I just finished reading an article in the New York Times travel section. Titled: To Reduce Travel Stress, Plan Less, the article by Geoffrey Morrison highlights the advantages of making travel decisions on the run, as you travel. While it is based on travel by plane or automobile, stays in hotels or hostels, and meals in restaurants, many of the concepts are applicable to RV travel. In fact, in our travels, this has been our normal mode of travel.
I know that some people have to have every RV park reserved for an entire trip. Activities are planned before leaving home. We seldom plan more than a destination and that is in general terms. As we travel we make decisions on where to stay each evening based on our location and the possible places to stay that are ahead. This usually happens about 3 or 4:00 p.m. If we're looking for a rest area or Walmart, we start looking for possible places within our desired travel distance. If it is an RV park that we want for the night, we'll call ahead to ensure a space is available.
Traveling this way allows us to consider things like traffic, weather and our endurance in each day's travel. Traffic delay? No problem, we will travel less distance that day and stay some place within range before sunset. Bad weather ahead, we may stop and stay near our current location. Even if the weather is unavoidable, I'd rather be parked than on the road during a dangerous storm. If continuing to travel longer than usual will keep us ahead of a storm, we can stretch our travel for the day. With no reservations, we can alter our travel to fit conditions without worry about having to be a certain place at a certain time.
As we travel, we are always looking for places of interest. Without a set schedule, we are able to spend a spontaneous moment or a day exploring a park, festival, visitors center or museum. In Wyoming there are many roadside historical or cultural sites. Each one is an opportunity to learn more about the state, it's history and people. I mention specifically Wyoming because almost all of these sites we've seen are RV friendly, well marked large pull outs with easy exit and re-entry to the highway. They make excellent lunch stops as well. They are perfect for relaxed travel.
In the spring of 2016, we made a stop in Hot Springs, Arkansas. We imagined spending two nights and once assured of our arrival we reserved a site for two nights. Once there we started exploring Hot Springs National Park. After the first day, we added two more nights to our stay. There were more things to see and do than we had anticipated. We ended up reserving the full spa treatment at the Buckstaff Bathhouse, the one remaining original bathhouse in the park. Louise and I both had the full treatment then went to The Pancake House for breakfast! Well worth staying an extra day or two.
In 2004, we left Texas with plans to travel the Lewis and Clark Trail. It was the 200th anniversary of their trip going westward. We made our way north and east to Louisville, Kentucky traveling another of our favorite routes, the Natchez Trace. At one of our stops we happened on the grave marker for Meriwether Lewis. We hadn't planned on finding grave sites for Lewis or Clark but ended up making that part of the trip. Anyway, that delayed our trip by a few hours, no problem, no reservations. It turns Clark's grave was in a cemetery we passed frequently when we lived in the St. Louis, Missouri area.
We made that entire trip with few if any reservations. Each day Louise read an entry from Lewis' journal so we would appreciate the travel challenges faced by the expedition. We found many of the visitors centers and historic sites had RV parking and when necessary we could spend a night in a park to tour a museum. The relaxed nature of our travel made the trip a delight, one of the highlights of our 18 years of RV travel.
We did have one serious interruption in the trip. Louise's mother's health had taken a turn for the worst. Her doctor told her she could no longer drive. This was the end of her stay in Lake Havasu, Arizona. We left Missouri, spent three weeks helping sell many of her belongings, and drove her to Arvada, Colorado where she would take up occupancy with her youngest daughter and her family. Following that two week delay, we headed north to the nearest portion of the trail in Western South Dakota. We spent several days in an RV park in Custer, SD then picked up Lewis and Clark in Pierre, SD. On the return to the midwest we would visit several of the sites we had missed including The Sargent Floyd Monument in Sioux City, Iowa. Sargent Floyd was the only casualty of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. His death is thought to be a result of a ruptured appendix.
We were able to take on the unplanned event without worrying about reservations or staying to a schedule. Today we are at my daughter's home with no set date for departure and we are discussing where we will go as we head east to visit relatives. We'll work it out as we go.
Do we ever make reservations? Yes! Some events attract a crowd, some events are scheduled for only a certain time. The FMCA Conventions are reservation events for us. We attend a pre-rally before the convention and that also is a reservation situation. In 2003, we attended the celebration of 100 years of flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. We had reservations in an RV park as soon as we had secured tickets for the event.
Many people made long range plans and reserved a location for viewing the total eclipse last year. We chose to locate in northeast Colorado, near but not on the path of totality. As day of the eclipse approached we changed our plans several times based on the weather forecast. Two days before the eclipse we left our campsite in Colorado headed for Idaho. The day before the eclipse we woke up in the parking lot of Little America on I-80 in western Wyoming. The weather looked as good or better in Wyoming so we picked the general location where we would be for the eclipse. On the way to Riverton, Wyoming Louise called the Wind River RV Park. They had a cancellation, we got a site with full hook-ups for the eclipse. It turned out perfect, we saw the complete eclipse.
Que sera sera, what will be will be.