In the Country.

March 25-27: Little Rock, Arkansas. Can you believe that we are now in the fourth week into our traveling? 4 weeks we have been traveling full time, driving to new places, meeting new people, constantly together, and living out one of our biggest and greatest dreams. If you have not been following us and have happened to see our sticker on the back of Callie (our RV), welcome! We are Brenchley Travels. We decided to save up money for 3 years to have enough to travel around America, money to be able to settle down in a new state after our trip is done (besides Florida), and money to be able to get myself a new car (we are working with one car until after this trip). Our end goal is traveling from Florida to Denali National Park, Alaska to be campground hosts for 2 months during the summer. We have a mandatory date in mid July where we have to be there, but, we left on March 1 to be able to travel through areas we have never been too, explore America, and search for a new state to live in. It was a little idea that grew into what it is now. It’s crazy, but, we are full time travelers.

We entered into our 4th state for this trip, Arkansas, today. We just left my brother’s house in Spring, TN and now the next stop is to see Alec’s sister (Laurie) and his brother-in-law (Jason) in Little Rock, Arkansas. It’s weird to me that we are already 4 weeks into our travels. We are still learning a lot everyday, but, it is getting a lot easier. We have learned simple things to help with living in a RV. One random one is to slightly pull the mattress out from the wall so that our feet don’t hang off. The head of the mattress is at a slant from the design of the RV itself, so by pulling the mattress out, you avoid that slant. We have learned how to quickly and properly pack up Callie for moving. We have made a long list for packing up and even the silliest of things are on that list. We have found that it really helps us move quicker. We did forget to put “check leveler is packed” on list and we ended up driving away with it still on the hitch. Thank God for leveler apps. We did this before our trip, but, we have really learned to meal plan and use up every last bit of food. From the apples to the carrots, you better believe that we are eating everything. We have learned a lot about RV maintenance. We found a recent lift in one of the sides of the shower walls that is now causing leaking. So, we have to deal with that. We have been learning how to use the oven. It’s gas powered and the burner is right before the bottom rack of the oven. I found that it was burning the bottom of my dishes. We had to place the rack up a level and now they are perfectly fine. We have had to learn about how to keep the septic tank smell from smelling up your bathroom through the toilet. By keeping some water in the toilet, it makes a tighter seal which prevents the smell. We have learned how to have “alone time” without actually being alone. Seems like a weird idea, but, it’s what we have had to do. I have mentioned this before ,but, we spend a lot of our driving time in silence. We are “alone” in those moments. We have had a lot of learning lessons. One of the most common questions we have gotten is “do you guys fight a lot or hate each other yet from this trip?”  The answer is no. We rarely fought before this trip and now that has remained the same. We don’t really fight. Obviously we are living in a close space, but, we give each other space when needed, pray together throughout the day, and give each other love and respect. We both have always been very open about what’s bothering us and seem to move on very quickly from it. Life is too short. Why be angry? 

We stopped only at a few places on the way to Arkansas. One of those places being Harpeth Scenic River State Park in TN.

It has a very short hike that leads out to a waterfall that was carved out by man. In the 1800s, slaves had carved out a tunnel on the side of a mountain to create a waterfall that would generate power for an iron mill.

It was strange for me to be around slave history. Being a Floridian, I never really had to be surrounded by slavery or something that was created by slaves. Human brutality is not something that should be celebrated. It is interesting that humans were able to carve through a mountain and that water could generate power. It’s interesting, but, weird. For me. We also stopped at the infamous Bass Pros Shop in Memphis, Tennessee. That place is like no other. I would say that Memphis isn’t the safest of the places that I have been too. I can think of several places that I would rather go too. It is very difficult not to stop by the downtown Bass Pros Shop.

It’s in the old pyramid music center and is seen throughout downtown. I mean, it’s extremely hard to miss. The store itself is like Disney World. It has walkways with water and fish under you, big fish tanks, a candy store that smells like sugar, an elevator that goes up the middle of the pyramid to a restaurant.

It is worth the stop. 

It’s always refreshing seeing Jason and Laurie. They live on a few acres so we are able to comfortably fit Callie on their property. Better yet, they have full hook ups for our RV. That even includes a septic tank for sewage (very rare for a private property). Jason, being the good country man that he is, instantly went to work to help us feel more comfortable. He pulled out  some wooden pieces and made us our own front porch for Callie. That man is just too much. We love coming out and visiting them. Country living is the best. They live right outside the city lines, so they have a lot of freedom. We shot their guns the last time we were here from their front porch. It’s just good fun without having to worry. We were excited to be in AR, see family, continue to plan out our upcoming routes, get some work done, and explore. We took the first full day to get errands and work done. I had to go to Walmart and return some things back to the UPS store. I went alone. Can I repeat! I actually went somewhere alone for the rest time in 4 weeks. I felt like a mom getting away from her kids. I had the windows down, the music up high, and just enjoyed my alone time. I even searched for a Target to go look around through while I was out, but, it was sadly to far away. Can anyone relate to that? It was a nice day to get work done while Laurie and Jason worked. The following day, we were told to go check out of The Big Dam Bridge.

It’s a dam that was built through the Arkansas River and has some beautiful parks surrounding it. They built a walk way right over the river and the dam. It was an absolutely beautiful day that day so we took out our bikes and cycled over it. It was low 60s, full sunshine, and a good breeze. It was a perfect day for a bike ride. Afterwards, we went downtown Little Rock. We sadly missed out on the Little Rock River Market.

They seem to close down early on the weekdays, but, you can tell that it must be very busy on the weekends. Loads of little shops and restaurants. It was cute. We did get to walk over the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge. The bridge had beautiful, steel arches. It was a nice walk looking over the Arkansas River and some of downtown Little Rock.

There was a little park near the bridge with wooden pathways over the river and big open fields. It’s a perfect little area for families, dogs, etc. It was a great day exploring Little Rock, Arkansas. 

Brenchley Travels

New blog posts every Monday and Friday. 

New YouTube videos come out every Wednesday. 

Back together again.

March 19-25: in the good ol’ south. This Thursday we get to visit with my brother (Kyle) and his family (Leah, Hannah, and Mason) in Spring Hill, TN. We decided to leave our campground in North Carolina early and head towards Tennessee, go on some hikes, and see Knoxville for a day. We needed a cheap, safe campground for two nights before heading Kyle’s way. Alec, as always, found a great campground just north of Knoxville, TN on the “Campendium” app. It’s a little campground called the Chuck Swan State Forest Campground. It’s a beautiful open field that has an amazing view of some rolling hills.

Chuck Swan State Forest Campground.

It’s dry camping only and is for free. We talked to some locals who were staying on the property and they told us that the lot gets completely full with campers during the hunting season. We got lucky with our stay because we are there just before the turkey hunting season starts, so it’s very quiet and empty.

Drone view of the campground. You can see Callie in the right corner of the lot.

Not only is the campground free, but it has cell phone service. Can I get an amen?! We stayed there for two nights until going to visit with my brother in Sprill Hill. It definitely was a great stopping ground near Knoxville. The campground sites are right next to the camp manager’s personal house, so it is safe and managed closely. We felt comfortable leaving Callie for our day out in Knoxville. We didn’t know what to expect when going into Knoxville, TN. We first went to a cute little all gluten free bakery called The Benefit Your Life Cafe. It’s really exciting to find an all gluten free cafe. They not only had a bakery, but, they had a great selection of GF foods that you could buy: Elbow noodles, mozzarella sticks, breads, mixes. We split a buttery, delicious, warm cinnamon roll. It was the last one available for the day and it was before noon.

The place is a little pricey, but, definitely worth the splurge. We had to walk off that cinnamon roll. When googling things to do in Knoxville, Alec found a park called Ijams Nature Center. A beautiful park full of many trails, lake views, and even a preschool program. The park was better than expected. We went on a elevated wooden pathway through rocky cliffs and over a rushing river. 

Ijams Nature Center.

After the walk in the park, we debated about going into downtown Knoxville or finding something else to do. A few mountain coasters had caught our eye the day before on our way to our campground. After realizing that we could get a good deal on Group On for a mountain coaster ride, we went for it. We picked the Alpine Coaster in Pigeon Forge, right outside the Smokeys.

Alpine Mountain Coaster in Pigeon Forge, TN.

It was so much FUN. We ended up riding on this small cart together, which made the entire coaster that much more fun. We were screaming and laughing that entire way down. If you have never done a mountain coaster, please put that on your bucket list. It’s simple, but, it is worth it. 

Now onto Spring Hill, TN. We were both so excited to see my brother and his family. We were also really excited to see the area that he lives in and his brand new house. It’s weird for me because my family used to all live in the same area. We all grew up in the same area our entire lives and within the last year, my entire family moved out of Florida. It was exciting just to be back together again. We woke up slightly later than planned, packed up Callie, and headed over. Kyle’s house was about 4 hours away from our campground. We both woke up extremely tired that morning. It’s been difficult to learn how to sleep within the RV. We are used to sleeping on a king-sized mattress and now we sleep on a queen (first world problems). Callie makes a ton of weird and loud noises throughout the night, so I have found myself waking up a lot. The restless nights have finally caught up to us. We were very quiet on the car ride over. People may be wondering how we are handling with being together all of the time. It has definitely been an adjustment. Small learning lessons along the way. We spend a lot of time in silence throughout car rides. Not saying that we are only silent in the car. We are still very talkative when we both want to be. We just seem to use long car rides to just unwind in our own thoughts. It was nice to be able to just relax, enjoy our own thoughts, and try to wake up before getting to my brothers. We arrived at his house, settled Callie in his driveway, and got a full tour throughout his brand new place. It’s a gorgeous house. You could Kyle was very excited to show it to us and we were both very excited to see it. You walk into a very open kitchen/ living room area. They have an island sink with a large area for bar stools and cooking. Great sized rooms, an office, and even a play room. It was perfect for them. It was amazing to see the kiddos again. Hannah (Kyle’s eldest) was very shy around us for the first hour, but, we were able to warm her up through presents and tickles.

Mason (Kyle’s youngest)  turned 1 years old on March 21. I still can’t believe that. They got tons of kisses with auntie and uncle. Friday, Kyle and Leah took us into downtown Franklin and Nashville, TN. Franklin, TN is just south of Nashville and is a cute town full of American Civil War history. Shops, restaurants, and coffee shops flooded the brick buildings in the downtown area. 

Franklin, TN.

We stopped at a coffee shop called the Frothy Monkey. Alec and I ended up splitting a hot signature coffee called the hummingbird latte. It wasn’t overly sweet, but, it had a hint of pineapple, banana, and cinnamon throughout it.

Frothy Monkey Cafe in Franklin, TN.

It was absolutely delicious. Coffee shop hunting is definitely something that Alec and I both love to do when we are in new areas. That hummingbird latte was definitely one of my favorite finds so far. While in Franklin, TN, go check out the Frothy Monkey Cafe. Next stop of the day was Nashville, TN. Nashville is a place that I have heard so many great things about and have never been too. I wasn’t really sure what Nashville had to offer, but, I was excited to see it for myself. We got to downtown around 11 am and instantly heard live music. The main strip of Nashville was already chaotic and it wasn’t even noon. Bachelorette parties wearing their cowboy boots hoarded the sidewalks. Every bar had another live musician trying to get their break in the industry. People drank and danced on the rooftop bars. The energy was high. Leah has had a craving for a milkshake at The Legendairy Milkshake Bar. It’s a downtown ice cream shop where you can get crazy milkshakes topped with donuts, cotton candy, marshmallows, etc. The four of us split a milkshake called Death by Chocolate.

We just got the brownie on the side because I’m gluten free. It was more than enough even when being split four ways. We walked over the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge afterwards and got an amazing view of the downtown area.

Downtown Nasheville, TN.
John Siegenthaler Pedestrian Bridge. Kyle and Leah.

It’s a very wide bridge full of cyclists, runners, and people curious about walking over it. It was a beautiful day that day with a nice breeze and bright sunshine. Nashville was definitely fun. I would love to one day go back at night to see the neon bar lights and bar hop. A tight budget doesn’t really work with bar hopping in an expensive city. One day! Food was a must at this point. Alec had been craving some good Tennessee BBQ. My brother found a well reviewed BBQ place called  Fire Honey BBQ where we split some brisket and nachos. Alec and I haven’t been out with Kyle and Leah only in a long, long time. It was a perfect day out without the kids. Saturday was our big family outing. We went with Kyle, Leah, and the kids to a place called Cheekwood Estates.

Cheekwood Estates.

Cheekwood Estates was built in the late 1920s and has 55 acres of botanical gardens and art museums. Beautiful, bright flowers were starting to blossom.

We did a quick look through the inside of the house, through the art museum, and looked through some of the gardens.

Art museum inside the Cheekwood Estates.

It’s always fun to see Hannah’s excitement for different things. She was so excited to see the colorful tulips. Trips are always cut in half with small children, but, Hannah and Mason were both big troupers. On the way home, we stopped at the Franklin Factory where we got a little treat. Franklin Factory is a big warehouse full of stores, coffee shops, bakeries, and restaurants. I had found a bakery called Five Daughters Bakery that sells GF donuts and I had to try them. They were paleo, gluten free, dairy free, but, were delicious. Alec and I split the samosa flavor. It is always difficult for me to find good gluten free donuts. I have never really been able to find that airy, light donut, but, this one had a great taste. I’m not only glad that we stopped for my donut, but, it was fun to see the Franklin Factory.

It had a ton of different options to eat at. After you get your coffee from the Frothy Monkey Cafe in downtown Franklin, stop by the Franklin Factory. 

That night, we celebrated Mason’s 1st birthday with some of Leah’s family. Mason got his own cupcake to eat. He was very confused at first, but, after a taste of the frosting, he picked up his cupcake, and shoved it into his mouth.

He didn’t breathe in between the bites. He is a funny little guy. The sugar rush made him crazy afterwards. He roamed around the room trying to destroy anything in his way while grunting. It was hilarious. The rest of the weekend was full of family time. Church on Sunday morning, grocery shopping with Hannah, and seeing our good friend, Evan, for coffee (Falcon Coffee in Nashville with GF pastries).

Lemon Raspberry Donut from Falcon Coffee Shop in Nashville.

I really didn’t want to leave my brother and his family. It was amazing to be back together again. I missed the warm snuggles, the wet kisses, the children’s laughter, my brother’s rocking, Hannah’s interest in everything around her, and just being together as a family. I didn’t really write this blog post in my full detail because I enjoyed them too much. It’s difficult to take time to write when all I wanted to do is use my time to kiss on my niece and nephew. So here are some pictures as a replacement.

It was just a perfect weekend, making it even more difficult to leave them. The show must go on. We have a mandatory time to get to Alaska and a lot of stops to make on the way. Until next time. Can anyone guess where we are stopping next?

Brenchley Travels 

New blog posts every Monday and Friday.

You’re up, Tennessee.

March 15-19: North Mills Campground. This place has been really good to us. Robert, the campground manager, allowed us to stay here for free for the last 7 days with full RV hookups in exchange for us cleaning up the soon-to-be open campsites. It’s been wonderful. We have been able to keep the heater on at night. We have had endless amounts of water and haven’t had to worry about conserving it. We can leave on any light for as long as we wish and not feel about it. It’s been nice. A lot of people don’t realize that all of the power is powered by a battery, unless you are plugged into a source. There is only so much you can get out of a battery at a time. We have been plugged into North Mill’s power source, so we haven’t had it worry at all about the battery. Like I said, its been nice. I haven’t really talked a whole lot about this campground and that’s a shame. It’s a beautiful campground in a great location. There’s a river running right through the campground and its a popular location for fly fisherman to come, relax in the water, and wait for a catch.

We have noticed that it is a very popular location for mountain biking trails. We have not personally been on them, but, we have seen countless amounts of cars with bikes on them, getting ready for go out of a trail. The campground is also right off the Blue Ridge Parkway. It has been a quick access for a fun drive. Hiking trails line the campground. It is the complete package for all fun outdoors activities. If you are looking for a campground to stay at while visiting Asheville, come to North Mills Campground. You will not be disappointed. 

We decided that Saturday was going to be a day without work. No blog posts, no YouTube video edits, no house researching. It was just going to be me and Alec, a good hike, and some delicious food. I found a hike about 2 hours away that was right off of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Banner Elk, NC called Rough Ridge Hiking Trail. We took the long way up through a mountain town called Mars Hills and hopped on the parkway. It was beautiful. I have said this before, but, I absolutely love the Blue Ridge Parkway drive. The section of the Blue Ridge Parkway that we drove on that day looked completely different from what I have seen in the past. The road was lined with big rock boulders, had long mountain bridges that curved into  the cliffs, and an open view of endless blue-hued mountains.

The views from the drive itself were worth the 2 hours in the car. We got to the trail head and struggled to get a parking space. We had no idea that this hike would be this trafficked. Car after car lined the parking spaces. You could see a tall waterfall and walk over bridge from the parking lot as you entered the trail. Families and groups came down in large numbers as we started going over the walk over bridge. The trail was made up of rocks, man made steps, and dirt pathways.

North Carolina had gotten a series of storms the day before, so all of the rain had housed itself in between the rocks and on the pathways. The cold temperatures had turned that rain into a combination of ice and mud. We watched the slick rocks become the demise of fellow hikers. The hike had a variety of large rocks where you could sit or stand and see the surrounding mountains on the way up to the top.

It was cold and it was windy, but, overlooking on those rocks and seeing those mountains was magical. Along the trail, we met the nicest couple, Luke and Amy. They were a cute couple visiting from Virginia. If you know me, you know that I love to chat with random people. It was fun to hike a little bit of the trail with them and chat with some unfamiliar, friendly faces. The top of the hike took us to a large boulder that had a complete 360 view of the mountains. I was timid climbing up to the top of the boulder because of the forcefulness of the wind. I’m glad I sucked up my fears and just did it. It was beautiful.

We definitely took our time going down the trail. You are always at a higher risk to make a wrong step while coming down on icy rocks. Every step I took was carefully placed, hoping that I wouldn’t find a slick rock. Snotty nosed, cold, wind blown, and completely satisfied, we finished the trail. Rough Ridge Hiking Trail became my new favorite hike in North Carolina that day and we have been on some amazing hikes over the past few years. We decided to start heading home for the day because we were planning a hot date in downtown Asheville that night.  As we were coming home, we came across Linville falls on the Blue Ridge. This location, like the Rough Ridge, was very well trafficked. It was an easy walk of about half a mile to the falls. It was a  series of stunning waterfalls with many different angles to view them. It had an upper falls and lower falls. The water rushed through carved out curvy rocks to be dumped out into a river through the trees.

A little farther up on the trail was a overlook of the waterfall from the opposing cliff side. It’s shocking how loud water can be from such a far distance. The power of water is nothing to be messed with. Linville Falls was definitely worth the stop. 

I was really excited for our date night out to downtown Asheville.

We have been really conservative with our money throughout the trip and usually only eat in. This was our night to treat ourselves (within reason, of course). I love eating in downtown Asheville because they have endless amounts of gluten free options. I have eaten at a ton of restaurants there over the past few years and I have never been disappointed. I have always been able to find delicious, gluten free foods. I have Celiac’s Disease and have been gluten free for 11 years. I never cheat with my diet because if I do, I am in absolutely terrible pain for the rest of the week. Celiac’s Disease is not really fun to have, especially because some restaurants don’t cater at all towards gluten free. It’s very refreshing to have a free range of places where I can go..Indian, Thai, Pizza, Mexican, Chinese, Burgers, Breakfast foods.

The amount of gluten free options in downtown Asheville.

I have also noticed a huge selection of vegan, vegetarian, dairy free, etc. Asheville is very food allergy friendly. It’s like my heaven. That night we picked a place called Farm Burger. We had previously been to Farm Burger during our visit in 2016 and only had good memories of how delicious the burgers were. After our long hikes today, a big burger sounded fantastic. Alec and I were covered in mud from the hikes so after a quick clean up in the RV, we were on our way to downtown. Asheville on a Saturday night is always crazy busy. Many young couples, groups, people were out and about walking the streets. It was quite chilly that night but that didn’t stop the amount of people that wanted to come out and explore. Asheville has an amazing selection of breweries. People crowded around the entrance of them even in the cold. Farm Burger is always a hot spot for people to go too. They have grass feed beef burgers, fresh locally grown vegetables, great house made sauces, and a great selection of local beers. Farm Burger is not a sit down restaurant. When we walked into the restaurant, there was a line that stretched the entire length of it. We were determined to get those burgers and we didn’t care about waiting in the line. We ended up striking up a conversation with a local in line ( typical us ) and getting some good insight on good living areas to research. They even gave us some free fries while we waiting in line. Smart thinking. Two thumbs up for caring, Farm Burger. We only waited in line for 30 minutes. Between chatting with random people and getting those fries, it went very quickly. I ended up getting their Farm Burger, gluten free. It is their signature burger with a grass feed beef burger, their own house made Farm Burger sauce, white cheddar cheese, and sautéed onions. The gluten free bun was absolutely delicious. It’s very rare to find a good gluten free bun in a restaurant. It was soft and moist and perfect. The burger was juicy, perfectly cooked, and absolutely delicious.

I totally understood why crowds of people will wait in a large line like that. That first bite made standing in that line worth the wait. Alec and I also got a side of fries to split. It was their FB fries. Crispy fries topped with Parmesan cheese, herbs, and garlic.

Please for the love of God, go check out Farm Burger in downtown Asheville if you enjoy a good burger. Afterwards, we ended up walking around Asheville and looking at the different bars and restaurants. I wasn’t really wanting to spend a lot of money out on drinking so we just made mental notes for next time. I felt like a kid. “You can look, but not touch.” 

The next day, we found a little church down the street from our campground. It was called Grace Church in North Mills, NC. Cute little church, good folky worship music, and a good sermon. It wasn’t exactly like the church we loved so much back in Florida, but, it was a good start towards something different. We both have never been people that go to a church just to go, but, we also want to someday get connected in a great church again. It was a great start to our Sunday.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day that day. It was in the 60s, the sun was shining bright, and the skies didn’t have a single cloud in it. We wanted to take full advantage of that perfect weather and go to one of our favorite breweries, Seirra Nevada Brewery.

It’s a very aesthetically pleasing brewery. They put the perfect mixture of copper, stone, and wooden accents throughout the entire brewery. The brewery has a great walk though self tour where you can see the process of their product. They have an indoor restaurant and a huge outdoor family-friendly, dog-friendly area. The outdoor area includes oversized games, bonfires, rocking stairs, and a stage.

Hundreds of people gathered around the chairs, bonfires, games in the outdoor section of Seirra Nevada. People celebrating St. Patty’s Day in their green hats, suits, and feathers covered the back lawn. We completely neglected the fact that it was St. Patty’s Day. It’s easy to get lost in time while living in a RV. Alec got a Irish stout on nitro and I got a wine. We found some rocking chairs outside on their balcony overlooking the lawn.

We sat there rocking for a few hours, sipping on our drinks. The sun was keeping us warm and the breeze was preventing us from sweating. It was so peaceful to just sit down and relax with a drink. We ended up talking (surprise, surprise) to a really awesome couple, Jonathan and Stephanie, while sitting on those rocking chairs. We had recently moved to the NC area and were telling us about what they loved about it. They will actually be in Colorado at the same time that we are going to be there, so hopefully we can grab a beer with them. I have been loving meeting all of these random, amazing people and making connections with them. I know that the next place we land, we will have to be super intentional about making friends. It’s just fun to be making amazing acquaintances along the way. Sierra Nevada Brewery is a must see. Be sure to stop there the next time you visit Asheville, NC. Monday, we had one last day at North Mills River Campground and then we were off. It was sad to leave North Carolina. We had such a amazing experience volunteering at that campground, looking for houses around Asheville, and hiking through the Blue Ridge mountains. Until next time, North Carolina.

March 19: Next stop, Tennessee. We decided to leave North Carolina a day earlier then planned to start making our way towards Tennessee. Spring Hill, TN is where my brother and his family moved to last October, so of course we had to make that a stop of this time. We are both so excited to see them again! We have to be in Spring Hill by the 21st of March, so we wanted a few days to comfortably travel towards them. Our stop before Spring Hill is Knoxville, TN. We both have never been there and wanted to see what it was all about. On the way to Knoxville, we drove through the New Found Gap road in the Smokey Mountains National Park. It was my first time. It’s a beautiful drive full of large evergreen trees, the big Smokey’s, and windy roads. Alec had found a very popular hike in the Smokey’s called Alum Cave Trail. It was so popular that even with two full parking lots, we still had to park a quarter of a mile down the road. It was a fairly strenuous hike through the mountains, leading us to a open cave. It was rewarding standing under that cave, looking into the Smokeys.

Big, beautiful views. Nature can be beautiful, but, it can also be brutal. As we were leaving the cave, a huge chunk (the size of me) of ice slipped off the cliff above me and fell a few feet from me. The impact of the ice on the ground beside me made a vibration through my chest. It’s always a sobering moment being that close to something so dangerous. Remember to always be aware of falling ice on mountains throughout the spring time on hikes. Environmental awareness can save your life. After the hike, we traveled to our campground for the two next nights north of Knoxville called Chuck Swan State Forest Campground. It’s always a good feeling to be able to relax in Callie after a long day of traveling and hiking.

Brenchley Travels

New blog post every Monday and Friday.

Will work for free lodging.

March 10-14: “We found Robert!” Robert (North Mills River Campground manager) was outside finishing up some last minute things around the campground before the sunset. “So what do you think of us cleaning up the closed campground to be ready for April in exchange for a free campsite?” Robert had spoken to his boss during the weekend while we were gone visiting Sarah and everything was good to go. He walked us passed the “road closed” sign and down a pathway until we found our campsite for the upcoming 10 days.

The campsite was fully equipped with electrical, dumping, and water. It was like hitting the jackpot. The deal was that if we cleaned up the 13 reservation- only campsites for the April reopening, that we would have that campsite completely for free. We had to go around each campsite, pick up the major sticks that might have fallen, and blow off the spaces with a blower. That’s it. The campsites were pretty filthy from sitting there untouched all off season, but, we had ten full days to complete the task. Our camping space was in one of the 13 campsites that we had to clean so we would have that entire section of campgrounds all to ourselves. We would have no neighbors, full RV hookups, and all for free.

This was a great, no, fantastic lesson to learn early on. Most of the campgrounds are in desperate need for volunteers and help on their location. If you volunteer to help, you can get amazing benefits. We really are getting a deal that doesn’t even exist. The camping available at this location for this time of the season would be dry camping only. That means no special hookups for the RV…no electrical, water, dumping. So for Robert to give a space in the closed section of the campground with all of those benefits was extremely nice. We are so thankful. So guys, we have a job. It only took 2 weeks.

We had a few friends that joked with Alec about not working and seeing how long he would be able to last. If you know Alec, you know that he is a worker. He loves to work. He loves to be busy. Besides my father, he is one of the most dedicated workers that I have ever met. I think that this cleaning gig was a good thing for Alec and for myself. We both are used to being busy.  We both have dedicated our time to documenting this journey through writing blogs and posting YouTube videos, but, this was different. It was nice to have an employer again. That might be a stretch to refer to Robert as our employer, but, he is giving us free housing in exchange for our services. It was good to be involved in something like that again. We had a new plan. Wake up early in the morning, make a good breakfast, and get at least 2 hours of campsite cleaning done a day. It was a bigger task than we thought. The campsites were completely covered in a thick layer of mushy leaves, big tree branches, and leftovers from last season. Robert equipped us with the supplies needed to complete this job. We worked each campsite together as a team. We would go through picking up the bigger sticks and placing them at the beginning of the space (per Roberts request) and then we were take turns blowing the spaces off. We were able to get 5 campsites done in 2 hours the first day working.

Before and after for one of the campsites.

We felt very accomplished by that. It felt good to be working again. As strange as this may seem, I really miss work. So if you are reading this and from the Mease Countryside gang, I miss you!The community, the goals, the exercise. We stopped around 11:30, excited to go explore the greater Asheville area. That day we decided to go drive though the Blue Ridge Parkway.

That is a drive that I will never get used to. Every time we drive on that parkway, it is magical. The blue hue to the layered mountains, the windy roads through the trees, the chucks of rock lining the side of the mountains alongside the roads. I love how the drive can be completely different throughout the parkway. Depending of the area, you can get more mountains, more rocky areas, or more hills. It is definitely one of my favorite roads to drive. It was a little cloudy that day on the parkway. The clouds moved quickly over the mountains surrounding the roads. 

This was the theme for the next three days. We would woke up early, eat breakfast, and went to work on cleaning up the campground. After we were done with the campsites from the day, we had a loose schedule of what we would like to get done or go see for the day. We were itching to go on a good hike after cleaning. Alec found a breathtaking hike in Montreat, NC called The Lookout Trail on the “All Trails” app. There are a few different trails that you can pick just based on what you were feeling for that day to get to the top of the mountain. We picked the 1 mile trail route. We were now into mid day and didn’t want to pick a long route. We both thought that it wouldn’t be that bad. We were wrong, again. It was 1 mile of constant elevation. We gained over 600 feet of elevation in that 1 “short” mile. It was just a huge climb. It was a great work out. It felt good to work my legs and challenge myself. The top of the hike made the hike completely worth it all.

The top of the mountain was covered with a bunch of boulders that overlooked the surrounding mountains. The mountains look like they were ripples in the water. Layers and layers of blue shapes for miles and miles. 

Once we were done with campsite cleaning for the day, we were also very motivated to research the surrounding areas to potentially move here. The only bad thing about our campsite is that we don’t have any cell service. So we have to go out into town to research any hikes, areas, house market, etc. We were forced to go out to local coffee shops or places with WIFI to do our research. This “inconvenience” really played in our benefit. We found some good spots for gluten free foods. Creperie & Cafe was a delicious, all gluten-free crepe restaurant in Weaverville. They did savory crepes and dessert crepes. Of course, we choose a dessert crepe.

We purchased the one crepe and they brought it out split onto two plates for us.

Sweet cream cheese, blueberries, strawberries, and white chocolate drizzle. The best part was that it was 100% gluten free. We also met a ton of super nice locals who were full of knowledge of the areas and entertained our many questions (mainly me asking as usual). They told us the places that we should avoid and the places in NC that are up and coming. Researching desirable areas to potentially move to was a huge part of this RV trip. It was helpful to have word of mouth recommendations from people who actually lived there and not the internet. That is why we really wanted to live in certain areas to really get a good feel about the area. One of the top 3 places that we would like to move to would be the surrounding Asheville, NC areas. We both love Asheville. The food, breweries, the community, the mountains. We always say that its like a St. Pete, FL in the mountains. It’s a cool, little artistic mountain city. The problem about Asheville is that it is ridiculously expensive to get a house in and everyone is looking for that special deal. Alec and I both have realized that we would have to look outside of Asheville to get a more affordable living situation. The big question is where. We have gotten a lot of recommendations from locals and friends. Weaverville, Swannanoa, Mars Hill, Waynesville, Maggie Valley, Fairview, Hendersonville, North Mills River. We went down the list of recommended areas and started our research. The house market, the working situations, the school systems, and the taxes were a huge point of research. We need to find a sweet spot were I don’t have to drive a hour to work at the hospital and where there are good schools for kids (one day mom, calm down). A location where we can be in a safe neighborhood with a nice house on some land in the mountains. That’s the ideal location for us. We can’t live in a super deed- restricted community. Alec would get us kicked out in a week. He is always outside drilling into something or cutting up some kind of wood to build a table. Like I said earlier in this blog post, he is a worker. He likes his loud tools. So we have to find a community where we have enough space for his work and so that we don’t piss off our neighbors. We also have to find a realistic location that doesn’t break our bank accounts. We did save up money to have for when we settled down in our decided location. We just don’t want to waste it all on an unrealistic housing expense. We do realize that we won’t be able to buy a house right now because our RV trip is going to last until after September. We just wanted to get a feel of the housing and the areas that they are in. We set a loose house budget and started to search for houses on sale on the “Realtor” app. We definitely prefer a 3 bed, 2 bath house. So with our budget and those guidelines, we were able to really narrow down the neighborhoods that we could realistically afford. It was fun. We made full afternoons out of finding a house on sale and driving to the location within the different cities that we were in. We found that some of the nicer, cheaper looking houses were surrounded by what I like to call the “southern hoarder yard”. No thank you. We got to go see the downtown areas, the conditions of the schools after looking at their ratings, the locations of the nearest shopping markets. Weaverville and Hendersonville were my favorite locations that we looked at so far. They are both close enough outside of Asheville and have a safe (from the looks of it) community. We have even thought about buying land and building a house. Depending on where we decide to settle down and the available market, we will decide on that. We aren’t even sure that we want to even move to North Carolina. It definitely looks good so far. Close to my parents, mountains, affordable housing, great social/night life. We haven’t been to a lot of places in America so we are both excited to see where we end up after this trip.

It took us only three mornings to complete cleaning up all 13 campsites. Job accomplished. We now have 6 days without work and a free campsite. We decided that we were going to have a relaxing day exploring some of downtown Asheville now that our job was completed. Asheville really is one of my favorite places. It is full of unique breweries, restaurants, and coffee shops. Alec picked a coffee shop called Double D’s Coffee and Dessert in downtown Asheville. It was a British-styled double decker bus with a coffee bar inside. You heard me..a coffee bar inside a bus. It was the coolest place. The first level is the coffee bar. We were able to chat with the owners and they seemed like the coolest people. The top level of the bus has little booths to enjoy your coffee and get some work done if needed.

The coffee shop has a great menu to select off of. The coffee of the day was blackberry lavender mocha latte. We are on a budget, but, when we saw that…we had to have it. It was just as good as it sounds.

Super smooth, not syrupy, delicious coffee. It was worth the splurge. We sat on the second level of the coffee bus shop and got some work done. It was fun watching people in between working (we call blogs and videos our work). I always enjoy looking at the different fashions, different cultures of unfamiliar areas. The spring trees blossomed white and yellow flowers around the bus. I just really love Asheville, NC.

Brenchley Travels 

White knuckled through the mountains.

March 7-10: Let’s go into North Carolina! We woke up that Thursday to another absolutely freezing day in northern Georgia. I don’t think that Alec or I have ever been more excited to leave a state as we were that day. It was a whomping 23 degrees. Iced lined the inside of our RV walls as we got out of bed. We could see our breath while we rushed to get the generator started to turn on the heater inside. We purposively waited until March 1st to leave for this trip to avoid the cold weather. We were wrong. One morning we even couldn’t turn on the water because of the water pipes freezing. What kind of crap is that?! Do yourself a favor. If you are planning on doing a long RV trip, make sure you are aware of the weather and if parks, routes, trails will be open. A lot of the peak times for National Parks are in the summer. Most of them close for the winter time. Just do your research and avoid the headache. We threw on clothes, made breakfast, and started to pack up Callie for the road. That is a full job in itself. People don’t seem to realize that everything in the RV must go somewhere. Nothing can be left on the counters or sinks. I often find humor in the cute RV remodeling Instagram pages. They have cute plants all over the counters, knick knacks on the open shelves, kitchen ware loosely hanging on the walls. I’m sorry…but where in the heck does all that stuff go when you are mobile? Sometimes we go into our RV once we are stopped and it is chaos. It’s like our stuff grew legs and had their own little party. So you can understand how washing up your dishes after breakfast and putting them away before we move Callie is essential. We went to turn on the water to do the dishes and the water didn’t turn on. This time is wasn’t because the water pipes froze. The fresh water tank was empty. This is something that I didn’t consider when purchasing a RV. You need to fill your tanks with clean water to have it for showering, sinks, toilets. You also have to dump the waste. Seems like absolute common sense (which it is), but when you live in a house with all the amenities, you just don’t think about having it do that yourself. We have been very conservative with the amount of water we use. We have been so conservative to the point where we will literally turn off the shower in between washing. It’s very difficult to gauge when the water is going to run out and we never wanted to be stranded without it. Alec had only filled it one-forth the way up before we left Florida. Lesson was learned. Fill water tank all of the way. We always make a small list of what we have to get done in a day. That was one of the first items on our to do list.. get more water. We were on a mission that day. Water, waste, North Carolina, campground, and then the next day visiting my best friend for the weekend. First things first, water and dumping. We have been really utilizing our RV apps to help us with different functions. Most of them have marked places for getting water, dumping waste, campgrounds, and getting fuel. Alec used “IOverlander” to find a location that would fill our water and dump our waste. It was at the Georgia Mountain Fair Grounds. We were able to completely fill our fresh water tank and dump our waste for only $5. As Alec added more water to the tank, I went inside Callie and finished washing the dishes from our breakfast. It was a perfect system. Water and dumping, check. Afterwards, we were able to find a local business down the street that refilled our propane tanks. We were all set for the next campground.  

Alec had me drive into North Carolina. He is always pushing and encouraging me to be a more skilled driver. “No, you can do it!” This was my next lesson: How to drive throughout the steep inclines and declines of the mountains while towing our 21 foot RV. Let’s just say white knuckled. I can totally understand why truck drivers lose control while going downhill. It’s ridiculous the amount of speed a vehicle can achieve when you have some weight to it. I was very intimidated driving through the windy, steep mountains. Not only are you going downhill with weight but you are going towards a sharp curve in the road. Many heart attacks, lots of them. It felt like my soul was being ripped from me as I tried to maintain a good speed going up the mountain. Alec told me that the worst thing that I could do was to freak myself out and over-correct. It was all about understanding the vehicle, controlling the speed, going slow when you need to, and still keeping it cool. If you know me well, keeping it “cool” it’s easy for me. Alec managed to keep me centered. Thank God for that man. I learned a lot about maintaining the speed of the vehicle. Making sure that I am always a safe, consistent speed coming down or up the mountain. He also taught me how to properly brake around a turn so that I wasn’t eating up the brakes. I felt very accomplished getting to our campground that night. It was a great day at white knuckled driving through the mountains.

We got into our campground just before sundown. Alec had found the North Mills River Recreation Campground on “Campendium” app. Half of this campground is open until April. The open half is a first-come, first-served system, while the other half of the campground (the section that is closed until April) is reservation only. This campground appeared to be quite popular, but, we were still able to find the perfect campsite to fit Callie. One thing that we did learn was that if you get the Annual National Parks Pass that you would not only be able to use those for parks, but, you could use those to get a great discount for campsites. North Mills is one of the sites that offers a discount with the National Parks Pass. Turns out, however, that they only honor the disability and senior park passes so we didn’t give them the correct amount of funds for our stay. That brought us to a great part in this North Carolina story. We got to meet the park manager, Robert. He was coming around to let us know our pass wouldn’t work and we were short on our fees. We realized that we would have to now pay the full price ($11/night) for 14 days. We got to talking about managing campgrounds, hosting for them, and volunteering. He has been working this particular campsite for over 9 years. He told us that most of the campgrounds were in desperate need for campground volunteers and they would exchange services. So Alec made him an offer. “We can clean up your campgrounds if you allow us to stay here for free.” He needed a volunteer to clean up the close section of the campground (13 campsites) before it reopened in April. Robert smiled and said that he would get back to us. 

That next day we woke up excited to go visit my best friend, Sarah, in Cary, NC. Cary is about 4 hours from our campground so we wanted to leave early to have a long weekend with her and her family. We felt very comfortable leaving Callie at North Mills Campground for the weekend. Clean, safe, and clearly very well managed. Sarah and I have been best friends since we were both 5 years old. She is honestly just another sister to me. I always feel like I’m back in middle school every time we come back together. I feel extra silly and free.  It’s funny because we both have such opposite personalities, but, they always seem to work. It was an exciting weekend for Sarah and her son, Liam. Our friend and her husband, Mike was coming back home after almost a year of deployment. I’m sure both Liam and Sarah felt like it was Christmas getting him back home. It was fun to watch Alec interacting with Liam. It was like Alec became a little kid himself. We had a relaxing weekend full of hanging out, a night out to dinner, and a nature walk. The weather, like Atlanta, was rainy and cold. I really just enjoyed hanging out around the house and talking. It was perfect.  We were able to go for a nature trail near her house called Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve Trail.

It was a windy trail full of stairs through the woods, elevated pathways, and gardens. It was beautiful. If you are in the Cary, NC area, go check it out! We only stayed from Friday evening to Sunday morning. It was a short and sweet trip. Thank you Mike, Sarah, and Liam for your hospitality! We love you guys!

It’s never really fun traveling home after a weekend. The anxiety of getting back into your place is enhanced by the amount of time you have to travel on the road. That’s why Alec and I wanted to split up some of the drive back to North Mills, NC by stopping at a few trails. Make it worth our drive back. The first place that I knew that I had to stop by was Greensboro, NC. Greensboro is half way in between Asheville and Cary, NC. I had to stop there because my parents are currently packing up their house of 28 years in Florida and moving there this summer. Doesn’t seem real. We just wanted to check out the area and go look at some houses that my dad has been obsessing over. Alec found a cute little garden called The Gateway Gardens. Most of the plants in the garden were bare. As a Floridan, I never understood the idea of winter. Flowers dying in the winter weather just to blossom again during the summer. The trees and plants are always lush and green throughout the year in Florida. It’s strange to look around and see the gardens empty of color. It does make the blossoming of the flowers that much more beautiful. In the midst of dying flowers, a flower bud springs to life.

My childhood house, as we know it, will be gone. Greensboro, NC will be the new life for my parents. We extremely glad that we stopped through Greensboro.The last stop for the day before going back to our campground was McGalliard Falls Park in Valdese, NC. It was a gorgeous family park. You walk down a pathway to be met by a old mill house and a tall waterfall.

We weren’t there for more than 45 minutes, but, it was definitely worth our time to get out of the car, stretch our legs, and enjoy a beautiful park.  We pulled back into North Mills Campground just before sundown and were on mission to find Robert, the campground manager. We wanted to see what he had to say about our offer to clean up the campground for a free campsite. “Look there’s Robert!” 

Brenchley Travels

Why are you so cold, Georgia?

March 2-4: Atlanta, GA. We always love coming to Atlanta, GA to visit family. After our visit, we are absolutely convinced that all of the attractive people hide out in Atlanta. We went out for dinner with my cousin Ava that first night and they were seriously everywhere. So if you’re single and looking for someone, go to Altanta (jokes). We were making a joke about how Alec needed to wear make up just to keep up with the level of beauty that town had. We kept it pretty relaxed during our visit. The weather did not want to work with us. Cold and rainy throughout the entire weekend we were there. It was nice to be forced to relax. We never really stop moving unless we have too. After the constant packing and moving, it was nice to just be able to put our feet up. We did manage to go for a beautiful walk through a pathway near her house before the rain started (we can’t just do nothing). It was a long, wooden, elevated pathway through the trees. I loved looking at the different brick houses and the vine-covered trees throughout the path. Ava showed us a section of the pathway that people have graffitied. The walls were covered with vibrant pictures and words. The structure that they had been graffitied looked liked the remains of an old business or small factory. I’m not sure, but, it had some interesting pieces spray painted on it.

There was a nice breeze so we didn’t even break a sweat. It did start raining through our walk, but, it was just nice to get outside and enjoy GA. While we took shelter from the rain in her house, Ava dyed my hair a pink ombré. I wanted something funky for our trip. I have always had to look professional for my hospital job and it was my time to have fun with some color.

Two solid thumbs up for the finished look. Ava seriously killed it. Thank you to my Georgia family for the hospitality.

March 4-7: moving up towards northern Georgia. It has been surprisingly freezing in GA these past few days. As you drive through the hills, you see the frozen water draping over the rocks. We both have been surprised that it still is cold in March, especially in Georgia. Us Florida- grown kids need to realize that the weather gets cold and remains cold for a while. It was a high on 35 today and last night it dropped to a shocking 20. First lesson: don’t tent camp in 20 degree weather unless you are absolutely 100% prepared. We will get to that lesson in a minute. Last August, Alec started the trails of the Georgia Traverse (off road trail that goes through northern GA). He was not able to complete that trail due to that lack of time. So when we realized that we were heading through northern Georgia on this trip, he had to try and complete it. We had a plan. Leave Callie in a safe RV campsite and go set out to complete the GA Traverse. We ended up picking the Deep Hole Campground to leave our RV at. It’s $10 a night and is right by a river.

It was a clean campground. We decided to tent camp throughout the Traverse, so we brought all the supplies we felt was necessary for that to happen. We set out in the morning, optimistic that we would get right on any route for the Traverse. We were wrong. Most of the trailhead roads were closed. I’m guessing due to seasonal weather. We did finally find a more paved section of the GA Traverse and set off there. We drove through beautiful windy roads that passed by farmlands, open fields, and surrounding mountains. We weren’t in Florida anymore and that was clear. It was a great day of driving for me. Being a Florida girl, I never really needed to learn how to drive properly through mountains. Well the mountains are here and the time is now. It has been a fun challenge to learn. Alec used to live in Seattle, WA so he is extremely familiar with driving through mountains, in snow, etc. He has been teaching me how to brake properly while going downward towards a turn, when to accelerate, and some trouble shooting situations. I have realized that I can be quit timid when it comes to driving. I get nervous if a car is coming while I turning a sharp corner or when I have to trouble shoot through a difficult route. Alec is a great teacher for me because he really is patient and builds the confidence that I need to became a more skilled driver. It started to became sundown, so we decided to stop for the night and set up camp. We found this (very) isolated camping spot right below the snow line within the mountains. It was a camping space down a little dirt road and just had a small spot to set up camp.

Snow covered the tops of the fallen leaves that now surrounded us. It was cold. Like really, really cold. Alec and I quickly began to collect as much wood as we could find to start making a fire. The sticks crunched as I pulled them away from the snow which meant one thing, they were damp! I don’t know if you have ever tried this, but, it was extremely difficult to start a fire with such saturated wood. I have seen Alec make fire from dry to extremely damp conditions and I sat there and watched him struggle getting that fire started. I’m talking about working that fire for over a hour and a half. Fanning that fire continuously, adding more and more sticks, and nothing. It was now completely dark. We couldn’t feel our toes or hands. Finally, FINALLY after working that fire, it remained lit. Even with that fire going, it was uncomfortably cold. It was now 20 degrees. The sky was lit up by the stairs. You could see the scattered houses from a distance softly light up the mountain. We forgot our chairs so we were sitting on the ground putting our hands and feet as close as we could to the fire without getting burnt. The campsite was marked on maps so people were curious if it was open or not. Let’s just say many people stopped in front of, drove down the little pathway, and checked to see if there was anyone there. I was just not very comfortable with this. We were alone, at night, in the middle of the woods, on a mountain, without cell service, and having people come into our campsite. I felt like I was going to be on a episode of “My Favorite Murder.” We decided to try to keep warm that we were going to attempt to go into our CVT rooftop tent, snuggle up, and try to go to sleep. We had every single blanket that we brought on this RV trip in that tent. We had multiple layers…a base layer, a regular jacket, and then our big Columbia down jacket with gloves and hats on. I never was able to generate enough heat to feel my fingers or toes. All I could think of was my sister saying “Why do you camp when you have a perfectly good house?!”. You got me, Les. When I thought that I meant actually get comfortable, the lights of a car lit up the inside of our tent. Car doors opened and closed. My heart stopped. We have never set up camp to leave on the same night, but, I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to go back to the RV. Thankfully, the people in the car realized that we were there and kept driving. It was just creepy to me. It was probably our worst camping experience to date. My toes and fingers were completely numb as we packed up the insides of the tent. This is where our lesson came into play. We didn’t have the proper gear for weather like this. Do not camp in 20 degree weather unless you are absolutely prepared. We were about a hour away from Callie. We packed up the rest of our tent and headed back to the RV in the hopes that it would be a little warmer. It was still bloody cold, but, at least we had some protection within the walls of the RV.  It was a cold night. Even with cuddling up each to other, we both were miserable. When we woke up in the morning, there was ice on the inside walls of Callie. We immediately went to purchase a generator. I figured that some point into this trip that we would purchase a generator. I just didn’t think that it would be 5 days in. I will say that the generator has been the best purchase that we have made thus far. We were able to find a really nice Champion generator on sale at the Tractor Supply Store near our campsite. We have been running it while we make dinner, shutting it off during sleep, and restarting it just in time for breakfast in the morning. The generator, to our surprise, is not very loud and doesn’t shallow up gasoline quickly. It has definitely helped with this 20 degree weather this week. I’m sure that we will find good use of it throughout the next few months while we are traveling. We did make it out to different driving trails, hiking trails, and some waterfalls during our stay in northern GA. We found a beautiful suspension bridge about 6 miles from our campsite called Toccoa River Swinging Bridge.

You had to hike on a simple 0.5 mile hike to get to the bridge. It was nice to stretch our legs. The sun was out and the water was rushing underneath us. It was definitely an unexpected treat for our day. That following day, we were attempting to complete more of the GA Traverse when we realized that Alec’s brother ,Cale, was visiting about a hour and a half away from us in southeast Tennessee. We haven’t seen Cale for almost a year so of course we drove over for the chance to go on a hike with him. We crossed from northern GA to Tennessee and met him and our friend Daniel in the Cherokee National Forest. We drove up this beautiful, windy mountain with the most amazing views. Mountains that surrounded sections of different lakes.

The sun sparkled on the water. It was just beautiful. On the top of the mountain was the trailhead for the Benton Waterfall. A very muddy hike led us to top of Benton Waterfall. It was overwhelming tall and trying to look over it was a struggle for me. I was a bit timid to go look over the edge. The waterfall has many layers to it and you got mesmerized watching the water fall over the shelves of rock.

Personally, seeing Cale and the hike to Benton Waterfall was my favorite part of the last few days. It was a rough start to the trip with the crazy cold weather, but, it all came together in that moment. The freedom of being full time travelers really showed itself in that day. Georgia taught us both a lot of lessons for traveling and RVing. For that, I am thankful. We were able to complete a good amount of the GA Traverse, as well. So it wasn’t all bad!

We drove from Tennessee back into our campsite in northern GA, had one last night in Deep Hole Campground, and then started towards North Carolina. My favorite place to go. Well, for now. 

Brenchley Travels 

Goodbye Florida

March 1, we finally set off. It seems very surreal even sitting here typing that. We finally left  Safety Harbor, Florida for our RV trip that we have dreaming of and planning for the last few years. All the hard work, all the saving, and all of the waiting got us to here. February was an absolute blur. It was our moving and packing month. I didn’t sit and write anything. Frankly, I don’t feel bad about it. My main priority will forever be my family and friends. It was my time to get in the hours with my loved ones before we left and I will not regret that. The only thing that we will never get back is our time and with that time I choose to spend it loving the ones that matter the most. This blog, after all, is a simple documentation of our journey for ourselves, for our families, and for our curious friends. So really, it doesn’t matter that I didn’t write. We tried to pack up slowly as we went for the month of February. We didn’t want to completely overwhelm ourselves, but, just take our time. We decided that we were going to work until a week before we actually left and we didn’t want that last week to be absolute chaos. It was chaotic, but, manageable because we planned ahead. I did a lot of searching throughout stores to find things that would help organize Callie (the caravan) that month. I went to IKEA, the Containers Store, Target, Walmart, and the Dollar Tree. I would say that the winning place to find organizational bins would be the Dollar Tree. You can find tons of bins and containers for, you guessed it, one dollar. I was able to completely organize the entire RV with purchases from there. Another solid organizing find was the expandable drawer dividers. I found those babies at the Containers Store. They were a bit pricey, however, you can make any bin size you want simply by moving over the divider. I definitely find it to be worth the money. I was able to separate knifes from bigger cooking tools and kitchen towels from spices. Alec and I have a list of YouTube videos that we would like to do. Doing an organizational tour throughout our RV is definitely one of them, so stay tuned. I really enjoyed the task of organizing our stuff into this 21 foot RV. Where to put our shoes, our socks, our towels, etc. We got rid of a lot of stuff leading to this trip and we also packed up a lot of stuff for storage, but, the amount of crap people seem to pile up never ends. It was fun finding a way to place those things in our new home.

We both ended our jobs on February 22. Leaving my work was actually very difficult. I love my coworkers. They are like my extended family. You aren’t really sure how you got stuck with them, but, you were always glad that you were. It didn’t seem real when I handed in my badge before leaving my job for the last time. It was freeing and sad and freeing and bittersweet but freeing. It was full of random emotions. It was just very strange. I had to make sure and do a double, triple, quadruple take before I left that night because I didn’t want to leave anything behind. I knew that leaving my work meant that we only had a week left before we set out. It really was my favorite week of February. It was full of going away parties, house parties, friendly faces, great drinks, amazing conversations. It was just full of absolute love. Thank you for the people who came out to our going away parties. To Chris who threw the most amazing work going away party. It was just an amazing week of fellowship and community. We even got to see Alec’s parents for the first time in almost a year the week leading to us leaving. They had some odds and ends to finish up in their house. They stayed at the house and we were able to just enjoy their presence. It was just a great week.

March 1 hit us hard. We still had some things to pack inside Callie and had some final goodbyes. We had already placed all of our stored items in our work trailer and put it on my wonderful coworkers land the night before, so we didn’t have to worry about packing the house up anymore. It was just the final touches to the RV. Standing in that completely empty house, we knew it was time. The last and final goodbye I had was my mother. I never really wanted to let her go. I didn’t actually want to say goodbye. It was a flood of sadness leaving my parents. I have always lived close to them. You never know. Maybe we will live close to them again someday. We got in our truck and like that, we were gone.

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The weight of finally reaching our goal for this trip hit us as we left the driveway of his parent’s house one last time. Alec and I sat in a completely silent car for the first few hours, just regaining ourselves after the craziness of moving. It is very uncommon to have a completely silent car ride, mainly because I won’t shut up. My coworkers actually have a joke that Alec is going to get sick of me talking and ditch me on the road. Some said the Florida- Georgia border. Well, guess what! Jokes on you! I didn’t say a single word for at least 3 hours and I am still here! It was peaceful and relaxing to just unwind. I’m very blessed that I married someone where I can just sit in silence and find peace in his company. Our first main stop on the trip was going to Atlanta, GA and seeing my baby cousin, Ava. We just didn’t want to drive 7.5 hours straight on our first night. Alec found a really nice, free campsite in Osceola National Park in Northern Florida on the “IOverLander” app. We have been finding a lot of our campsites free or cheap on apps like “IOverlander”, “All Stays”,  and “Campendium”. The Osceola National Park has different camping style options. They have free, dry camping to reserved, family camping. The free camping is a first-come, first-served system, but, provided acquaint spaces for tons of people. We got in after sundown and still managed to find a space easily. It was a perfect half way point to Atlanta to set up, make some food, and watch Game of Thrones. We decided to stay in the RV for the night because it was very damp and cold (especially for Florida) from storm systems that came through. We really enjoyed the location. If you are traveling through Northern Florida and you need a free campsite, go check out Osceola National Park.

Next stop, Atlanta, GA.

Brenchley Travels