It's been 5 months since our return to our home in Georgia, and I wanted to write a blog post on the importance of the trip, and what it meant to me (Will).
First of all, it was truly a great trip. I won't lie, I was pretty unhappy at the beginning of the trip about the entire idea. However, looking back at what I learned and what I was able to accomplish, I have a very different outlook on the idea now. It fueled my passion for filmmaking, which is now becoming a large part of my life. I wouldn't have had nearly as much progression with my filming at home than I did on the trip, and I am excited about continuing to get better.
Secondly, the experiences that we had on the trip were fantastic. From a treacherous Jeep ride, to climbing a snowy mountain, I have memories now that will stick in my head for the rest of my life. I never would have dreamed that you could have that many great experiences in just one year.
Lastly, I look at the United States in a totally different way now. It wasn't long ago that the country seemed so big compared to me (and physically speaking it is!), but I was able to realize that community doesn't mean the people who live near you. It means people coming around other people and helping them, and communing with them.
I really enjoyed all of the trip, and continue to look back at it fondly. Thank you all for your support, and happy holidays!
This is the last post. So I'll go out with a bang. In this post, I've compiled a list of statistics of the trip that you may find interesting. Some are simple, like the number of states we visited, and some took us a while to find the answer, such as number of miles traveled with the RV. So let's check them out!
Number of States Visited: 22
Number of Days Gone From Home: 299
Number of National Parks Visited: 25
Number of Miles Traveled with the RV: 10,863
Number of Miles in the Truck (Including with the RV): 29,031
Number of Campgrounds we Visited: 53
Number of Nights we Weren't in the RV (stayed in a hotel): 11
Number of Family/friend groups we met: 15 (and countless new friends made!)
Number of Different Churches We Visited: 20
Number of Blog Posts: 51
Wow! Even I was surprised to see these statistics! It was truly an incredible adventure, and we will all hold a place in our hearts for RVs. I hope that you have enjoyed reading our blog, and I encourage you to check back every month or so just to see if we've posted anything new. Thanks for all of your support!
This blog covers the very last couple of weeks of the trip, as well as getting back home. It's hard to believe it's already over. But here goes!
We left Branson, Missouri, and headed south to Memphis, Tennessee. We did a few notable things here. First, we visited the Memphis Pyramid. The Memphis Pyramid is arguably one of the coolest buildings in the world. And, in case you're wondering, it's 322 feet high. If you've never been, it's definitely worth checking out. To make it even better, it's the home of the world's largest Bass Pro Shop stores. I heard of the store from the YouTube group that some of you may have heard of: Dude Perfect. Dude Perfect is a group of 5 guys who video themselves doing super cool trick shots. They did one of their videos inside this Bass Pro Shops, and it's a really neat video. Here it is:
Even if you don't like anything outdoors, I'd really recommend going to this Bass Pro Shops. Sadly, as we were reveling in the grandeur of the shop, soaking it all in, the fire alarm went off. Yup. Just our luck. So out we went. (Although, I gotta admit, having 8 fire trucks on site, with others patrolling around the area standing by, is pretty cool.)
Another incredible experience was visiting the hotel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. The whole area is blocked off, and it's pretty amazing to see in person what I've always heard about. It was also sobering to see the site of one of the most famous assassinations in U.S. history.
One last thing that I'd like to note about our time in Memphis is going to Mud Island. Mud Island is actually a knife shaped peninsula in the middle of Memphis. The Tom Cruise movie, The Firm, had a segment filmed there.
Yeah, that was before my time, so I had to do my research before going to Mud Island. In case you didn't know, that bridge was the Mud Island Bridge, connecting Mud Island to downtown Memphis. It was an interesting island, and we were able to see a really cool scale replica of the Mississippi River there as well.
Following our time in Memphis, we traveled to our last stop on the RV trip: Langston, Alabama. Langston is smack down in the middle of Scottsboro, Alabama and Guntersville, Alabama. Since this was our last stop on the trip, we decided to stay at a better-than-normal RV park. It was a very nice park, and we took great pleasure in the ambience of the park. While we were there, the park had bingo, a luau, and other fun activities for us to enjoy.
Something that I really loved doing while in Langston was going golfing with my dad. We played 18 holes, and I am happy to report that I kicked up about a total of 1 square yard of turf over the whole 18 holes. Golf is a hard sport! Nevertheless, we had a great father-son time together.
There was a very interesting store that we visited while in Langston called Unclaimed Baggage. As you may have guessed, this store buys unclaimed lost baggage from airlines, empties them of their contents, and sells the stuff they find. This place had toys, cameras, clothes, books, and a whole lot more (including luggage. Who would've thought?). While we didn't buy anything here, we did have a good look around, and had some lively discussions about it in the car. For example, my mom and dad thought it very strange to buy something from a store that has basically taken people's stuff without their knowledge, and sold it to someone else. It's like wearing a stolen shirt. Huh. I hadn't thought of it that way.
On our very last full day on the RV trip, we decided to go kayaking. We rented 2 two-person kayaks for an hour, and had a great time out on Lake Guntersville, which was right near our campground. We didn't get far, but were happy to enjoy one last adventure before going back. We got to see about 6 or 7 herons, and that was pretty neat.
Now for the moment you've all been waiting for: Getting back home. The day that we left was not at all a normal travel day. In fact, we packed everything up much differently. Since we weren't going to be able put our slides out at the storage place, we had to put everything that we were going to take home in an accessible area such as my loft, the bathroom, and part of Nate's bedroom. After having left the campground, we began our 4 hour journey back home. It turned kind of strange when we started seeing "Atlanta" highway signs. It was glorious.
Ok. I know I haven't mentioned this in previous posts, but around 1 year ago, when we were backing into our storage place for the first time, we were having a very difficult time. In fact, we were there for about 2 hours trying to back our RV into our space. 2 hours! But, lo and behold, a very kind man who drives a small car transport truck for a living came over (after having very successfully backed his truck into a space in about 30 seconds) and asked us if we needed any help. At this point we were desperate. So, of course, we said yes, we did need help. So he started walking my dad through, step by step, how to get in, and 10 minutes later, we were in. This guy was very nice, and we were very blessed to come across him.
Fast forward 14 months. Pulling into the RV space after a year of traveling. It took us about 20 minutes to back the truck in, and part of the reason it took us that long was because it was pouring rain, so we took a 5 or so minute break to let the rain subside. Yes! Success! If for nothing else, the RV trip trained us on how to back a 41 foot RV into a tight storage spot. Elated, we began unpacking. But then a car pulled up, and the driver rolled down the window. It was the same guy who helped us into the spot the year before! How's that for cool?!
My mom's parents came out to help us get unpacked, and it was a great mini reunion. They were very happy to see us, and we were thrilled to be seeing them. Then, finally, after about an hour of unpacking, we headed to our house. If you remember, we didn't sell our house, though we did try. Turn's out, it worked out just fine, since we now had a place to live in. :)
Walking in was like in slow motion. The washer and dryer, the kitchen table, the cabinets, the sofa, the TV, the- what?! Our fridge is smaller than the one in the RV!
I've now gotten used to the bigger space, but it still is strange when we drive down a road we haven't been on in a year. It's incredible to be back, and we've enjoyed seeing friends and family, but the big thing that I've noticed that I miss about the RV trip is having no schedule. It's pretty sad now that we have a schedule- errands to run, doctors to see, friends to meet. Not that any of those are bad (well, maybe the errands), but it's a little hard to have to go somewhere now.
At this point in the blog post I normally give a small recap of what we did, or what I was talking about. But since this is the last summary post, I'm going to recap the entire trip. The trip was incredible. We got to experience being in the middle of nowhere, being in places of beauty, and regions of utter desolation. We got to see great American icons, and some great, but not so well known places as well. We climbed mountains, and descended into canyons. We braved snow and ice, but also sweltering hot places. We visited caves, space centers, sand dunes, cacti forests and so much more. The trip taught us so many different things, from maneuvering a massive house on wheels to coping with being with only 4 people that you know for a whole year. It was an extraordinary journey, and one that none of us will forget for a while.
I have three things that I'd like to say before I let you all go. First, thank you for all of your support, prayers and thoughts. It means a lot. At the moment of me writing this, we have had 6,174 unique people visit our site. I hope that you have gotten something out of reading about our adventures, and that you are coming out better because of it.
Second, I want to mention that we have one more post after this before the posts will become a lot less frequent. The site will be up for at least another 10 months, but for now, the next post will be the last of the weekly posts.
Lastly, I'd like to mention that this post that I'm writing is, totally coincidentally, our 50th blog post! I was counting them all up a few days ago, and was very surprised to see that this will be our 50th. I had nothing to do with it.
Final Weeks- Part 2. Yikes. It's getting closer... I've been getting countless emails begging us to keep the blog going. It appears people are suffering from lots of depression and anxiety because of the fact that we're slowing down blog posts.
After leaving Sioux City, Iowa, we traveled to St. Joseph, Missouri. I know I haven't mentioned travel days much during the posts, but there was one thing that we found very sobering and post-worthy. As we were driving to Branson we encountered a plethora of buildings, fields and communities that had suffered from severe flooding. It wasn't uncommon to see an entire barn almost completely submerged. In fact, Nebraska is facing 1.3 billion dollars in flood losses. Definitely keep those people in your prayers.
In St. Joseph, we didn't really do much, since we were only staying for one night. In fact, I only have one thing to mention about our time there. They had canoeing/kayaking rentals for a lake there. So I, being the only one wanting to do so, decided to rent one. And it was pretty fun! Granted, it only took me about 15 minutes to traverse the entire lake (it was more like a large pond), I certainly took pleasure in hanging out in the peace and quiet out there. And a bonus was that I got to see a very large bullfrog!
After St. Joseph, we journeyed to the city of Branson, Missouri. Upon arriving at Branson, we immediately felt a difference in the campground. It was very welcoming, and had a huge amount of fun activities going on throughout each day. The name itself was unique: Jellystone RV Park. It was named after the fictional character Yogi Bear's home: Jellystone National Park. One of their daily activities was log rolling, in which you'd get in a small pool with a plastic log was in it. The goal was to balance on this rolling log for as long as you could. In this case, being smaller helped tremendously, because the log wouldn't roll as much if you didn't weigh as much. We really got a kick out of this activity. My record was just over a minute. The owner's son beat the overall record while we were there, and stayed on for just under 14 minutes. Pretty crazy, huh?
Another thing that we were impressed with was the friendliness of the staff. They were very kind, and we made friends among many of them. One couple, the activity directors, actually hiked coast to coast and back in the course of a little over a year! We were very inspired by these folks. An individual that we enjoyed the company of, who also worked at the campground was extremely kind to us. He is in college, and had a very intriguing story of what he's doing. He's interested in a lot of things that I (Will) am, including Star Wars and filming.
I won't say much more about the campground other than that we really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend the Branson Jellystone RV Resort.
Something else that we loved while in Branson was going to the SIX show. SIX is a group of 6 (Whoah. A coincidence? I think not!) a cappella musicians. And they're brothers. We were highly entertained by these guys in their show. They were funny, and did some really great a cappella versions of famous songs. And if that wasn't enough, they also played a few classic movies with no sound, and provided the audio for it. For example, they played a scene from the classic Disney movie "The Love Bug", and were providing car sounds, crash sounds, etc.
Branson was filled with a ton of great things, and it doesn't stop here. One day, we took a trip out to Table Rock Lake, just outside of Branson, and rented a boat for a few hours. Nate and I tubed on the lake, we swam, ate lunch and had a blast out there!
Branson is a great city, if you've never been. We had a truly incredible stay in Jellystone RV Resort, and also enjoyed a great a cappella concert. Not to mention a terrific time out on Table Rock Lake. From Branson, we only had two stops before getting home. Stay tuned for the final installments of Connecting Four's trip around the U.S.!
Will is 14, and enjoys running track, writing,