mid 70’s, our second month was much less appealing. Over the past several weeks, we’ve had a fair amount of rain and cold that has seriously limited our ability to take advantage of the park’s best features – the beaches, trails, and lakes that provide endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. And yes, there are people who go out biking when it’s 40 degrees and raining, but we are not those people… Our willingness to exercise can be graphed on a straight line between 68 and 72 degrees. Any colder, and we’re inside drinking beer. Any warmer, we’re outside drinking beer. Our bodies are temples. Temples that only get exercise when it’s nice out.

Exploring the lovely, deserted beaches of Gulf Shores on a sunny and warm November day….

Of course, I’m just kidding (kinda), but the weather really can have a huge impact on our lives, and when it’s cold and raining out, and we’re stuck inside a small RV, and it gets dark at 5:00 p.m….. a change of scenery starts looking mighty appealing. None of this is to say we regret our choice to stay here for such a long time. We really have enjoyed it. I just think if the weather had stayed warm and sunny, we would be dreading the idea of leaving, whereas, right now, we’re feeling ready to hit the road in search of toastier temperatures.

2018 Plans

Speaking of moving on, currently, we have a general game plan mapped out for the year, and I’ve booked most of our reservations through May. Of course, all plans are subject to change at any time. Just in the past year, we extended our stays in Grayton Beach, Galveston, Vermont, Bar Harbor, and Gulf Shores. All except for Bar Harbor were because we loved where we were and didn’t want to leave (Bar Harbor was related to Dixie’s health issues). But we know that not every year will be as smooth as this one and, eventually, we’ll have to reschedule things because life will go off course. It’s just part of the deal.

With all that in mind, the plan for the time being is for us to jet out of Alabama on the first of the year and head to New Orleans for a couple days before continuing west. We’ll then cross Texas before heading into Arizona, where we’ll spend several weeks. March will begin with a visit to Joshua Tree National Park and end with a lengthy stop in San Diego. By late April, we hope to start touring some of the big Southern Utah national parks – Zion, Bryce, etc. before heading east into Colorado. I’ve got a couple alternative scenarios for the summer and fall, but I haven’t booked anything just yet. Every time I think I have things figured out, I change my mind, toss the plan in the trash, and start over.

Happy New Year!

Anyway, as the clock runs down on 2017, we want to thank all of you for hanging out with us. We really do appreciate folks taking the time to read this blog, subscribe, comment, and hang out with us on social media. It truly does make this whole experience a lot more fun.

In the meantime, we wish everyone the very best in 2018! See you on the other side!

41 COMMENTS

  1. Happy New Year!! Nice recap! I thought your least favorite state would be IN….. here’s to many great more posts in 2018!! Lol, did Dixie get into the Christmas cookies?? 🤪

    • Yeah, Northern Indiana didn’t exactly wow us, but we really did like Charlestown State Park in the south, and we really didn’t explore much of the state. Not that we’ve really explored Ohio all that much either, but I mean, it’s Ohio… what is there to explore, really? Hahahahaha. I’m just kidding… not really. Anywho… Happy New Year! Here’s to another year of your lighting quick response time to new posts and speed reading!

  2. What a great year you’ve had — and what a great wrap-up! Like you, I’ve realized that most people want the Cliff’s notes version of our travels. (But I’ll read your unabridged version, too.) I always enjoy your posts and appreciate that you take the time to share your travels with us. Here’s to a wonderful, adventure-filled 2018! I’m hoping we can meet up somewhere this year.

    • Right back at you, Laurel. The list of places we “have to” go to expands every time I read your newest post. You guys find fantastic towns I have never heard of and give me all kinds of ideas. And yes, if there’s one thing I want to put more effort into this year, it’s meeting up with the people we’ve been introduced to through this blog and social media. Hopefully our paths will cross somewhere along the line. Here’s to a great 2018!

  3. Another great post! We are planning our spring/summer plans and will hit some of your favorites.

    Consider Cave Creek Regional Park when you come to AZ. Large sites, great hiking trails, close to shopping. We are hosts there till April and volunteer at Spur Cross Recreation Area, another awesome place for hiking. Cave Creek is a quirky little western town that’s fun to explore!
    We would love to have a beer with you and chat about our adventures!
    Debbie
    Our FB page, We Are the Millers + Rick

    • I have definitely heard good things about Cave Creek Regional Park. That’s awesome that you got a hosting site there. Our plan for this visit is to stay south (trying to stay warm). Our reservations are in Benson, Tucson, Gila Bend, and Lake Havasu, so that’s still pretty far south and southwest of where you are, but we can just see how things go. We’d definitely love to get together if we can make it work! Happy New Year!!!

      • Same to you! Well, it’s been pretty warm in Cave Creek, mostly 70’s. We loved Catalina State Park in Tucson and Cattail Cove in Lake Havasu.
        You will love the Southwest! Enjoy

  4. What a fantastic year! We’re thinking of heading northeast from DC in June and now you have Vermont on my radar. I’ve also been envious of your foray into Canada since I saw the photos earlier this year. Hope you have a terrific 2018!

    • I would absolutely recommend that – the weather in New England and eastern Canada in the summer is just awesome. And we cannot recommend Vermont enough. It’s just gorgeous and so peaceful, but at the same time, there’s a ton to see and do. You’ll never be bored. And I haven’t checked recently, but if the exchange rate is as good as it was when we were in Canada, you can get a lot of value for what you spend. Just another thing to consider…. Hope you guys have a wonderful New Year!

  5. Great recap. I always love hearing what places folks like and dislike and why. The desert is parched this year and looking very sad…. just a word of warning. Happy New Year and safe travels 🙂

    • Me too… Though, the more we travel, the more I really think things like weather or the quality of the campground we’re staying at can have a huge impact on how we feel about a place… which is not always completely fair, but that’s just how it is. Good to know about the overly dry desert. As you know, the landscape will be a new one to us, so it’s good to know that what we’ll be seeing won’t be completely representative of the norm (In other words, we’ll try not to be too “judgey.”) Happy New Year!

  6. Happy New Year! Let me know when you’re headed to Joshua Tree – if we have the time off, we’ll come camp a few days and hang out! Would love to see you guys!

    • That would be awesome! We’d love to meet up with you guys! As of right now, we’ll be there at the beginning of March.. Let’s touch base as we get closer and see if it works….Happy 2018!!!!

  7. What a wonderful year you had despite a few hiccups, (just ask Dixie) but more so because you brought me back to 2013 when we were hanging out in the East Coast. I so agree with you with your favorite state park, Gulf State Park it is at the top of our list as well. We just wished all state parks are like that!
    Well, we will keep an eye on you as you are heading west where we will be. Our plans are set and we will be in Tucson in Feb then moosy up north to Utah. Hopefully our path will cross. We are currently in San Diego and I can suggest RV parks for you but be forwarned, its pricey here 🙁 you know its CA.

    • Hey! We’re in Tucson in February too! Yay!!! I’ll drop you an email and maybe we can plan a get-together! We are already booked in San Diego. We got a monthly rate and yeah, it’s not exactly cheap, but at least it’s their offseason rate, so it’s not as terrible as it could be. I’ll definitely want to hear your suggestions of where to go and what to do. I have a feeling we’re gonna stay very busy while we’re there! Hope you guys have a fantastic New Year!

    • Yeah, we should definitely try to meet up then…. I’ll reach out as we get closer and see if we can make something work. It’ll be great to see you guys! Happy New Year!

  8. Long time reader…first time commenter – love this blog and love your sense of humor. Can’t wait to see what’s ahead for 2018.
    Happy Trails!

    • Victoria – Thank you for reading and thank you for your kind comments. I truly appreciate it! And we are very much looking forward to 2018 as well… specifically the part where we get the hell out of the freezing cold southeast and find sunshine and warmth in the southwest…. stay tuned…. Happy New Year!!

    • Thank you for reading and thanks for your comment. Hopefully our luck will continue. 2017 really was a pretty good year. All the best to you in 2018!

  9. Loved your recap of the year. Have an amazing time out West in 2018. Jeff and I always thought we would spend our RVing days along the gulf coast. But we headed West our first year and haven’t left. It truly is amazing AND…no bugs!

    • Kevin and I were just discussing as we drove today that the ONE good thing about the frigid cold weather we’re experiencing is that we can drive the RV without getting a bunch of dead bugs on the windshield. That was literally the only thing we could find to be happy about. So, needless to say, we’re pretty excited about getting out to the southwest and finding sunshine AND warmth AND no bugs! If it’s as great as everyone says, we too may stick around! Happy New Year!

  10. There’s a reason I don’t show Shoam posts before they go live. 😉 He thinks anything over 100 words is too long, and his typical refrain is “you wrote about that?!” We are getting the hitch itch too – and we need to get to warmer weather so we exercise more and stop eating potatoes at every meal. Looking forward to Tucson!

    • Potatoes? That sounds downright healthy. At least they’re natural. We’ve been on a steady diet of coffee and cookies for WEEKS!! Also, please remind me of all this in Tucson when I, inevitably, suggest we all skip the hiking in favor of going to a bar.

  11. Happy New Year! I can’t wait for more posts (since I’m living vicariously through you). And I can’t wait to see you again! xoxo

    • Happy New Year to you too! As soon as I figure out when we’ll be back in town, I will let you know. That’s the one downside of this whole project – I miss you all. 🙁

  12. Laura, just to help you prove Kevin wrong. I read both posts, long and recap. Liked the long one better. I’m like you, don’t know why, but I think it’s the intrigue and seeing what and where you are or have been. Being fulltimers ourselves, I often check on others blogs to see if it is some where we might want to go. Photos are all great too. Safe travels in the New Year. Thanks for blogging.

    • Thanks for your comment, Doug! I can’t tell you how many times I have gone back to an old post and been reminded of something we saw or did and been thankful for having the blog. I know it can be a total time-suck, but it’s just a great way to remember this whole thing. And I also can’t even begin to imagine how many times I have gotten ideas from other bloggers. Nowadays, it’s the first thing I do when we’re going somewhere new: pull up 5 or 6 of my favorite bloggers and see if they went there and what they suggested. This community is such an awesome resource and you can save yourself so much time and aggravation by following in the footsteps of others. Speaking of which, what’s the name of your blog? Happy Travels!

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