2023 In Review

2023 In Review

The year had some ups and downs because we lived in two, different motor homes. Though it derailed our spring plans a bit, we managed to get back on track for a big tour of the Midwest before heading south again for the winter.

Check out the map below to see the places we went, and click the small, gray, horizontal line below the map to scroll through the details of our journey. We started in Parker, Arizona (marked with the star) and ended in Goodyear, Arizona.

We wanted to take our time exploring the path from Las Vegas down to Yuma from the end of 2022 to the start of 2023. We really liked the Parker Strip, and Yuma was pretty cool. The Strip is a special place, a long stretch of fairly narrow river where you can just cruise around corners and zip along straightaways with the wind in your hair and shoreline seemingly close enough to touch.

Lacey loved it, too! The water was awesome.

Yuma was a nice, desert city (and we like our deserts). We started our National Parks tour with Organ Pipe and Casa Grande, and it was looking like it would be a really good year for touring.

We spent some time in Tucson visiting dad and Linda, and we were able to overlap a bit of time with Sue and Toni before we headed to Safford and a fantastic state park. It was a bit windy in that area, and things got windier during our stay in Las Cruces. Still, we loved that whole area, including El Paso. The KOA in Las Cruces has a great view of the city, and we already have the same site booked for a couple weeks in the winter of 2024.

It was definitely breezy when we left Las Cruces and headed for Carlsbad. The dust was kicked up a bit as we drove through El Paso, and then it calmed down. We went up to Guadalupe Mountains National Park, a stop just off the highway on our trip. We parked in the RV spots and went inside to the Visitor Center. Then, all hell broke loose.

People's phone alarms started going off in the building all around us, warning us of high winds. We estimated wind gusts of up to 100mph. It was enough to blow our 50k-pound motor home over on its side, totaling it there in the parking lot in the middle of nowhere. It's a long story, and there are lots of photos to help explain the crazy thing that happened to us.

It took two tow trucks to put it back onto its tires.

That derailed our plans a bit, and we stayed in hotels for a week just figuring out what to do. Our insurance company was awesome and had a check cut in just a couple weeks. We gathered what we could out of the old coach before it went to the salvage lot, and we went back to the Tucson area and Green Valley to stay with our gracious hosts, Toni and Sue, so we could land on our feet.

It was only three weeks from when our home was destroyed until we were in a new one purchased in Tucson. It blew over on February 27th, and we were off to New Mexico in our new motor home on March 28th. Incredible! We are still in the new coach, and we love it.

It is a 2023 Newmar Dutch Star 4325

We managed to get to Amarillo like we originally planned, but only for a short week. We finally got Texas driver's licenses (easy as pie!) so all of our paperwork was done. When we made it to Rogers, Arkansas we were ready to relax. We had never been to Arkansas and didn't know what to expect, and we were very pleasantly surprised. Rogers may have been our favorite place of the entire year, and we hope to visit it again in the future.

Rogers is in the Ozarks, but on the opposite side of it from Lake Ozark, which was our next stop. Though it was pretty, we didn't enjoy it nearly as much.

We were going to stay for a while, but Monica's mom was struggling. We packed up early and headed to Iowa to make sure she was okay. She has a house with a cement RV pad on the side of it, complete with power, water, and sewer. It was an awesome place to stay, especially so close to mom. We would stay at mom's three times before the year was over.

We hung out on her screen porch on a regular basis to enjoy the fire and good company.

But first, we had a little loop around the Midwest planned. First, we stayed in Illinois, where it was so green and lovely. We were able to make a trip to St. Louis to see the Arch. Too cool!

The views from the top were incredible.
The Dam West Campground was amazing.

Next, we visited Leah, Angelo, Alex, and Zach in the suburbs of Indianapolis. We could understand why it was such a popular place. It was so green and the weather was really nice. And there was a lot to do.

Of course, we visited the Speedway.

One of the main reasons for choosing the Midwest in 2023 was because of the new coach. It came with a year-long warranty, and we were going to stay at the "mothership" where Newmars are born, in Nappanee, Indiana. We stayed at their private campground ("Camp Newmar") and got a lot of things addressed. All new RVs come with one or many things to address right off the lot.

Dora II got the star treatment.

We also bought a new, enclosed car hauler trailer while we were in Nappanee. We decided it made more sense on some of our trips to tow the car rather than use it to pull a boat we wouldn't use very often. We left Indiana with the trailer behind the motor home and the car still towing the boat.

We stayed at mom's house for a few more weeks after that, and we left the boat in her back garage for a little while. It will be there at least a year while we take a tour of the Gulf Coast in 2024. When we were with mom, we even went up to Wisconsin for a family reunion. It was really nice to connect with the family again (it had been so many years), and the party was really nice.

It's so beautiful up there.

People tell you it's too hot and muggy in the Midwest in the summer, but we didn't experience that. It never got unbearably hot or humid, and it was never really buggy. We loved it.

But, we had to leave at some point so we spent a month working our way across Nebraska. We were from Denver, so we knew western Nebraska. But we were completely surprised by eastern Nebraska and our fabulous stay at the Eugene T. Mahoney State Park. We found rolling hills covered in beautiful, green trees. And there was so much to do in that area and in Omaha. We spent two weeks there but it could have been longer and we would have been happy. We'll be back.

Nebraska is awesome!

We headed west to stay a couple weeks in Ogallala on the other side of Nebraska. We'd left the boat in Iowa, so we rented a boat to spend a day on Lake McConnaughy ("Lake Mac"). Allie came to spend the weekend with us, and we loved the lake and the area. It's awesome when we're near Denver and Allie can come visit.

Lacey isn't exactly a water dog.

We spent two weeks a bit north of Denver to catch up with friends and go to what felt like a hundred doctor's appointments. Monica broke a tooth in Nebraska and had that taken care of in Colorado. We had a BBQ and saw a lot of friends we hadn't seen in a while (Mike, Heather, and Joe camped with us, and many people came by to eat and visit). It was good to see everyone before we headed up to Grand Junction on the western slope of the state.

Robin lives in Grand Junction, Allie came to visit, and Sue and Toni even came by for a few days. We had a fantastic site at the KOA, and it was just about perfect. Sue and Toni bought Margot's previous car when she bought the Lexus, so it seemed fitting that they would buy the Lexus when we were shopping for our next vehicle. The Lexus just wasn't right for towing the new trailer, so we got a Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe Overland. Not only is it a powerhouse for towing, it also has a variable suspension and does really well offroad. The EV part was the biggest surprise, and we only needed to fill it up twice with gas before the year ended. Wow!

We also got to see some familiar and wonderful sights in the state before we left.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison is a favorite.

But, we could feel the snow coming soon so we wanted to head south. We were going to make a beeline from Grand Junction to Anaheim, stopping first for a stay in Richfield, Utah to see the eclipse. The town and the area were really nice, and it was starting to feel like winter was really coming fast just before we left. We did get to try a little offroad, rocky trail in the Pando before we left.

The Pando is a huge grove of aspens -- gorgeous.

We had an entire month in Las Vegas, and we got there without seeing any snow in 2023 (hooray!). In 2022, we stayed in Boulder City well away from Las Vegas. This year, you could see the Strip from our coach. It was busy and loud with the highways and airport nearby, but we still loved it. We saw and did a lot.

We did the Experience at The Sphere, and we rode the High Roller.

Our next adventure put us in California, camping there for the first time. We were in Anaheim Hills and had the opportunity to visit Steven and Vicky a few times. We went to Laguna Beach and other spots, and our campground was really nice. Monica was born in that area and Margot spent a lot of her life there, so it was good getting back to where things started.

You can't beat a California sunset.

It was busy there, though, with lots of traffic. When it was time to go, we were ready. We started our long trek to the opposite coast, a trek from Laguna Beach to Virginia Beach that would take us almost a year. It started with a longer stay in Desert Hot Springs, across Coachella Valley from Palm Springs. Allie visited for a week, and we were able to see and do a lot (there is a lot to do there!). We really loved our stay.

The hiking was phenomenal, and we did a loop around the Andreas Faultline.

Palm Springs is in the line from Las Vegas down to Yuma, and it's still one of our favorite places. The weather is lovely (though insanely hot in the summer), and the desert lifestyle is awesome. The sunsets are so colorful, and we love our cactus varieties and weird animals.

We ended our year on the way to Tucson, stopping for a couple weeks in a suburb of Phoenix to check out the area. We enjoyed our stay, but we prefer Tucson as it's more of a dry, desert area. Robin was able to come out for a long weekend, and being near the larger airport was handy.

We saw 20 National Parks in 2023, wrapping it up with two on December 30th. Not too shabby!

Tuzigoot National Monument was a great way to end the year.

2023 was pretty awful when we lost our previous coach, but we're very happy with our new one. We traded our Lexus for a Jeep and traded the boat for a car hauler (we even have a full-sized grill now, and we made a big prime rib roast on the rotisserie that was phenomenal). We're hoping for a much less eventful 2024!

All Posts from 2023

Previous Years in Review

Leave a Reply

Close Menu