The Grand Canyon has been on our list since we started talking about going full-time. It was one of the places that we both thought we would see right away, but once we hit the road we went east to Maine and then when we did head west we had a destination of California and a time frame we had to meet so it just never happened.
We’re going into our third year of full-timing this year and we both decided that we needed to add more National Parks to our journey. So I booked 2 nights in the Grand Canyon. It’s the most consecutive nights I could get for the beginning of June. All of May was pretty much booked solid, I could get a night here and there but not 2 together. It’s crazy how quickly these site book up! It’s February and I’m booking for June! And if I didn’t book that I wouldn’t have gotten anything!
I’m grateful to be able to spend any time I can get there at this point. I feel like the Grand Canyon is something everyone should try to see at least once in their lifetime. – I’ll let you know if I still feel that one once we’ve seen it, something tells me I will though!
We talked to our friends It’s a Wonderful RV Life, Chris and Rachel about going somewhere together and we decided on Utah in June. A place I have really wanted to go since we started this journey. There are 5 National Parks in Utah not to mention countless other National Monuments and amazing parks!
Just the other day we firmed up our plans and booked those reservations so we’d have a place to stay! 3 different campgrounds and 5 weeks should allow enough time to see Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, Arches and Moab. Let’s hope so anyway because that’s all we’ve got!
Wow we have had a ton of rain here in Southeast Texas! The ground is still wet from Harvey but that hasn’t stopped the rain showers from happening! I’m a little stressed about getting the Airstream out of my parent’s yard. The ground is soaked and we haven’t seen enough of a break in the rain for it to dry out much.
We are flying to NYC this weekend to attend Toy Fair, a large industry convention centered around you guessed it, toys! Like the kind kids play with and some adults collect. Blake was invited to speak on a couple of panels there about the process of his book, Toys That Time Forgot. It’s a huge honor for him and he’s excited!
Once we get back it’s all business! I’ve got taxes to do and he’s got Gearphoria to put together. Once all of those loose ends are tied up we are heading west for a bit. First back to Davis Mountains state park and then over to New Mexico and eventually Arizona and Utah. At least that’s the plan currently. I’m trying to be more open to change. I normally plan everything out months in advance and book it all. After our plans getting scrapped the second half of last year, I’m trying to be a little more flexible. We will see how that goes. I’m a planner, I’ve always been a planner… I’m not sure if I can fly by the seat of my pants like most do.
Wow you guys! Where did 2017 go? Does anyone else feel like it just flew by? I feel like we just left Texas and here we are back for the holidays. And now the holidays are over and I’m planning a new journey for 2018. This year we are going to do our best to see more National Parks. Working from the road has been a huge adjustment. I still don’t have it all figured out, I probably never will. What I do know is that the second half of 2017 was fairly stressful and I’m going to leave that behind me, right where it belongs!
There are lots of great things happening for us. Blake’s book Toys That Time Forgot was a successful Kickstarter last February and he’s almost sold through all of the extra copies. So if you’d like a copy you can send him a message through Facebook here. He is now compiling information for Volume 2, look for that in 2019! And we are heading to NYC in February to Toy Fair so he can do a panel on how he got the idea, how he did the research, wrote it and went to Kickstarter! We just published a new issue of Gearphoria today. Issue #29. So crazy to think a side project would become a full time career. I am so proud of this magazine and what it has become. I also took on more work… because all I have going on just isn’t enough I guess! I love a challenge! I am now a Consultant for Rodan+Fields. I started using their skincare line back in September and fell in love! My skin has never looked or felt better! You can join my Facebook group here. Or follow me on Instagram @thenomadrfgirl. And if you’d like to place an order you can do that here. Or if you have any questions you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m also working on another business idea… so look for that coming later in the year!
I’m so excited to see where 2018 leads us! I’m planning on trying out some boondocking and certainly more State Parks as well! And I hope we get to meet more of you guys along the way! Cheers to a new year!
When we started this adventure two years ago it became very clear very quickly that we were not going to get in everywhere we wanted when we wanted. I learned that fast! I had been so involved in getting the house cleaned out and sold, then getting the Airstream and getting it set up that I didn’t realize that everyone goes to Bar Harbor, Maine in the summer! So we had to wait until after Labor Day to get a spot anywhere. Lesson learned… plan ahead!
Bar Harbor was absolutely beautiful. Maine had always been on my radar. Acadia National Park was all new territory, truthfully National Parks in general were all new territory. Adventure wasn’t something we had done prior to going out on the road. We were birding pretty often and our trip to Arizona in 2012 was certainly an adventure… from that, my eyes were opened wide to all the amazing things this place has to offer and a fire was lit in me that I could not contain… I wanted more, to see more, to do more. Sure we traveled a lot… mostly for work and we would go to a few places around and see a few things but nothing like hiking in the mountains in Arizona or exploring National Parks like we have had the pleasure of doing now.
We left Vermont on Labor Day and drove the 3 or so hours to Bar Harbor, if you’ve ever been there then you know there’s basically one road in and one road out. As we were driving in it seemed like everyone and mean everyone was leaving. RV after RV, travel trailer after travel trailer filing out. We were excited to have the place to ourselves. That wasn’t actually the case, but I can tell you it was certainly less crowed after Labor Day than it would have been a week earlier.
While we were there, we met a wonderful Airstream family. Wandering Nation. Matthew and Celeste and their two boys were so fun! And we were lucky enough to see them again on the road when they came through Texas earlier this year. I can’t say enough good things about them. Matthew was super helpful with questions we had about boon docking and the kids are a joy to be around! They told us about driving to Canada and seeing Campobello, FDR’s summer retreat. The place he was diagnosed with Polio in 1921. Also on the grounds is the Well-Shober Cottage where you can have “Tea with Eleanor”. You’ll have to check the schedule for that, both us and The Orrs missed out on that. From Campobello we drove back into Maine and stopped at Quoddy Head State Park, located in Lubec, Maine. Home of the Quoddy Head Lighthouse and the also known as the easternmost point of land in the contitnental US.
And what’s a trip to Maine without seeing the world’s largest blueberry and Stephen King’s house? Definitely recommend both of those things!
We camped at Hadley’s Point Campground. We enjoyed it very much. Very rustic sites set in the trees but a clean campground and the staff was very polite. My only negative was how expensive the laundry facility was. But that’s just a part of being on the road in a remote spot… still the most I’ve ever paid for a load of clothes to be was and dried though.
Acadia is stunning, go. Go if you ever get the chance. Hike the trails, listen to the birds, take in the tranquility of Jordan Pond, see Bass Harbor Light. It’s a beautiful lighthouse! Just watch out for the cruise ship tours that take over Cadillac Mountain!
Such a whirlwind of things since Harvey hit Houston. When we come back it’s always stressful for me to be here. Demands are put upon me that are hard to explain. I just want to be out roaming and exploring but somehow we always come back to Texas for the holidays. It’s pretty much a requirement, because our parents are older and tend to be alone so we feel obligated to be here. I scroll longingly through my Instagram feed at all the beautiful places everyone is visiting this time of year and wish I was there too.
Being here is giving me the opportunity to clean out our storage unit and realize how much crap we still own. It’s easy to throw it in there and not think about it again. Going through all of it makes me want to simplify my life even more.
Research has begun on where to go next year… most of this year was spent on Blake’s book, Toy That Time Forgot. The Kickstarter was done in February which funded! They we went off to explore some. We got to go to Big Bend National Park which turned out to be absolutely amazing! We roamed around Texas for a bit, exploring our home state that we really don’t know all that much about. It was wonderful to get out west and see some of the beautiful things this state has to offer… but that just left me wanting more. I often find myself dreaming of Joshua Tree and Yellowstone, Yosemite and Grand Teton, Olympic and the Grand Canyon. So many places, so little time! Time moves fast on the road. So much so that the seasons change and we run back to Texas, our ‘safe’ place. In 2018 I want to stretch our wings more, get out of our comfort zone… adventure more! The state of the world doesn’t help the situation either these days. All these mass shootings, crazy politicians and everyone’s lack of respect of not only themselves but for others has me urning for solitude. I want to walk among the trees, hike through the desert, soak in a hot spring… I just want to see what this earth has to show me before it’s too late.
What a crazy crazy few weeks it has been. We left Texas at the beginning of August to head to North Carolina. We arrived in Four Oaks, which is about 45 minutes south of Raleigh. Our first two weeks were packed with shop tours for Gearphoria. While we were meeting with a lot of really cool gear builders, touring their workshops and working on the 5th Anniversary issue of Gearphoria, we got word that Blake’s book (Toys That Time Forgot) got finished at the printer and were shipped to my parents’ house in Texas.
So we booked a flight and flew to Texas for 5 days to meet the books when they arrived so we could get all the Kickstarter backers their copies in a timely manner. We woke up at 2:30am on a Friday, flew to Houston from Raleigh on a 5:30am flight. Arrived in Houston around 7:30am. UPS Freight was supposed to deliver the books via 18 wheeler that afternoon. The afternoon came and went. At 8pm I called UPS Freight and I was told they could not maneuver our neighborhood and we were rescheduled for Monday morning at 10am. I went into a frenzy, spoke to a ‘supervisor’ and explained we only had 3 days to pack and ship 550 books! Monday morning, 10am no books. I called again and was told it would be Tuesday. I then proceeded to explain our situation again. I was put on a very long hold, then told they would hire a courier service to bring them by 1pm that day. Well… guess what… 1pm came and went. I called again and was told they could not locate our books. How do you lose 1,0000 books? 3 pallets of books, each pallet weighing 1,200 lbs. Around 4pm a truck came down the street and backed in the driveway. They had finally arrived! Let the packing begin!
I was aware of all of the work that had to be done well before hand. I preordered the boxes, the packing tape (Uline sells this amazing tape called ‘Quiet Tape’) and the tape gun, picked up the bubble wrap at a local shipping supply store. We pre-built the boxes and pre-cut the bubble wrap. 550 boxes built and packed with bubble wrap just sitting there for 2 days waiting on books to put inside and shipped out. 550 hand stamped and hand signed Thank You cards.
There were some long hours of packing and printing shipping labels and multiple trips to the local post office to drop off 200+ books on each visit. But we got it all done! All the while there was another stress happening in the background. A hurricane had formed and was looking like it was coming for the Texas Coast. His name was Harvey. On the Thursday we flew back to North Carolina to finish Gearphoria. The worst feeling ever, to leave your parents behind knowing a hurricane was looming down the coast from them. It was set to hit Corpus Christi so I knew my parents would be safe from wind and any damage it would cause. I helped my dad put some things up downstairs in case they needed to evacuate… you NEVER know about hurricanes. Having been through IKE they knew what to expect. I watched to news and the weather channel, on Friday Harvey came onshore in Rockport, TX. A beautiful little seaside town on the coast of Texas, a place we had visited just months before. The entire town was destroyed in a matter of minutes. Totally devastation. Houses flattened. Businesses gone off the map, the small downtown area doesn’t exist anymore. Then Harvey did exactly what he was predicted to do… he moved toward Houston, very very slowly and dumped rain. Lots and lots and lots of rain, for days… Catastrophic rain. I’ve never in my life heard that word used so much. Catastrophic. Every time a weather person opened their mouth it was Catastrophic. And it was. My parents were very lucky, they only had a foot of water under their house which drained by the end of the day. My brother in Kemah, he had about 3-1/2 feet under his house, everything under there was a total loss. My niece across town in Pearland… her house began to take on water and they had to be rescued by boat. She is now living in her popup camper in the driveway, attempting to continue everyday activities which are being conducted under a tailgating canopy, which is basically their living area… outside in the driveway. She and her husband (who just recently had surgery for kidney cancer) have two little ones, who are now back in school. Trying to live a ‘normal’ life and keep things ‘normal’ for the sake of the kids. I can’t even imagine, her strength is inspiring. Our friends in Friendswood lost everything. And when I say everything I mean everything, water came into their home and they also had to be rescued by boat… their cars completely submerged, water only about 2-3 feet from the CEILING of their home… a TOTAL loss. Not to mention countless other friends dealing with similar situations and thousands of other fellow Texans dealing with it as well. All the while, I’m watching this unfold from my cozy Airstream in North Carolina. Gut wrenching to say the least. Helpless. My heart breaking for my home city and my state.
While we are focusing on getting the next issue of Gearphoria out and dealing with many sleepless nights and communicating with our families and friends… something starts brewing in the Atlantic… a hurricane. Predicted to be a category 5 hurricane. Initial models show all kinds of scenarios. Being from Houston, we know to wait and see, that hurricanes turn at the last minute, they don’t always become what they are predicted to become, etc, etc. We watch… and wait… and watch some more… The models start showing and east coast swing. We were set to be in the Outer Banks after Labor Day, then on to Virginia for a bit. While the remnants of Harvey are moving north. There’s a cool front coming in near us… and one evening we are under a tornado warning… phones going off, TV flashing, wind blowing, eeriness outside, we hop in the truck and drive up to the recreation room at the front of the campground. Dash inside all the while getting pounded with rain, we find 3 more couples in there, the local weather channel is on and we are all watching intently to see if the tornado that’s been spotted up the road is coming for us next. Luckily after about an hour of warnings things calmed down and the weather moved out. It rained most of the night.
Then the next day Blake is listening to some weather news, he has his headphones on so I don’t realize what he’s doing. He leans over and gives me a look, a look I know isn’t a good thing. He says maybe we should leave North Carolina. At that point Irma, our category 4 hurricane becomes a 5 and is projected for the east coast. You see, when you live in a trailer and you book out your work months in advance you run the risk of losing deposits on RV parks if you don’t cancel in certain amounts of time, and all of them are different. 6 days before we are to go to the Outer Banks we decide we should leave. We lost our deposit for that stay, but it doesn’t matter, what matters is our safety and the safety of our home. We make the decision to cancel the remainder of our plans for the year and head back to Texas. A decision that we still stand by.
Irma didn’t hit the Carolinas… she headed straight for Florida. And now those people are dealing with the aftermath. My heart goes out to all of them. Behind Irma was another hurricane, Jose. Jose was a category 4 at one point. And he’s still out there. And may still give the Outer Banks and New England a good dowsing of rain and wind before it’s all said and done. As I write this, there is another storm behind Jose, who has just been named Lee, with another something behind him. And on the pacific side there’s Norma and another something behind her. I sure hope these things die out soon!
When I booked our stay in Vermont I was looking for an out of the way place to enjoy the state. Neither of us had ever been there but Blake had dreamed of going for a long time. He used to think about writing a book, and the setting would be in Vermont. So naturally I wanted a beautiful spot so that it would live up to his expectations. I found Lakeside Camping. There were sites that backed up to a pond, a fairly large pond called Island Pond. That’s the town where Lakeside Camping is located. From the pictures I found online it looked perfect. And it was. It was absolutely stunning and absolutely in the middle of no where. Neither of us had cell phone signal and the internet was pretty much nonexistent. Which was fine by me, except that we were due to publish an issue of Gearphoria during our stay. With Gearphoria being an ONLINE magazine that left us out in the cold. Island Pond is about 20-30 minutes from the Canadian boarder on the north-eastern side of the state. We ended up having to drive 70+ miles one way to a Starbucks in New Hampshire to upload the magazine for that cycle.
I quickly learned to look at a calendar from then on and find a place near civilization during publishing week. It was quite the adventure trying to figure all of that out. You might be asking why did we have to drive all the way to another state, truth is that was closer than Burlington!
We ended up making some friends that we still keep in touch with to this day. A very sweet couple who are seasonal spot holders there. Francis and Penny. Francis is always trying to get us to come back and visit. I would love nothing more to do that… hoping it happens sooner rather than later!
We did explore quite a bit of the area. I found a very interesting bird museum in Huntington. It’s simply called Birds of Vermont Museum. On display there are over 500 wood carvings of all different kinds of birds. All of them done by hand and majority of them were done by one man, Robert N. Spear, Jr. His woodworking/carving tools and desk are in the museum for you to see. It is definitely something I would put on the list if you are in the area! The carvings are fantastic! They look like real birds… some of them you have to do a double take to make sure it’s wood and not a stuffed bird. You can also birdwatch outside, we found our lifer Cape May Warbler there.
I also found another museum in St. Johnsbury. It’s called Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium. To my surprise there was also a collection of birds here too… but these were real. And there we lots of other animals too. The personal collection of Franklin Fairbanks. From Polar Bears to extinct birds and animals, the collection is fascinating. There’s also a bug art collection which is something to see. There are some Native American items and much more to see. I highly recommend a stop here as well.
We took in a Lake Monsters game in Burlington. They are the minor league baseball team, associated with the Oakland A’s. They didn’t win and from what we were told, they we’re having a very good season – we still had a ton of fun!
And what’s a visit to Vermont without some Ben and Jerry’s? Well it’s not a visit at all! It’s a cute little tour, which doesn’t take too long because there’s not a whole lot to see. They are fairly secretive with some stuff. There’s a graveyard out back where all of the ‘retired’ ice creams have gone to rest. And yes there are free samples! We also had to get some of that yummy Vermont Maple Syrup. So we stopped into Maple Grove Farms and stocked up. We even sent some back to our parents and a select couple of friends.
I also discovered that the Airstream mattress was going to have to go if I ever wanted to walk again. I have lower back issues and the stock mattress was not cutting it. So we took another trip to New Hampshire to the Walmart and I used some gift cards to purchase a 4″ thick mattress topper that helped me make it through… we did end up purchasing a new mattress from Rocky Mountain Mattress. Best thing we could have done!
While we were in New Hampshire this time we decided to do a little exploring. We were in the town of Littleton and while walking around we found a cool outdoor / gear store called Badass Outdoors. It’s unclear whether they are still open currently. Their web presence is pretty much non-existant.
I found a great little area just up the road from the campsite to go out hiking around it was known for a lot of birds and we did get a lifer Sage Grouse, a stunning male that just happen to be on the side of the trail. He watched us walk right past him and then posed beautifully while we snapped a few photos. Vermont did not disappoint and we’d love to go back and spend some time with Francis and Penny. I sure hope we get to do that one day!
When we decided to go to Maine we had no idea how popular it was during the summer months. We got our Airstream at the end of June and I started looking at places to stay. Acadia National Park was at the top of the list. Blake had read about Cadillac Mountain and how the sunrises there were amazing. So when I found a campground close to Acadia that we liked, I called it was completely booked for the summer. They didn’t have any openings until after Labor Day. Enter plan B.
Determined to go to Maine I found a great campground in Naples not far from Portland. I had done a little research on Portland. It looked like a sweet little seaside town. Lots of shops and shopping. And about 30 minutes north of Portland was Freeport, home of L.L.Bean. Being from Texas, the closest I got to L.L.Bean was catalogs and online stores. So visiting the flagship store quickly became a priority. When I Googled photos, there was a huge Bean Boot out front. That sealed the deal. The flagship store did not disappoint! We ended up staying Portland side first and then after Labor Day we went to Bar Harbor.
Something we discovered about Maine that we didn’t know before we got there was that it’s known for blueberries. In fact, Maine is the largest producer of wild blueberries in the world, and they are grown on 60,000 acres. We knew about the lobster, but we had no idea about the blueberries! We found a great little bakery/cafe in town and they had blueberry everything! I had the blueberry pancakes and they were absolutely de-lish! The place we called “Bomb Diggity” so there was no way we were leaving Naples without trying that place! And it lives up to it’s name! Yum-my!
Downtown Portland is a cute little place! Along the pier are a few restaurants and some cute shops. We walked around and I stumbled upon a shop I followed on Instagram… I hadn’t put it together that it was in Portland. The shop is called Sea Bags. They make purses, totes and some accessories out of recycled sails. If you donate your sail you get a free bag. All of the bags are hand made in the shop. They are a little bit pricey but they are certainly unique and fairly well made. I bought a wristlet while we were there with their signature anchor on it. I dreamed about those bags for a year after we visited. And last year for our anniversary Blake bought me one! It’s gorgeous! Navy blue with a printed crab on it. I was born in July so my zodiac is a Cancer (crab). I was over the moon! The bag was about six months old when the whipping twine which is wound around the braid / splice of the handle came completely unwound. There are two places where there is twine and both came unraveled. I contacted them and they were very nice and sent a repair form, I sent the bag in (I had to pay for shipping) and in a couple of weeks I had my bag back and it was as good as new! Unfortunately that same thing has occurred again just last week, and without much use this time. As I’m writing this I have an email in to customer service to inquire about another repair. Slightly annoying, especially when we pay quite a bit of money for the bag. But I’m certain they will repair it again. – I’ll update that when I know.
We ventured out to see some lighthouses of course. And found an old fort in the process Fort Popham State Historic Site is located in Phippsburg. We also found a pretty tasty lobster roll next door called Spinney’s. We sat outside on the deck and enjoyed a beer and the view!
We enjoyed our campground in Naples. It was called Loon’s Haven Family Campground. A great campground situated on Trickey Pond. Complete with Loons! The sunsets over the pond are beautiful. The campground is clean and there are many activities for adults and children! There are quite a few seasonal campers. A lot spend most of the summer there and I can’t blame them! It’s a great place to be in the summer. The facilities are clean and there is laundry on site as well. Not far up the road is Sabago Lake State Park. A really nice park with lots of birds to watch and beach front access to Sabago Lake… in fact if we were to make our way back to Naples I’d stay there too!
After Ohio we headed to New York State for more book research. We stayed near Poughkeepsie at Sylvan Lake Beach Park which is located in Hopewell Junction, NY. A really neat little campground. All of the sites are in the grass but there is plenty of room between you and your neighbors. And surprisingly not horribly unlevel. This was a central location for us to drive to Connecticut and to New Jersey. I fell in love with Connecticut. I kind of knew I would… I had always wanted to go there. We met with a couple of people there, one being a toy inventor and the other has a huge history in the toy universe having sculpted a large number of G.I. Joe’s from the 90’s. Both were absolute pleasures to talk to and we still keep in touch with them today. In fact we make it a point to visit them anytime we are near there.
In New Jersey we got to visit the NECA studio and hang out with Randy Falk, the Director of Product Development for the company. I know Randy from back from when I ran our online toy store, littleplasticmen. He’s super nice guy and had a lot to talk about for Blake’s book.
While we were in New York I realized we weren’t far from Franklin Roosevelt’s home. We decided that would be a cool thing to do so we went and did the tour of his home and the presidential library. We walked the grounds and enjoyed the gardens and the horse stable is beautiful. The house is set on a beautiful piece of land. If you are in that area it is a must do! Not far down the road was Eleanor’s cottage, Val-Kil, we didn’t have time to get there but we made up for it on the trip on the way back. It was such a great history lesson. Lots of things I didn’t know. The tour guides are wonderful and are very knowledgeable.