Celebrating three years on the road!

It’s hard to believe we’ve been on the road for three years now.  It seems like just yesterday that we embarked on this journey to explore our beautiful country on March 1, 2012.  How time flies!  And here we are three years later, continuing to make wonderful memories along the way.

We are pretty much still on track with our set goals, and we picked up 10 new states during the past year.  But unlike previous years, our pace slowed down a bit and we stayed longer at most stops throughout the midwest.  On previous anniversaries I posted about our favorite hiking and biking trails.  Alas, we had fewer opportunities for those activities this past year.  It’s not that we didn’t stay active, but we just didn’t do enough memorable walks or bike rides to give a useful report.

So instead I will commence our celebration with highlights of what things come to mind as we review our third year on the road.  Note that the map below depicts our travels during calendar year 2014 – on March 1st we were in northern Florida and heading west:

Our actual route followed our planned route fairly closely, including a couple of detours. We began our third year in the Florida panhandle and traveled  to our farthest northern stop at Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  Then, back down we went – about as far as you can get in south Texas – for the winter.

Along the way, we just had to detour for some time with the birds on our favorite Island at Dauphin Island, Alabama.  And even though it was a bit out of the way, our second detour was to have the excellent team at Freightliner do Betsy’s annual maintenance in Gaffney, South Carolina.

Highlights during our third year of travel:

Weather – Gulf Shores, Alabama

Looking back at what we endured while at Gulf Shores, Alabama makes us shudder.  A five-hour non-stop parade of severe thunderstorms went right over us, with the downpour, winds and thousands of lightning strikes forcing a sleepless night.  We got 15″ of rain that day, an all-time record for the area.  Being in the middle of an historic storm was not exactly what we had signed on for, but we really had nowhere to run to.  We were fortunate to not have any serious damage from that one, because other folks around us certainly did.

The full story is here.

Chiggers Attack – Peru, Indiana

How can I forget those nasty bites?  I was miserable for several weeks from the party those microscopic monsters had on my waist and tummy.  Non-stop itching and scratching reddened my skin and was very uncomfortable.  Oh my, I’m scratching myself right now just thinking about it!

The full story is here.

Adult Chigger
My number one arch enemy, the larvae of a nasty Chigger.  Look out you little monster, here comes my finger to crush you!

The Great Lakes

As we hail from California, the Great Lakes were just “big lakes out there somewhere” to us.  But after seeing and touching all of them I can easily name them now – with a vivid picture of each in my mind.  Now I know that the Great Lakes consist of five separate lakes, and together they form one interconnected body of fresh water.  Four of them are bounded by both the U.S. and Canada – Lake SuperiorLake HuronLake Erie and Lake Ontario.  Only Lake Michigan is entirely within the United States.

The full story is here.

Great Lakes
The Great Lakes on a t-shirt

Film Locations – Mackinac Island, MI and Dyersville, IA

Who doesn’t want to see a place where a great movie was set?  Biking around Mackinac Island was a must for us and our friends, and while there we stopped at the Grand Hotel. That’s where the 1980 film “Somewhere in Time,” starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, was filmed on location.  We just gawked at the grounds and outside of the majestic hotel, as $10 was a bit pricey just to step into the lobby for a picture.

The full story is here.

Grand Hotel, Mackinaw Island
The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, viewed from the ferry we took across

25 years later, the iconic phrases “If you build it, he will come,” and “Is this heaven?  No, it’s Iowa.”  are not forgotten.  We visited the site that made those words famous, the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa.  The cornfields and baseball field were just as they looked in the 1989 movie. To complete our experience, we watched the movies again and commented about how fun it was to be there.

The full story is here.

Field of Dreams
Field of Dreams – Dyersville, Iowa

Man-made Marvel – St Louis, MO

Yup, you guessed it – the 630 ft. tall Gateway Arch.  It is the monument to memorialize the role of St. Louis in the westward expansion of the United States.  Riding to the top of this awesome structure was on our bucket list, and we were amazed by the grand view of the city of St Louis and beyond.

The full story is here.

Gateway Arch, St Louis, Mo
You have to see this thing in person to believe it!

Fall Foliage in the Ozarks – Fayetteville, Arkansas

The south has its own version of Vermont for taking in the fall colors – the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas.  If you can’t make it to Vermont for leaf peeping in Autumn, a great alternate would be the Ozarks.

The full story is here.

Yellow Rock Outlook
Vermont? No, but still gorgeous!

Birding Galore – Alabama, Wisconsin and Texas

Painted Bunting
Painted Bunting is so darn beautiful!

The birding experiences I had during the past year were rich and varied, from Alabama to Wisconsin to Texas. We were very fortunate to be at Dauphin Island, Alabama when spring migration was underway.  It seemed to be just raining beautiful birds!

At Gulf Shores, Alabama I joined Laurel and Eric to observe bird banding and do some bird watching as well.  In Baraboo, Wisconsin I visited the International Crane Foundation, whose stated mission is to work worldwide to save the endangered Whooping Cranes.  It was here that I saw all 15 species of cranes in the Gruidae family.

Coastal birding with Ingrid in Port Aransas was so much fun – I think the birds knew our names and tried to hide from us!  Then at the birding mecca, also known as the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas, Birdie and I were involved in finding and identifying our feathered friends.  Many of them are Texas specialties.

Full stories of my birding escapades:

Dauphin Island is for the birds – Dauphin Island, Alabama

The blogger’s biking and birding bonanza in ‘bama – Gulf Shores, Alabama

If you’re into Cranes, read on! – Baraboo, Wisconsin

Two Birders of a feather – Port Aransas, Texas

Winged Wonders Abound – Rio Grande Valley, Texas


We did lots of hikes, but the best of them were in the Great Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina.  Those mountains provided a beautiful scenic backdrop for some heart-pumping, lung-busting hikes.  We’d love to go back there!

Full stories on the Great Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Mountains

Family and Friends

Family and friends, old and new, always make our journey fun and exciting.  Reconnecting with old buddies from my hometown and some of my family is always a joy.  Best of all, I got to spend quality time with my super-cute grand niece Hattie in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

The connections we made with fellow bloggers continued to flourish.  We met new friends Laurel and Eric of Raven and Chicadee; Carla and Jerry of CozybeGone and Faye and Dave of the Wandering Camels.   Reuniting with Ingrid and Al of Live Laugh RV and Bob and Susan of Travelbug in Texas was icing on the cake.  Bloggers are all fun-loving people who shared travel stories, a few drinks and some home-cooked meals and outdoor activities.  Having a grand time with these lovely people created memories that we’ll always cherish.  Somewhere, someday we’ll meet again.


While in Port Aransas in January, we kept several doctors busy as we were pronounced alive and well.  But come February, shortly after our birthdays, I had some scary symptoms that prompted two visits to emergency rooms.  For unknown reasons, my blood pressure had spiked like crazy.  Much to my disdain, I am now taking daily medication and everything seems to be fine.

An eye exam for Steve showed early traces of glaucoma, which was not unexpected since his dad had it when he was in his 50’s.  He decided to be proactive and underwent laser surgery.  This was the best option for our nomadic lifestyle, since it should lower his eye pressures for quite a while with just daily drops and fewer follow-up appointments.

Now we are in good health, and Steve determined that we can haul our new medications around without exceeding Betsy’s weight limit 🙂

Steve said he’s glad his heart is in good shape, because the medical bills should start coming in any day now!  We’re glad to have Betsy and ourselves “good to go”, and excited to start heading back north to get back on track with some serious hiking!

Finally, the stats for the past year:

My wonderful hubby and recorder of all things travel-related has this to report:

Miles traveled:  5,631

Diesel burned:  729 gallons

Average mileage:  7.7 mpg

Average price per gallon for diesel:  $3.66

Number of campgrounds we stayed at:  46

Average campground price:  $29/night
(we budgeted $35/night, so we’re happy with this)

In closing

Blogging is sometimes a chore 🙂   But with the connections we have made during the past three years, sharing our experiences in the blogosphere is so worthwhile and satisfying.  I thank all of our readers and followers who have been with us for the ride.  I hope you are still enjoying it, for we are not done yet!  Whether you’d like to drop us a line or just read through our stories, we appreciate you stopping by.

We have 10 states to go, and estimate that we’ll have them all completed by the fall of 2016.  Then we’ll start traveling more like “normal” adventurers, taking long trips to places we missed or just want to spend more time.




  1. What a year you two have had. I love reading about all your adventures. Yours is one of the top go-to blogs for me when we plan our travels. Thanks for all the time and detail you put into your posts MonaLiza. And those lovely photos are the icing on the cake for me! 🙂

  2. Congratulations on three years! Great wrap up of last year. I love the map. Looking forward to following along this year and seeing what 10 states you add this year!

  3. Three years and there’s no stopping in sight! Glad to hear your health has stabilized and Steve got his eyes fixed and all is well with the both of you. Looking forward to reading your stories as you continue on the road! Perhaps we’ll meet again somewhere, sometime, but it’s nice to know we can easily stay in touch via our blogs!

    Can’t wait for this Texas cold weather to move on!

    • No stopping with having fun until our health says otherwise. Our chances of meeting again is high as we will hang out west during winter in the coming years.
      I too can’t wait to get out of this dreary days here in TX.

  4. Congratulations, I can’t believe you covered ten states and only have ten more to go! Glad to hear all is now well with your health, it can be a challenge to take care of those issues when on the road. And you “weathered” some rough moments as well as those horrible bugs. So glad you continue to enjoy. Our third year anniversary is this fall, which was to be the end of our journey, but we are trying to stretch to four years – we’ll see!
    Happy Trails,

    • Thank you and I hope that we can meet again and talk about your summer adventure this year.
      Im glad that you are able to stretch your adventure for one more year.
      Health issues are really a big challenge especially that we don’t have a regular doctor to monitor us now.

  5. My favorite thing about your blog are the maps! LOVE THEM! This one especially! Congratulations on 3 years and looking forward to many, many more beautiful ones. Glad to hear your health is better. We can’t take it for granted.
    Thank You for mentioning blogging can be a chore… it can be… but I love every minute of the work. HA HA HA HA

  6. What a great wrap up of your year 3. It’s clear you spent a lot of time putting this together and equally clear what a wonderful time you had. Very glad to hear that all your health issues are under control. Without health not much else matters. Hope to run into you somewhere on the road soon. We’d love to hunt up all the birds around with you. 🙂 Did you get to see the Kirtland’s Warbler in Michigan? It’s the only place in the world you can see him.

    • Oh no I missed the Kirtland Warbler! Nope I did not know about this bird as only seen there.
      Our health scares were a wake up call of not having a regular doctor. And you are right nothing else matter if our health is in shambles.

  7. Wonderful recap! Congratulations on your three years on the road. This August will be our 3 year mark, but I’m not sure how to count it since we spend 2 months with our daughter each winter. 🙂 Hope to meet you in person someday! -Linda

  8. Congratulations on three years! Your adventures from last year seemed extremely interesting and at times challenging. Thanks for blogging about your adventures and sharing the good and the bad times with us. 🙂

  9. Congrats on the 3 year anniversary and boy it’s been quite a year for you two. I’m sorry to hear about the health problems you guys encountered after our visit. I was shocked reading this. Are you sure it’s not someone trying to tell you it’s time to leave Texas? Haha! Glad all is well and we look forward to running into you again 🙂

  10. Wonderful job! Thanks for taking us along this past year. Here’s to another fabulous year of adventures.

    Yes, that Painted Bunting is so darn beautiful!

  11. Congratulations on your third anniversary and a big thanks for sharing as it’s an inspiration to get through the next couple of years of working (at a fixed location any how) 🙂

  12. Congratulations on completing your third year:) You two certainly have had a wonderful time this past year visiting so many new places and introducing them to us:) Thanks!!

    Sorry to hear you and Steve had some health issues but so glad you got things all worked. Just add a little air to the tires for the medication weight…haha!

    Can’t wait til we are back in the same area again:)

  13. Congratulations and Thank You for taking us along on your adventures. For some of us it is what we look forward to during our work week. I think I’ve been reading your blog since the beginning and time flies when you are having fun. Stay safe and healthy during your travels.

  14. Congratulations on three glorious years on the road! And thank you so much for creating such a beautiful travelogue for us all to enjoy. I know it’s a lot of work, but we’re grateful for your stories and photos and all of the wonderful information that you share.

    Glad to know that all is well, and that you have more adventures in store to share with us. We’re so happy that we met up with you two in Apalachicola and Gulf Shores last year — we’re hoping to meet up with you somewhere along the road this year!

  15. Congrats on the three years. You’ve certainly had lots of fun times. Thanks for sharing your adventures here. 🙂 Hope the medical bills aren’t too steep. xx

    • We just got the bills today and just like a phone bill, a little too difficult to understand. Amazing how each doctor and facilities are charging you. And no wonder our health insurance is one big mess.

  16. Awesome news from the road. I enjoy reading about your adventures in America and seeing your beautiful photos. You both inspire me to see this beautiful country. Keep enjoying your life! Big hug!

  17. What a year…I get so excited to open your posts. You two bring the open road front and center, filled with such gorgeous goodness. Can’t wait for year four!

  18. Happy 3rd Anniversary, it was a pleasure to meet you two also. When our paths cross again hope the weather is better. Can’t wait to see where you go this year.

  19. Lots of memories that I’ve remember reading from your posts. 😉 I can’t remember. I think missed the St. Louis post. I always wanted to see that arch. Miles travelled is only 5,000 or so?
    Opa! to more of your travels and adventures.

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