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On the road again: wrapping up round 1 & kicking off round 2 of RV travels

On the road again: wrapping up round 1 & kicking off round 2 of RV travels

Hello from Texas! 🤠

We're currently sitting at a campground in Canyon Lake, watching football and the sunset. Last Saturday, we said goodbye to Joey's family, left our Wilmington home base, and hit the road for round two of our RV travels. We stayed at my parents' house near Charlotte for a night, then started crossing the southeast – camping at a Harvest Host farm in Alabama and a state park outside New Orleans for the last week before arriving in Texas yesterday.

The past few months being home went by so fast. It feels a little weird but good to be traveling again. We'll miss everyone a lot – but we're so excited to continue the adventures this year!

I figured I'd write a short blog post covering our trip home from Glacier last September, some highlights of what we did over the holidays, and where we're planning on going the next few months.

We missed you too, Bojangles.

The long and winding road (October 2023)

After we left Glacier National Park on October 1, we drove almost 2,000 miles in about a week. We tried to do it as cheaply as possible (to offset gas costs lol), staying at free or <$20/night campgrounds. And we got to hit up a couple of our favorite places again along the way.

This week was honestly kind of a blur haha – we just drove when we could in between working. I was still freelancing with a few different companies at that point, so I could mostly choose my own hours, and Joey's job was flexible too. I'd work from the road when signal was good, or we'd knock out a bunch of work at the campground in the morning and then drive all afternoon to the next place. We were just sort of winging it, searching for the next spot to camp while on the road.

Here's where we camped on the way home:

Itch-Kep-Pe Park in Columbus, Montana – this was a free (donations accepted) city park campground. We got here after dark, which made it seem a bit sketchy at first, but a helpful guy camping in his van lended us his lantern so we could more easily back in to our spot. It was actually a decent little park, especially for free.

Belle Fourche River Campground at Devils Tower, Wyoming – we went back here because it was sort of on the way and we loved this campground so much the first time. It has an awesome view of Devils Tower and is $20 per night. The downside is it doesn't have great cell service. Worth it! We stayed for two nights.

Nomad View/Badlands Boondocking Area in Wall, South Dakota – another revisited place. This is a free spot along a cliff overlooking Badlands National Park. It's beautiful, but was insanely windy when we arrived. We had to tie down our solar panel to keep it from toppling over, and heavy winds were shaking the RV all night. But we were fine – it takes powerful hurricane-force winds to tip over RVs, and even then it can be hard to (I Googled it because I was nervous lol).

Missouri Valley City Park in Missouri Valley, Iowa – another city park; it wasn't free but was only about $10/night. It was right in town next to a neighborhood and train tracks, there wasn't anyone else camping there, and we could ride our bikes down the street to a grocery store.

Bass Pro Shops in Columbia, Missouri – did you know you can park RVs overnight at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's for free? You can also do this at Walmart (most of the time) and Cracker Barrel. We were originally planning on camping at a Cracker Barrel further down the road, but Tex's check engine light turned on while we were driving, so we stopped in Columbia to check it out. We found this Bass Pro and camped there instead. It was nice and quiet, but we were sad about missing out on Cracker Barrel breakfast. This was one week after we left Glacier. (Tex ended up being fine until we got back to NC; we fixed him up there).

We also purposefully drove through downtown St Louis with the Airstream just to drive by the Gateway Arch, which was a little stressful lol, but still cool!

Nashville skyline

The next day (a Monday), we made it to Bledsoe Creek State Park in Gallatin, Tennessee, north of Nashville. Then we stayed put until Friday, recovering from driving so much and working a normal schedule again.

We loved this state park! Our site was definitely one of the best – set off by itself and quiet in the woods. We saw lots of deer every day. I'd definitely camp there again.

Story time: when we got to Nashville, it was after dark, and we were hungry. Joey started making dinner and I tidied up inside. In the bedroom, I picked up my hiking backpack, which had our bear spray in the side pocket – and the bear spray fell out and landed right on the trigger. It sprayed for maybe half a second on my leg. I immediately went to the bathroom and started scrubbing my leg with a wet washcloth, thinking maybe it wasn't good for the skin – but then I inhaled it and started coughing nonstop. It was this really unpleasant, sort of stinging sensation in the throat. (Bear spray is like pepper spray, but stronger).

I went to go tell Joey, but couldn't talk for a minute. He went into the bedroom to see what happened and started coughing too. I managed to explain and we quickly opened the windows, turned on the fan, got Hollie and went outside. We were fine (luckily it didn't get in our eyes or anything) and went back in after a while – but we were so surprised that half a second of bear spray not directed at our faces was so strong. I guess being in an enclosed space made it that much worse.

Moral of the story is, bear spray definitely seems like it would work, and definitely don't drop it in your RV or car.

It was a bit of a drive to Nashville, but I was super excited to check it out. One night I drove into the city after work and explored by myself. I'd heard about how crazy Broadway is now, but it still kind of took me by surprise. People packed all over the sidewalks, bright neon lights, loud music blaring from the bars, buses full of bachelor/bachelorette parties constantly driving by, the Predators stadium right in the middle of it all. It was country music Vegas.

I walked up and down the street to soak it all in, stopped to look at the Ryman (also just off Broadway, standing there like it has for decades) and eventually found a smaller, quieter bar at the end of the street: Bootleggers Inn. There was only a handful of people inside and a guy playing guitar and singing; he was really good. I ended up staying for over an hour to listen. It was a great place to escape the madness of Broadway, relax, and hear some good live music.

The next night, I went back downtown with Joey. We went to Third Man Records first (Jack White's record label/shop/venue) – I got to visit both US locations in the same year! It was a lot smaller than the Detroit one, but still really cool. I geeked out there for a while, and then we walked to downtown. After walking up and down Broadway and some of the streets around it for a while, we had a drink at Robert's Western World, but it was way too crowded. So we left to walk back to the truck.

As we passed Third Man again, the big garage door to their event space was open, and there was some kind of party happening inside. We asked one of the bouncers outside and he said it was a private event. Turns out, it was the Red Bull Formula One team's party! Joey went up to the side of the door to peek inside and saw the car. And later I found out (from Instagram stories) that Jack White was there too! So close...

After that, we drove to East Nashville to eat at 5 Points Diner, where my old neighbor from Georgia now works (hey Christian). We got to say hi to him and have a drink at a cool little Halloween pop-up bar they were doing, which was nice!

Country roads, take me home

The next day Friday, we surprised my parents by showing up at their house a night early. Hollie was SO excited to see some familiar faces (and we were too). We parked the Airstream in their driveway and stayed with them for about a week, which was super nice – our first time back in a house in several months!

Then we camped for one night in Winston-Salem (at the fairgrounds – would not recommend, at least not right after the fair. It was full of trash and we had our first sewer mishap. I won't gross you out with that story here lol. But we could hear the Wake Forest football game from there, which was kinda fun I guess?) We got to see my brother's and his girlfriend's new house in Winston.

Hollie playing with her cousin Ranger

After that, we camped north of Raleigh at Falls Lake's Rolling View Campground. We loved this campground. The weather was gorgeous, the leaves were starting to change, and our site was private, spacious and wooded. There was a walking trail behind it that led to the lake. We were there for a little less than a week, but it's definitely on our list to go back to – we got to be 20-30 minutes away from our favorite Raleigh spots and people, while enjoying the more peaceful Falls Lake.

While in Raleigh, we got food at a few of the restaurants we missed the most (Jasmin's, Mitch's, Ni), had a cookout and campfire at our site with a couple friends (hi Tristin & Ryan ❤️) and went to one of our other favorite spots, Hibernian, with more friends (hi Chloe & Cameron ❤️). It was so nice to see some of our favorite people and places again. I missed Raleigh!

Finally, we made it back to our home base in Wilmington. We got to spend Halloween and Thanksgiving with Joey's family, hang out and watch anime with our niece, and celebrate his sister Katie opening her new Kilwin's store (and ate too much chocolate and ice cream). Then we spent the week of Christmas back with my family. We went skiing with my brother and his girlfriend at Beech Mountain, got to see my grandparents, and played a lot of cards.

On New Year's Eve weekend, Joey and I went to Raleigh to spend our first anniversary. We got a hotel downtown, walked around the deserted NC State campus at sunset, ate at our favorite places again (plus a new one – tapas at Barcelona Wine Bar, throwing it back to our Spain trip last year) and saw the Avett Brothers concert on New Year's Eve. It was such a fun weekend.

In between all this and after the holidays, we (mostly Joey) got a bunch of Airstream projects done. We washed and waxed the RV and truck, got rid a bunch of stuff and reorganized, magnetized the fridge and painted it blue, fixed a lot of random things, and Joey's mom sewed us new curtains, which turned out amazing!

It felt really good to be home for a few months, even if it went by too fast.

On the road again (2024)

Kicking off round 2 of RV travels! We're heading to the southwest, which is where we plan to hang out until May. Super excited to do some desert camping (and hoping most of it will be either free or super cheap, since there's so much public land out here. Trying to improve our off-grid game a bit this year).

We're outside San Antonio right now; next we're headed to Big Bend National Park in west Texas. Big Bend is super remote and apparently has the darkest skies of any park in the continental US. Then we're planning on going to New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah over the next few months – but we'll see what happens! Like last year, we're mostly winging it. 🤠 See ya on the road!