Saturday, February 10, 2018

Advice - Memphis







October 10, 2018, my hubby and I with our two little doggies are going pack up our 33 foot 5th wheel RV and hit the road for what we're calling "The Grand Adventure"!  It will be a two year trip across the United States, camping in every state!

We've had a lot of people ask us about our plans and where we're going so we've decided to start sharing our ideas so you all can give us advise before we ever leave.

Since we won't be starting "The Grand Adventure" until October, we decided to start in a state that will be beautiful in the fall - Tennessee.

The first stop on the Tennessee tour will be Memphis.

We will be camping at T. O. Fuller State Park.  It is located right outside of Memphis.  An ancient Indian village was found during an excavation. The site has since been developed as the Chucalissa Indian Village and is operated by the University of Memphis. It includes a village, preserved archaeological excavations and a modern museum.

At each location, we will be looking for trails to hike.  There is a trail at this state park called The Discovery Trail which goes to the Indian village and and loops around the park.

We will spend three nights there.  While we are there, here are some places we would like to visit:


Graceland


Graceland - My hubby and I have both been to Graceland years ago and we need to stay on a budget but thanks to Eat Sleep Travel Repeat we found out you can visit the Mediation Garden and Elvis' gravesite for no cost from 7:30 to 8:30 each morning.  

Beale Street - No visit to Memphis is complete without spending time on Beale Street.  



National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel - This is the location of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and from what we've read, it is an excellent place to visit.  I'm not sure we will have time to actually go in (and besides it would cost us $32) but we will definitely walk by.

Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid - Since we are from southwest Missouri, we are big Bass Pro fans so we will take some time to visit this cool looking location.

Mud Island River Park - Capturing Joy with Kristen Duke gave us some good information about this park near the Pyramid.  We will take some time to walk around this area while visiting that area.

Peabody Ducks - We had heard about these famous ducks but have never seen them.  After reading about them in Wanderlust in the City, we are definitely going to put this unusual item on the list!  Read even more about the ducks at porterbriggs.com.

Peabody Hotel rooftop/sunset - We got the idea from Cultural Xplorer and Dang Travelers to go the rooftop of the Peabody Hotel and watch the sun set - sounds like that will fit our budget! We might also take this opportunity to have their signature drink - Jack Daniel's Peach Sour.

Sun Studio - We will probably follow the advice of Dang Travelers and not spend the money or time to go inside but instead take pictures outside and inside the store.

Traveling in an RV means you can easily cook your own food saving a lot on food costs.  However one of the fun things about traveling, is trying local cuisine.  We spend as much time researching places to eat as we do places to go!  Here are some places we have found:



Jerry's Snow Cones - The Blonde Abroad inspired us to put Jerry's Snow Cones on the must try list.  I'm not sure how we will make up our minds on which flavor though - there are so many!  Anybody ever been there and have a favorite?

Central BBQ or Cozy Corner BBQ - BBQ is big business in Memphis and every blog or review recommended a different location.  After reading MANY reviews, we've narrowed it down to these two locations.  Hopefully we are making good choices because we do love our BBQ!

Arcade Restaurant - Lots of different blogs mentioned eating breakfast here.  We tend to just eat a small breakfast but sometimes we split a big breakfast out for very little cost.  This is also Memphis' oldest cafe.

Gus' World Famous Fried Chicken - Right after you read about Memphis BBQ, you will read about Gus' chicken - apparently no visit to Memphis is complete until you have visited here.  They now have over 20 locations all over the US, but they started in Memphis.

Once we visit Memphis, we will post our pictures and video our own Youtube channel and let you know if we followed this plan or if we changed things up.  Please comment below on Memphis recommendations!




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Sunday, August 27, 2017

Selling Our RV



For several years, Clinton and I searched and searched for the perfect RV!  Shopping for RVs can be a lot of fun.  If you go in enough of them, you get a good sense of what you're looking for.  With our son in college and not able to camp with us much, we were looking for a smaller fifth wheel that had room for him in case he could go with us but didn't take up valuable living space for sleeping arrangements we didn't need very often.

We found the perfect first time RV for us!  It is was a Forest River Rockwood Signature Ultra Lite.  It was 31 feet long, so it wasn't massive but big enough to give us lots of features we didn't have in our pop-up camper.  One of my favorite features of this RV has been the kitchen.  I've heard a lot of people say they don't cook in their RV.  I do my fair share of cooking outside but with this RV, I've had the space to prep, cook, and serve from inside.  I also love the living space with the sofa, regular dining set, and recliners.

We really thought we would keep this RV forever.  However just two short years later we are looking at going on a coast-to-coast camping trip.  We could definitely do that with our current set-up but we would like to downsize in order to afford this adventure.  So we are going to try to sell our RV ourselves.  It has been a time-consuming process.  I will share more later about the specifics.  For now, enjoy the first video we have ever created - and subscribe to our Youtube channel while you're there!


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Thursday Throwback - Alaskan Adventure Day 2

















Since we're not doing any camping right now due to winter weather and tight work schedule, I'm highlighting our trip to Alaska in June 2014.

Day 2 is kind of misleading!  Day 1 was really traveling to Alaska.  Day 2 was when our adventure really began.  We ate our free breakfast at the hotel we were staying at in downtown Anchorage.  We couldn't pick up our rental car until 9:00 a.m. so we walked around by the shore of Anchorage.

Anchorage had beautiful flowers hanging all over the place!






































Here's a picture of Ship Creek near our hotel.  It wasn't salmon season while we were there but we did enjoy watching them fish anyway.


















After we picked up our rental car and stopped by Walmart to pick up snacks and water, we headed north toward Denali.





































We ate fast food for lunch in Wasilla and then got back on the road to Denali.  As we drove, I wondered if we would know Mt. McKinley when we saw it.  We also knew that the summit of Mt. McKinley is visible only about 20% of the time.  So we were fully expecting not to see the summit.  As I was thinking all this, we rounded a corner and there she was.......
















This picture does not capture the emotion that I felt when I first laid eyes on that mountain!  We pulled over and I literally cried!  I felt like I was looking at where God lived!  The mountains closer to the tree line are big, like the ones you see in Colorado.  Mt. McKinley (now just known as Denali) is the white summit to the left.  It is unbelievably tall!

We stopped at a scenic overlook area and were just in awe!





































We finally tore ourselves away from the amazing scenery and drove further north.  We stopped at another overlook and saw more amazing scenery!


















We finally arrived at Denali.  It is just a strip of hotels, with a few souvenir shops and a couple of restaurants.  We stayed at the Denali Bluffs hotel.































































We ate dinner at our hotel and then set off for a river raft ride - at 7:30 p.m.!  Check out how light it was!





















It was a beautiful float but unfortunately we did not see any wildlife.




















We wrapped up the day drinking wine from the deck area of our hotel.  This picture was taken at 11:00 p.m.!!



















We fell in love with Alaska this day!  The mountains just spoke to our soul.  We can't wait to go back!  I will share Day 3 next week - that day was the scariest day of my life!

Live a Happy Camper Life!
Michele

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Throwback Thursday - Alaskan Adventure Day 1



One of the reasons why I wanted to start this blog was to inspire people to get outside more and enjoy this beautiful world God has created.  However, we don't get outside as much during January.  So I decided to highlight each day of our amazing trip to Alaska we took during the summer of 2014 on Throwback Thursdays.  It was a 10 day trip so by the time I get through 10 Throwback Thursdays, it will be time to go camping again!!

Before I tell you all about Day 1, let me give you some background.  My hubby and I usually don't take big vacations.  And when we do, we camp and we take our son.  But this time was different.  It was our 25th wedding anniversary and we wanted to do something different and special.  We threw around ideas like renting a beach house in Florida for the entire family or going to  Banff in Canada.  But nothing sounded right so we just did nothing about it.  Finally mid-spring I got to thinking about surprising my hubby with a trip to his bucket list destination - Alaska!

Honestly at first I was not crazy about the idea of going to Alaska!  It sounded cold and expensive.  And I thought that our only choice was a cruise and I just didn't think we would enjoy that - we like hiking and camping.  But I started researching and found out that a cruise was not our only option.  And I found out that typically Alaskan cruises just cruise around the Inside Passage, stopping at the state capital Juneau, as well as Sitka and Ketchikan.  Those are beautiful destinations but when I thought about Alaska, I thought about seeing Mt. McKinley and Denali National Park.  You can visit those places on a cruise but it costs extra for land excursions.

Then I found the perfect alternative - a land tour!  Sure it wasn't necessarily cheaper but it fit us better.  It was a nine day tour fully planned out for us, except we got our own rental car and could have some freedom when it came to meals.  And best of all we would get to see Mt. McKinley!

So are you ready to travel back in time?!

I am!!

Alaskan Adventure Day 1

We left Friday, June 21 at 9:00 a.m. from the St. Louis airport.































We flew to Chicago, switched planes and flew to Seattle.  Seattle has a beautiful airport!  We ate a late lunch there and then got on another plane and flew the final leg to Anchorage, Alaska!


















The flight to Alaska was one I will never forget!  The mountains were unlike any I had ever seen!  They were huge, beautiful and everywhere!

We landed around 5:30 p.m. that evening - it helped we gained time as we headed west!  It was a cool 54 degrees!  Notice we are still in our short sleeves!






















We took a shuttle to our first night stay - Downtown Comfort Inn Ship Creek.  Officially our tour package did not start till the next day so we had to decide on this one ourselves.  We picked out Comfort Inn at Ship Creek because it was within walking distance of downtown and we didn't pick up our rental car till the next day.

The Summer Solstice celebration was going on that night!  If you call what they have there at that time of year night!  It never got dark!  It was like twilight all night long!

Here was a picture taken of Ship Creek that night!  



















We had a great night at the celebration, shopping at touristy shops in Anchorage and eating fresh crab legs!  But none of this compares to Day 2!! Wait for it!  It's coming!

Living the Happy Camper Life!
Michele

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Pomme de Terre State Park

What was the weather like this past weekend in your part of the world?

Here in Missouri, it was one of the most beautiful autumn weekends ever!

I was sooooo happy to go camping!  It was one of the first times I can remember ever camping beyond Labor Day weekend.  I remember tent camping one year for my birthday (November 1) but other than that, we rarely camped after Labor Day.  It can and did get pretty chilly at night.  I have a hard time sleeping if I'm cold!

Camping in an RV is so luxurious!  Heat and air and a fire place!

We went back to our favorite campground - Hermitage at Pomme de Terre.

We love Hermitage because it is relatively flat, has lots of shade but also has great views (and access to) the lake.



















































Monday, September 28, 2015

Babler State Park

It is my goal in life to camp and/or visit as many state parks in the United States.

Recently we crossed off a state park in Missouri we had never camped at or had even visited - Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park.







































Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Camping at the Branson KOA

I am super excited about this coming weekend!  We are going to camp at a (new to us) state park outside of St. Louis - Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park.  I'm excited about trying out a different state park but I'm equally excited about attending the Taste of St. Louis food festival!  Babler State Park is just 15 minutes away from the food festival.  Combining two of my favorite things - cooking and camping - is a weekend made in heaven!

I certainly can't go camping this weekend without first catching you up on our Labor Day camping trip.  We had not made reservations anywhere since we did not buy our RV until the end of July.  When you don't make reservations 6 months in advance, you won't be staying at any popular state parks in Missouri!  So we started looking at other campgrounds in the Branson area since we had some family visiting there.  We called several other places but they were all booked.  We called the Branson KOA - we've stayed at other KOAs and have enjoyed them.  They had one space left!






































Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Stockton State Park Part 2

Howdy!  Hope you all had a relaxing weekend!  Clinton and I did - we thought about camping but our puppies got "fixed" Friday and they needed some R&R.  It actually felt really good to totally unplug for the weekend and just be lazy with them.

Since we didn't go camping, I am going to show you the rest of Stockton State Park.

Stockton State Park has two really nice picnic shelter areas.  The first one we visited is close to the marina and to the campground - the South Shelter.







































Thursday, August 20, 2015

Camping at Stockton Lake

Have I mentioned after 26 years of marriage, Clinton and I bought our first RV?!  I might have mentioned it once or twice!

One of the reasons why I wanted an RV so badly was because I was hoping it would allow us to go camping more often, especially after school starts.

This past weekend was our first time just hooking up the RV and heading to a state park without any prior planning.

It was awesome!  I came home from work, threw some clothes and food inside and away we went.  We decided to camp somewhere we had not camped before and settled on Stockton State Park because it was less than two hours away.

We left our house around 5:30 and got there at 7:15 Friday night.  It probably took us 15 minutes to set up our Forest River Rockwood Ultra Lite.








































Monday, August 3, 2015

Our First RV!!

I can't really tell you where my love for camping came from.  My family never went camping when I was growing up, neither did my husband's family.

After our son was born, Clinton and I took up camping because it was an expensive way to "go on vacation."  We bought a tent, an air mattress, a couple of coolers and we started camping.  

I guess that's actually where this deep-seated love for camping occurred.  There's nothing better than setting up camp, then sitting around a campfire - cooking, eating, and laughing.  Then you wake up, usually early and watch the sun rise.  You hear birds, crickets, and other sounds of nature.  You smell bacon and coffee wafting across the campground.  It's so peaceful and helps to clear your mind.  

We have tent camped at various state park near us in Missouri and we have also tent camped in other states, like this one trip we took around the Great Lakes.  

Last year we finally upgraded to a pop-up camper.  It was like a tent only with air conditioning!  We only kept it one year and then sold it, with the hopes of buying a full-size 5th wheel RV (the type you hook to the bed of your truck).  

Friday we were finally blessed with the good fortune of purchasing our first RV - a 32 foot Forest River Rockwood Ultra Lite.  Let me take you on a tour!


























Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Purpose of Happy Camper Life


Last week I attended an educational conference in Atlanta, GA.  When I originally agreed to attend this conference, I assumed we would fly since it is an 11 hour drive to Atlanta from here.  I assumed wrong!  But I'm always up for a road trip so I stuck with it.  All those hours in the vehicle and all the hours waiting in lines for various things at the conference (sessions, food, even elevators!) gave me a lot of thinking time.

What did I think about mostly?  My blog of course!  Mostly I kept thinking about why I'm doing this.  I decided I want to constantly remind myself and anyone who takes the time to read my blog that the purpose is to stay true to its name - Happy Camper Life.  In other words, regardless if I have any followers at all or if I make a cent off this blog, I want to share my life and how I stay happy through the everyday ups and downs.  Whether that's through remodeling a house, cooking a great meal, camping at a beautiful state park, or even attending an educational conference, there is always something beautiful and wonderful and awe-inspiring in this life.  We just have to search for it, notice it and appreciate it.

So here are a few things that made me happy while at the conference in Atlanta:

The huge KFC sign that actually moved!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Key to Happiness {Be Flexible}

There are a lot of self-help books out there telling people the keys to happiness.  Really the only self-help book you need is the Bible.  I'm serious!  True happiness comes from giving up what our selfish nature wants and listening to that still, small voice telling us what we should do instead.  When we follow that still, small voice, we get want we truly need which makes us happy.

Sometimes doing this is easy and sometimes it's REALLY hard!  Like Wednesday.....it was our anniversary.  Last year we celebrated by going to Alaska!  This year we were so overwhelmed with the house and new puppies, we had no plans.  Yet I was determined to do something fun.  Besides I'm writing a blog now and I have very few posts about the joys of the great outdoors lol!

So I quickly planned a day of outdoor fun at a couple state parks about 2 1/2 hours away.....Elephant Rocks and Johnson's Shut-Ins.  We hadn't been in there in years - our son didn't really remember going and he's 22!  I was able to coordinate him and his girlfriend going with us.  By the grace of God even the different guys working on our house couldn't work on our house Wednesday due to other jobs.  So I bought a new swim suit to wear at the river, new beach towels, lots of snacks - I was ready!

Then it rained!


















And rained......


















Tuesday, June 30, 2015

RV Shopping

Saturday we took a break between painting and drove to Camdenton to do one of our favorite things - look at RVs!  Seriously we could do it all day!

Clinton wanted to look at the swanky Cedar Creek RV - it was sweet!  It actually had sliding doors at the back that closed the living room area off from the rest of the RV.  This would be really nice if you have others with you - giving them privacy while they sleep.  



It had a bigger refrigerator than the new one we bought for the house!