Wow, where do I start!?! Our last blog post was 109 days ago and SO MUCH has happened since that day! Sixty days of traveling in Canada and Alaska, changes to our winter plans, then a trip heading east,
and an engagement! We took almost 3800 photos so it will take a bit of time to sort through to find the best so that we do not swamp you with lengthy posts! I think the best way to get caught up is to break this up into three parts. First, I am going to catch everyone up on what has happened since the caravan ended and our winter plans, then I will go back and do a post for each month of the caravan.
Six days after we finished the caravan coming back across the Canadian border into Washington State and only the day before we were to start heading east, we got a call from our scheduled winter workamping gig in Hilton Head telling us that they had to cancel our jobs. Turns out that since they opened in February, they had only had 20% occupancy and would not need our services this winter. With the change of plans, we spent a lot of our driving time over the next couple of days reevaluating what we really wanted to do.
It was a bit late in the year to try to find another workamping gig and to be honest we weren’t really feeling up to doing what it would take to delve into the process. We did get an invitation to go back to the Barberville Pioneer Settlement in Florida but decided that we did not want to make such a large commitment in time, so instead we decided to go back to the area where we could volunteer with them, just not to work full-time. The next problem was trying to find a winter site in Central Florida! Again, we were very late in the process, and we were unable to find a spot for the entire 6 months we wanted to stay, but we were quite fortunate to find a spot in Umatilla at the Olde Mill Stream RV Resort for 2 months and then the rest of the time at a spot in Leesburg at the Holiday RV Village. (We are on a waiting list in Umatilla so hopefully we will not have to move). We were quite surprised we were able to find any spots!!
With the winter plans set, next up was what to do until the end of October. We had made plans to have all the kids join us in Hilton Head for a week, so first up was adapting those plans to make their travel easier. After a Zoom call with everyone they chose to move up the east coast (closer to Alex and Erin to reduce their drive) to Virginia Beach in mid-October with Becca and Jason flying in for the week (we will be at the Virginia Beach KOA). With that now set we had to figure out what to do with our time in between. We decided to keep all our original travel plans crossing the Midwest and then looked for a few other adventures to fill our time.
We had scheduled a week in Burlington, WA at the KOA where we had stayed before the caravan so that we could get everything we had put in storage back into the RV and to spend a little more time with Becca and Jason before heading east. The schedule we had originally set for ourselves was rather quick compared to the way we like to travel because when we set this up, we were trying to get to the east coast by the end of September for the workamping gig. We had multiple one night stops with the occasional 2-night stays at the Suncrest RV Resort in Moses Lake, WA, the Nugget RV Park in St. Regis, MT, the Three Forks KOA in Three Forks, MT, and the Hardin KOA in Harden, MT. All were nice campgrounds and perfect for quick stopovers for a night or two. On most short stops we do not plan to do more than a grocery trip or laundry but occasionally we see something we don’t want to miss. The Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman was one such stop. This museum is amazing and has some of the best dinosaur exhibits we have ever seen.
We had a delightful three night stay at the Devils Tower in Wyoming staying right under the Tower in the KOA campground. We viewed the stars at night, hiked the Red Beds 2.8 mile trail around the base of the Tower, watched Close Encounters of the Third Kind during a thunderstorm with thunder and lightening matching the dramatic scenes of the movie and waited to be picked up by the aliens.
From Wyoming we headed east and south staying at the Belvidere KOA in Midland, SD, Sioux Falls KOA in Sioux Falls, SD, the Victorian Acres Campground in Nebraska City, NB and the Great Escape RV Campground in Higginsville, MO. Again, they were all very serviceable campgrounds and perfect for our quick trip across the Midwest. During our two night stop in Midland we went to the 1880 Town and at the Sioux Falls KOA they had a brand new pickleball court so we were able to get a little exercise too!
We took three nights at the St. Louis/Granite City KOA just across the river from St. Louis. Both Devil’s Tower and the Gateway Arch were on our list to get to one day and we were able to check those off this trip. Our first day in Granite City we got a flat tire on the Jeep on our way into St. Louis, but Jon was able to get it changed in plenty of time to still make our tour time at the Arch. We took the tram up to the top, walked through the impressive museum, and wandered the park around the monument at sunset. Luckily, we had planned a multi-night stay so we had plenty of time to get the tire fixed before we hit the road again.
From St. Louis we had a few more quick stops at the Indianapolis KOA, the Columbus East KOA in Buckeye Lake, OH and the Friendship Village Campground in Bedford, PA. We like to keep our driving days down to 4ish hours which makes for a lot of stops when traveling across this wide country.
Our next longer stop was at the Lancaster/New Holland KOA in New Holland, PA. Here we spent the Labor Day holidays with Alex, Erin and Erin’s family. The kids came out from Brooklyn and spent the weekend at an Airbnb in Lancaster. We spent time with them going to the Strasburg Railroad Diamond Heist Dinner train ride, walking about town, enjoying meals together, playing games, chatting at the campground, and visiting Amish villages & shops. We all drove into Phoenixville on Sunday to have dinner with Erin’s parents, Rebecca and Jeff, and her sister Hana, to celebrate …. drum roll please ….. Alex and Erin’s engagement!!! We are so excited for them and feel blessed that Alex was able to find a future life partner that is a perfect fit for him. They make the cutest couple!!!!
And yes, that means we will have another Rebecca in the family. To keep from getting too confused I will be calling my daughter Becca, her mother-in-law Rebecca Panzer will now be Mama P, and Erin’s mother will be Rebecca!
We are now in Luray, VA at the Luray RV Resort on the Shenandoah River till the middle of the 1st week in October. We love the Blue Ridge/Appalachian Mountains and it’s the perfect place to enjoy fall and find a
couple of adventures. Since we were going to be hanging out in this area it also became a perfect time to return to the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN so we will head over to the Jonesborough KOA for the week of October 5th to the 13th. After that we will spend a week with the kids in Virginia Beach at the Virginia Beach KOA before starting our trek to Florida for the winter arriving at the Olde Mill Stream RV Resort in Umatilla on October 25th. (You may have notice the number of KOA campground we stayed at during the last couple of months. When we are doing such a quick trip we like to stay at KOA’s as we are pretty much guaranteed a level of service/site and they are usually near the highway for easy in and out access, plus we are racking up a LOT of points we can use to reduce the cost!)
Whew! We are now caught up! Time flew by getting to this point and we are really going to enjoy a slower pace this next couple of months. Hopefully, it will give me enough time to sort through all those caravan photos and get the next two posts up soon!