Epilogue

We pulled the Airstream onto Colonial Airstream’s parking lot in Lakewood NJ, on St. Patrick’s Day, ostensibly marking our one-year anniversary Streaming thru America, and my one-year anniversary of blogging with WordPress under the same moniker.

Colonial Airstream

This has been a journey of a lifetime after a lifetime of journeys. It seems that everything I’ve done up until last year’s departure has prepared me for this adventure: as a NYC taxi driver, I honed my driving skills; as a restaurateur, I learned to cook using simple ingredients to create meals with complex flavors; as a camper, I grew up with an appreciation of nature and an affinity for adventure; as a producer, I perfected a perspective for planning and budgeting; as a carpenter, I mastered my mechanical skills; and as a special educator, I learned how to gain acceptance with the many special people we’ve met along the way.

This has also been a trip of numbers. As road warriors, Leah and I have travelled to 127 destinations: covering a total of 44,600 miles (5,500 flying miles) to thirty-six U.S. States; one Mexican State (Quintana Roo); and four Canadian Provinces (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia).

Cost-wise, Leah acted as bursar for the trip, and took responsibility for all data entry into a categorized spreadsheet. Using round numbers, our largest expense was campground fees at nearly $13,000. We stayed at a smattering of National Parks (only because gaining online reservations are fiercely contested up to a year in advance), a few State Parks, a handful of Provincial Parks, some County and City Parks, predominantly private RV parks (many Good Sam and KOA affiliates), and an occasional Walmart parking lot when we were transitioning between longer distances. As a rule, we rarely travelled further than a tankful of gas, or the rough equivalent of 400 miles.

Entertainment was our second leading expense at approximately $10,000, which covered films, concerts, shows, tours, park fees, and ample opportunities for sampling the best food of the area, from fine dining to dive bars.

Next, we spent nearly $8,000 purchasing food and groceries–including paper products, personal hygiene, and liquor–with the lion’s share spent at Walmart and Costco.

And our last largest expense was for gasoline and liquid propane, which ran us close to $8000. We made 115 trips to the pump for 3300 gallons of gas, yielding an average of 11.8 miles per gallon from coast to coast to coast, while towing mileage topped out at 10.1 MPG.

Living aboard the Airstream for a year was also an exercise in living with less. At 240 square feet from stem to stern…

2017-airstream-flying-cloud-27fb-2-e1521351550640.png

and cargo limited to a folded rear seat and 52.8 cu. ft. of storage behind the cab of our Ford F-150 pickup…

2017-ford-f-150-carry-on-seats-folded (4)

we learned to live efficiently, but never uncomfortably.

Leah and I scaled down to a small wardrobe of layering, using a combination of casual sportswear, appropriate outerwear and a wide variety of outdoor footwear to address most weather conditions.

The galley held two pots, two pans, two mix bowls, and Corel for four; a drawer of utensils and a drawer full of cooking and kitchen gadgets; a traditional assortment of spices and herbs; one presspot (mine), one two-cup percolator (Leah’s) and two coffee mugs; a tiny toaster, a hand mixer, a built-in microwave, a compact vacuum, and a VitaMix–my biggest indulgence for emergency frozen margaritas.

Electronics included: two mounted LED TVs, two tablets, one laptop, a color compact HP printer, a Kindle, a pair of UE Booms, Jaybird wireless earbuds, a Lumix DMZ-FZ300 for photography, and a tangle of cables and charging accessories.

The truck bed was home to a couple of stadium chairs, a CLAM screen enclosure, a 2000-Watt Honda generator, a hefty tool chest, and a portable Weber grill.

Our bicycles clung to the backside of the Airstream, tied to a Fiamma rack.

bikes.jpg

Getting along for 365 days was our biggest experiment, and a wild card for this trip’s success. While there was no denying our compatibility, we would often joke if we would still be smiling and talking to each other by day 365.

Our roles were defined early on, seemingly divided along gender lines: I did the routing, navigation and driving, the setups and breakdowns at RV sites, and all the general maintenance; while Leah acted as cleaning commando (inside and out) and laundry lieutenant. Invariably, Leah prepared a simple breakfast and packed a light lunch, while I played chef de cuisine for dinner.

Although our living quarters were tight, our door usually opened onto something spectacular, from sunrises…

sunrise (2)

Grand Canyon sunrise (2)

to sunsets…

Mt. Pleasant, SC

sunset

sundown panorama (2)

so most of days were spent exploring the extraordinary.

We brought along a cribbage board and backgammon set, thinking that when our conversation ran dry, we could always resort to games, but when it was the two of us together lounging in our lair, we either stretched out along the dinette streaming Netflix when internet allowed, or sought alone time at opposite ends of the trailer, separated by a sliding screen or a swinging lavatory door.

Our queenish-sized platform bed was roomy and comfy. And the only times we slept apart was for five days when I was fighting the flu. Otherwise, our sleeping cycles alternated between retiring together, or more often than not, Leah retiring early while I night-owled to edit photography du jour, or posted to my blog.

Although this blog is by no means the end, it has been a means to an end. Streaming thru America has given me a springboard to dive into my desire to write consistently for a audience bigger than one, and a jump-start to reinvigorating my passion for photography. Combining my writing and photography in a travel blog has been reaffirming and therapeutic, and the motivation I needed to pump out 160 posts of 100,000 words and 2800 photos along the way.

What started as a forum for family and friends has grown organically to a following of 1900 plus fans through WordPress and social media, with viewers from 140 countries along for the ride. I am awed and humbled every day that people from all over world find value in my words and pictures. And I am determined to keep going.

Long before we started out, Leah had already decided on our exit strategy–that once we’d completed our trip, and our Airstream had served its purpose, we’d put it on the selling block. But I had a different vision–that this trip would lay the foundation for future trips around the continent. While it would never be as epic as this particular journey, I could nonetheless foresee regional trips to faraway fields and streams for a month or two or three.

However, after shoving off and putting hundreds of miles behind us, the new and scary gave way to familiar and fearless, and Leah was hooked.

As it happens, there were so many destinations that we short-changed in favor of keeping the whirlwind spinning (see An Olympian Apology), not to mention sections of the country that we bypassed all together, that today we feel compelled to prepare preliminary plans to patch the holes in our past itinerary.

For now, the Airstream sits in the dealer’s lot awaiting its spring maintenance, although the fourth nor’easter forecasted to hit this area in as many weeks makes us yearn for the Texas heat spell we endured last April (see “We’re on the Road to Nowhere”).

When we return to Towaco, we’ll have a house to sell and a household to pack away for our anticipated move to St. Augustine (see Finally!). Then, in a few months, we’ll recapture the glory of living as seasoned road warriors, as we savor the feeling of hauling our reconditioned Airstream through the Shenandoah Valley and over the Blue Ridge Mountains to a long-term storage solution in Charlotte NC.

And before too long, it will be time to hitch up the Airstream like old times, and follow the road on a new course and a new adventure.

Until next time,

streaming thru america

Happy Trails!

133 thoughts on “Epilogue

  1. I just found out about your epic journey in the Airstream; I see I’m late in the game and have missed the whole thing. I’ll be looking at this again as time goes on, because I love road trips and would love to do something like this once my husband retires. Thanks so much for all the information about cost and living conditions. What a grand journey! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you ever so kindly. I love to be inspired by other travelers, and I hope to inspire them as well. I’ve actually written 16 blogs before, in different regions, but now I’m consolidating to one. It was way too cumbersome to have so many. 🙂 Thanks so much for dropping by. I really want to do that Airstream trip! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. WordPress has many tutorials. Also, you need to experiment with the process. You will define yourself by your growth, and the knowledge you take away from this is empowering. You can then use it to perfect your personal style in your own blog. That’s what will make it unique and a good fit for sustaining your creativity. Good luck.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I wish I had ran across your blog sooner. I’ll have to go back and catch up on your prior year traveling. Is there a such thing as binge reading? Lol. I’m very intrigued. Id like to know if you made it to VA. I’m sure you did!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Armchair travellers can go anywhere at any time. And it’s so much cheaper. We did make it thru VA on our return north, staying at VA Beach, and visiting Arlington Cemetary. Our return south will take us thru Shenandoah late spring, which already has me longing for the road again.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I am so in love with this post and so sad that I’m just now finding your blog. To travel for 365 days is braving the unknown. What a great story and ineffable experience this must’ve been. My favorite part is how all of your past jobs played an essential role in contributing to the viability of this journey. Your story gives me solace in the dry areas of life when nothing seems to make sense. Every encounter, every job, every failure, every heartbreak, every facet of our lives moves is closer to our destiny. Thanks for this piece! Love it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Life on its own is puzzling, and each day is another piece of that puzzle that’s hard to figure out at first glance. But if you accept that everything you do prepares you for something else further down the road, then you will gain a perspective that allows you to solve one of life’s many mysteries, and more importantly, the role you play in your own life.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Well I wish I had found you at the beginning of your adventure. I follow a few full time RVers, reading their blogs, would have definitely read yours! AND, I am glad you’ll be out on the road again filling the gaps in your travels, as I see you totally missed my state of Michigan! 🙂 Lots to see there and all through the Great Lakes region. Enjoy your stationary time, selling the house and getting ready to move will be a lot of work, but St Augustine is beautiful!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s not too late, Dawn. Many are retracing our steps. Others are working backwards on our route. Either way, it’s a big country out there, and we can’t wait to fill in the gaps. The Great Lakes will definitely be our next adventure.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I live in the United States and the states I have been to are Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Jeresy, New York, North Carolina (I live there), South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia

    Liked by 5 people

  6. I’m sad to see this portion is over. I caught you at the tail end of your adventure, but have surely enjoyed coming back through enjoying the sights through your eyes and learning as well. I hope when it is time to get back on the road, you’ll allow us to follow along again!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Fret not, dearest Katie, for many who have arrived late to the party have been viewing our voyage in reverse–an interesting perspective for sure.

      The road is long and winding and we are never far from it. We will resume before you know it, but we will be happy to share local adventures in the meantime. All the best.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. What an amazing trip. Thanks for not only sharing your stories and photographs but also for sharing the stats in this post. It’s interesting to see what supplies you took, how many miles you covered and the amount spent. Cheers to your next trip!

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Enjoyed your blog and the great photography. It was an adventure of a lifetime for sure. Hope you’ll stop by the gym (now under new ownership),Leah, to say hi and goodbye.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. What a wonderful journey. Thanks for the inspiration. While checking your route map I noticed you missed Wisconsin and Michigan. I think you would find it to be a great summer getaway from your Florida heat. Our first trip when we bought our Airstream was a circle of Lake Michigan. We loved it.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. You are prescient, Bill. There is a big hole in the donut of our route that we couldn’t reach this time around, and with Wisconsin and Michigan missed, it’s glaring. But we aim to fill that void during summer 2019, when we take to the road once again for a tour of the Great Lakes.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I have really enjoyed your blog, living vicariously through you. Thank you. And it was nice meeting you in the village of the arts and that was a great piece you did on our little village.
    Sincerely, the cow lady.
    If you are ever in this area, look me up. I have room for you to stay for a visit if you like.

    Liked by 7 people

  11. I have mixed feelings about ending our adventure. I’m excited to start a new life in St. Augustine, but I will miss our Silver Bullet and the places we took her to. Our country is so magical and I look forward to our next road trip in 2019 with Neal.

    Liked by 7 people

  12. You had an amazing and inspiring 365 day adventure. We are happy you are safely home in NJ just in time for Leah’s Birthday. We hope to see you soon.

    Liked by 6 people

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