August 1

    Two long days of driving brought us from Prague back to Amsterdam, where we camped for one night while we did laundry, packed and winterized Rover. On our trip there, we had seen an RV store from the autobahn and taken the next exit to get to it (it was only about 100 feet ahead). There we found--wait for it--antifreeze!--for our drinking water plumbing system!--two containers of 2.5 litres each, barely enough to do the job, even after we’d added a bottle of wine. But we were thrilled to find it, even at $58 for the two. European motorhome owners usually just drain their plumbing systems when winterizing, so antifreeze (nontoxic) is nearly impossible to find.

    We had called ahead to the storage place we had used in Amsterdam on some earlier trips, and we were recognized and welcomed back. Storage costs have increased to € 90 a month, so we gave him $1075 to see us through next April . . . and then we headed to the airport.  

    Our Born Free, Rover, performed flawlessly, but she needs a good bath.  Her AGM Freedom batteries sit in the dark and cold for nine months, and awaken every spring when we return. We do not have a generator to deal with--they are not allowed in European campgrounds--and the step-down transformer and inverter/charger at the heart of our electrical system continue to perform well, while our LP gas supply never seems to run out. We never added LP gas, even though it is available at nearly every gas station except in Denmark.

The financials:

    This year our shortened trip was 2111 miles--25% of that during the last two days, getting from Prague to Amsterdam. We spent $1702 for 208 gallons of gasoline, leaving Rover with a full tank for storage. The gas this year averaged $8.19 / gallon: the mathematical savants among our readers will have already recognized this as 10+ mpg and $ .80 / mile. 

    We were on the road for 32 days. We paid for a campground every night and, since it was high season, did so at higher rates, an average of $41/day. In total, we paid $1332 for campgrounds, showers and electricity: we have included showers and electricity in the campground cost because we always used them. Sometimes showers were included in the campground’s base price, but often we would  pay $ .50-.75 for a five-minute shower. Electricity was almost always an extra charge, and in Berlin it was metered.

    The facilities were generally very, very good and, even though it was high season, we aways found a place at our day’s chosen destination.

    We spent $954 on additional transportation costs. Two expensive Danish bridges and the Czech Republic’s autobahn tolls account for almost half of that. In addition, in several of the big cities we bought “Go” cards that allowed for unlimited travel on their buses, trams, and trains, as well as reduced or free admission to museums (public transportation is so well done in Europe).

    We spent an additional $690 on castles, palaces, museums and tours.

    Wifi was available in many of the campgrounds (and even free in some). Generally, the connection was slow or weak (or both), which made loading our blog a challenge. We paid $58 for connections.

    We also spent $2000 for food; the grocery choices were best in Sweden; the “dinkels” went into the garbage can after one taste.  

    Our biggest expense was airfare. Because we had bought unrefundable tickets and had to change our flight when we decided to return earlier than planned, we lost our investment on our return tickets and had to purchase new ones. These new ones turned out to be “economy-plus,” with all the added costs that implies. At least we did have additional leg room and food . . . and we were among the first to deplane, so we were at the front of the line at US Customs. (We’d bought travel insurance this year, so we’ll see whether we can recoup some of our losses.)

    It was terribly disappointing to have to cut the trip short. We are still awaiting doctors’ opinions about Susan’s back. But we are enjoying AC in our condo. And we have some wonderful new memories of beautiful places and people: our happy, vigorous grandson and our adorable, creative granddaughter; the old lady in Copenhagen who put her head on Susan’s shoulder to hear her sing the lyrics to “The Old Rugged Cross” at an outdoor jazz festival; the young woman in a grocery store who Google-translated “sour cream” to be sure she was giving us the right product; the owner of a pickup truck--one of three we saw on the whole trip--who wanted to see Rover’s Ford V-10 engine because he fondly remembered driving one during his years in the States; the Swede who had lived in Texas and now runs a little fishing camp (but hates winter); the flight attendant who saw the tears on Susan’s face as we took off from Amsterdam and brought her tissues . . .

. . . And the many who asked, “Are you really from the US?” We hope to be able to answer them again next year as we have for the past six: “Yes, we are, and we are enjoying our travels around your country.”