Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Roadrunner Review: 2016 Travels Across the US - Some Highlights

We covered a lot of ground in 2016.  The interactive map below allows you to zoom in and see the finer details of where we were throughout the country.  That feature also lets you to see and enlarge the more congested areas of our travels -- like the places where we camped in Florida.

My goal in providing this is really for our personal record -- We want to be able to get a synopsis of what we did in 2016.  For the many tales and memories along the way, we can refer to the individual posts along the right sidebar that are organized monthly.

Meanwhile, we look back fondly on what was a great 2016 and the end of our 7th year on the road!

In 2016 we started in Cedar Keys, Florida and ended up in Virginia Beach, VA.  We spent  120 days in Florida and another 51 in Virginia which accounted for almost half the year.

We stayed in 70 campgrounds during the year and camped anywhere from an overnight stop to a full three weeks in one location (Portland when I had eye surgery.)  16 times we stayed a week or more at one place including eight days in July at brother Marty's cabin in the Sierra's and a full week in December at Key West.

So here's my take at some of the highlights of our travels:

One of our goals during the year was to get to know more of Florida.  We were in Cedar Keys on the Gulf Coast when the New Year began.  That was an interesting place with some history.  I learned that John Muir of Sierra fame actually visited the area in 1916.  It was part of his 1000 Mile Walk to the Gulf which originated from Indiana.
While in Florida we found out some resorts have a 'one time' deal where campers can stay for a week free.  We did that in Hudson FL at the Word of Life Campground.  We also found out again how great County Parks are in Florida.  Almost all the parks are great in Florida.  We camped at some new places along the east coast for the first time and also located a couple of professional golf tournaments to attend.
While north of Tampa, we toured the museum in Tarpon Springs and learned about the sponge industry of years ago.

We got to see a golf tournament not too far away.
One of my favorites, Patrick Reed, is putting out at the Honda Classic.  The PGA really does a nice job with vets and their 'Birdies for the Brave' program which has tickets and lunch for former military members.  
We also saw an LPGA event in Ocala.  We saw Christie Kerr and Paula Creamer but neither were competitive that week.

While in Florida last winter we also got to see a few special friends:
Bob and Patty

Ed and Candace

Marge and George

Mike and Helen

Howard and Linda

Joe and Carolyn

Bill and Marg
We had a couple of 'at the right place at the right time' moments during the year.  Our first , we were leaving the Roadrunner in Florida and going back to Virginia to celebrate Brooks' first birthday.  We had just read on FaceBook that long time friends Steve and Teresa were spending a few weeks in Hilton Head.
Steve and Therressa
 Another was being about to catch up with Cousin Kevin and Wife Sue (here with one of their three sons Tristin).
Last time we saw these folks was in California when they were in the San Diego area.  Later we were out in Walla Walla WA and I sent a message to cousin Gary who now lives in Costa Rica.  He grew up in Walla Walla and I said, 'Guess what?  We are here in your home town for a few days. Unbeknownst to me, he was having a high school reunion the next day in Walla Walla.
We got to join him and Lisa for lunch.

But back to our travels early in the year.  We spent some time around Tampa and Hudson in Florida, and then made a quick trip back to Virginia Beach to celebrate this guy's first birthday.
He amazes me.  At one year old, he had already been walking for a couple of months.  What a fun guy!  And he has really changed now in January as he approaches his

Next it was off to Macon Georgia for another Habit for Humanity Care-A-Vanner Build.  We got to work with these fine folks and make some new friends.  We had worked there before with the two couples on the left.
And a few weeks later we joined up with Tom and Carol at the North Ft Myers HFH for more Habitat work.
We always find some time for the beaches...We love the Florida beaches!
We could stand being away from little Brooks for too long, so we headed back to Virginia Beach for a few weeks.
It doesn't take too much to tire Grandpa out sometimes...
 He loved for daddy to push him in his front yard swing.
 And for Grandma to read to him.
 Sometimes he just contemplated life as he looked out the front window.
We started our journey West the first part of May.  We had stops in Maynardville TN to see family and also Red Bay AL for some maintenance at some local businesses near the Tiffin factory.  While there we saw friends Steve and Karen.
We had short visits with Kirk and Susan in Oklahoma City
and brother Reid and wife Amy in Albuquerque.
From Albuquerque, we journeyed past the Grand Canyon AZ and onto the San Bernardino area and stayed in Yucaipa County Park, near Redlands. While there, we had a bit of deja vu hanging out in Mr. Bob's garage.  We were neighbors in San Bernardino in the mid 1980's and spent hours doing just that while he worked on his many projects.
Bob and Sue
A few days later, we found ourselves north and in Bakersfield country at Tehachapi visiting with Paul and Bobbi at their beautiful place.  We met them in 2010 at a Habitat Build in Santa Fe and have seen them almost every year since then.
We inched farther north past Fresno and then took a couple of weeks to stay in one place at Chowchilla.  We had time for golf and day trips to see Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. 
Nephew Nate and wife Angela 

We were here on the West Coast to see my brothers and wives at another Warner Brothers Reunion.  Brother Marty has a cabin in the Sierras with a parking space, power and water for the Roadrunner.  We enjoyed a week together this time.
We had lots of activities plus some good downtime.  One day we went to Big Trees State Park.
 Marty built his cabin in the 1970's but had the forethought to make the drive way wide enough for a motor home.  Never thought in a million years we'd be parking ours there one day.
 Pam and Reid
 The ladies inside the kitchen
 Eating dinner outside on the large deck
 Coordinating schedules
It was a beautiful time together and we continued on our travels.  The first night out from there, I pulled into a station and put gasoline in our diesel pusher.  Oops.  Not good.  We got towed and six hours later we were all fixed up and made it to our campground for a few days at Travis AFB.

Then it was north to see the California Redwoods again before making it over to the Oregon Coast.
Years ago we traveled north-south along the Oregon Coast, but this time we went in the other direction.  It was breathtaking, spectacular and one of America's most scenic areas.

Our first time seeing the Oregon Coast we liked the Newport area and returned there. 
Yaquina Lighthouse in the distance
Along the coast in the dairy town of Tillamook, we visited the local museum.  We love to do that in small towns.  And here was another one with a great taxidermy collection.  After a couple of hours, we returned to our car and it wouldn't start.  Yikes.  Starter went out and for the second time in three weeks we were getting towed!
We did some walking to find a parts store, a garage and waited a while to get the tow truck.  We were able to get the work done at a rundown looking place on the edge of town.  But when you are out of airspeed and ideas...you go with what you've got.  Everything turned out well and we were back in business the next morning.  So it was all part of the adventure!

We got back on the road and made our way as far north as the Columbia River before turning east.  Pam and I were fascinated by the history of Lewis and Clark and made it a point to see as many of the places they traveled when seeking the 'Northwest Passage'.  We spent a few days in Astoria OR and made it out to Cape Disappointment
And to Fort Clatsop where they spent a winter after reaching the Pacific Ocean.
While in the Portland area, I sensed a bit of change in my eye and found a doctor who said said I did in fact have a retina detachment. Hmm...  This was on Friday and I was scheduled for surgery on Monday AM.  Everything went very well.  Now that I'm back in Virginia Beach, another retina specialist said it looks good and the doctor in Portland did a great job.

Back in Portland while recuperating, long time friend Kimberly came by to see us at the campground.  We hadn't seen her in years and it was nice of her to come by.
After a little more than two weeks there in Portland, we continued along to Columbia River headed east to Walla Walla, Montana and then south to Memphis:

Multnomah Falls along the Columbia River Gorge
Meeting up with friends Marge and George in Walla Walla

Another one of America's scenic places is Montana.  We had hoped to go by and see Glacier National Park again, but weren't able to do that.  During our first summer on the road in 2009, we had the chance to visit Montana and thought it was amazing.  It still is.

Though we didn't get to see as much of the state as we would have liked to, we see a lot of the wonderful vistas and sweeping valleys and meadows in Montana.
It was breathtaking and one of our favorite places.
 Last time through Montana, we weren't able to stop and visit with high school friend Donna and husband.  But this time we did just that.  We met up for dinner one night and they invited us out the next day to their place which is way out in the country (as in 7 miles beyond the paved roads).
Their little slice of heaven sits right on the banks of the Stillwater River.  It was nice seeing her again and meeting Paul.

We had done some route planning and wanted to see Custer's Little Big Horn.  This time it was right on the way so we were able stop for a couple of hours at Custer's Last Stand (Little Bighorn National Battlefield),
We found a campground for the night in Sheridan Wyoming where friends Cindy and Tim (on each side of Pam below)
were with the others in the picture at a Habitat Build.  We had planned on being on that build, but had to back out to get my eye worked on.

We continued on our trek back to Virginia for a few weeks with stops at the famous Wall Drug

and Sioux Falls -- where we got to see Steve and Therressa again since its their hometown,
Steve and Therressa
In Des Moines, we carved out time to visit the Iowa State Capitol
(and saw the state capitol)
then St. Louis to see more RV friends
Geri and Art
Next we went to Memphis.  In Memphis we went to Graceland.
Then it was on to Red Bay and get togethers, scheduled repairs and friends and interesting food.
Chocolate gravy and biscuits.  Only in Alabama

And then we drove over to Tennessee and then back to Virginia Beach.
Within a few days, we were greeted with cool weather and some great views.  But then Hurricane Matthew came nearby and our topper over the Drive Side slideout tore.
 That required we include a stop at Red Bay in December to get it fixed.

But for the six weeks we were in VB, we tried to take advantage and spend lots of time with Brooks, Kelly Jon and Adam and Melissa in Fairfax.
 Brooks and his goat buddy
One of the great sites at Sea Mist RV Campground (military) in Virginia Beach.
We are about 30 minutes from Kelly and Jon's house and get to spend a lot of time with them and Brooks.
 Brooks hanging out with his best buddy dog Lennon.
 And we get to go on outings with them to the petting zoo.
 And we got to see him get his first school picture done.  He goes to school 3 1/2 hours a week.
 And back home, Jon is a master chef on his Big Green Egg (GBE).  He's some of his handiwork:  Boston butt done just right.
 And some tenderloin steaks.
Six weeks seemed to fly right by and we were back on the road to Florida for a about a month.  Then back for Christmas and the holidays.

 Our first place on the itinerary was the state capitol of South Carolina.  We got a tour and checked out the grounds.  Very nice.
Our next capitol visit was to Atlanta.  We toured the grounds outside since it was closed on Veteran's Day but it was worth it.
 We stopped in Macon GA to see more friends.
 Steve and Tara
Later that night we also got to see friends Barbara and Ross but somehow forgot to get a picture.

Down in Florida, we spent a week at Lakeland
 And then went down to the Keys.  Here we had dinner with Tim and Cindy.
 The drive to the Keys is always a fun one and unique.  It was beautiful and the 45 miles went pretty quickly.
 The spot we ended up at in Key West for the majority of our time there was close to the water and picturesque sunsets.

We made it a point to stop in Fort Myers for a couple of nights and got to see Tom, Carol, Christa and Bonar.
After we left the Keys, we stayed at a number of Florida State Parks on our way to Red Bay Alabama.  Here is our site at Manatee Springs SP.
And we went by Fort Walton Beach and got to see Karin.

We drove further north to Montgomery AL and took a tour of the Alabama State Capitol.

 And then made it to Red Bay to get our toppers and some other things fixed.  While there, we made an office call on Mr. (Bob)Tiffin, president and CEO of Tiffin Motorhomes.
 I am always amazed that he takes the time to visit with regular folks.  Those 10 or 15 minutes we will long remember.  He was one of the nicest CEO's I have ever met.

And after a short stay in Red Bay, we beat feet and headed back to Virginia Beach and a spot again at Sea Mist RV Campground.

We were able to spend time with our kids and Brooks during the holidays and look back with wonder on all that happened during 2016.
Adam, Melissa, Pam, Me, Brooks, Jon and Kelly 
Christmas Day Picture 

I told myself this edition was going to be a 'summary' and I'd hit the high points.  That translated into a very long post.  But this will serve its purpose for us-- we can look back in one place and see some of what the year included.

If you have persevered through the entirety of this, I thank you.  We love hearing from you and always look forward to your comments and when you send them -- your emails.  Thanks for joining with us in this great adventure.  It's something we feel very privileged to be doing and look forward to many more years of it.

Thanks again for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Happy New Year!  


  1. It might have been a long post but it was a wonderful round up of your year. Here's to a great 2017.

  2. You can't say that you had a dull year, always keeping busy. Looking forward to what you'll be doing this year.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

  3. Wow - that was a busy year! Lots of great highlights!!

  4. Great review! I like your idea of having all the highlights of the year in one post. A fun read!