The End of an Era

After settling into our home base, our RV usage dropped dramatically. Our trips have been much shorter — our final camping trip to St. Augustine was just 5 days long — and the 25′ of cleverly-designed trailer space we appreciated for full-time RV travel is far more than we need for short trips. Plus, the constant attack by salt air is not doing our 7-year-old Airstream any favors. We also feel the pull to travel to places that are not ideal for RV travel: overseas destinations and large domestic cities. So after much debate we decided to sell the trailer, and last week we received word from Airstream of Gainesville that our trailer sold after being on the lot on consignment for about 60 days.

While owning the Airstream no longer works for our current travel style, we were definitely a little sad to let it go. We have so many fond memories of seeing that iconic silver dome in the rear-view mirror as we traversed some of the most beautiful (and, let’s be honest, some of the most boring) landscapes in the country. So I couldn’t let the occasion pass without a post about milestones in our Airstream adventures since 2017.

The Beginning and the End

Our very first camping experience was at Merchant’s Millpond State Park in North Carolina, where we stayed overnight while towing our newly-purchased Airstream from New Jersey to Florida. We were so clueless we picked a site that was nearly impossible to park in, but with a lot of beginner’s luck we made it work. It was the first of many unique dry camping experiences made possible by our off-grid-ready rig.


Our very last camping experience was at the lovely Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine, where we finally made up for having to cancel our stay there in 2020 when all the state parks closed. The small amount of gear that we took for a short stay really highlighted just how much storage space our trailer contained.

Road Miles Traveled

We towed the Airstream about 23,000 miles, mostly in the 2-year stretch of 2018-2019 that took us from South Florida out to the Pacific Northwest along the Lewis & Clark Trail, down the California coast, then inland through the Four Corners states before returning to Florida. Our 2022 Upper Midwest adventures were brief at just about 100 days but added another good chunk of mileage.

We purchased our truck used with less than 5,000 miles, and we ended this RV journey with 95,000 miles on the truck odometer. The F150 has been a workhorse, easily towing the trailer over multiple 10,000 foot mountain passes and enduring torrential rain, flooding, sleet, and snow on the road. It even recovered nicely from the unfortunate incident in which pack rats chewed into a wire harness in the engine compartment, disabling our horn. With no further need for its powerful towing capacity, we’ve already traded in the truck for a fuel-efficient and maneuverable small SUV. We are still relishing parking in regular spaces and fearlessly entering parking garages.

Non-Road Miles Traveled

While the Airstream was not ideally suited for waterborne travel, it did have two ferry rides under its belt. The first and longest was the 17-mile ferry ride from Cape May, New Jersey to Lewes, Delaware, while the second was the blink-and-you-may-miss it ride on the Port Aransas, Texas ferry covering one quarter of a mile.


Our Longest Stay

It was seven brutal months at Coastline RV Resort in the summer of 2020, and we proved beyond a doubt that living in an RV in Florida in the summer is sheer madness. And that’s before you consider all the pandemic madness that was going on at the time.


Living in a stationary, hot 25′ metal tube during the pandemic was a real strain on our mental and emotional health. But we did think we were better off than people in cities who were trapped in their apartments for extended periods of time. At least we could get outside and enjoy the breathtaking natural beauty of the Apalachicola Bay area.

States Visited

We never put one of those ubiquitous sticker maps on the RV, but luckily the internet provides a million resources for making an electronic version. Here’s our map of states where we did something meaningful while traveling via RV. In our book, “meaningful” means either camping in the state or visiting a destination (monument, museum, hiking trail) in the state while camped nearby. Merely driving through on an interstate doesn’t count.

Not too shabby, considering that we were fairly intentional about traveling slowly to avoid travel burnout and avoiding large cities and congested travel corridors (I’m looking at you, I95).

Some of Our Favorite Campsites

We purchased our Airstream specifically because it was so well-suited for dry camping, with large water and waste tanks, solar panels installed on the roof, and appliances that all ran off our two large (30 lb) propane tanks. Most national park campgrounds offer no hookups, and many of our very best camping experiences involved basking in our nation’s most beautiful scenery while enjoying the comforts of home. At 25′, we were just able to squeeze into some of those coveted sites in the national parks, steps from outstanding trails and vistas. When I pulled together this photo gallery of some our favorite campsites, I realized that all but one were dry camping situations.


While national parks are highly regarded for very good reason, we also took advantage of great deals (and great locations) by staying in a number of national forests. Designated campsites in national forest campgrounds — typically just a spot equipped with a fire pit, a shared pit toilet, and possibly a picnic table — were some of our favorites, but we also had some magical experiences boondocking in national forests and on BLM land.

NPS Bucket List

We have now visited 104 different National Park Service units, which sounds like a lot until you realize it’s a mere 25% of all units. But we’re pretty happy with having visited 32 of the 74 national parks and preserves — there’s not a single one in that category that we found underwhelming or disappointing.

We have many more places to visit, and we’re going to continue exploring our nation’s most remarkable destinations — it will simply not involve dragging our house around behind us. Our newfound freedom to visit cities opens up a whole new range of historical sites, along with countless museums, architectural masterpieces, and interesting cuisines. We’re going to keep adding to the magnet board, even though we need to move it to a new location.

Magnetic memories


Although we didn’t turn into “RVers 4EVA” we are so glad that we took the plunge 7 years ago and purchased the Airstream, despite having never owned an RV. It provided us with an unforgettable, life-changing multi-year travel experience. For a similar annual cost to renting an apartment in a popular metro area, we towed our home to myriad different landscapes and communities across the country. The slow travel style of full-time RV is very different from a week-long vacation in which visitors fly in, stay in a hotel, eat at restaurants, and fly home. Seeing the “in-between” places, shopping at local grocery stores, and taking care of life tasks with local vendors (haircuts, dentists, laundromats, etc.) all gave us a far deeper appreciation for the places we visited. Being immersed in all these different communities for extended periods of time allowed us to fully appreciate the stunning diversity of America.

At the same time, life on the road is not without its challenges. Being far from friends and family, lack of reliable internet service, navigating a new grocery store every week, inconsistent access to health care, and the need to perpetually plan months ahead and make reservations really wore on us, even while we were having incredible experiences. Constantly subjecting one’s home to earthquake conditions (rocking and rattling over bumpy roads) also leads to predictable results. We have always been pretty handy, but we took it to a new level with a seemingly endless flow of repairs to the trailer, ranging from large to small.


And no account of our RV journey would be complete without mentioning the many good friends we met on the road. I guess if you’re crazy enough to quit your jobs, move into an aluminum tube, and spend several years living in campgrounds, the best place to find like-minded people is in those very campgrounds. Plus, the internet has a wonderful way of connecting people with unusual hobbies and life perspectives. It was so gratifying to find a tribe of other people who value minimalism, freedom, natural beauty, artistic expression, and outstanding experiences over climbing the social ladder and accumulating fancy possessions.

A bunch of happy campers

What’s Next?

With the Airstream sold, we are now contemplating our next travel plans. We hope to make regular trips, mixing up international and domestic destinations along with travel by car and by plane. Since this blog is, at heart, a travel blog, I don’t expect to post much unless and until we take a trip. In the meantime, follow us on Instagram (@zamiav, @kenspauhana) where we will likely post more regularly. In case I never blog again — a possibility! — I want to express my gratitude for the readers and commenters who have shared the journey with us. Who knows what the future will bring? Hope to see you all down the road…


10 thoughts on “The End of an Era”

  1. Welllllllll, that just made me very sad.

    The end of an era, indeed.

    I guess we’re all just a bunch of quitters now.

    Seriously – I’m so glad we found each other online and then got to be friends in real life. Yours has always been one of my favorite travel blogs because you always went to interesting places and wrote about them so beautifully. And I’ll admit, I was often jealous of the amazing places you all were able to go in your trusty Airstream. The photos speak for themselves – you really did camp in some of the most beautiful places in America.

    I’m glad this won’t be the end of your traveling, even if you aren’t blogging about it anymore. Looks like you’ve got some sightseeing to do in the northeast, and I hear Europe is nice. 😉

    • Quitters of the world unite! I am so glad for the experience of our time on the road, and especially developing friendships with people like with you and Kevin, but like you we realized that RV life had run its course for us. Who knows, maybe we’ll buy a different type of rig for a different sort of travel in the future. For now, we’re excited about the prospect of more urban adventures. That definitely includes Europe!

  2. Oh, how this made me miss life on the road! Of course, it’s all viewed through a rose-colored rearview mirror for me, but still…

    Your retrospective looks a lot like ours, the missing Northeast being the biggest similarity.

    If you stop blogging altogether, I will hunt you down and pinch your head off. You are too good a writer and into enough other interesting pursuits to abandon sharing them with all of us.

    • What do you miss most – getting lost in every new grocery store, the challenge of getting winter reservations in Florida, or the constant repairs? Just kidding. Going back through our photos and reviewing our experiences reinforced what an incredible several years we had on the road. Ken often used the hashtag #AwesomenessOverload when posting to IG, and I have to agree. We saw so many beautiful, historic, significant, and unique places that it was hard to process it all at the time. But I am confident that we’ll find plenty of new and interesting things to do in the future. And apparently I’ll be blogging about it, under duress. 🙂

  3. K&S : It was a great adventure, and I’m glad that you mastered numerous new skills, especially backing the tube into tight spots :). Thanks for the “best of Pics” — I really enjoyed that. Teton National Forest was my Top favorite, but the desert ones were also magical. Thanks for sharing the memories….

    • The funny thing is that while we both learned to back in the trailer, we never actually did agree on the “correct” way to do it. Just one of a million fun memories from our time on the road. Glad you enjoyed the gallery of pics; I had so much fun pulling that together. It’s a wonderful reminder of all the amazing experiences we had, even while occasionally suffering from heat/cold/bugs/breakdowns/other challenges.

  4. Oh, what a beautiful post! True to form, your RVing wrap-up post includes not only facts, but also the personal commentary and photos that have always made your blog so interesting. I read through twice, and went back and looked at the photos a third time. It made me smile, it made me reflect on our own experiences, and it made me nostalgic. (It also made me regretful that we didn’t accumulate a cool collection of national park magnets. Darn it!) We wouldn’t trade our years of full-time RVing for anything, and I know you wouldn’t, either.

    Although we we missed out on collecting magnets, we came away from our travels with some very cool friends! How lucky we were to have met you on the trail in Pinnacles NP back in 2018. Little did we know how closely our lives would intersect, through the pandemic and beyond. (Witness the brewery photo, LOL.) More good times to come! ❤️

    Oh, and I’m with Joodie! I know you’re going to continue adventuring, and I really hope you’ll continue blogging so that we can share in your adventures.

    • Thank your for all the kind words. This post was definitely bittersweet to write, and both a marvelous reminder of the exceptional experiences we had on the road and also a vivid reminder of the many challenges we had to overcome at various points in time. I know you have a similar list of Not Great Times on the road….

      I agree that the best and most enduring part of the experience was the friendships we forged. How lucky that we met so many wonderful people who have remained in our lives even after we all left RV life behind. We are definitely looking forward to seeing you two again soon (and perhaps being mentioned in an upcoming blog post).

      Oh, and our magnets are actually the NPS lapel pins that they sell at virtually every unit. I snip off the pin post and stick on an adhesive craft store magnet then, voila, it’s a tiny commemorative magnet! Back when Ken was keeping detailed records of our expenses the “souvenir” budget consisted almost entirely of lapel pins, and even though he gave me a hard time about buying so many darn pins I am so glad I did. Now I just need to figure out where the magnet board is going to go….

  5. While I will miss your travelogs and following along with your adventures, I am SUPER happy for what’s next for y’all!


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