Campers Have ‘Smore Fun

in All Posts

“Look at this Instagram account,” I said, shoving the phone under The Husband’s nose. “They have an RV, they travel around the country, see all these cool places, and homeschool their kids.”

This was towards the end of May 2020, and we were just coming out of the shutdown. We thought we had the next ten years all mapped out. And then suddenly, it was all flipped around. What about our jobs? What about school? Everything felt like it was up in the air. Who knew what was going to happen in a month, let alone a year or two!

One of the greatest parts of blogging was that I got to interview so many different people. And I would always ask people, “How did you find joy?” Time and time again, I heard: Life is what you make of it, and time passes very quickly. So if you want to carve out happiness, the time is now.

I really took that lesson to heart and tried to live my life with that advice in mind. And in May 2020, we didn’t know what the future would hold, but we knew some things for sure: We wanted to find joy, continue to travel, spend more time with our kids, and get outside more… City life did not seem as appealing as it once had. RVing felt like the perfect solution!

… But we had zero RV experience (scrolling Instagram, sadly, does not count!). So we made a plan: we’d rent an RV and head out for a week-long trip. We booked an RV through www.RVShare.com, I snagged a sandy spot at a campground in Florida, and a few weeks later, we hit the road.

Our maiden voyage was SO much fun! We were instantly hooked! “Camping” with electricity, a refrigerator, air conditioner and a real mattress? It was perfect for our family. We immediately started to search for an RV of our own.

Now, I know that we were not the only ones with this bright idea! I’ve read RV sales went up 20% or more during the pandemic. However, we did make the decision a little earlier than most of the crowd, so we managed to beat the insane price inflation and lack of inventory that began to hit just a few months later. After weeks of comparing RV types (driveable, towable, etc), lengths, price points and floor plans… we settled on our dream RV.

Meet – The Flaming Marshmallow!

She’s ridiculously big – 42.5 feet long. When hooked into our truck, we’re about 61 feet long. Because we wanted an RV that we could actually live full time in (just in case), we opted for a large floor plan with two true bedrooms and two bathrooms. When you walk into the front door, you enter a kitchen/living room area with a full size fridge, a comfy couch, and a table that was perfect for dinners, virtual school, and puzzles.

There was a huge learning curve. Huge! I would never call us “handy.” But a basic rule of RVing is that something will break every time you go out. And before long, I could do all sorts of things – I could empty the tanks, drive it down twisty mountain roads, back it up into tiny spots, hook up the electric, unhook the RV from the truck, troubleshoot why the awnings would never open… It was quite empowering, actually!

Don’t get me wrong – we’ve had some major upsets. Once, the Husband dropped the RV onto the bed of the truck – the truck suffered more than the RV. We broke the toilet when it got too cold outside and the plumbing inside froze solid. We drove the side of the RV into a tree when making a tight turn. Another time, I opened the slides and hit the RV next to ours, shattering a window.

There’s a camping joke – “I’m sorry for what I said when parking the RV,” and boy, oh boy – is that true!

But seriously… RVing has been glorious. The adventures we’ve had! It’s been about 18 months, and we have gone on 15 different trips! We’ve explored the Carolinas, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida. Our camping trips usually are 4 – 7 days long, just depending on what we can swing with work and school (we usually do both on the road). We spend our times fishing, kayaking, making ‘smores, building camp fires, hiking, and biking. Claire even learned to bike at a campground in Georgia!

Our new pup Sam loves RVing! We got him two years ago, about three months before Maggie died. He is a husky/lab mix. We adopted him from the shelter when he was about a year old. We have never had a big dog before, but I really love having a dog that can keep up with all our outdoor fun.

Sam’s very protective, which makes us feel safer when camping. Although, I must say we have only encountered awesome people while camping. There are tons of newbies at the campgrounds, but also lots of people who have been RVing for years and are willing to help out if you need a hand. It’s fun to sit around the campfire with your neighbor and trade stories, and the kids love finding new friends wherever we go.

Here are my favorite campgrounds:

  1. Solitude Pointe RV Park in Cleveland, SC: This campground is very small – only 15 spots or so. There are also a few cabins that you can rent. It’s super quiet but beautiful, with a big mountain river at the front of the campground that is perfect for swimming in the summer. Cleveland SC is in my favorite part of South Carolina; we go here as often as we can! It is near Lake Jocassee, which is well-known for being one of the cleanest and clearest lakes in the south.
  2. Mountain Stream RV Park in Marion NC: Known as “The Prettiest Little Park This Side Of Heaven,” this park is also very small BUT the best part is that nearly all the spots back up to a roaring mountain stream. It is insanely beautiful.
  3. Mistletoe State Park in Appling, GA: Be warned – this state park has zero WiFi (but that’s how I like it these days). Surrounded by a beautiful lake, this campground is super “woodsy” and fun.

I don’t know if the stars will ever align for us to truly live full time in the RV, but maybe one day, it will!

And on a final note….

When I popped in over the weekend to say hello, I NEVER thought you all would respond the way you did! It was so sweet and lovely to hear from so many old Internet friends. 🙂 My first post back was very spontaneous, so I had no idea how to answer questions like, “Are you really back? Are you blogging again?” This is why I wrote this post – I wanted to share a little bit more about what we’ve been up to since everyone was so sweet and excited! I really can’t thank you enough if you took time to comment.

I do not know what the future holds for this space, to be honest. A lot of the reasons that I stopped blogging still stand. As the Internet got more “stylized” and “staged,” I struggled to keep up with it. And truthfully, a few people were downright cruel – I know that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but I had people do some really mean things to me behind the safety of their keyboard that reached into my “real world.” I have thick skin… but it just felt like too much after a certain point. The kids getting older was a major factor, too.

I loved to write about fitness and food and books and random stuff. But the other stuff that made Healthy Tipping Point so fun to read… well, I don’t know if they can exist in 2021. Remember our “great debates”? I used to post about a “controversial” topic, give my take, and then readers would debate in the comments section – with no name calling or yelling or “canceling.” Oh, that was so fun! And so interesting! I learned so much by reading others’ perspectives. Does our society even have the ability to have those chats anymore? I’m not sure… But the past few years have given us a lot of material for some really, really interesting debates, huh?!

Here’s my FAVORITE debate in the history of the blog.

A lot has happened to me over the last six years. So many lessons, so much growing, so many new thoughts and experiences. In some ways, I’m the same CaitlinHTP. In other ways, I’m not. I know this is true for you, too – everyone changes. And six years is a LONG TIME!

BUT – and this is a big BUT – I weigh all of that above with the absolutely incredible response to my “Hello Again” post. Again, I never thought that would be the reaction. And all the feelings of community and friendship came rushing back. I missed that, I missed you. I really, really did.

So, I’ll leave it open ended for now. 🙂

And I’ll close it out with a question, as I always used to do. How have you carved out joy during hard times? Tell me all about it. <3

{ 42 comments }

 

  • Becky Van Drunen December 6, 2021, 5:32 pm

    Love the update! Long time reader back from a decade ago. Like everyone else my life was flipped upside down when the pandemic hit and I had to pause my in-home meal prep workshop business. After staring at the wall for a couple months, ine day I sat d9wn at my.piano instead. I started playing music again and singing again. Britney. Alanis Morisette. Backstreet Boys. Spice Girls. And all that music led me to start dancing around the kitchen with my daughters everynight and suddenly the JOY started to come back. So much so that I wrote and published a 90s pop-music infused cookbook called ‘Playlist Kitchen- upbeat recipes and the music that brought them to life.’ Recipes all with thier own 90s playlist c9nnected to spotify. It’s like your favorite mix cd, but with more basil. Anyway, here I am now. AND THE JOY IS BACK. @beckyvandrunen on IG

    • Caitlin December 6, 2021, 5:37 pm

      This is so awesome!!!!!!!

  • Angela December 6, 2021, 5:42 pm

    I just want to say how thrilled I was to see your Facebook post and then this blog post. I followed you religiously back in the day (2007ish) and was so sad to see you go. love your RV! My husband and I are huge campers but we live in Canada so our camping sessions are limited to spring summer months. I definitely find my joy sitting by a campfire! I sure miss it and am counting the days until the season starts again. We have a small hybrid and hope to upgrade someday now that we have an almost 80lb golden retriever lol. Anyway…just wanted to say how thrilled I am that you’re “back”, no matter what capacity that is. It is bringing me joy….at least until camping season starts up again lol.

  • Lindsay R Greer December 6, 2021, 5:51 pm

    Your blog got me through so many boring days at my office job! I was an assistant to brokers, and there were so many days when they’d be out, and I’d have NOTHING to work on. I stumbled on your blog and immediately went back and read every post, and then awaited your next updates! I was so happy when I saw you pop up on my Facebook the other day! Looking forward to seeing how (or if) you continue in this space every once in a while!

  • Holly December 6, 2021, 5:56 pm

    Oh I hope you’re back! We thought about buying an RV to full-time in last year but haven’t done it yet, MIL moved in with us so there are bigger issues to attaining that lifestyle now. Can’t wait to read more! We are living in Charlotte now so might tent camp one of those campgrounds!

  • Lindsay December 6, 2021, 6:02 pm

    I just read your post and realized I had Carrie Bradshaws voice in my head (since I don’t know your voice and the new series is coming out haha)…. It feels so nice to hear from you. You are so right- so much has changed…. But also it brings me right back to who I was ten years ago before kids where I checked blogs often (instead of Instagram) and learned so much from these people I never even knew. It felt so much more authentic back then…. You, Kath, Tina, Meghann, Julie… all people I checked in daily with. Ahh the good old days where life was easy.. keep posting if you can because it definitely makes me feel more normal after such a crazy few years in this pandemic.

  • Colleen Simmons December 6, 2021, 6:05 pm

    Hello, Caitlin!

    It is so NICE to hear your voice through your words again after 6 years. Can’t get over it’s been that long! HTP was one of my regular blogs I read daily. Though, I completely understand the need to step away. I have to agree. I very rarely ready blogs anymore due to the “perfect” and commercialized lives, negativity, and such going on on the internet. So glad you have found your joy and am embracing life off screen. Founding joy for me has been a lot of pleasure reading, journaling, listening to podcasts (We Can Do Do Hard Things, Unlocking Us, Dare to Lead, Armchair Expert, and Trust & Believe with Shaun T), singing out loud and dancing to the tunes in my head with no cares given, getting outdoors (sole and family walks or hikes, kayaking, jogging, frisbee golf), photography, and spending time with love ones. During the last almost two years, our family made family game night a weekly appointment on our calendar, creating experiences instead of buying more stuff, and slowly tackling our bucket list. I’ve also recently staring having “me days” each month. My “me days” include lounging outside with a book, going on day trips (annual pass to Biltmore), whatever I need or desire to fill my bucket. I had to stop worrying or telling myself I shouldn’t take off for myself, but those sole days have been the best to reset myself.

  • Joey December 6, 2021, 6:09 pm

    Is it weird to say I have missed you? I’m so glad you’re back. Even if it’s not a regular thing, it’s so nice to “hear” from you and hear what you have been up to. ❤️ Thanks for sharing an update!

  • Sarah December 6, 2021, 6:10 pm

    You posting has been so joyful! We did a lot of RV camping around Iceland this summer. It was such an amazing experience!

  • Lee December 6, 2021, 6:10 pm

    So fun to hear from you again. You know what’s funny? I can’t get over the fact that you’re 37. Which is silly because I’m 43. But it’s like bloggers that stopped blogging got frozen in time in my mind! I had a very small blog back in the day (it was called In My Tummy) and I miss those days too. The internet was just easier. Glad you are doing well.

  • Kelli December 6, 2021, 6:16 pm

    Long time reader here and so happy to see your name again! There must be something in the air because after years of not blogging consistently, I got the urge to start blogging again too. I’ve now decided to do 50 posts in 2022. Hopefully you’ll post a few more too! I know what you mean though, the internet is a VERY different place than it was before. Also, my husband and I got a sprinter van over the pandemic and absolutely love going on trips in it! Talk about joy! Now you have me thinking that maybe we should get an RV…We shall see!

  • Liz December 6, 2021, 6:17 pm

    Just so excited to have you back. There must be a kind corner of the internet somewhere?! Perhaps we could be it! Thanks for giving us a taste of how far we’ve come since we last heard from you. Positive thoughts to you and your fam, wherever this leads.

    • Nicole December 6, 2021, 8:13 pm

      Yes! I echo all of this!

  • Astrid December 6, 2021, 6:21 pm

    I’ve kept joy by NOT participating in controversial debates if we hear from you again, would love to hear more about RV life and health and fitness all these years later! Cheers!

    • Caitlin December 6, 2021, 6:32 pm

      Haha I can appreciate this!

  • Sarah December 6, 2021, 6:30 pm

    I love to camp and be outside. There is something about being reminded how big the world is and how small I am… I think about that each time we camp. If you decide to drive further- Arkansas has some great RV parks but I am biased to my home state.

    Thank you for the updates. I have missed your blog and have thought about you and your family. I was a reader before you were HTP- (see caitlin run?? I think). At that time we were in exact same place in life and I related SO MUCH with you. I was really sad when you stopped blogging but knew why and understood.

    I found my joy by putting myself first again. Asking myself basic questions about my immediate needs/emotions and what did I want. Sometimes it’s coffee, sometimes it’s taking 5 min in a quiet room so I can breathe. I got so busy making others peoples joy possible that I neglected myself. Taking those small steps daily turned my whole mojo around. It’s nice to feel good, be happy and love myself. That’s joy to me

  • Kortney December 6, 2021, 6:36 pm

    We bought a RV as well during the beginning of Covid! Due to both my husband and I being essential and working odd hours we haven’t taken it out as much, but we enjoy it so much. I camped as a child (in a tent) and have fun memories of it, so it’s awesome to take our kiddos out and do some of those same things with them too.
    It’s great to see y’all are doing well!

  • Sarah F December 6, 2021, 6:59 pm

    I’m so happy to see your posts- I was a long time follower, and I have missed your blog. It’s lovely to hear how you and your family have been doing and I hope that you chose to continue to share!

    I used to love your controversial topic conversations! I think it’s still possible to have these debates today- in fact, I think it’s more important. Not to try and convince anyone of anything, but to have everyone be able to share their thoughts and feel heard. I think we’re becoming more polarizing because we’ve stopped having those conversations.

    I’m finding my joy through all the hikes with my very active 3 year old dog, as well as learning French baking. I got very into it last winter and started making my own croissants, and danishes and macarons. So many steps but the final product is always so delicious!

  • Meg December 6, 2021, 7:01 pm

    Ahhh, it is so good to read HTP again! When I finished this post, I was left with that inspired feeling you gave me when you did no makeup for a month, or Operation Beautiful. You have a grounded and accessible way of approaching the world that truly inspires. So often when I read content that is supposed to inspire, if just leaves me feeling bad about myself. You never do that, and I sincerely love your grounding presence. Thank you for saying hello – how every frequently or infrequently that may be.

  • Katie D. December 6, 2021, 7:01 pm

    We bought a 28 foot tow behind RV this year and we love it!!! We have a close(ish) campground that we became semi-seasonal at in the fall, so we could go every weekend and kept our camper there all week!

  • Kristin December 6, 2021, 7:31 pm

    It’s so great to have you back! I was a follower of all of the first round fitness/lifestyle blogs, but you were the voice I kept coming back to. I completely respect all of your reasons for walking away, and obviously your life isn’t what it was back then, but blogging doesn’t have to be either. You don’t have to necessarily step back into CaitlinHTP to come back with your voice and perspective. You obviously have loyal readers, so what version of a return may fit your life now? Selfishly, I was overjoyed to see your check in, and would love for you to find a regular cadence that fits into your new life 😉

    For your question, joy has been rough to find the last years. I’m in the healthcare industry (not a provider, bless them) and it’s been hard to find joy while scrambling to keep everything functioning. I’m having to redefine what self-care looks like and having to cope with the increased energy that investment requires – at a certain point of exhaustion, shutting down is much, MUCH easier than choosing the “right” choice. Trying to make time with people and loved ones, spending time outside, setting boundaries at work, all the regular stuff. Three cheers to moving in the right direction!

  • Kiara December 6, 2021, 7:46 pm

    Welcome back! I loved your posts and felt like I really got to know you and your family all those years ago. It would be nice to hear from you again, even if only once in awhile.

  • Nicole December 6, 2021, 8:12 pm

    I missed these OG-style blog posts so much. Thank you for sharing. The new pup is such a cutie!

  • Erica Griffin December 6, 2021, 8:42 pm

    This sounds like so much fun!! When the pandemic started, honestly our lives didn’t change all that much for quite a while. School shut down yes, our daughter was a sophomore. But our boys are now 26 and 24, and our family operates our log home business in our super small town in Missouri. So with small crews, and just our normal people that we are with all the time anyway, it took a long time for us to see some changes that the rest of the world and bigger cities were seeing. Your adventures sound fun! What a great way to capitalize on the changing times, by adventuring with those you love most! Again, love reading from you in this space as much as did years ago. For however long it lasts and how often you pop in, I’m glad to see you:)

  • Stephanie W December 6, 2021, 9:27 pm

    My immediate family of 4 (husband, 6 yr old & 4 yr old) has played countless games of uno, Yahtzee, rumikub, and ticket to ride junior in the last year. I’m sure there are other games I’m forgetting. I love playing these games with them and it has been awesome connecting with them in this way.

  • Erin December 6, 2021, 9:28 pm

    I love this! Thank you so much for updating us on your recent adventures. It is so cool to hear from you again. It really brings me joy! My husband and I are thinking of getting an RV in the future, but as of right now we’ve never even rented one. Hearing your perspective was great! Thanks for sharing! And to answer your question, I carve out joy by finding simple, happy moments in my day to day life and by also planning big adventures for the future. ☺️

  • Dori December 6, 2021, 9:42 pm

    I am so sorry to hear about Maggie. I always loved that goofy girl!

  • Kyla December 6, 2021, 9:45 pm

    Oh my this makes me so happy to be commenting again on your blog!!!!

    One of the most joyous things about quarantine was adopting another fur baby to our family. When times are hard, I find myself snuggling up with my golden doodle and labradoodle.

  • Hannah Hawley December 6, 2021, 10:01 pm

    Joy is found daily! Sometimes it’s small, a cup of coffee, sitting and enjoying the Christmas tree lights. Sometimes it’s the big things, like a full day with friends who all live so far away from each other to celebrate the life of a friend who passed.

  • Jen M. December 6, 2021, 10:20 pm

    So happy to see you again! I found joy in the pandemic with BollyX, a Bollywood-style dance workout. In the past, I’ve worked out because I have to and it’s good for me and all of those things, but with BollyX, I’ve found joy in movement and it’s just FUN.

  • Hannah Pausma December 6, 2021, 10:44 pm

    I just have to say I so happy even thinking you might start sharing on the blog again! Stylized and staged has it’s place, but there is no connection and community like blogging. It’s a slower pace of absorption which we all need! Welcome back 🙂

  • Wendy Danner December 7, 2021, 7:21 am

    Wow your RV life sounds amazing. To just be able to drive to new spots and spend time in nature with the comforts of “home”. I am so happy for you. The last couple of yours have been tough to say the least but I have found being intentionally grateful has really altered my perspective on life and has allowed me to let go of things that were holding me back.

  • Emily December 7, 2021, 7:49 am

    The reasons you stopped blogging are the reasons I stopped reading blogs – all too perfect and pretend. I used to enjoy reading your slice of life stuff, and it is lovely to see you post again.

    I hope you will write more. You don’t have to be a blogger with a schedule, and you definitely don’t need to ‘keep up’ with others. Doing it casually, your way, could work!

  • Eliz NYc December 7, 2021, 8:33 am

    Wait, what! Are you back? When I saw this pop up into my feed I was racking my brain… Is this really the woman whose blog I used to read every day circa 2007? So great to get a glimpse of your world! Sounds like life has made you older and wiser. All the best!

  • Lynne December 7, 2021, 9:40 am

    Hello Caitlin, nice to see you back! We were bloggers around the same time and I have been thinking about getting back to it. I miss blogging. I am sorry to admit that at one time I left some not-so-nice comments on your old blog, and for that I am sorry. Like you, I am older, wiser, (and kinder). We are RVers too! Have been for quite some years. We have had a pull behind trailer as our first one (which we had an accident with and totaled), a Class C Motorhome, then a tiny T@B, then another pull behind trailer that we just traded in for a 37 foot motorhome. We hope to have many travel experiences in it this coming new year. All the best!

    • Caitlin December 7, 2021, 12:01 pm

      <3 Thank you Lynne

  • Marissa C December 7, 2021, 10:01 am

    You need to do Little Arrow in Townsend, TN right next to the National Park. It’s next level.

  • Heather December 7, 2021, 10:17 am

    I second and third and fourth all of the other readers! Seeing you pop up made me incredibly nostalgic and happy. I was so bummed when you left – a silent reader always, but felt like losing a friend. Thrilled to see you popping up again!

  • Alexandra December 7, 2021, 1:54 pm

    Love this so much!! Are you homeschooling? Would love to hear more about that!

    • Caitlin December 8, 2021, 11:46 am

      No we are not homeschooling. Henry did virtual public school last year and Claire did a transitional kindergarten year so we had a lot of flexibility. They are in person this year but I think about homeschooling a lot.

  • Reshma December 7, 2021, 2:25 pm

    Echo a lot of what others have already said! I was a long-time reader, but rarely commented. It was nice to follow along with your life, parenting hacks, and advice, and I loved turning to it as my kids entered those phases. I have stopped reading most blogs at this point, for the reasons you mention as why you stopped — too stylized, too consumer-driven, too fancy-feeling, and too “safe”. Back when things seemed kinder and less trolly, it was nice to see you try new things and reflect on them. Anyways, I was really excited to see your post again! Maybe after a break, the haters will have left and we can just go back to basics. Here’s to hoping.

    Bringing me joy these days? Family games or little quick card games that I can play during a workday without derailing everything! The kids love them!

  • Lauren December 7, 2021, 2:49 pm

    Hearing your voice again seriously makes me so happy. I hope you can find a way to continue to post without it intruding on your safety and happiness. I totally respect that, as a mom of 2 (my oldest is a few weeks younger than Claire – I remember going through our “pregnancies” together – I loved reading your posts then, too!).
    Finding joy during hard times means focusing on my family. Tuning out the outside world. Finding wonder in the beauty of the sunset, my children’s laughter, the coziness and safety of our living room. Just having a clean bill of health, which so many take for granted.

Previous post: