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The Ultimate South Dakota Road Trip

Our South Dakota road trip was nothing short of amazing. Honestly, I didn’t know much about South Dakota before full-time RVing, but now it’s one state we will definitely visit again.

When planning our route for the last 7 months, we listed out all the spots we wanted to visit. In South Dakota, all we had listed was the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, and Corsica (for Luke’s annual boys trip). With a month in SD, we were able to do a lot of exploring.

Our South Dakota Road Trip Route

We entered South Dakota through Wyoming, stopped in Custer State Park, then the Badlands, then Mitchell, and lastly Armour/Corsica. We left South Dakota through Nebraska and headed to our next destination.

The Simple Venture South Dakota RV Trip

Custer State Park

Custer State Park was our first stop on our South Dakota road trip. It was the offseason, so several of the campgrounds were already closed. We ended up staying at the Game Lodge Campground.

Custer State Park Campground

It was seriously one of the best state park campgrounds we’ve visited. First off, you make your reservation online no matter if it’s a week before or onsite. You don’t run into the “first-come, first-serve” no room situation because all reservations are made online. P.S. We were pleasantly surprised with South Dakota’s use of technology to make things easier.

The Game Lodge Campground was incredible for so many reasons. First, the spots were so spacious. I felt like we had our own yard backed by a little stream. It was so peaceful. Each site had a picnic table and firepit.

A few other highlights:

  • Showers: the showers were AMAZING. Like very clean, nicely tiled showers. At this point in our trip, we hadn’t seen nice showers in a while. It was so exciting!
  • Laundry: the campground has its own laundry room with 4 washers and 4 dryers. I think it was the first state park campground we’ve stayed at that had laundry, so that was nice!
  • Bison: there were 3 bison that hung around the campground.
  • Dump station: there’s nothing exciting about an RV dump station, but they had one – so that’s great!
  • Cell service: We had great cell service(Verizon) at the campground. It wasn’t great in other parts of the park.

Custer State Park

Things to do at Custer State Park

Custer State Park is beautiful and a great place to go if you want to see wildlife. We saw plenty of bison, pronghorn antelope, and deer, but you can also see elk, deer, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, mountain lions, and burros.

Custer State Park also has great rivers and streams for fishing and hiking trails.

Wind Cave National Park is also a short drive from Custer State Park. We drove through Wind Cave but didn’t tour the caves. It looks awesome; we just weren’t there at the right time (plan ahead, friends!).

Mount Rushmore

We joked that on any American road trip you have to visit the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore. We decided it would be best to drive our tow-behind car instead of taking the RV.

Mt. Rushmore Road Trip

I have to say, it is really impressive. The entrance is lined with the 50 state flags leading up to the monument. The little museum is full of history. Definitely worth visiting. (Just don’t watch the Adam Ruins Everything clip on Mount Rushmore…).

Badlands National Park

The Badlands National Park is on my list of top 5 favorite National Parks. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen. The landscape is just incredible. It feels like you’re in another world or on the moon. You just have to go.

Hiking the Badlands

Things to do in the Badlands National Park

Besides the scenery, the Badlands is an open hike park, so you can explore so much of the park. We did the Door Trail which lets you go off the boardwalk and explore the open area. We also did the Notch Trail, which if you’re good with heights, is a can’t miss hike.

The Badlands also has more wildlife than I was expecting. We saw bison, coyotes, pronghorn antelope, and a ton of prairie dogs… so many prairie dogs!

RVing in the Badlands National Park

Camping in the Badlands National Park

We had stayed at RV Parks and State Parks for the past few weeks, so we were ready for some good boondocking. We found an epic spot.

Besides the view, we were just a few miles outside of the park entrance, the dogs had plenty of space to run free, we had great cell service, and we even picked up a few TV channels with the digital antenna.

Mitchell

We stayed at the Badlands for a little over a week, but with the temperatures getting colder, we decided it was time to continue our South Dakota road trip. We found an RV park in Mitchell and plugged in the space heater! I’m pretty sure we had some snow there.

Fun fact about Mitchell… it has the world’s only Corn Palace. Now, we didn’t stop at too many tourist traps along the way, so I decided we had to go to the Corn Palace. I mean, what’s a Corn Palace anyway? 

Well… I still don’t know the answer to that question. We learned about the history of Corn Palaces, but this Corn Palace is now a basketball gym/event center with art made out of corn. So, if you’re there, it’s free and worth checking out. We just didn’t know what to expect.

Armour/Corsica

We stayed in Armour for about a week. It snowed. It was so freakin’ cold. BUT thankfully, we found a city park that had RV space with hook-ups for a recommended $10/night donation. Unfortunately, with the freezing temps, the showers were closed. It was such a nice city park with a few picnic tables, a dump station, and freshwater fill-up.

Exploring South Dakota

Things to do in Armour? There’s plenty of bird hunting to be done. I mostly worked from the RV while we were there, but there was a lake and a little exploring to be done. That area also has a lot of public land where the dogs could run around off leash, which is always fun for us!

After Corsica, we headed out of South Dakota towards Nebraska.

South Dakota Road Trip

South Dakota was truly amazing. We’ll definitely be back… hopefully when it’s a little warmer!

Everything You Want to Know about Full-Time Travel

In just over two weeks, we’ll be home for the holidays. Hello, fried turkey! Full-time travel has given us the best, craziest, most adventurous 7 months of our lives.

While full-time travel, working from the road, digital nomad life, whatever you want to call it is definitely catching on, most people we meet still have a lot of questions about what it’s like to live in an RV and travel full-time before the magical age of 65.

So, today, we’re going to answer a few of the questions we get asked most about what it’s like to live in an RV and travel full-time.

Do you even work?

This question usually comes from people slightly older than us. And, yes, we do work. We have fewer expenses and bills on the road than at ‘home,’ so we don’t have to make as much money as we did. Sometimes we only work a few hours a day; sometimes it’s all day. Just depends on the day and week.

How to make money while full-time traveling

How do you make money?

Thanks to the internet and hot spots we are able to work from pretty much anywhere. What we do…

Luke: does some writing for a fishing magazine back home. He also owns a fishing charter business that he manages from the road.

Laura: does freelance marketing mostly through Upwork.

We also own a little outdoor/fishing apparel company that brings in a little side hustle money. P.S. we keep all our inventory in the RV with us, so if you want to free up some space in the RV for us, I’ll gladly give you a 40% discount. Use code: RVLIFE

I would love to do that, but there’s just no way.

I know this isn’t a question, but we get this all.the.time. Sure, there are some situations that would keep people from being able to travel full-time or live in an RV full-time. For the majority of people that we get this from, there is a way to make it happen. It’s risky, it’s full of unknowns, and there’s a lot of planning that has to happen. But it’s not impossible.

We had to figure out to keep Luke’s business running while we weren’t there. I left my dream job. We had to rent out our house. I had to sell my car, which I loved. We had to get rid of a lot of stuff. We had to part with sentimental things that were honestly just clutter, but that didn’t make it any easier. We knew we were going to miss some big events with our friends and family.

It’s not a case of if it’s possible but a decision of if the sacrifices and risks are worth the experience. For us, it definitely has been.

Why did you decide to full-time travel in an RV?

So, the decision came about from a series of events. I definitely didn’t wake up one day and decide I wanted to live in 32 feet of RV. Long story short-ish:

When I graduated college, I had an internship. Luke and I decided if I didn’t get a full-time job, we take a few months to take a road trip across the country. Luckily, I got a full-time job, so that idea was off the table.

Fast forward a few years, Luke got a job offer in Texas that we were no pursuing – it was kinda out of the blue. I didn’t want to leave my job, and I wasn’t too keen on living in the part of Texas we would be in. However, we both knew we had to explore this opportunity. So, we went to Texas to “check things out,” and it seemed like everything was falling into place. I’m pretty sure we only told our parents about the decision we were trying to make. A few months later, some things happened that made it clear that this was not the path for us. Nothing against Texas, but I’m glad we didn’t end up moving there.

While this may seem like an insignificant detail to full-time RVing, it was the first time that I had seriously considered uprooting our life in Wilmington. I really felt like something was going to change, but now I didn’t know what. So we continued on with life as normal, but in the back of my mind, I could shake the idea that it was time to change things up. You can read little more about that here.

Oh, I should have mentioned, at some point in all of that we bought an RV just to take weekend trips… no intention of living in this thing full-time. We bought the RV and renovated it just for fun.

So, how did all that lead to “risking it all”? I kinda jokingly mentioned to Luke that we should full-time RV. I don’t know why… I don’t think I had even found all the full-timers on Instagram yet. So, it was kind of a yeah, haha, maybe. Then, last October, we checked a trip off of my bucket list when we visited Yosemite. I’m in love with that place.

Something just clicked for me.

One, we had to go back to Yosemite as soon as possible. Two, a week isn’t enough to see and do everything there. Three, we could full-time RV and find all the other amazing places.

That was in October 2016. From then until the end of the year, we started hypothetically planning the trip. If the pieces could come together by February, we’d do it. And they did.

On May 10, 2017, we drove out of Wilmington with our three dogs in at 1994 RV (that doesn’t have slides). Full-time travel here we come!

Does the RV ever feel small?

Yes. Next question. 

Just kidding, it does feel small at times. I wish we had slides so it didn’t feel like we’re living in a hallway, but 99% of the time, it feels plenty big. It’s not 2017 fifth wheel, but it’s also not a van. One thing I do miss… our king size bed. When it’s cold and three dogs find their way into the bed, a queen just doesn’t cut it.

How did you decide where to visit?

When we started planning our trip, we knew we wanted to spend most of our time on the western side of the country. We made a list of National Parks and cities we wanted to visit and just mapped it out. We started our trip with a route and general idea of where we’d stop. We’ve made some additions and skipped some places, but for the most part, we’ve stuck to the plan.

Typically, a day or two before we’re about to go to a new place, we’ll research exactly where we’ll go and find a good boondocking spot.

How do you find free places to stay?

The main way we keep costs down while traveling full-time is by boondocking. At one point, we went over a month without paying for a camping spot. It was like not have a mortgage or rent payment for a month. We wrote a whole post on finding incredible boondocking spots, so I’ll send you there to get the details. It’s pretty easy. I would definitely give it a try whether you’re full-time RVing or just looking for a sweet vacation spot.

RVing in the Badlands National Park

Why did you come “here” [insert town]?

This is my favorite question from locals who don’t exactly love their town. You can go anywhere you want, and you stopped here. Of course, the reasons vary. Sometimes there’s good fishing nearby. Sometimes it just a stop on our route, but we found a sweet boondocking spot and decided to stay a few days. Sometimes the town is pretty cool, but when you live somewhere for a while, it’s easy to forget.

You know RVs breakdown a lot, right?

I don’t know why people feel the need to tell us this. Yes, we freaking live in an RV. We know things break. It kind of drives me crazy, but I also think it’s kind of hilarious. So the answer…

“Yes, we know. Luckily, Luke has been able to fix practically everything that’s broken. We had the transmission rebuilt before we left. We have the most expensive AAA membership available. And yes, we have an “emergency fund” in case something seriously goes wrong.”

Things that break in an RV

 

Take away if you’re thinking about full-time RVing: get AAA and have an emergency fund. If you’re able to fix things on your own, you’ll save a ton of money – YouTube is your friend. And be prepared for people to tell you things break.

Three dogs?! What’s it like living in such a small space with three big dogs?

Dog hair… in my food, on my clothes, in bed, currently on my keyboard. Dog hair everywhere. If you have a shedding dog, you need this: FURminator deshedding brush. Even with furminating them and vacuuming, there’s still do

 

g hair everywhere.

7 Essential Dog Products for Full-time RVers

Other than the dog hair, it’s great. There’s no way we would have left the dogs behind,  and they adjusted to full-time travel life great. There are some things that make it easier. Occasionally, two of them will sleep behind the curtain on the dash, so it’s like only having one dog taking up space.

Hudson did get under my feet today, and I stepped on his tail. I felt so bad.

How do you not drive each other crazy being together 24/7?

Well, we do occasionally get on each other’s nerves, but that happened at home, too. I wrote about RV marriage at the beginning of our trip… actually spending time together is so different than “normal American life.”

Since it’s just the two of us, we don’t get girl-time and guy-time or get to go hang out with friends. We try to make a point to give each other some alone time. Typically, Luke goes hunting or fishing, and I’ll go to a coffee shop. I’m definitely the type that needs time alone to recharge, and Luke needs to get outside.

Thankfully, there have been very few moments where we’ve gotten really annoyed with each other. It’s typically been when the weather’s bad, and we’re stuck inside for days. Most weeks, we’re out exploring and living life together. It’s truly great having this adventure together.

What’s been you’ve favorite place?

This question should be at the top because it’s one we get all the time and always ask other people who full-time travel.

Luke: Grand Tetons and Jackson, WY. Second would probably have to be Glacier.
Laura: Yosemite. And then, Bend, OR the most dog-friendly city in America.

Answers to all your full-time travel questions

What’s next?

We don’t know for sure. We have a few ideas depending on how things come together. We planned 7 months on the road, so we’d be back in time for Thanksgiving. Thankfully, both of our families are in Wilmington, so we’ll be there through New Years.

After that, we’ll stay close by. Topsail and Southport are both on our short list. There’s salty, ocean air, and we have places to stay in the RV. Maybe rotate between Wilmington, Topsail, and Southport for a while – local-ish travel?

We also talked about selling the RV and buying a travel trailer. So we might have another renovation project on our hands. My favorite! Give me some walls to paint and space to decorate.

I’m typically the type that likes to have things figured out (and gets a little stressed with too much unknown), but if there’s one thing full-time travel has taught me, it’s to get over that. So, all I know is we’ll figure out exactly what’s next in the upcoming months (even though I’d like to know now – I’m going to let God lead us to what’s next. He led us to this, which is better than any plan I would have come up with.), and go from there.

Have any other questions about full-time travel or RV living? Want us to go into more detail on one of these questions? Let’s us know in the comments.

Simple Sunday | South Dakota

This week can be summed up as South Dakota is cold.

We left our amazing boondocking spot in the Badlands on Monday because the low was going to be in the 20s that night (and we were completely out of water). Good time to stay the night at an RV park.

RVing in the Badlands National Park

South Dakota

After boondocking for over a week, there are some real benefits to staying at an RV. First, showers. Showers are few and far between when boondocking because we have limited water. Second, we can empty the tanks and refill fresh water. If you’re going to pay $10 to do it at a gas station, you might as well pay a little more so you can stay the night and use their showers. Third, we can charge all the electronics, backup batteries, and dog collars at once. And in this case, we could run the space heater all night.

The next few nights looked mild, so we decided to find another boondocking spot. I wish I would have gotten a picture of this place. It wasn’t the Badlands view, but it was on the Missouri River. At night, we could see the moon reflecting on the river out our front window. It’s incredible how many amazing views we’ve had (for free). Thanks, boondocking!

Unfortunately, we had pretty bad reception at this spot, so it made it hard to work from the RV. Being in the middle of nowhere South Dakota, our only “coffee shop” to work at was the one and only McDonalds. Not the local, craft coffee I normally go for, but sometimes free wifi and a place to charge your laptop is enough (and the only option).

So, with the cold temperatures rolling in, we headed to an RV park Mitchelle, SD. Guys, it got so freaking cold. It was 16 degrees Friday night. We put all three dogs in the bed, so they wouldn’t be too cold, and they’re little heating blankets for us. We had the comforter and sleeping bag on the bed, and the spacer heater facing our room. I slept in two pairs of socks, running tights and sweatpants, a sweater and a jacket, and gloves. I hate being cold. I kept waking up with my nose running like crazy. Gross? Yes, but it’s real life.

The Corn Palace

On Saturday, we visited our first tourist trap. I thought we’d see so many off-the-road tourist attractions, but we really haven’t. I think I’d have a hard time convincing Luke to stop anyways, but still.

So, when we heard of the Corn Palace and that it had free admission, we had to go. Yall, I’m still not sure what that place is all about. We walked up and saw the outside walls had art made out of corn all over them, so my expectations for the inside were high. The weirder, the better for our first tourist trap.

And it was weird. It’s literally a basketball gym inside. There’s some history via pictures and text on the walls, but it’s a gym. Tourist trap… more like tourist trickery.

Exploring South Dakota

City Park RV Park

After the Corn Palace, we headed back to the RV, took showers, emptied the tanks, and refilled water. The lows for the next few days are only in the 30s, so we decided to venture on.

Now, we’re somewhere in South Dakota at a city park that has an RV park with full hookups for DONATION only. Yep, full hookups for whatever you want to pay. It’s actually a pretty nice park. There are picnic tables at the RV spots and plenty of green space. Hudson’s ready to go play.

I’m not sure how long we’ll be at this spot, but it’s nice to have hookups for when it does gets cold.

Apple cinnamon fall cocktail recipe

Overall, it’s been a pretty uneventful week. We made delicious fall cocktails. The dogs got to run around off leash a lot, so they’re happy. And Hudson got his stitches out! All in all, it’s been a pretty ‘normal’ week – just really cold.

5 Things We Miss From Home While Traveling Full-Time

With the view I have from our dinette/desk of the Badlands, it’s hard to say I miss anything enough to give up this RV lifestyle, but there are a few “comforts from home” that you just don’t get while traveling full-time in an RV.

Badlands National Park

Long, Hot Showers

Ask any RVer what’s something they miss and “real showers” will be near the top of that list. Yes, RV showers will get you clean with hot water, which is the point of showering (and I’m thankful for that). However, it’s not a relaxing shower. It’s rinse, turn the water off, lather, turn the water on to rinse, turn the water off, and repeat as fast as possible until you’re done.

There’s no escaping to a hot shower for 30 minutes of relaxation. Is that just me?!

At campgrounds and RV parks, we’ve seen all sorts of showers. From coin-operated where you get a few minutes for $0.50 to camp style shower stalls to the nicest state park showers ever (I’m looking at you Custer State Park. I could have cried I was so happy about those showers.), we’ve seen it all.

While at campgrounds and RV parks you can (usually) leave the water running the whole time, you’re wearing shower shoes and hoping there are enough hooks for your towels and shower bag and clothes. It doesn’t exactly feel like home.

So, yes, showering while traveling full-time isn’t the best, but for the most part, we can take hot showers, and we’re saving a lot of water.

A King-Sized Bed

I miss our old bed – a lot! We have a 1994 RV with a queen-sized bed, and who knows how old the mattress is. Don’t worry, it looked clean, and I bought an allergen, dust mite, bed bug proof mattress cover.

The overall space in the RV has been fine. We really don’t miss the space, but we do miss a king-sized bed. At home, we had a “no dogs in the bed” rule. Now, without a real door to keep them out, we wake up with two of them squeezed in between us or hanging off the side of the bed or, my favorite, right on top of me.

Can I add quality sleep to this list? I miss that, too.

traveling full-time

Knowing which Grocery Store to Go To

Traveling full-time means we’re in a different spot about every 2 weeks. While we love this, it means we have to quickly get acquainted with a new town. Being on the other side of the country, we don’t have our normal regional grocery stores. Being on the other side of the country, we don’t have our normal regional grocery stores. And, unfortunately, there’s not a Trader Joes and Costco in every town.

I’m all for local, but you even know what kind of prices and quality you’re getting until you walk in the door. Sometimes, it’s great; sometimes, not so much.

I’m not a picky eater, but I do have celiac. Finding reasonably priced gluten-free food and good fruits and veggies can be a challenge at times.

Luckily, we’ve hit up some great farmers markets and found Safeway to be our go-to grocery store if there’s one close by. But I’m ready to be back in the land of Publix and Harris Teeter.

Local, Gluten-Free Restaurants

Like I said, being in a new place every few weeks makes it hard to “know where to go.” At home, we have our go-to local restaurants and hangouts, but without a local’s knowledge, it’s often hard to find those good local restaurants. Plus, needing gluten-free restaurants makes it even harder.

We’ve found some really great places thanks to Google and Find Me Gluten Free, but we miss our Wilmington favorites and being able to just go somewhere good without researching how “celiac-safe” they are.

Get our gluten-free restaurants in Boulder list here.

Friends

Speaking of our “go-to” places in Wilmington, we definitely miss our friends. You don’t get that girl-time or guy-time when you’re traveling full-time. Plus, we’ve had friends who have had babies and gotten married while we’ve been gone, so there’s a lot to celebrate when we get home.

Thankfully, we’ve had a few friends and family fly out to stay with us for a few days. We get some friend time, and they get a little vacation and taste of the RV life.

We’ve also met some awesome people on the road that we will stay friends with, and we are so thankful to have met up with people who are living the same life we are. However, we typically only get to hang out for a few hours, or if we’re lucky, we’re staying at the same campground and get to hang out for a few days.

While we love these new friendships and they are much needed, we don’t cross path with people all too often. It’s not like hanging out with friends every weekend and several weeknights. For the most part, it’s just us and the dogs. Don’t get me wrong, we love each other’s company and traveling together is the best.

I’m just saying some of us should sync up our routes, so we get more friend time. Who’s with me?

5 things we miss from home while traveling full-time

There are so many things we love about traveling and full-time RVing that it’s hard to “complain” about not having the comforts of home. It’s all about creating your new normal and being flexible with what life on the road throws your way.

What do you miss most while traveling full-time?

Simple Sunday | Yellowstone to Badlands and Everything in Between

It’s been a while since I’ve written a Simple Sunday recap post… like since before the Eclipse, which was ah-mazing by the way. A lot has happened since then, so I’ll just hit the highlights.

Yellowstone National Park

We spent close to three weeks in and around Yellowstone. It’s such a diverse National Park… a busy one, for sure, but there’s so much to see. We had a killer boondocking spot in West Yellowstone (get the coordinates here).

Midway Geyser Basin

We saw bison, hot springs, geysers, waterfalls, and elk. Luke caught some nice Yellowstone Cutthroat trout in the Yellowstone River. I practiced water coloring – practiced being the key word… haha. Maybe one day I’ll share them… #practicemakesperfect.

Get our full recap of Yellowstone and our must-see list here.

Grand Teton National Park

Life on the road full-time

You guys! Grand Teton National Park was a dream. It’s already on our list to go back to. We loved the park and Jackson, WY. Again, we had an awesome boondocking spot.

This happened! Holy cow! We were floating the river in a drift boat with a friend from home who was in Jackson for the summer, and a mama grizzly and her two cubs decided to join us in the river. This grizzly encounter is second only to the eclipse in amazing things that have happened on this trip.

We also saw more elk, black bears, and some moose in Grand Teton. Unfortunately, we had to leave early due to a snow storm moving in… our RV (and we) are not prepared for snow.

Rocky Mountain National Park

From Grand Teton, we headed to Rocky Mountain National Park. At this point, I don’t think we had paid for camping in over a month. However, this ended our stint of free camping, but for good reason… we couldn’t find a good boondocking location, and Luke’s family was coming to stay with us.

We figured electricity and more importantly, a water supply would be well worth it (and it was)! Six people and three dogs in one RV. We got some much needed family time. We even had a campfire, which is rare for us.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park was another stunning park. The mountains are incredible, and the Aspen’s leaves were starting to change. We did some hiking, saw so many Elk, and Luke caught some fish.

Boulder + Colorado Springs

From Rocky Mountain National Park, we went to Boulder. It rained for like the first 4 or 5 days, but I really liked Boulder. There are hikes nearby, great restaurants, and plenty of things to do.

Boulder Arches Hike

My mom came to stay with us while we were in Boulder, so we had a few days of “vacation” including a little spa day. As any full-time RVer could tell you, a nice shower and a little pampering after living “in the woods” is a great thing!

Kaitlin Boyer Colorado Springs Fishing

Boulder and Colorado Springs were also full of friend time. We got to grab brunch with a friend from home who was here for work, met up with some other full-time RVers, and went fishing with one of our “Instagram friends.”

Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs

We didn’t end up exploring Colorado Springs as much as I thought we would – weather, work, ya know. But we did go to Garden of the Gods on the way out of town. It’s pretty amazing and worth spending some time exploring.

Hudson had Surgery

After CO Springs, we headed back to Boulder to get a lump on Hudson’s leg checked out. Thankfully, our friend we met up with earlier in the month (who happens to be a vet) knew of a great doctor near Boulder. And since I often refer to Hudson as my firstborn, I wasn’t taking him just anywhere.

RVing with Dogs

The vet was able to get us in on Saturday to take a look, and unfortunately, the tumor needed to be removed. We set up an appointment for Tuesday. We were so thankful the could get it taken care of so soon. And they gave us a bottle of wine. Best vet ever!

We hung in Boulder for the weekend… got snowed on in October, and dropped Huds off of surgery Tuesday morning. All went well with the surgery, and we got good news that he’s dog cancer free.

Now, we just have to find a vet to take his stitches out this week.

Custer State Park + Mount Rushmore + Badlands

As you may have guessed, we’re currently in South Dakota. (More to come on our road trip through South Dakota soon.) We started in Custer State Park, which might be the greatest State Park of all State Parks. It’s beautiful. Plus, there is plenty of wildlife including bison.

Custer State Park Bison

Knowing it was going to get cold, we opted to stay in Custer State Park, so we could have an electrical hook up to run the space heater. We had no idea how wonderful the State Park campgroud would be. Ready for this?!

  • The sites were huge. I felt like we had our own yard with a fire pit, picnic table, and creek.
  • The leaves were changing, so it was beautiful.
  • They had laundry at the campground, and we desperately need to do laundry. It was great to throw it in and go back to the RV – no hanging out at the laundromat this time!
  • The showers! Oh, the showers! They were tiled… like nicely tiled and clean. It was great.
  • There were 3 bison who hung out by the campground.

While we were staying at Custer State Park, we drove over to Mount Rushmore. American road trip classic. It’s incredible. The craftsmanship, the time it took, and how they did it… so crazy. If you go to Mount Rushmore, make sure you visit the museum.

Alright, so we’re caught up… we’re in the Badlands now.

I love this place. I knew it would be cool from seeing pictures, but there’s no way to describe how beautiful, yet confusing, the landscape in the Badlands is. Someone commented on our Instagram post saying it’s like walking on the ocean floor during the day and walking on the moon at night. That’s the best description I’ve heard.

Hiking the Badlands

Plus, our boondocking spot is probably the best of our trip. We’re like 5 minutes from the entrance of the park. We have an incredible view. We have cell service, which means we can work from the RV and enjoy that view. There are no trees, which means plenty of solar power. There’s a field right outside the door, so the dogs can run free. And, shockingly, our digital antenna picked up a few normal channels. We’ve actually watched TV, which is rare. Luke’s gotten to watch football for the first time this season.

Badlands National Park

We’ll move to our next spot sometime this week, and I’m going to be more consistent with our Sunday posts. I can’t believe how fast time seems to go while on the road, but we’ve done SO much. The original plan for the Sunday posts was to document the little moments, so they don’t slip by.

Happy Sunday, friends!
-Laura

Gluten-Free Restaurants in Boulder, CO

Contrary to popular belief, full-time RVing is not really a vacation. For the most part, we primarily cook in the RV and don’t “go-out” too often. But our time in Boulder has been as close to a vacation as it gets, which for us means doing touristy things and eating out (a lot). Thanks to me having celiac, we searched out and tried some amazing gluten-free restaurants in Boulder.

From breakfast to coffee shops to lunch to happy hour to dinner, we tried it all. Here are our favorite gluten-free restaurants in Boulder:

Gluten-free Breakfast and Coffee Shops in Boulder

The Buff

If you have celiac and miss eating delicious carb-filled breakfasts, then you HAVE to go to The Buff for breakfast. You have to. We went three times.

Most importantly, they are celiac safe. The kitchen isn’t entirely gluten-free, but they have separate prep/cook areas.

Gluten Free French Toast at The Buff

Second most important thing: they have gluten-free Chicken and French Toast. I ordered it twice, and Luke, who can eat whatever he wants, thought it was great as well. That’s saying something. They have a ton of gluten-free options including pancakes.

Besides the food, the drink options themselves are worth going for. They serve great coffee and have a great list of coffee drinks. The White Buffalo looks like a dream, but I opted for the Dirty Hippie (Chia Latte with a shot of espresso – delish)! The Buff also has $1 Mimosas, Tequila Sunrises and Bloody Marys. Brunch win!

If you’re looking for a gluten restaurant in Boulder for breakfast, The Buff is the place to go.

Website

Ozo Coffee

Speaking of delicious coffee, Ozo Coffee is a great spot to grab coffee and a gluten-free treat. They have a handful of pre-packaged, local gluten-free sweets. I went with an Americano and the Lemon Poppy Seed Bread – so good. Check them out; they know what they doing when it comes to coffee.

Website

Alpine Modern Café

Gluten Free Coffee Shops in Boulder

We planned to eat lunch here, but after eating breakfast at The Buff, we couldn’t fit one more thing in our stomachs until dinnertime. Instead, we decided just to grab drinks – cappuccino for me; IPA for Luke. The coffee was so good!

I did browse over their menu, and they have several gluten-free options that looked good. I was tempted to order something, but I was SO full.

The atmosphere is a perfect mix of mountain and modern with indoor and outdoor sitting located in the renovated Chautauqua cabin. It’s a great place to grab a drink and hang out or work. If you try the food, let me know how it is. It looked so good!

Website

Gluten-free Restaurants in Boulder for Happy Hour

Given that we ate at The Buff for breakfast three times, we never felt the need to get lunch. So, on to Happy Hour… the best part of the day!

Arcana

We went to Arcana for Happy Hour and ended up staying for dinner. The upscale, farm-to-table American-style plates and craft cocktails were just what we were looking for. While dinner was amazing, their Happy Hour is something you shouldn’t miss while eating gluten-free in Boulder.

First off, the decor and vibe in Arcana is my dream.

The cocktail and wine list for Happy Hour didn’t disappoint. Having celiac, I don’t drink any wheat, barley, or rye based liquors – I know their safety for celiacs is up for debate, but I’m not willing to risk it. All that to say, they had gluten-free cocktail options (yay!).

Gluten Free Fine Dining in Boulder, CO

More importantly, we ordered 3 apps that could all be prepared gluten-free. The server was extremely knowledgeable and helpful when ordering. We split a pork grilled cheese situation that I would eat every day if I could. Their gluten-free bread is so good, I was afraid for a second it was glutenness bread – but it was just that good!

Website

Via Perla

Sunday afternoon, we were looking for a good Sunday Happy Hour before our dinner reservation and just happened to walk by Via Perla. With Happy Hour from 3-6:30 pm, it was the perfect place.

Gluten-free restaurants in Boulder, CO

The upscale yet laid back atmosphere was perfect for a Sunday afternoon. The craft cocktails and wine list were great. I ended up ordering a Lavender Margarita, and Luke got something glutenness but said it was very good.

Gluten-free restaurants in Boulder, CO

They have a few gluten-free app options, and we went with the Caprese. Fresh and delicious! We found out while we were there that they have gluten-free pasta options, but we already had dinner reservations elsewhere.

Website

Gluten-Free Restaurants in Boulder for Dinner

Pearl Street has several restaurants with gluten-free options and trendy atmospheres. I use the Find Me Gluten Free app a lot on the road to narrow down our options. If you don’t have it, download it now (or as soon as you’re done with the rest of this list… you don’t want to miss this).

Next Door

We wanted something local, farm-to-table with a cool vibe but not too expensive. We walked by The Kitchen, and it checked all the boxes but was more than we wanted to spend that night. So we walked to the restaurant beside it – Next Door Eatery. It’s owned by the same people, but a bit more casual. Perfect!

They take great precaution with their kitchen if you have celiac, so just let them know! Also, the menu is clearly labeled, and their online menu is interactive, so just click GF to see your options.

We ordered the Chorizo Bacon Dates & Red Pepper Sauce as our starter. They were so freaking good; we’ll be making a version in the RV. Sweet, spicy, savory all wrapped in bacon!

Needing some veggies in my life, I ordered the Roasted Veggie Salad, and it was filling and delish. They have plenty of non-salad gluten-free entree options as well.

Website

Blackbelly Market

When you’re ready to spend some money and eat one of the best meals of your life, drive over to Blackbelly Market in Boulder. We made a reservation here for our anniversary, and I’m so glad we did.

The mission at Blackbelly is that food will always start with seasonal, local Colorado-grown ingredients, and pasture raised, sustainable animals.

The restaurant and butcher next door are owned by the same people and source local meats.

Luke and I both ordered small plates to start with. We decided to split the Berkshire Pork. Yall, I have never had a more tender piece of pork. I’m not usually a big pork person (besides bacon), but I would order this again. At this point, we were stuffed, BUT they had a gluten-free dessert option.

Gluten-free dessert can’t be passed up. We split a coconut parfait situation with a gluten-free cookie in it. Definitely recommend it!

Website

Gluten-Free Dessert in Boulder

We didn’t seek out dessert while in Boulder, but we couldn’t pass up this fancy gelato shop on Pearl Street.

Fior di Latte

Fior di Latte makes their gelato from scratch with local dairy. After training in Italy, the owners brought this delicious gelato to Boulder. The majority of their flavors are gluten-free, so just be sure to ask before ordering.

Fior Gelato in Boulder, CO

After a few tasters, I did half Chia and half Dark Chocolate. Decadent! For your non-gluten-free friends, they have mini waffles you can have your gelato on.

Website

Gluten-Free Restaurants in Longmont, Colorado

The majority of the time we were in the Boulder area we camped in Longmont. Not knowing much about the area, we decided to explore downtown Longmont a bit.

Jefe’s Tacos and Tequila

Gluten free tacos in Colorado

I mentioned we ate at The Buff three times; well, we also went to Jefe’s three times. Pretty much all of their tacos are gluten =-free. The chips are unfortunately not fried in a separate fryer, but it’s still worth going to… even from Boulder.

Let’s start with the Margaritas. They have a kombucha margarita – if you like kombucha, you have to order it! They have a special margarita. When we went, it was Apple Spice – the perfect marg for a fall day. Bonus: Jefe’s house margarita uses Hiram Walker Triple Sec, which is gluten-free. Order away!

Jefe's Tacos and Tequila in Longmont, CO

If you can go to Jefe’s on a Tuesday, do it. They have $1 Street Tacos and $5 margaritas. The Street Tacos are so good, but you’ll probably want to try at least one of their other tacos.

Website

Aime’s Love

I almost missed this place. We were walking back to the car from Jefe’s on Tuesday, and Luke saw the sign on the window that said “100% Gluten-Free Bakery.” We had to go in!

It’s a whole bakery of just gluten-free baked goods – cupcakes, cakes, cookies, cinnamon rolls… I was in shock and in-awe.

Gluten-free restaurants in Boulder, CO

I ordered a cinnamon roll to-go because that’s one thing I don’t find too often. Luke got a cookie, which was also very good, especially to be gluten-free.

As we were heading back to the RV, I tasted the cinnamon roll. Oh. My. Goodness. It was so good. Had we not gotten it to go, I would have ordered 10 more. After only having gluten-free baked goods for the past however many years, Luke doesn’t always trust my reviews. But this was so good I had to give him a taste. I think he was shocked at how good this gluten-free cinnamon roll is.

So if you have celiac and are visiting Boulder, go to Longmont and order as many cinnamon rolls as possible. If you try something else, let me know how it is. I was so impressed (and so was Luke) by how good this place is.

Website

La Bella Vita

So this isn’t necessarily specific to us gluten-free people, but La Bella Vita is the place to go for coffee in Longmont. They carefully source their beans and make great coffee. The downstairs vibe of the coffee house makes it a great place to hang out. I wish we would have found this place before our last day in Longmont!

They do have macaroons that are gluten-free, but in a shared case, so I passed. Luke tried it, and said it was good – they looked great! Probably a good option if you don’t have celiac.

Facebook

Gluten-free restaurants in Boulder, CO

What are your favorite Gluten-free Restaurants in Boulder?

6 Things You Simply Must Do in Yellowstone National Park

We spent a little over 2 weeks camping outside of Yellowstone National Park. As the oldest National Park in the US, I’m sure you can imagine there’s so much to do and see. From hot springs to geysers to wildlife to the views, it a reminder of how beautiful and diverse our country is. Even with two weeks in Yellowstone, we still didn’t do everything the park has to offer, but here is our list of things you simply must do in Yellowstone National Park.

Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park

Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park

Let’s get the obvious out of the way… I’m not sure if there’s anything more iconic in Yellowstone than Old Faithful. And for good reason, it’s an incredible act of nature.

Old Faithful is the largest, most consistent geyser in the park. It’s not the single largest and it’s not the single most consistent, but it is the largest one that is that consistent – does that make sense?

Old Faithful erupts every 35 to 120 minutes. The geyser reaches a height of 90 to 185 feet. If you’re planning your visit, download the Yellowstone Geyser app. It has info about the geysers and the next eruption time. It does require service or wifi, which is limited inside the park, so check it while you have service.

Since Old Faithful is the tourist attraction and surrounded by the Inn and visitors center, it can be extremely crowded. We decided to go the first evening we were there around 6:30 pm. It’s a little less crowded than in the middle of the day, so we were lucky enough to get a seat on the front row.

Old Faithful was the perfect way to start our time at Yellowstone. Plus, we saw a bison on the way there.

Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is full hot springs, but I dare say Grand Prismatic Spring is the most beautiful. Not only is Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the park, but it also displays a variety of colors from yellow, oranges and reds, which are actually caused by heat-loving bacteria.

Located in Midway Geyser Basin, you will get to see Opal Pool, Turquoise Pool, Excelsior Geyser, and Firehole River when visiting Grand Prismatic Spring. Just a short walk around the boardwalk and you get to see several of Yellowstone’s most beautiful thermal features.

Midway Geyser Basin

Depending on your schedule, you could stop here on the same day you visit Old Faithful. The two attractions are about 7 miles apart. Remeber early in the day or late in the afternoon is best for these popular attractions.

Lamar Valley

Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park

Lamar Valley is on the Northern side of Yellowstone National Park and is a must on our list of things you simply must do in Yellowstone. If you can wake up early (like, really early) and get there around sunrise, you’ll have the best chance at seeing a variety of animals and beating the crowds.

You will definitely see herds of bison and may even find yourself in a bison jam.

Wolves, coyotes, grizzlies, and pronghorn can all be spotted in Lamar Valley. If you have binoculars or a spotting scope, be sure to bring them. Beyond the wildlife, the valley itself is a beautiful place to explore.

Hayden Valley

The America the Beautiful pass in a must for full-time RVers

I’m sure you guessed it, the open valleys are great places to spot wildlife. Hayden Valley, located in central Yellowstone, is another great place to see animals. Huge herds of bison hang around the Yellowstone River that runs through Hayden Valley.

There are several pullouts and overlooks to stop and watch the wildlife from.

Fishing the Yellowstone River

Just beyond Hayden Valley heading toward Yellowstone Lake along the Yellowstone River are a few pullouts. Luke spent a few days fishing in this area where you can catch native Yellowstone Trout. We also saw a herd of bison cross the river here – so cool!

Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Spring is one you simply can’t miss. It’s so different from the other hot springs in the park. Located in the northwestern part of the park, it’s totally worth the drive. The complex travertine terraces continually flow with thermal water. As the limestone in the water reaches the surface, it deposits forming the rock of the terraces. It’s really incredible!

You can see the main terrace from the road, but it’s worth walking around the boardwalk to see all of the Mammoth Hot Springs terraces.

Boiling River

Boiling River, Yellowstone National Park

The Boiling River is another can’t miss on the list of things you simply must do in Yellowstone National Park. Here, hot spring water enters the cold Gardner River water and combines to be the perfect soaking spot.

The area opened to swimming and soaking is about a 5-minute walk from the parking lot on a dirt path. If you get in at the parking lot, you’ll just be in cold water.

The best time to visit the Boiling River, in my opinion, is earlier in the day or late in the afternoon – you’ll want to miss the crowds if possible. Note: Boiling River is closed at dark and closes in spring when the river water is flowing to strong, so check with the park rangers before heading that way.

6 Things You Simply Must-do in Yellowstone National Park

There is so much to do and see in Yellowstone National Park. It really has something for everyone. If you’ve visited before, let us know what your favorite part is in the comments.

6 Ways to Save Water, Energy and Waste While RV Boondocking

There are several reasons we love RV boondocking, but there are a few challenges to overcome when living off the grid – like electricity, water and tank space to just name a few. These challenges provide a great opportunity to be creative and conserve resources. As we enjoy “living” in nature, we want to do our best to preserve it. Plus, the more we can conserve, the longer we can stay in one place before having to dump the tanks and refill water!

Here are a few ways to save water, energy and waste while RV Boondocking and make boondocking more enjoyable:

 

How we conserve water while RVing

Water is probably our greatest limitation when boondocking. We can typically go 7-8 days before we need to refill our water tank. We do our best to conserve water because it’s kinda annoying having to pack up the RV just to refill water (and dump the tanks).

Shower Pouch

how to stay clean while camping

Showering definitely uses the most water, so we may skip a shower or two while dry camping – water and tank space are at a premium. But that doesn’t mean we can’t stay clean and fresh. To “shower” without using any water, we use a Shower Pouch. These cloths are amazing and work so well. You can actually see the dirt that comes off your body, which after a day of hiking can be a lot. 

The Shower Pouch is a 2’ x 1’ pre-moistened full body wipe, so they are much bigger than your typical baby wipe. Plus, they have scents like bamboo and cumber, so you get clean and smell fresh.

Since we’re trying to be good to the earth while dry camping, we love that the Shower Pouch is vegan, hypoallergenic, and doesn’t contain parabens or sulfates.

Want to try the Shower Pouch for yourself? We love it so much that our friends at Shower Pouch are giving you 30% off your entire order. Use code: SIMPLEVENTURE at theshowerpouch.com.

High-Efficiency Shower Head

Thanks to the Shower Pouch, we don’t have to shower as frequently when boondocking – but we still take real showers! To reduce the amount of water we use, we installed a new high-efficiency showerhead made specifically for RVs. The one that came stock in our 1994 RV just wasn’t going to cut it.

This Oxygenics Shower Head increases oxygen content in your water and self-pressurizes to reduce the amount of water used. It also has a shut-off valve that keeps the water at the set temperature, so you can turn off the water while lathering. With our old showerhead, you had to turn off the water completely and then waste time finding the best temperature when you were ready to rinse off. No RV shower will be like a “real” shower, but this showerhead is a must if you are going to be boondocking!

Save water & tank space: win-win!

Extra Water Jugs

If we are planning to be at one boondocking spot for more than a week, we will fill up extra water jugs. This typically gives us a few more days before we have to refill the RV water tank.

We’ll use the extra jugs for the dogs’ water (three dogs = lots of drinking water). We’ll also use the water jugs to refill our water bottles and cook if we’re really trying to stretch the water in the tanks.

How we get power while boondocking

When boondocking, we try to avoid using our generator. However, we still need to charge our electronics and occasionally use the microwave, so we need power of some sort. Before our trip, we decided to install solar panels so we could dry camp for weeks at a time and save money on campsites.

Installing solar panels on an RV

Solar

We are so glad we decided to install solar panels on the RV. The solar panels give us the power we need to boondock, while still being able to charge our laptops and get work done.

Luke spent months researching the best panels, inverters, solar charge controllers, batteries and the best way to install everything.

Here is what we ended up purchasing:

This system cost us around $1,400, and it is worth every penny. We can run the microwave, charge multiple laptops, phone, cameras, run the lights at night, and watch TV, which doesn’t happen too often.

Of course, there are cloudy days and some boondocking spots are rather shaded, but for the most part, we get all the power we need from our solar panels. On days that we don’t get a great charge, we eat dinner by lantern light to conserve battery.

When you take the price of RV parks, let’s say $30 per night at 25 nights per month, that equals $750 a month! Two months worth of boondocking and this system pays for itself.

Inverter

While we typically get all the power we need from our solar panels, we did purchase an inverter for our car. We try to always charge our phones while driving around during the day, so we don’t have to use the solar to charge them at night. If we have a cloudy day or use a lot of energy, we can always charge our laptops and camera batteries with the inverter.

I highly recommend getting a Power Inverter. It simply plugs into the cigarette lighter, so you can charge or run multiple electronic devices at once.

How we reduce trash while camping

When you are boondocking, there are no trash cans or dumpsters, so you have to take your trash somewhere to throw it away. This isn’t a huge deal, but the less trash we produce the less time we have to spend finding a place to throw it away. Plus our trash can is tiny, and there are simple ways to reduce trash.

Norwex Cloths

One way we reduce the amount of trash we produce is by using Norwex Cloths. We use the All Purpose Kitchen Cloth to wipe down the counter and table rather than using paper towels. It’s also great at the cleaning grease off the stove with just the cloth and water. Since you don’t have to use cleaning spray, it’s chemical free and reusable.

I also have the Window Polishing Cloth that is great for cleaning dog nose prints off the windows, again, without using cleaning spray – just water and the cloth.

Using the Norwex cloths, we’ve reduced the amount of trash we produce and save money by not buying nearly as many paper towels and cleaning sprays.

reusable plastic dishes for RVing

Reusable Dishes, Cups & Utensils

As tempting as it is to use disposable plates, cups, and utensils (handwashing dishes isn’t my favorite), we stick to the standard, reusable dishes and silverware. Besides the fact we don’t have room in our trashcan for disposable plates and cups, we don’t want to contribute to the landfill if we don’t have to. Besides, I need a real coffee mug in the morning.

Of course, washing dishes for three meals a day, every day does require using water. We just have to be aware of our dishwashing methods. For example, rinse, scrub and rinse again all while using as little water possible. On that second rinse (the clean but still soapy water), pour it onto the next dish to rinse it for the first time. #RVlifeskills

There are so many other things we do to conserve water, electricity and reduce trash. Boondocking is a great way to get out into nature. With these tips you can enjoy nature longer while dry camping by conserving energy, saving water and reducing trash.

how to save water while RVing

Boondocking Resources

3 Tips to Finding Amazing Boondocking Spots (plus 5 of our favorite spots)

How to Save Money While Full-time RVing

How Much Does it Cost to Full-time RV: Our Full-time RV Budget (with budgeting worksheet)

I want to know! What is your best way to save water and electricity or reduce trash boondocking?

 

 

23 Reasons Why Living in an RV is Better than Living in a House

Moving out of our “normal-sized” house into a 32 foot RV (without slides) is one of the best decisions we’ve made. Sure living in an RV has its challenges, but full-time travel in an RV is, in our opinion, way better than living in a house.

Benefits of living in an RV

Hey, Friend! We love full-time RVing and can’t wait to share our adventure with you. Get RV tips, travel info and more delivered right to your inbox!

23 Reasons Why Living in an RV is Better than Living in a House

  1. It moves. You can go almost anywhere.
  2. It’s cheaper than a house.
  3. There are fewer house projects.
  4. There’s less space to clean.
  5. You have fewer things in general. #minimalism
  6. If you don’t like your neighbors, you can easily move.
  7. You meet so many new people.
  8. You’ll make some pretty cool friends from all over the country.
  9. You get to live like a local wherever you go.
  10. There’s no yard work.
  11. Your backyard can be a National Park.
  12. You can have amazing views from your front door without buying real estate.
  13. You can harness the sun for electricity.
  14. You learn to reduce the amount of water you use and save the world.
  15. The temptation to buying things you don’t need is gone because there’s no room.
  16. You always have a conversation starter… I live full-time in an RV.
  17. The dogs have somewhere new to explore all the time.
  18. You get to spend (a lot of) time with the one you love.
  19. You get to visit amazing places that you wouldn’t normally vacation.
  20. You can watch the sunset while sitting on your roof.
  21. There’s no better way to see the country than driving through it.
  22. You get to try craft beer, wine and coffee from all sorts of places.
  23. You grow a lot when you totally uproot your life to live on the road.

23 Reason Living in an RV is Better than Living in a House

Do you have questions about full-time RVing? Ask away! We’ll do our best to answer.
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2017 Solar Eclipse: The Path of Totality

We’ve seen some beautiful landscapes, powerful waterfalls, and spectacular mountain ranges, but nothing will compare to seeing a total solar eclipse. If you weren’t in totality on August 21, there’s no way to truly explain it, but you should start making plans for 2024.

To be honest, at the start of our trip, we didn’t even know there was going to be a solar eclipse. I think it was a Facebook post back in July that caught our attention. Luckily, our route put us near the path of totality at the right time. As life sometimes goes, everything came together perfectly.

Let’s take it back a few months…

At one of our boondocking locations, we met a couple who has seen their fair share of solar eclipses. Considering we knew nothing, including the fact we need to solar glasses, we got the full download of what we needed to be prepared for.

  1. Solar eclipse glasses.
  2. Traffic in the path of totality – get there a few days early!
  3. Diamond ring – it happens fast, but you gotta yell diamond ring when it happens.
  4. The temperature drops fast.
  5. Look for stars.
  6. Pay attention to the birds and other animals – they fly back to roost and the owls start hooting.
  7. There’s no way to prepare for the experience – it’s awe-inspiring, freaky, beautiful, crazy, and specular all the same time.
  8. And most importantly, 99% of an eclipse is not 99% of the experience. Be in totality.

 

Originally, we decided to leave the RV near Yellowstone and drive to Jackson, WY early the morning of the eclipse, but the more we read, the more we realized it was going to be a zoo. It seemed a little too stressful.

So, I did some research and found a HipCamp host in the path of totality – think Airbnb for camping. It was going to be a solar eclipse partayyy on a farm! Cookout the night before, breakfast the morning of, and a group of strangers watching the eclipse together. We booked it and headed to Idaho on Sunday, the day before the eclipse.

solar eclipse party

There ended up being 40 or so people camping on this farm, and it was a blast… especially since we don’t get to hang out with people too often. #RVlife

On Sunday, we set up camp, met an awesome family who was there for the eclipse and went river floating with them. After our river float, we headed back to the farm for the most amazing cookout.

Elk, steak, corn, and baked potatoes (we were in Idaho). A beautiful setup. A campfire. And soon to be new friends – watching the eclipse together makes you friends forever.

Solar Eclipse: The Path of Totality

On Monday morning, our hosts fixed another ah-mazing meal. Nothing really beats coffee by a campfire. And then, the eclipse countdown was on.

Solar Eclipse 2017 Party

Eclipse glasses on. We could start to see the moon blocking part of the sun. Over the next hour, we watched the moon cover more and more of the sun with noticing much of a difference in terms of daylight.

One of the other campers had a telescope set up with solar filters, so we could get a “close up” look of the sun – it was crazy.

Right as totality hit, you could feel the temperature drop and see the sky get dark. AND THEN… DIAMOND RING. It’s by far one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

 

Solar Eclipse 2017
Check out more of Dillon’s photos at flickr.com/photos/fitton/

 

During the two minutes of totality, the sun does this crazy looking thing. It looks like night time in the middle of the day. We could see planets and stars. The owls started hooting. The birds flew back to roost. It’s literally the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.

 

Solar Eclipse: Path of Totality
Totality really looks this crazy! See more at flickr.com/photos/fitton/

 

And then it was over. For the next hour or so, we would occasionally look at the sun (with our eclipse glasses on) to see the moon partially covering the sun. Our 40 new friends and us gushed of what we just experience. Oh, and Luke and I may have been the only people that didn’t cry during totality. But I totally understand how it could move you to tears – it’s that spectacular.

Once you experience one total solar eclipse, you want to see them all. So naturally, we all started making plans to meet up in 2024 for the next US solar eclipse.

2024 Solar Eclipse

On April 8, the path of totality will be from Texas to Maine. Certain parts of the path of totality will last for over 4 minutes. 4 minutes!

Can we get up with Chip and Joanna and start planning an eclipse party at the Silos? Anybody with me?!

 

If you can’t wait until 2024, you can go to Argentina on July 2, 2019, or check out one of these solar eclipse locations. Just make sure at some point in your life, you are in the path of totality. It’s one of the most amazing natural occurrences you’ll ever experience.

Huge thanks to Dillon for sharing your eclipse photos with us. We’ll see you in 2024!

 

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