All posts by Jessica

Traveling and Vlogging

As most of you know, I was very skeptical about taking this trip. (And that hasn’t changed. Ha!) So to keep things fun, I’m trying my hand at vlogging my perspective of this whole thing. Here is the first one that will tell you a lot about our big travel day from NC to MT!

Hopefully the quality and orientation will improve on the next one!
And no I have no idea what that tapping is. Sorry, Emily!

The photo at the top of this post is the one I mentioned in the video. No photo can ever capture how things look from the naked eye. Sigh… Trust me. It was magical. Or maybe it was just the fact that my family was sleeping and I was binging The Ballad of Billy Balls podcast. (Thanks for the rec, Dawn! I may or may not have bawled at the end!)

And lastly, I have to share this gem from Harry on the plane. As we began our descent into Montana and the Rocky Mountains came into view he said, “Mom, if I had emotion tears, I would cry right now because I can’t wait to get into the RV. ”

Me too, kid. I might cry, but I don’t think it’s because I’m excited. Not yet anyway…

Addendum to Horseback Riding in West Glacier

Felicity did a great job recapping our horseback riding trip. I had never done it before and I LOVED every second of it. (Okay, maybe I was a little bit nervous going down hill. ) Anyway, I took a bunch of fun videos and thought I would share one with you here!

Also notice there is tapping on this video. That’s because I used the rear camera. No idea what is going on with my other videos. We have been troubleshooting and so far wifi turned off, case taken off, and haptics toggled off hasn’t helped. Hopefully this guy will figure it out soon! There’s no stopping this vlog train now!

Gonna take my horse …

RV Kitchen Tour and Chores!

The second day we were in the RV, we woke up to this gorgeous view in Montana from West Glacier KOA. You can see Benj taking care of his most important chore above! One thing I negotiated into this trip agreement was that I will never empty the “black tank!” So far so good!

Before I left the Outer Banks, my girl Stephanie gifted me this book! How sweet is that? (Love you!) I read it on the 1st flight and spent the 2nd flight making my grocery/supply list. It was a great way to get into the mindset of RV cooking!

Without knowing it ahead of time, the best thing we did on our first full day was to plan NOTHING! Thank goodness because I spent FIVE HOURS getting everything organized into every nook and cranny imaginable. I think it was really the only way I could function. Especially in the kitchen! Check out the crazy kitchen tour here!

I am having issues with a tapping noise on all my videos. Both me and the Apple guy have not been able to solve this. Sigh…

Just like at home, there are always other chores to do. And the dishes things is true! If I cook, everyone else does the dishes. At home I do both so this is a nice change for me! There is something to be said for just having less stuff around. Not as much to clean! Some people traveling with us are more agreeable about chores and having their pictures taken. (I think that’s what the kids call shade being thrown?)

My little love doing the dishes in West Glacier…
And taking out the trash in East Glacier!

We’ve had breakfast every morning in the RV and half our lunches and dinners. I just love taking food photos and I think it’s been kind of fun figuring out meals that will work well for us. Here is a pic of dinner in process another night. This is a meal my mom introduced me to a long time ago and it’s a family favorite: Giant batch of yellow squash, zucchini, and diced tomatoes over brown rice with kielbasa (or veggie burgers if you’re Benj)! So easy and yummy!

Thanks, Mom!

And lucky for me, my family doesn’t care if I tell them I don’t want to cook. This was especially true when we were staying at St. Mary’s/East Glacier KOA. You wanna know why?

Glacier National Park: Most beautiful Place On Earth?

You guys.


I don’t even know how to convey this to you. But I’ll try.


We booked a full day Red Bus Tour to see a lot of the park. There are limitations on RVs in the park, not to mention scary roads so this was the perfect way to see a ton without worrying about driving or parking! If you are considering this, you must book in advance! Totally worth every penny! It was an absolutely gorgeous, sunny day so we had no roof on our tour bus! That meant lots of prairie dogging for us!

With our tour guide Lauren who is pretty much the smartest person ever.

Our tour took us from East Glacier over to West Glacier and hitting up sites like Lake MacDonald and Logan Pass. I haven’t doctored one single photo and I still can’t believe they are real. I’ve never taken more photos in my life on any single day than this one. Here’s one of our girl!

And that hair. What I wouldn’t give!

Now the boy. In case you haven’t heard the story, five years ago we went to Yosemite National Park and 5 year old Harry almost fell off a cliff. He is notoriously adventurous much to the chagrin of the adults around him. I was hopeful that he would not give me a heart attack on this trip. We made it a solid four days before he did! Well done, son! Right before this photo was taken, he had hopped his butt up onto this railing. I swear, if he doesn’t off himself, I might have to do it for him! Good thing he is cute, because he is taking years off my life.

Adorable and DANGEROUS!

Speaking of cute: one of our tour mates took this sweet portrait of us four! Maybe one day I’ll get one of all of us smiling but it’s so, so, so close!

I was walking around in a shop halfway through our tour and I just started tearing up. I was so overcome with all of it. I wanted to buy gifts for everyone I know! It was really bizarre! It was how I felt when I saw the Oregon Coast. I’ve always wanted to go to Montana but this was just beyond my imagination. I kept thinking that my dad would really love it here.

The weather was nice and cool in the morning and gorgeous and sunny in the afternoon. So perfect! I think I see another Montana trip in my future!

Y’all. Glacier was so frickin’ beautiful. I don’t know what else to say. So please enjoy the shit out of this last photo and be glad I only posted eight! 🙂

Goodbye, Montana! Hello, Wyoming!

Today’s adventures brought us into the Northeast corner of Wyoming for a quick minute! (Don’t worry, we will be back later!)

Wyoming knows what’s up with their state sign photo op locale! The hay bale is a nice touch!

Here’s a live trip report from the location!

As promised my fave photos are below…


Another interesting take from the day was that there could be a name change coming to Devil’s Tower to perhaps restore it to something closer to its intended name. The native name was misinterpreted as “Bad God’s Tower.”

After a nice walk around the base the kids wanted to switch to serious photo shoot mode. Anytime they agree on something, I’m down!

And finally, there will be a smattering of dance photos from our trip. I love taking pics of Felicity doing her thang and now we’ve got some really cool backdrops to boot!

Some Sobering History

We left Glacier at 7am for the long trek across Montana. We decided to get some learnin’ done on the way.

Our first stop was the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Great Falls, MT. It was mildly interesting but I was mostly distracted because Harry decided to do the Junior Ranger program. This meant running around the place finding answers to the bazillion questions in that damn packet and not really just enjoying the place. But that kid is cute so I did what needed to be done. He only needed to do 3 pages for the sweet badge but the nice lady said if he did all 6 pages he could go to the treasure box. Man, I wish I saw what was in the treasure box before we agreed. But hey, that extra hour was totally worth ANOTHER bookmark!

But wait it gets better…

Our next stop was the Little Bighorn Battlefield in Crow Agency, MT. It’s called a place of reflection for good reason. The movie they show does this weird thing of trying to remain fair and balanced. Sort of telling both sides of the story? I can only imagine how unbalanced it used to be! It was all just uncomfortable because this country was founded by stealing native lands. Maybe we should just all start owning that shit?

The silver lining about the day is realizing that the best way to change the future is to invest in our young people. We had the opportunity to talk with our kids about why we don’t take selfies in some places and educate them on what their history classes may not teach them.

Montana is beautiful and her land is sacred to its native people.

Thankfully, we ended the day at 7th Ranch RV Park. The kids do this thing at every campground. We arrive and they immediately run off to explore. It’s probably their way of getting out of helping with the camp set-up. But we don’t care. They get some exercise after a long drive and we get some peace and quiet. And they play. Together.

RV Living: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

What may be surprising to many of you is that I love a lot of things about “campground camping.” I did a fair amount as a kid and this trip has reminding me of those!

First, the Good!

Campfires! No doubt about it! Thankfully Harry is my buddy in this. He offers to build a fire every chance we get. Thanks in part to the guidance of Grandpa Tom and Uncle Tommy this summer and a bit of assistance from Dad on the trip, he is getting pretty good at it!

Amenities! Especially showers and laundry facilities! Ugh, right? But it’s true! The picture at the top of this post of our RV parked at Elkhorn Ridge shows you how close we were to the laundry! It thrilled me to no end!

Also, many of the campgrounds we’ve stayed at so far have had playgrounds and pools! The kids love swimming and after a hot and miserable hike today (more to come on that!) I had to take a dip myself!

Games! We are a game playing family for sure! Though I will admit, we have not played as many as I would like. We just haven’t had a lot of down time! While I haven’t gotten anyone to play cribbage with me, we have played many games of Uno Dare recently. But the best game I am currently immersed in is LICENSE PLATES! After only a week, we have 41/51!

Will we get that elusive Hawaii??? Stay tuned!

Next: The Bad.

My Most Used Trip Phrases:

  1. “I’m going to lose my shit!”
  2. “Whose dirty socks are these?”
  3. “Go brush your teeth/wash your face!”
  4. “Get off your phone and go read a book!”
  5. “Shut the Door!” (well, that’s really Benj’s most used line…)

More proof that trips with your family are just a change in location.

And finally: The Ugly.

Al Swearengen Would Hate This Place

Today’s travels took us to South Dakota!  

Benj and I were especially excited to visit Deadwood since that HBO show (and latest movie!) ranks right up at the top of all time for both of us.  And since we now have vast experience in this area, let us divulge the most important tips.

Step One:  Watch Deadwood ASAP!  Get a month free trial of HBO and binge it!  Suck up to a friend with HBO. Just do it already.  

Step Two:  Don’t ever bother visiting Deadwood.  Seriously. The reviews don’t lie. It’s a complete waste of time.  We didn’t listen and we’re idiots. Listen to us now.

We started off the day at Broken Boot Gold Mine which was mildly interesting.  We toured an old mine and the kids panned for gold which meant they found some gold flecks in a bag.  Meh.

(Is it me or does Felicity remind you of Jane Krakowski from the movie Vacation?!)

We then made the mistake of hiking uphill a mile in the hot sun (both ways barefoot in the snow) to the cemetery where Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane are buried side by side.  

Again, do NOT do this.  Take the tour bus that brings you there. I assure you, the kids will ABSOLUTELY HATE THIS. You will only be able to get them to continue with the promise of ice cream.

Finally, we watched a live “shoot out” put on by Deadwood Alive.  It was cut short and again mostly underwhelming.  

I know this blog sounds negative, but I’m here for truth telling.

And Deadwood gets two thumbs down from me.

Except her. She amused me for a minute.

Obligatory South Dakota

One of these things is not like the other… Not everyone is happy all the time. Oh well!

South Dakota, you’re an enigma. Let’s see. Wall Drug. Ummmm, okay, I guess? (That website tho? Yikes.) We came. We saw. We bought an ornament. It’s weird.

And then there was Mount Rushmore.  There was construction going on. It was really far away.  Oh, and parking was $10! Thankfully, many people had prepared us for this underwhelming visit.

See it up there? I’m not sure I can…

While we’re being ridiculous, come with me on a true RV Living Adventure:

Do I survive? Find out that and so much more on the final update from South Dakota!