The Final RV Road Trip Update: And Now We Are Home


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Saturday morning we pulled out of Rapid City, South Dakota and made our way to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The trip only took us about six hours or so. Our original plan was to take two more days traveling six hours or so a day until home, but that isn’t what happened.

You see, our travel trailer’s air conditioning system was experiencing some troubles and we are not that type of family that loves heat and it was HOT. Plus after our last amazing day of exploring we all felt kind of in limbo. We felt like airline passengers waiting to get to our final destination, but stuck in another airport–in our case Sioux Falls.

Our final day of our 22 week RV road trip.

The sunrise we enjoyed on the last day of our trip.

So my husband and I came up with a crazy plan–and I thought for sure we couldn’t pull it off. I even told him so, which seemed to light a fire under him to prove me wrong.  We decided to leave the trailer hitched to the truck and pull out of the campground at 3:30 a.m. and drive the entire 13 hours, not including stops, home to Marion, Indiana.

Even when my husband did indeed wake up to the sound of his alarm at 3:00 a.m.,  I thought for sure we would make it perhaps 2/3 of the way home at most and then call it a day.  That way we could get home by lunch time the next day and have the rest of the day to unpack.

After all, we hadn’t driven more than nine hours with stops the entire 22 weeks of our trip and now we were trying a 13 hour drive and that was without stops. The nine hour day was full of complaints from the entire crew so how could we ever succeed at what would be probably a 15 hour trip.

Fueling up during our last day of our 22 week RV road trip.

We went through a record breaking amount of fuel the last day of the trip.

But my husband was determined and he had a few 5 hour energy shots to help him make it to the finish line, as well as a fair amount of his favorite caffeinated soda.

So I did whatever I could to help him make it through driving that far, which is really very little beyond opening up snacks and cans of soda.

My feet on my sidewalk at the end of our 22 week RV road trip.

My feet on the sidewalk in front of my home for the first time in 22 weeks.

Finally over 16 hours later we pulled up in front of our “conventional” home. The drive was made a bit longer due to some strong headwinds in the first few hours of the trip which also made us burn a lot more fuel per mile. The fuel bill for our last day got so high I just stopped calculating it in fear that my “price ouch heart attack” would make our journey that day much longer than it already was.

We quickly grabbed our clothes, cosmetics, and pillows out of the travel trailer and then called it a day!

The end of our 22 week road trip.

This is about halfway through sorting the mail. We only kept the few pieces you see in front of my hubby.

We did decide that evening to go through a rather large bin of mostly junk mail that arrived while we were away.

Out of this huge mound of mail we kept only what fit in a shoe box! That is how much junk mail we receive in 22 weeks! CRAZY!

Unpacking after a 22 week RV road trip.

My first thoughts after seeing this pile was, “How did all this fit in that tiny trailer?”

The next morning I was up earlier than the rest of the family so I decided to get a jump start on unpacking.

I took everything out of the trailer that needed to go into the house and made sure what was being left in the trailer was cleaned and properly stored.

I couldn’t believe how much stuff we had stored in various areas of the trailer. Guys, this is after we had taken out clothing, pillows and cosmetics. It also doesn’t include the food items I took directly to the kitchen.

Cheap milk and eggs! A winning combo.

My grocery budget is so thankful to be back near an ALDI.

With the trailer emptied I left my husband to clean it (he wanted to…he is weird like that) and my kids to put the stuff away (they didn’t want to–we made them) while I got to work making a menu and then a grocery list of all the items we needed to eat for the week. With a list in hand I headed out to grab groceries and run some errands.

One of my major stops was ALDI. Oh, ALDI, how I missed you! Milk for $00.65 a gallon and eggs for $00.35 a dozen–this is one major reason why we live where we do.

Our hometown might not have beautiful beaches, gorgeous mountain views, breathtaking red cliffs or awe inspiring canyons, but it has $10,000 homes and cheap food! (plus the friendliest people you will ever meet)

First run with my running partner after a 22 week RV road trip.

These feet are running together again and love it !

Our hometown also has my redhead runner and her friendship has meant so much to me during some of the darkest hours of my life so far and some of the happiest as well.

These feet have run beside me while I sorted out my feelings about my mother’s death, both my grandmothers’ deaths and my father’s death. Years of grieving loved ones, one after the other and these feet stayed beside mine the whole way.

These feet are now going to run beside me for the next 27 weeks as we train together for the 2018 Disney World Marathon. And by marathon I mean the 26.2 mile one! No half crazy–we are going full crazy this time.

This plan was born back in the Canadian Rockies, a time during the trip where I really needed a new adventure ahead of me to help me adjust to the thought of  my family’s current adventure coming to an end.

I am thrilled! and a bit scared. I am not in marathon shape at all. I haven’t run more than 30 minutes at one time in ages. Plus I am carrying 15 pounds more on my body than I was when I ran my last marathon and I am wondering if that might put me at greater risk of an injury.

I have a training plan and a weight loss plan though so only time will tell if my fears are warranted.

Returning to our favorite restaurant after 22 weeks on the road.

If you are ever in Converse, Indiana–go here!

One other place in our hometown area that isn’t available anywhere else is a meal from Jefferson Street BBQ, the best BBQ I have ever tasted.

My husband and I missed this BBQ place so much that we have been talking about making sure we visited our first week home since we crossed back into the States from Canada back in the beginning of May.

So you can imagine our disappointment when we went to eat there Monday night and realized it was closed Mondays. But that didn’t stop us! Tuesday before noon we were back to get our fill of their amazing food for lunch.

Getting back to daily routine after a 22 week RV road trip.

First day back at work for the hubby.

This wasn’t supposed to happen until Monday, but it ended up happening Friday. That is a picture of my hubby with his work bag slung over his shoulder as he heads back to work as an RN for the first time in almost six months.

The picture makes me sad because I will miss having him around every day and I know the kids will miss him too. We have all grown closer to him these last few months. RNs work long and odd hours meaning family time is often hard to come by.

However, I know he is doing what he is supposed to be doing. He is an excellent nurse.

Town rummage finds our first week back after our 22 week RV road trip.

Spent 3 hours yard sale shopping and filled the back of my SUV.

And this is how I spent my Friday morning. I woke my daughter up shortly after my husband left for work and the two of us headed out to our favorite town rummage of the year.

We promised my daughter that one of the first projects we would do when we arrived home would be to finally change her room from the stuff she picked out when she was 8 to a room suits who she is now. Rummage sales are my favorite places to find items for room makeovers.

The two drawer table is going to get a new coat of paint and be a side table for her couch. The thing with all the pots on it will be an art supply organizer for her desk. The smaller glass bowls will hold bracelets, nail polish, and other teenage girl items.

Not everything in this picture is for her though. The cart I want to give a makeover. I have visions of a beverage cart for backyard parties. I want to measure the top bin and find a cooler that fits. The two bottom bins will hold cups and other drink accessories.

The black blob? well that is a Big Joe chair–for the dog. She refuses to use dog beds and after buying several I discovered she loves the kids’ bean bag chairs, and the kids gladly let her have them. However, those bean bags are now looking really ratty so I was happy to see this like new black one at Friday’s sale.

You can see a video of every item and what I paid here (warning, I talk fast).

So How Does It Feel To Be Home?

I have been asked the above question a lot this week along with the statement, “It must be good to be home.”

Truth: I feel conflicted. I already miss exploring. I already miss how simple and easy it is to tidy up after five people in 300 square feet. Yet I do like having a place to hang out solo early in the morning again. I do love being able to run with my redhead runner again. I adore not having to wear shower shoes. Words cannot describe how much I LOVE having my bathroom back.

The Even Bigger Truth: My definition of home has been completely transformed by this trip. Home is not a building. Home is not a place. Home is where those you love most are. So yes, I am now home, but honestly I never left. My home, at least most of it (I can’t fit all those I love in a 27 foot trailer), came with me for the entire 22 week journey. My home is also on Vancouver Island, my home is in the Okanagan Valley, my home is in Calgary, my home is in Ontario, my home is here in Marion, and my home is in Indianapolis. My home is wherever those I hold close to my heart travel with me or where they move to without me. When my kids are grown and have left the nest I have a feeling my home will continue to grow as I add where they are located to my definition of home. Home is in the heart and it is spread with love and love grows immeasurably.

How To Follow Me Now That The Journey Is Over

If you have been following our trip and you want to stay in touch, you will find me on Instagram where I mostly share daily life moments or on Facebook where I try to share at least a few photos each week of what I and the family have gotten up to as well as links to my latest posts and the occasional bad joke or two.

Want To Catch Up On Our Trip?

If you just discovered our trip, don’t worry, you can still catch up. All the links for the entire 22 weeks of the trip are found on this page.









RV Trip Update Week 22: Rocky Mountain National Park, Mount Rushmore, Badlands, Custer State Park, And Wind Cave National Park


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By the time this gets published Monday morning we will be on the last day of our journey home.

What a trip this has been. I feel so incredibly blessed to have taken it. I now have a deeper understanding of just how beautiful and geographically vast North America is–and I have fallen in love with every square inch of it.

Now on to what we explored during the last full week of our RV trip.

Week 22 of a 22 week RV road trip: Rocky Mountain National Park, Badlands National Park, Minuteman Missile, the Mammoth Site, Custer State Park, and Wind Cave National Park.

We started off our last week of exploring with a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Week 22 of a 22 week RV road trip: Rocky Mountain National Park.

Because of the vast difference in elevation from the start of the park to the middle and then again to the end we started out the day with grass under out feet and ended it with grass under our feet–however what we had under our feet during the middle of our exploration was not grass.

It was snow–and lots of it! Feet and feet of it. After getting out at the first snow covered spot my husband and I swapped our Birkenstocks  for much more practical runners and socks. Thank goodness we had put them in the back of the truck before we left that morning.

Week 22 of a 22 week RV road trip: The start of the Colorado River.

Once we were done with the mountains and back down in the valley we viewed the beginning of the Colorado River. Its humble beginnings had me surprised. This is the same river powers entire cities downstream through five hydro dams.

For me this site was a great reminder that powerful things can start small. Little actions can add up. Small beginnings can lead to great things.

Week 22 of a 22 week RV road trip: A Wyoming sunrise.

Monday we set out to travel two days to Rapid City, South Dakota. On the way we stayed just one night in the state of Wyoming, yet it too took a piece of my heart.

I had no idea that Wyoming was filled with rolling hills covered with an amazing blanket in various shades of green. The sunrise as seen from the campground we stayed at was amazing. Wyoming, I am so sorry we couldn’t spend more time getting to know you…perhaps another trip.

Week 22 of a 22 week RV road trip: Mount Rushmore.

Our first full day in the Rapid City area was cram packed. We started out by hitching up the trailer and taking it to an axle repair shop. We hit a pothole when we were leaving Colorado that bent one of the trailer axles. Thank goodness we were able to find a shop that could fit us in that morning and get it done in just a few hours.

After dropping off the trailer we headed to Mount Rushmore. There we soaked up the views of the four Presidents carved in stone as well as learned more about why these particular four presidents were chosen as the ones to be carved, how they were carved, and the artist behind the carvings.


Week 22 of a 22 week RV road trip: the Mammoth site.

When we were done at Mount Rushmore we headed back to Rapid City to pick up our trailer and drop it off at the campground again. Once we had set it up we took off again to the Mammoth Site.

The Mammoth Site is an active dig site where they have discovered over 61 fossils of mammoth skeletons.

For just over $10 per adult you can take a guided tour of the site and it was worth every penny. We learned a lot about mammoths and the dig site.

Week 22 of a 22 week long RV road trip: Badlands National Park.

Thursday we headed out early for Badlands National Park. We thought we could beat the heat, but even by 8:00 a.m. it was already hot! We did manage to hike one short trail before the heat got too intense though. After that we stuck to just walking out at view points from the road.

The Badlands National Park was much bigger than I expected. It took us almost two hours to drive from one end to the other, stopping just briefly at the view points, and we skipped the dirt road half. But it sure was beautiful.

Week 22 of a 22 week RV Road Trip: Minuteman Missile National Historic Site.

Close to Badlands National Park is Minuteman Missile Visitor Center and two different launch sites that have been out of commission since the end of the Cold War. Inside is a dummy missile replica. We all learned a lot about the Cold War from the small exhibit at the Visitor Center not far from the launch sites.

Week 22 of a 22 week RV Road Trip: Custer State Park, South Dakota.

Friday was our last day of exploring before making a beeline for home and we filled the day to the brim.

We started out by driving the Iron Mountain Road into Custer State Park. Soon after entering the park an entire herd of buffalo passed in front of our truck. They had babies that were so adorable.

We drove down the wildlife loop inside the park seeing prairie dogs, pronghorn antelope, and more buffalo before stopping at the Prairie Trail entrance where we hiked three miles through the prairie lands. It might sound like a boring hike, after all what is there to see in the Prairie, but turns out there is a lot.

In fact, when I asked the family what was their favorite part of the day while sitting around the dinner table that night, two out of four said the prairie hike was their favorite thing we did that day. We crossed a beautiful little creek, saw various blooming wildflowers, viewed rolling hill after rolling hill, all covered in green prairie grass.

Week 22 of a 22 week RV Road Trip: Needles Highway, South Dakota.

After the hike we headed into Wind Cave National Park, which borders Custer State Park. There we did the Garden of Eden tour. Cave pictures are extremely hard to take, but I did put a few in this Instagram slide of what we got up to on our last day of exploring.

Once we were done with our tour we headed out of the area through the Needles Highway. At first it started out with average scenery. Lots of trees and a granite rock here and there and then BAM! These spiky mountains appeared and they lasted several miles.

We ended the day by seeing Mount Rushmore one more time from a distance as we passed by it on highway 16A.

And now I am in Starbucks writing this update so that it is done before we start two to three full days of travel back to our home in Indiana.

Funny thing is, over the past 5 1/2 months the travel trailer has become home. We all find ourselves calling it “home” and it does feel like home. Who knows what our “conventional home” will feel like when we arrive, but I am sure that the title of home will rightly be transferred back to it in no time. However, the travel trailer will always hold memories of views and experiences our “conventional home” could never provide.

Are You Planning A National Park Adventure?

Check out my post, 10 Things To Bring When Exploring The National Parks.

Come back next Monday to see how our first week back home went.

Join me on Instagram for daily updates. I am doing my best to post one photo update a day on Facebook too.

First time hearing about our trip? You can catch up on our all our trip updates on the RV trip page.





RV Trip Update Week 21: Kolob Canyon, Red Cliffs, Bryce Canyon, Red Canyon, and Estes Park


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There will be just two more trip updates, one for our next full week of travel and then a “we’re home” post. How is that possible? My heart feels so torn; I miss my friends, but I am loving the growing family bonds. I miss my comfy couch, but I love the views we are seeing each day. I miss my shower, but I love how quick and simple housework is when you live in 300 square feet. I miss my bedroom door, but I love seeing the sleeping faces of my beautiful children as I try my best to make my morning cup of coffee without waking them.

This experience has been such a blessing. I know one thing for certain and that is the travel bug is alive and well within me and I seriously doubt we will ever go a year without traveling somewhere.

Now on to what we saw this week.

Kolob Canyon: Seen during week 21 of a 22 week RV road trip.

Sunday we arose early once again to avoid the Memorial Day weekend crowds and the heat. In fact, we have gotten up between 5:00 and 6:00 a.m. all week long except travel day to avoid both crowds and heat. We are spending our afternoons at the campground–doing school and work in the cool of the travel trailer. I thought the kids would revolt when we first suggested this change in routine, but they all seem to be okay with it.

On this particular morning we headed to Kolob Canyon. We started out by driving to the very top and taking the short, one mile hike out to the view point of the area. Such amazing views of red rocks sticking out from blankets of green trees.

Red Cliffs Desert Reserve: Seen during week 21 of a 22 week RV road trip.

It was still early and not too hot when we finished exploring Kolob Canyon so we decided to hit Red Cliffs State Park near the campground area where we heard there was a beautiful hike. However, when we arrived there were no parking places left.

Instead we headed to Red Cliffs Desert Reserve just up the hill from downtown St. George, Utah. My husband and I had explored the red rocks of the area on our anniversary date and we knew our two teens that love to climb would enjoy exploring the area. They did love it, but we all lasted less than a hour in the afternoon sun.

We ended the exploring part of our day at a frozen yogurt place–a welcome treat after climbing rocks in the heat.

Red Canyon: Seen during week 21 of a 22 week RV road trip.

Monday we headed out of Zion and over to Bryce Canyon. On our way there we came across this area of deep red rocks that caught our attention–Red Canyon State Park.

That very evening before even exploring Bryce Canyon we headed back to Red Canyon to get closer to the red rocks we admired on our drive. One unique feature of the area are the tunnels carved in the rock to make way for the highway.

Bryce Canyon: Seen during week 21 of a 22 week RV road trip.

Tuesday we got up really early–as in 4:45 a.m.–so that we could take in the sunrise over Bryce Point. It was a chilly morning and we all stared at the sun coming over the rocks as our teeth chattered, but the beauty of the sun hitting the rocks made the early rising and the cold temperatures worth it.

After taking in all the view points along the 18 mile drive through the park we headed to Sunset Point where we began our hike down into the hoodoo filled canyon. Things got hot very quickly as we hiked a three mile loop back around to where we started.

The views in the canyon were stunning! By the time I had finished our loop I had paused to examine the canyon’s beauty more times than I can count.

Hoodoo's in Bryce Canyon: seen on week 21 of a 22 week RV road trip.

On our second day of exploring Bryce Canyon National Park we hiked the eight mile Fairyland Loop trail. This canyon is full of these castle like rock formations that seem to contain doors and sometimes windows. It doesn’t take much imagination to see why they called the canyon Fairyland.

Week 21 of a 22 week road trip: Bristlecone Pine in Bryce CanyonOne thing I was fascinated by in the Bryce Canon were the  Bristlecone Pine trees. My picture doesn’t do their beauty justice. Such exquisite trees growing in an area that you wouldn’t think anything so large could grow. The canyon area also contained many different types of flowers that added touches of color everywhere you looked.

Week 21 of a 22 week road trip: Sand Bench rest area, Utah.

One thing I learned during our time in Utah is that even the rest areas are places to explore the beauty of the state. Pictured is the Sand Bench rest area that we came across as  we drove out of Utah and into Colorado.

Week 21 of a 22 week road trip: Ariel Tramway in Estes Park area, Colorado.

We have been in Colorado since Thursday afternoon and I have been feeling short of breath since we arrived. We are staying in the mountains and my body is simply not used the elevation. My husband is experiencing similar symptoms. We are trying our best not to allow them to effect our exploring time in the State.

Saturday we went to the Estes Park area and rode the Tramway. As I explained on Facebook, riding the tram made me a bit nervous since I don’t enjoy small spaces, but I am so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and did the ride with the family–the views were amazing. I did say to my husband once or twice, “How come we have nine people in our tiny car and they have just five? This car is too crowded.” So I think I still have a bit of work to do on my dislike of small spaces.

Week 21 of a 22 week road trip: Views from the top of the Ariel Tramway in the Estes Park area, Colorado.

Here is just one sliver of what we saw from the top of the mountain once we got off the tram ride. Tomorrow (Sunday) we plan on exploring the area further and I am really looking forward to it. I love mountains just as much as I love the ocean. The two are so wild, so bold, so confident and free.

Memory board hung in a travel trailer: Highlights of a road trip.

With just over a week left our memory board in the travel trailer is getting pretty full–and it contains just a small sampling of all we have seen on this trip. But more important than the sites is the family bonding that has gone on. In the little moments I see it–we have grown closer as a family. The memories are great, but the hearts that have grown closer to each other–that is the real treasure we will take from this trip.

Are You Planning A National Park Adventure?

Check out my post, 10 Things To Bring When Exploring The National Parks.

Come back next Monday to see what we got up to this week.

Join me on Instagram for daily updates. I am doing my best to post one photo update a day on Facebook too.

First time hearing about our trip? You can catch up on our all our trip updates on the RV trip page.