Has another year rolled by already?

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Yes, and what a journey it was! Our second year of living on the road is winding down as 2013 comes to an end.  We pause to reflect and look back at where we’ve been, the many new friends we’ve made, the old friends we’ve reconnected with and the challenges we overcame as we rolled along.  We started this year in Arizona, traveled across the southern states and the gulf coast, then headed all the way north to the northeast Canadian Maritime provinces. Finally, we came back down through the eastern seaboard and the outer banks to winter in Florida, where we are now.  Betsy accrued 9,000 miles and we stayed at 79 RV parks with no major mechanical problems – we can’t hope for much better than that! As shown below, our route going northeast is marked with fuchsia pins, while the purple pins show our trek back down south.  We are now more than halfway through our goal of visiting all 49 states, after adding 23 to our list this year.  We estimate it will take a couple more years to check out the last 20 states, then we’ll decide if we want to do it all over again!

Here are some highlights of our fantastic 2013 travels:

~ Betsy’s woes – While we enjoyed the many perks and benefits of our home on wheels, the constant movement and shaking brought some challenges.  Along the way we dealt with minor water leaks, a dead video camera, an intermittent engine cooling issue, fluctuating refrigerator temperatures, an out of the country repair and getting locked out of our coach.  Our hellish approach into New Orleans, the stressful drive around New York City and getting stuck briefly on the New Jersey Turnpike were driving realities that we prefer not to go through again, but on the upside – we survived!

~ Weather, weather, weather – As we all know, the eastern section of the U.S. is famous for its humidity and muggy days. And yes, we sweated a lot and had to ratchet up the frequency of showers.  This was our first experience with severe storm warnings involving tornadoes and thunderstorms, and we even had visits from park hosts reminding us to be prepared.  We were doused with some torrential rains as well – all part of the experience.

~ History lessons galore – Traveling east of the Mississippi means experiencing the rich history belt of our country. We are not really history buffs, but we found ourselves immersed in the stories of our founding fathers as we visited their historical homes in several states.  We enjoyed so much learning more about the american revolutionary past in Boston, and enhancing our understanding of the civil war in Gettysburg.  We topped off our history lesson during our wonderful visit to our nation’s capital.

~ Tasty local/regional cuisine – Our appetites were satiated so many times with great local foods, from the cajun and creole cuisine in Louisana, to the cheeses in Vermont, to the succulent lobsters in Maine, to the barbecues in the Carolinas, the hearty southern comfort foods in Georgia and Alabama and the freshest mussels at Prince Edward Island.  And we won’t soon forget the many unique and refreshing local brews we enjoyed along the way!

~ Natural and man-made wonders – The eastern states may not have the majestic mountains or amazing gigantic rock formations of the west, but we explored and enjoyed its unique collection of beautiful and diverse natural wonders.  These included the mighty Niagara Falls, the hundreds of barrier islands along the Atlantic coast with its rugged cliffs and miles of white sandy beaches, the fabulous Acadia NP, the haunting swamps in Louisiana and the dreamy moss draped live oak trees in Georgia and Florida.  We discovered several hidden gems that were not regular tourist destinations.  We were amazed by the high rises in Manhattan, NYC, the White Sands Missile Range in Alamogordo, NM and the Apollo/Saturn rockets and space shuttles at the Johnson Space Center in Houston and the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

~ Traveling abroad – We took Betsy across the border to explore the Canadian Maritimes, and were wowed by the picturesque coastline of Nova Scotia, the colorful fishing hamlets of Prince Edward Island and all of the astounding natural beauty in New Brunswick.  I took a “time out” to fly all the way to the Philippines to visit my 95-year-old mom and play tourist in the Philippines.  At the end of the year, Steve got some time off from driving Betsy as we hopped on a really big boat to cruise the southern caribbean (more to come on that).

~ Friendships – One of the wonderful rewards of traveling on the road is the many new friends we meet along the way.  Some are like-minded folks we meet at RV parks or other places along the way, others become friends via our blogs.  Blogging has become a great instrument in connecting us to wonderful people – folks with similar interests and a lust for adventure.  We cherish all of our new friendships, cheers!

Reconnecting with our friends to catch up and reminiscing about good times – it was so nice to hang out with these great people during our journey this year!

As we look forward to another year of adventures, we want to THANK YOU for “jamming along” with us and turning our memories into travel references and inspirations to see these many places.  We have many more to see, but we hope you’re enjoying our tales from the road.  We’ll strive to continue sharing our stories in an interesting way as we experience and capture them. We wish you a great year ahead, good health and safe travels!!!

Coming up: San Juan, Puerto Rico Southern Caribbean Cruise *******************************************************************

Discovering our Revolutionary past in modern Boston, MA

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After filling ourselves with Lobstah and hugging Maine’s coastline, we began our journey southward, making our next stop Boston, Massachusetts.  Our friends Don and Lisa had lent us a documentary entitled “America, The Story of Us”, which portrays more than 400 years of American history . The first two episodes tell the story of the beginning of America in the 1600’s, including the subsequent American Revolution in the struggle against British rule in the 18th century.  History buffs know that Boston became a focal point of revolutionary activities during that time.  We recommend this DVD set to anyone traveling this way and trying to bone up on American history, as we’ve been doing.  It helped to “fill in some holes” in our learning and was helpful and entertaining.

State Street, Boston

“CHARGE!” – Oh, I mean walk this way, dudes”

Traveling back through Revolutionary Boston would take several days of walking around the city because of the large number of historic landmarks and monuments.  So, we hopped on a city tour one day and then experienced the city on foot the next.  Not nearly enough, but a pretty good way to get a cohesive story of an exciting historic period.

Following the Freedom Trail, created in 1951, is a good way to discover Boston’s historic sites amidst its currently bustling cosmopolitan.  It’s a 2.5-mile trail that led us to scenes of critical events in Boston and the nation’s struggle for freedom.  It really highlights the city’s role in laying the foundation for the new USA.  I’ll try not to bore you with tedious history you probably know, but rather a few highlights we observed.

The DVD documentary taught us a lot about Paul Revere (The Midnight Rider), the Boston massacre and the Revolution’s first major battle at Breed’s Hill.  The Brits were called Redcoats then, and although we aren’t historians we were glad to be armed with this tidbit of knowledge when we hit Boston for more learning and fun.

We stopped by Copp’s Hill, the second oldest cemetery in Boston, where several people buried there were born during the 16th century.

On the roof of Fanueil Hall (often referred to as the cradle of liberty) is a grasshopper weathervane – the only part of the hall which remains unmodified from the original 1742 structure.

Grasshopper Weathervane

Symbol of Fanueil Hall

Also known as “Old Ironsides”, the USS Constitution was put to sea in 1798.  It is the oldest commissioned warship remaining afloat in the world and has been renovated, refurbished, and repaired many times.  Since it is still a commissioned vessel, it is staffed by U.S. service personnel and security check is required for all visitors.  It was strange to see uniformed Navy folks guiding tours around a ship with dozens of canon on it, as if it were a modern destroyer.  But this ship remains a symbol of America’s rich naval history.

USS Constitution

USS Constitution

On the other hand, Copley Square was a unique architectural delight featuring old and new.  Standing in the square, we were in awe of an eyeful of buildings in a variety of styles.  The tallest building in New England is the John Hancock Tower, which sits across the street from the Trinity Church, which was built between 1872-1877.  The church is the most prominent landmark in Copley Square.

Copley Square

The new Hancock Building towering over the old Trinity Church at Copley Square.

Trinity Church, Boston

Reflection of Trinity Church on the Hancock building.

Across the square from the Trinity Church is the Boston Public Library, built in 1895.  It is the first publicly-supported municipal library in America.  We were wowed the instant we walked into the vestibule and then the entrance hall, which contains a magnificent marbled staircase (and we don’t use the word “magnificent” very often).

Boston Public Library

Boston Public Library’s marbled staircase

Entrance Hall, Boston Public Library

Boston Public Library entrance hall.

Beacon Hill is a fascinating early 19th century neighborhood with narrow streets.  The row houses are nearly all built in brick, streets are paved with cobblestones and street lighting is done via old-style gas lit lamps.  Don’t even think about wearing stilleto heels on these streets!

Beacon Hill

Beautiful brick houses on Beacon Hill – a very exclusive area in Boston.

Beacon Hill

Gas lit lamps adorned the streets.

These are just a few of the many fascinating architecture designs and interesting buildings that we saw as we wandered around:

The obelisk that marks the site of the Battle of Bunker Hill was the first obelisk built in America.  It was the tallest in the U.S. for a few years, until the Washington Monument overtook it in 1884.

We climbed the 294 steps of the Bunker Hill Monument and were rewarded with awesome views of Boston in all directions.

 Bunker Hill Monument Views

View from Bunker Hill Monument  Obelisk

Zakim Bridge, Boston

View of the beautiful Zakim Bridge and the Boston skyline.

We met up with my girlfriend Sharon, whom I used to work with in California. It was great seeing her again and we enjoyed our short time together.  We picked a great historic place to meet for lunch – claiming to be the oldest restaurant in the United States – Ye Olde Union Oyster House.  Open to diners since 1826, it was listed as a National Historic Landmark on May 27, 2003.

Union Oyster House

Lunch with Sharon at the historic Union Oyster House.

Finally, I grabbed another tourist to capture our last pose in Boston:

Downtown Boston

Downtown Boston

We hopped back on the Green Line of “the T”, Boston’s Rapid Transit System.  It was all too soon to bid adieu to one of the oldest cities in America.

Green Line

Aboard Boston’s Rapid Transit System

While visiting Boston we stayed at the Boston Minuteman Campground.  Click here if you are interested in Steve’s review of this nice RV park.

Next Up:  A great day on Block Island, RI