Chasing the Sun Deeper Down South – South Carolina and Georgia

After leaving the Tarheel State we marched further south out of necessity, the days were growing shorter and nights colder. We arrived in South Carolina excited to explore a new state, not yet knowing what to expect. Our main goal was to explore the coast, but on the way, we made a quick stop at Poinsette State Park near Congaree National Park. The biggest change in the landscape was the profusion of Spanish moss hanging from almost every tree, an indication of the increasing heat and humidity as we slowly moved closer to the equator. The campground at Poinsette was nicely appointed and the bombs being dropped on the nearby air force bombing range weren't unnerving in the least. Congaree is certainly not the most popular national park in America, I for one didn't even know it existed. It's a relatively new park having just been designated in 2003. The landscape is 'old-growth bottomland hardwood forest' or in…

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Temporary Tarheels – Notes From Our RV Travels in North Carolina
Sunset at Oregon Inlet Beach, Outer Banks North Carolina

Temporary Tarheels – Notes From Our RV Travels in North Carolina

During our stay in the Smokies, we briefly entered the state of North Carolina, but after leaving Tennesse for good we entered the Tarheel State intending to stay awhile. We'd start high in the Appalachian mountains, and travel east towards the Outer Banks where we spent over a week soaking in the sun, sand, and surf. First up was the Asheville area. Specifically, we stayed just outside town at Lake Powhatan Campground. Lake might be a bit of an exaggeration, 'large pond' would probably be a more apt description. Nonetheless, the campground provided an affordable camping option near Ashville. We only had one full day to explore the area and had planned on packing a lot of activity into a short period of time. Apparently some of the best biking on the east coast can be found in the area. Unfortunately, I'd never find out. The day we arrived I set out to fix my bike's persistent drivetrain…

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Scotts Down South – Kentucky and Tennessee by way of Indiana and Ohio
The Craziness That Is Downtown Nashville.

Scotts Down South – Kentucky and Tennessee by way of Indiana and Ohio

We stayed in Michigan a bit longer than we had planned but didn't regret our decision given the state's epic beauty. All good things must come to an end though, and some hard deadlines made it necessary to start heading south. From Southern Michigan, we made the grueling (traffic-wise) drive to Elkhart Indiana, the birthplace of the RV industry and current home to most of the big manufacturers and suppliers. We needed a cheap stopover and ended up staying at the RV Hall Of Fame via our Harvest Hosts membership. The only requirement for a Harvest Hosts is to do some business with the proprietor, in this case, we shelled out the 24 bucks for access to the RV Museum. This West Point Themed RV Took The Prize for Most Interesting Design The museum was interesting and we were able to kill a few hours looking at the exhibits. It's a great place for people who like attending…

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3 Out of 5 Ain’t Bad – We Visit Some of the Great Lakes
Classic Great Lakes

3 Out of 5 Ain’t Bad – We Visit Some of the Great Lakes

We spent nearly a month in Minnesota, swimming, fishing, turtle racing (seriously), and generally relaxing, living the stationary and indoor plumbing lifestyle at Jackie's parents' place. We didn't plan to stay as long as we did, but the comfort and hospitality level were just too tempting. Like all good things our lake cabin time had to come to an end, and so we headed east to the Lake Superior port city of Duluth. We hadn't made any reservations and were unfortunately punished for our spontaneity. Our first choice of campgrounds, a city park in Cloquette turned out to be a bust. It was full up with seasonal campers, who park for the entire summer. Disappointed but undeterred we headed for the familiar surroundings of a casino parking lot, this time the Black Bear Casino in Cloquette. While it was nice to be able to stay, our neighbors were a little creepy so we packed up the next morning…

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Big Sky, Small Camper
Mountain Goat Posing Near HIdden Lake Overlook, Glacier National Park

Big Sky, Small Camper

It was sad to say goodbye to Idaho, certainly the most RV friendly state we've visited. It had clean and free dump stations in nearly every town (bonus points for dump station hoses with threaded ends for easy flushing), and affordable camping almost everywhere. We needed to move on, however, and we crossed into Montana at Lost Trail Pass near the continental divide high in the Bitterroot Mountains. Montana would prove not quite as RV friendly as Idaho but was still a remarkable place to call home for a few weeks. One of the giant ponderosa pines formerly used for sustenance in Indian Trees Campground Our first campsite was just a stone's throw across the border at Indian Trees Campground, so named for the large gashes in the pine trees cut by local Indians between roughly 1835 and 1890. The Indian Trees campground was easily accessible and had plenty of vacant spaces even in late June. From the…

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Our Own Private (Not Really) Idaho
Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains

Our Own Private (Not Really) Idaho

We had been living on the West Coast (California and Oregon) for about 2-1/2 months and I for one was ready to get back inland. Idaho was our next stop, one of the places I'd been most excited about. Our first stop would be Boise, just over the border from Oregon, and Idaho's biggest city. We wanted to stay for a few days, but camping in this growing metropolis was pretty scarce. We booked one night at the KOA, where we could do laundry, shower, dump our tanks, etc. The boys and I also did some swimming in the underwhelming indoor pool. KOA days are always a bit rushed, trying the make the most of the amenities we pay so dearly for. The Blue! The World Famous Football Turf at Boise State University. The next morning we made a quick grocery run to Walmart and stashed the RV there for the rest of the day while we went…

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It’s Always Sunny In Central Oregon
Crater Lake and Wizard Island, What's Left of Mount Mazama

It’s Always Sunny In Central Oregon

While the Oregon Coast was brilliant, there were the drawbacks of rain, cold, and cost of living. After leaving Newport Marina, we made a sharp right turn and started traveling east. For the foreseeable future, we’ll be traveling east until we hit the Atlantic Coast. The task for now though was to explore Central Oregon. We drove through heavily forested river valleys until we hit the high desert around the town of Sisters, where we’d spend the next four nights. Sisters is a tiny town of fewer than 3000 people, just 30 miles Northwest of Bend. Sisters is surrounded by snowy volcanic peaks and Ponderosa Pine forests. Black Butte, of Deschutes’ Brewery ‘Black Butte Porter’ fame, is located just outside of town. After more than a month of rain and cold, central Oregon was a welcome change. The weather was, for the most part, hot and dry. Camping off Forest Road 100 in Sisters Oregon We rolled in…

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The Oregon Coast is Wet, Cold, and Smells Like Fish
Lunch Stop off Highway 101 on the Oregon Coast

The Oregon Coast is Wet, Cold, and Smells Like Fish

And so we continued North. Just over the border from California was our first stop on the Oregon coast, the city of Brookings. Brookings was built around a harbor at the mouth of the Chetco River. Like other cities on the Oregon Coast, the big industries are lumber, fishing, and tourism. We ended up staying at Alfred A. Loeb State Park, just a few miles up the Chetco. The difference between Oregon State Parks and California State Parks is huge. Oregon State Parks are well kept, clean, and efficiently run. California, not so much. The campground sits right on the banks of the Chetco and the scenery was pretty great. Brookings Oregon Harbor Most people think that the Oregon Coast is cloudy, cold, and rainy. Those people would be correct. Whenever we decided to go on a day trip we had to bring our rain jackets and rain boots. The town of Brookings was pretty nice, although we…

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The Wood was Red and the Sea was Angry, California’s North Coast
California's Wild and Scenic Lost Coast

The Wood was Red and the Sea was Angry, California’s North Coast

With the Central Valley and Wine Country in our rearview mirrors, we made our way towards the coast. We made the conscious decision to skip the California coast from the Mexico border to San Francisco. Like a lot of our decisions, it came down to money. Coastal camping in the more populated areas of California was just not in the budget. We would finally reach the coast (or close to it) for the first time at Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Nice (But Pricey) Camping Spot in Humboldt Redwoods State Park After several nights of free camping at Harvest Hosts, we were shocked back into reality by the California State Parks System. We stayed in the Burlington Campground, the largest in the park. Basic dry camping site: $35. Reservation fee: $8. "Extra" vehicle fee (more on that later): $8. Showers: $.25 per minute. Why the "extra" vehicle fee you may ask. Well, in California if you don't actually tow…

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Stuck in Lodi Again, RVing in California’s ‘Other’ Wine Country
Vineyards and Oak Trees at Jessie's Grove Winery

Stuck in Lodi Again, RVing in California’s ‘Other’ Wine Country

When you hear 'Wine Country', the first thing that probably comes to mind is Napa, or possibly Sonoma, the two most popular winemaking regions in California. When we were planning this leg of our trip we were hit with the reality that we really couldn't afford camping at $60 or $70 per night most campgrounds in those areas charge. Luckily, California offers a cheaper, more casual, less uptight alternative to the crowds of Napa in areas like Lodi, Merced, and Lake County. Yeah I know I was hard on the Central Valley in my previous posts, but there is one good reason to visit. Wine. And what better way to tour California's 'other' wine country than to actually stay at the winery itself? You can't do that in Napa! Using our Harvest Hosts member benefits, we were able to stay at four different California wineries for free. Yes, that's right FREE! While the camping was free, the nightly…

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