My husband, my two-year-old daughter and I had an adventure for the month of March. We took a road trip across the U.S.
For many years we wanted an RV of some sort, but we couldn’t figure out how to afford what we really wanted. We finally realized we didn’t need a motorized RV as long as a small trailer had all the amenities we wanted. We also needed something we could tow with our Subaru, so it had to be light. This was the first year they made these cute little “Tabs” with bathrooms in them, so it was perfect for us. It has heating and A/C, a stove, refrigerator and sink, a toilet and shower, a bed and a table. It even has a TV and DVD/CD player built in! Even though we spent almost a month in it, we really didn’t feel too confined by it. We couldn’t “hang out” in it, but we could eat and sleep and spend the rest of the time driving or enjoying the outdoors or visiting with friends.
During the winter we went up to the RV show at the Big E in Massachusetts. When we stepped into this trailer, my daughter climbed on the couch and said “Cozy house!”. So that’s what we decided to name it. Everyone seems to love this little thing because it is so cute. At every gas station someone came up to us and wanted to check it out. We were giving many tours throughout our trip.
We had never camped in an RV before, and we had to learn a lot. We didn’t know how the hookups worked, but it turned out to be fairly self-explanatory. At one RV park we drove away while still being plugged into the electricity! A man beeped at us on the road to let us know we were driving with our cable dragging along the road behind us! Suffice it to say we made a leaving checklist to avoid more accidents!
Woodall’s Campground Directory was invaluable in planning our trip. The only downside of this book is that it is huge. It worked the best for me before the trip, planning out where to stay at RV Parks. I needed to find RV parks that were open all year round since we were traveling in March. It is organized well and lists all the important facts about the different parks.
RV Vacations for Dummies To be honest, I really don’t like the name of this series because I feel like I am calling myself a “dummy” to check it out, which doesn’t seem very nice. But there are some really helpful tips in this book, including help understanding the different types of campgrounds and safety concerns. It also has some fun ideas for future trips!
My favorite destination on our adventure was Zion National Monument. I had wanted to see it for many years and since we were going to be nearby to visit some friends we got the chance to go! It is so beautiful and it felt like paradise to me.
For more pictures and information on Zion, check out these materials:
Frommer’s Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks We stayed in Hurricane (pronounced “Hurricun” by the locals) which is called “The Gateway to the Parks”. It was a tiny town but it truly was in the center of these beautiful parks, as well as amazing state parks. Our friend is a canyoneer and he took us on some awesome hikes, but you’ll want a guide like this book because the parks are huge and dangerous. Our friend told us many stories of people who got in over their heads and needed to be rescued because they didn’t realize how difficult some of these hikes can be.
Wild River: The Colorado We watched this documentary soon after we came back from our trip and were excited to see places we had seen in person! This has beautiful views of Zion and other gorgeous places out West.
The first interesting experience I had on this trip was at one of the Great Lakes, Lake Erie. As we approached we thought this white was the foam from the waves, but then we realized it was ice. It was constantly crackling and tinkling with the water moving underneath. It was very beautiful.
Land of the Inland Seas If you’d like to learn more about the Great Lakes and Lake Erie, this book is all about the history, weather and beauty of the Great Lakes. I’ve seen several of them from different places and they are amazing, like little oceans, just as the title suggests.
Another really intense experience I had was going over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel in Virginia. It is an unusual 17 mile long bridge-tunnel, meaning that as you are about a third of the way across, the bridge turns into a tunnel and goes underneath the ocean so that big ships can cross over, as you can see here. I couldn’t get a good picture, but when we were on it, all I could see on the horizon in every direction was ocean! There’s even a restaurant in the middle of the bridge in case you want to stay.
Fodor’s Virginia and Maryland. For more information on Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel check this out. You can find out more history and other fun things to do in this quieter area of East Virginia.
My husband and I had done cross-country road trips twice, but never with a toddler, so that was a unique challenge. Our little girl is a great traveler. She enjoyed the scenery like we did. We made sure to not push our luck by over-taxing her though. Every day we drove our longest stints during her nap and other times we stopped often to play. What we found most helpful were…. PLAYGROUNDS! I never realized how important and helpful playgrounds were until now. She enjoyed every one thoroughly!
There were also long stretches of road where there were no towns or playgrounds for many miles. In those cases we got out and ran!
Our daughter had a little bag of toys and books as well to keep her busy. Her favorite book on the trip was Fox in Socks. I also love reading this one because of all the tongue twisting.
A few times we had to drive in the dark and that wasn’t fun for her, so those times we seat-belted my laptop in the back seat and put a video on. She loved:
Elmo’s Potty Time Elmo and the other Sesame Street characters sing many fun songs about potty training. I actually thought this was extremely well done and it has been inspiring to my daughter as well! She feels very proud of herself that she’s learning to use the toilet.
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: Families, a Visit to the Pediatrician As you may know from one of my previous blogs, I love Mister Rogers. My daughter also found this interesting and she loved the “train” (trolley). I love the gentle pace of all of the episodes. We have a few more at OWL as well.
Baby Einstein’s Baby Newton I liked this because it has quiet music and fun pictures. My daughter likes the tiger and she liked learning the different shapes. She also liked the Baby Monet.
She also made up a little game to play when she got bored. She would hold up both of her hands and my husband would hold one hand behind him while I reached over and held her other hand and we’d sing songs together. She would say “Daddy do it. Mommy do it too.” And she’d wait if we didn’t sing along. We sang ABCs hundreds of times this way!
We got a little silly and took some weird pictures too. Here are some of my favorites:
One thing I noticed that has changed about me, since doing trips like this when I was younger, is that now I don’t get bored, or hardly at all. I just enjoyed the conversation with my husband, the scenery and the new experiences. Taking our toddler on a really long road trip like this seemed a daunting challenge at first, but when we got home I felt like we had really conquered America.
Jesse Lee Harmon has been the bookkeeper at OWL since 2004.
As I move out west I want to share that my years at OWL have been the best working experience of my life. I am honored to have had the privilege of working at my favorite library, with such a wonderful staff and the best director ever, Ann Marie. Thank you and I wish you all the best, always.