Off the Beaten Path Series

Off the Beaten Path in Maryland. Exploring the Hidden Gems.

If this is your first time here – WELCOME! If not, welcome back!! As full-time RV’ers, we travel and see a lot. This is part of our Off The Beaten Path series where we explore the hidden treasures in every state. We love the big popular attractions like everyone else, however, there is just something incredible about discovering something unique and different. Our goals are to find the most unexplored places and take those roads less traveled. We certainly can’t explore them all, so we’d love you to share your own off the beaten path stories with us. Each series will include at least 1 epic boondocking area, some complete with pictures and all with GPS coordinates.

In late 2007 we were transferred to Maryland and lived just outside of Annapolis. We were lucky enough to get to explore a little bit of Maryland. Here are our top finds!

Abandoned Towns

Maryland is full of abandoned towns and schools. If that’s your thing, make sure you check out Ellicott City where you’ll find Hell House Alter and the St. Mary’s College. Kind of creepy but historically interesting to walk through this area. Getting there: Two options: 1) Park at the end of the road where Ilchester Road meets River Road then walk back to the railroad bridge (parking beneath the railroad tracks will likely get you a ticket). There are steps hidden in the brush on the south side of the railroad bridge. Look for a second flight of stairs in the woods that take you up to the ruins. 2) Take the Buzzard’s Rock trail off of Hilltop Road to get a bird’s-eye view of the property

Bridge C&O

winter destinations for christmas!

(Chesapeake and Ohio Canal) path near Little Orleans, Maryland – Have you done any hiking along this trail? It’s actually filled with fantastic bridges, tunnels, and scenery. The area near Little Orleans is our favorite.

Great Falls Natural Rock (aka Billy Goat Trail)

This is not even a 2-mile round trip hike. If you want to see some spectacular views, and maybe a few billy-goats, you really should think about this trail. There are 3 major trails here. All under 2 miles. But some have some pretty crazy rock scrambles. Do your research and make sure you can negotiate the trail you choose. You won’t regret this hike! If I remember correctly, section C trail was the easiest. And just over 1.5 miles. There is a visitors center (Great Falls Tavern and Visitors Center 11710 MacArthur Blvd, Potomac, MD) you can get all your maps and information at. The area around Great Falls is amazing, and check out the Great Falls themselves.

Hart-Miller Island

This island near Baltimore is only reachable by boat or kayak. Once you arrive, you can spend the day on the beach, fishing, or exploring the paths around the island.

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Mallows Bay

You just have to make a day of this. We love our kayaks and getting out into nature, but this is a really interesting place to kayak around. Find this unique bay in Nanjemoy, where hundreds of old WWI ships rest in a watery grave. You can kayak among the ruins, making for a memorable experience like no other. If there were ever a place that could be described as a ship graveyard, it is the murky waters of Mallows Bay. (If you’re going to make a day of this, head over to the Abandoned Virginia Renaissance Faire in Fredericksburg VA — Talk about Medieval “nerdery” Ha but in a weird, kind of eerie way)

Wondering what kind of kayaks we have as full-time RV’ers? We’ve now owned these for 4 years and still, use them on a regular basis and still really love them. Click here to see our kayaks! In our 5th wheel, they fit behind the theater seats, in a backpack, they come with.

Killiansburg Cave

If you follow our blogs, you know I love to explore caves. This one might actually be one of the most unusual. Only because it’s not commercialized. There are no tour guides around, and it’s been left natural. No, you won’t see fancy lights, and walkways, but what you’ll see is a huge part of history.

killiansburg caveme

Some bluffs are pockmarked by dark, eerie openings in the rock. A couple of the caves are tiny — about the height and width of a human being — and reach back deep into the bluffs. Killiansburg Cave sits at mile marker 75.7 on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal towpath, 2.5 miles each way from the parking lot. Long abandoned, the C&O is now a hiking and biking trail stretching from Washington, D.C. to Cumberland, Maryland. 

Really fun places to do some Geocaching! Don’t know what Geocaching is? Come read our blog where we explain exactly what Geocaching is

Museum of Outdated Technology

If you want to scare your kids take them to the Museum of Outdated Technology in Rockville, MD. Actually, they’ll have fun, and so will you! And your kids (or grandkids) will surely make you feel even older. 

Here are a couple more blogs we think you’ll love!

Boondocking in Maryland:

  • E.A Vaughn WMA – Great area! (See Picture Below) Cell service can be spotty, but boosted it seems to work ok. GPS: 38.077881, -75.391628
  • Did you know there are a bunch of casino’s in Maryland that let you lot dock for free? Check out the websites in the area you’re going and see if there is a casino. Not going to lie, we’ve stayed at one in Michigan and they even had FREE hookup’s! Just make sure even if you’re not a gambler, that you go in and have lunch or drop a couple of dollars in one of the machines. Especially if they provide you with free hookups. 
  • Though I don’t know too much about it, I did see some small disbursed camping areas along the C&O trails. I believe most are made for some pretty small van or small rv camping areas. Do your research and check out the roads in and out before venturing down. 
  • Big Run State Park – This is not technically boondocking for free, but this is a beautiful little state park and cheap! $10, water views, and … bears! Please be careful and purchase your bear spray. 10368 Savage River Road – SwantonGPS: 39.543235, -79.138808

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Boondocking / Dry Camping, Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

Off the Beaten Path in New Mexico. Our Top Picks!

After 3 years of travel, we find that each one of our bucket list checkmarks comes with a bigger list of things we didn’t see, but now must go back and see! We live and travel full time in our RV and New Mexico was one of our biggest surprises. When we thought of NM we thought of desert, dry, and flat. OH ~ it’s to the contrary! Check out our list of amazing places! Come back often!

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

Located near Cochiti. Many people zip right past Tent Rocks when traveling between Santa Fe and Albuquerque without even realizing it’s there. At this national monument, you can hike in between a slot canyon, and up to a mesa that affords unsurpassable views of New Mexico. These rock formations are located off NM-22

The Town of Chloride

Located in Sierra County If you’re a fan of ghost towns of the Old West, you’ll want to check out Chloride. The town supported numerous businesses including a mercantile, a hotel, and a butcher’s shop. The one bank wasn’t able to survive but it was turned into a saloon. Clearly, folks here knew how to have a good time. A handful of people still live in town but it’s essentially a ghost town

Turquoise Trail

Venture off the freeway and onto the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway, and you’ll see what we mean.

The Scenic and Historic Area encompass 15,000 square miles in the heart of central New Mexico, linking Albuquerque and Santa Fe. The drive is approximately 50 miles along Highway 14. Enjoy a breathtaking view from atop Sandia Crest, then drive back into history through the mining towns of Golden, Madrid, and Cerrillos, now coming alive with art, crafts, theater, music, museums, and restaurants.

Camel Rock

This rock formation truly does look like a resting camel. Easy to find – No hiking involved!  Just off a highway exit, across from the Camel Rock Casino. 

2020 update on Camel Rock – Someone posted that the nose has fallen off. So maybe it doesn’t look much like a camel anymore.

Blue Hole

This is super cool!! The Blue Hole of Santa Rosa is a circular, bell-shaped pool east of Santa Rosa, New Mexico that is one of the most popular dive destinations in the SCUBA diving and training. It is a clear blue body of water with a constant 62* and constant inflow of 3,000 US gallons per minute. That is an incredible amount of water! While the surface is only 80 feet in diameter, it expands to a diameter of 130 feet at the bottom.

Bisti Badlands

This was our favorite little hidden gem! Little visited and largely unknown, the Bisti Badlands is an amazingly scenic and colorful expanse of undulating mounds and unusual eroded rocks covering 4,000 acres, hidden away in the high desert of the San Juan Basin that covers the distant northwest corner of New Mexico, yet this area is just one of many similar regions in the region, the remainder even less publicized.

Some pictures and video of our trip to Bisti

The badlands are administered by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management), are free to enter, and are known officially, but less evocatively as the Bisti Wilderness Area. The best way to find this area is actually GPS coordinates which are 36.259, -108.252 (this is the BLM trailhead). You gotta see this place!!! It’s amazing. Click here to see our blog where we visited this area!

Boondocking

You won’t have a problem finding boondocking places in New Mexico. Here are 2 great suggestions!

  • Beautiful views! Red Cloud – County Road A023 – Corona, New Mexico – GPS: 34.208941, -105.752795 – Great cell coverage!
  • There is an unbelievable amount of boondocking in the Santa Fe National Forest. Camp May again has plenty of room and great cell service. GPS: 35.897666, -106.398786

We’d love to hear your off the beaten path places you’ve seen in New Mexico. Make sure you leave your comments below! We definitely will be going back to New Mexico to do some more exploring! Share your hidden gems with us!

So – You’re shopping on Amazon? I mean who doesn’t, right? Please consider using our link. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, and it gives us a few extra pennies. Click below to use our link and then just shop like normal. Don’t forget ~ check out within 24 hours so we get credit! Thank you!! It really means a lot to us!

Thank you for stopping by our little corner of the internet! We truly appreciate each and every person who takes the time to read our blogs. We’re honored you spent the last few minutes with us!  If you aren’t signed up to follow us, please do! You’ll be notified of our new blogs when they go up. 

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Our Life Before Full-Time RVing

Time For a New Chapter ~ Leaving A Full Time Job for Full Time Travel in My 40’s

Today I left a full-time, secure, good paying job to get ready to sell my house, and live in a 39 foot RV while traveling the country. Who does that? Come check out our story!

Today was the day. Many hours of planning and research came down to a few moments in time when I had to face reality. I became a quitter. Back in July when Stacy and I looked at each other and said “Lets go for it”, I was not really sure how things were going to go when I thought about today. There was a ton of forethought put into the big plan and we always had something to do to get ready. But until today, I never really knew how today was going to go.

I started discussing with a few of my customers our plans when we were prepping for the house to be listed. The first comments were a little disbelief but then as we talked about opportunities and seasonal employment options they realized that it was not such a far-fetched idea. It also helped me to work through the anxiety over the what ifs. Following the many bloggers and vloggers helped me realize that there are many out there doing it on less.I found the more I talked about it the easier it became to realize that all we needed to do was want it bad enough and we could do it. We knew that the transition to the RV lifestyle was going to be a difficult one and that we would have to make a lot of decisions. As I look back I can say many were not hard. The process would involve many hours discussing and evaluating our live goals and desires. I do not regret anything we have done or decisions made to make the transition happen. Many outside forces seemed to only exacerbate the feelings that we needed to go now. From deaths to illnesses and broken self promises experienced by those around us, we came to understand the truth to the saying “tomorrow is never promised”. We came upon so many situations and heard so many stories from people who could give you many reasons why they could not. We would always look at each other and say “We Can!” We then came across a YouTube channel called GoingNoMad. Eric and Tina went through the same thought process that we did. Though their way to get there was different, they still had the same thought processes and end goal in mind.During our initial preps we knew that we needed to downsize our personal possessions. We (ok more I) needed to learn to let go of our collections and not worry about the what we would later refer to as “the just in case” items. Before Christmas we came across and started to follow a podcast from two guys that called themselves “The Minimalists”. We listened in the car during our many trips we took around the holidays and found it very comforting to know that there were many people that felt the same way we did. Their podcasts have really helped us figure out a lot of the how to but also some reinforcement of the why to.So we are down to the last two weeks. I am having to decide what I am going to do with the remnants of my tools that I have used regularly for the last six years. There is still a few projects in Honey (our 5th wheel) that need to be done like our battery bank and battery monitor. I need to finalize my decision on generator options. I also need to build my window to the back of the water lines in the basement. There are some last-minute service items I need to get done to Ginger (our truck) that I have scheduled for next week. And on top of all that, I need to figure out where we are going to go when we close on our current house until the first week of April.

Our Life Before Full-Time RVing

So Close! We’re Selling Our Two Homes So We Can Travel Full Time in Our RV

When going under contract on 2 homes, closing a month apart, life can be a little hectic. We decided to sell our two homes, and everything in them and travel full-time in our RV. Come join our trials and tribulations as we go through this process.

February 10, 2017

sale

Today we are officially under contract on both our homes. We close on our primary home on March 10th, and our rental townhouse on April 7th. It’s the day we’ve been waiting for. When we think about selling our primary home first we feel a little bit like we are still going to be stuck here. But over the last few weeks we’ve realized this is actually the better way to do it. Cleaning out, selling, donating and auctioning off all our stuff we gathered and lived with for the last 6 years, has been so much work. Now that we are under contract, it’s even going to be more work. Now all the pretty, staged stuff has to go too. It’s all working out, just a little backwards, but actually better than we originally thought. But then we move out, get settled in our RV and get about a month to just take it easy and plan our next adventures going forward. Getting all those last minute things done that didn’t have to do with the crazy schedule of trying to work a full time job and downsize from 2200 square feet to 39 feet. Those changing of address forms, and closing bank accounts that we just didn’t have time to do will now get done in a more relaxed time frame. 

So the moral is, we planned and thought about this moment for the last year. And nothing is as we planned it. But it’s going to be perfect! It’s going to work out exactly the way we didn’t plan, and that’s ok. 

What was your process going through something similar? How are you dealing with the emotional part of making a change you know eventually will be better for you, but today … right now … life is just trying? Hang in there! We can get through this together!

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Our Life Before Full-Time RVing

It Appraised for what? Selling our Home to Travel Full Time in Our RV Proved Difficult!

Trying to sell our home so we can live a life with more meaning proves to be difficult. Life can sometimes challenge you and here’s our story of how we made some tough decisions, and the emotional journey to get there. 

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January 18, 2017 “This is the part  where you find out what you’re made of and what really matters”. Today we got back our home appraisal. After sinking close to (or over) $100,000 into our home since we bought it in 2010, the appraisal came back $4,000 less than we paid for it 7 years ago. This is emotionally killing us! It’s only money …. It’s not as important as life. I’ve said that a million times. But this cut deep. Nanny left us her life savings, and I sunk it into a home to better the home, that I’m now going to sell for less than I bought it?!? Would she be disappointed in me? Would she tell me it’s not worth worrying about and move on? What I wouldn’t give to spend 15 minutes with her and get some really good mom advice! It’s a somber evening in the Ford household. We aren’t talking. We’re just over thinking. I hear Justin sighing about every 20 minutes. It’s what he does when he’s disappointed, or trying to make the right decision on something. We will get through this, but surely this is not a good outcome for us.