Can you see it back there? That’s 2015 is in the rearview mirror!
It’s hard to believe that another year has come and gone. I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun … because we’ve been having a blast, and the months are clicking by.
We put 9,025 miles on the RV this year, following a crazy-eight shaped route in the middle of the country. We started and ended 2015 in the Phoenix, Arizona area, and spent time in twelve states along the way – including the only state in the lower 48 that we hadn’t yet visited.
This was a year of pleasant surprises – from the beauty of North Dakota, to the breathtaking scenery of Colorado’s western slope. It was also a year of companionship. We spent more time this year visiting friends and family than any to date, and we struck up a few wonderful new friendships along the way.
Let’s take a look back at the highlights of our 2015 pet friendly road trip …
We celebrated the arrival of 2015 with friends in Buckeye, Arizona, and a couple weeks later took the motorhome in to give it a brand new look. It felt like a massive change at the time, but now I hardly remember how the coach looked before we had it wrapped. It’s come to feel like home, and we have the added benefit of sharing our passion for pet travel everywhere we go.
With our branding in place, we left Phoenix for our annual winter hang-out in Austin. While it was fun hitting all our favorite haunts and catching up with our Austin friends, the weather was chilly and wet, and we started thinking about different winter location options.
One positive that arises a wet winter in Texas is that the wildflowers in Big Bend are on full display when Spring finally arrives. We’d heard it was going to be a record year for the desert bloom, so we made for Terlingua, and we weren’t disappointed!
North was the only logical direction to head from Big Bend, and we spent the next month bouncing around New Mexico. Silver City, Albuquerque, and Chama all made the cut. And the happiest day by far was Buster’s birthday, when we took him to play in the last remnants of snow outside Santa Fe!
From Santa Fe we headed to the midwest, where we spent the majority of the summer. We passed June, July, and most of August moseying around Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, before getting itchy and deciding it was finally time to cross the 48th state off our “must see” list.
North Dakota might have been the last state we visited in the lower 48, but it quickly became one of our favorites. The natural beauty, fascinating historical sites, and friendly people we met absolutely blew us away. It was a lesson in not judging a book by it’s cover – you must go see it for yourself!
Our next stop was one that I’ve been looking forward to since we first visited Yellowstone National Park with the dogs. The national park regulations leave little room for pets to stretch their legs, and I’ve wanted to go back to research the pet friendly things to do outside the park boundaries.
We spent a week exploring Paradise Valley, north of the park, followed by a week in West Yellowstone, near the west entrance. It was just everything I’d hoped for, and we added some helpful information to the website for people planning pet friendly vacations to Yellowstone.
The Tetons hold a particular magic for us, and being so close in Yellowstone, it made for an easy decision to spend a couple weeks kicking back with our friends amongst the proud moose and majestic peaks.
Being invited to take part in the Canine Companions for Independence’s DogFest at Mile High Stadium was a thrill, so we made a beeline from Jackson to Denver to attend the event. And, as an added benefit, our advance planning allowed us to land a site in Cherry Creek State Park – a place we’ve been wanting to stay for years!
You’d think that by now deciding where to go wouldn’t cause us any heartburn, but we had a heck of a time picking our next destination after Cherry Creek. Nothing we suggested was grabbing us, and I started to wonder if we were loosing our lust for this nomadic life. We finally settled on a stop in Grand Junction, and it was like hitting the jackpot! Never has it been so clear to me that surprises await us around every bend.
By mid-October, it was time to start heading for warmer weather, so we shot down to Lake Mead, and had our first real experience boondocking. Though we were only 45 minutes from The Strip in Las Vegas, we were a world away. The views of Lake Mead, miles of trails to explore, a sky full of stars at night, and quiet that takes your breath away – we had it all, and it was completely free with our national park pass.
Two weeks is the maximum time campers are allowed to stay on the public lands at Lake Mead, so we tore ourselves away for a quick visit to Lake Havasu, and then continued on to spend two lovely weeks in the pet friendly winter vacation haven of Palm Springs.
The boys had fun hiking the trails, shopping downtown, and eating our way around town, and before we knew it, it was time to meet our friends back in Phoenix!
This year will be a little different, because we’re not planning to head back to Austin this winter. Tucson is next up in our plans, and then we’re making our way east to speak at the Family Motor Coach Association’s Family Reunion in Perry, Georgia in March. One thing that is certain, though, is that I’ll be back at the computer writing the summary of our 2016 travels before I know it! We hope you’ll join us for the ride.
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