Best of 2021: From Fave Hike to Fave RV Spot, Even Fave Doggie Break Stop

Sunrise over the Blue Ridge Mountains at Blue Toad Cider, Virginia–one of our favorite 2021 Harvest Host locations

We learned a lot (understatement) during our first full year of RVing. What is the funniest “rookie” RV mistake you made? I will tell you about ours…

On our very first outing, less than a mile from our home, on a notoriously winding S-curve, we found out how “not” to organize our RV fridge. Off-balance, the latch came undone, the door flew open, and a full gallon of orange juice (completely by coincidence, with one of those pop-off lids–not a traditional lid that screws on) popped off, and to our horror, it started spilling across our brand-new floor. Truly, no sense crying over spilled milk (O.J.), while simultaneously holding the dog leash (because RVing was all-new to her too), I (Karen) dove for the container, stopped the spill, wiped it up, rebalanced the fridge, while Bob nervously kept driving, and our first rookie mistake was in the books. LOL!

We look back at 2021 with so much joy and gratitude. Pearl was a blessing in our lives, especially during the pandemic. She offered an escape from tough realities, transported us to beautiful locations, helped us reconnect to nature–and be renewed, and brought a spark of adventure back into our lives.

2021 Summary:

  • 41 travel days in Pearl
  • 4 Pennsylvania State Parks
  • 2 other state parks (1 in Georgia and 1 in North Carolina)
  • 1 Pennsylvania State Forest
  • 1 National Forest
  • 1 private campground
  • 9 Harvest Host locations (6 wineries, 1 cidery, 1 farm, 1 market)

Here are some of our most memorable experiences:

Fave PA Park

We loved exploring state parks, in our home state of Pennsylvania. (If you didn’t know, we affectionately refer to our state as “P-A.”) And, DYK, PA has one of the largest state park systems in the nation, with 121. We have a lot more RVing to do, to visit them all. Our top two faves from 2021 were Promised Land State Park in the Poconos (Bob’s pick) and Black Moshannon State Park near State College (Karen’s pick).

Fave RV Spot

You don’t always know what you’re getting, when you reserve a campsite. But when we arrived at Jackrabbit Mountain Campground, in North Carolina’s Nantahala National Forest, we instantly fell in love with our location. Not only did we have our own little lakeside view, but it was perfect timing, as our stay coincided with my (Karen’s) birthday.

A picturesque perch along Chatuge Lake

Fave Hike

On our very first full RVing weekend at Laurel Hill State Park, PA, we loved exploring the Hemlock Trail through soaring, old growth Eastern Hemlock trees and along the roaring Laurel Hill Creek (more like a river). It was wildly beautiful, and we both agreed it was the most beautiful, adventuresome hike of the year.

Fave Run

Discovering and exploring new running trails during our RV weekends was one of my (Karen’s) favorite activities. Coincidentally, my fave running adventure from 2021 also took place at Laurel Hill State Park, PA, along a lakeside path, through the forest, through extremely rocky areas, and ultimately to a waterfall, the Jones Mill Run Dam.

Fave Harvest Hosts

In 2021, we stayed at nine Harvest Host locations, and we picked three favorites, for slightly different reasons:

  • Armstrong Valley Winery, our first-ever HH experience, and first official overnight trip for Pearl! We chose this as one of our favorites for sentimental reasons, but also due to the beautiful location and outstanding wines.

Fave Stop

When you’re traveling with a dog, you need to find doggie pit stops along your route. These stops are also great opportunities for us humans to stretch our legs and explore. But when I searched “parks” along our route home from Georgia, on our final RV trip of the year, boy did we hit the jackpot. Falls Park on the Reedy, in Greenville, South Carolina, turned out to be an incredible, serendipitous discovery.

Why do I look surprised in the last photo? As a kind man offered to take our picture, imagine our surprise when he and his wife correctly identified Luna as an Alaskan Malamute (most people assume she’s a Siberian Husky–and they’re not far off). Turns out, he previously worked as a dog trainer, specificially with Alaskan Malamutes. It’s truly a small world.

Today’s Pearl of Wisdom: RVing is truly a blessing in our lives. We are so very grateful to have the opportunity to travel in our own little “home on wheels.” Pearl offers all the comforts of home, in miniature style. What a cherished symbol she’s become, of our 30th wedding anniversary!

We don’t want to take RVing for granted–it truly is an incredible thing, that we get to travel and park her in gorgeous, stunning locations that inspire and renew us. We can’t wait to get back on the road and discover our 2022 faves.

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