OMG! I cannot express enough how much we enjoy our bi-annual camping trips with Katie, Tony and the kids, and this was no exception. We all decided to meet up at the Mammoth Cave to give the kids a new caving experience. The weather was super awesome (actually a little too warm), but the kids had their usual water time outside, and we all grilled, ate, and just got caught up on life.
The cave tour was the "Domes and Dripstones" tour. A 2-hour long moderate level tour that took us through a mile of cave. We enjoyed watching the kids see everything for the first time!
This is the 3rd cave we visited this year, and even though Mammoth is the largest, we still vote for Carlsbad as the prettiest. :-)
Thank you Katie & Tony for taking the time to come out and spend the night & day with us!
During our stay, on one of our trips to the garbage, we were stopped by a couple that wanted to talk about dogs.. This is pretty normal. What's not normal, was during that visit, another couple tapped us on the shoulder and told us that they had met us earlier this winter! Where? At Palatki Heritage Site! It was within our first week there, and we had really connected with them about camping and full-time RV living. We met up several more times during this stay, but how AWESOME to meet up with such a wonderful couple after touring half the country and five months later! I sure hope we get to visit with them more! Thank you so much Mark & Debbie for stopping to say HI! You definitely made our day! :-).
* Check out Mark & Debbie's website HERE!
Stay Details: Mammoth Cave Campground - Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. A dry-camping campground that has water available around each loop, and a dump station. It is a mere 10-minute walk from the Mammoth Cave visitor center which is where all tours depart. We chose site 82, which was a pull-through spot right next to the restrooms. It also gave us a very large site to house the clam tent, and 2 sleeping tents.
The campground itself has a lot of trees, so be prepared to have very little sun, or have a generator. We needed to use our generator twice each day even though we have 1000 watts of solar. Generator hours are 8am-8pm, and the campground is VERY quiet after that. Sites are large, restrooms are clean, and cell service is minimal, but we both had enough to upload these pictures. :-)
Had to change sites for the last few days because we couldn't get all 5 days in one spot, so we switched to another nice site. Then Mark took the trail to Table Top Mountain! A beautiful day; high of 67 and 100% sun! :-)
From Google Maps, you can't see elevation, and we had NO idea this site would be so elevated and tight.. However, after checking things out upon arrival, we decided to give it a go.. Mark did an awesome job (like usual) finagling around the corner, and I must have done something right in guiding him.. It took us a lot of patience and slow moving, and we finally got it in the perfect spot! Hopefully this toasty little spot will keep us warm in the next few days when it's supposed to be colder.
Place Details: City of Rocks State Park, NM. These rocks were formed by an underlying volcano many years ago. The rocks were pushed upward and many years of wind wore away the sandstone between them. New Mexico made this place a playground. There is an area for electric & water, but all the spots near the rocks are dry camping. We filled up before we found our spot, and we're here for 5 days. Since we're amid the rocks and not trees, our solar panels will work perfectly! Now to explore the area! :-)
Many people wonder what "Boondocking" really is and why we love it so much. So, here it is if you're curious.. It is also known as dispersed camping or dry camping.
Meaning: Being out in the middle of public land (some areas need permits), with no hookups of electric, water or sewer.
We we like it?
- Wide open land (fun to explore)
- No close neighbors (watch TV as loud as you want, no barking dogs or screaming kids next to you, and no looking in someone else's windows like an RV park)
- Quiet (except the sounds of coyotes in the distance, maybe a few distant roads or generators).. Most mostly very quiet at night
- BIG very dark skies with no light pollution! - This is our favorite. No pesky street, house or barn lights.. Farther away from the city reduces light pollution and gives us a spectacular view of the night sky!
- Did I say quiet??
In the photo below, we do have neighbors about 1/4 mile away. They introduced themselves to us the day they moved in. The 'boondocking community' is a very close-knit group of people that watch over each other. When someone leaves for a day excursion, the others around that person automatically keep watch.
Our RV Facts:
- Power: When we set out on this journey, we hoped to help with disaster relief projects, so we set up the camper with solar. It has 1200w of solar on the roof and 4 Li-Ion batteries. On a sunny day, it could regain as much as 70% of its batter life. We usually use about 50% battery life in one day, which means we're usually back to 100% battery life by night. Basically, we can do just about anything we want as if we're plugged in. This will come in helpful when we're staged in a disaster area that has no power.
- Tanks: We have a 60-gal fresh tank, 2 grey tanks totaling 87 gallons, and a 43 gallon black tank. We always empty our black & grey tanks at the previous campground and fill up with water there are at a nearby pump station.
- Usage: Each shower takes 1-2 gallons of water per person. Dishes usually take 1-gallon/day, and flushing & misc take up 1-2 gallons. If we're frugal with the water, we can last about 2 weeks without hookups. However, we've only stayed 10 days once, and we still had about 15 gallons left. When boonocking, we just make adjustments. Paper plates instead of our Corelle, quicker showers, etc. This makes it more like camping instead of living. Most of the time, we're out hiking or taking excursions so that means even more water savings.
- Night: Imagine it being so quiet that your ears hurt! That's what it's like in the wilderness. The soothing sounds of howling coyotes or the gentle breeze is all it takes to fall asleep. We almost always have our windows open.
So, maybe some people think we're living more like hermits.. I'd like to see it as enjoying nature to its fullest. Being out in nature without the chaos of life is extremely comforting and de-stressing.
Hope you enjoyed the run-down of boondocking! Let me know if you'd like to know more.
It was great to finally arrive into our winter home state - - where we'll be for the main part of the winter. We love it out here because of the dry climates, and beautiful hills and mountains. This trip was no different.
We were in a good position to see Meteor Crater, Petrified National Park and Winslow, AZ, so we did. I must say that Petrified Forest was stunning! There's no many park you can go to see the Badlands, Ruins, Petrified Rock and Petroglyphs all in one!
Meteor Crater was also spectacular. A lot of people say it's just a hole in the wall, but it was much more to us. It was great to see how the impact of the meteorite traveled, and what a large hole it left for such a small little particle. Anyway, BOTH of these are with the visit!
We also stopped in Winslow on our way through, and when this happens, we really must "stand on the corner" as in the Eagles song. We did much more than that, and Winslow was a great little town to visit!
Stay Details: Homolovi State Park - Site 14
Notes: This park has options for electric or water only. We chose water only, as we were staying 2 nights. The park is home of runs from the Navajo people, and it was also home to about a dozen free ranging donkeys.
Took a day trip to some fun sites just west of Oklahoma City.
𝐄𝐱𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐂𝐥𝐲𝐝𝐞𝐬𝐝𝐚𝐥𝐞𝐬: The icon of Express Employment, this is the farm that raises the Clydesdales and Percherons.
𝐋𝐮𝐜𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐞'𝐬 𝐨𝐧 𝐑𝐨𝐮𝐭𝐞 𝟔𝟔: This restaurant was built as a replica of the original gas station just down the road. The food wasn't very good, but the nastalgia was pretty cool!
𝐑𝐞𝐝 𝐑𝐨𝐜𝐤 𝐂𝐚𝐧𝐲𝐨𝐧: Then a quick hike in the canyon's Horsetail trail.
𝑇𝑜𝑚𝑜𝑟𝑟𝑜𝑤, 𝑜𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑔ℎ 𝑇𝑋 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑖𝑛 𝑡𝑜 𝑁𝑀.
Oh my, the most stressful part of our journey has been the New England states and big eastern cities. Why? Because of the smaller roads, multitude of crazier drivers, and honestly; over 50% of the drivers we passed were on their cell phones!
We planned to go through NYC mid-day.. Mark drove through and did a fabulous job! I kept myself busy, as well as looked at sites. There were several near-hits from people trying to cut us off (while on their cell phones), but Mark did great to avoid them.
Once we were moving again, I took a breathe of relief. This day I long-stressed about was finally over! Whew! Thank you LORD!!
From here we will be heading west to longer stays. Certainly looking forward to the SOWERS project coming up in October! :-)
Stay Details: Boondocker's Welcome Location - Harmony Acres Farm
The hosts are wonderful! They have 14 acres, have worked very hard to clear some RV sites in their woods, and they came to welcome us and invite us to visit their animals! It will be a very nice & quiet 2-night stay before heading to Delaware.
I must say, Rhode Island is one of the prettiest states we've been to! Besides the mountains, plentiful trees, and rocky cliffs, everyone we've experienced in this state was very nice and all the drivers seem to be respectful to others.
We took a day trip to Newport while here, and found several gems:
Watch Hill Beach: Mark surprised me with a nice beach walk after we arrived at the campground. We were hoping to find the remaining fort and lighthouse at the end of the peninsula, but it was too rock and the sun was setting, so we were more than happy with beautiful sunset photos instead.
Fort Adams: Started as an Army post by President Adams in 1799, this is one of the largest standing forts in the U.S.. We bought the audio tour, and explored the fort with Pica, which was an added bonus. This fort was active in 4 different wars.
Ocean Drive and Cliff Walk: There are a few very beautiful trails you can take around the Newport Island to explore the beautiful homes. After lunch at Chili's, we took both. We enjoyed the walk better though, and you could see the pretty side of all the large homes/buildings.
Stay Details: Burlingame State Park; Charlestown RI - Site 341
This was a beautiful and very large campground that did not offer any amenities. All dry camping, it has two dump stations and all sites are nestled within the woods.
A bonus of stopping here, was there was a lady stranded in the site next to us. Her car wouldn't start, and she'd lost her keys. The ranger never came back after saying they'd help, so Mark began charging her battery. By the time her husband came with the backup key, the battery was full and the car started. The hour we were there, we talked to her, calmed her down and made her realize that the camping community are mostly friendly people.
Ultimately, the rangers never came, nor did they clean up the surrounding area. So, we did that too.
We were lucky enough to be there after school started, so there was nobody around us. We felt we had the entire woods to ourselves, which was very nice.
Leaving Ruth & Darrell was bittersweet. It marked the turning point of heading south-west, but it was also sad to say goodbyes. They are moving out of the country and we won't see Tham again for a long time. We love you Ruth & Darrell, we will greatly miss you!
After a 4-hr drive, we made it close to Boston. Stayed overnight at a Boondocker's Welcome location that had a very sweet spot in the apple orchard.
In the meantime, there were some beautiful mountains end route. :-)
This time of year causes difficulties getting into state parks, so we needed a filler night on the way to Interlochin. So, we are using our last Harvest Host stay to visit this distillery and have dinner. We parked in the back near the woods right beside of their wheat fields. Very quiet place, and nice people. Dinner was pretty good, and the tasting of whiskey's were pretty awesome. Highly recommend this location if you have a Harvest Host membership.
Stay Details: Iron Fish Distillery; Thompsonville MI
* Note: You need to have a membership with Harvest Host in order to stay here, but you will have a wonderful, peaceful evening and an excellent outdoor dinner. If you get a chance to stay here, they have a nice path in the woods for their guests. :-)