How We Knew RV Life Was For Us

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“Y’all are crazy!” “How are you really going to pull this off ??” Statements that I’ve heard over and over since I started telling people about our plan to get an RV, live in it, and travel around the country full time. My only answer to these statements is, ” Yeah we are a little crazy and we have no clue how we are going to pull it off… but God does.” This was not a long time planned thing. A year ago this was no where on our radar, but here we are. Today I am going to walk you through the crazy process we went through and how we decided that RV life was for us.

Cody an I have always loved traveling. After our first mission trip we fell in love so hard that we thought we would be full time missionaries. (that could still be true, you never know what God has up his sleeve.) In 2016, I remember planning out our 10 year plan. We were going to do long term missions and eventually start our own organization. I was caught off guard when someone on our mission trip that year told us that our future was going to be different that what we were planning, but it was still going to serve God and the kingdom. I had no clue what that really meant (and still am not sure if I do.) I just remember thinking, ” So we aren’t going to get to do missions in Greece one day?” and I was a little bummed.

Fast forward and we got married. Reality started to take place. We had bills to pay, school to attend, money to make. We had way less time than we ever thought. We started settling. I was planning on graduating and then getting a house. Long term travel was no longer in the picture. I just wanted stability. Just like all the other small chapters of our lives, the chapter of becoming adults and being unstable ended.

In August of 2019, we were planning on spending the summer of 2020 in Spain. I threw out another crazy idea.( I have lots of them, but most don’t happen) ” Why don’t we spend a year there?!” Cody said I was crazy and getting a visa would be too difficult but we still threw around the idea of spending 3 months there. We just weren’t sure if it would be during the summer or in the fall. These plans came to a very sudden halt when COVID hit.

Everywhere was locked down and we saw no hint to when things would begin to open again, much less when we would be able to safely travel abroad. I began to look for houses. I wanted a change. I just wasn’t sure what kind of change.

Here’s a little fun fact about me: I have always felt like a homebody. I told myself that I don’t like change. I don’t like to move. I want a place to call mine and that is all I need. I was wrong in every single way… and I am somehow just now seeing this. We were in our first home for 6 months before I decided I wanted to move. We were in our second home for less than a year when I pitched the Spain idea. I am realizing that change is no issue to me. I do love being around family… but family can come to me and I can always come back to them. I am fine going where ever… as long as Cody is with me. (sounds sappy, but it’s true.)

Anyways, I was looking at houses. We even tried to buy a fixer upper in Ponchatoula, but our credit wasn’t where it needed to be yet. I had no clue at the time, but not getting this house was a God send. I started looking at potential houses in Florida, Colorado, Texas, and Hawaii. I just couldn’t find peace about any of the places I was looking into. Them I had (yet another) crazy idea… We should get a camper and travel for a few years!!! Cody was not on board. The price was way more than he thought acceptable. He was concerned about money. He didn’t know about leaving our family. Lots of factors went into our thoughts on if we should stay or just go! I couldn’t explain it, but I just had an easy feeling about this one.

I didn’t say another word about it. I just prayed that night while Cody was in the other room. I remember telling God that if this was just another one of my crazy ideas to let it pass. I wasn’t ever going to mention it again. If it was something that He had placed on my heart and this was His plan for my life, then let Cody agree to it, but I was not going to interfere by talking about it. Without saying another word, the first thing Cody said when he woke up was, ” Do you really want to get a camper?” Cody had no clue about my conversation with God at this point, but the fact that those were his first words to me confirmed that this was, in fact, God’s plan.

As time went on, Cody started to doubt it. He was getting nervous about leaving and being financially stable and all the other things that are completely normal to worry about, but I knew this was our calling.

In August, we took a one month road trip through Colorado while tent camping. This was where Cody really jumped on board with the camper idea. He said, ” This is life. This is living. This is where we are happiest. On the road, exploring new places.” That trip sealed the deal.

When we got our stimulus checks, we used them to pay off all of our debt. (except our credit cards) We spent the next few month restraining from traveling and working our butts off. We got our credit up a substantial amount, got the loans and by early December, ( a month before our lease was up) we had the camper and truck.

We aren’t sure what the future holds. We don’t really have a plan. We are just living in the moment and looking into all the options possible for income on the road. We are excited for this journey and where it is going to take us. Make sure to follow along. Our first big trip kicks off soon and I will make sure to to write all about it, vlog about it, and constantly update Instagram. Thanks for all the support!

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Top 5 Things to do in Gatlinburg, TN

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Gatlinburg is a great destination for people that love city life and the outdoors. It’s the perfect spot for group trips because there is a little something for everyone. You can go on a walk and see mountain views and then drive for 20 minutes and take a tour of the city. In today’s post I’ll be summing up some of my favorite things to do in the Gatlinburg area.

1. Ripley’s Mirror Maze

There are two and one is way better than the other, so make sure you go to the right one. The one we like so much is inside of a candy shop. If you purchase tickets, you can go back as many times as you want that day. This is the perfect thing for families, but it can also be great for just adults… and let me tell you how. There are 3D glasses that you can buy for $3 extra that will distort the room. It is the main thing that brings this attraction from something for kids to something an adult will love. If you drink, go drop in on a few of the moonshine tastings around town and then go take another visit to the mirror maze with your glasses on…. good luck getting out!

2. Rowdy Bear Ridge Lazer Gun Coaster

Rowdy Bear Ridge is actually a whole adventure park, but it looked closed when we went… not sure it it was because of COVID or other reasons. I found the lazer gun coaster on Groupon originally, both my husband and his friend love lazer tag, and the tickets were under $20 (even without groupon)… so we went for it. When we got there we found out that the ticket price includes 2 rides on the coaster.

On the coaster, you sit beside someone you know and each of you get a gun. There are targets below the coaster that you have to shoot. Each color is worth a different amount of points, but if you max out the points on your gun, you get a free ride on the rowdy bear alpine coaster.

This is a great family activity because it can include and entertain all ages. It can also call for some friendly competition between family members. (If you are into that)

3. Sugarland Distillary

I will stand by my opinion that Sugarland is better than Ole Smokey. The atmosphere is amazing. The people just seem like they love their jobs and they are so helpful and friendly. If you stop at Sugarland you HAVE to do the moonshine tasting. You will pay $5, but it comes with a coupon for $5 off of your next purchase. (& you can combine them and collect them for a few days which is helpful if you go multiple times or want to split a jar with a friend or 2.) With the tasting you get to try 12 different flavors and a bonus cocktail made from 2 of the flavors you are tasting. Every day the flavors are rotated and changed, but I haven’t tried very many flavors that I didn’t like. (Hazelnut and apple pie are the best along with all of the sippin’ creams)

4. Ripley’s Aquarium

This is by far the best aquarium I have ever been to. There are so many different sections to see. There is a play area if you have young kids (it’s about halfway through so you can stop if you have so they don’t get tired of just walking around) . They also have a glass bottom boat tour over the shark aquarium. My favorite part was the Ripley memorial section. There is a short movie about his life and a room full of Ripley fun facts and things that he discovered from all over the world. This place is great for families or adults. All ages can have fun here.

5. Rowdy Bear Alpine Coaster

We have gone on a few alpine coasters when visiting Gatlinburg, but this one really stood out. You can pay extra to get the lazer tag feature and play lazer tag while riding the coaster. When you get on the ride there are Christmas lights everywhere, which gives the best experience on a night ride. (These may only be here because I went in December) Overall the riding experience was great. They also had different deals to get multiple rides on the coaster.

Gatlinburg is one of our favorite places and every time we go, we find more things to do. If you are planning a trip to this area any time soon, I hope these things helped you find great ways to spend your time.

10 Best Camping/ Outdoor Products

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Camping and traveling are a big part of our lives. Having the right gear can ensure that you enjoy your time…wherever you may be. Today’s post is about our top 10 recommended camping products/gear.

1.Ozark Trails 6 Person Tent

This tent has been a life saver. Before getting this tent, we had a pop-up tent that we absolutely loved…until we didn’t. It always had a problem with the zipper and then it finally gave out in November 2019. The zipper broke and we were caught in a tropical storm. When we got this Ozark Trails tent, we were so over-the-moon happy with it and still are. We can fully stand up in it, it has LED lights inside of it that are battery powered. It is also a pop-up tent, so it is super easy to set up and take down. We have not had a problem with it yet.

2. 2-Person Sleeping Bag

This is really good for couples and has been a life saver for us. We bought it for our 1st camping trip after we were married. It keeps us warm because it holds in body heat and it isn’t much bulkier than a normal sleeping bag. So, you don’t have to waste space with 2 sleeping bags or worry about forgetting one of them. For extremely cold weather, put a blanket inside the sleeping bag and cover your head. It will keep you so warm and toasty.

3. Mess Kit

This is a life saver for any camper! These pots are small, but they can get the job done! Before we got a camp stove, we used to use these on grills and fire pits that were provided at the camp site. We have cooked so many things from pancakes to spagetti. It is a must have if you plan on a longer trip and you aren’t going to be eating hotdogs and marshmallows everyday.

4. Ozark Trails Camp Stove

This has been the ultimate life saver when camping. No more scrambling food over a fire. No! This stove is fueled by the mini propane tanks and it is so easy to use. It cools down in under 30 minutes. You do have to use something to help start the flame. The best thing to use is an electric lighter. The wind won’t stop the flame from blowing out because there is no flame, there is a safety button on the lighter, and it stays charged for such a long time. Thanks to this stove, we have gone from cooking mediocre foods to cooking normal foods that we would cook at home. For example: on our most recent camping trip we had a spagetti dinner with a side of cooked down green beans.

5. Igloo BMX Cooler

This ice chest works so well. We bought it for our most recent trip because we were going to be gone for 3 weeks. We needed something large enough to hold all of our groceries (milk, cheese, meat, etc.), but we also wanted to make sure we weren’t going to be buying ice to refill it everyday. It kept ice for days. We filled it up and 3 days later the ice hadn’t event melted. It also has a drain on it so you can easily empty the water from the melted ice. This cooler was $100 and so worth it. Would buy it again and again if we had to.

6. Ozark Trails Cooler Bag

This cooler bag is one of our favorites for camping, beaching, or just plain traveling. It is small and light weight. It doesn’t hold water for too long. (1-2 days depending on how much stuff you keep in there. More stuff = less ice) When we camp, we use the big ice chest to keep our groceries and drinks and we use the small ice bag to carry what we need into the tent. It is so light weight and doesn’t take up a ton of room. Perfect for a night in a tent or even a picnic.

7. Puppy Water Bottle

I am not going to lie. We just bought this for our most recent trip, but it was a game changer! We got it so we could easily give Zoey water when hiking, but found out that it was also good for our long car rides. All you do is fill the bottom section with water. When your pup wants something to drink, just flip the safety switch and push the button to fill the bowl. So stinking easy and you can carry it anywhere!

8. Tent Kit

We found this tent kit for cheap on Amazon. It has all the little tools we need to help us in rocky areas. It comes with extra tent stakes, a mallet to drive them into the ground, a tool to pull them out of the ground, and a little broom to sweep up any dirt that you may track in. It is easily something we could do without, but we wouldn’t want to because it makes camping life so much easier.

9. Ozark Trails Fanny Pack

I begged Cody for this fanny pack for our anniversary. It is big enough that it can carry our lunches, phones, and Zoey’s water bottle inside. It also has 2 pouches for water bottles on the outside and it feels alot better than carrying a backpack during a hike. It puts no pressure on your back and you can easily grab whatever you need in the moment because it’s right in front of you.

10. First Aid Kit

A first aid kit is a must when camping. You never know when you are going to burn yourself, trip, cut yourself, etc. There are so many ways to hurt yourself outdoors. Having a first aid kit is just a little extra assurance that you won’t get any kind of infection.

Thanks for reading and I hope you found some of these products useful. I linked all of the products below. Let me know if you tried a product and what your thoughts were. Have a great week!

Here are the links to the products:

. 6-Person Tent

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/egqarecxj87

. Sleeping Bag

(This isn’t the exact one we have, but it’s similar and has good reviews.)

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/egqbg9cxj87

.Mess Kit

( These aren’t the exact ones we own either, but they are good price, with good reviews, and one kit even has a few extra pieces you may need.)

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/egqbstcxj87

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/egqbnucxj87

.Camp Stove

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/egqccqcxj87

.Igloo Ice Chest

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/ehgijecxj87

.Cooler Bag

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/egqcmhcxj87

.Puppy Water Bottle

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/ef4swicxj87

.Tent Kit

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/egqb73cxj87

.Fanny Pack

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/ea9ecicxj87

.First Aid Kit

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/egqb6acxj87

How to Plan a Last Minute Road Trip

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It’s no secret that Cody and I love to travel. We aim to go somewhere new each month. But, did you know that most of our trips are not long, thought-out trips? In fact, we usually leave within 2 weeks or deciding we want to go somewhere. Once a destination is in our brain, we are ready to hit the road that day. In today’s post, I’m going to go over what goes into planning a trip last minute.

The first step to taking any trip is to figure out your destination. We usually think of a state first and then start googling places to go in that state. I thoroughly do my research for each place. I look up things to do and I look up pictures of the location on instagram to see if it’s actually up our alley.

Once I have our final destination in mind, I usually look at the route to get there. If it’s going to be a long road trip, we usually try to make 1-2 stops along the way. I try to look into the places just as thoroughly . I find cities that we are going to be passing through and google things to do there, places to stay, and pictures on instagram. If the city looks good, I add it to the trip.

Next , I decide if we are going to be staying in hotels, Airbnbs, or camping . The weather plays a big part in the decision. If it gets over 80 degrees, we usually vote not to camp. If the weather is nice, we also have to look into campgrounds. Never assume camping is just available. We have stayed in some pretty sketchy campgrounds because we didn’t do our research. Call and check the prices (do you really want to pay more than a hotel to sleep in a tent?) , look at photos and ratings. Make sure it isn’t sketchy and it lives up to your standards. Tents aren’t that hard to break into, so a safe campground is the best option.

Next, is my favorite part…and most people’s least favorite:making lists. I make a list for what food we are going to eat. ( I don’t research restaurants until we are there so that we can actually look at cool places and get recommendations from locals) Then, I start my packing list. I try to list what we need besides clothes. (Including cooking gear, towels, bath bag supplies, and snacks) Before I list out my clothes I make a list of outfits for each day. This helps to keep me from over packing and forgetting stuff. I also usually add 1 or 2 more shirts incase an accident happens . (If you know me, you know this is necessary.)

The last thing to do is week-of prep: Cleaning the house, double checking the list, cleaning the car, making sure the car is in good condition (tires, oil,battery, etc.), and loading the car.

That’s it. That’s the trick. You are going to run into pot holes during you trip. It isn’t going to go perfect. Be prepared for the worst and find little ways to enjoy yourself.

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Living in a Tent for a Week Chattanooga, Tennessee

This time last month Cody and I were in Tennessee living in a tent. Yes you heard that right. For a whole week in June we slept in a tent… and it actually wasn’t bad. This weeks post is going to be all about that week: what we did, where we went, and how we survived living in a tent for a week in the summer with a dog.

Originally we wanted to spend our anniversary in Texas on Lake Travis, but due to the pandemic we decided it was best to go to Tennessee. The weather was going to be perfect for camping, so we looked around for different camp sites to set up camp at. We finally landed on Lookout Mountain KOA. It was reasonably priced, nice, and it wasn’t booked up yet! Although this campground isn’t actually in Tennessee, it’s right on the state line.

Our Campground was alot nicer than we expected. We had showers and multiple bathrooms. Our campsite was also more closed off from everyone else and every tent site has water and electricity. The woman in the campground store was so nice. We went in every day for ice and by the second day she knew us and would always ask what adventures we had gone on that day and how our stay was.

We ate at a few restaurants, but we also cooked at our campsite using our Ozark Trail camping stove. We cooked spagetti, garlic bread, eggs, toast, and sausage on our stove. It worked so well and helped us expand our food options since we were there for a week. (We knew hot dogs over the fire wouldn’t cut it every night)

Our camping stove

On the night of our anniversary, we decided to go on a date. There was a local pizza restaurant and winery pretty close to our camp site. The Lookout Winery exceded our expectations. They are family owned and make real italian, wood fired pizzas. They even import their ingredients from Italy. The owners wife was talking to us about their pizzas and wine. We did a wine tasting and found out that all of their wines are homemade in the restaurant and made with no chemicals. I didn’t know this before, but most wines have chemicals in them to preserve them and those chemicals give you hangovers. So, the owner actually told us that with their wines you don’t get any hangovers. We did the sampling deal for all 15 wines (we shared and it was 1 oz. of each flavor) and they gave us a sheet to rate each wine. We spent the evening enjoying our wine and pizza and watching the sunset on the lake. It was so beautiful and a great way for us to celebrate. I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone in/visiting the area around Chattanooga . They really had a passion for what they do and a kindness like no other toward their customers.

Pizza from Lookout Winery
Pizza and Wine tasting at Lookout Winery

We also stopped for lunch at the Terminal Brew House in Downtown Chattanooga . We had Zoey with us, so we had to sit outside in the heat, but their patio was so beautiful and shaded us from the hot sun. We shared a baked chicken with peach salsa and a flight of beer. One of my favorite things to do when I visit a brewery is to get a flight of beer, mainly because I love drinking out of the little glasses, but also because it gives you an opportunity to try different beers and find one you like. At this particular brewery, they had a flight with six beers that offered one of each of their beers. Overall our food and service was amazing. Everyone was so nice and accommodating. Our waiter even brought out a bowl of water for Zoey to stay cool.

Beer Flights at Terminal Brew House
Happy Zoey at Terminal Brewhouse

Though the food was beyond what we expected to eat while camping, our main goal for this trip was to explore outdoors. We visited a lot of different swimming holes and went white water rafting. There are alot of different companies that you can go with if you choose to go white water rafting. We chose Quest Expeditions. There was absolutely no social distancing involved, so if you are worried about that I would probobly look into other activities. We were loaded on a bud and then paired off for our rafts. The guide taught us how to use our paddles, what all of the different terms meant (because times are tough when your boat is about to flip!) ,and showed us what to do if we went over board. The rapids weren’t too crazy. They were rough enough to have fun and create a challenge, but not too rough.(To give you an example, there were kids out there in rafts) Our trip took about an hour and a half to go all the way down the river and no one from our group was thrown overboard.

We visited two different swimming holes that involved hiking. This first swimming hole that we visited was ‘The Blue Hole’ in Soddy Daisy. We weren’t sure where we were going, we just started hiking. We hiked for about two miles before we got to the swimming hole.(There are so many different swimming holes along the way if two miles is a long way for you. We just had a goal to get to The Blue Hole.) The hiked involved crossing a stream with a heavy current. (Also not a great place to go if you easy get hurt.) Once we got to the swimming hole, it was worth the hike. The hike weaned a lot of people out, so there weren’t a tone of people there, the water was crystal clear, and there was a diving spot where people jumped off a cliff.

The other swimming hole we went to was Foster Falls. It was a much shorter hike , but it was mostly down hill and steep. I almost fell twice ( luckily I caught myself. ) it isn’t the best place to visit if you have no coordination and you are walking a dog. The swimming hole had a huge waterfall and clear water, but it was packed. There were so many people there that it was hard to find a spot to keep our things. Luckily everyone there was pretty chill.

Foster Falls

Overall, I loved our trip to Tennessee. The weather was great the whole time and there were so many things to do in the area (even with the riots and pandemic happening.) If you ever find yourself in the area, make sure to stop by some of these places and let me know what you think! Thanks for reading along !

A Week in Puerto Vallarta

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I really wanted to share more travel stories lately. So, today I am going to be sharing our honeymoon destination. I’ll be going over what we did , where we ate, and how we afforded it.

We knew that we wanted to go to Mexico for our honeymoon. We just had to choose between Puerto Vallarta and Tulum. Honestly either option was golden. We ended up choosing Puerto Vallarta because we wanted to visit Playa del Amor. It had been on our bucketlist for years and this was our chance to make that a reality. Sadly, it was not open when we went. We were twenty and this was our first real trip that we booked ourselves. We should’ve looked into it. So, Playa del Amor is still on our bucketlist, but I promise to share when we actually make it.

Playa Del Amor (not my photo)

We did get to go on three excursions. Our hotel had a deal for buy two get one free. We had so many to choose from, but we chose to go on a day trip on a private island, a dinner show on a private island, and go zip lining. All of our packages were through vallarta adventures.

The day trip on the private island was a blast. We took a boat ride to the island where we were greeted with breakfast tacos. They had an itinerary of different things going on through the day. We did a mezcal tasting, went snorkeling, and after lunch, we hung out in our own little spot on the beach. It was perfect for a romantic honeymoon experience.

Next, we visited the same island for a dinner show. We got a dinner buffet on the beach and a tribal show after dinner. I had never seen anything like it, so it was so fun! This is a really cool experience for families or couples .

Our zip line experience was unlike any other zip line I have ever been on. It was such a fun time. They joked with us the whole time and took so many photos of us. It wasn’t just zip lining either. We scaled a tree, bungee jumped, zip lined on our stomachs (superman style), and went down a water slide. Whether you are traveling in a group, as a family, or on a romantic trip, this experience is a blast!

The rest of our trip was really chill. We just took the time to relax after months of wedding planning and actually feel like adults on a vacation without our parents. (LOL) We stayed in a marriot hotel that Cody ended up finding on Groupon for a great price. This hotel was more of a resort and had so many things to do. (Which is why most of our chill days were spent here) The day we arrived, we went to the spa to get a massage. It was a full blow spa too. There were packages you could buy, hot tubs, saunas, and tranquil music playing. After our massage, they gave us a bottle of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries. (Talk about knowing the way to my heart!) We spent another chill day at the pool where we were served sushi by a chef in the pool and got to watch a scuba class take place. Our last chill day, we walked around the market and gift shops.

Most of our meals were eaten at the hotel. There were a number of restaurants to eat at and room service. But on occasion, we would go out on the town away from all the tourist places and checkout the local restaurants. There were two restaurants that we ate at and both were amazing. Our favorite of the two was Pipi’s. They made guacamole fresh at the table and one day they even had a mariachi band come play for us. The food was amazing.(This was where Cody determined that he actually liked mexican food) The other restaurant that we ate at was Casa Tradicional Cocina Mexicana. This restaurant was a little more touristy than Pipi’s, but the food was just as good. The service at both restaurant’s was remarkable. I highly recommend that if you take a trip to Puerto Vallarta, step outside of the resort and tourist driven parts of the city and come visit one of these restaurants. You will not be disappointed.

Getting guacamole at Pipi’s

So we did a few things to pay for this trip. Obviously alot of the money came from our wedding day, so we didn’t have to budget too much. We also were still learning how to travel on a budget, so when we came home times were really tough… like ramen noodles for a month tough. We did, however, find ways to cut corners when we could. Like I said, Cody found our hotel/resort on groupon. He also used one of the cheaper airlines (Southwest). Normally we would not use Southwest because we don’t like how they do their seating, but if you are only looking at prices, they have some pretty great ones. The only other thing that we really did to save money was use coupons. The woman at the help desk helped us out with this. She gave us a coupon for Pipi’s and gave us the package deal for our excursions.

This was by far one of my favorite places that I have visited. Maybe it was because it was my honeymoon or maybe it was just that good. One thing is for sure, I cannot wait to visit again… I’m thinking five year anniversary? (LOL) Anyways, thanks for reading along and, once travel is back on the board, I hope you feel inspired to visit this beautiful destination that holds such a special place in my heart!

Our First Trip after Three Months of Isolation: Pensacola, Florida

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Things are finally starting to get somewhat normal after being inside for three months. My favorite part of everything opening back up is that I get to travel again. Last weekend we took advantage of the beaches opening and went on a small weekend trip with another couple to Pensacola. That trip is what this post is going to be about.

I am not sure why, but somehow none of our trips ever go as planned. We always have at least one ridiculous story to tell. This weekend was no exception. We left late at night because our friend wasn’t getting off of work until around 5. We loaded the car and headed off to our Airbnb. We got our first taste of fast food on our way to the beach. We stopped at Raising Canes and it was like eating gold…minus the burnt toast and burnt french fries. The rest of our trip went pretty smooth…until we got to Florida. As soon as we crossed the state line. We got warnings that there was a traffic stop ahead.(keep in mind that we are still under a stay at home order in Louisiana and it is 1:30 a.m…we were freaking out.) we cruised up to a group of about 10 police units . They stopped us and asked us a bunch of questions. They were not wanting people coming from the states with high rates. Somehow, we made it through this checkpoint and sped down the interstate before they saw our Louisiana plates.

It was 2 a.m. when we arrived at our Airbnb. We always check the inside of the house out before unloading our stuff. (Just to make sure everything is safe and looks good) We typed in the code for the door, tried the knob, and it did not open. We looked at the check in details once more and saw nothing about the lockbox on the doorknob. We called our host constantly for about 30 minutes. We spent a while trying to pick the lock and open the door with a credit card with no luck. Finally, Cody tried the window and it was open. He crawled through the window of our Airbnb at 2:30 a.m. and opened it up for us. (I’m sure if anyone else saw us they would have called the police.) Once we were all in the house, we noticed that it had not been cleaned. There were hairs in the beds, a dirty towel in the room, dirt all over the floor, and dirty clothes in the tub. I was disgusted.

We took a few pictures for our host and tried to call around to find a hotel to sleep in. It was 3 a.m. and we were all exhausted. Nearly every hotel was booked up due to a swamp fire that had happened earlier that day in the area. We finally found a holiday Inn that had 1 room left and we took it! We rushed over there and by the time we settled in, it was 4 a.m.

The next morning, our host refunded us and apologized for the unclean house. He told us that the cleaners got confused, but he would have everything sorted out before we returned for the night. We packed up our things, loaded the car and went to checkout. The hotel manager even gave us breakfast to-go bags since we had slept through the free breakfast.  We had to make a quick stop at the store to get our groceries and sunscreen, then off we went!

We drove all the way to the end of the road where the dog beach was since we had my dog with us. We unloaded and set up our spot. The rest of the day was pretty normal. We swam, napped, and played fetch. The entire beach was social distanced. It was honestly kind of nice to not have another family sitting right next to us.

When we were done at the beach, we made our way to the gift shops. There was someone sitting at the door telling people to put their masks on before entering, but the rest of the shopping experience was no different. They still let us try stuff on and look around. The store also wasn’t pack, but I don’t know if that was their rules or just the fact that not a lot of people wanted to go in the stores.

After shopping, we made a reservation at Red Fish Blue Fish. We saw the restaurants were open and we couldn’t resist. It had been nearly three months without eating in a restaurant. When our reservation time came, we called to tell them we were on the way and they informed us that they ran out of food and had to close early. We still went to the beach in hopes that there would be another restaurant open. After driving around for a while, we decided to try Crabs. We were in luck! Crabs was open and still had food left. We opted to eat inside. Every other table was opened, and we got sat in the back corner away from everyone. The menu was limited, but still had some amazing food on it. I cannot explain how great it felt to sit inside of a restaurant and eat fried seafood!

That was pretty much the extent of our short celebration trip. We left and our bodies were fried … as they are after any good beach trip. As fun as it was, the screening scared us, and we will not be coming back to Florida until everything opens back up completely. Thanks for reading! I am happy to say that I am already planning our next trip and I cannot wait to tell you about it!

Silverton, Colorado

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So, on my last post, I talked all about my road trip to Colorado. Well, once we arrived in Colorado, we stayed for about a week. We did not have an Airbnb booked or any kind of itinerary planned. (which is very out of my comfort zone)It was more of a spontaneous “what are we gonna do now?” kind of trip. Which, I am happy about because it led us to some pretty great places. In today’s post I’ll be sharing about the many places that we stayed, what we did in Silverton, and the (very few) places we went out to eat.

Like I said, we did not have anywhere lined up to stay, so we stayed in so many different, interesting places. You can read about the two nights that we went camping in Big Molas lake on my camping blog post. Both nights made my top 9 camping stories!

On this trip, we experienced our first stay in a hostel. We had never even heard of one before. We stayed at The Blair Street Hostel and to my surprise, it was actually a good experience. When we got there, the owner gave us a tour. She showed us where the kitchen, the bathroom, and our bedroom were. We were blessed enough to have our own bedroom. The only negative thing I will say about our experience was that we had to share a bathroom (including shower) with the rest of the guests and there was a shower curfew that we had to follow. (No showers after 10 p.m.)

Our next stay was in the Avon Hotel. This hotel was an old miner’s hotel and bar from old Silverton…back when the town was ran by gold miners. The new owners had just bought it and were refurbishing it. It was still under construction when we stayed… but we could tell that one day it was going to be on the must-stay list in Silverton. There was a full bar and restaurant on the main floor and a small library in the upstairs foyer. From my experience and the look of the photos on google now, I would highly recommend this hotel to anyone visiting Silverton, Colorado.

The last place we stayed during this trip is a small motel. It was the end of our trip and we needed somewhere small and cheap… and nothing is wrong with a little motel. The prospector motel was small and quaint, and the owner was so kind. We sat in his office when we were checking out and he was talking to us about so many things and the whole time he had such a big smile on his face.

During our trip we mostly walked around the town window shopping and rode ATV’s up the maintain trails. On one of our ATV rides we nearly fell off of a mountain. We tried to go up a steep incline on a mountain trail and some of the other vehicles infront of us began to slow. My dad was right in front of us and knew that he was not going to make it up unless he came back down. So, he yelled for us to back up and get out of the way before his brakes slipped. We began to go backward very carefully. We had a mountain and large rocks on one side of us and a cliff that was at least a 30 foot drop on the other side. Cody steered toward the side with the rocks, but our vehicle hit a rock at just the right angle and we were thrown off. I laid there with a 4-wheeler on top of me while my dad was still yelling and the only thing I thought was, “I guess I’ll just lay here. I can’t get up. Either he will run me over or someone will lift this bike off of me. We will just have to wait and see.” Obviously, someone got the bike off of me and everything was okay, but I know it could have been a lot worse.

On the days that we weren’t doing those things, we were off having our own little adventures. One of those adventures was going to see a ghost town. It is straight through the town and up the mountain. It was almost a two-hour trip from where we were staying, but it was a pretty cool thing to witness. We saw old homes and buildings (like an old jail). They were surrounded by meadows full of flowers and the greenest grass. We stayed for a little while before we had to hit the road to try to beat a rainstorm. We did not beat it… instead I learned a quick lesson about why I should always be carrying rain gear with me in Colorado in July. Rain and hail poured down on us while we were exposed on a four-wheeler. By the time we made it back to my family’s Airbnb our toes were blue and our bodies were feeling pretty stiff.

Part of the Ghost Town That We Found

We also experienced a mining tour. We toured the inside of a mountain and got to see antique mining gear and hear stories about a miner’s work day and how they would get the gold. It was a really interesting tour that I would highly recommend to anyone that loves history and nature.

The Old Hundred Mining Tour

We mainly ate with my family during this trip or ate some of our road trip food, but we did occasionally go out to eat. The first stop was at Handlebars food and saloon. We stopped here on our first day in town for dinner and it was right up our alley. Everyone in there seemed to be locals, so they kind of looked at us weird, but the food was amazing.

Our next stop was at the avalanche brewing company because we needed pizza and heard they had the best around. What we heard was not a lie. The pizza was amazing, and the restaurant had the perfect small-town feel. It even had a spot to sit outside with your pup!

 The only other place that we ate was the Coffee Bear. It was exactly what I needed to get my coffee fix and if you like italian cream sodas (which is my favorite!) , they have a very extensive Italian cream soda menu.

So, this pretty much sums up our trip to Colorado. It was such a fun, laid back trip and we got to spend time with our family. If you are ever traveling through Colorado, make sure to stop in the sweet little town of Silverton. Thank you so much for reading along with me and I cannot wait until the day that I can go on more trips and share more stories!

Road Trip to Colorado

Traveling is my absolute favorite outlet. I love experiencing new places and meeting new people. I love seeing the world from a different perspective. Sitting at home the past couple of weeks has had me dreaming of our next trip, but unable to plan.(which is a form of torture for me) I have been scrolling through old photos of past trips and day dreaming about getting on a plane or in the car and going somewhere I have never been before. So, I figured I would share about some of my past trips. Who knows, maybe it will get my travel bug out? (probably not… it will probably make it worse, but whatever.) In today’s post I am going to talk about our road trip to Colorado in 2018. We made a little road trip out of our drive there and I cannot wait to share.

Once we hit the road, our first stop was Houston, Texas. It was only about a 3 hour drive to the Airbnb that we had booked. This Airbnb was the first and only shared Airbnb we have ever booked. Don’t let that statement fool you, we did have a good experience. Despite it being 10 p.m., we were greeted at the door by one of the nicest people I have ever met. She let us heat up our food in the kitchen while she shared her story of why she opened her home to Airbnb and how she had children our age. We ended up having the entire upstairs area to ourselves, which I liked. I feel like it may have been weird if other people were across the hall… mainly because we would have shared a bathroom with them.

We left early in the morning to hit the Hamilton pool in Dripping Springs, Texas. When we arrived, we sadly realized that we needed a reservation and we couldn’t get in. We searched the internet and found a nearby state park where we hiked to the most clear and beautiful river. We swam for hours and walked the rocky beach (I’ll leave out how painful the hot rocks were on my bare feet.) Once we were sunburnt and worn out, We made our way to The Family Business Beer Company.(Which was the real reason we took the long way to Colorado) The business was great. There was a live band and Jep Robertson actually had a food truck there for all of our food needs. We sat outside in the sun and enjoyed our new favorite meal, shrimp bruschetta. (bruschetta bread topped with jambalaya, topped with shrimp etouffee) Once we were done and ready for a nap, we headed to our Airbnb for the night. Tonight’s Airbnb was a beautiful and unique tiny home in Austen, Texas. (I had always wanted to stay in a tiny home, and we thought, “what better time?”) The tiny home was beautiful with a rustic feel and a cute little balcony to crawl out on. The only thing that did not excite be about it was that there were public bathrooms and showers that I had to walk to.

Our cute tiny home in Austin, Texas

The next morning, we left a sweet review in their guest book and we hit the road again. This time we had no actual destination. We were just going to drive until we got tired. Once we crossed the state line to New Mexico, we decided that we better start looking for a place to stay for the night. It was really hard to find a place because every place that we looked into was either booked or the prices were spiked because there was a UFO festival in the area for the weekend. (I am not even sure what that entails…) We settled on a motel on Route 66 thinking that Route 66 was something we would want to see. We were sadly mistaken. We showed up and the town looked like Radiator Springs (the town on the movie Cars) The whole town was abandoned and when we tried to find a restaurant, we quickly realized that all of the restaurants are in hotel lobbies. It felt really odd. We woke up really early the next morning and we were ready to bolt. We stopped in Albuquerque to pick up a few things from the Home Depot before making our way to Colorado. We made it around 11 pm and (as you know if you read our camping post) we ended up in the most beautiful campsite in the country, Big Molas Lake.

On our way back we made a couple of small stops. We stopped in New Mexico to see the blue hole. It’s a large natural spring in the middle of the desert.  Cody had always wanted to see it, so we figured that this would be the best time. It was not what we were expecting. It was full of people and we had no real desire to be there anymore once we saw it, but we had to at least jump in. So, we jumped…and it. was. freezing. 57 degrees to be exact! After jumping in and drying off, we got dressed and got back on the road. Our only other stop on our way home was Dallas, Texas. We stayed at a luxury apartment through Airbnb and we had a small walk around the city the next day. Our way back home was nothing major; we were pretty anxious to get back home because at this point, we had been gone for 2 weeks.

So, our trip to Colorado lasted us about 4 days and our trip back home lasted about 3 days. How did we stay sane? What did we do to pass the time? Usually I fall asleep as soon as the car starts, but I did not sleep a wink the entire ride and I did not drive the entire trip. So, how did I do it? Cody and I bought two audio books that we listened to the entire time. Somehow the books kept me so interested that hours would pass, and I would not even notice. (The scenery around us probably had something to do with me staying interested as well) We also only ate out for dinner. When on the road, I had our backseat made into a make-do kitchen. I had bags of chips, sandwich ingredients, fruit, snack cakes, and water for us to eat. (Yes, I did make a sandwich for my husband while driving down the road.)

This was another trip that we made on a budget. It was our first long road trip, but I still lookback and find all the memories good. If you ever decide to drive to a faraway location, I highly recommend that you make a stop every few hours to see some kind of landmark or restaurant that the town is known for. You never know when it will make a good story. 

Next time, I will be making a post about the time we actually spent in Colorado. It was so spontaneous, and we got to spend time with family. I can’t wait to share and maybe even inspire. Until then I hope you enjoyed reading about our road trip.

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Our Favorite Camping Stories

Cody and I love to travel, but sometimes we can’t afford a big, elaborate trip to escape reality. Camping is one of our favorite low budget and most adventurous ways to travel. When you have little to no money to spend, you can run into some interesting things that make for great stories. In today’s post, I am going to share some of our favorite and most interesting moments we have had while camping through the years.

  1. The Haunted Campsite: When going camping on a tight budget, Cody and I like to use freecapsites.com This website has a list of all kinds of campsites that are free because they are either ran by kind people, WMA’s, or abandoned. In March 2018, Cody and I decided to take a camping trip to Florida where we were actually going to stay at a free campsite. We drove for hours and around mid-night we could not find this campsite. The town we were in was abandoned and we were exhausted, but there was not even a gas station to stop at for a nap. We had to find this place. We were in the middle of nowhere. Around 1 a.m., we found the entrance to the campsite. It was a state park, which is weird because those usually are not free to stay in. There was a small, gravel parking lot with 2 trails and a dock. Next to one of the trails was a paper with a map of the park and some of its history. Cody and I began reading. We wanted to make sure this place was actually approved to camp in and see where we should go to set up camp. As we read, we learned that one of the trails on the property had been part of the trail of tears. Stories in the history section talked about a haunted presence that would cause people to do irrational things and some to disappear. No matter how exhausted we were, there was no way we were going to stay here tonight. We put that car in reverse and sped out if there. We had a go-to campsite that was only an hour and a half away. We would land there for the night. This was the night that we found out why these campsites are free.
  2. Sleeping Under the Swings: On the same night as the previous story, our go-to campsite was Vortex Springs. We have stayed here many times, our first trip here was back in 2016. We arrived around 3:30 a.m. and the campgrounds were pitch black. We tried to drive quietly so that we would not disturb the other campers. We found a spot and began setting up camp. We packed in very few things. We were just ready to crash. 3 hours later the sound of kids screaming and running into our tent woke us up. We tried to sleep through it, but it got to the point where we needed to see what was going on. I peeked my head out of the tent to find a slide just inches to the left. Somehow in the darkness and exhaustion we had set up our tent in the middle of a small playground. No wonder there were children everywhere.
  3. A dog in a Hammock-This is probably the worst experience I have ever had when camping. It was November 2017 and we wanted to camp in our hammock. This was already a bad idea because it was going to be under 30 ° that night, but we had our dog, Zoey, with us too. Zoey has been camping before and she loves it, so we figured she would do fine in the hammock too. So, we set up our hammock, added a comforter and a sleeping bag in it to keep us warm and cozy, which worked perfectly. We stayed up and roasted marshmallows (my favorite camping past time) for a while. When the time came, we piled into the hammock and put Zoey under the sleeping bag where she slept for a solid 30 minutes. Just as I began to doze off, I felt her wiggling … she was hot. This was the end of the peace for the night and the beginning of a nightmare. Zoey crawled to the top and laid on my legs on top of the sleeping bag. She never made it to sleep. Every time an animal would approach the camp site or rustle in the woods, she would freak out and bark obnoxiously. (I am eye rolling right now just thinking about it). Eventually we all decided it would be best if we slept the rest of the night in the car. So, we did and at 6 a.m. we came back home to finish sleeping. Now we know to never let a dog in a hammock at night.
  4. A 4 course meal on the beach: In October of 2016 we decided to go camping on the beach with one of our other couple friends, Naomi and Josue. They had found a campsite that is about half a mile walk down the beach and you can actually pitch a tent in front of the ocean. We arrived late at night and could not find the campsite area, so we found a motel outside of Pensacola Beach. This motel seemed sketchy, but it was the closest one and the price wasn’t terrible. Well, we thought the price wasn’t terrible until we got in the room. The bedsheets were still dirty and sloppily made, there was trash in the trashcan, dirt in the shower, and mold all over the room. We got out of that place so fast. There was no telling what we could’ve caught by staying there. We demanded our money and they guy at the counter understood. We found a red roof inn across town that was going to give us a discount because of the time. They charged us for their cheapest room and gave use a suite with a kitchenette and 2 queen beds. We stayed up all night watching married at first sight. When we woke up the next day, we set out to find our beach destination. Before going, we decided to pick up dinner. Naomi had found a groupon deal at a steakhouse. We each paid $15 and got a steak, 2 sides, a dessert, and a drink. Someone had the “bright” idea to eat it all at the campsite. What we failed to think about the walk. We all walked half a mile while lugging all of that food, our tents, our clothes, sleeping bags, ice chest, and a foldout picnic table. We kept dropping stuff, someone busted their drink, and someone dropped their dessert. It was a nightmare, but we made it, set up the table and enjoyed our food as the sun was setting. It was one of the coolest moments, but if anyone had seen us, they would’ve thought we were crazy.
  5. The onward store: This one is going to be really short, but it is a must. We were heading to camp in Arkansas for the weekend with our friends and we came up to a point in the trip where we were in the middle of nowhere. Cody had been complaining that he needed to use the bathroom for an hour before we finally came up to some sort of civilization. It looked like an old gas station, but it was closed, so the guys went behind what looked like an outhouse. While they were doing their business, I noticed a pretty official looking plaque in front of our car. The plaque read ” Here is the point where Theodore Roosevelt got his nickname “Teddy” . This is the spot where he refused to shoot the bear. ” My jaw dropped. Cody had just peed on a historical landmark, even more so a historical landmark of his favorite president!
  6. Redneck Paradise: We were going camping in a WMA area we had found a few months back. It was a huge chunk of land right on the Mississippi river. We were warned that Mississippi had been experiencing some flooding recently but figured this place would be fine…not really sure why. We arrived and realized very fast that this place was flooding. We didn’t even get a mile down it’s trail before we ran into a pit of water. We still needed somewhere to sleep though, so we googled some campsites in this empty town. The nearest place was a couple of hours away, so we began our journey again. We finally arrived at this campsite around 1 a.m. We drove around, picked our spot, then went to check-in. (Yes, the office was still open) The office was being ran out of someone’s house. The owners gave us a map and told us that they have a pool, a playground, and a museum. We were astonished and also confused as to where all of this was since we had already toured the campsite. We set up camp in the pitch black and piled into the tent for the night. When we woke up, the campsite looked completely different…not in a good way. Our tent was in a puddle of (what we can only hope was) mud, the playground was one single rusty swing, the pool was a plastic baby pool, and the museum was no where to be found. (Though, I am sure it would have been interesting) This was the most redneck campsite we had ever stayed at. We decided to head back to the WMA where we explored the dry places and pet some cows and we also took a trip to The Onward Store. (The historical sight from the last story) If you ever find yourself in Onward, Mississippi it is a nice little shop and their restaurant has some great food.
  7. Callin’ Colorado: In July 2018, we took a family trip to Colorado. My family planned to drive there in one day, but that was not Cody and my style. We decided to take 2 weeks off and take 4 days to get there. We stopped along the way (I’ll make a post about this trip another time),but when we finally got to Colorado, we still needed a place to stay. We googled a bunch of campsites and found one that was rated “The most beautiful campsite in the nation” It was after hours, so we could not reserve a spot, but this was our only option. When we got there, we drove around looking for a spot to set up the tent. We settled on a little spot tucked away in some trees. The roots were not bad, the spot was isolated, and it had a tree to stand behind. (Major priorities) Once we set up camp and ate, we crawled in the tent for bed. When we woke up, the view was overwhelming. When we had set up camp, we could not see any of our surroundings, but we were in a spot right on the lake with beautiful mountains surrounding us. It really took my breath away, because this was my first time seeing anything like it. The campsite was called Big Molas Lake, and it is definitely a bucket list destination.
  8. Green, Green Grass : One of our last nights in Colorado, we stayed at Big Molas Lake again. This time we did not get a lake front spot, but we found a nice field that looked like the biggest of the camping spots. We set up tent in the beautiful field and crawled in our tent to watch Netflix (basic, I know) About 30 minutes after settling down, we started to smell something strong. It had a slight smell of pot. This wasn’t uncommon in Colorado, but we cared because we thought someone was by our tent smoking when we knew that there were no tents around us. We got our phone flashlights out to inspect the area and what we found shocked us. There was no one by our tent…we had set up camp in the middle of a marijuana field. You heard me right. It went on forever the entire freaking field that we were staying in was full of pot, not grass at all. We decided we had better get back to our tent after we realized this. The stench filled our whole tent, but this was the only open spot on the property, so we had to stay. Our minds were still blown that this was an actual thing…marijuana was growing wild in Colorado. (My mind is still a little blown to be honest)
  9. Camping in the Storm:  In October 2019, we decided to go to Northern Alabama in the Appalachian Mountains. We stayed at The Cathedral Cavern State Park. We left after work and knew we would not be there until around 10 p,m., so we called and confirmed that we could stay. We got direction from google maps on how to get there and off we went. There was a huge storm the night we were heading there. We could barely see the roads and there were mountains all around us. Easily one of the scariest things to experience while driving. We saw the sign and knew we had made it to our destination. We found a campsite and waiting in the car for the rain to lighten up. When the rain got light enough , we set up the tent and started loading all of our stuff into it. As we were finishing up, the rain began to pour. Cody finished loading stuff in, while I used a towel to wipe the water out of the entry and set everything up inside. We finally got both dogs inside of the tent and decided to hunker down for the night. Cody crawled in, but when he tried to zip the tent, it would not zip. The screen zipped, but the rain flap was not having it. “Great!” We both said. We pulled everything as far from the door and edges of the tent as we could and laid a towel in the entry  to catch any water that may try to enter. We froze. I woke up at 4 a.m. to rain dripping on my face and my feet cold with water. I curled up in a ball and covered my face with the sleeping bag… this was going to have to wait until tomorrow. When we officially woke up for the day, all of our clothes, blankets, and our sleeping bag were soaked. Our entire tent had an inch of water covering the floor. We loaded everything back into the car and headed to the nearest laundromat to get everything dried off. We stayed here for about an hour, so we sat in the car eating sonic corndogs and watching Netflix while we waited. After everything was dry, we made our way to Walmart to buy a heater and a new tent. We were not going to spend another night like that again.