HOW SWEET IT IS!

When Natalie Campanella left the cold corridors of NYC life for sunny southern California in her early twenties, she knew that she wanted to live in a place in which she could “be outdoors” year round. In her mind she harbored the idea that someday, somehow, she would be in a place where she could explore the west coast from San Diego to Canada and beyond. She imagined the sweet life songwriters and poets wax about when extolling the virtues of southern California, a place where it never rains and the days are longer and the nights are stronger than moonshine, a place where dreamers go to live.

 

Natalie grew up in the Midwest in a camping family, the youngest of seven siblings. She took into adulthood vivid childhood memories of the rocky Canadian beaches of Newfoundland and of spelunking in the cold, dark caves of Kentucky with her six siblings and five cousins who joined her family each year on their camping pilgrimages. Long car rides in the family station wagon before seat belts and air conditioning. Rolling through the miles with the windows down and kids sprawled all over each other. Eight track cassettes with the Beatles Greatest Hits. Coleman lanterns and the parental warning to not touch it when lit! Mosquito bites dotted with calamine lotion and with an “x” dug into them with a fingernail. That and moms sympathy being the standard remedy of the day. Shorts and tees by day, and jeans and hoodies by night. Campfires, sing-a-longs, toasted marshmallows and lightning bugs in jars. Natalie stored all these memories and hoped to one day add to them.

 

Natalie (the middle hooded child!) with her siblings on a family camping trip in Fish Creek, Wisconsin

 

Post-college life has a way of getting really busy, really fast and Natalie’s life was no exception. Natalie’s move to the West Coast took her to Santa Monica where she continued pursuing the performing arts while working in the legal department of a large corporate real estate agency. In New York she had been a regular performer at the 1980s famed punk rock and improv venue, CBGB’s, in the East Village.  Her free time on the west coast was spent at an orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico where she helped the founders raise not only money, but also the spirits of the 100 children who lived there. She was free to “be outside” all the time and ran the LA marathon with her Tijuana “kids” in mind. She raised enough money through sponsorships to contribute to the purchase of a used school bus to take the kids on outings off the orphanage grounds. She knew that exposure to nature has healing effects. She went to her bosses so often with charity projects and fundraising ideas that they eventually made her the manager of the nonprofit within the company. For the next 10 years, she raised funds through the company real estate offices and provided services and assistance to countless individuals and groups until the corporate office changed its structure in 2015 and the job was eliminated. For the first time since graduating from college, she was unemployed.

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THE MOST AMAZING CAMPGROUNDS FOR STARGAZING WITH THE KIDS

Part of the romance of camping is the chance to sleep under the stars. But due to the ever-growing light pollution in this country, campgrounds with really stellar stargazing are rare. On average, city residents can only see a handful of stars. People living in really rural areas may be able to see a couple thousand. But there are a few spots left in the country where you’ll be able to see up to 10,000 stars (and maybe even some planets!) with just the naked eye. It can hardly be surprising that the best sites can be found within our national parks, where civilization is kept at bay. One of best ways to choose a stargazing destination is to find a Dark Sky Park. Parks can be certified a Dark Sky Park on a national and international level. With that in mind, here are a few of the best spots in the US to see the stars:

 

Pennsylvania’s Cherry Springs State Park

 

Image Courtesy here

 

This Pennsylvania State Park is the darkest and most remote spot east of the Mississippi. The high elevation and the fact that the viewing field is on a plateau means that you’ll have a 360-degree view of the skies around you– perfect for stellar stargazing! It was the first park to be certified as Dark Sky in the US and the second in the world. On a clear night, you’ll be able to see ten thousand stars and have a vivid view of the Milky Way. There are easily accessible viewing areas if you only want to visit for a few hours, or you could spend the night in one of the park’s campsites. One of the most popular events is the Black Forest Star Party, which attracts hundreds of astronomers every year.

 

California’s Death Valley National Park

 

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8 UNDERRATED NATIONAL PARKS THAT WILL LEAVE YOU SPEECHLESS

National Parks such as YellowstoneYosemite, or the Grand Canyon are rightfully some of the most famous destinations in the U.S. They’re iconic and beautiful, and deserving of their formidable reputations. But there are more than 400 parks, preserves, reserves, seashores and other units under the protection of the National Park System. Iconic park sights such as Old Faithful are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the natural beauty of the United States. Here are eight other national parks you don’t want to miss.
Great Basin National Park, Nevada

 

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Best known as home to the stunning Lehman Caves, Great Basin National Park is a glacier-carved natural wonder. Take the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive 10,000 feet up, then hike to the summit to see the only glacier in Nevada, the Wheeler Peak Glacier​. While you’re there, be sure to examine the bristlecone pines, some of the world’s oldest trees, the last remnants of a Pleistocene forest… some of the trees are 3,000 years old, before Rome was even established as a city! Once you’ve admired the views, head underground to see Lehman Caves, a marble cavern ornately decorated with cave formations and 1.5 miles of underground passages. The park averages about 80,000 visitors a year and is a must-visit on a southwest road trip.

 

Congaree National Park, South Carolina

 

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A GYPSY SOUL

Start by doing what’s necessary;

Then do what’s possible;

and suddenly you’re doing the impossible.

-St Francis of Assisi

 

Angela Gonzalez has a plan! She’s planning on taking time to tour the country in a vintage RV. She has places to go and things to do with her boyfriend Damian and their dogs. Meanwhile, she is working everyday doing what is necessary and possible to make what might seem like an impossible dream come true. She is a person of great joy who lives color dreams; she’s a modern day mix of gypsy and hippie stock who lives life in a perpetual state of hope and happiness.

 

 

Angie was born in Brooklyn, NY in the early 80s. She is the oldest of three children in what she describes as a “typically crazy, funny, loving family of five. My father is Cuban. My mother is Jewish. I love my sister Heather and my brother Jeremy more than anything. My mom and I talk on the phone daily and my dad is truly my best friend. He’s always been there for me my whole life and I’ve been there for him.” The family lived in Brooklyn until Angie was five and then spent the next twenty years in beautiful Northern California. Angie spent lots of summers visiting her grandma on the east coast and never gave up her Brooklyn roots. “We got the street smarts of city kids but the chill laid back feeling of California.” Angie loves this aspect of her life and truly feels authentically bi-coastally blessed.

 

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FIDDY STATES TOP 10 RV DESTINATIONS IN THE FIFTY STATES

Hi there! Megan & Drikus from the Fiddy States here! As native Australians, we’ve spent the last six months taking a break from work so we could travel the United States. Our goal was to see all 50 states, and now we can finally say that we have made it. 
Today, we’re excited to share with you our top 10 favorite RV destinations. This was a hard one since there are so many good places to choose from, but in no particular order, here we go!

 

  1.   Alaska


 

 

Alaska was by far our favorite state for many reasons. First, we LOVED having 24 hours of daylight during the summer. The sun would go down behind the mountains for about 3 hours and then slowly start coming up again. This allowed us to stay up late and enjoy all the amazingly beautiful scenery that Alaska has to offer. Exploring the entire state was amazing and we had a great time camping in various state parks, cooking on the grill and sitting next to the campfire watching the abundant Alaskan wildlife.

 

  1.  Valley of the Gods, Utah

 

 

The Valley of the Gods was by far our favorite boondocking location, and we’d definitely recommend this to anyone who has an RV and a few days to spend in the area. Utah is filled with breathtaking scenery, and we really loved the vivid orange colors and the vastness of the different rock formations – we definitely gave our DSLR a workout with the amount of photos we took. Utah actually reminded us a little bit of the outback back home. There is so much to explore in the surrounding areas, and we highly recommend Arches National Park for anyone who likes to hike!

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