Our Story

Four Years Later…..

If you’ve been hanging on – perhaps our friends and family are still a participating audience – you know that our RV adventures somewhat stalled out in 2017. Gary’s 30 year career in the hospitality industry came to an abrupt and unexpected end in the spring of that year – and we started working seven days a week in our small handmade business. The Winnebago sat in the driveway, and became a glorified guest room when the kids came to visit or stay for a time while our business took over the inside of the house. But through all this time, we continued to dream of going full-time RVing. We continued to educate ourselves and follow our favorite YouTubers. Knowing the Winnebago was not for us or full-time travel, we dove head first into researching different types of RVs. We went to every RV show accessible and walked in and out of hundreds of rigs – until we finally settled on the layout that worked for us and the manufacturers that offered that floor plan and storage. But, still the RV lifestyle seemed an elusive dream.

The Wild Sasquatches Harpers Ferry Murphy’s Farm Shenandoah River
Murphy’s Farm in Harpers Ferry National Park – a moderate hike with a scenic view of the Shenandoah. We did this as much as the weather allowed during our four month stay.

Like the rest of the world – 2020 brought life into crystal clear focus. All the trappings and trimmings of our lives shifted or disappeared overnight. Months went by without seeing my children in person. We were overwhelmed with our small business as home decor became a major focus for people who were now suddenly home all the time and shopping online. But – while some things got harder – things slowed down. The expectations to do things out of the house no longer existed. I could attend my book club on zoom without wearing a bra and drink the whole bottle of my favorite wine by myself. The weather warmed and the kids started coming over for hangout time on the front porch. We started taking daily walks with the dogs, and really looking at the trees, and the foliage, and the houses and property for sale in our neighborhood. During one of those evening walks in August, I realized that the sign on the property next to us was missing though the post was still up – so I made a note to message the realtor. We were still at least in theory talking and dreaming about a five year plan, so when I contacted the realtor, Gary told me to ask her if she would do a market analysis on our house so that in a year or so when we were ready to sell the house, we would have a good idea what it was worth. Later that week she came by, we sat on our porch and got the message from her loud and clear that if we wanted to sell – we should not wait. We took the weekend to toss it around, and decided to hold hands and leap off the edge of the figurative cliff into the great unknown.

Our house went on the market in September and sold in less than a week. We traveled to Florida in early October to pick up our new-to-us RV – and closed on the house by month’s end. We have been full-timing ever since in our hometown area and tomorrow our travels begin. Thanks so much for being here to follow our adventures.


It Was a Rough Night for the Squatches

Dry camping, boondocking, wild camping  – whatever you call it, it’s basically camping without electric, sewer, or water hook-ups. Some of the advantages to this type of camping is that you can pretty much go anywhere that is accessible to your rig. One of the reasons we decided to purchase a motor home to begin with is so we could take our business to craft shows and festivals that were a little further away from home without camping facilities. We can sleep in a bed we have outfitted the way we like to sleep, we can cook the kinds of food we like to eat, and we can travel with our pets. There are a lot of advantages to taking your mini home on wheels along with you.

Our current camping spot behind Memorial Hall at the York Fairgrounds in Pennsylvania.

Currently, we are in PA doing the York Folk and Fine Arts Show. It opened Friday night with very sparse traffic, and Saturday all day was the same. For many hours, hardly a soul could be seen walking the aisles. It was a long, rainy, cold day. We did get to meet some other really nice vendors, got some recommendations for other shows, and got some intel on why the show we are at currently is not doing well. I was also able to make use of the time to work on some designs for custom orders, so at least I got to check that off the list.

After a long day in the event hall – we were thankful to be a few mere steps out the back door to our camper. I heated up the chili  brought, and after a glass of wine or two and the hot food I was somewhat revived. We snuggled in and caught up with some of our favorite YouTubers. About 10 o’clock, Gary walked the dog and I got into bed, not feeling very well.

One of our biggest challenges personally when we dry-camp is running Gary’s C-Pap machine. We can run the generator but it’s pretty loud right by the bedroom. The first night he ran it off the coach batteries, but the second night he had cooked up a plan with the building maintenance man to plug in to an outside outlet. I was laying down, half-asleep listening to all manner of banging and cursing as he tried to get it hooked up. He’s 6’5″ going up and down camper steps – rock rock rock rock – as he pounds down four steps. Slam goes the door. He’s in our bedroom, an unskilled flashlight user, directing the beam of light right into my face. I wish I could say I pleasantly asked him to move it but as it was about the tenth rude awakening….

Finally, he’s asleep and I’m asleep wedged between him and Nutmeg who has decided that camping is the perfect reason to sleep with us. My dog allergy usually makes this a no-no as well as the fact that at home there are three, but I indulged her. A few hours of peaceful slumber came to an abrupt end when the pleasant sound of rain on the roof turned to heavy rain, violent shaking, and whistling wind. I laid there for half an hour or so listening and worrying. It sounded as if the outside of the camper was shredding. I finally got out of bed to find that the thermostat was off and there was hardly any power in the camper, nor could I start the generator. Gary got up to crank the engine in an effort to recharge the coach batteries. He went outside to inspect the exterior of the camper with his flashlight making sure to graze my eyes a time or two just because. A gust of wind nearly jerked all 300 pounds of him off the steps as he opened the door to go outside. The wind whistled and howled and Nutmeg sat bravely on my feet staring for daddy to come back while the camper pitched and swayed.  Gary returned to report that all was well even if it hadn’t sounded that way.  We considered moving the camper to the shelter of being closer to one of the surrounding buildings, and decided against it as it is a fire lane.

The wind died down and somewhere near 6 am the three of us settled back to sleep. The generator continued to stall throughout the next couple of hours. I’m now wide awake and partially caffeinated waiting for my companions to stir before I venture to wash my hair in the teensy bathroom.

There is so much still to learn, but we are getting a lot of opportunities to practice.

Camping · Festivals and Events

An Open Letter to Event Organizers

Orchard-slide2-980x360Dear Event Organizers –

This is to those of you who organize craft fairs, artisan festivals, makers rallies, and events where people who search for quality handmade items can come to see in person our life’s work and meet us, the creators. We see you – many of you, rolling up your sleeves and working alongside us to make these events a success. We know the hard work it takes to organize and promote these events to make them a worthwhile endeavor for all of us. We know that just like us, some of you are burning the midnight oil for weeks before a show just to bring your own personal best. I know I don’t speak just for myself when I say you are appreciated. But some of you have forgotten about us, the heart and soul of your shows, the reason the people come. For a time, you bring us together as a tiny, temporary community of artisans – and we are talking about you.
After several years of participating in some of the best ranked, most well-known and widely attended shows, I have gathered insight both from my own personal experience and from that of other vendors I have met along the way. I wanted to share with you some things in the hopes that this can broaden your understanding of our perspective and perhaps help make these shows better for all of us

◦ Please remember, we are your customers too. We pay a lot of money in fees, travel expenses, as well as for parking and lodging just to be there. We often also have the expense of providing our own tents and displays so we can adhere to your requirements – at the risk we may not recover it in sales. The attendees of these events are coming because we are there. A lot of event organizers have forgotten that we are their customers too – and as we all know, customer service is key.

We are your customers too.

◦ A little bit of vendor service goes a long way. Sometimes we have traveled a distance to attend an event and never meet the organizers. Sometimes we have slept poorly in an unfamiliar bed and couldn’t find where to get a decent cup of coffee when we arrive the first morning of an event. Take a moment to come around, not just to check that we are following rules but shake our hands, thank us for being there, make us feel welcome. Have someone available who will watch our booths so we can take a potty break or grab some lunch especially if we are working alone. Have coffee and donuts in the morning in a special tent just for the vendors. Have a “runner” that goes around a couple times during a long day to see if they can make change or grab the vendors a drink, provide bottles of water, etc. Boosting our morale makes for a better show for everyone – and it helps us stay positive even if sales or traffic or both are slow.
◦ If you set rules, enforce them. There is nothing worse than working so hard to be at a show that is supposed to be exclusively handmade – and watch other vendors put out items made in China and try to pass them off as their own, but it’s even worse when you do nothing about it. If there is supposed to be ground cover and every document we get from our application to our welcome letter states that vendors will not be allowed to open their booths without it, and we see other vendors opening up their booths without it and selling for the duration of the event – we lose respect for you. If people aren’t supposed to have their pets with them during set up, and their dog is there peeing on my Christmas tree, I am upset with you for not enforcing the rule you made. (BTW – I love dogs! I am the rescue human of three beautiful mutts.) At many of the events I’ve attended, at least one and sometimes multiple vendors shut down early even though it is usually clearly stated that we are expected to remain open and not pack up until the event closes. Their impatience makes the customers feel like the show is ending so they leave – which hurts all of us. I have never once seen an organizer stop this from happening.

If you set rules, enforce them.

◦ Provide somewhere for us to park that makes sense and allows reasonable access to the space you have assigned to us. If this is not possible, try to arrange to have volunteers on hand (at some great events I’ve seen local boy scout troops do this as a community service project), have hand trucks and carts ready, and do something other than behave as if it’s our own problem. Let me remind you again, we paid you so we could be at your event. Also please make it very clear where we can and cannot park – both for those of us who are traveling compactly in one vehicle and those of us who may be towing a trailer or arriving in an RV.
◦ Make sure we can be easily identified as a vendor both by those working for the event planners as well as other vendors. This prevents us from being scrutinized when we walk to our car, access vendor designated areas, and generally prevents confusion about who is a vendor and who are patrons. We also like to offer vendor discounts and can’t tell you how many times we find out after someone has paid us that they were a fellow vendor. This could be a vendor tag on a lanyard or a jelly bracelet – but please make sure it is removable especially if the event is several days long.

The responsibility for the environment of the show is yours.

◦ Please be sure there is a clear designation of authority so we know who to ask about what. Sometimes as a vendor we are sent in circles when we need basic assistance. It’s frustrating to us and wastes our time when we often don’t have it to spare.
◦ Try to make an effort to better assist new vendors. The community pulls together and helps one another, but a lot of bad information is communicated from vendor to vendor which inadvertently creates confusion. Make sure you are the one there to provide assistance and clear information and be available so we don’t have to help someone else while we are trying to set up our own shops. Also be sure these newbies know who you are if you’re running the show.
◦ When at all possible, only allow a limited number of vendors within a given product type. Events that are overrun with one type of product will not be widely attended. Be sure that vendors with similar products are spread out throughout the event so that each of us gets a fair shot at attracting customers.
◦ Have designated smoking areas for customers even at outdoor events and you be the heavy if people do light up. The responsibility for the environment of the show is yours.
◦ Consider requirements about vendors with children or babies in a booth with them all day. Festival days are long for adults – and even more so for small children. While parents are working their own business, their children can be a disruption to their fellow vendors. (I know – first it was the dogs and now it’s the little people. I like them both – I promise I do.) If you do allow vendors to bring children, expect the parents to keep their children from disrupting neighboring vendors.

Be honest.

◦ Be honest. If your event is focused exclusively on “handmade” items, do not allow direct sales vendors to participate. Items made by these companies are not handmade arts and crafts and should not be included in such shows. If your show is a mixed bag of direct sales and arts and crafts, be honest with the vendors about what percentage you will allow of direct sales.
◦ Use common sense in dealing with rules and requirements. At one recent event there was a rule in place that all vehicles had to be removed from the event area by a specific time. This is not an uncommon rule – as most of the events we do have this standard requirement. However, we were reminded not once, not twice, but three times that our vehicle had to be gone, after having this communicated to us in triplicate via paperwork. There is no need to breathe down the necks of adult business owners who are operating in a professional manner as if they are high school students.

Use common sense.

◦ If you say something, let your word be your bond. If you tell us we will be able to drive through the event grounds 30 minutes at the conclusion of an event – making us wait 45 minutes is unacceptable. Hold yourselves to the same high standard that you have for vendors.
◦ If your event is a multi-faceted festival, be sure to promote all aspects of the event from the entertainment to the food to the arts and crafts vendors. Make sure when the opportunity arises, promote our businesses as we will be busy promoting your event.

Let your word be your bond.

◦ Remember that your job isn’t over once the event is underway – in a lot of ways it has really just begun. Be out there, be present, make all of your customers feel welcome – including your vendors.

I know that all organizers likely have horror stories to tell of bad behavior by vendors. We have participated in events that have rules that make us wonder what preempted the setting of such a requirement – for instance a recent event rule was that “no vendor shall operate a booth out of their vehicle”. It is my belief that if organizers set the standard – they will elevate the quality of the vendors that participate in their events. We all want a fun, successful event with a good vibe that makes our customers come back next time with all of their friends to see the cool new things we have made. We are all the better for it.

If you’ve read this far, I’m grateful. I think it means that you really want to invest in your event and the people that help make it happen.

Just A Girl Trying to Make a Handmade Living

Boondocking · Camping · Festivals and Events

Fifty-one Feet and Six Inches

Here is our rig set up just outside of our local Tractor Supply. We had to stop on our way out to get an adapter for our trailer lights. We decided to eat our lunch while we were here!

This past weekend we traveled for the first time hauling our 16’ trailer for our business with our camper to the Strawberry Festival in New Hope / Lahaska, PA. This addition makes our rig about 51’ total in length. Whoa buddy! You know how they say the first step is always the hardest, well this wasn’t exactly true, but the first step certainly challenged us. Where we live on the side of the mountain in our “sticks and bricks” we can’t exactly maneuver things around to get this all hooked up in the driveway. Even if we could, we would have a pretty hard time driving it out of our neighborhood. We took the trailer to a church parking and left it where we could bring our camper to hook up, only once we were there the lock on the hitch would not come off. Gary had just used it in the driveway to remove it from our truck and transfer it to the RV, but that sucker was not budging. We didn’t have an WD-40 and going back to our house in the RV was not an option. We were unable to leave our neighborhood for about an hour, already departing several hours later than planned. (It takes a long time to make sure you have everything you need in your camper!) Thankfully my friend Becky’s family of heroes came to our rescue with some lubricant for the lock and we were on our way.

We were trying to get this hitch off to turn it around because it was too high the other way, but the lock was stuck.

The first hour and a half or so was rough. As I have mentioned, I am not a hearty traveler. I get motion sick. Riding in the RV creates a lot of movement you don’t get in a car and I had to adjust. We were also on I-81 out of West Virginia and into Maryland with a lot of construction – which meant narrow lanes. I read somewhere that the average width of an RV is 8’ and that the minimum width allowed by law for a road under construction is 8’6”. Those six inches are NOT enough. As we bounded down the highway, I tried hard not to think about those six inches and Gary’s inexperience with driving the rig. Six inches. Six inches. Six inches. Six inches. Yeah, I thought about nothing else. I even tried to work, distracting myself with my laptop but it was of no use.

Once we got into PA and on state highway 78 – the road was much better. Wide open lanes with great shoulders – far more than six inches. I started to relax, look around, converse, and even got excited about the experience. Gary had used Mapquest to plan our route because we have not yet secured a truck/RV GPS navigator – to stay on main highways. He also called the property manager to make sure we had the best information about accessing the festival. He also used the Waze app to keep up to date on the traffic, accident reports, and road conditions, which started trying to reroute us. We stayed the course on our planned route and expected Waze to catch on that we weren’t taking a detour until we started seeing orange signs “DETOUR AHEAD”

The view from my seat of the Pennsylvania back roads.

A large section of highway 78 was under construction and instead of giving us only six extra inches to navigate, they closed the road. As a result, we spent nearly two hours on the back roads and through the countryside of eastern Pennsylvania. It was a beautiful side of the state I had never seen. The problem was we were on unfamiliar roads. They were narrow and winding in places. Gary maneuvered the rig like a pro with few difficulties until we got to this one little town where a short, steep hill jutted up and over railroad tracks. The AC in the front of our RV isn’t working and it was hot so we had our windows down which allowed us to clearly hear the screech as the jack on our trailer shredded against the ground. Hours later when we finally arrived at our destination just before dark weren’t able to unhook the trailer from our RV because of the damage. The parking manager put us in bus parking where we comfortably resided for the next several days.

There was a lot of excitement on this trip – I’ll spread it out over the next several blogs. I hope you’ll join us for the journey.


Letting Go


My first cup of morning coffee in the camper! (My friend Lyndsey makes these mugs. Find the link to her shop at the end of the blog.)

One of life’s great pleasures is waking up in the morning at a campground. I grew up living mostly in the suburbs where there were few sounds of nature outside other than the yapping of a neighbor’s dog. The times I went camping, it was like being transported to a different planet. Most of the time you were up early enough to feel the morning dew on your skin, the day not yet old enough to burn it off even in the depth of summer. The sounds of birds singing their sweet songs in the trees joined the scampering of small feet rustling through leaves or pine needles by nut-gatherers below. Whether you were tent camping, in a truck conversion, or in any one of the various forms of campers – you made your way outside during those wee hours to greet the day, the morning air full of the smells of bacon and pancakes cooking on a Coleman stove somewhere nearby. If you were my neighbor, you’d likely have heard me tripping over the root of a tree or some other obstacle. I still have a scar across the top of my ankle from a particularly bad run in with a tent stake at Myrtle Beach as a teenager.

Letting go means that whatever stays is meant to be and it resides in peace with no coercion.

Disconnecting from the weight of every day life draws multitudes of people to various forms of camping every year. Just the change of scenery alone can do wonders for a person. The campground we stayed in was not in an unfamiliar area, but I had changed my perspective to the other side of the river. I am looking forward to many opportunities to have ever-changing views of both the world around me and the ever evolving person inside me. This non-static approach to the world helps me know myself better, and in knowing myself better, I am a better citizen of the world, wife, mother, friend. Trust me, this hot mess needs a lot of fine tuning.

In the last few years, I have undergone a personal transformation. It seems people pleasing is in the rearview mirror. It’s close enough that I can still find the reverse gear and revisit it, but not so close that it is my constant traveling companion. It has distanced me from people who have been friends for twenty or more years. The funny thing about people pleasing is that when you stop making every decision in your life based on the needs, wants, and preferences of others – you often find you are no longer useful. I think there is still value, even if it’s occasionally lonely to finding your most authentic life. Gary has not only watched but nurtured this transformation. If I start looking to shift into reverse, he reminds me that I want to go forward and that where I go, he will go.

The biggest change these last few years have brought me is the ability to let go. Letting go is different than running away. Letting go means that I have made the choice not to force relationships where they do not thrive organically. Letting go means a growing awareness of my authentic self in place of what used to feel false or stilted, and making only the fewest compromises in this area. Letting go means that whatever stays is meant to be and it resides in peace with no coercion. This is preparation for more of a nomadic lifestyle, which seems is always about letting go.

Letting go of one thing means there is time, energy, and resources to invest in something new. Mornings in a camp setting will always be a picture of a fresh start, the remnants of old things in ashes where last night’s campfire burned bright.

You can get Lyndsey’s Happy Camper Mug HERE.


The Reluctant Traveler

Let’s just clear something up from the beginning. This is a travel blog. This is a blog about beginners learning to live in an RV. This is a blog about wanderlust. This blog is about the quest for adventure. As you journey with us, you will get a peek into our dream of escaping the rat race and a quest to live life on our own terms. As the author of this blog, I need to out myselfIMG_4220. The above may make me sound like a risk taking, adventure seeking, nomad wannabe, but nothing could be further from the truth. I do not fly well. I get sea-sick. I am hesitant to ever travel on a train after a disturbing experience going cross-country on an Amtrak. Sometimes I even have anxiety about road trips, which is often preceded by having anxiety about having anxiety about road trips. I am a reluctant traveler.  I am also the girl who gets motion sickness rolling out of bed. It’s a whole thing.

Sometimes I even have anxiety about road trips, which is often preceded by having anxiety about having anxiety about road trips.

I’ve spent most of my adult life in the throes of high-functioning anxiety. This is to say I am not one to be paralyzed by fear or immobilized by dread. I do not pull the covers over my head and say “not today” when the anxiety overwhelms me. Most of the time, I dive head-long into outlasting, outperforming, inexhaustible perfectionism. This entrance to the RV-lifestyle will be no different. Eventually my heart will palpitate a little less, I will get my sea legs and learn to walk to the back to get my purse (like I was unwilling to the other day while Gary was driving), and slowly but surely, I will overcome the things that terrify me.

Our first venture out in our RV was intentionally close to home. We were close enough to swim across the Shenandoah and hike up Appalachian Trail to get home, over the river and through the woods. Earlier that day we dropped our car off at the campground because we wanted to make sure we had a vehicle available if we needed or forgot something (which of course we did!) but also because I needed the practice of riding in the motorhome before we take off next weekend for a four-hour trip to Pennsylvania.

The weather was on the cooler side of perfect the first night but we were able to enjoy sitting by the campfire. The next day it rained all. day. long.  Fortunately we had no plans other than to familiarize ourselves with074 Harpers Ferry KOA our rig and learn how things work.

The KOA in Harpers Ferry was lovely, quiet, and not very busy mid-week. Historical markers lined the woods with commemoration of significant moments in the Civil War. We had nobody near us for the first 24 hours. The second night an Airsteam motor coach (somewhat of a unicorn) pulled in next to us on the driver’s side. We woke up the next morning with another neighbor two spaces away in a fifth-wheel. We hadn’t even heard them come in.

There is a lot we still have to learn – but we will take it one day and one mile at a time.


There Was Evening and There Was Morning – The First Day

The bed was hard and the coffee tasted like chemical water. I’ve washed so many dishes in the last 24 hours that my hands are dry – and they smell like the aforementioned chemical-y water. I’m spoiled. So many of the things I love about life are creature comforts of the nest I’ve created for myself. Last night we spent our first night in our yet-to-be-named Winnebago.

The most difficult part of getting this thing on the road was our own driveway and neighborhood. We live on the side of a mountain where in many places only one car at a time can pass  – and we were going to bring a 35′ camper through there. Long story short, we made it. It was a little like trying to thread a camel through the eye of a needle or something of similar Biblical proportions.

The broken light

The first thing we noticed when arriving to the campground was a light broken off the driver’s side rear of the rig. The red plastic casing sheared off and we suspect this happened before we even got out of our driveway. Seems like it will be an easy fix once we get the proper part from Winnebago.

As Gary was negotiating the hook ups for the first time, I was inside setting up “house” and kept hearing water running. My hearing muddled from a recent ear infection hasn’t been prime lately, but I knew I was hearing running water. I kept yelling to him at the back of the rig, “I hear water running!” He yelled something back about the tanks. I went into the bathroom to check all the faucets and yelled again, “I HEAR water running!” I couldn’t make out what he said but my normally even-keeled husband’s tone of voice was clearly aggravated. I turned back towards the front of the camper just in time to see water shooting out of every crack of the cabinet under the kitchen sink. It quickly flooded the floor, poured down the steps to the outside, and ran through the basement compartments just underneath.  I began to yell “TURN IT OFF! TURN IT OFF!” It was too late. The cabinet flooded and the floor was a puddle. It took the only three bath towels I had packed and half a roll of paper towels to clean it all up. A water filter under the sink had not been tightened down properly – and I won’t mention any names but it wasn’t me.

So many dishes.

Gary continued the set up outside and I was inside putting chili in the crockpot to warm. Gary was setting up chairs and the grill. Outside flapping in the wind were our three bath towels. Some vintage campers set up with a  boho chic style. Ours looked like we were going for 1930’s New York tenement housing.

Note to self: bring more than just the towels you need for bathing in case of emergency.

Later that night, sipping a glass of wine by the fire brought it all into perspective. It wasn’t quite dark and the trees hung like a canopy over us. Gary relaxed beside me with a cigar and I just took it all in from every angle – the crackling sounds of the burning wood, the flickering glow of warm light, the warmth of the flame competing with the breeze rustling in the trees. I know this is our next adventure. I am a creature of habit and order. I like things I can count on, stability, structure. Having lived with chaos and trauma much of my life, I thrive on consistency and the assurance that every place I put my foot is a solid one. I cannot explain this magnetic pull I feel to the nomadic style of RV living with all of the unknowns except to say that maybe life is stretching me, growing me, teaching me that being centered comes from a place deep inside and not my surroundings.

Day One, accomplished.


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