Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2016 Year in Review - Part 1

This is the first post of a two-part summary of 2016. Below is our itinerary for the year.

15,200   miles driven in the MINI Countryman (not including miles in tow)
  6,700 miles driven in Monaco Monarch (Class A motor coach)
     614 miles; longest motor coach drive in one day
       47 miles; shortest motor coach drive 
32  RV parks/resorts where we stayed
              shortest stay = 1 night; longest stay = 60 nights

Places we visited in 16 states 
in our motor coach:
21 Museums (wide array of small and large)
21 State parks
18 Beaches (Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico)
17 National Parks (in CA, OR, WA, MT, ND, KY, TN, NC, SC, FL)
14 National Monuments, Historic Sites, Recreational Areas, Preserves
11  County, city, and local parks
12 Visits with family and friends in various locations during our travels
06 National Wildlife Refuges
02 Botanical gardens
03 Religious sites 
01 Zoological parks

When I asked John (a man of few words) how he would describe 2016, he said, "Amazing!" In 2015 he said, "Fantastic!" And in 2014 he said, "Awesome!" I am patiently awaiting more details from him, but, again this year, here is my summary. If you are interested in more details, read on.

In January, we were in Yuma, AZ, where we enjoyed our daily hikes in the desert. Visiting the Yuma Territorial Prison, Yuma Proving Grounds, and making new friends were highlights of our stay.

Mission Bay (San Diego) was our home for a month beginning in mid-January. Our daughter, Amanda, visited us there, too. The beaches in the region as well as Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo, the USS Midway and other museums were fantastic.

Desert Hot SpringsCA, was our home for 2 months, where we continued our daily walks in the desert and enjoyed daily soaks in the hot springs (except the night we both got in with our iPhones and destroyed them). Sadly, upgraded phones were purchased for both of us a couple of days later. Loved nearby Joshua Tree National Park, Palm Springs Aerial Tram, and Salton Sea.

I flew to Chicago to help Amanda move to NYC in March. She had most of the packing done, but urban moves require a lot of coordination and I was glad I could help. John and Sadie held down the home front. 

We began our one-a-week visit of the National Parks in California. But first we visited the National Mojave Preserve where there are fantastic hiking trails. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks left us awestruck. The largest living things on the planet, Giant Sequoia Trees, are practically impervious to disease and fire and can live for 3,000 years. 

Yosemite National Park was next on our itinerary with its unbelievable waterfalls, mountains, glacier valleys, and wildlife. 

Lassen Volcanic National Park still had lots of snow and most of the park roads were not yet open, but we hiked to the bubbling mud pools. Part of the Pacific Rim of Fire, this remains an active volcano.

We stayed north of San Francisco for a week and spent time at Fisherman's Wharf and the Golden Gate Recreation Area (encompasses a large area near the bridge, many beaches along the coast, and more.) Muir Woods is a lovely respite near the city with large coastal redwood trees. Point Reyes National Seashore (to the north) is well worth a visit.

Our next stop, Trinity, CA, is where we encountered our first major issue with our RV...a breakdown that resulted in the motor coach being towed 30 miles to Eureka. The stalled engine would not turn over even after a mobile mechanic attempted to diagnose the problem. The Azalea Glen RV Park (where we broke down) had a park model that we rented (thankfully) allowing us to transfer food from our refrig/freezer, clothes, and a other necessities. With only 18,000 miles on the motor coach, a recent oil change, and no discernible problems other than the air conditioning was not working very well, it was not initially apparent what the problem was. In the end, the problem was the compressor for the air conditioning failed causing the entire engine to seize up (since the compressor for the engine is shared with the air conditioning function). It was a costly repair, and took about 12 days. This is the saddest picture of 2016.

We made the best of it and spent time visiting the beautiful harbor in Trinity, nearby beaches, and Redwood National Park. 

Happy to be on our way again, our next stop was Crater Lake National Park. The clear  water of the deep lake is an incredible, vibrant blue. We visited a colleague and friend from my previous job, Cathy and her husband, Allan while in OR, too. From there we went to beautiful Cannon Beach, OR, where the tidal pools and water fowl (especially puffins) at Haystack Rock are fascinating. 

Also located nearby, are the Lewis and Clark National and State Parks that encompass a large area of the region where the Columbia River reaches the Pacific Ocean. 

The remainder of our 2016 year-end summary will be covered in the next post. Thank you for following our journey!

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