Two Years on the Road – Notable RV Parks

Camping under tall pines at Boston Minuteman Campground, Massachusetts

Our nomad lifestyle traveling throughout the U.S. for over two years has meant staying at a number of different RV parks or campgrounds. We have spent time at approximately 105 of these, mostly for a week or two, some for several nights and even a few for a month or more. For me, the RV parks are mostly just a means to an end, a place to stay so we can explore nearby attractions and experience the U.S. Our reservations have always been kept and we have had good stays at almost all of them for which we have been grateful. Although they have varied of course depending on the state and region, most have not been particularly notable. In this post I thought I would focus on some that did stand out. These might not necessarily have been our favorite parks, but they were unique in some way.

A Park With a Swamp:

We loved our time in Louisiana where we stayed at Bayou Wilderness RV Resort for one month. This park was notable in that it had its own swamp. Now I love swamps and this one although small was attractive but unfortunately alligator 🐊 free. (In my opinion, a good swamp needs a few alligators 😊). Since we were there in late fall, the cypress trees had turned a rusty orange color and were dropping their needles.

We experienced two other notable things while staying at Bayou Wilderness. It was the only place where it snowed while there in December. Although the snow only fell lightly during a morning, it did stick for a day. The park owner told us that he had not seen snow there for many years, so a real novelty. The other thing is that this was our cheapest stay at only $480.00 for the entire month.

Most Interesting Park Geologically:

Blue Rocks Family Campground Office

We stayed at Blue Rocks Campground in Lenhartsville, Eastern Pennsylvania for four nights. Our main reason for staying in that area was to visit Hawk Mountain, a well known place for birders to come see hawks migrating. A very good friend of mine and her husband were the caretakers of this sanctuary in the 1930’s and I had always hoped to visit. This was not one of our favorite stays as we didn’t really like our spot, but the massive landslide of rock like a large river through the forest was an impressive sight. These boulder sized rocks stretched for a mile downhill through the Park.

A river of rock surrounded by forest

The Best Walking Path:

Walking path along the Mississippi River

We were delighted with our stay at Riverview RV park in Vidalia, Louisiana. It wasn’t necessarily because of the park itself, but because we were camping next to the mighty Mississippi River. There is something about this river that is so alluring that I can see why it has been written so much about and immortalized, plus it is the second largest river in the U.S. We loved watching all the barges and tow boats come and go and at night in our trailer, we could hear the hum of their engines passing in the night. There were plenty of places to view the river as a mile and a half long concrete path stretched from the park along the shore, passing under the bridge which crosses from Vidalia to the town of Natchez, Mississippi.

We saw some beautiful sunsets on the Mississippi River

The Tastiest Park:

Our site at Orange Grove RV Park

Place me in the middle of a grove with ripened oranges 🍊 and I am one happy camper! That is what we found at Orange Grove RV Park located outside of Bakersfield, California in a large citrus growing region. This expansive park is a favorite with us for a few reasons. Besides the oranges, it features long pull through spots that are easy to set up in. The camp sites were literally carved out of an orange grove with trees lining each site. In addition, there are orange trees or mini groves along the sides of the park. We also liked visiting the California Fruit Depot, located around the corner. This is a small shop that features samples of almost everything sold including dates, candies, nuts and dried fruit.

After a short shower we were treated to a beautiful rainbow
One of the groves laden with fruit

RVers are welcome to pick as many oranges as they wish, as long as they are picked when ripe. They even have picking tools to help campers get at the highest fruit. The last time I was there I felt almost gluttonous I picked so many, even though there were so many oranges they were falling off the trees. Since we were heading back to our campground in Northern California near where our son, daughter-in-law and grandkids live, they were happy to see us when we gave them a large bucket of oranges to squeeze for juice.

The Best RV Park Name:

We found the most welcoming park in Mobile, Alabama. Every visitor is acknowledged on a sign next to their site, even pets!

Mark and I have a hard time remembering the names of parks we have stayed in. Sometimes they just don’t stick in our minds, especially when we have been to so many places. One name I haven’t forgotten is “All About Relaxing,” a park located in Mobile, Alabama. The owners were former RVers who wanted to create a park with features they appreciated when they were on the road. As the name implies, they made a number of places to just hang out and relax – there was a pool, patio sitting areas, hammocks and a fire pit each night. Everything was clean, cheerful and nicely decorated. Unfortunately, it was freezing temperatures when we stayed in early January 2018 so hanging around outside was difficult and unusual for this time of year.

The Name Rang True:

Bay Breeze is a cute little park located on Mobile Bay near Gulf Shores, Alabama. It was one of the smallest parks we have ever stayed in. We were lucky to get a spot here for two weeks as it is usually filled with repeat visitors who come from the cold north to spend the winter on the warm Gulf of Mexico. In our case, one of the visitors had to leave for an emergency giving us this opportunity. I was thrilled to be staying just feet away from the water. We soon encountered those bay breezes the park mentions in their sign. In January 2018 the South was gripped with freezing temperatures and the wind howled across the Bay with such ferocity that I couldn’t stay outside even bundled up for more than about 10 minutes.

Mark walking on the park’s pier

Repeat visitors talked about how temperatures were usually in the 70’s and 80’s, not in the low 40’s during the day and below freezing at night. Mark put a number of his knitted hats in the office and chuckled the next morning as he saw most being worn and walked around. We were here for two weeks and the weather did improve. We really enjoyed the park, the ambience and the Gulf Shores area where there was much to see and do.

View of the deck and campsites from the pier

The Best Sunset:

Sunset Point RV Park, located on a very quiet bay in Maine came to be one of my all time favorite parks. It was a beautiful location and a short trail went along the shore with places to sit and watch the sunsets 🌅. We stayed for a week but the first several nights the sunset evaded us as clouds and fog drifted in. We did have a few nights of color though and it was as nice as we hoped. We also had a very pleasant campsite and we could order a freshly cooked lobster 🦞 from the owner which was served up to our door at the time we requested.

Most Unusual Neighbor:

Camping next to a small unfenced graveyard

There weren’t many RV parks to be found in the vicinity of Newport, Rhode Island and we were staying during the Labor Day weekend, so I was glad to find an available spot at Meadowlark RV Park in Middletown, a few miles north of Newport. I read online reviews that this was just camping in a field with no amenities, so we were not expecting much. What we weren’t expecting was a graveyard right next to our site. We parked the truck literally within inches of a marker. The graves were not even surrounded with a fence or wall for protection, just a sign noting their historical significance and penalties for vandalism.

I found graves to be quite old in New England and it was no exception here. The gravestone above notes the deceased as Edward Tewes who died in 1776. Could Edward have died while fighting in the Revolutionary War? I did some research but had no success finding information about him. We had a great stay in Middletown and I loved visiting Newport, one of my favorite cities of our travels!

Most Isolated RV Park:

This RV park is out in the middle of nowhere

I decided to book a stay at Rusty’s RV Ranch in Rodeo, New Mexico because it was close to Portal, Arizona, a birding hotspot near the Chiricahua Mountains. I also thought it would be near Chiricahua National Monument, a park I had always wanted to visit but this turned out to not be accurate. But all the great birding did keep us busy. People come here for something else besides the birds – the dark sky. This is reputed to be one of the darkest skies in the country and a favorite location for sky gazers and astronomers. The park is surrounded by wide open spaces with no towns of any population for many miles. Rodeo is so small that it doesn’t have a regular grocery store or a place to get gas. We were told rather nonchalantly that the nearest gas was 14 miles away in the town of Animas, New Mexico which is also a little place although not as sleepy as Rodeo.

While the stargazers didn’t appreciate it, we really enjoyed watching a full moon rise in Rodeo, New Mexico

Thanks for checking in and stay tuned for my next post on more notable RV parks.

Two Year Anniversary and Our Favorite States

Middleton Gardens, Charleston

As I write this we are fast approaching the two year mark (August 25, 2017) of full time RV traveling. During this time period we have managed to live continuously in a simple, 21-foot travel trailer with no slide outs. Our living space has been tiny and cramped, but our wonderful United States has beckoned us with plenty of room to get out and explore. And explore we did, spending time in 36 states. Mark and I don’t count the states we just drive through or spend a night in on the way to something else. We have to spend at least several days and see something of significance in each state. Most states we have spent at least a week in, some we have spent a month or more exploring. From time to time we are asked what our favorite states or places have been. We enjoyed every state we visited and found many interesting things to occupy our time. But some just hold a more special place for us. So, I thought I would list the states that were standouts during these past two years and why we enjoyed them so much. (Not necessarily in order of preference).

1.MAINE

Acadia National Park

As we traveled around Maine I couldn’t help but ponder that this might be the most beautiful state of our trip. The coastal scenery is continuously stunning with interesting rock formations, forests with fields of green meeting the seashore and many small islands in the bays. We found interesting little seaside villages, harbors full of lobster boats and lighthouses. I love the water, so Maine was especially intriguing to me. I enjoyed several boat trips including a kayak class with L.L. Bean’s outdoor program; a lobster boat trip out of Portland learning about trapping lobsters and helping with the process; and a boat trip to Petit Manan Island to see Atlantic Puffins for the first time. We were able to mark off another National Park by visiting gorgeous and popular Acadia. We stayed at one of our favorite campgrounds called Sunset Point along the waterfront which lived up to its name with some colorful evening skies. If requested, the owner even delivered freshly steamed lobsters to the RV’s. Other favorite eating experiences included lobster rolls and everything blueberry – wild berries fresh from the field, blueberry ice cream and pie.

2. LOUISIANA

Campground swamp near Lafayette

Mark and I were happy campers while visiting Louisiana. We loved everything about the state and I often thought it was the most interesting one of our travels. We enjoyed learning about and experiencing the unique music, culture, history and food. We became enamored with Cajun and Zydeco music and made it a point to visit live music venues as often as we could. But if I had to list my favorite part of exploring Louisiana, it would have to be the swamps. There is nothing quite as captivating as a good swamp and a few alligators makes it even better. I could never tire seeing cypress trees with lots of hanging moss in dark mysterious waters. We even had a small swamp at our RV Park (but alas no alligators). Visiting Louisiana was a little like being in a foreign country since the French Cajun culture is still strong. Eating was an adventure in Louisiana as much of the food was different than we were used to. We chuckled at our first lunch plate diner when it seemed we weren’t familiar with many of the menu offerings. Louisiana also had one of our favorite camping experiences, right along the Mississippi River!

Swamp tour on Lake Martin

3. SOUTH CAROLINA

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, Charleston

I loved visiting the South. I can still remember the sadness I felt when we were leaving South Carolina, knowing I was leaving the Deep South with its swamps, huge oaks trees, hanging moss and beautiful gardens. Our visit in South Carolina was a little briefer than the other states on this list (about two and a half weeks), but we saw some memorable things while here. Most of our visit centered around the city of Charleston, which became one of my all time favorite cities. Charleston is a great place to walk and explore with unique and beautiful historic architecture. In the environs of Charleston were historic plantations with amazing gardens like Magnolia and Middleton. We timed it right because the gorgeous azaleas were blooming. We also got to visit the only tea plantation in the U.S., tour the U.S.S. Yorktown aircraft carrier where my dad served while in the Navy and marked another National Park off our list – Congaree, the park of tall trees. We also visited one of the largest oak trees in the U.S. – Angel Oak which is over 400 years old.

4. VIRGINIA

Fife and Drum Corps, Colonial Williamsburg

Virginia has a lot going for it. The state is exceptionally beautiful with some of the best scenery of our travels. The historical attractions are top notch. Some of our favorite historical places of our RV travels are here including Jamestown, Yorktown Battlefield, Jefferson’s Monticello, Madison’s Montpelier and Colonial Williamsburg. We visited another National Park – Shenandoah and explored the Blue Ridge Parkway with its amazing views. We were able to stay at an RV park right on the Parkway. Along the Blue Ridge we also listened to Appalachian music – one of our favorites was Floyd Country Store where music jams with flatfoot dancing is a weekly occurrence.

Great colonial era meals in Charlottesville

5. PENNSYLVANIA

Shannon and I at Constitution Hall in Philadelphia

There was a lot to interest us while visiting Pennsylvania. We began in Philadelphia where we had a memorable week with our daughter Shannon, son-in-law Jonathan and grandsons Luke and Levi who flew out for the visit. For those that love colonial history, which we do, Philadelphia was a place not to be missed. There were also fun museums to explore with the grandkids (like the Franklin Institute for science), a colorful Japanese balloon festival, great food at historic Reading Terminal Market and a lot of walking. After Philadelphia, we spent a few weeks in the Lancaster area which was a great introduction to the delights of Amish country. Then it was on to Gettysburg where we got to meet up with our son Matt and daughter-in-law Emma for several days of camping together and exploring Gettysburg Battlefield and town. This battlefield was a great finale after visiting a number of Civil War sites throughout the South. While in Pennsylvania we also visited one of my all time favorite botanical gardens – Longwood, toured two snack factories and explored George Washington’s winter headquarters at Valley Forge.

Matt and Emma cruising the Gettysburg Battlefield with their Vespas 🛵

6. Arizona

Sunset in Saguaro National Park

We love the desert and it doesn’t get much better than the Sonoran Desert in Southern Arizona. I could happily explore desert plants and wildlife for hours which we did at Saguaro National Park, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Sabino Canyon and Catalina State Park. Ever since I first saw saguaro cactus 🌵 when Mark and I traveled from California to Tucson in the mid 1970’s, they have been one of my favorite plants. I never tire of seeing them with all their different sizes and shapes. Since we were visiting Arizona in the springtime, it was an added bonus that so much of the desert was blooming, especially after a heavier than usual rainfall season. Arizona also had some of our best birding experiences and I added some new birds to my life list. I also got to visit some new birding areas like the town of Portal and the Chiricahua Mountains in the Southeastern part of the State. Our favorite RV park was Tucson’s Rincon Country West which was mega RV living at its best with so many activities offered it was impossible to be bored. We expanded our interests and had fun during our five weeks here.

Mark rescued his fly away hat from the creek at Catalina State Park, Tucson

7. OHIO

President McKinley National Memorial in Canton

I think Mark and I were surprised how much we enjoyed our time in Ohio. It wasn’t that we had low expectations before visiting the state, it was just that everything we did seemed to exceed our expectations. Ohio also gets my vote for being the friendliest state of our travels. The people were laid back, eager to start up conversations with us and genuinely interested in our travels. Ohio had a really good mixture of interesting nature experiences, scenery and history. It was here I probably had the best birding experience of my life at Magee Marsh on Lake Erie. Seeing about twelve new warbler species close up and other life birds like Scarlet Tanagers and Trumpeter Swans was a fantastic experience. Ohio calls itself the state of presidents as eight were either born here or got their start. We visited the homes of three of those presidents – Garfield, McKinley and Taft. We really enjoyed our time in Ohio’s Amish country, the most beautiful of the Amish areas we visited. We explored Cuyahoga National Park for the first time where I was able to bike along the Cuyahoga River. Several favorite museums were visited in this State including Cleveland Museum of Art, the Warther ship and train carving museums and the Air Force Museum in Dayton. We saw Huffman Field where the Wright Brothers tested their first airplanes. I also really enjoyed the beautiful and unusual scenery at Hocking Hills State Park with its caves, gorges and waterfalls.

One of several presidential planes toured at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, Dayton

8. MICHIGAN

Michigan Statehouse, Lansing – one of 14 state capitols visited

Michigan is one of the most beautiful states of our full time travels primarily because so much of it is located on the Great Lakes. (Coming soon, I still have blogs to write about the time we spent here in the month of July). It was in Michigan that we visited the best museum complex of our travels – the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village located in Dearborn. At Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore we had a great nearby camping spot and explored one of the best outdoor areas of the state with one of the most scenic drives of our travels – Pierce Stocking. I enjoyed short hikes to overlooks of Lake Michigan, wandered over sand dunes and took a couple biking trips. It was here we had the best pie and grilled cheese of our travels at Cherry 🍒 Republic, a place for everything cherry. In the Upper Peninsula we stayed near the town of Munising and explored the majestic Pictured Rocks National Seashore on Lake Superior. It was a place of waterfalls, lighthouses and two different boat trips to see shipwreck remains and the Pictured Rocks from the water. It was also fun to learn about the unique culture (Yooper) of this area. Before leaving the State, we also visited the Keweenaw Peninsula where copper mining was once king.

Grand Island, Lake Superior

HONORABLE MENTION:

FLORIDA

Hiking in Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Reserve near St. Augustine

I won’t forget the first time I walked on the pier at St. Andrews State Park near Panama City and saw the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. I was awestruck by the color and the white sand beaches. We saw a number of beautiful beaches on the Florida panhandle, some at Florida State Parks like Grayton Beach which were great places to visit during our stay. This is the state of my birth and I was able to visit for the first time since leaving at six months of age, the town of Pensacola with its naval base and famous air museum. Florida has one of my favorite cities of our travels – St. Augustine located on the Atlantic Ocean. I haven’t written a blog article about this city yet, but still hope to at some point. Claiming to be the oldest U.S. city, I loved all the history, buildings, attractions and beauty of this place. It had one of my favorite RV parks located within walking distance of the beach and the intracoastal canal. Florida was another great state for wildlife sightings with lots of birds at our campsite, state parks and wildlife refuges. Plus, at Wakulla Springs State Park we saw manatees for the first time.

I hope you enjoyed this look back at some of our experiences exploring in the past two years. It was a hard post to write because we have enjoyed so many wonderful places.

Stay tuned for posts on our stay in Michigan!

We interrupt this program…

#bethsdriver here. Just want to take a second to let you all know there has been an emergency that will affect the blog. We were in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula when there was a family medical emergency in California. We traveled 5 long days and are now in CA with the family. The emergency has been resolved but there will be some recovery and follow up issues. #explorerbeth has lots more to write about and will probably be back at it soon. As she has put out things like clock work I wanted to explain the hitch. Thanks so much for all of you who have been following and stay tuned as there will be more to come.

EB 1

#Bethsdriver here. I get a kick out of telling people “You know I really don’t like to travel.” I never have. But I always then follow up with “But I really like going places with Beth.” #Explorerbeth (too long to type so EB from now on) has always had her explorer heart. Travel and exploring has been a continuous passion since I have known her (married 43 years today!). So when it came time to think about retirement going on the road seemed a logical next step.

We have been on the road now about 21 months (643 days but EB likes months better). In that time we have seen and done a lot. We have taken over 36,000 pictures. I have gone through and looked at some of my favorite subject, EB. Me taking pictures of her taking pictures is a favorite pastime. So, I am going to post a few and hopefully they will be entertaining.

Her passion for this life we are living now is a delight. We both feel very fortunate to able to do what we are doing. Beth loves exploring and I love Exploring With Beth.

I’ll just put a few in no particular order. Can’t do too many because I constantly hound her to keep the articles short. But there may be more (You see the title is EB 1, to be followed by 2,3 and who knows?).

Banding humming birds in Arizona
On the Blue Riidge in Virginia
Well, Texas of course!
The desert
Sunsets,. one of her favorites
Waterfalls, another favorite
Saguaros, a favorite among favorites
Any danger for a good shot
My favorite. Frantically deleting pictures on her full phone to make room for the next.

I hope these have been fun. There are a lot more, I stopped at 100 in my album. Maybe I’ll post a few more from time to time.

We appreciate all you who take the time to check out the blog. EB puts a lot of effort, and really enjoys putting it out.

I have to hurry and get this out because she says she has one about ready to go and I can’t get in her way. Bye.

Video Test 2

The dancing clip seems maybe too long. I found another and trimmed it down to about 10 seconds. I’ll give it a try. It is Beth taking an archery lesson, yes, you heard right, in Maine. Let’s see if it hits the target?

Again let me know if/how it works. Thanks. By the way it is slow motion. Wanted to capture her in all her glory.

Video Testing – It’s alive!

One of the things (I hope) we can do now is put video on the blog, so I want to give it a test. It is kind of a complex process so it might take a few tries and adjustments. This one is kind of wacky. It is a sample of flat foot dancing at a jam session in Appalachia. We haven’t done many videos so not much of a selection. This one is about the length I want to try, about 30 seconds. If it does seem to work I will leave it up. I’d appreciate it if you could give a quick feedback as to how it works for you. Plays ok? Has sound? Whatever? No comments needed on the dancing, I have my own thoughts on that.

Wish me luck.

Testing and a note

Hello there and Happy New Year. Mark here with a little test and note about some changes. We use a program called Word Press to put out the blog. It is probably the most used platform for blogs, They have jut made some big changes to the program. It will not change what you see much, but the whole back end we use to make the blog is now different. So, we will have to do some learning and growing. A glitch or two might sneak in and we may have to do some testing from time to time.

Thanks again for all who are following us as we explore!

Checking out a lighthouse

I’ll throw in a pic of Beth to test adding pics.

Thanks again for looking!

Looking Back on 2018

As we reach the end of the year, I thought I would write a post highlighting our travels in 2018.   It was a big year of travel as we journeyed through the South, covered all the states along the Eastern seaboard and into the Appalachian states.   We finished up the year back in California where we started in August of 2017.   Our travels will continue in 2019 when we leave California in February and head for Arizona.   At this time our plan is to focus on several southwestern states before heading up to the Midwest, our focus from late spring through fall.   For now, follow along with us for a monthly summary of where we landed this past year.

January found us in Alabama staying in the city of Mobile for a while before heading south to our two-week campsite on Mobile Bay near Gulf Shores.   In Alabama we enjoyed Gulf Coast beaches, a nature preserve and great shrimp.   Highlights were a visit to the U.S.S. Alabama ship and Mardi Gras museum.   The third week of January we headed to our next camping spot for two weeks in the Florida Panhandle and our first look at the turquoise waters near Panama City, a sight I will not soon forget.   Above is a sunset photo from Gulf Shores, Alabama.

In February we enjoyed exploring Florida State parks along the Gulf, visited the Pensacola Air Museum and on the 10th of the month arrived to St. Augustine on the Atlantic for two weeks.   This was one of my favorite camp spots and cities we visited this year.   As the oldest city in America, there were more attractions and things to do here than any other place we visited so I was kept quite happily busy.  Above is a photo of Flagler College, a favorite architectural gem in St. Augustine.

March found us in the beautiful cities of Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina.   People like to debate which of these two southern cities are their favorite.   Mark preferred Savannah but I fell in love with Charleston, although I found Savannah very nice too.   Exploring those cities on foot was a highlight and seeing all the azaleas in bloom made me very happy, especially at the plantation gardens near Charleston.   Above is a photo of azaleas at Savannah’s Forsyth Park, our favorite park to hang out in that city.   It was difficult to leave the South with the huge live oaks and hanging moss that I so enjoyed seeing every day.   Below a photo from the Wormsloe Estate in Savannah which features a 1.5 mile entrance of huge live oaks.

April found us spending four weeks in Virginia, two in Williamsburg and two in Charlottesville.   We saw lots of colonial history in Williamsburg, Jamestown and the Yorktown Battlefield.   In the Charlottesville area we visited the homes of three former presidents.   Spring in Virginia was gorgeous with green fields, hills and lots of blooming trees.   Below a photo of the fife and drum corp marching in Colonial Williamsburg.

In May we camped a week in Maryland, four nights in a state park in Delaware and then to New Jersey for our base camp while visiting Philadelphia.   Our family (Shannon, Jonathan, Luke and Levi) came out to join us for a wonderful week in this incredible city.   We walked the city seeing lots of historical sights and eating great food.   Mark and I then headed to the Amish country near Lancaster, Pennsylvania for a few weeks, an area I found fascinating to visit.   Below a picture of Independence Hall in Philadelphia.   Little Levi is dwarfed by the building.

June found us in Gettysburg where we toured the historic battlefield, the amazing National Park museum and the neat town of Gettysburg.   Mark and I had seen a number of Civil War sites in other states before arriving here and this turned out to be a perfect grand finale.   We got to camp here with our son and daughter-in-law, Matt and Emma.  In mid June we traveled to the lovely Finger Lakes area of New York, camping again with Matt and Emma.   We finished up the month in New York’s Hudson Valley where a highlight was visiting Franklin D. Roosevelt’s house and museum.   Below is a photo of Matt, Emma and me hanging out at Lincoln’s statue in the town of Gettysburg.

We spent the whole month of July in Maine, one of our favorite states.   Could this be the most beautiful state we visited this year?   After arriving it looked so good that I added on another week stay for us, making the total five weeks.   While staying at three different campgrounds we explored much of the coastal areas including Acadia National Park.   The lobster rolls were pretty good here too.

August found us in New Hampshire for a week staying in the beautiful White Mountains.   We explored waterfalls, rivers, a scenic byway and I took a tour up Mt. Washington, the highest mountain in the Northeastern U.S.   We next journeyed to the very green state of Vermont for a week before moving on to Massachusetts.    In the Berkshires we visited the museum of one of my favorite artists Norman Rockwell as well as a very cool Shaker farm.   Moving to another campsite in Massachusetts we explored the sites where the Revolutionary War started and hit the Massachusetts coast too in Gloucester.   Below, a photo of me near Glen Ellis Falls in New Hampshire.

In September we landed in delightful Newport, Rhode Island, another favorite city and some of the best weather on our trip – a whole week of sun and no rain!   Here we found history, beaches, coastal scenery, sailing, fancy homes to tour and a nature preserve to walk.   September also found us in Connecticut with much to explore including a trip highlight, the wonderful Mystic Seaport Museum.   We next headed to the rugged mountains of Eastern West Virginia where we had some of the funnest days of our trip enjoying several different historic train trips.   Below, a tall sailing ship in Newport, Rhode Island.

In October we enjoyed the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina, driving the Blue Ridge Parkway.   We had a great time listening to old-time mountain music and explored Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited park in America.   We also traveled and stayed for a week in southern Kentucky where we saw our first moon bow and then finished the month in Tennessee with visits to the Appalachian Museum and other scenic sights.   Below, late afternoon along the Blue Ridge in North Carolina.

In November we started driving west with a stop on the Mississippi River and the city of Memphis as well as a stay in Oklahoma City.   We made our way through the Texas Panhandle, New Mexico and Arizona followed closely by snow storms and freezing weather before finally arriving back in California.   We had a smoky drive north through the state, the result of the Camp fire in Northern California as well as other fires to the south.   We enjoyed a stay in Chico visiting with my parents and a very nice Thanksgiving with family.  After Thanksgiving on to French Camp RV park where we have been ever since.   Below, Mark enjoys a sunset at our Mississippi River campground.

I hope you enjoyed a look back on our year of traveling.   Wishing everyone a very happy New Year!

Where We Have Been and Where We Are Headed

Since it is now a new year, I thought I would write a post about our travel plans for the next four months.  But first, a recap of where we have been.  As I write this we are located on the Alabama Coast near Gulf Shores and have now been on the road for four and a half months.  On August 25, 2017 we moved out of our home and into our trailer.  In the past four plus months, we have traveled through 11 states and stayed at 25 different RV parks.  For some reason it seems like we have been gone longer because we have seen so much and stayed so many different places.

Living in such a small space has been a challenge.  Finding room for everything and keeping our belongings organized in a 21 foot trailer takes some work.  I used to think my house in Modesto was small, but it doesn’t seem quite so small any longer!  Sometimes I would like to have more room to spread out and perhaps a comfortable chair or couch to recline on.  It would be great to have more counter space when cooking, a bigger refrigerator and more cabinet space to keep our food stuff.

Perhaps our biggest challenge has been dealing with the weather.  Traveling through the South and especially along the Gulf of Mexico has been much colder than we expected.  We had snow in Louisiana and the owner of the RV park said he hadn’t seen weather like this in 20+ years.

We have had chilly temperatures in Mississippi and Alabama.  During our stay in Mobile, temperatures were below freezing for five nights in a row.  I was glad I brought along my heaviest coat.  Mark is a whiz at knitting hats and he knit this baby alpaca for me during our trip.  (When we left California, he had to trade his wood shop for a set of knitting needles).   I have been taking advantage of his hats and scarves!  This little guy below was a welcome fixture in the trailer.  When it is freezing outside it can be cold inside, especially since we sit near the door.  We have heat and air for our trailer, but having a space heater warming my legs is really comfortable.  We recently replaced “old faithful” for a newer, quieter model.  The funny thing is that it took us several weeks to locate a replacement.  They were sold out of them in five major stores in Mobile after the cold weather hit!  Mark even tried to order one on Amazon and there were none in stock.  When we reached Gulf Shores, Lowes had a model that was just right.

The sacrifice of space and comfort though is definitely worth it to be able to explore our wonderful country.  In each state, city and town we have visited we learned things we didn’t know about the people, their culture and history.  We have seen beautiful scenery in every state we visited.  Being able to hit the road and go from place to place whenever and wherever we want is truly a delight.  It does take time and research to figure out where to go, attractions to visit and the best places to stay, but it is a small amount of work for all the adventures we find in each new place.  Although Mark and I are sometimes a little sad to move on, we usually feel we have seen and done most of what we wanted to and are looking forward to what the next location has to offer.

Our travels have opened our eyes to so many unique places and people.  It is neat to see the pride that people have in their states, cities and towns and how happy they are to show it to visitors.  No matter where we go, I believe we will find much to interest us, even in the out of the way, lesser known and visited places.   The difficulty is not being able to see everything as we can only scratch the surface of what is out there.   This is especially true since we are trying to visit as many states as possible.

From January through April, we will continue our travels through the southeastern part of the U.S.  Here is where we are hoping to travel during the coming months.  It will be interesting to see if we keep with this plan.  There is so much to see, it is easy to get distracted!

January:  We will be staying in Alabama’s Gulf Shores area for another week and then heading January 23 to the Florida Panhandle.

February:  We plan to spend a month in Florida with the first few weeks in the Pensacola, Destin or Panama City areas.  I hear that finding an RV site in Florida in the winter can be tricky as others who are wintering here have reserved their spots months in advance and parks could already be full.   It will be interesting to see where we end up.  As I have probably said before, I don’t like making reservations way in advance because I feel it ties us to a schedule we might not want to keep.  After our stay in the Panhandle, we will head to St. Augustine, Florida on the Atlantic Coast for a few weeks.  Excited to visit the oldest city in the United States!   Around February 20, we hope to move on to Jekyll Island, Georgia for a week stay.  I visited here for a few days some years ago and vowed to return for a longer visit.

March:  We hope to be in Savannah, Georgia a few days before the beginning of March and spend two weeks there.  This is a city I have been wanting to visit for some time!  After leaving around March 13, we will move on to Charleston, South Carolina to spend around 10 days before continuing to North Carolina.  At this point in planning, I am looking at staying in Winston-Salem for a few weeks as it is mid point between the Blue Ridge Parkway and other cities of interest in this state including Raleigh, the Capitol.

April:  This month will find us moving into Virginia and staying in the Richmond or Williamsburg areas.  There are a lot of historic sights including Colonial Williamsburg, the capitol building in Richmond, Montpelier, Jamestown, Yorktown and Monticello.  Around April 20 we will travel into Maryland and hope to stay in the vicinity of Annapolis the Capitol for two weeks.

Although our first four months went pretty close to what we planned, the next four could wind up going in a completely different direction.

We hope you will continue to follow along with us and appreciate your support through our journey.  Just a reminder, that you can subscribe to the blog and then will be notified when new blogs are published.