13 States in 6 Months!

Almost 6 months have gone by since I started my second trip of living and traveling full-time in an RV. I have not posted much on the blog this trip, for a multitude of reasons. The main reason is cutting down my screen time. After working all day on a computer, keeping up with social media, and a little Netflix or Hulu in the evenings, I have very little desire to sit and write on my laptop. I have been keeping a personal journal (yay for pen and paper!) to preserve memories and stories, but I figured an update was overdue.

Since I last wrote, I’ve covered a lot of ground. I plan my route based on three main things: visiting friends and family, exploring and hiking in amazing new places, and weather. After recovering from the flash flood in Nashville I ventured south to several parts of Kentucky, visited one of my favorite places in the country- Asheville, NC, and met up with friends in Birmingham, Alabama. Next, I was off to coastal Georgia to reunite with the ocean before bouncing around Florida for 6 weeks.

Florida had some great highlights for this trip. I saw a few friends I had not seen in years, and when we were together it was like no time had passed at all. I visited Captiva Island where my family has history going back four generations, and saw where my grandparents are memorialized in the island cemetery. I spent New Year’s Eve with my friend Daniel and his in-laws, making new friendships I hope will last for a lifetime. It takes a special family to let a stranger park on their land, use their hookups and laundry machines, and invite you for meals and fun outings. They are a fun bunch and it never fails to amaze me how welcoming people have been to me while I travel.

Next, I crossed the Gulf Shores and explored New Orleans, LA for the first time. The food, architecture, and culture are worth the hype that city carries. Then came Texas- the place where I was born! I had not been back since I was 2 or 3, and have no memories of it. In Galveston, I met up with RV friends that I met in Nashville AND met new RV friends passing through! This trip has been far more social than I ever expected. It’s exciting when I meet another person that fully understands the ups and downs of full-time RV life.

Austin and San Antonio were the only cities I ventured into, but they were well worth it for the food and local breweries. Then, FINALLY it was time to head west to wide open spaces! When planning my route last summer, I panicked when I realized how long I would be in congested, heavily-populated areas, and almost reversed the route so I could be out west first. I’m glad I stuck with this route, but was more than ready for big skies and mountains.

Up first: Big Bend National Park! This place is seriously out of the way, but 100% worth it. I loved the Windows trail, but hated the limited cell service and internet connections. I’m thankful my remote job allows me to work flexible days and hours, but it’s still nice to keep up with the workload and emails. After realizing I was staying in the same park as another full-time RV couple, we randomly parked next to each other at a trailhead. We hiked together that day, and had so much fun that we’re still traveling together now!

Guadalupe Mountains on the northern border of Texas wrapped up my month there, but the weather was not nice enough to enjoy all of the park. I never have regrets about leaving something unseen or undone, as it creates a fun feeling of, “I’ll get to that next time I’m there.”

Carlsbad Caverns in southern New Mexico was easier to enjoy during cold weather, as it stays a constant 57* in the caves. Since I had taken the basic tours of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky and Caverns of Sonora in Texas, I challenged myself to the Lower Caves Tour. This included using ropes and ladders to descend further into the cave (a whopping 840 feet), while wearing a helmet and headlamp to explore the incredible formations many visitors do not get to see. Seeing the main parts of the cave with friends the following day was well worth it, and the hike down gives visitors a good feel for the depth (750 feet) that is not captured by taking the elevator. Although, we did take the elevator back UP, because, well, we’re not crazy. Final stops in New Mexico included quick visits to White Sands National Monument and City of Rocks State Park. I say quick because it has been cold and windy all week. It has gotten down into the 20’s many nights, and wind can make any hike pretty miserable.

Next up: Arizona!

Despite that lengthy overview, those are just the highlights. Day to day life keeps moving along nicely. The pets (Sierra, Maddie, Sage and Juniper) are all healthy and loving life on the road. The RV and truck have not given me any issues (quick! Somebody knock on wood!) and my job continues to challenge me, while funding this amazing adventure. I’m currently sitting in my cozy home after a day of work, laundry, and finishing my taxes, enjoying a sleepy cat on my lap and warm fireplace nearby.

Life on the road is pretty spectacular. My closest girlfriends have heard my complaints about how dating on the road is damn near impossible. As much as that is to be expected and I embrace my solo life, there are still times when it would be great to share this adventure with someone. Instead, I get to share it with many someones- friends, friends, fellow travelers, and readers of this blog. And let’s be honest, all four pets sleep in my bed at night- there is no room for anyone else! I’m sure the universe has a special person lined up for me, and he’ll come along when the time is right.

I’m excited for what the next 7 weeks have in store for me- a new state, incredible hikes, and so much more. Then, beginning April 15th I’ll start five months of volunteering in a Colorado State Park. Being on the move every few days gets exhausting after a while. I’m looking forward to having a steady location for a bit, and the community that comes along with that. Plus, educating the public and helping them enjoy a state park?? Yes, please!

 

 

Author: mandi

Just a girl chasing after some adventure.

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