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Hello from the FitRV headquarters in Salt Lake City! Lance is all washed up and stowed away for the time being, and I’m back to the real world with Mel on my lap, which is making typing a bit of a challenge.
He’s got this Cat Cuteness thing down and knows just how to pull my attention away from the screen and into Mel World. This post will probably take me hours to write.
We had our reunion with Mel yesterday, and oh my… guys, he was TOTALLY ADORABLE! He was so happy to be home he couldn’t contain his joy.
Anyone who says cats don’t feel happiness should have seen Mel flopping about the house yesterday, excitedly doing laps and running from James to me for scratches. That’s HIM scratching US, I mean. When I lifted him in my arms for our reunion, he actually snuggled in, rubbing his head in my chest like he didn’t want to be put back down. Ever. Well, okay, maybe that was ME who didn’t want to put him down ever.
But it’s not just me who’s enamored with Mel. James is just as sappy.
But enough on Mel the Adorable.
I just went through all our trip pictures over the past 4 weeks, and wow. We have done so many things this trip! We put on a brutal 2 bazillion miles (approximately)….Utah to British Columbia down the coast to LA then back home again.
It’s interesting, now that we have this semi-popular website, we don’t pick destinations in a traditional sense. Instead, our destinations tend to mold themselves around website-related events. But I’m not complaining in the least, it’s actually a good thing. I feel like it takes us to places we may not have considered on our own.
Take this trip, for instance. We planned it around 2 events: 1) seeing the Xantrex team who built our badass electrical system in Vancouver, BC, and 2) attending the Pomona RV show. Knowing we had these two events gave us a frame for planning what to do in between.
Normally, James and I are big planners, and I mean BIG. We usually prep a 3-ring binder we call the “Binder of Fun” for each trip we take.
The Binder of Fun contains ridiculous detail complete with color-coded tabs including daily route maps, nightly lodging plans, and we even go so far as planning where we’ll stop every two hours along the drive. We didn’t do that this time. Caving in to peer pressure and fellow RV friends who think the Binder of Fun is insane, we tried it their way, with no real plans.
Yeah, that’ll never happen again. The trouble with not planning ahead means you’ll have to take time away from your trip to research a place to stay, where to eat or get groceries, and what to do for fun. Sometimes that would be multiple hours a day and lead to much frustration and bickering. I felt like we got cheated out of much of our trip time doing the planning on the fly.
So there, we tried it. It sucked. Next time, it’ll be back to the Binder of Fun.
Not that we didn’t have fun, mind you.
I mean, how can you not when you’ve got beautiful fall weather, biking trails everywhere, and Lance as your basecamp.
At the start of the trip, we stayed at a Washington winery on our way to BC, and were awakened by the sound of shotgun blasts every 30 seconds (some bird deterrent tactic). Ah, serenity.
And then we rode the Vancouver Skytrain from our campground to downtown. We got lost, but didn’t get mugged!
So yeah, BC was cool, especially visiting the Xantrex HQ. James got to nerd out with like-minded individuals drooling over Lance’s electrical innards.
Back in Washington state, we did some sweet mountain biking at the famous Duthie Hill. I thought I was totally tearing up the trails until I got passed by an 8 year old:
Then we headed into the remote wilds of Frank Gifford National Forest, 2 hours up forest service roads feeling like we were the only ones ever there, discovering new unknown lands…only to discover clearly others came before us:
Back in Starbucksilization, refueled and refreshed on iced coffee drinks after all that nature,
We headed for Fort Stevens State Park for some history, trails, and beach yoga.
Well, ONE of us did beach yoga. The other stayed back and swept the RV.
We made a bad choice of campsites that first night at Fort Stevens. The loop we were in was so dense with trees that all the neighboring campfire smoke had nowhere to go. So it all decided to enter Lance. Second night, we moved:
From Fort Stevens, we continued to hug the coast, doing the touristy thing all the way down through Oregon. Well I did the touristy thing. James was actually working his pesky day job:
That was fine by me. James has limits on how much beach time he can tolerate. Having to work distracted him and gave me much more time to explore the coast without my beloved sandphobic hubby murdering my fun.
But I do have give James a GOOD JOB HONEY shout-out. What a trooper he was. Yes folks, this actually happened:
I know. You can see the delight on his face.
And then we hit the Redwoods. Normally, when I’m surrounded by trees the first thing I do is pick my favorite for hooking up the TRX.
But I quickly realized this was going to be a problem.
It was our first time seeing Redwoods. We kept saying “wow” over and over again, because they’re just jaw-dropping awesome. I suppose Eskimos and Greeks have a hundred different ways to say wow. Me, I know one. It got said a lot in Northern Cali thanks to those Redwoods.
And then there was this:
Lance’s first time over the Golden Gate Bridge! Coming off the bridge was incredibly anti-climactic, though, because we were stuck in traffic so snarled it added an hour to our route, and James was grouchy. Yay, RVing!
Years ago, James had found an article about the best places to mountain bike in the US. One of the places mentioned was Henry Coe State Park. We’ve been talking about getting there for ages. This trip finally put us within range of hitting it, so we did.
First off, this isn’t a park for a Class A rig, or even a Class C. The road to the park narrows to one lane and has tight steep curves up a mountain. Lance handled it like the rock star he is. It was a great reminder that we’re so thankful for rolling in a campervan.
From Coe we headed back to the beach, Rincon Parkway Campground.
We met up with Vanessa the Cat Whisperer so I could soak up some of her wisdom on RVing with cats. She and George roll in their Travato with 3 cats!!!
It gives me hope for Mel. Now I just have to convince Mel of all the fun he’s missing being such a jerk about the whole driving thing:
And then FINALLY, we landed at the Pomona RV Show.
I’ll tell you all about THAT experience separately, because it was probably the coolest Pomona show we’ve attended…and that’s because of all of you who stopped by and made us feel like rockstars.
Besides, Mel’s whining for some attention and doing extra cute cat moves to entice me off of here. Oh guys, I REALLY can’t wait till Mel’s trained and can hit the road with us! Who knows, maybe next Pomona show, he’ll attend with us and be the REAL rock star!
Love following your Travato journey. I’m deciding between the Era and Travato, both Winnebago.
1. Have you done any snow, sand, or gravel driving yet? If yes, how did she do (being FWD and all)
2. How do I find out more about Vanessa and her cat adventures? I have two cats (currently being trained for adventure – one looks just like you kittie) and a dog and no one will be staying at home
Hi Alexis! Well the good news is you’ve got it narrowed down to 2 rigs…so you’re close! We’ve done all those things; snow, sand, gravel. We live in Salt Lake City and love winter camping so we’re out a lot in the snow and mountains. It handles fine, but we do swap out snow tires seasonally so that definitely helps. As for sand, well we’ve done that around Moab looking for good mtb trails, but as heavy as any of these rigs are, it’s best to avoid driving on sand. We’ve had friends get stuck. Gravel is totally fine, but you’ll be going slowly. You’re pulling a whole house, after all! As for Vanessa the Cat Whisperer, she’s regularly chatting over in my Travato group on Facebook. It’s a private group so you have to submit a request to join, and you’ll get some questions to answer about why you’re joining (there’s specific admins in charge of requests to join, not me). People post a lot of trip pics and travel plans so we keep the group locked down for everyone’s safety. But we’d love to have you join us there and you can talk to Vanessa and other cat-loving Travato owners! Group is here: http://www.facebook.com/groups/travatoowners
Haha! “Frank Gifford National Forest”!? Perhaps you visited the “Gifford Pinchot National Forest” in Washington, named for the first chief of the US Forest Service (not for a former football great.) Too bad the numskulls of the outdoor world got there before you. From a retired Forest Service B-classer.
Love the recap of your trip. I’m very interested in your binder. I am a planner as well and would love some of your ideas for trip planning. Also wondered how you find bike trails when you are on your trips. The trails looked amazing.
Hi Laura! Well, one of our big rules is that on long driving days we have to stop every two hours. So to make that FUN, we turn to the wacky website roadsideamerica.com. It lists 1000’s of weird and wonderful roadside stops all over the US. There’s a “map” feature so we use that to find interesting roadside stops along our driving route every 2 hours. We’ve seen some crazy stuff…even HUMAN-SKIN SHOES! Then we print each stop out, and it goes in the BOF. So, you see why I felt why I was missing out this trip. Without planning, we had no clue what weirdness we were driving by and the drive-time became just, meh, drive-time. It makes the drive pretty exciting turning the page after each stop, and asking, “WHAT INSANITY’S NEXT!?!?”
That is a great tip. Thanks Stehany.
Loved your trip wrap-up and REALLY loved the idea of the Binder of Fun! So as not to infringe on any possible copyright, I plan to create and use what I’ll call “The Binder O’ Fun” 😉
Oooo I like that better, Enid!!! And if you really do create one, I’d be totally tickled to see pics of your very first BOF!!! xoxo
Our one year anniversary with our Silver Bullet Travato K is this week. Maine to Florida to SoCal to Seattle – home to Alaska for 6 months and now back on the road for the last 4 weeks. Most of this time in Utah – Arches, Canyonland, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon and now Zion – all amazing! But man, the last few days with the campfire smoke and we’ve moved twice in the same campground. It’s all good. And BTW – we never know where we are going to go or stay more than a day or two ahead. Maybe we miss somethings by not planning ahead but it beats the feeling of, “Gotta go ’cause we have to be somewhere” feeling when we’re just trying to to be here now 🙂
Liz, well maybe we’re just bad at that whole “winging it” thing, because loads of our friends swear by it, too. It just made me feel constantly attached to my phone, at a time when I just wanted to disconnect! But we were always having to look things up…where to stay, eat, shop, recreate, etc. and the pressure of it was a big downer. With the Binder of Fun, we get to switch our brains completely off and let the itinerary be our guide. I guess it’s the whole “different strokes” thing; and what a boring world it would be if we all did things the same!!!
As always, your writing is outstanding. As for Fort Stevens, I gave up on it because of the campfires. I’m one of those travelers that have a destination in mind and wing on my way there.
Hi, Susan!!! Yeah, I can relate to your frustration with Fort Stevens. It’s a gorgeous park with some amazing history, but a tough camping spot because of the smoke density and the way the trees hold it down.
such great photos! sorry I missed the Pomona show.
We had a blast, Ron. Wish you had been there! (Though it’s quite a haul for you.)
Thanks, Ron! Hope to catch up with you soon!!! xoxo
Great review of your trip Stef! I loved following you along the way on Facebook, and meeting you and James in Pomona, but I really enjoy the way you put it all together here with good humor and lessons learned! I have in my head that when we get our RV we’ll spend lots of time winging it and we’ll see what we see. But normally we are big trip planners – we go out of the country a lot and always have a file for each place we’re going – where to stay, eat, and what to see. I think you’re right that there’s lot of potential to miss interesting things if you don’t know the area you’re traveling through. So ………. time to consider a Binder of Fun!!
Hi Ed! Love that I know you now, and when you leave comments I have a face!!! Yep, I hear you that “winging it” thing…it’s a romantic notion and sounds appealing and adventurous. We’ll just see how long that lasts for ya, HA! CAN’T WAIT to revisit this conversation with you after you’ve been at it awhile. Although who knows, maybe you’ll be better at it than us. Keep in touch!!! xoxo
Thanks Stef – I’ll stay in touch and let you know how much winging it we actually do lol!
We are planners, but our friends tell us that one of the purposes of traveling in an RV is to “wing it”. Don’t plan too far ahead, see what the weather is doing, see how you feel and make last minute plans. Well, we’re so glad you’ve brought back your “binder of fun” because we can now feel good about keeping our “binder of fun” in the forefront of our trips. We’re not full timers, so for the most part we like to know that we won’t be spending lots of time on the road planning our current trip and that we have a nice place to stay and things to see in the time we have carved out.
Well I can certainly relate to this, Paul. Perhaps we have the same friends, ha! We also noticed that “winging it” left us ignorant about the area we were rolling through. What sorts of awesomeness were we driving right by? Those of us who plan would know!
Hey Stef. It was nice to meet you at the Pomona RV show and talk composting toilet crap with you. Pardon the pun .
There is no place like home after you have been on the road for awhile.
Julie!!! Yeah, our conversation was a little crappy, wasn’t it? Interesting comment about no-place-like-home…so true. I always marvel how do full-timers do it?!?!? Keep in touch! xoxo
Stef James how did Lance handle the trip?
Like a 7 time grand tour champion! (lol!)
No, seriously, we had no troubles at all. We’re over 25,000 miles now, and still on only our second oil change. The coolant troubles we had with the second alternator install are a memory now. The electrical setup performed flawlessly and we really enjoyed it.
I completely agree about the wood smoke from campfires…..I thought my only hang up was mud in our RV, but I forgot about the campfire smoke. It gets in everything – clothing, hair, upholstery – everything reeks of wood smoke. I love camp grounds with separate sections for campfire lovers and campfire haters.
And yes, you must plan ahead or risk wasting time looking for a spot when you’re tired and hungry. (I’m not too OCD, am I?) But I still love the beach !!!
I never knew they made campgrounds with smoking and non-smoking sections??!!??
WHERE do you find these?
OMG THAT WAS US, CHAR! We were tired, hungry, and still trying to find a spot on way too many evenings this trip. Trust me, it’s not a good combination for a couple (even one who likes each other) when they’re confined to 100sq ft!!! I’m already choosing the color for my next Binder of Fun. Take that, Spontaneity!
Interesting your comments about the “Binder of fun”. I have always thought I “over plan and over research” our travels and was missing out on the liberty and improvisation that seems to be part of the “class B” mantra. Maybe I’m not totally on the wrong track.
Yeah, that improv thing doesn’t work for us at all. Even Stef, who I thought would have been more tolerant of a loose itinerary, didn’t really dig it.
Alain, don’t change a thing. Plan, plan, and then plan some more! One of the sucky things about NOT planning is when you roll to a campground that has a few awesome spots…oceanfront, gorgeous views, etc. you won’t be getting those. The people who planned will already have them!
Sorry we missed you, but 95+ was just a bit too hot for us. We did go out Wednesday (it was 73 degrees) and really enjoyed seeing that Paseo, Winnebago is definitely heading in some good directions!
Glad you had a wonderful trip to & from the show, as always Happy Trails!
Andy & Kim
I’m sad we missed you guys! I had you on my mind and was hoping to spot you. But, yeah, it was hot, I get it. It’s because we were there. The days we pick to go to Pomona each year are ALWAYS hot, and then the rest of the time is gorgeous. Take that into consideration for next year as you make your plans. 😉
Great to meet you both in Pomona. Thanks go to James for making me feel far less “nerdy” about all of my Travato modification projects. Also thanks to Winnebago for the snacks and hat. Excellent hosts. Shoot for that MTB ride next time, when it’s not in the 90’s. Safe travels.
Dennis! It was SUCH a pleasure meeting you. James always loves connecting with his like-minded readers, and I love seeing what kinds of people read our site. It’s weird, having a website you sort of write to the air. No clear vision of who’s out there on the other end…but an incredible curiosity about who they are and what made them stop by the site. When I wrote this trip report, all that had changed. I had this vision of you, and the others we met at the show, and felt I knew just who I was writing to. It was kinda cool. xoxoxo
One small step on sand………
One giant leap towards Burning Man
LOL! Oh Ted, the only way James gets within 10 miles of Burning Man is in a very bad dream. That, or perhaps a NASA space suit?