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Throwing off the bowlines

Couple takes to the road in motor home across North America

Created date

July 23rd, 2013

Mark Twain once remarked, Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. David Mitchell and his wife Janice, who live at Ashby Ponds, an Erickson Living community in Ashburn, Va., embrace these words of wisdom. The couple travels up to six months out of the year, often in the 35-foot motor home they purchased for their excursions. We ve been to every U.S. state and all the territories and provinces in Canada, says David. The best part of our travels is reuniting with our lifetime friends from high school, college, the military, and old neighborhood and seeing beautiful new scenery, parks, and towns along the way, says Janice. This month, the couple will travel to California along a Northern route through the Canadian Rockies, Columbia Icefield, Banff National Park, Lake Louise, and Glacier National Park. We are really looking forward to this three-month trip, says Janice. Some of the national parks we have seen before and some will be new to us. August, September, and October are the best months to travel the northern route to California and back.

World of adventure

Throughout their 55-year marriage, the Mitchells travelled to a number of countries outside of the U.S., including the Netherlands, England, Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Israel, and Egypt. However, they most enjoy the magnificent beauty of North America s national parks and seashores. Earlier this year the couple traveled from Florida to California and back again via Interstate 10. We visited the museums of Presidents Bush, Johnson, and Reagan, says David. We enjoyed the River Walk at San Antonio, the Carlsbad Caverns, and the elephant seals on the California coast. Most notable to Janice was their encounter with a once-in-20-years snowstorm in Tucson, Ariz. With every trip, you have unexpected experiences, she says. It was remarkable to see snow on the cactus.

Top three

Despite the vast number of travel destinations, the Mitchells find it easy to name their top three trips. Alaska stands out as one of our top favorites, says David. We were totally immersed in the 1,224-mile drive from Dawson Creek to Fairbanks. While in Alaska, the couple embarked on a fishing expedition, catching 12 halibut weighing a combined dress weight of 400 lbs. Janice caught the largest at a remarkable 97 pounds. Another favorite destination is the Canadian Rockies, where the couple will return this month. It s a north and south journey in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Janice says. It s different than the east-to-west journey across the Colorado Rockies. Rounding out the top three is what is known as the Four Corners area of the United States, where Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah all meet at one geodetic survey point. There are seven beautiful National Parks within 150 miles of each other, says Janice.

Place called home

On each of these trips, the couple travels in the motor home they purchased following David s retirement in 1995. The best part about traveling via motor home is that there is no schedule or timetable to meet, says Janice. It s comforting having your own bedroom, bathroom, and full kitchen while on the road. We also enjoy meeting other fellow RV travelers along the route, says David. It s also nice not having to lug your suitcases into a different motel every night. During the six months off the road, the Mitchells keep their motor home at the Algonkian Regional Park storage area, located less than five miles from their home at Ashby Ponds.

Sense of security

In addition to the motor home, living at Ashby Ponds makes it easier for the Mitchells to travel. Before our 2012 move we had to make sure to pay the bills in advance, transfer the mail, arrange to have the lawn maintained, cut the water off, be sure snow didn t collect on the roof, etc., says David. It was constant maintenance, and now that s all behind us. Moving here has opened up new freedoms, he adds. Most of our Ashby Ponds friends are anxious to hear about our trips when we return, says Janice. There are also plenty of new adventures at home for the couple. Their children and grandchildren live nearby, in Centreville, and they have both recently discovered clubs that suit their interests. David enjoys the woodworking club and is currently helping the group collect corks to make trivets for Ashby Ponds fall craft fair. Janice enjoys sharing her talents with the quilting group and recently displayed several of her quilts on the art wall at Ashby Ponds. And when the call for adventure grows louder, the couple is ready and willing to once again throw off the bowlines and seek out new experiences. Our new life is wonderful, says Janice. All we have to do is shut the door and leave.