Cross-Country Gratitude with Megitude!

The Big Trip!

Megan writing here! This year, not just on Thanksgiving, we celebrate the tremendous amount of gratitude we have for all we have experienced since beginning this journey. The month of November has been particularly wonderful after getting to see friends and family along the way on our second cross-country trip this year. It began from our 2-month stay at Middle Creek campground along the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Buchanan, VA, all the way to our destination in western Arizona at Lake Havasu. The 2,300 mile drive was filled with joyous moments with close friends and family.

Nashville, TN

We began our journey west driving for 8 hours to have a two night stay in the Music City of Nashville, TN at Safe Harbor RV resort along Percy Priest Lake. The next day, we rode our bikes on the Greenway and over the Cumberland River into downtown Nashville, hearing the intermittent crunch of the autumn leaves underneath us. So many people were also out enjoying the beautiful morning.

We stopped to have coffee at our halfway point in downtown at the Johnny Cash Museum and rode back to our RV–or, as we like to call it, the Cabasa (casa + caboose)! So, back at the Cabasa we met up with one of my close and long-term friends, who lives in Nashville and she took us20181104_183341 to one of Nashville’s only breweries, the Bearded Iris. We enjoyed great conversation over a couple of tasty beers and made our way to Printer’s Alley in downtown Nashville, including Robert’s Western World, and Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar where we enjoyed listening and dancing to some live music.

 

Fort Worth, TX

The next day we headed out and began the long journey to Dallas/Fort Worth.  The drive was extreme with lots of rain, and what later turned into tornados. Once that calmed, we hit a 2 hour traffic delay in Little Rock, which really added to our exhaustion.  We made it to the eastern side of Dallas, where we parked for the night at a local Cracker Barrel.  Our first boondocking experience!

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Bojack trying to sneak a burger!

The next day we settled in at Northlake Village RV Park and had a BBQ that evening with Bobbys sister, and their beautiful family.  The night was filled with laughter and catching up, and we were grateful to spend time with them.  The next day, we met up with Bobby’s mom who was also visiting, and attended our nephews little league baseball game.  Finally, we wrapped up the evening at Uncle Julios Mexican for a margarita and some great food!

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The next morning we hopped back in the truck, and made our way to El Paso, TX.  We passed through west Texas, which seems to be in an oil boom.  Finally, we got to Sunland Park & Casino, which offered a few RV spots with hook ups on the cheap.  We stayed the night, and threw a few bucks in the slots while there.  So much fun!

 

Phoenix, AZ

We stayed in Tempe, AZ just down the street from ASU for a night. We are so thankful for the opportunity to hang out with one of my former coworkers from Colorado. She took us to such a fun board game bar in Tempe called Snakes and Lattes where we had a blast playing new games with new friends! It was also cool to see the party seen in Tempe!

The next few nights, we stayed with close friends in Chandler.  They were so hospitable and we enjoyed some time with them at the Desert Botanic Gardens where we also got to experience the chocolate and chili festival (so yum)! We hung out by the pool, went on a hike on South Mountain, watched some football, and tried some authentic New Mexican food. They also spoiled us with some yummy sushi for my birthday at Shimogamo. What a treat!

Lake Havasu City, AZ

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Bojack scoping out our new digs

We are incredibly grateful for our journey getting here, our new home, Lake Havasu City, AZ.   We’ve adapted quickly to the culture here, which is very laid back and outdoorsy.  We are so happy to be in mild temps this winter, and right on the water!

 

Because we’re so close to water, we treated ourselves to a new SUP (stand-up paddle board) and kayak to enjoy for our time here. They are both inflatable but they work great so far! They are both a great workout, too!  Paddle Havasu!

 

 

All in all, it is very fitting that I am posting this blog on Thanksgiving, seeing that we have a lot in our lives to be grateful for. Every day Bobby and I give thanks for all that with which we have been blessed. Though we are sad we aren’t able to spend the day with friends or family back in Colorado, we are giving a shout out to having being graced with the presence of our friends and family along the way from our previous home in Virginia to our new home in Arizona. Shout out to my dear friend Debbie in Nashville, my sister-in-law Sarah, and her husband Chris, and their kids Caleb and Jenna, also my mother-in-law Trina, then to drive on and meet up with my former coworker from Craig Hospital, Melissa, and meet her some of her friends in Tempe, then to spend time with close friends in Phoenix with TK, Jeff, and Cricket! Now we are living the lake life and meeting new friends here! Happy Turkey Day everyone! May you all be filled with many blessings!

 

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park

It was just a quick trip, but well worth it!  We packed up our tent and some gear for car camping.

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From Skyline Drive – Shenandoah N.P.

It was really cool to get a little tent camping in on this trip, even though it was cold and uncomfortable.  Living in an R.V. is making us very spoiled campers – but this time we decided to rough it!

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We stayed at Big Meadows Campground, and arrived just as it got dark.  We popped up our tent real quick and started a nice fire.  It was a full moon, and beautiful night!  We even took the rainfly off the tent so we could see the stars and moon.  We really had a nice setting here!

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Bojack keeping watch

Early the next morning, we heard  warnings of a bear close by!  Someone near us was shouting and blowing an air horn, which had me awake for the morning.  Megan needed to sleep in (can’t forget how hard this nurse works!), so I let her rest while I checked out the situation before getting started on breakfast. Hopefully a bear doesn’t smell the bacon!

After a lazy morning, we jumped in the truck and started some exploring down Skyline Drive.

Most National Parks don’t allow dogs on ANY trails.  Luckily, Shenandoah has a few trails available for our furry friends.  So we made our way northbound, and found a nice place to stretch our legs.

After a short hike, we hopped back in the truck and enjoyed some food from the cooler and cruised Skyline Drive.  There were many places to pull over offering amazing views of the valley.  We enjoyed a slow drive, and eventually started working our way back to camp.  On our way home, I spotted a bear from the truck!  That was SUCH a highlight watching him roam the parking area (from the safety of our vehicle).

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Making use of the campfire grill

Back at camp, we toasted the day with a couple of beers, steak, and some twice baked potatoes I had prepped back at home.  After dinner, we burned up what was left of our firewood, and ducked into the tent for one last night under the stars.

Two nights isn’t enough to scratch the surface of what there is to do here, but we really enjoyed the time we had.

Shenandoah exceeded our expectations and we would love to come back.  Great views, quality camping, and abundant wildlife were the highlights we took home.

Carvins Cove Kayaking & Mountain Biking

Carvins Cove is beautiful, very close to Roanoke, and we are so glad we spent a couple days here!

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Bobby on the kayak

Kayaking – Day 1

Sometimes, you just need a relaxing day on the lake.  Yes.  Exactly that.  Enjoy!

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It’s $3 to get into Carvins Cove.  After that, it’s time to enjoy beautiful outdoors.  Day one, we rented a couple of kayaks and took our time.  We came across fellow kayaks, canoes, paddle boards, and small fishing boats.  Even with the diversity, it wasn’t hard to find a place of your own.

Megan and I brought a cooler with some sandwiches and drinks.  It was really easy to pull into one of the many fingers of the lake, providing spectacular views, as well as a little more privacy.  The lake is really easy to navigate, and thanks to restrictions on boat size we experienced very little wake from other water craft.  This was a great way to spend our first day here!

Mountain Bike – Day 2

Carvins Cove is a mountain biking paradise.  The trail system offers something for all levels of experience.  I watched some youtube videos before we left and it made me grit my teeth!  But don’t let that fool you, a novice rider will have a great time on many of the trails here too.

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This is where I wish I brought some PB&Js and a beer

WE HIT THE TRAIL late morning on a Monday.  Carvins Cove had a XC race the day prior and we figured the day after a race is the best day for a trail of your own.  We were right!

The first few miles is easy and wide trail.  There is some climbing though and it will take some time to find the singletrack that makes this area so great.

ALONG COMES A SNAKE!

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If you’re looking for a squishy ride, how about crapping your pants!?

Yes, that is a roughly 8′ long Black Racer snake in the middle of the trail. Yes, I almost ran over it on my mountain bike.  Yes, this is as close as I’d get for a picture!

Mud & Water

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Megan and I are not advanced mountain bikers.  Still, Carvins Cove gave us some obstacles that are both fun, and doable for the everyday rider.  The creek pictured above is a perfect example of just that!

I love riding with Megan because she really likes to soak in the ride.  I am guilty of ripping through the trail as fast as possible, whereas Megan enjoys the sway of the switchback and the beauty that surrounds.

After experiencing Carvins Cove, Megan and I agree that mountain biking is one of our favorite parts of Roanoke and the surrounding area.  We would both suggest to anyone interested in doing a lot of mountain biking in this area, to make Carvins Cove a priority.

Washing it Down

A couple of days in the sun, exploring Carvins Cove by land and water, has made us hungry and thirsty!

Ballast Point Brewery (Daleville, VA) is nearby, and has the goods.  They offered so many varieties of beer, American style food, and has a great view from the patio.  Check them out!

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Thanks for checking us out!

-Megan & Bobby

 

Cycling Virginia – Part 2

Home Base: Buchanan, VA

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Buchanan, VA  is a very small town about 30 miles north of Roanoke, VA.  It’s also only five miles from my campground.  So, I figured this would be a great area to start riding!

I decided to make a solo jaunt into town, then figure out how to get to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Highway 43 from Buchanan is very low traffic, and offers a very steep, rewarding climb.  At the top  you’ll find the Blue Ridge Parkway, about 5 miles south of the Peaks of Otter.

fullsizeoutput_f13It felt great to hammer out a more serious climb, and considered a few miles of rolling hills to the visitor center.  Instead, I enjoyed a few minutes on the parkway, had a snack, snapped some photos, and made my fast decent!

The Blue Ridge Parkway is an animal of it’s own.  It’s long, 400+ miles acting as the spine of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Cyclist flock here for a reason!  In next months chapter, I will go into more depth on my experiences cycling the BRP.  This ride was only my first taste!

 

Mill Mountain & Mighty Megan

The Roanoke Star stands 100″ tall and sits on the north summit of Mill Mountain.  It overlooks the entire Roanoke metropolis and locals like to call it the “Hollywood of the East”.  Megan and I have already driven up to the star (at night) and decided it’d be a perfect route for biking.  At the time, we didn’t know how right we were!

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Mill Mountain Star – Roanoke, VA

Megan and I parked at Underdog Bikes, unloaded our gear, then introduced ourselves to the staff at the shop.  Shortly after, I was looking at my Garmin display telling me I’m at 11% gradient.  Ouch!  Our goal is a residential road that leads to a short trail, reaching the summit of Mill Mountain.  We could see the star from the bike shop and it was obvious it’s a bit of a climb.  The guy at the shop told us it was steep, Strava later told me that our first 1.2 miles would cover 600 feet at a 9.2% grade.

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Although steep, the road up Mill Mountain was very enjoyable.  Not included in our pictures were some beautiful properties alone the way, and views overlooking the city.   We didn’t get any pictures of the singletrack riding back down because it was a bit more serious than we thought.  Some of the trails were pretty hairy!

 

Fall Riding Begins

Rural southwest Virginia is a place of it’s own.  Beautiful?  Of course!  But every now and then you come across a property that is undeniably terrifying. One minute you’re cruising a rural  road and the next your flanked by rusty barbed wire fence containing property that doesn’t look habitable, but clearly someone resides there.  Especially going into the Halloween season, I’ll go ahead and obey the “no trespassing” signs.

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Megan on backcountry dirt roads
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Yeah!

Megan and I have adventured many of the back roads near our campground.  Some of these dirt roads must only see a handful of cars a day, making it very safe for easy riding.  We’ve also managed to find a dirt road which leads us to the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is a great 1,000ft climb from our home.  Honestly, it’s been nice being able to hop on the bike and not worry about the cars.  I’m really looking forward to October as the leaves begin to change!

Coming up next!

Megan and I are saving the best for last in this 3 part series.  Megan has agreed to support me for an epic 85 mile solo ride from Peaks of Otter to Shenandoah National Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Also, we plan to hit Carvins Cove, which is a main attraction for mountain bikers of all skills, will be featured in our next episode.  Roanoke has an amazing scene for cycling!

 

Thanks for reading!

Bobby & Megan

 

On the Cusp – Hurricane Florence

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Hurricane Evacuation Route

A hurricane is a nightmare for those who are in its path.  The media tells us a story, which includes video footage of a newscaster attempting to report while being battered by the fierceness of mother nature.  Then, images pour in of large amounts of flooding, wind tearing off roofs, and the obligatory, albeit very saddening, casualty count and those affected by its devastating aftermath.  So when Florence started moving in, panic sunk in fast.

In our area, Roanoke, VA, initial reports started claiming forecasts of up to 20″ of rain causing severe flooding, as well as severe wind gusts which could potentially knock down trees and power lines.  The instant presumption was, we need to leave.  We have a house on wheels, so let’s get out of dodge!  Of course, this is much easier said than done.  Where are we going to go?  Will Megan have to take up lodging near work? If so, where will we park our RV, and will we have to separate for a few days?  We decided the best thing to do was to start an evacuation plan, while also keeping our eye on the National Weather Service (NWS) for Roanoke.

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Screenshot from Weatherbug when the hurricane hit.  Our location on top left.

For three  days, we remained on the cusp of Florence’s predicted path. Our campground host, as well as local community were all mixed in their advice towards us.  This was incredibly stressful!  DO WE STAY OR DO WE GO!  Of course, nobody is going to answer that question for us.

When Florence made landfall in New Bern, NC, it was eerily quiet here.   Also, by this time our friends and family back home were reaching out regularly, insuring our safety.  We couldn’t help but pray for those in this monster’s path.  Being from Colorado, we’ve never been anywhere near a hurricane.  All of our experiences came from what we’ve seen in the media. But now we’re waiting for it and only a few hours drive inland, it’s a very different story!

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The storm didn’t hit us too hard.  We experienced significant rain, and some areas with minor flooding.  The access roads near our campground had a fallen tree in the road, and the local creek ran significantly higher, but that was the worst of it for us.

We cannot express enough how terrifying hurricanes are.  After this experience, we’re left feeling hurt for those who’ve been impacted.  Business as usual resumes for most, rebuilding starts for many.

In the end, we wish to give thanks to those who reached out in concern.  Also, we want to send our best to anyone reading who’s been impacted by the storm.  It has not left our minds.

All the best,

Megan and Bobby

 

Making it work – Labor Day

Initially, Megan and I planned Labor Day week in Virginia Beach.  We faced an approximately 300 mile drive, so we decided to book a campsite and haul our trailer to the coast.  The drive there was slow, and we got to our campground at about 5pm.  Megan went inside to meet the campground host and check in, while I waited in the truck with Bojack.  When Megan came back, she was furious!  Our campground booked us on the WRONG MONTH!

People make mistakes.  This is not news to me, or anyone else I know.  Generally speaking, a mistake of this nature would surely upset, if not ruin someones holiday.  However, we’re not just on vacation.  We have nowhere to go!  Our lives are in this camper, and this reservation failure literally felt like an eviction with nowhere else to go.

Home is where we park it

Plan B - Walmart
You can always RV camp at Walmart!

 

So, we did what we had to do.  We starting calling every campground we could find, looking for a place to park.  Even if was just for one night, we needed to buy time so we could make other arraignments.  As expected, most campgrounds were booked solid due to the Labor Day holiday (not surprising in a beach town).  We managed to find an opening for two nights at Northwest River Park, located on the Virginia side of the Virginia/ North Carolina state line.  It’d cost us another 90 minutes of travel and a toll road, but it was worth it.  The campground was a muggy swamp next to a big river, and didn’t have water or sewer connections for the RV.  Now we can start our vacation! HA!

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Northwest River Park – Campground at night

Northwest River Park is a very nice place.  I mean that sincerely, even though we had never intended to go there, nor stay.  We got there late, and pretty much went right to bed. First thing in the morning, Megan found a campground near the Outer Banks, NC.  Megan took some downtime and relaxed in the RV, I spent the day exploring on my bike.  The area is gorgeous, very lush with swampy areas.  They had boat rentals where we didn’t try, though it looked amazing.  Visitors, bring your bug spray!

The campground in North Carolina (Hampton Lodge Campground) was about an hour drive, so we took our time.  We arrived on a Saturday, bringing us officially into the Labor Day weekend.  The park was busy, and located western bank of the Currituck Sound,  overlooking the Outer Banks and into the Atlantic.  FINALLY, it was looking like we could relax!

THE OBX!

The Outer Banks (known as the OBX locally) is a string of islands located on the coast of North Carolina and Virginia.  These islands are very narrow east to west, maybe the equivalent of three city blocks.  On one side you have the Atlantic Ocean.  The beaches are soft, waves perfect for your boogie board (and probably a lot more if you know where to go), and stretch for miles.  Then, you can walk to the other side, and see across the sound to the mainland. The OBX is a popular place for beach tourism, and is also notable in its history.  I will say, it’s hard to believe these islands even exist given the fierceness of the Atlantic right there!  *as of the time of this draft, hurricane Florence is forcasted to hit this area.  We are very concerned for the people of this area, and they are in our thoughts and prayers.

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In retrospect, I would’ve liked to explore the OBX further south (we only got as far as Kill Devil Hills).  We enjoyed Kitty Hawk beach, and table full of seafood platters at Hurricane Mo’s.  If we had the chance to do some prior research on the area, we could’ve done a much better job as tourists.

(Video) Bojack Fetch!

 

Honestly, we were both simply exhausted.  We’ve been traveling a lot and haven’t had much of a chance to settle in much during these past 6 weeks since leaving Colorado.  The mishap on Virginia beach didn’t help either.  Effectively, we turned this trip into a beer by the beach and embrace downtime type of vacation!

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In the end, we muddled our way into a great little trip.  We intended on posting about our week in Virginia Beach, but we’ll take our shorted time in the Outer Banks nonetheless.  The campsites, food, and people were all great to us during our stay.  We would love to visit again!

With Love,

Bobby & Megan

 

Cycling Virginia – Part 1

Of course I’d have a post about cycling!  To be honest, when we left, I had no clue what things would look like in terms of riding my bike.  Megan more or less forced me to bring my road bike (stored in the under storage of the RV) plus we both brought our mountain bikes.  Considering the space all this bike stuff takes up, we have to get out regularly!

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Riding my bike around a campground

First of all, the mountain bikes are perfect for getting around campgrounds.  I’ve toured almost every campground on my bike so far.  It’s just a great way to get some fresh air and spin out my legs especially after traveling.

Our first major ride was in the Poverty Creek trail system, outside of Blacksburg, VA.  Neither Megan or I consider ourselves expert mountain bikers, so we kept it to the “easy” trails.  Easy!?  I think NOT.  We rode an out and back, single track trail for 10 miles, climbing 900ft.  We encountered plenty of obstacles, including large tree roots, rocks, mud, and water.  We had so much fun!  Each of us dumped our bikes one time, reminding us to stay humble even outside of our home state.   This trail system spurred out from Poverty Creek, into more challenging sections.  We decided the easy stuff was enough for us, this time around.  Maybe when we get some more mountain bike experience, or increase our level of “guts”, we’ll give the other trails a go.  Seriously though, very fun trail and definitely recommended!

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Megan making a splash at Poverty Creek Trail

Megan and I continued to visit this trail system a few times.  We even decided to ride our bikes to the trail (5 miles of gravel road from our campground) and then explore the singletrack.  The mountain bikes are such a great way to not only get a work out, but also put a smile on your face!

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SELFIE!

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Road biking in Virginia had me anxious before we left Colorado.  It is no secret that many motorists loathe road bikes, and I wasn’t sure what that picture would look like here.  For certain, I have much more to learn in terms of safe, well traveled routes in this region.  However, I couldn’t have been any luckier with a location just outside of Blacksburg.  The roads here are seldom used, often accessing farm land or other rural homes.  On one occasion, cycling northbound on Spruce Run Rd, I wasn’t overtaken by a car through 5 miles or riding.  Of course, it didn’t hurt that the road was absolutely stunning!  Pictures can’t describe the fresh air, the smell of the roadside vegetation,  and the sounds of a nearby creek.  I can honestly say this was some of the nicest riding I’ve done!  The only downside is the post ride review on strava, listing all the Virginia Tech cyclists records on the same route.  Basically, I’m a snail compared to them!

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Spruce Run Rd – Giles County VA

As indicated in the title of this post, I intend on posting more about cycling in this region.  If anyone has suggestions on routes, or how to find them, please let us know!

With Love,

– The Wrights