One of our favorite things to do is to "just go". Go without any intention, no plans. Let our feelings of the day determine our route and distance determined by breaks in the daily grind. We all are working towards something, some goal and often loose sight of the fact that we are free. Free to do, act, say whatever/however we want and not feel like there are consequences. Who says you have to shower every day on your road trip and maintain your skincare routine? Who says that you HAVE to get that front door painted because you're listing your house for sale next week? You don't have to loose sight of your priorities, but you do need to sometimes loosen the expectations on yourself, your partner. We set off on a 5 day "Destination Unknown" trip with nothing but paddle boarding and catching a trout be our goals and chasing wildflowers and hiking on the itinerary. Here's how we did it.
Knowing we had breaks in work and no campers to deliver, we took the opportunity for a road trip to break in the newest camper. We had nothing packed the night before (mind you, the RV's we own are stowed away clean, fully stocked with camping supplies, ready for the next guest).
After an alarmless wake the morning of, it took about 2 hours to shower, eat a hearty breakfast, throw some linens and clothes in the camper, pack food for the dog and go.
We planned to grind through as much of the drive as possible when we left. Thinking the Great Smoky Mountains were our best bet for wildflowers, we set the GPS southeast towards Asheville, NC. We grabbed groceries about 3 hours into the trip when there was a Meijer near the exit and it was time to stretch the legs. Want to get an example of what we bought? Check it out here! Further into the drive on day one, our plans to grind the drive stopped when we realized we were in a really awesome part of the country - the Appalachian Mountains. I jumped on Google, and we saw that Shenandoah Valley National Park was totally do-able, even if we were still continuing towards Asheville. Headed that direction, I saw some signs for state parks and again, jumped online and discovered Ohiopyle State Park in PA. We weren't going to pass it up and found a dog friendly site in the campground. We took turns climbing behind a massive waterfall, introduced our dog to boulders, cracks and crevasses, got inspired by the local whitewater enthusiasts and even foraged some of our dinner (below)!
The next day we headed towards Shenandoah NP planning to drive through, take a hike and jump on the Blue Ridge Parkway towards national forests to disperse camp (you can camp anywhere in a national forest for free). Struck by the beauty of Skyline Drive in the white oak forests of Shenandoah, we stayed, we hiked, we were awed, we left inspired.
The third day we hit the road and knew we were either going to have to keep going south, giving us a farther drive home or explore the national forests we were going to drive through. So, we set our GPS to a town of interest near an outdoor recreation area in Monongahela National Forest. On the way, we debated the speed of National Parks versus State Parks and considered what we truly enjoyed on the trip so far. It was agreed that our time in Ohiopyle State Park was the most fitting for us so once again, I got on Google and browsed local state parks, read reviews, looked at photos. From this, we turned the GPS to Blackwater Falls State Park.
We hit the lottery. We were one of two campers in the park meaning less distractions for the dog (we trust her off leash to stick around), more privacy and more quiet. We drove around the park twice looking for the most peaceful, scenic spot until we found the perfect one. We unhitched, took time making sure we were level and did a thorough organization of the truck and camper since we knew we were'’t leaving here until it was time to go home.
We explored every feature of the park. We two tracked, hiked around waterfalls, drove into town for local bread, meat and cheeses, spent some time in a hammock, searched for new birds and flowers, dipped our feet in a rocky, private stream. Did I mention it was a dead zone here? Meaning no cell reception, no internet? Perfection.
Andrew & Stephanie
While of course there is no shame in hustling your way towards those goals, take the time to reconnect with yourself, each other, nature and the world around you. If you’re into rock climbing, find new walls. If town culture is your thing, visit different cities and witness the difference in the night life. If you want to chase iconic local foods, explore foodie websites to guide your stops. We didn't accomplish our goals of catching a trout and paddle boarding, and that's okay. There is no one telling us we have to do anything, not even ourselves - and that you will find is when you are truly free!