Updated: Dec 3, 2019
Alex and I have always enjoyed traveling and seeing new things. I myself especially love taking pictures of beautiful landscapes and scenery, as well as snapping pics of whatever we get ourselves in to. We really find happiness in exploring new places and trying something different for a change. I often I will find myself daydreaming about our adventures for weeks after they have passed, looking back fondly on the good times we had and the beautiful places we saw.
This desire for new experiences in fresh places, along with the motivation to adopt a minimalistic lifestyle has helped us ultimately make the decision to try full time RV life. The idea of having everything that you own all within this one small space. Only owning things you will actually use on a regular basis. This lifestyle also coming with the advantage of being able to bring all of your things with you, everywhere you go. Not that we really need that many things to begin with. I read in a book once that you can find out what you really do and don't need to live, if you just go camping for a weekend. And it really is true! When Alex and I went camping at Delfest this past year and I went with this in mind. It felt really good to find out that I could easily live out of a few bags and a suitcase. The minimalist lifestyle will definitely be a life change, but I think it will be something we will really embrace.
Each time we go on vacation, I almost instinctively snap in to this lifestyle. I admit I'm a heavy packer, but I still pack only what we need to enjoy ourselves on our trip, what we need to survive. It's not often I find myself longing for something I left behind at home (not counting the puppy or the kitty of course). So what makes us need to hold on to this stuff in the first place? Why not just ditch all these things we don't often use and don't really need and cash them in for the adventure of a lifetime? We have crunched the numbers and have decided that really is the right decision for us. We are so excited to begin this new adventure together! America is such a wonderful place and we have only just barely begun to explore it. I can count on 1 hand the number of major trips Alex and I have taken together, yet they account for a disproportionately higher number of the really great memories her and I share. Here are a couple of places we have explored:
The Florida Keys
Alex and I really went all in with the minimalistic lifestyle on this vacation. We opted to not rent a hotel, but instead rent a car and drive from Fort Lauderdale Airport down Highway 1 to a campground on Bahia Honda Key.
There we would camp for the next week, or that's what we thought anyway. I'll say this trip sure taught us a lot minimalist living, the biggest lesson being that we need to be prepared for our environment. Sure we were a bit lightly packed since we flew down instead of driving, but we just weren't prepared to adapt to the heat of a Florida summer. So we caved, and two nights we booked a hotel room. Never have I appreciated air conditioner more. But I mean look at that view in that picture of Calusa Beach! That was practically our
view from where we were camping. How could you not want to try camping there? We were starting to understand the benefits a minimalistic lifestyle could bring us, we just had to work out the kinks... maybe not trying to stay in south Florida in July for starters. If we could find a way to make this sustainable, we could keep this up indefinitely.
Did I mention Alex and I have a habit of visiting places out of season? Cue Niagara Falls, for New Years, on what turned out to be the coldest weekend of the 2017/2018 winter. However, this time the weather conditions really worked out to our advantage. Not only were views of the falls near completely vacant of tourists, the beauty of the snow and ice is not something I will soon forget. This time Alex and I were much more prepared. We had booked an amazing hotel and had brought tons of winter gear. We suited up and set out on foot to explore the falls. Most of the attractions were closed, but we didn't care. We were together, stomping around in the snow and ice. Enjoying the magnificent
frozen landscape the mist from the falls creates, when the temperature is about 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Every single thing is covered in this accumulated mist ice. It really was a one of a kind experience. I'm sure the falls are great in the summer, and I would love to go back then, but I can't recommend it enough to someone willing to make the trip in the dead of winter.
Alex and I took a trip down to Black Mountain for the 2015/2016 New Year to see our good friend Vince (rest your soul, brother) and to explore the Blue Ridge Mountains. This area of the country is beautiful, and if you find yourself on the western end of North Carolina you absolutely should check it out. It’s easy to explore using a few of America’s Scenic Byways! The Blue Ridge Parkway runs along the peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains, allowing you to drive along the mountain
tops alternating between an easterly and westerly view. This scenic byway is met at its northern end by Skyline Drive, another scenic byway allowing you to drive as far north as northern Virginia all while riding the peaks of the Blue Ridge mountains. The views are breathtaking, especially from the top of the highest peak east of the Mississippi River, Mount Mitchell, which has a stop along the Parkway fairly close to Black Mountain. One of the things that interests me the most about this area is the
vegetation. The plant life you will find in this area is unlike any I have ever seen. It’s not that any of the plants are different species than plants you would find at the base of the mountains or around the area (well heck, I guess they could be, I’m no plant scientist) The fascinating part, to me, is observing how all of these plants have adapted to such a high elevation. All the plants (mostly mountain laurel, a few grasses, trees, and other plants, and a ton of lichen) show signs of trying to adapt to such high altitude. The plants are almost all smaller than you would expect. Most of them are bent in many funny ways, having been shaped by the wind that beats against the mountain sides. They all look scrawny and scraggly, seemingly from fighting to survive the harsh environment. This detail, though seemingly insignificant, has always fascinated me each time I have visited the area.
Just a short jaunt off of the Blue Ridge Parkway you'll find Natural Bridge State Park. Once owned by Thomas Jefferson, this park is home to an absolutely massive natural limestone archway formation, strong enough to serve as a functioning bridge for the two lane road above. Alex and I stopped by here while visiting her grandparents in Raphine, Virginia; I had never heard of the place, and she had been dying to show me! We took a short day trip down to the bridge after a nice breakfast with her grandparents and went straight in to the state park. The walk to the bridge is short and scenic, we enjoyed snapping pictures of multiple small waterfalls and aged vegetation. As you make it the bottom of the hill you find the
James River, and a nice stone walkway leading to the towering 215 foot tall
Natural Bridge now in sight. The path allows you to walk all the way underneath the bridge and past to where they have a small replica Native American village. It really is a must see in my opinion if you find yourself near the Lexington, Virginia area. On your way out of the park there are also caverns and a small zoo. We decided to stop at the zoo and check out the surprising collection of animals they had, then headed back to the grandparents to recharge for an early morning the next day. We set sail just after sunrise the following day so that we could ride all of Skyline Drive on our way home. Like I mentioned above, this scenic byway meets the northern end of the Blue Ridge
Parkway, and rides along the mountain tops for stunning vistas to the east and
west. Skyline drive can be driven in about 5 hours, and offers many campsites, hiking
trails, and even a restaurant. Check out one of the many great views we saw along our way home there to the left. Beautiful blue skies with lush green mountaintops. Such a beautiful area of our country, I will always love that western Virginia border land.
Presque Isle is a small peninsula that jets off of the coast of Lake Erie in Erie, Pennsylvania. Alex has always loved Erie, and has vacationed there nearly every summer with her girl friends. Since we started dating back in 2015, she had always wanted to take me there. She would rave about the pristine beaches, sloppy hot dogs from Sara's, and Waldameer Park, so I will admit it didn't take much convincing for us to take a trip there ourselves. We packed up for a mid
June weekend beach trip to a place I would soon find to be one of my favorite Pennsylvania destinations as well. Alex was eager to show me all of her favorite spots. We booked ourselves a small motel a few blocks from Presque Isle so that we could really focus our time touring all the small details the peninsula had to offer. The Isle basically consists of a single one way road that wraps from the eastern coast all the way out to the very tip of the peninsula, then loops around the western side to bring you back to the mainland.
Never have I found a place more fitting to be a Sunday driver than along this road. You feel as though you are transported out of Pennsylvania to some beachy southern town. The road is wide with trees wrapping over top from both sides, and water is near always in sight.
At the end of the road as you reach the mainland you will find a number of appealing attractions, including plenty of restaurants, an environmental center, and an amusement park! Now Alex religiously patronizes one of the restaurants just outside of Presque Isle, Sara's. So that was absolutely where we would be making our dinner stop. With chilli dogs that messy and beaches relaxing and sun drenched, I could spend all of my Pennsylvania summer days drifting away here.
We have seen so many fun places and yet so many more lie ahead. We are really excited to begin this whole new chapter in our adventures together as we make the transition in to the RV! Be sure to keep checking here on the blog for all kinds of details on the things we get ourselves in to. Thanks for reading!