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Off the Beaten Path in Oregon. Our Top 10 Secret Finds.

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As full-time RV’ers we travel and see a lot. This is part of our Opting Out of Normal series where we explore the “Off the Beaten Path” of every state. We love the big popular stuff like everyone else, but there is just something incredible about discovering something unique, different and maybe a little “off the beaten path”. We certainly can’t explore them all, but we’d love you to include your favorites below too. Each series will include at least 1 epic boondocking area, some complete with pictures and all with GPS coordinates. 

Oregon is … simply put … EYE CANDY. If you blow through Oregon fast, this is one state you’re really missing some phenomenal things. Spend some time here! You won’t regret it. The Oregon Coast is one of the most amazing drives in itself. Make sure you spend some time driving the coast if you can. 

Some of the popular things in this state, I still have to highly recommend. Have you seen Thor’s Well, or hike around Crater Lake? The Columbia River Gorge with the Multnomah Falls looks so picture perfect, it’s almost fake! Cannon Beach and Mt. Hood National Forest are definitely the more popular things not to miss. But that’s not why you’re here! Lets get to the Off the Beaten Path stuff!


Here are our pick’s for the unique and different finds.


sea-lion-cave-51686_1920Sea Lion Cave – located 11 miles north of Florence on U.S. Highway 101 – The Sea Lion Caves along the Pacific coast in Oregon are a connected system of caverns where Steller’s sea lions (also known as northern sea lions) gather every spring and summer to breed and give birth to a new generation. If you arrive, and see no sea lions, it’s still a really cool place to see. At sea level, the ocean continually washes into the main chamber of the caves. The walls of the cavern are stained a rainbow of colors because of the lichens and algae that grow in the dark, wet space.

painted-hills-1415995_1920Painted Hills – An unusual partnering of a brutal high-desert climate mixed with the gentler lowland environment creates a setting for one of the most scenic landscapes in Oregon state. Turn north to Burnt Ranch Road from route 26 in Oregon, and it is impossible to miss them. This reminded us of South Dakota’s “Bad Lands” area. 

OctiTreeOROctopus Tree of Oregon  Tillamook – The Octopus Tree is believed to be around 300 years old. The tree itself extends from a central base that is nearly 50 feet around, and instead of shooting straight up with a central trunk, the body of the tree splits into a number of smaller trunks. The bizarre arbor has long been an attraction but the origins of its odd shape are up for debate.  

ship-2949936_1920100-year-old shipwreck you can walk up to at low tide. The Wreck of the Peter Iredale. The Peter Iredale was a four-masted steel barque sailing vessel that ran ashore October 25, 1906, on the Oregon coast en route to the Columbia River. It was abandoned on Clatsop Spit near Fort Stevens in Warrenton about four miles (6 km) south of the Columbia River channel. The wreckage is still visible. From Warrenton proper, take SW 9th Street West and turn north on NW Ridge Road. Turn left/west onto Peter Iredale Road, and follow it all the way to the beach, where there is a lot of parking about 200 yards from the wreck.

MEcrackrockA volcanic fissure over two miles long and up to 70 feet deep – Simply called Crack in the Ground. There are 2 places in my travels I have found where I feel the most peace. Peace with everything and a calmness comes over me that it’s just hard to explain. Those two places are walking through a slot canyon, and next to a waterfall. Some people love the beach, I’m more of a waterfall girl. This Carck in the Ground really is amazing to walk through. It’s like a slot canyon and really is something to see. It’s over two miles long and up to 70 feet deep. If you can’t walk the whole thing, at least step inside a few feet of it if you can. It is located in the Deschutes National Forest. Hikers can walk the length of the main crack and explore its tributaries.

AirplaneIf you’ve followed along, you know how much I love strange homes, and mystery castles with a story. Well … how about Airplane Home in the Woods? This man lives in a converted Boeing 727 parked out back. The aircraft’s owner, Bruce Campbell has been living in the airplane for six months each year since purchasing the plane in 1999 for $100,000. Equipped with water, electricity, and sewage plus 1,066 square-feet of interior space, Campbell’s airplane home is pretty plush for all its eccentricities. This is a private residence, on private property, so check out his website for a tour if you’re interested. Campbell is happy to offer tours of his airplane in the woods.  Email: bruce@AirplaneHome.com

Elowah Falls Bridge – This reminds me of The Hobbit. Ha! I am sure you’ll feel the same way when you check it out. It’s on our list of places to see! So if you get there first, send me a picture or 5. Ha! 

MEpillarsromePillars of Rome – In Malheur County you will find these awesome and unique rock formations. Driving on highway 95 South to Rome, then go west from Rome station the south for a little over a mile and you can’t miss this. Millions of years of weather erosion have given us an amazing sight to see. 

MENaturalBridgesCoveNatural Bridges Cove – Located on Hwy 101 along the southern Oregon coast holds many interesting and natural wonders, and Natural Bridges Cove is one of them. Just before the CA boarder, there is a town of Brookings. This cover is just a couple miles north of that. Just breathtaking. 

I mentioned my love of waterfalls right? Salt Creek Falls is one of 7 Waterfall Wonders in the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Region. Cascading 286 feet, Salt Creek Falls is one of Southern Oregon’s most powerful falls. A steep salt-creek-falls-2315471_1920trail from the platform to the waterfall’s base is short, but is not wheelchair accessible due to numerous stairs. The best viewpoint is halfway down this path. Salt Creek Falls Observation Site is 23 miles southeast of Oakridge and approximately 5 miles west of Willamette Pass. From Highway 58 look for the signs, turn onto Forest Service Road 5893 and follow the signs.

Oh … A little advice!! Traveling down the Oregon Coast? Don’t feed the sea birds. Even if he or she looks you in the eyes, begs and promises to be alone. Don’t ask us how we know that!! If you decide your story will be different, don’t say we didn’t warn you! Ha!!!

Boondocking in Oregon

The Oregon coast is known as “the People’s Coast”. Per the website, you are invited to camp overnight on any of their public beaches, unless specifically stated no camping. Keep your eyes open for those signs before you go and set up. 

  • Elk River National Forest: GPS: 42.735652, -124.401737 – Watch this area if you’re a big rig. Depending on your size, you might want to skip this one if you’re a big rig. But check it out. The views are amazing. 
  • Winema WaysideGPS: 45.14191, -123.96971 – This is a rest area, but it’s big rig friendly – Gorgeous coast view once the sun comes up. No facilities. Don’t stay too long here. I think the rules are one night, but you might be able to push it for 2. 
  • Are you going to the Evergreen Air and Space Museum in Oregon? Did you know they allow you to park in their lot for 2 nights for free? Yes, it’s lot-docking as we call it, but perfect if you’re going to be visiting the museum, right? GPS: 45.204028, -123.142602

There is so much more to do and see in Oregon. Let’s hear your secrets, and unique places. 

Have you checked out our other “Off the Beaten Path” states? Let us know what you think? Remember to Live Simply ~ Give More ~ Expect Less. 

 

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Perspective From the Daughter whose Parents RV Full-Time 

This was written beautifully by our youngest daughter. We wanted to share her story and her perspective on full-timing parents. 

My name is Daniana and I am the youngest daughter (and personally I would say best but Mom and Dad both say I’m only their favorite 21-year-old) of Stacy and Justin. While I am only one of the two biological children (three children total), I believe my close relationship to my sisters ensures me that the following thoughts are shared by all of us. If you have your own children and want to travel full-time in your RV but don’t know how your children will react then give this a read.

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“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” That’s a quote by John Muir that my family accidentally found while off road riding in a state park when I was little. We found a sign in the middle of nowhere with this quote printed in big bold letters and ever since the words have resonated within our hearts. DaniMom

The whole family loved to travel and experience new places and my moms love for waterfalls and bears have always driven her to state parks and off the beaten path locations. Even though by the time I was ten my older sister was moved out, whenever we had a chance to spend a vacation with her we would travel to far away places to hike up trails, smell the fresh air, and clear our heads. Almost every weekend my parents and I would travel somewhere to either ride our dirt bikes and quads or camp in a beautiful state park.

All of this seemed to stop in 2008 when my parents and I moved out of California and into Maryland. The family vacations became scarce, all of our off road toys were sold, and my mom stopped being a stay at home mom. It became hard to go on vacation when my family wasn’t able to do all the chores around the house that my mom was able to do when she stayed at home. We still managed to go on some weekend outings but the before preparation and the after cleaning added more stress than the actual trip relieved. 

In November of 2009, awaiting the retirement of my dad, we decided to move to Pennsylvania to settle down. We signed a 6 month lease on a tiny apartment where during the week my mom and I would stay while my dad lived in our toy hauler on base in Washington D.C. and commute back to Pennsylvania every weekend until his retirement. Travelling stopped completely. The trailer was basically permanent in Washington D.C. and when my dad came home we just wanted to spend time with him. 

Finally, in May of 2010, my dad was freshly retired and we moved into THE house. THE house is the home military brats never seem to have. THE house is the house I would always come home to for holidays and eventually my kids would go there and spend the day with Nanny and Papa in the yard. We traded in our toy hauler for a better trailer and started traveling more. Both of my parents still had jobs so it wasn’t often but when we did venture out it was always freeing. There was always something that I noticed in both of my parents every time we went camping, even if it was just to get away from our house. They were happy. Any outsider would see my parents as happy. And they were! My parents love each other and make the best of every situation but it seemed as if they gained their souls back when we would travel and truly became filled with happiness.

The summer after my first year at West Virginia University was the summer that I accidentally found out about my parents wanting to live in their RV full time and travel.

I was sitting at my sister’s dining room table scrolling through Facebook when I saw a comment my mom had made on a full timer’s post. It mentioned wanting to sell the house, live in an RV, and travel the United States. I do have to admit that at first my stomach sank. The house that I had spent the last five years in was finally THE house. My sister’s and I immediately called my parents and asked what was going on, to which they admitted to us that they were going to reveal all when they knew all the information towards the end of summer. 

(exert from Stacy: We were still in the planning/research stage and it was a huge jumbled mess in our own head. We weren’t sure what we were actually going to do yet. I had posted a question on a full-time RV group (that wasn’t a closed group), trying to gain more information. And I’m old … Ha! So I didn’t realize it was something that everyone outside the list could see as well. It made us feel terrible, as we are very close with our daughters and wanted to tell them personally, when we had more of a plan in our own heads. Definitely regret this! And I’ve learned more about Facebook! We did then sit down with them and explain and talk and let them ask questions.)

The way we found out is one thing we all wish was done differently. My advice is that if you are truly thinking that this is what you want to do and you are already making plans, don’t keep this from your kids no matter what the reason is. If they ask you questions that you haven’t figured out yet, just repeat the “I don’t know” answer we have been giving you for years and we will understand. After all, we are the kings and queens of that response even though we claim to know everything.

After hanging up the phone call with my parents, all of us were quiet. We didn’t know what to say, think, or do. I personally was a little mad that they would just want to leave and see us even less and change everything that we had just gotten used to. Eventually, my older sister, Britney, said, “They have both sacrificed everything for us to make sure we are always happy. Now that we are all out of the house, it’s their turn to always be happy. They deserve this.” And just like that, we were all on board. 

Truthfully, the cons of not seeing my parents as much as I would like and having Hallowthanksmas (Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas) in October before finals season and opening 6 months worth of junk mail when I finally get to visit my sister because my mom isn’t doing that for me anymore is nothing compared to the lesson the whole family has learned together: Life is too short to wait around for the perfect moment to take that vacation or do that thing you have always wanted to do. That perfect moment most likely will never come. My parents wanted more in life so they changed their life. The happiness that my sister’s and I have seen grow in my parents is amazing. They finally have life in their eyes and the drive to do something crazy. I myself took a gigantic leap and I’m currently writing this blog piece from my temporary apartment in Australia partaking in the most amazing internship opportunity by myself. This is something I would never have done if my parents didn’t show me by example how brave I could be. My sister’s recently took a much needed vacation and then went to an Imagine Dragons concert (jealous) because they work hard and have earned it. They also try to spend less time doing household chores and more time doing fun activities they love like playing one of the numerous board games they have. This too is something they have learned from my parents. And trust me, I believe the last time Britney took a real vacation was probably back in 2011 or 2012 when she visited from California and we went to Watkins Glenn.

The point is, sit down with your kids and speak from the heart. You’re always wanting to hear every piece of information about our lives since you are our parents. It should be understandable that when something big happens or will happen in your lives, we want to be included in some way, shape, or form. I’m assuming you have been amazing parents thus far and they will remember your sacrifices and they will support you 110%. Do remember that your life isn’t the only one that will change. As long as their life is entangled with yours in some way, they will need an adjustment period as well to figure things out and ask questions about their lives that you may not have realized would be affected. Don’t worry if they don’t take it well at first. Let them warm up to the idea and reinsure them that even though everything is changing, it’s a good kind of change. And you never know, in 5-10 years they may join you out on the big open dirt path to live simply, give more, and expect less.

Our “about us” page can be read HERE which explains our thought process of being empty nesters. 

Happy

Thank you to our daughter, Dani, who really poured her heart into this blog post for us. She is a beautiful, 3rd year college student. When she moved to college over 6 hours away from home, it was the empty nester feelings that definitely got us thinking about where we wanted to go in our life. I hope that someday our 3 girls are adventurous enough (and I know they are) to do something crazy like this. We recently met a beautiful family. Mom and dad on the road for 20 years, and in the last couple years their daughter and son both joined them in their own RV’s. It was something fun to think about maybe our girls joining us! 

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5 Epic Free Camping Spots

Boondocking! What is it? It is essentially camping without hookups. You may also hear it referred to as ‘dry camping’. Often, dry camping means staying in a campground without hookups, whereas, boondocking typically means staying in a completely undeveloped area. 

We wrote another blog at the following link giving some tips if you’re interested: 

Boondocking – 10 Tips

We have worked hard to make our RV a comfortable, useable home but also keeping our campground fees to as close to zero as we can. It’s not always going to happen. Especially when you’re not flexible on the area you’re staying. For instance, we spent about 10 days visiting our youngest daughter in WV. We found some free camping areas about 2 hours from her. But to drive that distance every time we wanted to spend time with her, wasn’t going to save us any money in the long run. So we did stay in a state park campground. 

Below are a few of our most epic boondocking areas! To date, as I write this, we have spent zero days hooked up for 2018 so far, and a total of $28 in camping fees since January 1st. Our hope is to go the whole year and spend less than $100 in campground fees. Stay tuned to see if we can do it!

Daniel Boon National Forest –  KY – Paragon Dispersed

Beautiful, lake side area. Quiet, peaceful and beautiful!

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ParagonKY

 

Buffalo Gap Grasslands – South Dakota

Who hasn’t heard of this place? It’s spectacular! Just outside the North gate to The Bad Lands, you’ll find this amazing boondocking area where your view of the Bad Lands is right outside your door!

BoonGrasslandsSD

 

Forest Road 525 – Sedona, Arizona

There isn’t one bad view! The road can be a bit washboard, but take it slow and you’ll have no regrets. 

Sedona Boon

Percos River Bridge – US 90, 18 Miles E of Langtry, TX

Your stay here can only be one night, but look at this view!! Amazing!

PecosBoon

Youngs Creek Horse Camp – Indiana

This was one of the most peaceful places ever. There is an organic working horse farm just steps away, and the owners are the most pleasant, helpful, social people who love to visit with the campers and share their love for the area.

Youngs CreekCoord

 

We hope we opened your eyes to boondocking. If you have not tried it, don’t be scared. Don’t think it’s a dark, back alley thing. There are so many amazing, beautiful places out there for free camping. And let us know if you want us to share more of our boondocking locations. Or if you have some to share with us, we’d love to hear from you!

Don’t forget to tread lightly, and pack it in, pack it out.

Take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints. 

 

 

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31,536,000 Seconds

525,600 Minutes.

8,760 hours.

52 weeks.

365 days.

Today is our 1 year Nomad-iversary! 

 

365 days ago, we pulled out of our driveway for the last time. Leaving one dream behind and starting a new one. Leaving behind “normal” and the comfort of everything we had built, into the complete unknown from one moment to the next.

Opting out FB cover Truck

 

Going back 21 months ago, we made a life changing decision. We can’t really pinpoint one exact moment. For us, it happened over a 9 day vacation which was our first in our marriage without our daughters. What were we doing with our lives? Where did we see ourselves in 10-20-30 years, now that we were empty nesters? Were we happy enough in our jobs living the status quo? What is this thing called life, and how do we achieve something that we believe would fulfill us? From the moment we met, “normal” wasn’t how we created life. Beautiful chaos is a better description.  (2 kids. Lover of rescuing animals. Moving countless times from state to state, and even a 3 year tour overseas. Military life is just that … Beautiful Chaos.) It’s amazing what can be discussed on an 11 mile hike (yes, in one day). We did 92 miles that week! I remember the day we got home from our vacation. So many things had been discussed in those prior days, but that day, we were both really quiet in our own thoughts about what had been somewhat decided in the last 9 days. Would we really do it? Would this just end up to be something we didn’t have the means to actually grab? Was this just a dream, or were we really going to do this? Sell our dream home, and live … wherever? As I sat in front of our old RV unpacking from our vacation, I wondered about everything. How would our daughters react? How would we financially survive? How would we be able to justify sinking over $100,000 in our dream home, only to turn around and sell it? We were definitely lost in our own thoughts that day. 

RRR1

It came down to this! It’s black and white. We can stay and do what we’ve been doing. Or we can make a change. If you make it more than that, you’ll kill yourself in thought. Yes, we lost a pile of money on our house. We thought we’d be there forever! But the money is already gone. So the choice is actually simple — we can stay and live in the house, or not. It was the same process with all our choices. The support of our daughters was the most important to us. And once we told them our plans, it was a sigh of relief. We had not told them our plans until we could put it into intelligent words (because at first it was a jumbled mess of crazy thoughts). 

We gave ourselves 2 years to sell 2 houses and hit the road.

NINE MONTHS LATER WE PULLED OUT OF THAT DRIVEWAY!

What a year it’s been!  BOOYA!!!!

How has this year changed us?

We now live life in a general direction. We plan only for tomorrow, and even then, it’s left open and flexible. We can choose to stay somewhere longer, or leave earlier. There is no schedule. We often get asked “where are you going next”. We never know how to respond. Sometimes we have an answer, but most times we don’t. It’s awesome! Our response is usually “we don’t know … wherever the road takes us”. Being present in the moment and appreciating that we are right here, right now is all that truly matters to us. This moment we are living right now, right here, today is all that is promised. Tomorrow is never promised. 

We have become better people. We have the time to give back, volunteer more and listen better. Don’t get me wrong, we were awesome people before, but struggled with finding the time between work and chores to give our time and our shoulder to people who needed it.

We have learned the “one in / one out” rule. We have always lived simply. And that’s not changed. But now we have to really think about new clothes, or shoes. We are limited on space, that makes it so much more simple. If we brought it with us, and haven’t used it in a certain amount of time, it’s donated (usually to our daughters who love our cool kitchen gadgets we just don’t use now). We don’t collect things anymore. We collect memories, moments, sunsets and sunrises.

We’ve become more social. We found our tribe! The people who lift us up and remind us who we really are. Our tribe is priceless to us! Our circle of friends will grow. But we’ve met more people in the last 12 months who are more genuine and accepting than any other time in our lives.

We eat when we’re hungry, and sleep when we’re tired. What a concept! 

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Going against social norms is not something that everyone can accept or even wants to do. And that’s ok! The beauty of each of our lives is that each one of us gets to choose our own path. We said from the beginning that we will make memories and mistakes. It doesn’t matter what you choose to do in your life … just be fulfilled and happy about your choice. If you’re not … change it. It truly is just that simple. Now our fears have gone. Our biggest regret now is that we didn’t plan to do it sooner. 

Did you make a big change in your life? What was your aha moment? Seriously, we’d love to hear your aha moment … so leave a comment below and tell us!

 

 

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Our Top 5 Epic Travel Picks for 2017

Can we just say how hard it was to narrow this down to our top 5! WOW! We travel with a mind set that every single place we visit, big or small, popular or not, has amazing beauty in this country. We are so fortunate to see such grand beauty in this country of ours. Our personal preference is the smaller state parks, and the out of the way or hidden gems. But we love traveling the well known National Parks and popular attractions too. However, this was really hard to narrow down to just 5. Justin is the love of my life, and I have a standing statement I say to him –  “when we’re gone, and on to our next life, I’ll meet you right here”.  Only the “right here” keeps changing. I do hope with all the direction changes we can find each other again in our next lives. 

So after many weeks of re-prioritizing our top list, re-arranging, and adding, here it is. 

5. Coopers Rock State Forest – West Virginia

Our youngest daughter attends college at WVU, so we’ve been back a few times and we are never disappointed. We even hiked in the pouring rain one time because it was just too beautiful to leave without hiking parts of Coopers Rock. Coopers Rock overlook is a 1,200 foot drop to the the mile-wide gorge below. No hiking involved to see this at all. If you do nothing else, you should just walk out on this platform and take a look at this amazing view. The Fall is just breathtaking. We’ve been back to Coopers Rock twice now. We’ve hiked several hiking trails, and our favorite two were the Rock City Trail and the Clay Furnace Trail. I’m trying to keep this brief, but I think I could do a whole 3 page blog on Coopers Rock. It’s beautiful! If you only have an extra hour or an extra 3 days, there is something to see. 

 

4. Windsor Ruins – Near Port Gibson, Mississippi

We both really like architecture and mystery surrounding unique places. This definitely has both! Windsor mansion was located on a plantation that covered 2,600 acres. The mansion was constructed between 1859 and 1861 for Smith Coffee Daniell II, who was born in Mississippi and had acquired great wealth as a cotton planter by age 30. In 1849, Smith Daniell married his cousin (YUCK LOL) Catherine Freeland. The couple had six children, with three surviving to adulthood. Much of the basic construction of Windsor mansion was accomplished by Smith Daniell’s slaves. On April 28, 1861, Smith Daniell died at age 34, just weeks after construction of the mansion was completed. The mansion stood from 1861 to 1890, when it was destroyed by fire. The mansion was never photographed in it’s completion. And to this day there has never been any known photographs found of the completed mansion. There is only someone’s drawing of it found many years later. Hummmm … makes you wonder! 

 

3. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore – UP of Michigan

This was breathtaking. The cliffs of spectacular sandstone, the colors, the caves and the arches were truly epic! We really wanted to kayak to the caves on Lake Superior but the weather didn’t cooperate with us while we werePicRock1 there. A few times a year after the rain, if the wind is just right, it will push the garnet that washes from the rocks up to the shore, turning the sand a beautiful color of pink. Bright pink (this picture isn’t edited). We were lucky enough to be there during one of these times. There are some beautiful hikes, however we didn’t do much hiking while we were there. We did do a few of the shorter ones, but plan to go back and do some more in depth hiking during the warmer months. 

 

2. Hocking Hills State Park – Ohio

Magicial and Mystical. This is a small, beautiful State Park with tons of hiking. Waterfalls, bridges, rock stairs and valleys. It’s just unbelievable. We have only traveled for a year but this is by far our favorite State Park thus far. There is just a feeling here of awe. I half expected a character from The Hobbit to walk from under the bridges or from behind the water falls.Hocking2  It’s over 2,000 acres of cliffs, waterfalls and deep Hemlock shaded gorges. We hiked several trails this day, and one wasn’t better than the other. Check out the history of Old Mans Cave if you ever get a chance to knock this off your bucket list. 

1. Hidden Falls @ Grayson Lake, Kentucky

Grayson Lake, KY

This was a super easy #1 pick for us. Kayaking and secret hidden falls had me from the beginning.  (Watch our video below of our trip into the hidden falls area) This is so far the most amazing kayaking we have done. The cliffs, and the canals and the waterfalls  coming off the sides was our most epic 2017 trip. Again, we will be going back with more time. We also ended up, by chance, meeting the most genuine, amazing people who offered to spend the whole next day with us showing us around and even taking a tour on their boat, and then inviting us to a community art function that night. Beautiful little town, spectacular kayaking and scenery, and kind, genuine people makes this our #1 pick. 

 

 

Let us know if you have any questions about any of the places above, and remember …

Live Simply   Give More   Expect Less

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Scrapbooking in 39 Feet

When we made the decision to sell our home, move into 39 feet and travel this beautiful country, one of my thoughts was how would I incorporate my crafty side, and where would I store an entire office space full of crafts?IMG_0144
Well, the short answer is, I couldn’t! 
But photography and scrapbooking my memories was a huge part of my life. I wasn’t willing to give that up. After a bit of tedious research and realizing that I could no longer store a home office size amount of stuff, I turned to digital scrapbooking. Check out these pictures of my home office/craft room. I certainly had amazing space. I had resisted this idea for years. I loved sitting down with all my papers, and ribbons and punches, and scissors and the other millions of tools and such that I had. How could going digital be just as rewarding as that? Well, in all honesty, it’s not. But I have embraced this digital craft. And it gives me the IMG_0142creative outlet I need. I think my true passion is photography, so this is just helping me with the story telling around the photos, with a little color. Letting go of all my years of collecting wasn’t as hard as I thought because I was lucky enough to pass it on to my daughter, Krista, who loves to makes cards, and crafty things too. I knew it would be appreciated and used, and loved. I had spent many years owning my own scrapbook business, and spent another 6 or 7 years on magazine design teams where I would be contracted to make certain pages based on themes and supplies they sent to me. So not everything I owned was purchased. So much of it was given to me from the design teams I was on. 
What program do I use to create my pages? I use a program called Keynote that came free on my Mac. Probably not the best program and certainly not a huge amount of options to be creative, but it works for me. I’m sure there are many options and programs you can use. 
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Where do I get my embellishments? Oh the possibilities are endless out there. You can purchase more digital scrapbooking supplies than I think you can real supplies. For me, purchasing digital scrabooking packages wasn’t high on my list of needs. We live inside a pretty “looked after” budget. So I use all free stuff. Sometimes I download the free item – say a certain patterned paper I want to use – and then change the color of it to better match what I’m going to be using it for. And there are tons of options!
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Another option to try is be to join classes or meet-ups in whatever area you’re in. Not only do you get to meet new people, but you’ll share supplies, and ideas and usually leave with the items you’ve made and not the mounds of stuff it took to make those items. 
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Just because you’re in a small space, doesn’t mean you have to give up your crafts. There are so many options out there today with all the technology we have. 
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Our 39 Feet
Keep Crafting!
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My Top 6 Photography Tips

First let me say I don’t consider myself a professional photographer. Although last time I looked, you didn’t need a degree to consider yourself a professional. You just need the passion, and a few skills. 

Life is like a camera

I have always loved taking photos, but it really all began when our youngest daughter came home from school on her last day of her junior year in hight school. With her she brought a flyer showing the packages of senior pictures we could schedule over the summer. My mouth dropped open at the prices, and I decided at that point, as much as I loved photography, and dabbled in it a bit, with a little research and self teaching, I could take my own senior pictures of her. Senior pictures were more for parents than kids I think. Plus, since “mom” was taking them, I would get more of her personality in the pictures. Our youngest daughter is witty and silly and I wanted that to come out in her pictures too. I wanted to capture her passions as well. She loves reading andDaniBlog22 music, so I wanted to incorporate that in her senior pictures. I invested in a “portrait” lens (not expensive at all) and took 2 classes at my local camera shop. I also watched several online videos and played with my camera settings while in the living room, out in my yard, in the shade and in the sun. I spent about 3 or 4 months playing in the manual mode of my camera settings. Taking pictures, figuring DaniBlog2out what I did wrong or why certain settings didn’t come out good. I then “scheduled” several dates with our daughter. Teenagers are busy ya know! I also did 3 or 4 different photo shoots with her during different times of the year, in different locations. We were quite happy with the results. And we saved over $1,000 in “professional” senior picture packages.

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Tip #1 – Lighting / Time of Day / Golden Hour

What is Golden Hour? In photography, the golden hour is a period shortly after sunrise or before sunset

I’d say this has been my biggest obstacle. Only because as a full time traveler, we are usually stopped for the day by the time the sun starts to set. Plus, being at the end of the day (especially in the summer when the sun might not set until after 7pm) some places are closed. So when you aren’t able to be out at the golden hour time set your camera on a darker setting. You can always lighten your pictures in editing (even if editing is just on your phone). But if it’s washed out, you will have a harder time making it look not washed out. 

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Tip #2 – The Rules of Third

They say (whoever “they” are) it’s more pleasing to the eye to offset your main subject in a photo and break your photo up into 3 imaginary sections.

GridThe best and most pleasing to the eye photos are taken with the rule of thirds in mind. When you’re framing up your photo, don’t put your main subject in the middle. Most cameras will have a grid you can actually use which will not show up in your photo. Even the iPhone has a grid you use while taking photos. 

Tip #3 – Portrait photography – Always focus on the eyes

If you’re taking portraits, make sure you’re always using the focal point on the eye(s). It will always make your portrait come out much better. I have seen some amazing portrait photography where the subjects chin or hat is clearly focused but the eyes are blurry. It’s always more pleasing if you make sure you focus on the eye. 

Tip #4 – Experiment with shutter speed

This is my favorite things to do. Want to get that soft water look of a waterfall? Slow down your shutter speed. What does that mean? Your shutter speed allows you to leave your shutter open longer. Light Paint2 So when you’re wanting to get that soft water flowing look, or a fun light painting picture with friends, you will need to leave your shutter open longer. 5-10 seconds. But this will require a tripod. If you don’t have a tripod, you won’t regret buying one. You can also use a fence, a counter or some other secure place if you’re in a pinch. If you are going to hold your camera, you will end up with a blurry picture, and you won’t be as happy with the results.

Tip #5 – Practice – It’s not film anymore!

Challenge yourself to take pictures every single day. It costs you nothing these days with digital and you don’t have to save the pictures. It’s what helped me really learn my camera. The last thing you want (and truthfully sometimes I still struggle with it) is to be at a beautiful area you want some pictures of, and you can’t remember how to get the best picture for the area you’re in. Turn on the sink in the kitchen and practice your “falling water” shutter speed pictures. Try several settings and see how you like it. I spent many weeks taking crazy, off the wall pictures with different settings, inside and outside, to just learn what my camera would do. Don’t be afraid! You don’t have to pay for more film and you will learn by taking terrible, washed out or completely black photos.

Tip #6 –  Take Lots of Pictures!

Take 100 pictures! Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration. But what I’ve learned more than anything is that if I take 100 pictures, maybe 20 will come out just how I wanted them to. Sometimes if I’m really playing with my settings, only 2 or 3 will be useable. Use different angles, and different settings, and if you take enough, you’ll have more than a couple pictures to choose from. Don’t be afraid to take lots of pictures. Not all your pictures will turn out. In fact, if half the pictures you take turn out how you imagined, you’ll be lucky. 

 

Just have fun!! There are no rules! 

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Raise Your Hand to Volunteering

volunteer quote2Picking the right volunteer position for us was much harder than we ever imagined it would be. It’s a personal or maybe spiritual decision for everyone. The purpose of this blog isn’t to bash or negate any certain organization, but when you actually dive into the research of how much goes back to the people, you will be shocked to find out the percentages that never, trickle down to the real, living, breathing humans, and how much never leaves the upper chains pockets. We did so much research and wanted to find an organization with 2 thoughts in mind. #1, dollar for dollar went to the people and #2, we could be involved in talking, hugging and helping the local people directly. We chose RVDC (RV Disaster Corp). Check out their videos, and their website for more information.  Click here to check out their website

We arrived in Port Aransas,TX in early December. Not knowing the area or anyone in the city. Watching the devastation on the news is one thing. Seeing it 4 months after the event, having preconceived ideas that “my gosh, it’s been 4 months, it must be better now” … that’s another. 

BlogPort2Houses aren’t still falling down … they took care of those right? All the people must have everything they need to survive by now … right? Driving through Port A was humbling, sad, and devastating. The piles and piles throughout the neighborhoods liter the sidewalks. The median on the highway through Rockport has been set up as a staging around for the debris. 

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The houses … 85% of them missing floors, roofs, ceilings, half falling down, or just a shell at this point. All you can do is repeat “Oh My God” as you drive. We arrived just before Christmas, so the first couple days we were there we helped organize a Christmas party at the community center for the kids. Many new toy donations came in. Books, games, Legos, and Nerf guns. Barbies, dolls, baby toys, make-up and jewelry kits. I overheard one beautiful woman tell her husband how she found the one toy her 1 year old had lost in the house which was his favorite. They lost everything. (They had only 45 minutes to leave their home and literally left with what was in their hands at the time) Her face smiling like she’d just been given the most amazing thing in the world. The kids ran around in the fake foam snow that blew out of the machine that night, stuffing cookies into their mouths after delivering letters to Santa, being loud and carefree. Not a care in the world. Resilience is beautiful! Yet most likely every one of them went home to a tent on the ground at the beach, or an RV as their temporary home. Most of Port A residence are living in tents, cars or RV’s if they are still there.

 

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#PortAStrong

If they had the means, they left. But so many of them did not. We hugged crying people as they showed us their home barely still standing. Explaining how looters had taken everything that Hurricane Harvey had not. Insurance was much too expensive for most to afford. Between most companies not writing insurance in Port A, and the company or two who still agreed to write insurance for them, but at a very hefty price.

Flood insurance being another luxury to afford.

BlogPort6Most people did not carry any insurance. If they carried one but not the other, some of the loopholes have swallowed them and there was no coverage. It made me completely embarrassed to be an insurance agent. In fact I never offered any advice, and never admitted that I was indeed an insurance agent. How dare these companies putting these people through this. How dare them not make these people understand what they did purchase, and what they didn’t purchase. I won’t name any certain company but there is one Texas state run Insurance company that writes most of the island’s properties and they ought to be completely ashamed of themselves.

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What we didn’t expect was to walk away with the feeling that we got something more than we gave. We thought after our 3 week stay we would be anxious to leave and get back on the road. It was just the opposite. We both wanted to stay longer! We have made new life long friends.

 

 

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Port A Donations and Distributions. Where everyone came to donate, or get what they needed. No cost involved! Bobbie opened up her own, destroyed home to help the community. Her community.

If you want to donate to Port A and be certain that every penny gets to the people who need it, please go to this link

 

PLEASE WATCH OUR VIDEO WE CREATED IN HOPES TO HELP GET SOME DONATIONS WHERE THEY NEEDED TO GO!!

REMEMBER:

You have never really lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. 

 

 

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Resolutions Are Like Graffiti

Resolutions are like Graffiti. They can be beautiful. They can also be destructive, distracting, messy, confusing and overwhelmingly disappointing. 

Hear me out before you think I’ve gone a little cray cray here. 

We don’t make goals or resolutions. “Opting Out of Normal” ya know! Living a life of no goals? What? You must think we don’t have any dreams. And of course we must have no ambition what so ever. It sounds scary right? Against everything you’re taught in school, and from your elders. Our society is very “goal orientated”. You see it all over! How could we live if we didn’t have goals? I remember school assignments forcing me to make goals of some sort. 

In the corporate world I worked in, everything was about goals. We had our reviews at the end of the year. Did we meet “our” goals that we didn’t necessarily even set for ourselves, but that the company set for us? That bled over into homeownership goals, personal goals, weight loss goals, eating goals, short term and long term goals. There’s also travel goals, lifetime goals and money goals. You know – I’m going to save a penny today, 2 tomorrow, 3 the next, and so on. By February you were trying to re-count your penny’s because you’re sure you forgot a few days, and needed to at least put in a quarter or two by now. But wait. Wasn’t there a list you made to tell you how many penny’s you should have today? 

We personally had so many goals, lists and spreadsheets. And even a goal about making goals. I would regularly spend New Years Day making lists, and (say it with me now) “this year I’m really going to keep up on this list and accomplish these goals”. Ha! So I worked harder each year crossing off goals we’d accomplished, re-evaluating and then … dropping the ball. Where is that list? I know I put it somewhere I’d remember this time. I was supposed to have a goal of remembering these things better. Wasn’t I going to get organized this year? I’m sure I bought a bin or folder to put all these things in. What did I do with it again? Another failure. Another frustration. Our perpetual and seemingly never ending list of goals grew to more disappointments than accomplishments. 

So, why do we have goals? (Other than it’s instilled in you for your whole life that you must set goals.) My personal reason is I thought it would help me get things done. I’m a planner and a doer and a lover of lists. Putting it out there on paper would make me get it done! Right? I spent hours making lists, checking the lists periodically and then — losing the lists in all the chaos of … You got it … painting the house. Because that was a goal this year ya know. So I’d make more lists. I thought completing goals was achieving happiness. If I completed a goal, I was allowed to be happy. Why can’t we just be happy now? It shouldn’t take a “goal” concocted on January 1st to put new flooring in your house by December 31st to make you happy. Just make a choice to do it when you’re choosing to do it. What happens on December 31st when you look at the list you might have actually been able to find, and nothing was done? Or maybe just a few things were half done? You feel disappointed in yourself. Oh but wait! Now you can just add it to the next year’s goal’s. Problem solved! Because (lets hear it again now) “This year I’m really going to do it”. 

What if instead you just make “choices”? I’m not saying just change the word from goal to choices. It’s a thought change. 

We make choices. Not goals. Choices are more sporadic, more intentional, more deliberate and more direct. Choices have nothing to do with the change of a year, December 31st vs. January 1st. I choose to be happy. I choose to be healthy. I choose to go to the gym, take on an extra job to make some money, or put new flooring in my house (instead of painting it, which might have been on a list of goals). I just choose! Choices. We all make them. You don’t have to start a new year out making goals that you can’t even remember by March what they were. If you want to lose weight. Choose to do it. Don’t put a time frame on it. Don’t say you’ll start in the new year. And eat an entire cake on New Years Eve. Start today. By not making goals, it doesn’t mean you’re lacking dreams or ambition. It just means you’re allowing yourself to make choices and not putting a time limit on those choices. And you’re allowing yourself to be happy today! Not next year when maybe you actually completed all those “goals”.  Try it. Don’t make goals this year. Just make deliberate choices in your life.

On a side note, in 1983 when my dad passed away, I opened up the newspaper to cut out his obituary (I was just 16 years old, and someone had delivered a stack of that days newspapers to our house. I’m assuming for that reason). I was thumbing through the paper, and found an anonymous quote that had been published that day. In my own spiritualness, I felt this quote was something my dad wanted me to read that day, and carry with me in life. I don’t think he was done teaching me all those “dad-ism’s” when it was time for him to leave this Earth. That ripped out newspaper clipping, yellowed and brittle, still hangs on my magnetic board. I have carried it with me for 34-ish years. I think I even lost it at one point (maybe it was with my resolution list I found a few years later?) I want to share it with our followers today!

Be Yourself

Happy New Year everyone! Live each day happy. Your own happy! Not the expected happy, or societies happy. Not someone else’s happy. Tomorrow is never promised. Don’t waste one day.

And screw those resolutions. smiley