RVing on a Budget: Resorts of Distinction 

Our journey began in Montgomery, Alabama

It’s December, and Kathy and I have been traveling North America for over a year now. We’ve been to Canada, Mexico and 24 of the United States in our Minnie Winnie RV.  As full time RVers on a budget we are always looking for great accommodations at affordable prices. 

The day we bought Winnie!

We’ve stayed in Walmart parking lots, state and national parks, casino parking lots, on city streets and in private RV parks.  Right now we are staying at one of our favorite places: Mountain Lakes RV Resort.  This is a private, members only park. I joined over 20 years ago when I was tent camping with my sons. This membership is really paying off now that we have the Winnie. One reason for this is that our Mountain Lakes membership entitles us to membership with nation wide Resorts of Distinction

Mountain Lakes Resorts, Lytle Creek, California

For $140 a year our Resorts of Distinction membership allows us 2 weeks of free camping at over 50 RV parks in the U.S. and Canada.  We were pleasantly surprised at the ease in using this product. A simple phone call or visit to the website creates a reservation within minutes. We kept expecting to see hidden costs or catches but have found none. We visited the  one park in Canada and several in the U.S.  All have full electric, water and sanitation hook up which are included at no charge. 

Rock Glen Family Resort, Arkona, Ontario, Canada
Roaring Run Resort, Champion, Pennsylvania

Each park we visited had its on unique character, amenities and community. We were welcomed warmly at each park and every stay was a positive, hassle-free experience. 

Eagles Landing, Grove, Oklahoma

All of the parks we visited had some sort of body of water. Our favorite was the one in Oklahoma, situated on beautiful Grand Lake. 

Allegany Mountain Resort, East Otto, New York

Some of the parks had very distinct communities, some with options for permanent residence.

Allegany Mountain Resort, East Otto, New York
Niagara Lazy Lakes, Lockport, New York

Use of recreational facilities, like miniature golf, swimming pools and basketball courts, is also included in our free stays.

Niagara Falls, New York

Many of the parks were very close to sightseeing attractions. Niagara Lazy Lakes RV Park was less than 30 minutes away from the falls. 

Roaring Run Resort, Champion, Pennsylvania 

Kathy and I both enjoy our daily walks. All of the parks we visited were great for walking!

Allegany Mountain Resort, East Otto, New York

We look forward to visiting more parks in the Resorts of Distinction system as we continue our travels.  Perhaps we will visit one in a place near you. Please let us know! 

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Boundlessly Homeward

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In one week Marci and I will board a plane for a twenty-four hour flight back to the US. We haven’t been home in a year. As a matter of fact, we celebrated our one year on the road anniversary two weeks ago. We haven’t really yearned to return to the States. We of course look forward to seeing our family and friends but we dread the “noise” of the United States. Those conversations about who is winning as if speaking about a horse race instead of a yet still undecided national election. Or the seemingly daily shootings at schools or during unnecessary police encounters. And the ever-present advertising of fast food, fast cars, fast acting nasal spray. Everything wants to be fast in America. But Marci and I have embraced slow. We eat slow. Our food is prepared after we order it. We move slow. Most days we never use a car. We travel slow.

But we do have a plan. The fact is the US is much more than all those dreads, that have recently caused both of us to moan and doubt our ability to cope as individuals and as a happily married unit. For us, the United States is a place of unbelievable beauty. We have traveled to the Grand Canyon and Glacier National Parks. And as we find every time we travel anywhere on earth, the US is place of astonishing kindness. Like the apparenBOLT ustly homeless woman we met a a rest stop who shared her homemade jam inspiring us to share our morning coffee. We three had a breakfast picnic before Marci and I drove onward to eventually meet some friends in New Orleans for Essence Fest.

There is without a doubt a system of racist policies and racist actions in our country, the results of which slash our hearts. But we decided we were not going to allow those things to keep us from enjoying the beauty. So we are buying an RV and touring the country for a year or so, visiting National Parks, museums and chatting with women of a certain age about their relationship to our country.

This trip home is not the end of our international travels. North America is just another continent and once we are ready we will move on. But while we are home we will explore America from a black, queer and elder perspective. These things inform our choices and inspire us. We know we want to attend several women festivals throughout the year beginning with one 20160619_132905-1.jpgof our favorites the NIA Gathering. We also want to visit Underground Railroad sites. We’ve left lots of free time in our schedule so that we can take suggestions and move slowly and boundlessly.

We invite your suggestions and hope you will continue to follow our travels as we return home.

If you had a year to travel North America where would you go? What would be your first three stops. Please share in the comments.

Save Money with Pharmacists

One of the valid concerns people have when contemplating long term travel is what will they do about medical issues. We are not getting any younger although some of us may be healthier now than when we were young and much more foolish about our bodies. Health considerations, even if you are in the best of health will pop up during your travels.

Marci and I have spent a year in South-East Asia. This is a tropicalimages-5.jpgclimate filled with tropical diseases , like those in the old movies. And although Marci has not really gotten sick, I have suffered through unknown rashes and infections. The good news is I am fine. The great news is it cost me less than fifteen dollars to handle the most expensive health scare. That is for less than $15 I was completely cured of a skin infection I thought would send me home to the United States and my Mama’s loving house since we no longer have a house of our own.

The thing is health care just does not cost that much in other countries. I am not talking about democratic socialist nations of Europe although there too healthcare is much more affordable than the United States. I am talking for profit businesses that offer western trained doctors and if you prefer it western solutions and medicines. I have no preference. When I am sick, I just want to be well. The western solution to my skin problem would have cost closer to $100 dollars but that is still less than my deductible would have been at Kaiser and that is with Obama Care or the Affordable Care Act.

But the real stars of affordable healthcare are pharmacists. These women and men will look you over and prescribe the answer in a matter of minutes. I was on my way to have lunch when I thought I would show a pharmacist my itchy arm. He gave me a topical medicine to try for two dollars. Later that evening I had completely stopped scratching. Two days later my skin looked better than ever. It worked. And still have some medicine left over.

When I was in Spain I went to a pharmacist because someone told me to. I had terrible canker sores and could barely open my mouth not that I needed to, I didn’t then and still images-3.jpgdon’t speak Spanish, to my great regret. The pharmacist who didn’t speak English took one look inside my barely opened mouth figured out what I needed. He handed me a bottle while miming for me to rinse my mouth and gargle with it 6 times a day. I nodded and paid him. The next day I could talk and more importantly, smile without pain. A few days later I was back to my old chatting laughing self.

Pharmacist visits are faster and much less expensive when compared to going to the doctor or clinic. No waiting rooms means no waiting. Just explain your problem and let her figure out the cure.  Eventhough Marci and I live in the shadow of an award winning hospital with an outpatient clinic, I always try the pharmacist first. So far so good.

There are few places where you will be unable to secure routine healthcare as you move through your adventure traveling across our beautiful planet. The price will vary mostly in line with the cost of living overall. The US notwithstanding.  Keep a credit card handy. Consider travel insurance. Have a quick checkup and discussion with your home doctor. Then get on a plane. The world awaits, warts, canker sores, upset tummies and all. Enjoy.

Have you ever had to see a doctor on an international trip.  Share your story with us in the comments. Thank you.