Well we made the plunge, so I’ll get that out of the way right off the bat. We bought a used Class A motorhome that we hope will fit our short term and long term needs. Sally and I were pretty excited to pick it up from the dealer for our first real overnight trip.

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We had recently made a 10 day tour of national parks through six western states in the U.S, and knew that we wanted more. We both like to get out on the road. Three years ago we took a week to travel to northern Arizona to visit the Grand Canyon and Sedona and we stayed in motels along the way. This summer we talked about that trip and wanted to get back out on the road again during her summer vacation.  Since Sally is a teacher we do these things during her breaks. During her spring break we traveled back east via the big jet airplane to paraphrase Steve Miller and Joni Mitchell. We stayed with my sister, her husband, and my niece and her family at my sister’s home on Lake Arrowhead. Part of our itinerary was to drive to Columbia South Carolina to attend the funeral service of my first wife and more so, a great friend.

Columbia and other small towns in the midlands of South Carolina is where I lived for 10 years to attend college at USC and to discover myself.

Back with my sister we made daytrips to Gibbs Gardens, near Ball Ground, on a rainy day full of beautiful flora and trees with rambling creeks.

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We went to Kennesaw National Battlefield as I am a Civil War history buff like many others.

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On our last full day we made a trip up to Blue Ridge in the northern Georgia Mountains. Along the way we stopped at Mercier Orchards to pick up fruit pies and other delicacies. We had lunch at a river side restaurant, Toccoa Riverside Restaurant near Blue Ridge GA. They have great dishes and a beautiful view of a winding river through the forested hills. We sat in the little people’s chair out back just to put life in perspective.

tonysally toccoafront

All in all we had a wonderful trip but we missed going to the Smoky Mtns., Chattanooga, and many other places throughout the southeast. It was important for me to visit places that I went to during my college days and it was also to show my wife, Sally, parts of the country that she’s never seen. Being from the Philippines she really hasn’t seen much up to that time, outside of California and Philadelphia, PA where many of my family still lives and where we all grew up as children. We did manage a trip to the Grand Canyon a couple of years back, but unfortunately we were limited by time.

After returning from Georgia we started to talk about how it would be nice to see more of America, but being restrained financially we couldn’t justify the costs of hotels. We were thinking of taking a tow week trip up through the northwest and even visiting Vancouver Canada. We then talked about how it would be wonderful to see Yellowstone National Park and the National Parks in Utah. But how could we afford the accommodations? Then it hit us! We decided to make it a camping trip and stay at campgrounds along the way.

So we went out and bought a tent and various camping gear. This was after thinking about buying an extension tent to fit off the rear of our Mazda CX9, not a cheap or utilitarian idea. It would have been nice to sleep in the shelter of the SUV but whenever we wanted to take day trips we would have to strike the tent and reload all our gear into the SUV. Arrgghhh! We opted for the tent and got cots to sleep on. I got a cooking stove and got foam mattress toppers for the cots for comfort. Of course we had to get sleeping bags and a cooler to keep our food in. It was beginning to get pretty crowded in the back of the SUV. We ended up with space enough for only the two of us….two of us being seniors at that!

When we got out on the road early at 5 AM on our first Saturday of vacation for Sally from teaching, June 14th. The plan was simple, we would drive down to Las Vegas which is a ten hour drive. We would stay with our daughters and their spouses at a time-share just off the strip and get up the next day and head to Utah. Well reality hit us head on right then. Since Sunday was Father’s Day we would need to stay with our family through noon time to celebrate my day. I really didn’t think that part through, but it was well worth the time being together with my only regret was that our two sons had to stay back in San Jose to work. We ate at the Aria buffet and were smart enough not to hang around the casino. That would have ended our trip right there.

Unfortunately our schedule (remember that word) was thrown off in day two of our two week trip. I had made reservations at a KOA campground in Moab on the third night of our trip for two nights, but we wanted to be able to see Zion Natl. Park and Bryce Canyon. We were going to spend night two at a campground outside St George, Utah after going to Zion. The next day we planned to see Bryce Canyon. Since we got out of Vega later than I had planned for we decided to go straight to Zion and instead of backtracking to St George we went directly to a KOA outside of Bryce. We had to rush our trip through Zion and really missed seeing beautiful parts of that park, but we needed to make that campground before dark so that we could get back on schedule. There’s that nasty word again.

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When we arrived at the campground it was almost dark and I had to set up a tent that I had only reviewed in the confines of our apartment at home. We were given a spot on the edge of the campground where there was no light at all. Let me tell you pitching a tent in the dark with only the headlights of the SUV was not ideal. Added to that we were tired from rushing our trip during the day. We finally got everything set up but I realized that the tent was too far from the electrical hook up and we didn’t bring an extension cord. We parked the SUV so close to the outlet and plugged our smartphones directly into the outlet and running the cables through a cracked window so we could keep the smartphones secure.

Well, I’m going to make a really long story slightly shorter. We stayed in Moab which is in the Utah dessert which also happens to be hot, dry, dusty, and windy. Sally was not impressed by staying in a tent. When we went to Yellowstone it had snowed earlier in the day, just a dusting, but the temps were cold. We had to stop a numerous places to try to find a space heater. Again Sally wasn’t impressed. What did impress us were all the campers around us in there motorhomes and travel trailers and the comfort that they enjoyed, especially the senior citizens like us.

When we returned home we discussed the pros and cons of the trip. The pros were obviously the beauty of what we had just experienced. The cons were the living accommodations that we had because of our budget constraints. Mind you I am not dissing tent camping, it’s just that when you reach a certain age ones’ joints don’t work as well as they did when one was younger. I have a bulging disc and Sally just had hip replacement surgery.  So we were left with a major quandary. How could we travel like we wanted to, on the budget we imposed on ourselves, and in the comfort we felt we needed given our age and individual physiques? The answer in Our New Home Away From Home Part 2.

Happy and Bright travels y’all!