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Traveling with no regret

3 Styles of Camping: What Style Do You Prefer? — August 10, 2020

3 Styles of Camping: What Style Do You Prefer?

“Making memories one campsite at a time.  –Unknown

As we prepared to buy our RV, we dreamed of all the fantastic places we would go with our new equipment in search of adventure, rest, and space.    As we have started to plan, make reservations, and started exploring, we have discovered the importance of understanding what style of camping we prefer. So, what style of camping do you prefer?

When you started thinking about buying your RV, I bet you thought to yourself, “This is a cheap way for us to vacation as a family.”  We thought that too and it can be true and false! For today’s blog, I’m not addressing the cost of the actual RV and what seems like the endless gear that you will need (or want) to camp safely and comfortably.  Instead, we’re talking about where you’re going  when you pack up, hook up, and head out.  What type of camping are you comfortable with and how much are you willing to pay?   

Uplash/Airstream Inc.

Whether you are a full timer or a weekender, if you are on a budget, and let’s be honest, a lot of us are, you should know that the cost of camping can vary wildly and some factors, like the time of the year, location, or the type of camping you prefer can mean a campsite can be pretty pricey or maybe event free! Some of your considerations should be: how big is your rig?  Do you need water, electricity, sewer, and other amenities?  Where are you going and what do you want to do when you get there?  Do you like all the creature comforts of home or are you a minimalist seeking wide open spaces and a more basic, budget friendly (free) camping experience? And of course, for those of us who boarder posh and minimal, there are option for us as well.    

Types of camping

Boondocking/Dry Camping/Dispersed Camping:  The early settlers of the United States could be considered boondockers-in the extreme! They pulled over and camped where ever they could. Today, the boondocking style of camping means that you are going off grid and camping for free. Also known as dry camping or dispersed camping, boondocking means that you are self contained and not connected to resources like water, electricity, or sewer.  The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) allows campers to camp for free.  In most of these areas, you can stay for up to two weeks at a time.   The upside is that BLM land is in some of the most beautiful parts of the United States so you could end up camping in a campsite like no other and you could possibly be out there all by yourself or with a very few like minded folks that you can see across the landscape!  BLM land is also “off road” so there will not be paved roads and campsites.  This can sometimes mean muddy or rough terrain.  For this option, you have to consider if you can get in and out of an off road situation safely and you have to carry in all supplies that you will need such as water, gasoline for your generator or an enhanced battery or solar option for power, if preferred, and all other necessary survival supplies.  A grocery store or gas station is definitely not around the corner from these spots and it is also likely that you will have poor to no cell service and thus no internet service. 

Uplash/Rob Hayman

State Parks, National Parks & Harvest Host: State and National Parks are great options in which to camp.  For the State Parks we’ve visited, most sites are large and we often have a nice space between us and our fellow campers.  Virginia State Parks offer water and electricity with an off site dump station and very clean, well maintained bath houses.  State Parks and National Parks also offer great trail systems and are often part of an outdoor recreational system around bodies of water, mountains, natural sights of all types, or even beaches so the “entertainment” factor is typically about where you are rather than a resort feel.  For this option however, if you have a big rig, be aware that some of the older State and National Parks may not have sites large enough to accommodate you.  At 26 feet, we are not big but we have already found some State Parks that we won’t fit in!  Also, depending on where which park you are interested in, the more popular one fill quickly.  Some take reservations while other are first come, first served.  Some National Park Campgrounds offer water, electric, and sewer, while others do not.  Be sure to do your research so you are prepared. 

Harvest Hosts: If you like the idea of Boondocking but there is no BLM land near you, as is our case, Harvest Hosts is a membership that gives you access to a network of 1000 wineries, breweries, distilleries, farms, museums, and other unique locations including golf courses that host RV’s on their properties.  This option gives you an overnight camping spot in a non-traditional setting for free with the expectation that you will support the business on the property.  Who doesn’t like a good wine tasting, scooping up some fresh produce, milk, eggs, or meat for dinner, or playing a round of golf?  The Hosts do not typically provide services that you would find at a campground so this is a boondocking option but a small number of Hosts do offer electricity or water.  This could be found on the Host’s information page which you would have access to with your membership.  You can use a generator but it is recommended to check with your Host first out of courtesy to them and any other HH members who may also be at the location. 

Uplash/Andrew Hunt

RV resorts, Private Campgrounds, Thousand Trails: You can choose to stay in a private RV Resort if you prefer to have more of the creature comforts.  Just know going in, you’re likely to pay a pretty penny for all the extras that are often offered such as elaborate pool facilities, shuttles to nearby attractions, equipment rentals, game rooms, events and entertainment, cable TV, and laundry facilities, to name a few.  Private resorts can and do set their own rates that often vary by season and those rates can be eyebrow raising for some.  In our experience, some private campgrounds mean tight quarters with your neighbors.  This is usually not an option we enjoy but it is a great option for fun family activities that are scheduled on the hour and a way to entertain your kids.  

Thousand TrailsThousand Trails is a membership campground company operating private trailer park and RV resorts.  The membership is a one time fee with annual dues.  When considering a Thousand Trails membership, considering how much you will use your membership would be recommended and where you want to go as well as where there are Thousand Trails locations.   

So, what style of camping do we prefer?  We like to get away from the everyday and we learned quickly, as weekenders, that we like to get into the woods and we prefer our space.  We have stayed in a campground in which we had neighbors within steps which we did not enjoy. We have quickly fallen in love with Virginia’s State Parks, finding them well maintained and in great locations.  We will be squeezing in with the crowds once in a while, knowing that to get where we want to go, that may be required.  We also have a Harvest Host membership that we plan to use for the first time very soon.  I’m sure that I’ll share that adventure with you too! 

Do you have a style of camping that you prefer?  I’d love to hear what style of camping you enjoy and why.  Regardless of the option you prefer, the important thing is that you choose what you’re comfortable with and that you have fun!

S’mores: 5 Versions of Your Favorite Childhood Treat You Need To Try This Summer — July 13, 2020

S’mores: 5 Versions of Your Favorite Childhood Treat You Need To Try This Summer

“Life is better when you add fresh air, a warm campfire, bright stars and s’mores.”  —Unknown

Whether you’ve had them as a Girl or Boy Scout, over a grill in your back yard or over a fire on a camping trip, a S’more is a marvelously simple and delectable treat!  I loved them as a child and still adore them as an adult. I hate the idea of a hot coals in a grill or fire going to waste when there are S’mores of all kinds to be made and enjoyed and the simple ingredients are perennials in my pantry. 

Never waste hot coals!

S’more are fun for kids of all ages and while the original version sparked our love, let me help you to think outside the box and make your next cookout dessert one that everyone will talk about!  To that end, I am dedicating an entire blog to the beloved humble S’more and several of the variations I have come to love.

The Original

S’mores as God intended!

You know it!  It’s the version of S’mores that you fell in love with as a kid.  Roast a soft, fluffy marshmallow on a stick over an open, smoky fire, or right over some red-hot charcoal left over from the grilled dinner and you have the star of the show. Sandwich your toasty treat between two pieces of graham crackers together with a piece of a chocolate bar and Viola!  There you have it.  Simple, sweet, gooey, messy, and if you’re not licking your fingers when you’re done, you didn’t do it right!  Do it again!

Fudge Striped Cookie S’mores

Easy Peasy!

Roast your marshmallow and sandwich it between two fudge striped cookies.  This one can’t get any easier to make. 

Ritz Cracker S’mores

S’mores with Ritz Crackers! My favorite!

To me, there is nothing better than a salty-sweet combination.  Roast your marshmallow and sandwich it between two Ritz Crackers.  With this option, I’ve used a chocolate bar and a peanut butter cup as my sources of sweet.  The peanut butter cup is delicious!  In fact, there is a thin version of peanut butter cups now that are great for this version.  This is my go-to favorite and I make sure to have the supplies for this version on every camping trip we take!

S’mores Cones

Mission: to make S’mores cone

This is a fun version for the whole family or a group of friends.  Set up a “buffet” of ice cream cones and any filling you can imagine to fill the cones.  To build your cones, you’ll need, well, cones.  We opted for sugar cones to experiment.  Next time, and what I would suggest, is a larger waffle cone so you have more room for your goodies! 

Start with mini marshmallows in the bottom of your cone (not too many to start).  Layer in other fillings such as strawberries, raspberries, or bananas.  Make sure to mix in your chocolate too along with more marshmallows.  For the chocolate, consider chocolate chips, Rolos, or my favorite, peanut butter cups.  

Peanut butter cup, banana, and marshmallows! Oh my!

My favorite combo was a peanut butter cup, banana, and marshmallows.  YUM!

Wrap your cones loosely in aluminum foil and place over your hot coals.  It only takes a few minutes to melt your chocolate and marshmallows and warm your cone, which is what you’re after.  If your heat source is really hot, be careful not to leave it on too long or you will burn the cone.  

NOTE: With kids participating, adults should handle the hot wrapped cones and the goodies inside will be very hot so care should be taken when taking the first bite.    

S’mores dip

S’mores Dip. Great to share with friends! Photo by @orange.tree.square.

This was a July 4th treat for our friends and this option is definitely fun for a group. My friends were happy to participate in this test for the blog! (Thanks guys!)

Preheat your oven or toaster oven to 450 degrees.  Over a low flame, heat a small cast Iron skillet, melting 1/2 tablespoon of butter in the bottom and sides of the skillet.  When the butter is melted, turn off the heat.  I used enough chocolate bars to cover the bottom of the skillet but you can use chocolate chips if you prefer.  Top with mini marshmallows.  In the preheated oven, toast the dip for 5-6 minutes or until the marshmallows are toasted.  Serve right away, placing the skilled on a trivet. Dip pretzels, crackers, or graham crackers into the dip and enjoy!

Note: Be sure kids know that the skillet will be very hot. It might be a good idea to spoon the S’mores goodness onto a plate if there is a concern.

There are endless combinations to the beloved S’more.  I plan to continue to experiment and hope to find more versions I can share with you in another blog soon!  I mean, this is the best research for a blog EVER!

If you have a favorite version you think I should try, oh yeah, and blog about, be sure to reach out! 

Sweethaven Lavender Farm, Williamsburg, Virginia; Where the Earth laughs in flowers — June 19, 2020

Sweethaven Lavender Farm, Williamsburg, Virginia; Where the Earth laughs in flowers

“The Earth laughs in flowers.”  –Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tucked deeply in Williamsburg, Virginia’s farm land lies a place where the Earth is laughing; Sweethaven Lavender Farm. 

Amid Virginia’s phased re-opening from the 2020 Pandemic, my Husband and I ventured to Williamsburg during a camping trip for supplies, lunch, and to enjoy all things colonial that Williamsburg has to offer–even if it was within social distancing terms.  From friends, I knew that Sweethaven was in Williamsburg so on this day, we set the GPS to work and followed it into the country to see if we could get a glimpse.   I was delighted by the farm’s charm, the scent of the lavender wafting through the humid June breeze, and the delightful sounds of the industrious Bumble bees as they went about their work. 

The centerpiece of Sweethaven Lavender Farm

The prominent public building on the property is the Mercantile, a white barnlike structure that conjures visions of an Amish barn.  Inside, are lavender products of every sort and experts to answer questions.  Outside though, as is the case with nearly every farm, is where the magic was happening.

Just outside the Mercantile there is a gated garden with flower boxes filled to bursting with flower lover delights.  Two of my favorite flowers giggled there, tickled by the passing breeze!  A rainbow of button Zinnia where just starting to burst open, tempting Bumble Bees with their showy colors followed close behind by my zoom lens.  Swaying in the breeze at the far end of the garden were several beds of sunflowers with their bright faces searching for the sun, ready for their closeups.

“The hum of bees is the voice of the garden” –Elizabeth Lawrence

As we stepped out of the gated garden area and into the fields of lavender there was a faint fog of deep purple at knee level stretching along the ground in neat rows.   The luxurious purple lavender was in full bloom all around us.  Other visitors to the farm were bent in half angling for an up close sniff, snapping photos, and collecting bouquets of lavender to take home.  Children giggled in the distance, playing together while the grown ups enjoyed a picnic lunch.  And, the resident bumble bees were busiest here, totally ignorant of our intruding cameras.  They were focused on their task for the day, leaping from one bloom to another, humming and buzzing to each other as they worked.  At one point, I put my camera into the fray and captured their song, delighted that they nearly mistook me as a flower as they bustled by.

The lovely purple rows of lavender

Enjoy all that the farm has to offer

Only 130 acres and opened to the public in June 2019, Sweethaven is a beautiful, amethyst gem tucked deeply into the emerald Williamsburg farmland.  It is a treat for the senses.  The farm offers all things lavender including a chance to pick your own bouquet as the lavender blooms in May and June, their own line of organic skincare, and culinary products including pre-made picnic lunches by reservation. 

Sweethaven Lavender Festival Days

The Festival Days are how I first learned about Sweethaven initially, seeing ads and knowing several friends that visited the event.  The event includes live music, food, local artisans, and the opportunity to learn about the farm and it’s lavender. The event grows from year to year so be sure to watch their website, www.sweethavenlavender.com, for dates, tickets, and other details on their event for 2021.    

Ready for their closeup!

How to find and visit Sweethaven

I can’t wait for our next visit to the farm!  If you’d like to see more, be sure to visit Sweethaven’s website and follow them on Facebook and Instagram. If you are in Williamsburg in your travels, Sweethaven is certainly a great place to visit that is outside of the big tourist sites of Colonial Williamsburg and truly a unique experience.  

Find them at: Sweethaven Lavender Farm, 2301 Jolly Pond Road, Williamsburg, Virginia 23188; www.sweethavenlavender.com

We would love to have you visit Virginia and I know you won’t want to miss a visit to Sweethaven! (I can’t help but call is Sweet-Heaven)

 

Virginia State Parks Campground Series: Chippokes Plantation State Park — June 13, 2020

Virginia State Parks Campground Series: Chippokes Plantation State Park

“I had rather be on my farm than be emperor of the world.” –George Washington

As a native Virginian and in my humble opinion, Virginia has great State Parks which highlight all of the features that make Virginia a great place to live, work, and play.  Virginia has so much to offer.  At sea level, we have long stretches of open beaches along the Atlantic Ocean and along the Chesapeake Bay.  A few hours away, we have the Blue Ridge Mountains that offer epic views, apples, hiking, mountain climbing, and ample opportunities for checking out local wineries and breweries of all sizes.   

As one of the original 13 Colonies, our state is full of history.  From Jamestown and the first settlements, Yorktown and the end of the Revolutionary War, to Colonial Williamsburg and all of it’s charms.  Our history even extends to the names of our towns that stem from the history brought to the United States from England such as Portsmouth, Suffolk, Isle of Wight, and Norfolk, to name a few. 

With our new RV up and running, we have taken it out twice and have fallen in love anew with our State’s parks.  Our intention is to explore as many of them in our RV as possible.   I hope to bring you along and share our adventures in the parks we visit.   

Chippokes Plantation State Park

Just under an hour from home, Chippokes Plantation State Park is one of the closest parks and best known to us of all the parks.  When we bought our RV in March, we took it straight to Chippokes for our very first camping trip and despite the Pandemic interrupting our fun, we have restarted our camping adventures at Chippokes again this month.  With Chippokes being so close to home, it has been a great spot for us to test our camping ability in our new equipment before venturing too far.  My husband has called these our “Shake down” trips.  

What is now Chippokes Plantation State Park was founded in 1619 by Captain William Powell, Lieutenant Governor of Jamestown, who lived in Jamestown settlement for 10 years.  The property changed hands many times and was willed to the State of Virginia upon the death of it’s last owners in 1967. 

The Colonial touches of Chippokes Plantation State Park

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Chippokes is noted for it’s continued agricultural production.  In fact, it is one of the oldest continuously farmed properties in the Nation and is home to Chippokes Plantation Farm and Forestry Museum.

Oceans of corn growing in the warm June sunshine take up much of the acreage of the park and continue to speak to the land’s purpose at it’s founding

Situated on the tidal creeks and the banks of the historic James River, Chippokes Plantation State Park has a lot to offer Virginians and our guests from out of state. 

Located in Surry, Virginia, and at currently 1,403 acres, the Park offers camping, cabin rentals, a swimming pool, a visitor’s center, trails, a beach, gardens, and a museum.  Also offered are costumed interpretations, guided hikes, workshops and ranger-led tours of the historic Jones-Stewart Mansion.   An active community park, there are annual festivals, canoe tours, hiking trails, fishing programs, and equestrian facilities.

Beautiful June Magnolias at Chippokes

The Park is easily reached from the Historic Triangle by the Jamestown-Scotland ferry or the James River Bridge.  We like it because of it’s close proximity to the Williamsburg area and the abundance of activities in that area. 

If you plan to visit the park for the day only, you should be aware that there is a parking fee charged year round at all Virginia State Parks and self-pay parking information is available at the contact stations. 

The Campground

The Chippokes Plantation State Park campground offers two rings of sites.  S1 through S18 have blacktop pads, offering water and electric.  These are “site specific” sites and require a reservation.  Sites S19, S21, S23, S25, and S27 are also site specific but do not have blacktop pads.  All other sites are first come, first served, and can be very uneven.  The park also offers three yurts by reservation. 

Comfortable for a week of camping at Chippokes Plantation State Park

The park is quiet, clean, well maintained, and a friendly Camp host has checked on us as we have checked in each time.  Park representatives are available and make regular rounds.  While we don’t need to use the bath house, we did check them and they are clean and well maintained.  Laundry facilities are also available. 

Be sure to check the website at www.chippokes@dcr.virginia.gov for additional information regarding fishing, swimming, fires, drone use, camping or cabin reservations, and a list of festivals and events in the park. 

You can also visit the Virginia State Park’s website at www.virginiastateparks.gov

Local nearby attractions linked by the Colonial Parkway and the Colonial National Historic Park

From Chippokes, a short Ferry ride drops you just short of the Historic Jamestown. 

Boarding the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry

The Colonial National Historic Park encompasses the  Jamestown Festival Park and the Yorktown Battlefield, two of the points of the Historic Triangle in our area and connected by the Colonial Parkway.   

Jamestown is the first permanent English settlement in North America, founded in May 1607.  

Yorktown is most famous as the site of the surrender of British General Charles Cornwallis to General George Washington and the French fleet that ended the American Revolutionary War in October 1781. 

Read more about the Colonial National Historic Park at www.nps.gov/colo/index.htm and the Colonial Parkway at www.nps.gov/colo/parkway.htm.

The third point of the Historic Triangle, and also along the Colonial Parkway is Colonial Williamsburg.  Williamsburg was the Capital of the Virginia Colony from 1699 to 1780 when it was moved to Richmond.  This is where General George Washington assembled the Continental Army in 1781 for the siege of Yorktown.  It is also home to the College of William and Mary.  The Colonial area and it’s buildings are worth at least a day’s visit with costumed interpretations of life during the time of George Washington.  Read more about Colonial Williamsburg at www.colonialwilliamsburg.org

Other attractions of note

Busch Gardens, Williamsburg

Water Country USA, Williamsburg

Sweethaven Lavender Farm, Williamsburg (plan your visit for the lavender bloom in May and June)

Great Wolf Lodge, Williamsburg

Yorktown Battlefield, Yorktown

Yorktown Victory Center, Yorktown

Pierce’s Pitt Bar-B-Que, Williamsburg

And don’t forget to try local breweries and wineries in the area.  

Chippokes Plantation State Park is a great home base for campers who would like to be near the Colonial attractions without staying in the hustle and bustle of town and for a much more reasonable cost. 

We love the area and plan to be back again and again.

We hope to see you there or in one of the other Virginia State Parks soon!

The Travel Addict’s Benefactors; A Love Letter — May 24, 2020

The Travel Addict’s Benefactors; A Love Letter

“The greatest legacy we can leave our children is happy memories.” -Og Mandino

**Please forgive the photo quality for some of the following photos. Some of them are very old!

When I pack my suitcase for one of our adventures, I rarely acknowledge where my addiction to travel started.  Since I’ve been missing my suitcase during the 2020 Pandemic, I’ve been reflecting on how my passion came to be.   

1970: Christina and her Dad aboard the U.S.S. Constitution, Boston Harbor

On Mother’s Day, I was happy to visit with my parents.  In the times of “social distancing,” we were quite frankly, tired of being apart so we threw caution to the wind and spent the day together–big hugs and all!  As we made our plans for the day, I asked my mom if I could look through our old family photos.  She has piles of them and as I browsed the yellowing pages and flipped through loose, printed photos, I took note that there were no fabulous pictures of foreign lands, no campy cruise photos like the ones that photographers insist you pose for as you board a cruise ship, no old boarding passes, and no travel post cards like the ones we collect when we travel. This wasn’t really a surprise and knowing my parents, I wasn’t really expecting those types of photos anyway. 

Instead, as I sorted through the pictures, I was looking for something else; memories!  In my search, I realized that my Mom and Dad sparked my love of travel!  My Dad worked hard to support his young family and my Mom made it her priority to ensure that my brother and I had a secure and memorable childhood.  I was a happy kid and for that, I am eternally grateful.  And while I know that world wide travel wasn’t in the budget back then, what I do know is that my parents didn’t hesitate to load us kids into the car for endless road trips. 

With family and friends living well above the Mason-Dixon Line, we took countless summer trips to the Upstate New York countryside.  This is where I learned to drive a tractor and then a car, rode horses, milked cows, laid down in grass so tall that I disappeared from view, crawled into hay lofts, swam in bone chilling spring pools and streams, marveled at the birth of a calf, and ate corn on the cob freshly out of the field.  We loved going to the weekly farm auction, eating cheese curds and curly fries, and watching horse and tractor pulls at the summer fair.  I learned to love the small town farm life and appreciate the people who live it. 

1984: Christina visits the U.S.S. Constitution in Boston again

While in New York one summer, we headed to Niagara Falls, venturing into Canada and looking back toward home from a foreign country for my first time.  That was back when Canada wasn’t so foreign–you didn’t need a passport to cross the boarder.  Although I distinctly recall the Boarder Patrol questioning everyone in the car.  As a kid, of course I didn’t have anything to declare except my favorite stuffed animal but the forceful questioning left an impression.  And then, there was the unforgettable, perpetual roar of the falls that we explored from above and below as well as from both sides of the boarder.  

1980: Niagara Falls

My parents took us up and down the East Coast from Maine to Florida.  Our family adventures have given us memories that we often laugh about as a family.  The most memorable include the perennial apple that my Mom packed as a snack for every road trip–never a cookie to be found!  Then there was the odyssey to Florida around my 13th birthday.  I think that trip’s main destination was Walt Disney World but for me, the lasting memory of the trip was the journey with four very tall people (and our luggage) packed into a two door hatchback Ford Pinto with no air-conditioning in late June/early July.  Needless to say, when my brother starting touching me, my Dad stopped the car with traffic whizzing by along the interstate, seats were exchanged and the touching definitely stopped!

I watched my Dad valiantly attempt to fish in beautiful mountain lakes with only little nibbles or tiny fish not fit for eating as his prize.  I have vivid memories of a very hot evening when my Dad and one of our dear family friends hand cranked ice cream on the porch of a State park cabin while sweat poured down their faces.  I recall horseback riding and looking for “Fairy Stones” in other State Parks,  watching my Mom eat lobster in Maine with a bib around her neck, observing while my Dad packed our cars with military precision, making use of every inch, visiting the ducks at The Peabody Hotel, and an endless afternoon in a hotel pool in Nashville with my brother while my parents ventured off to the Grand Ole Opry (everyone was happy).

1984: Mom eating Lobster!

Then there are the sweet memories of our favorite family activity, camping.  It is amazing to me that we loved it so when our very first camping trip was in a Pop up tent camper and just after setting up, the rain that Noah must have experienced came down leaving us stranded inside with nothing to do.  As teenagers, it was torture!  Eventually, even my steadfast Dad gave up and we took the contraption down and went home.  Damp but not discouraged, we went out again and again.  Over time we graduated to newer and bigger campers and disappeared as a family into what my Husband calls the “deep dark woods,” as often as possible, sometimes for weeks at a time. 

As I got older, travel also included the addition of Mission trips with my Church Youth group and summer camps as a counselor.  That meant that our summers would go something like this: we would come home from New York, wash clothes, pack, and head out for a week of camp, come home, wash more clothes, pack again, and head off on a Mission trip.  The summers of my teenage years were busy, glorious and some of the most formative of life.  As a camp counselor, I worked with a woman named Rose Mary, helping her as she cooked in the camp kitchen and worked on craft projects with the campers.  Little did I know that she would one day be my Mother in Love! I made lifelong friends as we sat around the camp fire late into the night telling jokes that we thought were funny but turned hilarious as we eventually had to explain them to the most innocent of the group who, after each joke stated, “I don’t get it!”

1987: The Goofy Tourist (Me, my Dad and my brother), Opryland, Nashville, TN

I have to confess that as I looked through the photos with my Mom, I was a little disappointed that there are so few photos of most of these sweet memories.  On the other hand, I am equally relieved to have grown up during a time when we didn’t have a camera or electronic device readily available to expose all of our shenanigans! 

I cherish my childhood memories and credit them with my spirit of curiosity, love of fun, adventure and exploration.  My love of travel is an affliction for which my parents are to blame and from which I never wish to be cured.  It is also a condition that I still love to share with my parents when we are able, with friends as often as possible, and that I hope to pass on to anyone willing to come along.  As an adult, I am so very blessed to have a partner who loves to travel as much as I do, if not more so and that together, we have been able to go to places that I never thought I would see.  And to think, it all started long ago with a road trip to New York! 

Thanks Mom & Dad!  I love you both!

We bought an RV! — April 9, 2020

We bought an RV!

“Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about.” -Winston Churchill

“BA” and “Blanche” together at last!

Do you have a something in life that you keep going back to over and over until you decide to take action?  Maybe you are thinking about something now?  Is it a dream vacation, starting a family, buying a house, moving to another state, getting a new job, a pool in the back yard, or maybe a fixer upper cottage on the beach or lake?  We all have something, no matter what it is, right?

We have had lots of dreams that we’ve worked to make reality and we are truly blessed! Our most recent dream? Buying an RV.  

After two years of shopping, researching, dreaming, planning, and watching our favorite You Tube RV families, we finally purchased our Grand Design RV at the beginning of March.

Blanche in her first campsite at Chippokes Plantation State Park

After two years of in depth study, we found what we wanted.  We knew where to get it, how much it would be, what we needed to get started, the whole thing.   We had even driven out to the dealership and lurked around when they were closed.  AND, to be sure we were going to like it, we rented an RV last fall and took a long weekend to make sure that we would like the camping thing. (We aren’t really new to the idea. We both camped with our families as kids so don’t worry about us too much!) You’d think we would’ve been ready, right?  HA!

When we finally made an appointment to talk to a salesman, before we left the house, the conversation was; “We’re not buying anything today.”  We agreed. 

I know what you’re thinking but bear with me!  Of course, when we got there, we had no questions.  We had seen our exact RV at the 2020 Florida RV Supershow in Tampa just a month before.  We knew everything there was to know.  We had no questions.  So, what was left?  That’s right.  I already spoiled the surprise in the title!  We bought an RV!

Okay.  Now.  Our someday finally came and three weeks after kicking things off, we picked up our new hobby and headed off on our first camping weekend.  It was scary, fun, terrifying, and we had a ball!  We are going to love it!  Wouldn’t you agree that some of the best things in life scare you death?

BA’s first pull. She finally knows her purpose!

Then a Pandemic outbreak brought the world to a screeching halt.  With our beloved Virginia State Parks closed, we have had two planned trips for April and May canceled.  So, back to dreaming we go!  It’s hard to make plans but we persevere.  At least this time, we are hopeful that we don’t have to wait another two years!  That is our short term.      

For us, the long term plan is getting out there to see the U.S. in our RV.  We have a bucket list of spots we want to go and now we have the gear that can get us up close and personal if we plan it right.   

Our thinking in all of this is that we want to be sure that we don’t wait for some day, until we have the money, or worse, until we retire and have the time.  The fact of life is, we are not guaranteed tomorrow.  We work hard, we save our money, we plan a trip and we go!  We go when and where we can.  We are blessed, that is for sure!  And while retirement might be the optimal time to travel, and we plan to keep going if we can, that season of our life is still a long way off! In the meantime, we will go when it’s safe to do so. #stayhome

So, for those that think we’ve lost our minds, I say, what is your dream and what are you doing about it?  Make sure you aren’t dreaming your life away.