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.

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What Slow Blogging Is And Why You Might Want To Make The Switch

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(post contains affiliate links: see disclosure)

When I first heard the words slow blogging I was immediately intrigued. Then I researched it further and found out it could be just what I need to take my blog to the next level.

Slow blogging. How it will help your blog traffic. How it will give you more time for blog tasks that matter most.

 

So What Is Slow Blogging?

I like the definition for slow blogging that I found over at JenCarrington.com

It’s when you commit to focusing on quality over quantity in your blogging process

Slow blogging means you produce fewer blog posts, but those you do produce go into greater depth. So instead of posting daily or even a few times a week you post just once a week, or even less than that.

Why switch to slow blogging?

What Are The Advantages Of Slow Blogging?

More Pageviews Per Post

Producing less content frees up hours in your week to research your blog post topic so that when you do write you provide your readers with a post that will truly help them with their needs instead of something that just scratches the surface of the problem you’re addressing.

When you fully meet the needs of your readers, they tend to naturally want to share your wisdom with others–that means more pageviews per post.

Slow blogging could give your blog a huge boost.

But What If You Already Do Write Detailed Posts?

Perhaps you are like me and you already do write lengthy detailed posts. If so, you and your blog readers can still benefit from slow blogging.

More Time To Be Inspired

If you are not spending as much time writing blog posts, you can spend more of your time doing what inspires you to write.

You can try out new recipes–tweaking them until they have your personal touch and then write a blog post sharing your new creation. You can redecorate your living room, challenging yourself to do it for under $500 and then write a detailed blog post about  how you did it.

Last year I felt like I was losing my blogging spark and couldn’t put my finger on why–until my family took our 22 week RV road trip. During the trip I decided to do just one evergreen style blog post a week and one conversation style trip update. Mostly I did this because I knew I was going to be spending a good chunk of each day exploring with my family  and simply didn’t have time to write more. But it ended up giving me time to really think about why I had lost my blogging spark. I was all words and very little  action. I simply didn’t have time to keep cranking out so many lengthy evergreen posts and live my blog topic.

Now that the trip is over I want to use the time I have been using to explore to live the type of life I blog about. I want to challenge myself to cut our living expenses, to toss more clutter, to create new simple recipes and to essentially transform my life inch by inch like my blog tag line suggests.

More Time For Blog Readers

From day one I have wanted a blog with a close knit community. I don’t want a fast food blog where people take the information and run. I want a slow food blog. One where people stay at the table for hours, engaging in conversation after the meal has been devoured.

For me that means more social media interactions. Notice I didn’t say more social media posts. I have two Facebook groups for my blog. My decluttering one is very active and grows daily. My thrifty themed one is still new and experiencing very slow growth. I want to make sure I spend time talking with the people in both groups as well as those who are a part of my blog’s Facebook page.

I want to share more as it happens pictures, and less scheduled stuff. I want to do regular Instagram stories, and at least a weekly Facebook live video. I want 80% of these posts to be social and only 20% to be business like (promotions of posts and such).

More Time For Product Creation

I have been blogging since 2011 and yet I have only one product, my book, Thrifty & Thriving: More Life For Less Money. This book took me two years from start to finish. Why? Because long, in-depth posts take a lot of time. Some of my longest evergreen posts, which are also some of my most popular posts, are over 2,000 words long and took me as much as 10 hours to complete.

I was publishing two evergreen posts a week. That right there is as much as 20 hours devoted to content creation.

As an at-home mom who homeschools two teenagers, has a house to maintain, and four mouths besides mine wanting food three times a day plus snacks, devoting 20 of my blog hours each week to content creation was leaving me little time to devote to product creation.

Cutting back to one post a week will allow me to devote much more time to product creation.

More Time For Bigger And Smaller Blog Projects

Yes, creating a product is a big blog project, but I am thinking about other types of big blog projects here, like site updates, email subscriber freebies, moving your email list to another email list provider that better serves you and your readers.

And then there are the smaller blog projects such as writing guest posts, updating popular posts for maximum return on their exposure, cleaning up sidebars, redoing your About Me page and the list goes on and on.

More Time To Study How To Be A Better Blogger

I ordered the Ultimate Bundle for bloggers last year and although I have read all the eBooks in it, I have yet to take the video driven courses. Spending less time creating content will allow me to take these courses which will help me improve in areas as a blogger that I need help in. Areas such as how to grow a Facebook page, how to increase my SEO ratings and how to design a better blog.

Slow blogging: what it is and why it works.

The End Result

The end result of slow blogging is a more reader friendly blog with an active community of readers–meaning people love what they find on your blog so much they can’t help but share it and that means more pageviews.

More pageviews leads to more profit, which means you have more money to hire help to create an even better blog reader experience–plus you also get more money for your own personal use, making blogging even more rewarding.

So who is joining me in making the switch to slow blogging? What do you think is the best advantage and why? Let me know in the comment section.

More Posts About Creating A Successful Blog:

5 Days to a Successful Blog Launch!

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

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(post contains affiliate links: see disclosure)

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.

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