Six Months Down, So What’s Next?

In the six months since moving into Rover, we’ve traveled from Tampa Florida to Peterborough New Hampshire and back. We’ve challenged the narrow, bumpy, and expensive route onto Long Island NY, the steep and winding local highways through the Vermont mountains, and countless of miles of US Interstates. Our GPS has faithfully kept track of every mile. Below, our trip north from May through July is in blue, and our trip south from July through October in purple. Each campground we stayed at is a green dot:

First six months

First six months: north (blue), then south (purple).

We covered around 4,500 miles, and filled Rover with 700 gallons of gas, for an average of 6.4 MPG. We had hoped to do slightly better, but we ran our generator fairly often while driving to power the house air conditioners (the dashboard air conditioner can’t keep up with such a large space), and we drove on interstates fairly often which means high speeds and worse fuel economy. And of course, Rover was towing Red that whole distance. With winter approaching, the generator will likely be idle except for a monthly check-up, and with our new 5-Star Tuning program on the engine, we’re hoping to improve our fuel economy a bit more.

We stayed at 20 different campgrounds and paid $5,500 for 180 nights of camping, for an average of $30 per night. Well, to be fair 23 of those nights were free stays in Mom’s, Bob’s, or Gary’s driveways, so our real campground fees averaged closer to $35 per night. Our most expensive campground was Cherry Hill Park in College Park MD at $57/night (after our 10% Good Sam discount!), and the least expensive were Heritage RV Park in Augusta GA and Bill Frederick Park in Orlando FL, both coming in at $23/night.

It’s now time to take the training wheels of and start heading into unknown territory. Even though we’ve visited plenty of new places, we’re both “east coasters” and have been up and down the I-95 corridor often throughout our lives. Our plan now is to head west so we can start exploring more of our country’s amazing places! Since winter is coming, we took a look at seasonal weather averages for the U.S. so we could try to avoid the cold as much as possible. The HAMweather.com site is great for checking the historical average temperatures by month. Here’s the normal high and low temps in January (click to enlarge):

Normal highs and lows in January across the U.S.

Normal highs and lows in January across the U.S.

Based on this, I can see why so many “snow birds” spend their winters in southern Florida! Looks like we’ll need to stay pretty far south if we want to avoid the cold, and even then we should expect some chilly nights. Armed with the weather forecast and our tentative goal of being in Quartzsite AZ by mid-January, we’ve started plotting out a proposed route and interesting destinations along the way. Our driving goals include keeping most drives under 300 miles, and staying at each destination for one or two weeks. A few places along the way are just logical stopping points, like New Orleans LA or Tucson AZ. Others we chose so we could visit friends (Houston TX), or roller coasters (San Antonio TX) or amazing sights (Big Bend National Park).

Route West

Our tentative winter route west, from Florida to California.

The best part is, if we change our mind along the way, or hear about some “must see” place, it’s easy to change our plans, just like we did six months ago when we heard about the rocket launch scheduled in Cape Canaveral. This week we’ve taken the first step, moving just 90 miles north from Tampa FL to Crystal River FL, to swim with the Manatee. Let the next phase of our adventure begin!

Michael Fischer

After a high-tech career spanning software development and systems administration to leading hundreds of engineers across cities and continents, I’m now slowing things down a bit. Traveling full-time in an RV with my awesome wife Kathie and our two big dogs Max and Opie, I’m now pursuing smaller personal software projects while seeing North America up close.

6 Comments

  1. Tomi Newcombe   •  

    Really enjoying following your blog.
    We too have an 2014 Allegro 36LA that we purchased December 2013. We don’t fulltime, so our traveling won’t be as extensive as yours, but I enjoy hearing about yours!
    I’ll be interested in any information you post about the 5-Star tuning on your rig as you continue. Our coach is currently being re-fitted with all new overhead LED light fixtures ( and ext porch light) as we were experiencing radio-interference with our TV. Also having the propane regulator replaced as once temps reached down into the 30’s at night, our furnace wasn’t kicking on. ( tested stove also and it wasn’t working, thus my conclusion it was the regulator).
    I am also replacing our kitchen faucet, thanks to your post! Hope to do a new kitchen backsplash this spring too.
    Wishing you happy carefree travels!
    Tomi

    • Mike   •     Author

      Tomi, sounds like you had the “2014.1” coach, which had the bad LEDs. They made some mid-year changes, and ours is a “2014.2” since it was built in March. Different lights, and a few other minor changes. So far we really like the 5-Star Tune. It can’t work miracles (this is still a gas coach) but we can definitely feel the increased power and acceleration, and more importantly the peak power is at a lower RPM, which means less engine noise. Haven’t really seen a change in fuel economy yet. We’re very glad we had it done.

      Good luck!
      -Mike

  2. Vicki   •  

    Your anticipated journey is the one I am toying with for us next year.

    Today, we moved into our rig and will be full-timing for at least the next year or so. I can’t wait for an update on that 5-Star Tune. We thought it looked like a terrific accessory when we saw it at the 2013 Hershey RV Show. Keep posting, we are enjoying it emensly.

  3. Denisa   •  

    We begin our full-time journey in January in a Tiffin that we just brought home last month. So I love to read posts of others that are just starting their RV adventure. Your website is one of my favorites! I see that you will be in some of the areas we have planned for this winter. When do you plan to be in Big Bend? I am looking at places to stay with a 35 foot motorhome that will still allow us to do some of the hikes in that huge park. Have you got that figured out?

    Denisa

    • Mike   •     Author

      Hi Denisa. Glad you enjoy the blog! We’ll probably be in Big Bend TX in late December. However, we’re not 100% sure we’re going. It’s quite out of our way, and some folks have said not to bother. We’re thinking of maybe going to Carlsbad Caverns instead. We won’t know for sure for a few more weeks. Good luck with full-timing! -Mike

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