We haven't been on the road too long yet, but we have learned a few valuable lessons while living in our small RV, Maude. Granted, these lessons may pale in comparison to what we will learn over time, but we wanted to share our experiences in order to reassure, re-inspire, and well, just keep things real. Check it out.
1) Always lock your cabinet doors. Always.
Before taking off, do one final sweep to make sure everything is locked. Why, you ask? Well, because you may just take an unexpected sharp turn into a Piggly Wiggly to buy some water, which results in all of your dishes pouring out of the cabinet like Niagara, and shattering to pieces on the floor. You just may.
2) A mattress topper is key.
Most RV beds aren't too comfortable. Especially the bunks. Sleeping takes up a lot of time on the road so you damn well want to do it right. Pony up the $50-100 for a decent topper and you will thank us. Your back will thank us. Your bones will thank us.
3) Close all windows before hitting the road.
This one we need to keep working on. We love fresh air and open all the windows whenever we're stopped. The problem, is that often times we take off without checking all the windows, which either results in an annoying rattling sound on the road, or potentially can cause the replacement of very expensive specialty glass.
4) Propane = Life - A Story of Boondocking
Vanessa and I boondock as much as we can. (Boondocking = dry docking = not hooked up to a water, electric or sewer supply). It saves us money and also is nice to park and explore wherever we end up. To boondock in your RV, propane is essential if you're looking to cook hot food, keep your fridge cold, charge a laptop or cell phone, or run your water heater. Without propane, we can't run our generator, which means we're out of luck for most necessary things.
5) Caulk, Caulk, & Caulk some more.
Your RV has a lot of windows, vents, and rooftop accessories. Caulking prevents leaks from entering the interior and molding up your home. Once or twice a year, re-caulk everything that already has caulk and don't skimp! You can afford to glob the stuff on, especially on the roof.
6) Slow & Steady wins the race
We don't speed on the road. Really, we can't. Maude is heavy and wobbles to and fro, so we like to keep it under the speed limit. We've found this not only helps our avoidance of police interference, but staying slow also keeps our gas mileage on point. $$$
7) Coffee and laptops and being level, oh my.
Being level is something you take for granted when say, you're in a home. We learned the hard way about what happens when you aren't exactly level, your laptop is open, and coffee is running rampant. Hint: I need an entirely new keyboard. Level up, folks. Even if you stick a few wooden boards under one tire.
8) Bikes, please.
We should have brought a few bikes with us. Getting around each city in Maude is fairly difficult, and we need an easier way to get about. We've missed out on a few opportunities to explore and review because of this. Like when it was too hot in our small RV and the pups needed to be hooked up to AC at an RV park. We couldn't take her around and walking 6-7 miles roundtrip was a bit rough in the heat. So, we need bikes. We're checking out all thrift stores and pawn shops for something used and reliable. Have an old bike you no longer use? Drop us a line and let us know.
With our last day in St. Louis quickly approaching, we decided it's time to go over some really cool FREE things to do in St. Louis. We stress the importance of free for two reasons: one, it's always a great feeling to save a buck, even if you can afford not to. Two, we want to emphasize the fact that anyone, ANYONE can travel and do it on the cheap. You don't need to stay in a fancy hotel and do all the touristy things for $30 a pop. But there are so many places to check out in every city, most of which we try to do for $10 or less. So with that said, if you're looking for what to do in St. Louis, Missouri we have you covered. Check it out.
1. Symphony in Forest Park
2. Laumiere Sculpture Park
3. Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant
4. Soulard Laundromat
5. The Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tour
6. St. Louis Zoo
8. Tree House Vegetarian
Let me just tell you--- wow. The fried beets were like French fries but thicker, with a sweeter finish. Less oily which was great. The aoli sauce too, was incredible. Crab cakes, which had zero crab, pan de Queso with a superb chimmichurri sauce on the side. (Although amazing, they still don't beat Luisa Schmidt's pan de Queso!!). The Tree House Wellington was not made of beef, but instead homemade seitan, which was absolutely outstanding. Paired with roasted bok choy and a delectable sauce, we went crazy for this Wellington. And then the non-cheese cheesecake. Probably the best I've ever had. I didn't even realize there was no cheese it was that delicious. Paired with a cherry compote and date/nut crust, I would go back for the cheesecake alone. And the Furlough Fashioned because that was mixed well, too. Tree House was a highlight for me. They stayed open later for us since we also came in a bit late, and showed zero complaints. If you're looking for great vegetarian food in St. Louis, then Tree House is your answer.
9. The Gateway Arch
This past weekend Vanessa and I were lucky enough to work the St. Louis music festival LouFest, with Chicago-based clothing and accessories company Futurgarb. Although it was a huge departure from our job last week with Sowing Seeds Nursery, it wasn't any less of a blast or a learning experience. Working on the road allows us many different opportunities to highlight many of our skill sets and meet all different kinds of people.
Saturday and Sunday were spent selling Futurgarb merch, which overall was pretty amazing. As most of you know, I FREAKING LOVE HATS. The hipster in me craves wide brims and felts on a daily basis. Futurgarb has THE coolest and widest arrangement of hats I have ever seen. (Note: the post is not sponsored, I really just love hats, mmkay?). Besides hats, they had killer sunglasses, scarves, Eco-friendly wallets made of recycled bicycle tires -- just accessories galore. Which made this stuff really easy to sell.
Let's just say, Vanessa and I worked our butts off this past weekend. We were exhausted and on our feet for 12 hours each day, but it was well-worth the adventure. We met so many amazing people, we spent the weekend outside, we could dress up in festival-wear and showcase our individuality, we were able to listen to some kick ass bands all weekend (Billy Idol, Nate Ruess, Brandon Flowers, Misterwives, Young the Giant, Ludacris, and more), and most importantly we were together.
HUGE shoutout to Futurgarb. Thank you for a memorable weekend and an amazing festival.
Well, we're on the road again, en route to Missouri. Maude, our wonderfully small RV, has been holding up like a champ, and we appreciate her sturdiness with each steep climb and deep-graded hill.
Nashville Farmer's Market
We perused the international grocery for quite some time and left with VERY inexpensive authentic fare. Stay tuned next week for another Recipe from the Road -- Saag Paneer. For all you Indian food lovers out there, get pumped.
We would love to visit the Nashville Farmers Market again on a weekend, or when more booths are open in order to get the full experience.
The Wild Cow
By now you should know how fond Vanessa and I are of vegetarian and vegan eats. I guess after yesterday though, fond is an understatement. The Wild Cow in East Nashville was some of the BEST vegetarian and vegan food we've ever had. The vibe was super chill, tattooed servers and colorful painted walls. Low alternative music played in the background. Pictures of cows hung on the walls-- cute ones, none of which were used in the creation of our meals.
We split the vegan nachos and Maple Tempeh Sandwich. Let me just tell you, go for the nachos alone, they were out of this world. GMO free blue corn chips. Pinto and black beans. Vegan cashew sour cream. Vegan cashew cheese sauce. Onions. Avocado. Tomatoes. Dude, I can't.
The tempeh sandwich was equally delicious, with a vegan garlic aioli and side of lentil stew. I promise I will recreate this lentil stew recipe -- mark my words.
Love, love, love The Wild Cow. Will make this a thing to do every time we visit Nashville.
Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream
Hands down some of the best ice cream I've ever had. Two half scoops = one scoop so we combined two flavored into one little cup. The gal helping us behind the counter was thoroughly helpful and had a lot of patience, as at one point Vanessa had a handful of mini tasting spoons.
Overall the winners for us included the Brown Butter Brittle, Double Toasted Coconut, and the Salted Peanut Butter With Chocolate Flecks.
The ice cream was a welcomed treat as we said "until next time" to Nashville.
On the road again in our small motorhome. Big things in store this weekend. Stay tuned!
It was a sad goodbye today as we left Pikeville, Tennessee. We spent the last four days working on the road at Sowing Seeds Nursery & Garden Center. We want to find meaningful work throughout our RV travels. Needless to say we left with so much more than we ever could have imagined.
The Smith family, Wendy, Glen, Alli, and Ethan, quickly became a second family to us on the road. They taught us things we never knew -- what an unharvested walnut looks like, how kefir can be made, that lemon verbena makes an excellent tea (thanks, Wendy!) and they also showed us what true Southern hospitality means.
What Wendy and her family are doing on their nursery/homestead is very similar to the practices Vanessa and I implement throughout our travels. Self sufficiency, minimalism, never-ending growth, and at the center of it all is love. They raise chickens, cows, horses, goats, pigs, ducks, turkeys, and even a donkey named Dusty. All their animals are fed a GMO-free diet, which is something Wendy is adamant about providing. This nutrition and dietary awareness extends to her family as well.
At every turn, Vanessa and I were fascinated with what Wendy and her family had built. Most recently, she started a straw hay bale garden. This type of garden means seedlings are transplanted into the bale, where they can grow at their leisure. Work smarter, not harder as Wendy would say.
Tomatoes, peppers, basil, lemon verbena, pineapple mint, sweet potatoes, oregano, Italian parsley, and lavender, are just a few of the plants grown in the garden. Not to mention the walnut tree out back, the abundance of aloe plants, and the soon-to-be-orchard we helped prepare. The family understands how fulfilling it is to be reliant only on themselves and their land.
These were the highlights during our trip:
Riding a horse for the first time
Gathering walnuts and clipping fresh herbs from Wendy's garden
Vanessa holding and calming a squealing piglet
Cooking vegan fare for the family
Tending to the nursery plants
Working outside and not being swayed by the rain or the dirt
Falling asleep to the sounds of crickets and howling mountain dogs in the distance
Spending time laughing and joking with the Smith family
We were even lucky enough to take a trip up to Fall Creek Falls, a local favorite amongst the people of Pikeville. It was there, at dusk, that we bathed under the waterfalls, our breath catching in our lungs from the temperature we soon adjusted to.
It was our first week of learning and working during our RV travels. Everything Vanessa and I wanted out of life was encompassed in our stay with the Smith family. The gratitude we felt after every day in the sun, hands calloused from digging, pulling, cutting, was enough in itself to remind us why we're doing what we're doing.
We hope each of our adventures can be as fulfilling as this one. Thank you Smith family! You set the bar very high.
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Marisa & Vanessa have a whole "About Us" blurb that they are dying for you to check out.