Phew! 2014 Best & Worsts

Phew! 2014 Best & Worsts

This has been a year of change for us. In January we had made up our mind to make a change in our life. We had become less happy with the amount of time work was taking up and a few days vacation were just not cutting it for us any more.  We had originally planned to travel overseas, renting apartments in cities around the world and living like locals for months at a time. That is still in our plans and we'll probably look at mixing in some international travels in the next 12 months. 

But then we had the idea that seeing the US would be a very cool thing to do and doing it in an Airstream would be even cooler!! We hit the road in June and literally haven't looked back. We visited 10 states (including Hawaii without the Airstream). Here is a non-comprehensive some of our bests and worsts of the year.

Most Scenic Spot

Most Scenic Spot

First our favorites: 

Best Campground: This is a tough one, we had to compromise a little on some spots this year because we didn't know quite when we would hit the road and we relied a little too heavily on reservations - we've got that out of our system now. But we have been to some pretty cool spots throughout the year. In terms of campground of the year it is a close call between 2 places:  Sand Flats Recreation Area in Moab was a beautiful peaceful setting and close to not one but two national parks. But I think for setting and convenience McKinney Falls State Park in Austin may just beat it. We had a huge space and we were just a short drive into everything Austin had to offer.

Best Food: I am a vegetable lover and coming from California it's hard to compete but for me the stand out food I had this year was the vegetable samosa I had from the Chaat Shop food truck in Austin,Texas. I still dream of eating it again one day! 

Best Brewery: We have been to some great places this year and the two runners up set a high standard.  We loved Ska Brewing in Durango and Jester King just outside Austin but I think the winner is Crux Fermentation Project in Bend Oregon.  Great beers, cool people and we could cycle there from our camping spot.  

Best Beer: Well Bend, Oregon you definitely represent in the beer categories. It has to be the RPM IPA from Boneyard Brewery.

Best Scenic Spot: So many to choose from here it is hard to really make a choice. Utah always impresses I love the desert and I adore red rocks - Canyonlands National Park was a complete delight!  But Oregon is so beautiful in such a different way and while Columbia River Gorge was close, I have to say Crater Lake was our highlight of the year.  

Most Memorable Experience: This is an easy one: The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta should be on everyone's bucket list. Words and pictures cannot explain how magical this experience is. 

Most Fun: Another easy one, the Formula One Grand Prix in Austin was easily the most fun you can have over a weekend with 200,000 other people! 

Favorite town/city we visited: Some great highlights here, we liked Durango, Colorado and look forward to spend more time in Tucson, Arizona. But the winner, yes Oregon again. Bend captured our hearts. 

Most memorable experience

Most memorable experience

Now a few worsts:

Worst Experience:  This was a no-contest. Two weeks into our journey we had a massive hydraulic failure with our truck while towing. We were thankfully safe, but it rocked our confidence. All is forgiven now and we love our truck again.  

Worst Drivers: We only visited 9 states (10 if you include Hawaii) so we don't have a full field competing here, but the clear winner was New Mexico. There were times we felt we might be part of a Super Mario game with cars coming at us from all directions and seemingly no road rules at all.  

Worst Roads:  Again only a sample of 10 states, but after 15 years in California we believed that it would be hard to find worse roads than in the Golden State. That was until we spent some significant time in our new home state of Texas. Admittedly we only covered a small part of the state but the conditions of the roads we drove on were pretty grim. 

Hardest Hike: Need to work on my fitness level in 2015 because Gaviota Peak near Santa Barbara kicked my ass.

Worst food: Why oh why did I think that I would find good Indian food in Salt Lake City, Utah. I don't need to say any more. 

Noisiest Camping Spot: We struggled to sleep through the peacocks wailing at Lake Solano County Park in California, but the obnoxious industrial generator that our neighbor chose to run at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin had to take the cake.  Seriously, some people just don't know how to live as part of a group.

Gaviota Peak:  Almost killed me to get here. 

Gaviota Peak:  Almost killed me to get here. 

Now we are looking forward to 2015. With everything we have learned, we expect even better adventures and experiences.  Bring it on.  

Campground Review: Santee Lakes, San Diego, California

Campground Review: Santee Lakes, San Diego, California

Reflections on Our First 6 months and The Relentless Pursuit of Happiness

Reflections on Our First 6 months and The Relentless Pursuit of Happiness