What then, I wonder?

Capitol Reef... just gorgeous
Capitol Reef National Park… just gorgeous

Today, September 7, 2015, marks the beginning of my 17th month traveling the USA in my motorhome. Holy crap! 16 months down! When I set out on my See-the-USA-in-an-RV trip I was uncertain that I’d last 16 days, let alone 16 weeks, or 16 months. Yet, here I am, and I suppose it fair to say that I’m finding the thought of going back to my stationary sticks-and-bricks lifestyle near San Francisco ever less appealing.

Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park

The San Francisco Bay area has a lot to offer: fine restaurants, lots of art and music… It’s a melting pot of many cultures offering a rich diversity: East Indian and Pakistani (LOVE their food!), Asian, Hispanic, Mexican and others. There is relatively easy access to nature, the climate is mild, and the great state of California has much geological diversity to offer from the Sierra Nevada mountains with Mount Whitney, which at over 14,000′ in elevation is the highest point in the contiguous 48 states, to Badwater in Death Valley–a desert wonderland larger than the state of Rhode Island–which at 282′ below sea level is the lowest point in the contiguous 48. You can visit both the same day. There’s the Napa Valley wine country which in spring is amongst the loveliest of places with rolling green hills carpeted with the impossibly bright yellows and oranges of mustard and the California poppy. The coastal Redwood trees tower above the forest floor, soft with their fallen needles, silent, sometimes shrouded in fog. It’s magical, I tell you. Their cousins, the Giant Sequoia reside high up in the spectacular Sierra Nevada mountains along the eastern side of the state, their huge girth wide enough to carve out a tunnel through which a car can be driven. The dramatic, rocky coast offers spectacular views… Yes, California has a great deal to offer. While it’s true that California has more than its share of riches it also has more than its share of congestion, traffic, pollution and maybe crime. Too many people in too little space makes people close off to each other lest they be over stimulated, or something like that, so I believe. Those things I do not miss.

Little Molas Lake at Sunrise
Little Molas Lake at Sunrise, Silverton, Colorado

As I’ve traveled about I’ve seen the most amazing places from the depths of the Grand Canyon to the peaks of the Rocky Mountains. There has been the desolate beauty of the desert and the mysterious spookiness of the swamp. There have been interesting people: fabulous photographers; a man named Chris who for 23 years has hitch-hiked the country living out of his backpack; Harrison, who was riding his bicycle from Alaska to Florida, and Steve who as of this writing is still riding his motorcycle around the world. I even found romance with a wonderful woman in New England, for a time, anyway. So, when I think of going home, of going back to California, I also think of those things and how many others like them still await discovery and exploration.

View From Blue Lakes Pass Above Yankee Boy Basin
View From Blue Lakes Pass Above Yankee Boy Basin, Colorado

One goal of my See-the-USA-in-an-RV trip was to get to the 34 states I had not yet been to and spend at least a night in each one. There have been a few in which I did spend only one night: Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Ohio, but there have been others where I spent many weeks: Colorado, Connecticut and California. Now, as I grow increasingly close to completing the list of 50 states I find myself increasingly pressed up against the question of “what then?”

Wildflowers near Rabbit Ears Pass
Wildflowers near Rabbit Ears Pass. A short drive and hike from Meadows Campground.

The life I led in California was in part the motivation for my trip: there wasn’t that much going on for me, it was largely routine with little new. The greater impetus for traveling America was to see places I’d not yet seen. As time has passed, the nervousness, the trepidations I felt prior to and earlier on in my trip have faded, the desire for those things familiar and safe at home have waned and the thought of possibly continuing this vagabond lifestyle beyond the completion of my 50-states list waxed. I have learned that this shift in thinking is commonplace amongst those who now call their RVs home. Many I’ve met have been living for years in their rigs, happily, comfortably. They’ve given up their sticks-and-bricks houses and don’t, DON’T want to go back.

Selfie along Medicine Bow Peak hike
Yours truly along the Medicine Bow Peak trail in the Snowy Range outside of Centennial, WY

It won’t be long before I get to Illinois, Kentucky, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota, the last five states on my list. What then? I wonder.

 

A smattering of photos from my trip.

a.k.a. Travels With Charlene

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