GIRLS RV GETAWAY

Many ladies are intimidated by the thought of taking the RV out on their own.  This is especially true if you have only gone RVing with your husband and the kids.

 

 

If your situation is anything like mine, as the wife and mom, I am responsible to pack everyone up and be sure that we have a meal plan before every trip.  Once we arrive at the campsite, I am the one who gets the RV’s interior situated and starts the evening supper in the crockpot.  Meanwhile, my husband goes outside to connect the RV to shore power, sewer and fresh water.  Yes, everyone has a job and since our maiden RV voyage in 2014, we have perfected this process and I must say it goes off without a hitch…most times.

 

 

But, what is a girl to do when she decides to take the RV out solo or at least sans the husband and kids?  What if I took the RV out with a couple of my girlfriends for the weekend?  Am I able to do this without my trusty life partner?  I have seen my husband hook up the RV many times and I am very comfortable driving it.  So what do I really have to worry about?  I can do this!

 

 

Now before you start thinking about hiking and all the awesome possibilities of the great outdoors, this was not what I had in mind at all for this getaway.  You see, I have never been that outdoorsy type of gal.  Don’t get me wrong!  I love to go hiking and exploring with my boys, but this was a girls’ weekend.  As such, we were looking forward to being pampered, relaxed, and dined.

 

 

Now since this was our first “Girls Trip” we were determined to stick to a few rules.

 

  • No discussions about husbands, kids or work.
  • No phone calls with the above parties. (Except for emergencies, of course)
  • No morning wakeup alarms.
  • No reservations, no time schedules to keep.
  • HAVE FUN.

 

Okay, so the groundwork has been established let’s go!

 

GET PAMPERED

 

The first thing on our list of MUST DO’s was to find a spa where we could enjoy a nice massage.   As women we play so many different roles during the course of the day.  We are a wife, mom, daughter, sister, confidant, therapist, nurse, cook and household CEO and that is before we ever step foot outside of the house.  Therefore, it is vitally important to take some to rejuvenate oneself periodically.  Heading to the spa for a full-body massage and foot reflexology was the best decision that we could have made for ourselves, as it set the tone for the remainder of the getaway.

 

 

RELAX

 

The next item on the MUST DO list was to simply relax.  Many ladies will agree that this is easier said than done.  But remember the ground rules that were set in place prior to leaving on our Girls Getaway?  In order to relax you have to be able to allow your loved ones to handle the day -to -day responsibilities at home.  You have to be able to unplug and just be.

 

Here is where RVing makes its most influential impact.  Being able to sit outside and just enjoy nature is so peaceful.  The girls and I were able to just talk about things that were important to us as women and sometimes just be plain silly.  It was our time.

 

DINE

 

 

Last, but certainly not least on our MUST DO list was to eat some good food.  Being able to go out with the girls to a trendy food spot in the city that did not offer a kids menu, was priceless!

 

Our RV has given us so much more than we ever intially thought it would.  This getaway would have cost us twice as much if we had to reserve hotel rooms,  and we certainly would not have had the peaceful and homelike atmosphere that we enjoyed at the campsite.  Yes, our RV has proved to be very instrumental in improving the quality of our vacations and ultimately the quality of our lives.

 

 

*Confession…As the day approached to begin this trip I was nervous and unsure of myself.   I am so happy that I soldiered through my apprehensions, because it was so worth it.  Not only am I more confident in my abilities to travel solo, I am so happy that I was able to share some much needed girl time with these incredible ladies.

 

 

CHEERS!

A TRIP TO THE EPCOT INTERNATIONAL FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL

What is the first thought that comes to mind when someone mentions Disney World? Most people would say Mickey Mouse, Magic Kingdom and loads of kids with their parents in tow. Oh, and let’s not forget about strollers! Yes, I will admit that I love taking the whole family to Disney World.

And, I fall into all of those categories with my kids and their meltdowns from the overstimulation of a huge theme park. It is certainly one of my favorite places to go for a fabulous family vacation. Now what if I told you that there are a couple of months out of the year when Disney World can be a fabulous destination for adults, with or without kids?

Now I have your attention.

I decided to take the family down to Orlando for yet another Disney vacation, but this time it was all about the adults.  Sure, the kids came along for the ride, but this was not for them. Some might find that to be a bit selfish. However, sometimes mama and papa bear have to have some fun, too.

Personally, I think that it is good for our kids to know that even though we love to bless them with fun experiences, we are people too. Parents deserve to have a little fun.

So instead of the usual trip to Magic Kingdom and the like, we decided to hit Epcot for the International Food and Wine Festival 2017. I have become such a foodie over the past 5 years that I was excited to see what goodies I would find at the Food and Wine Festival. Not only does Epcot do a fantastic job of offering a glorious variety of culinary delights from around the globe, but they offer wine pairings for their dishes, too.

There was one small wrinkle in my plan. My husband is a traditional meat and potatoes kind of guy but my recent decision to partake in a plant-based diet would limit the variety of dishes that I would be able to consume.  I even had to ask myself if I would be able to eat anything other than a salad.

Once again, Disney World did not disappoint!

First thing is first! This mama bear will always find a way to entertain her little cubs, so we registered the boys for a scavenger hunt. Now that the boys were sufficiently entertained and distracted, it was time for us to begin eating our way around this culinary Epcot world.

One place that is only available to eat at during the Food and Wine Festival is their Africa region. There I was able to thoroughly enjoy the spicy Ethiopian red lentil stew with vegan yogurt and quinoa. This dish had me wishing that I had some take home containers in my bag.

Due to my dietary restrictions I have learned, albeit the hard way, that it is always best to do a little menu research prior to heading out to eat. To my delight, Epcot had a couple of vegan/vegetarian options at each food spot around the park.

If you plan to visit the Epcot Food and Wine Festival it is best to go in the middle of the work-week and plan to arrive as close to opening as you can. I failed to adhere to my own advice and went on the weekend. It was packed with tourists as well as local Floridians taking advantage of the weekend to get their grub on.

Nonetheless, this event is a must for adults who wish to visit the most magical theme park destination in the world.  The festival offers so many options to parents taking a break from the traditional Disney experience. If you plan ahead, you can book your spot to participate in cooking demonstrations and seminars led by well-known chefs and television personalities. That said; plan your visit well ahead of time.

As for our family, we will be back! The kids had a great time and they were happy to see that mom and dad had a magical time, too.

SOLAR ECLIPSE 2017

Our RV trip planning can take so many different forms including national parks, experiencing the magic of Disney, a beach vacation or a simple weekend getaway. No matter the trip, we always try to work in a little bit of homeschooling education. We’re not always successful but you have to try, don’t you? When I first learned of the full solar eclipse, I knew I had to be there to see it in person. I knew this would be a different kind of trip, having grown up kind of a science geek, and wanting to be an astronaut.

 

This is as close as I get to be a real astronaut.

 

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FATHER’S DAY TRIP

One of the biggest benefits of RVing is making lifelong memories, but like most African Americans, I didn’t grow up RVing or camping.  Therefore, I just don’t have those childhood memories or pictures from camping trips. I’m not sad about that. I guess I’ve kind of taken extra joy in taking my own kids to do something I wasn’t exposed to as a kid.

 

With Father’s Day approaching, I decided to take a trip down memory lane and started going through some pictures of my kids. After an hour of looking at pictures I came across one of me as a very young child with my dad, my older brother and sister. We were posed in front of Mammoth Cave.

 

Our Mammoth Onyx Cave visit 1970

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NAARVA -SOUTHERN RALLY -TAKE TWO

What is it about RV rallies that make us a little queasy? Typically, RV rallies aren’t high on the list of things to do for families with kids. When we first got the invitation, we were a bit apprehensive about attending a second NAARVA rally. NAARVA stands for National African American RV Association. Our first rally, while it had many pluses, also had its share of minuses.

 

 

However, after speaking with newly elected NAARVA leadership, we were eager to see what changes were put in place. NAARVA, like many RV clubs, has recognized the need to encourage membership of families and younger RVers.

 

Location – Lakewood Camping Resort, Myrtle Beach, SC

 

Myrtle Beach had been on our list of “must visit” locations for a long time. So we packed up the RV and headed out to Lakewood Camping Resort. Checking in was a breeze.

 

 

As we found our site, we were greeted with smiles and waves from the many other NAARVA rally attendees. The rally was packed with over 200 RV’s from nine different states representing the entire Southern Region.

 

 

This was one of the few times at a campground that we felt in the majority rather than the minority.

 

Southern Region Director, Dr. Monica Davis, kicked off the rally with the opening ceremonies in the beachside auditorium. As each chapter name was called, they stood and cheered, announcing their presence.

 

 

Afterwards we hit the tent, grabbed our rally bags, and settled down for some hotdogs and burgers. You could feel the energy radiating inside the tent.

 

 

Our boys had one thing on their minds…the beach…with the sun getting ready to set, we couldn’t hold them back any longer.

 

 

So off we went to enjoy the first of many gorgeous sunsets.

 

That evening after the kids finally drifted off to sleep, we studied the itinerary to plan our week.

Right away we noticed there wasn’t an overload of events we had to attend. So we picked a few local activities to explore.

 

The next morning proved the perfect mix of education for the guys and a social for the ladies.

 

 

Keith attended a tire safety seminar hosted by Michelin. I had a chance to speak with Raymond from New Orleans, who has been RVing for 38 years! He’s a huge Southern University football fan and decided to get an RV to have a better game day experience. Learning from him about how challenging it was for an African American just to get insurance was quite humbling.

 

The ladies got a real treat. This year’s Southern Bell Social’s guest speaker was Barbara Blain-Bellamy. She is the first female African American Mayor of Conway, SC. She led an inspiring discussion about a commitment to giving back to the community. I wish my daughter had been in attendance to hear the words of wisdom.

 

 

Then it was time for some fun. We decided to visit the highly rated, nearby Brookgreen Gardens. These are not your average gardens. They have sculptures, a wildlife preserve, and so much more with over 9,000 acres, the Low Country Zoo, and trails through different ecosystems on the property.

 

 

The boys enjoyed a scavenger hunt through the Ribbit Exhibit.

 

 

Our boys love the junior ranger program in our NPS. Brookgreen Gardens is a National Historic Site, and they offered a “ranger type” packet for the boys to take around and find the answers. The boys worked extra hard, since they knew if they completed the packet they would earn a prize!

 

As we walked through the lovely gardens, we were overcome with a haunting feeling. When we stopped to read one of the historical signs it became clear why.

 

 

With its origin as a slave plantation, we couldn’t help but wonder what the lives of our ancestors had been like. Could they enjoy these beautiful surroundings or was it just a living hell? It was again one of those moments where RVing gave us a chance to educate our boys on a piece of not so great American history.

 

The next morning it was once again time to explore the beach. We ran into plenty of other rally members taking strolls on the beach.

 

 

We learned how much our boys loved the beach. They could spend all day playing in the sand…

 

 

I have to say we are strictly amateurs when it comes to the beach. I’ve learned that cheap beach umbrellas won’t survive any type of wind. Go ahead and laugh at me.

 

 

As our boys, always hungry, reminded us, it was time to eat. So we decided to head over to Wahlburgers at Broadway at the Beach.

 

Broadway at the Beach is a perfect place to spend an afternoon away from the water. There were tons of restaurants, shopping, and even attractions to ride.

 

To my great surprise we found a honey store and restocked the RV with our favorite honey…

 

 

Tupelo honey. Talk about a great ending to the day…

 

 

Over the course of the next few days, we bounced in and out of different activities. We took the boys to enjoy the pools, lazy river, and the water slides.

 

 

Nothing says “family friendly” more than an ice cream social. Our boys loved this event. Who can say no to free pints of ice cream?

 

Everyone had a great time and it was the perfect chance to meet members from different chapters.

 

So many members went out of their way to speak with our kids to remind them how lucky they are to be RVing at such a young age.

 

The wisdom that was passed down to our children and us has been priceless.

 

 

The biggest event of the rally is always the Saturday night banquet. This year’s theme was Africa. All attendees were encouraged to dress in their best African outfit.

 

 

It was an incredible sight to see so many people dressed in African attire, and that party went on well into the evening.

 

 

As we packed up to leave another successful NAARVA Southern Rally, we’ve come to the realization that change is happening, albeit slowly. We have come to recognize that instead of waiting for an entire organization to change to fit our needs, we just need to adjust our expectations.

 

 

Embrace the items we can only get from attending a NAARVA rally. We will look to these rallies to help us connect, to learn, and for fellowship in large numbers with other African-American RVers.

 

That feeling, let’s just say comfort in numbers is priceless.

 

 

NAARVA will be celebrating its 25th year in the summer of 2017. We are proud to be members of NAARVA. They are true pioneers in the RV world.