2013 … A Dream Year

angel  004What a year!  We traveled a total of 9,448 miles in Island Girl, from Florida to Maine to Canada, then south and west reaching Arizona by the end of the year.  We visited 18 states and 4 Canadian provinces.  In October we reached a couple of milestones:  one year of fulltiming and one year of blogging.

Whew!  Here’s a month-by-month recap of our dream year:

January – visited with friends and family in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale.

February – stepped back into nature at Everglades National Park.

March – a nice long stay in Funky Key West for ocean fun and an awesome air show.

April – a busy month: first north and west to the Gulf Coast of Florida for more family time, then back east to the John F. Kennedy Space Center and the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, north to St. Augustine, and north again to the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia and the low country of South Carolina, and finally to Atlanta to see old friends.

May – visited the Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee, the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Washington, D.C., then ended the month in New York City and upstate New York where we visited more family and friends.

June – a quick stop in Boston and then on to beautiful Maine.

Here was our route for the first half of the year.

July – crossed the border into Canada on the 1st, and spent the month in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.  Discovered absolutely astounding people and places.

August – visited idyllic Prince Edward Island, buggy Kouchibuguac National Park in New Brunswick, then over to Quebec to the gorgeous and oh so French Gaspé Peninsula.

September – visited the St. Lawrence River in Quebec where we saw an amazing number of whales and concluded our fantastic Canadian summer in charming Quebec City, then crossed the border back to the U.S. to enjoy the beautiful Vermont autumn.

October – continued leaf-peeping in Vermont, then began our westward journey with stops at Niagara Falls, then Cincinnati, Ohio, Louisville, Kentucky,St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri, visiting friends and family along the way.

November – a stop in Denver, where the journey began, to get annual checkups for all and check in with friends and family.  Then south to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

December – another busy month.  Traveled around New Mexico, south to Albuquerque, then further south to the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge and Las Cruces, then crossed the border to Arizona and ended our most unforgettable year in Tucson.

And here was our route for the second half

Some things we learned:

We ran a little hot this year, with an average stay of 8 nights at our 45 stops, not complaining, it was fabulous, but we’d like to slow it down a bit this year and try staying longer in each place.

We set a goal of no more than four hours driving time between stops and for the most part kept to it; averaging 185 miles per trip, but a couple of the trips were still way too long.

denver  038We stayed too far north too late into the year, and plan to head south earlier next year to avoid frigid cold and snow (although the falling snow was beautiful).

Crossing from the east coast to the west coast really took a toll on us, we were tired puppies by the time we reached Denver, and plan to stay in the West next year.

Our planning paid off in some fabulous campsites, on the other hand, we discovered that it’s best to have a balance of planned and unplanned stops.

Re-connecting with family and friends, and making new friends along the way has been one of the most important parts of our journey.

NYE2014  002And we learned to be grateful each and every day, we are so fortunate!

We wish you all a very Happy  and Healthy New Year in 2014!

~ Brenda, Hector and Angel

Louisville and the Big Bat

As we headed back to Denver to visit friends, re-organize after our first year, and take care of doctor’s, veterinarian, RV and car appointments, we scheduled a couple of stops to visit more good friends along the way.lville 020

kentucky  001After visiting our niece and her fiancee in Cincinnati, we drove to Louisville, Kentucky to visit our good friends, Jim and Jane, whom we hadn’t seen in quite a few years.  We were very excited to see them and their daughters, Katie and Sarah.photo-6

photo-5Since we were there during the week, we got together in the evenings for dinner and catching up.  One night Jim and Jane hosted us for dinner in their lovely home, and Katie prepared a wonderful dessert.photo-9


Another night the family joined us for dinner on Island Girl.  This was the first time they saw Island Girl and I think the girls really liked her.

One day, Jim met us in the early afternoon and gave us a brief tour in and around downtown.  We visited some funky shops and saw some quirky Colonel Sanders stuff.

We then decided to visit the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory.  Hector and I are baseball fans and thought it would be an interesting place.

lville 010The first thing you see when you arrive at the museum is the World’s Biggest Bat – how could you possibly pass that up?  The bat, which is made of carbon steel, measures 120 feet long, is 9 feet in diameter at the base and 3 feet 6 inches in diameter at the handle with a 6 foot 6 inch diameter knob.  And it weights approximately 68,000 pounds!lville 011

lville 013At the museum,  we learned about how bats are made and actually got to see part of the process.  We also got to hold some bats that were once used by baseball greats.lville 015

The Louisville Slugger is the official bat of Major League Baseball.  There are 8,000 variations of bats, but today’s players typically choose from about 300 popular models.

lville 012Major League players order approximately 120 bats per season, and approximately 1.8 million Louisville Slugger bats are made each year – about 3,000 bats per day at the factory and 5,000 per day in peak spring training.lville 016lville 008

Initially all bats were hand-carved, now the process is (mostly) automated with computerized settings that allow for customization to Major League players’ specifications.  Players today use more lightweight bats with thinner handles than in earlier years.  It was really interesting to learn about the evolution of the bats,  what types of bats players used in earlier years vs. today and to get an insight into this very specific part of the history of baseball.

lville 018lville 017We also took a quick look at historic Churchill Downs where the Kentucky Derby is held.  You can almost smell the mint juleps …

lville 019Louisville was another whirlwind stop, but our connections with our good friends after not seeing them for many years was as strong as ever.  And it’s great to see the girls grow up to become such smart and interesting young ladies.

Then we continued our westward journey…

~ Brendalville 021lville 022