Not Just a Dream – Our 1 Year Full-Time RV Living Anniversary

Full Time RV Blog Lifestyle 1 Year Anniversary

Full Time RV Blog Lifestyle 1 Year Anniversary

Dreamers dream.

Doers do.

But can we be dreamers and doers?



Will it be easy?


Will it be worth it?


Nothing worth it is ever easy.


We’ve officially been on the road for 1 year as of June 18, 2018. While we started living in our RV a few months before we started traveling the RV, we’re calling this date our anniversary. This is the date we chose to quit just thinking about doing what we wanted to do and we actually did it. We haven’t had a city to call home in over a year and that’s quite thrilling. We’ve had temporary homes, but no permanent homes. At this point, we barely even consider Jacksonville our “home base.” Sure, it’s still where we go to doctor appointments, receive our mail, and have a storage unit that keeps getting smaller and smaller, but we have no physical presence there anymore.

In the last year, we’ve:

  • visited 25 different states
  • upgraded to a new camper
  • had a puppy join our family
  • met hundreds of nice fellow RVers
  • checked about a million things off our bucket list

The number one question we’re asked is: Where is your favorite place you’ve been? And, without any hesitation, all 3 of us will always answer South Dakota. We loved Custer State Park and Badlands National Park so much and those locations were some of our very first stops – only about 2 weeks into our adventure.

This is just a shout out to anyone out there even thinking about taking a risk and doing something crazy. Whether that’s making the decision to go full-time RVing or anything else life may be throwing your way, kudos to you for even thinking about making a move and doing something crazy. And for all of you thinking about starting the full-time RV journey, reach out to us if there’s anything we can do to help ease your nerves. We’re huge advocates of the lifestyle and would love to help give you that push to start the journey like we did. You definitely won’t regret it!

Custer State Park: Here a Donkey, There a Donkey

Custer State Park is a treasure of a place full of wild animals, lakes, and beautiful scenery. Massive bison, majestic pronghorn deer, friendly donkeys, and oh my goodness, the chirpy little prairie dogs. The Custer State Park Visitor Center is one of the best I’ve seen. The entire place is interactive and when you’re done, you head to an auditorium to watch a movie about the park. Bonus points for Custer State Park: The movie is narrated by Kevin Costner.

This also includes a road called the Pigtail Bridge – it completely wraps around itself.

And of course, this road wouldn’t be complete without lots of tiny tunnels.

Custer starts out with a road they call the Wildlife Loop and there are so many animals around this area. We’ve done this loop at all times of day from sunrise to sunset and midday as well. Right in the middle of this loop is the area where the donkeys have claimed as their home. These donkeys are so friendly and are very comfortable with humans. So comfortable in fact, that one tried to stick his nose in mom’s pocket looking for more food while another put his nose all the way down the brown paper bag trying to find crumbs. Another sneezed all over mom and she had donkey snot all over her. 🙂

We also encountered a herd of bison in the road. They are huge! Another car came around the corner and scared them so they started running towards our truck. It was crazy!

The lakes are crazy beautiful. We have awesome inflatable Bote Paddleboards thanks to Hagan Coastal Outfitters back in Jacksonville. They’ve been way underused in the year we’ve had them since the water in Florida is pretty gross and full of snakes and gators. The water here is quite chilly, but there aren’t any gators so we can board all day without worrying about going in the water. Plus, there are so many beautiful locations to park your board and take a hike. We’ve boarded Legion Lake and Sylvan Lake and loved them both. Legion Lake was so peaceful and serene. There were a few people around hiking, fishing, and kayaking, but the people were pretty sparse. Sylvan Lake was a lot more crowded, but it is a lot larger as well. They have huge rental areas, an eatery, and tons of rocks you can hike up and jump off.

Sylvan Lake was THE BEST EVER. It was gorgeous and unlike anything I’ve ever seen. And again for the National Treasure fans – part of the second movie was filmed on the rocks at Sylvan Lake. They pretended this lake was directly behind Mount Rushmore (close but not quite). This includes this great scene:

Custer State Park is also home to the Needles Highway, a long, scenic drive with needle like spires and tunnels with a clearance width of only 8 ft. 4in. In case you were wondering, a Ford F-350 Truck is 7 ft. 8 in. with the mirrors pulled in – giving you a whopping 3 inches of clearance on each side of the truck.

I also went horseback riding in Custer State Park at Blue Bell Lodge. It had been at least 10 years since I last rode a horse (maybe more) and it seemed like a perfect place to go. *Side note: Last time I rode a horse, a snake scared my horse and I almost got bucked off, so it isn’t something I have great feelings about.* So, I booked a ride and set out on the trail with about 20 other people and 2 guides. Guess what? Horseback riding is still not my thing. I want to like it. I just can’t. Not only did they give me a horse who had just come back from another trail ride (he was exhausted – the ride requires some mountainous terrain), but they didn’t even give him a chance to eat before the next ride so he was starving. He wouldn’t quit stopping to eat. The guides kept getting mad at him. Then they decided to tell me that he was hungry and tired. The poor horse was HANGRY and he kept biting the next horse’s butt. It wasn’t so great. I wasn’t super happy with the experience and I wouldn’t recommend the place I went either. They seem to work the horses too much, not feed them as much as they should, and they’re seriously racking in the money at $50 for an hour ride with about 20 people on it happening multiple times an hour. It wasn’t the best experience so I would recommend finding a different trail ride if you’re ever in the area.

Random fact about Custer State Park: The State Game Lodge is a place with historic hotel rooms and cabins for rent. The Lodge was home to President Coolidge during the summer and acted as the Summer White House for a period of time during his presidency. We ate dinner there and it was so delicious and fresh (but I didn’t get any pictures). My parents tried Rabbit Rattlesnake Sausage – I just couldn’t try it. :p

The town of Custer is a cute little place with original buildings that have been refurbished and converted into restaurants, stores, and more. My favorite was a coffee shop called The Bank. It used to be a bank and even has the giant safe in it still. I loved how they stuck with the theme of the bank and you even make a deposit (pay for coffee) and get a withdrawal (receive your coffee). Such a fantastic little place!

Full-Time RVers – Campground / RV Park Review: Heartland RV Park – Hermosa, South Dakota

Heartland RV Park Campground Review Hermosa South Dakota Near Mount Rushmore

Settling in the Black Hills of South Dakota made it difficult to find a campground that was centrally located. We planned a two week stay so we knew we wanted to be in a good location and that was most important for us. The area is gorgeous and has so much to see and do: Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Badlands National Park, Custer State Park, too many lakes to count (including Sylvan Lake and Legion Lake), and so much more.

We settled in at Heartland RV Park and Cabins in Hermosa and on night one, we got a little worried. We pulled in at dinner time with nothing in the RV to cook. There are no grocery stores nearby and at first glance, no restaurants. Luckily, the nice ladies working the front desk at Heartland told us about a little pizza place right down the street. I went in assuming I would need to order a salad, not thinking a small local pizza shop would have a Gluten Free option. I. Was. Wrong. And, it was the best Gluten Free pizza I’ve ever eaten. I ate the Buffalo Chicken Gluten Free Pizza and it was mind blowing. The combination of celery, Frank’s hot sauce, and ranch was perfectly balanced and I loved how big the chunks of celery were. Most buffalo chicken pizzas say they have celery on them and that’s a lie. You can never taste it. There’s never enough. They used large chunks of celery that you could actually taste and know you were eating. It was phenomenal.

After spending 2 weeks here, we definitely picked a great area to be in as it is right near Custer State Park which is the gateway to everything in this area. The campground was very muddy from the rain and our site was washing out underneath our camper (to the point our platform to raise the sewer hoses off the ground floated away). While they can’t totally control that, they could have helped some if the clay dirt underneath was built up more. They do their best to help as best they can by using a softball field drag to level out the clay/dirt/gravel, but it is still very muddy.

The bath house and laundry facilities are both great. I love campgrounds with individual locking rooms at the bathhouse instead of just a curtain to pull. This is a huge perk to me and I’m always excited when campgrounds have personal shower stalls. Water pressure and hot water were both fantastic.

They have a pool and hot tub as well, but the hot tub was always full of kids – kind of a bummer since hot tubs are for relaxing. We never got the chance to use the hot tub and we even waited 45 minutes for some people to get out, but they stayed in even though we were waiting.

While it isn’t quite built yet, it is worth noting for those looking to go here in the future, they have a rec center under construction. They say it will include a fitness center and other amenities. I’m sure this will be great when it is built as their other facilities are great.


The Mountains of America

Mount Rushmore Full Time RV

Does anything scream America more than Mount Rushmore?

Ok, so I say that a lot. Everything out West screams America to me. The history. The beauty of the land. The Presidents’ faces carved in granite mountainsides. Ok, it’s also kind of weird too, right? We carved the faces of 4 Presidents into the side of a mountain.

But, that’s America.

And, that’s what makes us awesome.

We did the audio tour and I highly recommend it. Not only is the audio tour amazing in itself, but all of the money goes back into the National Monument. We learned that the typical gift shops are outsourced and none of the money goes back into the area, but the places called bookstores are a nonprofit that exists for the sole purpose of making improvements to Mount Rushmore National Monument. The friendly gentleman working the audio tour counter told us all this information including some of the improvements made to the facilities funded by audio tours and bookstores (the recent addition of the parking facility being one of them).

We learned all about Gutzon Borglum, the man responsible for the creation of Mount Rushmore. He took such pride in his work and wanted everything to be perfect, but his employees did too. They hiked up the mountain everyday off the clock to get to work for years until they were able to build a mechanism to get themselves up the mountain.

Did you know 90% of Mount Rushmore was carved using dynamite blasts? They would drill small holes, shove dynamite inside, and blast them. They were so precise with their blasts that most of the work was done by blasting rather than hand carving. The remaining 10% was carved.

Also, I started my National Park Passport here! First stamp, Mount Rushmore!

Where are my National Treasure fans at? The second movie was filmed in the area including the nearby town of Keystone. Remember the Hall of Records? It’s a real thing – just not quite as awesome as in the movie. The Hall of Records was Borglum’s idea and he wanted it to hold a history of our country including valuable documents and items. He died before all of this was finished and never saw that come to life, but they did make sure a version of the Hall of Records existed. It is housed to a few tokens of history. While not as big and impressive as Borglum dreamed it to be, it still exists and who knows, maybe we’re told this and it really holds a city of gold like in National Treasure II.

That beautiful view above – that would be the Presidents’ view. If you looked out from where they are carved, that’s what you would see.

Dad, just mean muggin’ as the 5th President (above).