Sunday, September 5, 2010

just the facts ma'am

The Big Trip is over but there will be more to come. If anything, seeing all these places and meeting all these new friends has produced an appetite for more. The list of places we missed is far longer that what we did see, and we have a growing list of places to visit again. It will be a while before we have the time and budget for another long trip, meanwhile lets see how we did. If you don't care for figures and budgets this post is not for you, but if you wish to know the dirty details, read on.
After checking over the map and all the notes in our log book here are the facts:

time on the road: 12 weeks and 3 three days, or 87 days total

Rodney's odometer: 11,673 miles, an average of about 134 miles/day

the dough: $6,156 total, $495/week average, $71/day average

the gas: $988 for approximately 330 gallons and an average of 34 mpg. (not bad for a 1999 Rav4 that is only supposed to get 28 mpg.)

two oil changes on the road: $123.78 (that was all Rodney needed on the trip, but we invested about $150 for parts pluss some sweat equity for preventative maintenance before starting down the road)

18 nights in motels: $1,262, average $70/night

13 nights camping out: $190, average $15/night

56 nights on the hospitality of friends (and family): $0, but this should be a negative number, because we received so much more than just places to sleep. This would have been a very different trip if not for the generosity of so many people.

How does all this compare to the original plan? Surprisingly well. After putting pins in our map for all the places we wanted to visit, and more importantly, for all the people we wanted to visit we made a rough itinerary and made a guess at what we would spend. We figured on a minimum of 10 weeks on the road, a budget between $5,000 and $7,000, and a distance of about 10,000 miles. Our actual average spending of $495/week miraculously hit the target dead center. Until we were home and I had added things up I had no idea that we had stayed so close to the plan.

We tried to plan our destinations so that the drive times were four hours or less per day. For most of the trip that was true but we did have some marathons. The first was the stretch from Marfa to Austin, Texas. That was about eight hours. There were others but none compared to our last stretch home when we had simply had enough and wanted to be home. That last day of 14.5 hours of driving in a 16 hour day took the cake.

I had imagined that we would spend more time camping out, but with threatening weather and the pain in the neck of breaking camp after one night (in most cases) we just didn't have the energy on too many evenings and we'd settle for a motel. Those of you who have been reading along since the beginning may remember our Transit Connect dream. It's a small commercial van from Ford that I thought would make a swell tiny camper. If that had come true we would have spent more time in camp sites. Having a ready made bed makes things much easier than setting up a tent for the night.

I have to say again that no such trip in this budget would ever have been possible without the generosity of our many hosts. We slept on couches, air mattresses and floors, we were well fed, and well entertained, and we managed several loads of laundry along the way. Our impressions of the many places we visited were richly flavored by the people who took us in and showed us their stomping grounds. We can not thank them enough. In addition, we were buoyed by the generous support and gifts of many others who helped us make our way down the road.
The pink line on the map has brought us back to California, but the rest of that open space is calling. Maybe we can get our hands on a Transit Connect some day soon and make the long loop of the Southwest. Heck, we could spend a year in New Mexico alone... Hmm, I need a job first, at least for a while.


  1. I call this a complete success, Rodney came through like a champ, you didn't spend more than you wanted and you are left with the desire to do it again.... mission accomplished. Always be safe.



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