November 2017

Philly, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri (plus a wee little bit of Illinois)

We began November with a hotel switch, opting to spend a few nights on the other side of Philly to get some work finished up before heading back out on the road. Running a business while traveling full time is a constant challenge even when said business is completely portable. Just because we can work anywhere doesn’t mean we have unlimited time to do it and we often find we have to adjust plans according to meet deadlines and stay on top of it all. When we first started out we had the idea that we would be able to do more “stuff” than we have, in reality, been able to do. When this first hit us, it was a bit difficult to swallow but now that we have a better understanding of how it all works we realize that even if we didn’t have a business to maintain and, therefore, many hours that just need to be spent working, we are moving and seeing and doing at a pace that works for us all. This country of ours is so jam packed with trails and parks, lakes and rivers, oceans and forests and mountains and trees. There are historical markers everywhere, state and national parks, museums, zoos, preserves…the list goes on and on. Even in the most remote areas that we stay there is SOMETHING interesting to see or do. So, we have resolved that we will not see and do it all. We have stopped feeling bad when we don’t have a chance to see something nearby and we just do what we can, knowing that we are still doing so much.

So, we decided to stay in Philadelphia for a few more days, where we did some more swimming, some more sightseeing, and tried out a couple more skate parks, while James caught up on work enough to spend the next few weeks on the road.

On a bright first Saturday in November, we said good bye to Philadelphia and began the journey southwest through the beautiful countryside of Pennsylvania. We spent the first day of driving enjoying the views of mountains and valleys, rolling hills, quaint farmhouses, barns, horses, cows and the occasional horse and buggy. The changing colors were still bright and the grass still quite green…a great time to cruise through that part of the country. By nightfall we had made it to LaVale, Maryland and decided to boondock for the night. We wanted to hit the road again the next day as quickly as possible and we did, making a 2 hour stop in a town called Hurricane, Maryland where I took the littles to get haircuts and James got a little work in at the local McDonalds. McDonalds may not be the place for food for us but it does tend to be the most reliable stop on travel days to snag some wifi and take care of business.

We hoped to get to Sutton Lake, West Virginia while it was still light out. On Sadie’s maiden voyage to Niagara Falls a couple of years ago we had stopped there on a whim. Out of all of the exciting things we did on that 10 day trip, including Niagara Falls, Gettysburg, Washington DC, the kids remembered this lake in West Virginia as the highlight. When we realized we would again be passing by it, we knew we had to stop again. And so we did. It wasn’t quite the same in the colder weather as it had been when they could swim but it was an enjoyable break in the long travel day just the same.

It seemed like forever before we made it to the campground for the night but it turned out to be a beautiful little place and we greeted the evening watching swans on a lake and feeling a great sense of accomplishment for making it so far in one day.

The next couple of days were spent trying to reach Mammoth Cave National Park. We made an overnight stop in the Bourbon Capital of the World, Bardstown, Kentucky…but did not sample any of the drink that the city is known for. We hit up the local Cracker Barrel and found the nearest campground. Hoping to get a little touring of the area done the following morning we, instead, woke to a downpour so we packed it all up and headed out for the final stretch. So long My Old Kentucky Home…catch you next time!

The campground sign for Diamond Caverns RV Resort in Mammoth Cave was a very welcome sight and we were pleasantly surprised by the shape of the place…nice enough that we extended our stay to nearly 2 weeks instead of the original plan of 4 days. Of course, it had the funky mini golf course we have become accustomed to and the 80’s furnishings in the lounges but the place was very clean and the staff was exceptional. We had a great spot right across from the playground and the kids had lots of room to ride bikes, scooters and skateboards to their heart’s content.

The time we spent there was some of our favorite and we learned so much about caves and the huge Mammoth Cave system, about Abraham Lincoln after a visit to his birthplace and his boyhood home, and even about dinosaurs when we spent the day at Dinosaur World. The kids collected more National Park badges, Wheeze proudly receiving his very first one.

After all the time we had spent in hotels and campgrounds, we were all looking forward to our next Airbnb and so after leaving Kentucky we drove hard until we arrived in Sikeston, Missouri (passing through Illinois for about 30 seconds!) and pulled into the driveway of the “Thanksgiving House” that we had been dreaming about. Not sure I’ve ever been as terrified as I was the last leg of the trip as we drove through such high winds that I was watching Sadie lean craaaazy dangerously to the side just waiting for her to completely tip. Words cannot describe the relief when we finally arrived. The anxiety wore off quickly after we entered the house. We were so pleasantly surprised to see the effort that our hosts had made to make it a perfect landing spot for us. Little Thanksgiving touches were scattered throughout the house. It was exceptionally clean, smelled so good and had all the comforts of home. The kids quickly claimed their rooms and we settled in, stretching our legs and enjoying some much needed space. Missouri, though…that wind is no joke! The place is so flat…like FLAT flat…makes for a grand sunset, though.

Thanksgiving was bittersweet. We were grateful for all that we had accomplished over the year, the memories made and thankful as could be to have a table and full kitchen and the ability to easily prepare all of our traditional favorites. We had nearly everything we needed minus a punch bowl for our once-a-year Cranberry Spice punch but we improvised (something we’ve gotten exceptionally good at) and it will now forever be called Trashcan Punch. Don’t worry it was brand new and clean. However, it was extremely hard on all of us to be away from so many that we love like crazy and the melancholy of the entire holiday season began to take root.

We spent the week after the holiday in the house continuing to enjoy being in a home without wheels again and making the most of things. We took a day off to wander some trails, gaze at the mighty Mississippi and learn even more about history at the Trail of Tears State Park. There isn’t a whole lot to Sikeston, Missouri but it does have a huge park with a small lake, a variety of different playgrounds and a decent little skate park in the center of it all. We spent some time there every day, We also took lots of walks around the neighborhood. That is, until I was surrounded by police one sunny morning. Apparently, when you have plates from NC and there is a missing child in that state you become a reason for someone in your new neighborhood to call the cops. I still get a nervous twitch remembering that day but the officers were quite apologetic after immediately realizing that I was not a possible suspect, that the gaggle of kiddos walking alongside me were, obviously, all mine and I got a somewhat funny story after it was all said and done.

We concluded the month of November packing it all back up again and preparing to set out on the next leg of the trip, working our way down to Mississippi to settle into the “Christmas House”.

Campgrounds, Hotels & Vacation Rentals Mentioned

Rippling Waters Campground - Kenna, WV

Passport America campground in a beautiful setting. It was a bit out of the way and not rich in amenities but a good place for an overnight, for sure. Swans on a lake in a valley with a little white chapel…yes, please.

Diamond Caverns RV Resort - Park City, KY

Another Thousand Trails campground that we found to be a very comfortable stay. We were especially impressed with the cleanliness of the place and friendliness of the staff.

Lambert’s Landing - AirBnB

Thoroughly enjoyed our stay in this well appointed home. Our hosts were friendly and very thoughtful, going the extra mile to make sure we were pleased. We wouldn’t hesitate to stay in this house again. Highly recommended.