Mashley’s Adventures – The Great Urban Marathon

Current Location: Charlestown, RI

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over civilized people are beginning to find that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is necessity.
~ John Muir


The past few days since our last update have been a blur of cities, blacktop, and some new states. After leaving Shenandoah we were in limbo for a couple of days, waiting to see if one of the nieces could join us for the trip up to Maine, to our last state and National Park. While waiting, we meandered a bit further each day, through Maryland and into Delaware. Finally, as we were closer to Maine than eastern Tennessee, we solidified our plans and headed on our way.

As we were leaving Shenandoah we picked up a hitchhiker (one of Matthew’s unspoken goals for the quest). Lance was a delightful retired gentleman who was backpacking through the park and meeting up with some friends further up the Skyline Drive. We were more than happy to give him a lift part of the way and enjoyed a delightful conversation with a fellow adventurer.

Not feeling quite brave enough to head through D.C. in the RV during evening rush hour, we found a rest area just short of the city to break and ended up spending the night. Early the next morning we rose and headed on, beating traffic and watching the sun rise on the horizon. We hated to skip D.C. but between pending thunderstorms and the struggle of urban RV parking, felt it best to return at a later date when we can fully explore and enjoy the experience (maybe via train!).

On through Maryland and into Delaware. Exhausted and bleary-eyed we paused to unload the motorcycle and head into downtown Dover for a much-needed break. We ended up at the Brunch n Lunch and thoroughly enjoyed some delightful meals. Matthew finally tried chicken-n-waffles, along with maple gravy and a side of chicken-fried bacon. (This may also be known as heart-attack-on-a-plate, but we’ve been curious about the chicken and waffle combo for a couple of years now.) It was delicious and quite a treat that morning. Ashley’s falafel macaroons were wonderfully presented and also fabulous. Feeling quite rejuvenated, we returned to the RV and headed a bit up the road to a nearby visitor center. Though it was unexpectedly hot we paused there for most of the day, waiting on word about our potential travel companion and getting some chores done around home.

falafel macaroons

chicken-n-waffles with maple gravy

As our allotted time ran low we headed on up the road to a nearby Walmart for the night. In the morning we solidified plans for a separate, later trip with our niece and were able to head north without concern. Never fans of cities, we decided to push through and get past the urban sprawl ahead of us in New Jersey and through New York City!

  • 46 National Parks (of 47 in the Contiguous US, aaaahhhhhhh!)
  • 45 States (of the lower 48, hey-oh!)
  • $100+ in tolls in one day (boo!)

After perusing the maps we settled on a direct route, hopping on I-95 and following it all the way into Maine. This means paying some tolls, which we’ve avoided for the vast majority of the trip thus far. Matthew’s not a fan, sometimes to Ashley’s frustration. She commented, “what if we are paying more in gas going around than just going through?” The toll out of Delaware was a few dollars, no surprise. Then we continued on through the length of New Jersey and were a bit caught off guard by the $30+ fee. But it was the entire length of the state and we are a large vehicle. Crossing the George Washington Bridge into New York, however, thoroughly surprised and disgusted us with a $60+ amount, that’s right, $63 just to cross a stupid bridge. And it wasn’t even that great of a bridge. We were pondering what happens if someone didn’t have the cash on hand? No cards accepted and there’s certainly not a place for us to turn around…do you get arrested? do you get a bill sent to your home address in addition to an extra fee? Luckily we didn’t have that problem, though we both rode in stewed frustration from this point on. Ashley did say to disregard her previous statement about avoiding toll roads.

Sometimes we enjoy visiting cities, though not nearly as much while in the RV. During this quest we’ve mostly avoided them. We just aren’t city folk, much preferring the wilderness. Each time we venture into a city we find ourselves thinking that the poor residents just don’t know how bad their lives really are. But, we do realize that it’s just not our type of place, we do know that there is a lot of culture and diversity to be had in a city, and we’re glad that people thrive on the bustle, leaving the wild places empty for people like us. Though we loved the forested hills and sleepy towns of upstate NY, traveling through the Bronx and other parts of the city along I-95 certainly don’t inspire us to come back to the area any time soon.

Glad to rush through we continued into Connecticut for the night and then into Rhode Island, to a nearby state park. After a few nights of not enough poor sleep and some pretty focused driving, we enjoyed the chance to spend a restful day in the woods. At ~850 campsites we’re pretty sure it’s the largest campground either of us have ever been to (which seems odd since it’s the smallest state), but our site is nice and secluded. After a night’s pause we’ll be heading on up into Maine to explore the final park, in the final state of our current quest.

tucked into the woods in Burlingame State Park, RI

home sweet home

enjoying pond view in Burlingame State Park, RI

Whew, it’s been a blur over the last few days.

Drawing close,

Matthew & Ashley

Mashley’s Adventures – Appalachian Country

Current Location: Smyrna, DE

The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
~ Marcel Proust


This week’s update is a little delayed (meaning it’s over 2 weeks late, oops!) so we have a few things to share with you. As of the last email we had just surprise visited our families in Kentucky (which was really fun!). We finished up our time there with a huge RV spring cleaning, both inside and out. I went through and reorganized many of our storage compartments and cabinets, goodwilled some items, and deep cleaned the window crevices to remove 46 national parks worth of sand and dirt that had accumulated. The NPS tells you to take nothing and leave only with memories, but we could have made a small mouse-sized beach complete with dunes with all the sand I found hiding in odd nooks and crannies. Matthew handled most of the outside, and it was no better. Having spent the last few months driving through desert sands, mountain sleet, and bug clouds, our front end looked like a morbid modern art painting. When we left Moab, the red dust blowing about had stuck to all the bug explosions on the front of our rig, creating a very interesting and colorful pattern of splatters. Very embarrassing (for me anyway). All this to say, we were really dirty and spent a lot of time cleaning. Now I can look at our home unashamedly (at least for a little while, until the bug swarms start again).


We left west Kentucky and moved east to Mammoth Cave National Park. Being Kentucky natives, we have visited the cave in the past, so for this visit we decided it would be fun to explore the above ground section of the park. There is a lot of very nice hiking and bicycling that we really enjoyed. The Mammoth Railway Bike Path ran right by our campground so we spent an excellent day enjoying some pedaling on it’s wooded, gravel path. Other than one heart pounding moment on the trail when Matthew and I almost ran over a snake it was a very pleasant ride. There were scattered thunderstorms during our visit, so we also played about a thousand rounds of UNO. This UNO marathon sparked an idea and Matthew suggested we start a Lifetime UNO Tournament (where we will keep a running score until one of us dies). Right now Matthew is winning, but I have at least 40 years to regain my lead, so the odds seem pretty good.

the River Styx Spring at Mammoth Cave

the Echo River Spring at Mammoth Cave

CCC stone cabin that housed chlorination plant

On the railroad bike & hike trail

From Mammoth Cave we made an overnight stop in Lexington, KY to visit some dear friends. We had a blast catching up with them and also got to indulge in our most favorite donut/coffee shop of all time, North Lime Coffee and Donuts. If you ever go through Lexington you should stop just to go there. Best. Donuts. Ever. We may have gone twice during our 16 hour stay in the area; there is no such thing as shame when it comes to North Lime.

visiting North Lime Lex

  • 46 National Parks (of 47 in the Contiguous US; Holy Cow we’re almost there!!)
  • 40 States (of the lower 48, woot-woot!)

On to West Virginia we headed and happily stumbled upon New River Gorge National River. What a beautiful area amongst the rolling Appalachian Mountains! We spent a night here and motorcycled down in to the gorge the next day for a little refreshing scenery before heading on to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

New River Gorge bridge in West VA – a world-record holder

The coolest bathroom

At Loft Mountain Campground in Shenandoah we snagged a superb campsite, right on the edge of the ridge with a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains and the Appalachian Trail about 10 steps down from our site, separated only by a thin line of trees. The sunsets from here were stunning, with the layers of blue and purple rolling mountains draped against the backdrop of a glowing pink sky and orange sun. Complete with a gentle breeze, the smell of moist air and spicy pine, and the chittering song of birds. This part of the country may not be as dramatic and awe-inspiring as the West, but it has a quiet, subtle beauty that is all it’s own.

sunset reflection

Sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah

Sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah

We spent 4 days in Shenandoah, enjoying some motorcycling along Skyline Drive, a day of hiking on the Appalachian Trail, and generally just absorbing the pretty views and sunsets. By happy chance, we even met a fellow nomad at a little coffee shop called The Blue Elk Coffeeshop in Elkton, VA while doing some online route research. He and his wife are wedding photographers, originally from the area, and currently traveling and living full-time in their truck camper. It was fun to sit and chat about our common interests in RVs, travel, and coffee (you can see some of their beautiful photos on instagram

Hiking on the AT

lunch on the AT, overlooking Skyline Drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains

Now we’re on the road again, headed over to Maryland and Delaware for a bit of a U.S. history lesson.

Putzing along,

Ashley & Matthew