Author

Rebecca

I’m the oldest of 12 crazy kids and two pretty awesome parents. My love of travel developed during my early years traveling the globe as an Air Force brat. I’m a runner, a writer, and a reader, and I love cooking up good food and cozying up our camper.

Links We Love

Housesit | Our Streamlined Life

This week we’re housesitting on a beautiful lake in central New Hampshire! The leaves are juuuuust starting to turn colors and the summer crowds have left, leaving us almost alone with the loons ūüôā

Our favorite finds from around the web:

  • How to make your life adventure ready. As we slow our travels, we want to make sure to keep our sense of adventure. “In between the epics, though, are a thousand tiny ways to get into the woods, from impromptu paddles to single-night backpacking trips. [But] it‚Äôs not always easy, and there are plenty of reasons to stay on the couch.”
  • On moving up a grade in life. ¬†“I think it‚Äôs possible to replicate that sense of progress by asking some simple questions each September: do I feel like I‚Äôve moved up a grade in life? If so, great. But if not, what could I do so I‚Äôll feel differently next September?”
  • Ann Patchett‚Äôs Guide for Bookstore Lovers. It’s a road trip map … of bookstores. Go thou and do likewise. (Some of our favorite indie bookstores: Peregrine Book Company, Prescott, Arizona; Sherman’s, Bar Harbor, Maine; Taylor Books, Charleston, WV. What are yours?)

Currently reading: This Is Where You Belong: Finding Home Wherever You Are (Rebecca), Red Rabbit by Tom Clancy (Ryan)

Favorite Instagram (throwback!):

Follow us on Instagram @ourstreamlinedlife.

On the blog:

Roundup format borrowed from Modern Mrs. Darcy, who writes one of my favorite weekly link posts!

Friends, Family, and a National Park

We’re going back in time to share our 2017 car camping adventure through the Southwest! While our trip ended up being shorter than planned, we had some amazing adventures, including several new national parks and getting to be on one of our favorite TV shows! Thanks for reading along!

Building The Hitchenette and outfitting Franklin the Tahoe with a new camping rig¬†took several weeks longer than planned. So instead of hitting the road shortly after New Year’s, it was January 19 before¬†we had Franklin packed and pointed south.

Headed South | Our Streamlined Life

No two people have ever felt so ready to hit the road!

Our trip south would be a slow one. We had plans to zig-zag our way down the East Coast, seeing friends and family along the way. (In fact, we didn’t realize it at the time, but it would be a full month before we even got to try out our new camping gear!)

Our first stop was New Jersey. What was planned as a quick weekend with friends turned into almost a two week stay. Our friends were renovating a condo they planned to turn into a rental property, and we were only too happy to lend a hand.

New Jersey Reno | Our Streamlined Life

Next stop, northern Virginia, where we caught up with college friends in our old hometown of Leesburg, and enjoyed late night tacos and wine with more friends outside Washington, DC.

From there it was another quick drive to Jacksonville, North Carolina, where Ryan’s brother is stationed at Camp Lejeune. We had a great time checking out the Marine Corps Base, enjoying a few margaritas, and even getting in a not-too-chilly mid-January walk on the beach.

North Carolina Beach | Our Streamlined Life

Our next stop was checking off a new national park (our first new park since the previous October!).

Congaree National Park | Our Streamlined Life

Congaree National Park is¬†quiet¬†in winter; we had the Boardwalk Loop Trail almost all to ourselves! The downside was that there were almost no critters to be seen, and we were too early to enjoy a ranger-guided canoe tour¬†of the park. (That’s definitely going on the future to-do list!)

From Congaree we began slowly heading west, this time for more urban adventures. Our next stop was Charlotte, North Carolina for a wonderful night of food and drink with friends.

Charlotte Skyline | Our Streamlined Life

We had a truly amazing meal at Stoke (still one of our best meals of 2017), followed by rooftop drinks enjoying the Charlotte skyline at Fahrenheit.

We had one more stop to make before Louisiana … because clearly, Alpharetta, Georgia was a great place to cheer on the Patriots during Super Bowl LI!

Patriots Win | Our Streamlined Life

Fortunately for us, the Patriots won — and we cheered quietly enough that none of the neighbors stopped by to tar-and-feather us.

After 2.5 weeks on the road (without a single night of camping yet!) we reached Louisiana, where we settled in to spend some time with Ryan’s family. We caught up with the grandparents and cousins … spent some time by the pool … and put in some quality work time before our anticipated upcoming Internet dry spells in Texas.¬†We also had a chance to visit the national wildlife refuge outside New Orleans where Ryan’s great-uncle volunteers!

Big Branch Marsh NWR | Our Streamlined Life

On Monday, February 20 we pointed Franklin due west. It had been a long slow journey south, and while we cherished the wonderful times we’d been able to spend with friends and family, we were truly itching for the simple life: camping, natural vistas, and the open road. Clearly, Texas was the place for us — and we were eager for our upcoming adventures of beach camping on the coast and an extended stay in our (tied-for-first) favorite national park — Big Bend!

Where in the World Are Ryan & Rebecca?

I know.¬†It has been¬†forever since we posted. Like … eight months, to be exact.

When we last left you, we were jaunting merrily off on a trek that was planned to take us, over the course of ten months, from New Hampshire to Alaska and back.  We had amazing new gear and a crazy plan to leave our camper behind.

Well, as you may have guessed by now — we didn’t quite make it.

It’s hard to say exactly where our plan went off course.

We had a wonderful trip south to Louisiana — visiting friends, and checking off a national park along the way.

Congaree National Park January 2017

We camped on the beach in Texas …

Mustang Island State Park Texas 2017

And once again, Big Bend National Park didn’t fail to bewitch us.

Big Bend National Park 2018

New Mexico was pure magic, and we seriously talked about never leaving.

Taos New Mexico 2017

We were supposed to head from New Mexico into Colorado, but at that point (mid-April) the weather was still looking pretty questionable. (Even though we were already almost a month behind schedule.) We decided to cut west and visit Utah before heading up into the Rocky Mountains.

After a quick detour to the Grand Canyon, we headed to Utah and were immediately awed.

Sand Hollow State Park Utah 2017

Looking back … Utah is where the plan started falling apart.

We crossed the Arizona-Utah border headed towards Zion National Park in the throes of a raging wind and snow storm that blew through quickly, leaving us hopeful that better weather lay ahead. And while we had many gorgeous sunny days, it was still cold¬†— and the wind and snow quickly began to seriously cramp our car camping style.¬†We had planned an ambitious three-week circuit through Utah’s five national parks, but the crowds at Zion and Arches — combined with National Park Week¬†and¬†Jeep Week in Moab — left us tired and burnt out.

By the time we drove into Colorado on April 15, we were seriously ready for a break. We booked a week at the most comfortable AirBnB ever, and proceeded to spend it catching up on work, doing some serious Netflix and chilling, and eating lots of food that was not McDonalds. It was glorious.

Newly invigorated to hit the road (after plenty of soul-searching on whether or not to keep going), we left Cedaredge bound for Rocky Mountain National Park … only to hit¬†another snow storm on the way.

Rocky Mountain National Park 2017

And while RMNP had us seriously charmed …¬†boy, was it cold.

We headed south, fell in love with Great Sand Dunes and Mesa Verde National Parks …

… but somewhere along the way, we decided to cut our trip short.

Let me tell you — that was a seriously hard decision.

Ahead of us was the promise of sunnier weather in California, and checking Alaska off our bucket list.

But when we sat down and honestly discussed it … we just weren’t having fun anymore. We were tired. We were burnt out. We were frustrated with trying to work on the road, and being stuck in the car during bad weather. We just needed a break from the road.

We made a quick detour to Arizona to see friends and family (and had our decision to turn around reinforced by the 100+ degree weather we encountered there) … then pointed Franklin north.

Our Streamlined Life Homeward Bound 2017

We made several great stops along the way — including the unexpectedly lovely Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and celebrating our anniversary in Chicago — and arrived back in New Hampshire on June 8. Since then we’ve been spending a glorious, sunny New England summer back in the camper parked at Rebecca’s parents.

So … what does it all mean for Our Streamlined Life? Right now, it’s a little early to tell. Ryan just started a new job he’s very excited about; we’re planning some international travel (Morocco! Thailand!); and we’re starting to talk about putting down long-term roots in New England. On the blog we’ll be reverse-time-traveling to catch up on our adventures over the spring, sharing the tips and tricks we learned on this trip, and chatting about minimalism and living that travel life. (We even have a giveaway coming up soon. Hint: We still love these guys.)

Why We’ve Downsized … Again

As we’ve alluded to a few times here on the blog and on Instagram, we’ve decided to make some big changes to our travel style for upcoming adventures in¬†2017. So we wanted to share our thoughts on why we decided to leave our camper¬†behind as we set off to criss-cross the country this year!

Boondocking in Gila National Forest, New Mexico

On our drive north after wrapping up our Appalachian adventure¬†Ryan and I began discussing what our 2017 travels would look like. We’d previously assumed we’d be taking the camper with us around the country, but after six weeks of having it on the road with us, we weren’t as excited about the prospect as we’d expected to be. Fortunately, we were in agreement that for the next leg of our travels, we needed a better — and smaller — plan.

We began discussing options. Our first idea was to leave the camper behind, sell the Tahoe, and purchase a small (<18′) RV that would lighten our travels but still provide the comforts of home. Ryan did some research, we found several on Craigslist, but pretty quickly discovered that for what we wanted to pay, we’d definitely be getting a fixer-upper — and we weren’t sure we had the time (or the energy) to do that again. And, since we were heading north, any projects would have to be completed while braving a frigid New England winter. That prospect was less than thrilling.

Next we considered trading in the Tahoe for #vanlife¬†… in fact, Ryan had already built out into an epic road tripping home on wheels in his mind. But, while we’re still positive a van is in our future, we struggled to find one at the perfect intersection of price point and specs we were looking for. (And Ryan wasn’t thrilled at the idea of buying a van that had endured salty New England winters.)

Those options having fallen by the wayside, we were back to square one. And at that point we realized — Franklin, our trusty Chevy Tahoe, was already a pretty sweet road trip machine!¬†Ryan went back to the drawing board and had soon sketched out plans for a new car camping build, including an awesome¬†new kitchen design. He took on some projects to make Franklin look and run better. And before too long, our current vehicle had transformed into a comfortable and reliable mini home on wheels! ūüôā

All that is the what of our upcoming travels, but I also wanted to share why we found ourselves wanting to downsize in the first place. Minimalism has been a big driving force in our lives over the past couple of years, and I always loving talking about why we love living small and the things that drive us to a lighter, more adventurous life.

Our Camper Fall 2015

1. Towing the Camper Can Be a Drag

There, I’ve said it. After getting off to a rough start towing the camper through the mountains of West Virginia, it took us a while to settle in to pulling 6,000 lbs behind us wherever we went! That’s the cost of carrying all your creature comforts with you, I suppose — but after about a week on the road, we were already tired of setting up, breaking down, not being able to get drive through¬†… the list goes on. And it was also frustrating that Ryan was the only one able to drive; hats off to you ladies who are skilled at towing, but I’m just not! While he’s usually happy to be behind the wheel, there were times when he was tired, or not feeling well, or just didn’t want to drive, and we missed the flexibility of me being able to take the wheel. Overall, while we adapted pretty quickly to the vagaries of life with a camper in tow; it just seemed like a continuous, low-grade hassle, and one we didn’t feel like dealing with for the next nine months.

Car Camping Seminole Canyon Texas

2. We Want to Cut Costs

You had to know this one was coming! You guys, camper spots, even without sewer hookups, are expensive. Of course, there’s always boondocking, but if we were going without things like air conditioning and an electric hookup to run the fridge, what was the point of having the camper with us, anyway? This trip we’re looking to do a lot more boondocking … maybe even check out a Walmart parking lot or two … and just generally rough it in the interest of adventuring more, and saving money. (The sacrifices seem totally worth it if it frees up more cash for things like rafting the Rio Grande in Big Bend, or taking an air taxi to¬†Gates of the Arctic National Park¬†in Alaska!)


3. We’re Comfortable with Less

After selling 90% of our stuff,¬†taking two six week¬†car camping trips, and figuring out we don’t miss our stuff,¬†even the camper was just feeling extravagant! And after another summer parked in Harpers Ferry, and a three month stay with my parents (plus a very generous Christmas!), we were both beginning to feel the weight of our stuff again. (Can I just say — going through every nook and cranny to pack for this upcoming trip was highly therapeutic!) We’ve learned that with car camping we have just enough to feel comfortable … but not¬†too comfortable. We’ve been joking that the next step in our downsizing process is a backpack apiece! (Spoiler alert: we already have them ūüėÄ )

Ryan in a Tree at Big Bend National Park

We’re Craving More Adventure

One more thing we learned on our last trip — somehow, having the camper ended up putting a damper on our adventurous spirits. I often think of Jess Curren’s excellent post,¬†I Don‚Äôt Trust Myself in Suburbia, and somehow, the camper was starting to feel like our own personal version of suburbia. (If you haven’t read her post — and even if you have — go read it. Seriously.)

“We are advocates for an active, outdoor, adventure, family-oriented lifestyle so what does that say about me when I can‚Äôt even get us out the door in over a week?¬†It says that life in Suburbia is hard and we are cheaters.” — Jess Curren

Traveling with the camper we found ourselves sleeping in later, spending more time watching TV on the laptop (seriously, we watched three seasons of Chicago P.D. in six weeks), forgoing campfires in favor of nights on the couch, and generally sucking at getting out the door and exploring. I can’t explain what it was, other than that we were just too comfortable. And comfort is¬†not¬†why we upended our lives and moved into a camper.

And That’s Why We’re on the Road with Just Our Tahoe

So, here we are — on the road, headed southwest, with all our stuff packed into our Chevy Tahoe. We’re planning on mixing it up this trip; it’s not going to be nine straight months of camping. In fact, in the two weeks we’re taking to get from New Hampshire to Louisiana, we don’t have a single night of camping planned — our route is formed by waypoints with hospitable and welcoming friends and family. So, while we will be doing¬†lots¬†of car camping this year, we’ll also be stopping with friends, and we are also hoping to dip our toes into the world of professional house sitting. And I’m sure we’ll pepper in some hotel stays and tent camping, too.

That’s all, folks! Thanks for reading along ūüôā Tell us in the comments: What’s your favorite method of travel? RV, van, car camping, tent camping, backpacking?

2017 Travel Plans

A constant surprise in our 18 months of full time camper life is just how cyclical it has been. Instead of endless days on the road, a pattern has emerged: six (or so) weeks of intensive travel, twelve (or so) weeks of localized travel. And while our parked weeks have proven immensely valuable in terms of cost-cutting and business-building, another constant is just how itchy we get to hit the road again after being in one place too long.

With that in mind, 2017 is going to be different. We have a full nine months of travel in the forecast, and the big challenge of our year will be learning how to balance travel, life, and work without the “breaks” that extended parking have afforded us up until now.

We have one other big adjustment planned for this year: When we head south later¬†this week, we’ll be leaving our camper behind at my parents’ house. Yup, that’s right — we’ll be hitting the road with¬†only our trusty Chevy Tahoe. We’ll share more on that decision when Ryan writes about the sweet new camping rig he and my brother have been hard at work building. For now I’ll just say that we learned on our last extended trip¬†that dragging a 26′ trailer with you everywhere you go is actually kind of annoying.

So, without further ado¬†— our planned itinerary for 2017!

January //

Congaree National Park Our Streamlined Life

  • We’ve kicked off January¬†still at my parents’ home in New Hampshire — the plan is to head south this weekend!¬†While I love winter, it has been freakishly cold here, and I’m just a little excited to stick my toes in the Gulf.
  • Our journey south will be pretty speedy, and peppered with stops to see family and friends. We played around with revisiting Charleston and Savannah on our way, but nixed that idea in favor of getting to the southwest as quickly possible.
  • It will probably take us a little over a week to get¬†from New Hampshire to Baton Rouge, with tentative stops planned in New Jersey, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia. Most of those will be visits to friends and family, but we’re also hoping to stop off at Congaree National Park and Andersonville National Historic Site¬†on the way. We’re also playing around with taking a longer route and visiting Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas, which we’ve been trying (and failing) to visit since¬†last¬†January. After catching up with family in Baton Rouge, we’ll head west!

February //

Big Bend National Park

  • February will be all about TEXAS! We’ll be taking the coastal route to South Padre Island, where swimming and beach camping are on the agenda. (We’ll also be taking tips from Amanda’s super-adventurey list of¬†10 Things to Do on South Padre Island. I’m dying to paddleboard!)
  • Once we’re all beached out (so, maybe never?) we’re headed north again towards Big Bend National Park. We loved it so much last time¬†that we’re planning on staying¬†a full two weeks (the longest¬†you’re allowed to visit during the popular winter months). We’ll probably do some repeat activities, but this time we’ll also do some primitive camping, hopefully snag a spot in the gorgeous¬†Chisos Basin Campground, visit Boquillas, and get in some river and mountain hikes (after lots of desert hiking last time!). Last time we visited the moon was full and crazy bright, so we didn’t get in any stargazing … this time we’ll try to time our visit a little better. And I know Ryan would¬†love to get in a¬†river trip as well! (Suddenly, two weeks doesn’t seem like¬†nearly enough time.)

March //

Rocky Mountain National Park

  • The last time we explored New Mexico we headed west across southern New Mexico, then east through northern New Mexico on our return trip. This time, we’ll be travelling north – south. Planned stops include Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Roswell, Santa Fe, and Los Alamos. (Hopefully we’ll be out of New Mexico before the juniper — which almost¬†destroyed¬†Ryan last winter! — starts blooming.)
  • We’re taking a bit of a risk heading to Colorado in the winter — but we passed it up last time and I’m determined not to skip it again. We have three awesome national parks on the agenda —¬†Rocky Mountain,¬†Black Canyon Of The Gunnison, and¬†Mesa Verde — and if we’re feeling fancy I’d love to do a little skiing. I’m thinking Colorado would be a great place to try to land some housesitting gigs as well, and I’d also love to visit my brother at Fort Carson.

April //

Zion National Park

  • We are both DYING to get to Utah¬†— it’s a little crazy that, other than a quick stop-off in Salt Lake City, we’ve managed to skirt it during all our western adventures. Obviously, the big five national parks are calling our name, and Currently Wandering’s recent post has me totally drooling to visit Snow Canyon State Park, too. I have the feeling Utah is going to be difficult to leave!
  • Fortunately, we have a little love affair going on with Arizona, which should soften the blow of heading south again! Our itinerary is a little up in the air. We’re debating retracing some of our steps from last winter, and hitting up the Grand Canyon, Phoenix, Sedona, and Prescott¬†again … but we’re considering skipping some of the southern portion in favor of spending some time in Vegas.

May //

Yosemite National Park

  • We’ve allotted ourselves a month to travel through California, but I’m guessing a big chunk of it will be spent in southern California. Our current route is pretty zig-zaggy — we’re going back and forth between the coast and inland wonders like Yosemite! We’ll probably revisit San Francisco and the redwoods, too. Even though I was born in California, I’ve only been there a few times — but in my imagination, at least, California in May is weather perfection!

June //

Mount Rainier National Park

  • June should see us in the Pacific Northwest, enjoying early summer in Oregon & Washington. Since we’ve spent some time exploring¬†coastal Oregon, we plan to head inland and check out Crater Lake National Park as well as Bend. Next we’ll take a few weeks and criss-cross Washington state!

July //

Denali National Park & Preserve

  • Six months later, we finally reach the whole point of this trip: ALASKA. Honestly, it seems totally surreal even typing that! We’ve had a¬†little¬†trouble planning out the route due to current road closures (because, January in Alaska) but we plan to make our way up through Yukon, to Anchorage, and ultimately all the way up to Prudhoe Bay. Naturally, we’re also going to hit up as many epic national parks as we can, including Denali and Glacier Bay. If you’ve been to Alaska, or are planning to go to Alaska, let’s talk — we need All Your Wisdom on things like avoiding the legendarily horrible mosquitoes. And bears. And serial killers.

August //

Banff National Park Photo by Tony Webster
Photo by Tony Webster
  • After 4-6 weeks in Alaska (guys, that place is HUGE) we’ll make our way back to the lower 48 via Canada. After some great travel experiences in Niagara Falls and Quebec City, we’re excited to spend some time in British Columbia and¬†Alberta. But really it’s all just part of my grand scheme to lure Ryan into spending a night or two at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. (Hi, my name is Rebecca and my birthday is in August.) Anyway — Banff National Park is a bucket list stop for both of us, and we’re excited to spend some time exploring our friendly northern neighbor.

September //

Glacier National Park

  • In September we’d love to still be pretty far north — but the weather will play a big part in that decision. ¬†We’ll be slowly tracing a path home via Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan & Wisconsin — and with lots of gorgeous national parks along the route, I know we’ll be eager to linger as long as temperatures remain¬†friendly. (Last summer when we were in Acadia I had a mild case of traveler’s envy seeing everyone’s end-of-summer travels through northern Michigan in particular — I’m dying to get there!)

October —¬†December¬†//

Acadia National Park

  • Fall and winter finally bring unknown territory.¬†Our late summer & early fall plans hinge on mild weather continuing in the northern reaches of Canada and the United States, and I’m guessing we’ll probably be pretty happy to get back to our camper! We’ve tossed around the idea of spending fall in upstate New York and New England, and at this point the holidays are also a question mark. Either way, we’ll have to head back to New Hampshire to reunite with our home on wheels!

By the end of 2017, our hope is to have visited the majority of the continental United States! At that point, we’d love to turn our attention to international travel, because we’ve both been totally itching to get overseas. (Dream destinations include Germany and Iceland for both of us, Scotland and New Zealand for Ryan, and Thailand and Greece for me.) I¬†have the feeling that our 2018 travel plans are going to look totally different, and totally epic! What do¬†your 2017 travel plans look like?

2017 Travel Plans