While we have crossed some states off our list, our plans definitely changed quite a bit in 2023. We spent more time on the East Coast than I thought we would, but did drive the Oregon Trail, made to a Yankees home game (without Bryce), left New Jersey after a very long stay, and have started a remodel of the van after discovering a water leak ruined part of the floor. We ended the year in Hot Springs National Park, the same place we started the year! Overall, it was a pretty good year, made it to 5 National Parks, a lot less traveling than originally planned, a van remodel that is almost finished, and some big plans for 2024!

Hot Springs

We arrived on the morning of January 1st not checking if everything was going to be opened which it wasn't. So we will becoming back here at some point, but while we were here we did check out a few things on a walk we took.

Wharton State Forest

We stayed here for a week the night sky was clear, the temp wasn't the greatest but we stayed warm. Also made another visit after we were at the Guadalupe Mountains. There is a restriction of only being allowed to stay 40 nights a year, and have to leave for 30 days after a 14 night stay.

Carlsbad Caverns

This is another place we will have to come back to as the caverns were closed as they were working on the lights. But we did find a nice place to stay the night of Jan 29th on some BLM land near by.

Guadalupe Mountains

We made it here later in the afternoon after visiting Carlsbad Caverns, and stopped by again late in the day on Jan 30th. This is another spot we will come back to after visiting Carlsbad again since it is just about 45 minutes away.

Valley Forge

Another stop at Valley Forge for us this year. We had a nice time with my sister last year and decided to come back with Jaime this year on Feb. 18th for a nice walk while we were in the area.  While it may not have been the warmest day and some thought it was rather longer than I said, I am sticking to it was only 2.5 to 3 miles!

Liberty State Park

Never saw the Statue of Liberty in person before so on Feb. 26th Liberty State Park was the destination.  Bryce and I walked around the park got some good pics and video...and Jaime joined us again! It ended up being a bit colder than we thought it would be but still glad we took the drive here.

The Oregon Trail

Something I have always wanted to do was travel the Oregon Trail, and I can finally say I drove it, and did not die of dysentary! All the details can be found on  The Oregon Trail Page.


Made it to Redwood on May 14th, took a drive through the park to the coast and stopped at the beach. The beach had black sand, I did take a few pics at the beach and hit the water during a stroll on the beach.

Donner Pass

When I actually reached Donner Pass the sun was starting to go down. I did not take any pics but did stop at a rest stop at the top of the pass for a few seconds depating if I should try to get a pic or get out of the mountains. One thing to note, while the road was clear, the snow at the rest stop went to the top of the building on both sides, just a wall of snow.

Yankee Stadium

On June 10th I finally made to a Yankees home game but Bryce was not able to join me on this trip. The game was good and the Yankees won! Overall the city is not for me I am much more at home in the middle of nowhere.

Wharton State Forest

Another visit to Wharton State Forest for the last weekend we were going to be in New Jersey this year.  It was blueberry picking season during this visit, and while the campsites were not packed the grocery stores were running low on certain items. Overall it was a good nights stay with a clear night, nice fire, but an unfortunate tick bite for me.

Crater of Diamonds State Park

This is a place my mom always wanted to visited but was never able to make it to and after our visit I know she would have really liked it. Jamie was with us on this, didn’t find any diamonds but had a lot of fun. We did take a drive to get some gear we did not bring (van remodel still not complete) and had a little adventure after missing a turn on the way back. Ended up getting routed down a dirt road and should have known to turn around as soon as possible after being on it for a bit. Parts of the shoulder were gone, crossed a couple washed out sections before we reached a bridge that had collapsed, end of the road! Problem was the road was not much wider than the van, oh did I mention it was at night? So we had to back up slowly around the curves and making sure to not fall in the missing shoulder sections for a bit until we found an iffy section that could be possible to back into a bit. With some back and forth I got the van turned around and made it back to the missed turn to make it back to camp. Definitely a place we will visit again.

Hot Springs

Made it back to Hot Spings National Park on December 31st to spend the last day of the year where we spent the first day of the year, however Jamie was with us on this trip. Took a tour of a bath house, walked a little bit, and filled some jugs with hot spring water before we left.