Holiday Gifts for the Road Tripper

Gift giving for people living in small places can be hard, but fear not, her are a few ideas that you can’t go wrong with.

  1. American The Beautiful Pass
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    This $80 pass gets you into all national parks, and in most place, into national monuments, national forests, and some state parks for one year. When you realize that the entrance fee to all of the major national parks (Yellowstone, Zion, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, etc.) is being raised to $70 per car for a weeks visit, this pass is totally worth it.
  2. Gift Cards
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    You can’t go wrong with gift cards, they give the road tripper the ability to spend them whenever and wherever they need to.

    1. Fast Food (McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Subway, Domino’s)
    2. Amazon
    3. Gas (Shell, Flying J, Exxon, BP)
    4. Dollar General (they’re everywhere)
    5. Walmart (also everywhere)
  3. A Taste of Home-
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    If there’s one thing we miss about New Jersey, it’s the food. With all of the places we’ve been around the United States, there’s no place like home, at least when it comes to the food. No matter where you’re from, sometimes a taste of home is all you need to cure a little homesickness. Check with local markets and food stores to see if they will ship their food directly.
  4. Games
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    Because music and good conversation won’t always keep the car from being too quiet. Mad Libs, trivia games, scavenger hunts and other little games that can be kept in the glove compartment are perfect for entertainment on the road. A Frisbee or another simple outdoor game can be fun too, think small.
  5. AC Inverter
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    Any road tripper knows the convenience of a car charger, this charger is great for charging a laptop or camera when you’re on the go, and you can charge 2 phones at once.
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Arkansas to New Mexico

Arkansas —> New Mexico 876 Miles in 2 days (wow!)

There wasn’t much on our list to see in Oklahoma or in northern Texas so we decided to just continue heading west. We left Arkansas and hightailed it through Oklahoma, a state filled with ranches that make more money from the oil wells on their land than they do from the cows. We slept in a Walmart parking lot in Checotah. Checotah, Oklahoma is a small town of about 3,000 with signs all over letting you know that it is the birth place of the one and only Carrie Underwood. Sleeping in a Walmart is a right of passage to any new road traveler, and Paul was itching to check it off our list.

Walmart’s aren’t terrible to stay at, if you can find a quiet one…good luck. When you pull into a Walmart you go inside, ask if you can spend the night in the parking lot and if you can, the manager will tell you where to park. We parked on the side of the building and lucky for us it was the night of landscaping and street sweeping until 2 AM. So while Paul slept soundly, I stared at the ceiling and listened to what sounded like a street sweeper doing doughnuts in the parking lot at 40 mile per hour. There was also a lovely train that went by a few times, and did i mention the mass of stay cats chasing summer bugs all around the parking lot lights. Ahhh…Walmart parking lots, what dreams are made of. In all seriousness though, for a quick overnight when you’re tired, you can’t beat a free spot at Walmart, it’s also a good time to stock up on anything you might need.

After a sleepless night in Oklahoma I was determined to find somewhere to sleep other than a Walmart. Before leaving New Jersey I bought a membership to Harvest Host. $40 for the year and they give you a list of farms, museums, wineries, breweries and other (usually agricultural based) businesses that allow you to camp on their property for free. I looked up what we had around us and found a winery just outside of Amarillo, Texas to stay at for the night. Our night at the winery was much more peaceful than our night at Walmart.

After a night in Texas we headed out to New Mexico, following the old route 66 until we hit Santa Fe. Route 66 is unfortunately dead and gone through this stretch of highway, businesses and entire towns have been abandoned because of the interstate that replaced the famous highway back in the 80’s. No one is taking the time to stop and check out any of those old route 66 roadside attractions, the interstate has you zipping right past without even realizing it. Of course we had to stop at some of the iconic places along the way like the giant cross as you enter Texas, Cadillac Ranch, and The Big Texan Steak Ranch.

So, what did we learned after this big push to make it out west? Well, we came up with a new and very important rule that we lived by for the rest of the summer. Our new rule, no driving for more than 4 or 5 hours a day, after that we start to annoy each other and get cranky. Driving anymore than 4 or 5 hours didn’t let us see as much as we wanted to either, we felt like we were passing by too much and with the added weight of the camper we were going no where slow anyway.

Milton, Delaware

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After taking the ferry from Cape May, New Jersey to Lewes, Delaware Paul and I were headed down to Assateague  when we spotted a Dogfish Head truck. Spotting the truck reminded Paul that their Brewery was in Delaware and I quickly looked it up and realized it was only a couple miles away. So we took a short detour to check it out. How cool is that steampunk treehouse? It’s the first thing you see when you pull up to the huge brewery. Inside they have a large tasting room, with free tastings, a gift shop and offer tours of the facility.  By the time we arrived the tours for the day had all been booked up, but we were able to taste their beers and check out the gift shop. Outside they have a food truck, picnic tables and outdoor games. If you are in or around Delaware check out Dogfish Head Brewery.

 

Columbus, New Jersey

I’m happy that Paul and I are able to enjoy all of the great places in New Jersey before we leave. New Jersey has so much beauty, it’s not all the smog, pollution, and traffic that Newark and the surrounding areas have to offer. We’ve been able to do so much in Jersey this summer, getting to the beach, camping and hiking in the mountains, enjoying all of the fairs and festivals, and I was even able to get Paul to see Bruce Springsteen for his first time. We’ve been making progress with framing out the rest of the trailer’s kitchen, and we have been saving as much money as we can, like squirrels getting ready for winter. Over the weekend we enjoyed some time at the Columbus Flea Market in Columbus, New Jersey. If you are in New Jersey, New York, or eastern Pennsylvania you gotta check it out.

Columbus Flea market is located right off the New Jersey Turnpike. The market has several buildings and loads of outdoor space for daily vendors. The best time to catch the outdoor vendors is on Saturdays and Sundays when the weather is nice. We went on Saturday and the overcast skies seemed to have scared a lot of vendors away for the day. After exploring some of the outdoor vendors, head inside. Inside you can find loads of stuff, from airsoft guns to clothes & shoes, from packaged goods to delicious homemade foods. There is a lot to see at this Flea Market, they have a produce and fish market and some really great stores with good prices, but my favorite part of this Market is the Amish Market.

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The Amish market is a deli, bakery, pretzel shop, ice cream shop, sweet shop and two stores selling homemade goods. While the goods and foods here all come from the Amish in Lancaster, Pennslyvania, the people working here are not Amish. After doing some research I found out that the Amish work closely with their Mennonite neighbors to sell goods, and help bring money into their community. The Amish Market is open from Thursdays to Saturdays, and they serve breakfast and lunch daily. While Paul opted for some tacos at the other end of the flea market, I treated myself to a chicken lunch. This lunch was huge, a half chicken, green beans, mac and cheese, and a homemade lemonade came to $8.50, and it ended up being my dinner too. We usually stock up on all kinds of goodies at the bakery, but Saturday we stocked up at the deli. We were able to get some farm fresh bacon (3 different kinds), sage sausage stuffed mushrooms, and a stuffed pork loin. We never leave this place hungry.

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If you ever want to have a fun day…check out the Columbus Flea Market. Enjoy a few more pictures below…

Tuxedo, New York

Over the weekend Paul finally got the chance to take me to the New York Renaissance Faire! We’ve been talking about going to this faire since we started dating but haven’t had the time until now. Paul had gone years ago, when he first came back to New Jersey, and had been wanting to take me. With the weather looking like it was going to corporate with us on Saturday we decided to head up north to the renaissance faire.

The New York renaissance faire is in Tuxedo, New York. The faire is held every weekend (and Labor Day) from August to October. Tuxedo is a small town right over the New Jersey/New York boarder, about an hour northwest of New York City. While it does take place in a small town, people come from all over to join in the festivities. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot around 1:30/2 the parking attendants started turning cars away because they ran out of parking. The packed parking lot had me a little worried about crowded conditions inside the faire. After squeezing into one of the last parking spots we took a long walk through several fields of parking, up a trail through the woods, and ended up at the entrance of the faire.

We spent hours just walking around the faire and enjoying all of the interesting people, crafts, foods, acts, and rides. The fairgrounds are built specifically for this festival, with buildings true to the time period and a full arena for jousting. Even with the full parking lots, it didn’t seem overly crowded inside. Everyone that was in attendance seemed happy, friendly  and just glad to be there. After an afternoon of drinking and eating we watched the jousting match and then headed home.

Downsides of the faire:

  • bathrooms- they only have porta johns and they were some of the worst I’ve come across.
  • prices- I get it, it’s a faire that happens a few weekends out of the year and they gotta make their money, but some of the food prices and ride prices are a little out of control. (I noticed some people tailgating at their cars before they went inside)
  • parking- if you plan on going get there early, to be told there is no more parking and to come back in a few hours would put a damper on anyone’s day