Day 3: The Longest Drive, Ticks, Photos, and Possible Truck Repairs

We struck out this morning from Aberdeen, Mississippi. It was scheduled to be the longest drive of the trip, and it measured up. We crossed through Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and finished in North Carolina. Total drive time was around 11 hours.

The drive through Alabama and Georgia was beautiful — rolling green hills and beautiful pink flowers. Plus, I20 allowed for a quick pace.

We took one small detour near Birmingham, Alabama to eat at Shoney’s. It isn’t the swankiest of establishments. But, I have fond memories as a child. When we took family trips, somehow we always managed to stop for their breakfast buffet. For a husky child with an affinity for breakfast meats, it was a dream come true.

A fat boy’s breakfast dream — Shoney’s.

My mom said, “That was your dad’s and your happy place. Unlimited bacon.”

Indeed. Emmie was more than happy to eat her fill of sausage. And everyone enjoyed the french toast sticks, which were also enshrined in my childhood memory.


We finally rolled into camp in North Carolina in the dark. At this point, I know that our campsite is nice, since I could at least see that in my headlamp.

A fat raccoon paid an early visit, rustling through the foliage. He was brave — rising above the leaves to let his creepy eyes reflect the light back at me.

Beyond that, it was complete darkness when we arrived. So, I won’t know what the campground is like until morning. I do know that it has a marina, and there are at least 3 beaches nearby.

However, I also know that this place has ticks. Within 20 minutes of setting up, I felt a tickle inside my shirt and found that I had a passenger. He is no longer tickling anyone.

I did stock up on insect repellants for this trip. So, we will be testing 3 heavy duty options over the coming weeks.

Addie’s Photography

Addie is experimenting with photography. Before the trip, she saved her money to buy a nice point-and-shoot digital camera. We have had discussions about composition, the rule of thirds, and Fib’s Golden Spiral. It is fun to see how her skills are progressing.

Addie observes the different light hitting a tall pine.
Addie experiments with depth of field.
Addie tests the rule of thirds with the tree, while capturing the vivid sunlight.
Addie explores varying perspectives.

Auto Repair

Oh, and I forgot one last thing. While we were pulling into camp tonight, I noticed a creaking in the front wheel well of my truck. It sounds like it may be strut or shock related. It could also be steering related.

So, in the morning, I get to try out a local mechanic.

Let’s hope it’s nothing serious. And, let’s hope I don’t have to spend the entire day in the waiting area of an auto mechanic.

Se la vie.

Departing for MacBeTrippin Excursion 2019, Halfway to 50 States

It’s that time again. In 2017, we began the adventure — aiming to see all 50 United States with our three daughters by the time our oldest graduates high school. We launch from our base in Texas.

In 2017, we set off for California covering 6,500 miles, 4 states, and 8 national parks.

In 2018, we covered 5,500 miles and went north toward Montana covering 8 states, and the glories of Badlands, Glacier and Yellowstone National parks.

This year will be full-on armpitty terrain. No respite in the mountains. By our measures, this trip will be a short distance, only 3,800 miles round trip.

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What is a shelter belt, and why are Dakotans so obsessed?

During our 2018 summer trip, we rolled across the hills of South Dakota. As we summited each hill, we saw boundless green land against vivid blue skies. Imagine Tolkien’s Shire minus the Hobbit holes.

It was spectacular. Shamrock green grasses lined emerald rows and were dotted with greenish-yellow mustard flowers. 

In the midst of sprawling green farmland stood modest farm houses with big red barns. One might assume that the barns cost more than most of the houses.

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Camper DIY: Gash in the Front Corner

When I bought our second new-to-us pop-up camper, this gash was one of the blemishes on the front corner. I credit this gash for being the reason no one had purchased the camper before we had a chance. Some folks saw a major flaw. I saw an opportunity to save money.

That gash actually looks pretty good in this photo.
This was after I had already put plywood backing to support the sheet metal.

In a previous post about buying used pop-ups, I talked about how to get a great deal on a used pop-up campers. In short, it helps to know a bit about how easy or hard certain repairs are to make.

This particular gash looked like someone had a 2×4 fly out of the bed of a pickup and pierce the metal and plywood.

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My first camp hack was a redneck air conditioner that went horribly wrong…

It was our first camping trip. We had planned for weeks, and we were getting ready to take Addie and Emmie on a quick trip down to the state park in Glenn Rose, TX.

LaShera had borrowed a family tent from a friend. The temperatures were warm. And we didn’t relish being in a tent during a Texas summer without some sort of insurance against the heat.

So, I decided to tackle my first, cheap, DIY camping project — a redneck air conditioner for $25.

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Video: Maiden Voyage of our New (Used) Pop-up Camper

It is always exciting to take a new pop-up camper into the wild. We upgraded our pop-up back at the beginning of January. After a few modifications and fixes here and there, we took a long President’s Day weekend to get use to the new digs.

Watch this special video for a look at the inside of our camper and a taste of how we kick it. In particular, watch to learn how Libbie’s first experience with Kayaking went. (Hint: not well.)

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9 Tips for Buying a Used Pop-up Camper

If you are new to pop-up camping, buying a used camper to save money can seem a bit intimidating. There are a wide range of things to consider. But, it isn’t nearly as confusing as it may seem.

You do want to know what sorts of things to look out for to know what you are getting into and also to leverage the best deal possible.

Problems or repairs can generally be categorized as simple ($15-$75), intermediate ($75-$200), or major ($200-$3,000). With that in mind, it makes negotiating a suitable price manageable if you know what to look for.

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