Surprises along the way

Believe it or not, we have never had a problem with a campground that we have found in the entire year we've been on the road. I credit this to quite a bit of research that goes into booking the campgrounds, and a wealth of information from apps and websites like Campendium, Hipcamp, good ol' Google, and the many blogs of other fulltimers. 

But there is always a first for everything, and this week was our first time to arrive at a campground that we had planned to stay at and decide to leave.

We crossed into California imagining an easy two hour drive to our campground near Crescent City, CA. But when we arrived, the internet was not as advertised, we could not find a camp host to provide information on our reservation, and many of the spots were filled with RVs that had obviously not been moved for awhile and were extremely unkept. These were signs that it was time to move on and try somewhere else. 


So we just headed down the coast of California on 101 and looked for a new campground for the week. Requirements: open this time of year, available spot for the bulk of the week, decent internet, and minimal sketchy RVs. It took us four hours and we stopped at a total of eight campgrounds, but we found a nice spot under the redwoods in the coastal town of Trinidad, CA. Steven kept his cool the entire time. I'm not ashamed to say that I did have a bit of a grumble midway through our search since I have been booking the campgrounds and was frustrated with this outcome.


But just as the sun set we drove into the Emerald Forest RV resort, parked under some beautiful Redwood trees, and then found a delicious restaurant just down the street. Great end to an unexpected day.

And just in case this happy ending wasn't enough of a reminder that road life offers wonderful surprises, when we pulled over during this sunset to figure out the next campground to try, we got one more treat. I got out of the car to take a picture and could hear hundreds of seals on the rocks below. I couldn't even see them, but the serenade that was echoing off of the rocks was an incredible moment.  


This was the spot that we pulled into that night! Trinidad had fantastic restaurants and we spent a day exploring Eureka, the costal fishing towns, and local brewery.

Plans don't work out. And the outcome is sometimes better. Lesson learned. 

Getting work done

We work anywhere to get work done!

Steven has balanced his computer on his lap in the car and taken phone calls from the middle of the desert. He has set up his office on picnic tables, on our cooler while we were boondocking, and on folding tables under the trees. I have painted on the fold down desk in the trailer, on the beach, and while sitting in our collapsible chairs. 

One of the main reasons that we are able to do this adventure is because of our jobs. Most 20 (ack we are 30 now!) 30 somethings do not have the luxury of moving around the country while still having an income. And even 10 years ago, this would not have been possible because technology would not have been as smooth. So we count our lucky stars for this opportunity. Which is also why we are choosing to grab this moment while we can! 

What we are doing while on the road:

Steven: Secret Agent Steve will continue working for a small government contractor as a computer engineer. We timed our adventure to coincide with a few events that Steven was supporting, and navigated our route to visit a few of the company's offices and his coworkers. 

Chelsea: I started my own business a little over a year ago creating a line of greeting cards, so I will continue to build my etsy site, network with local stores along the way, and do commissioned art pieces as I receive them. My website has original paintings that were inspired by our adventures, so be sure to check them out!   

If you have any questions about how we stay connected while on the road, please let us know! 

Coastal Oregon

Last year when we picked up our trailer we hustled down the coast amidst the Oregon and California rain. We were new to trailer life, sleeping in sleeping bags with no pillows, and tripping over the wet and muddy bikes that we had to store in the trailer. Traveling, even is yucky weather, is easier now. Booking campgrounds is easier, cooking meals is easier, and we have probably made our bed too comfortable because mornings are rough. 


So this time around we wanted to enjoy the landscape between Seattle and Sonoma County. We decided to take the coastal route and explore the many gorgeous state parks along the way. 

We stayed the first week in Cannon Beach at Cannon Beach RV Resort near Haystack Rock. Sometimes I book a campground because of the town nearby, and sometimes I book solely on the campground. This time I saw that the campground had a hot tub and an indoor heated pool and booked without looking at what was around. We were SO pleasantly surprised by the town of Cannon Beach and hope to return in the future! If you are looking for a cute seaside town, I highly recommend Cannon Beach. The town was relatively quiet this time of year which suited us well. And we got to enjoy a local event called "Blues, Brews, and BBQ". So much to like about this place! 

Some of you may have seen that we did a little "day in the life" on social media while we were in Cannon Beach and I wanted to include the pics here as well. 


We spent this second week at Bullards State Park in Bandon, OR (which Steven called Brandon, OR the entire time we were there). The park is just a mile from the ocean and has lovely spacious spots that each feel like they are tucked into the mossy woods.


We took advantage of staying along the coast and rented a dune buggy and cruised the coastline. And I only screamed once. 


If you have read my post about exercise, you know that I try to find a YMCA with a pool so that I can hang with the local grandmothers and do aqua aerobics. But as you can imagine, this is not always possible, so when I can't be in the pool, Steven and I go for a run.


Running, or I should say enjoying the activity of running, is new to me. But my kind husband runs at a ridiculously slow pace so that my short legs can keep up, and because we are always staying in new campgrounds, then I never tire of the scenery. This week at Bannon State Park we had a perfect 2 mile run to the ocean. And the weather was perfect for most of the week, so we got in several runs!


We had a blast along the coast. Next up, the redwood giants!

Northern Washington

Steven and I both agreed that our week in Anacortes was exactly what we had envisioned when we hit the road a year ago. We have had many weeks like this all over this country, but as we round the corner to a full year on the road and completely circumnavigating the country, we are holding on to our favorite parts of this lifestyle so we never ever forget this adventure. 

When we hit a rhythm of working during the day, making delicious meals from local produce, taking walks in the evening, and taking excursions on the weekend, this feels like a dream. We meet so many wonderful people--in campgrounds, at restaurants, and at the YMCA. Folks have been so generous with their recommendations and advice and they have all sweetened our travels. 

Northern Washington was gorgeous and treated us to another week of lovely fall weather. We enjoyed driving to the little towns in the northeastern most corner of this country and exploring the coastal landscape. We have missed the water! 


At the end of our two weeks in northern Washington we made it back to Homegrown Trailers, now in their beautiful new facility. This means that we officially made it full circle in our little trailer. They made some updates to the trailer and repaired a few things so that we could get back on the road. And we got to check out Homegrown's newest model that sleeps up to 6! While at Homegrown's new facility, we drooled a little over the new model and told some funny stories from our travels. We love Homegrown Trailers and are proud that this company has had such success over the last year!


Lessons Learned on Travel Days

When we started this adventure in November 2016, it started to rain within the first hour of picking up our little Homegrown trailer. Then it didn't stop raining for our first week of traveling. And then even a month later when we made our first big move down the coast of CA, not only had it rained most days that we had been repacking the trailer, it also rained for our first really long travel day and first time fully setting up the trailer. Despite a very wet start to this adventure, we have had bad travel days and good travel days since then, and have learned some good lessons. 

Things we have learned to make travel days easier and actually fun:

  • Start early. Pack up early and leave your site early. 
  • Get to your new spot before dark 
  • Respect mother nature and be open to adjusting your timeline or route. 
  • Eat before you leave and have snacks available (hangry is the worst way to travel)
  • Cracker Barrel Restaurants make for a comfortable night stay when you have long travel days back to back.
  • We made a very detailed check list and got it laminated. We mark it off with a marker before we head out from a campground. (We highly recommend double checking your list even when you make quick stops. See below)
  • Double check your check list. Our favorite stool on the side of a hwy in CA agrees. 
  • Harry Potter on audio books makes for excellent entertainment for the drive.
  • We like to travel 4-5 hours on a travel day and get to our destination with enough time to explore our surroundings in the evening.
  • Things move around in the trailer way more than expected, even on smooth roads.
  • When your trailer looks unique, be prepared for people to take pictures and give you thumbs up while they drive by. (aka, don't be stuffing your face with cheesy popcorn or be picking your nose) We may have learned this from experience.
  • When you carry your house behind you, take advantage of it and make lunch on the side of the road, or hang out and watch a show while you wait for the restaurant to text you that your table is ready. 
  • Stop at things that look interesting. When we were driving through Arizona we made a detour and drove through the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest. It was totally worth it. 
  • Small is good. We might not have as much room as we would like, but wind isn't scary, and getting into gas stations is a breeze. We have also driven through cities and parked in cramped downtowns. 

Here is an example of one of our favorite travels days. We stopped at Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Monument, cooked soup in the parking lot of the monument, and drove through the gorgeous landscape of the Black Hills National Forest. 

Most recently, the fall colors gave us a fantastic show on a travel day from Coeur d'Alene, ID to Seattle, Washington. Another reminder to take your time on travel days and to pull over even just to look at colorful leaves.  

I hope this helps anyone thinking of adventuring in an RV! If you are already living full time in an RV, what are your recommendations for travel days? 

Making lunch on the side of the road in the middle of New Mexico

Making lunch on the side of the road in the middle of New Mexico

Jackson Hole and Yellowstone National Park


Steven and I had been to Jackson Hole a few times before this road trip and had pegged it as a spot that we wanted to return to on our great loop around the country. Because of our love of the area previously (including an epic canoe camping trip at the base of the Tetons) we had even decided that it would be a good place to consider for full time living...when that time comes.

This is the quiet season for Jackson, so it was a nice time to explore the town and imagine life in this special spot. We knew that snow was a possibility, but armed with a new heater, it didn't scare us that our little hobbit house might soon be covered in snow. We planned a two week stay in Jackson Hole, and decided to dedicate a long day to visiting Yellowstone National Park during that time.


However, the night we arrived in Jackson, the fires in California raged through the town of Santa Rosa and my hometown started a 10 day fire watch that was terrifying and devastating for the beautiful county.

I lived an odd half life while we were in Jackson Hole, calling home to Santa Rosa several times a day to talk to my parents and friends about the fires and their choices to evacuate or stay in their homes. My family and friends were very lucky and are safely back in their houses after this tragic event. I will forever remember looking at the dramatic scenery of The Tetons, but holding in my prayers the street where my parents live, the park down the street where I went to summer camp, the school campus where I learned to ride a bike,  and the many many homes of friends and family that were in harms way. It was a reminder of how quickly things can be lost and how important it is to value our relationships rather than our possessions. Tiny living had started to teach me that and now it felt like I was getting a crash course. 

We walked every day along this river while we were in Jackson. I was anxious about the fires and feeling the cool air helped to remember that the people I love were safe and making good decisions about evacuating. 

We walked every day along this river while we were in Jackson. I was anxious about the fires and feeling the cool air helped to remember that the people I love were safe and making good decisions about evacuating. 

In the midst of the fire drama Steven and I got severe food poisoning and I had the pleasure of visiting the emergency room in Jackson, WY. Luckily we both recovered rather quickly, however, this town will always remind me of these dramatic events and the desire to be home, even amongst the smoke, just so that I could hug the ones I love. 


Our visit to the National Park was amazing and the drive back to Jackson was gorgeous. This was the ninth national park that we visited this year and I am so grateful that we have the opportunity to see these amazing parks. Next up, Coeur d'Alene, ID! 

Exercising while on the Road

When Steven and I used to go camping on the weekends in Colorado, we would routinely leave on Friday after work and arrive at the camp spot after dark. It was one of my favorite things to then unzip the tent in the morning to see what it looked like outside. Nomadic life feels like this, but times 10! Every morning I wake up and look out the window, frequently to something new.


However, new scenery each week also means that each week we must figure out grocery shopping, laundry, and exercise in a new place. We figured out shopping and laundry early on in the trip, but exercise has taken some experimentation. Before we left we did quite a bit of research about living on the road full time, including how to get exercise. There are a few full time RV families who write and make videos about how to get exercise while living in an RV, but like everything else in this lifestyle, we each have to figure out what works for us. 

Steven and I belonged to YMCA before we left Denver, so it was a good membership to keep, as there are YMCAs all over the country and we figured they would be a good spot for showers while we were on the road. 

Now nine months into this adventure, YMCA has been a wonderful asset for maintaining health while perpetually moving around the U.S. Most YMCAs allow "away members" to visit a certain number of times in a month as long as they are in good standing with their home center. 

I (Chelsea) love aqua aerobics! I love swimming for exercise, I like that the work on your muscles is intense, but the recovery is quick. I love that every class can be customized to your level so you get to choose how much you want to push yourself. And let's be honest, I love being the youngest by 30 years. 


I initially tried aqua aerobics while in Denver and now I have found classes around the country. I have been in lively aqua Zumba classes in Los Angeles, small classes taught by another full time RVer at a campground, and in packed classes in Georgia with more than 50 people in the pool. I took a "power hour" class in Massachusetts that, lets just say, was not your grandma's aqua aerobics and in Freeport, Maine I realized most of the ladies were way tougher than I am because the pool water was so cold and they just jumped in! I highly recommend aqua aerobics to anyone who likes being in the water and wants to shake up their exercise routine. And as for traveling around, it can't be beat to meet the friendliest YMCA members who recommend restaurants, activities, and the cheapest place to pick up bags of Werther's candies. 

It is amazing how a lifestyle on the road, where the view out of your window changes regularly, makes you suddenly crave routine. I think that is why the YMCA classes have been so helpful for staying healthy. And why practices such as starting the day with hot water and lemon, fitting in a daily walk and creating a daily painting have become important habits for me to keep up with while on the road. Routine nomadic life...who knew that that was possible! 

St. Augustine Beach, FL

One of the locations for our daily walk 

Badlands National Park

Our National Parks system is a wonderful treasure. On our travels around the country we certainly have tried to include as many national parks as we can along the way.

This past weekend, Steven and I had a blast staying directly in the Badlands National Park among the dear and the buffalo and driving the loop road through the park. 


We stayed at Sage Creek Campground, which is on the northern side of the national park. We arrived at the campground as the sun was going down which added to the beauty and wildness of the landscape. The deer and buffalo greeted us upon arrival and the sun gave us a lovely sunset. It was all so perfect. 

On sunday morning I got up before the sun and hiked up above the campground. I got to watch the sun come up and light up the valley below. The coyotes woke me up before my alarm, and I was rewarded with a stunning view. Another day for the books!  


Little did I know, the beauty was just getting started! The Badlands National Park seemed to go on and on, the scenes increasing in drama around each bend. We had a fantastic time in the park, and we did make it to Wall Drug. 


This visit to the Badlands National Park was one of the highlights of this adventure for me. From driving into the campground at dusk and being greeted by the wildlife, to the many many windy stops along the ring road so that I could get another picture of the dramatic scenery. Towing our own little home on wheels behind me made me think of the many people who traversed this country in covered wagon and how the harsh landscaped seemed impassible to some, but for others who knew how to live off the land, the Badlands was their own piece of wild beauty.

We will certainly be back to this surreal landscape. And the colors, textures and shapes will show up in my paintings as I dream of the allure of this place.  



After a long drive out of New York and a pitstop to visit some dear friends in Indiana, we made our way to Elgin, a town outside of Chicago. If you have ever tried to find RV camping near Chicago, then you know that there are very few options. You can either urban camp at a few parking lots designated for RVs, or you can do what we decided to do, which was to find a campground outside (way outside) of Chicago and then drive in for the weekend. We ended up loving the set up that we found at the Paul Wolff Campground in Elgin, IL and extended our stay so that we could have a full weekend in the city and still get all of our work done during the week. 


Expecting fall in Illinois in late September was silly. Instead we got 90 degree weather nearly the entire two weeks! But the singing crickets and miles of hiking trails that we could use in the evening when it cooled off, made it well worth it to stay. The staff at the campground was extremely accommodating and the locals staying at the park were very friendly. We highly recommend this campground. 

During our stay in the Chicago area we also got to celebrate our One Year Anniversary! September 25th, 2017 marked one year from the happiest of moments pictured below.  


Since we are living tiny we decided to forgo gifts and instead splurge on some activities in Chicago. So what makes me these two nomads happy? 


  • Get to the highest point in the city
  • Eat unusual and delicious food
  • Look at gorgeous art. 


  • Drink awesome beer
  • See something that you can't see anywhere else
  • Take a shower without shower shoes. 

Highest Point in Chicago. Check.

Sears Tower (Willis Tower) standing at 1,729 feet tall. And you better bet that I walked out to the Skydeck ledge. Also check out the shadow of the building pointing into Lake Michigan in the picture below. This was a fantastic start to our anniversary weekend! 




Look at Beautiful art. Check.

We enjoyed a leisurely visit to the Art Institute of Chicago, which also allowed us to escape the heat. We got to see my favorite Impressionist paintings, an incredible exhibit of miniature rooms conceived by Mrs. James Ward Thorne of Chicago in the 1930s, and even got to relive a favorite scene from Ferris Bueller's Day Off by visiting the painting on the left. 


Drink Awesome Beer. Check. 


Eat Delicious Food. 




A twofer! We made reservations at Band of Bohemia for our Anniversary dinner. It did not disappoint. They craft their own beer in house that was phenomenal, and we opted to do their five course tasting menu which gave us such highlights as sheep milk ricotta ravioli, perfectly cooked cod with malt vinegar powder (which reminded both of us of our days in Scotland), New York strip tartare,finished off with the most delicate, not too sweet, carrot cake and pea sorbet. Sure it was small portions and fancy names, but it was damn good. 


See something unique. 



Actually the next two collections of pictures can count as something unique to Chicago. We definitely checked out the bean and stared at our warped reflections like any good tourist. But we also took the Chicago Architectures Foundation river cruise, which gave us an unforgettable introduction to the infamous skyline of Chicago. Not to be missed.  


Long awaited shower. 



I will forgo any picture of Steven in the shower and opt instead to show the view from our hotel room. Stunning location, great view, and requested...a hot shower. 

Thanks Chicago! We had a blast getting to know you. Thanks for an awesome anniversary weekend and a great two week stay. 


Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls has been on my bucket list for a while, and I am not entirely sure why. The natural beauty? The staggering power of the water? Wearing ponchos and getting soaked with mist? That romantic episode of "The Office" when Jim and Pam get married at the falls? Whatever the reason, it is one of the few times that such a tourist attraction was TOTALLY worth visiting. 

And now I am going to post a gazillion pictures of the falls, even though you could just google better ones. Google images won't have our goofy faces, so for those I hope you stick around. 


While we were in Niagara Falls, NY I decided to take the opportunity to walk to Canada... mostly because I could, and I had heard that the view of the falls from the Canadian side was stunning. I learned a lot during my border crossing that I won't go into here, but I can say that it did leave me feeling extremely lucky to have the option to pass freely between countries just because of the country that I was born in 30 years ago.

Everyday I think about how lucky Steven and I are to be able to take this trip, thanks to flexible employment, steady income, physical health, and a country that has ensured that land is protected and preserved. This week was a great reminder of how amazing this opportunity is for the two of us, and how lucky (in so many ways) that we are to be here. 

Before I hurry off to our next stop, Chicago, I will mention that we stayed at Four Mile State Park for our week in Niagara. We had a nice spot in the tent section and thanks to Steven's directional skills we booked a spot that positioned us with great solar power so we could be off grid the whole week! It was incredibly quiet in the park the week we were there which meant we rarely had neighbors. And the park sat right on Lake Erie, so it made for a beautiful spot for our daily runs! 

The park was a little ways from town, so we ended up spending most of our time getting work done, completing chores on the trailer (we actually cleaned our solar panels finally) and enjoying the view of Lake Erie. This was a good choice as well because it was mildly stressful to be so close to the Canadian border all the time and know that with a little wrong turn you could end up having to go through customs just to go to the grocery store. Not even worth it for the duty free!

Next up, The windy city!  


Lake Placid, New York

Sometimes I think places find us, rather than the other way around. When planning for a campsite in New York it was difficult to strike a balance between beautiful parks that might not have internet and campsites with service that were over $100 per night. But then I found The North Pole campground in Lake Placid that had open waterfront, a variety of local craft brews in the camp store, and fishing licenses sold at the front desk. SOLD! 


I promise we didn't just fish the entire time we visited Lake Placid! 


The activities we found in Lake Placid were thrilling and visiting they Olympic facilities was quite the bucket list item to cross off the list. After some discussion, Steven decided that if he was in the Olympics that he would compete in the bobsled, and I gave in to the fact that if I had been born in a city that got a lot of snow that I probably would have been a famous ski jumper (mostly because I love to be in high places and it is basically flying.) So it was only natural that we had to give these sports a try while in Lake Placid, just in case our natural skill was latent and olympic judges were stationed around town. 


As you can see below, I won gold in the ski jump. Steven got the silver, but obviously won for grace and beauty in the bobsled helmet. 

We also had to pay homage to the "Miracle on Ice" arena. Steven and I like our teeth too much to try the sport of hockey, but I could honestly watch the movie "Miracle" a couple hundred times and be happy. That should count for something. 

We had a great day seeing the Olympic sites, but in the end we spent a lot of time at our from the shore, painting, taking hikes around the campground, and watching the setting sun bounce off the mountains.   



Here are a few of our favorite things...from our week in Pennsylvania 

  • Wonderful visits with local family
  • Day trips into Philadelphia
  • Stumbling onto a fantastic local brewery
  • Walking the rows at an eclectic flea market 
  • Picking up eggs at a local farm
  • Playing a competitive game of disc golf through the woods next to our campsite
  • Getting caught in a dramatic thunderstorm during said disc golf game 
  • Hearing the morning announcements bellowed through a megaphone each day as if we were at summer camp. 
  •  Using our counter oven for the first time to make corn bread 
  • Driving through rural Pennsylvania and exploring the winding roads and rolling hills. 





East Coast Reception

Steven and I have family and friends located in many places in the country, so part of this adventure has been making time to reconnect with them while we are mobile. It was also very important to us to celebrate our recent nuptials with our east coast family and friends. Here are a few pictures from our wonderful reception. 

We had the most amazing cake that included our adorable trailer and even the 4runner!


We even had a family member who handmade a miniature trailer birdhouse for us! It's so cute I can't stand it! 

We made a video of our travels thus far to show our family. 

Thank you to everyone who came to celebrate with us, and thank you oodles and noodles to everyone who helped make it such a wonderful celebration!