ONE RV ADVENTURE TO HAVE WITH YOUR KIDS IN EVERY STATE BEFORE THEY GROW UP

Image via Flickr/H. Micheal Miley

 

Alabama

Go to Space Camp. Rocket scientist Dr. Wernher von Braun wanted a place to inspire kids about space travel, and the result was Space Camp, where kids participate in simulated missions, experience what gravity feels like on the moon, and spin themselves silly on the multi-axis trainer.

 

Alaska

Go dogsledding. Whether you want to see the northern lights, explore Denali National Park or visit a glacier, get there by dogsled. The cold air in your face as you glide across the snow…there’s nothing else like it. Mush!

 

Arizona

Camp out in the Grand Canyon. But don’t stare at it for five minutes and then wonder, “Now what?” There are plenty of wonders waiting to be discovered inside the canyon. Climb down and explore, then spend the night under the stars at Mather Campground.

 

Arkansas

Dig for diamonds. Visit Crater of Diamonds State Park to find your own gemstones. It’s the only diamond-producing site in the world that is open to the public, so start digging!

 

California

 

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GO BIG OR GO HOME

When Brewster, NY native Danielle Thompson decided she wanted to be an RVer, she tapped into her “can do” family attitude and dove right in. A CPA by trade in her family’s historic NYC construction business, Civetta and Sons, Danielle is used to “big deals.” She is the third generation to work at the business started by her grandfather that has had a hand in some of the biggest “digs” in NYC, excavating for the buildings that silhouette the Big Apple’s skyline.

Growing up with her older sister and younger brother, she recalls a camper they owned being used more in the backyard as a playhouse than for actual camping. Because of the nature of her dad’s business, summer was always his busy season, so vacations with the whole family became winter ski trips in Vermont and Colorado. Her mom, however, thought nothing of throwing all the kids in the station wagon while dad was working and hitting the road. Whether it was Long Island for a day of discovery, or the family favorite “epic” Niagara Falls their mom had the spirit of adventure that Danielle and her sister and best friend Regina inherited. Danielle credits her mom with instilling in her the feeling that she can “do anything and go anywhere.”

 

The family camper turned playhouse that Danielle and Regina dreamed and played in as girls. 

 

When Danielle had her first baby she began feeling the pressure of motherhood, a career, and being a wife to a golf pro instructor. There was always something that needed to be done and juggling all of her responsibilities left her with “mixed up priorities.” It was then that Danielle picked up camping. She says, “When I was camping I was just in the moment. I didn’t care what was going on at work. I didn’t care what my house looked like – honestly I didn’t even care what I looked like. I was just in the moment. I cared about what I had to eat at the next meal, when I got to nap with my daughter and relax. This is what got me hooked.” Danielle began camping with her sister and her now two kids a couple of times each summer and when she did, she said she was so relaxed that the few days she was able to get away felt like weeks.

 

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TIPS FOR SMALL SPACE LIVING FOR THE ADVENTUROUS RVER

We’ve all heard horror stories about housing in big cities like one bedroom apartments with five roommates and a sixth in the bathroom. More and more frequently, people are paying to live in crawl spaces and walk-in closets. If they’re lucky, they get enough room for a bed and a coffeepot. It sounds crazy because it absolutely is crazy and a little extreme. We are adventurous small space dwellers, but we aren’t living in someone’s closet — we are RV dwellers! Specifically, we’re in a Sprinter RV, and we’ve been living in all 110 sq. ft. of it full-time while adventuring and working across the Western U.S.

 

 

While living in the RV, we’ve learned a lot about how to maximize our time and our enjoyment on the road. We wish we had the benefit of someone slipping us a few tips before we hit the pavement, but we had to learn them for ourselves, sometimes the hard way. So, we thought we’d pay it forward and give y’all some tips on how we manage to live in such a small space and not go completely crazy. We broke it down into some very important categories: Food, Adventure, and the Nitty Gritty. Hopefully, you’ll see why, and how, we traded space and stuff for better adventure and travel.

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SMOOTH SAILING AHEAD

I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.

-Louisa May Alcott

 

Every human harbors dreams of things they wish they could do. Some of those things are actually doable with some applied preparation and perspiration. Running a 5K, taking a bucket list trip, or getting a handle on your finances or health. Some bigger dreams, however, fall into a category with the dreaded, “someday” label.  They get put there because life has obligations and responsibilities that take precedent over dreams. Some dreamers fall into complacency and their dream dies, but some nurture that dream and do things to keep the little flame from going out.  Jea Santovasco (pronounced Gia), a Girl Camper who was born and raised in Brooklyn, fell into the second category. She kept her dream of one day owning a travel trailer and traveling at will alive while making a Herculean effort to raise three children on her own.

 

The dream of one day owning and traveling in her own “tiny house” on wheels was “on hold” while Jea raised her three children.

 

At age 39, Jea left a husband whose verbal and emotional abuse turned physical and began to trickle down to their 7 and 8 year old children. With a six week old infant in her arms and her two older children in tow, she left the marriage with nothing but what fit into her car.  Years of unpaid child support left her in the unenviable position of being the sole supporter of her family. She decided she could cry, or she could make it an adventure. She took the attitude that she and her children were on an adventure. Not having anyone to rely on, she worked as a secretary and then a real estate appraiser. When the real estate market crashed and the appraisal industry slowed, she got side jobs driving for Fed Ex and as a medical records clerk. Money was tight, but her children did not feel deprived because she found every opportunity for free fun, like concerts in the park, picnics, and family game nights. Jea recalls that one of the low points was swallowing her pride to ask for “waived fee” educational and entertainment opportunities for her children. Somehow, with gall and guts, she found a way for them to participate in all the sporting activities, from karate and tennis to T-ball and hockey.

 

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THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,


And sorry I could not travel both


And be one traveler, long I stood 
And looked down one as far as I could


To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair, 
And having perhaps the better claim


Because it was grassy and wanted wear,

Though as for that the passing there


Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay


In leaves no step had trodden black. 


Oh, I kept the first for another day!


Yet knowing how way leads on to way


I doubted I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh


Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, 
I took the one less traveled by, 
And that has made all the difference.

-Robert Frost

 

The road less traveled has within it the possibility of the ordinary becoming extraordinary. At least extraordinary to those who normally do the expected and stay within the margins that someone set up for them, possibly without their even knowing it.  When we embark on a path which is not the presumed, we can count on being surprised and surprising others. The surprise however, is not what is on the road, but what we discover about ourselves when we take that road.

Very often when I am speaking at an event and talking with women who have heard about the Girl Camper movement, they let out a sigh and express a wish that they could do that too. I want to shout, “you can”! It’s not as if it is some kind of exclusive club with strict membership policies. Anyone can join and although so many express the desire, I am always amazed by the number of women who don’t join.

The least likely person to ever find herself as a Girl Camper would be my best friend and favorite travel buddy, Carol Thompson. I chose Carol to profile because I believe she personifies the “ordinary” woman who longs to explore another side of life, possibly in her own little house on wheels. Carol is the very personification of the extraordinarily “ordinary” woman. She is “everywoman.”  She is extraordinary to us who know and love her, but ordinary in that she is what most women are; chief cook and bottle washer of their very own private domain.

 

Carol and I in our real life roles as mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, and best friends for over 30 years.

 

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