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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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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FUN ALONG THE SHORES OF LAKE ERIE

There are very few things in life as fun and exciting as seeing new things. After four years of full time RVing, we’ve started visiting places a second or even third time. Of course, we are always finding new things to do in areas we’ve visited before like going to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls a few weeks ago. However, the past few weeks have been filled with entirely new-to-us places as we’ve been making our way along the Pennsylvania and Ohio coastlines of Lake Erie.

 

 

Our first new-to-us stop was Presque Isle, a peninsula located in Erie, Pennsylvania. It’s name in French means “almost an island.” It became a state park in 1921.

 

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ANOTHER EPIC JACKSON FAMILY TRIP FROM TENNESSEE TO COLORADO FOR THE GOPRO GAMES

I have always had the desire to travel. I remember the 4 and 1/2 hour, 222.5-mile trip from my childhood house in Woolrich, Pennsylvania, to my parents’ hometown of Leetonia, Ohio, starting in the old Appalachian Mountains and twisting through to the open farms and rolling hills to my grandparents’ house.

As I got older, whitewater kayaking became my primary passion. By the time I was 20, I had moved to Bethesda, Maryland and was training full time with the USA Team in hopes of becoming a team member myself. The kayaking events we competed in took me to Europe and around the mountain areas of the US. I was beginning to see parts of the US and the world I never knew existed and my passion for travel was fueled once again.

At 24 I married my wife Kristine (then 18) and made the USA Team for slalom kayaking and the following year my daughter, Emily, was born. Traveling around the country started getting harder as the long drives in a car were more taxing with a young child and two Dalmatians. Kristine started staying home for more of the training camps and other trips that we enjoyed so much together just a year or two before. I made the Olympic Team in 1992 and did much of my training in Barcelona without my young family.  In 1993, we had our second child, Dane, and I also won my first World Championships. It was becoming increasingly more difficult to keep the family together and truly enjoy the trips that I planned for kayak training, racing, and pleasure.

A good kayaker friend of mine had an RV that he traveled in and recommended that I consider RVing. I hadn’t really thought much about it at the time. However, in 1997, when the kids were 4 and 7 years old, Kristine brought up the RV option as a better way to travel and keep the family together and happy. After a few long discussions about it, we both agreed that it was worth a try. We didn’t dabble, however, we went “all-in”.  We had a yard sale and sold everything we owned over a weekend in October of 1997. We purchased a Type A motorhome and planned on spending a year or two in it to try it out. We realized that we could cut our monthly expenses by about $1,100/month if we lived in an RV and that was precious cash for a full time kayaker. That was the beginning of being spoiled….

 

 

We had no idea how awesome traveling in an RV was going to be. From the moment we pulled out of our suburban neighborhood in Bethesda, we felt free and like we were on an adventure. Life was simple. We had less stuff, less stress, and more freedom than ever before.

 

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ROAD TRIPPIN’ FROM OTTAWA TO ORLANDO

Editor’s note: Candace Derickx has been RVing now for 11 years with her outdoorsman husband and their three children. Candace’s life now revolves around when and where she can escape to next with her family. 

When I tell people my husband and I often drive our RV from Ottawa to Florida, we get a lot blank stares. We know what they’re thinking.  Yes, we understand that a plane could have us there in three hours but still we choose to take three days to get there. But those who stare and wonder if we’re crazy? They don’t know what they’re missing.

Many Canadians move their RVs south in the winter, and we’re no exception. Snow squalls and sub-zero temperatures aren’t favorable RVing conditions and can take a toll on your RV if you don’t have proper storage facilities. And you’d also miss out on the chance for one last drive south – something not to be missed when the opportunity arises. After eleven years making this journey south we continue to be amazed by the beauty of America and the boundless hospitality its people possess.

Every time we leave the house in our RV we set out with a general idea of where we’d like to end up. From there on, it’s a connect-the-dots adventure to our final destination. We are free to roam for as long as we’d like on the trip to Florida. Adopting this nomadic lifestyle on our journey is easy because we know no matter what route we choose, we’ll feel safe and welcome in America. We are not bound by a schedule, nor are we hostage to hotel reservations. Airline cancellations have no effect on us, and our vacation starts as soon as we leave the house – not after standing in countless boarding lines and custom booths.

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