Seeing America Without Losing Your Mind (Yes It Is Possible)

Five weeks ago, we set out in our RV for our first cross country trip. The destination was California; the point was to deliver a tow behind pizza oven and four cabinets to their new owners. Murphy’s Law ruled the trip from the get go. We broke down four times between our home base in South Carolina and Mississippi, where we finally blew the motor in our 1984 Winnebago. We regrouped in Tupelo, Mississippi, rented a truck, loaded up the dogs and set off again. The rental truck, a 2015 Tahoe, got us all the way to our destination and home again but that doesn’t mean the trip was without a hiccup or two. The following is a few of my best travel tips, guaranteed to keep any road weary travel from pulling out their hair.

Show Some Love for LOVE’S


With over 200 locations nationwide, Love’s truly is a traveler’s best friend. You can always count on Love’s for safe, quality fuel at reasonable prices. They always have a variety of food choices and a wide selection of incidentals essential for any successful road trip, from phone chargers to tampons. Many Love’s feature pet areas for your furry friends to stretch their legs and showers for filthy men who have spent hours under the RV. On more than one long, lonely stretch of road, the Love’s sign in the distance gave us the strength to push on a few more miles. And if that isn’t enough to convince you, the friendly staff at Love’s is more than happy to unlock your rental car, free of charge, after your furry family locks you out.

Get Off The Beaten Path


Due to budget and time restrictions, the first half of our trip was spent strictly on America’s vast and awing interstate system. With a little more freedom, the trip back home allowed us to be tourists a bit. My first recommendation: stop at every scenic outlook! There’s a good reason the government chose to spend the money to provide these spots. They provided the most beautiful pictures from our trip and gave us a chance to see amazing landscapes not visible from the highway. My second recommendation: just go ahead and fall into the tourist trap!!! By far my favorite stop of the trip was at Prairie Dog Town in Kansas. We first saw the signs advertising the world’s largest prairie dog and six-legged cows about an hour before stumbling on this micro-zoo. Owned for 45 years by a Vietnam War veteran, this project is clearly a labor of love and just made me feel good about my fellow animal loving Americans. As a matter of fact, the place is for sale, but only to the “right person”, someone willing to love and care for these buffalo, peacocks, wolves and all their friends. So if anyone would like to invest $300,000 I will gladly pack my red shoes and change Violet’s name to Toto and head for Kansas!

Motel 6: They’ll Leave the Light on for You and for Fido, Too


Halfway through our journey in Los Angeles, sitting in the parking lot of the second hotel to reject us that night due to their pet policy, exhausted and hungry, I made the most thrilling discovery of the trip, possibly my life. With the exception of one location in New Jersey, all Motel 6’s take pets. For free. Seriously, pets stay free. I don’t really think there’s much more to say, but for those of you who need more convincing, I’ll continue. If it’s luxury amenities you’re after, just keep driving. But if you are looking for a clean, affordable place to catch a little shuteye and a shower, Motel 6 is your home away from home. Motel 6 consistently had the lowest prices all across America and we never experienced any problems like noisy neighbors or dirty rooms. As a pet owner I especially appreciated that many locations have forgone carpet in favor of easy to clean hard surfaces. As a traveler, I appreciated the comfortable beds and endless hot water. The killer sunset from the heated pool in Beaver, Utah didn’t hurt either, much like the cheapest room of our trip, which we found in Las Vegas just minutes of the strip.

Knowledge is Power


Opportunities to learn abound along the road. Welcome centers and rest areas often have educational postings and displays. We learned about plant and animal life indigenous to the Rockies while waiting out a late night storm. I got to say, ” hey honey, come look at this poop” while learning about animal scat in the ladies room of a welcome center in the Mojave desert. Tim was mortified; the park ranger amused. In Utah, we visited the St. George Dinosaur Discover site at Johnson Farm. We got to lay our hands on real dinosaur tracks perfectly preserved at this sadly underfunded historical treasure. I had a  close encounter with a vicious and beastly lizard on a roadside in Arizona when we stopped so I could see how the mountain felt.  

Every stop is a chance to gather a little knowledge and everyone knows knowledge is power.






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