A Travellerspoint blog

August 2007

Why I'm Making This Trip

Donations gladly accepted!

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So why drop everything and just take off for several months?

Well I've always loved to travel, which certainly helps. I also like driving – it seems that when you fly - everything looks the same. You go from one airport to another, both in big cities with hotels, strip malls, gas stations and traffic. Of course, there are some differences, but pretty soon it starts to seem as though things are pretty much the same everywhere.

When I drive across the country, I start to realize (or remember) just how beautiful and rural this country still is. I also see how much variety there is from one region to another. (I’ve never done a trip as big as this, but I have done some long distance trips!)

The last few years, I’ve been working a lot to pay bills (with lots of overtime), working on estate issues (ugh), working on projects I’ve taken on (and never seem to finish). All those things will still be here when I get back, but in the meantime this trip will give me a break and help me get back in touch with where we come from.

At the same time my mother has also always liked to travel but is no longer able to undertake a trip like this on her own. She is 80 and while in generally good health, has some trouble walking and keeping her energy level up throughout the day. Her driving is increasingly limited to local trips and only during the daytime.

This trip is for and by both of us, but I’ll let her write about her own reasons for going (she is a separate author in this blog – but sometimes is a little intimidated by ‘blogging’ I think). As for myself, a little background might help set the stage:

In 1804 the United States completed the Louisiana Purchase from France. This was a huge increase in the size of this country and included a great deal of land about which little was known in Washington D.C. President Thomas Jefferson wanted to know more about this land that now constituted the larger part of America. He especially wanted to know if there was a practical land route to the Pacific Ocean across this vast expanse of unexplored land. So he commissioned the Lewis & Clark Expedition to explore the land between the Missouri River and the Pacific Ocean. Merriwether Lewis and William Clark left Pittsburgh on August 31, 1804 with 11 men. Congress appropriated $2,500 for the expedition, which became so successful, they become known as the ‘Corps of Discovery’.

Using the Lewis & Clark Expedition as an inspiration, our trip will help us ‘Rediscover America’ - not the strip malls, hotels and gas stations we have begun to believe are everywhere, but the vast and interesting country we believe is still out there. So while we’ll visit some towns and cities, we also hope to drive the scenic routes, visit parks, vista’s, grasslands and badlands, and get a sense of just how big and beautiful mother nature can really be.

In addition, I like to understand the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of things. History and geography as taught in school rarely seems to get to the heart of things. Perhaps this is because there is just so much to cover that it’s not possible to teach enough to really grasp the scope or meaning of some events. Perhaps also reading printed words in a book is just too limiting to convey the real experience of a place or event very well. Perhaps it’s just me - maybe I didn’t pay enough attention in school (I don’t think so, but I must be fair here).

However, in the past when I’ve visited places I’d learned a little about in school - the real place was often quite different and more interesting then some dry passage I’d forgotten about from some ancient textbook. Sometimes the differences are almost scary. For example, I’d heard about ‘Custer’s Last Stand’ and knew he and his Army unit had been massacred by Native Americans. It wasn’t until I visited the Little Bighorn National Battlefield (NB) that I learned the truth was quite something else: Custer mounted the surprise attack on the native encampment (not the other way around); He’d been ordered just to scout and report back; his unit was wiped out by Native American’s that were just reacting to his attack. There’s more to this story of course, but maybe even a short summary illustrates how much more (and sometimes more correct) history can be when it’s explored - not just read about!

Finally, although I’ve traveled some, there are many places I’ve heard about and wanted to visit, but never had the time to do so. I’ve always wanted to see Mount Rushmore, Gettysburg, Plymouth Rock, Kitty Hawk, Key West, Grand Canyon, the Oregon Coast etc., etc., etc.. Recently it occurred to me, at the moment I might just be able to do the whole trip now. The stars seemed to be aligned and I decided if I don’t do this now, I might never do it. I have an RV (small, older, needs some work - but serviceable). I have some time (I’m taking a few months off between jobs, why not extend it a little to fit in the trip of a lifetime?), and I had someone available to rent the house for a few months (my brother’s lease was ending and he really didn’t want to renew it.)

There are also a thousand reasons NOT to do such a wild and crazy thing, so at some point you have to just make the call - to do it or not. I made the call to take the trip.

Posted by jl98584 23:21 Tagged preparation Comments (1)

Week 0 - What Would You Do?

These questions are based on some of the things we had to figure out to plan for our trip.

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This category is specifically for educational use (students & teachers). Different groups may be using this, so our questions will not be targeted for specific ages or grades. Users are encouraged to customize this or use only portions that fit their needs. I will try to post 4 or 5 idea’s/thoughts about once a week based specifically on where we are or what we are doing during our trip.

PLEASE – do NOT post answers to math questions in a comment - this will make it harder for others to figure things out themselves. Comments on essay questions are fine though, it might be fun to compare your thoughts to what others have to say.

If you have any suggestions to improve this, please add a Comment!

1. Travel Planning:

Our RV is only 21’ long and there are two people going on the trip. Each person will have about as much space for cloths and personal items as would fit in a large suitcase. We plan to go grocery shopping and do laundry about once a week. If you were in this RV for this trip and could drive anywhere in America:

(a) Where would you go?

(b) What things or places would you want to visit and why?

(c) How long would you like your trip to last?

(d) What would you pack and why? (Remember, you are limited to one large suitcase to pack your things in.)

2. Navigation:

Lewis & Clark did not have any maps for their trip. They used Native American guides and a lot of trial and error. They created maps of their journey as they traveled and published them after they got back. Here is a really nice article about their trip that includes a picture of the famous map they created:

Wikipedia Article

Today there are a lot of maps available for a trip such as this. We have some maps that have the entire country on one map and some that are in books (Atlas), with separate pages for each state. To use different maps like this, you need to check the Scale (it’s usually a bar that shows how many miles or km are in a given distance printed on the map).

My grandmother walked & road across the United States with her two sisters during the 1920’s. They didn’t know about map scales, so looked at a map of the USA and a map of Massachusetts. Both were printed on about the same size paper. They knew it took about a week to walk across Massachussetts – so they thought it would only take a week to walk across the whole country! They were not prepared for how long the trip really took, which caused them a lot of problems, such as running out of food and money. (Better that you learn about map scales now before you make such a big mistake.)

We will also be using mapping software on my laptop computer that is connected to a GPS receiver (Global Positioning System). This automatically connects the map on the computer to a signal from a satellite to tell us where we are and give us directions to where we are going. Online mapping and GPS are new technologies.

(a) Do you think they will replace paper maps completely? Why or why not?

On a computer map, you can easily zoom in or out

(b) Do you still need to understand map scale’s to use an online map? Why or why not?

3. Journal:

Lewis & Clark kept very detailed notes during their expedition. They wrote about how far they went, where they went and they described people they met. They also drew pictures of plants, tree’s, birds and landscape they saw.

We are keeping our ‘journal’ online as a ‘blog’. While the land features today are already well known, we have forgotten about how lovely and rural most of this Country still is. During our trip we hope to ‘rediscover’ some of the beauty and history of the places we visit and will write about them here. Using Lewis & Clark as an inspiration, we are also going to attempt to draw or paint some of what we see (please be kind, I didn’t do very well in Art in school!)

Why don’t you also keep a Journal as you ‘travel’ about your daily business? What kinds of things will you write about? (Hint: if you’re not sure what to write about, just start writing. With some practice, you will get an idea of what you enjoy writing about.)

Here is a web site for some inspiration:

About Travel Journals

4. Scheduling the Trip:

We plan to drive only about 4 hours per day (on average, some will be more, some less). On long trips, I average about 50 miles per hour driven (I drive faster then this of course, but also stop for gas, rest stops, meals, etc., so the net seems to always work out to about 50 mph – especially in an RV like mine, which will be a little slower than a car).

(a) The travel books say the best time to see the fall colors in New England is between October 1st and 31st. If we leave home in Shelton (near Seattle) on September 1st, will we be able to get to New England by October 1st? (Hint: Use the 3,000 mile estimated distance from item 5 below).

(b) If it takes us less than 30 days to get to New England, and if we also plan to stop and visit relatives for 6 days along the way, how many 'free' days will we have for sightseeing (for example, to spend extra time at Mt. Rushmore, Niagara Falls, etc.)?

(c) There are several web sites that can help you calculate your own distances between places. Use this site and check if my estimates are reasonable or not:

Distance Calculator

(Hint: if the place you want to visit isn’t listed, choose the closest big city. For example, Key West isn’t on their list, but Miami is.)

5. Budgeting for Gas:

We are estimating the country is about 3,000 miles across from east to west, and about 1700 miles from north to south. If we make one complete trip around the country, approximately how many total miles will that be?
(a) My RV gets about 15 miles per gallon (mpg). How many gallons of gas will I need to buy for this trip?

(b) If gas costs $3.00 per gallon, how much should I budget for gas for the entire trip? Assuming we drive at about the same rate for the 8 months we’ll be on the trip, how much should we expect to spend on gas per month? If the price of gas drops to $2.50 per gallon, how much money will that save us per month?

(c) My RV’s gets pretty good mileage for an RV because it’s so small. Bigger RV’s have a lot more living space inside, but some get only 4 mpg. If we took a more comfortable RV with lots of space, but got 4 mpg instead of 15 mpg, how much more should I budget for gas for this trip (assume $3.00 per gallon)?

Posted by jl98584 22:21 Tagged educational Comments (0)

How to Use This

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Look at the Travel Blog page you are on. On the Top Right is something like a table of contents. This is the Navigation Bar - it lets you select what you want to see.

Entry's: Each time we post something new, it will be saved as an "Entry" (as in Page in a Journal). The navigation bar lets you find entries by "Categories" or older ones in "Archive".

Category: This web site requires that we use travelpoint's Categories. We will try to fit our entries into categories that make sense. If we forget to categorize an entry it will show up as Uncategorized (we will try to avoid doing this). Pre-trip info will be saved as "Preparation", day to day travel entries will probably be saved as "Family Travel". Eventually, I'll try to write entries about specific places or topics only and will categorize them differently, such as "Events" or something appropriate.

Main Page: This is the default view when you first come into this web site. This shows the most recent Entry on top and also the next four most recent entries. To open a single entry, find it on the Navigation bar on the right and click. To show the entries by a particular author (Mom or I), click on the Author you want to see on the Navigation Bar.

Comments: You must be a member of Travellerspoint to post comments, but membership is free and it is very easy to join. To join Travellerspoint, go to:


To post a comment, you must also be on a single Entry (not be on the main page). To open an entry to comment on it, just select it on the Navigation Bar. When you are finished, you can go back to the main page by clicking on the "Main Page" option at the top of the navigation bar.

Subscribe: You do NOT need to Subscribe to this site to use it. If you subscribe to the site, you will get an email every time a new Entry is posted. (Nice for some folks, a pain for others).


Thumbnails: If you see a small picture and want to enlarge it, just click on it. This will also show you any descriptive information I've typed in for the photo.

Other Pictures: Not all pictures will have thumbnails. If you click on a picture and nothing happens, then that's all you get.

We might also have photo's uploaded that haven't been linked to a blog Entry yet. If you want to see all photo's (without reading through the Blog Entries), select an Author, then in the Navigation Bar, select "More Photo's..."

Video: These will probably all be posted on YouTube just to save space on this site. You can watch them here however. There are not a lot of video's, but you will find a few from time to time.

How I'm Updating Entries: During the trip, I've been having a hard time keeping the blog up to date, especially since we don't always have high speed internet available. I will try to write at least a short blog entry on as current a basis as possible (but without photo's). The title for these will say "(Placeholder)". Later when I have time to add photo's (and/or write a more complete entry), I will change the title to say "(Photo's Added)", so you will know which ones have been updated.

If the title doesn't have any (descriptors), then it probably has all the photo's and video's (if any) from the first time I posted it. The descriptors: (Placeholder), (Photo's Added), or (Video Added) are just to let you know if the blog entry has been changed after I initially posted it (or will need to be changed later in the case of "Placeholder").

Posted by jl98584 09:35 Tagged preparation Comments (2)


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We still have several weeks left before we start the "trip". Some things need to be cleaned and repaired on the RV. This is me cleaning the edges for the front of the RV:


Of course, deciding what we need to take and finding room for it all.

I've picked rosemary and chives to dry for taking.

Some of you may remember my little old RV (20years ago) It was much smaller, but although I was alone, I had a lot of fun.


Hope to have fun this time too.

Posted by phylisej 08:13 Tagged preparation Comments (2)


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About The Trip:

My mother and I plan to circumnavigate the lower 48 states in the USA beginning September 1, 2007.

phylisej: Mom's blog ID, you can find her entries by selecting this Author. Mom just turned 80 so is a brave soul to take this on with me (to say nothing about the internet blogging!)

jl98584: My blog ID. (You can also find out more about either Author by clicking on us in the Navigation Bar on the right)

Here is where we're starting from: Shelton, Washington, USA. It's about 45 miles NW of Olympia or 85 miles SW of Seattle.

We plan to head east first, driving across the north, and spend about a month in NE (in fall), then south along the eastern seaboard to Key West, then west across the south (during Winter of course) to San Diego area, then up the western coast back to WA.

We're using a 1991 21' Winnebago Warrier. Cozy, but should be fun... The total trip should take about 8 months.


We now have lots of work to do to prepare the RV (got to stop some leaks, repair things, etc.), pack and plan the trip. We will add more to this blog on a regular basis, subject to internet availability.

Posted by jl98584 08:29 Tagged preparation Comments (1)

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