Friday, March 21, 2014

2014 Trek #1 Wrap-up

Well, I'm back at base camp in Keyser, West Virginia from the first trek of 2014. I thought I would take some time to wrap up the salient details of the trek in this post. First, it was the first major trek for "My McVansion" since I reached about 75% to 80% (my estimation) complete for travel earlier in the fall of 2013. I had it on two short "shakedown cruises" of about a week's duration each, one in September and one in the end of October and early November of 2013.

So, here are the statistics for Trek #1 of 2014:

12/30/13 Left West Virginia base camp about 8:30 PM
12/31/13 First major stop Sparta, NC
1/4/14 Departed Sparta approx. 4:30PM for Mebane, NC arrived approx. 7 PM
1/5/14 Side trips while staying in Mebane to Raleigh, NC return to Mebane
1/6/14 Departed Mebane, NC to head south to FL, approx. 1 PM
Traveled cross-country to reach Rt 301 (Blue Highway)
1/6/14 Arrived Manning, SC WSC at approx 8:30 PM (overnight stop)
1/7/14 traveled Rt 301 with brief stop in Bamburg, SC to Yulee, FL WSC 7:30P
1/8/14 traveled and visited Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, St. Augustine, Marineland, dinner at a favorite restaurant in Flagler Beach and arriving LTC to overnight) Ormond Beach/Daytona Beach, FL approx 8 PM
1/9/14 Explored (old stomping ground) Daytona Beach on rainy day then headed to Titusville, FL WSC to overnight arriving 6 PM
1/10/14 to Vero Beach, FL WSC to meet up with friend and visit other friend in Assisted Living
1/11/14 Visit with friend and friend in Assisted Living then departed Vero Beach for Fort Pierce WSC overnight (4 nights) arriving approx 6 PM
1/11-1/15/14 spent time enjoying beaches at nearby state parks and U.S. Navy Seals Museum
1/15/14 Total Miles for first 17 days of travel, 1,623 when leaving Fort Pierce
1/15/14 departed Fort Pierce return to Titusville, FL to WSC to overnight arriving 7:30 PM
1/16/14 departed Titusville for Merritt Island and lunch with friend then to Brandon, FL WSC for overnight arriving 8 PM
1/17/14 departed Brandon for Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa to meet friends exhibiting at Florida Super RV Show then to Hudson, FL to meet up with Vandweller friends arriving 6 PM
1/18-1/20/14 Visiting with Vandweller friends in Hudson, FL
1/20/14 Depart Hudson, FL for WSC (overnight) in Sebring, FL arriving 5 PM
1/20-1/22/14 visiting friend and sightseeing with visit to Sebring International Raceway
1/22/14 depart Sebring approx 12:30 PM to visit and overnight in Port Charlotte, FL with new friend arriving 4:30 PM
1/22-1/28/14 Sightseeing in Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda, Arcadia, Gasparilla Island, the town of Boca Grande and Ft. Myers
1/28/14 depart Port Charlotte for Sarasota and lunch with friend then to Reddington Shores, FL to overnight by invitation with new friend arriving 7:15 PM
1/28-1/30/14 overnighting in Reddington Shores
1/30/14 departed Reddington Shores 5 PM to head to Clearwater, FL to overnight by invitation with a new friend arriving approx. 6 PM
1/30-2/2/14 overnighting, relaxing and getting to know new friend in Clearwater
2/2/14 departed Clearwater to return to overnight with new friend in Reddington Shores, FL arriving 5 PM
2/2-2/4/14 Relaxing, writing and wandering around the area
2/4/14 depart Reddington Shores for Orlando, FL for dinner with friends at Celebration, FL (near Disney World) then after dealing with considerable traffic finally arrive at Altamont Springs, FL WSC to overnight at approx 10:45 PM
2/5/14 depart Altamont Springs approx 1 PM to visit a few sites in Orland then make way to WSC to overnight at The Villages (to visit two friends and the community) arriving at 8 PM
2/6-2/7/14 lunch with one friend, dinner with another friend and touring around The Villages
2/7/14 depart The Villages 7:30 PM and arrive at the Inverness, FL WSC (overnight) 8:30 PM
2/7/14 Total Miles after 40 days on the Trek is 2,969
2/8/14 depart Inverness at 12:45 PM to meet full-time RVer friend for lunch in Crystal River, FL then on to Hudson, FL (again) to meet up and overnight with new friends by invitation arriving 4 PM
2/8-2/11/14 Relaxing, writing and exploring area with new friends
2/11/14 departed Hudson, FL 11 AM for Ocala meeting other Hudson Vandwelling friends for lunch on the way - arrive Ocala, FL (Silver Springs) WSC at 4 PM
2/11-2/15/14 exploring the area especially Ocala National Forest and Juniper Springs met several new RV/Vandwelling friends while at the Ocala WSC
2/15/14 depart Ocala for The Villages to overnight at the WSC with a new friend joining me arrive 2:15 PM
2/16/14 depart The Villages to return to Ocala WSC with a visit to Alexander Springs on the way
2/16-2/19/14 additional exploration of the Ocala National Forest region
2/19/14 depart Ocala 11:15 AM for Gainesville, FL arriving Gainesville WSC 9 PM after lunch with friends at their home and dinner with another friend at his home
2/20/14 depart Gainesville at 12 PM arriving Ocean Pond campground in Osceola National Forest near Lake City, FL at 3:30 PM and meeting up with a friend from the Ocala WSC
2-20-3/2/14 Relaxing, writing, meeting several new RVing and Vandwelling friends at the Campground and in Lake City - this was the longest stay in one location of the trek and the only one I paid any camping fees for (very inexpensive with my Senior National Parks Pass).
3/2/14 depart Osceola National Forest at 12:45 PM to head to Stagger Lee Music Park between Baxley and Hazlehurst, GA to meet up with another RVing/Vandwelling friend (actually two) arriving 4 PM
3/2-3/7/14 relaxed and endured some serious rain and chilly weather
3/7/14 departed Stagger Lee Music Park for Jasper, GA to meet up with another new friend by invitation arriving about 8 PM
3/8/14 departed Jasper, GA for Tumbling Creek campground in Cherokee National Forest near Copper Hill, TN to meet up with a couple more Vandweller friends.
3/8/14 had a serious breakdown in Blue Ridge, GA about 20 miles from Tumbling Creek destination - overnighted in HD parking lot until Vandweller friend returned with necessary tools and made repairs to My McVansion in HD parking lot on 3/9/14
3/9/14 arrived Tumbling Creek campground about 4 PM
3/9-3/12/14 relaxed at Tumbling Creek campground with Vandwelling friend from Dalton, GA
3/12/14 departed Tumbling Creek 4 PM to Maryville, TN WSC to overnight arriving at 8:45 PM
3/13/14 departed Maryville 11:30 AM arriving Covington, VA WSC to overnight 7:30 PM
3/14/14 departed Covington 10 AM for final leg of trek arriving at base camp in Keyser, WV at 2 PM

So, that's a recap of the trek and here are some more stats:

Total Days on the Road = 75
Total Miles of Trek #1 = 4,719
Total Gallons of Gas consumed = 359 gallons (approx)
Average Gas Mileage for the Trek = 12.9 mpg (approx) after making adjustments for the last tank of gas and about 20 gallons used to either heat the van or charge the batteries while stationary
Total Fuel Cost = $1,167.5 (approx) ($3.25/gal approx avg. price per gallon)
Total Days/Nights lived in My McVansion = 73
Total Overnights in Walmart (WSC), Love's, (LTC) and Home Depots (HD)
     WSC = 33, LTC = 1, HD = 1
Total Overnights in someone's driveway or yard = 20
Total Overnights in some kind of formal campground = 18
Total Overnights in someone's guest room = 2
Total # of friends visited (previously known) = 21
Total # of new friends never met in person previously = 26
Total # of interesting people I engaged with on a one time basis = 5+

Coldest Temperature encountered during the trek was approx. 5 degrees with sustained winds of 40 to 50 mph and gusts between 60 and 70 miles per hour. Bringing the wind chill factor into the -30 degree range from time to time.

Warmest Temperature encountered during the trek was approximate 88 degrees (delightful).

Total fees paid for camping was 10 days at Osceola State Forest at $52 or $5.20/night avg.

Blue Highways vs. Interstate travel - of the total of 4,719 miles, less than 500 of those miles were on the Interstate Highway System. The trip was mainly on Blue Highways and back country roads driving through the small towns, villages and hamlets. 

I haven't accounted for food consumed or differentiated between meals prepared in or out of My McVansion and meals consumed at a variety of eating establishments. I attempted to patronize eating establishments that were locally owned as much as possible as opposed to chain restaurants. There were also some other miscellaneous expenses for additions to the livability of My McVansion along with replacing a burned out headlight and cleaning/polishing the headlight lenses.

My McVansion proved its livability beyond question and still is only about 75% to 80% complete. Obviously, my project over the next couple months is to go full steam ahead at completing the balance of the necessary build-in and refinements  . . . and make a few modifications based on this 75 days on the road.

I might add that while I did endure some serious cold snaps, I was never really uncomfortable in my cocoon on wheels. And, while I only encountered a few significantly warm days, again, I was never really uncomfortable. And even though I have to get the rear axle replaced from my breakdown in Blue Ridge, GA and I just replaced the serpentine drive belt on the engine and the automatic tensioner that went bad right as I returned to base camp, I'll be taking a few short jaunts with my tiny house on wheels before I leave in late May or early June for northeastern Pennsylvania, New York State and New England.

In another upcoming article I'll enumerate all the people I interacted with along the way and thank them for making this a most memorable trek. I also have at least a couple thousand photos I shot along the way that I haven't had time to begin editing, culling and categorizing, but I'll be posting some of those photos periodically in future posts. And, to further document this trek, I have approximately 200GB (or about 80 hours) of 720P High-Definition video from my dash cam covering just about every mile of the trip.

As a final note, while I thoroughly enjoyed this trek, in retrospect, I feel like I spent way too much time driving point to point and not enough time in specific locations. This trek was still too much like my nomadic motel treks of the past where I always seemed to have to be somewhere and didn't take near enough time to stay in an area and explore it. That being said, I do have to especially thank several people who, on this trek, showed me how to slow down, relax and smell the roses along the way. I plan to incorporate this thinking and planning for the rest of the treks for this year.

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