Off the Beaten Path Series

Off the Beaten Path in Texas. 10 Amazing, Cool and Unique Places to Visit

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 Opting Out of Normal series where we explore the hidden treasures in every state. We love the big popular attractions like everyone else, but there is just something incredible about discovering something unique, and different, and taking the road less traveled. We certainly can’t explore them all, so we’d love you to share your own off-the-beaten-path stories. Each series will include a link to our most epic boondocking locations. And boy does Texas have a lot!

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I kept thinking as I was writing this, that maybe I ought to contact my long-time Texas friend (Gayla) and pick her brain about some off-the-beaten-path places. Only I remembered she’s currently galavanting around London! So I’m on my own. 

Texas is home to … of course … the words largest cowboy boots, and the world’s largest killer bee – but wait – there’s more! Ha!

Old Tunnel

Located in Fredericksburg, this tunnel might look abandoned, and in a sense, it is, by humans, anyway. A railroad used to run through the tunnel, but now it’s home to a few million Mexican free-tailed bats.

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Every night at dusk between May and September, you can watch them turn the night sky into a cloud of darkness by following Highway 290 in Fredericksburg until you see a brown sign directing you to the tunnel. It’s an amazing sight to see them fly out for their nightly feeding

Munster Mansion (Waxahchie)

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To each their own, but this is a bit on the strange side. This family built an exact replica of the Munster Mansion. They were so infatuated with the TV show, they built their house exactly like that of the fictional family. It is a private residence and isn’t open to the public for tours, but you can drive by it at 1313 Mockingbird Lane, in Waxahachie

Hamilton Pool

Located just 23 miles west of Austin, Hamilton Pool is a breathtaking natural spring formed in the limestone bedrock and fed by an underground river. Surrounded by the Hamilton Nature Preserve. They require reservations from May 15 to September 30.

Fort Worth Water Gardens

The Fort Worth Water Gardens are pools of futuristic angles. A pool is surrounded by trees where waterfalls cascade down the walls. Nearby is an aeration pool where 40 nozzles spray 871 gallons of water every minute.  The pool is 40 feet deep. This is just one of those places where you feel so tranquil and at peace! 

Cadillac Ranch

As funny as it seems, I’ve had this place on my bucket list for a long time. I was so excited this last summer to finally get to see this! Cadillac Ranch, built in 1974, is the product of eccentric helium millionaire Stanley Marsh 3 (he doesn’t like the Roman numeral III) and The Ant Farm, a San Francisco art collective.

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The ranch consists of ten graffiti-covered cars half-buried in a dusty Texas field. The cars are positioned nose-down and face west “at the same angle as the Cheops’ pyramids.” The cars were actually moved two miles further out in 1997 to avoid the expanding city. Justin and I did not partake in the spray painting this time, as you can tell from the picture, it was so very windy that day and the area surrounding the Cadillacs was under about a foot of water. 

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Caverns of Sonora

The cave was discovered by accident in 1905, on ranch land belonging to the Mayfield family.  Our country has some spectacular caves! One of our favorite things to explore! This was really borderline popular, but I just had to share it. 

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Palo Duro Canyon

Known as the grand canyon of Texas. Palo Duro Canyon is considered to be the second-largest and longest canyon in the U.S. You can drive down onto the floor of the canyon by taking Park Road 5. The most prominent feature is the Lighthouse, a 300-foot formation at the north end of the canyon. It is accessible from the road or by a three-mile trail. 

Shamrock, Texas

U Drop Inn – Built in 1936, the U-Drop Inn in Shamrock, Texas, was kind of a big deal. With its prime location on iconic Route 66, the café with its connected Tower Station was one of the first commercial businesses along the route.

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The road itself was a fairly new addition to the country’s landscape, with the roadway being designated Route 66 just ten years earlier.  This was such a fun place to visit. You can walk through the now-closed cafe, which they have set it up as it looked just a few short years ago! 

We suggest checking out these caves if you’re in the area

  • Inner Space Cavern – Georgetown, TX
  • Cave Without A Name – Boerne, TX
  • Natural Bridge Caverns – San Antonio, TX

Also, make sure you visit Big Bend National Park. What an amazing place to hike and kayak. We didn’t get a chance to spend enough time there and we are definitely going back! It’s not an “off the beaten path” place, so we won’t be showcasing that here, but wow! It’s a beautiful place! 

Kayaking Caddo Lake

Caddo Lake in Karnack, TX (Caddo Lake State Park) is perfect for kayakers wanting to spend the day exploring its unique environment. I know there are two types of kayakers. Personally, we love floating the flat waters, taking in the scenery, and maybe eating lunch in our kayak. Just a warning, we have been told there are alligators here. Just leave them alone, and don’t try to get too close, and they won’t bother you.  And don’t forget your camera!!

Also, check out Frio River – We have not been there, but it’s on our list for sure!! We hear Fall is the best time to go! 

Here are some other blog posts we think you’ll love!

Thank you for reading and please leave your suggestions for your own off the beaten path in the comments section. We always love a new place to visit. Live Simply. Give More. Expect Less.

Looking for the best boondocking / Free camping areas in Texas? Definitely click the button below to see how many we found. And don’t forget to keep checking back!! We’re always finding more!

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 visiting our little corner of the internet! We hope you found some fun and unique things to see! We’re always updating our blogs, so come back often.

Off the Beaten Path Series

Off the Beaten Path in Montana – Our Top Hidden Gems in Montana!

As full-time RV’ers, we travel and see a lot. This is part of our Opting Out of Normal series where we explore the “Off the Beaten Path” of every state.  Of course, we love the big popular stuff like everyone else, but there is just something incredible about discovering something unique and different to see as well. We certainly can’t explore them all, but we’d love you to include your favorites below too. We live our name – Opting Out of Normal.

Summer is the perfect time to visit Montana. It gets a little warm in Montana, but most days are pleasant and comfortable.


Kootenai Falls & Swinging Bridge

Located between Libby and Troy, (mile marker 21) the swinging bridge is only about half a mile from the parking area located on Highway 2.

Swinging Bridge Libby Montana

There is a place to eat lunch and bathrooms too. It’s just downstream from Kootenai Falls, the bridge offers access to the other side of the Kootenai River, offering a better view of the falls and connecting to multiple hiking paths. Fun Fact: The bridge was featured in the hit movie, The River Wild. Fun Fact #2: Kayakers can use the bridge to gain access to the famous Super Hole and other river access points.

Garnet Ghost Town

Hidden high in the Garnet Mountain Range east of Missoula. This was one of the coolest things we saw in Montana. The history of this little town is unbelievable.

For a town built that was never intended to last, this is Montana’s most intact ghost town. The miners were more interested in collecting the riches below ground than building above. As a result, buildings grew quickly, most lacking foundations. They were small and easy to heat. Yet, a century after Garnet emerged, remnants of the town stand. If you do nothing else on this list, definitely explore this!

Garnet

The Boiling River

Boiling River flows into the Gardner River and is as natural as it gets.  Just two miles from Yellowstone National Park’s North gate. The hot water and the cool water flow together, meeting in small, stone pools that create natural hot tubs for soaking.

Boiling River

The water flowing from Mammoth Hot Springs is very hot, so be careful. This is public land, and free to use as long as you follow the posted rules. 

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The Ringing Rocks

This place is a crazy phenomenon in my opinion. I’ve seen piles of rocks that don’t “ring”, so these just don’t make sense to me, but it’s fascinating to go see. Pack some hammers for this! Different types, and sizes. You’ll figure it out when you get there! The Ringing Rocks near Butte ring melodically when tapped gently with a hammer. Some sound completely hollow.

Ringing Rocks, near Butte

This pile of rocks exists as part of the edge of the Boulder Batholith, a geological formation that reaches from Helena to Dillon, covering roughly 1,900 square miles. The rock’s composition and connection patterns create the condition that causes the rocks to ring when struck. Scientists say that once removed from the formation, the rocks no longer ring. Just go check this out! It’s really fun for kids too!  Beware though, the roads to reach the rocks are often treacherous.

Havre Beneath the Streets

This is really bizarre and we really love stuff like this! It’s a little on the shady side when you do the Havre Beneath the Streets underground tour. When a fire almost decimated the town in 1904, adaptable business owners moved underground.

Havre

Some shops opened in their basements, and together, they created a series of tunnels that stretched about a six-block radius. They carried on business as usual during the rebuilding of the town above-ground. There is a barbershop, a general store, a saloon, a bordello, and others. If you’re looking for unique, definitely put this one on your list.

Jim’s Horn House

Ready for this one? Ha! This is a collection of 16,000 antlers crammed beautifully into a small shed. It’s actually very beautifully displayed. Art!! For the last six decades, Jim’s favorite pastime has been to hike out into the Montana backcountry, braving the elements, for the sole purpose of picking up thousands of pairs of stray antlers.

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Since starting his collection as a 10-year-old boy, the “Antler Man” has amassed a grand total of 16,000 antlers, all of which are on display in one well-lit shed in Three Forks, Montana. His story is absolutely fascinating and touching. I won’t spoil it! If you’re lucky enough to get a tour, you’ll be able to hear his story firsthand. 

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Know Before You Go: Jim isn’t open as a business. But he does love to share his collection with you, but you must email him (yes, I swear, this is legitimate) and he will give you his address if he’s able to give you a tour. His email is 2jd3law4@gmail.com

Holland Lake

Holland Lake is a small glacier lake in the Flathead Valley National Forest. Yes! this picture is mine and it’s what we saw most days if we woke up early enough. Just gorgeous! We were lucky enough to work here over the summer last year as workampers. (If you would like to read our workamping blog, click here) It is a paid campground with no hookups, but oh the lake! Just wow!

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And the hiking as well is just something completely worth the stay. There is a beautiful, short hike to the waterfalls, and you can also take a longer hike up to Upper Holland Lake. But don’t go too early, as Upper Holland Lake is frozen until the middle of June. We normally are all about free camping and boondocking but I had to include this beautiful out of the way area on our list. It’s worth a stop! There is a day-use area if you just want to enjoy it for the day and take a hike from there. You may not be able to get into Holland Lake to camp (it’s off the beaten path, but it’s a very busy campground for the locals who usually head from Helena every summer). But, there is boondocking right next to Holland Lake (walking distance even) called Owl Creek.

Want to check out all our favorite boondocking locations in Montana? Click the button below for lots of great boondocking and paid campground information.

Morrell Falls

This might not be an “off the beaten path” place, but we hiked up to Morrell Falls and it’s worth a trip! The water that comes over the top of these falls is so intense, that it was hard to get pictures because as soon as we lifted our camera, it would be full of mist. We hiked in, sat in the beautiful spray of the water, ate lunch, and enjoyed a very easy hike back out.

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Here are some more of our travel blogs we think you’ll love!

Thank you for coming to our little corner of the internet. We hope you found some fun things to see and explore. We’d love to hear from you! Where are your favorite hidden gems in Montana?

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!

Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

Off the Beaten Path in Vermont. Our Top Hidden Gems

As full-time RV’ers, we travel and see a lot. This is part of our Opting Out of Normal series where we explore the “Off the Beaten Path” of every state. We love the big popular stuff like everyone else, but there is just something incredible about discovering something unique, different, and maybe a little “off the beaten path”. We certainly can’t explore them all, but we’d love you to include your favorites below too. Each blog post will include at least one epic boondocking area, complete with pictures and GPS coordinates. 

Aside from the really fun Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard, and the world’s tallest filing cabinet, there are even more amazing, cool, and unique places in Vermont. So many to choose from, but here are our favorite picks. 

Floating Bridge of Brookfield

I wouldn’t say go too far out of your way, but if you’re driving near Brookfield, we recommend this. It was closed to car traffic from 2009 to 2015 and has now been reopened. Either way, you can walk or drive it (unfortunately, the floating bridge occasionally sinks). The bridge, which is the only floating bridge east of the Mississippi River, was originally built in 1820. 

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Craving Chocolate?

Got Chocolate? Lake Champlain Chocolates is a family-owned business since 1983. Chocolate tastings are available weekends with tasting guides, where guests can sample four chocolate profiles. YUM!

Huntington Gorge

During the summer I would say this is probably borderline “unique and off the beaten path” but if you are lucky enough to catch this amazing place in spring or fall, do it. This is one of the most dangerous places, because of its beauty, people get very distracted. Please! Be careful, watch your step, and then enjoy the beautiful strange rock formations. Sadly, there have been so many deaths here, they call it The Hungry Gorge. There are many different places you can stop to view this incredible gorge. Dugway Rd, Richmond, VT 05477. It has so many angles and facets to view. The rocks here are perhaps the best example of water sculpture in the state.

Warren Falls

Located in Warren, VT. Another incredible view of Vermont’s different and unique sculptured rocks. Another very busy summer area, but if you can get there during the fall you won’t regret it. 

Kayaking Lone Rock Point

Our Pick for kayakingLocated in Burlington, VT. Very close to Burlington’s beautiful waterfront is Lone Rock Point. A kayaker’s destination for sure.

Most people put in at North Beach (see attached from Google Earth). It’s a few minutes (not even a mile) over to reach Lone Rock. But paddling farther north along the shoreline into Appletree Bay gives you some sights such as forested bluffs, Leddy Beach, and Appletree Point. Don’t miss these! 

Lone Rock Point Put In

Smugglers Cave

Vermont is known for being the most amazing place in the fall. If you have a chance to visit Smugglers Cave (in Smugglers Notch State Park) it’s scenic, interesting history, and kind of eerie. Bring your bear spray. Vermont definitely has a lot of bears. The cave is located about 60-feet from the scenic road (known as the Notch). The cave is easily missed, hence the reason why in the 1920’s it was used to illegally smuggle goods.

There is beautiful camping at the State Park. Unfortunately, it’s not free! We like to boondock, which gets us out and about from structured campgrounds. But if campgrounds are your preference, they have beautiful sites there.

Japanese Garden 

Located in Hubbardton. You won’t likely stumble upon this spot in Hubbardton by accident. While it’s known to the locals, it’s easily passed over. It is a privately owned property open to the public year-round whose centerpiece is a Japanese garden. Kit Davidson passed away on September 29, 2016. The preserve is now managed by Alyssa Bennett. The address is 321 St. John Rd, Hubbardton, VT. GPS location: N43°41.099, W73°08.538.

Green Mountain Byway

A Perfect beautiful short drive – Green Mountain Byway is just 11 miles long. Along with beautiful scenery, a large variety of attractions for all ages. Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory, Cold Hollow Cider Mill, and Vermont Ski Museum.

Cold Hollow Cider Mill

Historic Jericho

If you’ve never been to historic Jericho and you love taking pictures, this is such an amazing town. The old Grist Mill in Jericho is amazing. I’m not including a ton of information on Jericho, as it can get pretty popular at certain times of the year.

Knight’s Spider Web Farm

And … the most unusual place we would NEVER go. Stacy is deathly and ridiculously afraid of spiders! This would be such a huge challenge! Two garage-sized barns are packed with wooden frames, built-in grids, hanging from the ceiling.

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These square frames are ideal spots for spider webs, and the abundant orb-weaver spiders (typing this give me chills HaHa) that live on Knight’s farm make themselves at home. Actual spider webs are used to make his one of a kind artwork and he’s a great story-teller to keep your attention from beginning to end. Maybe I could at least just visit the retail store of his unique art. Might have to try it! This pictures is not mine. Haven’t been courageous to visit yet! 

Boondocking Suggestions:

National Forest Rd 71 – Any size, easy access // GPS: 43.060964, -72.987425 / 14 day max stay. Seriously, look this place up if you’re needing to do anything in the surrounding areas. 

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Chittenden, Vermont GPS: 43.78686, -072.87901 Super easy to get to and some great hikes and dirt biking trails. Turn west off of route 100, once you past Knight Hill you should start to see campsites on both sides of the road. Sites are of all shapes and sizes.

Thank you for visiting our little corner of the internet. We’d love to hear your favorite places in Vermont that are off the beaten path and quiet.

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!

Life ~ Thoughts ~ Writings, Our Life Before Full-Time RVing, RV Tips, Tricks & Lessons

31,536,000 Seconds. Our First Year on the Road as Full-Time RVers.

525,600 Minutes.

8,760 hours.

52 weeks.

365 days.

One Year Nomadiversary

Our viewpoint after 1 year on the road! Who can relate? We’ve now been living in our RV for over 5 years now. Enjoy our perspective after our first year!

365 days ago, we pulled out of our driveway for the last time. Leaving one dream behind and starting a new one. Leaving behind “normal” and the comfort of everything we had built, into the complete unknown from one moment to the next.

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Going back 21 months ago, we made a life-changing decision. We can’t really pinpoint one exact moment. For us, it happened over a 9-day vacation which was our first in our marriage without our daughters. What were we doing with our lives? Where did we see ourselves in 10-20-30 years, now that we were empty nesters? Were we happy enough in our jobs living the status quo? What is this thing called life, and how do we achieve something that we believe would fulfill us? From the moment we met, “normal” wasn’t how we created life. Beautiful chaos is a better description.  (2 kids. Lover of rescuing animals. Moving countless times from state to state, and even a 3-year tour overseas. Military life is just that … Beautiful Chaos.)

It’s amazing what can be discussed on an 11-mile hike (yes, in one day). We did 92 miles that week! I remember the day we got home from our vacation. So many things had been discussed in those prior days, but that day, we were both really quiet in our own thoughts about what had been somewhat decided in the last 9 days. Would we really do it? Would this just end up being something we didn’t have the means to actually grab? Was this just a dream, or were we really going to do this? Sell our dream home, and live … wherever? As I sat in front of our old RV unpacking from our vacation, I wondered about everything. How would our daughters react? Could we financially survive? How would we be able to justify sinking over $100,000 in our dream home, only to turn around and sell it? We were definitely lost in our own thoughts that day. 

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It came down to this! It’s black and white. We can stay and do what we’ve been doing. Or we can make a change. If you make it more than that, you’ll kill yourself in thought. Yes, we lost a pile of money on our house. We thought we’d be there forever! But the money is already gone. So the choice is actually simple — we can stay and live in the house, or not. It was the same process with all our choices. The support of our daughters was the most important to us. And once we told them our plans, it was a sigh of relief. We had not told them our plans until we could put them into intelligent words (because at first, it was a jumbled mess of crazy thoughts). 

We gave ourselves 2 years to sell 2 houses and hit the road.

NINE MONTHS LATER WE PULLED OUT OF THAT DRIVEWAY!

What a year it’s been!  BOOYA!!!!

How has this year changed us?

  • We now live life in a general direction. Most times, plan only for tomorrow, and even then, it’s left open and flexible. We can choose to stay somewhere longer or leave earlier. There is no schedule. We often get asked, “where are you going next”. We never know how to respond. Sometimes we have an answer, but most times we don’t. It’s awesome! Our response is usually “we don’t know … wherever the road takes us”. Being present in the moment and appreciating that we are right here, right now is all that truly matters to us. This moment we are living right now, right here, today is all that is promised. Tomorrow is never promised. 
  • We have become better people. We have the time to give back, volunteer more, and listen better. Don’t get me wrong, we were awesome people before, but struggled with finding the time between work and chores to give our time and our shoulder to people who needed it.
  • We have learned the “one in / one out” rule. We have always lived simply. And that’s not changed. But now we have to really think about new clothes, or shoes. We are limited on space, which makes it so much more simple. If we brought it with us, and haven’t used it in a certain amount of time, it’s donated (usually to our daughters who love our cool kitchen gadgets we just don’t use now). We don’t collect things anymore. We collect memories, moments, sunsets, and sunrises.
  • We’ve become more social. We found our tribe! The people who lift us up and remind us who we really are. Our tribe is priceless to us! Our circle of friends will grow. But we’ve met more people in the last 12 months who are more genuine and accepting than any other time in our lives.
  • We eat when we’re hungry, and sleep when we’re tired. What a concept! 
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Going against social norms is not something that everyone can accept or even wants to do. And that’s ok! The beauty of each of our lives is that each one of us gets to choose our own path. We said from the beginning that we will make memories and mistakes. It doesn’t matter what you choose to do in your life … just be fulfilled and happy about your choice. If you’re not … change it. It truly is just that simple. Now our fears have gone. Our biggest regret now is that we didn’t plan to do it sooner. 

Did you make a big change in your life? What was your aha moment? Seriously, we’d love to hear from you. Leave us a comment below and tell us!

Here are a few blog posts we think you’ll love!

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 are 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. 

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

Off the Beaten Path in Michigan. Top Hidden Gems We Found in Michigan!

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 Opting Out of Normal series where we explore the hidden treasures in every state. We love the big popular attractions like everyone else, but there is just something incredible about discovering something unique, different, and taking the road less traveled. We certainly can’t explore them all, but we’d love you to share your own off-the-beaten-path stories. Each series will include a link to our favorite free camping areas, along with other RV camping we’ve done in the state

Crisp Point Lighthouse

This is a beautiful lighthouse to visit, but consider yourself forewarned, the road to get there is like no other we’ve traveled. When they sell a t-shirt in the gift shop that says “I survived the road to Crisp Point Lighthouse”, they aren’t kidding! We did it in a dually, so I know everyone can do it, but it is long and tedious, but worth the sights (and you might actually want to buy a t-shirt when you get there). A lot of people travel there on a side by side or off-road toys. We actually visited several lighthouses on the “lighthouse tour”. You can pick up a guide at the visitors center. Makes for a fun “truck hike” day. YES … this funny (funny because it turned out good) sign is actually on the road in! Let’s hear it for Girl Scout Cookies saving lives!!! 

The Tridge – Midland MI

Located in Chippewassee Park, this isn’t the only triple bridge in Michigan, but if you’re near the area, it’s a beautiful walk, and something pretty unique. There is also a farmers market, a skate park and a dog park if you’re interested. 

Crystal Coaster Alpine Slide

Assignment

Located in Thompsonville. It’s basically a huge water slide without the water. You take a chair lift to the top of the mountain and jump on a specialized sled to ride one of the two slides that are each 1,700 feet long. Make sure to check dates because the slide is only open seasonally.

Electric Forest

I’m adding this because it’s on my bucket list. We have not gone here (yet). But highly recommend at least checking it out. It looks really amazing and fun! Click here for information. 

Most everyone knows about the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. It’s not an “off the beaten path” choice, but if you go to Michigan, DON’T MISS IT!!! It’s a breathtaking but very popular tourist place. We went! We loved it, and if you have any questions, let me know. The hiking and kayaking are amazing there!!  I did want to mention that once or twice a year, if you’re lucky, the wind is blowing just right and the garnet in the rocks washes up on shore and causes the sand to turn a vibrant pink. It only lasts a couple of hours to a couple of days. We were lucky enough to catch it! Go into the visitors center and ask about it. 

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Ann Arbor’s Fairy Doors

We find this a little creepy, (we like this kind of stuff Ha!) and quite entertaining and interesting. Have you heard the story behind these?  You can actually pick up a tour brochure to show you where all the fairy doors are. Pretty creative! 

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Here’s a little history I found: “In 1993, While Jonathan B. Wright was renovating his century-old home, his young daughters made a delightful discovery: itty, bitty, six-inch doors scattered throughout the space. When opened, there were tiny railings inside that led to other miniature doors. There were even windows springing up, where lights inside would magically turn on and off. By 2005, Jonathan had become a full-fledged Fairyologist, documenting the little doors that were now springing up all around town – obviously, they were fairies, what else could they be? His website has documentation of over two dozen doors from these “urban fairies.” 

Blooming Mystical Lavender Labyrinth

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Who knew? This is on a farm in Shelby Michigan, called Cherry Point Farm and Market. The fruit and farm market has been in operation since 1961. In 2001, owner Barbara Bull started work on a lavender labyrinth, which can be seen on Google Earth. Don’t forget the amazing cherry pie and other fantastic fruits and homemade yummy things from this farm and market. 

Manistique Boardwalk and River Walk

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The Boardwalk runs down the Lake Michigan shore in the town of Manistique. Go for an early morning walk or take an afternoon and picnic in the park. You can view the Manistique Lighthouse or ships passing by. It is a wonderful way to spend a day. You can spend as much or as little time there. It’s really beautiful to walk out on the jetty to the lighthouse. As you can see from the picture, the sunsets are incredible. Highly recommend early Fall if you’re wanting a more peaceful, quiet time. 

Tahquamenon Falls State Park

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This doesn’t fall into a typical off-the-beaten-path place, but I just had to mention it. We visited this area in September on a weekday. It was almost empty! We actually went twice in one day. (We wanted to get some pictures later in the day.) TIP: Paradise is actually a very small, very expensive little town. We made the mistake of running out of propane and having to fill up there. It was the highest propane cost we’ve ever paid. So gas up, fill your propane tanks, and arrive with everything you need or you’ll be paying extremely high prices there. 

Kayaking

Want to do some Kayaking (one of our favorite things to do) Here are two of our top picks (other than the Pictured Rocks National Seashore area which is not an Off the Beaten Path area)

Bete Grise Sea Arch

Bete Grise

Bete Grise is a nature preserve on Keweenaw Peninsula, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. A quiet and scenic kayaking destination on the Keweenaw Peninsula’s southern shores. The Bete Grise Bay is an amazing destination on its own.  There are miles of shoreline and waterfalls. Make a point to check out Keweenaw Historical Ruins too!

TIP: Launch your kayak or canoe from the Bete Gris Beach and paddle east, keeping the shoreline on your left side. After a couple of miles, natural rock sea stacks and sea arches rise from the shockingly clear water of Lake Superior. You can float through the arch and hang out in the shade. Please watch the weather. Lake Superior can be brutal in a kayak!

Turnip Rock

So, I was thinking this was a pretty popular thing to do. But when I started talking to people last year, no one had heard of it.

So we’re including it on our list. This unique rock formation is a favorite destination of those kayaking in Lake Huron, as it’s only accessible by water. The land on Turnip Rock is privately owned but you can still access this by water (kayak, boat, etc) Another option is to wait for Lake Huron to freeze and walk your way out to Turnip Rock.

Hope you enjoyed the ideas! Thank you so much for visiting our little corner of the internet. We would love to hear what you find “off the beaten path” in Michigan. 

Looking for the best boondocking or paid campgrounds to stay in while you’re traveling in Michigan? Check out our ever-changing, always updating list! Click the button below to see our best RV Camping in Michigan!

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Life ~ Thoughts ~ Writings, Off the Beaten Path Series, Our Life Before Full-Time RVing, RV Tips, Tricks & Lessons

Our Nomad Beginning ~ Why We Sold Everything and Moved Into Our RV!

Our story is simple. We were tired of living on everyone else’s terms in life. Tired of the rate race, and never having time to spend in our dream home. We never had time to give of ourselves because we spent so much time striving for the next new item. Come check out why we decided to let it all go and live simply, give more, and expect less. 

Awwww Vlogging! There is definitely an art to it, and we’re working on it, but we have some work to do. But we wanted to share our story with you.

We’d love you to follow along on our journey ahead. Where we explore internally as well as the world around us. All while living in 39 feet where we will make memories and mistakes, and live life to our fullest. Tomorrow is never promised, so we are living our dreams today! 

Let us know what questions you have. We hope whatever your life path is that you live life to your fullest!

Here are a few blogs we think you’ll love!

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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. 

Boondocking / Dry Camping, Off the Beaten Path Series

Off the Beaten Path in South Dakota. Best Kept Hidden Secrets in South Dakota

As full-time RV’ers, we travel and see a lot. This is part of our Opting Out of Normal series where we explore the “Off the Beaten Path” of every state. We love the big popular stuff like everyone else, but there is just something incredible about discovering something unique, different, and maybe a little “off the beaten path”. We certainly can’t explore them all, but we’d love you to include your favorites below too. Each series will include at least 1 epic boondocking area, some complete with pictures and all with GPS coordinates. 

South Dakota is the state we chose for our domicile as full-time RVer’s. We decided we should probably know a little about the state since it was now our state of record.

Fun Fact – Did you know that South Dakota purchased the building designs from Montana for their capital building for $15? So the capitol building in Pierre is exactly the same as the capitol building in Montana. 

Our Top Picks for the 9 Hidden Gems in South Dakota. 

South Dakota has a ton of amazing, popular wonders to see. Don’t miss the Badlands! I won’t go too much into this as it’s a very popular place, but can I just say WOW! To think about the early settlers coming upon this area and trying to cross it is remarkable. Imagine what they thought as this area came into sight. It is one of the most scenic places of color, beauty, and history. 

Wall Drug

Do you know the story behind this place? Wall Drug started simply enough when Ted Hustead purchased the South Dakota town of Wall’s drugstore in 1931. But it was Ted’s wife Dorothy who hit upon the idea that changed not just the drugstore, but the entire 231-person town of Wall. The idea: ice water. In an attempt to attract people, Dorothy Hustead put up a sign advertising free ice water to parched tourists on their way to the attraction. It was a big hit. From then on Wall Drug grew under its own strange power, adding a bizarre assortment of fiberglass animals, including the iconic Wall Drug jackalope, giant dinosaurs, and an array of taxidermy jackalopes.

Wall-Drug-Jackalope

Wall Drug now has billboards as far away as 500 miles. If you are a honeymooner, veteran, priest, hunter, or truck driver, you can also get free coffee and donuts. They still give out ice water too. Some 20,000 cups a day. Though we don’t personally travel with our kids anymore, as they are now grown adults with their own lives, this is a super fun place for kids. Every 30 minutes the dinosaur inside comes to life and gives you a little show. Seriously make sure you spend a day in this little eclectic town. The little unique shops are really fun! 

Corn Palace

It happens to be raining when we decided to visit. The Corn Palace is built out of concrete, not corn. However, each year, the entire exterior is redecorated in murals made out of corn and various other local grains and grasses. These decorative facades are redesigned annually around a different theme created by local artists.

Decorations from years past are displayed inside the building itself. We didn’t venture inside, but it’s a pretty cute little town surrounding the Corn Palace. We were there in May of 2017 and it is all about Rock of Ages. Super cool! 

Roughlock Falls State Nature Area

Spearfish Canyon – This trail is handicap-accessible and winds its way slowly to Roughlock Falls, a breathtaking waterfall that flows into Spearfish Canyon from Little Spearfish Creek. Spearfish Canyon highlights an outdoor wonder that is impressive and unique to the Black Hills. From Spearfish, take 14A (Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway) to Savoy. The trail begins near Spearfish Canyon Lodge and is signed and accessible from the lodge parking lot.

Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway

Speaking of Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway – This is a breathtaking 19-mile stretch of US Highway 14A. Gradually climbing from the town of Spearfish on the northern edge of the Black Hills, this canyon is one of the gateways into the heart of an ancient mountain range. Spruce, pine, aspen, birch, and oak trees cling to the hillsides. Spearfish Creek flows along the canyon bottom, acting as a natural guide for the scenic byway.

Getting There: To start at the northern end of the byway, take either Exit 10 or Exit 14 off of Interstate 90 to Spearfish and hop on 14A. To find the southern end, take Highway 85 east from Wyoming or west from Lead/Deadwood. When you come to the Cheyenne Crossing junction, head north on Highway 14A and let your scenic drive begin. Before you go, check out some of the reviews on where to pull off and what to check out on the Byway. It’s different depending on the season you go. 

Devil’s Gulch

You just must take a drive here!! Located in Garretson – The ravine where Jesse James supposedly performed an impossible jump to evade capture. We just think it’s an amazingly beautiful area.

Thunderhead Underground Falls

A waterfall 600 ft. inside a mountain is a spectacle of nature. Unfortunately, this place closed down in May of 2017. Seriously just days before we were there. We’re keeping it on our list though!! Keep it on your radar to see if it ever opens up again. It’s one of the most unique and different things to see for sure. 2021 Update: We’re looking to visit this again, and it appears it’s still closed. I hope it does open up someday!! Please let us know if you hear of it opening up!

Awesome for kids (and kids at heart) Splash Central Waterpark in Huron with plenty to offer with its water slides, pools, and lazy river.

Falls Park / Sioux Falls

We think this has become popular, but it’s definitely a place to put on your list. Falls Park (or Sioux Falls). We highly recommend spending a few hours here.

The waterfall, one of the best in South Dakota, is the crown jewel of the 123-acre park. Falls Park also protects some of the city’s oldest and most historic buildings. The falls themselves are about 100 feet tall, and 7,400 gallons of water drop over them each second. 

Hippie Hole

HippieHoleme

Hippie Hole (funny name, right?) This is one of the most amazing hikes in the Black Hills (we think) You can approach the waterfall from two directions, a short hike (our choice) down Battle Creek from the small parking area found off of South Rockerville Road or from an extremely strenuous hike off of Hwy 40. Once you reach the water from either direction, it is all worth it.  You can jump from the waterfall, float in the pool, or just sunbathe on the rocks. The hike is about 1/3 of a mile, and it’s a great place for playing in the water, jumping off of a cliff, and taking in the scenery. From Rockerville, head south on S Rockerville Rd, or head north if coming from Highway 40, until you come to Foster Gulch Rd (gravel). Drive about a mile until there is a marked road to the right and then another right about a mile later, after the next cattle guard. Stay right on all forks and the road comes to an end at a parking area.

Have you visited a hidden gem you’d love to share? We’d love to hear it! Please share your favorite off-the-beaten-path places with us!

Looking for the best RV Camping in South Dakota? Check out the epic places we found by clicking the button below!

Here are some more blog posts we think you’ll love!

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 visiting our little corner of the internet! We hope you found value in our information, and we’d love to hear from you!

Life ~ Thoughts ~ Writings, RV Tips, Tricks & Lessons

10 Reasons You Should Live in an RV

Why do people choose to live in an RV? Most will say it’s because they are searching to live more intentionally. At least that’s why we did it 5 years ago! Maybe people are in search of a life with less stress and more peace. RV living isn’t for everyone. After going through 2020 we’ve noticed a shift of thinking in people, and also organizations that now realize their employees really can work from home and be even more productive. As we’ve said so many times, RV life is still life. It’s not perfect rainbows and unicorns every day. But after 5 years of full-time RV living and traveling, we know for us, it’s a perfect lifestyle. It does take a lot of adjusting and flexibility. However, if you’re willing to do it, the advantages are incredible! Here are our 10 reasons we think you should live in an RV (in no particular order).

Less Stuff – More Simple Life

Experiences vs. material possessions. We got rid of about 99% of our stuff. The stuff we thought we needed when in reality was just holding us down. Emotionally. The more we got rid of, the freer we felt. We gave a lot of stuff to our kids, we donated a lot and sold a lot. We moved into our RV with the things we need and use daily. We’re very lucky to have room for some of our favorite items like our Instant Pot, homemade ice cream maker, and a full-size breadmaker. But it’s all about choices. You learn just how unimportant some of the things you’ve collected over the years (or decades) really are. Those sentimental items you have stuck in a box and never look at can easily become something more cherished, by getting rid of them. Wait. What? Check out our blog: What To Do With Sentimental Items When Downsizing. We knew we were going to love this lifestyle, but we still thought we’d miss something. We do not miss anything. If you are unsure if you’ll like living full-time in an RV, you can always choose to rent a storage unit with some of your things you don’t want to part with right away, and test it out for a few months or a year, and then decide what to do at that point. You really learn to not need or want material things anymore. I personally believe it’s because your life becomes so much more fulfilled with adventures and experiences, and your sense of what makes you happy, changes.

A Unique Perspective

When we lived in our traditional home, we woke up every morning and glanced outside. The only difference every day was the weather. Waking up in my RV every morning with a different view has been worth it all. Justin and I often comment when we pass a house we think is pretty that it’s too bad their view never changes. We see things from a totally different perspective now. Having the freedom to go anywhere with our home behind us is wondrous. We push the limits sometimes to get to a place where the views are just epic, but it’s really all about that perspective and living with no regrets. Before RV life, when we would take vacations, we would rush to get somewhere we wanted to go. Passing by so many other beautiful places along the way, but we were in a hurry. We had a goal in mind. Now we travel much slower, and cover fewer miles and stop and linger more. That old saying about stopping and smelling the roses is exactly what we do.

Freedom

Freedom to go where you want. How many people who live in a traditional house are stuck next to neighbors they are feuding with? I see it all over TikTok. You don’t get to choose your neighbors when you live in a traditional house. However, we do get to pick our neighbors – or not have any. If we end up in a situation where we are alone, and then someone shows up that we don’t really care to be near, our house has wheels and we can just move. It really is just that simple! We need 20 minutes to pack up, and we’re on the road again. We can live anywhere in the country the wheels will take us. One month it might be the mountains of Colorado or the lakes of Montana, and the next month it might be the hills of West Virginia or the waterfalls of New York. You can go from the open countryside to the city in one day. The possibilities are endless when your home is with you.

Wildlife

Before we chose our RV lifestyle, we lived in a little country farm town in PA. We often got deer in the yard, as well as squirrels and birds. But the wildlife we have been able to experience while living in our RV makes those encounters almost feel like nothing. From moose, bears, and foxes to turtles and bison and so much more. Though we are both animal lovers, we’ve both learned so much more about wildlife and we get to appreciate it more and more everywhere we travel.

More Active

I don’t know about you all, but I sat in a stuffy corporate office behind double computer screens. On my butt, all day long. My longest journey was heading to the lunchroom. I often felt very proud of myself if I took the stairs to the parking lot vs. the elevator. We now live a more physically active lifestyle. Hiking, kayaking, exploring different towns and we even picked up a couple of e-bikes (and yes, we actually pedal them most of the time). Washing and waxing the RV, maintenance, and walking the dog are all things that keep us moving.

Slower Pace of Life

In our life before moving into our RV, we were always in a rush. We didn’t realize it until later, but our weekends were planned by Wednesday and our Sunday nights were left with always needing one more day to accomplish the things we crammed in our weekend and didn’t get done. If we planned to do something fun like a hike, it was always evaluating how long it would take us because (say it with me now) we have to get home and complete the rest of the chores that were on the list. Now we live life with a general plan and travel with a general direction in mind. Did I ever mention it took us about 2 months to travel the 444 miles down The Natchez Trace Parkway? You can read our 3 part series here: Driving the Natchez Trace Pkwy (Part 1 of 3) Sometimes we plan to leave where we are on a certain day, and the day before deciding to stay another week. We used to be too busy to really take in what was going on around us and to really enjoy it. Life moves too fast. Life is more than getting from point A to point B. It’s about enjoying the journey, and everything around you. Tomorrow is never promised! Enjoy every moment of this life we have.

Community / Road Family

The RV community is the number one thing we were most surprised about. It’s unique and diverse. We love it! We see more ingenuity in using what they have, and we’ve seen some weird things. Although it might take you off guard at first, it’s all good! It’s fair to say we’ve definitely run into “unhappy campers” out there, but for the most part, the people you meet in the RV community become your road family. The thing about the RV community is that everyone helps everyone. In reality, the RV community is small, but I can promise you there is someone not far from you willing to help you out in any way they can, and you always keep an eye out for each other. It never matters what your background, race, politics, or religious beliefs are. You are accepted and supported. It feels like a safer place to be. I don’t know about you, but when we lived in our traditional house, we hardly knew anyone in our community. We worked. They worked. And there was so much going on that even on our days off, we never ventured past the property line we were mowing. You’ll often find yourself traveling together or planning meet-ups.

Educational

RV life might just be the best thing you’ve ever done. It also might not be, but until you try, you won’t know. We’ve both learned so much of our country’s history. We’ve been able to walk the same paths as historical figures and experience the history in so many small towns we didn’t even know existed. Not only have we learned so much about our country, but we’ve learned so much about each other. We’ve now been together for over 30 years and married for over 29 years. But living in 39-feet together for 24 hours a day has taught us so much about each other we never knew. We’ve learned about maintenance on our RV, and how things work. Even if you don’t think you want to learn, you will just generally pick things up. Things will go wrong, and you will have to learn how to deal with them. Life is still life. But these things make you stronger and make memories. You can always call someone professional to come to help you, but it really does pay to learn it yourself.

Environmentally Friendly

We have become more environmentally friendly. When you have only so much water, and electricity doesn’t come from the grid, you learn to conserve and we’ve become more aware and we use only the water or electricity we need. American’s are generally so wasteful, and we don’t even realize it. We don’t leave lights on, and we don’t take 20-minute showers anymore. Something else we do every time we are out on our public lands is we pick up trash. Sometimes it’s a lot of trash. We always find it so very sad that people use our country as their personal dumping ground. Most often we find a public trashcan or dumpster within just a few yards of a pile of trash, which always seems so senseless. We use much less gas since we don’t drive to work every day, but it does even out with the fuel we use to drive our home around to all these grand places we get to live in for short amounts of time. We are simply more aware of our surroundings and aware of the utilities we use because they are more limited.

Your Home

Some people think that living in an RV is sad. We often get reactions of “I’m so sorry” when we tell people we live in our RV full-time. Unfortunately, people look at it that way. However, we also have the opposite reactions where people often express that this lifestyle is their dream. We know there is a difference between having to live and choosing to live in an RV. Home is always been our soft place to fall. Home is where our story begins and ends every day. It’s where we work, laugh, cry, cook, entertain, make memories and make mistakes. If you want to live totally off-grid, you can. If you want to live year-round in the RV park, you can do that too. You can have as many conveniences as you want. These days so many things are compact and moveable. From Netflix and hotspots to washing machines and dishwashers. You can make your home fit your needs. Even if it’s on wheels. We have lots of those creature comforts and have added a few things too. Like lithium batteries and solar power so we can live more self-sufficient. We can keep our lifestyle running perfectly, just from the energy we get from the sun!

Conclusion

I’ve mentioned it before! RV living isn’t for everyone. I read posts of people who have done it and after 3 or 4 months hated it so much, they went back to a house. And that’s perfectly awesome! Everyone gets to make choices that work best for their needs and wants. For us, however, it was about living simply, giving more, and expecting less. It was about giving back to communities and people we meet along the way. We are so blessed and so lucky to have had the experiences we have had, and we are both looking forward to many years of making new memories, experiencing new things, and giving back even more.

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. 

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!

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Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

Off the Beaten Path in Tennessee. 11 Hidden Gems You Can’t Miss.

As full-time RV’ers, we travel and see a lot. This is part of our Opting Out of Normal series where we explore the “Off the Beaten Path” of every state. We love the big popular stuff like everyone else, but there is just something incredible about discovering something unique, different, and maybe a little “off the beaten path”. We certainly can’t explore them all, but we’d love you to include your favorites below too. Each series will include some great lists of RV camping areas. Both free and paid!

Tennessee has so many fun and unique things to do! We love caves and have you seen the cave systems in Tennessee? WOW! Just Wow!

Lost Sea Cave

The Lost Sea is America’s largest underground lake, located in Sweetwater, TN. Once you reach the lake you are able to board a flat-bottom boat and ride around on its smooth, glassy surface.

lostsea1

There are also tours that allow visitors to spend the night in the cave and explore some of the lesser-seen parts of the enormous cavern. This could be popular in the summer and even more so during the summer on weekends. I’d suggest Fall. Have you seen Tennessee in the Fall? Absolutely stunning!

The Forbidden Caverns

FORBIDDEN

Located in Sevierville, TN these caves stretch for a half-mile and feature eerie and arresting mineral formations, echoing grottoes, silent reflecting pools, and a clear cool stream fed (most likely) by a nearby underground lake.

Ruby Falls Cave

Ruby Falls Cave has all the geological features one would expect (stalactites, stalagmites, etc.) with one magical addition: an underground waterfall. Until humans tunneled into the cave in the 19th century, the water had been trickling undiscovered beneath Tennessee for roughly 200 million years. Ruby Falls is the tallest underground waterfall the public can visit. This is a lantern-only tour.

Fall Creek Falls State Park

State Parks are some of our favorite places to go.

I won’t give too much information about it other than to say it can be a pretty popular place to go. But this waterfall has been featured in movies due to its beauty! 

Window Cliffs State Natural Area

We totally stumbled upon this while visiting a friend near Cookeville! The hike is steep at the beginning but a beautiful hike with amazing views.

Spaceship House

spaceshiphouse

If you are in the area of Signal Mountain, you must visit the Spaceship House. If you read my blogs you know I love the crazy and different houses, castles, etc. As of 2008 after several private owners, it was purchased by Signal Mountain and is now a vacation rental property. Super fun to just drive by and get pictures in front of though! 

Fun Museums

There are a ton of museums that are fun. Teapot Museum in Trenton, International Towing and Recovery Museum in Chattanooga and don’t forget … the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum. 

Tuckaleeche Caverns

tuckcave1

Located 32 miles from Knoxville, in Townsend, TN this mile-long cave system is near the Great Smoky Mountains. Visitors come here to see both the strange and impressive geological formations, but also the crystal clear stream that flows through the entire system of caverns.

Raccoon Mountain Caverns – Chattanooga, TN More than 5 miles of underground passages. This is still on our list of things to see for sure!

Twin Falls Waterfall – Rock Island State Park

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Not a natural waterfall, but very beautiful to see! 

Patricks Pub and Grill

Well … depends on which side of the restaurant you sit on. You might be in Georgia, or you might be in Tennessee. You might park in Tennessee and eat in Georgia.

Super cool little bar and grill where the state line runs right through the middle. No alcohol on the Georgia side though! You can certainly have a drink served to you just a few feet away on the Tennessee side though.

Savage Gulf State Natural Area

Most beautiful hike!! Near Palmer, TN. Probably not exactly a slot canyon, but some of the hiking areas are amazingly similar and just as beautiful! This park is filled with waterfalls and bluffs that are just so unbelievable. The Stone Door trail is incredible!

Check out the stairs built right into the cliff. The Laurel Falls Loop trail leads you to a beautiful waterfall by the same name. There is another amazing waterfall that falls into a pool you can swim in if you want, called Greeter Falls. You’ll feel you’ve left the USA when you look at the turquoise pool. 

Savage Gulf Natural Area

What have you found while exploring Tennessee? We’d love you to share your own hidden gems with us! Here are some other blogs we think you’d love!

RV Camping in Tennessee

Click the button below to be taken to our list of the best free boondocking and paid campgrounds we’ve stayed at!

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. 

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!

Boondocking / Dry Camping, Off the Beaten Path Series

Off the Beaten Path in Rhode Island ~ 1,214 Square Miles of Fun!

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 unique 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/free camping area with GPS coordinates.

Rhode Island is the smallest state in the US. Did you know it’s only 1,214 square miles? So when you get the title of the smallest state in the US, I think almost everything counts as small and unpopular! Check out our top picks for Rhode Island!

Musée Patamécanique

2021 UPDATE! It looks like they have shut down until 2022. Please support and check back soon! Click here!

(Say that 5 times! Or in my case, I had a hard time saying it once!) If you have a crazy sense of humor and love the mystery side of things, this is straight out of a movie! This tiny, hidden museum (yes, hidden), originally founded in 2006, is something in between an Automaton Theater and a Cabinet of Curiosities. Tours of the collection are arranged by appointment only – but the exact whereabouts of the museum? That remains a mystery. Ha! Located in the Historic District of Bristol, Rhode Island, Musée Patamécanique gives “tours” that encompass both outdoor and indoor environments within a 6 block area of downtown Bristol. Each tour begins at sunset as a guide greets visitors at a pre-arranged time and location in town. Weird right? But wait … it gets better! The meeting place could be anywhere from one of Bristol’s numerous public parks to an area along the waterfront, a coffee shop, a restaurant; it always changes. After introducing himself and welcoming his guests, the “guide” equips his visitors with a set of wireless headphones and a map. This is for real!! Ha! He then presses the play button on a wireless transmitter worn by one of the guests. He then departs, leaving his visitors in a state of bewilderment. This is all part of the fun! The audio the guests are left listening to is actually a tour that leads them to the “secret” location of the indoor exhibition.  The actual part of getting there and finding this tiny “cabinet” is the fun part. But, I mean, when you get there, who wouldn’t want to see a machine that captures the dreams of bumblebees? Just go check it out! You’ll love it!! It’s quirky and strange! And if you’ve got kids … they are going to love the adventure in just finding this “museum.” Have fun!

Newport Cliffs

The cliff walk is the first National Recreational Trail in New England and is around 3.5 miles in length. But you don’t have to do the whole thing! Many of the grand mansions are visible from the walk, although you should certainly attend a guided tour of their interiors to do them justice. QR codes on little wooden stands have been placed along the walk. They are easy to miss. If you use a QR reader on a smartphone, they will tell you little bits of history of the area of the cliff walk you are standing near. Usually, it is about one of the big houses standing nearby.

Newport Mansions

Newport Mansion

You’ll be able to see some of these incredible mansions on your stroll down the Newport Cliffs. Some of these are open for tours, but even if you just see them from the outside, they are (as Justin calls them) “Stupid Big”. When it takes me just 12 minutes to clean my 40 foot RV (14 if I vacuum), I can’t even imagine. But I suppose they didn’t clean their own mansion. Nevertheless, this is something to see! If you listen to the history from the QR codes above on the walk, you’ll hear some pretty amazing stuff!

Point Judith

We’re really interested in the lighthouses and the crazy Cairn Beach here. I wonder if the high tide ever destroys this and how often people come and rebuild the Cairns. 

Dams in Rhode Island

Sometimes a waterfall isn’t natural, but still just as beautiful and peaceful. Check out the Blackstone Dam in North Smithfield and the Slater Mill Dam in Pawtucket. Both offer beautiful scenery and are perfect for family portraits or just having lunch by the dam. 

Whether you walk the area or kayak it, make sure you visit Blackstone River. It’s the best kayaking, according to the locals. 

Neutaconkanut Hill Park

An 88-acre wilderness is located inside the Providence city limits. The hill was the northwest boundary of the land agreement between Roger Williams (the founder of Rhode Island) and the Narragansett Indians.  At 296 feet above sea level, is the highest point in the city of Providence, giving you a breathtaking view of the downtown Providence skyline and Narragansett Bay.  The area includes ravines, glacial boulders, freshwater springs, and walking trails created in the 1930s by the WPA. You’ll love the views!

Boondocking / Free Camping

Sadly, we found our first state with no boondocking other than Cracker Barrel. So we’re reaching out to you all! Have you been to RI and found some free camping areas? It’s such a small state, our suggestion is to head to Connecticut, and there are some places close to the state line. You can then just drive from those free camping areas into Rhode Island.

  • Mohegan Sun (Casino) – Montville, Connecticut – GPS: 41.48553, -72.081582 – A free permit is Required at this site. Overnight parking available next to the river. As you pull into the parking lot there are signs that have a phone number on them and you tell them you are just getting there and someone comes out and takes down your info(truck, camper, length of stay, etc) and he gives you your pass.
  • Foxwoods Resort and Casino – GPS 41.473345, -71.958475 – If you haven’t ever stayed in a casino parking lot – DO IT!! You’ll be surprised! Justin and I have done it a few times, and in fact, met some life long friends (Sandra and Luis from 1st Class RV Adventures) in a casino parking lot in Michigan. Sometimes you’ll even find full hookups in the casino parking lots!

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