By Johnnie W. Lewis
We’re done! This is the end, or almost the end, of our travels for 2020. Thank Goodness!!
Miss Pate, my sixth grade teacher at O’Neal Elementary School in Cordele, would be having a stroke over what I said. She always told us that saying “I’m done with my homework” was incorrect. It should be “I’m through” with whatever. So, I’ve slowly degraded my speech patterns to include “I’m done.” Sorry, Miss Pate. I really know the difference, but I’m regressing.
Since we left Georgia in May to head into the great unknown called “The West,” we have put 7,000+ miles on the RV, 15,000+ miles on the Prius, spent 142 nights camped in various places for an average of $14/night. More on that price later. But suffice it to say, we have discovered at least one truth about this country — we ain’t missed nothing by living in the east!
Now for a re-cap of how we spent the worst year for our country, 2020. Remember, our travel itinerary has to include every state’s capital city so I can get pictures of the capitol buildings for the book I’m writing about all the state capitols in the country. In mid-May, we left Cordele, in spite of the dire predictions of pandemic activity and headed to Troy, Alabama. Trust me, if you ever need a place to park your butt…, I mean, your RV, even for a little while, Walnut Creek RV Park in Troy, AL, is NOT where you want to stay! Skip that and go to the nearest Walmart parking lot for the night. Beautiful lake, but the whole park was a trailer park, not an RV park. But the location did net us the Alabama state capitol building in Montgomery.
Next was Jackson, Mississippi, staying overnight in a Cracker Barrel parking lot, where we had to stand in line outside to get our food (they wouldn’t serve anyone inside). Noisy and smelly, but free. They don’t even require that you eat there in order to stay for free, though we almost always do. Best road food out there! Got the capitol picture in Jackson, then moved on to Lake Texoma, near Gordonville, Texas. We visited President Eisenhower’s birthplace in Dennison and we almost got wiped off the map when it rained for 24 hours before we left. But that was the last rain that we got for two and a half months!
Outside of Amarillo, Texas where we had parked at another Cracker Barrel (we were allowed to eat inside that one), we encountered the Cadillac Ranch. Some enterprising thinker decided to plant 10 Cadillacs, nose down in a wheat field! Take your can of spray paint and leave your mark to posterity! From our Happy Trails RV Park site in Moriarty, New Mexico, we captured the capitol building in Santa Fe; visited a dear artist friend’s, David Behrens, studio in Albuquerque; then headed to Venture In, an extremely nice Encore RV park in Show Low, Arizona. Fabulous place! We visited Ft. Apache while there, the place where Jimmy’s great-great uncle, Lt. Charles Gatewood, had been stationed when he went to convince Geronimo to come down out of the hills and surrender. Somber, yet fascinating place to visit for us! We also got pictures of us “standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona” while we were there. From Verde Valley in Cottonwood, AZ, we went to see Meteor Crater. Absolutely fascinating, standing there looking at a humongous hole in the ground created by an extraterrestrial object!!
From there, it gets a little blurry, for me, at least. Crossing the California border from anywhere gets you in line at the border to be inspected for illegal aliens or out-of-state fruits and vegetables. I think my white hair, maybe, told them at each location that we were “harmless” old farts. HA! Anyway, during our time in Cali, we visited Carson City NV for a capitol photo, Yosemite National Park (we were fascinated to see people climbing up the face of El Capitan!), and Sequoia National Forest (I looked like a little Hobbit trying to hug one of the Giant Sequoias!). While in the Frisco area, we went to Alameda (used to be a Naval Air Station) where my parents met (both in the Navy at the time) and later married in Reno. In San Francisco we drove down the “curvy” road (Lombard Street), saw the Presidio, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz from the shore (no tours due to Covid19), Fishermen’s Wharf, and the Tesla plant (no tours) in Fremont where our son’s car was “born.” From SF, you drive down the most beautiful drive on earth — the Pacific Coast Highway, called the PCH by Californians. The waves crashing on the rocks, the curving vistas, all of this makes for the perfect drive down from Monterrey and Carmel down to Los Angeles. In LA, we saw Hollywood (Mulholland Drive, overlooking LA at night, was the best part of the visit), the house Jimmy lived in from birth to five years old, then to Palm Springs for some 120º F. driving around looking for old movie stars houses. It was scary to visit the Salton Sea at the end of the San Andreas Fault, and we now know that San Diego is the best location for the best zoo in the world with 3,500 animals in their “natural habitats”!
Coming back across the country on the southern route of the southern states just about tested our patience, especially when we preceded or were followed by two hurricanes; capitol pictures in four cities - Phoenix, Austin, Baton Rouge, and Tallahassee; four park cancellations (due to said hurricanes) which put us back into Cracker Barrel parking lots; with a funeral in Tennessee once we reached the Georgia border.
I think we’re going to truly enjoy our “Snowbirding” hiatus in Florida this fall and winter!
Johnnie Wright Lewis, author of 46+ books, and her husband, Jimmy, travel the USA in their RV, stopping to see whatever they can. They met and married in Athens and with cousins and friends in the Athens area, including their beloved Bulldogs, they take every opportunity to come back to where they “started.” Follow them on Facebook at “Two Old Farts Traveling” and watch the many videos of their travels on YouTube under the same name. Look for Johnnie’s books on Amazon.com under the name of Johnnie W. Lewis.