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Hello from New Zealand or, as the natives greet you, “Haere Mai”

After extensive touring in the USA and Canada (Nova Scotia to San Diego and Vancouver to New York), we decided to ship our Leisure Travel Vans Freedom 2A to our home country and continue the lifestyle. Shipping from Long Beach, California to Auckland was all organized by Steve Curl, a Kiwi living in L.A., and after 3 weeks we were clearing New Zealand Customs and going through the compliance procedure for The Department of Motor Vehicles. We were able to keep our LTV all complete, standard factory specification. As the van weighed under 3.5 tonnes, this meant there was no need to change the steering to right hand drive as we drive on the left side of the road.

Waiomu beach east coast road

Old and New socialising with South African import

We have now happily relocated from Auckland to Omokoroa, settled in the beautiful Bay Of Plenty surrounded by Kiwi Fruit, Avocado, and Citrus orchards.

Omokoroa, ready to leave home

Whangamata harbor side

Our last trip on the road was along the coast of the Coromandel Peninsular, a 300-mile circuit and a must for overseas visitors as this is one of our scenic drives.

The first stop was the town of Thames, a historic 1800’s gold mining area with the usual tourist museum and the 1865 Brian Baru Hotel, one of the few hotels left from the raucous mining days.

Brian Baru Hotel Thames

Here guests can stay the night and experience “Ghostly” and ” Murder Mystery” plays. The world’s best Fish and Chips are served at the marina, though this is a claim made by most seaside resorts! Traveling along the west coast, we observed extensive damage to the road caused by a recent cyclone in the Pacific and, yes, we do have some stormy weather down here. The road passes through numerous holiday villages popular in the summer months with seasonal visitors and permanent locals who enjoy fresh rock oysters, mussels, and saltwater fish.

Lake Taupo Marina

Whangamata harbor entrance

Coromandel was the next stop, another old town where artisans are evident with their crafts on display/sale as prominent “No Mining’ signs decorate the roadside. Leaving Coromandel, the road climbs over the range to Hot Water Beach. Dig out your own hot pool on the beach, allowing the hot mineral springs to seep up through the sand.

Maori carved meeting house Whakatane

Driving the winding road along the east coast through the holiday resort towns of Matarangi, Onemana, Opotere, and Whangamata all native Maori names which sometimes take some pronunciation by tourists. All these locations have white sand safe swimming and surfing beaches. The hills behind the resorts are of native bush ferns, flax, and commercial pine forests.

South island lake scene

Thru’ South Island mountain pass

We must now return to Omokoroa to enjoy the rest of our summer. Even the winter here is great. We may even get a frost!

Thru’ South Island mountain pass

Whangamata up harbor view

Cheers,

Rod & Arlene Smith.

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The Southwest Roadrunners are on the road to Alaska! There are 43 participants and 22 LTVs on this trip with people representing 9 different states. The trip was organized by Dennis and Darleen Thorig who put together a very thorough manual. They also got a lot of input from Southwest Roads Runner members and the 2016 Milepost.

The videographer for the trip is Kirk Kearl, who will be providing all the pictures and videos with the help of his drone.

We have a very active group of participants; hikers, bikers, golfers and, of course, wine tasters. Amongst the group, there are plenty of spare parts and knowledge along with an incredible willingness to help.

Check back on this page over the coming weeks to follow us on our journey!

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Submitted by our very own LTV owners, here is our roundup of the top campgrounds and RV parks in the Northeastern United States. Thanks to everyone who submitted these listings! Did we miss your favorite spot in the Northeast? It’s not too late to share it with the LTV community. Use the form found at the link below.

(Note: The opinions expressed below are of those of the authors, and not necessarily of Leisure Travel Vans.)

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Our top picks and tips for a Florida winter escape

If you’re seeking respite from Old Man Winter you may find your Leisure Travel Van pointing its nose toward Florida, with good reason. Lots of sunshine, pristine beaches, and challenging golf courses. Plus, fresh local seafood and saltwater fishing are just some of the reasons why people choose The Sunshine State as their winter destination.

Bill and I have traveled to Florida for the past four winters, each year refining our choices on where to stay, eat and play. We quickly learned a few lessons on how to plan a winter trip here, too. We’ll share some of our tips, as well as a few little-known facts and some of our favorite spots (such as Oscar Scherer State Park campground pictured above) to go.

For us, it’s all about the Gulf Coast, and most of the places we stay are located along Tamiami Trail (US 41). Yup, we’ve stayed in the Keys and several cities along the Atlantic, including Hollywood Beach, Sebastian Inlet, and St. Augustine. All those places are fine, but for us, we prefer the Gulf.

So, here’s our “Best of” list of campgrounds, beaches, eateries and more.

Lovers is My Key

“Lucky Us,” our 2015.5 Unity MB, at Koreshan State Park

Campground: We’ve found there’s no reason to stay any farther south than Koreshan State Park, north of Naples near Estero. Drive any more south to a state park on the mainland and you risk registering “run” on the mosquito meter that’s at the entrance to Collier-Seminole State Park, near Naples.

Campsites at Koreshan are nestled among the palms and palmettos, offering shade and privacy. The bathrooms are a little dated, but functional, and have laundry facilities as well. This past winter, we happened to be there during the park’s annual car and craft show, which also featured a small farmer’s market.

Coffee with the hosts on Saturday brought us a pleasant exchange with other RVers on why we chose Leisure, as well as tips on places to go as we head north. And if you like to paddle, bring your kayak – or rent one at the park. The Estero River provides a gentle, scenic trip.

The Hollow Earth

A visit to the historic Koreshan Unity Settlement explains this failed cult and their belief in cellular cosmogony, or the hollow earth.

Walking north on the beach, Lovers Key State Park

Best Day Trip: From Koreshan, it’s about 11 miles to Lovers Key State Park, home to one of our favorite beaches in Florida. The four barrier islands that make up this park provide a haven for wildlife, including West Indian manatees, bottlenose dolphins, osprey and bald eagles. RV parking is convenient in their big overflow lot. Concession stands offer food and kayak tours and also rent bicycles, canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, beach chairs, and umbrellas.

Shell decorated tree

Heron on the beach

From the parking lot, walk or take the tram to the two-mile-long beach; from there, walk north along the shore to discover the shell-decorated tree stump, ospreys nesting, and shorebirds. Bring a bag if you like to collect shells. If you go a second time, walk south along the beach to get a different view.

Driving Tip: Avoid the traffic jams in Fort Myers Beach by taking US 41 south from Koreshan State Park, then west on Bonita Beach Road to the coast and then north to Lover’s Key. If you travel with a dog, your pooch might want to visit the dog beach south of the Lovers Key entrance instead.

Best Seafood Market: Skip One Seafoods, along with US 41, doesn’t look fancy, but it has the goods, as in fresh, local seafood. We picked up stone crab claws (in season) and a piece of red snapper to cook later. In addition to their market, they also have a small restaurant, which typically is packed.

Cape Coral/Fort Myers

Flamingos reign at Tamiami RV Resort.

Campground: Once we start to head north from Koreshan State Park, we like to stay a few days at Tamiami RV Resort on US 41. It usually has a few nights open if we call a week or two in advance, and it’s a convenient spot for us to stay when visiting friends in Cape Coral. The campsites are tight and there is not a lot of shade here, but kitschy decorations, like flamingo-themed campsites and lots of home-state pride, prevail here among this clean, well-kept, private campground with daily trash pickup. Most folks hang out at one of the pools in the afternoon, and potlucks, campfires, and pancake breakfasts bring this small community together. Statues honor veterans from Canada and the U.S. With our Good Sam card, our site was less than $30 per night, an unbelievable deal for a nice campground in Florida.

Main Street, Matlacha

Day Trip: Head for Matlacha, west of the Cape Coral/Fort Myers area on Pine Island Road. Pronounced “Matt-LaShay”, this Seminole name is reputed to mean “big warrior, junior warrior or knee-deep water.” It’s a fishing town, a shopping town, but most of all, it’s a small town, population just over 700, with whimsical, brightly painted homes and shops flanking the main street. Park at the Matlacha County Park where it’s an easy walk to visit a few shops. Lunch at the Blue Dog Bar & Grill, sample their crab cakes and other delights, and then walk across the street to Barnhill Seafood Market for their fresh catch for dinner, along with Karen’s Key Lime Pie, made locally. YUM!

Edison Winter Estate

Day Trip: Plan to spend the day at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, where 20 acres of historic buildings, historic gardens, the Edison Botanic Research Lab and the Edison Ford Museum will open your eyes to hundreds of inventions, artifacts, special exhibits, and the award-winning Moonlight Garden. Picturesque banyan trees and tree-lined walkways give a glimpse into the winter estates for these two inventors who were winter neighbors.

Some of the seafood – dine in or take home to cook – at Lobster Lady Seafood Market and Bistro.

Best Seafood Restaurant: If you don’t mind nixing a waterfront venue for some really great seafood, try Lobster Lady Seafood Market and Bistro, nestled in a shopping area on Cape Coral Parkway West. Reservations are recommended at this popular restaurant, where waits up to an hour or two are not unusual during peak season and peak times. We go there for lunch instead. A glass case filled with lobster, clams, mussels, fish and more will tease you with what’s about to be served; bring a cooler so you can also buy some fresh, local fish to cook later.

Osprey/Venice

Campground: Continuing north along US 41, our next stop is Oscar Scherer State Park, near Osprey (Our campsite is featured in the top photo). By now, we are ready to park Lucky Us to settle in for a week or two while we ride our bicycles on the Legacy Trail, a 10.7-mile paved route linking Venice and Sarasota, with plans for expansion into downtown Sarasota.

Legacy Trail

Dona Bay

Legacy Trail Surry

Bicycle to the trail from the campground, and then travel north toward Sarasota or south to Venice. It’s an easy-to-pedal asphalt trail with one steep slope, encountered when you head south and traverse the US 41 overpass. We prefer the southern route, as it passes by more water, including Dona Bay and the Intracoastal Waterway near Venice. Look down from the Dona Bay bridge to see oysters, and maybe even a passing manatee. If you’re not up for cycling, the Friends of the Legacy Trail Surry is available, free, for a 45-minute guided tour along the trail. In 2018, it ran Tuesdays and Wednesdays, January through March.

Casey Key Fish House

Best Eats: Casey Key Fish House, 801 Blackburn Point Road, Osprey. This “Old Florida” waterfront restaurant offers a casual atmosphere where dogs are welcome to sit with their owners. Novelist Stephen King frequents this eatery, although we have yet to spot him. Grab a beer, crab cakes or a grouper sandwich at this moderately priced venue, as you watch boat docking and pelicans hoping for a morsel or two.

King’s Key:  King lives on Casey Key, just a short drive from the Fish House. To almost see where he lives, continue west on Blackburn Road from the restaurant to Casey Key, then turn north and drive to the end of the road. He lives in the last house on the right, but plenty of “do not enter” signs will warn you to go no further. Heed the warning.

Lime/orange and pure orange ice cream – orange you glad you tried each?

Sweet Treat: Nokomis Groves sells everything citrus – valencia and honeybell oranges, ruby red grapefruits, jellies, candies and some of the best, freshest orange juice I’ve tasted.  You can order up to three flavors of soft serve ice cream in your cone, choosing from orange, lime, vanilla, and chocolate. Try the lime, my favorite. The store is open November – mid-April, but the ice cream cones are sold year round.

Siesta Key

Turtle Beach Campground sunset from our campsite

Campground: If you want to stay on the ocean on the Gulf, about the only place to camp is Turtle Beach Campground on Siesta Key. With a trolley running daily, once you park your rig, you can get just about anywhere on this Key. Their 39 campsites are pretty tight (they call it “intimate”), but if you want to walk to the ocean, during the day or for sunset conch shell blowing, this is the place.

Siesta Key Beach

Day Trip: Siesta Key Beach. Take the trolley to spend the day on the powdered-sugar soft sand, always cool on your feet. Rated the #1 Beach in America, plan for big crowds on hot, sunny days. If you drive there, arrive early to get a spot in their large, open parking lot.

Fort De Soto Park

Fort De Soto campground

Campground: Fort De Soto Park, made up of five interconnected islands (keys), south of St. Petersburg, almost looks like a mangled hook on a map. The campground, on St. Christopher Key, has good-sized sites with plenty of trees and bushes for privacy. Many are located along the water. Don’t be surprised if you encounter a gecko or two in the bathrooms and herons and egrets along the shore.

One of the beaches at Fort De Soto Park

Fort De Soto’s 500′ pier on Tampa Bay

Day Trip: Once we arrive at Fort De Soto, we don’t leave the park until the end of our stay. Run by Pinellas County, you’ll find the historic Fort De Soto at the heart of the park where the Gulf meets Tampa Bay. It’s just a few miles along the flat, paved bicycle trails from the campground to three miles of pristine beaches; several parking lots provide ample space to park your rig if you prefer to drive. We were surprised to discover that fishing licenses are not required if you fish from either of the two piers, where we saw anglers catching yellowtail snapper, grouper, and other saltwater fish. Frozen squid and live shrimp bait are sold at the concession stand on the piers.

Go Fish? Go Salty

We took a three-quarter day charter out of Sarasota

Denise catches two-on-one

Bill holds the day’s catch

Each year, we typically book a half- or three-quarter day group charter fishing boat. This winter, we chose a trip out of Sarasota, which gave us a beautiful day on the water, with stunning views of the shore, and even a Portuguese Man O’ War sighting. And, some 20 fish to bring back for dinner.

When You Go

Plan Ahead: Although you may luck out and grab a last-minute cancellation, we plan our trip one year in advance. Florida State Parks accept reservations 11 months in advance, and Fort De Soto, run by Pinellas County, accepts reservations six months in advance for non-residents. Turtle Beach, run by Sarasota County, accepts reservations 12 months in advance. Florida’s State Parks offer an entrance fee discount to Veterans. Even better, disabled Vets are eligible for a free entrance card.

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Charleston. Just the sound of it brings to mind southern gentility.

Its history and beauty charm the visitor and captivated our Carolinas LTV group. This is our second Rally with the group who hail from North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and a few from as far as Nova Scotia. I would like to think they were coming to the rally just to meet our little group but I have a feeling the fame of Charleston, South Carolina had something to do with their visit. Nonetheless, we were delighted to see old friends and make new ones at this gathering. Our leaders, Jerry and Debbie Stephens, kept us in line while our hosts Russ and Pennae Johnsen created a perfect itinerary for the visit.

As our group arrived, we gathered to share a beverage, discuss the itinerary, and learn more about all of the 32 attendees in 16 rigs. It was a relaxed pace that allowed us to recover from our drive and begin reconnecting with friends.

Our first full day launched early with a coach ride into downtown Charleston. We had a local guide waiting to give us a walking tour, but that was just one of several options for the morning. The history of Fort Sumter and the draw of Patriot’s Point pulled a contingent from our group. The former is where the Civil War began in 1861 and the latter is home to the aircraft carrier Yorktown as well as a maritime museum. For the rest of our group, Miss Sarah Fisk greeted us as we stepped off the bus and into the history of Charleston. We walked the cobbled streets of the most historic parts of downtown listening to the stories and descriptions of the quaint architecture, people, and customs of the area. From the waterfront through the city market to the old churches and parks, we got a feel for the resilience, pride and hospitality of Charleston’s residents.

We ended our tour where we had begun – at the old Customs House on the waterfront. We left our guide and, breaking into smaller groups, ventured off in search of lunch. We chose Fleet Landing, overlooking the harbour. Probably the best plate of shrimp and grits with tasso gravy in all of Charleston. We ate and admired the harbour view, discussed the morning’s tours and enjoyed sharing about our travels. Meeting up with our bus, we headed back to the campground for a Rig Hop. Since there are so many different configurations for LTVs the Rig Hop gave us a glimpse of all the different models represented as well as some of the clever modifications each owner had made to their rigs.

It was nearing dinner time so the group wandered over to a pavilion in the centre of the campground where we shared a meal, pot-luck style, with the meats catered by a local restaurant. Conversation for RVers always turns to sharing information about repairs, modifications, campgrounds, and places to see. Before we knew it, our dinner had moved into a session of questions and answers. The experience of the group always trumps the experience of the individual. So many ideas and helpful hints were offered as well as suggestions for making our rigs more comfortable.

On day two, we were up and out early taking a couple of large vans to visit Magnolia Plantation. This lovely estate has been in the same family for 12 generations. It has been welcoming visitors since just after the Civil War when the owners decided tourism might be a good way to fund the reconstruction of the estate’s home, gardens, and rice fields. We toured the rice ponds-turned-nature-reserve by tram with a naturalist as our guide. She pointed out the alligators sunning themselves on platforms scattered about the ponds. White egrets filled several trees like over-sized holiday ornaments seeming too large for the branches holding their nests. Gigantic yellow-bellied sliding turtles poked up from the ponds and walked about the grounds.

The second tour, led by the park historian, took us to four slave cabins remaining on the estate. We learned about the rice cultivating skills of the West African slaves and the way they lived on the plantation. Even after the end of the Civil War, many slaves remained on the plantation as paid workers. The living conditions were deplorable, but their contributions to agriculture and southern customs were mighty. We were able to tour the four cabins, each representing a different time period. As we pondered the magnitude of that history, we made our way back to the main house where a boxed lunch awaited us. We sat under the trees eating sandwiches and talking about what we had seen. Then it was off to tour the zoo and gardens.

The small zoo on the grounds features a flock of peacocks, resplendent in their plumage and quite noisy crying out to one another. There are many alligators on the property and the zoo provides a closer view of these prehistoric creatures from a safe distance. We also saw deer, foxes, snakes, rabbits, and owls. It is an interesting way to get an “up-close” look at all these indigenous animals.

The gardens are naturalized, meaning that some of the formal structure is still evident but the clipped and manicured plantings are gone. They are replaced by natural as well as cultivated plants along a maze of pathways. The gardens wind around the house, along the river and over several small ponds by way of picturesque wooden bridges. A conservatory near the house features orchids and palms, while Carolina Jasmine climbs over trees and trellises perfuming the air with its sweet scent. Although the planting beds are numbered, it was not always evident where the path would lead. We joked that we felt a bit lost in the maze of pathways around the estate, and getting back to the van area proved to be a bit of a challenge – even with a map in hand! We didn’t lose a single person though, and we returned to camp for a quick rest before the evenings’ events.

Our last dinner together began at a local distillery where we learned about the process of distilling botanical gin, bourbon, and vodka. The tour included a tasting of their products and, after a quick look around the gift shop, we jumped back in the vans to get to our dinner stop. We pulled up to a large courtyard buzzing with activity. Tables and chairs dotted the space and music wafted on the breeze. The enticing smell of something cooking drew us into the food court. The concept for “Workshop Charleston” is interesting. The developers built a brewery and then offered the surrounding food court areas to local chefs to try out new dishes. There are six kitchens offering a rotation of chefs trying out new food ideas and, from all accounts of our group, each one delicious. Pick up your favourite beer at the brewery and then choose a cuisine! Great fun and a casual way to have dinner with lots of tasty options. This time they offered Vietnamese, Indian, Mexican, Cuban, and Pizza as well as a kitchen in the brewery.

We went home full and happy. It is always bittersweet to see the rally come to an end and most of our group wrapped up the evening gathering for a conversation about the days’ events. Three days flew by with so many great things to do, good conversations, meeting new friends and reconnecting with old friends. We are grateful to our chapter leaders and our Charleston hosts and can hardly wait until! to meet again!

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We did it. We signed on the line and put our house up for sale. Emotions were real. Real loud (at least for Jimmy). I was just plain excited. All I could see was the next step in our journey to full-time living and I just couldn’t wait to get it on the market to see what people thought. You see, we remodeled just about every square inch of this little house and we made it spectacular. We made it smart. We made it the house that people stopped to look at as they drove by. We loved it and I wanted to know if others felt the same.

Then reality set in. Showings come with hurdles; they are a big pain. It means someone else is going to be living in our house. Showings mean we couldn’t finish getting rid of all our things as a furnished house sells better than an empty one. Showings mean that we had to keep our house spotless all of the time. Showings mean we are displaced every time they show the house. But they get the job done and are a vital part of the whole process.

Our biggest hurdle?  We sold our second vehicle months earlier as we downsized, so we only had one vehicle. This would have meant that one of us was always going to have to figure out what to do with themselves, two dogs and a cat during every show. But luckily, we already had our LTV and it was conveniently parked in our driveway!

Little home parked next to big home = WIN.

Spending hours out in the LTV was as good as being in the big house! It was way better than sitting at a McDonald’s or looping around the block for hours. Or walking if one of us happened to be at work. We also could peek out the window and see who was looking at the house (don’t tell on us). We also got to spend time in the LTV organizing, installing interesting stuff and in Jimmy’s case, sleeping after working graveyard shifts.

The remaining hurdles had to be dealt with one at a time. Some were mental, some were physical and some were just plain logistical.

The Mental

Well yeah, the whole selling the house you thought you would retire in is hard. We just had to get over this one as there’s a bright and scenic-filled life waiting down the road.

The Physical

I had an emergency appendectomy right after we signed. It wasn’t fun, but I’m ok. I was limited to only picking up 10 pounds or less for a while and this left a lot to Jimmy (sorry babe).

The Logistical

Oh man! It’s not like we were moving to another house or had plans to later. When we closed, the house was supposed to be empty and we had a lot to sell or get rid of. But the realtor wanted us to keep the house furnished until we got a “clear to close” status from the buyer’s financing. We weren’t sure how we were supposed to sell it all when that status doesn’t usually happen until a week prior to closing! We considered moving everything to storage and selling later but decided to offer it all up to the potential buyers and see what happened. Fingers were crossed!

We received a contract from the very first showing which was less than 24 hours after we listed! This was when things became very real for me. We were selling our house. Holy cow! Wait, I’m not sure I want to! But, I did. That was hard. The showings continued for a week while we waited to see if any other contracts came about but it seemed like we would be living in the LTV much sooner than expected.

Those reactions to the house I was wondering about? Yeah, they were all great. The best one was “OMG, this house is FABULOUS!” One week after our listing was published, we had shown the house 17 times and had received 9 contract offers!

Life is good.

Fast forward 2 months and you will find that we closed just over a month after listing the house and have officially been living full time in the LTV for a month. The situation has not been ideal as we are both working different schedules. This means someone is always stranded or having to find something to do while the other one sleeps. It hasn’t been nearly as hard as we expected, but not particularly easy either. Luckily the RV Park we chose is quiet and not terribly far from work.We stayed in this first ‘resort’ park for 1 month. For our purposes, it was great. Even if it was a concrete jungle. We didn’t use many of the facility perks – only their WiFi and popcorn. We were spurred to move on when they switched us to a daily rate at the end of the month. Jimmy really had a hard time giving up the popcorn.

We moved out to a County Park on the beach and LOVED it! Wildflowers were blooming, walks on the beach were relaxing and migrating birds singing outside lulled us to sleep…. It was hard to leave!

April 17 was Jimmy’s last day of work. April 18th marked our first true day of freedom and the beginning of Full-Time RV Life. Will we miss family members that live locally? Yes! Do we miss the house? Surprisingly, no! And the furniture crisis was averted when the buyers asked for most of our furniture. We actually only had to sell a few things and donated just one carload. Waiting and the minimalist game paid off.

Are we still scared to embark on this new way of living? Sure, but we are ready!

Did everything we need fit in the motorhome? Gosh, we hope so. Honestly, I feel we have too much and plan to reevaluate monthly. Do we miss our “hometown” or jobs? Nope, but we sure do miss the people!

Let the adventures begin!

Lessons we learned:
  • Selling a house is hard.
  • Having your LTV in the driveway has more perks than you would think.
  • It is possible to live in an LTV while someone works shiftwork.
  • Play the minimalist game. And play often.
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Submitted by our very own LTV owners, here is our roundup of the top campgrounds and RV parks in the Midwestern United States. Thanks to everyone who submitted these listings! Did we miss your favorite Midwestern spot? It’s not too late to share it with the LTV community. Use the form found at the link below.

(Note: The opinions expressed below are of those of the authors, and not necessarily of Leisure Travel Vans.)

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Canadian RVing and Camping week is an annual celebration of RVing and camping in Canada, while also creating awareness and gathering charitable donations for children with life-threatening illnesses through Make-A-Wish® Canada.

From Tuesday, May 22nd to Sunday, May 27th, 2018, select campgrounds and dealerships across Canada will help raise funds for Make-A-Wish® Canada and offer special discounts in support of Canadian RVing and Camping Week.

How can I participate?
  1. Simply go RVing and enjoy our beautiful country! On Saturday, May 26th at participating campgrounds, RVers will gather around campfires across Canada and host a Nationwide S’mores Roast sponsored by Hershey Canada.
  2. If you are a Leisure Travel Vans owner and would like to make a donation, we will match your online donations to Make-A-Wish® Canada for this campaign (up to $5,000 CAD).  Simply visit their donation page, make a donation, then forward your email receipt to marketing@leisurevans.com. Help us make a child’s wish come true!

To learn more, visit gorving.ca/canada-rv-camping-week.

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We are Snowbirds.

We are not your average Snowbirds, but nonetheless, we are now officially Snowbirds. We have just spent our first seven weeks south of the Canadian border.

We left Vancouver on December 18th and headed toward Mexico with no plans, other than visiting a few people en route.  We didn’t leave with the intention that most Snowbirds leave within the mind.  We had our eyes set on working harder than we could in the wet and growing our business along the way.

The road has been kind... - Vimeo

If you don’t know, we run an online yoga and wellness website, www.inbalanceforlife.com. The site has about 100 videos already online, with guided meditations, yoga and movement classes, essential oils, educational videos, and of course some lifestyle videos and our own blog. As well, news and schedules for all of Kaitlin’s training and retreats she puts on. It is just Kaitlin and me who run and operate it, completely out of our Serenity, which we also live in full time.  So when I say we headed south to work harder, I mean to film classes and videos in the sun, be super productive and come back feeling accomplished.

Like I said, this was the intention. As we all know, sometimes even our best intentions get lost or changed.

Something we hadn’t quite let into our field of perception was how much our lives had changed in the last year.  I had quit my full-time job as an electrician, moved home (I was commuting from our old home to Fort McMurray for work), begin the workings of building a new home in Nelson, BC and we ditched the permanent address and moved into our Leisure Travel Van. All the while filming videos and launching our new website and trying to be kind, loving and care for each other in the process. The latter half of this being something we had ignored somewhat. Put aside and waited for the glorious future to be our fairy tale.

By the time we were ready to leave Vancouver Island, we were all but completely disconnected as a couple. Our business was doing OK, aside from this aching feeling that we were working too much and not enough was actually being accomplished. We fought more than ever and had many serious conversations about how we are going to move forward as partners both in business and in life.

Like I said, we planned the trip with work ambitions galore and a week before we actually departed, we knew we needed something else. We knew we needed this time to find our wants, both together and as individuals. We knew that life on the road suited us, we have done it many times before, and that we would have time to heal, listen and see if our love was still as strong as it once was.

So we left. To find ourselves inside of work and love, after 13 years together we needed this, now more than ever. We rumbled down the Oregon Coast, continually blown to bits by the beauty and tranquillity. Being a surfer, I was in visual heaven. Not quite heaven because the lack of other surfers and the abundance of sharks kept me out of the water. We held the vision of getting as much work as possible completed, but we were continually railroaded by our thoughts and feelings, the fact that we had no internet and it rained more than we thought it would, or we were tired or irritated. We bounced back and forth from; get it done! To; let’s just relax this afternoon. Needless to say, the business goals were getting picked away much much slower than anticipated. The area we were doing the work was within ourselves and how we relate to one another.

If you’re reading this, chances are that you have gone on some trips with a partner of some kind. We all know that things can get tense, or irritable, especially when we are out of fresh water and full of black. What I am not sure of is how many of you have been on a trip with a couple of yogi soulmates who have let work and life get between them. We were determined to find the root, dig it up, smack it around, probe it a little more, straighten it out and re-bury it so it can flourish. Give our life a pruning, to keep the gardening metaphor going. There was some hard moments, some tears and some good chats about things we hadn’t shared with each other before. We were doing the work, and this alone told me we were on the path to healing. This meant we both cared enough to try harder, and try we did.

Somewhere in Southern California (we never made it to Mexico) we found some semblance of our groove. We laughed like we were 20 years old again, we hiked and found gems along the way. Our workload even improved, nowhere near the crazy goal we left with but improved nonetheless. I was happier, not just because of the sunshine, but because I was remembering why we came together, why we moved in together, why we married and why we bought this amazing RV. The answer to all of that was freedom. Freedom to be ourselves and not ask for permission or look back in angst. I continually work with this day today, but I am so happy I have awarded myself the ability and time to just take off and look for the peace within me. Kaitlin found space to create again, like a child with no care of who it’s for or what is it’s worth to anyone else. Which is pretty important, at least for her career as a public speaker, yoga teacher and writer.

We are fairly young, we grew up with ideas of how the world works as an “adult”. Jobs, mortgages, bills and kids, this is us trying to find out if that story is true or not. I am still searching and plan to forever, but from trips like this, I can see that the road is a very kind place as long as you give it the credit it deserves.

-Ben

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Submitted by our very own LTV owners, here is our roundup of the top campgrounds and RV parks in the Southern United States. Thanks to everyone who submitted these listings! Did we miss your favorite spot in the South? It’s not too late to share it with the LTV community. Use the form found at the link below.

(Note: The opinions expressed below are of those of the authors, and not necessarily of Leisure Travel Vans.)

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