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”…
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…
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…
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…
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…
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.
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…
We are just getting started on our exploration of Virginia. See you on the road across America…
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…
Nags Head and the Outer Banks of North Carolina is a beautiful place. Just make sure to allow enough time to see it all.
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.
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.
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.
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 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…
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.
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…
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.
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…
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.
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…
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…
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.