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 Exploring
Since we are all different and no two people live alike, it stands to reason that no two people will travel alike. One couple we heard from a long time ago traveled from campground to campground and never did any exploring other than visiting the local grocery store. They just moseyed along and sat still. Did they see this country? Well they saw it in their own way. Another couple traveled the interstate and when they got where they were going, they drove around to see the sights but never went inside a museum, historic house or such. Another couple might only go to national parks and hike trails completely ignoring cities or towns. One couple wrote that their idea of full-timing was to enjoy high school football games in each new town; maybe they did basketball in the winter and baseball in the summer. Everyone has their own idea of how to full-time and how to explore any new area.

While we were full-timing we usually, upon entering a new area, had an idea of things of interest to see because we almost always visited the state's welcome center as we entered the new state. If any of you had read our book you will also know that I kept a hanging file on each state with articles clipped from RV magazines about things to see and do;  before entering the state I would get that file out. We like history so if there was some historic thing to see there we would do it. For example while traveling in the southeast we visited dozens of Civil war battlefields, in the northeast we learned about the Revolutionary war, and in the west we learned about the westward movement via the different trails. Usually the historic sites are in conjunction with a National Park site so it was easy to go to the visitor center, browse the material on display, see their movie and even take one of their free tours.

When we went to a new town (especially if it was a touristy kind of town) we would search out a tour of some sort so we could get an overview. In Savanah, Georgia, for example we took a trolley tour and learned much about the history and flavor of the town. From that tour, we learned that it might be interesting  to walk the "squares" in town and we learned of where the best pecan pie was. We sampled both the squares and the pie and discovered a few more charms along the way. In Philadelphia we learned so much on our trolley tour that we were left saying that we needed to come back. We need to explore more of the tour suggestions and we will someday. 

As full-time RVers we generally had as much time in an area as we wanted. That Philadelphia trip was an exception. It was the high tourist season and we couldn't beg borrow or steal another night in the only campground near the city. But generally we could stay until we had explored everything in our own leisure time. That is what made the full-timing lifestyle so great. We were comfortable in our home, in some campground and with our toad we could do as much as we wanted. I will admit that after seeing about 25 historic Victorian homes (most towns have one), at some point we decided that we didn't need to tour any more. 

Most of you know that we just came off of a 13 day cruise. Living on the ship was marvelous. What luxury!! What food and as much as you wanted any time you wanted!!! To be able to go to shows, night clubs, dance and play games with abandon felt good. That part was lots of fun. It was our daily excursions that weren't to our liking. If you have never been on a cruise, the procedure is something like this. The ship sails during the evening and arrives in a new port early in the morning (between 6 and 8 a.m.). The cruiser can stay on the ship and do nothing in port,  can take one of the several excursions offered or they can go off on their own either making use of a taxi or their feet and do whatever they want until it is time for the ship to hit the sea again (usually 4:30-6 p.m.). We thought we would want to get the most out of each port so well ahead of time we reserved our spot for a tour in each port. Many people opt for the tours so we had to meet in the auditorium and file out to our busses at just the right time. There was seldom just one tour bus for an excursion; there were 6 or 7 different busses all doing the same tour. None of these tours were in casual little trolleys where you can see all around you easily. We were herded into Greyhound type busses and we learned right away that you can't see much out the front and are only limited on the side to what is at your window or the window across from you. The tour guides for the most part did a great job but taking only 4 -6 hours to see cities with such enormous amounts of history left us feeling frustrated. For us the best tours were the ones where we drove to an area then got out and did a good amount of walking but still we felt rushed. 

When we bicycled across England, Wales and Ireland, we really got to know the country. We bought food there, ate there, stayed in bed and breakfasts, we got to know the people and visited historic places. That was a good tour. I guess we will have to take bikes and do Holland, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Malta the same way. We did see a lot of small RVs (mostly trailers and class c's) but I don't know if that would be the best way to see those countries. Unless one had a vehicle to tour in, you'd never get into the neat places (with narrow streets). Yes, I think a car with a bicycle rack (and bikes of course) would be the best. We are honestly thinking of swapping houses sometime in the near future. There are two great web sites that offer this service. If we are living in an area for a while (as we did in our motorhome) then maybe we could see all that we wanted to see. If you click on that link above you will notice that they even do RV swapping for a house or visa versa. 

I am not saying that the cruise wasn't great; it was. But I have to go back. I didn't get to meet the people in all of those countries. We were only looking at the tiny parts of each country through a fish bowl. And I think the same thing applies to full-timing. If you get out and wander around each new area, talk to the people, participate in local activities, eat the food especially where the locals eat and learn their history then you will really experience what all the little parts of this wonderful country are about. 
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8/21/04 After this article went on the web, I got a nice email from one of our readers. I just have to share it with you.

Hi, Ron and Barb...just was checking in and enjoyed reading your article in particular about "Exploring" since we just spent a week parked next to a couple here in Bend, OR who never saw much other than the nearby golf courses.  This area is FILLED with interesting things to see, but if you don't get out, you'll never see how volcanic this is, walk on old obsidian flows, look out over a huge volcanic  crater, hike to numerous gorgeous waterfalls, visit the beautiful central park in town for one of their Munch and  Music evenings, etc.  However, fulltiming to them is playing every golf course they can year around.  To each his own!
 
Re: your cruise...yes, I agree, that it's just giving you an overview of where you would like to return to (or not) again.  We've enjoyed many cruises, but don't consider them anything but similar to taking the local City Tour that you and we do often in new cities to get our bearings on where to return to to see in depth. Glad you enjoyed it though!  We love to "meet the locals." 

A vivid memory still is when we visited Bermuda and rented "real bikes" ...not the mopeds you usually see. We biked around part of the island and stopped (to catch our breath at the top of the hill) and looked at a lovely new home  being built overlooking the ocean.  A man appeared, and said "Nice, isn't it?" We said "Yes, it certainly is."  "Would you like to see it?"  "Of course!"  So it turned out he was the builder and took us on a tour of the home, pointing out the cisterns, the way they build the roofs to collect the water,  the fact that the  wood is so dear that they used wood found on the lot for making the door, etc...How many  folks ever see "that" Bermuda?...

Well, hope you continue to "enjoy living"...you're doing it right!...and we're right behind you! (another 10 years until our "stick house" <g>)
Happy travels...keep on movin' on...

Jan McNeill
www.mcneillsonwheels.com

(PS, if you like sailing, we did a "tall ship" cruise out of Camden,ME this year that was fantastic...roughing it (1 shower for 15) but awesome! Photos are on the bottom of our "JUNE 2004"  page on the website. Highly recommend it!) 

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