Travel and Camping Diary United States
We have taken hundreds of trips from our home base in Cocoa Florida since
1995. Individual trips are from one week to as long as 5 months in length.
When I first published the RV
for Sale Guide and now the book Vanabode, I created individual
pages complete with travel advice, pictures and our personal opinions
of each place we traveled to. The links below lead to those pages in chronological
order. If you prefer to see them listed by state please see
the Destination Guide.
1994 Gatlinburg Tennessee for Thanksgiving, hot tubs and mountain
1995 Las Vegas
married, stayed at Hacienda which was imploded and saw Starlight Express
by Andrew Lloyd Webber, played Blackjack 21 for first time. We would return
years later for a long base time in order to develop pages for the Las
Vegas portion of Vanabode
1996 Biloxi, Mississippi stayed at President Casino which was
destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans at Radisson, rotating restaurant
on top of the Hyatt Regency that had a great chocolate dessert buffet,
zoo, aquarium, street car, Bourbon St., and riverboat cruise. Took many
blackjack and just have fun trips to Biloxi. We drove 12 hours
one way most of the time from Cocoa Beach but also took a Biloxi Tour
Bus. Sometimes we slept on a futon mattress in the back of Kelly's Volkswagon
Fox wagon to avoid expensive hotel fees. This was the beginning of my
Vanabode thinking - how best to
1996 Tennessee, wedding anniversary trip, white water rafting,
slept in Kelly's Volkswagon Fox wagon,
hiked Bald River Falls and Tellico Plains, visited Atlanta and Biloxi.
1996 November, bought first camper, 1979 23 foot Starcraft RV,
sold much of our belongings, put the rest in a storage
facility, then renovated the camper and it became our home. If our
friends and family were not worried before they were certainly worried
now. Don't expect a lot of support from your normal friends and family
when going Vanabode.
1996 December, stayed at the beautiful Las Vegas Stardust (now
imploded), saw Enter The Night, ate in the sky at the Stratosphere
1997 Busch Gardens Tampa Florida stayed in a campground, then
to Biloxi again
1997 Florida Keys picked up my dad and drove to Fort
Myers Beach to get my kids, Sarah,
Drove all night and slept in Key Largo. Then drove to one of the keys
and played around during the day. Cool sleeping at night, cold water year
round, fish everywhere. Drove to Key West. Saturday night drove to Ft.
Myers and went to the WP Franklin Locks.
1997 Florida, canoed St. Mary's River in Florida at Trader's Hill,
fed a stray dog so many hot-dogs it collapsed on its side and could not
walk. Then to Fernandina Beach, Cumberland Island, St. Mary's, Jekyll
Island, Estero Bay, Captiva
Island, canoed daily, swam the Locks
1997 Canoed Florida Suwannee River, swam in two crystal clear
springs bubbling up in the river.
1997 Ft Myers, canoed Telegraph Creek, saw baby alligators, horses,
cows, turtles, otters, and llamas. Camped across river from Locks at W.P.
Franklin Campground. Sarah and I fed horses.
1997 Mountain trip with all 3 kids, Saint Mary's River in Folkston
GA, made a fire that night and went canoeing next day. Drove to Amicalola
Falls State Park in north Georgia
got there in the pitch black of night and our old rv could barely make
it up the mountain. Saw a black bear getting in the trash bins, hiked
the falls, saw deer, then drove to Tellico Plains with an off-road swimming
trip to Coker Creek Falls. Camped Bald River Falls, swam and floated the
waterways, Sarah got stung by wasps. Went to Trout Hatchery, then Gatlinburg.
It rained all day but we were able to walk around that evening, grilled
hot dogs for lunch then went to Chimney Rock for super dangerous hike.
Then back to Florida's Manatee Springs, swam, fished, saw owls, made a
1997 First of the big trips used Class C, lasted for months. Took
kids to Jungle Larry's in Naples, Florida and canoeing in Telegraph Creek,
Fort Myers. Stayed at W.P. Franklin locks campground run by the Army Corps
of Engineers. Then drove through Florida Panhandle to Biloxi, to Hot Springs,
Arkansas and stayed on a lake with a dam. Took to rollerblading the city
of Hot Springs. Swam and fed fish at largest man made lake in the state,
Lake Oauchita State Park. Drove to White Mountain in Ozark Mountains.
Swam and the fish were nibbling us to the point we were laughing hysterically.
Oklahoma City's Cowboy Hall of Fame was great. Spent the night in mall
parking lot, went to Oklahoma Zoo next day. On to Amarillo, Texas where
we ate at the world famous Big Texan. Albuquerque, New Mexico next on
Peak Tramway which was the scariest and greatest ride I have ever
been on. Hiked to the top of Cibola Mountains. Played blackjack at Sandia
casino where we spent the night. Rollerbladed around old town, went to
two museums. Bandalier National Monument was stunning especially if you
like American history. The cliff dwellings of the Anasanzi Indians were
something special indeed. Next Taos, New Mexico where we went white water
rafting on the Rio Grande. This city has the best art scene I have ever
been to. Played around in a drum store, shopped in Taos and got some nice
jewelry, sheep skins, gifts. When leaving Taos we stopped on the Rio Grande
Gorge Bridge and dropped a peach. It took about ten seconds to hit the
bottom as we were super high up. Worth seeing for sure. Really enjoyed
the train ride on the Cumbres Toltec Scenic Railroad. We got dirty because
we sat in some of the open roof rail cars on the train outside and the
coal burning chips and ashes would blow back and settle on us. The scenery
was worth it. Ate one of the best steaks I have ever had in Durango Colorado
then on to Mesa Verde National Park. Went through Ute to one of the most
extraordinary places in the world: Lake
Powell. Hit the North side of the Grand
Canyon and was not impressed. It is just too big to see with little
day hikes and car camping. The South rim is much better. On to the greatest
city in the world Las
Vegas for our 3rd visit. Gambled in Mesquite and then on to Zion
which is probably one of the top ten most scenic and interesting place
in the United States. Stopped at Bear Lake in Garden City, Utah and drank
the famous raspberry shakes. Salt Lake City Utah was a boring crowded
waste of time on a Sunday (probably because everything was closed). Hiked
Teton National Park and saw a bison with a broken hip on the Snake
river. On to Yellowstone
National Park then Cody Wyoming. Had fun swimming in the Thermopolis
Wyoming mineral hot springs pools. Spent the night in Denver Colorado,
upbeat atmosphere. Stayed at an RV park in Kansas that had massive fields
of sunflowers in bloom. Visited Janice & Jim near Springfield. Went
to Sams Town to play blackjack and hit Biloxi Mississippi for the same
reason on the way back home. Ate a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts with my wife
and caught a movie in Tallahassee, returning home, September 23, 1997.
1998 Kelly and I graduated from commercial tractor trailer 18
wheeler school and drove the big rig over 600,000 miles in 19 months together
delivering flowers in almost every state. On this adventure we learned
many of the skills that I would later incorporate into the Vanabode
lifestyle, traveling cheaply and having more fun per minute than most
any other lifestyle.
1999 We tried to settle down so we bought a townhouse in Palm
Bay, Florida. Took another long trip taking in Houston, Texas and El Paso
where we crossed the border into Juarez. Here we bought lion sculptures
and various other I have been to Mexico can't live withouts.
We hit Albuquerque's Sandia Peak again because it's so beautiful, cheap
and fun. Stayed in Camel Rock and Indian Head Rock Casino parking lots.
Then to Las
Vegas and Reno. Spent a starry night in a pitch-black rest area off
of a two lane road. Then to Redwood National Park, up the coast of Oregon
a bit and then headed home going through Eugene, Newberry National Volcanic
Monument near Bend Oregon.
2000 - 2002 Both of us went back to college trying to be like
other people and smother our adventurous ways. During these two years
we took 3-4 day trips only and played locally.
2003 Went on a business trip to Hilo, Hawaii for NASA
with Victoria and BJ. Kelly bought a ticket to tag along. Took a couple
of extra days in Oahu with Kelly’s friends Toni and Matt. I flew
to Vegas in search of affordable real estate while Kelly cruised around
Alaska with her mother.
2004 After 4 years of living like everybody else, and missing
the travel centered kind of lifestyle we enjoyed during our earlier married
years, we sold our townhouse and moved into a
class A 34' Georgie Boy motorhome. We then took Joshua and Ben on
a 5 week trip from July 1 to August 6. We traveled from Florida to Alabama
to Mississippi to Louisiana to Texas to New Mexico to Arizona to Utah
to Nevada to California to Idaho to Wyoming then Nebraska to Iowa to Illinois
to Missouri to Arkansas to Tennessee to Mississippi to Alabama and home
to Florida. You can see details from this important rv
vacation trip which taught us many valuable lessons.
2005 Took a nice long 100+ day trip starting in July to New Smyrna
Beach Florida and stayed at an RV park for the pool and showers since
it was hot and we were in a huge 34 foot motorhome. It is nice to camp
so near our house in Cocoa for logistical reasons. Checked out Daytona
Beach and the Ocala
National Forest, Salt Springs Elite Resorts, biked on trails in forest
with bear tracks everywhere, and swam in pool and hot tub every night.
Left for Marietta, Georgia, then Buford, Georgia staying with family,
then onto Franklin Tennessee just south of Nashville where we took in
some great biking in the Percy
Warner Park. Then hit St. Louis, Missouri where we dared tour the
Arch and then to Overland Park Kansas where we stayed with Janice
& Jim. Then to Sturgis, South Dakota where we took in two weeks of
incredible outdoor motorcycle related fun. Then we hit Glacier
National Park in northern Montana and what an incredible place this
was. Saw more top shelf wildlife in 2 weeks than we saw in a month at
Yellowstone. Ended the trip in September in Las Vegas with an extended
seriously fun stay at Circus
Circus RV Park right on the strip.
Hit some great Arkansas wineries on the way home to Florida. Headed to
Fort Myers from Cocoa to hang with my son Joshua in November and stayed
until end of March of 2006. Used the RV park across from Shell Factory
and also stayed in Sams and Books-A-Million parking lots for much of the
time when not at our Cocoa house.
2006 I ran the Walt Disney ½ marathon with my wife Kelly
and then we headed back to Las Vegas from Florida to continue building
the website. Went through Phoenix, stopped at Quartzsite for a huge rock
and gem show with thousands of vendors, then to Lake Havasu, and to Laughlin
for a night or two before heading home to Las Vegas. Laughlin is highly
recommended for those loving the dry climate and wanting to be left alone
in a beautiful place that still has major infrastructure like chain retail
stores and libraries and fun riverfront casinos. Headed back to Las Vegas,
bought an investment condo to work out of temporarily until the website
was done. Took my son Ben to Zion
for the summer. Later we spent 50 days in Southern California from Tijuana
to Los Angeles then
to San Diego,
and to Santa
Ynez for wine tasting. Los Angeles winery had great food, the museums
and art galleries were worth it. Spent lots of days at the beach, with
lots of driving the car because the RV had to be parked at a campground
inland. This is where we got more serious about figuring out a way
to travel more easily, more cheaply, and with more fun per minute. You
cannot do California well with a large motorhome. Vanabode instead.
2007 Sarah came to visit us in Vegas for a week. Sold the big
motorhome and bought the van. We custom outfitted the van for undercover
Vanabode camping and I got right to the testing and strategizing so I
could write this book for those that love to travel but need help figuring
out how to make it happen.
2007 Took Ben with us during June and July to California to Lake
Canyon National Park then in August and September we Vanaboded California's
coast and inland empires including Paso
Robles incredible wine tasting country, Morro Bay, Hearst
Castle, and then to San Francisco
for two weeks, Point
Coast, drove to Ft. Bragg for Kelly's birthday horseback riding trip
on the beach and in the mountains, did some wineries, farmers markets,
hikes. Went through Yosemite but it was too hot and too crowded to enjoy.
In October we bought an investment house
in the desert. We still call Cocoa, Florida our home but my CPA said
to invest in real estate so we thought we would enjoy the house a little
while we develop the MyRealVegas site.
2008 Drove back to Florida to take care of kids, visit family
and friends, and write travel diaries of new destinations in May. Hit
the astonishing state of Utah again, Bryce
National Parks. Took I-70 through Colorado with major snow storms
and icy roads sending people off zero guard rail overpasses 1,000 feet
to their death. I was glad I was diving my van and not a massive RV. Then
we went to Indiana to cover the Hoosier National Forest where my Uncle
Manuel and Aunt Frances were work camping. Yulia & Simon hosted us
Maryland where we visited the Inner Harbor, Fort McHenry, U-Pick strawberries,
and had the best crab cakes I have ever had from a pizza and seafood restaurant,
visited coastal town of Havre de Grace and ate at a great Irish Pub, took
Metro to Washington,
D.C. then traveled to Virginia
Beach where my Aunt Faye and Larry hosted us a few days. Atlanta hosted
by Julian and Myra, and Carol and Andy and Bill and Marie. Daytona
Beach hosted by Helene and Max. We enjoyed San
Antonio Texas and the music and food scene in Austin Texas. Had serious
inner city bike rides too along the waterways. Spent over 4 months in
Florida having been home after being on the road so long made me homesick
and our house was needing some serious repair. Vanabode trip of 10,112
miles in 69 days with average daily spend of $50.13 and $3459 total spend.
Interested in motorhome verses Vanabode travel budgets see full
time rv budget.
died in August when Todd was tiling our house. In September Helene came
to visit. In October Kelly's Mom and Sue visited. Then we went to Joshua
2009 Short California trip to further test Vanabode strategies,
Vegas to Huntington
Beach, La Jolla
2009 Short California trip covering Rancho
Santa Ana Botanical Gardens, Los
Angeles County Botanical Gardens, Santa
Monica Beach, Huntington
Library and Botanical Gardens
2009 June we flew to Florida to see family, friends, beach, and
get some home time in trying to finish my first edition of the Vanabode
book, and to witness the birth of my grandson Israel.
2010 Took a trip into Goldfield,
Nevada which was only has a population of about 400. In the early 1900s
this was a gold rush boomtown with residents like Virgil and Wyatt Earp.
2010 There are many sandstone formations out west but the Valley
of Fire is just pure eye candy. It's between the Utah border and Las
2010 Spent the day on Mount
Charleston watching people ski and snowboard, and families with small
children making snowmen. Worked on Florida house, and camped
Nevada Oregon Washington Canada before returning to Florida.
2011 Developed house, irrigation, rental accomodations
for when we are on the road
2012 Vanabode explored Florida extensively including
Miami Beach and the Keys.
2013 Dealt with health issues, Kelly tries seasonal
and part time work for traveling money.
2014 Major East
Coast Trip 7,532 mile 18 week trip on $20 per person food, gas, and
2015 Major Western
States Trip 10,524 mile 17 week trip on $20 a day food, gas, and lodging.
2016 Worked, saved money, played with garden, worked
poker, Panama City Beach Kelly's Bday.
2017 Worked in Florida, lots of beach time, boating,
for Amazon as WorkCampers
2018 WorkCampers for Amazon and Moose
Hillock Campground in New York, explored Kentucky, Green River State
Park, and New York's extraordinary upscale Lake George area.
2019 Final Vanabode
Promaster conversion then out west for rest of the year.
Check out the destinations pages
for more on travels after 2010 (and details of the prior trips).
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