The Perfect Travel Itinerary, or not

Our summer journey began at the end of May. We finally lifted the jacks on the RV and got those wheels rolling again. It felt great being back on the open road. After sitting stationary for nearly seven months, we felt like total RV newbies but after a couple of hours of driving, we quickly found our groove.

ATV in Colorado,

Never too old to change!

Aren’t most people creatures of habit? I know Al and I are. He and I have been doing this full-time RVing thing for over six years now (so much for a year or two), and as such, we have a basic routine when it comes to a day of travel which includes hitting the road in the morning usually around 8:00 a.m. … nine at the very latest and driving no more than five hours. A drive of three to four hours is preferable.

Our original plan was to start our summer excursion on the Wednesday after Memorial Day (May 29th). Over the long holiday weekend, we bid farewell to our children who both live in Phoenix which then gave us the flexibility to leave town when it best suited us. We were able to adjust the schedule if needed.

Although we had a well-planned itinerary, the plan kept changing at the last minute. Obviously, we were anxious to be on the road again with a firm destination in mind.

  • Plan A – Leave early Wednesday morning and take three days to get to Cotopaxi, CO.
  • Plan B – Leave late Tuesday afternoon, drive two hours and spend the night at the Twin Arrows Casino east of Flagstaff. This would shorten the next two days.
  • Plan C – Leave around noon on Tuesday and spend the first night near the Petrified Forest National Park and then spend the second night in Santa Fe, NM.
RVing at the Petrified National Park
Boondocking in the past at the Petrified Forest gift shop

And then there’s what we actually did, which is so out of character for us and something we’ve never done before, ever. Guess we aren’t too old to change things up a bit and step out of our comfort zone. We did end up leaving around noon on Tuesday, but once we neared the exit for the Petrified Forest, we weren’t ready to stop for the night. Plus, the Arizona / New Mexico border was just a little over an hour away. We figured, the more driving we did that day, the less we’d have to do the next two days.

In lieu of spending the night near the Petrified Forest, we decided to stop at any number of Indian Casinos along Interstate 40 in New Mexico, which we’ve done frequently in the past. As our day progressed and with each passing casino, Al and I would agree to keep on rolling. We eventually made it to the Route 66 Casino on the western edge of Albuquerque. The sun was about to set. It was around 8:30 p.m. We’d had a very long day of driving and were feeling ready to stop. We filled up with gas and began talking about spending the night. We planned to call it a day and boondock here, but then we discussed the next morning.

Grrr, we needed to think about morning rush hour traffic. We used to love overnighting at the beautiful Sandia Casino located on the north end of Albuquerque which would solve the problem of navigating rush hour traffic in the morning, but inconsiderate RVers ruined that privilege. We’ve noticed this ongoing theme as more and more companies are banning overnight RV parking. Some RVers don’t understand boondocking etiquette 😪. Ah, it is what it is and with the Sandia Casino not an option, we decided to go for it and continue driving another hour up the road to Santa Fe.

So much for the travel itinerary

485 miles / 775 km and nine hours later, we pulled into the parking lot at the Elks Lodge in Santa Fe (for members only). It was 10:00 p.m. with pitch dark skies. We were grateful that we had stayed here previously and knew the lay of the land. We quietly (well, as quietly as a diesel truck can be) pulled alongside a grassy area while trying not to disturb the other RVs already parked nearby. We didn’t disconnect, didn’t bother leveling, and didn’t put our slides out. We merely climbed into bed, clearly exhausted from the long day of driving, and quickly fell asleep. We both slept great. The next morning, with coffee in hand, we were once again rolling. This time, we were watching the sunrise.

So much for planning and putting together a perfect travel itinerary! We don’t normally make it a habit to drive after dark let alone put in a nine-hour day of driving, but Al and I stopped often and switched drivers regularly. Not that we were keeping track, but I believe I spent more time behind the wheel than Al did 😁

In the end, we both agree, it turned into the perfect travel day for us. Sure we were tired, but the beauty of traveling with your home in tow was we ate healthily and stayed hydrated … a must for any long day of travel. And of course, we took plenty of breaks to stretch our legs.

The main reason behind the quick travels was we had a goal and a mission to accomplish and wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible so we could get on with our summer fun. The weight on our shoulders needed to be lifted asap. We had two storage units in southern Colorado full of crap momentoes that we needed to widdle down and eventually get moved to Phoenix.

Next up, moochdocking on a gorgeous property in Colorado while we tackle those storage units.

Our sweet spot on private property WITH a full hook-up. Did we score or what?

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69 thoughts on “The Perfect Travel Itinerary, or not

  1. Hello..I like that last sentence and don’t believe I’ve heard that one before. We do love the spontaneity of RVing, but it does appear to be getting a little more difficult to find a spot without having reservations. Thus, the need for planning 😏
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  2. This sounds like how I like to travel- the plan is great, but I want to have the freedom to explore, too. RV-ing all of the time sounds so fun- future dream!

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    1. Flexibility is the name of the game when traveling and we love changing things up at the last minute. RVing is a ton of fun whether it’s just for a short vacation or something longer. 😊

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  3. Wow, that sure was a long day of driving! But, isn’t it nice to be so flexible? You’re starting to sound like us. 🙂 We rarely make itineraries. We plan a little bit, but so much depends on our moods and how tired we are, once we hit the road. And, it’s always nice to get an extra chunk of driving done, to make the following days easier. The opposite happens as well. When we find a beautiful spot, we might spend an extra day instead of moving on. Yep, we love the lifestyle.

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  4. I had a good laugh reading your post as you were describing how we roll! We make plans, but always push a little bit more and end up driving long hours. We are working on controlling this habit and try driving less. Having said that, I love making plans only to change them as real stuff happens while we travel! Hope going through the storage units is not too painful!

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    1. Nice to hear from you. Hope you’re feeling great. We’ll do coffee in the fall when I’ll be ready to dry out in the desert SW after spending the summer in the high humidity of the Midwest 😄

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  5. For those of us non-RVers, could you elaborate more on ‘Boondocking etiquette?” What are the do’s and don’t you were wishing more people knew?

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    1. Hmm, you may have given me an idea for a future blog post. 😀 Basically, when boondocking in any approved parking lot (Walmart, Cracker Barrel, Casinos, etc.), RVers should be respectful and appreciative. They shouldn’t make themselves comfortable by bringing out their chairs and BBQ grill or overstaying the welcome. Usually staying only one night. Shopping or eating at the establishment is a sign of gratitude. When we overnight at a Walmart, it’s usually because we just need a quick spot to overnight as well as need a few groceries making it a win for both parties.

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      1. Good, I think it would make an interesting future post for those of us interested in your full-time RV life.

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  6. We too love the freedom of having the house with us and the ability to change things up depending of what we feel like at the moment. We generally stick to our travel plans but I’d say 10-15% of the time we switch it up or decide on an impromptu stop or a push to the next overnight place.

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    1. That kind of freedom and flexibility is what RVing is all about. We do tend to stay with a loosely planned itinerary. But those travels days have been known to change on a whim 😁

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  7. Fortunately for us we don’t have to travel from A to B which makes it easy for us to adhere to our rule of 200 miles only on a driving day. That is why we are amazed how you and Al managed these long driving days. It sounds so tiring!

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    1. I think Al and I are so used to long travel days, that it’s not a huge surprise to us when we decide on a whim to continue driving. We’ve been known to do the same thing as we cross Texas. A few years ago, we drove from San Antonio to Las Cruces in one day and didn’t even switch drivers because the motor for the driver’s seat wouldn’t work. Well, the seat position for a 6’3″ guys vs. a 5’4″ gal is quite a bit different which meant I couldn’t reach the pedal to drive 😆 We were exhausted when we got to Las Cruces but too much … we walked down the road aways to go to a local brewery for food and drinks.

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    1. Totally! If we have no interesting in exploring anything in a given area, then why stop? Now, if either one of us is feeling really tired then we’ll definitely stop for an overnight. This particular day worked out well for us!

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  8. Everyone has their ideal length of driving but we find that any more than 300kms in a day and we’re getting pretty cranky. That said we always seem to break the rules when heading to the tropics in winter and we get a hell of a squirt on when close to home again.

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    1. Yes, the best laid plans are known to change. Those long travel days do make one cranky … speaking from experience. In the end, we were glad we kept going but don’t intend to do a repeat anytime soon.

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  9. Spontaneity is what camping is all about. We often waited to long to book a campsite but always managed to find a great place to park and get a great nights rest. Sounds like you are having some great fun. You know what they say about making plans…. If you want to cause God to smile just make plans, lol.

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    1. I like that last sentence and don’t believe I’ve heard that one before. We do love the spontaneity of RVing, but it does appear to be getting a little more difficult to find a spot without having reservations. Thus, the need for planning 😏

      Liked by 1 person

  10. You are smart to keep an open itinerary, Ingrid, and luckily you have that luxury! It made sense to get to Santa Fe and knock out 9 hours. Your RV is so comfortable and glad you got back on the road fast. Hans and I are vacillating between traveling from San Diego back to Phoenix/Las Vegas again this winter with an open itinerary or driving to South Padre Island Texas for some January windsurfing. We can’t really do both in one trip (about 3 weeks max between Christmas and mid-January), but you know me, I’m Ms. Planner, so we’ll decide soon!

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    1. Brrr…. South Padre in January would be way too cold for me, but I understand that you have to work with your school schedule. We do like our RV and whenever we go to an RV show, we rarely see anything we’d rather have. Keep me posted on your winter break.

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  11. We aren’t retired yet and with limited vacation days we always plan long days of travel. Our average is 500 miles when we are traveling far. We also switch drivers often and take long walks when we stop. I thought we were crazy, nice to know others do the same. Happy Camping!

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    1. We’ve been known to do much longer drives in one day when we lived in CO and would return to Northern IL to visit family, but that was without an RV in tow. Shorter drives are really the way to go. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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    1. You two have definitely done those long driving days. Sometimes it’s best to get it over with so we can get on with the task at hand. Wish the weather would’ve held out so we could’ve stayed longer in SD. Next time!

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  12. One of the joys of retirement is that you can do what you want, when you want. One of the advantages of the RV lifestyle is that you can fall into bed whenever you want, wherever you are. Literally. One of the blessings of choosing the right spouse is that all of it is a pleasure and every day is a grand adventure. You hit the trifecta, Ingrid – enjoy its rewards!

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    1. Oh, I’m not sure I’d categorize that day as a grand adventure, but it worked. We much prefer those shorter days, but getting the distance behind us was a wise choice in the end. 😊

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  13. Wow!! I don’t think Mike or I could manage 9 hours especially with our doggies with us!! Glad you all did get this much behind you cause that might give you more time at the storage building!! We have two storage buildings and each time we go there we open the garage style door…stand and stare and then close the door!! We HAVE to do better than that!! Good luck, can’t wait for you to inspire me!!!

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    1. Haha, I can so relate to your tale about visiting your storage. We’ve done the same for the past six years and this year it was finally time to go thru that stuff. It took us three exhausting and emotional days to clean’m up. In the fall, the plan is to move the stuff to Phoenix and distribute more items to the children (at their request) and then get a smaller storage unit. Eek, I’m exhausted just thinking about that task. 🙄

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  14. Your post made me laugh Ingrid. It sounds like most of our travel days. We always plan to leave at a sensible time (around 9am), and travel around 4 hours with a stop for coffee on the way. In reality we get anxious to get going and leave closer to 7am, then it’s to early for coffee until 10am. Then it’s to early to stop at noon, so we keep going until around 2pm. Then we don’t like the place to stop, or there’s a better one up the road a bit further, and before you know it we’ve done an 8 – 10 hour day. No wonder the dog turns his back on his to show he’s not happy.

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    1. Ah, like minds! That’s exactly how we tend to roll … how funny. Our doggie was such a good traveler on those long days. As long as he had plenty of stops to do his business and sniff around, he was happy.

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      1. We had torrential rain for the first half of our last big trip, which contributed to the a couple of really long days. Stopping to let him run about wasn’t a great option, and he was only 13 months old at the time. He had his back turned on his in a real huff by the time we got to where we were going. We’ve had shorter trips since and he loves them. I’m not sure if we’ll get a longish trip in this year – I’m working on it!

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    1. Yes, that Elks is not a place to arrive after dark for the first time. We knew exactly where we intended to park (providing no one else was parked there). It worked out great for a quick overnight.

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  15. Wow! 485 miles puts anything we’ve ever done to shame! That is some serious mileage! But I do get it – sometimes we reach our destination and realize we could easily have gone farther. It’s just tough to know how any given travel day is going to go. Anyway, glad you got where you were going safe and sound.

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    1. Fortunately, we didn’t have any “WTF” moments like you two did. Therefore, we managed to keep on rolling. Now I’m in the middle of a kitchen remodel for my sister-in-law. I’m teasing everyone that we’re workamping this summer. Not bad, considering we have a free place to park and a boat at our disposal.

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  16. Yikes!….Long days..and we don’t drive after dark anymore, but we are older than dirt. When in those Northwoods, stop in at Treland’s Resort and go to their Lodge…nice bar and restaurant. We love Hayward!

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    1. Remember, Al’s your age too … he farts dust 🤣 I too enjoy Hayward and as a kid, I loved our summer camping vacations to the ‘flowage’. It’s fun returning. Al and I are hoping to return to a few other places up here that we would visit during our early years of marriage.

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  17. Yikes! Dennis doesn’t drive at night anymore, but he has a few years on Al. I’m not sure my old hip could take that long of a day, but it is neat to get all of that pavement behind you! Enjoy your stay in the Northwoods!! We love Hayward! Our familiy stays at Treland’s..FYI, Trelands has a very nice restaurant and awesome bar!!

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    1. Yeah, that’s not the kind of drive we’d like to do too often. I’ll need to talk to Char about Treland’s and see if they’ve been there. Right now I’m in the middle of remodeling her kitchen. Guess I’m workamping this summer 🤣

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  18. Enjoyed hearing about your road adventures, Ingrid, your experiences as well as your new and ever-changing ways. Photos, as always, are so excellent. The Indian Paintbrush photo is especially wonderful.

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    1. Thank you, Jet. That Indian Paintbrush photo was taken with my new iPhone which I’m really enjoying. It’ll never replace my ‘real’ camera, but it does have its place.😊

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    1. Thank you Jim for that recommendation. We did see a casino noted on Allstays and Campendium but the reviews seemed mixed. Might’ve been for a different one. Plus, we wanted to get the morning traffic between Santa Fe and Albuquerque behind us. Glad you had a good experience and we will definitely keep that one in mind for our future travels.

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  19. We usually have loose plans, but I think when you are trying to get somewhere further away it’s easier to push it like that. We finally left after 3 months in Utah, which seemed like forever.

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    1. We didn’t have any intention of staying in Phoenix quite that long, but unexpected dental work and a couple of other last minute things happened. Ah, life! Once we got rolling, we settled into our routine and just wanted to get miles behind us. Enjoy your time back in WY!

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