During our third winter in Key West we developed a rough plan for our 2017 travels. You may recall that in 2015 we made a 15,000 mile clockwise tour of mainly the west half of the country, hampered by four months worth of mechanical delays and the limitations that come with not having a tow vehicle for most of the year.
In 2016 we did the opposite: a 10,000 mile counter clockwise tour of the east half of the country with but a couple of days of mechanical delays and aided by a great little tow vehicle, our 1997 Geo Tracker, Loki.
We really loved both of those years, and longed to get back to all of those fantastic spots that had given us the most joy while discovering new ones as well. A second trip through any region would allow us to skip over some areas, spend more time in our favorites, and catch those places we had simply not had time for during our somewhat rushed first two years.
In the west, we really wanted to return to California and the four national parks we had missed as a result of The Big Kahuna’s ongoing issues, to explore more of Washington State, to revisit Idaho’s Salmon River, and cut back down into Utah and Colorado to see four National Parks we had missed there as well. We roughed out a plan like this:
- March: meandering exit from Key West to Gainesville visiting family and friends
- Late March – early April: Sprint across the country to Southern California
- Late April – June: work our way up the west coast to north Washington state
- July and August: Work east through Idaho into Montana and the Dakotas
- September: cut back south west into Utah and Colorado
- October: sprint east to Iowa before turning south towards Florida
- November: Arrive in Florida for family and friend visits throughout the state
- December: Get back to Key West for another winter.
In the east, we had loved Maine so much we wanted to spend half a summer there again, and had been so surprised by Michigan, especially the Upper Peninsula that we had visions of spending the second half of the summer there, broken up only by a bit more time in New Hampshire and Vermont and some excursions into Canada. We made a back of the envelope plan along these lines:
- March: the same meandering exit from Key West to Gainesville as “The West” plan
- April – early May: work our way up the east coast all the way to Maine.
- Late May – June: Maine, especially Bar Harbor region, but other areas as well
- Early July: New Hampshire and Vermont
- Late July – August: Michigan Upper Peninsula
- September: The Dakotas and east Montana
- October: Sprint back to Florida by way of Iowa
- November: Back in Florida just like “The West” plan.
- December: Back to Key West
The plans are basically the same though March and also in November and December, but radically different April though October. A few pros for each:
- The West allows us to make up for those four months in 2015 that we spent in mechanic shops
- The West takes us to a lot more National Parks
- The West is actually less weather risky, seeing as how we depart the true North earlier
- The East is far easier from a mileage perspective
- The East allows longer stays in our key preferred areas
- The East has enough slop built in for Canada trips
Cost wise its hard to tell. The Northeast is pretty expensive, but so is California. The West has more BLM and other public land allowing you to boondock cheap, but the gas expenditures will be much higher with so many more miles to drive. Anyway, we made a decision. For those that don’t already know, our next post should make it clear.