3 Days, 5 States, 2 Walmarts and 1 Fiddler

When we planned our spring itinerary, it worked out that we would get back to Pennsylvania on May 1, giving us about 3 weeks to spend time with family and get ready to head back to Sweden for the summer. The details changed a few times along the way, which is one of the benefits of our lifestyle – to be able to change and be flexible according to circumstances – but we were still planning to arrive in PA on May 1. And then we found out that my sister was in her high school’s production of Fiddler on the Roof and the last show was a matinee on April 30.

I just couldn’t stand the idea that we were missing it by a day. I’ve been overseas for most of her life, hearing about everything via Skype and watching videos after the fact. We didn’t really even have specific plans after Mammoth Cave but just planned to break up the drive according to our usual 4 hour driving limit and add some stops to break it up.

We talked about it, we re-evaluated our route and plans, and eventually talked to the kids about it too. They wanted to see Aunt Rachel’s play and they were willing to be patient for 3 long driving days in a row to get there in time. With the big kids on board, we just had to hope that Micah would also cooperate and we decided to give it a try.

Walmart Camping

We set our sights on Greenbo Lake State Resort Park in northeastern Kentucky as our goal for the first night. It didn’t look that far off the interstate but winding little country roads can be deceiving that way. When we arrived there, it wasn’t exactly what we were expecting. It wasn’t bad for a night, but again we had no cell or internet reception and a need to make a work-related call. Since we were going to have to drive to the nearest town to get reception in the evening anyway, we decided to skip the campground and try our hand at Walmart camping.

It’s pretty commonly known that most Walmart stores will allow you to park and sleep overnight in an RV. In a previous life – before we had kids – we drove a minivan on road trips and slept in Walmart parking lots several times. Once a security guard came and knocked on our door as we were settling in for the night. We were afraid we were in some trouble, but he was super friendly, asked if we were staying the night, and recommended we move to another corner of the parking lot where it was safer. He said he was on duty for the night, that he would keep an eye on us, and wished us a pleasant rest. They weren’t always that friendly, but we never had any problems.

But that was two people in a minivan. Parking our current rig is a little more conspicuous. We also can’t open the bathroom door unless we put the slide room out, and an overnight with kids and no bathroom is not optimal. There is some discussion about what the proper protocol is for Walmart camping – such as checking in with the night manager when you arrive or how many hours it’s okay to park or if you can put out the slide room. For all these reasons, we’ve previously avoided Walmart camping with our current circumstances.

Accidentally in Ohio

So there we were, in northeastern Kentucky, in search of phone reception and a Walmart parking lot. Once we got a signal, we found the nearest Walmart in Google maps and navigated there. We drove along the bank of a river, then turned toward a bridge to cross the river. And as we arrived on the other side, a sign said “Welcome to Ohio.” Ohio? Are we in Ohio? We hadn’t realized that we had been following the Ohio River and that crossing it would take us into Ohio. I double checked the map, and our intended Walmart was indeed in Ohio. We added a state to our trip without even realizing it.

So we found the store and positioned ourselves on the side of the parking lot so that the slide would stick out over grass and not into the parking lot. Dinner that night came from the McDonald’s inside the Walmart, and we had a free place to park for the night. We even used the customer wifi from the Lowe’s store next door. Creative or just cheap? It’s all in the eye of the beholder.

What, does this not look like an ideal work environment to you?


parking lot
Photo documenting our Cougar’s first Walmart night.


RV life
Home is where you park it, right?

Wild and Wonderful

In the morning we were back on the road and headed for West Virginia. It was a heavy day for Herb (our Suburban) as we crossed the mountains, towing our home up some long, steady inclines. The sign that welcomed us to West Virginia said “Wild and Wonderful” and it’s a pretty fitting slogan. We didn’t spend enough time there to decide on the “wonderful” part (this time, but we’ve been there before and had a nice time) but the “wild” is certainly also true. We spent all day crossing West Virginia and saw little else than trees and hills. The exits off the interstate were few and far between and it made for a challenging car day, especially since it was our second long driving day in a row.

Wild and Wonderful
Welcome to West Virginia!

The highlight of the day was meeting up with some of my cousins for an early dinner. (They’re not my first cousins, but how we’re related is complicated so we just always say cousins.) It had been a long time since we’d gotten together, so it was fun to catch up, and a little ice cream for dessert does wonders for reviving a worn out child.

Golden Corral
Thanks for driving to meet us! This was a lot of fun!

After dinner we headed to a nearby state park to try to camp for the night, but their campground was full. The kids were in good spirits so we decided to put a few more miles behind us before stopping for the night. The options were slim and we made it all the way into Maryland before stopping to sleep at… another Walmart. Walmart camping two nights in a row? Why not?! It was a three state day that started and ended in Walmart parking lots.

Home Sweet Home

For the third day in a row, we got up and got back on the road as early as possible. For the third day in a row, we drove all day. We drove through the “skinny part” of Maryland and then turned north into Pennsylvania. By mid-afternoon we were set up in a campground that would be our home for the next three weeks. After three straight days of driving, we would now be letting the grass grow long under our camper.

But first, early the next morning we got up and got back in the car one more time. We drove about 90 minutes to where my family lives, and we settled in to watch that Fiddler.

3 Days, 5 States, 2 Walmarts and 1 Fiddler. Because we love that soprano townsperson!

family love




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