Easier the Second Time

Last winter we became “snowbirds” for the first time. Part of the adventure was to determine if we would like the lifestyle and part of the adventure was the unknown of where our travels would take us.  A side component to our new adventure was a fairly large (surprisingly large) amount of friends and family were interested in what our travels would bring; hence this little blog.

In this entry, I will throw out some observations from our first year to this second year in no particular order, just as they come to my finger tips.

Pulling out: Last year we left home after the really cold temps had set in. That made hitching up and loading clothes, litter boxes, food and what have you an unpleasant chore. Warmer temps made loading much nicer.

Pulling the trailer: This year was so much less stressful. Last year, due to how long it took us to get the tow vehicle, I only did a test pull of the trailer of about a dozen miles. To say I was apprehensive about making a nearly 1300 mile trek would be an understatement. Would the van have enough power, how fast should I drive, how difficult would it be to maneuver in traffic (the van and trailer are 50’ plus). This year, knowing what to expect made that part of the trip less stressful.

Overnight camping: Last year we knew our first overnight would be in Benton, Illinois, the first winter camping we found on the internet for that far north. That was the same overnight for this year’s travels. The second night’s stay offered more flexibility as we got further south; more campgrounds stay open year-round.

Gas prices: Wow, what a difference a year makes! We used about the same amount of gas, but spent about $200 less for the trip this year.

Cruise control: Last year, I did not use cruise control at all. I was concerned about the engine and transmission getting overloaded with excess shifting and RPMs. This year I used cruise extensively except while in cities. After reading in Trailer Life that cruise control is viable and a good practice, I became a believer and would recommend it.

Traveling with pets: Not any pets, cats. Most RVers say their dogs travel well. The same cannot to be said by cat owners. Some cats are OK traveling but many aren’t. This part did not change for us the second year. Kurt prefers to hide and keeps quiet while Max sings to us for about the first 3½ hours each day, until he exhausts himself. Ear plugs help and expecting that this was just the way it would be, also helped. We tried giving Max valium the first day, but besides being mellow for the first hour (maybe), after that we feel he was more agitated and cried even more, even continuing into the trailer once we stopped for the night. Our cats are now drug free!

Familiar faces: We are staying at the same state park we were at last year. The big plusses are obvious almost immediately. First, driving through town, we knew our way to the park. Last year we missed signs and a couple of turns. After an additional hour seeing sights that we didn’t need to see while pulling our trailer, we pulled into the park. And more heartwarming was seeing people we met last year again. At registration, someone recognized us and like the proverbial small town, word spread that we had pulled in. It is nice to be welcomed back.

This year’s first newbie experience, tornado: Four nights into our stay, we awoke to our cell phone’s tornado warning alert. By the time we turned the TV on to a local weather station, the tornado cell was maybe less than a mile from us. The good thing was that its path was moving away from us, but the warning was still in effect for another half hour. So we debated staying put (travel trailer or RVs are not much match to big winds) or catching the cats and heading to a park restroom. In hind sight, we should have headed for a cement block building rather than “riding the storm out”. In the end, we get to “live and learn” from this one.

So our family has settled in; two cats with two people (cat people understand this order). Thank you for reading and your interest. Blessings on your day.