How Much Does Living In An RV Cost // It’s Cheaper Than You Think

How Much Does Living In An RV Cost // It’s Cheaper Than You Think

Welcome to another series of Workshop Wednesday’s. I get the question all the time, “How much does living in an RV cost?” and “How can you afford to live full time in an RV?” I’m going to show you my full-time RV living expenses so you can see my budget, see how these expenses can change based on your travel style, so you can then crunch the numbers and put your budget together.

Make sure you sign-up for my free 4-day mini-course where you’ll get a full copy of my budget, a template for your budget, and tips on how to save and slash your budget so you can travel full-time in an RV.

When I first started out researching on how much living in an RV cost, I quickly found that there are so many variables to living costs. Much of your RV living costs are based on your travel style and the type of RV you are living in full-time.

Living in an RV Costs Significantly Less Than a Sticks-and-Bricks

I found that my expenses are much lower in an RV then when I lived in a sticks-and-bricks home. Now that I’m in a Class B campervan, the Hymer Aktiv that is 20 feet, my expenses are even lower than when I lived in the first RV I purchased, the Winnebago Spirit that was 26 feet.

Living in an RV and lowering my monthly expenses have greatly increased my happiness. I save money, and I get to live an incredible life traveling all over North America. My home and all of my belongings go with me where I go, and I can change locations when I want. This week I may be craving the mountains and the next week I can be by the ocean.

That’s one of the many benefits of living in an RV – you can change locations at will.

No more utility bills.

No cable bills.

No landscaping bills.

No house insurance (kind of)

Less consumption of decorations, furniture, “things.”

I’m sure Amazon noticed! I’m an Amazon junkie! I still shop there since it’s highly convenient for travel when you have the Prime membership. I also now have a rule, if something comes into the RV, then something must go out. Storage is limited and you need to be aware of the weight of your RV, so you don’t have a tire blow out.

How Much Does Living in an RV Cost?

How I RV and travel can be much different than yours so when I show you how much living in an RV cost; keep in mind that these numbers can fluctuate drastically.

You are in ultimate control of how much living in an RV costs you. I try to live as frugal as possible, but I also want to LIVE, so some of my expenses are based on the things that are important to me; like enjoying sight-seeing tours, watching Netflix at night, making sure I always have an Internet connection, and continually accomplishing my quest travel goals which mean sometimes higher fuel costs.

I tend to travel, on average, about 1,500 miles per month; however, that number can change quickly if I found a great area that I want to spend more time in or if the weather is terrible, I might drive more to locate more desirable temperatures, less wind, or no snow.

My RV Living Budget

Before you look at the budget, remember, this is based on how I live, but it gives you an idea of how much living in an RV cost each month and a starting point for you to begin your budget.

I did not include the cost of an RV since this can be vastly different for each person whether you finance your RV or pay for it upfront in cash.

Also, I save every month for every expense even if I pay it annually or it’s an expense that varies from month-to-month. For example I save every month for RV insurance, but I pay this expense annually, or the cost for hair care is saved monthly, but buying the products to color my hair or cut it vary and aren’t monthly expenses.

EXPENSE

Fuel

RV Insurance

RV Maintenance

RV Registration

RV Park Rent

Club Memberships

State Park Passes

National Park Pass

Groceries

Eating Out

Hot Spot/Internet

Laundry

Cell Phone

Propane

Water

Mail forwarding

Mailbox Rental

Entertainment

Total

 

BUDGET

$400

$100

$100

$9

$100

$4

$10

$7

$300

$50

$65

$10

$148

$15

$5

$13

$12

$200

$1,548

Living in an RV Cost Breakdown

RV Gas & Maintenance & Insurance

I travel on average about 1,500 miles per month, so I budget $400 per month. Sometimes I’ll spend that much and sometimes I don’t. It depends on how much I decide to travel that month and if I’ve found an area I’d like to stay in longer. I’m very flexible with my travel so I can make adjustments where needed to make last-minute decisions on places I’d like to visit.

RV insurance is pretty reasonable, in my opinion, especially considering my insurance also covers being a full-time traveler, which is an added cost.

Though I don’t incur maintenance costs every month on the RV, and I have a 6-year warranty on the Hymer, I do save each month for future maintenance which can include the cost of purchasing new tires, which isn’t covered by the Hymer warranty, oil changes, and washing the RV.

RV registration is paid annually, but I do save for it each month.

Daily Park Rent & State/National Passes

RV park rent or any place where I would pay a daily rate in exchange for a parking spot and possibly hookups is an expense I save for monthly though I rarely use it. Most of the time if I were to pay for a spot, it’s because I wanted to visit a particular area and the boondocking or even dry camping, like at Walmart, isn’t plentiful or non-existent. Also, I might pay RV park rent if I were with the Xscapers group and we were having an event somewhere and that was the designated location. So I just save up for it each month just in case I need it.

This is another area with how much living in an RV cost that you can be drastically changed by your travel style. The daily rent at RV parks or campgrounds can get expensive each month, depending on each campground of course.

Since purchasing the Hymer Aktiv, it’s much easier now to stealth camp in places and not need to incur that fee since I’m entirely self-contained.

State park passes are annual fees I pay to a particular state that allows me certain privileges for a more extended period. For example, I knew I would be in Washington State for a couple of months, so I purchased the Discover Pass that is $30 annually. It allows you to make use of any of the on-site dump and water stations and also allows you to day park for free. Typically parking in a state park can be $10 per day. Also, some Department of Natural Resource campgrounds are free if you have the Discover Pass.

New Mexico is another state that has similar privileges as Washington, but in addition, you can get deeply discounted rates at state park campgrounds.

The national park pass saves me a ton of money. I get in free to all National Parks and Monuments across the United States.

Free 4 Day Mini Course Budgeting

Groceries & Eating Out

I don’t eat out very much but reserve some funds monthly that I can save, primarily if I’m socializing with others. It’s so much cheaper to cook myself and save that money.

Cell Phone, Internet, Propane

For cell phone, data and Internet connection I have a Verizon plan for my cell phone and then a Verizon hotspot. In addition, I pay another $65 a month for an AT&T hotspot. You may or may not need two hotspots, but I do for the sake of making sure I almost always have a connection in case one area serves Verizon better than AT&T or vice versa.

Since my entire business is online, having a data connection most of the time is critical for me.

My propane costs last year were much higher since my refrigerator used propane or electric to cool; however, it was much cheaper to keep it on propane.

Now that I have the Hymer Aktiv, my refrigerator is all electric. The furnace and water heater can either use propane, electric, or a mix of both.

So far since I purchased the Hymer in May 2018, just 3.5 months ago, I still am 2/3 full on propane and haven’t added any more propane since my date of purchase. My budget may be a little high on this, but I’m still budgeting so when it’s cooler in the winter months when I might need the furnace more, I can have enough funds budgeted if I need it.

This is another area with how much living in an RV cost can be different for each person. You may not need two hotspots or even any hotspots depending on what you do for a living, if you’re retired, or just use your cell phone for calls and data.

Mail Forwarding

Since I sold my house and I don’t have any relatives in Washington (my current domicile state) that can handle my mail for me, I chose a mail forwarding company where I pay an annual fee and then they can forward my mail to me once a month. I’m also currently looking into the Xscapers program of mail forwarding that can be completely digital so this cost might change as well.

Since purchasing the Hymer, I decided to go ahead and get a gym membership so I can work out when I’m in the cities and take a shower in the facilities. That’s the one thing that is harder in the van is to do yoga and I don’t like rolling my mat out in front of everybody, depending on the area, and working out in public. Also, I prefer not to take showers in the Hymer as it’s just more of a pain. Instead, I’ll wash off every day with a wet washcloth and wash my hair in the sink.

Entertainment

Lastly, you have to have an entertainment budget! Well, I guess you don’t have to, but if you can, it’s nice to have dollars set aside for when you’re traveling and places you want to visit cost money. There’s a ton of free sites out there to visit and explore, but some also cost.

I don’t always use the full $200, but again, I keep the money set aside for those months where I might spend more than $200, like when I get together with friends or family, and we tend to go out and do more.

I hope that helps you to understand how much living in an RV cost each month and gives you enough information to either make some decisions for yourself and put a budget together. If you are looking for more information on budgeting and want my budget template and my budget, then sign-up for my free mini-course.

All of the costs here are specifically for traveling in an RV; however, in my free mini-course, I provide my entire annual budget in full, including my personal expenses and items you’ll want to think about when you create your budget really. Plus I’ll give you tips on how to save money and slash that budget to the bare bones on items like insurance (the things we must pay but aren’t fun) so you can either save that money or use it to enjoy yourself during your travels. Along with an overview of each expense and the possibilities in how it can vary so you can adjust your budget accordingly.

Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

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Cassette Toilet Emptying in Campervan / Helpful Video Tips

Cassette Toilet Emptying in Campervan / Helpful Video Tips

Cassette Toilet Emptying in Camper VanSince purchasing my Hymer Aktiv campervan, I’ve received so many questions about the cassette toilet that came with the campervan. It’s an anomaly here in North America; however, European countries primarily use the cassette toilet instead of the traditional black tanks. 

Cassette toilet emptying in a campervan is much easier than a traditional black tank. I’m going to go through the pros and cons of a cassette toilet, how I use the toilet, how it’s different than a black tank, and how NOT to empty the cassette cartridge – because there is definitely a way NOT to empty it!

In my cassette toilet review, I go over how to use the toilet, the swivel operation, the full tank sensors, how to empty the cartridge, the blade operation, using chemicals to keep the odor down, and where to dump the tank and how often.

I’m going to explain to you the entire process on how to operate and empty a cassette toilet so you can determine if a cassette toilet is right for you over the traditional black tanks. 

Why Hymer Used a Cassette Toilet Instead of a Black Tank

My Hymer Aktiv campervan came with a Thetford cassette toilet instead of the black tank to aid in keeping the weight of the campervan down. Since it’s a Class B RV and considered a campervan, you already have limited space and storage, especially if you are planning on traveling full-time.

In order to maximize space in the campervan, installing a cassette toilet instead of the traditional black tank makes sense. Not only do you reduce the load of the vehicle, reduce the space needed for the sewer tank (cassette toilet in this case), but you also don’t have to carry the sewer hoses, commonly called “stinky slinky”. Hoses associated with black tanks can store in a compartment or container where it cannot touch anything else due to possible contamination. Well, and then there’s the smell. Yuck!

Hymer is a brand that is very popular in Europe, and it has taken the philosophy of the cassette toilet and brought it here to North America in its campervan lines to date.

Let’s Talk Pee & Poop

An interesting thing happens when you first start RVing that is different than owning a home especially if you boondock or dry camp more than staying at RV parks.

You become acutely aware of your water consumption and – well – how much you go #1 and #2. Okay, so maybe you don’t want to talk about or hear about #1 and #2 and think it’s gross. Well, I would agree that it can be gross in certain situations, but it’s something we all do and is very typical. Plus, when you start to RV, you’ll find that we ALL talk about it.

In a traditional home, where you connect to city water and sewer, you might not think about your use as much for sewer and water. You might be conservative, but you still have an endless supply of water at your fingertips by turning on the handle and letting the water flow.

You can go to the bathroom at all hours of the day, every day, all day, whenever. You get my point – right?

In an RV, you become intimately involved with understanding how long you can stay out boondocking and dry camping without needing to empty the cassette toilet or a black tank. In my old RV, the black tank was 23 gallons, and I could wait three weeks before needing to empty the black tank.

That’s not the case now. Now I must empty every 4-5 days. You’ll find out why coming up.

How the Cassette Toilet Operates Inside the Campervan

You might have seen from my van tour how small the bathroom is and that it’s a wet bath, which means the shower and toilet are all-in-one. I don’t take showers in there, because it’s just a pain. I have to move things around and then dry everything off afterward. Instead, I use public showers, go to the gym, or truck stops. It’s just easier. That’s a whole other topic that I can post on later.

Hymer Aktiv bathroom

No Toilet Paper

While I do in fact use toilet paper, I do not flush it down the toilet. I didn’t flush it in the black tank toilet either in my other RV. This way it keeps anything from getting clogged and saves on capacity in each tank before having to empty.

Instead, I dispose of the toilet paper inside of a garbage can with a lid on it and then empty it fairly often.

#1 & #2 in the Cassette Toilet

Some RVers have a cassette toilet where they prefer only to go #1 in their toilet to cut down on the number of times they need to empty and also having to clean it. I prefer to use it for both #1 and #2 only because I’m a solo traveler and only need to empty it every 4-5 days and it’s just more convenient that way. As long as you use the chemicals made for the cassette toilet, you shouldn’t get any smell from it.

I don’t typically like to use chemicals, but I was thinking that when you are in a home, and the city manages your sewer for you – they are also treating the waste with chemicals to help break it down, which is precisely what I’m doing.

So for now, I’m just using the cassette toilet like I would any other toilet, except for the toilet paper usage.

How Often Do I Empty the Cassette Toilet

I generally am emptying the cartridge every 4-5 days of usage; however, that can depend on where I’m at in the city or in the wild. For example, if I’m doing a bunch of errands and I’m in and out of stores, I’ll use the store facilities to go to the bathroom.

If I’m out in the wild, I’ll go #1 outside using my pStyle urination device for women which saves me from having to empty, and I can boondock longer.

One of the advantages to those who go #1 in their cassette toilet is that they can empty their cartridge in the wild – as long as it’s only urine with no chemicals.

Swivel for Comfort

Since this is a small space in the campervan, the cassette toilet has an added feature that it can swivel to the left and right. When you are sitting down on the toilet, you can swivel the toilet to a position that is comfortable for your legs.

You can also swivel it all the way to the right if you use the wet bathroom for showers so you’ll have more space to stand up or sit down to shower.

Flushing the Toilet

Just below the toilet seat, in the front, is a grey lever that you can move to the left and right to flush the toilet. The lever opens up the bottom of the toilet where the blade is at and empties into the cartridge below.

Once you empty the toilet bowl, you hit the blue button on the wall behind the toilet, and it will add water to the toilet bowl to rinse it off. You must have the water pump on for this to operate correctly.

Tank Sensor Button

The tank sensor button on the Thetford cassette toilet only shows when the toilet is full. The sensor function is different than the black tank which will show you how full it is at all times. However, I found in my other RV that those sensors would get dirty and not always be accurate.

How to Empty the Cassette Toilet Outside of the Campervan

On the driver side door is a doorway that opens with a key to the box cartridge on the inside that holds the waste. Once you open the door, you pop up the orange handle to release the cassette toilet cartridge and then pull it out from the side of the campervan.

Opening Cassette Toilet Door

Thetford Cassette Toilet

Screw open the lid to the cartridge and slowly empty the contents into the sewer receptacle. Once the cartridge is tipped over and draining, push the pressure valve button at the top to release the pressure, so all the contents empty faster.

Emptying Cassette Toilet

WORD OF WARNING!

Do NOT push the pressure valve until after you start emptying the contents else you risk raw sewage spilling through the button sidewalls and onto your hand.

How do I know this?

I was the one who was wondering what that button was for and pressed it while it was right side up spilling nasty sewage onto my hand. Another moment to throw up.

So now that I’ve entirely disgusted you with my cautionary tales (there’s still one more below) – doesn’t it make you want to RV? It’s such a small part of RVing so don’t let this deter you. Remember when I said you would become intimate with #1 and #2 – I wasn’t lying!

Okay – so now that the cartridge is empty, you rinse it with water then dump it again until the contents run clear.

Rinsing Cassette Toilet

Next, add about 2 ounces of the cartridge chemicals to the tank, then add about 2 to 4 ounces of water to the tank. Put the lid back on, slosh the chemicals and water around the cartridge, and then put the box back into the side of the campervan and shut the door.

Done Cassette Toilet Emptying

It’s that simple. Well – if you do it right and don’t do what I did in the beginning, but that’s why you’re here – to learn from my mistakes!

Pros & Cons of the Cassette Toilet

Pros:

  • More freedom of choices to empty the tank which can reduce your costs of paying to dump if you can’t find a free dump station.
  • You can dump at traditional RV dump sites like state parks, RV parks, wastewater treatment plants, but now you can roll this small tank, like a suitcase, to a pit toilet, bathroom toilet in a house, and the rest areas off of the freeway.
  • Easy to clean by adding water and sloshing it around to clean the insides and then dumping into the appropriate receptacle.
  • No more dreaded poo pyramids! I never had this happen, but I’ve heard horror stories on it. Poo pyramids occur in black tanks when there isn’t enough water and chemicals in the tank to break down the fecal matter, so the poo keeps rising. Gross right?
  • No “stinky slinky” sewer hoses to store so saves on storage space as well.
  • Super fast and easy to empty.
  • No longer need to flush the black tank or put the rinsing wand down the toilet to clean the tank. Instead just put some water in the cassette toilet, give it a shake and empty.

Cons:

  • Condensation on the inside of the toilet lid. I haven’t figured this out yet, and fellow RVers have noticed the same on their cassette toilet. Some say it’s when you’re in areas with high humidity, but I’m not 100% sure just yet as it also seems to happen when I was in a dryer area too.
  • Need to empty more often because it holds 4.6 gallons compared to 23 gallons in my other RV. It’s a con only because I was able to last three weeks in my other RV, but that said, it’s not a deal breaker for me, and I seem to do just fine with finding places in that time frame.
  • Tank sensor only shows when full and not how full it is at each level as it rises. This is a real bummer because when it’s full, you can’t go to the bathroom at all in it and need to find a place to dump before you can use it again. I had made the mistake of using it when it was full which leads me into how NOT to dump the cassette toilet.

How NOT to Dump the Cassette Toilet

One morning, shortly after I purchased the Hymer Aktiv, I woke up and saw the cassette toilet was showing full. So I went ahead and used the toilet thinking that I would dump the cartridge and then I would flush what was in the toilet bowl.

BIG MISTAKE!

I pulled the cartridge out and everything that was in the bowl, #1 AND #2, fell through the bottom of the toilet, onto part of the cartridge remaining in the cartridge bay, and the rest splashed inside of the cartridge bay.

I almost threw up multiple times cleaning that mess up. It was awful! Just awful! I’ve never had kids, so I don’t know what it’s like to clean up poo, but this was all over everything.

After I cleaned up the mess, I knew I just had to figure out how that happened. So on closer inspection, the blade at the bottom of the toilet is the same blade on the cartridge in the cartridge bay, so when you pull the cartridge box out, anything in the bowl will spill through because there is nothing below it to stop from emptying since the blade is attached to the cartridge.

There needs to be a big warning sign somewhere in the bathroom about this when you first purchase!

I learned my lesson, and that won’t be happening again!

All-in-all, I love the cassette toilet and it’s ease of use. It really works for me and my travel style. I’m still loving my Hymer too!

Have you ever used a cassette toilet? Are you trying to decide on getting a campervan or something larger? Leave me a comment below.

Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

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July 2018 Income Report – How I Made $4,036 Traveling Full-Time

July 2018 Income Report – How I Made $4,036 Traveling Full-Time

July 2018 Income Report Traveling Full TimeThis is my first income report ever and let me tell you, it makes me nervous! I don’t typically share anything about my income to friends or family and here I am sharing it on the Internet. I do have a reason for sharing my income report though.

Ever since I started traveling full-time in my RV and documenting my travels on the blog and my YouTube channel – I’ve seen a huge increase in questions from viewers:

  • How I make money while traveling full-time?
  • What do I do for a living?
  • How can I afford this life?
  • Am I independently wealthy?
  • How do you film the videos and what gear do you use?
  • …and even more “how – to” questions.

So I’ve decided to start teaching what you all are asking about. My background is in Accounting and Finance and what better way to use it then to teach on financing a full-time travel lifestyle. I figured the best way to show you all how to have this kind of a life is to literally be the example and the story.

In my last post on How to Make Money Online Traveling in an RV and the video on YouTube, I announced a huge change that happened in my life. Well I made it happen.

After traveling for a year, full-time, I wanted more freedom and I was working 60-80 hours a week. I was considerably stressed even though I really love this company that I worked for – but the pace was starting to get to me and I just felt like I needed a change. I was documenting my travels on the blog and YouTube and was able to tap into my creative side again – something I hadn’t used in a while – and it felt really great and nourishing to my soul.

I took the BIG LEAP and quit so I can focus my attention on my own endeavors in business – like building my online business and coaching/consulting practice. Even though I was working remotely this whole time – I still felt that I needed a change.

Now I’m even more location independent, because I don’t always have to stress about making sure there is an Internet connection – even though I depend on it for my own business – at least for a couple of days. I can relax more and take in the landscape in places that are more remote and not feel like I need to rush through it to make sure I’m available for my job.

It’s exciting, thrilling, and a little nerve-wracking, but I feel completely happy with my decision and am pushing forward!

Why am I Sharing My Income Report?

Sharing what I earn each month and from what sources will not only allow me to document my income, but to also see the growth or where I need to make adjustments. I also am posting my income so you can follow along and see how to build this business and what areas of income I’m generating so you can also do this for yourself.

Each month I’ll post in the income report:

  • What my earnings were for the month.
  • The percentage of increase/decrease month-over-month
  • Sources of income (when I’m able to be transparent)
  • Goals
  • Growth opportunities
  • Successes

I hope by posting my income report that it provides you with some inspiration as to what’s possible for you and your journey. My biggest hope is that I can share with you all a different lifestyle that’s not considered the “social norm”, but that is completely enriching and makes me feel more alive than I’ve ever felt. This is why I named my blog and YouTube channel Story Chasing.

I’m literally creating new stories and moments in my life and filling my brain with these special memories of my travels and the people that I’ve met along the way. I’m pretty darn happy!

July 2018 Income Report – How I Make Money Online Traveling Full-Time

July was my first month after quitting my job so this will be my first income report even though I’ve been making a little bit of money over the last year on my blog.

I have the StoryChasing.com blog and also the Youtube channel – which by the way, if you like what you’re seeing on my YouTube channel, please hit that subscribe button and click on the notification bell so you’ll know when I upload a video each week.

My Goals and Business Insights for July 2018

Since this was my first month of full-time entrepreneurship after quitting my job, I wanted to take a little time off the first of the month to just rest before I jumped into things too much with the business. It was the high season of summer which is a great time for RVing all over the country – except for some of those states down south with temperatures soaring over 100 degrees.

I didn’t work as much as I wanted to and ended up relaxing more than I anticipated, but there were nights where I stayed up until all hours working on a backlog of projects for the business that I was able to complete. That felt really great. I like checking those tasks off my list, but I seem to keep adding more and more each week so I have a feeling I’ll never be done with that list.

The one thing I’ve learned in my life is to really pay attention to what my body and soul are telling me. I needed rest. So I gave in and rested, but I still got a lot accomplished.

In July I was producing one video a week and a blog post which can be extremely time consuming in the learning phase. I still feel like I’m learning so much so sometimes editing the video, writing the blog post, editing the photos, and scheduling social media can take upwards of 16 hours. I’m getting in a rhythm though now that I can focus all of my efforts on creating.

My goal for stst is to start creating 2 videos a week where Sunday will be all RV and travel related while Workshop Wednesdays will be about answering those questions on how to fund a full-time travel lifestyle or just generally how to make money online. Though it may sound like 2 videos a week isn’t such a big deal, I’m a little nervous about doing it, because of the time it takes to complete, but I’m up for the challenge.

I think as I learn more and find short cuts for editing and filming, which happen daily, I’ll reduce the amount of time it takes for me to complete the process from start to finish.

At the end of June, YouTube approved my application for monetization after 2 months of meeting the requirements to be a YouTube Partner. In order to qualify for monetization you need 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours. I started my YouTube channel in July of 2017 so it took from then until beginning of May 2018 to qualify. That said, I was so back logged with video footage that I hadn’t published on YouTube last year, that I didn’t really get most of those videos edited and officially published until 2018.

Since YouTube monetized my videos, I started receiving ad revenue which really helped my July income increase over last month.

I’ve received a few product sponsor deals that I’ll be working on in the next couple of months which is another huge learning curve.

My goal for August is to have over 5,000 subscribers on YouTube and to put together a free mini course for the blog. I haven’t fully decided on the topic yet, but will be nailing that down soon. I’ll also make sure to follow-up in the August income report with how I met my goals.

Lastly, I’ll be launching my Story Chasing Crew site with Patreon as a way for loyal readers and subscribers to gain more access to all that’s happening at Story Chasing like:

  • Monthly live streams
  • Patron only videos and clips from outtakes to deleted scenes and raw footage of what it’s like to live in 100 square feet.
  • Exclusive access feed
  • Priority comments to Patrons
  • Invitations to group meet-ups
  • Your name in credits on each video
  • Voting on Polls to shape the story on the blog and channel
  • Monthly postcards from travels around North America
  • One-on-One chat sessions

I’ve technically finished the Story Chasing Crew site, but I haven’t formally announced it yet – so if you’re reading this, you’re getting early access!

If you’re new to my blog, here’s a little bit about me and what I do.

I’m Amber and I started StoryChasing.com and my YouTube channel last year in the second quarter of 2017 after selling my home and everything I own to travel full-time in an RV. When I first started out traveling I had no idea where I was going and then I came across a book called National Geographic 300 Scenic Highways & Byways. What a great way to see the country and learn about the areas around so I started a quest to accomplish all 300 highways and byways – with no end date by the way.

From the beginning I documented my travels across the United States and Canada, through photos and video, so I could show that I’ve completed all 300 highways and byways. I’m the sole traveler, writer and videographer, marketer, editor, administrator, accountant, driver and whatever other hat is thrown my way in this adventure.

I travel with my fur baby, Lily, who is a 10 lb Whippet, Chi, Rat Terrier mix and an amazing traveler with her own car seat so she can see outside and be safely harnessed into the seat.

Over the course of my travels I get asked quite a bit if I’m fearful to travel solo. I even made a video about it and how I overcome fear. It’s been one of my more popular videos, because I believe it addresses a fear that we all have – whether you’re a man or a woman – about being by yourself and living in this world without subjecting ourselves to the constant fear of others and media. I’ve discovered that the world out there is actually kinder and more beautiful then I anticipated and that I’m also much stronger than I ever imagined. I’ve conquered plenty of fears this year, but I believe those fears are just opportunities to overcome and the great success and reward is on the other side of that fear.

I have worked in some capacity in Accounting since I was 17 years old and earned a Bachelors Degree in Accountancy and am a Certified Financial Crimes Investigator. Most of my career was spent in property management, construction, and real estate with the last company being a Private Equity Firm specializing in acquisitions and development of multi-family housing where I was the Director of Asset Management Accounting. Though I really loved my job, the company, and the people I worked with, I knew it was time for a change and to see what I could do with my own company.

I’ve been blogging on and off for over 8 years and have created many websites and blogs and learned quite a bit about making money online. I just needed to figure out what I wanted to do in order to make money online.

As my viewers started asking me questions, a natural business started to form where I could teach others the knowledge I have on various subjects. I’m so thrilled to be working in this capacity and help others. I’ve been coaching women for several years as well and it’s a huge, huge, hugely fulfilling joy to help these woman overcome experiences in their life.

I’m also business consulting for acquisitions/dispositions of real estate and multi-family housing.

Lastly, some of my income – that you’ll see below in the July 2018 income report – also comes from an ebook I wrote about 5 years ago that helps people overcome rosacea naturally. It’s not generating much income right now since I haven’t really been focusing on the marketing very much in the last couple of years. When I first wrote the book it was generating about $200-$400 per month.

July 2018 Income Report

I’ve completed a breakdown by passive income and active income with totals for each.

Passive Income

  Affiliate Income:

  Advertising:

  • Ad Revenue $212.11

  My Products:

Passive Income Total of $330.96

This is an increase over June by approximately 112% which was due to YouTube monetizing my videos.

Active Income

  • Consulting/Coaching – $3,705 which most likely will go down in the future since some of this is derived from contracting for my previous employer.

Total of All Income $4,035.96

My bottom line goal is to increase my passive income, month-over-month by approximately 16.5% and I definitely hit that goal this month.

All of the income above is before expenses and taxes and represents my gross revenues.

Top Goals for August 2018

I’ll also make sure to follow-up in the August income report with how I met my goals below:

  • Continue to reach viewers looking for an alternative lifestyle in minimalist living, traveling full-time, learning how to earn income on the road, and growing YouTube subscribers to 5,000+.
  • Formally launch the Story Chasing Crew Patreon site.
  • Increase videos/blog posts from 1 video per week to 2 videos per week with the introduction of Workshop Wednesdays.
  • Finalize topic and create free mini course on blog.

Please leave me a comment below on how you liked this new addition of the income report. What do you want to see? Was something missing? Did something not make sense?

Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

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How To Make Money Online Traveling In An RV

How To Make Money Online Traveling In An RV

How to Make Money Online and Travel Full TimeIf you’re looking to learn how to make money online for a side hustle, to save for travel, or completely fund a lifestyle of full-time travel, then today I’m going to share with you SIX ways on how to make money online by starting an Internet business so you can travel full-time and be location independent.

If you’re like me, I was at a crossroads in my life where I knew there was more to life than just working 60-80 hours a week at a job and feeling like something was missing in my life. That’s one of the reasons I sold everything I owned and bought an RV to travel more and create more stories and moments.

So I’m going to show you 6 ways on how to make money online and also share with you my real life story on how I make money online.

Also, I have a HUGE change and a surprise to share with you.

Two Types of Income

Okay so let’s get started and first discuss the two different types of income you can earn:

  • Active income
  • Passive Income

Active Income

Active income Is income generated where you complete a set of actions repeatedly over time in order to receive income or make a sale.

For example, selling products on Ebay is active income, because you must first find the product to sell, list it on Ebay, sell the product, get paid, then ship the product. In order to receive more income you must complete those actions again and repeat.

Another example of active income is consulting where you only earn money when you work with a client, which is generally an exchange of time for money; somewhat like a typical job.

Passive Income

Passive Income is income that you complete an action, essentially once, and then it can earn residual income in the future many times over without any action on your part.

For example: writing a blog post, publishing the post, and monetizing it with advertising. For as long as you have the blog post live, it can generate income for you. You might have to tweak that post in the future or you might decide to add some additional layers of marketing, but the post is still there generating income residually.

Now, it can take a while to build up passive income, and it’s not an overnight get-rich-quick-way of making money, but if you’re in it for the long haul, creating sources of passive income can be you’re gateway to making money online and funding your full-time traveling.

How to Make Money Online – 6 Methods

Active Income Methods on How to Make Money Online (and travel full-time)

#1 Selling on Ebay

This is great if you’re starting out and want to fund your travel lifestyle, but not yet traveling, unless you plan to tow a cargo trailer with your items. With Ebay you can find all kinds of products to sell and list on Ebay; however if you plan on traveling in an RV then you’ll have to consider your storage needs for the products you’re selling and if that’s something you want to haul around with you. You’ll have the extra cost of the storage whether that’s taking away storage from your RV or towing a separate cargo trailer which will cost for the purchase of the trailer and hookups and also the additional gas you’ll be spending for towing.

#2 Selling on Etsy

This is a great way to create your own handmade products and like Ebay, this is great if you’re starting out and trying to fund your travel lifestyle, but not yet traveling unless you plan to tow a cargo trailer with your items. How much storage space you’ll need just really depends on the items you be making and selling.

#3 Selling on Amazon

You can sell on Amazon without products by sourcing products and having those products sent directly to Amazon and then Amazon handles the fulfillment for you. You can sell anything on Amazon from items laying around your house as “used” items, researching products that are in demand and sourcing those products for Amazon to fulfill for you, or writing an ebook. I’m sure there are a vast amount of other items to sell on Amazon, but this gives you some options as you start to think about how you travel and how much income you’ll need each month.

#4 Consulting/Coaching

You can take what you are an expert in and find clients to teach or provide a service and BONUS – there’s no storage needed since you’ll most likely only need a cell phone and data connection.

Passive Income Methods on How to Make Money Online

Remember passive income is 1 Action = Residual Income. This is my favorite, because who doesn’t want to work once and keep getting paid continually? 

#5 & #6 Website/Blogging

Think about what you’re passionate about or what kind of skill people ask you to teach them – or help them with continually. You can literally turn your knowledge into a business by teaching it to others.

#7 YouTube

YouTube is the same as a website in blogging when you think about a niche for content.  Think about what you’re passionate about and what you like to teach and then build an audience by sharing your knowledge. There’s also a small percentage of Creators on YouTube that are completely entertainment driven. If this is something you feel can benefit you and provide entertainment to others, then go for it!

People are always looking for solutions online? What solutions can you provide?

My own example is starting the Story Chasing website and YouTube channel. I was simply documenting my travels and love of this lifestyle when I started getting so many questions about RVing in general, what gear do I use, how do I film, how to I edit, how do I make money online, and more.

So I answered the call and am creating more videos and content to answer these questions, which is why I created Workshop Wednesdays on my YouTube channel where the focus is completely about answering viewer and reader questions in a video and teaching the methods I’ve learned.

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How do You Actually Earn Passive Income Online?

Okay, so now that you know six areas on how you can make money online, how do you actually make passive income from website, blogs, and YouTube?

For websites and blogs you can earn an income through:

Amazon affiliate

So for example if you love a certain product and you blog about it or mention it, you can provide an affiliate link to that product on Amazon and get paid a small commission for the referral at no extra cost to the consumer.

Affiliate advertising

This works similar to Amazon affiliate program, but are more targeted products/services by companies like ShareaSale which has a plethora of different companies and categories to choose from depending on your niche. This would be for services or products that you also highly recommend to your viewers.

Ad revenue like Google Adsense or Media Vine

Targeted ads are placed on your website/blog or YouTube (except for Media Vine). YouTube uses Google Adsense exclusively at this time, and most likely for a very long time since Google owns YouTube. Ad revenue percentages are fairly small so this takes time to build up, but again if you’re committed and see this a viable way to make long-term income then this can be a great solution for you.

Your own products

Creating your own products, especially digital products, is another great resource for making money online. This can be in the form of ebooks, online courses, selling your photography, and more.

Sponsors

As you become an influencer in your niche, you become more valuable to sponsors who see you as a resource to help promote their products and services. My own personal philosophy though is only work with companies who’s products and services you really love and therefore feel might be also valuable to your viewers and readers.

So as you can see there are many ways to make money online and to fund your travel whether it be active or passive income. It’s just deciding what best fits your lifestyle and then determine what solutions you can provide to your audience.

THE BIG CHANGE

Ok – so for the big surprise and change!

I haven taken a HUGE LEAP and quit my six-figure a year job to focus on my own business and travel full-time. After traveling for a year and still working so many hours in my job, I knew that the only way to get my own company off the ground was to leave that job so I could focus my time fully on my own endeavors. I also realized during this last year that my focus on life had changed so much and I was seeking even more freedom in my life and to live on my own terms. 

I get so much joy out of this creative process with making YouTube videos, blogging, and teaching. It’s truly fulfilling.

I’ll be honest though – I was scared and nervous to quit!

It was a huge step.

I’ll be living off of my savings until my business can replace that income so it’s no wonder I was so nervous.

What if I fail?

I could completely fail at this OR I can absolutely succeed.

Remember my phrase, “On the other side of fear is your greatest success?” That’s what enabled me to take the leap, to live without regrets. If I fail, well I just get another job, but at least I’ve tried.

So I feel like the best way to show you how to make money online is to be the example and the story myself.

I’m going to take you all on a little ride with me each month. I’m going to be completely vulnerable and share with you how much money I make online and specifically what areas of income.

Why would I do that?

I’m a pretty private person when it comes to talking about my money, but this is why I’m sharing it with you:

  1. I can see for myself the growth and where I should make changes.
  2. It’s a huge motivator for me when you all are watching.
  3. You all can see along the way what I’m doing and how you can do this too.

The first income report is published for July 2018.

I hope you’ve gotten some value out of this post on how to make money online whether you are traveling or not. Share with me your thoughts below in the comment section. Do you have additional questions? Are you looking to make money online and travel?

Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

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Olympic Peninsula 2 | Hurricane Ridge

Olympic Peninsula 2 | Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge Road TripAfter spending the last several weeks on the first part of the Olympic Peninsula road trip, I just had to stop at Hurricane Ridge before leaving the Port Angeles area.

Hurricane Ridge is part of the Olympic Peninsula quest drive and part of the Olympic National Park, so you’ll need your America the Beautiful annual pass or just pay the daily rate.

I’m hoping by now – if you’re doing any kind of traveling around the United States – that you have your annual pass to the National Parks. It will save you quite a bit of money every year, plus once I showed my pass to the park ranger, I was able to skip ahead in line and not have to wait to pay.

Another perk – saving time!

Related Posts: Olympic Peninsula Quest Drive Part I

Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park

Another gorgeous day outside with 70ish degree temperatures, full sun, and no clouds in the sky.

That’s a perfect day!

Before moving further down highway 101 I decided to travel over to Hurricane Ridge, which is only about 20 miles and approximately an hours drive, since you’re literally climbing in elevation the whole time and traveling about 25-40 miles per hour.

Hurricane Ridge sits inside of the Olympic National Park and is 5,757 feet high with the most spectacular views of the surrounding, snow-capped mountains and trails diverting off the parking area at the top of Hurricane Ridge.

You can sit on the ledge overlooking the vast meadow that slopes downward and watch the deer and marmots walking through and partaking of the grass and flowers around the meadow.

Hurricane Ridge 2

Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center

Even Lily was mesmerized by the beauty of Hurricane Ridge with it’s almost blue colored peaks and rolling meadows. I only know this because she’ll lift her head to the sky, squint her eyes, and sniff the air. You can see this peace come over her face like she knows this beautiful place is special. Maybe she feels the calm peace even in a place called Hurricane Ridge.

Lily at Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge Dogs

Hurricane Ridge get its name from the 75 mph plus winds and 30-35 feet of snow that falls in the winter.

As I was traveling up the mountain side I saw at least 20 bicyclists’ huffing and puffing up the mountain. I’m in awe of their determination and ability to climb this type of elevation.

I’ll never forget, as I was climbing in elevation, I saw a bicyclist coming down the mountain. He was traveling pretty fast, wind blowing his unzipped cycling shirt behind him, but his face is what moved me.

It’s like his whole face was smiling.

Just this simple expression made my eyes tear up, because I could only imagine the feeling he had of climbing Hurricane Ridge, this incredible mountain with huge elevation gains, and then descending with the gorgeous and breathtaking beauty around him.

It feels like freedom to me.

Lily and I hung out on top of the mountain and walked around and then had some lunch before heading back down.

Deer on Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge at the top

Meeting Solo Sisters in Forks, Washington

Some Xscapers friends of mine reached out to me and let me know they were also in the area and at the same free campground I had been contemplating for the night in Forks, Washington.

It was an easy and beautiful drive to Forks along Highway 101 – passing around Lake Crescent and her blue-green waters. The wildflowers along the roadside are in full bloom and provided a colorful array of beauty alongside the road.

Do you know the name Forks or remember it from a movie?

If you watched Twilight then you’ll recognize it from there where the movie was filmed. I’m going to explore a little bit and then head out to La Push on the Pacific ocean in a couple of days, but for now I’m joining up with the ladies at the Hoh Oxbow Campground for some social time with my fellow nomads.

We spent several days working during the day, chatting occasionally and then hanging out in the evening with our kombucha or our own dinner and had great conversation and laughs.

Joni (The Galavan) has been also full-timing in her custom van and Becky (Interstellar Orchard) is our resident veteran of over 5 years full-timing. They both are solo ladies who are also entrepreneurs and have Youtube channels if you want to check them out. I met them this winter in Quartzsite, Arizona at our annual Xscapers Bash – which quite honestly seems like a year ago, but was only January 2018 – 7 months ago.

I truly enjoy the relationships we build on the road and so thankful for the Xscapers group that brings us all together.

Hoh Oxbow Campground Review

I was in site 1 just as you come into the campground and turn right down one of the paths. There are several sites on this path and all alongside the Hoh River, which by the way, is a very fast running river.

The campground was pretty quite and the flowing river was soothing at night as white noise while sleeping with my window cracked.

To get to the river you walked down a small incline to a lower camp area where you could pitch a tent if you’d like or make use of the picnic table and fire pit. Just beyond that is a very wide section of river rocks and boulders alongside the river to walk around on or sit and meditate.

It’s truly beautiful and this kind of cloudy aqua colored water.

Overall the Hoc Oxbow campground is great for dispersed camping and in a very scenic area. That said, it was extremely difficult to get solar energy since it was a very dense forest and more shade than sun.

The bugs and mosquitos were pretty bad as well to the point we stayed inside the RVs most of the time when socializing which was a real bummer.

Lastly, cell service wasn’t that great. You could call somebody if you needed, but for working remotely, it was hard. The signal was sporadic even with a cell booster on the AT&T and Verizon network.

Another Mouse and Lily is Sick = No Sleep

I was up late working and I kept hearing this weird ticking sound coming from the engine compartment. It didn’t necessarily sound like a mouse, but that ticking shouldn’t be happening either so I went out at 1 am in the morning to investigate.

It was literally pitch black outside and I couldn’t see hardly anything in front of me without the flashlight and headlamp.

I popped the hood.

Secured it with the hood-secure-thingy-wand. What is that called?

Then flashed the light down into the engine compartment. I didn’t see a mouse, but I did see evidence of a mouse.

Mouse poop.

Yuck!

It looked like it was only in one area and I didn’t see any evidence of nesting or chewed wires. I also don’t know how long it had been there. I could have picked it up back in Idaho when the accidental murder happened.

Great. I’m hoping there’s not a mouse.

So I banged around, squirted peppermint essential oil (the previous accidental murder weapon) into the compartment near the mouse poop, left the hood up and attached the head lamp to the top of the hood to shine down onto the engine area.

Supposedly those critters don’t like the light nor do they like cold so opening the hood won’t let it get warm in there.

Lastly, I turned the van on for about 10 minutes.

I didn’t hear the noise after that, but who knows if it was really something with the van or a mouse. It seemed to consistently timed to be a mouse, but who knows.

Once I get to a car wash, I’m thinking I’ll rinse out the offending mouse poop and monitor it more as I travel.

I need to figure out a way to keep those critters out.

Okay so with all that going on, Lily threw up four times over several hours. I’m not sure why, but her poor little belly was upset. After going to bed at 3 am and then waking up twice, because she suddenly needed to go outside to potty (which never happens) I didn’t get any sleep.

To make it even worse, I awoke around 7 am to Lily moving around a lot under the covers and shifting to a spot she never sleeps in.

Hmmm..weird.

Then I felt it.

The cold, slimy liquid that she threw up on my leg while I was sleeping.

What the heck???

Her poor face looked like she was so sorry and uncomfortable. I felt bad for her that she felt bad, but yet I had yucky throw up on me and the bed sheets so I guess I’ll be washing clothes today.

She didn’t eat this morning and we were moving on towards Ocean Shores, Washington today. I’m hoping she’ll get better as the day goes on.

Ruby Beach and Quinault Resort and Casino Camping

After taking a few work calls, I headed out around noon to Ruby Beach just about 15 miles south of Hoh Oxbow campground and was going to hike down to the huge sea stack rocks on the beach, but 1) it was super crowded and I had a hard time finding a place to park, 2) it started raining.

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach Trees

Ruby Beach Driftwood

So I gave up on the hike and continued to Ocean Shores to dump the tanks and fill up on water before calling it a night at the Quinault Resort and Casino.

It has $5 ocean view dispersed camping it says on the Campendium app; however, yes it’s $5 and it is dispersed, but there is no view of the ocean. They have these large hedges blocking the view which I imagine was designed to pull us into the casino for some gambling.

At least I can hear the waves crashing on the ocean. It’s also raining still and quite cold at 58 degrees with 93% humidity.

It’s going to be a good nights sleep. Cross your fingers!

I woke up the next morning feel so refreshed especially hearing the steady stream of raining tapping against the metal van. It’s so sunny outside and just a few clouds, but enough to take a walk down to the beach before heading out on the road.

The boardwalk bridge down to the ocean took us to the sandy beaches, salt stained driftwood, and tall beach grass blowing in the wind.

Lily, even not feeling that well, took a run through the sand – throwing it up everywhere and then promptly getting herself all tangled in her leash. You’ll want to watch the video for this one. I even slowed it down so you can see how funny she is. Oh that silly girl!

Quinault Beach Resort Beach boardwalk

Quinault Beach Resort Beach driftwood

Quinault Beach Resort Beach

Have you hiked Hurricane Ridge yet or even gone to the top of the mountain? Going earlier in the season you can see more snow on the tops of the surrounding Olympic Mountains. It’s just breathtaking.

Road Trip Report & Map

Hurricane Ridge to Aberdeen

Take a look at all of the places I’ve been on: Full map of all my travels

Miles: 225

Average Miles per Gallon: 17.2

Road Conditions: Roads were clear with a little construction (to be expected this time of year).

Weather Conditions: Cool at night with quite a bit of humidity, 93% on average while I was there in middle of July. Warmer during the day between 60-75 degrees.

Time of Year Visited: Mid July


Overnights & Places Visited

Overnights/Cost: 

  • Walmart – Port Angeles, Washington / $0
  • Hoh Oxbow Campground, Forks, Washington / $0 since it’s part of the Department of National Resources (DNR)
  • Quinault Beach Resort & Casino / $5 per night

Places Visited/Cost:

  • Hurricane Ridge National Park / $0 with America the Beautiful annual pass
  • Port Angeles, Washington
  • Lake Crescent, Washington
  • Forks, Washington
  • Ruby Beach / $0

RV Accessibility:

  • You can drive this route in any RV without any problems except for the following:
    • Hurricane Ridge will be fine for oversized RVs and there is RV parking at the top, but it will be slow going.
    • Hoh Oxbow Campground is a little tighter, but most RVs can get down in there. I suggest walking down first and finding your spot so you don’t have to turn around if there aren’t any spots available.
    • Ruby Beach – If you’re an oversized vehicle, park along the side of the cliff and street towards the entrance. Once you get to the parking lot, there’s no parking for RV’s buy you can turn around, it will just be tight.

Cell Phone Signal Strength:  No signal on Hurricane Ridge, spotty, even cell boosted in Hoh Oxbow Campground, and spotty along the 101 until you get closer to towns.

Park Pass:  America the Beautiful annual pass


Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

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Olympic Peninsula Road Trip and Stealth Van Camping | Part I

Olympic Peninsula Road Trip and Stealth Van Camping | Part I

Olympic Peninsula Road Trip in Pacific NorthwestIt’s just the day after the Fourth of July here in Washington and I’ve decided to travel around the Olympic Peninsula in Western Washington for my next destination in the Pacific Northwest along highway 101.

Can you believe after living in this state for 15 years, I’ve never traveled Highway 101 on the Washington coastal area? I’ve been by the Olympic Peninsula a couple of times, but never really past Port Angeles, so this will be a first!

The National Geographic 300 Scenic Highways & Byways book starts you out going clockwise on the Olympic Peninsula scenic drive; however I’ve been hanging out around the south part of the Puget Sound and I’m going to travel counterclockwise instead around the Olympic Peninsula.

Starting from Hoodsport, Washington on the western edge of the Hood Canal that flows in from Puget Sound, I made my way north along 101 that winds around the shore and through forested areas. The Hymer Aktiv did really well around the corners and rolling hills though I may look into getting Sumo Springs to replace my springs. Supposedly it really helps to cut down on the tilt when going around a corner and keep the van more level when you go over bumps.

It’s sunny days like this, with a light breeze, that has made me fall in love with the Pacific Northwest so many years ago. The water in the Hood Canal was just sparkling a blueish-green color and was picture perfect.

Related Posts: Olympic Peninsula Quest Drive Part II – Hurricane Ridge and more

Olympic Peninsula: Port Townsend, Washington and Stealth Camping AGAIN!

I stopped over in Port Townsend, which really isn’t a “stop-over” it’s more like a 30 minute diversion, but nevertheless I couldn’t come all this way and not hit up this quaint little town overlooking the Puget Sound and home to ferries between Whidbey Island and Port Townsend.

Port Townsend Olympic Peninsula

Founded in 1851, Port Townsend, Washington is known for its historic Victorian buildings lining the waterfront which comes from its extreme popularity during the 19th Century. It’s views are stunning over the water and great places to eat and get some coffee or an afternoon cocktail.

Port Townsend Historic Downtown Water Front

I usually try to find free spots, but if I were going to stay here at a campground I would pick Fort Worden State Park. It’s nice and large with tons of campsites, right off the Puget Sound with bathrooms, coin operated showers, dump site, music in the park, restaurants, and tons of beach and trails.

This area all over the Pacific Northwest is a tourist spot and not just people from the United States. People from all over the world put this area on their bucket list of places to travel. So that makes it very difficult to be spontaneous in trying to find campgrounds. You virtually can’t unless somebody cancels. These spots get reserved at the first of the season and after that you have to figure out alternative means of sleeping at night.

So guess what I did? I stealth camped again in a more residential area. I’m becoming a pro at this now and thankfully can do more stealth camping with my Hymer Aktiv.

Hymer Aktiv in Port Townsend

I ended up staying in Port Townsend for almost a week, stealth camping in town and then heading to Fort Worden State Park during the day to work, walk the beaches, and enjoy the sunny weather and cool breezes.

Fort Walden Beach

After a week I figured it was time I should leave and keep story chasing.

Next stop along the Olympic Peninsula quest drive is Sequim, Washington. Sequim spells like how you might thing it should be pronounced SEE-QUIM; however it is actually pronounced like SKWIM. So if you’re in the area, remember SKWIM. It’s like saying SWIM, but with a “k” between the S and W sound.

Sequim, Washington Farms, Berry Picking, and Hiking Dungeness Spit

Sequim isn’t that far from Port Townsend, only about a 30 minute drive west along the Olympic Peninsula. Last night I planned out the places I wanted to go in town using this amazing app called RoadTrippers.

You just tell the app what city your driving from and to and it finds all of these really cool places along the way and the surrounding area for you to explore. Everything from hikes, tourist areas, restaurants, parks, and more.

I found three places I wanted to visit:

  • Purple Haze Lavender Farm
  • Graymarsh Berry Farm
  • Dungeness Spit

As I was traveling to Purple Haze Lavender Farm, I came upon this incredible park and marina off of the road overlooking Sequim (remember it’s SKWIM) Bay. It was so breathtaking to see these sailboats in the bay with the sun glistening off the water and mountains all around.

At one point I heard this loud, CRACK, and turned around to see Seagulls dropping their catch of mussels, or other shellfish, on the parking lot. Can you believe they had figured out how to fish for the mussels, fly over the parking lot, drop the shellfish, which cracked the shell right open for them to easily get out the meat inside?

What a sight.

See this is what I love about the Pacific Northwest. You can be driving down a thick, tree-lined road, and then, BAM, there’s this hidden body of water that you weren’t expecting and then you get side tracked from your original plan, because how could you not stop and take in this exquisite beauty?

So what was scheduled, albeit my loose schedule, to be a 5 hour sight-seeing day turned into 6.5 hours with my cool park finding AND a marina for yachts and boats.

Sequim Bay Marina 2

Sequim Bay Marina Mountains

That’s one of the perks of just venturing off though. I try to be flexible so I can take in those unexpected moments and really enjoy it and not feel rushed.

Purple Haze Lavender Farm

I found the Purple Haze Lavender Farm down this winding round and through a small embankment of trees and a gravel road. The farm was busy with bees buzzing around the lavender and roosters crowing. Yes, there was a chicken coop with roosters, or maybe just one rooster.

Anyways, the smell in the air from the lavender was sweet and the various colors of purple lavender swaying in the wind with the bees pollinating the flowers made my whole face smile.

Purple Haze Lavendar Farm

Purple Haze Lavendar Farm Rows

Purple Haze Lavendar Farm 5

These simple, but precious moments are golden. It fills the pages of my book of stories and memories to always cherish.

I feel like I’ve really truly lived so much this last year since I set out on this journey and been all over the United States and Canada in a short amount of time.

Slowing down. That’s my phrase this year. I’m learning to slow down and live at a more simplistic, slower pace instead of the mad race my life was before.

Graymarsh Berry Farm

Next it was off to the Graymarsh Berry picking farm where I brought my Stasher bag to fill with my hand-picked raspberries. They had these huge white buckets so you could pick as many berries as you wanted; however there was no way I could eat all of those berries nor store those berries in the van, so I opted for a smaller batch and ended up with 1 lb.

Have you ever been berry picking?

This was my first time.

The raspberries, if ripe and ready to eat, pulled off the green bushes very easily and oh these babies tasted so good and fresh. I’ve never tasted anything like it. The raspberries in the grocery don’t even compare.

I highly suggest it! Do you have any local farms around you where you can go pick your own fruits and vegetables or they just picked it for you? It’s a must!

Dungeness Spit North Side of Olympic Peninsula

Last stop for the day is the Dungeness Spit for some hiking on the cliffs overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca which is on the northern side of the Olympic Peninsula.

Straight of Juan de Fuca Vancouver Island

Straight of Juan de Fuca Dungeness Spit 4

So this area is interesting with its water ways and all have different names for the salt water that spills in from the Pacific Ocean.

There’s Puget Sound (often called The Sound) that runs North and South all the way from Canada to south of Seattle with many islands scattered throughout. This body of water separates Western Washington from the I5 corrirdor of Seattle, Olympia, and all the way up to north to Canada. Unless you want to drive all the way around Olympia at the southern point of Puget Sound from the north, then you’ll have to take a ferry over to get to Western Washington.

I ended up driving around so I could pickup the 101 on the south side of The Sound – which is part of this quest drive.

Then you have the Strait of Juan de Fuca that pours in from the Pacific Ocean that runs more West and East and fills Puget Sound. The Strait of Juan de Fuca separates Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada from Washington. You can actually look across the Strait of Juan de Fuca while in Sequim or Port Angeles and see Canada.

There’s also a ferry boat, the Coho Ferry that travels between Victoria, B.C. and Port Angeles so you can explore Victoria on Vancouver Island.

While I was hiking Dungeness Spit I could not only hear the blue and green waves hitting the cliffs and beach below, but I could smell the salt water in the air as I looked across the waters at Canada.

Straight of Juan de Fuca Dungeness Spit Cliff Beaches

It was such a beautiful moment and so peaceful.

Detour to Strait of Juan de Fuca

In my National Geographic 300 Scenic Highways & Byways book I noticed there was another scenic drive that diverts off of the current Olympic Peninsula drive. This one goes all the way out to the farthest Northwest corner of the United States to Cape Flattery at Neah Bay.

So I temporarily stopped this quest to divert onto the Strait of Juan de Fuca quest and hike out to the farthest Northwest point. I’d like to travel to all four corners of the U.S. and so far have been to the farthest Northeast corner in Lubec, Maine last year and now the farthest Northwest.

That little diversion was only two days and I picked up the Olympic Peninsula quest on highway 101 in Port Angeles, Washington again.

Showering on the Road

I stayed at Walmart last night in Port Angeles, but not before heading over to Anytime Fitness gym to sign up for a membership so I can not only get some working out in, but also partake of the showers. I finally decided to get the gym membership. It’s something I’ve been contemplating for a while, but really didn’t want the added expense; however, a couple of things happened, especially since purchasing the new Hymer Aktiv van.

I don’t use the shower in the van – mostly because it’s a pain to use.

No matter what RV you’re in, if you like to boondock more, as I do, it requires you to really watch your water consumption, so I would always take military showers. There’s nothing wrong with it, just that it’s nice sometimes to have a more traditional shower.

Also, I need to move more – and not just walking or hiking. I try to do more yoga like movements when I’m boondocking and I purchased resistance bands, but I can’t really do all that when I’m stealth camping. I could go to a park and do it, but, well, I fell weird doing it in public. Maybe I’m self-conscious. I know – I know, I probably shouldn’t care, but I do.

Hence the gym membership especially for those times when I’m in towns or cities.

So, I worked out for about 45 minutes on the lower body, indulged in the hydro massage and then took a much-needed shower. Since I don’t use the shower in my van – I wash my hair in the sink and use wipes to clean off daily – I don’t get “normal” showers as often as I would like so it felt so nice to stand under the hot water.

I slept really well that night!

….to be continued in part 2.

Have you visited the Pacific Northwest or anywhere around the Olympic Peninsula? What’s your favorite place to travel?

Related Posts: Olympic Peninsula Quest Drive Part II – Hurricane Ridge and more

Road Trip Report & Map

Port Townsend Olympic Peninsula

Take a look at all of the places I’ve been on: Full map of all my travels

Miles: 112 miles for this leg of the Olympic Peninsula road trip

Average Miles per Gallon: 16.5

Road Conditions: Roads are well maintained, curvy in some areas along the Hood Canal, but fine for any size RV.

Weather Conditions: In early July it was cool in the evenings and warmed up to mid 60s to the mid 70s most days. Perfect weather and sunny!

Time of Year Visited: Early July

Places Visited:

  • Port Townsend, Washington
  • Fort Worden State Park
  • Sequim Bay, Washington
  • Purple Haze Lavender Farm in Sequim, Washington
  • Graymarsh Berry Farm in Sequim, Washington
  • Dungeness Spit between Sequim and Port Angeles, Washington

Overnights & Places Visited

Overnights/Cost: 

  • Stealth camper van camping in Port Townsend / $0
  • Walmart in Port Angeles, WA / $0

Places Visited/Cost:

  • Dinner out and the groceries in Port Townsend, Washington / Cost varies
  • Fort Worden State Park / $0 with Washington State Discover Pass
  • Purple Haze Lavender Farm in Sequim, Washington / $0 entry and you can purchase lavender or goodies in their shop
  • Graymarsh Berry Farm in Sequim, Washington / $0 entry and pay per lb for berries $2 per lb.
  • Dungeness Spit between Sequim and Port Angeles, Washington / $0 with the Washington State Discover Pass

RV Accessibility:

  • You can drive the Olympic Peninsula route in any RV without any problems.

Cell Phone Signal Strength:  3-5 bars. Cell signal was great.

Park Pass:  Washington State Discover Pass


Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

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Hiking Cape Flattery at Neah Bay | Strait of Juan de Fuca Byway

Hiking Cape Flattery at Neah Bay | Strait of Juan de Fuca Byway

Pacific Northwest Washington Road Trip to Cape FlatteryWhile filming the Olympic Peninsula quest drive, I momentarily halted its production to divert to the Strait of Juan de Fuca quest drive which is 60 miles out and 60 miles back to get back on the Olympic Peninsula drive to Cape Flattery.

I couldn’t come all the way out here and not travel over to the farthest Northwest corner of the lower 48 states which is Cape Flattery at Neah Bay on the the Makah Indian Reservation. This is my first time in all my 15 years of living in Washington state that I’ve traveled to Western Washington and to Cape Flattery.

I know – I can’t believe it either!

Lyre River Campground – Free Camping

Since it’s the end of the day, and I did quite a bit of sightseeing on the Olympic Peninsula drive, I’ve decided to stop for the night at a place I found online for some free camping, called Lyre River Campground. You only need a Washington State annual Discover Pass in order to camp there for free.

There’s very limited spots, but I thought I’d just try to see if there was anything available. It’s the middle of the week and not a holiday so my chances are better, but there’s not much out here for free so it could have turned out that it was completely full.

I snagged the last open spot and feel so fortunate there was one left; else I would have driven all the way to Neah Bay and had to, most likely, pay for a dispersed sight at an RV park.

While there I met another couple who actually built out their Mercedes Sprinter van and started on this full-time nomadic journey just 6 months after I did. We all have similar stories of having some wanderlust in us and this idea of living more simple and seeing these beautiful lands.

They also work from the road and just roam where they want. They told me this story of how they found a place in Oregon to have lunch and then they were going to keep traveling north, but ended up staying three weeks.

We do that sometimes.

We get to a place, fall in love, wander around and explore, and then move on.

I guess that’s one of the perks of having your house with you all the time.

Preparing the Camper Van for Travel

Well, I thought I was going to get up early and drive to Neah Bay and Cape Flattery; however I must have been really tired because I woke up and it was 8 am. Of course I was trying to work last night, but the Internet connection at my spot was awful. Even the cell booster wasn’t boosting enough.

After walking Lily and making a strong cup of coffee I prepared the van for travel, you know like:

  • Taking the front window shades off and storing.
  • Making sure the drawers were all latched, because I keep forgetting this one until I turn a corner and the drawer comes flying out.
  • Safely securing the Berkey water filter. Thankfully I’ve NEVER forgotten this one, because spilled water all over the RV would be, well, just awful and painful to clean up.
  • All windows are shut.
  • Fantastic fan in the bathroom is closed.
  • Water pump is off.
  • Inverter is off.
  • Both Lithium batteries are on so I can charge both while driving.
  • Awning is in.
  • Toilet seat is down and all water is flushed.
  • Glass tops on the kitchen counter are down and items are secured.
  • Mobile cell booster antenna is removed from the roof top and stowed inside.
  • Lily’s harness is on and seatbelt is fastened to harness.
  • Propane gas is off.
  • Emergency break is down – yep I’ve tried to drive with that thing up. You can’t see it since it’s on the left side of the driver seat way down at the bottom, so I forget sometimes until I hit the gas and I’m not going anywhere.
  • Lastly, keys are in the ignition and it’s time to go.

Oh wait, I forgot to eat breakfast. It’s one of those mornings where I’ll just eat on the go, so I grab a banana and some more freshly picked raspberries that I picked at a berry farm in Sequim, Washington.

You’ll see that in the upcoming video. I realize it’s a bit out-of-order. I started the Olympic Peninsula quest drive, but then part way through there is a different quest drive, this one, the strait of Juan de Fuca that you’re reading about now that would require me to travel back over 200 miles if I didn’t do it now.

So I did it now. Anyways, I picked the berries in the next episode which, historically is before this episode in real-time, but after in blog and YouTube time. Hope that makes sense.

Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway Drive to Cape Flattery

Lyre River Campground to Neah Bay

I’ve been on some incredible drives over the last year, but this one is right up there with:

Breathtaking

Exhilarating

Winding

…and well… I’ve never said this one before –

Motion sickness inducing.

At least for me. I’ve never gotten car sick driving myself, but wow – this one really got to me. I don’t know if it’s for the lack of eating something more substantial and having a triple shot of espresso in my coffee, coupled with the excitement of hiking to Cape Flattery.

I had to pull over a couple of times and just breathe and that was no easy thing either, because there are warning signs everywhere, for approximately 40 miles of these winding roads that are between 15-40 mph (25 mph being about the average speed) that this area has slides and washouts.

Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway

The last thing I wanted was to feel sick, pull over and have a slide take me out.

Despite the sickness and the ever-present notion that there could be a slide or a road washed out down the cliff side and into the ocean waters, it was still a fantastic drive and I’d do it again.

The roads were somewhat rough in a couple of areas and signs giving you plenty of warning for bumps, but most of the road was pretty smooth.

Hymer Aktiv Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway

In order to actually get to the most Northwest tip of the continental United States, you have to actually hike out there for 1.5 miles from the trailhead.  Since Cape Flattery is on the Makah Indian Reservation, they require you to have a $10 recreational permit, which you can obtain from several locations in order to park and hike the trail. These locations can provide you with the permit in Neah Bay:

  • Makah Marina
  • Museum at the Makah Cultural and Research Center
  • Washburn’s General Store
  • Makah Mini Mart
  • Makah Tribal Center
  • Hobuck Beach Resort

So before heading out to Cape Flattery for the hike I stopped by the Makah Mini Mart to pick up my permit and hang from the rearview mirror.

Then it was another 8 miles of winding roads, so about 20 minutes, until the trail head of Cape Flattery.

Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway 2

Hiking Cape Flattery to Farthest Northwest Point of Continental United States

Once I arrived at the trailhead to Cape Flattery, I geared up with my Camelbak backpack and water supply, another banana, some sesame crackers, walking poles, camera, and dug out my hiking shoes since it’s supposed to be a little muddy in some areas.

Lily was geared up to with her walking harness – and well that’s it – except for the leash attached to her harness.

I was so glad to see they allowed dogs. Since this on an Indian reservation they seem to be a little more lenient as National Parks would never allow it.

The trail immediately starts off in the forest where you can hear water trickling through small streams and water falls somewhere deep in the forest.

Birds were singing.

Sometimes there was just nothing but stillness and quiet, save for the occasional hiker walking as well. People of all ages were hiking. Some with dogs. Some with kids. Some solo.

What I loved was to see their faces as they rounded each turn and marveled at the beauty as well. People were quiet and seemed at peace on this land. Maybe we were all just looking forward to the reward at the end.

The hike is 1.5 miles and all downhill with all different types of terrain from hardpacked dirt, mud, carefully planted walking stones, large tree roots to be navigated over, wooden planks rising above the muddy ground, and stone steps that gradually allowed us to peek around trees and see blue ocean beyond.

And then – there it was.

The beauty at the end of the trail. The reward for driving over 60 miles (at least from where I started that day), paying a $10 permit, walking the 1.5 miles downhill knowing it’s another 1.5 miles back uphill all the way, the motion sickness from the winding roads, and defying death from washed out roads or landslides.

Cape Flattery Kessiso Rocks

Cape Flattery

Cape Flattery Caves

Cape Flattery End of Trail

Was it worth it?

Absolutely!

I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

The raw beauty of the blue Pacific ocean water tossed against the cliffs and rocks. Waves turning into giant, foamy splashes as it crashes against magnanimous rock formations and hollowed out caves in the cliff side.

Kessiso Rocks Cape Flattery

Jones Rock Cape Flattery

Cape Flattery Caves at end of Trail

What is it about water that seems so calming? Even with its angry waves that can cause so much destruction?

It’s calming presence creates this meditative state that relaxes me. Her waters make me feel free and alive. Just breathing in the saltwater fills me with such happiness.

Listening to the water flowing back and forth, crashing against the beach, and going back out to sea soothes me.

Tatoosh Island at Cape Flattery

Tatoosh Island Rocks

Jones Rock at Cape Flattery

I didn’t grow up around the ocean, but something pulls me towards her.

Lily and I hung out for a while just gazing at the blue water and chatting with others over the incredible sight, then we started back up the hillside and back to the camper van.

Finally – a Name for My Hymer Aktiv

Oh my goodness!

It just hit me.

As I was writing what the blue ocean waters means to me and how she makes me feel, then how Lily and I were headed back to the camper van, and it clicked. A name for my Hymer Aktiv van!

Her name is Oceane which represents the feminine word for ocean.

She personifies all the things that calm me about the actual blue ocean waters, running rivers, and glacier lakes:

  • Peace
  • Freedom
  • Independence
  • Strength
  • Happiness
  • Alive

Yes, this is her name. Oceane!

Now I can always have the “ocean” with me! Okay corny, but yes it’s true.

What a great day.

I ended the day with the drive back to Port Angeles, Washington to continue on the Olympic Peninsula quest drive.

See you on the road my friends.

Road Trip Report & Map

Take a look at all of the places I’ve been on: Full map of all my travels

Miles: 155

Average Miles per Gallon: 17.2

Road Conditions: Roads were fairly smooth except in some areas that were clearly noted for bumps; however this scenic byway has 40 miles of warnings for slides and washouts. Roads are very winding with 15-45 mph limits with an average of 25 mph through that 40 mile stretch.

Weather Conditions: Temperatures were cool in early July between 58 – 75 degrees, full sun, and no clouds on this day.

Time of Year Visited: Early June

Places Visited:

  • Lyre River Campground
  • Cape Flattery
  • Neah Bay, Washington
  • Port Angeles, Washington

Overnights & Places Visited

Overnights/Cost: 

  • Lyre River Campground, Port Angeles, Washington / $0
  • Walmart, Port Angeles, Washington / $0

Places Visited/Cost:

  • Cape Flattery / $10 Recreation Permit from the Makah Indian Reservation

RV Accessibility:

  • You can drive this route in any RV but it will be slow going along the curves. There are 4 long, RV parking spaces at the actual Cape Flattery trailhead, but if you don’t get there early and get a spot, there is literally nowhere else to park. It does have an RV turn around though. All the other spaces are for passenger cars or vans.

Cell Phone Signal Strength:  0-1 bar at Lyre River on the AT&T network and the Verizon network even cell boosted I had issues. No service at Cape Flattery and very spotty 3G service on the drive to Cape Flattery and Neah Bay.

Park Pass:  $10 recreation permit from Makah Indian Reservation


Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

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Hymer Aktiv Camper Van Tour Q&A | Your Most Common Questions

Hymer Aktiv Camper Van Tour Q&A | Your Most Common Questions

In May 2018, I finally purchased a Class B camper van – after 7 months of really thinking I could downsize more – I published my video camper van tour of the new Hymer Aktiv and received an amazing response from viewers.

I even surpassed my top video views and hit over 61,000 views on the video so far! So thank you all so very much!!!!

Since the camper van tour video was published there are many questions that came from viewers that want to know more information about:

  • Why I decided to downsize again.
  • Why I decided to go with the Hymer Aktiv camper van over other Class B vans.
  • Questions about specific areas of the Hymer and its systems.
  • How to live in such a small space.
  • Organization of my things.
  • How I make money remotely.
  • ….and more.

So I decided to put together a video answering these camper van tour questions.

You have several options for learning more:

  • Read below and skip to the clip for that question
  • Read below the summary of the video
  • Watch the full video here

Question #1: Why Did I Downsize from a 26 foot Winnebago to a 20 foot Hymer Camper Van?

 

Questions from Viewers

Joans Question

 

Summary Answer

  • Either downsize or get a tow car on the Winnebago and I didn’t want to tow.
  • Easier for me to get into tight spaces.
  • Explore more areas that are length or height restricted on East Coast.
  • Better gas mileage
  • I didn’t need as much space as I had on the Winnebago, like the couch or the bench on the other side of the dinette.
  • More kitchen space. Surprisingly my camper van has more usable space than the Winnebago did.
  • Ease of getting around like some of the highways, roads, bridges with height restrictions.
  • Hymer Aktiv has Voltstart which isn’t a reason for downsizing as much as it was a perk to downsizing.
  • Freedom to travel all road in my quest travel with the National Geographic 300 Scenic Highways & Byways book.

Detailed Video answer at 0:45

Question #2: Why Did you Downsize to a Hymer 1.0 Camper Van Instead of 2.0 Camper Van?

 

Questions from Viewer

jbowderdel Question

 

Summary Answer

  • I chose the 1.0 just for the ease of parking in a regular parking spot and I honestly didn’t feel like I needed the extra foot of space.
  • Love how nimble she is, which I know the 2.0 is as well, but considering I was downsizing to be able to go more places, I just wanted the smallest space I felt like I could still be comfortable in.

Detailed Video answer at 3:27

Question #3: How Easy is it to Find a Hymer Dealer Since I’ve Never Heard of Hymer Before?

 

Questions from Viewer

Gloria Question

 

Summary Answer

  • So far my experience has been somewhat favorable. I’ve had 2 experiences where I needed warranty work and was able to get right in. (View the video for more details on this)
  • Hymer is only 2 years old in North America which is most likely why people haven’t seen it very much. However it’s very popular in Europe.
  • As of the time of this video Hymer’s USA website shows 104 dealer locations in North America
    Hymer Locations North America

Detailed Video answer at 4:22

Question #4: Did you Test Drive or Look at Other Vans Before Purchasing the Hymer Camper Van?

 

Questions from Viewer

Penny Kemp Question

 

Summary Answer

  •  I originally looked at B+ vans like the Leisure Travel Unity camper vans before I started traveling a year ago and while I really liked these I opted instead for the 26 foot Class C thinking I needed more space at the time.
  • Before purchasing Hymer I had looked at the Roadtreks, the Winnebago Travato, Sprinter van custom buildouts.
  • Chose Hymer for big selling factors:
    • Already built out and had everything I wanted.
    • Voltstart system to charge the batteries
    • Refrigerator runs on electric rather than propane
    • Bed can stay down the whole time
    • Work station area for eating and working
    • Swivel chairs to make more seating
    • Counter top is bigger than my 26 foot and with stove and sink glass lids it opens up the space for more counter room
    • I didn’t have the time nor means by which to custom build a van and this one had clean lines and I like the lighter colors inside for the walls, wood, and seating

Detailed Video answer at 7:03

Question #5: What is Your MPG and How Much Was the Hymer Camper Van Purchase Price?

 

Questions from Viewers

Garitt Bondsteel Question

Jamie Smith Question

 

Summary Answer

  • Retail price is over $100k; however dealers always will come down off of those prices signficantly and you can negotiate a reduction of 20-35% most of the time.
  • If you have the flexibility to look all over the US for an RV, whether it’s a Hymer or something else, than you have a better chance of finding a deal that’s suitable for you.
  • So far I’m getting about 16-17 mpg fully loaded and sometimes more if I’m coasting down mountain passes and not doing too much up hill climbing.
  • Surprisingly though she does very well with the gas mileage through the mountains. I baby her going uphill and rarely go over 3,000 rpms uphill to 1) baby the transmission, 2) save gas, 3) enjoy the journey.

Detailed Video answer at 11:00

Question #6: Do You Think the Hymer Aktiv 1.0 Camper Van is Suitable for 2 People Comfortably?

 

Questions from Viewers

Cocominga Question

 

Summary Answer

  • I absolutely think 2 people could occupy the Hymer comfortably. We’re the Russos have done so quite well even when their larger husky, Leo living in the Hymer.
  • There’s more living space with the 2 front chairs turned around and then of course there’s the outdoor living.

Detailed Video answer at 13:25

Question #7: Where Do You Empty the Cassette Toilet (Black Tank) Waste?

 

Questions from Viewers

Guiseep Nero Question

 

Summary Answer

  • Rest stops in pit toilets or dump site, day use parks
  • Any where there are the typical dump sites like:
    • State parks
    • BLM
    • Wastewater treatment plants
    • RV parks

Detailed Video answer at 15:03

Question #8: The Hymer Mattress is Very Firm – Have You Made Any Modifications Like a Mattress Topper?

 

Questions from Viewers

Allyson Olson Question

 

Summary Answer

Mattress is very firm for me as well and I had several nights of tossing and turning.

My old mattress was a Tempurpedic 4 inch topper that was quite comfortable but I didn’t want to put it over the firm Hymer mattress, because I didn’t want to deal with how heavy it is to move around when I wanted to access underneath storage where you have to lift up the end of the bed.

I decided to live with the mattress for 2 months and then reevalute, but after just a couple of weeks I’ve grown really accusotomed to it and actually like it now. It’s probably also gotten a little less firm with the use.

Detailed Video answer at 17:00

Question #9: Do You Leave the Queen Mattress Down All the Time?

 

Questions from Viewers

RHS Tools Question

 

Summary Answer

I got the Hymer 1.0 and I leave the queen bed down all the time.

If I need to access storage underneath I lift up the one folding mattress at the end of the bed or crawl under into the garage storage.

Detailed Video answer at 18:51

Question #10: How Do You Level the Camper Van When There are Hills and Slopes?

 

Questions from Viewers

Tom Question

 

Summary Answer

  • I just try to park on as level spots as I can.
  • Don’t want to store leveling blocks.
  • I sleep with head on drivers side so that if I’m off level I make sure the van is pointed with passenger side facing downward. If you’re parked on the street usually that will happen automatically for the rain water runoff.
  • I have slept once on an 8% slope so I had to change my position to be from corner to corner so I wouldn’t roll towards the kitchen at night.

Detailed Video answer at 20:27

Question #11: How Does the Voltstart System Work Especially with Keeping Pets Cool?

 

Questions from Viewers

Jay G Question

 

Summary Answer

Voltstart is a proprietary system with Hymer as a different way to recharge your batteries, so for example if I want to leave the RV with the AC running then I can engage Voltstart.

You can charge batteries in the Hymer these 5 ways:

  • Shore power
  • Solar panels
  • Driving and using underwood generator
  • Turn vehicle on which uses underhood generator as well
  • Turn on Voltstart which utilizes underwood generator by turning on the camper van

To engage Voltstart you must:

  • Turn on your batteries, in my case I have 2 lithium batteries (also referrred to as the Ecotrek system).
  • Make sure Inverter is on which will now give you AC power to all the outlets in the camper van.
  • Toggle Voltstart button to the on position.
  • Turn on AC to desired temperature (if you want to use the A/C)
  • Exit vehicle and much sure all doors are closed.
  • It will cycle through this recharge 5 times before you must restart the system.

Also make sure you have plenty of fuel in the van.

Disclaimer about pets: Have a backup system like a temperature monitoring system, etc. Review the video for a more in-depth analysis on using a backup system. I use the Canary Home Security System to monitor Lily visually and the temperature to make sure while I’m away from the camper van that she is safe and the Voltstart system is functioning properly.

Detailed Video answer at 22:37

Question #12: How Do You Make Money Remotely and are You a Trust Fund Baby?

 

Questions from Viewers

AGloriousLife Camper Van Tour Question

Terry Question

 

Summary Answer

I seem to get this question a lot lately about how I work remotely and how I make my money, especially since purchasing the Hymer. So let me tell you a little about myself.

  • My background is mostly in property management and real estate accounting.
  • I started working in accounting at 17 years old.
  • Bachelors Degree in Accounting with a concentration in forensic accounting
  • I’ve been working as a Director of Accounting for a private equity firm that acquires and develops multi-family housing for the past 8 years.
  • I have a business where I provide business consulting and holistic life coaching as well as this new adventure of travel vlogging.

So no, I’m not a trust fund baby. I didn’t receive any inheritance, no alimony, no anonymous donations (unless you’d like to send one to me then email me and I’d be more than happy to accept your donation), no legal settlements.

I just work and save. I know, pretty hard to believe huh?

Well it’s true. I also teach people how to achieve their goals and dreams just like I’ve done and experience.

Detailed Video answer at 29:08

Let me know if you have any other questions about living in the van, how things work, etc, by leaving a comment below!

Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Manfrotto Travel Light Compact Tripod – For steady, long shots, steady panning, and wind conditions. Super compact, folds up into a case for minimal foot print.

Sony Digital Voice Recorder – Recording external audio for those times where the camera is further away or there is a need for boosted audio.

Lavalier External Microphone – Coupled with the the Sony Digital Voice Recorder to capture external audio and clip onto shirt.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

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Camper Van Tour of my New Hymer Aktiv 1.0 | Van Life

Camper Van Tour of my New Hymer Aktiv 1.0 | Van Life

You all have been hearing me say for months that I really should downsize into a smaller RV considering my travel style and knowing I could downsize more – so I did it – I traded in my 26 foot Class C RV for a much smaller 20 foot Class B Hymer Aktiv 1.0 camper van.

Uh huh – you heard me right – a camper van.

I can hear the gasps now from my non-RV friends who thought moving into a 26 foot RV was – well – crazy. Now she’s in a 20 foot camper van?

One of my dear friends, when I called to tell her the news, thought I would be trading into a bigger RV, like a Class A. I know, it’s a shocker!

Truth is, I didn’t use all the space I had in the 26 foot Winnebago RV and so downsizing, purely from a spacial point of view, seemed perfect.

Then of course there’s the BIG reason I decided to downsize into a camper van, which I’ve been talking about for months in some of my videos, especially when I traveled on the East Coast.

Why I Downsized into a Class B Camper Van

Hymer Aktiv Camper Van New Mexico

Though I just started this journey a year ago, I’ve known for about 7 months that I wanted to downsize. It was either that or buy a tow car, which might have been cheaper, but I really didn’t want to tow a vehicle nor did I want to purchase a trailer.

I needed a solution that provided me with even more freedom to explore.

Hymer Atkiv Camper Van Tour

Getting to know so many other RVers and what solutions they have come up with made the decision easier for me on what I knew would be best for my situation.

Over the winter I met RVers who pulled trailers like the tear drop trailers, Airstreams, casitas, and longer trailers, traveled in camper vans of all sizes, drove Class C RVs like me but towed a vehicle behind, and then there were the big Class A RVs with tow vehicles as well.

Class A was definitely out since it was much bigger than my Class C.

Though I like the idea of pulling a trailer, unhooking and having a vehicle to go explore AND leave my campsite up, I just didn’t want to tow and instead liked the idea of being able to leave quickly and go.

Class C RVs were out since I already had one and the only other option was tow a vehicle. Again, same decision as not wanting to pull a trailer and having to hook and unhook the tow car. I would also lose freedom and flexibility to travel into some of those areas that I really wanted to explore without unhooking and leaving the RV somewhere. Just pulling into a grocery store as is in cumbersome sometimes and my 26 foot is considered smaller by most RV standards.

While all of these options are completely doable and you’re really giving up one thing for another – it’s just a matter of personal preference and the way you want to live and travel.

Lastly, there was the Class B camper vans that provided so many of the things I really wanted and would allow me to have the freedom to travel without restrictions.

Top 10 Reasons I Decided to Downsize into a Camper Van

  • I was looking for something that was easier for me to get into tight spaces.
  • It was either downsize or get a tow car on the Winnebago and I didn’t really want to tow so I opted to downsize.
  • When I was traveling on the East Coast, where it’s more congested and with more compact spaces and land, I couldn’t explore some of the areas with the size of my 26 foot Winnebago and I really want to explore that area more and not be restricted.
  • Ease of getting around some of the highways, roads, bridges with height restrictions.
  • My quest travel with the National Geographic 300 Scenic Highways & Byways book either states you can’t go on those roads at all or highly advise not to in a larger RV. Considering I’m on this major quest to complete all 300, I need something that will allow me the freedom to be more mobile and go anywhere a car can go.
  • Better gas mileage.
  • I didn’t need as much space as I had on the Winnebago, like the couch or the bench on the other side of the dinette since I only use the one.
  • More kitchen space. Surprisingly my camper van has more usable space than the Winnebago did.
  • Hymer Aktiv has Voltstart which isn’t a reason for downsizing as much as it was a perk to downsizing.
  • I can take it around those tight corners and not be nervous of the places with no guard rails, like when I was in Lake Tahoe.

The 2018 Hymer Aktiv 1.0 Camper Van Tour

So now after deciding on which camper van to purchase – the Hymer Aktiv 1.0 – I’ve produced a video camper van tour to show you the outside and the inside of the Hymer Aktiv.

When I was down south for the winter I found a dealer in Albuquerque, New Mexico and ended up purchasing from them in May 2018 – just one year after I started this journey.

I still don’t have a name for her, because I love my original name of Liz for my Winnebago. It’s the name of the author, Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote Eat Pray Love, which completely inspired me to go out and create my own adventurous stories.

I was thinking Liz 2.0, but I dunno. Maybe she needs to have her own identity. Comment below if you have any ideas. I’m looking for something that really speaks to me and symbolizes my journey and the freedom this new camper van provides to me.

A Sneak Peek Inside the Camper Van

Hymer Aktiv 1.0 Camper Van Specs Compared to My Class C Winnebago 26 Foot RV

 

 

Help me name her! What are your suggestions?

Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

Blue Yeti USB Microphone – I use this to do the voiceovers for my videos. It’s made such a huge difference in the audio quality of the voiceovers. It’s smooth like butter!

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Sawtooth National Forest & Craters of the Moon

Sawtooth National Forest & Craters of the Moon

Sawtooth National Forest Scenic DriveWell I’m off on another National Geographic scenic quest drive through Sawtooth National Forest. This was my first time stealth camping in a city, albeit small city of Ketchum, Idaho in Sun Valley resort area.

Sawtooth National Forest is a place so rich with wildlife, rolling hills and mountains, densely forested trees, and temperatures ranging from 45-85 degrees – when I was there in early June – depending on your elevation.

There’s definitely something for everyone when you travel to Sawtooth National Forest. You can hike through the forest and along the many trails, take your boat out to the lakes, ski in the winter time in Sun Valley, make use of the day camping areas, boondock on BLM, and more.

I could have stayed for so much longer, but it was time to depart and get moving to visit friends in Boise, Idaho.

I also visited Craters of the Moon National Monument, which was just a several hour loop drive in the park, and then made my way around the scenic drive from Shoshone, Idaho to Boise, Idaho through the Sawtooth National Forest.

Craters of the Moon National Monument

This is one of those spots where you literally have to go out of your way to see Craters of the Moon. It’s on a road off of the main highway 15. From Blackfoot, Idaho, it’s about 120 miles before you get to the national monument.

It’s well worth the drive though for a day trip or even an overnight at the campground within the national monument.

My annual America the Beautiful pass had expired so I took the opportunity to renew while at the visitors center. As much as I visit national parks and national monuments the $80 for the annual pass is well worth it.

I thought I might stay at the campground while there, but it only took me a couple of hours within the park to travel the loop, site-see, and do some light hiking so I decided to forego the campground and the expense.

The campground was like nothing I’d ever seen. It was like these pitted boulders of volcanic rock with spaces for you to park your RV or place a tent.

Craters of the Moon Lava Flow 2

Also note that there is no cell signal within the campground (I drove around it first before doing the scenic loop) though I did get a signal most of the time throughout the loop drive through the park.

Craters of the Moon was quite the sight with volcanic rock formations, lava flows, and cinder cones that made me think I was on a different planet. It was really unique and a huge difference than the lush green, rolling hills just before the national monument and after.

Craters of the Moon National Monument

What’s weird too is that there is no volcano, but instead the lava flow came from cracks in the Great Rift eruption between 2,000-15,000 years ago.

Despite the seemingly hard landscape of lava flows, the national monument is filled with breathtaking beauty of plants and wildlife.

Craters of the Moon and My Hymer Aktiv

I also found some little chipmunks munching on these pink dwarf monkey flowers that covered many areas of the park along with yellow rabbitbrush.

Sawtooth Quest Scenic Drive

Ketchum and the Sun Valley area are pretty cool in the summer and OMG the views, the land, the day use parks – it was all amazing.

Camping on Lake Creek BLM

I found some BLM land just a couple of miles outside of Ketchum, in the Sawtooth National Forest, to stay while I was in the area and I was looking forward to the incredible nature around there.

The BLM was located just past a swanky residential area on a well maintained gravel road and oh, the views are incredible!

Beautiful green mountains, lush green grass, sun shining, and wait – what is that I hear?

Water running?

Is there a river?

I walked down a short distance from my campsite and there it was, this sparkling, flowing river dotted with trees. It’s truly nature at its finest and I couldn’t believe how incredible the surroundings were.

Sawtooth National Forest River

Lake Creek Road BLM

I only wish I could have stayed longer, but there were so many field mice running around and I swear they were circling my van trying to find an entrance.

This was in broad daylight too.

I tried using my pest control essential oils spray around the van to keep the little buggers away, but they were persistent and one accidentally got sprayed with the essential oil while I was spraying around the van.

Okay – I hate mice, but I wouldn’t just kill one for no good reason. A good reason would be that I couldn’t live trap it in my RV and therefore have to resort to quick-kill bait traps – which I’ve only had to do once, but it was awful.

Now that I’ve prefaced with why I would’t kill a mouse – I killed a mouse that day. It was an accident. It was the one that accidentally got sprayed.

I felt really bad. I even tried to get him to move along to the river to wash him off. I wasn’t about to pick him up.

I’ll spare you the rest of the story because I know he died painfully. It upset me so much I had to leave.

Yes – I know, it’s just a mouse. Some will think, “I can’t believe she’s getting upset about killing a mouse” and some will understand my pain.

After the murder of an innocent mouse – which is debatable on his innocence considering he was circling my vehicle – I was pretty sure his family was going to come after me for revenge and find some way into my van.

So I left my beautiful spot after one day and headed into Ketchum for some stealth camping.

Sun Valley and Ketchum, Idaho Stealth Camping

First task was to figure out where I could stealth camp. I’ve never stealth camped before and I wanted to make sure I stayed in place that was legal, wouldn’t get me a knock on the door at night, and also not freak out residential neighbors for an unknown van parked on their street.

I did find out through the Ketchum City website that it’s completely legal in Ketchum during the non-winter seasons to overnight on specific streets. You’ll want to review their parking map to make sure you’re in compliance else you’ll get a knock on your door at night or towed.

I choose a residential neighborhood just a couple of streets outside of the main downtown area in front of some swanky condos – which by the way are being sold at close to one million dollars if you’re interested.

This is a resort town after all so you’re going to pay to live here. However, I lived there on the “streets” for about a week and half stealth camping and it was pretty amazing.

It’s a bit expensive in town to eat and grocery shop, but it was well worth the time there.

It has this small town feel, yet great village shopping areas with all the typical restaurants you might expect from pizza, Mexican food, American fare, sushi, and even a raw food restaurant.

Ketchum has lots of outdoor activities like music in the park, poem readings on the street, a Brewfest, bicycle rentals, kayak rentals, ski shops, and more.

I just loved walking around through the town and exploring with Lily and partaking of the restaurant food.

During the day when I needed to work I headed over just about a mile north of town to a day use park right off of the raging Big Wood River.

It was perfect with a great cell signal, picnic tables by the river, a trail for walking Lily, a trash bin for, well trash, and a pit toilet restroom where I could empty my cassette toilet.

Then at night I’d head back into Ketchum, have some dinner, go for a stroll with Lily, and then settle in to my street stealth camping – which I changed each night.

My Hymer Aktiv van is doing well and I love the ability to stealth camp, hang out in the cities, go to restaurants and groceries without having to scope out the parking ahead of time. I love my Hymer!

Finishing the Remainder of the Sawtooth National Forest Scenic Drive

After a week and half of taking it easy in Ketchum, I decided to leave and visit some friends in Boise, Idaho and pick up mail and packages I had sent there.

Plus I heard the mountains were going to get hit with snow the next day so I wanted to get moving before that cold front came through.

It was just a day drive north to Stanley, Idaho, and then cutting over west then south through the Sawtooth National Forest.

Sawtooth National Forest Mountains

Temperatures went from 60s to 40s at the highest elevation and then into the 80s as I descended into Boise.

Sawtooth National Forest is lush with an abundance of beauty.

Sawtooth National Forest clouds

Even the burned out areas were beautiful.

At one point I had to pull over. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I know I grew up in the city and in places where we barely got snow, but there was this huge measuring stick coming up out of the ground.

Its measurement went all the way up to 12 feet.

TWELVE FEET OF SNOW??

Good grief. That’s incredible.

I like adventures, but 12 feet of snow doesn’t sound like my kind of adventure. Now maybe if I were in a snow mobile or something, but that’s a lot of snow.

The Sawtooth National Forest scenic quest drive ended in Boise, Idaho with high temperatures and a stop at my friend Cortni’s home, who by the way, flips trailers for a living so if you’re ever interested check out her crazy beautiful work to see her past and current projects.

Hymer Aktiv Van at Sawtooth National Forest

Have you stealth camped before? Any knocks on the door? How about driving the Sawtooth National Forest scenic drive?

If you missed my van tour of my new Hymer Aktiv, check it out and see the inside and outside up close.

Oh, and if you haven’t already subscribed to my YouTube channel, head over there and subscribe soon so you can partake in the giveaways I’ll be doing. I think you’ll like it. No it’s not a new Hymer van. I wish!

Road Trip Report & Map

Take a look at all of the places I’ve been on: Full map of all my travels

Miles: 275

Average Miles per Gallon: 16.5

Road Conditions: Road were clear and very well maintained though on Idaho 21 the road was very curvy and speed was between 25-35 for many miles.

Weather Conditions: Cool at night in Ketchum and warmed up to 60s-70s during the day. Highest elevations in Sawtooth National Forest was 40’s during the day and 20’s overnight.

Time of Year Visited: Early June

Places Visited:

  • Craters of the Moon National Monument
  • Ketchum, Idaho
  • Sun Valley, Idaho
  • Sawtooth National Forest
  • Lake Creek Road BLM
  • Stanley, Idaho
  • Boise, Idaho

Overnights & Places Visited

Overnights/Cost: 

  • Lake Creek Road BLM, Ketchum, Idaho / $0
  • Ketchum, Idaho stealth camping on street / $0
  • Boise, Idaho moochdocking at friends / $0

Places Visited/Cost:

  • Craters of the Moon National Monument / $0 with America the Beautiful annual pass ($80 annual fee)
  • Ketchum, Idaho / Variable cost of food and groceries
  • Sun Valley, Idaho / Variable cost of food and groceries
  • Sawtooth National Forest / $0
  • Lake Creek Road BLM / $0
  • Stanley, Idaho / $0
  • Boise, Idaho / $0

RV Accessibility:

  • You can drive this route in any RV without any problems but there are some tight corners on Idaho 21, but I saw trailers being pulled through there without any problems.

Cell Phone Signal Strength:  0-2 bars in Craters of the Moon National Monument, 3-5 bars around Ketchum, Idaho, 0 bars through most of Sawtooth National Forest until you got closer to some small towns.

Park Pass:  America the Beautiful annual pass


Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

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What I Learned about RV Living in My 1st Year of RVing Full-Time

What I Learned about RV Living in My 1st Year of RVing Full-Time

In Season One of my first year RVing around North America I learned so many different things about myself and what I’m capable of doing with my life. This experience of traveling all over the country has pushed me into this part of my life I never knew could exist.

The last year has been a powerful opportunity to learn, grow, adapt, and literally transform my life and I love that I get to share it all with you.

My hope is that if you’re reading this that you garner something from it that you can take and use in your own life – to create your own transformation that allows you to live at your fullest.

To live your best life.

Just after I purchased the new Hymer Aktiv – I headed to Colorado to explore and landed at Mesa Verde National Park for some rest, relaxation, and a tour around the cliff dwellings.

Mesa Verde National Park

Morefield Campground in Mesa Verde National Park

You know me, I typically go for the free overnight places, however in the new camper van, showering is underwhelming so I’d much prefer to take a shower in the campground. Plus I needed to dump the tanks and fill up on water.

So, I opted to go ahead and spend the night at the Morefield Campground within the Mesa Verde National Park. I also opted for the cheapest option of dispersed camping, which was still $30 per night.

It was quiet and in a really beautiful area close to the scenic loop around the national park. I love how well-kept the area was, including the showers.

Amber Baldwin - Mesa Verde NP

The shower was simply amazing with piping hot water. No military shower for me this time! It was such a treat to stand under the hot water and feel it cleansing my skin after scrubbing it with soap.

What a great feeling.

Morefield Campground also had a small shop for your typical National Park souvenirs and some grocery items along with a little outdoor cafe and all-you-can-eat-pancakes for breakfast.

The first day I arrived I decided to stay at the campground, shower, and get a good nights rest before making a day trip around the national park and scenic loops.

Hymer and Lily Back door screen

Mesa Verde National Park Scenic Loop

Caution to RVers in Trailers on the Scenic Loop

I arrived at the Mesa Verde National Park during the off-season so some of the tours into the cliff dwellings were still closed. You aren’t actually allowed to walk through the dwellings on your own without a tour guide.

You can purchase tickets at the front entrance into the national park for any of the tours during peak season.

It’s quite a climb in the RV through the winding, steep roads to get to the actual cliff dwellings. Any RV should be able to get around – I’ve seen tour buses up there – but just know that parking spaces will be more limited. You also cannot pull a trailer through the park.

Mesa Verde Cliffs

If you’re here just for the day and have a trailer, you can unhook at the base of the national park in the designated area for trailers and then complete the scenic loop in your passenger vehicle.

Mesa Verde National Park Cliff Dwellings

One of the first places I arrived on the loop was at Cliff Palace which contained 150 rooms and 23 kivas built into the side of the cliff. During its population, it housed approximately 100 people and is thought that Cliff Palace was primarily used as a social and administrative site that conducted more ceremonial activities during its time.

Cliff Dwellings Colorado

Cliff Palace Cliff Dwellings

One of the things I noticed about the dwellings throughout were the openings to enter the dwellings were rather short. It appears the cliff dwellings were made for people who were shorter during that time period.

Mesa Verde National Park Cliff Dwellings2

Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellings

An average man was about 5’4″ tall, and an average woman was approximately 5′. The Pueblo people’s average life span was pretty short, due to a higher rate of infant mortality so most people lived an average of 33 years which is skewed by the fact that many children didn’t live past 5 years of age.

Mesa Verde NP Cliff Dwelling

Mesa Verde NP Cliff Dwelling 2

Can you imagine living such a short life? I feel like it’s short enough already. At 33 you’re just getting started. Though I suppose times back then were more difficult to live in with disease, little medicine, tribal wars, and constant threat from enemies domestic and foreign.

Seeing the history of this land always makes me thankful for what I’ve been given and to live in a more modern society where I can travel in my RV and live mostly how I choose. I say mostly because there are laws and rules in our countries, some of which I don’t agree with, but we will never agree 100% agree with everything.

So I live within those rules and as free as I possibly can.

Ahh…..freedom. Well that leads me into my next topic of wrapping up what I learned in my first year of RVing. I just celebrated my one year nomadiversary on May 8, 2018.

What I Learned in my First Year of RVing

Can you believe it’s been one year already? Time seems to have flown by at lightening speed this last year. I packed in an abundance of traveling, activities, and lessons during this last year.

In my first year of RVing around North America I learned:

  1. Living my best life
  2. I’m Happier
  3. More social
  4. Experiencing world
  5. Transformational
  6. Love this life
  7. More adaptable
  8. Vulnerability
  9. Trust instincts
  10. Love minimalistic lifestyle
  11. Restored faith in humanity
  12. Overcame fears
  13. Slow down and enjoy the moments (driving slower)
  14. Appreciation & Gratitude
  15. Flexible & spontaneous
  16. Living My Best Life

In learning more about how to live my best life, just the simple act of deciding to RV and sell my home and all its belongings was part of the mindset to live my life differently. I wanted to live life more fully rather than working all the time and dedicating my spare time to the house and yard.

I wanted my focus to be on creating more experiences and moments – my collective stories – hence the name Story Chasing.

I’m Happier

Okay, truth time. Before I started down this road a year ago, when I was just thinking about the prospect of RVing full-time, I wasn’t 100% sure I’d like it. I knew I loved road trips and site seeing, but I had doubts. The doubts were really just me questioning myself.

This was a big step to sell my house and all my belongings. I took a gamble that I would love it. Thankfully that gamble – albeit I was about 98% sure I would love it – paid off and I do love this life.

More than any other time in my life, I feel at peace and at home. I’m apparently a nomad at heart. I hate moving, but I think that’s because of all the “stuff” that comes along with moving. Packing, unpacking, and then doing it all over again.

Now – no more packing. Just put the gear shift into drive and roll away with all my stuff still in its place.

Amber Baldwin Niagara Falls Road Trip in RV

Cycling to Niagara Falls in New York

I’m More Social Now

While I love having my me time and traveling solo I love the people who I meet on the road whether it’s in a store, a campground, hiking, GETTING STUCK, or through some of the RV clubs.

My new camper van especially attracts more attention and consequently sparks conversations about how I travel full-time and how I’m able to live this kind of life. It’s a pretty amazing feeling to get a glimpse into other people’s lives as well and share with them my experiences and help them to also overcome some of their challenges that keep them from living their best life.

Solo women RVers Moab

Xscapers Convergence in Moab, Utah – Just us solo ladies

Experiencing More of the World

I truly feel like I am story chasing and collecting these beautiful moments with the experiences that keep coming my way. In the past I didn’t think I’d be able to live this life until I retired, but to be able to live this freedom now and see our beautiful lands, explore historical sites, and meet people of all different cultures is just a truly gratifying moment!

I’ve learned so much in just the last year about our history and especially to see how people live in regions around North America. I get excited to visit these places and immerse myself in that area and talk to the locals.

Quartier Petit Champlain Shopping 2

Strolling through Old Quebec City in Quebec, Canada

 

Cape Breton Island Cliffs

Touring Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia

 

Cadillac Mountain Sunrise

Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain in Maine

Traveling has been a Transformational Experience and Restored Faith in Humanity

Merriam-Webster defines the word transform as, “to change in condition, nature, or character; convert”.

My transformation experience in traveling has absolutely changed me. It’s changed my emotional state. I’m more happy, less stressed and just overall more joyful.

Traveling and doing this “thing” of RVing that brings joy to my life has changed my outlook on humans. The media would have you believe there is so much to fear in our world and I truly believe that keeps people from living out their dreams. It almost killed mine.

I have discovered that most people are genuinely good and nice and willing to help. It has absolutely restored my faith in humanity and I no longer watch media news and instead read if I want to get the news.

Look, I’m not saying there aren’t bad people or bad things that happen, I’m just saying that my focus is on the good and that’s what I tend to receive – the good.

What you focus on is typically what you’ll get in life.

What do you focus on?

Lake Havasu Thanksgiving Friends

Thanksgiving with new friends in Lake Havasu

Learned More on Adaptability, Flexibility, and Spontaneity

I learned how to adapt better and not get stressed out when a challenge occurs. For instance, the weather always changes and in an RV, well, you have to adapt, get out of the way, and learn to live with the weather.

You’re more one with the weather so if it’s hot outside, it’s going to be hot in the RV. If it’s cold, well it will be cold in the RV. If it’s windy, like it was in the Southwest for most of the winter, your RV is going shake and you’re going to get dirt all in the RV if you’re in the desert.

Breakwater & Lighthouse8

I had to learn to quit being such a clean freak about the dust. I still clean it up daily, or every other day sometimes, but it’s there. Bugs too. Bugs come in. They crawl on the RV. They are also adapting as well by trying to take shelter or search for food in my RV. So I had to learn to not be so freaked out if I saw a bug or bee.

Yeah, I know, that probably seems weird about the bugs, but I lived in this nice, stale, city environment my whole life, though I love nature – I just didn’t like dealing with the little pests that want to come live with me. Like the mouse that invaded my first RV and chewed up everything it could find. I haven’t adapted to those things and they will never live in my home if I can find it.

Mice – you’ve been warned.

Learning to be More Vulnerable and Trust My Instincts

So this one can be difficult. Though I had been on the quest to be more vulnerable for years, there are things that you choose to “let out” and those that you keep inside.

Creating a YouTube channel and putting myself out there on YouTube has been a HUGE vulnerable moment. Have you seen the trolls that comment? It’s ridiculous. Thankfully my skin has toughened up over the years – literally toughened up from those dry deserts – so I can let a lot of things roll, but seriously, the energy these people put into making stupid comments is literally more than I can comprehend. If they put that much energy into being positive and building people up, they might, themselves, be more happy and live a more fulfilling life.

Delete – is what I do with their comments.

Living a Minimalistic Lifestyle

This is one of my favorites. Literally everything I own is in my van. I didn’t rent a storage and store a bunch of things in it before transitioning to this life.

It makes me feel even more free to not carry around a lot of things and also to not feel the need to buy anything.

I have exactly what I need and enjoy and the rest of my life is filled with creating stories and moments in my travels and meeting people. That’s the “stuff” I like. No need to get a storage for that. It’s documented in my blog, on my YouTube channel, and in my brain.

Downsizing this much has been a surprisingly joyful creation to live with only what I really need. I got rid of the 30 pairs of socks that I didn’t need. How many socks can one really wear at a given time? Especially when most were just plain ‘ole white athletic socks.

Goodwill made a small fortune off of me! Not just from the socks, okay I didn’t have that many socks that Goodwill could get super rich, but along with all the other stuff I was lugging around from place-to-place.

Learned to Overcome Fears

Overcoming fears has been HUGE for me over the last year.

First I was fearful of traveling as a solo woman in an RV. It almost kept me from living out my dream, but then I decided I had to move through this fear and just do it.

So that’s when I bought the RV and sold everything to fulfill this lifelong dream of traveling across North America and then beyond that in the future.

I was also super nervous about staying by myself somewhere boondocking at night, in the woods, where it’s really dark. This one took me a little bit of time to get through, but after each experience of just staying by myself somewhere, I started to feel better and better and less fear. Now it doesn’t seem like any big deal at all. I love it!

Amazing how this gripping fear of something turned into this beautiful moment of love and appreciation.

On the other side of fear is your greatest success!

Learning to Slow Down and Enjoy Life

Slowing down has been difficult. I’m still a work in progress on this one.

I’ve been going so fast for so long that I feel like my brain was just permanently hard-wired to stay that way. It’s taken me the better part of the year to slow down and relax and to enjoy what’s in front of me.

I still don’t have this one down, but I’m getting better at it.

All those years of commuting to work and then commuting back home and then starting it all over again the next day really took a toll on me.

The RV actually forces me to slow down – since it’s larger and needs more time to stop – more as well and really enjoy my surroundings.

My meditations have helped as well with learning to slow down some more, but I’m not there just yet.

Learning to Appreciate and Show Gratitude

I think because I wasn’t slowing down before it was hard to take notice of the things I was grateful for in my life.  I’ve been meditating for a while and writing in a journal about gratitude prior to this RV life, but it’s different now.

The appreciation and gratitude are more heartfelt and real. I cannot even count how many times I’ve been driving or standing in front of something so profoundly beautiful that my eyes welled up with tears in that moment.

It renders me speechless and I feel so humbled by the awesomeness of these lands – of the mountains, the waters, meadows, hills, and even the desert which I hated in the past.

It’s almost like the gratitude is tangible. I can feel it. I’m no longer numb with busy-ness.

Devils Tower Prayer Cloths

I can’t wait to see what happens in Season 2 as I learn more about myself, my traveling, story chasing, and creating more beautiful moments that will last a lifetime.

What do you focus on? Do you dwell on the past or do you actively create, in your mind, what the present and future look like? I’ll be discussing this topic soon.

Overnights & Places Visited

Overnights/Cost: 

  • Morefield Campground at Mesa Verde National Park/$30 for dry camping per night

Places Visited/Cost:

  • Mesa Verde National Park/$0 with the America the Beautiful annual pass

RV Accessibility:

  • Morefield can accommodate any size RV; however if you have a trailer, you can’t take it through the National Park if your just going for the day, but there is a designated place to unhook and then travel the loop around the park with your passenger vehicle.

Cell Phone Signal Strength:  0-1 bars mostly nothing so plan on not having cell signal or data even with a cell booster

Park Pass:  Free entrance with America the Beautiful annual pass


Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

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White Sand Dunes, Season 1 Winter Wrap-up

White Sand Dunes, Season 1 Winter Wrap-up

In this post and video I’m wrapping up Season 1 of my RV living over the winter time. I took some time away from making videos and photography for a couple of reasons during the winter.

1) I was completely exhausted from my whirlwind trip from Seattle to the East Coast and back. I did a lot of driving and sight-seeing, which was completely fantastic and amazing; however I was so excited I packed a lot into those trips in a very short amount of time.

2) My job is always busy, but year-end and beginning of the year is even more incredibly busy in the accounting and asset management world. Sometimes it’s hard to manage both the job, traveling, taking care of myself, the Story Chasing website and YouTube channel (as well as social media) AND I was learning so much about RV life and meeting so many others in the RV world from the Xscapers convergences I was participating in.

So unfortunately sometimes I get a little behind.

Which leads me to why you’re seeing the winter videos and photos all in one post and video.

Now in order to get you all caught up to almost real-time – I’m about 3-4 weeks behind in videos for safety purposes – and into Season 2, I’ve completed a winter wrap-up video which marks the end of Season 1 of Story Chasing.

Season 2 of Story Chasing

Just a quick note to let you know what’s coming up in Season 2.

I have a big surprise coming up in a couple of videos that will drastically change how I travel. Care to guess what the surprise is? I’ve been hinting at it in some videos.

By popular demand, I’m going to delve into some more educational and inspirational videos and posts on topics that encompass my background in finance/accounting/business and holistic coaching. These topics are right my alley with experience and topics I’m super passionate about sharing.

By the way, some of these topics are not just about RVing. Your dream may be to travel on an airplane or a boat or start a business. My dream just happens to be RVing so many of the topics will be based on achieving your dreams, whatever dream that may be, and some will include RV life topics.

Here’s just a list of some of the topics I’ll cover in Season 2:

  • How to work remotely
  • How to start a business to finance your dreams
  • How to manifest your dreams – and not just logical ones
  • Transitioning from a sticks and bricks lifestyle to RV life
  • Budgets for RVing
  • Budgets for any dream you have – not just RVing
  • Travel hacking
  • Minimalist Living
  • Saving money for your goals
  • Inspirational interviews from people living their dreams and how they accomplished these goals.
  • Learn the Create. Do. Live principle
  • Solo travel
  • …and I didn’t forget….more travel videos as I follow my quest to complete all 300 of the National Geographic Scenic Highways & Byways.

Leaving the East Coast

I finished up my summer months at Mark & Grant’s house in the Catskills Mountains and headed to Charlestown, West Virginia to visit my sister and brother-in-law.

It had been awhile since I had seen them and it was so amazing to hang out with them in their beautiful home, catch a Navy game, cook together, and do some hiking. I really missed them and am looking forward to hanging out with them again in the near future.

Andrea and Amber

Navy Game

Shenadoah Mountains

Andrea and Lily Hiking

My brother-in-law also fixed my LP alarm by just replacing it and then wiring it better. Before it was just taped together and he actually soldered the wires together. That seemed to do the trick and I didn’t have any more problems! That was a relief considering the amount of issues I was having constantly with the alarm going off.

Between the RV being too big for me to adventure off to places I really wanted to visit and the heat and humidity – it was September now and still hot – I had to leave and leave quickly back to the West Coast.

My plan had been to travel all down the East Coast to Florida and then cut across during the winter along the southern states, but with Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma in Florida, there was damage all up and down the coast, people fleeing Florida and staying more north. So I decided to leave.

It took me about five days of driving from West Virginia and through, Kentucky, Missouri, Indiana, and Kansas before I landed in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The winds through Kansas were horrendous and I was going pretty slow in order to keep the RV on the highway. I couldn’t wait to get out of those winds. My arms and shoulders were aching from the death grip I had on the steering wheel.

Exploring Colorado, Texas, and New Mexico

Colorado

The winds finally died down and I left Colorado Springs to Salida, Colorado to enjoy some boondocking on BLM land off of the Arkansas River. That’s not a typo. It really is the Arkansas River. I actually had to look it up.

What’s the Arkansas River doing in Colorado?

Well turns out the Arkansas River starts in Colorado and is the snow melt from the mountains then travels 1,469 miles from Colorado, to Kansas, to Oklahoma, and then Arkansas.

It’s a beautiful river in Colorado!

Arkansas River

Where I was at in Salida, there were places all the way from Leadville, Colorado and down to Salida and beyond for river rafting on the Arkansas River.

Salida’s elevation is 7,083 and it was already starting to get a little chilly there in September, but I will take that little bit of chill any day over the hot humid air I experienced on the East Coast.

Salida Colorado BLM

Salida Colorado Boondocking

After a couple of weeks in Salida, it was time to slowly start making the trek to my family’s home in Argyle, Texas so I dropped down south to Alamosa, Colorado for some more boondocking at San Luis State Wildlife Area, which is actually a free area to stay now.

Mountains San Luis Wildlife Area

At some point in time the water came back as unsafe to drink, so now the park is open to anyone for free, but with a permit. It still has campsites, dumpsters, bathrooms, picnic tables and fire pits at each campsite, and a grey and black water tank dump area. Score!

San Luis State Park

Besides all of the amenities at San Luis State Wildlife Area, the surrounding view is incredible of the snow-capped mountains and Great Sand Dunes National Park.

San Luis Wildlife Area

This, so far, as been one of the best places I’ve boondocked for free. The weather was pretty perfect except when the wind came, but I hunkered down and worked until it was time to move again.

Texas

I dipped further southeast and into the Texas panhandle in Fritch, Texas at Lake Meredith National Recreation Center. It’s another free boondocking spot like San Luis State Wildlife Area right off of Lake Meredith.

I felt like I was really scoring with beautiful places and incredible amenities, until……

The wind, and rain, and lightening, and thunder, and then I swear it was a tornado in the middle of that night that shook the RV on all sides at the same time. It might have been a micro burst, but I literally thought I was going to die and my RV was going to be hurled off the side of the cliff and into the lake.

Lake Meridith storm

Lake Meridith Fritch Texas storm

In case you’re thinking I just might have been overreacting, I wasn’t the only one. All of a sudden, everyone else in the parks headlights came on and people were leaving in the middle of the night.

This is the Texas panhandle where weather can be erratic, drastic, and unpredictable. I thought I was safe because it wasn’t tornado season, but I was seriously mistaken.

I took shelter in town at a local gas station where the winds were still bad, but I could seek better shelter in case there was a tornado.

The next day I left the area to my sister’s house in Argyle, Texas so I could see her, my mom, brother-in-law, niece and nephews, and my aunt and uncle.

They live out on a rural piece of land next to a cow pasture so there was plenty of space for my RV and doing some moochdocking in their drive way. I didn’t get to see my sister as much as I would have liked since she was traveling for work, but I had a great time with my mom and family celebrating birthdays, eating out, shopping, just hanging out and talking, and feeding the cows.

Yep, the owner of the cow farm pasture gave me a big bag of treats for the cows.

I was a little grossed out by their slimy tongues so I put some gloves on to feed them. Well, they would stick their big, long tongues out to get the food from me and I would get slimed!

I enjoyed it though. I’ve never been around cows before like that so this was a first and to be able to hang out with them and feed them was quite the moment.

My niece, Reese, was also keeping me in shape with her stretch routine outside my RV. I told her she needed to come on the road with me and be my trainer everyday!

It’s now November and time to start heading west to keep warm and eventually end up in Quartzsite, Arizona for the Xscapers annual bash in January.

New Mexico

I found a gem on Holloman Lake which is actually on an Air Force base. If you don’t mind the occasional helicopter buzzing by, this is a great location and very close to White Sands National Monument.

 

Holloman Lake aFB

Lone Tree Holloman Lake

It’s also another free boondocking location and perfect for staying for a while or just overnight and is only a five-minute drive to the national monument.

White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument was pretty cool and unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It was my #20 Quest from National Geographic 300 Scenic Highways & Byways.

The white sand dunes were really tall in some areas and you could find people sledding down the sand, walking, hiking, and I even saw a marriage proposal there.

White Sand Dunes National Monument

I sure didn’t seem that hot, but around 80ish degrees and the sun beating down, it was hot! Interestingly though the sad was cool to the touch. I found a great spot to picnic, flipped off my shoes and traversed a white sand dune with Lily.

StoryChasing White Sand Dunes

White Sand Dunes

It couldn’t have been a better day with a perfect blue sky, the sun shining, the white sand dunes, birds flying in the air. It was truly picture perfect.

Crow at White Sand Dunes

Amber at White Sand Dunes

Lily, unfortunately was feeling so good. She was having stomach issues again and I was worried so I left that day to Albuquerque, New Mexico to get her checked out at the Banfield vet hospital. Turns out that she was okay, just some stomach upset and gas because I apparently changed her food too quickly and it upset her stomach. Yikes.

She did get better after feeding her a bland diet and just keeping her on the same food for a while. I’m glad it’s nothing serious.

Arizona

Once I knew Lily was okay, I took of for warmer temperatures once again. I had woken up to 28 degrees in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which is just way to cold for me so off I went to Sedona, Arizona and then on to Lake Havasu, Arizona where I stayed for several weeks on BLM land again.

I met some really great people there and even spent Thanksgiving with another solo male RVer and a French family on holiday. It was all rather impromptu and we dug out whatever we had in our fridge. It turned out to be such a grand feast with talks of travel and differences between our countries. I feel like I say this all the time, but meeting people like this on the road and getting to know them just for a moment is an incredible experience.

Lake Havasu Thanksgiving

Some go on their ways and some I stay in touch with after we leave. I feel like I’m gathering a collection of friends in every state and some countries to visit when I’m in the area.

Lake Havasu, and most of Arizona actually has some of the most colorful sunrises and sunsets. The downside to Lake Havasu, well, it’s not Lake Havasu’s fault, but a mouse decided to enter my vehicle and tear apart a bag of Lily’s dog food and then kept me up all night as I tried to “catch” that little sucker and throw him out.

Lake Havasu Sunset

Lake Havasu Sunset2

The only catching that happened was when I bought a mouse trap the next day and he was dead by morning. Sorry little mouse, but leaving poop and urine on my kitchen counter and eating my dog food is not cool. I was also scared he would get to the wires and start nibbling on those. That would have cost a small fortune to fix.

It was time to leave and head further south to Quartzsite, Arizona for the annual bash in January. I actually got there about a month early to take advantage of the incredible boondocking and just hunker down and work so I could take some time off in January for the bash.

This little town isn’t a place I would settle down into, but for the winter, it’s great to make use of all the boondocking land and they are really set-up for RVers since so many RVers frequent this town for the RV show, RTR, and other club rallies during the winter.

The only downside is the grocery store. There’s not a huge selection, prices are high, and organic is almost non-existent. You can travel to Blythe, California or Parker, Arizona to grab groceries, but each place is over 20 miles to 30 miles depending on where you’re boondocking.

Xscapers 2018 Annual Bash

The bash ended up being right in the same location I was already boondocking in Quartzsite. It was my first meeting with other RVers and of course with Xscapers.

Xscapers is a subgroup of Escapees and is generally for RVers who are full-time, active lifestyle, and many still work, but work remotely. There are individuals of all ages at convergences and just some pretty cool people to get to know.

Xscapers 2018 Annual Bash

This bash changed my RVing life and introduced me to more education on RV living and friends to meet up along the way.

We had a blast listening to guest speakers, eating, drinking, partying, campfires, group activities, and there was even a hot air balloon.

Quartzsite 2018

I woke up early to see them put the set-up the hot air balloon and watch them take off in the early morning. I’ve never been that close to the action so it was an incredible moment to watch the whole thing unfold.

Hot Air Balloon inside

Hot Air Balloon in Quartzsite3

Hot Air Balloon in Quartzsite2

Hot Air Balloon in Quartzsite

Watch the video when they start to fill the balloon with hot air from the fire and the helpers holding the ropes back while the balloon is on the ground still.

Overall, I had so much fun am truly changed by the wonderful people I met, the speakers, and the organizers of these events.

California

Between the Xscapers bash and traveling to California in February, I had a couple of work events in Scottsdale, Arizona, and bopped around the area until I met some friends in Cambria, California.

My skin seriously needed the moisture and I was craving the ocean water! After all these months in the desert my skin was lizard-like no matter how much lotion I applied and I longed to be near the open water.

The ocean was a welcome sight to both Lily and me. I dipped my toes in the water while standing on the sandy beach and Lily – though not so keen on jumping in water – tilted her head forward and up to smell the ocean water, feel the breeze on her little head, and let the sun glisten as she squinted her eyes at the bright sun.

Cambria Beach

Lily at Beach

Lily at Cambria Beach California

I know what she was thinking – this is heaven mom – let’s stay here awhile. So we did – about a week almost and just enjoyed the hiking, the walks on the beach, and visiting with my friends in their Air Stream.

Cambria California Sunrise

Central Coast Sunrise

Utah

It’s now March and it was time to head back to the desert, but this time to Moab, Utah for another Xscapers convergence.

I’ve never been to Moab before and I had so much fun. Fun hanging out with all my new friends from the last Xscapers bash, offroading in Jeeps, site seeing, and we even got snow one day.

Solo women RVers Moab

Moab snow capped mountains

Chickens Corner Offroading

There is so much beauty in Utah and I can’t say enough about this wonderful place. There’s a lot to see, so many National Parks, hiking, offloading (I wanted so much to buy a Jeep after that event), and lots to explore.

Moab offroading

Moab Mountains

I’ll definitely be back here soon to explore some more

All I can say is I can’t wait until our next conference!

I hope you’ve enjoyed Season 1 of Story Chasing and I’m looking forward to Season 2 and see how it unfolds. Every day is an adventure of some sorts and I never know sometimes where the road takes me and who I’ll meet.

I’ve learned this last year to not plan as much and more spontaneous. You kind of have to be when you’re one with nature, weather, and of course all the new friends you meet.

If you’re interested in any specific topic I’ve named above, for Season 2, or you have other topics you’d like me to discuss, please leave me a comment below. I’d love to hear your ideas and what you’re interested in.

Also – what are YOUR goals and dreams and do you already have an actionable plan in place to accomplish these goals?

Video/Audio Equipment Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Old Canada Road Scenic Byway & Catskills Log Cabin

Old Canada Road Scenic Byway & Catskills Log Cabin

Well, I was planning on being in Canada for about month, but I didn’t plan very well for my data service so I’ve left Canada early and started the Old Canada Road scenic byway towards my quest to fulfill all 300 of National Geographic 300 Scenic Highways & Byways.

I loved my time in Canada while visiting Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Quebec provinces, but it’s time to get back to the States so I can work with my normal data plan capacity without being throttled at a half a gig a day.

Next time I’ll have to plan better for my time in Canada so I can stay longer and enjoy this beautiful country and the diversity of culture and topography.

Traveling on Old Canada Road 

My quest on Old Canada Road started at the border of Quebec, Canada, just south of Saint Georges, Quebec on U.S. 201 traveling south for 78 miles to Solon, Maine where the scenic byway ends.

Old Canada Road is an old logging road with ruts, bumps, and rough road – some areas are better than others, however the beauty is worth the bumpy ride.

There are thick groves of trees lining Kennebec River in some areas and then it clears so you can literally see through the trees. I was even able to pull over in one area and get out and enjoy the wilderness and river in person rather than just driving by.

Kennebec River

The National Geographic book stated to be on the look out for logging trucks and moose.

Okay – I have been seeing signs all the way from Maine through Canada and then back again in Maine – and now in the National Geographic book – and I haven’t seen one moose during my entire trip. Not even when I was camping.

I mean I’m glad I didn’t see any in the road and I’m hoping that means that they are staying the woods where it would be much safer than being on the road.

Overall, it was a spectacular drive with small towns scattered throughout the drive and full of incredible scenery.

Visiting Friends in Log Cabin in the Catskills Mountain

When I was in Olcott, New York on the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, I met Grant and Mark and their sweet little dog Queenie in the park. They just happened to be staying at the same state park, Golden Hill State Park, that I was planning on staying.

So at their recommendation I camped at Golden Hill State Park that night and spent hours visiting with Mark and Grant in their new, shiny Airstream. They invited me to their home when I was passing through again so I took them up on their offer.

When I hear “log cabin” for some reason that conjures up a small log cabin home – like Little House on the Prairie kind of home, but with modern amenities.

I was in a for a huge surprise after I cleared the forest on the dirt road to their home and it opened up to lush green lawns, massive forest trees, and this beautiful log cabin home.

What a treat!

I loved every minute of my stay with Mark and Grant.

They showed me their beautiful home, the tiles that Mark had made himself for the kitchen walls, how they had sourced the wood and built the house themselves, literally.

They had a beautiful room set-up for me and my own bathroom with piping hot water. That may sound weird, but I’m accustomed to military showers in the RV so just standing under running hot water felt so luxurious!

Mornings were filled with coffee, breakfast, and chats in our pajamas. We visited farmers markets, antique stores, and did some shopping in town.

I so appreciated their offer and hosting and can’t wait to meet up with them again one day.

I’m forever surprised at the kind and generous people I meet on the road and the friendships that develop.

It’s a great life.

Overnights & Places Visited

Overnights/Cost: 

  • Walmart boondocking in Catskills, New York/ $0
  • Mark & Grant’s house / $0

Places Visited/Cost:

  • Olana House farm area in Catskills, New York / $0

RV Accessibility:

  • Olana House parking is definitely not for RVs so park down at the bottom of the hill by the farm and barn area.

Cell Phone Signal Strength:  3-5 bars

Park Pass:  N/A


Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

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Touring European Old Quebec City with Old World Style

Touring European Old Quebec City with Old World Style

Old Quebec City Top 10 Places to Visit in CanadaOld Quebec City is a place I’ve been wanting to visit for some time now.

I’ve heard rumors of it’s old world charm and its European influence on architecture, restaurants, shopping, and cobblestone walkways.

I’ve always wanted to travel to Europe – and will sometime in the future – so being able to see just a taste of what Europe is like was truly an amazing experience.

Bonus you can drive to it or take a quick flight from the States.

Playing Tourist in a French Speaking Province

All throughout my travels in the New Brunswick and Nova Scotia provinces, the road signs were in English and French; however literally at the border of New Brunswick and Quebec province, the road signs changed to strictly French.

Makes sense for the province of Quebec that is French-speaking – also referred to as French Canadian.

French Road Signs

Some signs I had no idea what it was saying, but I could start to figure some signs out based on my limited remembrance of four years of French classes in high school.

High school was many, many years ago, but I could pick out certain words and figure it out. Google maps also helped with road directions since it still speaks English even after traveling over the border. You may find that last sentence to be odd, but have you ever pulled up a map in a Canada and it automatically changes from the United States miles to Canada’s kilometers?

Probably makes sense for somebody in Canada – or for any other country besides the U.S. for that matter.

Hey – you never know, Google might think it’s smarter and needs to auto change language after crossing the border into a French-speaking country.

My senses were definitely on overload with the language change.

Old Quebec City Street Signs

Should I Reply with Bonjour?

Road signs are in French, all of the groceries, the tags, and store signs are in French, then of course the people are speaking French. I was having fun with all of this French language immersion.

French Signs in Old Quebec City

However I was unsure if when somebody said, “Bonjour” (hello in French) to me if I should speak the language and reply back with bonjour or just say hello in English. Here was my dilemma.

I originally went with the “bonjour” reply; however they would start speaking to me in French and then I would have to explain that I speak English and couldn’t understand their French.

If I instead replied “hello” they automatically knew I spoke English.

I also didn’t want to offend. What’s your take on it?

Most people would speak a little English back to me and some were better than others, but everyone was very nice about it.

Have you seen the video yet? If not, click below so you can visit Old Quebec City virtually. Also, if you like my content and you like the video, be sure to subscribe AND if you’d like to really help me out, share my video and/or blog post and like the video. It helps me out with the search engine gods! Thank you!!

Getting Gas Isn’t So Simple in Canada

The only difficult situation I had was getting gas at Costco. I pulled up to the gas pump ready with my Visa, which is what the U.S. Costcos now accept; however when I went to insert the card, it flashed up 3 different options to choose from.

Oh dear, what are all of these options? I felt like it was a multiple choice quiz I was staring at.

All 3 options were in French. All 3 options had the word MasterCard in it and I had to choose something and there was a line of people behind me. I mean forget the fact that I’m in an RV with a 55 gallon tank that will take a lengthy time to fill up, but now I obviously need a MasterCard and I still don’t know what option to choose since I can’t read what the options are saying in French.

I could have broken out my Google translation app, but can you imagine all those people behind me patiently (or maybe not so patiently) waiting for me while I spell out all 3 sentences in French into my phone to find out what it’s saying?

I’m sure I would have gotten to the last sentence and forgotten what the first two translations were.

So in a split moment of panic, I looked over the gas pump and asked the gentleman on the other side pumping his gas if he spoke English.

Thankfully he spoke just enough so that he could tell me what these options were.

So I ran back into the RV, grabbed my MasterCard, hopped back out, inserted Costco card, inserted MasterCard and just like that, the pump decided it liked me and gave me gas.

I felt like I needed a stiff drink after that or maybe a lathering of calming essential oils!

Needless to say, I survived pumping gas in Canada.

Walmart Boondocking in Levis, Quebec

Prior to traveling to Old Quebec City, I had done a fair amount of research to find out where I could park the RV and overnight. I figured with the relatively compact spaces near the city that pulling the RV in would prove difficult.

RV parks in the area were not too costly, but you know me – if I’m going to be gone most of the time and just sleep, I’d rather stay somewhere for free especially since I have solar panels and had already filled up the fresh water and dumped the black and grey tanks.

I found a Walmart across the Saint Lawrence River from Quebec City in the city of Levis. I figured I would just find the bus and ride the bus around to Quebec City.

The location at Walmart was perfect with other travelers and a bus stop near the parking lot.

Traveling from Levis to Quebec City on the Ferry

As I researched the fare of the bus and how much Canadian dollars and coins I would need to bring with me, I discovered that dogs aren’t allowed on the bus, unless they are in carriers, and Lily was definitely going with me to Old Quebec City.

I was a little shocked by this as my research had showed me that this area was very dog friendly.

Being that I didn’t have a carrier – and I wasn’t going to buy one – I discovered that the walk to the ferry, just down the hill, was only 1.6 miles.

Traverse Quebec-Levis

Not bad at all.

Until I started walking it.

I don’t know what the descent grade percentage is, but it’s super steep. You’re walking downhill the entire 1.6 miles. Not so bad going down, but coming up – well – that was another story.

Stairs from Ferry Traverse Quebec Levis

I’m losing weight and walking a lot, but I was a little concerned about the trek back up, especially with all the stairs and after spending the entire day walking in the city.

I was momentarily thinking I could stuff Lily in my backpack and catch the bus back up the hill on my way home. I’m sure Lily wouldn’t have liked that very much so I scrapped that idea and decided to walk the whole length back, stairs and steep inclines.

It was rough and it was hot out. I think Lily was even tired!

Touring Old Quebec City

Stepping onto the ferry to cross the Saint Lawrence River to Old Quebec City was so magical. You could see the city and especially the Fairmont Hotel or Fairmont Le Château Frontenac.

FAIRMONT LE CHÂTEAU FRONTENAC2

The archticture off the building is impressive even on the other side of the river. Up close, it was even more impressive.

Fairmont Hotel Quebec City

FAIRMONT LE CHÂTEAU FRONTENAC from ferry 7

Hôtel de Ville de Québec

La Citadelle de Québec

Quartier Petite Champlain

As you hop off the short ferry ride, you’re immediately in the Quartier Petite Champlain shopping and restaurant area with the beautiful old world, European feel.

Quartier Petit Champlain Shopping

There are musicians on every street corner singing, playing instruments, and some doing both.

Not only was it a beautiful weather day, but the French influence and the European beauty was such a surreal experience. It couldn’t have been any better that day.

Lily and I walked the cobblestone paths, ducked in out of shops to explore, and ate at a little cafe, L’Escale, for breakfast and a latte. The terrace was beautiful at the top of the stairs and looking down on to the Quartier Petite Champlain and Lily was allowed to hang out there too.

Amber in Quartier Petit Champlain

Breakfast at L'Escale

Quartier Petit Champlain Stairs to Shopping

Dog Friendly Old Quebec City

The city is definitely dog friendly. They allowed Lily in the stores and the cafe outside seating areas which I was so appreciative. Lily loves hanging out with me and walking around – not to mention all the attention she gets.

Dogs in Old Quebec City

She was actually allowed in a gelato shop as well where I ordered a sorbet (no dairy for me) and sat outside at a little bistro table and people watched.

Lily sat in the chair beside me and so many people wanted to pet her or comment on how well behaved she was – and of course my sweet girl is well behaved.

Dog Friendly Quebec City

Funicular or Stair Climbing

There is an upper and lower town of Old Quebec City so in order to get to the upper part, you must either climb the rather lengthy flights of stairs up the side of the cliff or take the electric funicular cableway, Funiculaire du Vieux-Québec, up the side.

Funicular cableway

The eclectric funicular cableway opened in 1879 and rises 195 feet between the upper and lower towns and costs $3.00 Canadian to travel one way.

I opted for the stairs since it costs $0 and, well the exercise would be good for me. It was’t too bad. I stopped once on the way up to catch my breath, but I made it.

I had such a wonderful experience in Old Quebec City and will definitely return.

By the way, in case you’re wondering, on this day of touring Old Quebec City I ended up walking 13,692 steps, climbed 22 floors, and walked a total of 5.3 miles.

I was exhausted after that trip, but what a fantastic day!

Have you been to Old Quebec City? How do you handle the language barrier?

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Overnights & Places Visited

Overnights/Cost: 

  • Walmart boondocking in Levis, Quebec / $0

Places Visited/Cost:

  • Old Quebec City / Ferry ride from Levis to Old Quebec City $3.60 each way for ages 16-64 with fares for different ages

RV Accessibility:

  • You can drive this route in any RV without any problems. There was plenty of parking at the Walmart, but you won’t be able to drive your RV into Old Quebec City.

Cell Phone Signal Strength:  3-5 bars

Park Pass:  N/A


Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

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Traveling Cabot Trail around Cape Breton Island Nova Scotia

Traveling Cabot Trail around Cape Breton Island Nova Scotia

Travel Cape Breton Island Cabot Trail in Nova ScotiaI’m so, so, so excited to be venturing into Canada on this trip, because over the next month I’ll be heading to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Quebec City. I’ve never been to any of these provinces or cities and am really looking forward to sightseeing in these beautiful areas, some of which are fairly remote with little tourist traffic like on Cape Breton Island.

After finishing my last quest on Maine’s Big Sur, I stayed in Calais, Maine at – you guessed it – Walmart to sleep for the night and get some work done before heading across the border.

The border crossing into New Brunswick is in Calais, Maine so it’s a very short 5 minute drive to the border.

Before crossing into Canada I did some research about crossing into Canada and what was allowed, not allowed, what I needed for Lily’s dog medical records, and also cell and Internet coverage.

Crossing the Canadian Border and What You’ll Need

Thankfully I didn’t have any hiccups with crossing into Canada – not that I expected there would be – put preparing yourself before you get there, especially while traveling in an RV, is essential.

I’ve heard stories of how border agents can pull you to the side and literally go through every area of the RV and pull things out onto the parking lot in order to search your RV. I’m not sure under what circumstances that would happen, but I wanted to be as prepared as possible so as to not have that kind of search.

I certainly didn’t want to spend my time repacking my RV.

To cross the border you’ll need to be prepared for the following:

-Valid passport or valid passport card (Some states have the enhanced ID card for Canada and that can be used as well in lieu of the passport.)

-Signed rabies certification for pets – It must be signed or it’s not valid. Since I travel and go to different vets across the country, I had to go back to the original vet who administered Lily’s rabies shot and have them sign the certification and then email it to me.

-Shot records for pets – This isn’t a must, but I brought it with me just in case.

-Be prepared to answer questions concisely and directly.

-Know where you are going and where you’ll be staying. For us RVers who travel full-time, we don’t always know where we will be or where we’ll be staying. I did however know that I was going to Cape Breton Island and staying at one particular RV park, so that’s what I told them and that I would make my way to Quebec City after that, but that I didn’t have a reservation yet. They seemed to be okay with that answer.

-Know how long you will be in the country.

-Know where you are coming from and where your “home” or home base is in the U.S. This may sound silly, but again, with being full-time RVing, we are traveling from all sorts of places, so when they asked where my home was, I told them my home which is in Washington State. I don’t like to advertise that I’m a full-time RVer in case that’s a warning flag for anybody. I’m certainly not doing anything illegal, but it’s not the “norm” in society and can be looked upon as being homeless instead of houseless. So I’d rather give as little information as possible and only answer the direct question concisely. If they asked me if I was full-time, I wouldn’t lie, but again I just want to keep to the direct question.

When I came to the border crossing, the Canadian border agent was friendly and asked me some of the questions I detailed above. She also asked me if I was carrying a firearm, weapons, or pepper spray.

So let’s address this question. There are certain firearms that are not allowed into Canada. I’m not going to into that in this post since I’m not an expert and these laws can change. I wouldn’t want to steer anybody in the wrong direction so it’s best that you really research on the official Canadian website for this information and I’ve provided a link to help you with that research.

Pepper spray is not allowed either. If it’s pepper spray for self-defense, mace, or anything like that, then it’s considered a weapon and not allowed.

The only type of spray that is allowed is bear spray and it must be labeled as such.

The other concern for crossing the border into Canada is food items. There’s a very long list of specific food and plant items that can and can’t be brought into Canada

For the most part your probably safe as long as you don’t bring in house plants and firewood. Meat must be marked with it’s country of origin along with a long list of what you can bring so make sure you review the list. Fortunately I didn’t need to address this since I’m vegan.

You’ve heard the saying, know before you go – well that applies here. Just be as prepared as possible. It’s not complicated at all even though it might sound like it with this full list of requirements, but it’s really very easy as long as you prepare yourself.

Cell Phone and Data Coverage

Before traveling to Canada I also researched cell phone and data coverage since I definitely need this for work, at least during the work week.

My cell phone and data plan is with Verizon so I called them to find out what my plan offered.

The Verizon representative explained to me that I still had unlimited coverage in Canada so this was a great thing!

Fast forward to visiting Canada and actually testing this unlimited service plan – which proved to not be 100% accurate.

I would be working and then I would get a text message stating that I had reached the maximum of 1/2 gig of data for the day.

What??

1/2 gig of data limit?

I called Verizon and they confirmed that cell and text is unlimited; however data is capped at 1/2 gig per day.

That was super disappointing. I’m not sure if I explained it incorrectly initially or the rep just didn’t explain in full about data. Nevertheless, I was left surfing free wifi in Home Depot parking lots which wasn’t really how I intended to spend my time in Canada.

So, lesson learned – I need to research a little bit better next time on this topic and either add service or get a sim card in Canada for data service for the time I’ll be there.

Walmart Boondocking

Since I was so reliant on the Home Depot wifi I didn’t take the time to find any other free spots to camp at night while traveling through New Brunswick on my way to Nova Scotia.

Interestingly, there seems to be a Walmart by most Home Depots. Start looking for it and see if you notice it too.

So it was easy to park at night at Walmart and then drive over to Home Depot to work for the day. Also, just a little tip if you ever need free wifi while traveling – I seem to be able to pick up their free wifi signal better if you park over on the contractors pickup side rather than the garden side.

I haven’t had much luck with the free wifi at Walmart. It seems spotty and it’s hard to get a signal in the parking lot.

Yes, I know – thinking about Walmart boondocking doesn’t seem quite so glamorous when you think about RVing and traveling to these beautiful places, but when I work all day and sleep all night, it doesn’t bother me too much.

Plus – I always have a grocery store right in my backyard.

Road Trip on Cape Breton Island’s Cabot Trail

Ah…Cape Breton Island is the creme de le creme of Nova Scotia. It’s not a short trip at 400 miles from Calais, Maine to the southern tip of Cape Breton Island and you must back track to leave the area, but it’s completely worth it!

The Cabot Trail goes all around the Great Breton Island so you can choose to go clockwise or counterclockwise.

From my research, clockwise is easier on the RV engine because of the steep inclines going counterclockwise and also I didn’t want to be in the lane right on the cliff for safety purposes. After my trip to Lake Tahoe and being on the edge with no guard rails I thought this would be better suited for me.

There was this feeling I had of pure freedom and bliss as I RV’d along Cabot Trail that hugs the coastline all the way around Cape Breton Island.

The cliffs that overlook the ocean…..

Cape Breton Island Cliffs

The grass swaying in the wind….

The waves crashing on the rocks….

Cabot Trail Cove and Water

The smell of the salty air….

Cape Breton Island Amber 2

The sun glistening off of the water….

Cape Breton Island Shore

The feel of my skin as the wind brushed across my arm with the windows down on the RV….

The winding and curving road on Cabot Trail through the mountains, villages, and seaside….

Cape Breton Island Shore Cliffs

My senses were overloaded with goodness and joy.

Cape Breton Island Zen Rocks 2

It’s funny, when I went back to edit my video footage of this trip, you could see the profound smile on my face and the joy gushing out.

It truly was incredible.

I had reserved a campsite at Hide Away Campground half way through Cabot Trail on the far northeast side of Cape Breton Island in Dingwall for several days so I could relax and enjoy the view, do some hiking and then complete the other half of the loop around the island.

Propane Alarm Issue AGAIN

Just before I got to the campground, my propane alarm went off again while I was driving. This was the first time it had ever gone off while driving and I thought I had it figured out – it was going off due to a low voltage problem.

There goes that theory. I had plenty of power in the batteries and I was driving which charges the batteries on top of what the solar panels are bringing in.

What a hot mess. I have no idea what’s happening with this alarm.

When I left Hide Away Campground, my plan was to head to Halifax, Nova Scotia and spend some time there; however literally on the first day there, I was sleeping and the propane alarm went off. I couldn’t figure out why it kept going off.

Every 30 minutes the alarm would sound so I didn’t get any sleep and was worried about what was happening, especially since I would open the side door and that would seem to clear the alarm.

That really worried me because it then appeared that something in the atmosphere was definitely setting the alarm off.

I ended up finding a dealership that completed Winnebago warranty work all the way back up in New Brunswick so I set-up an emergency, same day appointment with them and left the next morning to New Brunswick.

My concern was the propane tank was leaking gas and this was the problem.

The dealership did a propane leak test and found nothing wrong and of course by this time the alarm wasn’t going off anymore.

Super frustrating, but at least I know there’s not a gas leak.

Okay, let’s go back to Cabot Trail on the way to my first overnight destination.

Overnighting at Hide Away Campground

I found the campground with no problems using my GPS and check in was simple and short.

I couldn’t believe my eyes at the view as I entered the campground and discovered where my campsite would be and the view I would have each day.

The spaces aren’t too compact and spaced a decent distance from each other for the most part. I mean I could always use more space, but for some reason it didn’t seem bad. Maybe it was the beautiful view.

There was no Internet service here and my cell phone barely got a signal so it was good that I took an extended weekend to come here and not need to work.

I relished in the peace of no digital communication and took the time to meditate, read a book, enjoy the outdoors, walk, and do some hiking.

The campground filled up over the weekend with people in the cabins, tents and RVs. It was a really great experience and I loved being there.

The views of the mountains and water are incredible.

Cape Breton Island Trees 2

Hide Away Campground View

I had full hookups though I was too scared to plugin the RV electric due to the propane alarm issue. I still wasn’t sure what was causing the issue and thought it could still be a low voltage problem. Every time I plug-in to shore power this alarm will go off within 30 minutes.

After spending a beautiful weekend at Hide Away Campground I set out to complete the last leg of Cabot Trail on the southeast side of Nova Scotia. It was raining that morning and clouds lingered in the sky; however it didn’t deter Cape Breton Island’s beauty from shining through.

Cabot Trail Glacial Movement Rocks

Cabot Trail Cliffs

Cabot Trail Cove and Water

Cabot Trail Ocean Against Rocks 3

Cabot Trail Cliff of Rocks

While I experienced some challenges along the way with the propane alarm and Internet, I still made the best of the time I was there and really enjoyed my stay. Next time though, I’ll be headed to Halifax first so I can take in the western side of Nova Scotia.

Have you been to Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island? What’s your favorite destination there?

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Overnights & Places Visited

Overnights/Cost: 

  • Walmart all through out New Brunswick and Nova Scotia / $0
  • Hide Away Campground in Dingwall, Nova Scotia, Canada / $32 per night US dollars for full hookup

Places Visited/Cost:

  • Cabot Trail / $0
  • Cape Breton Highlands National Park / $0 on this trip since it was the Canada 150th Year Anniversary and they were giving away free passes for the year.

RV Accessibility:

  • You can drive this route in any RV without any problems. There was plenty of parking at all of the sights I visited.

Cell Phone Signal Strength:  2-4 bars and almost 0 bars at Hide Away Campground. I didn’t have my cell booster at this point so it might be different with a booster.

Park Pass:  Canada’s National Park pass is required when you want to travel around Cape Breton Island’s Cabot Trail


Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

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