Year in Review

I think I speak for most that we are ready for 2020 to be done…. I end the year hopeful yet exhausted from dealing with disease and meanness, and not willing to fight any battles on social media or otherwise…. Let’s pray hard that 2021 will be the beginning of an upswing, of better times to come, and that once again we’ll find a way to live in harmony and with joy.

David and I were lucky and inspired to have taken our RV trip around the US and Canada beginning in July 2019 and until the pandemic threw a wrench into everyone’s plans in the spring of 2020. We are truly thankful to have seen many beautiful places and know in our hearts that any location now is temporary for us–unless something changes–and we will hit the road again sometime. We miss international travel too, and I look forward to when I can visit my family again in Romania.

I hope you are healthy and I hope you find some joy in our sharing the beauty of the land.


Joy and a Cheer!


Oana & David

Many of you asked what were our favorite places. It’s a tough question, really. Each place (yes, even southern Idaho…) had its unique flavor and interesting parts. Some of my favorite experiences were, in no particular order: hot lobster rolls in Maine; fall colors in Vermont and New Hampshire; blogging from the beach in Destin, Florida; Lake Moraine with its teal water and cute pikas running around; Native American dwellings, artwork, and festivals; driving on Route 66; witnessing cacti in bloom in the deserts of New Mexico and Arizona; bison burgers; everything about Yellowstone; whales jumping around in the ocean; Cajun dancing with the locals in Louisiana; and not least… the freedom that a road trip brings, the excitement about each new destination that keeps things interesting, the joy of discovering new vistas, information, and food; and the joy of sharing this unique experience with my favorite human (David) and two of my best friends (our sweet dogs, Kylie and Roxie).

Also, both David and I enjoyed catching up with family and friends along the way, so here’s a special shoutout to you!

Here are some highlights of our trip. Click on the links to read the posts and see more details about each destination.

July 2019: Banff, Glacier, Yellowstone

A mad dash up and across seven states in a week paid off when we reached Banff, Canada. Nearby, we marveled at the blue lakes: Lake Moraine and Lake Louise. Across the border, Glacier National Park gave us the thrill of Going-to-the-Sun-Road and Yellowstone quickly became one of our favorite places in the US.

Lake Moraine, Canada

August 2019: Oregon’s Willamette Valley, Grand Tetons, Washington State

I’ve always wanted to visit the Pacific Northwest with its mysterious cool misty forests and shores. I’ve also heard of the famed Oregon and Washington State wines, so I was thrilled to visit and taste some of the local wineries. Washington state is not short of amazing, some of the favorites being Seattle, Port Townsend, Mount Rainer, Olympic Peninsula, Cape Flattery. Across the Strait of San Juan and Fuca, we strolled through Victoria, BC. The Grand Teton National Park is as impressive as the name states but we didn’t have nearly enough time to explore it.

Boats in the harbor in Port Townsend, Washington

September 2019: Coastal Oregon, Oregon Wineries, Niagara Falls

We made a loop driving down the coast of Oregon and then back up through wine country before heading east and into Canada to see Niagara Falls and Quebec City. Oregon offered a plethora of activities: crabbing for Dungeness crab, discovering the delicious Tillamook cheese (and ice cream), the famed Cannon Beach, the beautiful Astoria, and lovely West Coast sunsets on Rialto Beach, along with lighthouses and amazing seafood fresh off the boat in Newport. Inland, we spent the night among grape vines near Salem, serenaded by coyotes.

Eola Winery, Salem, Oregon

October 2019: Maine, Vermont, Woodstock-NY

There’s really nothing as beautiful as fall in New England! We timed our visit in the area just right and were absolutely enchanted by the fall colors in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. We drove up and down Mt. Washington in New Hampshire–a scarier drive than Going-to-the-Sun by far. We stuffed ourselves on buttery lobster and hot lobster rolls. We visited the lovely Portland and Bar Harbor. We got a history lesson on a rainy day at the site of Woodstock music festival, saw the rural side of upstate New York, and strolled through a quiet Martha’s Vineyard. We stopped briefly to visit historical places like Philadelphia and Monticello.

Brilliant fall colors, Mount Washington, New Hampshire

November 2019: Thanksgiving

We were delighted to spend time with family and friends back in Knoxville, and had a fun stay at the llama farm nearby.

Lazy llama - male llama

December 2019: Florida beaches, Christmas

We soaked up some sunshine at the beach along the Emerald Coast before we headed back to Knoxville for Christmas. We simply couldn’t be away for the holidays.

Santa on the beach, Destin, Florida

January 2020: New Year’s, Cajun dancing, Austin

The New Year found us in New Orleans, and we absolutely LOVED hanging out in little Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, where the Cajun dancing was hopping and the food was amazing. Austin proved to be a fun city with good live music and friendly longhorn cattle. We made the mandatory stop at The Silos in Waco, and loved to see the little Texas town flourish.

Poche's RV park - sunset

February 2020: New Mexico and Arizona (Albuquerque, Tucson, Sedona)

In New Mexico, Truth or Consequences and Santa Fe stood out, while Arizona offered Saguaro National Park, Old Tucson and Tombstone, along with the amazing Sedona and Flagstaff. On our way to California, we visited a meteor crater, and stood on the corner in Winslow, Arizona.

Santa Fe

March 2020: Palm Springs, Santa Barbara

Spring sprung colorful and ingeniously-shaped cactus flowers: pink, white, yellow, red. We found a little Paradise in a mid-mod neighborhood in Palm Springs, and were “lucky” to be in San Diego for one straight week of rain (which made the locals very happy). Santa Barbara and the southern coast of California were stunning, while Hollywood and Beverly Hills were an eerie, empty scene. Joshua Tree National Park was impressive, and I found out that fine cactus needles are very hard to remove from clothes….

Joshua Tree

April 2020: Kingsman Arizona, Route 66, Home Again!

Because state and National Parks began shutting down due to COVID, we headed back toward Knoxville. We stopped by California’s Salton Sea, saw scissor-tailed flycatchers in Stinnett, TX, and feasted our dry eyes on the lush green of the Ozarks. While waiting for our house to become available (it was rented out), we enjoyed a quiet pastoral stay near Sevierville, TN.

Bright fuchsia and yellow flowers

Our trip route

Here is our trip, mapped out. The only place we reserved in advance was Banff, Canada. The rets of the time, we researched and reserved as we went along. We used several tools to select the RV parks, such as Escapees, Park Advisor, and good ol’ Google–I searched for RV parks near X, then filtered by ratings, and read through the reviews. We definitely liked the generous discounts available through Passport America and Good Sam’s memberships, and I definitely recommend getting America the Beautiful Annual National Park Pass, even if you don’t have an RV. We tried to stay in state parks as much as possible (usually much cheaper but with limited hookups) and loved exploring local wineries or farms through the Harvest Hosts membership.

Begin DateEnd DateRV ParkCityStateCountry
7/2/20197/8/2019Racoon Valley RVHeiskellTNUS
7/8/20197/9/2019CERAland ParkColumbusINUS
7/9/20197/10/2019Country Roads Motorhome and RVWisconsin DellsWIUS
7/10/20197/11/2019Prairie Cove Campground and RVAshbyMNUS
7/11/20197/12/2019Roughrider CampgroundMinotNDUS
7/12/20197/14/2019Gull Lake CampgroundGull LakeSKCA
7/14/20197/17/2019Tunnel Mountain Trailer CourtBanffALCA
7/17/20197/20/2019Wabasso CampgroundJasperALCA
7/21/20197/25/2016Sundance CampgroundWest GlacierMTUS
7/25/20197/26/2019Square Dance RV ParkLoloMTUS
7/26/20197/28/2019Yellowstone KOA MountainsideYellowstoneMTUS
7/28/20197/30/2019Hebgen Holiday LakesideYellowstoneMTUS
7/30/20198/2/2019Wapiti VillageAlpineWYUS
8/2/20198/7/2019LaPine State ParkLa PineORUS
8/7/20198/9/2019Jane & GarySalemORUS
8/9/20198/14/201999 RV ParkVancouverWAUS
8/14/20198/15/2019Ft. Stevens State ParkHammondORUS
8/15/20198/18/2019Dean & AngiePuyallupWAUS
8/18/20198/25/2019Elwha Dam RV ParkPort AngelesWAUS
8/25/20198/26/2019Driftwood RV ParkCopalis BeachWAUS
8/28/20199/4/2019Big Spruce RV ParkTillamookORUS
9/4/20199/7/2019South Beach State ParkNewportORUS
9/7/20199/8/2019Eola Hills Legacy VineyardSalemORUS
9/8/20199/10/2019Ainsworth State ParkMt. HoodORUS
9/10/20199/13/2019Lake Pleasant RV ParkBothellWAUS
9/13/20199/15/2019Wild Rose RV ParkColbertWAUS
9/15/20199/16/2019Square Dance RV ParkLoloMTUS
9/16/20199/17/2019Old West RV ParkReed PointMTUS
9/17/20199/18/2019Red Trail CampgroundMedoraNDUS
9/18/20199/19/2019Prairie Cove Campground and RVAshbyMNUS
9/19/20199/21/2019Country Roads Motorhome and RVWisconsin DellsWIUS
9/21/20199/22/2019Holland State ParkHollandMIUS
9/22/20199/24/2019CamparkNiagara FallsONCA
9/24/20199/25/2019Royal Mountain CampgroundJohnstownNYUS
9/25/20199/27/2019Draper’s Acres CampgroundLake PlacidNYUS
9/27/201910/2/2019Simona and FlorianSalaberry de ValleyfieldQCCA
10/2/201910/4/2019Camping de la JoieQuebec CityQCCA
10/4/201910/8/2019Two Rivers CampgroundSkoheganMEUS
10/8/201910/11/2019Country BumpkinsLincolnNHUS
10/11/201910/13/2019Emerald State ParkDorsetVTUS
10/13/201910/16/2019Sheila and GeorgeNortonMAUS
10/16/201910/18/2019Happy Days CampgroundSwan LakeNYUS
10/18/201910/20/2019Homestead CampgroundGreen LanePAUS
10/20/201910/23/2019Gambrill State ParkFrederickMDUS
10/23/201910/25/2019Wayesboro 340 VAWaynesboroVAUS
10/25/201911/1/2019Lazy LlamaChuckeyTNUS
11/1/201911/6/2019Volunteer RVHeiskellTNUS
11/6/201912/2/2019Racoon Valley RVHeiskellTNUS
12/2/201912/3/2019Oak Mountain State ParkBirminghamALUS
12/3/201912/17/2019Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State ParkNicevilleFLUS
12/17/201912/18/2019Joanna and RickLaGrangeGAUS
12/18/201912/27/2019Racoon Valley RVHeiskellTNUS
12/27/201912/28/2019Logan LandingAlpineALUS
12/28/20191/4/2020Jude Travel Park NOLANew OrleansLAUS
1/4/20201/11/2020Poche’s RV Park & Fishing CampBreaux BridgeLAUS
1/11/20201/16/2020Peaceful PinesHoustonTXUS
1/16/20201/17/2020Lone StarAustinTXUS
1/17/20201/22/2020Sunset RV ParkAustinTXUS
1/22/20201/27/2020Hidden ValleySan AntonioTXUS
1/27/20201/28/2020Sleeping LadyDel RioTXUS
1/28/20202/1/2020Mike & Cheryl’sAlpineTXUS
2/1/20202/2/2020Sombra Antigua WineryEl PasoTXUS
2/2/20202/5/2020El Paso WestEl PasoTXUS
2/5/20202/8/2020Enchanted TrailsAlbuquerqueNMUS
2/8/20202/10/2020MonticelloTruth or ConsequencesNMUS
2/10/20202/11/2020Grande VistaWillcoxAZUS
2/11/20202/14/2020Cactus CountryTucsonAZUS
2/14/20202/18/2020Las ColinasEloyAZUS
2/18/20202/24/2020Western WayTucsonAZUS
2/24/20203/2/2020Verde Ranch ResortCamp VerdeAZUS
3/2/20203/5/2020Moon RiverMohave ValleyAZUS
3/5/20203/8/2020Sky ValleyDesert Hot SpringsCAUS
3/8/20203/12/2020Sweetwater County ParkBonitaCAUS
3/12/20203/16/2020Cachiuma LakeSanta BarbaraCAUS
3/16/20203/20/2020Valencia Travel VillageCastaicCAUS
3/20/20203/27/2020Sky ValleyDesert Hot SpringsCAUS
3/27/20204/3/2020Oasis PalmsThermalCAUS
4/3/20204/9/2020Zuni VillageKingmanAZUS
4/9/20204/11/2020OK RV ParkHolbrookAZUS
4/11/20204/17/2020Enchanted TrailsAlbuquerqueNMUS
4/17/20204/19/2020Comanche CampgroundStinnettTXUS
4/19/20204/20/2020Onapa RV ParkChecotahOKUS
4/20/20204/21/2020Burns Park RV and CampgroundLittlerockARUS
4/23/20205/7/2020Dumplin Valley FarmKodakTNUS

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