Tag Archives: travel

Back home to Atlanta and a new grandbaby!

We left Tucson in mid March and headed back to Atlanta, GA.  The main reason?  Well, we were expecting the arrival of our first grandchild!  Our trek to Atlanta took us through some great stops and I will definitely take the time to share them with you here over the next few weeks.

When we travel long distances, we like to go with the 3-3-3 Rule.  Basically, it means no more than 3 hours of driving per day; or 300 miles per day; or arrival at a campground no later than 3:00 PM.  Following one of those options each day means that Dave doesn’t get too tired and at the same time, we both get to enjoy the sights along the way.

So the route home to Atlanta took about three weeks, and included stops in Alamogordo, NM; Carlsbad, NM; Galveston, TX; Mobile, AL; and Martin Lake, AL.  Stay tuned for more posts about the sites that we visited along the way!

We parked our coach in my daughter’s driveway and began baby watch.  Meet our daughter, Amanda and her husband, Daniel.  This photo was taken about a week before Esme was born.

Our daughter went into labor on Wednesday and it was wonderful to be there with her for this amazing experience.

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Esmeralda was born on April 20, 2017 at 8:35 AM after a long sleepless night.  She weighed 6 lbs. 1 oz. A beautiful perfect little baby girl!

She looks like a little doll, doesn’t she?  Me?  Well, I look like I’ve been up all night.  But it wasn’t nearly as exhausting for me as her mom!

Baby Esme is a beautiful addition to our family!  She is the first grandchild on my family’s side, and the first girl grandchild on Daniels family’s side.

Did I mention before how excited we are to be here?  That is one of the best advantages of full time RVing!

We will be in Atlanta until around the end of June when we will start our next campground job.  I am currently working on making that one official and will let you know as soon as we have something on paper.

In the meantime, we are enjoying the Atlanta area, our wonderful family and our beautiful granddaughter!

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5 Things to think about before becoming a Full Time RVer

Living in a 400 square foot motor home isn’t for everyone.  When we made this decision about 2 years ago, we weren’t really sure what we were getting into.  All the planning for years in advance does not totally prepare you for the reality.  But we knew that any obstacles would be figured out on the fly.  I mean, you only live once, right?

So we jumped into it with both feet.  Now that two years are behind us, we are so glad we made this life-changing decision.  In an effort to keep things real and help out anyone else who is considering this lifestyle, here are 5 things to think about before you hit the road.

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Downsizing is pretty painful

In order to fit your life into 400 square feet, you have to decide which possessions you can and cannot live without.  Unfortunately, many of them will have to go, especially if your are a full timer that also sells their home like we did.  I have to say that many of our treasured belongings went to people that did not treasure them nearly as much as we did.

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As I talked about in my earlier post “Never Say Free on Facebook“, the hardest thing about simpler living is learning to let go.

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What can you live without?  Well, sometimes it takes a little time to know.  We packed the bottom of our coach with those things we could not part with such as vintage books, golf clubs, various craft supplies and fabric.  We have reached the point now that we will be going through those things again.  What we haven’t used in the two years on the road will find a new place to live.  Downsizing is hard, but it really is freeing.

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Choose a coach with an all-weather package

Coaches are rated for living and traveling in various types of weather.  Unfortunately, that is something we did not know when we bought ours.  Ours is a bit shy on insulation and it really hates cold weather.  Which means that we spend a bit of time each year avoiding cold weather and just like the snowbirds, head south in the winter.

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Even so, places such as Tucson can get cold in the winter.  This year we purchased an electric radiator to help keep the chill out.  But we still have to worry about pipes freezing.

It is best to choose an all weather unit to ensure that it will hold up to temperature differences and be comfortable no matter where you are.

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Choose a RV that works for your lifestyle

I have to say that love our washer and dryer.  I would never want to have to hang out at the laundromat once a week like many of our coworkers do.   We also love the large storage area under the coach.

When planning to hit the road consider what is important to you.  What conveniences you really would love to have.  Because once you are out on the road, those things are not always as easy to come by.

Gadgets make life easier.  Be sure to check out my list of 10 Great Gadgets for the RVer.

Keep the clutter down to a roar

Living in tight quarters involves a bit of organization.  We have two people and two dogs in our coach.  Everything has a place.  Otherwise craziness will ensue.  I’m lying if I say that my RV is always organized, but each day I put in an effort to keep things down to a roar.

I am a professional crafter, and about half of the cabinets in our coach are designated for supplies.  Keeping things organized helps keep us both sane.

What is great is the fact that there is always that amazingly beautiful place right outside our front door to enjoy when things get a little tight inside.

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Keeping in touch with the rest of the world

I’ll tell you now, most campground wifi is not worth the effort.  Occasionally, you will find a good one, but for the most part, there are too many people trying to access it, too many people trying to stream videos and not enough signal to compensate.

We use our own data most commonly, but that involves having a decent phone signal.  We have actually turned down jobs where a phone signal was not existent.  Because of my websites, this is one area where I cannot compromise.

While life on the road full time can be a major adjustment, we took the chance and have never looked back!

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12 Great ways to make a living on the road!

We often get asked how we support ourselves on the road.  Our answer up until now has been work camping and my website income.  I wanted to show you 12 more ways to make a living on the road.

Of course, we have cut our living expenses down simply by not owning a home any more.  Traveling as we do, our expenses include lot rent, insurance, our rv payment, food and spending.

You can lower your expenses even more by not having a rv payment, staying longer in one place, cooking at home and even boondocking (camping for free without water, electric or sewer connections) when you can. You really have a surprising control over your overhead.

But there will be overhead.

We chose this life to get away from the stress of a 40+ hour a week workweek.  We wanted to get away from the traffic, the crowds, the chaos and the strict time schedules and wanted to be healthy and stress-free.

Having the freedom to decide how much you want to work and how much free time you want is one of the biggest advantages of living the RV lifestyle.  And there are so many opportunities out there to take advantage of!  I have talked a bit about work camping (working in campgrounds in exchange for a site and/or pay), but let’s talk about some of the other things out there!

Our main sources of seasonal employment opportunities are websites such as:

Work at KOA
Workamper News
Coolworks
Workers on Wheels

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There are jobs to be found everywhere.  You won’t get rich, but you should be able to support yourself and your lifestyle on the road.   Seasonal and work from home positions are readily available if you look for them.

Here are some of the positions that we are considering for future:

Make a living as Guest services and maintenance at a resort ranch

Most resort ranches offer accommodations, hiking, water activities, horse back riding, fly fishing and often a full service restaurant.   Positions available are usually seasonal, but offer a full range of interesting opportunities depending upon where your interests may lie.  Often resorts will offer you pay along with room and board.  In some instances, they have their own mini rv parks to house some of their employees.

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Make a living Working at a lighthouse

Often this is a volunteer position, but there are instances where you can get paid as a park ranger.  As a lighthouse worker, you would be responsible for overseeing the lighthouse and keeping it secure during off season.  This job usually offers a place to stay on site (sometimes even a place for your coach).

Click here for more!

Mt. Lemmon and life in Tucson

Well, its been a couple of weeks since my last update and life in Tucson is a bit cold (especially at night) and a bit frustrating at times, but I have to say it is a beautiful area to live this time of year.

We really love the fact that we can step right outside our door and pick fresh oranges every day for orange juice.  We are definitely getting our share of vitamin C.

As for the work thing.  Well, it could be better.  I’ve written about work camping before- The Good, the bad and the ugly.   We came to this campground to work in the kitchen.  We thought it would be a nice break from working guest services; a job that we have consistently been doing for the past few years.

However, it seems that working in the kitchen, at least at this campground was not working for us.  We asked to be moved back to customer service and they moved us to the front office a little over a week ago.

So, with that said, we are making the best of our stay here and enjoying the area.  And looking forward to our move onto the next part of the country.  LOL!

Tucson has some pretty amazing sunsets.  This photo was taken from our doorway.   I have to say that it truly is a beautiful place to live.

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This past week, we decided to take advantage of our couple days off and take a drive up to the top of Mt. Lemmon.  From the campground, we can see it rising above the city of Tucson.  This time of year, you can see the snow at the summit.

We wanted to touch some snow.   So off we went.

Mt Lemmon Scenic Byway is the only paved road that leads to the top of Mt. Lemmon and the Santa Catalina Range. It is said to be one of the most scenic drives in southeast Arizona.

Because the road starts in the Lower Sonoran desert and climbs to high forests, it offers the biological equivalent of driving from the deserts of Mexico to the forests of Canada in a short stretch of 27 miles.

Here at the base of the mountain, we were surrounded by Saguaro cactus and desert scenery.  It would change pretty quickly.

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Mission San Xavier del Bac

We love the fact that on our days off from work camping, we can take the time to enjoy the beauty around us.  We were told by the locals that Mission San Xavier del Bac was an experience that we really couldn’t miss while we are here in Tucson.

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Mission San Xavier del Bac is the oldest intact European structure in Arizona and is widely considered to be the finest example of Spanish architecture in the United States.  It is located just 9 miles south of downtown Tucson and draws around 200,000 visitors each year.

We decided to take a trip out there to see it this week.

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And we were not disappointed!

Mission San Xavier del Bac is affectionately called the “White Dove of the Desert”.  It sits on the land of the Tohono O’odham Indians who have protected the mission for hundreds of years.

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San Xavier Mission was founded as a Catholic mission by Father Eusebio Kino in 1692.  This particular church was completed in 1797 with the help of the local Tohono O’odham Indians, over 220 years ago!

As we walked inside, we were in awe of the amazing detail in every nook and crevice of this fabulous church.

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Little is known about the people who decorated the interior. It is assumed that much of the artwork was probably created by artists from Queretero in New Spain (now Mexico).

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The sculptures were created elsewhere and then carried by donkey through the desert to their destination at the Mission.

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We were told that what we were seeing today is the result of careful restoration.  Because of it’s age, the structure of the Mission obtained damage over the years.  An earthquake in 1887 caused major damage, and in 1939, lightning struck the West Tower lantern.

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In 1978, a group of community leaders began a five-year program to conserve and restore this national treasure.  An international team of conservators were brought in to clean, remove over-painting and repair the beautiful murals and sculptures within the Mission.

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Exterior preservation is still in process when funds are available.

Walking the grounds, we discovered several beautiful desert gardens and a small museum and gift shop.

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Through the gate, you can walk up to the hill next door that has a large cross on top.  The view is worth the small climb.

And don’t miss the local Tohono O’odham Indians who have set up stands in the parking lot selling lots of freshly made fry bread.

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I just love it when I run across a totally unexpected sign.  Certainly, don’t feed the coyotes.

Apparently they like fry bread too!

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If you are visiting the Tucson area, don’t miss this historic landmark!  It is free to the public and is an awe inspiring look into ancient architecture, amazing art, and religious history!

Do keep in mind that this is still an active church.  Masses are held daily.  All are welcome to attend mass, but be aware that no photos are allowed at that time.

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Only in Arizona- The Tumbleweed Christmas Tree!

Yes, at first glance it looks like a normal Christmas tree in the center of town.  But Chandler, Arizona creates something unique and beautiful each year.  Something that you can find nowhere else in the country…

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This beautiful tree is made up of thousands of tumbleweeds!

Yes, thousands of them!  It takes around 1,000 of these tumbling dead bushes to create the massive 30″ tall tree each year.

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Local tradition holds that Chandler’s Tumbleweed Tree was the brainchild of Earle Barnum.  He came up with the idea for the tumbleweed tree after seeing a tree built with local pine boughs in his hometown in Indiana.

How do they make a Tumbleweed Tree?

Starting in the fall, the tumbleweeds are gathered and then placed around a chicken wire frame.  They are then sprayed with flame retardant white paint, sprinkled with over 65 pounds of glitter, and strung with lights.

This wonderfully unique tradition has been carried on for over 60 years in the town of Chandler.

Of course, once we heard about it, we had to see it!

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There was lots to see and do in the town area surrounding the Tumbleweed Tree including great little shops and restaurants.  Naturally, we had to try out one of the restaurants.

The sacrifices we make for this website.  LOL!

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We decided to check out Crust Restaurant, a local Italian eatery.  From inside, we could watch the tree as darkness began to fall and the lights were lit.

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We had some amazing pasta dishes at Crust.  We enjoyed a fresh board of Tomato, Basil and Parmesan Bruschetta, along with our main course of Grandma’s Pasta- a yummy mix of pasta, meatballs, sausage, ricotta and marinara!

Definitely worth a return visit!

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And as darkness fell, the Tumbleweed Tree grew even more beautiful!

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We really enjoyed the lights in the square.

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After all, it is pretty hard to decorate an RV.   The lights in the streets were amazing.

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This is our second Christmas living full time in our coach.  And one of the things I love about that is that we can experience Christmas just a bit differently each year.

Last year, we were on the beaches of Florida, and this year we are enjoying a Tumbleweed Christmas tree!

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And back at the campground, the doggies are settling in just fine.  Faith and Ralph have decided that the campground was pretty nice about supplying them with an official “doggie sidewalk”.

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We brought a few more of the old traditions back to our coach including whipping up a big batch of Old Fashioned Potato Candy.  (You can find the full recipe on my other website, Suzy’s Sitcom).

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Faith and Ralph (and both of us) wish you all an amazing, happy and healthy holiday season!

Next week, I plan on doing a review of our past year on the road!  Stay tuned!

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A visit to Saguaro National Park

First things first: it’s pronounced “suh-wahr-oh.”  Do you know how many years I have mispronounced this cactus?  Yep, I am ridiculously southern and can’t seem to shake it.

Anyway, we decided to make the short drive out to Saguaro National Park to see what all the fuss was about.

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And there you have it.  Cactus as far as you can see.

Since 1933 this extraordinary giant cactus has been protected within Saguaro National Park. There are two sections of the park, one on the west side of Tucson and one on the east side.  Our visit this week was to the west.

The Sonoran Desert is one of the hottest and driest regions on the continent. In the summer, it is common for the temperatures to climb over 100 degrees and it gets less than 12 inches of rain in a typical year.

With that in mind, it was surprisingly lush and beautiful!

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The plants and animals are able to survive this environment with adaptations specially designed for desert survival.  At first glance, desert life seems rather unfriendly.

Talk about a bunch of defense mechanisms!  It would not be a great thing to trip and fall while hiking around this part of the country!

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But in an extreme environment such as this, I imagine a great defense is necessary.

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Even the local wildlife is extreme.  The Sonoran Desert is home to 18 species of rattlesnakes.  There are also poisonous Gila Monsters,  and Coyotes, and Javelinas.

Not a lot of friendly in this part of the country, that’s for sure.

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The star of the show is the Saguaro Cactus.  It is not only the state symbol of Arizona, but a universally recognized image of the Southwest!

It is the largest and slowest growing of all cacti.  The shorter ones to the left of me in the photo above are about 75 years old.  The one to the right of me could be as old as 200 years.

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These amazing cacti can weigh up to 8 tons, partly because of the large amount of water the stems can hold. Giant saguaro cacti, unique to the Sonoran Desert, sometimes reach a height of 50 feet.

Click here for more!

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Life in Tucson

As full time RVers and work campers, we find ourselves moving with the seasons.  Most campgrounds hire for a six month long season.  You can work longer if you’d like as long as the campground is open all year.  Unfortunately, in the wintertime, most of the campgrounds in the northern section of the United States close due to inclement weather.

Our new home...
Our new home…

And not to mention, our coach has issues with below freezing temperatures.  In the future, we have learned that when buying a coach, you need to get what they call a “Polar Package”.  This includes not only heated floors, but extra insulation and a heated undercarriage.  These were things we didn’t think about at the time, and as usual, we learn the hard way.

With that said, we move to warmer weather just as the snowbirds do.  In fact, I guess that makes us snowbirds too!  LOL!

Our view from our front yard
Our view from our front yard

We find the majority of our work camping jobs on the internet and in May, we ran across an opening at the Lazy Days Tucson KOA for kitchen staff.  After several seasons of working the front desk, reservations and check ins, we decided we would love to have a small break.  So we applied.  I figured we would either love it or hate it, but either way- we only will be there through the winter.

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Sunset on the campground
Sunset on the campground

Why stay in Arizona?  Northern Arizona was absolutely beautiful with its pine forests and high mountains.  We wanted to also experience the desert of Arizona.  Tucson is located in southern Arizona very near the Mexico border.  Here we can experience the local desert, beautiful Saguaro forests, local Indian and Mexican influences, and much more.

Thanksgiving dinner at the KOA
Thanksgiving dinner at the KOA

We arrived here in the middle of November and enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving celebration with everyone on the campground.

Tucson KOA is a huge campground with around 500 sites.  Every site is gravel, with a poured concrete patio and and a small asphalt driveway for your vehicle.  And every single site has at least one fruit tree.

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A little break from the real world at Lake Havasu

Our contract at the Williams Circle Pines KOA ended on Oct 31, and our new job at the KOA in Tucson began on Nov 15.  That gave us about 2 weeks to take a break as we make our way down to Tucson.

Bet you wondered what happened to us.  I’m a bit behind on my posting!

Over the summer, many of our guests had come from southern Nevada, Laughlin and Lake Havasu.  They had come to Williams to get a break from the heat as that area of the country sees triple digits all summer.  We decided that we would check out that area of the country in a round about way to Tucson.

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Our first stop was the Laughlin Avi Casino KOA in Laughlin, Nevada.   Laughlin is located on the southernmost tip of Nevada along the Colorado river where Nevada, California and Arizona meet.   The town is known as a fun casino town.

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It is about a half day drive from Williams.  And all down hill.  We went from over 7000 feet above sea level in Williams to about 500 feet above sea level in Laughlin.

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While we missed the heat of the summer, it was still nice and warm there.  I enjoyed sitting under the palm trees and working on my laptop in my beautiful new back yard.

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On our second day there, we took the London Bridge Jet Boat tour down the Colorado River from Laughlin to the London Bridge in Lake Havasu City.

This is a great way to see the area from the water.  The trip takes about 2 hours to get to Lake Havasu City, you get a 2 hour break there to check out the bridge and grab a lunch, and then take the 2 hour ride back up the river.

And best of all, it was very affordable at about $70 a person.

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We really enjoyed the boat tour and our tour guide was incredibly informative.  Check out the green tint of the water behind Dave.  It was really that green!  Apparently from minerals in the water.

Click here for more!

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Leaving Circle Pines and heading to new Adventures!

We have been on the road now about a year and a half.  And the adventure has just begun.  Selling the house and nearly everything that we owned was difficult.  Leaving our friends and family behind was too.   But I have to tell you that we have absolutely no regrets.

Life on the road is everything we thought it would be.

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We often are asked how we can support ourselves on the road and I have to say that fortunately for us, we are able to handle most of our bills with income from my websites.

However, we do need a buffer.  And that is where KOA has come in.  We are doing seasonal work at various campgrounds in order to supplement our income while we see the country.

Last week we left Circle Pines KOA in Williams, AZ and I have to say that it was a sad farewell.  We not only loved this surprisingly beautiful area of the country, but made a bunch of new friends in the process that we definitely will miss.

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And we absolutely loved working for Bruce and Lori.  They made campground work an adventure.

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Our cool shady spot underneath the tall pines is now just a memory.  I would have loved to stay through the winter, but our coach does not love cold weather.  So it is onto to warmer regions.

We are currently at Lake Havasu for a brief vacation and then moving onto our winter job in Tucson, AZ.

But as I like to do, I’ve created a video of our memories from this beautiful campground on the high plains of Arizona.

Next week as a final chapter, I will be posting the top 10 Things to do in Williams, AZ.

Want more videos?

If you would like to see a bit about the parts of the country that we have visited so far, you can see our other videos here:

Our Season working at the St. Petersburg KOA

A Compilation Video of our Summer at Bar Harbor!

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