March 25 – 30, 2017
Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville lived up to its reputation. The downtown was a wonderful eclectic jumble of art galleries, book shops, coworking spaces, coffee shops that transform into cocktail bars at 5pm, wig shops, street art, stores that just sell just yarn and knitting supplies, and brew pubs for days. One music venue called The Orange Peel had “Social Aid & Pleasure Club” painted on the building (and I wished I’d been there to hear Explosions in the Sky in April). It was an artsy fartsy mess of progressive hippy nonsense, and I loved it.
In our campground we had neighbors pull in besides us that had their Instagram handle displayed on their van window – and they were another full time RV family that we follow on Instagram! We sat outside with them at dinner time and chatted about life on the road. They’ve been at it for 3 years and had veteran perspectives to share.
Because we could use our museum pass there, we visited the Western NC Nature Center, expecting it to be like other Nature Centers we’ve visited…but it was actually a whole zoo!
Traveling the way we are – with kids and on a budget – means that the way we experience cities is a little different than it would be for some. We almost never eat out, due mostly to cost, so we don’t experience the different flavors of each region in that way. Since there are cool things to see in every location, we are extremely choosy about when we will pay for tickets for something. We mostly stick to National Parks (with our 1-year pass), museums that are free with our ASTC Travel Passport membership, and activities that are free of charge. That means that we don’t see everything along the way – like the caverns in Missouri, Elvis’s home in Memphis, or the Biltmore estate in Asheville. We rarely experience a downtown more than a quick drive or walk through, and we see basically none of the nightlife in any places.
Sometimes this makes me feel like we visit these places without really seeing all there is to see. But on the other hand, traveling frugally with kids opens my eyes to things I wouldn’t otherwise see…it’s a tour of United States playgrounds, libraries, museums. Instead of sampling restaurants, we go grocery shopping in lots of different places. Instead of concerts, we listen to the radio and laugh at the local commercials. Instead of paying for a ticket to every local attraction, we read about significant historical events that happened nearby. We go to laundromats and walking trails, coffee shops and
nature centers. So even though we don’t go to many shows or attractions or buy all the T-shirts, we drive with the windows down when the weather is nice to feel and smell the air of each new place, and we try to do at least one thing in each location to make sure it will be memorable. So even though I could let myself become overwhelmed by everything there is to miss along the way, I try instead to just try to keep up with this treasure trove of memories we are creating together as a family. And every once in awhile, I find a calm moment in the middle of this circus to take a breath, and I am filled to overflowing with gratitude that the 4 of us get to have this adventure together.