Thinking About the Future and Looking Back on the Past

It is that time of year again. When everyone looks back over the previous year, decides what went well and what didn’t, and sets new goals to accomplish over the upcoming year. Matthew and I have never been big on setting “resolutions” per-say, but we do spend some time each new year reminiscing about the previous year and outlining goals to strive toward in this one. We’ve noticed that doing this helps to keep us motivated and prevents us from sliding in to a rut. Continue reading

Mashley’s Adventures – The Winds of Change are Blowing

winds-of-change-are-blowing

Current Location: Mayfield, KY

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward. Adventure is worthwhile in itself.
~ Amelia Earhart

~~~~//~~~~

What a crazy week! We’ve made plans, changed them, made new plans, attended a Spooktacular Halloween Party (dressed as a Park Ranger and a Moose!), ran about a million errands, and there is still a piling list of things to do. Also, it sure hasn’t felt like Fall here in Kentucky. The temperature has been keeping steadily in the 80’s, and we even had to run the RV air conditioner so we didn’t sweat to death…in November! Madness! But, a cold front should be rolling in soon, just as we begin rolling out.

That’s right! Adventure-Some will be back on the road, headed to a new destination! Now, our plans have changed quite a bit since our last email, very surprising I know. It really should just be expected by now. We are no longer going to be in Campbellsville, KY working for Amazon until Christmas. As luck would have it, Ashley got offered a Travel Nursing position in Fayetteville, North Carolina. She starts November 14th and the contract ends February 11th. We are both excited for this opportunity because 1) we get to go somewhere new 2) it gives us a way to make a substantial contribution to the bank account and travel fund while also giving us an opportunity to make this lifestyle more sustainable long term 3) and it gives us the chance to visit more states and nearby National Parks this winter!

We are grateful for the extended time we have been able to spend with our families this last month. God knows that we have missed them and they have missed us, but we can’t deny that we are itching to get back to exploring new places, seeing amazing things and accomplishing this journey we set out on 17 months ago. If there is one thing we are, it is determined 😀

Adventuring away,

Matthew & Ashley

P.S. – This change in plan does throw a loop into visits with friends over the next few months, which we hate! Pondering other ways/times to get together, however.

Mashley’s Adventures – Breaking News

breaking-news

Current Location: Mayfield, KY

If you don’t read the newspaper, then you’re uninformed. But if you read the newspaper, you’re misinformed.
~ Mark Twain

~~~~~//~~~~~

It’s been a pretty steady couple of weeks here in Adventure-Some land. Working on some saved projects, spending time with family, and searching for future jobs. As all that has taken place, however, we did manage to fit in an interview with the local paper, the Paducah Sun. (All thanks to Jim’s suggestion and introduction!) The story ran Saturday and was on the front page! Woohoo!

We’ve decided that the current best option is to move forward with Ashley finding a travel nursing job or two. A couple of contracts a year should cover most of our expenses – if these are during the winter in the south, we can continue exploring during the summer elsewhere. Matthew is still looking at options, whether that be finding a remote position with an online company so that he can work anywhere or… something else.

There’s still a lot of puzzling to do as we research options. Until then, we’re enjoying the fall weather and chance to spend time with family!

Adventuring away,

Matthew & Ashley

Mashley’s Adventures – SleepOvers and Smoked Meat

sleepovers-and-smoked-meat

Current Location: Benton, KY

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Barbecue may not be the road to world peace, but it’s a start.
~ Anthony Bourdain

~~~~~//~~~~~

Our plan was to be up in Maine this weekend, enjoying the cool weather and the spectacular fall colors. Of course, that didn’t quite work out so we’ve been enjoying more time with family, celebrating Tobey’s (Matthew’s sister) new house purchase (and helping her move in) and helping pull off another successful Unky Doo’s Bar-B-Que!

Friday evening we seasoned the variety of goodies for the next day and early Saturday morning we got up and started the smoker. Family and friends trickled in from all around throughout the morning and the feast properly began at 2:30.

There’s not much that can make one feel better about life, about humanity, about the state of our world than gathering together with family and friends over a delicious meal. We had a fabulous time visiting with family that we hadn’t seen in over a year, catching up with friends whose visit was even longer ago, and making some new friends along the way. The weather was fabulous and we couldn’t have had a better weekend!

The car has been running fine since we’ve returned home, not that we’ve needed it very often. We’re looking into options for it – repair, rebuild, or replace the current engine or just move on to something new. But we aren’t expecting to need it frequently in the near future so, now that we’re back around family, there isn’t such an urgency to repair it.

Adventuring away,

Matthew & Ashley

P.S. – We’re still in a holding pattern, waiting to hear back from Amazon about Ashley’s start date and our next move.

Mashley’s Adventures – Waterfalls and Unexpected Stops

waterfalls-and-unexpected-stops

Current Location: Benton, KY

Again it might have been the American tendency in travel. One goes, not so much to see but to tell afterward.
~ John Steinbeck

~~~~~//~~~~~

Wednesday morning we headed into Cuyahoga Valley and bicycled from one end to the other on the Tow Path trail. The train ride back to our starting point was a lot of fun and provided a fabulous opportunity to see the park from yet another point of view.

We left our trip plans open because of the issues we’d been having with the car. Getting up to Maine and breaking down didn’t sound like our idea of a good time (though it would definitely still be an adventure of some sort). So we agreed that if there were any problems while heading to or during our time in Cuyahoga Valley, we’d return to Kentucky. We had no issues what-so-ever, though, so after our bike and train ride we packed up and headed north east.

Thursday morning we stopped by Niagara Falls. What a fabulous place for lunch! As you may know, we aren’t big fans of touristy places, so the falls didn’t hold a huge appeal to us. Without paying to go down to the bottom, we couldn’t feel the full force of the volume of water moving (by standing next to it, not underneath!), so we probably didn’t get the complete experience. None-the-less, we can now honestly say “yes” when asked the inevitable “have you been to the Grand Canyon/Yellowstone/Niagara Falls?” Apparently that is, collectively, “The American Experience” trifecta. 😀

After lunch we continued east and found a delightful free campsite in the Chataqua State Forest in NY.

On Friday we made it just to the Vermont border when the car started stuttering. Pulling into the visitors center we assessed our options. There was a nearby Dodge/Chrystler dealership that was open for just a few more minutes so we headed that way. By the time we arrived the car was running ok and the check engine light was off. The service department was closing in about 5 minutes and didn’t work on Saturdays so we decided to press on. A few more miles and one big hill later, the stuttering started again. We took the first exit we could, called the closest dealership – just missed them but they would be openin in the morning – and headed to a nearby RV park/campground for the night.

First thing in the morning we drove to the dealership. They gave us a loaner for the weekend and looked at the car Monday. Seems like one of the valves is leaking, which is roughly a $2500 fix. Car’s worth about $2000. Hmm… It’ll cost us about $2900 to rent a UHaul and trailer to tow the car home. Ultimately, they said we should be able to drive it home if we take it easy. That’s our favorite option, so we hit the road on Monday.

– 9 new sparkplugs (in a car running 4)
– 1 new gasket
– 1 new Camshaft Position Sensor
– 2 jumpstarts
– 1 new battery

A few hours later, it started stuttering again and shuttering rather violently. Oh no! It’s just after closing time everywhere so we snag a motel in Herkimer, NY for the night. The next morning we limp over to a mechanic who adds some oil, replaces one of the spark plugs that is horribly fouled, and puts in a new intake gasket set before sending us on our way. He didn’t know why the spark plug was so corroded since it had just been replaced, but since we had gotten around 2,000 miles out of the first one, he said it should get us home.

Back on the road and, seemingly running smoothly, we coffee up and keep on moving, slightly afraid to stop for fear of another problem cropping up. From 2pm until about 5:30am we keep driving and finally pull back in at Benton, KY. We sleep for a few hours in our own bed, back in the RV, and are thrilled to be here!

So we didn’t quite make it up to Maine and Acadia. We spent some time in lovely towns in Vermont and northern New York. Though we’ve driven through the tip of Pennsylvania, twice, we haven’t yet stopped in the state. We’re back in Kentucky, in time for the family BBQ and are thrilled at the chance to visit with family. They also seem pretty happy that we are back for a bit.

The car is currently running but will have to be dealt with eventually – but for now we’re close enough to people we know that any issues are merely frustrating and not disasterous. Ashley’s offered to start working earlier than planned at her Amazon job. Matthew’s starting the job hunt again. For now, we expect to be in Kentucky until January, adding to our gas fund and taking some short trips to nearby states and National parks. And that’s enough planning for us – we definitely do better with short term targets than actual plans. 😀

Adventuring away,

Matthew & Ashley

P.S. – Curious where we rest along our travels? Here’s a few of our overnight spots – adventure-some.com/personal/you-slept-where/

You Slept Where?!

We assume that most of you reading along with our adventures do not live in an RV and that many of you have not spent time in them. So we wanted to explain some of the basics of our new life.

One of the most apparent differences from our stationary life is where we spend our nights. On the one hand, no matter where we go, we are home and are sleeping in our bed. On the other hand, we never know where we’ll be parked in a couple of days (or even that night!) Here are a few of the places we’ve stayed over the last 14 months.

Walmart parking lots

Prevalent and convenient, Walmart provides a dual offering of both a place to spend the night and a chance to pick up whatever we might need (and bring it right back to our front door). Occasionally they won’t allow (or the city ordinances forbid) overnighting in their parking lot but you can quickly tell if it’s allowed when pulling in, based on the other RV’s already gathered. The lights are constant, as are the traffic sounds – Walmarts seem to be generally located on one of the busiest roads in the area. As a place to stop while en route, they’re hard to beat, though.

Apparently Sam’s has a similar appreciation of RVers, but we have yet to stay at one. They’re on our radar as options when needed, however.

Truck Stops (yes, the big gas stations)

Another good place to stay en route, these are conveniently located near the interstate. They often provide numerous services including showers, laundry, fast food, and more (other than bathrooms, coffee, and gas we haven’t yet utilized any others). As you might expect, they’re pretty well lit and earplugs are handy as you’ll be listening to big rigs moving around all night long.

Rest Stops (picnic areas on the interstates)

We’ve only stayed at a few of these so far – so many of the smaller parking areas don’t allow for over-night stays and some states have limits on how long you can park (ranging from 15 minutes to 12 hours). They can be far enough back from the road to mute the traffic noise but are often close and thus have a constant background noise. They do make great places to stop and stretch or prepare a meal (just as when traveling in a car) and we generally try to find one as we enter a new state so that we can grab the official state map.

Cabela’s

The outdoor retailer has parking areas for over-sized vehicles and often provides stations to empty and fill tanks. We stayed at one while slowly making our way to the Bad Lands (pausing due to Sturgis). It was far enough back from the interstate to be quiet, but we were staying in a big parking lot, so it’s not the kind of place you’d want to spend a lot of time at. Very convenient while traveling, though.

Cracker Barrel

Apparently, CB has an overnighters-are-welcome policy. We have yet to stay at one (they are few and far between up here in the north west) but they are on our to-try list. A chance to peruse the knick-knacks in the store and grab a hot breakfast sounds good to us. Plus, they close at night, so we’re hoping they would provide security with the lights in the parking lot but a good rest with little background traffic noise.

The Wild

We’ve spent a lot of time staying out in the wilds in National Forests, deserts, and wilderness areas. Free camping with beautiful views – it’s a hard combination to beat. This is commonly called “boondocking” or “wild camping”, though the forest service calls it “Dispersed Camping”. With no utility hook-ups, we have to be self-containing and rely on our storage tanks, generator, and batteries for our needs. So far we’ve been able to stretch our 37 gallons of fresh water to 10 days. Especially here in the west, there are a lot of national forests and a lot of places we can stay, so we have greatly enjoyed exploring a lot of wilderness from within.

Campgrounds

Oh yes, there are also plenty of campgrounds scattered around the country thus far. We are members of Passport America, a discount organization that gets us half off for at least a couple of nights at grounds that are members – so we use their guidebook regularly. Sites have ranged from new to old, shiny to worn-out, working to questionable. Not everywhere has a Passport America campground, so we have a collection of apps and directories that we use to find sites. Many cities and counties seem to have a small campground for travelers, as do National Parks and Forests. Campgrounds generally have the advantage of electricity and access to water and dump tanks for our waste.

Other options

Who knows where we’ll stay next! We have spent time parked in family’s driveways or the street nearby and left the RV in a church parking lot while staying in a delightful cottage on the lake. So far we have felt safe in our home, no matter where we’ve been parked. Occasionally we use our ear plugs to help provide a better night’s sleep but those nights are more than made up for when we get to wake up and appreciate a grand view of nature’s wonder during our morning’s beverages.

Exploring the world doesn’t mean we’re always staying in grand locations. It does mean that we’re happy in our home, though, wherever it might be parked at.

Mashley’s Adventures – Planes, Train, and Automobile

planes-train-and-automobile

Current Location: Peninsula, OH

We believe in celebrations, both big and small.
~ Kate Spade

~~~~~//~~~~~

After heading out from our free campsite in the Ottawa National Forest on Thursday, we headed south to Kalamazoo, MI for Lisa and Tim’s wedding. We had an amazing time and thoroughly enjoyed our time with the new couple, their families, and friends. The ceremony itself was beautiful and the reception in the AirZoo was a blast – it’s definitely worth visiting even without a DJ and cake!

Our current explorations find us in an odd mixture of urban woods. Sunday morning we left Kalamazoo and headed east, visiting a new state and eating supper in a new National Park – Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio. Cuyahoga Valley doesn’t have any campgrounds so we followed the GPS a few miles further east to a nearby state park for the night. CV is unlike any park we have visited thus far, as it is more of an “urban” park, being situated between Cleveland and Akron, Ohio and populated with houses and small towns throughout.

Our most anticipated feature of CV is the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath bike/hike trail. It runs north-south through the park and we brought our bicycles specifically to take advantage of it. The highlight is that we only have to ride one way and can catch the Cuyahoga Scenic Train the other direction back to our patiently waiting CarVee thanks to their Bike Aboard! program. Of course, the engineer and conductors get a two-day weekend, so we’re waiting until Wednesday for our bike ride when the train is running again.

From there, we have a couple of optional routes so we haven’t quite decided where we’ll be heading next. But we’ll let you know as soon as we do!

Adventuring away,

Matthew & Ashley

P.S. – There are lots of ways to RV – here are some of our thoughts about a few: adventure-some.com/examples/rv-options

RV Options

While writing “A Few Thoughts on (RV) Size” I briefly touched on different RV options and mentioned how we are curious about the different rigs that people are using. Of course, we don’t know who is full-timing, on a 6-month walk-about, using a week’s vacation to travel or just out for a relaxing weekend. And to some extent, it all depends on the person. Some people would be happy in a teardrop for a year while others need a fully decked-out Class A to be comfortable for a weekend.

Here are a few of my thoughts about the different options – how and what I would use them for, personally.

Class-A Motorhome
These buses are just bigger than I have a desire for. The space would certainly be convenient (especially moving up from something smaller) as I could throw everything that I own in one an still have room left over. They seem like they’re ideal for families who use their RV as long-term home-base for adventures, driving to a new destination and staying there for at least a few weeks. Plenty of room to spread out.

Conversion Buses
While these can be the same size as a Class-A, I am a lot more intrigued by them. It’s the DIY nature that appeals to me. I like the idea of buying a bus, ripping out the interior, and getting to build up from a blank slate to match my desires. However, I know that this can be a challenging and expensive process (though it doesn’t have to be).

If I were to do this, I think it would work best as a quick way to build a permanent structure on a plot of land. Install wood floors, some hammocks across the back, cabinets and counters down one wall and a window seat on the other for easy furnishings. A black-hose solar water heater on the roof with a water cistern underneath hooked into the sinks, combined with a composting toilet and a wood stove would be fairly easy to put together for basic utilities. A solar panel kit on the roof with batteries stored underneath for lights and some power. It would be a metallic rustic cabin, with lots of natural light from all of the windows.

Class-C Motorhome
Obviously, I’m happy with one of these. It’s a great mix of a self-contained vehicle and living space. The Ford chassis that ours is built on provides plenty of pulling power and we have ample space inside. We really like the ability to move directly from our living quarters into our vehicle without having to go outside – not only convenient but very handy when it’s cold, raining, or we otherwise don’t want to go outside but are ready to start moving. Plus, it can’t be overstated how much we like being able to see what is happening inside our home while we are on the road. If we forget to take something off the counter and it slides onto the floor we can quickly stash it away, though on a trailer we wouldn’t know until we arrived and went back to find it.

Class-B Motorhome
The RoadTreks keep drawing my attention. Though I’ve seen video and photo walk-throughs online I have not yet been inside of one and am curious. They seem large enough to make a dandy full-time space for two while traveling but I’m not sure that they would feel large enough to live in while stationary for any period of time. If anyone happens to have one that I could test out, however, I’m certainly happy to experiment!

Fifth-wheel
Though these seem to be popular and provide plenty of space along with, I assume, quite a good turning ability, they don’t appeal to us. Of course, we haven’t spent any time in one so we can’t give an informed decision. I know that they can be the largest of trailers, as the tongue doubles as an additional room without adding additional length out the back and they are popular choices because of that. For aesthetic and storage reasons we are more interested in a traditional trailer than a fifth-wheel.

Trailer
Trailers provide the convenience of separating your house and your vehicle, something our motorhome cannot do. We are towing along a secondary vehicle (commonly called a “toad”, in our case the motorcycle on our trailer) to make up for that fact. With a trailer we could park, unhook, and drive our towing vehicle as a daily driver. That vehicle would also provide additional storage – perhaps tools, grill, and bicycles could live in a truck bed, replacing a trailer of some sort.

We are drawn to the Airstream trailers, though I expect it would have to be either a new one or remodeled to look how we would like inside – and the price of a new one rather dampens our interest. Our vision includes wood floors, a tiled shower in the bathroom, sleek modern lines on furniture, and brightly colored blinds to liven up a space.

Conversion Van
The project nature of a van appeals to me – the fun of planning it out is probably greater than actually building it. There are three things that really intrigue me about these: the satisfaction of living in something you made, the portable nature allowing one to get far back into nature, and the stealthy ability to overnight parked along the street in towns.

I think that one of these would be a fabulously affordable way to venture out on an extended road trip or to save money while traveling along with a mobile job of some sort. The building process would just start the adventure early, before the travel is actually undertaken.

Tear-drop Trailer
Again, the DIY nature of these appeals to me. There are abundant plans available online. Small and streamlined, they can be pulled by efficient vehicles, not requiring a large truck. Providing basically a comfortable bed and efficient kitchen, they look like highly-upgraded camping kits to me. I expect to build and utilize one of these once we decide to settle down somewhere. It will help push us to go and spend time in nature or travel, camping in luxury in a mobile vacation home of our own.

So many options…

I know that I’ve left a lot of other options out (like a converted box truck) and that many of the DIY projects overlap (wooden floors and solar) but I just wanted to share some of the different methods of travel that I’ve seen and thought about while on the road.

There’s something for everyone out there, customizable to your specific desires and circumstances. It just takes a bit of time and effort to seek it out and then make it your own.

Mashley’s Adventures – Silver Linings

Current Location: Mackinaw City, MI

There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.
~ Linda Grayson

~~~~~//~~~~~

This week certainly hasn’t been quite the adventure we expected. After spending a few days in Oshkosh, WI the car was running smoothly once again and we had adjusted tickets for the last boat of the season out to Isle Royale National Park. We found a free campsite out in the Ottawa National Forest, tucked along Sudden Lake. It was a beautiful place to spend a couple of nights until we headed up to Houghton to catch our boat. Along the way, the car sputtered once again and the check engine light came on. We called the Ranger station and let them know we didn’t think we’d be able to make it, once again. We found a mechanic who got the car fixed pretty quickly (it’s wasn’t the spark plug once again, as we feared, but a sensor gone bad.)

Though we missed the boat, we did stop at the visitor center. Technically, we’ve visited Isle Royale National Park. Of course, that didn’t quite satisfy our desire to get out in the wilderness and explore. We’ll definitely be returning another day.

Our planned stop at Oconomowoc Lake didn’t quite go as planned, either. Due to being under the weather, Joni and Jim thought it best that we didn’t come visit just now. We miss our time with them but we want them feeling better!

So we’ve found another free campsite out in the woods, this time just outside Mackinaw City, MI along French Farm Lake. We’re staying for a few days until it’s time to head south for the wedding in Kalamazoo.

Lessons Learned (or relearned):

  • If you look, there’s always something good hidden in the bad.
  • There are fabulous places to (temporarily) live everywhere!
  • Batteries on our phones don’t make for the most efficient long-term reading experience.

Other than some beautiful free campsites, that doesn’t necessarily sound like a great week, does it? Barring a couple of stressful days, we’ve enjoyed it, though. The days of pouring rain? We spent them lounging in the comfort of our CarVee or tent instead of backpacking through them. The Park service returned most of our pre-paid fares. Both of the issues with the PT Cruiser are common occurrences (according to the interwebs) so we should be, statistically, good for another few years. Both of us have been enjoying some extended reading time and Matthew has made some contacts on his amateur HAM radio (finally, after carrying it around since last June). And, at least for now, the weather is nice and sunny, our air mattress in the tent has been superbly cosy, and we’re together with our best friend on this amazing adventure!

Adventuring away,

Matthew & Ashley

P.S. – A few more thoughts about mis-adventures along the adventure of life: adventure-some.com/rv/its-not-always-sunshine-and-rainbows/

Ashley driving the CarVee

Mashley’s Adventures – Moving into the CarVee

 

Current Location: Oshkosh, WI

The more you have, the more occupied you are. The less you have, the more FREE you are.
~ Mother Theresa

~~~~~//~~~~~

This week we’ve been gearing up for a new round of adventures while visiting friends and family! The bulk of that preparation included downsizing from Lady Galapagos, our 29′ motorhome, into our PT Cruiser. The Cruiser has long been called “The Cricket” and is now affectionately known as our CarVee. Home sweet home, for the next 8 weeks!

We spent a few unplanned days in Oshkosh, WI due to car problems. Nothing serious but enough to make us miss our boat out to Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior. Though we did manage to switch our tickets to Friday’s boat (the last of the season) for a night on the Isle. It’s a bit of a bummer to lose a few days on the island, but at least we still get to visit!

From there, we’ll be swinging by Aunt Joni & Jim’s Lake Cottage for a few days back in Wisconsin before heading on to Kalamazoo, MI for a wedding celebration on the 17th!

Lessons Learned (or relearned):

  • We really don’t need that much stuff to be happy and comfortable! (We’ll update our thoughts in 8 weeks…)
  • There’s never enough time to spend with the people you love.
  • It’s amazing how much smoother the bicycle is after a tune-up.
  • We don’t make fixed plans for a reason.

Once we leave Kalamazoo then we’ll be heading east, aiming for Maine. The grand northeastern loop will net us a few new Parks (Cuyahoga, Acadia, Shenandoah, and maybe the Great Smokies) plus all of the northeastern states!

It’s going to be an exciting couple of months and we’re psyched about trying out the new mode of travel as well as the chance to explore new places! I’m pretty sure we’ll be happy to return to the RV though, not only because it’s our home and we miss it after being away for a while, but because it’s parked with our Kentucky families so we get to see them again when we return. We sure have missed everyone more than we realized these last 14 months!

Adventuring away,

Matthew & Ashley

P.S. – Curious what a CarVee looks like? Check it out here.