Freedom and Liberty

Freedom and Liberty
I travel in Freedom but sleep in the security of Liberty (not only on the road, but in this amazing country of ours)

Friday, April 10, 2015

One Year on the Road Today

Location: Ainsworth State Park (El. 100 ft); Cascade Locks, Oregon

This post is going to be overloaded with "I's" because it is more personal than most of my other postings. There are not any pictures because I can't pick just a few from the many thousand pictures that I have taken, so this is fair warning.

A year ago tomorrow marks one year since I pulled out of the parking lot of my office and drove east into a new life. I bought my first RV about 6 months before that and had been living in it while getting used to its systems. I also bought a new truck to tow the RV. I order several things that I thought I would need. I was correct on the need for several of the items and wrong on a few. The most important things I was correct on were my Cell Phone, Ceramic Heaters, Tire Pressure Monitoring System, Power Mirrors on Freedom, a Lazy Boy Recliner and Keurig Coffee Pot. I had read a few blogs about full-time RV'ers and the life they were living. I also knew that as with most things, they were probably sugar-coating a lot of it, but that was OK with me, I would find out for myself. 

I named my RV, "Liberty" because liberty means 'using your free will to do as you please'. That is why the Navy calls the time when you are away from the ship/base as being "on liberty", meaning you are able to use your own free will to decide what to do instead of being directed by superiors. To me, retirement equals "being on liberty". My truck is named "Freedom" because it gives me the freedom to go anywhere I want to go. 

I travel in Freedom but sleep in the comfort of Liberty.

I retired at the age of 58. In fact, I hit the road 2 days after my 58th birthday. There had been several of my friends that had passed away at an early age before they could enjoy any of their retirement. I loved my job and I think I was pretty good at it (my x-co-workers may disagree) but I knew if I didn't retire and do something new, then I would stay working until the medics hauled me away from my office. It may sound strange, but there was no in between for me, either all work or all retirement. My plan going into this life was to see and do as many new things as I could before I either got bored with it or I physically couldn't do it anymore. That is why I travel as quickly as I do. I am proud of this country and the freedoms I have to do what I want, whenever I want. 

There is always a lot of talk among full-time RV'ers about needing to slow down on their travels and spend more time in places. They say it is to "really get to know a place". I understand that train of thought, I just don't think it fits in with the way I want to do my traveling. I may change my mind in the future but right now, my general traveling philosophy is like this: I will find 1 or 2 things to see or do in an area, do them, then move on to the next place. I figure number 3 and 4 on the list of things to do and see in the current area is not as good as number 1 or 2 in the new area. Now that isn't always a hard fast rule because there have been times when I stayed longer in places. An example of that is where I am at now. I came here to tour the Bonneville Dam, see some waterfalls and the Columbia River Gorge. I could do all of that in just a few days but since I found a nice State Park with cheap rates I decided to stay for 6 days. 

My travel stats for the year are:
25,793 ---- total miles traveled
13,165 ---- miles towing Liberty
12,628 ---- miles exploring in Freedom
140 -------  average miles between campgrounds
134 -------  average miles exploring an area
10.4 ------  overall average MPG for towing/exploring

On average, I move campgrounds every 3.9 days

I've been in 32 states and stayed in 94 different campgrounds of which 48 were state parks. 

I like state parks because they are usually just basic campgrounds without all the amenities that people with kids are needing or local people who come to camp. I use the campground as a base camp while I explore the area. I rarely put my lawn chairs or awning out and have never used my BBQ grill since I've been traveling because I don't want to have clean it all the time. When exploring I usually leave the campsite by mid morning and return late in the afternoon. I travel solo in my adventures. I have met a few people along the way but they are few and far between. I guess if I stayed longer in places I would meet more people, but with me moving every 3 to 4 days, and rarely in the campgound, there just isn't much opportunity to meet.   

During the year I've seen many Civil War sites, including Appomattox where it ended. I've seen both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and all five Great Lakes. I saw Niagara Falls and the finger lakes of New York state. I toured the sites of Washington D.C. by riding the train into the city (which some people said I was crazy to do alone). I saw the memorials to the past Presidents and most importantly I saw the memorials to the real heroes, the war memorials. Especially poignant for me was the Vietnam Memorial, "The Wall". I saw the Garden of Stones (Arlington Cemetery) and watched in reverence the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns. In a small town in Virginia, I visited the official D-Day Memorial, located there because it had the highest concentration of men, per capita, who died on D-Day. I saw the field in Pennsylvania where Flight 93 crashed on 9-11. No telling how many people those passengers saved by giving their lives to bring that plane down. I saw the new tower that took the place of the Twin Towers. I saw Lady Liberty with her torch held high and Ellis Island where so many people became Americans. 

I rode boats on the Erie Canal in New York state,,,,, in the Atlantic Ocean around Acadia National Park in Maine,,,,, on Lake Superior to see the Pictured Rocks,,,,, thru the Soo Locks at Sault St. Marie, Michigan,,,,,, to Mackinaw Island in Lake Huron to see the Grand Hotel,,,,,, on the St. Clair River around Port Huron, Michigan. I saw where the Mississippi River begins it's trip to the Gulf of Mexico and I stood at the junction where the Missouri River joins the Mississippi River. It is a powerful feeling standing on that little peninsula with a mighty river flowing on both side of you. I camped on the banks of the Mississippi and watched as tow boat/barges passed by as if they were in a parade. I camped in places were Lewis and Clark camped. I saw giant boulders that had been moved during the last Ice Age and deposited in the middle of fields. I saw the Giant Sequoia and Coastal Redwood trees. Some more than 2,000 years old.  

I flew over Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. I've walked trails in the deserts, woods, lake shores and badlands. I've been to the Mexican and the Canadian borders, but never crossed them. I saw the shockingly blue waters of Lake Huron and a storm blowing in off Lake Michigan. 

I've crossed the Smokies, the Allegheny, the Adirondacks, the Green, the Rockies, the Cascades and many other mountains.

I've seen and sat in a lot of "thinking" and "resting" benches in some of the most spectacular places. That may be one of the most enjoyable things I do is finding and trying those benches.

These are just a few of the thoughts that come to mind about the past year. There has been so many new things to see, they sometimes blend together. 

Most importantly, I visited several old home places that I lived as a child. Memories flooded back during those visits.

I am happy with the decision I made to hit the road. I miss seeing my family on a regular basis, but for now, seeing them around Thanksgiving and Christmas will have to suffice.

I am glad I started this blog. It is a great way for me to document what I've done and the places I've seen. The grandchildren will be able to read about what the crazy ole man did on the road.

After proof-reading this post, it is a bit rambling but I guess that is to be expected when trying to bring to mind a years worth of traveling. 

If I missed anything or if ya'll have any questions, please don't hesitate to post the question in the comments section. I answer all comments. If you don't want to post it publicly, my email should be somewhere on the blog. If not, send it to ,,,,  

If you send an email and don't hear back from me, then post a comment to the blog, because sometimes my email spam filter catches emails that it shouldn't.

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.



  1. What a wonderful choice you made for your retirement years. I cannot imagine going to and seeing all those places. I have family obligations right now, but I do want to do as you are doing (only on a smaller scale on my income). In the meantime, thank you SO MUCH for posting your real life adventures so others can dream, and one day make their dreams happen too.
    Jool in N. Texas

    1. Thank you for those kind words Jool. I hope your family obligations work out favorably for everyone and that you get to do a little traveling. There are lots of great things to see everywhere in this country, even within short drives from you. Dreams are just unfulfilled plans.

  2. Darrell, That was an awesome post. I found many things in your list that are in mine also. Traveling is very personal, everyone does it their own way and that is freedom.

    1. Thanks Shawn. I see ya'll are in the Utah area. It was too cold there when I came west so I missed it. Not sure when I'll see it but enjoyed seeing it through your blog.

  3. Loved this post, Darrell! Congrats on your first year on the road. I have a feeling you'll have many more because it sure gets in your blood and I can tell from your enthusiasm you've been bitten big time.

    So appropriate your naming: "I travel in Freedom but sleep in the comfort of Liberty."

    Am glad you're not concerned about other fulltiming travel "styles" and have found your own way and are enjoying it so much. I appreciated your recital of some of the places you've seen, many of which brought back fond memories for me, too. Keep on truckin! :)

    1. Thanks Malia. I see where you have completed your downsizing and getting ready to get the wheels rolling. I'm sure that was a combination of many different emotions all at the same time. Once you get back on the road, there is more looking through the windshield than in the rearview mirror. Maybe catch up with you around the Yellowstone area. Cya down the road.

  4. Great post Darrell and loved the trip statistics! Must be the engineer in you?! Our office has been following your travel adventures since day one and it makes for good daily coffee conversation to find out where you are and check our your pics - great photography by the way! You're living a dream and I can't wait to see where the road leads you. Safe travels!

    1. Hello Linda. Good hearing from you. I'm glad ya'll are enjoying the blog. Retirement equals Freedom, uh? :)