They say time flies when you are having fun for a reason and I can’t believe we have been traveling for a year already. Check out our travel map to see where we have been in RV.
In the past year we:
Visited 18 states
Explored 22 National Parks plus many National Lakeshores, National Monuments, etc.
Drove approximately 20,000 miles
Hiked at least 355 miles (we didn’t always have all trails open and not sure we were using it in the beginning)
Gained 29,431 in elevation during those hikes (Higher than Mount Everest!)
As far as favorite states, Ed would say Utah because Zion National Park is there. I loved the mountains so I would say Colorado. I have a feeling we are both going to replace our answers soon with Montana as we loved the Beartooth Mountains and we’re visiting Glacier National Park in early September. That is a trip we have wanted to make for years.
Getting to more specific places, I would have a hard time ranking them as they are all different. I will list our favorites in the order we visited:
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan – Gorgeous Kayaking! (We enjoyed our whole trip of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan- lots of beautiful spots around the Great Lakes. Loved Traverse City and St. Ignace especially)
Ozark Mountains, Arkansas – The Buffalo National River was dry, but the hiking in the Ozark Mountains was a lot of fun. We also enjoyed a lot of the small rural towns and their quirkiness in that general area. Special mention to Newton County (great hiking!) and Eureka Springs.
Port Aransas, Texas – (Small island near Corpus Christi) Fun RV park right on the beach! Lots of sea turtles, dolphins, and migrating birds. It’s close to Padre Island National Seashore which is beautiful and we practically had it to ourselves.
Tucson, Arizona – Especially enjoyed the ride up to Mount Lemon. Fun city with lots of recreation and huge Cacti! Go in the winter or spring, though.
Zion National Park, Utah – Absolutely gorgeous with world class hiking!
Colorado Springs, Colorado – Pikes Peak is a must, the hiking in Manitou Springs area was awesome, Garden of the Gods, and lots of other recreation.
Million Dollar Highway, Colorado (and surrounding area – Silverton, Ouray, Ridgway, etc) – This drive is not for the faint of heart, lots of high switchbacks with no guardrails. Historic towns with lots of rural quirkiness and so much beauty.
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado – Waterfalls, Mountains, big game everywhere!
Beartooth Mountains, Montana – I am not sure there is a prettier drive in the country.
Honestly, Yellowstone should be on this list but we only visited this time for a day and a lot of that we were just driving. We had taken a trip there and to the Grand Tetons in 2019 and those will remain all time favorites.
Least Favorite Places:
Illinois – (Love Chicago, though we haven’t tried to visit there from the RV) The places we did visit were mostly rural other than Springfield. We did enjoy the Lincoln Family Home, Lincoln’s grave and the campground at the Lake in Carlyle.
Capital Reef National Park – I think this one was just a personal experience issue. We went too late in the spring when it was too hot, every time we hiked I threw up. We were ready to be through with the desert, none of the fruit trees were in harvest. I will say the food in the small town of Torrey (pop. 250) was surprisingly elevated. Go here in the fall! It IS a very pretty place. I would just never try it in the late spring or summer months. We were just already so close having visited Bryce Canyon that it didn’t make sense to put it off, but in hindsight that’s what I should have done.
Page Arizona – Lake Powell was pretty, but again we went when it was too hot. We were a bit disappointed with the Antelope Canyon experience, it was basically a line with photo opportunities and expensive. (Very pretty though). Horseshoe Canyon was beautiful. Skip the hanging garden hike
It boils down to is in those places we had a hard time connecting to the area and were ready to leave before our scheduled time was over.
The second thing we are asked besides what places we liked the best is how to do we like it? There are questions under that heading like how do we deal with being together so much and how long do we want to do this.
So of course there are a lot of benefits. Don’t like the weather or your neighbors? Move. When you are somewhere new all the time, there is always new things to do. This has made us more active, we spend way more time outdoors, we spend more quality time together, and has broadened our minds in ways that would be hard to describe. The best way that I could is to say that travel teaches you how much possibility there is in life because our environment is part of our mental programming.
As for being together, that part was about what I imagined or maybe better. We like to do a lot of the same things, we tend to feel done with something about the same time, and both of us are pretty laid back. There are times you need alone time but we manage that just fine. This lifestyle takes a lot of teamwork and with it just being the two of us we have had to be each other’s right hands. It’s been the most connected time in our marriage, a long honeymoon of sorts.
I would say if we struggle with anything, it’s mostly me now starting to crave some structure. I considered that first year to be a break and I took each day as it came. For so long I had a demanding career, spent my free time parenting, taking care of our household, and building three businesses with Ed. I was burned out, and it’s been great for me to learn to chill out and to get to know myself again. I had an overall goal of improving the quality of my thoughts and letting love lead as much as possible, and that has been time well spent.
So, yes, we have definitely enjoyed it. There are drawbacks of course. The number one being what you have heard throughout the blog, it’s very difficult to be so far away from our kids and loved ones. There have been times when one of them was experiencing a life tragedy or an especially happy moment that you wish that you were able to draw them near. I think we have done a good job of taking breaks to spend periods of time back with them and supporting them from afar. It’s just sometimes in the day to day it can feel isolating.
The other drawbacks are no more vast than living in a regular home. There are going to be obstacles, they are just different. Having car issues or things breaking on the RV have much stronger implications. We get travel weary, there are some stressors that come with trying to drive and park what equates to a small tractor trailer and we move almost every week.
It’s definitely not like when you are on vacation, you are traveling with your real life. There are times we might need to just veg out for the day and catch up on some shows, or times we have responsibilities we have to get done so we can’t go play. But overall, I have to say this lifestyle suits us very well right now.
Some have a hard time relating to is the RV is very much our home, and it has that feel the same as any home we have owned. It’s small – 400 sq feet, but we have what we need and more. In fact, we recently donated a bunch of stuff to lighten our load. Less stuff means the less you have to organize! Traveling another way doesn’t allow you to take your bed with you or have the conveniences or familiarity of home.
I have been pleased with the kitchen, which was one of the things I had trepidation about when we started. I have a lot more counterspace than you would expect, and have been able to cook the way I always have. We have a residential fridge so grocery shopping is the same too. With having more time, I have aimed to make a new recipe each week and have fallen in love with cooking again. When you are trying to squeeze it into your evening after working all day, it definitely had become a chore. Now, it’s a ritual. Ed plays his guitar, and I take my time to be creative with whatever I am making.
People also ask a lot about what we plan to do afterwards. We don’t know until we get to that point, and how we will feel by then, what our circumstances are, etc. So, we don’t spend a lot of time trying to guess. The easiest thing to imagine is that we will get a small house, maybe hang on to the RV in case we still want to go out part of the time. Life is unpredictable, we can only hope we are able to do this until we feel done.
Thank YOU for your support over the last year! I always appreciate hearing from friends, family, folks who are considering this, and those who simply find it interesting. There have been times I have considered discontinuing the blog, but I think of all of our interactions and also having a record of all of it. It’s made me realize while it takes time it has considerable value. Thank you for being part of that, your encouragement has been a huge factor in keeping it all going!