Backyard Magic (and a “Comfortable Runabout”)

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February is the month of introspection and restlessness. Typically winter lolls about like a tantrumming toddler, beating its fists and creating headaches all around.

This year feels different. Perhaps it’s the mild weather (78° anyone???), or maybe it’s due to the plethera of random activities in which I’ve been dabbling.* In any case, I’ve been venturing outdoors more than usual, exploring nearby places with a renewed sense of vigor.

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Calm and (relatively) clean.

A metaphorical stone’s throw from my abode, The Cross County Trail cuts 40 miles through the entire county of Fairfax. This fascinating path crosses around and under surburbia, including well-populated areas and interstates. What a feat!

My walk/hike was muddy, sunshine-y, and friendly. People smiled at me in passing. I felt protected by a little envelope of trees, grass, running water, logs, and rocks. It was amazing to discover natural wonders so close to my own backyard.

And when it’s time to journey further, I’ve got a new set of wheels.

Honda CR V (Comfortable Runabout Vehicle). His name is Sherwin… it means “swift like wind”.

Unfortunately, my dear Honda Civic hydroplaned, spun-out, and then became a total loss. It’s been a rough year for him (see Accident of the Deer #1), I mourn his passing.

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Cray-zee, right?

In the meantime, near or far, I am confident that I will continue engaging with all things beautiful in our natural world!

* Axe-throwing, roller skating, etc.



Bye Bye, Clarence

I gathered the paper work and removed the key from my ring. I knew this day would come, and was prepared both logistically and emotionally. A mere week after posting Clarence’s adorable picture on Craigslist, I had found a buyer.

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One last moment together

A little over a year ago, I purchased this teardrop trailer (affectionately named Clarence) in hopes of having a cozy haven during my national parks tour. Clarence and I have had some incredible adventures together, traveling cross-country and tallying up the miles.

Throwback pic: Love at first site at the RV dealership (May 2016)

I’ll sure miss the lil’ stinker, but I’m relieved that he’ll be going to an excellent home. Clarence’s new owner, Nancy, is ready to tote him along on various excursions; she is thrilled to have such a well-traveled teardrop to call her home away from home.

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Passing the baton (aka keys)

So long Clarence. Good luck in your next phase of life.

Thanks for all the good times and for being the best teardrop trailer a girl could ask for. #NeverForget

Making Lemonade, Small Planes, and Iron Ladders

Silly selfie

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.

Or in my case: When life throws a deer in front of your car, fly to Acadia National Park.

It just didn’t make sense to hang out in Wisconsin for a week while I waited for my car to get fixed. Hotels were pretty pricey, and I knew that I would be going stir-crazy lingering in a city.

I crunched some numbers. When I calculated the cost of gas, lodging during the drive, and tolls, taking a last-minute flight to Maine didn’t seem like such a bad decision.

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A small plane

So I spent a glorious 2 days on Mt. Desert Island, the largest and most popular part of Acadia.

I drove my sweet rental car, a Jeep Cherokee, along the coast, marveling at the rugged rock meeting the Atlantic Ocean. I laced up my hiking boots and explored the mountains and unique ecosystems, the sound of the crashing sea in the distance.

On one occasion, I decided to do a quick 0.4 mile hike to a lookout point. I soon realized that the majority of the hike was iron ladders, and that the “trail” was really more of a nontechnical rock climb.

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Up, up, and away…

It was fun.

Even though flying is a pain, I’m happy that my impromptu decision will save me hours in the car in the long run.

Now, my trip is officially back on track. One more park to go!

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My (Literal) Run-In with Bambi

If you recall, I almost hit a bear in North Cascades.

In Wisconsin, I wasn’t as lucky with my wildlife avoidance.

There I was, cruising down the highway, looking forward to crawling into my camper for a good night’s sleep. According to my GPS, I was 5 minutes from my stopping point. I was alert, searching for my upcoming turn.

Quick as can be, a deer ran out in front of my car.

I was going 60 miles per hour.

I have no idea how fast he was running.

Once again, I slammed on the brakes, causing everything in my back seat to come flying forward.

I hit the deer smack dab in the middle of my car. He stumbled, got up, and limped off, giving me a nasty look along the way. I was somewhat shaken, but also relieved. I wasn’t hurt and the airbags didn’t deploy.

Then I noticed my engine was smoking.

Turns out there was quite a bit more damage than I initially thought.

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Poor Honda.

Darn it. I didn’t have cell reception, was in the middle of nowhere, and the closest town was about 35 miles back the way I came. I decided that I needed to get to civilization, cell service, and people who could offer assistance.

My engine had stopped smoking, so I began to drive slowly back the way I came. I made it only 2 miles before the fumes started up again, this time coming through the vents and making my nose wrinkle with the smell.

I pulled over, still in the middle of nowhere. I stood on the side of the road for about 10 minutes, my mind blank. Then I walked. There was a house nearby. I knocked on the door and waited.

A lovely family let me use their phone, their WiFi, and even offered me a beer. I had to call 4 tow trucks before someone would come and pick me up.

“You’re too small, we only tow big rigs.”

“You’re too long, we can’t tow your car and your trailer.”

“You’re too far from town.”

Finally, success!

“Ok. Be there in 30 minutes.”

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The following morning at the shop.

The next day, the damage was assessed and the insurance info worked out. My little Honda Civic is currently sitting in an auto shop, and will be there for one week. This definitely derailed my travel plans, but I’m rolling with the punches.

Luckily Clarence was unscathed.

Luckily I could be in much worse places than Superior, WI.


Ask Me Anything (Questions)


I get a lot of questions during my travels.

Some are serious.

Some are funny.

Some are outright ridiculous.

Now here is your chance to ask questions that you have regarding my trip. It can be about the parks themselves, the logistics of traveling, or any other curiosity that has left you wondering.

No topic is off-limits, but I can’t promise 100% that I’ll answer everything. 

So here’s what you do.

Simply comment on this post and I won’t approve it. Yep, that means that I’ll be the only one who will ever see your name attached to your question. If you have my personal email or number, you can also contact me that way. In 7 days, I’ll create another post responded to your inquiries.

Let ’em fly.



Letters from the Road

Dear Other Drivers,

Please kindly remember that when you want to switch lanes, it is common courtesy to be going faster or at least matching the speed of the car you are cutting in front of. Also make note that my stopping distance is double what you think it is; Clarence the MyPod is quite hefty which takes a toll on my ability to decelerate.




Dear State of Virginia,

Your choice of state park names is somewhat comical. “Hungry Mother State Park”… really? Sure, the legend surrounding it makes sense in a mysterious sort of way, but it drove me crazy for over 100 miles on I-81 until I could safely Google such strange nomenclature.


A Puzzled Citizen


Dear State of Arkansas,

Please fix all the potholes on your highways and interstates.* They’re large enough to swallow a small child whole.

All the best,


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*Do you see how Texas has relatively smooth highways?

Dear Chicken-Who-Made-Me-Sick,

You gave me food poisoning and delayed my journey. You should be ashamed of yourself. Making me be sick for hours at a rest station was a real low-blow.


A Convalescent


Dear Commerce Industry,

Could you kindly come up with a chain of restaurants/hotels/gas stations that begins with the letter “X”? Playing the alphabet game has become very difficult. Thank goodness for Quality Inn and Zaxby’s.


A Bored Driver

Homeward Bound


30 hours! It seemed inaccurate, so I hit the refresh button and waited. Yep. Home was definitely a lot further away then I initially thought. After all, I had taken the trip out West in short little bursts, stopping at parks and having a jolly good time along the way. But now it’s pretty much a straight shot back to the east coast, with one tiny layover in Tennessee to visit my brother and his family.

I typically don’t do well with long, extended time in the car. My back gets sore, my bladder seems oh-so-small, and I feel pretty loopy after staring at so many car bumpers. Yet Arizona was the perfect stopping point in my journey. I was halfway finished with my quest to visit all 47 parks in the contiguous U.S., and the cooler weather was a sign that it was time to head home. With the holiday season around the corner, I’m quite content to take a break for a while and regroup. Come spring, Clarence the MyPod and I will once again hit the road and continue our epic adventure.

I made a list for my multi-day, multi-hour, multi-mile upcoming drive.


See ya soon, Northern Virginia!