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Where We Decided to Live!!!

I can’t believe it’s already been 19 months since we originally set out on our journey back in June 2014! Thank you for following along with us this entire time and enduring my delayed blogging! In my last blog post, I mentioned that when we finished our initial road trip through all 48 contiguous states, we had been hanging out in Southern California for 4 months trying to figure out where to go from there.

Since we still didn’t know where we wanted to live when everything was said and done, we figured why not stall a little longer and do one more road trip finale?! This next RV excursion included Denver, CO (since we didn’t get to see the Mile High City the first time we visited), the West Coast again (just because we love it so much and knew there was more to see), and a bunch of National Parks along the way.  See our complete route HERE.

But before I write about all of those adventures, I’ve decided that I’ve kept you waiting long enough about where we ended up moving to.  So I’m going to skip ahead a bit and finally tell you where we decided to live! Scroll down for the big news!

 

Without further ado…

The announcement you’ve all been waiting for…

We decided to move to…

Drumroll, please…

 

Colorado

Denver 2

We are now official Coloradans living in Denver, CO! We laugh about the fact that we’re living in the city we didn’t even get to see when we were there initially because we were thoroughly traumatized and left in the middle of the night (read the crazy story HERE).  How ironic is that?! Good thing we revisited Denver, or we’d probably still be living in our trailer twiddling our thumbs and/or wandering around aimlessly.  The other funny thing about us settling down in Denver is that I never would have thought I’d live in Colorado, especially because it’s a winter state.  I’ve always been adamantly against living anywhere where it snows! After growing up in Las Vegas and then living in Los Angeles for 5 years, I had no idea what to even wear in the frigid white stuff!

Justin missed the seasons from the days he lived in his hometown of Salt Lake City, UT.  For a while now he’s been trying to convince me to live somewhere that has winters along with all the other seasons.  Ultimately, Denver won me over! It even snowed the second time we were there checking it out back in May 2015, and surprisingly I lived through it! I was a little skeptical that it snowed in May (seriously, snow in May?), but I’m glad I experienced it.  Knowing I could handle the snow after all made the decision to live in Denver even easier.  My only contingency for agreeing to move to Denver was that we absolutely had to have an attached garage or the deal was off! Haha!

Our New Home State!!!

After our second cross-country road trip (which I’ll be writing about eventually), we returned to Southern California to tie up some loose ends and get what few items we had remaining in storage.  We sold both our truck and travel trailer as a package deal and then moved out to Denver on July 22nd, 2015, with nothing but a U-Haul truck and everything we owned in the back of it! We didn’t even know where we would live when we reached Denver on July 24th.  We pulled up to apartment complexes in our moving truck and asked if they had any units available.  When they asked how soon we were looking to move, we pointed to our moving truck and said, “Right now!”  Luck was on our side, and by July 26th (less than 2 days later), we had found an apartment (with an attached garage… yippee!) and moved in! We’ve been living in Denver and loving it ever since!

Surprisingly, the weather hasn’t been bad.  In fact, it’s been really nice overall.  Don’t get me started on fall (my favorite season)! Gorgeous! I’ve even been surviving the winter.  I hate to admit this, but I’ve actually been enjoying the snow believe it or not.  We’ll have to keep that top secret though.  I can’t have people knowing I like the thing I said I would never tolerate.  🙂 Experiencing the seasons has really been a pleasant change for me.  We love exploring our new city and state! Stay tuned for the blog posts about our time in Denver and the reasons why we decided to live there along with more posts about our adventures on the road!

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Back on the Road!

After accomplishing our goal of traveling through all 48 contiguous states, we returned to California, coming full circle with our journey.  We spent 4 months in Temecula, CA (from December 2014 to April 2015), contemplating life and where to live, what to do for work/income, and basically where to go from there.

One of our lovely sites at the Pechanga RV Resort (loved the mountain backdrop!)
One of our lovely sites at the Pechanga RV Resort (loved the mountain backdrop!)

We stayed at the Pechanga RV Resort, one of our absolute favorite RV parks from all our travels throughout the country! We really enjoyed our time in Temecula and were actually considering settling down there.  I mean, vineyards, wineries and wine tastings, what’s not to love? Plus, there’s a casino (with a buffet…score!).  And Temecula even has an adorable Old Town section with a Wild West vibe straight out of an old cowboy movie (okay, maybe not that authentic, but charming nonetheless). There are cute shops along with a surprising number of bars and restaurants.

There were also countless parks on practically every neighborhood corner with plenty of grass for Saucy to fetch her ball, her all-time favorite activity.  Saucy was in heaven, and Meaty loved walking at the parks! Temecula felt very suburban with great housing developments featuring large, newer homes and a lower cost of living than most of Southern California. It had the small town feel I had been looking for.

Map of Temecula, CA (centrally located between Los Angeles, Carlsbad & San Diego)

Plus, with a central location (85 miles south of Los Angeles, less than 60 miles north of San Diego, and 35 miles east of Carlsbad, Oceanside and, well, the ocean), Temecula seemed like an ideal spot. We thought it might be the place where we could settle down.  But while being there for several months, Justin realized it was too “small town” for him. He needs to be in a big city or at least closer to one. And after being stationary for so long, we were itching for another adventure!

Feeling pressure from still not knowing where we should live, we needed to hit the road again. Denver had been nagging us from the recesses of our minds ever since our failed attempt at visiting the Mile High City. You might remember the fiasco that happened when we first stopped over in Denver months ago, which caused us to take off in the middle of the night and completely miss seeing the capital of Colorado.

Back on the road with our trailer in tow!

So we decided to return to Denver and then revisit the West Coast as a last hurrah while hitting up as many National Parks along the way as possible. Last time we were on the road, we were trying to find a place to live.  This time around, we’ll be focusing on nature.  We’re thrilled to be exploring again! Here’s the route we’ll be taking for our next road trip (see below for a list of the cities corresponding to the numbers on the map):

Next Road Trip
Our Next Road Trip to Denver, several National Parks & the West Coast
  1. Temecula, CA (12/9/14-4/10/15)
  2. Phoenix, AZ (4/10/15-4/13/15)
  3. Las Vegas, NV (4/13/15-4/16/15)
  4. Virgin, UT (4/16/15-4/19/15)
    • Zion National Park
  5. Page, AZ (4/19/15-4/21/15)
    • Lake Powell
      • Rainbow Bridge
    • Lower Antelope Canyon
    • Horseshoe Bend
  6. Hurricane, UT (4/22/15-4/23/15)
    • Zion National Park
  7. Bryce Canyon, UT (4/24/15-4/26/15)
    • Bryce Canyon National Park
  8. Torrey, UT (4/27/15-4/29/15)
    • Capitol Reef National Park
  9. Carbondale, CO (4/30/15-5/2/15)
    • Basalt, CO
    • Aspen, CO
      • Maroon Bells Lake
  10. Denver, CO (5/3/15-5/7/15)
    • Boulder, CO
    • Colorado Springs, CO
      • Garden of the Gods
  11. Golden, CO (5/8/15-5/10/15)
  12. Colorado City, CO (5/11/15-5/12/15)
    • Bishop Castle
    • Cañon City, CO
      • Royal Gorge Bridge & Park
  13. Cortez, CO (5/13/15-5/16/15)
    • Mesa Verde National Park
    • Four Corners Monument
    • Hovenweep National Monument
  14. Moab, UT (5/17/15-5/18/15)
    • Arches National Park
    • Canyonlands National Park
  15. Flagstaff, AZ (5/19/15-5/21/15)
  16. Temecula, CA (5/22/15-5/30/15)
  17. Bakersfield, CA (5/31/15)
  18. Groveland, CA (6/1/15-6/5/15)
    • Yosemite National Park
  19. Plymouth, CA (6/6/15-6/8/15)
    • Lake Tahoe
  20. Redding, CA (6/9/15-6/10/15)
  21. Eugene, OR (6/11/15-6/12/15)
  22. Salem, OR (6/13/15-6/14/15)
  23. Portland, OR (6/15/15-6/16/15)
  24. Olympia, WA (6/17/15)
  25. Sequim, WA (6/18/15)
  26. Port Angeles, WA (6/19/15-6/23/15)
    • Olympic National Park
    • Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
  27. Pacific City, OR (6/24/15-6/25/15)
    • Cape Kiwanda
    • Tillamook, OR
  28. Yachats, OR (6/26/15-6/29/15)
    • Cape Perpetua
      • Thor’s Well
    • Newport, OR
    • Florence, OR
  29. Coos Bay, OR (6/30/15-7/2/15)
  30. Arcata, CA (7/3/15-7/4/15)
  31. Greenfield, CA (7/5/15)
  32. Temecula, CA (7/6/15-7/22/15)
  33. ????? (7/22/15-Now)
    • Where did we move to? I’ll announce our new location in my next post!
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Shaving My Head!!!

A year ago, I did something rather drastic.  I shaved my head! Before our road trip, my hair was long (almost down to my waist), and I had a lot of it.  The thought of washing my hair with just 6 gallons of water in a tiny shower and then blow-drying it in an equally tiny bathroom gave me anxiety.  I wanted something low maintenance, so I got my hair braided in individual braids with some fun colored extensions.

Best. Decision. Ever!!!

The braids were only meant to last for a couple of months, but our road trip took much longer than that.  Still not wanting to deal with having to wash and style my hair in our RV, I ended up leaving my braids in for 7 months.  After having my braids in for that much time, they began morphing into dreadlocks.  Sadly, I knew they had reached the end of their life.

We were still living in the trailer, so I wanted to continue having a low maintenance hairstyle.  I could have had my hair re-braided, but it would have been a pain (literally) to take my existing braids out (if it was even possible to take them out).  Also, individual braids are pricey.  So I opted for the cheaper and much easier, pain-free option: shave the braids / dreads off!

As I took the clippers to each braid, I had my husband by my side supporting me.  He even shaved a few of my braids off himself! When he saw my sheared noggin, he became jealous and shaved his head too! One thing my husband has learned about me is that if I decide to do something, there’s no talking me out of it.  All he can do is sit by and watch. I’m truly blessed to have such an amazing life partner who supports and loves me no matter what out-of-the-box things I do.

You probably think I’m crazy for shaving my head, and maybe I am.  But sometimes you have to lose your mind to find yourself.  I’ve decided that life is too short to do what’s expected of you.  For some reason, shaving my head was something I had always wanted to do.  Being able to cross it off my bucket list was unbelievably gratifying.  Also, washing my buzzed hair for the first time was like a religious experience! It was as if the clouds had parted and a light shone down on me with harps playing in the background.  Being free of my hair was a life-changing and indescribably amazing feeling!

I’ve always become easily bored with my hair and have changed it more times than I can count.  Over the years, I’ve had practically every hair length, style, and color.  With a shaved head, I had a blank slate to start fresh with and try even more styles! Hair is just an extension of yourself, not a definition.  My motto is that makeup and hair are women’s best accessories.  We should change them up day-to-day and have fun with them!

IMG_3416
A few of my many hairstyles & colors

 

 

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Days 190-192 (THE END…or is it?): Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona & California

Day 190 (12/7/14): Elk City, OK | Amarillo, TX | Albuquerque, NM

When we rolled out of bed this morning and began preparing to leave, it was still dark out. We thought we’d be the only ones up and about that early in the morning, but several of our other fellow overnight campers were also anxious to pull out of the sketchy campground.   Like us, they probably couldn’t sleep either as they waited for the disgruntled former resident evicted the night before to return and cause more problems. We all ended up getting an early start with everyone out of the campground and on the road by 7:00am.

With a heavy fog suspended in the air, we could barely see the road in front of us. Driving blindly ahead felt as if we were floating into a cloud. Eventually, the foggy haze evaporated, revealing the vast stretches of flat Texas plains. As we approached Amarillo, TX, we were surprised by an alert from our truck that one of our tires was low (24 psi instead of the regular 35 psi)! Can you believe we got a flat tire with only 2 stops left (New Mexico & Arizona) before reaching our final destination (California)?! I guess after driving over 30,000 miles through 48 states during the past 7 months, we were pretty (okay…incredibly) blessed this was the first and only flat tire or problem we had with our truck.

We were also lucky it was Sunday morning! This meant that most of the businesses were closed, which also meant that their parking lots were empty. We were able to pull off the highway into an empty parking lot large enough to accommodate our truck and trailer while our flat tire was fixed. It’s never easy to exit a freeway and find parking while towing a 35-foot travel trailer. But this time, for some reason, it was. Hallelujah! Sometimes you have to find the silver lining in situations. It could have been so much worse!

Finally getting our flat tire replaced!
Finally getting our flat tire replaced!

That still left us with the task of replacing our flat tire though. But, rather than go through the hassle of changing the tire ourselves, we decided to take advantage of our free roadside assistance. YAY for free roadside assistance (or so we thought)! OnStar sent someone out to us, but instead of the guy arriving in 30 minutes like he was supposed to, he took 1 hour and 15 minutes! We probably would’ve been better off just changing the flat tire ourselves rather than waiting around for someone else to come do it. Oh well. We had no idea it would take as long as it did, but at least it was taken care of, and we were able to get back on the road!

There was nothing in sight for miles during the majority of the drive from Oklahoma, through Texas, to New Mexico. Most of the terrain was just boring expanses of barren land. But then…there they were…real West Coast mountains! We never knew we’d be so excited to finally see mountains (real West Coast mountains) again. The sight was exhilarating yet also ominous, warning us that the end of our travels was near. Another reminder was when we made it to Albuquerque, NM, one of the last places we’d be stopping at on our return to California.

 

Day 191 (12/8/14): Albuquerque, NM | Phoenix, AZ

Another early morning had us awake when slivers of sunlight were barely piercing through the darkness. The temperature of the winter dawn was just 37 degrees with a layer of ice covering the windshield.   Who knew Albuquerque got so cold?! As we were driving, the sunrise became more and more alive, lighting up the atmosphere. Even though I’m not a fan of desert landscape, I’ve always loved the sunrises and sunsets in the desert with the shadowy silhouette of the mountains in the foreground of the blazing sky.

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Sunrise in Albuquerque, NM

The reason we were up before the sun was because we had to take care of some business before proceeding to Arizona. We arrived at the GMC dealership right when they opened at 7:00am for the last oil change of our trip (we’ve logged over 31,000 miles on our odometer!). We thought about also getting a new tire while we were there but decided to hold off. The oil change alone already took two hours, and it would have been another hour for them just to get the tire we needed in addition to the time it would take them to install the new tire. Since our spare was a full-size tire rather than a donut, we opted to replace the flat one later and took off to reach Arizona at a decent time.

 

Day 192 (12/9/14): Phoenix, AZ | Temecula, CA

Even though this is the final drive of our cross-country journey, it won’t be our last adventure! Traveling has permeated the fibers of our beings and officially become an integral part of our DNA and way of life. Our lives are forever changed! From now on, we will always be on the lookout for exciting new places to visit and explore. As a matter of fact, we’re already planning our next road trip (stay tuned)!

When we crossed from Arizona into California, realization hit us. We had come full circle! We did it!!! We accomplished our goal of RVing through the country and seeing each of the 48 contiguous states! And we did it without getting divorced or murdering each other (both an added bonus…haha)! What an amazingly transformative experience!

 

In-N-Out (the first place we went in Cali!
In-N-Out (the first place we went in Cali!

The Final Numbers:

 

It's good to be back (at In-N-Out)!!!
It’s good to be back (at In-N-Out)!!!

When we reached Temecula, CA, we breathed a sigh of relief knowing that we could stay put for a while. This would allow us to decompress from all the driving and sightseeing we had done while traveling over the past 7 months. Plus, we’re still not 100% sure where we want to settle down, so this will give us some time to figure things out. For now, home is still wherever we park it!

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Days 186-189: Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas & Oklahoma

Day 186 (12/3/14): New Orleans, LA | Houston, TX | Pearland, TX

Map of our Mississippi River crossings

So long New Orleans! {{{Waving goodbye with a tear in our eye as we drive away}}} It’s been fun, but it’s time to move on. The end is near! We’ve already been through Texas, but we made a slight detour to Houston to visit one of my best, dearest and oldest friends who lives there. From New Orleans, we drove into Baton Rouge, LA, and over the Mississippi River once again. This was now the fifth time that we’ve crossed this major waterway during our extensive road trip, all at different points…

  1. Day 5: on the Martin Luther King Bridge from St. Louis, MO, into Illinois
  2. Day 11: on the I-80 W at the state line between Illinois and Iowa
  3. Day 75: on the I-94 E from Downtown Minneapolis, MN, to St. Paul, MN
  4. Day 185: on the Crescent City Connection bridge in New Orleans, LA
  5. Day 186 (today): on the I-10 W in Baton Rouge, LA

Unfortunately, we reached Houston right at rush hour. Our impeccable timing gave us a glimpse at Houston’s gridlock-ish highways. This was some of the worst traffic we’ve come across during our travels, and it’s something we’re trying to avoid as much as possible at our next place of residence.  Besides, towing a 35-foot trailer through rush hour traffic on a freeway in a major city is rather stressful.  But, luckily the anxiety was worth it after we reached our campground and I was able to get together with one of my besties!

IMG_2937
Besties + Margaritas = Good Times for Girls’ Night!!!

We invited Justin along, but he insisted on just us gals going out to have a girls’ night (he secretly wanted some alone time to watch sports). He thought this sweet and considerate gesture wouldn’t reveal his true motive, but I was onto him! As if I wouldn’t be able to tell he really didn’t want to go (please, honey!). That was fine by me though. I could use some girl time! When two people are constantly together (especially in a confined space) IMG_2936for months on end, it’s perfectly acceptable to want some time apart. Needless to say, my girlfriend and I didn’t mind Justin staying at the RV as we got caught up over margaritas and Mexican (his loss…haha!) at Lupe Tortilla in the Houston suburb of Pearland, TX. Even though our visit to Houston was short, at least it was sweet! 😉

*** UPDATE ***

Shortly after seeing my dear friend back in December 2014, she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in January 2015. This debilitating disease has presented an extremely challenging road for her, but she remains positive with the motto ‪#‎disablednotdead! Since her diagnosis, she has started blogging about her journey, experience, struggles and anecdotes. Follow her here: thatsabryant.com!

 

Day 187 (12/4/14): Houston, TX | Hot Springs, AR

We did it!!! ALL 48 states!!!
We did it!!! We traveled through ALL 48 contiguous states!!!

Arkansas was the last of the 48 contiguous states we still needed to visit. Anxious to reach our final new state, we took off from Houston early in the morning. After a long drive through East Texas, we made it to Arkansas, our 48th state! We have now officially accomplished our goal of traveling through ALL 48 contiguous states of the U.S.A.!!! Woo hoo!!! This was a bittersweet moment. We were somewhat sad that our journey was coming to an end, but more than anything, we were proud of ourselves for reaching the finish line!

 

Day 188 (12/5/14): Little Rock, AR | Hot Springs National Park, AR

Downtown Little Rock on the Arkansas River
Downtown Little Rock on the Arkansas River

This was a dreary day, which made us wish we had seen Arkansas at a different time of year. I’m sure it’s beautiful in the spring, summer and fall. Winter though, not so much. We ventured into downtown Little Rock on the Arkansas River. The River Market District was a nice artsy section with a few public sculptures and tile mosaics. The area seemed to be in the process of being revitalized. We also noticed the town had quite a bit of Bill Clinton pride with a Clinton Museum Store and even a street named after him (President Clinton Avenue).

Inadvertently continuing with the Bill Clinton theme, we drove to Hot Springs, AR, the hometown of Bill Clinton and site of Hot Springs National Park. The Central Avenue Historic District was a good representation of small town America. What stood out on the main street was the Bathhouse Row Emporium. This was not what we were expecting for a National Park.

To be honest, we didn’t know anything about Hot Springs National Park before we arrived. Based on the name, we assumed there would be natural hot springs we could hike to for a private soak. Sadly, that was not the case. The hot springs weren’t in a remote forest; they were commercialized as public spas in bathhouse buildings. And the National Park was part of the city of Hot Springs, AR, not an actual park. Disappointed in Hot Springs (quote) National Park (end quote), we did not partake in the bathhouses.

 

Day 189 (12/6/14): Hot Springs, AR | Elk City, OK

With over 30,000 miles logged during our travels, we are now done with our last state! Time to head west again! Our route took us on some back roads through Arkansas, but we didn’t mind because it allowed us to appreciate the scenic countryside. Driving through the Ouachita National Forest and seeing the Ouachita Mountains reminded us of the massive peaks we had to look forward to back on the West Coast. We were getting excited! Before this road trip, we took mountains for granted. But after viewing the hills considered “mountains” east of the Rockies, we gained a powerful new appreciation for the western mountain ranges.

Map of America's Corner in Oklahoma City, OK
Map of America’s Corner in Oklahoma City, OK

Before reaching the mountainous areas though, we still had to drive through some pretty flat terrain. As we approached downtown Oklahoma City, we passed through America’s Corner, a 20-mile area surrounding the intersection of Interstates 35, 40 and 44. The grey weather turned into a dense fog, concealing the city skyline. At least we already had an up-close look at the lovely downtown OKC area when we were in Oklahoma at the beginning of our trip.

Trying to break up our drive to California with equal mileage between each stop over the next few days, we stayed in Elk City, OK, about 40 miles east of the Texas border. The sketchy campground had just evicted one of their long-term residents. This had caused some drama, resulting in the police arriving and a general uneasiness lingering in the air. We were tempted to leave but were worn out from all the driving we had done the last few days. Plus, since we’d only be staying one night, we figured we could handle it. We planned on leaving first thing the next morning, and slept (or rather waited) with one eye open.

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Days 184-185: Louisiana (New Orleans!!!)

Day 184 (12/1/14): New Orleans, LA

Today is the 6-month anniversary of our trip! And what better place to be celebrating at than New Orleans?! We got an early start to the day and revisited the French Quarter. The streets were eerily quiet in the morning, a stark contrast from the lively night before.  For breakfast, we visited the famous Café Du Monde. The only items served at the alfresco café are beignets and coffee as well as milk (regular and chocolate), orange juice and soft drinks. That’s it, that’s the entire menu. The only food option is beignets, so it’s basically just beignets and drinks. Apparently when you’ve been in business since 1862 and have a good thing going, there’s no reason to add complications.

The beignets (pronounced “ben-yays”) are essentially square doughnuts topped with a heaping mound of powdered sugar. They seemed so plain, just fried dough and sugar, but they were delicious! Hot, sweet, doughy, melt-in-your-mouth goodness! The tables, chairs and floors were dusted in powdered sugar, as were our clothes as soon as we sat down. Since the beignets had a surplus of powdered sugar, we partook in the tradition of blowing the ultra fine sugar at one another, contributing to the powdery mess. As for the coffee, the choices are black or au lait and hot or iced. We opted for hot au laits, half coffee and half hot milk. There’s nothing like coffee and doughnuts first thing in the morning!

Across the street from Café Du Monde is Jackson Square. We saw the public square last night but got a closer look in the daylight since we were right there anyway. We then continued walking along Decatur Street and arrived at the French Market, an open-air shopping center selling souvenirs, accessories, knick-knacks, artwork and more.

A brief stroll just a few streets up brought us to Royal Street, a sophisticated hub of local art galleries, chic antique shops, elegant boutiques, and classy jewelry stores. Royal Street is the epitome of a French Quarter street and THE place to go for fine art, unique gifts, antiquated jewelry, vintage clothing, and French antiques dating back from the 17th to early 20th-centry. The notorious LaLaurie Mansion is also located on Royal Street. This is where the horridly cruel Madame Delphine LaLaurie gruesomely tortured and killed her slaves.

Every day between 11am and 4pm, the street is blocked off from vehicular traffic, becoming a pedestrian mall. As we strolled through the picturesque roadway, we came upon a live performance by the street musicians known as The Royal Street Windin’ Boys featuring Jenavieve Cook singing and playing the trumpet. The incredible music ensemble consisted of a 5-piece band, including a trombone, clarinet, banjos and a stand-up bass. There was even a tap dancer adding to the rhythm with his impressive moves! They played a mellifluous hybrid of early jazz, swing, blues and ragtime tunes.

The energetic music was intoxicating. We were completely entranced by their magnetic performance and could have watched them for hours on end. Our visit to New Orleans was one of the highlights of our entire trip, and this was the highlight of our time in New Orleans! The Royal Street Winding Boys and Miss Jenavieve Cook officially made Royal Street our favorite section of the French Quarter! We purchased their CD to have a lasting piece of New Orleans whenever we want to reminisce about the enchanting town.

The Royal Street Windin’ Boys featuring Jenavieve Cook performing live on Royal Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans, LA

On our way back to the RV Resort we were staying at, we stopped at the St. Louis Cemetery #1. This is the oldest surviving cemetery in New Orleans and the site of the final resting place for the legendary Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. Here is a MAP and DATABASE of the tombs in the cemetery.  There are a few different graves alleged to be the burial site of Marie Laveau. As we explored the graveyard, we noticed several tombs marked with countless “X’s”. Most of the “X’s” were a rusty red color, etched by a brick from one of the other neighboring tombs.

There is a rumored voodoo ritual involving Marie Laveau’s gravesite. One of the various versions claims that if you want her spirit to grant you a wish, draw “XXX” on the tomb, call out your wish, and if it comes true, you must return and leave an offering. Based on the number of trinkets left at the graves, quite a few wishes must have come true! However, many people claim that this is not a true voodoo practice, just a myth and act of vandalism that damages the historical tombs. In fact, since someone defaced the mausoleum with a coat of pink latex paint awhile back, visitors are no longer permitted to enter the cemetery without an official tour guide (we got there just in time!). Marie Laveau’s tomb is said to be the second most visited burial site in the U.S. after Elvis Presley’s grave!

After all of the walking and exploring we had done today, we had worked up quite the appetite. Many of the restaurants in the French Quarter seemed rather touristy though. To get a better taste of local New Orleans cuisine, we traveled a couple of miles north to Katie’s Restaurant. This Mid-City establishment was featured on our favorite Food Network show, “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives” and did not disappoint! Katie’s serves something for everyone including Creole, American and Italian fare.

We started with a bowl of gumbo since it would be sacrilegious to not get gumbo while in Louisiana. Next we shared a Crawfish Beignet, a lightly fried pastry filled with a blend of crawfish, jalapeno peppers, onions, and three types of cheese. This savory version of a beignet was the perfect balance of cheesy heat and sweet with chunks of crawfish. The Crawfish Beignet was the best dish we had in New Orleans both in flavor and uniqueness. We still talk about it to this day and salivate every time! One of our new goals in life is to visit “The Big Easy” again and return to Katie’s for more Crawfish Beignet!

We also had a bowl of red beans and rice, something we had been wanting to try while in Louisiana. Red beans and rice are not regularly on the menu. However, the dish came with one of the specials for the night, and the waiter let us order it as a side. Each dish was a flavor explosion in our mouths! In the words of Triple D’s host Guy Fieri: Katie’s food was “out of bounds!” New Orleans cuisine is an indelible experience all in its own. Sadly, people don’t have enough stomachs to thoroughly sample all of the enticing menus. Thank goodness we were only there for a few days, or we would have packed on the poundage!

 

Day 185 (12/2/14): New Orleans, LA

New Orleans City Park
New Orleans City Park

As much as we adore the French Quarter, we realized that there’s more to see of NOLA (New Orleans, LA). We visited the New Orleans City Park, home to the world’s largest and oldest grove of mature live oaks! It’s no surprise that the oak trees were the best feature of the park in my opinion. Our journey through the South has given me a sizable soft spot for live oaks and the graceful Spanish moss that accompanies them.

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Seafood Beignet at Katie’s Restaurant

While we were out and about, we couldn’t pass up another opportunity to eat at Katie’s Restaurant! We went back for lunch to have more gumbo and try the Seafood Beignet since the Crawfish Beignet was so good yesterday. We thought the various types of seafood in the beignet would be in individual chunks, but they were all combined like a ground sausage with fennel seed. While tasty, the seafood version didn’t compare to the crawfish one.

Our outing continued with a drive to the elegant Canal Street. Once the main street of New Orleans, the major thoroughfare is lined with palm trees, high-end shops and luxury hotels.  We also explored downtown New Orleans as we headed to the Garden District. While en route, we accidentally took a wrong turn and ended up on the Crescent City Connection bridge crossing the Mississippi River. Throughout our travels, we’ve realized that it’s okay to make a wrong turn now and then. Sometimes, what you see along the way ends up being just as (or more) significant as your destination. We’ll ultimately get back on track, and in the meantime, we might stumble upon a fortuitous surprise. After turning around from going the wrong way, we had a remarkable skyline view of downtown New Orleans from across the river! We eventually did make it to the Garden District, which seemed like a great local neighborhood with a variety of restaurants.

Longing to be back in the French Quarter, we dropped the truck off at the campground before walking the few blocks there. This way we wouldn’t have to worry about parking. Plus, the area is so walk-able! It’s much easier to stroll from place to place or even take a ride in a carriage rather than try to navigate through the narrow streets in a car, especially since many of the streets are overflowing with pedestrians and bicyclists. We visited Frenchman Street, the funky musical district known for its live music clubs. From there, we returned to Café Du Monde for one more and final round of beignets and au lait coffee. Just as good as the first time!

As we kept walking through the French Quarter, we made our way back to Bourbon Street. Even though we were still pretty full from lunch (and the beignets and coffee we just had), this was our last chance for another New Orleans meal! We settled on the Red Fish Grill located right on Bourbon Street.   Our dinner began with the Alligator Sausage & Seafood Gumbo. This was our first time trying alligator sausage and the third type of gumbo we had tasted (Katie’s was the best). We then shared the Catfish & Shrimp Creole, a flavorful seafood stew, and a sinful Double-Chocolate Bread Pudding. This was a fitting last hurrah meal.

To summarize, New Orleans’ historic French Quarter is magically enchanting and utterly dynamic with an electrifying energy! The vibrantly colorful area hosts an exorbitant amount of personality. There’s also an eerie aura that hovers in the air like an imperceptible haze constantly reminding visitors of New Orleans haunting past. Between all the food, music, architecture, and history, the French Quarter is visually, auditorily and mentally stimulating as well as all-around entertaining. Absorbing all of the flavors, scents, sounds, and sights was a sensory overload! Honestly though, I can’t even do New Orleans justice. Spending time there is an adventure that will be eternally ingrained in your soul.   It’s a place everyone should experience at some point in their life! We definitely plan on visiting again and can’t wait to go back!

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Days 182-183: Florida, Alabama, Mississippi & Louisiana

Day 182 (11/29/14): Pensacola Beach, FL

Florida Gulf Islands National Seashore Map
The Florida District of Gulf Islands National Seashore. Click on the Map to see the entire Gulf Islands National Seashore, including the Mississippi District.

For our final day in the Pensacola area, we didn’t venture too far from our campground in Pensacola Beach, FL. We were staying at the Pensacola Beach RV Resort located on Santa Rosa Island, the barrier island of Pensacola Beach. The RV resort sits on the sound side of the island overlooking Pensacola Bay with access to the Gulf of Mexico right across the street. Santa Rosa Island is a section of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, which stretches 150 miles throughout the Gulf of Mexico barrier islands of Florida and Mississippi.

From the RV resort, we took a short drive heading east on the FL-399 and found the most amazing beach! The clear as glass water was a stunningly vibrant aqua shade, and the blindingly white sand was incredibly fine, soft and fluffy. Yes, “fluffy” (not a word I ever thought I’d use to characterize sand, but a fitting description in this case). Walking on the thick blanket of sugary sand was like walking on clouds. Our feet wanted to stay here forever and be eternally bare.

IMG_3668Unlike most of the other beaches of Florida that were littered with clumps of seaweed, this expanse of beach was absolutely pristine! Other than a washed up jellyfish and our inches-deep footprints, the shoreline was immaculate. There were hardly any other people around, and the surrounding land was virtually undeveloped, making the tranquil beach feel rather remote and private.

This Pensacola Beach surprisingly rivaled Wailea Beach of Maui along with Coligny Beach of Hilton Head Island, SC, our top two all-time favorite beaches! I never thought I would compare any beaches in the contiguous U.S. with a Hawaii beach, but I had to make an exception for these phenomenal East Coast beaches!

IMG_2531After “oohing and ahhing” over the heavenly Gulf Coast beach, it was time for a late lunch. A fellow RVer at our campground highly recommended Peg Leg Pete’s, a restaurant just a few miles up the road. She said we absolutely had to try the Grouper Nuggets, so that’s what we started with. She didn’t steer us wrong! The scrumptious morsels of fried fish were the highlight of our meal!

For our main course, we had a Catfish Po’ Boy as well as a Shrimp Po’ Boy. Both Po’ Boys were decent, but they didn’t stand up to the Grouper Nuggets. In addition to the food, we also had some Shipwreck cocktails that were similar to my new favorite drink from the Flora-Bama. The tasty beverage came in plastic souvenir cups perfect for an RV! We’ll definitely be holding on to those! 🙂 When we were done with our meal, we walked across the street with our beach chairs and watched the sun set over the Gulf.

 

Day 183 (11/30/14): Gulf Breeze, FL | Alabama | Mississippi | New Orleans, LA

The Pensacola area was our last destination in Florida. In a way we were somewhat excited about finishing our stops in Florida because we haven’t been to a new state in awhile. With Florida behind us, we passed through Mobile, AL. We were hoping to get a good look at Downtown Mobile since we weren’t going to stay there. But unfortunately, just as we were approaching the downtown area, we had to go through a tunnel. By the time we came emerged, we had already passed the downtown. Tragic.

Downtown New Orleans, LA
Downtown New Orleans, LA

Next, we drove through Mississippi along the Gulf Coast and eventually arrived in Louisiana. That makes 4 states in one day for us (Florida, Alabama, Mississippi & Louisiana)! Our destination in Louisiana was New Orleans, one of the cities we were most excited about visiting and experiencing! We wanted to spend the majority of our time in “The Big Easy” at the French Quarter, so we stayed at the French Quarter RV Resort just a few blocks from the famous historic district. While it wasn’t in the best section of town, the location couldn’t have been more convenient!

The French Quarter
A Street Corner in The French Quarter of New Orleans

As soon as we got everything squared away with the trailer, we immediately headed out on foot and walked to the French Quarter. As we approached the historic district, it literally felt as if we were entering a foreign country while simultaneously stepping back in time hundreds of years. The colorful French and Spanish-style buildings with ornate wrought iron railings, hanging plants and gas lamps contributed to an overwhelming amount of character.

Suddenly, a foul stench overpowered the air and smacked us in our faces. The best and most polite way to describe the pungent scent would be as a combination of body odor, vomit and other bodily functions. Trust me, that’s putting it nicely. There was a general grunginess to the area with every surface seeming to be coated in invisible grime. The sidewalks were sticky from God-knows-what. With each step, we had to peel our shoes from the cement like Velcro while trying to avoid puddles of a murky grey liquid we didn’t dare step in.

However, the troubling street conditions were quickly forgotten as soon as we witnessed the spectacle of Bourbon Street. For some reason, I always thought Bourbon Street was filled with classy restaurants and high-end shops. I should have known better. With the word “Bourbon” in the name, it’s a place for debauchery, a never-ending party. I wasn’t prepared for the chaos. Rambunctious people filled the street, including street performers and topless girls barely covered with body paint and nipple tassels. Glaring neon signs announced countless bars, restaurants, strip clubs and gift shops. The lively street was extremely entertaining and reminded me of a cross between the Las Vegas Strip and New York City.

As we kept walking through the French Quarter, the entertainment and fascination continued. There were bands playing live music on practically every street corner. Horse-drawn carriages and local artist vendors were lined up in front of Jackson Square. The St. Louis Cathedral, said to be the oldest cathedral in North America, sits in the background of the historic landmark and faces the Mississippi River. From there, we crossed the street to the Washington Artillery Park river overlook where we had an excellent view of the Crescent City Connection bridge lit up over the Mississippi River.

Notice my wine and glass are sitting at an angle? I'm leaning towards the building to keep from falling off the balcony!
Notice my wine and glass are sitting at an angle? I’m leaning towards the building to keep from falling off the balcony!

There was so much to see, we almost forgot to eat! For dinner, we were determined to sit on one of the upper balconies overlooking the streets. We decided on the Royal House Oyster Bar but almost changed our minds when we were seated. The balcony was slanted! Sitting at an angle was unnerving, and we had to hold onto our glasses and plates the entire time to prevent them from sliding off the table. As for the food, we weren’t too impressed. Plus, fully enjoying our meal was a bit of a challenge as we constantly worried that the balcony would detach from the building at any moment. Luckily, there was a violin serenading us from the street below, easing our anxiety somewhat.

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Days 180-181: more Florida

Day 180 (11/27/14): Orlando, FL | Pensacola, FL | Gulf Breeze, FL

If our trailer hadn’t developed a colossal leak, we would have been done traveling by now. This is one of the major life lessons I’ve learned on this journey. I’m a hardcore planner, but I’ve realized that you can only plan so much before life takes over with its own plans. Everything worked out though because we’re still not sure where we’ll be moving when our road trip is complete. So instead of being done and having to figure out where to live next, we’re spending Thanksgiving on the road.

IMG_2250Throughout our travels, we’ve discovered that one of the few restaurants in the country with RV parking and convenient locations right off the main highways are Cracker Barrels. Pulling off the freeway with a 35-foot trailer in tow can be challenging in itself just with maneuvering, but then trying to find parking on top of that is practically impossible. Cracker Barrels has since become one of our favorite joints (even after the fiasco in Denver)! Plus, it’s super affordable. For example, they were offering a full Thanksgiving meal including a drink and a piece of pie for only $10.99! You can’t beat that!

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We made it!

We figured we’d stop at Cracker Barrel on our way to our next campground near Pensacola in Gulf Breeze, FL. But yet again, life wasn’t a fan of our plans and tossed them while laughing at us. The first Cracker Barrel we pulled up to didn’t have any parking, and I don’t mean there just wasn’t any RV parking, I mean there was absolutely no parking available. Cars were parked on the grass! Then the second one we came across had an hour-long wait. We didn’t want to be driving in the dark, so we ended up getting set up at our campground and then driving 20 miles to the nearest Cracker Barrel. Having Thanksgiving while traveling isn’t the same as spending it with family, but Cracker Barrel was a good substitute! 🙂

 

Day 181 (11/28/14): Gulf Breeze, FL | Pensacola, FL | Gulf Shores, AL | Orange Beach, AL

The campground we were staying at was conveniently located on the barrier island of Pensacola Beach just 9 miles from Pensacola, FL. We made the short drive across Pensacola Bay into Downtown Pensacola. Not knowing what to expect from the westernmost Florida Panhandle town, we were thrilled when we turned onto Palafox Street! Unlike many of the other Sunshine State destinations, Pensacola actually had a surprising amount of character. Instead of run-down motels, there were art galleries, clothing boutiques, and sidewalk cafés, along with numerous restaurants and bars. The Tin Cow even advertised spiked milkshakes!

Originally founded in 1559, Pensacola is known as “America’s First Settlement” and has preserved its historic charm with a well-balanced blend of modern commerce. The style of architecture has a European feel with wrought iron balconies holding hanging plants and flags symbolizing Pensacola’s history. There’s a small town vibe with a good energy of people partaking in the wide selection of eateries along the street. One of the many features that impressed us about downtown Pensacola was the lack of chain restaurants. They were practically nonexistent in the area. It’s always refreshing to see local, individually owned businesses.

When we came across Al Fresco, an open-air food court of Airstream trailer restaurants, we knew we had to grab a bite there. Wanting to support our fellow “RVers,” we couldn’t pass up eating at one (or two) of the Airstream dining options. Justin ordered a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup at Gouda Stuff Gourmet Melts, and I had Hurricane Shrimp and Pacos Tacos from Z Taco Fresh Mex. Everything was tasty, and sitting outside, surrounded by palm trees while eating and soaking up the sun was the epitome of a Florida food experience.

Not far from Palafox Street is the Seville Historic District. This section of Pensacola includes historic houses that have been converted to boutiques, galleries, restaurants and coffee shops. Also nearby is the Historic Pensacola Village, a collection of well-preserved 19th-century houses now home to various museums. Pensacola can almost rival the cities of Charleston, SC, and Savannah, GA, when it comes to Southern charm (keyword: almost). Though not as large, the smaller size of Pensacola works in its favor, keeping the downtown area much less congested than the larger, better known Southern cities on the East Coast. This hidden gem of a small town seemed like a well-kept secret that we were lucky enough to stumble upon. Cheers to Pensacola!

Moving on to the “Redneck Riviera,” we headed west through the Perdido Key to the edge of Florida. Bordering the Alabama state line stands the world-famous Flora-Bama Lounge & Oyster Bar. I say “world-famous” because the Flora-Bama is a Gulf Coast landmark that has been declared to be the #1 Beach Bar in the U.S. and even the world. The beach bar roadhouse has been mentioned in at least 6 different songs, and Kenny Chesney has a song written specifically about it. Guess what his song’s title is. Big surprise: it’s “Flora-Bama”! Here’s the music video to give you a better feel for the culture of the bar:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqzM7bP6aRY&w=560&h=315]

Kenny’s lyrics don’t lie when they refer to “ball caps, photographs, dollar bills and bras; License plates from every state nailed up to the wall.” I give the Flora-Bama the official title of “Ultimate Dive Bar.” The enormous building contained several different rooms and seemed to be primarily constructed of plywood covered in Sharpie-written messages. Our concerns of the place falling apart were extinguished by the casual, laid-back atmosphere and overall good time being had by everyone there. There was also an outdoor deck and beach access contributing to the relaxed vibe.

We partook in a cocktail as we watched a live band performing under thousands of bras strung across the room from one side to the other. I can’t remember the name of the cocktail (goes to show what a good time I was having…haha!), but I want to say it was a concoction of rum, orange juice, grenadine, and Sprite. I’m not ashamed to admit that I love fruity drinks, and it quickly became my new favorite cocktail! Overall, the Flora-Bama is a place with a relaxed environment where everyone is welcome, and the main goal is to have fun. If we’re ever in the Florida Panhandle again, we’ll be back!

Tearing ourselves away from the Flora-Bama, we crossed the border into Alabama where we passed through Orange Beach into Gulf Shores, AL. We kept the party going by grabbing another drink at the beachfront bar of The Hangout.  We were shocked at how nice the beach was at Gulf Shores! Who knew that Alabama had such nice beaches?! I guess they don’t call it the “Redneck Riviera” for nothing though. While the coastal area isn’t exactly a high-end resort, the beaches are pristine! On our way back to our campground, we made a quick stop in Orange Beach to experience more of Alabama’s beaches and appreciate the sunset.

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Days 177-179: South Carolina & Florida

Day 177 (11/24/14): Hilton Head Island, SC | St. Augustine, FL | Orlando, FL

After being without our home-on-wheels for 4 weeks, we finally get to pick our trailer up today! Our extended stay in Hilton Head Island, SC, has come to an end. As Justin was taking the trash out of our vacation rental this morning, he noticed something in a nearby golf course pond. He initially thought it was a clump of Spanish moss floating on the surface. But upon closer inspection, he realized it was an alligator!

Snake!!!
Snake!!!

In the nearly 3 weeks we had been staying at the vacation rental, this was the first time we saw an alligator there despite all the warning signs around the property. As we were checking out the alligator, I also noticed a snake in the grass a couple of feet from where I was standing…eeeek! Time to go!

Leaving Hilton Head was bittersweet. I have a weakness for the charm of South Carolina’s Lowcountry and will miss the oaks adorned with haunting moss. Nevertheless, we were anxious to be back on the road with our trailer in tow. After driving back through Georgia, we stopped in St. Augustine, FL, to retrieve our RV from the dealership where it had been repaired.

It’s crazy to think that if the trailer hadn’t sprung a leak, we’d already be done with the trip by now. Just a few more stops in Florida and a few more states to go before we finish our journey. Once we hooked the truck up to the trailer, we took off to Orlando to continue our tour of Florida.

 

Day 178 (11/25/14): Orlando, FL

We were supposed to do an airboat tour today, but nature intervened with our plan. As sheets of diagonal rain soaked the area, the weather seemed like hurricane conditions. Instead of a hurricane though, we got a tornado warning on our phones! This was the second time on our trip that we had received a warning about a tornado! Our first tornado warning was in Oklahoma City, and we also missed twin tornadoes in Nebraska by a couple of days! We had no idea Florida even got tornadoes and never expected to get a warning while we were in Orlando.

Needless to say, our airboat tour was canceled and no other tours were being offered for the entire day. The main reason we went back to Orlando was to experience an airboat ride. Since we couldn’t do it the only day we were originally planning to be there, we extended our stay for an extra day. We would have stayed through Thanksgiving, but the RV park was already booked for the holiday. Hopefully the weather will be better tomorrow since that will be our last opportunity to ride on an airboat.

With nothing else to do for the day, we drove into downtown Orlando. The metropolitan area had more personality than we had expected with a tree-lined street, potted plants and gas lamps. Unfortunately, it was still raining, which obstructed our view as we stayed dry in our truck.

 

Day 179 (11/26/14): Orlando, FL

Even though it was still raining today, the rainfall wasn’t as heavy and the tornado threat had dissipated. The airboat ride was a go! We were given trash bag ponchos and noise-canceling headphones to wear. The ponchos came in handy with the steady rainfall, and we were happy to have the headphones to block out the deafening sound of the surprisingly loud fan propelling the boat.

As we glided through the Florida Everglades of Lake Tohopekaliga, we nearly forgot we were on a lake. Vegetation filled the dark water, making the point where the land ended and the marsh began indistinguishable. Lily pads nearly covered the surface while tall grasses and even trees emerged from the body of water.

The plants didn’t deter our exploration of the lake though as the airboat floated right over them. I liked seeing the water roll through the grasses as the boat approached. Not knowing what lurked in the shrubs or under the water’s surface created an eerie ambiance. The area had a mysterious quality and unique beauty.

Sadly, the alligators weren’t fans of the rain and didn’t want to be out in the dismal weather.  We didn’t see a single alligator! The only wildlife we witnessed was a few different types of birds. Despite the lack of gators though, the ride itself was fun. The airboat could reach some high speeds! Our favorite time of the ride was when the boat made fast turns. Flying over the water of the Everglades in an airboat was a memorable experience!

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Days 159-176: South Carolina

Days 159-176 (11/6/14-11/23/14): Hilton Head Island, SC

At this point, we had visited as many places in Florida as we could before we would be working our way back towards the West Coast. With our RV still in the shop, we decided to set up camp in a vacation rental in Hilton Head Island, SC, while we waited. This would save on the cost of hotel rooms and give us some time to unwind. After being on the move for over 5 straight months, it was refreshing to stay put at the same place for an extended period of time.

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Sunset at Coligny Beach

Once we had settled into the vacation rental on our first day there, we went to Coligny Beach. We discovered Coligny Beach when we first visited Hilton Head Island, and it had since become our favorite beach. We had heard that Hilton Head was known for it’s sunsets and wanted to witness one. We reached the beach later in the day and were treated to the most spectacular sunset we had ever seen! The vivid coral pink streaked across the cloudy indigo sky and reflected in the shallow water of the shoreline. The sight was life-changing!

The following day was our anniversary (together for 8 years and married for 5)! Despite having been together nearly everyday for the past 160 days, we had been feeling somewhat disconnected. Traveling and living full-time in an RV with less than 400 square feet can be challenging for any relationship.  Rather than focusing on each other and our marriage, we had been focused on where to go, how to get there, what to see and where to stay.

The Lucky Rooster Kitchen + Bar
The Lucky Rooster Kitchen + Bar

We were in desperate need of some quality down time! For our anniversary dinner, we ate at the Lucky Rooster Kitchen + Bar. The rustic, yet intimate interior made for a romantic setting. Our meal wasn’t mind-blowing, but the waiter was attentive, and we enjoyed the overall dining experience.

Hilton Head was peaceful. During our time at the vacation rental, we would often sit on the patio while looking out at the scenic golf course. The Spanish moss hanging from the majestic oak trees would sway in a subtle breeze as sunlight filtered through. Then the setting sun would light up the sky with glowing pastel shades. I was enchanted by the utter tranquility and euphoric effect of the serene ambiance. Many times I told Justin I might not want to leave.

We visited Coligny Beach frequently during our stay in Hilton Head. We even took the pups with us and walked them on the dog-friendly beach. Most beaches are sandy, which makes the dogs sandy and creates an annoying mess. But the sand at Coligny Beach was compressed, leaving us and the dogs sand-free! It was a beautiful thing. In addition to beaches, Hilton Head also had many boardwalks that people walked, jogged and biked on around the island. We explored some of the boardwalk near Compass Rose Park and saw an alligator!

One day we went for a drive out to historic Beaufort, SC. The quaint town featured old plantation style homes, enchanting vine-covered walls and more mossy oak trees. The Main Street of Beaufort was bustling with people perusing the shops and galleries.

We strolled through the Historic Downtown Waterfront Park located along Beaufort River. As we walked through the park, we took in views of the water and boats docked at the marina before calling it a day.

Other than a few outings, we were pretty much complete homebodies while staying at the vacation rental. The weather was chilly, but we didn’t mind because we kept using it as an excuse to stay indoors, watch movies, cuddle with the pups, Scrabble it up, enjoy the view from our patio, and cook (something I hadn’t attempted much of in the trailer).

We used our time in Hilton Head as a vacation from our “vacation.” We didn’t consider our extensive road trip to be an actual vacation, maybe a break from the real world, but not a vacation in the true sense of the word. It wasn’t relaxing by any means. So after constantly being on the go for nearly half a year, it was nice to not really go anywhere.

IMG_3494Overall, Hilton Head Island is a lovely, clean, quiet, safe, and friendly place. When we first visited HHI, I fell in love with the island’s serene beauty and charm. I thought we had possibly found our next home! However, we eventually realized that Hilton Head is an excellent vacation destination, not so much a potential permanent place of residence for us.

After being there for nearly 3 weeks, we were getting bored towards the end of our stay. The island was small, and there didn’t seem to be much to do after awhile. Granted, we were there during the island’s slow season. I’m sure it’s much more lively in the summer. But, while I thought I wanted more of a quiet, simple, removed life in a smaller town, I learned that Hilton Head was too small for me.

Even though we eliminated the resort town as a future home, we felt like our time there was well worth it. IMG_1966Had we continued staying in hotels the entire time, schlepping our dogs and all our stuff in and out over and over again, we probably would have snapped. Hilton Head Island, SC, saved us! We appreciated the relaxation the island provided and the comforts of the vacation rental, but we were ready to pick up our trailer and get back on the road!