06 Apr

RVFTA #136 Spring Camping Resolutions 2017

On this episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are having fun with one of our favorite RVFTA traditions: talking about our resolutions for the upcoming 2017 camping season. What do we want to do more of? What do we want to do less of? And what do we want to try for the very first time?

Setting goals for our family’s time in the RV and at the campground helps us think about what works in the past and what we want to change. It has become a fantastic way to kick off a season of travel.

In case you missed them, check out our Spring Camping Resolution episodes from 2016 and 2015, also!

In Segment One, we look back at our resolutions from 2016 and give ourselves an honest evaluation. Jeremy insists on keeping score, so listen to hear who wins in the 2016 resolutions show down. It’s a nail biter, folks.

In Segment Two, it’s Jeremy’s turn to set his goals for 2017. Family activities play a starring role as well as upping the camping ante and setting some lofty national park goals.

In Segment Three, Stephanie drills down on the new Octane Toyhauler, sharing the things that will help make the transition to a new RV a bit easier. There is also quite a bit of chatter about the elusive art of relaxation, which so many of us seek but have a very hard time finding.

Other important info mentioned in this episode:

  • Join the Thetford Sewer Kit Giveaway over on our Facebook Page!
  • April 29th and April 30th: Camping Classic at Cabela’s stores across the country
  • May 6th and May 7th: Ladies’ Day Out at Cabela’s stores across the country
  • June 10th and June 11th: Family Adventure Days at Cabela’s stores across the country

You might think that resolutions should be made on January 1st. But we know that the New Year really starts when we hitch up and head to the campground for the very first trip of the year. Take a listen to Episode #136: RVFTA Spring Camping Resolutions, 2017.

A very big thanks to our sponsor for supporting weekly content for all our RV fools…

See you at the campground in 2017!

Stephanie + Jeremy

Play
14 Feb

Tips for Planning a Romantic RV Vacation

HOW TO PLAN A ROMANTIC RV VACATION

You may not think of your RV as the prime setting for a romantic getaway, especially if you usually travel with kids.  But many couples know that an RV vacation, if planned correctly, will leave them feeling as relaxed, refreshed, and rejuvenated as staying in an expensive bed and breakfast.

To plan a romantic RV vacation, make sure you focus on creating opportunities to connect with your partner, and invest a bit of time into tweaking your regular RV routines to make this trip seem special. Then let the fresh air, beautiful scenery, and romantic campfire do the rest.

Set the scene.

When picking out a restaurant for a romantic dinner, you focus on location, decor, and service. You wouldn’t visit a family dining establishment hoping to find a peaceful atmosphere and nice mood lighting. The same is true when choosing a campground for a romantic RV vacation.

There are actually quite a few adult-only campgrounds, where two adults are allowed per camper and minimum age requirements are enforced. Some campgrounds have a dedicated adult-only section, often referred to as “Lovers’ Lane”, that provide a quieter setting.

There are other ways to set the right mood as well. Splurge on a beach or lake front campsite. Book a deluxe patio site with stone fireplace, pavers, and furniture. Look for little extras like nice swings or gas grills for cooking a special surf and turf dinner.

It is not a bad idea to avoid online booking systems and make a call to the campground. Tell the receptionist that you are planning a romantic getaway and ask for recommendations on the best site. There is no substitute for insider information!

Pick a theme.

Picking a theme around a common shared interest is a great way to encourage bonding on a romantic RV vacation. Take a trip to wine country and indulge in a culinary tour. Visit all the craft breweries in a nearby city. Tour historical sites, visit art galleries, kayak and fly fish, or shop for antiques.

Having a theme, or focus, for your time together can create a sense of adventure and expectation. Just make sure it is something that you both truly enjoy, so no one feels like they are getting dragged from one activity to the next.

Plan some time to unplug.

Discuss the use of technology before your trip, and if possible make an agreement about times that you will both be completely unplugged. Nothing ruins the mood like seeing your partner looking at a screen while you are trying to have an important conversation. A little time away from social media can do wonders for creating a peaceful and relaxed environment.

Also discuss ahead of time any work that needs to be done. It might be unavoidable to check in with office periodically, but a clear understanding about this will prevent hurt feelings or resentments from ruining the romantic mood.

Pamper yourselves.

If you were staying at a spa or a bed and breakfast, little items of luxury would help create the perfect setting for romance. Take a bit of time before departing to fancy up the RV with nice linens, comfy robes, and the good towels. Stock the refrigerators with fruit and cheese. Pack the good wine and chocolates.

Make reservations at a special restaurant, or if you both enjoy cooking, prepare a gourmet meal at the campsite. Some campgrounds have on site wine tastings, massages, and spa treatments, so book these in advance if interested.

Try something new.

It is very exciting and romantic to try something for the first time with your partner, and this is the perfect opportunity to do so. Get extreme and go skydiving, bungee jumping, or book a hot air balloon ride. Keep it mellower with horseback riding or fly-fishing.  Bonding over a new experience will make sure this trip is one to remember.

Schedule some ‘me’ time.

With so much togetherness, a little bit of scheduled ‘me’ time can be a very important thing. If you enjoy shopping, and your partner loathes it, embrace the opportunity for some alone time. Again, planning this ahead of time will help prevent misunderstandings or hurt feelings. And if you just can’t stand to be apart from each other at all, that’s okay, too.

Although camping is often portrayed as ‘roughing it’, an RV vacation can be a luxurious and romantic experience. Make sure you pick the right campground, and then plan activities that focus on shared experiences and opportunities for connection. After all, is there anything more romantic than sharing a cozy campfire under a sea of stars with your love?

08 Jan

Punk Rock Parenting, Pinball, and the Search for Stephanie’s Lost Records

Stephanie and I have been scratching for time to write our second book–and coming up short.  Parenting, podcasting, freelancing, and teaching are all fulfilling, but time consuming.  This weekend I decided that it was time for some Deep Work. I would take the boys out for five or six hours on Saturday so Stephanie could write.  On Sunday I would take my turn writing.

But then the snow…

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02 Jan

A New Year’s Wish for Strong and Adventurous Women

If you are like me and the rest of the world right now, your head is full of ways to make 2017 your best year ever. As much as people dismiss the power of New Year’s resolutions, I personally love the fresh start and the opportunity to think about goals for the upcoming year. 

However, it’s easy to fall into the work out/dieting/decluttering death spiral of the “New Year, New You” marketplace. So if you like setting goals, but also want to avoid the cycle of negativity and disappointment, I wanted to share this piece that I wrote last year for Camp Cabela’s…

Recently, as Cabela’s hosted their Ladies Day Out event, I started thinking about what it means to be an outdoor woman and mother. I immediately recalled a moment from this past summer, when I was hiking in Acadia National Park with Jeremy and the boys.

We had arrived at the trailhead to Bubble Rock Mountain early in the morning and climbed to the summit without much effort. We all had tons of energy and were excited to be back in one of our favorite national parks. We were also excited to be hiking with our new rescue dog, Maggie, as her enthusiasm kept the boys moving forward with few complaints.

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01 Dec

RVFTA #117 Dispatches from an RV Newbie

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We couldn’t be more excited about our episode this week, Dispatches from an RV Newbie.

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Our absolute favorite type of email to receive is from our listeners who have finally made the leap and bought their first RV. They tell us about how they found our podcast, all the rigs that they looked at, how they narrowed down their choices, and of course, all the fun adventures they have planned for the future.

These emails really do make us feel awesome about producing this weekly podcast.

So this fall we decided to reach out to one of those listeners who sent us an email last January, and see how that first season went for the family. Neil Potter was incredibly generous and agreed to come on the show, tell us about his story, and offer some tips for the RV newbie.

Read More

Play
02 Sep

RVFTA #104 Road Trip Wrap Up, Part 2

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On this week’s podcast episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are wrapping up our entire summer of travel with the second part of our Road Trip Reflections. We took two major trips this summer, and learned lessons about ourselves, our children, and our traveling styles on each of the trips.

In cased you missed it, you can check out Episode #99: Road Trip Wrap Up, Part 1 here.

Summer Road Trip Wrap Up

For this week’s Road Trip Wrap Up, we separated our reflections into two different segments: one for Jeremy and one for Stephanie. Take a listen as we discuss forgotten items, reading resolutions, deeply wooded campsites, finding wifi, the messy French Press, and trying out new activities. We will also talk about television and sleeping in.

Fair warning: things get a little heated with the last topic of conversation…the dreaded bathroom argument of 2016.

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Play
29 Jul

RVFTA #99 Summer Road Trip Wrap Up

Summer Road Trip Wrap Up

Special Announcements included in this podcast episode:

Go RVing Facebook Live Event, hosted by Stephanie and Jeremy Puglisi of RV Family Travel Atlas: Tune in to the Go RVing Facebook page on August 2nd at 3:30 pm Central Time.

New Jersey Festival of Ballooning: Find us at the Progressive RV on Friday, 5-8pm and Saturday and Sunday, 1-5pm.

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are hashing out our recent road trip and dishing on the highs, the lows, the successes, and the lessons learned.

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Play
19 May

RVFTA #89: Unplugging Teens and Tweens for RV Travel with Special Guest Kerri Cox


Unplugging Teens and Tweens for RV Travel

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Play
08 May

Dear RV Moms, I Think You’re Killin’ It.

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Just days after launching our new RV Family Travel Atlas site a couple of years ago, we received this comment on the blog:

Having been camping and traveling with little tykes (our grandchildren), we’ve found that, later, they have little recall of most of the scenes and sights they’ve seen, although they seemed to have enjoyed the trips, mostly. Just a thought.

At the time, I shook my head, sighed, and wrote a brief response, basically telling the gentleman that he was missing the point altogether.

But now, on Mother’s Day, I want to elaborate.

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10 Apr

Celebrating a Birthday at the Campground With Friends…and Bad Weather?

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We used to scoff at camping close to home and would never have celebrated a birthday or holiday at the campground.  But things have changed.  Last year we realized that we could camp close to home and still get the kids to their baseball games (read about it here).  This year we realized that we could camp close to home and have a slam dunk birthday party with family and friends. When the campground calls us, we must go! Even when other responsibilities are calling our names.

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24 Mar

RVFTA #81: Spring Camping Resolutions 2016

Spring Camping Resolutions 2016

Happy Spring, everybody! Here in the Northeast everyone is opening up the RVs and celebrating the beginning of camping season. And at RVFTA, that means it’s also time for our Spring Camping Resolutions.

We started this tradition last year on Episode #27, and it was fun (and a little nerve-wracking) for us to go back and listen to our resolutions from the beginning of camping season in 2015. We scored ourselves on our progress and accomplishments in the first segment of this show.

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08 Mar

What are You Waiting For? The Scary Leap to RV Ownership

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I’ve refrained from writing this post for a long time because, contrary to what my husband and kids might tell you, I really do not like telling people what to do. And I hate writing posts that inevitably lead to the each to his own reactions, comments, and feedback. I respect that everyone has their own set of circumstances and reasoning behind life decisions.

But still.

We receive so many emails and messages on social media from people who are saying a version of the following:

I wish we could own an RV. One day we will get an RV. We are on the five-year plan. We are on the seven-year plan. When we retire, we look forward to buying our first RV.  Etc, etc.

And then the story of Driving Miss Norma went ripping around the internet over the last couple of weeks. I had two thoughts:

  1. That is amazing that Norma is living her life to the fullest.
  2. I don’t want to wait until I am 90 to have the time of my life.

In almost every single case, people who tell us they are waiting to get an RV cite financial reasons. It is not in the budget right now. They don’t want a payment. They are saving up.  On the surface, these statements seem completely reasonable and even downright responsible. In fact, I presented them all to my husband over the course of buying our first pop up.

However.

The arguments don’t really fly. Why?

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02 Feb

A Case for the Campground (or, why it’s okay if you don’t plan on boondocking this year)

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If you hang out in RV social media circles, you probably have noticed the increase in boondocking, or wild camping, content. You might see an Airstream in the middle of a desert with snow-capped mountains in the distance. Or a Class C sitting at the edge of a rocky shoreline without another RV in sight. Blog posts offer GPS coordinates for remote, wooded locations, and many apps help you find isolated BLM lands on which you can park your rig.

The appeal is obvious. First of all, wild places are beautiful. RVers generally have a healthy appreciation for the natural world, so the more of it, the better. What is more romantic than having a beautiful place all to yourself? Secondly, these spots are free. For people like ourselves who want to camp as much as possible, a free campsite is a very attractive option.

And then there are the photos. In our increasingly visual social media landscape, how awesome is it to get pictures of your RV smack dab in the middle of nowhere, without the clutter of other rigs and people?

As solar energy becomes more ubiquitous, tanks become bigger, WiFi becomes stronger, and generators become cheaper, it is easier for the average RVer to enjoy the comforts of the RV lifestyle without the drag of a campground price tag.

The conversation about boondocking pops up in the RVFTA world on a regular basis. People ask us, when are you going to start boondocking? Why don’t you do it already? Don’t you think you are missing out on an amazing experience? Is what you are doing really authentic?

We have discussed this issue many times on the podcast, and in emails with our listeners. But most of the time, the question is framed in terms of what we are not doing…i.e. boondocking. But we actually look at the issue differently. Instead of believing that we are giving our kids a less authentic camping experience, we actually think we are giving them exposure to a remarkably valuable environment, and one that is difficult to find in our present day culture.

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Many people who boondock want to get away from it all, disconnect, unplug. Most of us feel this pressing need on a daily basis. We crave a break from the busyness, a bit of quiet amidst all the noise. The irony is, of course, that as we have become more connected on social media we have become less connected with our neighbors, our community members, and even our co workers.

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A recent article I read in the New York Times, Friends at Work? Not So Much, was talking about how as a culture we are underestimating the value of forming new friendships at work. When I can stay connected with my old friends on Facebook, why bother going through the hassle of getting to know Bob in the break room?

I, of course, immediately thought of the campground. In our opinion, campgrounds are not a necessary evil, a place to stay now until we can build up our courage to take our children out into the middle of nowhere. Campgrounds are actually places where a lot of things operate according to the pre-technology norms of 20 years ago. You are pretty much expected to wave and say hi to someone as they walk by. It is still considered polite to strike up friendly conversation with a stranger. And kids are constantly forming pick up games with children they met five minutes ago.

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Playdates? Not at a campground. You’ll just see a mob of kids moving from campsite to campsite. Sharing toys, making up games, and getting really dirty.

I understand the desire people have to get away from it all and find some peace and quiet. But in a way, I believe we have a little too much peace and quiet in our lives already. Too much time spent in front of screens with headphones in our ears, looking at pretty pictures that other people have posted on social media.

We don’t just love our RV. We also love and appreciate our time at public and private campgrounds, meeting  new people, having pleasant conversations, and connecting more with each other.

The pictures aren’t as pretty perhaps, but I’ve got the squeals of my happy boys as they enjoy an epic water gun war with a bunch of friends they just met. And that’s a pretty authentic experience to me.

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Have an opinion about the campground versus boondocking? We would love to hear it! Share away in the comments below…

See you at the campground. ~Stephanie

06 Jan

Holidays in the RV: Reflections on a New Adventure

It is the Twelfth Day of Christmas, and I am ready to throw my Christmas tree out the window.

Don’t get me wrong…I really do think it’s the most wonderful time of the year. But by New Year’s Day, I’m always ready to sweep up the last of the needles and call it quits on the holiday season.

This year, the holidays looked quite a bit different for us. We traveled on both Thanksgiving and Christmas, spending one in the RV and one in a hotel. So of course I have some thoughts and opinions. You have come to expect that from me.

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When Max and Theo were three years old, we traveled south to visit family over the Christmas holiday break. To be frank, it was a nightmare. Instead of enjoying our own family traditions and relaxing, we ended up tired and stressed. The trip ended and we said, No more. From now on we celebrate holidays in our own home.

And we did. Until this year. If you listened to the Thanksgiving podcast episode of Girl Camper, you heard me talk about how we have struggled to answer the question of what holidays will look like now that our extended family has moved far away. We have slowly let go of what a holiday should look like, and have started asking ourselves what we want it to look like.

This year we decided to try camping on Thanksgiving. I honestly did not know how I would like it, but I’m going to cut right to the chase…it was marvelous. The next month, my mother in law offered to send us to Great Wolf Lodge for Christmas…and it was just as awesome.

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So I’ve been thinking: Why did I enjoy holidays away from home so much? Why were these holiday travel experiences different from ones in the past?

Holidays are supposed to be about spending time with loved ones, right? But so often we get caught up in the planning, preparations, events, cleaning, baking, and general running around, and we end up stressed and exhausted.

When we spent Thanksgiving in the RV, 100% of our focus was on spending time together with family and friends. I wasn’t worried about a clean house or making 5 different desserts from scratch. I actually experienced more sustained gratefulness over this Thanksgiving weekend than I ever can remember in the past. We were doing fun things together, enjoying the last of the beautiful fall weather, and gathering with friends who we don’t often see.

On Christmas, we spent the morning at our house, opening gifts and enjoying a holiday breakfast. By noon we were off to Great Wolf Lodge. Again, I didn’t know how I would feel about the experience and again, I ended up feeling an overwhelming freedom spending time with my family instead of worrying about all the holiday busyness that can be so distracting. We were in bathing suits going down watersides instead of sitting around the living room feeling over stuffed and overstimulated. We weren’t installing batteries and breaking down cardboard boxes. We were just having fun.

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Don’t get me wrong, everything wasn’t perfect. I think if we did it again, I might want to develop some roadworthy traditions because I’m sentimental and love that stuff. Next year on Thanksgiving, for example, I would definitely do a campground meal instead of eating out at restaurant.

I was worried that spending the holidays away from our home would leave me feeling unfettered and strange. Instead, I felt more rooted than ever. Because I was completely experiencing the most important part of the holiday season…time with family.

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Happy New Year, and we wish you joy.

~Stephanie

31 Dec

RVFTA #69 Top 12 Travel Highlights of 2015

Top 12 Travel Highlights of 2015

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are sharing our top 12 RV Travel Highlights of 2015. And as an added bonus, we have lots of listener highlights to share as well!

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But before we get into that…we have our first big announcements of 2016! We will be attending the Florida RV Supershow in Tampa, Florida from January 13-17th. Stay tuned for more details about a scheduled meet and greet.

In 2015, we spent over 70 nights in the RV, staying in both public and private campgrounds, sometimes tucked away in the woods, other times sprawled out on souped-up patio sites.

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We hiked and biked and kayaked and swam. We rode roller coasters, ziplines, water taxis and ski lifts. It was almost impossible to narrow our picks down to just 12, but we managed.

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You might think that New Year’s is all about the resolutions. But we here at RVFTA believe in looking back and celebrating the best moments in our lives.

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You are listening to Episode #69: Top 12 Travel Highlights of 2015!

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16 Dec

We Want to Hear Your 2015 RV Highlight!

What was your top RV highlight of 2015?

Our New Year’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas is just around the corner, and we will be sharing our top RV and travel moments from the year: new experiences, favorite travel destinations, and the family moments that made it all worth it.

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We might also throw in a few of our least favorite moments from 2015…just for good cheer.

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It would be awesome to include some of our readers’ and listeners’ top RV moments of the past year also. We know many of you purchased your first rig, upgraded to more fancy digs, or took your campers farther than ever before in 2015. You saw new places and experienced moments that will be talked about for years to come.

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Tell us about it. Send us an email at rvfamilytravelatlas@gmail.com, use the contact form on our site, or just comment below!

Happy New Year and Happy Trails,

Stephanie + Jeremy

RVFTA Podcast Network-2

29 Aug

RVFTA #50: Naughty Behavior at the Campground

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are talking about the naughty behaviors that can sometimes pop up when traveling with kids.

Nobody’s perfect and when environment, schedules, daily activities, and food are different, things are bound to get a little out of hand.

We will explore some of the hotspots we have identified and small tweaks that can make a big difference. Four areas that many parents seem to struggle with are…

  • Car Rides
  • Activities
  • Bedtime
  • Sweet Treats

Plus, we are reviewing a campground in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, Sugar Ridge RV Park, where we whittled away the last days of summer vacation. Listen to hear the skinny on our latest New England campground discovery.

And we are reviewing Season 2 of Big Time RV on the Travel Channel this week. RV shows have become a bit more mainstream and this is one of our recent favorites.

You may have perfect angels that fly through campground trips with an aura of sweetness and light. But here at RVFTA, we have enough material to dedicate a whole podcast to this topic. Thanks for listening to Episode #50: Naughty Behavior at the Campground!

We are delighted to have Go RVing as our RVFTA sponsor. Listen for a message from them just a bit later in our show. To find your AWAY head over to gorving.com/rvfta.

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14 Aug

RVFTA #48: Dispatches from Glacier and Yosemite

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are talking to our favorite podcast correspondents, Brett Neilson and Kerri Cox, who both took epic RV trips this summer with their families.

Brett Neilson, from the Great State of Utah, headed up to Glacier National Park and has some great campground reviews and suggestions for hikes and family activities. He talks about…

Kerri Cox, from the Great State of Missouri, hitched up her travel trailer and drove west to see the grandeur of Yosemite. How did her family fare on this 25-day tour de force? Listen to find out. Kerri will tell us about…

We thought we were all that and a campfire s’more with our 34-day trip to the Great Smokies. But there were plenty of other families seeing this big, beautiful country in grand RV style. Those stories are coming your way on Episode #48: Dispatches from Glacier and Yosemite.

We are delighted to have Go RVing as our RVFTA sponsor.  To find your AWAY head over to GoRVing.com.

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31 Jul

RVFTA #46: Reflections from 34 Days on the Road

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On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are looking back at 34 days on the road. We have never spent that many consecutive nights in our travel trailer, and it was definitely a different experience than a long weekend or one-week vacation.

Four states and seven campgrounds later, we have some thoughts to share. Listen to hear our reflections about campgrounds and family travel. Will RVFTA become a full-time RVing operation? You will have to tune in to find out…

Campground Topics

  1. Aesthetics
  2. Landscaping
  3. Furnishings
  4. Communal Spaces

Family Topics

  1. Chores and Clean Up
  2. Activities and Down Time
  3. Homesickness
  4. Mountains or Sea?

And we are wrapping up our reports from the road by interviewing Running Bear, one of the co-owners of the Jellystone in Marion, North Carolina. They are doing a lot of things right at this campground, and we will talk about the customer service and activities that blew us away.

We are delighted to welcome back Go RVing as our RVFTA sponsor. Listen for a special message from them just a bit later in our show. To find your AWAY head over to Go RVing.

Our epic road trip is over, but maybe yours has just begun. And you are listening to Episode #46: Reflections from 34 Days on the Road.

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29 Jun

Summertime on the Blue Ridge Parkway with the Fancy Gap KOA

It’s been two years since we have travelled on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the National Park Services second most visited “park unit” after the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, but now we’ve finally made it back.  It is easy to see why it is so popular.  It is a magical drive.

DSC_0121The Parkway is 469 miles long.  It starts at the southern end of Shenandoah National Park’s Skyline Drive and it ends near the Oconaluftee Visitor Center in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The mountain towns that are nestled alongside the parkway, and the parkway itself, provide endless opportunities for sightseeing and family adventure.  For the first leg of our summer trip we decided to camp at the Fancy Gap KOA in Fancy Gap, Virginia.  We have long suspected that this KOA would make a great base camp for a Blue Ridge Parkway adventure.  We were right.

DSC_0166The campground is nestled on a mountainside and is filled with beautiful, shaded back in sites, pull through sites for big rigs, and a mixture of rustic and deluxe cabins.  Many of those sites are surrounded by native flowers and meticulous landscaping. Pride of ownership is evident here.

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We are not dog owners, but we were also impressed with this KOA’s unique and spacious pet friendly sites.  They have a large fenced in area at the rear that easily doubles the overall size of the site.

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We also loved the campground’s club house and its brand new patio area right outside of the camp store. These were great shared spaces for socializing with other campers and relaxing with our boys.  We played checkers there every night.  There was a barbecue dinner Friday night prepared by pitmaster Ben from Blue Ridge BBQ–and it was awesome. The ribs and pulled pork hit the spot after a long day of adventure in the mountains.  There was an ice cream social held in the club house on Saturday night and we did partake of not one, but two scoops each.

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Our evenings at the campground were peaceful and relaxing and allowed us to recharge our batteries for the next day’s adventures.  And with an entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway only 200 yards from the campground, adventure is literally waiting around the corner.  On our first day we headed South on the parkway to the Blue Ridge Music Center.  There is free bluegrass there every day from 12-4 and the quality is amazing.  The Center is educational and inspiring, and the musicians give you a delicious taste of the area’s rich musical heritage.  There are rocking chairs set up on the breezeway for listeners–and a few of them even got up and danced to the livelier tunes. If you love pickin’ then this is your place.

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On day two of our Blue Ridge adventure we headed south to Mabry Mill, the most photographed site on the Parkway.  We did a little exploring around the mill and then headed into the restaurant next door for tasty salads and sandwiches served up at a reasonable price with lots of Southern hospitality. After lunch we went on a nearby hike that skirted the ridge of the mountain and weaved in and out of densely wooded forest with the occasional spectacular vista.  Even though we were close to the parkway the woods were filled with deer who were playful and unafraid of our presence. Even when I pulled the camera out.

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If you stay at the Fancy Gap KOA you will be tempted to spend each day enjoying the seemingly never-ending splendor of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  But then you would miss a day trip to Mount Airy, North Carolina, birthplace of Andy Griffith, and inspiration for the town of Mayberry in the legendary Andy Griffith Show.  Missing Mount Airy would be a crying shame.  We had a complete hootenanny of a day there. We enjoyed the famous pork chop sandwich at Snappy Lunch, where Andy ate as a boy.

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Then we visited the town “courthouse” modeled after the one in the television show.  Even though the boys had been on best behavior all day it still felt mighty good to throw them in the clink!

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Don’t worry. They didn’t stay long.  We had to make our 3 o’clock tour of the town in a vintage Ford police car, just like the one on the show.  Our tour guide was informative and funny.  The highlight came when the 1963 Ford broke down right in front of Andy Griffith’s childhood home.  Another tour guide, Melvin, raced from the “courthouse” to pick us up in another police car.  He was also informative and funny. Luckily he was driving a ’67 Ford.  We made it back okay.

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On our way out of Mount Airy I ran into a gift shop and bought season one of the Andy Griffith show. When we got back to the Fancy Gap KOA it was raining and the day was quickly coming to an end.  We put Wesley to bed and then the boys asked if we could watch a few episodes.  So we cuddled up in bed and were transported back in time to Mayberry in the 1960’s.

The Blue Ridge Parkway and Mount Airy had cast a magical spell over all of us.  We didn’t want to leave the Fancy Gap KOA the next morning, but summer was calling us deeper into its arms.  Time to head further south to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We have heard that it is pretty nice there too.

We have been frequent customers of KOA over the past 5 years, but this was a sponsored trip. Our opinions are always our own.

To hear more about our stay near the Blue Ridge Parkway and our fun adventures in Fancy Gap and Mount Airy, listen to Episode #42 of our podcast: Greetings from the Blue Ridge Parkway! 

You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store, or click on the button below to stream it. Visit the podcast show notes here.

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