fort monroe, virginia

We visited Fort Monroe National Historic Site near Virginia Beach in June 2019. There’s a dog cemetery on top of the outer wall that presents an interesting way of tracking the history of the fort. The gate was to low (10’0”) our Leisure Travel Van (Tiny House) is 10’6” tall so we had to park outside the fort and walk in. The fort was built after the War of 1812. Construction started in 1819 and was decommissioned in 2011. The fort was the only fort in southern territory continually held be the Union forces during the entire Civil War.

During the Civil War, freed or run away slaves came to the fort seeking refuge and dubbed Fort Monroe – “Freedom’s Fortress”…

Near Virginia Beach, Virginia
The gate into Fort Monroe wasn’t made for modern day vehicles.
Some very notorious people spent time at Fort Monroe before and after the Civil War. Just to name a few – General Robert E. Lee, General George B. McClellan, and President Abraham Lincoln. Construction began in 1819 and took 15 years to build. The fort remained in use until it was decommissioned in 2011.
The moat and walls of Fort Monroe.
The moat completely surrounds the fort and was not designed to defend against the weapons of modern warfare.
A small wax museum is located inside Fort Monroe.
This could be a problem if the fort is under siege and blockaded.
A dog cemetery along the top of the outer wall of Fort Monroe. Hundreds of graves at the top of the outer wall, some dogs and some people.
The dog cemetery was located to the left on top of the ridge.
MaryAnn at Fort Monroe. I took this picture with a zoom lens from the top of the outer wall, MaryAnn was near the courtyard of the fort about 75 yards away.
The same picture as the previous without the zoom lens.
MaryAnn’s crossing over the moat surrounding Fort Monroe.
Our Leisure Travel Van waiting outside the walls of Fort Monroe.
The path leading up to the rim of the outer walls of Fort Monroe.
Fort Monroe was named “Freedom’s Fortress” during the Civil War by run away slaves fleeing the southern Confederate States.
MaryAnn leaving the Fort Monroe, walking toward our tiny house.

General Robert E Lee, then a United States Army 2nd lieutenant and an engineer, was stationed at Fort Monroe from 1831-1834. Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States during the Civil War was a prisoner at Fort Monroe following the end of the war.

Some people claim this fort is haunted, I can neither confirm or deny this claim. However, there is definitely a sense of historic significance when walking the corridors of this old fort…

historic JamesTowne, virginia

We camped at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown Cheatham Annex while visiting nearby Jamestown National Historic Site.

Apparently early on, the name of the settlement was spelled with an “E” at the end – Jamestowne. Exploring Jamestowne, was inspirational, it’s the first permanent English colony in America, established in 1607.

Take a look at the road from Virginia Beach to the Cheatham Annex and then on to Jamestowne…

The road from Virginia Beach to Cheatham Annex and our next campsite.
Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnels
Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnels
Aircraft Carrier seen our way to Cheatham Annex.
Here’s our home for the next couple days. Naval Weapons Station Yorktown Cheatham Annex, Williamsburg, Virginia. Full hookups, cable and Wifi for $30 a night.
The road to Jamestowne historic site.
Original site for the Jamestowne settlement is on an island. Crossing the James River.
The Back River.
The road to these historic sites is called Colonial Parkway.
Notice the “E” at the end of Jamestown.
The Jamestowne settlement was the first permanent British colony established in 1607.
The bridge walkway to the Jamestowne settlement.
The bridge walkway crosses over swamp land.
Jamestown Historic Site is surrounded by water.
The entryway into Jamestowne Fort and Townsite.
MaryAnn and the traveling pups at the statue of Pocahontas, a Native American woman belonging to the Powhatan People.
Me and MaryAnn
The first English laws enacted here in America.
The church is where the first American government and laws were established in 1619, one year before the landing at Plymouth Rock.
The church at Jamestowne.
Inside the church.
The monument commemorating the first permanent colony of England in America.
MaryAnn and the traveling pups at the statue of John Smith.
One more picture from Jamestowne National Historic Site an original well/garbage dump of 1607. Tomorrow we head for Richmond , Virginia and then West Virginia and the George Washington National Forest. West Virginia will be state number 30 in our tiny house in just a year and nine months of ownership.
The cross commemorates the lives of the first settlers who came here in 1607 and gave their lives to found the United States of America
While we were at Jamestown a thunderstorm rolled in turning the sky black.
The storm encouraged us to leave Jamestown.
The Back River.
Whitetail Dear in the area of Jamestowne.
The road to our next stop – Yorktown.

Jamestown stands as a testament to the hardships and sacrifices our forefathers endured to establish an English colony in what is now this great nation of America.

Jamestown is inspirational, evoking emotions of pride and wonder of how the colonists left the comfort and security of their homes in England to travel so far across a vast ocean to an unknown wilderness and faced great dangers to establish a permanent settlement here – an awesome adventure!

If you’ve never been to Jamestown, I encourage you to add it to your list of places to see before you leave this world…

colonial williamsburg

We visited Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia in June 2019. Many of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence where from here. Including George Wythe, the first Virginian to sign the Declaration, his original home is still here in Williamsburg just as it was in 1776.

This is a living museum that took us on a journey back through time to the18th century of British colonial America. Come along as we travel through time…

The palace of the governor in the 1700’s.
MaryAnn is on the path through time from the parking lot to Colonial Williamsburg.
On the path are small plaques with the date going backwards until arriving in the 18th century.
First plaque in our walk back in time.
The time of British rule over the colonies.
Going back in time to the 1700’s.
A recreation of a typical plantation on the outskirts of Colonial Williamsburg.
Plantation life.
MaryAnn exploring the plantation.
Rather modest homes on the plantation.
The fireplace is bigger than the house.
Slavery was apart of our history, just as it was throughout the history of the world.
The slaves quarters.
The first flag of the United States after declaring independence from England.
A living museum.
One of the many 18th century homes in Colonial Williamsburg.
MaryAnn at the town well.
MaryAnn has decided she needs to fill her water bottle. Unfortunately, the well is no longer operating.
Another home dating back to the 18th century.
On the streets of Colonial Williamsburg.
Ed, the talking horse, greeted us as we entered the town.
Ed had a friend.
Ed was hoping I would give him a snack.
The palace of the governor in the 1700’s.
MaryAnn in front of the governor’s palace.
Here we are on the streets of Colonial Williamsburg sitting in front of the original home of George Wythe – the first Virginian to sign the declaration of Independence.
The backyard of the home of George Wythe, one of the signers of the Declaration Of Independence.
The home of George Wythe, one of the signers of the Declaration Of Independence. His home was built in the mid-1700’s and is all original.
George Wythe’s bedroom.
George Wythe’s bathroom.
MaryAnn is visiting with some of the actors.
George Wythe’s dining room.
One of the bedrooms.
George Wythe’s backyard.
One of the homes in Colonial Williamsburg.
Local transportation for a price.
MaryAnn is tired.
MaryAnn exploring the streets.
The streets of Williamsburg.
I’m not sure what this building is. I think it has something to do with blacksmithing.
Interesting signage. I know the British speak a different English than us, but?
The streets of Colonial Williamsburg.
One of the 18th century mansions in the town of Colonial Williamsburg.

Colonial Williamsburg is a must see in person kind of place. Even the restaurants are from the 1700’s with servers in costume and playing the part. Make sure to put this historic site on your list to visit the next time you are in Virginia.

virginia beach, virginia

We crossed into Virginia on June 6, 2019. This was the 29th State we have visited in our Leisure Travel Van (Tiny House). Our first stop was at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. It was here at Fort Raleigh that England attempted to establish its first colony in 1584-1589, the first English baby was born in America during this time and during the Civil War a Freed Slave colony was established here.

Our first campsite in Virginia was at Joint Expeditionary Base – Fort Story near Virginia Beach. Fort Story is the location of the landing of the colonists who started the first permanent English colony at nearby Jamestown. Off the shores of Fort Story is also the location of a naval battle between the French and English in which the French successfully prevented reinforcements and supplies to arrive for English General Cornwallis during the American Revolutionary War of Independence.

There’s so much to see here in Virginia, so much history and so little time to do it. Come along as we explore some of the beginnings of America…

State number 29 in our Tiny House.
England’s first attempt to start a colony was here in 1584.
Although difficult to read since this plaque was placed here in 1896, the first English child was a girl born August 20, 1587.
Fort Raleigh is also the site of where a freed slave colony was established.
Part of the ruins of Fort Raleigh.
We make a point to camp at military facilities whenever possible.
Pedestrian crossing the street at Fort Story.
At Fort Story, the Navy was overseeing the RV park.
Our campsite for three nights at Fort Story.
For electric and water hookups we paid $25 per night.
One of the Lighthouses here at Fort Story.
A second lighthouse at Fort Story.
Cape Henry commemorates the place where English colonists landed after their journey from England and the French kept reinforcements from arriving for English General Cornwallis during America’s Revolutionary War of Independence.
Part of the boardwalk at Cape Henry.
The boardwalk is lined with these vines.
The beach at Cape Henry, Fort Story.
A statue commemorating the military achievements of Francois Joseph Paul De Grasse.
A plaque at Cape Henry explaining the significance of the area.
When the colonists who established Jamestown landed here the first thing they did was worship Jesus Christ.
April 26 is my birthday!

We are just getting started on our exploration of Virginia. See you on the road across America…

nags head in the outer banks of north carolina

We arrived in the Outer Banks of North Carolina in early June. The east coast was already warmer than it was back at our home in southern Arizona, as much as ten degrees warmer.

I had visited the Outer Banks as a child with my family, I remember staying at a beach front cottage my parents had rented for a couple weeks. Unfortunately I don’t remember a lot about the trip, after all it was over fifty years ago. I’m sure there have been many changes to the area since my first visit making it impossible to recognize any landmarks I may have remembered anyway.

One thing is certain, Nags Head and the Outer Banks are just as beautiful as I remember. Join me as I take a stroll down memory lane making new memories along the way…

The bridge to the Outer Banks of North Carolina
A long bridge to the Outer Banks.
Didn’t see any alligators.
No Alligators seen either.
Looking a little crowded.
Over fifty years since I was here with my family.
I love national seashores, usually there’s no one else on the beach.
No reservations, we just showed up and got a space available campsite.
Our campsite, $35 per night for electric and water hookups.
MaryAnn and the Traveling Pups
The National Seashore
The Traveling Pups loved the beach.
MaryAnn, enjoyed the beach as well.
A very windy day on the beach.
The Traveling Pups after a day on the beach.
Not another soul to the south.
Not a soul to the east.
Beautiful! The beach is nice too!
Not a soul to the north.
Heading back to the campsite just over the next sand dune.
Sun setting on the Outer Banks.
Our first day in the Outer Banks of North Carolina is done.
The next day we visited some of the many lighthouses in the area.
Our Tiny House on wheels.
Bodie Island Lighthouse.
Next lighthouse on the list.
MaryAnn makes me look great!
MaryAnn at Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
We had to board a ferry to get to the next lighthouse on Ocracoke Island.
A simple process, just needed to follow instructions.
This was the first time we have put our Tiny House on a ferry, But it won’t be the last!
MaryAnn is excited about our adventures in the Outer Banks. By the way, the ferry to Ocracoke Island is free.
Our last lighthouse visit of the day. We ran out of daylight after this.
Ocracoke Island Lighthouse
Ocracoke Island
MaryAnn taking a closer look.
There were other visitors already there called Nutria, look like muskrats.
There’s a lot of these little guys hanging around.
Sunset on our second day in the Outer Banks.
Our third day we visited the Wright Brothers Memorial
MaryAnn in front of the Wright Brothers plane.
A recreation of the Wright Brothers plane.
The monument for the Wright Brothers
A long walk to see the monument.
We made it to the top!
The road to Virginia.

Nags Head and the Outer Banks of North Carolina is a beautiful place. Just make sure to allow enough time to see it all.

2018 Owners Rally Trip

Terry & MaryAnn Barber March 07, 2021

This story was first published at: 2018 Owners Rally Trip – Leisure Travel Vans (

Editor’s Note: Terry and MaryAnn Barber are members of LTV’s sponsored content team, The Leisure Explorers. Do you own a Leisure Travel Van and enjoy writing? Learn more about joining the team.

To many Leisure Travel Van Owners at the rally to capture them all in one picture. This was less than half of the total number.

We had returned home from our trip of a lifetime – Alaska Caravan 2018 – in August, and decided we wanted to keep going. I logged onto the Leisure Travel Vans website to see if there was any possibility of going to the Owners Rally in September.

Our name had been on the waiting list for months with no word about any openings. Something told me I should renew my name on the list, so I did. About an hour later, I received an email from Leisure Travel Vans congratulating me on being selected to come to the 2018 Owners Rally in Winkler, Manitoba!

We only had a couple of weeks to prepare for our trip to Manitoba and we couldn’t have been happier! We had our Unity serviced, cleaned out, and repacked and ready to go on our next adventure in plenty of time. Unlike the Alaska adventure, on this trip we would be taking our two Shitzu pups, Luna and Peeta. We call them the “the traveling pups.”

Luna (blonde ears) and Peeta, the traveling pups.

We left our home in southern Arizona on August 25th to visit family in Goodyear, Arizona. Then, we decided to take our time on this trip and meander a little bit through New Mexico’s Gila National Forest. Our first stop was at the Burro Mountain Homestead Campground just south of Silver City, New Mexico. It was a long dirt road (7 miles) back to this campground and it was full of ATV campers.

The road to Burro Mountain Homestead Campground.

We took the scenic route from Silver City on Highway 152 through Aldo Leopold Wilderness Area to Interstate 25, stopping in Bosque, New Mexico. We first thought we would camp on Bureau of Land Management land, but we couldn’t find a suitable place to stop so we parked for the night at the Kiva RV Park & Horse Motel for $29.53 per night with hookups. It’s a great place if you have a horse; we just needed a place to sleep for the night.

Our Unity FX in Gila National Forest, New Mexico.

The next day we continued on from Bosque on Route 25 to Raton, New Mexico. We stopped for the night at Sugarite Canyon State Park – the Park was full so we camped in the overflow area at Lake Alice Campground, a nice place at $10 per night (no hookups). We did some exploring there before settling in for the night. We also stopped along the way to visit Fort Union National Monument, and we highly recommend this historic site.

MaryAnn exploring Fort Union National Monument, New Mexico.

From Raton, New Mexico, we drove on the next day 317 miles to Orchard, Colorado, and stopped for the night at Jackson Lake. It was over the Labor Day weekend and since there were 2 nights available, we decided to stay through the weekend for $50 with hookups. Jackson Lake is a beautiful place and it was here that we discovered our traveling pups, Luna and Peeta, loved the water.

Sunset at Jackson Lake, Colorado.

From Orchard, Colorado, we continued on to Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota. We stayed in the Park at Elk Mountain Campground for one night, and with the national park pass the cost was only $9.

From Wind Cave we drove 137 miles to Rocky Point Recreation Area, a very scenic route. We visited Crazy Horse Memorial and Mount Rushmore along the way. We realized at this point that we needed to step up our pace if we were going to make it to Winkler for the Owners Rally on time.

Prairie Dog at Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota.

We continued on the next day 398 miles to Jamestown, North Dakota, stopping at Jamestown Campground for the night. The next day we drove another 247 miles, arriving at Winkler Bible Camp on opening day for the Rally.

The Owners Rally was very exciting, meeting up with fellow owners from the Alaska Caravan that had just ended and also making new friends with other Leisure Travel Vans owners.

We got to see Dean, our favorite celebrity, again and meet others from the Leisure Travel Vans family as well. There were plenty of seminars by the experts on our Unity and its many components. We did a factory tour and visited Pembina Threshermen’s Museum, a living museum demonstrating an early 20th century farming community, complete with stores, schoolhouse, churches, train station, and a collection of agricultural machinery.

Some of the Leisure Travel Vans at the Winkler Owners Rally.

The food at the Rally was delicious and abundant morning, noon, and night. The evening entertainment was also top notch! I went to a photography class while MaryAnn attended a seminar on the Truma water heaters.

The second night, there was a gathering around five fire pits next to the lake. Each fire pit had “Leisure” on the side. We ate s’mores and visited with our new and old friends. The next day, LTV drew from a hat and randomly gave away the portable fire pits used the night before. I actually won one of them, and we carry it with us in our Unity.

The Rally ended too soon. No one was ready to leave, but all good things must eventually come to an end. So, we packed up and headed back across the border into North Dakota.

Some of the highlights on our return trip to Arizona included Theodore Roosevelt National Park (South Unit), in North Dakota, Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming, Golden, Colorado, where we stopped to visit a couple we had traveled with in the Alaska Caravan, the head waters of the Rio Grande River in Sangre De Cristo Mountains, New Mexico, and White Sands National Park, also in New Mexico.

Every LTV owner should attend one of these rallies in Winkler at least once. It is definitely worth the trip! For us, our next adventure was to Pismo Beach, California, to attend a Southwest Roadrunners LTV rally in October 2018.

Until next time, safe travels, everyone!

Devil’s Tower, Wyoming. On our way back to Arizona after the Owners Rally in Canada.

Terry & MaryAnn Barber

I am a retired US Air Force, Service Connected Disabled Veteran, and retired pastor. MaryAnn is a retired Special Ed Teacher. Our NEXT CHAPTER – the Open Road! We are first time RV owners. After two years of research, we chose the 2018 Unity FX Leisure Travel Van as our first and only choice. We took delivery of our Unity FX on September 2, 2017, and in ten months we had already driven our Unity 21,832 miles, visited nineteen states, British Columbia and Yukon Territory. We became part of the Leisure Explorers Team upon our return from the Alaska caravan.

the great smokey mountains national park: part three – the tennessee side

The Great Smokey Mountains are situated along the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. We continue our exploration of the Great Smokies by crossing the border into Tennessee.

But before we go, a side note: Before our visit here, we had just traveled through Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and all of the eastern United States (seven months on the road). During that time we never saw any significant wildlife (we did see a black bear in the White Mountains National Forest in New Hampshire), but nothing else until we arrived here in The Great Smokey Mountains National Park. We were greeted by Elk when we arrived and when we left they said farewell. Let’s take a drive through the Tennessee side of The Great Smokies…

The national park spans across both North Carolina and Tennessee.
The road through The Great Smokies.
There are many streams like this along the road through The Great Smokies.
Our Farewell committee, although they don’t appear to be all that interested in anyone’s coming or going.
This one is more interested in finding momma.
These guys are more interested in breakfast, than in saying goodbye.
The time of year is October and the peak season for the leaves changing has already passed.
The thick canopy of evergreen forest hides the topography.
Here’s a little color in the trees.
Around every sharp curve in the road is another glimpse of the beauty here.
Notice the road on the side of the opposite hill, not sure where that is or how to get there. Looks like a turn around perhaps for one of the many hiking trails.
A bald spot in the forest, looks like a meadow.
The Great Smokies shrouded in mist, hence the reason for their name.
Another curve in the road reveals another glimpse of these magnificent mountains.
The view from the road as we continue down the mountains to the valley below.
Mist covered Great Smoky Mountains.
The views as we continue our descent of the mountains.
The mountains seem to go on for ever.
The Great Smokies in October.

Our visit to The Great Smoky Mountains lived up to its reputation as one of the “must see in person” kind of places in the world. Something tells me, we will be returning here for another look in the near future.

the great smokey mountains national park: part two – hiking deep creek waterfall loop trail

We hiked the Deep Creek Falls Loop Trail while we were in the Smokey Mountains National Park. This trail features three waterfall contributories to Deep Creek, the stream that the trail follows. These water falls are Juney Whank Falls, Thomas Branch Falls, and Indian Creek Falls.

The trail is a easy 2.5 mile hike with only a moderate incline on the return trip. The water falls are small, but beautiful and the trail follows Deep Creek, providing some calming water sound affects. But don’t take my word for it see for yourself…

MaryAnn and me hiking Deep Creek Waterfall loop to Indian Creek Falls.
Deep Creek Falls Loop Trail.
A view of the heavily forested Smokey Mountains.
Indian Creek Falls.
White water in Deep Creek.
More of the Smokey Mountains.
Juney Whank Falls
Deep Creek Falls Loop Trail
Deep Creek Falls Loop Trail
A passer-by kindly took our picture while we were hiking the Deep Creek Waterfall Loop Trail.
Deep Creek Waterfall Loop Trail.
Deep Creek Waterfall Loop Trail.
Thomas Branch Falls
MaryAnn getting tired of me taking her picture.
Bridge over troubled waters.
One of the many water falls on Deep Creek Waterfall Loop Trail.
Thomas Branch Falls.
Deep Creek Waterfall Loop Trail.
Deep Creek Waterfall Loop Trail.
Juney Whank Falls.
Juney Whank Falls.
MaryAnn hiking the Deep Creek Waterfall Loop Trail.
Indian Creek Falls

The trails throughout the park are well marked and heavily trafficked. Hiking the trails was enjoyable and gave us an opportunity to get some much needed exercise. Unfortunately dogs are not permitted on the trails in the national parks so the Traveling Pups, Peeta and Luna had to stay home inside our rig while we were hiking.

Exploring The Great Smokey Mountains National Park on foot was inspiring and we highly recommend it for everyone. When you visit the Smokey Mountains, make sure to take the time to go for a hike in this beautiful place. In part three we will take a look at the Tennessee side of the Smokey Mountains.

the great smokey mountains national park: part one – camping

We approached The Great Smokey Mountains National Park from the North Carolina side. When we entered the park, we were welcomed by the greeting committee (A herd of Elk.) The time of year for our visit was October, with temperatures in the 30’s at night and 70’s (Fahrenheit) during the day. We were on our way west after a seven month Maritimes adventure that took us through five eastern Canadian provinces – a 15,000 mile journey.

We didn’t get any reservations, we just showed up at the visitor center and enquired about space available camping. The ranger said, “yes,” and gave us a map with directions to the open campground.

We actually camped in two campgrounds during our visit to the Smokey Mountains. Our first night we camped in Deep Creek Campground. We had to leave the national park and then re-enter through the back of the park to get to Deep Creek. The second campground we stayed at for two nights was Smokemont Campground that is located right in the heart of the activities in the park.

Like most national parks, The Great Smokey Mountains National Park campsites don’t have electric or water hookups. However, there is potable water available in the campgrounds. It’s dry camping at its finest, (Dry camping is RV lingo for camping without water and electric hookups) but we don’t mind dry camping because our rig is completely self-contained. At $20 per night, $10 per night with the senior/access pass you can’t go wrong.

Campsites are paved and level. There’s plenty of room between sites and the sites are well shaded with large trees. The campsites are also close to many of the hiking trails. Come along as we camped on the North Carolina side of the Smokey Mountains…

Smokey Mountains in October.
The road to The Smokey Mountains National Park from Durham, North Carolina.
More of the road into the Smokey Mountains in North Carolina, the topography started changing as we approached from rolling hills to mountains.
More from the road through North Carolina to the Smokey Mountains.
Approaching the Smokey Mountains.
Foot hills of the Smokey Mountains.
The road to the Smokey Mountains.
North Carolina side of the Smokey Mountains.
The welcoming committee.
More of the welcoming committee at the entrance of the park.
It was in the afternoon when we arrived at the park, apparently he had a long day greeting people.
More of the welcoming committee members. These elk were hanging out right along the road with hundreds of people stopped and taking pictures, clearly these animals hadn’t any fear of humans.
Powerful animals.
He got tired of looking at us and turned his back or perhaps he got tired of us looking at him and turned his back?
Our first campground in the Smokey Mountains. At ninety two campsites, Deep Creek was the smaller of the two campgrounds we stayed at here at the park.
Our campsite at Deep Creek Campground.

Some would say this isn’t camping unless you’re sleeping on the ground in a sleeping bag or in a tent. I just smile and nod then I go into my Leisure Travel Van and go to sleep in my nice comfy bed with my warm furnace running, my personal full size bathroom, and my kitchen complete with microwave and large refrigerator/freezer.

We always throw out the welcome mat wherever we stop for the night.
We use the rear storage for lawn chairs, a dog crate for when we are on ferries, tools, etc.
Luna checking out our campsite.
We had a pull through site. No one else around us.
Our second campground in the park. One hundred forty two campsites.
We had a back in site at Smokemont Campground.
Like our first campground, the sites were well spread out providing plenty of room to enjoy some privacy.
The Great Smokey Mountains are shrouded in a thick forest.
Living up to its name the Smokey Mountains have a heavy fog or mist covering them.
Smokey Mountains.
Thick forest everywhere you look.
We hiked a few trails while visiting the park. Follow along next time as we continue our adventure in The Great Smokey Mountains.

These beautiful mountains may not be the tallest in the world, but they possess a breathtaking view and hold the history of North America within them. Join us next time as we explore The Great Smokey Mountains National Park on foot in part two – hiking the trails…

joshua tree national park

Located just north of Interstate 10 in eastern California is Joshua Tree National Park. Known for its Joshua Trees, it’s actually visited by millions for its rocks. Huge boulders souring into the sky as much as several hundred feet up look more like mountains than just rocks.

Rock climbing and hiking are the big attraction here, the Joshua Tree is just a side note. We stopped in Joshua Tree on a weekend so finding a campsite was impossible. We rarely get reservations while we are traveling, we prefer the freedom of not being locked into a schedule.

Like most popular national parks, the best time to get a campsite on a first come first serve basis is Sunday – Wednesday, the weekends are ridiculous! Even getting reservations may require as much as 6 months to a year in advance in some places, i.e. Zion National Park, Utah.

Since the campgrounds inside the park were full, we drove outside the park boundary and camped for free on Beau of Land Management (BLM) land. We actually prefer BLM land anyway – wide open spaces and no crowds, oh – and did I mention it’s FREE! Completely unplugged and unconnected, it is always the way to go for us since we have 400 watts of solar on the roof and a diesel generator underneath. Come along as we explore Joshua Tree National Park…

Mountain high rocks make the park a great place to go if you love rock climbing.
MaryAnn and I are NOT rock climbers, we will never try something like this, but we don’t mind watching others risk their lives.
Believe it or not there are Joshua Trees in Joshua Tree National Park.
This pic gives an idea of how large these trees can grow.
MaryAnn is hiking through Joshua Tree, this is as close to rock climbing we will ever get.
The road to the BLM land outside the park.
Beau of Land Management (BLM) land outside of Joshua Tree National Park.
Our campsite just outside Joshua Tree. Is it desert? Yes. Do we have any neighbors? No and the surrounding mountain views are outstanding!
Our campsite, unplugged and self-contained.
The surrounding area of our campsite. This is our backyard!
More views from our campsite. Our front yard.
Our campsite views.
Joshua Tree forest in Joshua Tree National Park.
MaryAnn hiking in Joshua Tree.
Cholla forest, also known as Teddy Bear Cactus and Jumping Cactus – don’t get to close the needles will shoot out at you!
MaryAnn in Joshua Tree.
They sure grow the rocks BIG here!
A type of Yucca in Joshua Tree.
Some of the rock formations in Joshua Tree.
The trails are marked by rocks along the path. Looks like a good place to get lost if your not careful.
Joshua Trees can also be found in Arizona. The Joshua Tree National Forest is located on Route 93 also called, “Joshua Tree Parkway.”
Route 93 in Arizona.
Our closest neighbor just outside of Joshua Tree on BLM land. This sure beats being plugged in at an RV parking lot!

If you haven’t already, add Joshua Tree National Park to your bucket list. Don’t forget to bring a rope and a good pair of sneakers! Until next time, safe journey everyone, hope to see on the Barber Road…

(The picture above is of the Pecos River in southwest Texas.) My name is Terry C Barber, I am a disabled veteran, retired military and retired pastor. MaryAnn’s a retired special education teacher. Our Next Chapter, the open road – we call it “the Barber Road.” You're invited to join us as we explore North America in our Leisure Travel Van with two Shitzu pups.