GreenAroundTheGlobe - Part 8

Land Yachts vs. Pup Tents

by Keith on October 28, 2010 · 3 comments

Granite countertops, plasma TVs and plush leather seats were just a couple of the amenities we caught glimpses of through open doors and windows on the massive RVs parked in the campgrounds where Amy and I pitched our tent.  And while we were out west with cool, relatively bug-free nights, I did not miss all those creature comforts.   The freedom and flexibility of a tent was great.  And you can’t pull an RV up to a site with this view.

However, once we crossed back over the Great Mississippi and pulled up to the KOA outside Lexington, I have to admit the heat and humidity, not to mention the noise of crowded campground, had me curious as to what these massive land yachts cost.

As luck would have it, the campground was just down the road from the Tom Stinnett RV Freedom Center, home to the region’s largest indoor RV showroom.  After our amazing experience with KEA Campers in Australia, I was curious to find out more about the RV lifestyle here in the States.   The sign at the front door seemed promising.

We asked the salesman to direct us to the most expensive model they had.  My approach was to see the top of the line, and then work my way back to reality.   The top of the line was a 2007 Mountain Aire (the extra “e” on Air added at least $20,000 to the price).   This 45-foot (13.7 meter) behemoth lists for a mere $446,301.

But look at that interior: marble floors, hardwood cabinets, leather sofa.  It is quite nice and very comfortable.  When I asked the salesman about gas mileage he laughed and said “low.”

This was the opposite of the highly functional and efficient KEA camper we fell in love with in Australia.  But this is not exactly a fair comparison.  The consumer that is considering the Mountain Aire is not the same consumer that would have been happy with our KEA.  So we went in search of something fairly equivalent.    Despite our best efforts, however, we were not able to find anything that was more modestly priced and still had the quality finishes and ingeniously efficient design we came to appreciate in the KEA.

The pull behind pop-ups seemed the closest option but they were a serious step below that of the KEA.

Overall, I think that our REI Quarter Dome T3 tent is a great value and while it does not have a plasma TV, if I want to watch TV, I think I will just stay home.

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Rocky Mountain National Park

by Amy on October 14, 2010 · 0 comments

Reds, golds and browns.  Sounds like the beautiful fall foliage one expects this time of year up in New England.  But this was Colorado, in August, and lodge pole pine trees surrounded us.  Or what remained of lodge pole pines.

As we approached the western entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, the patches of green on the hillsides got thinner and thinner.   We pulled into a desolate KOA camp at dusk, filled with tree stumps and dead limbs piled high on the side of the tent sites.  The one standing tree nearby was brown and dead.

Keith had camped not too far from here just a few years ago, and as you can see, his photos from that trip tell a very different story.  So what happened here?

The pine beetle has ravaged approximately three million acres of forest in Colorado and southern Wyoming during this latest outbreak.  Milder winters have contributed to the outbreak, allowing the beetles to flourish year-round.  Left behind is an eerie landscape of dead and dying trees, especially in the western portions of the Park.  So far the eastern side of the Park has faired better, but you can already see the beginnings of the beetle infestation as you head towards Estes Park.

Between the melting glaciers in Glacier National Park and the dying forests in Rocky Mountain National Park, we have witnessed first hand just how quickly our environment can change.  While debate remains about whether these changes are natural or caused by humans, it is undeniable that these national treasures will look very different for generations to come.

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One Year Out

by Amy on October 7, 2010 · 1 comment

Exactly one year ago today, we were jetlagged bundles of nerves as our plane landed in Istanbul.  It was the very first day of our around-the-world adventure, and we were filled with excitement, anticipation and just a touch of anxiety.

View of the Blue Mosque from the roof of our hostel in Istanbul

Eighteen countries and  thousands of photographs later, we woke up this morning in our own home surrounded by moving boxes filled with all of the stuff we left behind.  It is hard to believe that an entire year has passed since we left the United States, and we wanted to take this opportunity to thank you, our readers, for reading our stories and sharing your own.  Your participation on this blog has made all the difference.

We still have a few more travel tales up our sleeve to share with you as we get settled back in Philadelphia, and we look forward to hearing from you as we embark on whatever our next great adventure may be.

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