Norfork, Arkansas

Almost a month was spent on the East Coast, we were ready to start the long haul out West, and our first stop was Arkansas.

After my Aunt’s husband recommending the Buffalo River area we decided it would be a nice stop on our way. It was never an intended stop on our trip, but then neither were any other places from here on. The green rolling hills and steep cliffs along the rivers were beautiful. Our campground was on the White River, recently bought by an awesome brother and sister team, who are working hard at fixing up the joint. The campground property backs right up to the river, which only a few weeks before had flooded out the land between their main house and the river.

We seemed to consistently be reminded this summer of the unapologetic forces of nature.

In our few days spent in Arkansas we visited the Blanchard Springs Caverns in the Ozark National Forest (Paul loves cave tours) and they were the biggest and most beautiful cave systems we visited. With large rooms and over a mile walk from one end of the system to the other, they were beyond impressive. After exploring the insides of the caves we took a drive to the top of them and explored the forest and natural springs surrounding them. Paul’s father and his wife were making a drive back to New Jersey when they decided to stop by and spend a few days with us, we fished, ate catfish and almost left with a dog, I’d call it a good stop on the journey.

My favorite part of Arkansas were the fireflies at night. At the time we were in Arkansas the fireflies were mating, and during their mating periods they do these crazy in sync light shows to attract mates.  The thick trees of the Ozarks were the perfect backdrop for this amazing light show each night. Growing up in New Jersey we always had fireflies around in the summer time, but I had never seen this many moving and blinking at such a pace. Paul and I spent each night in Arkansas sitting in the middle of the road and just watching as the fireflies seamlessly blended with the landscape of the night sky.

The thick green Ozarks, like many other east coast forests, were something I was about to unexpectedly miss as we moved westward…

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12,000 Miles, 102 Days, 1 Amazing Country

We traveled over 12,000 miles in just over 100 days and the most important thing we took from all those miles is the endless beauty and goodness that this country has to offer; so much that it easily over powers the hatred and negativity that our society is all too consumed with.

Over the past 3 months we’ve made it our goal to stay away from reading or watching too much news or social media, it was just too distracting and sometimes too depressing. With no cable, and in most places no cell service, it really wasn’t very hard to disconnect. Now, some people might think that our “ignorance is bliss” attitude was indeed ignorant, but when you travel across this country and see so many beautiful things and meet so many good people, its hard to watch and read one negative story after another. What we saw in the news seemed to be contradicting the country we were experiencing, and we didn’t need it fogging up our view of things. Our disconnection from everything but the world around us forced us to reconnect with new places and new people. We’ve seen places that brought us to tears and met people who, without even knowing, made lasting impressions on us.

In the end, it’s all about getting out there and focusing on the beauty in everyone and everything around us.

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We settled down in Idaho this week after poping in and out over the last month or so. We’ll be resting our heads in Sun Valley for the winter while we work to save up for whatever adventure comes next.

*After leaving Georgia our travels were a whirlwind and we had little to no internet connection in most places. Now that we are settled I’ll be sharing some stories about all of the amazing places we’ve been since we left.

 

Happy Trails

Sebastian, Florida

A long weekend in “sunny” Florida.

It rained on the drive down to Florida, it rain every day we were in Florida, and then it followed us home and rained some more.

After spending about a week in Georgia we headed down to Florida. We left the camper at Paul’s brother’s house because we had a place to stay in Florida and we also thought we might try to do some car camping. We headed down just in time to celebrate my cousin Micheal’s birthday for the weekend. My Uncle Bronco and Aunt Sue were kind enough to let us stay a few days, and it was nice to be able to take hot showers, do laundry and just relax in the pool in between the rain. My cousins Micheal and Bronco were both in a fishing tournament so we spent some time Saturday at the weigh-in having drinks and eating dinner. We were hoping to celebrate Micheal’s birthday that night too but he did enough celebrating out on the boat that day.

With everyone being off on Sunday we took the boat out, getting some fishing in and spending the day on an island in the river. We spent our lazy Florida Sunday, BBQing until the rain came back in again. It was a lot of fun paddle boarding, listening to music, hanging in the hammocks, and watching the dolphins swim by. Our weekend went by fast but we were happy to have been able to see everyone, aunts, uncles, cousins; and Paul was finally able to meet most of them for the first time. We even got some suggestions from Jeff on places to stop on our way out West, here we come Arkansas (thanks Jeff).

We were hoping to spend more time in Florida and explore the Everglades and Keys but with all the rain we decided to get away from it and get back to Georgia and our Camper.

Crawford, Georgia

After leaving the Smokey Mountains behind we headed for Crawford, Georgia. Crawford is a small town outside of Athens. Paul’s brother, his wife, and their two kids live on a small farm in Crawford and we parked the camper right next to their house and hung out for about a week.

Memorial Day weekend wasn’t spent hanging out in the pool or down on the beach, but fishing in their pond and smoking a big piece of pork in the wood smoker. Our days in Georgia were long and slow, but in a good way. Georgia gave us the time to relax, and get things done, we worked on the truck and camper, got some mail out, and caught up on all of other things we needed to do.

We spent Saturday night driving up into the northern mountains of Georgia to go to an auction. It wasn’t a car auction or an antique auction, but a farm animal auction. There were pigs, horses, mini ponies, donkeys, bunnies, chickens, and lots of other birds. Paul’s brother frequents the auctions and wanted us to experience it, and it was an experience. As people were bidding on animals, we ordered cheese fries and sodas from the snack stand, allowing us to really sit back and enjoy the show.

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At one point during the auction Paul and his brother took a walk outside to see some of the animals that would be coming up, and that’s when Eric set his eyes on a one day old baby goat. As soon as they locked eyes Eric knew it was meant to be, he wasn’t going to leave the auction without that goat. We played with the goat and asked the farmer who brought him everything we could about him (what he ate, was it healthy, how to care for him, etc.). When baby goat got on that auction block it was Eric vs. some lady in the back, they went back and forth a few times until finally we walked away with a $80 baby goat.

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As soon as we paid for the goat we headed out the Tracker Supply to buy some kid milk. We drove the hour and a half back to the house with baby goat sleeping in my lap. The rest of our time spent in Georgia was spent having lazy days on the farm, fishing, eating, doing maintenance on the truck and trailer and playing with baby animals.

After a week in Georgia we left the camper at Paul’s brother’s house and headed down to see my family in Florida for a few days.

Farewell Friends & Family

It’s finally here, our last week of work and last full week in New Jersey, we really can not believe it.

We would not be able to take this journey and make such a big leap if it weren’t for our friends and family. We needed and wanted to say “thank you” and “goodbye” to as many people as we could. We have had the help and support every step of the way, from my mom for putting up with us for the past year as we worked our butts off saving money and working on the camper, to the countless number of friends and family who came by to help us with each project. My Aunt Barbara who generously gave me all the curtains in the camper. Our friend Nick who helped us demo the camper and find all the water damage. Paul’s dad who helped with the wood pallets project and putting all the cabinets back in. Paul’s cousin Freddy who not only helped but let us borrow his tools. My Uncle Ernie who was great in helping us with finding a truck and giving us advice when it came to maintenance on it. The list really goes on and on. We were given some really awesome gifts as well, a tire repair kit, an emergency battery pack to jump the truck, a small air compressor, gift cards, wine, coffee, some cool camping gear, and little things to remember New Jersey and everyone we love.  We love our friends and family!

Last weekend my Mom was kind enough to throw Paul and I a going away party, making it much easier to see everyone that we wanted to see before we left New Jersey. Paul and I invited our friends and family only a few day before the party and we were so grateful to everyone who showed up. We shared stories, ate, drank and said our goodbyes. The outpouring of love and support that we received last weekend, and throughout this entire experience, was overwhelming and grounding for both of us. We have had lots of friends, family and neighbors come by to wish us safe travels, many bringing thoughtful cards and generous gifts that we totally were not expecting.

Another unexpected part of this whole experience has been the negativity and lack of understanding from some. As I’ve said, we have the most amazing family and friends who have made such an effort to wish us well, but we also have those around us (a small handful) that don’t understand why we are making the decision to do this and can’t figure out why we would leave our jobs. We’ve been called “stupid” and we’ve been doubted, but this only strengthens our love and gratitude towards all those rooting for us, so thank you all.

Happy Trails,

Morgan & Paul