Finally, after months of planning and talking, we’re on the road with Goldie (our Forest River travel trailer) and the Beast (our Ford F250).
I intend to do a weekly wrap on the blog to give our readers insight into life on the road of our 1 year US road trip – what we’re doing, discovering, learning and managing the RV lifestyle.
We had a shaky start leaving Raleigh with several things going wrong.
At 10pm on the night of our moving, after moving tons of furniture and packing everything into the trailer and bed of our truck, we discovered the keys to our Undercover Ridgelander truck bed cover were missing. That meant we could not move the Rhino roof racks on it so it could fit our bikes and Yakima cargo box.
Failing a solution at that time of night, we left the remaining things in our garage (thankfully we had one more night in our apartment left) and we left to stay with our friends.
In the morning we got new keys cut and went back to finish the pack up.
We planned to then leave for Asheville around lunchtime, but when we went to hitch the truck up we overextended the electric tongue jack which blew the fuse and it wouldn’t work. Nor, could we figure out how to manually raise it up and down.
By the time we troubleshooted and worked out what happened, it was way too late to leave. We did not want to be pulling a 37 ft travel trailer through the mountains for the first time in the dark!
So we stayed another night with our friends in Durham and eventually left the next day.
Visiting Asheville with Friends
We were very excited to spend a week in Asheville with our friends, Bryanna and Craig (and kids) from Crazy Family Adventure and Bryanna’s parents and sister’s family.
We recently spent the week with them at this luxurious vacation home in Orlando, and then they came to Raleigh for Thanksgiving.
They’ve been living this RV lifestyle for five years so were a good source of support and tips as we got ourselves settled up and settled in. Craig was on constant call to help us figure out stuff!
He replaced our friend Mel back in Durham who was helping us.
One of the reasons I fell in love with Goldie is that I could envision the entertaining we could do in her. She has a large sitting area inside with an island and an outdoor kitchen and bar fridge (stand by for video walk through in the near future).
These dreams were realized with a few social gatherings inside Goldie to escape the cold. On one evening we were even able to set up the TV outside so the boys could watch the Sunday night NFL football.
On another evening, we could also have an impromptu dance party in the travel trailer which was a hoot. Goldie has been worth the investment already.
The girl’s room was the perfect playground for the kids to play with their toys, and have Shark Tank games, and they could chill out on the couch inside to watch movies.
It was so much fun having so many cool people to play with. Thankfully, all our kids get along really well.
We all planned to stay longer in Asheville, but a snow storm bringing several inches of snow decided to make an appearance so we all ran away in different direction. Not without first experiencing a day of flurries.
Thank goodness for the warmth of our trailer. Baby it’s cold outside! We’ve had the furnace on, and to save our propane we just bought a Lasko electric ceramic fan heater.
What we did in Asheville, NC
The first few weeks of our RV trip will be intentionally slow with not a lot of exploring done by us.
We want time to ease into the RV lifestyle and sort out all the kinks and learning curves as things go wrong.
We also have a pile of work that is backed up thanks to the intensity of the last several months traveling with family and moving from our Raleigh apartment to full time travel.
We want to try and clear all of that before creating new content. That is one reason for me writing my weekly wrap up.
It’s much easier for me to manage a weekly wrap than our usually insanely huge travel related content. We are shooting some video though as it’s easy to do and we have a video editor to do the hard stuff putting it together.
After 8 years of intense work building this blog, I’m just bone tired and want some rest time to just enjoy hanging out with the girls and our friends and not having to record and share everything.
If you want more real and personal connection, where we share the real story of how we unplug, how we manage the ups and downs, the sweet the funny, the strange and chaotic, than jump in my Notes from the Road virtual suitcase. Its like receiving letters from an old friend. Just click the following:
Send them my way now!
For ease of shooting, our current photos are taken on our Samsung Galaxy S9+ phones which takes great photos, but not as good as our usual DSLR photos.
We have a couple of stops on the East Coast, like Asheville and currently, Chattanooga where we will be doing this.
As these two destinations are close to Raleigh, our eventual permanent home, we know we can easily come back and create epic content to help you travel there. At that time we can explore more.
We have been to the Asheville area plenty of times before and love it. So be sure to check out our Smoky Mountains National Park post, and our experiences at Biltmore Estate, and one of my favorite places in the USA, Lake Lure.
However, there were a few things we did do in Asheville to keep the kids entertained and experience what is so great about it.
Asheville Science Museum
Small enough to not bore the parents, big enough it entertain the kids, the Asheville Science Museum is a good place to spend an hour or so.
It’s more suited to the younger children. There isn’t a lot to do here but it’s play. I loved the crystal section.
The Dads minded the kids for a bit while the Mums snuck away to check out the Herbiary down the street and grab some tea.
Catawba Falls Trail
The highlight of our trip to Asheville was the family-friendly Catawba Falls hiking trail located 30-minutes east of Asheville near Black Mountain.
It’s a 2.8 mile round trip that takes you through the forest, past the creek and small waterfalls up to the thundering 100 ft high Catawba Falls.
It was a gorgeous walk through the Pisgah National Forest and the kids had a blast scrambling over rocks and falling into the icy water.
It was an easy trail and all the kids (ages 5-11) walked all the way without complaining. That is what we all call a hiking trail with kids well done (read our tips for hiking with kids post).
I loved watching the kids bonding together and reaching out hands to ensure everyone jumped creeks and climbed rocks safely. This is the reason why we travel and it warms my heart so much!
You can see more in our upcoming video. Subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don’t miss it.
The Omni Grove Park Inn
We visited the Omni Grove Park Inn after locals recommended we couldn’t miss their Gingerbread Houses.
Grove Park Inn National Gingerbread House Competition started with a few community members wanting to celebrate the season and somehow, their passion turned into one of the nation’s most celebrated and competitive holiday events that has high-caliber food and media judges.
The winning creations are on display over the Christmas period and non-guests of the hotel are invited to come and view them. Parking costs $20
Everyone really enjoyed it, especially the kids.
I think I got more joy of seeing them race from one to the other sharing their opinions with each other about what was great and their favorites.
They were all really smitten. The quality of work was outstanding especially from the junior entries. I can’t believe young children can be so creative and precise.
If you don’t care about gingerbread houses or come at any other time of the year, you will still want to visit the Omni Grove Park Inn.
The views out to the valley are sensational. This is the place you want to come for sunrise or sunset – either way you’ll get great colors and lighting.
You can sit on the outdoor terrace to appreciate it. Even better would be staying at this luxurious 5 star hotel. The outdoor pool and spa area looked incredible.
Rock Climbing at Climbmax
You may already know the girls love rock climbing. It’s an activity we seek out in our travels all the time and they even do summer camps for it when we’re based in Raleigh.
Climbmax is down by the river in Asheville and has 6 auto belay climbs.
If you want to belay your child, you have to pass at test first, which I failed!! More practice is needed for me. Damn those figure 8 knots are hard.
There was a cool outdoor climbing wall the kids enjoyed scaling up and swinging back down. We spent several hours here and all kids had a blast.
Attend an Art Class
Bryanna organized an art class with our group at the Roots and Wings School of Art and Design. We had a relaxing lunch in nearby Biltmore Village while the kids created their own shadow boxes and played dress ups.
They had a great time and it is something I’d love to do more of as we travel around. Art classes don’t feature much in my homeschool curriculum.
Kid-friendly Asheville Breweries
You cannot come to Asheville without visiting a few breweries. There are plenty for you to check out. The ones we found time for were,
The pizzas at Asheville Brewing are meant to be delicious. I chose wrong with a nachos that was way more corn chips than filling. I loved the extensive beer selection and my citrusy Draft Punk IPA was perfect for a cold Saturday afternoon.
There’s a beer garden here with space for the kids to play.
Sports fans will want to watch a game in this brewery. Catawba Brewery was packed when we walked in. There is a wide open inside area and an outside beer garden that hosts food trucks.
The men stayed here to watch the end of the football with while we took the kids out for ice cream. It is a kid friendly brewery however.
Ginger’s Revenge is the brewery for the ginger beer lovers and gluten free drinkers. There are some local beers available in cans, otherwise everything on draft is gluten free and ginger beer related.
It has an open sitting area, funky artwork, and plenty of board games for the kids. We grabbed a flight of ginger beer to taste the wide variety of flavors. The Lime Agave was my favorite.
Upcountry Brewing was my favorite brewery of the ones we visited in Asheville. It felt more of a neighborhood hole in the wall brewery. there was a great outdoor sitting area with fire pits that weren’t running when we visited.
They often have live music and it was very family-friendly.
The Hop Dread and Isoprene Hazy IPAs were delicious as was my nachos with tater tots and vegetarian chili. One of the best I’ve ever had. Don’t miss this kid friendly brewery
Click here to read Bryanna’s post on kid-friendly breweries in Asheville.
Ice Cream at Sammies
Sammies. Sammies. Sammies. The kids chanted until we relented and took them to the place where you can get ice cream sandwiches as big as their heads.
They loved them despite the chill outside. I can imagine they’d be a hit in the summertime heat.
Where We Stayed in Asheville
We stayed at the Bear Creek RV Park and Campground. It’s hard to get a real feel for a campsite when it’s the middle of winter and everything looks drab and barren.
The sites were of decent size and the park okay. It was pretty small, yet in a good location close to the I-40, Biltmore Estate, and downtown Asheville.
There are beautiful views over the mountains especially at sunrise.
We’re only new to RV campgrounds so don’t have a good feel for average prices to give an accurate comparison. But my initial feeling is that the campground was a little overpriced.
Comparing it to our current campground in Chattanooga, TN which is about the same price, it’s nowhere near as good.
If you would like other accommodation options for Asheville, check Booking.com here and Airbnb here.
RV Lessons Learned
- Water hoses can freeze! We couldn’t figure out why the water wasn’t flowing through our hose to flush out our black water tank. We’d unhooked it the night before, per request from our campground. There were going to be freezing conditions overnight. So we made sure our fresh water tank was filled to use instead. We have a water pump and a water heater switch inside our van which enables us to live off the grid when desired. We now know to not leave the house outside but to put it into the underbelly of the travel trailer so it can stay a little warmer. To unfreeze it, lay it out in the sun, run the water through it and walk on it to smash up the ice.
- Our furnace runs off gas which can use up a lot of propane. We one of our two 30lb gas bottles emptied! Gas in the RV’s are meant to last longer than that and we hadn’t used a lot of gas, apart from cooking, and a few cups of percolated coffee a day. We figured it was the furnace. We purchased an electric space heater to use when plugged in at campgrounds so we don’t use the gas furnace!
- RV campgrounds have dump stations at the site. We didn’t know this until checkout when I asked where the dump station was. This makes things so much easier and gives you less panic time if you’re black tank is almost full before you leave. That way you can empty it without packing everything up to go to the dump station.
- Don’t raise your electric jack too high. It will fail!
Raleigh to Asheville: 247 miles
Week 1 Travel Costs
I’m going to provide approximate travel costs for each week on the road. I’m focusing mostly on the travel related costs, not living costs.
Remembering that this is a travel lifestyle where we live as well as explore, so those costs will vary tremendously depending on your lifestyle choices.
The travel costs will he a helpful indication to any type of traveler!
- Fuel: $157.81
- Parking: $23
- Uber: $10.01
- Camping: $270 (6 nights) = $45 a night (Good Sam Discount of $5 given)
- Admission fees: $57 (Full day rock climbing: $32 Art Class $25)
Entry to the Science Museum was free thanks to our reciprocal museum annual membership we purchased through our Marbles, our local Raleigh Kids Museum. (The ASTC Travel Passport Program)
- Restaurants: $116.91
- Coffee: $20.4
- Alcohol: $41 (there’s a lot of breweries in Asheville)
- Groceries: $276
- Take out: $28.95
RV supplies and living
- Miscellaneous supplies: $342 included a space heater!
- Laundry: $10
I would definitely like to keep costs to $1,000 a week. This will go up and down depending on lots of different factors. We would have met this budget had we not had a few extra RV expenses.
Go now to read Week 2 on the road with Goldie and the Beast. The Christmas spirit arrives in Chattanooga and Huntsville.