Mashley’s Adventures – Exploring Water Parks

Current Location: The Everglades, FL

We’re a part of the natural world, not separate from it, and shame on you if you don’t take advantage of the opportunity.
~ Rudy Mancke


What a whirl-wind of excitement we’ve been having! Though we might have been sitting still in North Carolina for a few months, the last couple of weeks have been quite full.

After leaving Fayetteville we headed south, returning to South Carolina for a visit to Congaree National Park. Though they don’t have any RV campsites, we were able to park at the visitor’s center and tent camp in the campground – giving us more time in the park – including a chance to see and hear owls (having a very heated debate!) while visiting the boardwalk! Day two found us hiking most of the trails offered in the park, out to the Congaree River bank for lunch. It was a great chance to stretch our legs on the trails once again!

It was a quick visit and then we hit the road again, working our way down the east coast to the Everglades where we set up home at Long Pine Key Campground. A few days of exploration let us discover lots of alligators and swarms of mosquitoes (only one of which got any piece of us). We participated in a “Bike Hike” ranger-guided program. We got to learm all about the park while pedaling along and being guided by a park volunteer, a fellow Kentuckian, actually! A day trip over to Biscayne National Park was capped off with Park After Dark – a live concert by a musician/historian, s’mores, telescopes, and a chance to explore the park after-hours. We lucked into the perfect time to visit for the activity, since we missed out on the boat that travels out to the keys.

Whew! We also prepped and packed up our motorcycle for a trip across the keys (as recommended by Matthew’s g-mom) and time on Dry Tortugas – which is where we’ve been this week. And with no internet, which is why this email is so delayed! But that’s a story for the next email on Monday…

One thing’s for sure, we’ve been having a blast in Congaree and the Parks of South Florida. They are definitely places worth exploring and preserving. All of them seem to be experiencing problems with resource depletion or budget constraints, so now more than ever is a perfect time to give them our support. With our days spent out on the trails and bicycles again, we are feeling an overwhelming love for the beautiful, simple, and natural places in our homeland 🙂

Floating along,
Matthew & Ashley

Mashley’s Adventures – Let the Adventures Resume!

Current Location: On the road, South Carolina

One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.
~ William Feather


It’s finally here! Ashley wrapped up the last day of her contract as a travel nurse at Cape Fear Hospital the morning of February 11th. We spent yesterday packing up the RV and a lovely evening hanging out with some new friends a few RVs down from us. Now it’s back to adventuring away!

Today we are headed to Congaree National Park in South Carolina where we will spend today and tomorrow (it’s a small park). Then we are heading south to Florida and making a b-line to Key West. We’ve got a reservation to catch a boat to Dry Tortugas National Park on Februrary 20th where we will spend a few days camping on the little island. We’ll also be visiting Biscayne National Park and Everglades National Park during the next week.

We are so very excited to be back on the road! Life has been feeling a bit too mundane lately and this whole night-shift/indoors/no-sunlight thing has really zapped the energy out of Ashley. We’re looking forward to spending days outside in the sunshine, on our bicycles, hiking, and making new memories.

With our stationary time in Fayetteville, we were able to out-fit the motorcycle to suit our needs a bit better for our upcoming adventures. New spacious saddled bags and a large t-bag have been added so we can carry our camping gear on the motorcycle. We’re very excited about this, and it has also made grocery shopping a million times easier. I’m not sure why we waited so long to do this, oh that’s right, because we’re cheap-o McGees. All of this new storage room feels downright luxurious!

Matthew’s still been having fun sketching and drawing and now he’ll have some new scenery to be inspired by. We’ll also have lots of pictures coming your way! Yay Adventure!!

Adventuring away,

Matthew & Ashley

P.S. Ashley also made 4 batches of soap this week and is setting up an Etsy shop for those who are interested in buying some.

Mashley’s Adventures – Road Trips, Visits and Sketches

Current Location: Fayetteville, NC

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.
~ John Burroughs


Feels like we’ve finally been busy! Matthew’s been having a lot of fun sketching and has been updating his art website. Even more exciting, however, was our road-trip this weekend (a vacation?) down to Myrtle Beach … where we met up with Jackie for a visit!

She travels a lot for work and we arranged a meet-up, knowing she would be near-by. Ashley’s schedule request didn’t go as hoped (no surprise) but we were able to head out Friday once she got off work and in a short 3 hours we had settled in at the delightful Myrtle Beach State Park campground. Jackie caught up with us and we spent a fabulous afternoon/evening together – chatting until early Saturday morning. Unfortunately, Jackie’s flight back to the Pacific Northwest was only a few hours later, so our visit was all-too-brief (though we’d say that no matter how long it lasted).

We had all day Saturday to explore. Started off the day with a walk along the nature trail and back along the beach. Then into town for a stroll along the boardwalk, art gallery and coffee shop exploration… it was a fabulous day spent together!

The minimum stay at the campground was two nights and Ashley had to be back at work Sunday evening. So that morning we both woke early, packed up and meandered out. Stopped for a delicious breakfast before leaving Myrtle Beach and then bee-lined back to Fayetteville. Laundry to be done and naps to take before work that night.

While it was a shame to visit for such a short time, it was great to be back on the road again! Sitting still, we’ve allowed clutter to build up a bit inside the RV, so it was definitely refreshing to pack everything away once more! Plus, it was just good to be moving, felt like home! 😀

If you’re in the area, we really enjoyed Myrtle Beach State Park campground. The beach was right next to the campground so it was easy to get out and enjoy the sunset over the ocean. Sure, it’s the off-season so a lot of stores were closed… but it was pretty empty everywhere we went. Our kind of touristing!

Adventuring away,

Matthew & Ashley

P.S. – During the week, Matthew’s been having fun sketching. He dug out supplies in December and has been playing since. Finally getting around to updating his art website – – you can see his doodles, and the progression, starting with this post. If you want to read it, just keep following the “next post” to see each new bit in order.

Mashley’s Adventures – Snowpocalypse and (Mis)Conceptions

Current Location: Fayetteville, NC

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.
~ John Ruskin


Well, we survived the great predicted snowpocalypse of Jan 2017. The storm threat that magically cleared bread, milk, and eggs from store shelves. The hospital informed all staff (at least on the unit we have contact with) that they were required to make it for their scheduled shifts and that, if necessary, they could sleep on the floor of the conference room or use one of the broken, defective bedside chairs that were waiting to be repaired.

Fortunately, Ashley simply got a ride home from a coworker who lives nearby before the great storm broke. We waited and looked out our window to see… a heavy frost. -rolls eyes- (Our accumulation shown in the picture above).

There was a lot of hoopla and, at least in our area, nothing came of it. It rained, some of that froze, and then we’ve been simply waiting out the cold. I know it wasn’t like this everywhere, but it can be comical to observe the hysteria that can occur. Better safe than sorry, I suppose.

In other news… we’ve noticed (once again, I believe) a trend in peoples’ views of living in an RV. We’re staying in a campground that is filled with long-term occupants. Some of our neighbors are retired and live full-time in their RVs and some are basically nomadic workers, following their jobs in a mobile abode. Whenever we first speak to them, it always seem that the workers make sure to mention that they have a home back… wherever. They ask where we live and I point to our motorhome, “right there.”

Even though they are living in an RV themselves, they seem to view it as a lesser lifestyle than living in a home. A couple have mentioned being “homeless”. Houseless – absolutely! Homeless? Not at all!

It’s just interesting to see others’ viewpoints. One person’s everyday-normal is another’s abstract-foreign. Different doesn’t mean wrong, and you can’t compare directly since everyone is coming from a completely unique viewpoint, their own.

Well, it looks like we’re having an above-freezing, delightfully sunny day. So we’re taking our coffees and going to enjoy a bit of time outdoors.

Adventuring away,

Matthew & Ashley

Mashley’s Adventures – Holidays and Routines

Current Location: Fayetteville, NC

An artist using a sketchbook always looks like a happy person.
~ Roger Ebert


It’s been a while since we’ve sent out an update, but to be honest, life has been unusually routine and mundane lately. Between Ashley’s night shift and the cool/damp weather, we’ve both found ourselves spending a lot of time sleeping and hanging out inside the RV (as the other sleeps or is at work). Good thing we love our cozy home!

Matthew pulled out his sketchbooks and has been playing with different pens (doodling a lot of people in the cafeteria at the hospital while waiting for Ashley’s morning escape).

We’ve made some reservations for National Parks in Florida and are planning out other visits along the way. Over-all, we have a very rough plan for 2017, that hopefully includes the completion of our quest to visit all 48 contiguous states. Though we fully expect a change or two along the way. Plans set in jello, and all that… 😀

Fortunately, Ashley didn’t have to work for four days after the 23rd. We traded stockings and put away all our Christmas decorations then hit the road. Ashley slept as Matthew drove back to Newport, TN to join Matt, Brittney, and the nieces for a fabulous Christmas. Norma and Jim joined us on the 24th for a lovely time.

It was over all too soon, though tentative plans have been made for future get-togethers since we’re relatively close by for the next 6 weeks.

Back in Fayetteville, Ashley reluctantly jumped right back into the hospital, though we’re looking at the upcoming schedule to see when we can get away for more excursions. We can’t wait until February gets here so we can hit the road and get back to days filled with exploring, hiking, biking… and sunshine! We hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and has a Happy New Year!

Adventuring away,

Matthew & Ashley

Mashley’s Adventures – The Day To Day

Current Location: Fayetteville, NC

You can lose yourself watching rain as easily as you can watching a fire. Both are deliberate yet whimsical, completely engrossing in no time at all.
~ Jonathan Carroll


(This week’s edition brought to you by Ashley)

This week has been filled with lots of good food, learning, and adjusting to a different way of living. We’re enjoying our spot here at Lake Waldo’s Beach Campground. Most of our neighboring RVers are also in the area for some sort of transient work like us. Everyone has been very nice and it’s quiet during the day which makes for good sleeping. I seem to have adjusted (or reverted I suppose) relatively well to the vampire life. Matthew, on the other hand, just couldn’t handle the challenge (I’m quite a bit tougher than he is after all ;), so he’s back to normal human existence and sleeping at night. To be honest though, it is working just fine being on opposite schedules. He chauffeurs me to and from work on the motorcycle everyday, always has breakfast waiting when I wake up and has dinner ready when I come home. He even packs me a lunch bag every evening. He’s a very good house husband and makes working at a hospital again a much more tolerable experience. Knowing we’ll be done in 2.5 more months and enjoying the beaches of Biscayne and Dry Tortugas National Parks also helps.

We had a lovely Thanksgiving, although it was just the two of us. I worked the night before, so while I slept, Matthew slaved away. I awoke to an RV full of delicious ribeye steaks, pesto stuffed mushrooms, mashed potatoes, bacon wrapped green bean clusters, deviled eggs, and a homemade apple pie. It was wonderful! He’s turning out to be quite the cook.

As I mentioned above, I’ve been brainstorming the next leg of our journey once February rolls around. We’re in a great location here to begin moving South, hitting all the Southern Florida Parks (Biscayne, Everglades, Dry Tortugas, Big Cypress Preserve), then following the gulf coast into Texas. Quite a few of these Parks require some advanced planning, so it’s great we’ve got some time to do that!

We’re looking forward to spending Christmas with family in Tennessee and to some overnight trips over the next 2 months to explore nearby Conagree National Park and Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. Until then, we’re settling in, seeing what there is to see in Fayetteville, and making new friends in the area.

Adventuring away,

Matthew & Ashley

P.S. – We found tea biscuits! Really been enjoying the treat and reminiscing about our time in Ireland.

Mashley’s Adventures – Nocturnal Edition

Current Location: Fayetteville, NC

Work hard, save your money, and keep your nose clean.
~ Sam French, Jr.


This week finds Adventure-Some on the night shift! While it doesn’t seem like a lot has happend in the last few days, at the same time everything has changed since our last email!

We visited with Ashley’s sister, bro-n-law, and the nieces for a few fabulous days in Newport, TN. While there they took us exploring in nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where we had a wonderful day checking out historic buildings (like a working mill with a water wheel), watching sorgum molases being made, and hiking along a delightful creek up into the mountains. Our timing worked out splendidly, as we even got to see Bailee (our oldest niece) on her 13th birthday!

Then it was time to continue on our way to Fayetteville where we settled in at our current location at Lake Waldo’s Beach RV Campground. Of course, there is no lake, as the levee was damaged over the summer and has been drained for repairs, which the recent Hurricane Matthew delayed.

Ashley made it through two days of hospital orientation and then a couple of night shifts on her unit. Tonight she will begin working on her own. Since she’s going to be working nights she is planning on sticking to a sleep-during-the-day schedule to make it easier. Matthew’s also switched sleeping schedules so that we can maximize our time together.

Sleep deprived while switching schedules and focusing on orientation, we’ve been relative homebodies this past week. Cooking, reading, and getting out for a little bit of local exploration have been our primary activities.

Starting Thursday Ashley’s going to have a 4 day weekend, however, so we expect to get some different type of adventuring done then.

Until next week, Happy Thanksgiving!

Adventuring away,

Matthew & Ashley

The Twisted Path to FullTime Life in a Motorhome

As with anything in life, our path to buying a motorhome, remodeling it, and then moving in as our primary residence has been one full of twists and turns.

Looking back Ashley and I have come to realize that we don’t like sitting still. Between traveling and living in different places we have always been on the move and grow restless when we have been in one place too long.

9 years ago, Ashley and I connected over shared ideas about adventure, travel, and life.

8 years ago, we moved off to school and began exploring the Daniel Boone National Forest in central Kentucky.

We discussed the possibility of buying an RV and living in it as a way to mitigate costs while students

7 years ago, I married my best friend at a destination wedding within the Red River Gorge, a subset of the D.B. National Forest. We decided against buying something and let a short-term apartment, as we would be leaving in 6 months to study in Ireland for a school semester.

7.5 years ago found us living in a converted garage in Maynooth, Ireland while we attend school and jaunt about the country on weekends.

6 years prior, we returned from Ireland, drove to Colorado at my dad’s passing, packed up his things and returned to Kentucky. We drove up to Lexington for a week’s worth of apartment shopping to prepare for the upcoming school semester.

The next 4 years find us bouncing around apartments in Lexington as we work at various companies and finish our degrees. A trip is taken down to Donna, TX to visit Matthew’s grandparents. We buy a motorcycle as a second vehicle. Ashley sneaks away the last summer to join family on a 7-day backpacking trip in Colorado (sadly, Matthew could’t get off work). We go and visit Ashley’s oldest sister in the Seattle, WA area.

With the beginning of our careers looming we debate where to live. Other than visits, we have always lived in Kentucky. While it is a beautiful state, with much to offer, our wanderlust has by no means been quenched and we are eager to see more of the country, and world. However, we also enjoy spending time with our families, the core of which happen to live within just a few miles of each other.

2 years ago, we pack up everything and return to our home town, leaving favorite restaurants and great friends to live close to our families. Ashley is able to transfer from the hospital she had been working at for two years to another one within the same network, beginning her career as a nurse. We sign a two-year lease, agreeing with each other that if we have fallen back in love with the area we can settle down once the lease expires. However, the conclusion of the lease also signals time for us to mosey along if the urge to travel is still strong.

1.5 years ago find us settled in place. Both of us have jobs, one of us with a company we love and that could be good enough to consider retiring from. We picked up another car. We have discovered new restaurants and coffee shops and have a routine of visits with our respective families. There was another backpacking trip in Colorado – and Matthew was able to join on this one. We take an impromptu trip to the Bahamas for a vacation.

1 year ago, we begin looking at houses for sale. It feels like time to move. We want something that we can decorate and really make ours. Years of renting make us ready to own.

The houses and property that catch our interest are more than we want to pay. Maybe we can just buy land and build our own home. Ashley’s dad did just that and we love his house. So the search for land began. Alas, nothing seemed to match our respective desires.

10 months ago it occurred to us that perhaps the land isn’t the important part. Maybe we could just build a tiny house and rent a spot from one of our parents (or bounce between them in an attempt to not wear out our welcome.) Research began. We settled on tiny house plan that we both loved. It was big enough to feel spacious and small enough to be economical – something we felt confident that we could build and since it was on wheels it was portable so we could travel and take our home with us! But something just wasn’t right.

8 months ago, after lots of frustration with her employer, Ashley dropped down to part-time. She was much more relaxed, had more energy, and even began pursuing some personal interests.

I read Chris Guillebeau’s newest book, The The Happiness of Pursuit and it clicked. A tiny house would be ours and would allow us to travel while having our own home with us. However, while they can be moved, it doesn’t seem like they do well when they are frequently mobilized. An RV, however, is made to do exactly that.

After much discussion, we agreed. A tiny house has some advantages over a motorhome/RV, and is a project for a future day. A motorhome would allow us to travel around the United States and explore the different places that we might want to live.

Building on the idea of the quest, presented in The Happiness of Pursuit, Ashley decided that she wanted to see every National Park and National Forest in the continental United States. That almost covers every state, so I added visiting all of the lower 48 to our todo list.

Now the idea stuck with us and we began figuring out what we would have to do to make it a reality.

We decided not to wait until “later”, influenced by the passing of loved ones who didn’t get to live out their dreams.

6 months ago we started looking at Motorhomes and debating how to bring what secondary vehicle along with us. My mom and step-dad had a class-C that they’d used on a handful of trips over the past 3 years. They offered to let us stay in their yard for a week so that we could see what we liked/didn’t like about RV life (important information to have, seeing as neither of us had stayed in an RV since we were wee children). We enjoyed it so much that we stayed for a second week, and then offered to buy it from them. They had been discussing upgrading and we worked out a deal.

5 months ago we pulled our new-to-us motorhome into a workshop on Ashley’s mom’s property so that we could begin the remodel that we had in mind. I removed the couch.

3 months ago I put in my notice at work. There was much crying and gnashing of teeth. I list my car for sale.

2 months ago we began actually remodeling the RV and paring down our belongings. We decided to go for a full remodel after much debate. We might be hurting the resale value if we tried to sell it back to a dealership, but we don’t ever see that happening. If we sell it, it will be directly to an individual, and they will appreciate and value the upgrades that we have done. Painted all of the walls and cabinets (with much help from Ashley’s family), replaced the carpet with linolium wood flooring (which is waterproof) and began building a window seat with storage underneath to replace the couch. We even managed to squeeze in a yard sale.

5 weeks ago we were still working full-steam on the remodel after work hours, living at Ashley’s moms house to help minimize commute times. We reupholstered all of the cushions and my mom so graciously made us new curtains (with love).

4 weeks ago we moved the RV to our apartment and began moving into it. A weekend project lasted two as I struggled to pare down a lifetime of pack-rat-itis to fit into our new home. The second car finally sells. We hold a final yard sale.

3 weeks ago we migrated back to Ashley’s mom’s house and moved into the motorhome full-time. We change plans for a support vehicle and begin searching for trailers. Our list of small upgrades/changes may never end. I pass off all of my duties in my final days at work.

2 weeks ago we begin preparing for the surprise send-off BBQ planned for the weekend. We buy a trailer and my step-dad builds a bike rack attachment for it at his house while I stand by and hand him tools. It doesn’t work as planned. After a night’s sleep we come up with a modified solution. Motorcycle chocks are built. We load the motorcycle and bicycles on it and take it on a test run to get it over to the motorhome. The BBQ is a delicious success!

1 week ago we hit the road, off to explore the world around us. We love our new home and the opportunity that it provides us!

This post vastly simplifies the process that we went through. There was much debate throughout each of these steps. Comparing options, researching solutions, seeing what others have done, etc. A number of issues were revisited multiple times. Sometimes a decision was made and external factors caused us to change directions mid-process.

Few, if any, adventures have straight paths that lead to them. Much of the fun is the journey!

Taking Advantage of Planned Lazy Days

I woke up to the sound of rain on my roof. Which was a delightful sound this particular morning. This was our break – a day to do nothing but laze around the RV. And we’ve been waiting for it to start raining for a few weeks now.


For at least the last couple of months it feels like my wife and I have been running full blast, with after burners on. Between planning our trip, remodeling the RV, gathering supplies, winding down jobs, narrowing down personal items to fit in the RV, and selling the extras – it’s been non-stop! I kept joking that I’d finally get a break about 3 days into our trip. Apparently I was wrong – it took 5.


Three states in, two National Forests, and two National Recreation Areas later, and it was finally scheduled to rain. We settled in to our campsite and looked forward to a day of rest.


But just doing nothing is hard! The rain let up in the mid-afternoon and both of us mentioned that we could get in today’s training bike ride, or run to the grocery store on the motorcycle, or maybe go for a hike. But we adamantly said no, we have been planning a sit-at-home day for some time now, and we are going to take full advantage of it.


So we have. After sleeping in we ate breakfast while watching most of our neighbors pack up and head out, back to their every-day lives (it was a rainy Sunday at a state campground). Then we enjoyed our coffee and tea and soaked in the scenes out our windows. Eventually we looked through some paperwork that we had been collecting during our travels and took care of a couple easy chores inside the RV.


As the sun peeked out we strolled down the trail and checked out a historic cabin and meandered down the shore of Lake Michigan briefly before heading back to our cozy home. Then it was time to put together some chili for supper, eat, and later have some popcorn as an early evening snack.


Throughout the day, we both had to remind the other that it was our day off. We have definitely gotten into the habit of always doing something. Fortunately we have been planning for a break for a few weeks now and helped each other stick to that plan.


We definitely needed a break. The Good Lord knew what he was doing when he appointed a day of rest each week. After our day of rest, we are both exited about tomorrow. Which is good, because we have a 30-mile bike ride, a 250′ dune to climb, and more!