”Up North” Reunions

Headed “Up North”(as the locals call it) to Traverse City-the gateway to our Northern Michigan summer playground for the next week.  Scored a great spot in Traverse Bay RV Resort, where many RVers spend their entire summer!  The weather forecast showed thunderstorms for 4 days straight, but having grown up in Michigan, there’s a local saying, “If you don’t like the weather in Michigan-just wait a minute”…and once again, this saying held true.

Met up with our local traverse family (Aunt Pauly and the McCormicks) for brunch, drinks and pool time, and were lucky enough to catch up with cousins from downstate(the Whitteberrys) for a mini “family reunion” picnic at the park.  Shared many memories and laughs and got to meet the newest member of the family, Rosie!  Went real estate shopping in Lake Charlevoix and Petoskey possibly contemplating a Florida replacement. 🤔

On Saturday, we went wine tasting and bar hopping with 3 of our favorite cousins, Todd, Stephanie and Pam. It was just like old times, thunderstorms and all!  We got a chance to share a great lunch and shopping  in Charlevoix-on the water with Todd and Steph and rounded out the night with pizza and sad goodbyes at the pool with Pam, Mackenzie and Aunt Pauline.  The time is never long enough and goes way too fast.  We made promises to try to come back before the winter hits.


Beers with “Big Owl”

Leaving Abbi and Iowa was sad, but with our packed fun filled agenda, we had to saddle up ole “Betsy” (or motorhome has a name now! Haha) and head towards Michigan.  Illinois was basically a drive thru state trying to quickly pass around Chicago without any bullets through the windshield. 😳 Successfully, we found ourselves waving to Notre Dame in Indiana, and had the shores of Lake Michigan within our sights.  A couple nights spent at “the Havens”…a campground on the lake, boats in the marina, and of course the famous” Kilwin’s fudge and ice cream shop” …a sure sign we had made it to Michigan!  Time to slow down, enjoy the tiny quaint towns, our “home away from home” and run the air conditioners 24/7.  Definitely feeling the Midwest summer weather and humidity-yet the campground was filled with people enjoying their campfires-a head scratcher for us Californians!🤔.

With our batteries recharged after a couple days of meandering, it was time to embark on family festivities!  We headed to  Saginaw, Michigan. most eastern part of our journey, to meet up with our favorite WWII veteran, Grandpa Trybulski, better known as “Big Owl”.☺️.  Had the most wonderful lunch with the 102 year old, reminiscing about old times, the grandkids, great-great grandkids, and the war.  All while drinking cold Budweiser’s at Applebee’s, Grandpa’s  choice🥳 It was so hood to see him, he is doing great-uses a cane a little and is so “with it”!  He says his secret is to never stop moving. A philosophy we have obviously taken to heart, in an effort to reverse our age haha.


We rolled off the “plains” into “Mellinium  Midwest”- better known as West Des Moines Iowa.   Lots to learn about “urban renewal” with a “hipster” vibe!   Went to the weekly farmer’s market in downtown, and was surprised by how big it was, how busy it was and how old we felt.  There is definitely a revitalization happening there-lots of craft breweries, wineries, genuine midwesterners, and most importantly…the sweetest niece of all time.  Abbi was the “hostess with the mostest” sharing her vogue new pad, her air conditioning (it was HOT!) her knowledge of the area, and her spirit that kept us on our toes as we learned about her new life in Iowa.  She introduced us to her cool friends, day and night time downtown festivities, and the famous “taco in a bag”😂!  Not to mention, the most amazing grocery store/restaurant/fresh market/Bloody Mary bar brunch/public house(hundreds of local craft beers)…HYVEE!!! We were so amazed by all of the new construction happening-if you think the economy is suffering-check out the growth in West Des Moines!  This place is on fire and couldn’t be happier for Abbi to be a part of it!


Let’s do this!

As we headed East from San Diego on our way to Arizona, we quickly realized the traffic condition in Southern California seems  to get worse every day!  Eastbound and down into Yuma Arizona took us nearly half a tank a gas (another unexpected part of our trip).  Made our first Walmart shop in Arizona to pick up some fresh fruit, salads and snacks.  So far… best part of Arizona-gas prices (2.79 gallon diesel), worst part of Arizona…everything else!

By the time we were halfway to our first stop, the ride was beautiful-mountainous areas heading towards Flagstaff Arizona. Jerome and Sedona….Definitely  on our list for our next trip as they appear to be the nicest areas we passed while traveling through Arizona.

Made it to our first stop after a 10 hour day and over 550 miles from San Diego. It was quite a disappointment for me when we finally made it to our destination…it was a KOA “campground” (which was not much of a campground at all!) it was what I would call a parking lot.  Not at all what I “envisioned” when I agreed to try this camping thing (and “campground on the bay” is looking better and better!)

Up early 5 AM to start our second day for another 550 mile drive. This time we went through Northern New Mexico and saw beautiful scenery with lots of mountains averaging 5 to 6000 feet of elevation.

The winds were surprisingly pretty strong which made driving a little stressful but luckily the traffic was light  and the roads were in good condition. Made it through Albuquerque and made breakfast burritos on the road for the first time. Started up the generator so we could use the microwave oven and I figured out a way to make burritos while driving (not wasting any time getting to Iowa).

So this was a four state day…Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma.

Traveling through Texas and Oklahoma we found some of the largest beef cattle ranches we’ve ever seen!  Miles and miles of Cows!!! We finally got off the interstate and took Highway 54 N. and found what appeared to be a ghost town and was very eerie. After another very long day,  we stopped in Oklahoma at a drive-in movie theater that had been converted to an RV park. The showers were clean and the place was nice, (unfortunately there were no drive-in movies being played the we were there), but a cute concept and a bit of a “step-up” from the “parking lot” camping we did the night before… but just “a bit” haha.

Realizing we had just gone through a time zone change, )we had lost two hours), waking up the next morning at 5 AM for another 600 mile drive was not super exciting.  Nevertheless, we said goodbye to Oklahoma and made our way to Iowa through Kansas and Missouri.  Driving along a toll road in Kansas we were shocked when it cost $24.50!  Overall,  Kansas was flat, full of corn and oil wells, but very clean and filled with small little towns that reminded us of a Hollywood movie set.


Once we got North of Kansas City, and into Iowa, The drive began to be filled with rolling hills and mature greenery along the highways.

“Standin’ On A Corner In Winslow Arizona”

Just Can’t Wait to Get On the Road Again

I think it’s fair to start out this first blog by disclosing We have never written a blog before, and this is our first road trip we’ve attempted in our new RV. Our plan is to travel from our home in Carlsbad, California, East to Michigan, North through the Upper Peninsula, then head back West towards home, hitting 18 states, and never traveling the same road twice. Today, we are two weeks into our trip and are right on schedule. We want to share experiences, observations, frustrations, surprises and lessons we’ve learned along the way. And Marty’s perspectives and challenges (as the one and only driver), will surely be different from mine, the lucky passenger.

For those of you that know us , we have “Nomad” souls and love to adventure. However, most of our adventures so far have involved planes, boats and water. Currently, our mode of transportation on this trip is a Tiffin Class A Diesel pusher and her name is Betsy. She comes with an air suspension ride, “in motion” satellite television and all the conveniences of home (except a dishwasher haha).

Traveling along with us (and our favorite reason to be traveling on land) is our 6 year old miniature Labradoodle, Zac., who is often the subject of our best pictures! To be honest, he was one of my biggest worries contemplating our long travel days, but he has adapted like a champ…laying in between the two of us when we are in motion, and takes care of his “business “ at any rest stop, gas station, or Wal Mart swiftly. Almost running back to the RV remarkably realizing it is his house and may start moving again at any time.

Well, there you have it… our first blog!  Thanks for visiting, and we hope you will check our site often to keep up on the latest “Mr and Mrs Smith adventures”!