Derek and I have definitely been tackling the 3 C’s in life as we transition into full time RV living. Once we finally decided this was the right choice for us it was time to take a chance on our dream. But taking a chance doesn’t always mean taking a blind-leap of faith. We truly want this lifestyle to become the successful norm for us, so our approach has been to take an educated chance. We are so ready for this lifestyle change, but we certainly couldn’t do it alone!
To succeed you need to practice, and make mistakes, first. We’ve scrolled through many articles and watched hours of YouTube videos about people who are doing exactly what we want to be doing. This has been huge in helping us figure out what we want from RV life. We’re also lucky enough to have another added advantage-- my grandparents! You might ask, what do they have to do with an RV adventure? My grandparents are avid travelers who not only have their own trailer, but have traveled around the country multiple times towing their Nash. After making the decision to go full time, my grandparents offered to impart some RV wisdom, and basic RV know-how, over a weekend long trip. Derek and I were stoked at the opportunity to practice hitching up a rig, towing, setting up a campsite, and to see what it was like living in the space. I had some extreme reservations at first [I was terrified] about driving a huge truck, not to mention towing a 20-something ft trailer! Don’t worry, I survived the drive.
The day finally arrived for our weekend of tactical training. We hitched up without any problems and I jumped behind the wheel, having insisted on driving the first leg of the trip before I got too nervous. As we began the journey the rain started to roll in, and as customary of a Pennsylvania spring we hit a few construction zones. Actually, we hit a few construction zones during a torrential downpour! I was so excited to experience some crazy driving weather because it boosted my confidence in driving the rig tenfold. Not only did I survive towing a trailer, but I drove in some tough stuff. I am woman, hear me tow! Or something along those lines… We started out north toward a fond childhood memory of mine, Kalyumet Campground located around Cook Forest State Park. I often visited Kalyumet Campground with my grandparents over the summers. Back then they had a pond, where I often caught frogs, and a ping pong table. Now the campground boasts an outdoor swimming pool and arcade, among other amenities. It is definitely a family friendly environment with tons of activities for the kids! Derek took over the drive about half-way and rocked it. Upon arriving to Kalyumet we set-up the trailer and my grandparents set-up their park model right across the camp road.
I was excited to finally be settled in and get to spend time at camp with my grandparents. Life, as usual, had been jam packed. This weekend was going to be the longest time I had spent with my grandparents in years! YEARS! We spent the rest of the afternoon Friday putzing around and setting up camp before making a trip to Clarion for a few supplies and dinner. When we got back to camp, my grandma and I set up the card table. George and Mary taught us how to play 7’s, a hooking and fast paced game. The four of us played into the wee hours of the night, sharing memories and stories between hands. It was one of those rainy camp nights you wouldn’t trade for anything.
On Saturday we set to work on getting camp ready for the season. Pine needles were swept away and decorations placed. We even learned how to clean out the gutters on an RV. Hint, it's the same as cleaning gutters on a house-- stinky gray sludge! The sun started shining and my parents also made an appearance on Saturday in time for us to explore around a bit together. Our first stop was a short hike to the Cook Forest Fire Lookout Tower and Seneca Point. This is a short and easy hike to the fire tower. Wonder through old Hemlocks and mossy rock structures to find the tower not far away. If you’re brave enough, climb to the top of the 87.5 foot metal structure. While you can no longer go in the room at the top of the tower, you can still enjoy a captivating view of Clarion River Valley below and grab some fabulous pictures from the top steps. After the fire tower, and exploring hidden paths through rock structures and giant rhododendron bushes, we continued down the trail to Seneca Point. From this fenced-in lookout point you can catch views of the Clarion River and forest below.
From there we hiked back out to the car and checked out a few of my childhood haunts like the Parker’s Indian Trading Post and Rock Shop. I just had to show Derek some of the gems and fossils I remember falling in love with as a kid. He and I both have a love for Earth’s beauty and are fascinated with such bobbles. Some of my other favorite memories of Cook Forest took place on the river. This trip was pretty cold and rainy, so we didn’t get to float a canoe or tube down the river from the Pale Whale. I had to settle for a gorgeous drive along the water, on our way to dinner.
We went to The Farmer’s Inn for some grub. This place had everything- a restaurant, ice cream shop, gift shop, bakery, souvenirs and local art, a driving range and mini-golf course, Amish furniture, and a petting zoo! My grandparents said we had to try delicious pressure-cooked chicken. Derek and I opted to get the buffet, which had the famous fried chicken along with a smorgasbord of local homemade dishes like roast beef, ham, mashed potatoes, apple butter, and all the breads and cookies you could stuff in your mouth. After eating waaaaay too much food we took a much needed breather, watching goats play. We even found a spare quarter and fed some of them. Most of the cuter little guys got bullied away and opted to play on their jungle gym later.
Saturday night was finally dry enough to host a campfire. We headed to bed early-ish to make sure we were ready for traveling the next morning. Sunday was spent packing up camp, towing, and cleaning the trailer. Derek was able to back the trailer up my grandparents tricky driveway like a pro. We cleaned up buckets of mud from the weekend and that was that- a wonderful weekend of family and knew knowledge acquired.
That short adventure in the Nash with my grandparents taught us an incredible amount! We learned and practiced the safe way to tow, and experienced some adverse weather in the process. With all the rain there was time to be stuck in the trailer and truly experience what it was like. My favorite take away from our weekend though were all the stories, the anecdotal knowledge, that spanned from trailer oops moments to favorite destinations, to old family stories. Derek and I had a wonderful time with my grandparents and the time in the trailer helped us solidify our thought that the choice and chance to live in an RV full time are so worth it for us. We both are so excited that this change is beginning to manifest into our reality!
Until next time,
The Tie Dye Travelers