July 10th marks one year since we moved into our camper to travel the country. It’s amazing to think how quickly this year has gone by, how much we have seen, and all the memories that we have made. Although at the moment we are parked in our driveway awaiting next Tuesday when we officially close on the house and we become “houseless!”, our plan afterwards is to moochdock on some family land and hit the road on Sunday, July 21st.
July 21st is an important day. Our rig, Willie, is named after my Gramma, which the 21st just happens to be her birthday. She passed away in February of this year and it’s been really hard not being able to send her messages, pictures, and hear her voice. Instead of being sad, it only seems fitting to celebrate her as we embark on our next journey.
We have been to 2 countries, 23 states, 8 National Parks, numerous other National sites, numerous truck stops, countless rest stops, and so, so many Walmarts in between. Our time on the road is not always sunshine and rainbows; we have experienced lots of crazy weather, sad moments, and trying times. We immediately learned how much we would miss our friends and family but also how much we needed each other. There are definitely arguments, tears, and snide remarks that happen, but it also taught us valuable lessons on respecting one another. We had to quickly learn how to forgive and forget, give each other space, and to give ourselves time alone, especially when living in such close proximity.
As we embark on our journey 2.0, we have a list of new goals, experiences, and passions to explore. A bucket list if you may.
I’ve decided to interview our family has a great reminder of some of our favorite things from the past year. Please enjoy.
Lillian & Chloe’s Interview
1. Favorite state.
C: Maine, because I really like the long hike we took and the lighthouse and all of the rocks we got to climb.
We did so much when we visited Acadia, and it was one of our first big adventures. I love how much this still stands out to both of the girls! In the past, they have always said Maine and Missouri, because of Aunt Heidi.
L: Also, Maine because of how pretty it was, especially the hike with all of the beautiful views.
2. Favorite River.
C: New River (South Fork) in NC because there was a lot of rapids when we canoed with Grandma and Grandpa. We lost the paddle but got it back, it was funny.
L: Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.
3. Favorite National Park.
C: Acadia NP. (See favorite state)
L: Capitol Reef because of the cookies (seriously the bakery there is amazing!), kid center, and it was Jr Ranger Day with lots of fun projects. We made real rocks!
4. Favorite mountains.
C: The snowy mountains in Utah. (La Sal in Moab.)
L: The snowy mountains in well, because they seemed to always be shining and towered above the clouds.
5. Favorite experience.
C: Disney! We saw the princesses when we had breakfast with them in the castle. And the dolphins!
We saw the dolphins at the Ocean Adventures Marine Park in Gulfport, MS. It was one of the best days we had, mostly because none of us had been that close to a dolphin before.
6. Favorite Beach.
C: NC. Outer Banks. (Frisco) because of the fun sandbar we got to walk on and swim by.
L: Topsail, NC. I liked it because we went crab hunting, the water was pretty, and the sand was soft.
7. Favorite Campground.
C: The place we boondocked with friends.
This was during our visit to the Grand Canyon, which happened to also be our first experience boondocking. We were very lucky to have met friends the week prior, who joined us and helped make a lasting memory for Chloe I believe it was Forest Road 302.
L: Hanna Park. It was like a rainforest. (Hanna Park in Jacksonville, FL)
8. Favorite memory.
C: The birds stealing a bag of chips, and it was funny.
This happened at a campground near Salem, MA.
L: Seeing the rattlesnake in Saguaro NP.
9. What are you looking forward to this next year?
C: Mount Rushmore.
Sarrah & Joseph’s Interview
1. Favorite state.
J: Well, I’m torn between Maine and Utah. Maine has lobster and Acadia National Park, where Utah is awesome.
S: I would have to agree. Especially with Maine. Utah is definitely awesome since it has the Mighty 5 National Parks, three of which we have been to and it has Moab. Really, how can you beat Moab?
2. Favorite River.
J: By far my favorite river is the Mississippi River. We stayed at Tom Sawyer Campground, on the river, and got to watch the barges go by. I may have stood on top of picnic table like a meerkat just watching them.
S: I seriously just laughed out loud at remembering you do that. The Mississippi River is definitely in my top three. I really liked the Colorado River, because we were able to follow it from the Grand Canyon to Moab and in Canyonlands, and then all the way through Colorado as we were driving towards Kansas. I also really liked the Genesee River, which we saw in Letchworth State Park in Upstate New York.
3. National Park.
J: My favorite National Park is definitely still Acadia; however Capitol Reef runs a close second.
S: I would have to agree I think my top three are definitely Acadia, Capitol Reef (definitely for the pie), and Grand Canyon (which surprisingly did not disappoint).
4. Favorite Mountains.
J: I have to say the prettiest mountains that we drove through, even though only part of it was during the day, was the Rockies. My other favorite would have to be the mountains overlooking Utah Lake and Provo.
S: I think my first is definitely the La Sal Mountains, because for almost two weeks while we boondocked in Moab, we were able to look at snow capped mountains while sweating. It was a surreal moment.
5. Favorite Experiences.
J: Okay, I have a top-three. One was our surprise hike through Acadia. Number two would be driving the Shafer Trail, it was a very long journey with great views. And number three would definitely be getting to the top of the Moki Dugway and seeing our camper down in the Valley of the Gods and it started snowing!
S: Darn those are good ones! I definitely have to agree with Moki Dugway. The Sea Lion kiss and watching the dolphins at the Ocean Adventures Marine Park was pretty legit. Taking the girls to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal was so much fun. This category is hard since we have had so many good experiences while we’ve on the road!
6. Favorite Beach.
J: Hands down you can’t beat the Outer Banks! Once you get down around Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and see the clear water or the sandbar in Frisco… Nothing is better than the Outer Banks!
S: For sure! Outer Banks is not only amazing for the beaches but also for the fishing! My other favorite has to be Topsail, North Carolina. The Jolly Roger Pier is a hidden gem!
7. Favorite Memory.
J: All right I have two distinct memories. I’ll never forget when we accidentally snuke explosives into Canada, and you didn’t know until we passed the border guard. The second one would be meeting a “true coon-ass” in Louisiana down the Bayou.
S: Gosh, I feel like I have so many I could talk about. I think one would be us evacuating Cape Charles and heading to Richmond, VA because of Hurricane Michael, especially since it was a split minute decision. My other would have to be Branson, Missouri. Waking up to the wind and rushing to get the slides in was a memory I will never forget. Both of mine are both based on weather! Ha! I mean there’s always that random raccoon or dust storm or scorpion in my chair! You never know what the heck is going to happen to you when you’re out here on the road.
8. Favorite Restaurant.
J: That really is a toss-up between Rolling Fatties in Kingfield, Maine and the little gas station in Waveland, Mississippi. How can one choose between the muffaletta and the most amazing burrito on the planet? It’s really tough to decide. (Gas station restaurant is called Kent & Sue’s.)
S: Yes to both of those! We should also consider Buxton Munch Company in the Outer Banks for their Trigger fish tacos! And we can’t forget the best lobster roll, our first ever lobster roll, at The Shack in Old Orchard Beach! So good! But in all seriousness, that muffalata at the gas station! I think I’m hungry now.
9. Favorite Campground.
S: My favorite campground is still Hanna Park in Jacksonville, Florida. It’s just one of those places you pull in and it feels like a tropical Paradise. Some sites are definitely larger than others, while some are more private than others. Plus you’re right across from the beach!
J: Agreed! And they have disc golf!
10. Resort Campgrounds.
S: My favorite resort campground was Fort Wilderness in Disney because where else can you go to a pool and have a couple of adult beverages while someone else entertains your kids? I mean seriously! Plus there was fireworks!
J: Yes, Fort Wilderness was by far the best resort campground we’ve been to. And having a golf cart to drive around was way too much fun.
S: But we probably shouldn’t forget about Cape Charles KOA in Chesapeake Bay. Even though we had to evacuate, we were still able to enjoy the campground. It’s hard to argue with a private beach, pool, and a restaurant/bar on site.
J: But the laundry is definitely fishy.
S: You mean it smelled fishy. Haha!
11. Favorite State Park.
J: My favorite state park would be Skidaway State Park in Georgia. The size of the sites were HUGE! I loved feeling like we were tucked away in the wilderness, yet the proximity to Savannah was amazing.
S: I couldn’t agree more with that, plus all the amazing trails through the park was fantastic. My personal favorite would definitely have to be Letchworth State Park in Upstate New York. I mean there’s three waterfalls, a restaurant, tons of trails and overlooks, and it’s in the Grand Canyon of the East Coast!
12. Favorite Boondocking Spot.
J: Valley of the Gods! It’s right beneath the Moki Dugway, your close to Mexican Hat, and it’s like a miniature Monument Valley. It was just awesome, except for when it turned into the movie Tremors. We were covered up in inch long caterpillars that came out of the ground at night.
S: Plus that was our first time boondocking alone! I have two top favorites. The first one is our moochdocking spot at Mr. Randy’s house in Stokesdale. You can’t beat full hookups across the street from you best friends and down the road from our family. Mr. Randy’s Tornado Alley site #two, just saying the bomb.com! My favorite boondocking spot was on Utah Lake facing Provo. You guys got to stay there a lot longer than I did though! The view of the mountains and the lake were breathtaking! And it was free!
13. Favorite Rally.
J: So my favorite rally so far would definitely be the Xscapers Convergence in Moab. How cool is it to boondock on an airstrip in Moab surrounded by people who like to have fun with live music and activities all the time?