We know...we know...it's been a while. And quite a bit has happened since our last post. So, this is our attempt to share some highlights and a not-so-quick recap of all that's happened these last two months:
1. South Dakota is magic: In case you missed it, we became residents of South Dakota because they're an income tax free state that offers lots of great services for RVers. What we didn't know is just how incredible our new home state is. We hiked and camped in Black Hills National Forest, harvested crystals that now live in the RV with us, struggled with the contradiction of Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, and were awed by the vast beauty of the Badlands. It's an incredible place, and we're so glad to call it one of our many homes.
2. Our faces on a cake: After a year in CA, we knew we needed some real time with family and friends before truly setting out on this adventure. But celebrating our engagement and journey with people we love was beyond our expectations. Added bonus: we got to eat our own faces in cake form and it was absolutely delicious.
3. New York is just perfect in fall: We hiked. We wandered in a corn maze. We explored new places and revisited old ones. We ate way too many bagels and more pizza than we thought possible. We spent a day in a Korean spa and went to a street festival. We danced at a kirtan. We carved pumpkins. And we partied at the weddings of people we love. We may live wherever we go, but New York will always be the first place we ever called home. It was good to be back, and JUUUUUST as the weather turned, it was also great to hit the road again.
4. No plans are great plans: When we left NY, we knew we were headed south, but we had no idea where. So we just drove. And when we got tired of 95 South, we got off. We decided to drive down the Delmarva Peninsula and ended up in Trap Pond State Park for two days, hiking, cooking, sitting around a campfire, and hanging in hammocks. It was the perfect reminder that it always pays to take the slow road--that we already have everything we need and planning is highly overrated.
5. Butterflies and giant Adirondack chairs: Next up, we worked our way back to the mainland via one of the world's few bridge-tunnels, and headed down to South Carolina for some more (and warmer) state park time. We camped feet away from Myrtle Beach, where--for this one weekend--horses were allowed as a fundraiser for the American Heart Association. It was incredible: hundreds of horses galloping along the beach. And yes, that did mean a lot of poop. We also met a park ranger tagging monarch butterflies, and Rach got to get up close and personal when the monarch was released.
6. Sometimes, you need to stop for maintenance: Betty needed her first round of maintenance since we bought her in Arizona in August and drove over 7,000 miles. It was scary when she started acting up. She's our home and our car and we're entirely dependent on her for this journey. Plus, the timing was bad--we were trying to make it to Georgia to volunteer in the election. But after 8+ hours at a dealer, making new friends, and eating some of the best BBQ of our lives, we left with a clean bill of health and a surprisingly small bill (thanks Mercedes warranties!!!)
7. Election Day in Savannah: If there's one thing we learned in Savannah, it's just how very human elections are. And complicated. It's so easy, between elections, to complain about how things are. But on election day, every single person has the chance to change things. So we canvassed. We asked individuals to show up. We knocked on doors and gave people their polling places, we ensured they had a plan for getting to the polls and knew what to do if they were turned away. Well, Rachel did that and Mat and Whiskey were her security...But in Georgia, and places around the country, just showing up isn't necessarily enough. Because some people show up and find out they're no longer registered thanks to voter purging. Other people vote on broken machines that flip their votes. Others still wait hours in line until they're forced to leave because of work or children or poor health. Only just the other day, nearly two weeks after the election, did Stacey Abrams finally concede in the election, because she wanted to make sure every single vote was counted. In our book, that makes her a hero. Because it's just so easy to feel like you don't matter...like you don't even need to show up. She's reminding the folks of Georgia and everyone who's watching that every voice merits being heard. And that feels like a message we all need these days.
8. Hanging on the Appalachian Trail: After our foray into politics, it was time to go back to the woods. So we headed northwest to Chattahoochee National Forest, and camped at the base of the Appalachian Trail (AT). We had grand plans of big hikes, but we only got a couple of hours under our belts before we were foiled by torrential downpours. Luckily, we had a warm home (yes, our RV has heat), wine, cheese, delicious meals, campfires and books to keep us occupied. And found ourselves pretty humbled by those that make the 2,000 mile trek from Georgia to Maine.
9. Home of the Braves: From the sprawling trails to traffic city, we made a weekend stop in Atlanta where we spent a couple of days with a close friend before heading further south. We hiked through civil war battlefields, ate delicious food, watched a Rocky marathon, visited an intentional community, and got to play with an awesome lab named Django.
10. Horses, chickens, and Rocky Raccoon: And now, here we are, on a horse and art farm, the first work stay of our trip. In exchange for a few hours of work each day, we get to hang with free roaming horses and chickens. We cook meals with our host and live in Betty, parked under a stunning live oak tree. And best of all, there's a rescued raccoon named Rocky (there seems to be a theme going here...) that never ceases to entertain.
After all this travel, we're grateful to be spending a full week on the farm surrounded by gorgeous nature and incredible animals. Perhaps more importantly, we're thankful for the incredible people we're getting to know: people who in many ways couldn't be more different from us, but with whom we're excited to find a whole lot of common ground. Pretty fitting for the Thanksgiving season we think...