Monday, July 15, 2013

Roughing it

Hello everybody! Hope you had a lovely weekend! We just got home from a little family excursion up north. We took off late last Tuesday for a four day RV trip through Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. This is our second RV trip -- we took our first one a couple summers ago and it’s safe to say we’re hooked. :)

RVing is SO fun – this time we rented a smaller one (the first time we got a huge class A and this time it was a smaller class C). The smaller one was still plenty big and we all loved it. (And I could drive it no problem – bonus.)

This trip was all fun for the kiddo and me, but some work for the hubs since we were traveling around with the drum corp he works with. Back in our old days when he and I were dating we would take off on these kinds of trips often in the summer. I love doing the same with our boy. :)

We love RVing because we can travel at our own pace, stop when we want and still have plenty of space to stretch out as we go. We saw some pretty countryside in Illinois on the first day:

illinois countryside

While my husband worked with the corp the kiddo and I explored the cute little town of Metamora, IL – and ended up spending most of the afternoon at their awesome public pool:

It took a few hours, but right before we left the Bub got up the courage to go down that slide and LOVED. IT. :)

When we RV (or when we drive anywhere really), we like to hit up local restaurants, shops…and apparently pools. It was just by accident we happened on that and it was a perfect way to spend a summer afternoon.

The next day we headed to our stop for a couple days – La Crosse, Wisconsin. The Bub and I did some shopping at some local antique stores:

la crosse wisconsin

I didn’t find anything I had to have, but I did come across a huge selection of these glasses that totally took me back:

old hardees glasses smurfs

Man, I was so close to getting a few of them. I still kinda wish I had. They had all of the ones I remembered from my childhood – Alvin and the Chipmunks, the Muppets, E.T. It was such a fun blast from the past. :)

And of course, when Mama saw the HomeGoods sign I pulled that RV over faster than you can say, well…HomeGoods:

We actually came across an awesome find there – I’ve dreamed of one of these for our basement for years:

standing popcorn machine  

We both freaked when we saw it – the bonus was that it was $70 cheaper than what I’ve found online. (It was missing a couple measuring cups, no biggie.) Just another reason I love traveling in an RV – plenty of room to take the treasures home. (And I’m sure it was a sight seeing me loading this thing into the big rig.)

I was so tempted to use it one night on the RV, but we didn’t have the popcorn or oil, so we waited till we got home. I have to say, I think it made better popcorn than my WhirleyPop! That’s saying a lot cause I adore my WhirleyPop people. (The popcorn from the machine was much crisper, if that makes any sense.)

Anyhoo – that was our best find on the trip. :) We saw a good share of drum corp rehearsals while there, with the backdrop of the beautiful Wisconsin hills:

And one of the highlights for me at least was the cauuute cabin we stayed in:

rustic cabin in the woods

This was at an RV park that had cabins, so we were able took hook up the RV and still camp out inside that night.

It was so totally precious:

rustic cabin in the woods

A few of you on Instagram wanted to see the inside so I made sure to take a few pics before we left. It was very rustic, but had all of the modern conveniences you could need (including air!).

It had a cute little bunk room that would sleep at least four and a bathroom with all the basics:

 rustic cabin bunks rustic cabin bathroom

The main part of the cabin was one big room with a kitchenette:

rustic cabin interior rustic cabin

And another bed with trundle:

rustic log cabin

And a TV!! Glorious TV! We didn’t have it at all on the trip otherwise, and I actually really didn’t miss it. But it was nice to have while we were there. We only ended up turning it on a couple times though – it was nice to disconnect for the most part.

They had everything you could need while there – toiletries, dishes, cookware. It was great! I drank my wine out of a coffee cup:

Ha!! Told you…rough.

My favorite parts of the cabin were the ceiling:

rustic cabin ceiling

The view:

We were perched right at the edge of a cliff in the woods– I thought we had the best cabin there. :)  

And the AWESOME screened in porch:

cabin with screened porch

Usually when we travel to Wisconsin or Minnesota the mosquitoes are horrible this time of year – but this time the temps and bugs were both great! Low temps and very few bugs.

Then it was time to head on, this time to beautiful Minnesota:

Minnesota lakes

We stayed in the RV that night and heard the Kenny Chesney concert nearby. :) The weather was PERFECT…at least till later when a crazy long storm came through. Pouring down rain hitting a metal roof for three hours straight doesn’t really make for a great night’s sleep. :)

The next day we spent a few hours at the Mall of America:

Mall of America

The hubby and I had been briefly years ago, and this time we were excited to take the Bub to see it. All he cared about was the Lego store, of course. And they were having a huge Lego event throughout the mall all weekend – perfect timing!

We ended up heading home early so didn’t get to do all the rides and stuff – we definitely want to go back!

What a fun, relaxing trip! I loved having all of my boys to myself for all that time:

It was just lovely all around.

I love that we’re doing these trips with the Bub – growing up I spent every weekend in the summer camping with my parents. We were out on the lake ALL the time. I wish my boy could experience that, but at the same time I’m not sure I want to rough it quite as much as we did back then. :)

RVing is the perfect compromise – you have a safe, comfortable home on wheels, but you also enjoy the best parts of camping – making your meals, sitting by a fire, enjoying the outdoors. We love it!

We looked into buying an RV earlier this year but held off – it may be something we look into next year. I am dreaming of a long trip out west to see all the sites I saw on a girl scout trip as a kid – Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park, Snake River, Jackson Hole. It was an amazing trip that I still remember so well and I want the Bub to see all of those sights as well.

And as much as we love to travel, it is always SO good to come home. When we travel I find I’m so much more appreciative of everything – how lucky we are to take trips like that, how much I love exploring our country, how wonderful it is to come back to our sweet house. We are lucky indeed.

So have you ever been RVing? Did you like it? Did you camp a lot as a kid or do you do it now? I keep hearing the term “glamping” lately – I guess you could call an RV trip that? :) Air conditioning and no bugs – two of my favorite things.

**Here’s the campsite we stayed at in La Crosse for those who asked! :)


  1. What is the name of the park you stayed in the cabin? Was this in La Crosse as well? Fun!!

  2. I got a little jolt reading the word Metamora in your post! That's across the river in the Peoria area, my neck of the woods. How neat to think you came through this part of Illinois. The rest of your trip sounded just lovely, and you've got me very curious about renting an RV. The Minnesota lake picture looked especially gorgeous. And that cabin! Fun post. :-)

  3. I think I can live in that cabin forever!!!!Love! What great memories!

  4. Nice post! Great memories for sure! We bought an RV a few months ago and are in the process of rehabbing it...I can't wait for it to be complete.

  5. I had to laugh. In the third paragraph from the bottom you called Bub "but". I know what you meant but it was just funny to read.

  6. What a fun trip!!! Such great family memories in the making!!~~Angela

  7. You were totally in my neck of the woods! Where were you at with the cabin? We camp a lot too and we are always looking for new places to go (LOVE our travel trailer - we can park the camper and take off with the truck). Love the view of the Mississippi River while heading north from LaCrosse. We drive that stretch often and it's just breathtaking :) We also go to the Mall of America for the Lego's, but we love to spend a few hours in Nickelodeon Universe too - fun stuff! Glad you had a great time and found the mosquitoes to be tolerable. They have been terrible at our house!

  8. Looks like a wonderful trip. Next time you are in Minnesota you should check out Lanesboro, a little town in southeastern MN. Wonderful shops and places to eat.

  9. Yes! Details please! Would love names of places so we could visit too! Wish I had found those glasses. Been looking for the smurf glasses

  10. Where did you rent the RV from? We're local-ish (Columbus) and have been thinking about taking an RV trip as well!

  11. I would love to do an RV trip. We would take road trips all the time when I was a kid, and I kind of miss it. I've seen the majority of this country because of those trips. And yes, you HAVE to do that road trip to see Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, and Jackson Hole. I love all those places.

  12. Your trip sounds wonderful! I have never RV'ed, but we have talked about taking a trip out west, like you mentioned, and an RV would be a great way to do it! I could handle camping like your trip - a cabin with air conditioning? Yes, please! That's my kind of roughing it. ;-)

  13. Oh so fun. Yes, I love it. We had a 34 ft. Class A Motorhome and I loved taking trips. We took the grands with us everywhere and we all had a ball. Kind of sad that we sold it a few years ago. Maybe time for another one. Looks like such a fabulous time and I love that cabin too. Hugs, Marty

  14. This is excellent timing. I was just thinking maybe renting an RV would be a better plan for us than buying and storing one. The in-laws have a 36 foot/2 bathroom Class A RV and it's awesome and the girls love camping with them, but I don't really think we can camp as much as that expense would require. But renting seems like a good possibility. Is it cost effective vs hotel etc?

  15. We live in the Carmel area too. Where did you rent from? We are interested in renting too, but would love to know which one you had a good experience with

  16. Enjoyed your references about drum corp --- back in 1989 (I was much younger then!!), I traveled with a drum corp as a mother of a marcher to cook for 4 weeks. Talk about roughing it - sleeping on gym floors, gang, cold showers, going to the grocery store at 2:00 am when it was cool, cooking for 140 hungry teenagers 4-5 times a day. We didn't have a fancy kitchen trailer then, plus no prepackaged food. I peeled enough carrots then into carrot sticks to last a lifetime. I wouldn't have missed the experience for anything however -- great bonding memories with my son. Sally

  17. I marched for 3 years back in early 2000. Drum Corp is a love that is hard to leave, hope you guys enjoyed your time on the road! Who does he work for?

  18. WEll, if you DO actually buy an RV and head west, you have to see the Lewis and Clark Caverns, Virginia City and Bannack (both in Montana)and maybe a swing north to see Glacier Park. All truly wonderful places.

  19. Sounds like you were really "roughing" it. Ha! Looks like fun! I am always so envious of RV's on the highway when we are crammed in our car on roadtrips!

  20. One of the best ways to do Alaska is by RV. Fly into Anchorage and drive up through the valley and toward Denali, come back,take the train to Seward and cruise out. Or something like that. :)

  21. Looks like so much fun! I would love to hit the campsite with the cabin and hook ups. I grew up camping and seeing many beautiful places in Idaho, Montana and Utah! We live in such a diverse, beautiful country! Maybe my sweetheart and I will have to do the RV thing. Looks like fun!

  22. What a fun trip! We had several different campers/RVs growing up. Some trips were great, some not so much! LOL

  23. I'm from Wisconsin and have a lot of family in the La Crosse area. Now I live in Missouri, but I was up there for three weeks in June! (The bugs were not so nice then) I just love the bluffs. It's such a beautiful part of Wisconsin. Glad you had a fun trip!

  24. My parents were both teachers, and we took off for 6 weeks every summer in an RV with bunks in the back for my brother and I. We visited a lot of the United States and parts of Canada in that Motorhome. We loved it!

  25. OMG my parents used to live in Metamora for seven years!
    Just down the road from that pool....:)

    Where did you stay in Wisconsin??
    We live 15 minutes from the WI IL border so are always looking for places to go up there to "get away".

    Love your pictures!

  26. What a fun trip! Always dreamed of going RV-ing, but never had the guts to yet! Do you own one or rent? Any tips for renters if ever? Thanks for taking us along Sarah!

  27. Looks like a fun trip! I'd love to go to the Mall!

  28. Looks like a super fun trip! We have had a travel trailer for the last 9 years and have loved taking trips in it. For all the reasons you stated, we love going places with the trailer. If you own your own RV, another bonus is that you are sleeping in "your" bed every night, instead of a different bed in hotels. What a great way to show your son the beautiful parts of America! You're making me want to plan an RV trip soon. Have a great week.

  29. I would say that you definitely went "glamping"....although someday that'll be us, hopefully. For now we have a pop-up tent camper that keeps us off the ground and gives us someplace to escape to when it rains. My hubby takes us to the most remote places, typically Wisconsin Electric campgrounds that don't offer, ironically, electricity or running water. But they truly are the most beautiful and well preserved places. For the most part we like to stay in Upper Michigan. Why not since there are so many beautiful places along Lake Superior, it's God's country. We love road trips!

    1. I forgot to mention that we stop at every single TJ Maxx/Homegoods store that we see...much to hubby's chagrin!

  30. Like several others commenting, we've also been talking about an RV trip. Wisconsin and MN are beautiful, especially in the summer. Our plan is to do your "western" trip - Badlands, Mt Rushmoor, Yellowstone, etc. Interested in reading your responses to the questions about cost of an RV vacation vs. hotels. Thanks for sharing.

  31. What a wonderful trip, I enjoyed the pictures so so much, brings back memories of my camping days! thanks Maria

  32. What a fun trip, Sarah! As a kid, I was always jealous of the other kids in RVs who got to relax in something that was not the backseat of a Volvo station wagon, crammed in with their brother and sister. Haven't been to the Mall of America, but I'm sure I'd love it! ;)

  33. When our kids were growing up, I didn't have the time, money or inclination to "decorate". So I am much in awe of your decor skills. After we retired, my husband and I spent ten years living in our RV. We bought a 1200 sq ft lake cabin back home in TX two years ago with two bedrooms, one bath. To us, it's a mansion. I found your blog when we started remodeling the kitchen two months ago and sweetie, you're a godsend. I haven't a clue what goes with what or where, but I know I like what you do, so I'm copying like crazy! RVing is soooooo cool, the best way to see this great big country.

  34. What pretty views! I would LOVE to go on a RV trip. Are they expensive to rent? I think owning one would be awesome but whew, what an expense!


  35. An RV is probably the only way I would go camping! I am going to my first drum corp show tonight in Wichita with my band teacher hubby and some of his students!

  36. We had an RV as a kid - to this day, I still love hearing rain on a roof!! We used to go camping all the time, and I'd love to do that for my kids. But my husband + nature/outdoors...not so much :(

    I hate the term glamping!!

  37. the summer of 1995 went down in history as on of the best summers in my life because i marched corps with delta brigade!!!! we did a sesame street themed show and it was magical!!! such a whirlwind of activity, sweat, tan lines, and laughter!!! -sigh- too bad we didn't have cell phones and cameras at our immediate disposal- there were some rough days and nights! but i adore those memories and wish upon all wishes that i could have gone more summers!!!

  38. Great post. Enjoyed going along and viewing all the pictures. Sounds like you need to do a whole post about the pro's and con's of RVing. Thanks for the trip.

  39. Sounds like you had fun! You were really in the lap of luxury though, we camp all the time and have a pop-up camper. I had to push to get it cause in my house, camping = tents. We camped this weekend as well, near Grand Junction, CO - 114 degree's on Saturday and no AC in the pop-up! I had to revert to the old trick of a bucket of ice in front of the fan so the fan blows over the cold ice, which made it really great. If you come west let me know and I'll send you brochures or give you places to go other than the ones you listed. Keep on camping! Victoria

  40. Yep, I grew up camping, raised my kids vacationing and camping. There is nothing quite like it, really helps you slow down and tune out the big world! The bubs has grown so much, he's so tall! :)

  41. What a nice trip! We are retiring, selling EVERYTHING (!) and will live / travel cross country in our new RV for a couple of years. Reading about your trip makes me look forward to mine even more :)

  42. My husband and I have been thinking of renting an RV for a summer trip...your post makes me want to do it even more! I absolutely loved the place you stayed in LaCrosse! I live in Texas but my family is in Minnesota, so I'm going to remember that place...would be a fun side-trip!

    Thanks so much for sharing, Sarah!

  43. So so jealous that you get to travel with DCI! I've gone to Indy a few times for semifinals, but never got to compete myself (I unwisely chose to play piccolo instead of trumpet in marching band despite always wanting to march for Phantom Regiment) :) What corps does your husband help out?

  44. Loved the post, related on so many levels! I was a huge band geek in High School and even our small town school did a lot of traveling. We have been eyeing doing an RV when we head back to MN next summer. We have done the pull camper, but then you still have to pull over to get anything out of the fridge or to use the restroom...with three boys we end up pulling over a lot! I also have all those Smurf glasses stashed away, my mom picked them up at an auction one time and I will probably pull them out to use when the boys get a little older and I don't have the high risk of them breaking them ;)


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