2013 & Year 4 In Review -> 4,200 Miles Of Western Odyssey

We got a prime site in summer at Cape Dissapointment because I booked ahead
Reflections at Cape Disappointment, WA

We’ve reached the end of yet another year of RVing and it’s the perfect time to reflect back. We started this whole adventure 4 years ago with the idea of “trying it out for a year”. Each year we re-evaluate and decide if we want to keep going and so far the answer has always been “yes”. It’s a lifestyle experiment that continues to surprise and enthrall us. But one thing that has definitely become a bit of a theme is that we really, really love the west. Something about the wide-open space, the abundance of public land, the amazing scenery and the generally dry and mild weather (esp. for the seasons we choose to visit) keeps us coming back.

This year we embraced that draw and completed a total of ~4,200 miles of driving across 5 main western states, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and California (with a very quick touch into WA). Following our typical planning process, our focus was to follow the weather at a relaxed pace with extra time in spots we really loved. Our longest drive was 275 miles and our shortest a mere 21, with the average 101 miles….perfection! We also spent alot more time both boondocking and lighthouse hosting this year which meant we spent just under $10/night for camping all year…not too shabby.

Winter In Wonderful Arizona

Posing in white
Posing in white

Our winter started in Arizona where we embraced boondocking and arctic blasts in Yuma, including our first dental visit to Mexico. This was followed by the big & crazy RV show in Quartzsite (something I think every RVer should do at least once) whereafter we made our way to Tuscon and encountered our first EVER days of snow in the rig (magical!!). The rest of Feb & March were spent boondocking around SE Arizona discovering cool & funky Bisbee, the amazing birds of Whitewater Draw and the hidden gem of Las Cienegas Wildlife Refuge (what a find!!). The beginning of spring had us catching desert bloom in Phoenix, followed by a last hurrah to Arizona boondocking just outside Cottonwood with our buddies Beluga. What an awesome winter!!

Sandhill Cranes coming to roost at sunset
Sandhill Cranes coming to roost at Whitewater Draw
You never know what you'll find if you take your time. Exploring art in Bisbee, AZ Mar 2013
Exploring art in Bisbee, AZ Mar 2013
A view beyond words....
The awesome beauty of Las Cienegas
Sunset at our new site
Boondocking by Cottonwood, AZ

Spring In Spiritual Utah

With the weather turning our goal was to hit the amazing and remote area of SE Utah. In the first whiffs of spring we communed with the spirits in Monument Valley,  admired the gods near Goosenecks, gaped in awe of the ancients near Comb Ridge and topped it all off with the red rocks of Moab. This period also gifted us with our first (and in retrospect amusing) encounter with RV mice….eeeeek! Our Utah adventures ended in one of the most unexpected and gorgeous areas we’ve ever seen -> Antelope Island. Were it not for the gnats we might have spent a whole month there.

Nothing beats the panorama at Dead Horse Point State Park
Nothing beats the panorama at Dead Horse Point State Park
The fabulous "House On Fire"
The fabulous “House On Fire”
Sunrise in heavy cloud over the Monument Valley Buttes
Sunrise over Monument Valley
A cool boondocking spot in Southern UT
Boondocking at Goosenecks in Southern UT
Polly poses in the big salty flats
Polly poses on the salty flats of Antelope Island

Summer In Stunning Oregon

Playing by the beach
Playing by the beach

As the legs of summer encroached we sped over for a quick rest in Idaho before entry into our beloved Oregon. Our first stop was the wonderful & enchanting Columbia River Gorge (what a great spot!!). This marked the end of our land-locked adventures and the beginning of our coastal Odyssey. By June 1st we were on the beach in Washington in the Foulest Place In The West, after which we meandered veeery slowly and deliberately down the OR coast starting at Astoria, discovering outstanding Manzanita, stopping for cheese in Tilamook, gawking at fish in Newportbraving the rains in Florence and discovering hidden secret Winchester Bay. Our coastal summer topped off with 3 months of lighthouse hosting at two of our favorite places in the world, Bandon Beach and magical Cape Blanco (the latter of which we shared with our buddies Technomadia). We loved it so much we signed up again for next year, our 3rd in a row. We ended our OR adventure in at the very southern tip of the state in the “banana belt” of Brookings. Ahhh…summer along the Oregon Coast….it can’t be beat!

Our Front RV view at Winchester Bay (D section)
Our Front RV view at Winchester Bay (D section)
Eerie calm before the storm...
Captivating Cape Blanco Lighthouse
Yet another gorgeous beach! Nehalem Bay, OR
Yet another gorgeous beach! Nehalem Bay, OR
Goodbye Oregon Coast...we'll see you soon
Goodbye Oregon Coast…we’ll see you soon

Fall In The Fabulous Sierra Nevada Mountains

Having spent a near-perfect summer on the coast we set our sights on fall in the mountains. A messed-up transmission service set-us back temporarily, but this was followed by exactly what we’d hoped for…FALL colors in the Sierra Nevada Mountains (Oh, and a naked man)! The trip happened to coincide with the Federal Government Closure so we just switched our plans to 100% boondocking….free and fabulous! The remainder of October was spent hanging along Hwy 395 in all our favorite spots, the diverse Bishop, lovely Alabama Hills (where we had an impromptu Pumpkin Carving contest) and ending up in the warm pools & crazy desert of Desert Hot Springs.

Boondocking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains
All wrapped up to fight the  chill
All wrapped up to fight the chill
Relaxing in the Alabama Hills, CA
THIS is why we brave the cold! Fall colors, baby!
THIS is why we brave the cold! Fall colors, baby!
Hanging at Wild Willy's, one of the larger pools in the area. Pretty sweet view, eh?
Hanging at one of the free hot pools near Mammoth Lakes, CA

That about wraps up our year, at least as far as the sights & travels go. What I didn’t mention were the rich and abundant encounters with people we’ve met along the way -> evenings spent with other RVers, friendships made, boondocking sites shared and campfires attended. These human encounters are what makes this lifestyle soooo much more than just travel, and to those of you who’ve been part of our year I send our warmest thoughts. You know who you are! As usual, I’ve kept a detailed track in Google Maps of every spot visited and every road driven on our 2013 journey including a link-back to the blog posts for each location. So, if you’re looking for a fun evening of reading, just sit down in a comfy chair with your favorite beverage and click away….

First Half Of The Year
First Half Of The Year AZ->UT->OR
Second Half Of The Year
Second Half Of The Year OR->CA

That’s it folks. I’ll be doing another post for our top campgrounds of the year, but after that’s done it’ll be onto 2014….year 5 here we come!!

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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do

    • libertatemamo says

      Indeed :) Many of our Oregon memories this year were shared with you. Looking forward to much more of that again!!
      Nina

  1. says

    Congratulations on FOUR years of beautiful adventures! We really enjoy reading your blog. We just started full timing in June after many years of part time travel. Wishing you all the best in 2014.

  2. says

    That’s the kind of travel Al and I enjoy….meandering. We’re into month 6 of full-time and can’t see settling down anytime soon. Here’s to another year filled with fun and adventure… Happy New Year :-)

  3. Lee and Shelia says

    Thanks for sharing your adventures. We live through you both vicariously… We will be doing some traveling again in our RV this year and hope to run into you guys at some point. Now that our European trip is over and behind us.

    Safe Travels and Happy New Year… Lee and Shelia

    • libertatemamo says

      Cape Blanco was definitely one of the highlights of our year too! Looking forward to the same again in 2014.

      Nina

  4. says

    What an awesome collection of photos here, really shows off your year, it’s an amazing lifestyle. Here’s wishing you health, happiness more great RVing adventures in 2014. Cheers Ray

  5. Teju says

    Dear Nina and Paul,

    It is great reading about your adventures. Love your favorite places and descriptions and photographs.
    Wishing you an amazing 2014.

    If you are ever in the Chicago area, we’d love to see you guys.

    Teju

    • libertatemamo says

      Teju. How wonderful to hear from you!! Will definitely look you up if we come through Chicago. Best wishes for your family in 2014.
      Nina

  6. don piele says

    Thanks so much for the year in review. Your travels are a delight to follow. Well written, exceptional photographs, and all from the heart.

    May your love be as wide as a Western sky
    And your blessings stacked high as a mount.
    May your lives be as long as the Rio Grande
    And your friends be too many to count.

    Happy New Year!

    Don and Linda (Retired in Oro Valley AZ)

    • libertatemamo says

      Oregon has become a firm favorite. Been there 2 years in a row now and plan for a 3rd next year. Summer temps on the coast are near-perfect.
      Nina

  7. Jeff & Deb says

    Hi Paul & Nina-

    Thanks for the recap and sharing your journey. Your “test” lifestyle continues to inspire us. While we have a long way to go to before we are full-time we did manage to venture out 52 nights in 2013 and “dip our toes” in your world….and we want more.

    Wishing you a happy, happy, happy new year.
    Cheers, Jeff & Deb

  8. Beartracksblog says

    Beautiful! Your year looks irresistible. We plan to sorta follow that plan this year. So so grateful to you for the details. Your photography is absolutely amazing! -Linda

    • libertatemamo says

      Thanks! It was actually quite fun to look back on the year and realize just how much we’ve actually seen. Always seems more in a single post like this.
      Nina

  9. says

    You are very smart to be staying in the west!! I do believe the east will drive you nuts…people everywhere, bugs, humidity, and little scenery because the trees are in the way.

    You certainly had a spectacular year.

    • libertatemamo says

      I have to admit the West has our heart. We may well venture East again, but I know we won’t get the dry climate and huge views that we get out here.
      Nina

  10. Kathryn and John Hester says

    We LOVE your blog and read it faithfully. Fabulous advice and info on great places to visit. I recently retired (John already is) and we have been preparing to start full time RVing as soon as we sell our house (it’s on the market now). I look forward to using your planning guides and maybe running into you in the years to come. Thanks for your insights! Kathy

    • libertatemamo says

      Well congrats on the upcoming new lifestyle. Here’s hoping your house sells soon & you get on the road this year!
      Nina

  11. David & Kathy C. says

    Love the blog. Keep on going, keep shareing.
    We have about 340 days to go before retirement.
    Happy new year to you both.

  12. says

    What a fantastic post about a wonderful year. Love the pictures. Your method of travel is just what suits me too. We haven’t spent much time in the west since I’m an Atlantic ocean-o-phile but your posts really make it clear that we need to get on out there. We’re working on the Moffitt problem. I’d LOVE to do the lighthouse thing and as soon as I’m sure we can manage it I’m going back to your posts on how to.

    • libertatemamo says

      I would actually like to see more of the Atlantic. We stopped at some really cool spots in SC & FL in 2010, but haven’t seen anything on that coast further north. Maybe one day…if we can pull ourselves away from the west :)
      Nina

  13. Ralph says

    Nina,
    Really, really enjoyed following your travels this past year. Thank you for all the great stories, info and photos. Your travels inspire me to follow in your footsteps(tire tracks).

    I wish you safe,healthy and memorable travels in 2014. Happy New Year to you, Paul…..and the Paws!!

  14. John Lupomech says

    Glad to see the pictures showing up in the email. First time since you changed.

    Hope to be out there on the road with you in 2015.

    John & Becky

    • libertatemamo says

      Yeah, once again I kind of “cheated” on the photos here and inserted them directly into the post instead of using the “gallery” function. Not sure if I’ll keep doing this since I really like the newer function. Complicated…complicated…
      Nina

  15. Dave Holden says

    Nina,
    We live about 10 miles from Antelope Island and never even thought about camping out there. This fall I read your review of the campground, and we decided “what the heck”, loaded up the mutts and spent a fabulous October weekend on what we now call “The Island”. Thanks for giving us a new weekend destination and have a tremendous 2014!

    • libertatemamo says

      Now this is the kind of story I love to hear!! I love that my little blog inspires folks to visit spots, sometimes even in their back yard. How fun!! Hope to make it back to Antelope Island one day…without the gnats :)
      Nina

  16. Rowanoca says

    What an awesome recap of 2013, thanks for putting forth all the effort. I can’t believe everywhere you’ve been this year, yet when I review thru all your pics I can relate back to each blog posting they were from.
    And to think you’ve done all of this while only traveling 4200 miles…the West IS where it’s at!
    How many miles did you put on the toad during this same period of time?
    Thanks for all the work you put into sharing all of this, and like so many others, I look forward to following along for the voyage in 2014.
    Happy New Year to both of you!

    • libertatemamo says

      I’m pretty amazed at all we’ve seen too! It seems so much more than the 4,200 miles we travelled. Most fulltime RVers travel at least double that each year. LOVE the west!
      Nina

  17. Dave'n'Kim says

    Wow Nina, as always, reading your articles through the year has been so interesting, AND helpful too. We have learnt so much from them and I want to thank you for having been so useful to us, and surely many others! Your willingness to share your experiences and information freely is wonderful and I only wish we had the time, experience and resources to also ‘pay back’ by running a website giving our (tips, technical mods, etc) suggestions to others. In fact even though we still regard ourselves as relative ‘Newbies’ and only started RV travelling ‘seriously’ this year (and then only part-time), we must be doing OK: On our recent 4-month ‘Canada Trip’ from CA we did 10,056 miles, through 9 West-US states and 2 provinces, and averaged $9.50/night in USA ($18 in Canada – not easy to find free sites!) in campground fees, so it’s very satisfying that we’re close to your figures! Keep up the great work and all the best for 2014. Dave and Kim

    • libertatemamo says

      Wow 10,056 miles!! That’s alot of asphalt! But then again…9 states and 2 provinces is also alot of area to see. FANTASTIC that you were able to keep your camping costs to below $10/night. Very encouraging to hear other RVers hitting those numbers. I think those costs make it very accessible to alot of folks.
      Nina

    • diana Mai says

      In Canada our sort of equivalent of BLM land is called Crown Land. {federal } In Alberta there are numerous camping spots on crown land for very low rates or free. A beautiful area is along hiway 40, also known as the Forestry Trunk Road. It starts at the US border and winds its way north on the easter side of the Rockies. Any one wanting to experience real wilderness will be rewarded by taking this trip. It would certainly be quieter than Quartzsite { our favourite place }and would be an opportunity for our southern friends to exprience northern boondocking.

      • libertatemamo says

        What excellent info! I very, very much want to do a trip in the RV to Canada at some point so this is great stuff to know. I went to Banff many years ago on a solo road trip and have fabulous memories of the beautiful nature there. So want to see more of Canada!
        Nina

  18. TenaciousBago says

    Happy New Year Y’all! I pray for your safe travels in 2014.
    Looking forward to many more wonderful blog posts and beautiful photos.

  19. Jenny Waters says

    This is a lovely year-end review, Nina. I have been enjoying your blog since last summer (though this is my first comment). My husband and I live in Washington State and are considering going fulltime in an RV in a few years. (We don’t like snow, and love to travel.) Thank you for all the great tips on your blog, I have been learning a lot.
    Jenny

    • libertatemamo says

      We’re hoping to hit Washington this year, so looking forward to seeing your “home” state. Sure do understand wanting to get out of there in winter though.
      Nina

      • Jenny Waters says

        Washington is beautiful in a lot of areas. I live on the east side near Spokane, which is fairly dry and has wonderful summers. We have both desert and rainforest in WA, so there is a lot of variety. You would probably love the North Cascades (definitely a summer destination) and the Olympic Peninsula is beautiful, but wet.

  20. peter says

    Hi Guys…Try White tanks park outside Phoenix. We will be there at some point…real nice place. Peter and Janice from Florence

    • libertatemamo says

      I’ve heard of that park, but haven’t tried it. If we go through Phoenix this year we’ll try and stop in.
      Nina

    • libertatemamo says

      Thanks! The maps do take time to keep, but I really enjoy having them at the end of the year. So much fun to look at after the fact.
      Nina

  21. Suasn says

    Looks like a reasonable amount of coverage for one year ! It amazed me when I lived in an RV for two years , how little of the country I actualy saw ! I saw a lot but just a speck realy as in what all is out there. I cant wait to do it again ! Soon…

  22. says

    Just love your posts. Your photos are awesome and thanks for your incredible info. I know how much effort it takes to do a blog. Thanks so very much! We feel as though we are right there with you!

    Hope 2014 is your best year ever!

    • libertatemamo says

      Thanks. It does take quite a bit of work to blog, but I must admit I love doing it. It’s led to so many good meetings & so many good memories. It’s really the blog readers and interaction that keep me going!
      Nina

  23. says

    Great year end round up! So glad we got to spend time with you, Paul & Polly this year. Looking forward to hanging some more in 2013 (and seeing you this weekend). Happy New Year!

  24. LuAnn says

    What a year you two have had! Our wish for you both for 2014 is for safe travels, grand adventures, and much joy and love. Thanks for taking us along on your wild ride. We have loved every minute of it. :)

  25. says

    Happy New Year !! Thanks for the great blog … it has been an inspiration and a huge resource. We are headed west (are in Tucson) maybe our paths will cross (what happens when 2 Cuban full timers collide?!). We’ll be at Quartzite and later San Diego … Hector

        • libertatemamo says

          Yup..coming in for the big show. We’ll be staying with the iRV2 Monaco group in La Posa South.
          Nina

          • says

            wonderful! we are arriving on the 16th and plan on staying a week or so or until the mood strikes us to mosey on. we are newbies so not sure yet where to stay – took note of your post on dome rock … maybe there. anyway … would love to meet you two. drinks and snacks at Camp Lopez / Island Girl? email us with your surely evolving and complex social calendar. we are completely flex! Hector and Brenda

          • libertatemamo says

            Dome Rock is a neat spot. We’ll probably be camped in La Posa South with the iRV2 Monaco group. Gonna geek out on rig stuff.
            Nina

  26. Julia says

    Spent the last couple days and New Year’s eve at Sam’s Family Spa and hiked to flag mountain for New Year’s Day due in large part to reviews on your site. Thanks for the great site details and particularly the dog friendly information.
    Happy 2014.
    Julia

    • libertatemamo says

      LOVELY!! SO happy to hear you enjoyed the spot and some of our recommendations in the area. We love to share!
      Nina

  27. Doug says

    Happy New Year! Great summary. Love following your travels and your great boondocking finds. Thanks to you, I had a very peaceful overnight rest at Goosenecks in between Grand Junction and Flagstaff last summer.

    Hope you visit Imperial Dam—my winter roost for 12 years in a row—on your way to Q!

    • libertatemamo says

      So happy you got to enjoy Goosenecks SP! We may well drop by Imperial Dam this year…we’ll see.
      Nina

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