Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Loop By The Numbers

Days back home:   5
Tears shed:  none
We’ve been home 5 days and nights, and it’s been wildly busy, a mixture of fun and work. Saturday, friends Jim and Phebe (who spent a week with us in the Keys) dropped by for coffee. Later son Ryan, his fiancée Jaime and 4 members of their extended family came to visit for a few hours. That night we had dinner with Bob’s sister Lynn and her husband David (who spent a week with us on the Tennessee River).  But Bob still managed to unload 18 bins from the back of the truck into our workshop.
Sunday friend Hobie came for coffee, then daughter Mackenzie and son-in-law Matt arrived mid-day and stayed through dinner. We didn’t accomplish much work but had an awfully nice time.
Finally Monday and Tuesday we got a lot of stuff done: groceries, laundry, unpacking the rest of the truck, sorting items to put away, Cathryn starting our 2012 tax return and Bob pressure-washing our decks which looked really scuzzy after 15 months of neglect. Dinner Monday night at Jim and Phebe’s house with our group of 7 neighbors made us feel we really were settled in back home! It’s great to be here.

Our Loop by the Numbers:
Statute miles traveled:  6,282
Days on cruise:  304
Days boat moved:  166 (55%)
Days boat stayed in port:  138 (45%)
Distance moved on travel days, range:  0.3 – 174 miles
Typical distance moved on travel days: 20 – 60 miles
Average miles traveled on days moved:  38
Nights in marinas:  58%
Nights at anchor or on lock walls or free town walls: 42%
Gallons of fuel used: 3,949 (including 798 miles before and after our Loop)
Average Price Per Gallon: $4.25
The first 8 months of our Loop, from the time we left Fort Pierce, Florida until we left the boat in Mobile, Alabama to go home for six weeks over the holidays, we moved the boat more often and further. During that time, we were driven by the seasons, always needing to keep moving so we wouldn’t get stuck in Canada or the Great Lakes and have to leave the boat to winter over when the marinas and fuel docks close for the season in September. That’s a reality for all folks who plan to do the Loop in approximately one year.
The portion of the trip after the holidays, all in Florida, resulted in fewer and shorter days of travel for us, as it’s easy to be in that area from November to April before it’s time to move north again.
We would add that we don’t think there’s any such thing as a “normal” Loop trip, mirroring the experience of most Loopers. Each boat’s journey is unique, and statistics like those we’ve offered above would vary widely depending on whose stats you read. Some people travel at higher speeds, spend most nights in marinas (especially folks with dogs for whom anchoring out is more complicated), and make fewer stops, but stay in each place longer. Others travel more slowly, make more stops or take multiple years to complete their Loop, and anchor out much more often. Some people eat dinner at restaurants most nights, while others cook on board their boats most nights. Some people take lots of side trips off the main Loop route, others take none. That’s part of the beauty of doing the Loop: you can tailor it to fit your lifestyle, your boat, your budget and your schedule, and make it exactly the trip you want it to be! We have yet to meet a Looper who wasn’t pleased with the choices they made in all those categories.
Up next: Reflections on the Loop, promised sometime within the week . . . really!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Home Sweet Home

Days on cruise control:  6

Distance traveled:  589 miles

Travel time:  10 hours, 30 minutes

Total trip odometer:  3,425 statute miles

It’s not like anyone held a gun to our heads and forced us to do it this way, but once we left Fort Pierce, with the exception of our day in Denver with Adrienne and Justin, we were 100% focused on getting this road trip over with! No stops for National Parks, museums, scenic overlooks, nothing. We drove all day, every day for six days, only stopping to re-fuel or change drivers. As on Next To Me, we’re co-Captains on road trips, changing drivers every 2-3 hours. Bob is still the Navigator, figuring out our route and stopping points each night, and Cathryn is still Keeper-of-Contact-With-People-We-Love, making phone calls, writing emails and texting with lots of folks.


We pulled out of Mountain Home, ID at 7am and by 9am  crossed into Oregon, state #12. The scenery turned greener, and the highway more winding with steep ups and downs.


We gained an hour as we crossed into the Pacific Time zone, and mid-day entered our home state, Washington, state #13 for this journey.

sno passs rain

Heavy rain and an accident on the last mountain pass added considerable delay, then Friday afternoon traffic near Seattle slowed our travel further.  Finally at 4:30 we pulled into our driveway, happy to have the road trip behind us.

photo (49)

Next To Me and the Great Loop feel a long way away. This weekend we’ll compile some “Loop By The Numbers” statistics for publication here, and finally our “Reflections on the Loop” thereafter. Text messages from crew on Blue Heron, Jackets II, Wind Song, Proud Lady, The Zone and Second Wind remind us there are lots of our Looper friends still out there enjoying this Grand Adventure, and we treasure our time with each of them and hope they continue to enjoy smooth sailing.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Day Five and Weary of This Road

Days on cruise control:  5

Distance traveled:  788 miles

Travel time: 11 hours, 15 minutes

Total trip odometer:  2,836 statute miles

This trip from Fort Pierce, Florida to our home in Olalla, Washington is about 800 miles shorter than the same one we made in January 2012 in the opposite direction. Then, because it was January, we didn’t want to risk driving over the Continental Divide in the dead of winter, so we went south on Interstate 5 from Seattle to Los Angeles, then east on Interstate 10 all the way to Florida, over 4,000 miles one way. We’re glad it’s shorter this time.


We pulled out of Denver at 7am in cool, mild weather. They had a huge blizzard in the mountains a week ago, so we were happy to have no concerns this week. A couple hours later we crossed into Wyoming, state #9 for this trip.


Wyoming went on for a LOOOOONG time! But at least the scenery included mountains, some snow in the distance, and a few wild animals including elk and deer, though we got no photos of either.


And then it was Utah, state #10 where the mountains and rocks, up close instead of big but distant like Wyoming, were pretty, . . . . .


. . . . followed three hours later by Idaho, State #11.  We planned to spend the night in Twin Falls, ID further east, but we want tomorrow to be a somewhat shorter day, so kept going long after we were tired and tempted to quit.


Finally we pulled into Mountain Home, Idaho (a little east of Boise) and called it a day.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Another Day Living In The Truck

Days on cruise control:  4

Distance traveled:  317 miles

Travel time: 5 hours, 15 minutes

Total trip odometer:  1,937 statute miles (approximately one third the distance of The Great Loop, done in 4 days instead of 4 months)

We don’t look exactly like the Joads and their piled-high truck from John Steinbeck’s “"Grapes of Wrath”, but we sort of imagine we look that way to others. We’ve had the truck four years, but bought the canopy shortly before we left for our Loop trip so we could fill it with the many boating items we already owned at home, and didn’t want to buy in Florida to outfit Next To Me. In back we have two bicycles, 8 bins of boat stuff including dishes, pots, pans, blankets and bed sheets, toolboxes, extra fenders we brought from home, and lots more.


The backseat has a rod across it, holding all our hanging clothes, a small cooler for lunch foods so we don’t have to stop for a mid-day meal, plus our camera and computer equipment and overnight bags we take into a motel each night. So it’s chock-a-block full, and Bob warns Cathryn it’s heavier in back than the front, so be prepared to go very slowly if we get into snow or icy weather, as the front wheels may not have much traction or weight on them. It’s 4-wheel drive, so that helps.


The rest of Kansas looked about like the first half: brown, flat and empty. The statewide population density must be pretty low. At one point it was 29 degrees outside and raining, a long way from Florida weather!


Finally: “Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore!” Crossing into Colorado brings us to State #8 since moving off Next To Me.

Colorado Welcome sign

Eastern Colorado looks a lot like Kansas, but we could tell we were still climbing to higher elevation.

We gained an hour as we moved into Mountain Time near the border, so arrived at our Denver motel shortly after noon. Our daughter Adrienne was able to get off work a little early, so we drove to Boulder where her fiancée Justin works at Rally Software.


We forgot to take a photo of “the kids” at the restaurant where we had dinner, so here’s a photo of Adrienne and Justin taken last Christmas when they visited us at home. We had Dungeness Crab for dinner one night, a local favorite which Justin enjoys catching with our crab pots when they visit in the summer months.

photo (3)

Tomorrow is a layover day in Denver: no truck driving!

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Long Slog: Day 3

Days on cruise:  3

Distance traveled:  614 miles

Travel time:  9 hours, 30 minutes

Total trip odometer:  1,618 statute miles

Not a lot to report today except that we made a great deal of progress in achieving our goal of arriving in Denver tomorrow afternoon. Barring a blizzard or a truck break down, we should be there mid-afternoon Tuesday.

We left Conway, Arkansas at 7:30am, found the western half of Arkansas to be much prettier than the eastern half, and crossed into State #6 since leaving Next To Me.


There’s not much to say about Oklahoma except that it’s largely flat, brown and full of oil drilling rigs.


And several hours later we entered State #7 of this trip.


We were slowly gaining elevation all day, and by late afternoon were cruising along just below 2000 feet. Temperatures near Wichita were 36 degrees with heavy rain, and the wind blew hard enough to justify the many wind farms we saw along the way.


So at 5:30 we pulled into Ellis, Kansas (anyone ever heard of it?) and checked into tonight’s motel.

We do want to thank our many blog readers who sent emails in the past few days telling us who you are, where you live, and why you’re reading our blog. It’s great fun for us to receive these introductions! For those of you actively planning or dreaming about doing The Loop, we invite you to send us a link to your blog when you get started, or to ask questions if you have any. We owe a considerable debt to the folks whose blogs we read, and the folks who answered our many questions as we planned for our Loop, so it’s time for Payback!