Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Roadrunner Years - Some Numbers

I've tried to keep track of all the places we've stayed since our Roadrunner Adventures began in May of 2009.  The adventures started before that time with the two years of planning which led our dreams to becoming reality.

I don't know where I got the idea but I wanted to start tracking things early.  I have tweaked and retweaked my spreadsheet to where it now looks something like this:
One thing about the numbers - they tell a story based on what really happened and not exactly how I thought it was going to be or as I remember it.

For example, if you'd have said we would have camped in different places over 250 times in 7+ years -- I'd say, "No Way", I find that hard to absorb. But when I look at the data in my spreadsheet there it is:  we have actually moved to another campsite 266 times including a number of repeats to favorite places.
Here's a few of the numbers:
  • Moves to another campsite over 7+ years:  266 times
  • 41 stays at National Parks, State Parks, County Park and US Army Corps of Engineer campgrounds
  • Walmart Parking Lot overnight stays:  10 times
  • Military Campgrounds:  123 times
  • Volunteer sites: 19
  • Trips to Red Bay 15
Numbers of times we moved to another campsite.
I thought we'd hit the great outdoors and see a lot of National Park/State Park Campgrounds.  Not so.  We've only done that 32 times.  I also added County Parks and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds to the category so it's a little  higher.

Stays at National, State and County Parks and US Army Corps of Engineers Parks.
We have stayed at a few Walmart parking lots for overnighters but not that many.  Basically its been about one or two nights each year on average.
Military campgrounds were something we thought about and figured we might do that some.  Wrong -- we do that a lot!  Almost half of our campgrounds have been at military RV parks.  That was a real surprise.

Overnight at Walmart.
I think I was eager to try this out way back in 2009 and we stopped at one on our way to our first volunteer gig in Pontiac IL.  Since then we have stayed at Walmart parking lots 10 times, the most recent of which was last week in Staunton VA en route to Virginia Beach from Maynardville.

I read early on there are some do's and don'ts about staying overnight at Walmart:
Do -
- Ask if you can park overnight
- Keep your area as clean or cleaner than you found it
- Thank the store manager and shop inside for some things

Don't
- Put down the jacks
- Open all the slides
- Take up more that a modest amount of space
- Set up tables and chairs and the BBQ
- Stay more than one night

Military Campgrounds.
I guess it is human nature, but after we left the Service, we figured we wanted little to do with it from the time I retired.  Boy was I wrong!  From 1995-2009 we mainly shopped at the base commissary and used the gym or golf course from time to time.  We were thinking about full-timing, I assumed we wouldn't be staying at many bases because the National Parks were there and I thought there were so many other interesting places to stay.

But the military has some very excellent and unique campgrounds.  Like other places, it has a few that are not kept up very well but those are in the minority.  Only a few we've been to would be in that category.  Of the Navy, Army and Air Force campgrounds we have stayed at, the NAVY has the best ones by far.  They have figured out how to do and and have put some resources and personnel in charge (there is an exception or two) that know what they are doing.

We are most impressed with Navy Campgrounds.  In the East and Mid-Atlantic the Navy has installed a 'gowifi' capability that is unmatched.  Campers have bandwidth and internet access that works.  Still at many campgrounds anywhere that is an anomaly.  They have a good reservation system too and many give weekly and monthly rates.  It is not uncommon to pay an average of $20-$25 or less at military campgrounds. There are exceptions to those too but for the most part they are the best rates anywhere.

I would really be surprised with you'd have told me we would be staying at military campgrounds almost half the time, but that is what we've done.  123 times out of 266 total (46%).

Volunteer sites. 
We like to volunteer at places around the country and learn things.  And feel somewhat useful.  When we were making plans to full-time, we found information about NOMADs which is a group of RVers who volunteer and help do projects around the United Methodist Church community.  We did a number of projects and Disaster Relief effort before we moved on to volunteering with Habitat for Humanity's Care-A-Vanners.  We been to places all over the country and no two are alike.  We have participated in 14 so far with plans to do more.

Usually the hosting church (NOMADS) or the Habitat Affiliate has an arrangement for a low-cost or a no-cost campground for volunteers.  Some have been rather sparse, while others were first-rate accommodations.  In every case, it has worked out fine and one of the benefits of volunteering.

Trips to Red Bay.
I love going to Red Bay AL - the home and factory plant of Tiffin Motorhomes.  We always learn a lot about our motorhome and it has become one of our favorite places.  We visited Red Bay for the first time in September 2008 which was about 9 months before we bought our 2007 Allegro Bus.  We went there for the factory tour and to learn as much as we could.  It has paid off and we have favorite businesses that we now call our friends.  We have averaged twice a year visiting the place and have done so 15 times.

Now that I have invested the time to compile a lot of different things, it will be fun to go back and see some other items about our travels.  But for now -- that gives a snapshot of what living on the road has been like for us since May 2007.

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!








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