It’s taken us close to four years of RVing to develop our traveling style, but with 100,000 miles under our wheels, I can now say I’m finally comfortable with the way we move around North America.
Essentially, we follow the winds of our curiosity. See that photo above? See that little dirt road off to the right? That's in Wyoming, just east of Dubois. We followed that trail for 10 miles, not sure where it was headed. We ended up finding one of the greatest boondocking spots ever. It wasn't on any guide book. It wasn't part of our plans. We just saw that road, the mountains, and the valleys and said, “Wow, let's go check it out!”
We stayed there three days.
We had no idea we'd be there until that dirt road beckoned.
This style of traveling can be very frustrating for some. Like back in mid-June when some folks, reading our daily blog posts about our then 3,500 mile tour of the Great Lakes shoreline, tried to catch up with us in upstate New York.
Every time they arrived where they thought we’d be, we had moved on.
“Where ARE you?” one of them finally messaged me on Facebook. “You’re not here!”
No, I thought to myself when I read that, we packed up and headed to a new here.
Specifically, that new “here” happened to be in the tiny town of Le Roy, New York, where we heard there was a Jell-O Museum.
Indeed there was, an absolutely fascinating place that that chronicles the amazing success of the gelatinous concoction from its invention in 1845 by a local carpenter — who sold rights to it for $450 — to its iconic status today as America’s most famous dessert.
We had no intention of visiting Le Roy. But when the camping attendant at the Lakeview State Park on Lake Erie told us about the museum, that was all we needed. So off we went, probably passing the readers who were on their way to meet us at back at the park campground.
Don’t take this wrong way because we absolutely love meeting folks who read of our adventures and discoveries. I always share our whereabouts and known stops on social media and the blog for just such opportunities. It’s just that we tend to move fast.
For a couple of years, I had an interactive map embedded in the blog that showed our whereabouts. But I took it down because we were always ahead of the map and folks thought they could come visit. Because my last update on the map hadn't been updated with our current position, they'd get a bit testy when we weren't where the map said we were. I'd still like to have a map up there because it's fun to look at a route. But we're just too spontaneous and some think that it's in real time.
Now we use something called Track My Tour. Click here to see how it works. It shows waypoints and our oute, not our up to the minute location, As I write this, we're on I-90 in New York, headed someplace near Boston for the night. Tomorrow, it will be Maine. I just took a photo out the windshield to show you how it displays on the map.
We also don't do well with group travel. We may decide to stay somewhere for two or three days on the spur of the moment. Or maybe we decide to leave someplace we previously decided to stay for three or four days because something new came up that lured us away. The few times we've traveled with others, such abrupt changes drives them nuts. We understand. Unless you are us, it is just too spontaneous for most other RVers. But that's how we roll. It works for us. Others are not us. So we have come to embrace and enjoy our style of RVing and generally avoid anything organized or involving groups.
Something else I should clear up: I am not retired.
I work for myself. And although when we first started this Roadtreking adventure four years ago, I saw it as a retirement activity. This blog and podcast, and my tech reporting and podcast at pcmike.com, have really taken off. With more than 300,000 readers of Roadtreking.com and more than 100,000 downloads of the podcast each month, it has become more than a full-time job. But it's a job I absolutely love and therefore don't consider it to be job at all.
[spp-tweet “We travel in our Roadtrek motorhome, Jennifer and me and our Norwegian Elkhound, Tai, writing about the interesting people and places we encounter, “]sharing our reports, photos and videos.
Normally, other than an eventual destination, we have no plans, no schedules, no firm appointments.
We stop whenever something catches our eye, talk to people, learn about the places we visit and try to document the scenic beauty, recreational opportunities, lifestyle and historical significance of the areas we visit.
Thanks to technology, I am totally wired and connected the entire route, able to post pretty much from wherever we are, no matter how isolated. I use the Verizon Wireless Mi-Fi 4g LTE card and a Wilson Sleek cell phone booster and can count on one hand the very few places I couldn't get an solid connection. This year, I added a satellite Internet system because there are a couple of really, really remote wilderness on mountaintops that we want to explore for an extended period of time and since I work from the road, I need that connectivity.
The first thing we do in planning a trip is pretty much the last thing. We agree on a general route. And that’s about it.
I usually have a vague idea where I’d like to end the day but more often than not, we don’t make a reservation. This really upsets a lot of the detail-oriented people. But because those winds of curiosity I described often lead us to the unexpected, we often find that we are not where I thought we’d be to spend the night.
We’ve forfeited way too many overnight reservation fees that had to be paid in advance because of such things.
So instead of the stress of having to be somewhere at a certain time, we go with the flow and stop when we want to stop, where we want to stop. At the worst, if all the local campgrounds are filled, there’s always a Walmart or Cracker Barrel or some other such business that welcomes overnight parking by RVers.
We also try to take state or county roads instead of four-lane highways or the interstates. That’s where all the good stuff is, off on those back roads. We’ve learned to watch the welcome signs in the little towns and villages as we pass them. Usually, as in Le Roy and that Jell-O museum, town fathers boast about whatever it is they are most proud of and attach it to the city limits sign.
We talk to the locals at restaurants and gas stations and campgrounds, usually asking, “What should we see while we’re in the area?”
We also pick up the guidebooks tourist agencies distribute at campgrounds and restaurants.
Thanks to technology and us always being wired as we travel, our greatest source of info is the Internet. As I drive, Jennifer does a search on the town ahead or the area we’re in.
Example: As we drove through Erie, Pa. last summer, her net search revealed there was an epic “Battle of Lake Erie” in the War of 1812 where Oliver Hazard Perry of the U.S. Navy and his crew of 557 brave patriots defeated the British fleet. That detoured us to the town’s amazing Presque Isle State Park, a huge peninsula that juts out to the lake and boasts, besides numerous beaches and picnic spots, a monument to Perry, who built his fleet in Erie.
So that’s [spp-tweet “Our travel style: Free and Easy, and always subject to change”]. It works for us.
See you out there! If you can catch us!