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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24 Nov

RVFTA #64: 2015 Holiday Gift Guide


On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are rolling through our holiday gift guide: 33 items that are perfect for the RV enthusiast in your life. Some we picked ourselves and some recommendations are from other RV experts–correspondents and listeners from this show.

subscribe on iTunesTune in to hear gift picks from Brett, Kerri, Evanne, Chris, Val, Rachel, and Kate. There is definitely something for everyone, and a price point for every budget. Books, DVDs, hats, hoodies, spice holders, mixing bowls, awning lights, and apps. Click on any picture below to purchase that item.

Not a single item on this list is a sponsored item, and we do not have ANY affiliate links.

You might think we couldn’t possibly top last year’s holiday gift guide. But we here at RVFTA believe that bigger is (sometimes) actually better. This is Episode #64: 2015 Holiday Guide Guide.

1. Camp Casual Serving Bowl and Servers ($22.99)

2. AMC Guide to Outdoor Digital Photography ($19.95)

3. Ansel Adams Yosemite ($22.00)

4. Fromer’s Easy Guide Series ($12.95)

5. The Sibley Guide to Birds, 2nd Edition ($40.00)

6. Outdoor Photographer, 1-Year Subscription ($14.97)

7. The Andy Griffith Show Complete Box Set, also available on Netflix ($101.00)

8. National Parks Passport ($8.95)

9. RVFTA Distressed Hoodies (40.00)

10. L.L. Bean Fleece-lined Flannel Shirt ($69.00)

11. L.L. Bean Men’s Wool Ball Cap ($29.95)

12. North Face ETip  Gloves, Men’s and Women’s ($45.00)

13. Igloo Freestanding Ice Machine ($159.95)

14. Roadside America App, iTunes ($5.99)

15. Threshold Stainless Steal Mixing Bowls from Target ($19.99)

16. Kleen Kanteen Vacuum Insulated Tumbler (23.95)

17. Camelbak Forge 16 oz Travel Mug ($21.00)

18. Bialetti Saute Pans ($22.00-$50.00)

19. Motorola Two-Way Radios ($42.00)

20. Campsite Rope Lights, Christmas Tree Shops ($8.99)

21. Andersen Camper Levelers ($40.00)

Kate’s List…

22. Deluxe Camp Kitchen from Bass Pro Shop ($139.00)

23. Table Top French Press from REI ($44.00)

24. GSI Spice Rocket ($12.95)

25. Duracell 600 Watt 1300 Amp Powerpack Pro ($163.00)

26. Rand McNally Tripmaker RV GPS ($240.00)

27. Orion Starblast 4.5 Reflector Telescope ($210.00)

28. Happy Camper Wine ($8.00-$12.00)

29 Awning Lights from Ooga Lights (prices vary)

30. Faux Fur Throw from Pottery Barn ($50.00 and up)

31. Aquaflops Shower Shoes ($16.99)

32. Moroccan Lanterns ($15.00 and up)

33. Custom Made Replica Vintage Trailer from CHcampers.com ($6,995 and up)

If you buy any of these items for a loved one or yourself, please do let us know!

And have a wonderful, blessed holiday season with friends and family.


Jeremy + Stephanie

09 Dec

11 Classic Christmas Albums for Hipsters and Holy Rollers

Yes, I’m an RV junkie…but I’m also a Christmas music junky.  After taking that last bite of Thanksgiving turkey I dust off my albums and crank up the tunes.

Are you throwing a Christmas party this year?  Or just looking for some new sounds to help you celebrate the season?  I have you covered with my 11 favorite Christmas albums, from Satchmo to the King and everything in-between.

Click on the album or song titles for iTunes and start making your own festive mix that will bring you good cheer for years to come.

Louis Armstrong: What a Wonderful Christmas 

Satchmo was hip and holy.  He believed his talents were given to him by God.  He was right.

Favorite Track: Christmas in New Orleans



Doug Munro & La Pompe Attack: A Very Gypsy Christmas

Bored with another suburban Christmas? Let this album bring you to a magical land far, far away.

Favorite Track: Let it Snow



Kermit Ruffins: Have a Crazy Cool Christmas!

Crazy? Check. Cool? Check. Bring the sights, sounds and smells of modern New Orleans home for Christmas.

Favorite Track: A Saints Christmas



Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, JR: Christmas with the Rat Pack

All of the boys are in fine form here, and behaving for once.  But if you ask me, Dino steals the show.

Favorite Track: I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm


A Christmas Gift For You: From Phil Spector

You won’t need mistletoe to get soulful kisses with this warm and romantic Christmas album.

Favorite Track: I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus



Christmas Grass: A Celebration of Christmas, Bluegrass Style

Head to the Blue Ridge Mountains for the Holidays. Don’t spill the egg-nog when your toes start tapping.

Favorite Track: Winter Wonderland



The Beach Boys: Christmas Harmonies

The angelic harmonies of summer’s favorite sons are surprisingly perfect for the holidays. Let some California sun warm up your Christmas party.

Favorite Tracks: Frosty the Snowman


She & Him: A Very She and Him Christmas

Are your holiday guests garbed in beards and skinny jeans? Then this one’s for you. M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel are hip without being haughty.

Favorite Track: Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree


Oscar Peterson: An Oscar Peterson Christmas

Oscar Peterson was a jazz giant and a keyboard wizard. Let him bring some magic to your Christmas mix.

Favorite Track: White Christmas


Andy Williams: The Andy Williams Christmas Album

Classy without being corny.  Put on a jacket and tie. Your grandfather’s Christmas music really was better than yours.

Favorite Tracks: Happy Holiday / The Holiday Season


Elvis Presley: Elvis Christmas 

Elvis really feels every single one of these tracks. The King was also the King of Christmas music. Who’s surprised?

Favorite Track: Oh Come, All Ye Faithful


Do you have a favorite Christmas album?  Drop us a note and let us know. We are always looking to add something new to our Christmas Mix!

20 Jul

The Fiddler and his Airstream…Welcome to Asheville.

We pulled out of Cape Hatteras at around 8:30 AM.  Not exactly the crack of dawn–but a pretty good departure time for parents with twin four year-olds and a three month old baby boy.  We were making good time on our way to Asheville when Max put down his coloring book and started complaining that his stomach hurt.  We didn’t pay him much mind.

Then he barfed all over the back seat.  This caught our attention.  Then he barfed again.  Now we were down-right focused.  Theo, being his twin brother and all, also barfed all over the back seat.  Now we were pretty grossed out.  Then Theo barfed again.  We both wanted to cry.  Only 8 hours of driving left…

At least Wes looked happy sitting in the back seat, smack dab in the middle of the twins, blissfully chewing on his rainbow colored squish.

After a Nascar-like emergency pit-stop-clean-up things started to improve quickly–despite the lingering smell of double twin vomit.   The highways and interstates (particularly Interstate 40), that stretch from the Outer Banks to the Blue Ridge Mountains make for some very easy driving–even with our 6,000 pound, 33 foot, Jayco travel trailer behind us.  After the barfing incident the boys settled in and were very good for the rest of the drive (not that blowing chunks makes a child bad)–and Wes went for almost seven hours without a tear.

But eventually he became uncomfortable and the tears started to flow.  The last two hours of the trip were pretty stressful.  The boys sang “It’s a Grand Old Flag” and the theme song to “Jake and the Neverland Pirates” to Wes over and over again–but he was not buying it.  My ears, and my stomach, were starting to hurt.  Stephanie’s nerves were frayed.  Then we pulled into the Asheville East KOA in Swannanoa, our home for the next nine nights, and we had one of those magic moments that can only happen when you get your butt out of the house and go camping.

The windows were down in our Silverado as we pulled up to register and we could hear the sound of a fiddler and his fiddle filling up the warm evening air in the campground.  The music was beautiful and soaring and the fireflies were coming out in swarms (we were later told that it was a great summer for fireflies.) We looked to our left and saw the fiddler playing, really jamming, really leaning into it, while sitting in front of his beautiful silver Airstream.  For the uninitiated, all Airstreams are silver, and all Airstreams are beautiful.  And all Airstream owners are cool.  Cooler than you and I.  Especially when they are musicians.  Especially when they play the fiddle.  No single man deserves that much style.  I wanted him to be my guru–or at least my crazy uncle.

He looked completely entranced by his own playing–not even noticing the magic spell that he was casting over my family and the rest of his fellow campers.  Our road stress was gone.  Our camping Mojo levels were completely restored.  Our camping Mojo levels were Overflowing–thanks to the fiddler and his Airstream.

The poet John Keats once wrote in Ode on a Grecian Urn that, “Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter.”  I couldn’t disagree more. His heard melodies were sweeter than honey.

After we parked the camper I rushed back to snap his photo, but he was gone.  The fireflies, however, had stayed, and they were lighting up the night.
Welcome to Asheville.


01 Jun

The Greatest RV Song Ever: Kasey Musgraves

Looking for some great new music for your next road trip?  A few weeks ago I recommended the new James Hunter album, Minute by Minute–which is still on heavy rotation in my house.
My other favorite new album for summer is a debut by the immensely talented country singer Kasey Musgraves.  She can sing, she can play guitar and harmonica, and man can she write.
Musgraves is a a great storyteller with a razor sharp wit and a gift for precise imagery and detail.  Her best songs are funny, sad, sweet, and satirical–and they’re easy to sing along to.
 I’ve heard her compared to Miranda Lambert several times but that doesn’t tell the whole story–because Lambert doesn’t tell such great stories.  She definitely has that Lambert bad-girl edge and image but she also has a bit more poetry and soul in her dusty narratives–think Lucinda Williams and Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.
But more importantly, Musgraves may have written the greatest RV song ever.  One of the best songs on the album is called “My House” which really should lead off your summer road mix.  It’s not even June yet but I’m declaring this instant classic as our family song for the summer.  I’m also declaring Kasey Musgraves as the new poet laureate of the RV Tribe because of lyrics like this one:
“Water and electric / and a place to drain the septic / the KOA is A-OK / as long as I’m with you. / So come on hitch your wagon / to this livin’ room I’m draggin’ /  If I can’t bring you to my house / I’ll bring my house to you.”
Follow the link below, take a listen, and have a toe-tapping smile on me–then get to work on that road trip playlist.
17 Apr

Groovy Tunes For Your Next Road Trip: James Hunter

The James Hunter Six: Minute by Minute
I know that your itching for that first road trip of the spring.  You’ve had enough of winter and you want to pack the family up and head to your favorite campground for a warm weekend getaway.  Your picturing yourself behind the wheel with the music cranked up just loud enough to drown out the sounds of chaos coming from the kids in the backseat.  Or, if your a lucky dad like me, then maybe, just maybe, your kids are starting to like some of your favorite tunes.

This afternoon I hit play on the groovy new disc by the James Hunter Six and Max and Theo immediately started to boogie woogie across the living room floor.  Their dancing and singing reminded me that they actually are starting to like real music–my music!  Last summer they learned the names of all of the artists on my favorite road mix–and they learned some of the lyrics too.  They memorized all of the words (the important ones anyway) to Eric Church’s “Springsteen” and they particularly loved belting out the “whoa oh oh oh oh’s” from the back seat of our Chevy Silverado. At the beginning of each song they would also ask to see the picture of the artist on my iphone screen.  They were particularly impressed by Eric Church’s dark beard, sunglasses, and trucker hat.  Note to Eric; my 3 year old twins think you are the definition of cool.

But this spring its time for some fresh road tunes and the new album by the James Hunter Six, Minute by Minute,  is about to go into heavy rotation.  Hunter and his band look and sound like they stepped out of a time machine from a simpler and more soulful time–and each song sounds like a classic from the golden age of radio.  But its all just brand new blue-eyed soul from one of England’s finest crooners.  Hunter’s voice and his band’s crisp and classy backing (on saxophones, drums, keyboards,stand-up bass, and guitar) are irresistible.  This is the album for your next road trip and it will also sound great around the campfire at night.  Whether your drinking milk or Merlot get ready to dance and shake away those winter blues.  Just remember–quiet time starts at 10:00 PM…


09 Jun

Last Stop: Appel Farm Arts and Music Festival (Take 3)

Even though Max and Theo woke up at 3:45 on Saturday morning in Jellystone Park, our family still managed to have a great time at  the Appel Farm Arts and Music Festival.  After a long groggy morning we set up camp under a shady tree by the Grove Stage at about 11:45 and listened to music and played on the lawn all day.Max and Theo’s favorite band of the day was the Philadelphia based trio Good Old War. These youngsters had our youngsters dancing and clapping for their entire set.  We loved their summer-filled harmonies and soul-filled rhythms–and apparently so did everyone else.  The had the whole crowd grooving and moving!

The only bummer was that our boys could not make it throughJosh Ritter’s set.  After drawing in the children’s tent, taking a dicey stroller nap, chasing bubbles across the farm, and dancing to Good Old War– our boys were completely pooped.

After four great songs, Momma thought it was obviously bedtime.  As other wise parents of Lively Little Campers know–you don’t mess with bedtime. And as wise fathers know you don’t mess with Momma…  Josh Ritter sounded great and I plan on catching him again sometime without the campers.

The weather had been perfect all day and our boys were exhausted from lots of play and fresh air shared with friends.  There was really nothing to complain about at all. Really. Nothing.

31 May

Next Stop: Appel Farm Arts and Music Festival (Take 2)

Theo at Appel Farm, June 2010

As Stephanie mentioned in a previous post, we have attended the Appel FarmArts and Music Festival both with and without kids.  We had a memorable day on both occasions.  The festival is really unique because of the quality and diversity of the music and the kid-friendly environment.  Last year we sat at the back of a wide-open field and were able to hear the music and let our kids roam free at the same time.  This year promises to be even better.

I am really excited to see Josh Ritter for the first time.  Here is a link to a short acoustic concert that he did for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert Series.  My guess is that his set will be the highlight of the festival.

However, the highlight of the weekend might have nothing to do with music and everything to do with water.  I discovered a campgroundwith a brand new splash park just two miles away from the festival and I booked a site faster than you can say, “pack the swim diapers.”

Great music.  Great food.  A splash park for goodness sake?  My camping cup runneth over!

Could this be a new family tradition for the lively little campers?  We will let you know next week.

This year’s Appel Farm Arts and Music Festival will take place on Saturday June 4th, from 11:30 to 8:30.  Bring the kids!  Children 12 and under are free.


27 May

Next Stop: Appel Farm Arts and Music Festival

We have gone to this music festival both pre- and post-children. It is a great time no matter what. Good music, good food, and plenty of puppet shows and crafts for the little guys. Not to mention a really great local wine tent. Last year, the boys were barely walking and they still had a blast.

Tickets are still available if you want to join in the festivities.
Best part? Children 12 and under are free! Second best part? You can bring in coolers.
Start making them PBandJ sandwiches.

17 May

Mellow Campfire Mix: Volume One, Family and Friends

 Some suggested tunes for your next campfire:
“If I Were a Carpenter” Johnny Cash
“Let Me Touch You for Awhile” Alison Krauss & Union Station
“Look Down That Lonesome Road” Among the Oak and Ash
“I and Love and You” The Avett Brothers
“The Shining” Badly Drawn Boy
“Judy and the Dream of Horses” Belle and Sebastian
“Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right” Bob Dylan
“For Emma” Bon Iver
“First Day of My Life” Bright Eyes
“For Beginners” M. Ward
“Country Mile” Camera Obscura
“The Weight”  Cassandra Wilson
“Perfect Blue Buildings” Counting Crows
“Raincoat Song” The Decemberists
Any suggestions to add to the mix?