6 Month Trip Analysis

We left Kentucky on January 26, 2012 and have spent 6 months on the road, which is about 2/3 of our planned 10-month adventure of a lifetime.  Being the geek that I am, I’ve meticulously logged various aspects of our trip in a spreadsheet.  I produced a 3-month analysis back in April.  All figures below are for the 6 months from January 26 through July 25, which is Day 182 of our trip.  This may be a little boring to read, but potential cross-country travellers may find some of this interesting.

Our dispersed camping spot in Portage Valley, Alaska, with the beautiful Chugach Mountains in the background


Parks

The highlight of our trip has been visiting the beautiful natural lands in the western United States, Canada and Alaska.  As our trip has progressed, we’ve visited just about every type of natural land there is.  Following are the number of parks we’ve visited of each type, followed by the number of days spent in each type of park:

Park Type # of Parks # of Days
National Park 21 49
State Park 15 28
National Monument 7 12
National Forest 3 9
Municipal Park 3 3
Provincial Park 2 4
State Recreation Area 2 4
National Grasslands 2 3
National Wildlife Refuge 2 3
National Preserve 1 6
National Memorial 1 1
State Trust Land 1 1

We’ve spent the following number of nights in each state or province:

State # of Nights
Alaska 38
California 32
British Columbia 15
Arizona 14
South Dakota 14
Utah 13
Alberta 10
Colorado 9
Montana 6
Texas 6
Nevada 5
Yukon 5
Louisiana 4
New Mexico 4
North Dakota 4
Tennessee 2
Wyoming 1

Hiking

Our principal activity on this trip is hiking.  It was one of the key reasons we wanted to take this trip now, as opposed to waiting until we retired.  We wanted to ensure we were healthy enough to hike, climb and thoroughly explore our natural lands.  And we’ve hiked a lot on this trip:

We hiked on 142 of the 182 days, which is about 78% of the days.  We hiked on 169 different trails, which means that on some days we hiked more than one trail.

We hiked for 498.0 miles, which is about 1.3 million steps at 2 feet per step.  So on average we hiked 3.51 miles per hiking day, which doesn’t seem like a lot.

We climbed 73,745 feet of elevation, which is about 14.0 miles, or the equivalent of climbing to the top floor of the Sears Tower 51 times.  On average we climbed about 519 feet of elevation per hiking day.

We hiked for 370.3 hours, which is about 15.4 days.  On average we hiked for about 2 hours 36 minutes per day, which also doesn’t seem like a lot to us.

Our net average hiking speed was 1.3 miles per hour, which includes stops for lunch and sightseeing.

Our longest hike was 9.6 miles to the Harding Ice Field in Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska.  This was also our highest climb with 3,160 feet of elevation gain, and our longest amount of time on the trail at 6.8 hours.

Our steepest climb was Sage Creek Wilderness in Badlands National Park, when we averaged 1,480 feet of elevation gain per mile.  Just as a reference, a gain of 800 feet per mile is considered a “burner,” i.e., a hike in which your thighs and calves burn from exertion.

Our dog hiking averages have increased recently because we spent a month in Canada, which allows dogs to hike in all of their parks.  Darby and Shadow hiked with us on 117 of the 142 days, which is about 82% of our hiking days.  The dogs hiked a total of 336.6 miles, though that number is probably much higher because they wander all over the place when they are off the leash.  The dogs climbed 49,215 feet of elevation, which is about 9.3 miles.  And the dogs hiked for 247.3 hours, which is about 10.3 days.  Note that these hiking figures do not include the few dog walks each day, which would certainly add to the totals.

Driving

We’ve never been a big fan of road trips, which is ironic considering that we are on the mother of all road trips.  In our planning, we estimated that we would drive over 20,000 miles on this trip, in our RV and SUV combined.  It looks like we will exceed that by a wide margin.

We drove the RV on 71 of the 182 days, or about 39% of the days.  We didn’t record how many days we drove our towed vehicle, a 2008 Toyota RAV4, but it was pretty much every day.

We drove both RVs (pre and post crash) for a combined total of 9,993 miles.  We drove the SUV for a total of 6,173 miles.  Thus we’ve driven both vehicles for a total of 16,166 miles.

Fuel economy is important, especially in Canada and Alaska where gasoline is quite expensive.  Our new RV has been averaging about 8.3 miles per gallon.  Our Toyota RAV4 has done quite well for a V-6 SUV, averaging about 23.6 MPG.

Campgrounds

We’ve stayed at a wide variety of campgrounds.  Following are the number of nights we spent at each type of campground or location, as well as the number of different places of each type of campground.  “CG” is an abbreviation for campground.  The 8 nights we spent in a motel were after the RV crash when we were without an RV.

Campground Type # of Nights # of Places
Dispersed Camping 49 20
Commercial CG 47 19
State Park CG 30 12
National Park CG 23 7
Motel/Hotel 8 2
Municipal CG 8 3
Provincial Park CG 4 2
National Forest CG 3 2
National Monument CG 2 1
National Wildlife CG 2 1
State Recreation Area CG 2 1
Walmart 2 1
RV Dealer 1 1

Dispersed camping is when we camp for free outside of established campgrounds, typically in a field or along a forest road.  We love dispersed camping because we are off by ourselves, it’s usually very quiet, the dogs can run around off the leash, and we can run the generator whenever we want.  Following are the number of nights we dispersed camp in each type of land:

Land Type # of Nights
National Forest 13
National Grasslands 10
Crown Land 9
National Monument 6
National Preserve 5
State Recreation Area 3
BLM Land 2

Hookups are the services that are available to our RV while camping.  The most important three are electric, water, and sewer.  Other hookups include cable TV and free wifi, but we don’t track those.  Following are the number of nights spent with the different combinations of hookups.  “Dispersed None” means no hookups (also known as “boondocking”) while dispersed camping.  “Campground None” means no hookups while staying in an established campground.

Hookups # of Nights
Dispersed None 49
Electric+Water+Sewer 45
Campground None 41
Electric+Water 25
Electric 14
Hotel N/A 8

Finances

Due to a technical problem, we are unable to provide our financial information at this time.  Needless to say, our trip got a lot more expensive when we travelled in Canada and Alaska.  Food and fuel prices were typically 25-200% more expensive than in the continental USA.  We hope to provide detailed finances when we conclude our trip.  This should help others who are planning long-term RV trips.

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