When we first started telling people about our upcoming journey, we were usually asked the same several questions. I recently sat down with some long lost friends in Charlotte, NC to catch up and see my not-so-little Girl Scouts. We joked that what was suppose to be “catching up,” turned into an interview about of our journey. I loved every second of it, especially because they had very in depth questions. Karla, Debbie, and Monica sent me home inspired and filled with love. I have included the most common five questions we are asked but with embedded questions and lots of details, and just for Karla there is a glossary at the bottom.
How will you get your mail?
We are fortunate enough to have our mail forwarded to a known location. All mail is scanned from the USPS and sent to us via email so we know what is coming in. With today’s technology, most of our bills and correspondence is sent to our email. Some campgrounds allow you to have packages delivered, some do not. The last two places we have stayed did not, which meant we had to get creative. Once we arrived in Charlotte, we had to order a plumbing part from Amazon and have it delivered to friends, Not too difficult. I am waiting on a museum membership to arrive from USPS, and hopefully it will get to my in-laws before we all meet at the beach. If not, I’m hoping they can mail it to one of our future stops. Pretty please Mama Shay!!!
Do you have a plan? What is it? Where are you going?
Of course we have of a plan, it’s me we’re talking about! We have about fifty destinations that we are planning on hitting. At the moment, we have our route mapped out from August till the end of January. Some of these destinations have booked reservations, others not so much. In August, we will begin our journey north, be home for Christmas, and then head west. We plan on hitting a lot of National Parks, Canada, and possibly Mexico. Once we get closer to Christmas, we will grab a glass of wine and starting discussing what the next few months will hold. Not all destinations will be reached, plans will change, and we will have to be flexible.
I’m the kind of person when planning a trip, I want to see everything, which means the trip ends up being exhausting and quite frankly terrible. So, this time I am taking a different approach. That’s right, no searching Pinterest for hours on end. With each destination, we do have a couple suggestions of places to visit, restaurants to check out, and campgrounds to stay at. For example, when heading to Acadia National Park in Maine, it was suggested to us to check out The Red Barn Marketplace for the amazing bakery. Will we make it there? No idea. We love when people tell us their favorite places, because it help narrow down a large area, like Zion National Park.
How long do you plan on staying at each location?
This depends on where we are. Most of our destinations, the plan is to stay for a week. This gives us time to get settled, to explore, and then to break down and head to our next place. Because Joseph works during the week, we will be traveling on the weekends, with no more than 3-4 hours of travel time. When pulling a camper, travel time tends to be 20% more than what Google will say. What might be a 3 to 4 hour drive in a car, will take us closer to 5 hours. Some destinations will be split up throughout the week. Montreal and Thousand Islands will be a split destination week which works perfectly since they are only an hour apart.
Do you ride in the camper while Joseph drives?
Nope. We all ride together as one happy family in the truck singing Kumbaya. That was a joke. Not about riding in the truck, but the part about singing and everyone is happy. Usually the girls are eating, sleeping, and playing on their tablets, and I am usually writing and trying not to annoying the driver. Keyword is trying. Any ways, back to the actual question. Since we own a towable camper, there aren’t seat belts or even space to ride in the back. Plus I’m pretty sure it’s illegal. However, if you own a Class A, B, or C motorhome, you can chill and drive in your home on wheels. Here’s a site that will hopefully explain the differences between all of the campers.
Will Joseph be working from the camper? What does he do about internet connectivity?
Joseph works remotely, and because of this he can work from anywhere, whether it’s from the office at home or on the other side of the country from his office in the camper. We use an AT&T hotspot from UnlimitedToGO.com, as well as data from our Sprint devices. There are a lot of other fancy antennas he has hooked up to ensure we have reliable connectivity, which he will explain in a later post. All I know is that we are currently driving to our next location, and I have wifi in our truck being broadcast from the camper. This allows me to catch up on blog posts, review campgrounds on Google, and any other unfinished work that needs to be completed.
Are you homeschooling the girls? Are they excited? What were they able to bring with them?
Yes I am. In a previous post, I have discussed my fear of homeschooling. I have some ideas of what program we will use, but I still have not put a lot of thought and work into it. That’s a next month problem. What I know for sure, is that I want my kids to learn while we are on the road. When heading to San Francisco, CA, I want the girls to learn and research the areas before visiting them. I want them to learn all about of the different places we visit and why they are important. Lillian is especially excited for no homework, three hours of school a day, and not a lot of testing.
It took a little while to get Lillian used to the idea of leaving her friends for a whole year, but once she realized how excited everyone else was about the trip, she quickly jumped on board. Chloe is just happy that she will be able to visit Disney and see lighthouses. Both girls have adjusted well with living in a small home and sharing a room, although we have definitely had our ups and downs. Before we headed out, we chose some toys to bring with us. It was agreed upon that if it didn’t fit, it wouldn’t be able to come with us. So far, everything fits well and has been used numerous times. Thankfully, most toys that were brought double as learning activities. Everything has to have a purpose, even better when it serves two. We brought a huge bin of legos, the potholder loom, board games, and play-doh, among other things to keep them busy and help with their education.
***UPDATE*** We have started to transition into our homeschool program and schedule. Our first official day will be Monday, August 27th. Both girls seem very happy with the curriculum and program, and I have found it easy to navigate the site.
What’s it like living in a camper?
Awesome. It doesn’t take long to clean and you literally can’t cram it full of unnecessary junk. We have four slides, which means the camper expands giving us more square feet. Our living room and kitchen both expands, as does the girl’s room and ours. Our kitchen has a full size refrigerator and it remains on while we drive powered by the inverter. Our stove is pretty small, so no cooking a 20lb turkey! I can cook normal meals though, and we try to cook outside a lot. I definitely miss our dishwasher. And our washer and dryer. Oh how I miss those wonderful appliances. We have hookups in our closet for a washer and dryer, but that adds a lot of weight and it’s expensive. So until it’s a necessity, we use the campground laundry facilities or a local laundromat. The bathroom is pretty awesome. We have a huge shower, and I can wash my hair without running out of hot water. Although, I did purchase some incredible dry shampoo. Our toilet is pretty normal, as far as toilets go. All waste goes to the black tank, which has to be emptied every two to three days. By empty, I mean we pull a lever and it goes into the sewer… NOT LIKE COUSIN EDDIE!
Because of our square footage and needing less junk in our lives, we have to be resourceful with mementoes at each stop. We have never been big gift shop people. In the past, our girls have collected the flattened pennies, the best $0.51 spent! In our earlier journeys, we have purchased a magnet to signify our adventure, but I don’t think 50+ magnets on my frig are going to look to great! The flattened pennies are still happening during the trip, along with the national park passport and postcards. Joseph and I may still chose a magnet from here or there to add to our collection… but we get to choose!
In regards to the camper, it is a Sabre 36BHQ measuring 40ft long and 12.5ft high – long but light! BHQ stands for bunkhouse- we have no idea what the “Q” stands for. If you do, please let us know. We pull this mammoth of a camper with a Ford F250 Super Duty Crew Cab that we have added air bags, a Viair on-board air system, and Andersen 5th wheel hitch to. I am still learning to maneuver the truck and drove through Charlotte traffic on I-77 and I-85 with white knuckles the entire time. At this present time, I don’t pull the camper so Joseph does all of the driving. One day I will, and one day I will back it into our site like a champ, but until then I am the navigator.
Destinations by region:
- Richmond, VA
- Home- NY
- Salem, MA
- Acadia, ME
- Montreal/ Quebec Canada/ Thousand Islands, NY
- Toronto, Canada
- Hershey Park/ Lancaster, PA
- Washington, DC
- Chesapeake Bay, VA
- Charleston, SC
- Savannah, GA
- Hannah State Park, FL
- Atlanta, GA
- Asheville/ Charlotte, NC
- Cape Canaveral, FL & Cocoa Beach, FL
- Florida Keys, FL
- Orlando, FL/ Disney
- New Orleans, LA
- Mt. Shasta, CA/ Klamath Falls, OR/ Crater Lake, OR
- Cannon Beach, OR
- Seattle, WA
- Vancouver, Canada
- Banff, Canada
***Other possibilities: Glacier National Park, MT, Mt Vernon, WA, Olympic Peninsula, Wa, San Juan Islands, WA, Olympia, WA
Southwest & CA
- Austin, TX
- Moab & The Arches, UT Big Bend
- Antelope Canyons, AZ & Grand Canyon, AZ
- Zion National Park, UT
- Las Vegas, NV (½ week)
- Joshua Tree, CA
- Sequoia National Park, CA
- Yosemite National Park, CA
- San Francisco, CA
***Other possibilities: The Great Salt Flats/ Salt Lake, UT, Great Sand Dunes, CO, Kanab, UT, Mesa Verde, CO, Sedona, AZ
- Yellowstone, WY
- Red Rock, CO
- Kansas City, MO
- St Louis, MO
- Mammoth Cave, KY
- Nashville, TN
***Other possibilities: Branson, MO, Memphis, TN
Black water/ tank: The black water and tank hold the sewage water from the toilet. Remember Cousin Eddie? Yeah, he was dumping his black tank, but definitely not correctly.
Boondocking: aka: dry camping. This term refers to camping without any hookups. No electricity. No water. No sewer. Ever saw campers overnight at Walmart? Yup, that’s what they’re doing. The best part about boondocking is that it’s typically free.
Fresh water tank: Duh. Fresh water. You can load up on it for later use if you are boondocking or have a little extra just in case you stop for lunch.
Full hookups: Water and sewer and electricity. The trifecta of camping, or as some call it “glamping.”
Full-timers: aka: full-timing. This is a term used for us crazy awesome people, who live in their camper full time
Gray water: The gray water is the water from sinks and showers, and usually fills up quickly. Well, ours does because I enjoy my long showers.
Inverter: This device changes battery power (DC) to AC power. I’m not going to lie, I had to Google this one and still ask my husband about it. For me, this lovely little doohickey keeps my refrigerator running while we tare driving. No one wants a warm beer or stinky eggs after a day of travel. NO ONE!
Poopmobile: aka honeywagon. This fancy wagon allows you to take your black and gray water to a dump station, which is usually inside the campground. Most campgrounds have full hookups but some may not offer sewer, and the last thing you want to do is hookup the camper to dump the tanks and reset up. Pain in the A double snake! *Note: This is NOT to be confused with a poop emoji mobile that you would hang above a babies crib, but more like the Batmobile… if the Batmobile transported poop.
Slides: aka slide outs. An area in your camper that slides out to make additional space. We have four in our camper- one is our bed, one is the girl’s bed, one is the “living area,” and the last is the entire kitchen!
Stinky slinky: aka. Poop hose/ sewer hose. This hose connects the gray and black tank from the camper to the campground sewer, allowing us to pump out all of the crap (literally) and water waste.