We are really starting to settle in to our Grand Design Reflection travel trailer. Here are some interior photos and one more outdoor shot!
So it has been a whirlwind three weeks, but we are finally settling in. Our road trip down to Florida was beautiful even though it was rushed. I am so glad we saw Shenandoah, the Great Smoky Mountains, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Savannah and Charleston! I can highly recommend all of them.
There were some hiccups along the way. We hit a huge pothole in NJ that cost us $400+ due to a back wheel issue. We could not fit in the Adams Inn’s reserved parking spot (actually an old, small garage) in DC, so had to drive on to Shenandoah. And Craig’s bike was stolen from Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground last night. Very aggravating since we use the bikes often. Scary since we were in the RV when the thief cut our cable lock and took it!
They (Disney management) are giving us a golf cart for a few days until it is all sorted out, but looking at posts online it is an ongoing issue. Even the Magic Kingdom has fallen prey to thieves. Sad.
Otherwise, we love the RV so far and have nearly everything set up the way we like it. Can’t wait to start applying to Yellowstone and Grand Teton jobs next week!
Just three more days and we are off on our road trip to Florida. We are keeping a close eye on hurricane Irma and hoping she goes out to sea. We have a lot of friends and family in Florida and are pretty nervous right now. Our RV is sitting on a lot in Tampa, so our fingers are crossed it will weather the storm.
As you can see from the pictures we have gotten rid of most of our furniture and belongings. A few things will stay for the new tenants. So far it looks like what we are taking fits in our truck-whew!
We are super excited to see Shenandoah, the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains. We will really miss family and friends here in the north east, but hope they come visit us around the country.
More posts soon from the road.
Today Craig’s coworkers threw a really nice party to say goodbye. He has a few days left of work and then we get down to packing the last of our stuff and the truck! People are coming Labor Day weekend to pick up the couch, TV and table. Then it will really be empty in here!
We loved all the cute decorations and food. The highlight was the camper cake our friend made.
One of the things you have to decide when planning on full time RVing is where your domicile state or legal residence will be. Florida was the top choice for us all along. We lived there for six years so we are very familiar with the state. My parents, our friends and other family live there. We will be spending our first six months living and working there. We plan on working and spending a lot of time in Florida in the future. The ACA plans are still OK in Florida. We also love the state.
We decided to use Saint Brendan’s Isle for mail forwarding since they have been around for a while. The process to get our new address was painless. We had to send in postal form 1583 with two forms of ID and we were all set. Escapees and My RV Mail are two other options in Florida.
Several websites really helped us with our planning and info. Here are their links in case you need to do some research:
The past few weeks we have been busy getting rid of furniture on local groups and selling things on Ebay. We are trying to get rid of as much stuff as we can before our September launch date.
In between work projects, I have been planning our September route down to Florida and our Florida to Wyoming route for March/April 2018.
We hope to travel down to Florida with just the truck and pick up the travel trailer there. I was able to book our rooms for Shenandoah, Great Smoky Mountains, Congaree, Charleston and Savannah. I still need to look at Florida and see where we may want to stay for two or three nights before we pick up the RV. A few of the RV dealers there have parks that you can stay in overnight while you load your RV up.
Lazydays even has a huge RV store where you can purchase a lot of RV items. It would be great if we can make a deal with them for a travel trailer we like. Then we can stay for a few nights and take some RV classes and shop. Also, we want to make sure everything with the RV is OK.
I have also started booking RV sites for our Florida to Wyoming trip in March/April 2018. We want to give ourselves around 5 weeks to get there and stop along the way. We hope to see some beautiful beaches, New Orleans, Austin, San Antonio, Big Bend National Park, the Rio Grande, Guadalupe Mountain National Park, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Roswell, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Rocky Mountain National Park (hoping for no snow) on our road trip! Whew! The Florida state park sites go up for booking next week, so I hope I get the ones we really want. I heard the Florida beach parks can be tough to get.
The first three months of our Florida fall/winter season are booked at Fort Wilderness. That should work out great if we work seasonally at Walt Disney World. We will look at some other parks for January 2018 to the end of March 2018 while we are visiting Florida in May.
We are both super excited to start our travels and work in the national parks!
The other day I saw Celine by Peter Heller suggested on one of my Facebook groups. Part of this mystery story takes place in Yellowstone National Park so I thought it would be interesting to read. So far I like it. Here is the description:
From the best-selling author of The Dog Stars and The Painter, a luminous, masterful novel of suspense–the story of Celine, an elegant, aristocratic private eye who specializes in reuniting families, trying to make amends for a loss in her own past.
Working out of her jewel box of an apartment at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, Celine has made a career of tracking down missing persons, and she has a better record at it than the FBI. But when a young woman, Gabriela, asks for her help, a world of mystery and sorrow opens up. Gabriela’s father was a photographer who went missing on the border of Montana and Wyoming. He was assumed to have died from a grizzly mauling, but his body was never found. Now, as Celine and her partner head to Yellowstone National Park, investigating a trail gone cold, it becomes clear that they are being followed–that this is a case someone desperately wants to keep closed. Inspired by the life of Heller’s own remarkable mother, a chic and iconoclastic private eye, Celine is a deeply personal novel, a wildly engrossing story of family, privilege, and childhood loss. Combining the exquisite plotting and gorgeous evocation of nature that have become his hallmarks, Peter Heller gives us his finest work to date.
Let me know what you think of Celine if you get it from the library or on Amazon!
This is a list of my favorite national park hikes we have done. We have only visited 18 parks out of 59 so far, so I am sure these may change over time. Thanks to Adventures of a Day Hiker for the inspiration. For now here they are!
10. Bright Angel Trail-Grand Canyon National Park
I am sure the Bright Angel Trail will move higher up on my list when we finally get to stay at Phantom Ranch on the floor of the Grand Canyon. We only hiked part of the Bright Angel while we were at the Grand Canyon because we had limited time and a lot to see. Many hikers do a day hike to one of the rest houses or Indian Garden since this can be a tough one to climb back up from. We visited in October and it was still 80 when the sun was out. The summer can be deadly. Listen to all the warnings and remember you have to go back up! This website and book are great for hikers and visitors. We also loved the South Kaibab Trail, but only got to see a little of it.
9. The Zion Narrows-Zion National Park
The Narrows is more of a wade through the North Fork of the Zion River than a hike with elevation, but it can be hard on your legs and balance. Most day hikers do the bottom up day hike. You can also camp and get a permit to do the top down to see more of the scenery and canyon. You can rent water shoes, hiking sticks and even waders from shops at the entrance to Zion national Park if the water is cold. The shoes really help with the rocky bottom and give support to your ankles so you do not turn them. The hike is beautiful and unique. There are usually lots of people having fun towards the beginning, but it gets quiet the further you go. The Narrows can be closed from March-May, so check before you plan to go.
8. Yellowstone Picnic Area Trail-Yellowstone National Park
There are a lot of amazing hikes in Yellowstone National Park, but we have only done a few of them so far. I hope we get to do many more next summer since we hope to work seasonally in Yellowstone or Grand Teton National Park! People raved about the Picnic Area hike in Lamar Valley near Roosevelt so we gave it a try. We only saw two or three other hikers the whole time, so I would definitely bring bear spray. It is an easy hike once you make the first initial climb from the parking lot/picnic area. There are lots of sheer drop offs so watch the kids. The views are beautiful and sweeping. We also love Trout Lake, Mystic Falls, Observation Point and the whole Upper Geyser Basin to Biscuit Basin for easy hikes in Yellowstone.
7. Uncle Tom’s Trail-Yellowstone National Park
While short, Uncle Tom’s Trail packs a punch. It is steep going back up, and many people rush and forget water. Remember, you are already at a high elevation. The views of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone on this metal staircase trail are great. You are right next to the Lower Falls. Try to get the rainbow in your pictures. Take your time and enjoy!
6. The Queens Garden Trail-Bryce Canyon National Park
I really felt like I was walking around in a fairy tale when we hiked the Queens Garden Trail in Bryce Canyon. You feel so tiny next to the hoodoos when you actually start walking around next to them. The floor of Bryce Canyon is lush and peaceful. Wall Street is amazing to hike through. We only stayed a night in Bryce Canyon and I can not wait to go back.
5. The Precipice Trail and The Beehive Trail-Acadia National Park
I lumped the Beehive and the Precipice Trails together even though the Beehive is shorter. I loved them both and both have amazing views. The Beehive is easier since it is about half the length of the Precipice. The Precipice is really more of a climbing/bouldering course than a hike. I wore biking/climbing gloves on the Precipice and they really helped with the iron rungs. Some parts were changeling for a short person like me, but several brave kids were doing the hikes. Not for those with a fear of heights!
4. The Mist Trail-Yosemite National Park
I love Yosemite National Park so much. The valley is amazing. We can not wait to go back and do lots of hiking and exploring. I am hoping we can work a summer/fall season there in 2019. The Mist Trail hike was one of the highlights when we visited in 2015. Craig was wearing sneakers and it was very wet, so we did not get to Nevada Falls. My hiking boots did a great job. I would love to hike to Half Dome while we are working there, but it does scare me a bit!
3. The Highline Trail-Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is a hikers dream. The Highline Trail is a great hike from the Logan Pass area. You must get there early to find a parking spot, or take a shuttle from where you are staying. There are sheer drop offs, but the hike itself is a pretty steady elevation change. We saw waterfalls, mountains, mountain goats and breathtaking views. One of my favorite national park hikes so far.
2. Angels Landing-Zion National Park
I would rank Angels Landing #1 except it was SO CROWDED when we went in October 2015. The temperature was perfect-in the 80’s. You will probably want to get on the West Rim Trail to Angels Landing early so it is still in the shade. The switchbacks are killer. It is even a great hike if you stop at Scout Lookout. The views are incredible. If you are brave try the chain portion. It is short, but if it is crowded be prepared to wait. You may want to check on when the sun will be hitting the canyon for the best light and pictures.
1. Grinnell Glacier-Glacier National Park
Grinnell Glacier is my number one national park hike we have done so far. It is amazing to see the effects of climate change and how the glaciers have shrunk. It was also so nice to hike with a ranger and group of national park fans.The whole hike has stunning views. I can not wait to do this hike again. We hope to work a summer season in Glacier. Maybe in 2020!
Thanks for reading and happy hiking! Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more pictures.
Craig and I decided to try and keep our original plans to start full time RVing this fall. We are going to take a trip to Florida in May to look at several RV dealers, a few RV parks and see what seasonal positions may be opening up for the fall/winter season.
We have been busy clearing out our living space. Every day we sell, give away and donate clothing and other items. Furniture will be listed in August. We are going to try and get a truck in July or August as well. We have been looking, but inventory changes all the time.
In May we will change our address and start to apply to seasonal work in Florida. I held Fort Wilderness for a month (the end of September until the end of October), but we will see some other parks in May.
We would like to make a deal for an RV after we see some first hand, and pick it up in Florida in September. That way, we only have to drive a truck and not a travel trailer through New York, Connecticut, etc. while we are new to this! Then we will also be close to the dealer for several months in case anything needs to be worked on.
We plan to start applying to seasonal work in Yellowstone and Grand Teton in the summer/fall so we have something set for May-October of next year!
Then, we will head out for Wyoming at the end of March 2018. We want to take 5-6 weeks to drive through FL, AL, TX, NM, CO and stay overnight in several places. We will try and follow the 2-2-2 RV rule. No more than 200 miles of driving a day, get to the spot by 2pm and stay at least 2 nights. I actually have to start holding some of the popular state park sites (like the Florida panhandle) this month.
We will post more updates soon. Very excited!
We just got this beautiful book from the library and have been looking through it. If you love our national parks you should try to find it!
The title is Treasured Lands: A Photographic Odyssey Through America’s National Parks. It is hardcover and quite heavy. There are 456 pages of amazing photos. QT Luong worked on Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan’s documentary The National Parks America’s Best Idea.
I love this part of the description: “In an odyssey that spanned more than 20 years and 300 visits, Luong focused his lenses on iconic landscapes and rarely seen remote views, presenting his journey in this sumptuous array of more than 500 breathtaking images.
Accompanying the collection of scenic masterpieces is a guide that includes maps of each park, as well as extended captions that detail where and how the photographs were made. Designed to inspire visitors to connect with the parks and invite photographers to re-create these landscapes, the guide also provides anecdotal observations that give context to the pictures and convey the sheer scope of Luong’s extraordinary odyssey.”