Week 13: Charleston Style

Happy New Year from Nothing Mundane!  We’re back with another blog post, covering our visit to the friendly Southern city of Charleston, South Carolina.  We were planning to write about Savannah, Georgia, as well, but the post was getting way too long, so we’re going to publish that one separately.  Of course, we’re way behind as usual, this time around three and a half months; we were there in late September.  We’ve thought about jumping to the present time, but for now we’ve decided to keep writing about the past.  For more recent adventures, please check our Facebook and Instagram feeds.

In case you are curious, we figure that if we don’t write about our past travels, we’ll probably forget about them, and that would be a real bummer.  In some ways, then, this is all just a love letter to our future selves.  Hope everything is going well, Future Jake and Heather!  Sorry about all those life decisions we’ve been making.

Drinking In The Town

Charleston is a great Southern city with a lot of history.  The city is a lot of fun, and we had a good time walking around downtown and taking photos.  The water is lovely, as are many of the buildings, although quite a bit of the area looks like it could use a new paint job.  We had some incredible food in Charleston, and even went on a mini-pub crawl for Heather’s birthday.

Birthday cupcakes for Heather!

A photo posted by Jake and Heather (@nothingmundane) on

We took a million pictures because it was just so pretty. So many palm trees, bright colors, and beautiful buildings.

One highlight of our visit was over-stuffing ourselves with some traditional Shrimp & Grits and a “Charleston Nasty Biscuit” from the iconic Hominy Grill. It was probably the best fried chicken either of us has ever had.  We then tried to work off some of those calories by walking around the city, including through the beautiful campus of the College of Charleston.

We are total suckers for Spanish moss.

We were hoping to get a beach day during our visit, but unfortunately the weather did not cooperate. So, during our final, overcast day, we decided to check out Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island. We joined a tour group with some children, but decided that was way more learning than we wanted, so we ditched the tour group and just wandered around on our own.  A highlight was the long tunnels underneath the fort, where other visitors were taking advantage of the echoing and trying to imitate a wolf. We give them an A+, very realistic howling!  (Howling… howling… howling…)

Race Problems

While we had a wonderful time in Charleston, we must also mention that the drivers in Charleston are kind of insane.  Now, we grew up in the Northeast and lived for years in New York City, so it takes a lot to raise our eyebrows when it comes to driving.  The NYC metropolitan area, along with Boston, features some truly terrible, selfish, impatient, and unnecessarily aggressive drivers, but we haven’t see much of that type elsewhere in the country… except in Charleston.  Everybody drove fast, and simple things like making a left turn always seemed to require some pedal-to-the-floor madness.  Driving the RV through Charleston felt like pushing a car in neutral across an active NASCAR track.

But that’s all in the rearview mirror, and we managed to make it out of Charleston with nothing more than a couple of spilled coffees.  Plus, we coined a term we’ve been using ever since:  the “Charleston style” turn, for when roadways leave no choice except to gun the engine, close your eyes, and merge into a stream of cars that doesn’t seem terribly interesting in avoiding you.

No Place Like Home

We did have one other interesting experience while in Charleston.  On our final night there, at about 1 a.m. in the middle of a thunderstorm, a tornado touched down about 5 miles from our RV.  We know this because we were awakened in the middle of the night by screeching alarms from our phones, which warned of an imminent tornado threat in our area and advised we seek shelter.  Our motorhome is, of course, not terribly tornado-resistant – maybe we should start attaching it to the ground using tent stakes – so we headed to the campground bathhouse, which didn’t seem all that strong but was at least made of concrete.

Now, there were close to 100 RVs at this campground, and we doubt any of them would hold up against the Big Bad Wolf’s huffing and puffing.  So we were more than a little surprised to only find about 4 other people, total, seeking shelter.  We guess everyone else decided it would be better to go down with the ship?  Or perhaps they were just hoping to be sent to Oz, where maybe they can find a brain.


What’s next:  We just got back to our RV in Phoenix, Arizona, after driving approximately 6,700 miles for the holidays.  (You read that right.)  We’re taking it easy for a few days.

Obligatory social media self-promotion:  If you want to follow along and you haven’t yet, please Like us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter (@NothingMundane) and/or Instagram (NothingMundane) to make sure you get all the updates.  All the cool kids are doing it.

Shamefully missed a prior post?  We made a list of the most recent ones, just for you.


Week 12.5: Drinking & Driving in Charlotte & Asheville… Respectively.

Welcome back friends!  If you didn’t see it, we just posted a… post… about our RV renovations, where you can get a glimpse of our high-ambition, low-skill interior remodeling. The renovation was certainly a learning experience, and as the days go by, and our memories fade, it’s something that we might take up again in the new year. The bedroom won’t renovate itself!  [Ed. note:  Heather added those last two sentences unilaterally.  They do not represent the opinions of all Nothing Mundane affiliates.]

Returning to our road trip, we traveled from Richmond, Virginia to North Carolina, “Ol’ Northy,” and the metropolitan regions of Charlotte and Asheville.  Our mission:  have fun and mooch off our friends.


We’ve been to a lot of places on this road trip, and sometimes it can be difficult to find a good place to eat or fun things to do.  Well, we stayed in Charlotte with our friends the Casses, and one of the great things about visiting people is that they already know the cool things to do.  For example, we had dinner at a pretty sweet bar and grill called Lebowski’s, where the food was good and the excuse to run a picture of Jake’s “The Dude” Halloween costume was made plausible.

A surprising favorite stop in Charlotte was the Lost Duffer mini-golf course, which we tried on a whim.  The first half was hilariously easy, each cup placed at the bottom of a hole resembling a giant funnel, but hey – you don’t play mini-golf to feel humiliated.  The second half of the course then went underground, into an “abandoned mine” that was definitely not “the basement of the building.”  It was dark enough that we sometimes had to play by phone flashlight, and the holes were humiliatingly challenging, but hey – you don’t play mini-golf to feel successful.

The whole experience was charmingly insane, and we would definitely go back.

We also toured the hip areas of Charlotte, stopping in for some iced coffee (served in a mason jar) which we foolishly ordered “to stay.”  Have you ever just sat around in a stylish coffee shop, drinking delicious coffee out of a mason jar, with nothing to do but talk to your good friends you haven’t seen in ages?  So boring.  We quickly pivoted to a game of 2-player reactor.

Let’s face it, human interaction is overrated, and if we’re being honest, we drank and/or gamed our way across the city.  We had great German beers at a local beer hall, combined with the first of many games of Carcassonne (a Nothing Mundane favorite and a great addition to any board game collection).  One highlight of this beer hall:  there was a corporate event being held there, and although almost everyone was dressed normally, one guy showed up in full German mountain-man regalia.

Dress for the job you want, not the job you have!

One thing we’ve found on this trip is that, thanks to the craft brewing revolution, you can get fantastic beer anywhere these days.  (The tiny grocery store in Marfa, Texas – population 2,000 – had an entire refrigerator devoted to microbrews.)  And in a big city like Charlotte, the options are endless – we visited several great breweries just within a few blocks of each other.  Not a bad time to be alive!

Also, there were donuts.

Mmm, doughnuts #donuts

A photo posted by Jake and Heather (@nothingmundane) on

We made one final sightseeing stop in Charlotte, heading to the Wing Haven Garden and Bird Sanctuary to make some avian friends.  The founders of Wing Haven were a husband and wife who gardened extensively, nursed baby birds back to health, and did many other do-gooder type things. This resulted in a bird sanctuary that was overflowing with beautiful birds, right in the middle of the city.

At least, that was the impression given by the mandatory 15 minute introductory video, which looked suspiciously like it was shot in the 1970s.

Here in the 2010s, the founders passed away many, many years ago, and in the course of a half-hour walk around the property, we did not see a single bird.  We didn’t see any wildlife at all, actually, not even a squirrel.  We can’t complain too much, since the garden was pretty, and admission was free.  But would it be too much to ask for them to tie a bird to a tree or something, just to keep up appearances?

Is that a bird on the ground? Oh… no, just a rock.


We hung out with the Casses for a few days, but before we left North Carolina for good, we took a day trip west to visit Asheville.  Asheville is a quirky, fun mountain town with fantastic 1920’s style art deco architecture, thanks to a decades-long economic depression that prevented any new buildings from being constructed.  Nothing preserves like bankruptcy!

Those days are long gone, and Asheville today is pretty trendy.  The brunch spots were jammed, but we persevered, and ended up having the best fried chicken biscuit of our lives at Southern Kitchen.  There were loads of cool shops, too – we wandered into a quirky gift store that had a display on RV living.  (We are trendy by association!)  It’s also extremely liberal, and it strongly reminded us of Ithaca, New York, where we lived for three years – particularly when we wandered by a streetside hippie peace festival, which aimed to stem the power of corporations via tambourine.

However, there’s certainly still a bit of Appalachia present.  Outside of one restaurant, we saw a guy in a bluegrass band playing an actual washboard, which is all it takes to make our day.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Our final adventure in North Carolina was on the way back from Asheville, as we drove along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We only saw about 35 miles of the Parkway’s 470 mile length, but what we saw was insanely beautiful.  The scenery is gorgeous, with pristine rivers, lakes, and forests in front of endless mountains ridges.

We can’t possibly recommend this one enough, with one caveat:  the Asheville-to-Charlotte leg doesn’t have a clearly defined end point, so be careful where you exit.  We left the Parkway at a random point, and found ourselves more or less on top of a mountain in the deep wilderness, driving down the most switchback-y road in the history of switchbacks.  It was cool!  But it also took us an hour to go about 3 miles.

Photographing the photographer. #blueridge #blueridgeparkway #asheville #northcarolina

A photo posted by Jake and Heather (@nothingmundane) on

Dammit, Joseph!


What’s next:  Currently, we are in Phoenix, Arizona, “Ol’ Phoenie,” which is surprisingly pretty but disappointingly cold.  Tomorrow, we’re ditching the RV for a month and beginning a 5-day, several-thousand-mile drive back to the Northeast for the holidays.  We’re planning to stop in El Paso, Roswell, Oklahoma City, Memphis, Nashville, and who knows where else.  Wish us luck!

Obligatory social media self-promotion:  If you want to follow along and you haven’t yet, please Like us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter (@NothingMundane) and/or Instagram (NothingMundane) to make sure you get all the updates.  All the cool kids are doing it.

Shamefully missed a prior post?  We made a list of the most recent ones, just for you.


Week 12: Footloose in Richmond

Heading south from Washington, D.C., we headed towards Richmond, Virginia, the third stop on our “Race to San Antonio.”  We were only in town for two days, which was a shame, because (1) Richmond was pretty cool, and (2) our RV park was right next to a well-regarded brewery (!) and we never got a chance to check it out.

But that’s OK, since it turns out Richmond has a lot of breweries.  In fact, we met Heather’s friend Tex at a brewery on our first night in Richmond.  The beer was tasty, and the men’s room art was sublime.

Not a bad start to our 36 hours in #richmond.

A photo posted by Jake and Heather (@nothingmundane) on

Found in the men’s room of a Richmond brewery. A photo posted by Jake and Heather (@nothingmundane) on

Southern Fury

We started our full day in Richmond with Monument Avenue. It’s a wide, tree-filled boulevard featuring statues of Civil War Confederate bigwigs, along with, for some reason, Arthur Ashe.  If you don’t know who that is (we didn’t), he was a Richmond native and the first black man to win the singles in Wimbledon and the US Open.  (He also left Richmond because it was horribly segregated.)  His statue was added in 1996, long after the others, and was quite a controversy at the time.

Today, in your humble correspondents’ opinion, the statue is still controversial, but only because it appears to depict Mr. Ashe beating children with a tennis racket and/or throwing a Bible at them.  He may also be defending himself from zombie children; it’s unclear.  Either way, we can’t support this statue:  a tennis racket is a terrible choice of weapon.

We followed Monument Avenue, and eventually ended up downtown with plans to explore the state capitol building, John Marshall’s house, and some other historical stuff.  Unfortunately, approximately 8 seconds into viewing the (very pretty) capitol, Heather’s flip-flop strap broke in an un-fixable and un-walkable manner.  She ended up walking the several blocks back to where we parked our car barefoot, and we came to appreciate that Richmond is very clean.

Nice place for a barefoot walk…

Heather was too embarrassed to go into a real shoe store, and she didn’t want to drive all the way back to the RV Park to get another pair of shoes, so we drove to a Target in the suburbs.  She ended up getting a pair of ankle boots to replace her flip-flops, because style, and nobody at Target said anything about the fact that Heather’s flip-flop was tied onto her foot with a hair band.

We celebrated the new arrangement with some monstrously large sandwiches from the Black Sheep.  The sandwiches are called “battleships,” and the menu section for the battleships is titled “The War of Northern Ingestion.” We got two half-size portions of the SS Sultana and the USS Roanoke, which proceeded to defeat us deliciously in gastric combat.

Southern Hospitality

After slipping into and emerging from a light food coma, we headed to Maymont Mansion, a beautiful plantation-type house constructed in the early 1900s.  Maymont has been preserved as a public park, and the furnishings inside were in remarkably good shape.  Also in remarkably good shape was our tour guide through the mansion, Bill, who is 97 years old and still going strong.  Although he couldn’t really hear us, he still has a tour guide’s booming voice, and he climbs stairs like a man of no more than 67 years, tops.  Bill was alive when the mansion’s owner passed away in 1925!  Crazy.

We had to point out one highlight from the below photo of the lady’s bedroom.  The swan bed is cool, but check out the vanity and chair to its left.  They are made from the tusks of Narwhals!  Narwhals are basically the unicorns of the sea, and this furniture is made from their horns. Woah.

After leaving the mansion we strolled around the English and Japanese gardens, which were beautiful and huge. Heather’s choice of high-heeled ankle boots were not exactly perfect for the cobblestone and grass walkways, but she was a trooper, and only walked barefoot through the gardens for a little bit.

This blog post should probably be subtitled, “Heather walks around Richmond barefoot.”

The English Garden was lovely, but the Japanese Garden was even prettier.  There were a lot of fun features, including stepping stones in the giant koi pond.

A study in contrasts: Jake vs. Heather in the Japanese Garden.

Last night

We met up with Tex again, who treated us to a fantastic dinner at Millie’s Diner.  The staff was friendly, the food was great, and the walls are adorned with creepy, steam-punk babies from a local artist.  All you can ask for in a meal, really.


What’s next:  Currently, we are in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where it is freaking freezing.  We’re going to head west to the Four Corners and the Grand Canyon as soon as we can defrost our RV.

Obligatory social media self-promotion:  If you want to follow along and you haven’t yet, please Like us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter (@NothingMundane) and/or Instagram (NothingMundane) to make sure you get all the updates.  It’s the best way to ensure your creepy baby doll art fix.

Shamefully missed a prior post?  We made a list of the most recent ones, just for you.


Week 11.5: The Greenbelt in the Beltway

Hi friends,

We’re a bit further behind than usual after spending the last 3 weeks in El Paso making some major renovations to our RV:  we replaced the floor, the countertops, faucets, a sink, a backsplash, and more.  Not to toot our own horns, but it looks pretty great!  We’ll post some pictures soon.

In the meantime, let’s reminisce about that time we went to Washington, D.C.  Cue obligatory White House selfie.

Capitol Camping

After leaving Pennsylvania behind, we headed south towards Washington, D.C., with some trepidation.  We’ve had bad experiences on the Beltway before, but this trip was mercifully smooth.  We headed to a national park right inside the Beltway called Greenbelt Park.  Greenbelt Park is spacious, cheap ($16 a night),  wooded, and totally empty – apparently because nobody knows about it.  From their website’s FAQs:

Why haven’t I heard about Greenbelt Park or the Greenbelt Park campground ? Since we are a federal government agency, we cannot spend taxpayer dollars on advertisements. We rely on word of mouth, Internet, and campground directories. We are a hidden jewel of the National Park Service.

They claim to have never been totally full, and when we were there on a warm weekend in September, we were nearly alone.  We saw more deer than people.  Definitely unusual for a campground near a major city, so if you’re in the area, you might want to check it out.

Though, you might want to avoid the bathrooms.

They weren’t moving.  Just staring.

Incidentally, the campground is extremely close to an Ikea.  We went over and strolled through, to dream about throwing away all our crappy RV furniture and replacing it with real furniture.  Or semi-real; it is Ikea, after all.  But it turned out there was nothing there we really wanted (or could fit) except Swedish meatballs and a 99¢ toilet brush.

Well, we got the meatballs, but the line to buy the toilet brush was about a half hour too long.  So, we gave up and, seeing nowhere else to return it, hid it in a potted plant.  Sorry, Ikea!

Social Medium

Most of our time in D.C. was spent visiting friends, and we won’t bore you all with the details of people you may not know, but we will say thanks for a great time to Nila & Patrick, LD, Rachel, Ashi, Alex, and the other folks we met up with.  We had delicious Sri Lankan food, delicious beers, and even an accidental front-row seat at a bar for the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight.

We did want to give a special shout-out to our friend and unpaid social media coach Kaoru, who allowed us to crash at her place and taught us how to use Twitter for personal benefit (our favorite kind of benefit!).  Also, how to use it at all.

Kaoru was once the “Bravoholic,” which is like being an addict for social media about terrible reality shows, and now she is our “social medium,” a new term we just invented for probably the four millionth time.  Among her other duties, she politely yells at us when we fail to post things correctly, which is frequent.  She also helped us get free cupcakes, using the power of social media.  Oh, and!  She taught us what all the buttons do in the Twitter app, which sadly is not a joke.

We wanted to say thanks for the help, so please feel free to visit her blog or twitter or instagram or… smoke signal region?  Whatever the kids are into now.  Everyone else, try to think about you how you can earn your own paragraph.

Nothing Mundane growing its social media presence (via GIPHY)

Strolling The Mall

We have both been to D.C. several times, but we decided to walk around and see all the tourist-y stuff again anyway.  We took the Metro into downtown and although we walked about 8 miles, according to our pedometer, it felt like we barely scratched the surface.  We saw the sculpture gallery, Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, White House, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, WWII & Korean War  Memorials, the MLK Memorial (surprisingly weird), and many more miscellaneous fancy buildings.  We have photos of some of our favorites below.

Sculpture Garden

National Museum of Natural History

Just like A Night at the Museum, except not at night, and without Ben Stiller or Owen Wilson.  And nothing came alive.  Otherwise, exactly the same.

We really enjoyed the gem and mineral collection at the museum. Our take aways:  (1) the Hope Diamond isn’t all that big, and (2) minerals grow in crazy, cool ways – they can look furry, defy gravity, glow in the dark, and a million other naturally occurring, wholly unnatural things.

Monuments & Stately Buildings

Washington, especially the Mall, is just packed full of monuments and memorials. We tried to look up how many official monuments there are in DC, for a “fun” trivia fact, but our google-fu failed us.  So we are going to say there are more than… five! Can you believe it??

Our favorite part?  The below sign on the new Trump Hotel, very close to the White House.  It reads “Coming 2016, Trump.”  Amusing, but also, please God no.


What’s next:  Currently, we are back in El Paso for a home-cooked Thanksgiving.  We’re headed back soon to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, where the sunsets are beautiful and the medicinal hot springs can out-cure any brand of snake oil.

Obligatory social media self-promotion:  If you want to follow along and you haven’t yet, please Like us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter (@NothingMundane) and/or Instagram (NothingMundane) to make sure you get all the updates.  It will help us make Kaoru proud.

Shamefully missed a prior post?  We made a list of the most recent ones, just for you.


Week 11: Address – Gettysburg

After getting our fill of bagels, pizza, and herds of tourists in NYC, we packed up our RV and began the quickest part of our trip: getting to San Antonio for our friends’ wedding.  Like the plot of a bad movie, we had exactly one month to make it to Texas, and we were about 2,100 miles away (as the RV drives).

These constraints required us to come up with an actual travel itinerary, which was a challenge.  For those who might not know, we are more or less incapable of planning ahead.  We were engaged for over three years before we finally had a wedding because it just seemed like it would be so much work.  (We were right!)  Well, although we grumbled a bit (read: a lot), and procrastinated a bit (ditto), we did eventually manage to pick a route to San Antonio. It consisted of 10 stops in cities, mountains, and beaches, and – spoiler alert – it worked! We made it to the wedding on time.

This blog post is about our first stop on this route: Dover, Pennsylvania.

Farm Country

Heather’s friend from college, Trisha, and her husband Greg graciously agreed to put us up for 2 nights at their house in Dover.  Dover is south of Harrisburg, in southern-central Pennsylvania, and relatively near to Amish farm country.  Trish and Greg live in a cool old farm house that Greg has been renovating beautifully over the years, situated on a plot of land big enough to amaze your humble recently-Manhattan-dwelling correspondents.

Our favorite part?  We met the friendly women who live next door, who were tossing some wicked Frisbee – hard, fast, accurate forehands and backhands, even a hammer, all the while running and jumping gracefully to snag the disc out of the air.  Here’s the fun part:  they were Mennonites, wearing traditional garb!  (Like this.)  Guess they’ve had a lot of time to practice while waiting for the crops to come in.

Speaking of crops:  Trish and Greg’s house is in some of the world’s greatest farmland, and although we visited a little after the summer peak, Trish’s garden was overflowing.   There were more tomatoes than any set of humans can eat, and Trish provided us with (required we take) a pint of some good ones when we left.  She also had approximately one gazillion jars of delicious homemade pickles in the fridge, which we were happy to help eat.

Their toddler-age daughter Kyla is following in her mother’s culinary footsteps, and at the time of our visit was baking a “cake” in the living room.  Sure, it was made of straws and popsicle sticks, but we’re confident the cake is going to turn out great.  At least once it’s finished baking – Kyla had been preventing anyone from touching it, or even going near it, for the previous several months.

Side note: the cake is in the exact center of the living room.

Four Score and Several Months Ago

We didn’t have much time to spend in the Dover area, but we did take a short drive down to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to explore some history for a day.  We really enjoyed it.  The new national museum at Gettysburg is a top-notch facility, featuring a gajillion artifacts from the battle, along with a film narrated by Morgan Freeman.  He should really narrate everything.

Our favorite part was the “Cyclorama” – a gigantic, 360-degree painting of the Battle of Gettysburg.  You stand inside of the Cyclorama on a raised platform, while they make sound effects and flashing lights to simulate musket fire.  It sounds much cheesier than it is.  The painting is beautiful, and tremendously, extraordinarily detailed; it’s the sort of thing you can stare at for a month and still find something new.

Apparently this style of painting used to be all the rage in the late 1800s, before there were movies and television sets and iPads.  On the one hand, it’s hard not to feel a certain nostalgia for the “simpler” days of giant circular paintings that take four years to create; on the other hand, you can’t even play Angry Birds on it, so, you know.  Kind of useless.

We also enjoyed the museum itself.  It was full of lots of interesting quotations, many along the lines of, “Yes, the Civil War was in fact about slavery.”  The negative reviews of the Gettysburg Address were also pretty entertaining:

Not everyone was a fan of the Gettysburg Address, apparently.

A photo posted by Jake and Heather (@nothingmundane) on

We also drove around the town and Gettysburg battlefield.  It’s definitely cool to stand in the same fields and hills where the battle took place, and the battlefield is absolutely studded with monuments to every group that fought there, both Union and Confederate.  There is something hard to capture about the experience.  “Pickett’s Charge” is famous as a heroic, doomed infantry march, but we couldn’t really understand it until we stood where it happened.

Turns out the Confederate army just walked across a mile-long, empty field, directly into the teeth of Union defenses and cannon fire.  “Charge” is misleading, since they weren’t even running (!), and it worked out about as well as you might expect.  Which is to say, the Confederate army was utterly crushed.

Next time, maybe a light jog would be in order?


What’s next:  Currently, we are still at Jake’s mom’s house in El Paso, Texas.  We replaced the floor of our RV! We’re working on the counters, faucets, and sinks next.

Obligatory social media self-promotion:  If you want to follow along and you haven’t yet, please Like us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter (@NothingMundane) and/or Instagram (NothingMundane) to make sure you get all the updates.  It’s a win-win-win.

Shamefully missed a prior post?  We made a list of the most recent ones, just for you.


Week 10: Hitting the Brakes in New York & New Jersey

The White and Green Mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont are quiet places, with lots of nature but not a lot of people.  For our next stop, we headed towards the complete opposite: New York City.  We made it in one piece, but the trip there was anything but easy.

All Hail the Storm King

Our first destination was the Storm King Art Center, a sculpture park about an hour north of New York City.  The drive was pretty rough, as the bucolic rolling hills of Vermont transitioned quickly into the construction zones and potholes of Troy and Albany, New York.  If you’ve never been to Troy, it’s basically the crackhead younger brother of Albany, which is not so nice to begin with.  The roads in Troy were in terrible condition, but if you need to pawn something or get a payday loan, we recommend checking it out.

Storm King was extremely cool, however.  It’s a huge park with numerous installations, including some truly gigantic pieces set in grassy fields.

It was a little less intimate than the Stone Quarry Hill Art Park, but the scope is vast, and it features works by famous artists including Roy Lichtenstein, Alexander Calder, Maya Lin, Isamu Noguchi, Richard Serra, and many more.  Unfortunately, it was punishingly hot when we were there, but the upside is that almost nobody was around.  We may have seen more animals than people.

We’ve got pictures of some of our favorites below.  If you’re in the New York area, Storm King is well worth a look – it’s really spectacular, and you can take a bus from the city or drive in.  If we did it again, we would probably rent bikes (which you can do on-site), as the park is so big that we barely got to scratch the surface.

Also, we could have watched this sculpture do its thing all day long.

An Unexpected Side Trip

We left Storm King, which incidentally is the name of the town and not the local deity, and headed to a nearby Wal-Mart to stay for the evening – the same one we stayed at on our first night in our RV, in fact.  But when we got there, we found that our tow car smelled overwhelmingly of burned brakes – and to our amateur eyes, it seemed like the front brakes had been completely destroyed.

We’re still not completely sure what happened, but most likely there was a malfunction with the supplemental brake system installed in our tow car.  This is a big plastic box that sits in front of the driver’s seat in the tow car, and clamps onto the brakes.  When we push the brakes in the RV, the brake system is signaled to physically and proportionately push the brakes down in the tow car.  Considering the relative sizes and weights of the vehicles, this is kind of unnecessary, but we are required to have it installed under New York law.

The weird part of the brake system is that it’s not attached to anything.  It just sits in the driver’s side in front of the seat.  So what we think happened is that it rode slightly forward somehow and ended up pushing down on the brakes continuously, just a little tiny unnoticeable bit, maybe even for just the 13 miles we drove from Storm King to Wal-Mart.  This created enough heat to totally destroy the brakes – as the mechanic who replaced them said, “It’s not that your brakes were ground down.  It’s that they were burned to death in a pit of fire.”

Basically what happened to our brakes. (via GIPHY)

But the story of how we got to that mechanic is pretty crazy.   While examining the brakes, we found out the battery in the tow car was also dead, from the daytime running lights being on while the car was towed (we later disabled those).  Lacking jumper cables, we called for roadside assistance and asked the friendly responder about the brakes.  He agreed they seemed to be destroyed.  Then, without asking, he called a mechanic he knew who does auto repair work and had him buy replacement brakes, then told us to follow him over to get them fixed.  Now, it was dusk and we had had a long day, plus we were already at a place that fixes brakes (Wal-Mart).  Also, according to Google Maps, the place was 45 minutes away – but the responder insisted it would be only 15 minutes, and peer-pressured us into following him there.

Of course, it actually was 45 minutes away, through deep darkness on actual mountain roads – the route went around the peak of Bear Mountain.  It was terrifying driving, especially since we were pretty new to driving with the tow car.  Driving the RV at night is always scary anyway – it just doesn’t have the ability to stop like a normal car, so the lack of visibility is stressful.  When you’re hauling a car with no brakes up and around steep, curvy, and completely unfamiliar roads, to an unknown mechanic who you are starting to worry may be planning to rob you, the stress level is… heightened.

Even our cool hat didn’t make us feel better. (via GIPHY)

But we did eventually make it!  At 9 p.m.  And the mechanic was good, cheap, and fast, and he didn’t try to rob us even once – although he only accepted cash, and was located in a locked, gated business park in an extremely sketchy area.  He actually offered to let us sleep in the RV outside his shop overnight, but we saw a few too many “ladies of the night” around for that to be an attractive offer.  Although, according to the mechanic, it was safe because “the cops drive down here constantly…”

Alone at Last

After staying at a different Wal-Mart than the one we intended, we finally made it to our campground for the week – Voorhees State Park in New Jersey.  Because these were apparently our unluckiest 24 hours, this park – right near the interstate – turned out to be basically on top of a mountain.  After twisting and turning our way up there, Google Maps attempted to send us under a very low bridge that would have ripped off our roof.  Luckily we noticed and turned off in time, and the path we then took happened to be the only reasonable way there.

Narrowly avoided this fate.

The campground itself was nothing special, but there was something special about it:  it was totally deserted.  The bathrooms were closed for construction and there were no other hookups, and apparently, everyone else just stayed away.   At times, we were the only people in the entire park, which has at least 80 camp sites.  Of course, staying by ourselves in a place which shares a name with the killer from Friday the 13th – and which has active bear warnings – was a little unsettling, but frankly, we weren’t really staying there either.  We just needed a quiet place to park our RV while we headed in to “The City” for Labor Day weekend, and Voorhees was great for that.  No hockey mask required.

You can see our motorhome in the back if you look closely, and… nothing else.

Eating Our Way Through The Big Apple

As former New York City residents, we didn’t do much touristy stuff while we were there, instead taking the chance to see friends and eat some great food.  Our friend Brian and his girlfriend Kim put us up, and put up with us, for the weekend, and we got to revel in the decadence of 24 hour grocery stores and Seamless.com.  We even made the trek all the way to Brooklyn for Smorgasburg, a giant weekly food fair, which is always horribly crowded but incredibly delicious.  We ate way too much, way too fast, and paid way too much for it (lousy NYC…), but it was awesome.

We also had lunch with Jake’s Dad, and met up with a lot of old friends and some old co-workers.  We also got to have some wholesome family fun with the Browns again (of Maine fame).  We rode the carousel with Kaia (and our friend, Alex), and smashed some blocks with Captain Rhea.  All in all, it felt a little bit more like home than we expected – although we’re still unsure whether it will be our next home.

Penultimate Bits

Speaking of old friends, on our last night in New Jersey we stopped by to visit Jake’s college roommate, Mike, and his wife and two young kids.  They were cute!  But we forgot to take pictures.

We also got lost in a strip mall parking lot where almost none of the roads actually lead out – the New Jersey version of a hedge maze.  The legends say that on a moonless night, you can still see the ghosts of dead shoppers trying to make their way out at Christmas.

This is probably what happened to Jimmy Hoffa.


What’s next:  Currently, we are staying at Jake’s mom’s house in El Paso, Texas, where the wifi flows like water, which incidentally also flows freely.  There are some benefits to houses that never move!  We are doing some heavy renovations to the interior of our RV, so stay tuned.

Obligatory social media self-promotion:  If you want to follow along and you haven’t yet, please Like us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter (@NothingMundane) and/or Instagram (NothingMundane) to make sure you get all the updates.  We literally feed on your love.

Shamefully missed a prior post?  We made a list of them just for you.


Week 9.5: Taking Vermont In

We had such a good time in New Hampshire’s White Mountains that we decided to head to Vermont’s Green Mountains next, in the southwestern corner of the state.  Whereas the White Mountains felt remote, the Green Mountains were merely quiet, with working cell towers and a demographic best described as “technocratic hippie brewers.”  It was as delightful as that sounds (at least to us), and there was even a tiny house manufacturer right outside our campground!

The campground we stayed at was run by the US Army Corps of Engineers, which is kind of cool, but the campground was really just a giant field with RVs parked in it. A nicely manicured, well maintained field, but a field nonetheless, and it offered zero privacy from our neighbors.

During our stay, we decided to do some RV maintenance; namely, checking out the condition of the roof, and sealing some small cracks along a few wall seams with silicon.  While Jake was outside prepping, he was approached by one of our older neighbors, and had our first conversation with a seasoned, full time RVer!  He told us about the stuff we should have bought for the cracks, and then just started listing all of his ailments and their accompanying medical treatment (this was lengthy). Overall the conversation was a 10/10; would have again.

Although, as introverts, of course we haven’t.

West River Trail

After accomplishing “interact with another camper,” it seemed like a good time to go on a quiet hike. And it was quiet; we only ran into one other person during the three hours we were hiking. The hike was on the West River Trail, which follows, you guessed it, the West River.

The hike was beautiful,with a rocky river, colorful meadows, and, as advertised, green mountains. We also saw some of the first signs on autumn on a few trees.

The trial was flanked by insanely tall pine trees, which we tried to capture in the picture below. Deep into the woods, we also spotted a wild barrel, far from its natural habitat.

Jake went in to investigate the barrel closer. It was labeled “gasoline,” but all we could think of was the below clip from the Simpsons. Now, we’re not saying that a leaking toxic barrel is the reason that the trees are so tall, but we will say that the closest nuclear power plant is only about 40 miles away.

No laser-eyed squirrels were seen on our hike, unfortunately.  Also, we learned how to make gifs!

After contemplating the contents of the barrel, we continued on our hike to Angel Falls, where we stopped to have a little picnic before heading back to the campground.

Mmm… Beer

We spent our final day in Vermont exploring the nearby town of Manchester.  Manchester is a cute, historic town near the Bromley and Stratton Ski Resorts, and it was full of shops and restaurants wishing desperately that it was tourist season.  Since we are suckers for clever names, we stopped for some appetizers and drinks at The Other Woman Tavern, directly above The Perfect Wife Restaurant. They had a delicious Hot Indian Curry and Goat Cheese Dip with eggplant fries, which really hit the spot for our Indian food craving.  (God, we miss you Bhatti!)

They also had a special beer by Long Trail, only available at this restaurant, called “That’s What She Said.”

It certainly left us satisfied and smiling.

After leaving Manchester, we made a quick stop at Grandma Miller’s Pies, and by quick stop we mean Heather abruptly turned in as soon as she saw the sign like she was in a Cathy cartoon. After filling up with strawberry rhubarb pies and peanut butter squares, we headed back to the campground to prepare for our next stop, New York City and the Deep Wilds of New Jersey.


What’s next:  Currently, we are on our last night in Marfa, Texas, looking at art and recovering from a beautiful but dehydrating trip to Big Bend National Park.  Tomorrow we head to El Paso, where we’ll be for a while.

Obligatory social media self-promotion:  If you want to follow along and you haven’t yet, please Like us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter (@NothingMundane) and/or Instagram (NothingMundane) to make sure you get all the updates.  Or don’t; we’re not your boss.

Shamefully missed a prior post?  We love you anyway.