A 9000 Mile Road Trip! and Other 2016 Highlights

The year 2016 was a different kind of travel year for us. Rather than living out of suitcases in foreign lands, we spent the majority of the year traveling in North America. Much of it was in the comfort and convenience of our RV. (You only unpack once in an RV!) We still managed to make 4 trips to other countries, including Canada, as part of our road trip. Here is a recap of our 2016 travels. Read on, too, to find out which of the 7 continents we are off to next.

Kauai

Beautiful Kauai

The beauty of the Hawaiian island of Kauai calls me back

We began and ended 2016 in the same places – San Francisco and Kauai, Hawaii. These are 2 places we love. We spent our careers in San Francisco and our kids still live there as do many long-time friends. Kauai is the place we retired to in 2003 and where we spent the better part of a decade. It was here that my husband “made me leave my happy home” and go travel the world with him. (Thank you, honey.) I love going back. The island is so beautiful, the weather is the best I’ve ever found, and I cherish my wonderful friends there.

Virgin Islands

Catamaran Tradewinds in Caribbean

Phil grew up in coastal California but had never seen the beautiful waters of the Caribbean. I had spent several summers in the ’70 living on sailboats there, so it was my pleasure to show him how “the livin’ is easy”. We were able to trade a timeshare week for a sailing trip on a 51 foot catamaran in the British Virgin Island. The ship was crewed by two very accomplished women – one had been a diver in South African diamond mines. In addition, she could really cook. So we had fun playing underwater with her and eating her good food as well. That and sunscreen is all you need!

Cuba

Cuba - American cars

Cuba is another island in the Caribbean that I am happy we visited. Matter of fact that trip rates right up there with one of the best of the 44 countries I have visited in these 4 years of perpetual travel. I was thrilled that we Americans could finally travel to Cuba directly and not have to go in through the back door of Mexico or some other country. The Cuban people we mingled with were gracious and happy to have us. I wrote about our Cuba experiences in a previous blog, if you care to read it. I would go to Cuba again in a heartbeat.

Mexico

Mexico - Tulum

Yes, we did. We climbed up and down this very steep sacred pyramid in Tulum. Going up was taxing – coming down was downright scary. Many people did it on their butts. In addition to visiting Cancun, we made another trip to Ensenada in Baja Mexico, south of San Diego. While we are always looking at locales in terms of “would we settle here someday?”, Ensenada is the first region we have taken seriously in this vein. It has a lot going for us – close to the USA for family and health care, weather much like Southern California, and of course Mexican food! But then, who among us is ready to “settle down”?

Eastern Seaboard

In May we said goodbye to Florida, which had been our RV home base for quite some time. It was there that we would store the RV for extended periods as we traveled internationally. We headed north on the beginning of our Eastern Seaboard Road Trip. Our plan was to drive up the east coast, visiting each state that bordered the Atlantic Ocean. We would then drive up to the northeastern tip of Canada. And that’s exactly what we did.

Eating Our Way Through Savannah and Charleston

Southern food – eggs and trout in Savannah, Georgia and the best of Charleston, South Carolina’s fried fish. What’s not to like except the heart attack! Eggs and trout in Savannah GaCharleston's best friend fish

From NC to NYC with Grandchild

Our 8 year old granddaughter joined us for a month in the summer and travelled with us to NC, Virginia, DC, Maryland, NJ and New York. It was a fun part of our journey which I wrote about in my previous blog post.

Child on NYC ferry

Mystic Connecticut

I traveled to Mystic in the 70′ and have loved it ever since. For a long time I thought this city was the subject of Van Morrison’s song by the same name until I finally listened to the words. No matter, I still sang “sailing into the mystic” aloud as we toured the lovely town. Mystic marks the farthest north that I had been before this summer trip.

Harbor scene at Mystic CT

Massachusetts – Boston and the Cape

We had a fabulous tour guide for Boston’s Freedom Trail. Hearing the early history of our country presented theatrically was a treat. The guy knew his history and added so much humor to his presentation, Imagine if we learned history like this in school. It was very special to me to see the balcony from which the Declaration of Independence was first read. That’s historic!

Idylic Cape Cod in summer is another special place to see in Massachusetts.  It was my first visit to the Cape, but I hope it’s not my last.

Tour guide for Boston's Freedom TrailWhere Declaration of Independence was first readA water scene at Cape Cod

Maine

Phil wanted to eat Maine lobster until he didn’t want anymore. Well, we ate a lot but he still claims he didn’t get enough! We loved the beauty and tranquility of Maine, from Boothbay to Bar Harbor. As a special treat, we got to see the Polynesian vessel Hokule’a sail into Boothbay on its round the world voyage.

We especially loved visiting our friends, Nancy and Bill, who live on a tranquil 100+ acres with a lake. They have a beautiful family life as well, all of which left us with a wonderful impression of the Great State of Maine.

2 men on porch in MEA lake with dock in ME

canada

Phil claims that he didn’t know we were going to drive all the way up to the northeastern tip of Canada. Maybe he didn’t pay enough attention to the Master Planner – moi….As it turns out, he says he is very glad we did. We loved Canada. It is a beautiful country with some very nice people, good things to see and do and fun places to camp.

Reclining by the campfire

Hopewell Rocks at the Bay of Fundy

Also known as “Flowerpot Rocks,” these 40-70 foot tall rocks were formed by massive tidal erosion. The tides there are a whopping 52 feet. They are said to be the world’s highest tides. I had to see this for myself and walk on the ocean floor at low tide. We got ourselves to high ground to view the same scene 6 hours later when the high tide came in. These photos show the same rocks at low tide and high tide. Seeing is believing!

Bay of Funny, Hopewell Rocks at low tideHopewell Rocks at high tide

Nova Scotia, Cape Breton and PEI

We enjoyed more large tides in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. In the area where we camped it seemed that the two favorite past times were clamming in the mud, or sitting back and watching the tides go in and out. We visited the very picturesque town of Peggy’s Cove and Phil got to see a moose in Cape Breton! When I congratulated him on getting his wish, he remarked, “Now I want to see a bear!”

Cape Breton Island is on the very northeastern tip of Canada, if you don’t count Newfoundland. I couldn’t get my Driver to go all the way to Newfoundland. There is a very cool driving route around Cape Breton, but not for RV’s. We took 2 days to do it in the car, alternating directions to see it all.

Prince Edward Island (PEI) is Canada’s smallest province. It is a lovely island with good food, good local beer and friendly people.

Low tide in Nova ScotiaNova Scotia's Peggy's CoveA highland road in Cape Breton Nova Scotia Canada
Nova Scotia has mooseIPA brewed on Prince Edward Island Canada

TransCanada Hwy to Quebec City

The time had come to cross the TransCanada Highway from the East Coast westward to Quebec City. We had heard that QC was lovely and it is true. It is a French speaking city and all signs are in French.

Quebec City at night

Montreal

Montreal was a pleasant and vibrant city. One of my favorite things in Montreal was visiting the geodesic dome that was designed by one of my business school teachers, Buckminster Fuller. It is now an environmental science museum and quite forward-thinking and educational.

Musician in the street of Montreal

Toronto

We got to tour this interesting city with two special friends. We met Judy while on a tour in Israel a couple of years ago. Judy gave us the Toronto grand tour, including a trip up the Space Needle. It was fascinating to view a ball game going on some 1,815 feet below.

Grace is a favorite old colleague of mine from many years ago. She took us to see the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Chihuly glass exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum. Part of the Chihuly exhibit involved lying on the floor to view the glass ceiling as you see in the photos below.

Niagara Falls

A view of Niagara Falls in Canadaa

BACK IN THE USA

From Niagara Falls in Canada, we crossed back over to the USA and viewed the Falls again from the USA side. From there we headed southward to a special event – my 50th high school reunion.

High School Reunionn

WESTWARD HO!

After the fun reunion and some family time, we headed westward on the I-40. We found some interesting places to stop along the way. These included the Bill Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas and the RV Museum and wacky Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas

Presidential museum of Bill ClintonRV Museum in Amarillo TXThe Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX

A Month in Santa Fe New Mexico

Every time we’ve visited Santa Fe, we’ve wanted to spend more time in this high city. This was our chance. The weather was lovely, the food amazing as always (Phil’s favorite), and we continued to delve deeper into the area’s interesting history and architecture. We took a Spanish language class at the community college as we’ve always wanted to learn to speak Spanish. We visited Phil’s family and attended the Balloon Fiesta in nearby Albuquerque, and did a lot of hiking all around New Mexico. It was a good stay and Santa Fe remains a place we want to visit again and again.

Albuquerque's Ballon Fiesta 2017Santa Fe, NM sandstone rocksRock formations near where Georgia O'Keefe lived

Sedona and the Grand Canyon

As we headed westward, we visited the lovely red rock area of Sedona, Arizona. And we made another stop at the amazing Grand Canyon. The park was relatively empty so we had it mostly to ourselves. It was a little chilly already in the Canyon but that didn’t stop us.

Red rocks of Sedona ArizonaGrand Canyon in Arizona

The End of the Line – San Francisco

From May to November – our 6 month odyssey ended when we pulled into one of our favorite beachfront RV parks south of San Francisco. We had traversed 9000 miles since we left Florida. It was quite a special RV adventure and the longest trip we had taken in our beloved coach-the closest thing we have to a “house”.

In San Francisco we got to see our kids and grandkids and some of our long-time friends. We were also able to get a lot of our “business” done – annual doctor visits, replacing worn travel clothing, etc. We then celebrated with 3 weeks on Kauai between Thanksgiving and Christmas. After that we had to buckle down and prepare for our next international trip – to South America in January! We needed to outline an itinerary for 4-5 months, get our visa for Brazil at the consulate in San Francisco ($160 each!) and see a travel doctor to stock up on meds we might need (we got 5, including those for altitude sickness and malaria pills for the Amazon).

As you can see the fun just doesn’t stop for us, thank goodness. We have created an amazing full time traveling life and are ever so grateful! If you enjoyed our travel story, please write me in the comment section below. I enjoyed sharing our story with you and would love to hear your thoughts.

Happy Trails to you – and to us.
Arrival in San Francisco

14 responses to “A 9000 Mile Road Trip! and Other 2016 Highlights”

  1. Jeannie Smith says:

    Wow…enjoyed ever picture and ever story . Can’t wait to read your blog about South America. So happy That you and Phil are physically able travel the way you do. Keep going…enjoy everyday to the fullest..we only pass through this life one time…live it to fullest.
    Be safe.
    Jeannie

  2. Melanie Bruce Nelson says:

    Wow, and to think we met you world travelers here in our humble home at MCC! We too are full timers now and spent exactly 180 days on the road from April to October on the West coast and mid America and the western south. Family and food and fun along the way! Be safe, we loved Equador am spent 10 days in the Galápagos Islands! Look for the seal that bit me while you are there.

  3. Vicky says:

    Great blog CarolSue, I love how you share all of your wonderful experiences, what a wonderful trip you had. We have done many of same places and loved them all and also Sth America which was fabulous. After 5.5 years travelling on the road we have settled in beautiful Brisbane for 1 year to explore and experience this wonderful place & then we will hit the road again. I admire what you do, it all takes time writing such a blog, making it enteresting and enticing us all to read and enjoy. If Australia is on your itinerary sometime this year we would love to extend our hospitality to you & show you our beautiful area.

  4. Carol A. Peacock-Williams says:

    Aloha CarolSue,

    Wish we had known you were here on Kauai end of Nov.-Dec. We were here, too but by Dec. 11th we were busy with our daughter being home from Reed College for her Winter Break. MaryAnn came to visit us during the month of Nov.- just in time for the election, watch parties, and lots of happy hours.

    Love your photos and stories of your adventures. It was surprising to see how many places you went in which I have already been and enjoyed them all as well.

    Enjoy South America – I have only gone as far as Central America ( Mexico, Guatemala, & Costa Rica). Those were easy to fly to when we lived in TX.

    Safe Travels,
    Carol A. Peacock-Williams

  5. Steve Hoch says:

    More great stories and more envy for me!

    Keep up the fun!

    Steve

  6. Pete Hueseman says:

    CarolSue: I love the pictures and your great descriptions of the areas. Glad you are feeling well and having more fun in the travels to South America this Winter and Spring. Thanks, Pete Hueseman, R.Ph., P.D.

  7. Patti says:

    It sounds like an amazing adventure… and now you are off for another. You are living the travelers dream.

  8. Susan M Ullis says:

    Love to read of your travels, and am looking forward to hearing of your next adventure!

  9. Renou says:

    Great stories, CarolSue. Thank you for sharing – it keeps the rest of us envious of your adventures.

  10. Jan Leigh says:

    So much fun! We have visited so many of the places you pictured so it brought back many memories. Where was that RV museum you mentioned?
    We really like so many of the same things you do. Great adventures.
    We are in Oregon now and will work our way down to Tucson by mid-March.
    We are already signed up for the 2017 Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. That’s been a bucket list item for us for quite some time. Have fun! Safe travels!

  11. Diane & John says:

    Heavenly trip!
    Enjoyed your fabulous photos, expressing the astonishing diversity of people and place….as well as commonalities… especially the enjoyment of local foods!!
    Keep on trekin’ And, writin’,
    OX,
    Di

    • CarolSue says:

      Thank you, dear Di. I am glad you enjoyed it. Thank you too for inspiring me to keep on writing my blog. It is challenging in terms of time – and sketchy wifi. But I do enjoy sharing, and remembering, the experience.

  12. Philip Ayala says:

    Yeah, that was a great trip! However, now that I’m in Equador, South America I think this is just as wonderful.

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