Smiles for Miles – Our RV Road Trip Part 1

My husband’s dream of a summer RV adventure became a reality the first week of July when he brought this big boy home so that we could drive to Santa Barbara with a few Covid-safe stops along the way.  Although we started having some RV issues on day one, the fun certainly didn’t slow down!

Of course, I had to tablescape even though we have been glamping along the way!  Melamine plates and acrylic glassware worked well on my wrinkle free gingham cloth and folding table!  These battery operated lanterns were a hit too!  They worked well on the tables as the sun went down (they have dimmers!) and they were perfect to light the face of whoever was telling the spookiest ghost story!

Day One:

The first day took us from our home in Dallas to the Monahan’s Sand Hills State Park.  We pulled out of our drive way at about 7 am and by 12 we pulled into the park where we rented “sand disks” which were really just plastic sleds and went for the hills.  It was hot but it was a blast and such a great way to get out and stretch our legs and laugh a lot!  We at a quick lunch of sandwiches and started out for the rest of our drive to Marfa.

Monahan’s Sand Hills

Our stay at the El Cosmico was a blast!  We pulled in, set up, and started grilling!  It was so easy to check in with “zero-contact” and we really enjoyed our outdoor evening.  The place is so bohemian and was filled with ground campers as each of the Airstreams, Tipis and Yurts was booked for the weekend.

El Cosmico in Marfa

We were so excited to use our Fire Disk – it is the best and we are certainly going to continue to use it often even after we return home.  The first night we made chicken and cooked onion fajitas and the second night we did brussels spouts on it.  Love it!

Of course, our first day was not without its troubles!  The “slide outs” on the RV (the moving sides that expand to give us more room when we are stopped) would not slide back in!  Yikes!  We had to call in a service favor on the holiday weekend to come out and manually push it back in so that we could continue to drive to our next stop!

Day Two:

Our fairly stressful morning didn’t go as planned as we had trouble with the RV but once we hit the road, a few hours after we planned, we made the obligatory photo stop at Prada Marfa.

After a few minutes and a few photos, we hit the road for our next overnight in Arizona.  We researched a few places we were interested in checking out along the way but, because of Covid, we were not able to stop at them.  They were either closed or too crowded for our comfort levels.  Instead it was hours of road trip bingo, games, screen time and snacks!  And, as I have told many who have asked on my social media, the RV thing is not for the faint of heart.  The generator was fickle and the AC in the back of the RV kept going on and off on us!

We checked in to the KOA in Willcox Arizona for a fireworks show (It was Independence Day!) and an easy night (without the extra space that the slide outs provide!)  For those of you (like us!) who are new to the RV thing, the “full hook up” is something that is worth every penny.  When stopping at an RV Park, be sure to reserve a spot that has power, water and sewer!

Day Three:

We took off after an easy early breakfast and hit the road again.  This time, we were on our way to Joshua Tree National Park.  Again, our original research showed some fun and quirky stops along the way but most were closed.  The drive was stunningly beautiful but not incredibly exciting!  There were many times that we questioned whether we had made the right turns as the roads are very quiet and long!  I’m so happy that my gut told me to print out each of our maps and routes and put them in a binder before we left because we went over an hour and had to make two turns without any cell service in the National Park! When we made it to Joshua Tree we found the Yurts we reserved through  They were so charming, simple and clean. The sunset was beautiful and our camp-fire dinner (chili that we pre-packed and warmed up on a Lodge Cast Iron Skillet), s’mores, and stories made for a great night.

Day Four:

Another easy breakfast and early start on the road this morning.  We haven’t used the pancake mix or the eggs we envisioned making on the fire disk yet as the tight schedule I planned has made our mornings a little more rushed than we would have liked.  We did take advantage of the cool outdoor showers that the glamping resort provided.  Showering in the RV is a bit tight!

The highlight of our trip was the horseback riding we planned through the Mojave Desert today. It was such a treat to be out in this gorgeous land as a family without another person in sight!  We owe a huge thanks to our hosts, Earl, Rhonda and Mark, who took us on a wonderful ride through some of California’s most spectacular ranch land.

After our ride, we made a quick stop to pick up some of Justin’s favorite pizza in Los Angeles and then drove to his family’s home in beautiful Montecito where we will be able to stay until the repairs can be made on the RV.  The minute the children saw the Pacific Ocean, they talked Justin into pulling over and letting them get out to stretch and put their toes in the water.  It felt like a great end to the first part of our journey!

We really enjoyed our time in Montecito.  Even though we were there much longer than we planned waiting for a part that was needed for repair of the slide outs, we made the most of it.

It was great to spend time with part of Justin’s family and the children (and the dog!) enjoyed swimming and going to the beach.

I’ll get my act together and try to write to you about the second half of our trip!  Please check back in soon!

In the meantime, here are few of the wonderful tips that I learned along the way that experts shared with me:

A few RV tips that were shared with me that I wanted to pass on:

-Pack a large package of glow sticks for the children for after dark.  They love wearing them and it helps you keep an eye on them in the RV parks!

-Keep a laundry basked for shoes by the door of the yurt along with a door mat.  I can’t believe how much dirt is dragged in each and every time we go in and out!

-Keep a few flashlights and lanterns by the beds.

-Label or monogram a towel for each person on the trip.

-Make a treat bag/basket and let the children dig in for a little surprise when things start to feel slow.  My mother made a fun one to send our children off with before we left.

-Take a few bundles of firewood and fire starters.  Many of the parks have fire pits but often were sold out of firewood.

-Make a plan and print it out. I know it sounds old- fashioned but were so happy to have printed directions while we were in places that didn’t have cell service.  I made a binder and printed out each days directions and activities.  I had pocket folders in the binder for our tickets and passes.

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1 Comment

  1. Megan on July 16, 2020 at 5:32 pm

    My husband’s family are multi-generational Montecitans. I hear things are pretty buttoned up still. We are at our Montana cabin, and the mask order just started today. Have fun!

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