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Project Escape Recap: Trip Highlights

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RV and Jeep

Making the decision to pull the plug on our current life to take a sabbatical wasn’t easy. But once we decided Project Escape was a go, things moved fast. We sold our house, our cars, some furniture and we quit our jobs. We bought an RV and a Jeep and headed out on the road.

I think our friends and family truly thought we were nuts.

But in our minds, big risk equaled big reward. We didn’t want to wait until we retired to take a giant road trip. At the start of our trip, I was 46 years old and looking at another twenty years of work before retirement. Plenty of time to make up for one year on the road without a salary and contribution to our 401k’s.

I don’t have a single regret.

What I did have was a lot of fun! And opportunity. The experience of visiting so much of our country and our national park system in a deep and meaningful way was a gift.

Now we are back to the real world, looking for new jobs, etc. and before it all starts to fade away, I wanted to share a Project Escape trip recap. I’m sharing the trip by-the-numbers, highlights (and a few lowlights) and how we spent our money.

I’m splitting the recap into two parts, otherwise, this post would be over 2,000 words, which is a big commitment for you the reader!

Best Sunrise

Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park

Sunrise at Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park. Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

Lake MacDonald inside Glacier National Park. That crystal clear water makes for a wonderful reflection and I love those pebbles on the bottom of the lake.

Runner-up: We had two beautiful sunsets at Oxbow Bend and Colter Bay in Grand Teton National Park.

Best sunset

Sunset at Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Sunset at Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

A beautiful winter sunset at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. The orchestra of bird calls made it all the more interesting.

Runner-up: Font’s Point in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Best meal

Nearly every meal we ate in Portland! We especially loved Pine State Biscuit, Bollywood (Indian food) and Luc Lac (Vietnamese food, a suggestion from the team at Bob’s Redmill). It might have influenced our decision to more here…

Runner-up: My sushi birthday dinner at Kabuto in Las Vegas.

Worst meal

I don’t like to waste my time writing about negative experiences, I prefer to focus on the positive, so I am not going to call anyone out by name. We had a horrible meal at a well-known local café in Sisters, Oregon. I ordered a cheeseburger and the hubby ordered a seafood sandwich, both were inedible and we barely touched our plates.

Runner-up: A seafood restaurant in Gold Beach on the Oregon coast.

Best RV Park

Bluewater Key RV Resort

Our spot in Bluewater Key RV Resort.

I wasted and wiled away the days at Bluewater Key RV Resort in the Key West area. With my own private tiki kitchen and patio, a soft gentle breeze and water lapping at my feet, it was pure heaven.

Runner-up: The KOA just outside of Glacier National Park is just beautiful.

Worst RV Park

Again, I won’t name names, but we stayed at a sketchy place for a single night in Houston. They called themselves a resort, but it was far, very far, from it!

Favorite State

Adobe door in Santa Fe

Adobe door in Santa Fe. Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

New Mexico. Look, I am no lover of the desert or rocks and sand (despite the fact that I spend a lot of time in desert environments because Mr. Misadventures loves them!), but there is something enchanting about New Mexico. We had a great time in Kirtland, in Las Cruces, and in Santa Fe on our first trip in February. And we did further exploring in the greater Lac Cruces area when we stayed in Elephant Butte. We barely scratched the surface. I could never live here but I see lots of future visits on the horizon. We can’t get enough of the adobe-style homes, bright colors, natural wonders, and green chile sauce!

Runner-up: Utah. I’m sure many people have seen (at least in photos) the amazing parks: Zion, Canyonlands, Arches, etc. But to see as many parks as we did in 30 days, (both national and state with a follow-up trip this January) it really hits home how much this state has to offer. Although, I still don’t think there is anything decent to eat!

Best National Park

Bull Elk on the Madison River in Yellowstone.

Bull Elk on the Madison River in Yellowstone. Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

Wow, this is a toughie! We visited 21 spots in the National Park System, but I have to go with the classic, Yellowstone. We were blessed with five weeks there and I’d still love to see it in the winter.

Runner-up: Capitol Reef: great sites, and 4x4ing, plus…pie.

National Park I Want to Explore More

Everglades National Park. We just spent a few days there, not nearly enough to completely enjoy all the wildlife and scenery. We will return.

Runner-up: 3-way tie between Glacier National Park and Zion National Park, because the weather didn’t cooperate with us, and Canyonlands National Park because we want to do more 4x4ing there.

Best State Park

Little Blair Valley in Anza Borrego Desert State Park

Little Blair Valley in Anza Borrego Desert State Park. Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

Hands down Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in California. This park was completely unknown to us. A Google search for RV parks in San Diego led us here and we are so thankful to the SEO gods for it. The largest state park in the contiguous United States, there is so much to explore, and we did! For three week.

Runner-up: Goblin Valley State Park in Utah. So much fun!

Bonus: Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness is technically BLM land, so not quite NPS and not quite state property, but we absolutely loved it!

Best 4x4ing

Shafer Trail in Canyonlands National Park

Shafer Trail in Canyonlands National Park. Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

Canyonlands National Park. You can do a 15-day 4x4ing trip there, but even when you don’t have that amount of time (which we didn’t) there are plenty of trails to test out your off-roading acumen. We had a lot of fun driving around and testing out our (okay, Mr. Misadventures’) skills.

Runner-up: Tied between Anza-Borrego State Park (where we cut our teeth) and Capitol Reef.

Best smell

The strongest scent of pine I’ve ever experienced in my life while driving through Skalkaho Pass in the Missoula, Montana area. It was incredible!

The Hottest Moment

We avoided hot weather, but Palouse, like Portland, experienced a heatwave while we visited with both spots having temperatures in the 100’s.

The Coldest Moment

Rainbow Point in Bryce Canyon National Park

Sunrise at Rainbow Point in Bryce Canyon National Park. Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

Sunrise at Bryce Canyon National Park. It was the coldest I felt the entire year. Six degrees but with a windshield factor of minus a thousand!

Runner-up: Inside our own RV in Ely, Nevada.

State where we saw the most law enforcement:

Don’t screw up in Florida! But they do have great roads!

Food I missed most:

Plate of Homemade Sushi

A typical plate of Homemade Sushi we used to make at home in Berkeley.

Sushi (we ate it twice), dimsum (once) and Korean (once). What can I say, we must have been Asian in another life!

Grocery item we missed most:

Fresh buckwheat noodles. We used to make udon with grilled salmon (sometimes with a fried egg on top). Or pasta with soy sauce and butter. Or Japanese curry. They were the perfect texture and taste and we haven’t seen anything like it since leaving Berkeley.

One thing I took for granted from my former life:

Medical insurance. Wow! We paid a lot of insurance and prescriptions! Having worked in corporate America for the previous 26 years, I definitely took inexpensive insurance premiums for granted.

Biggest Bummer

I don’t like to write about negative things but losing Jessica was pretty disheartening. We didn’t have the best time in Red Bay, Alabama, where we stayed for RV warranty work and that just compounded the issue. At fifteen years, she’s had a long life living in the US and Europe and being with us the first ten months on the road. We still miss her a lot.

Jessica

Our baby girl, Jessica.

Despite any lows, even losing Jessica, Project Escape was a success. We completed the year feeling refreshed and revitalized and ready to jump back into full-time jobs. We will always have this year to look back on. It’s a great reminder that it is most definitely worth it to take a leap of faith and just go for it in life!

The next part of the recap will be about the numbers and is coming to you next week. I have a few more posts about the experience of traveling via RV coming up as well. I know a lot of people are curious about RVing and I’m also happy to answer any questions you may have.

How about you? Have you gone on an epic trip? Share! Have you been on a sabbatical? Where did you go? Are you thinking about a trip? Where to? Do tell!

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Calvin F.

Sunday 18th of June 2017

Wonderful escape and photos. i like the sunset view

Kimberly Flickinger

Wednesday 19th of April 2017

I never traveled in an RV however it looks like a lot of fun. This is definitely on my bucket list. I love your pictures.

Diane

Sunday 5th of March 2017

I'm so sorry to hear about your cat. That's never easy to deal with. But wow, what a trip. That sunset photo in New Mexico is out of this world. Gorgeous pics! I have never been to Yellowstone but have to get there one day!

Erin Will

Friday 3rd of March 2017

First of all your photos are incredible!!! My husband would want to sell everything and take to the road right now also but with having two young kids it's not in the cards right now. I think it's so amazing you took the risk and had an amazing experience you can treasure forever! Thanks for sharing!

Peachy @ The Peach Kitchen

Thursday 2nd of March 2017

WOW! It must have been an amazing year. Your photos are equally amazing and I can sense the excitement as you write to share your story.