Saturday, November 21, 2009

We Are Always Traveling

We are always traveling.  If not in reality, then in our plans and dreams.  We're big planners, always looking ahead to see what we might do.  We've only been fulltimers for 16 months and we have not taken the time to just meander around the country.  So far we've had definite destinations to get to.  We've got one more "have to" destination this coming spring and then we'll open our plans up for that meandering I mentioned.

Given the fact that we do like to plan for future trips, we keep a certain number of reference materials on hand.  Some are necessary for most RVer's and some are just necessary for our particular needs.  We also keep some items in the toad at all times because we enjoy exploring the areas where we parked the RV and we may need a map or an exit guide.

"Most" serious RVer's probably have a campground directory or two with them.  We keep the Trailer Life Directory with us, although there are other good ones too.  This is invaluable in locating camping locations throughout the U.S., Canada and even Mexico.  (click on any photo to enlarge)

The TL Directory also has some good information on:
* Rules of the Road/Towing Laws
* Fishing Licenses
* Road Condition/Weather Information
* Offices of Tourism
* RV Dump Stations....and much more

Also with us are two favorites for when we are traveling, especially on the Interstate Highway system.  They are The RVer's Friend and The Next Exit.  When we buy a new edition of The Next Exit, we take the old one and put it into the toad.  These are great helpers in locating services along the highways as we travel from one place to another.

The RVer's Friend is very helpful now that we have a DP motorhome.  It gives locations of truck stops that "welcome RV's".  "Friend" also has listings for state and national parks, Corps of Engineer parks, dump station locations at highway rest areas, and Michelin and Bridgestone tire locations near truck stops.  Each state map in the "Friend" guide also shows phone numbers for Road/Weather conditions, tourism office, and the amount of State Fuel Tax Rates for both diesel and gas.  Of course, those can change between new editions, but it gives you an idea of what the tax is.  If we are almost to a state border and we need fuel we can check the "Friend" to see which of the 2 states has the lowest state fuel tax.

The Next Exit is a comprehensive guide for locating services along Interstate Highways only, but we use it often.  It lists by exit number what we will find...before...we get to the exit and pass it by.  Using this we can plan ahead for a WalMart, restaurant, gas station, or any retail store located within 1 mile of that exit.

We also keep a few maps and Tour Books with us from the AAA.  Washington, Oregon and California are always with us since we are in those states most often.  We get a lot of good information from the AAA Tour Book when we are planning to stay in a certain location for a while.  It helps us find museums, historic sites, parks, dams, gardens, lighthouses....and everything else you can think of.  

I have my large Rand McNally Road Atlas kept behind my seat up in the front of the motorhome.  I use this to document the roads we've traveled on in each state we go to.  I use my pink highlight marker to do this.  It is just a fun way to be able to look back at each map from time to time to see where we've already been and to plan to visit those places we've yet to see.  I started this practice in 1997 and I had lots and lots of roads and highways marked from coast to coast.  Then in 2001 our motorhome was stolen and my road atlas went away with it.  :(   So I had to start all over again.
This is the map page from the state of Florida.

Road Trip USA and Frommer's Exploring America by RV are also helpful.  Road Trip is my favorite and it is a Moon Travel Guide.  Moon publishes the greatest travel guides.  They are fairly heavy so we only have 3 others and we have those back at our daughter's house until we want to use them.  Road Trip USA we keep with us.  In fact, we are planning to use Road Trip this coming May when we travel from the east coast area back toward the west coast area on US Highway 50.  Each of these guide books list tourist areas, restaurants, attractions, roadside oddities, motels (we don't need those), and off the beaten path places to explore.  Wonderful references.

We also have a few other reference books we enjoy using:

* Pacific Northwest Camping (for tenters and RVer's)
* Moon's Washington Handbook
* Moon's Oregon Handbook
* Moon's New Mexico Handbook
* Guide to Casino Camping
* Camping With The Corps of Engineers
* National Park Service Camping Guide
* Coast-2-Coast, AOR, ROD membership park directories
* Washington Off the Beaten Path
* Who's Buried in Grant's Tomb?  (tours of presidential gravesites,  weird, I know)

So it looks like we have our work cut out for us in trying to utilize all of these guidebooks and directories.  Guess we better get started.....on December 26th.

Until next long for now!


Gypsy said...

Oh what a great idea to travel US 50 from Ocean City MD to Sacramento, CA! I used to live in Cincinnati for a number of years, and Rte 50 runs right through it also. I've made several trips, although not in an RV, from Utah through Nevada to Sacramento on US 50 - The Lonliest Road in America describes it accurately through Nevada. Enjoy the planning!

Phyllis said...

We use the Next Exit too. I have marked those places we have used to overnight park on the way from Point A to Point B.

Also, I have an accordion file with tabs listing each state. When I see an article about a place I find interesting, I file it in the proper state pocket.

I have lots of books on fulltiming. Most of them give close to the same information, but I still love reading them.


Great informative post for folks. And don't leave home without your Mountain Directories. Very, very, important unless your just sitting in flatland Florida all the time......:)

Rick and Paulette said...

Great post, Margie! We have the Road Map USA book and really like it as it has all sorts of neat info about places to visit during our travels. I'll have to look up a few of those other ones you mentioned.

Jerry and Suzy said...

We certainly understand the rush to get to specifically identified places early in your full-time life. Our first year we spent in vacation mode, every stop planned, length of stay planned and reserved way ahead. The sooner you get over that the more you'll enjoy this country, meandering it's back roads and small towns. Unfortunately, our next trip will probably have to be too closely planned, as we have a rally to attend (definite dates) and then a family and some friends to fit into before returning to Arizona for our 50th anniversary celebration.

sue and doug said...

hi margie..just wondering where you got the "next exit" and the rvers friend?..if you could let me know that would be great..thanks

Hidden Valley RV Park said...

Love the Frommers and the Next Exit. We use them ourselves and recommend them to all the RV's who pass through our RV Park near San Antonio, Texas. Nice list of ref books. I look forward to checking them out.