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The Last Leg of our Grand RV Adventure

Our Grand RV Adventure may be ending, but our journey toward full-time RV living is just beginning. As I write this post, we are en route back to our sticks and bricks house, having spent 64 nights on the road. We’ve camped at state and national parks in Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia. We’ve boondocked at Marge’s place in Seagrove, NC and stayed overnight at a couple of Cracker Barrell locations as well. Here’s our final map update for this trip:

Are we excited to be going home? In some ways, yes! We miss our kids, my mom and our friends. We miss our little local grocery store where we know where everything is located. I’ll be happy to sink into our comfy bed with dual temperature controlled heated mattress pads tonight, and to spend some cuddle time with the pups on the couch tomorrow rather than on the floor. We miss having a fenced-in back yard (especially on cold, rainy nights) where the dogs can go do their thing off leash. I miss showering in bare feet, ample countertop food prep space, and my pottery wheel. In fact, the first thing I will probably do (after a long, hot shower and a night of blissful rest in our comfy bed) might be to get behind my second favorite wheel (Irving being the first) and get muddy up to my elbows with clay!

Our little sticks and bricks home will feel like a mansion after living in our 24’ motorhome! But I feel like the great outdoors has been our mansion for the past two plus months. In fact, living in Irving full-time has presented no real hardships for us. We loved every minute of our Grand RV Adventure! I think that when we consider what we’ll miss about being on the road, that list will be longer (and deeper in many ways).


Besides discovering a new place to call home every other week or so, we’ll miss endless time in nature, hiking trails, sunsets and sunrises, babbling brooks, mirror-smooth lakes, playing cards on rainy nights, moonrises, star-filled night skies, waterfalls, gentle breezes, hammock o’clock, discovering cool little bugs, campfires, friendly waves from fellow campers, outdoor studio space, the ocean, the smell of pine underfoot after a rain, meeting plants native to areas where we travel, making new friends along the way, spending time with family we don’t see often enough, encountering wildlife every day … I feel like this list could be endless!


It is absolutely true that many of the things listed above are (or could be) part of our daily lives in our sticks and bricks home, except that life feels so much less complicated at camp. In this way, our Grand RV Adventure reinforced an important life lesson about consciously choosing the things we devote our time and attention to throughout every minute of the day, no matter what sort of roof is over our head. What a gift!

As I searched through my photos to see which I should include here, I realize how many truly remarkable and equally wonderful, non-remarkable moments we have packed into the last 64 days!

I also realize that I had not previously provided sufficient photographic evidence of how beautiful our site at Cheraw State Park was, so here are a few pictures.

Yep, that’s my hammock, and this view was - literally - our front yard for the week!

The sunsets every night were gorgeous, but this particular night was really remarkable!

Watching the moon rise was equally incredible!

Daytime and campfire views were amazing, too!

The most miraculous thing I witnessed at Cheraw was the birth of a cloud over the lake. I woke one morning as the sun was rising and stepped outside to find the lake covered in dense fog.

As the rising sun heated the condensation, it moved to a central point in the middle of the lake and formed a cloud, which then lifted off the surface of the lake and into the sky. It was so surreally beautiful that it brought me to tears.

I’ve never wished I could paint more than in this moment. It literally felt like I was in the middle of a Thomas Kinkade painting.

Here’s the freshly born baby cloud!


I’ll post a full review of the Cheraw State Park at another time, because I want to share with you all we have been up to since my last blog post. We packed in all sorts of adventures into our last two weeks on the road, starting with two days in Seagrove, NC, a destination I have longed to visit for several years.


Folks have been making pots in Seagrove since the 1700’s, and it’s considered to be the pottery capital of the US. I had an amazing two days meeting potters with ties to the area going back up to five generations, window shopping in galleries, and exploring the NC Pottery Museum. I’ll make a separate post sharing the work of the amazing potters we visited soon - once I organize all the photos I took!

As luck would have it, we landed in Seagrove on the eve of “Firefest” at STARWorks Ceramics in nearby Star, NC. What’s a potter to do when a Seagrove potter says, “If you’re a potter in Seagrove on the day of Firefest, it’s the only place to be!” We went, and we were not disappointed! We saw a complex glass forming demonstration and witnessed the big reveal of a humongous statue firing in the clamshell kiln behind us in the picture below.

Fed by wood from the bottom, the statue is engulfed in flame inside the kiln structure, which is made of metal and ceramic fiber blanket. It is revealed in a pretty dramatic fashion by the simultaneous opening of all six panels of the kiln (experience and safety equipment required - please don’t try this at home!). I posted a video of the countdown and opening on my social media — check it out if you haven’t already seen it.

Here is the spoiler photo of the smokin’ hot sculpture just after the big reveal. Marge, our wonderful Boondockers Welcome host, accompanied us to the reveal and promised to send me a photo of the statue after it cools, so I’ll be sure to share it on social media. You can follow me on Instagram or Facebook by clicking the buttons below.




Firefest was truly a magical way to end this long-awaited visit to Seagrove! From there, we drove to Cave Mountain Lake Family Campground in the Jefferson National Forest, which is nestled among the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. There, we were cell/internet-free, and also hook-up free, for a week. Our 42 gallons of fresh water, gray and black water tanks all lasted through the entire week with room to spare!


It was lovely to really relax and be completely off-line for this last week. Steve played some music, and I spent several hours relaxing in the hammock while listening to my water feature of the week, a babbling creek that ran directly behind our site. We saw dear in the woods, listened to birds chatter, and the squirrels came out to play and entertain us with their antics midway through our stay. It was incredibly peaceful!

While at Cave Mountain, we explored the park trails and climbed Wildcat Mountain Trail to somewhere near the peak. After living at or near sea level for two months, this challenging trail was quite the climb!

While boondocking isn’t our ideal hook-up situation, we were glad to have the opportunity to evaluate how we’d manage in this scenario. Steve was very into the rustic (except at coffee o’clock when we ran the generator so we could brew his coffee and my tea). We cooked some burgers (beef for him, Beyond for me) over a wood fire. The burgers were definitely worth the effort, and got a big thumbs up from Steve!


Burgers weren’t the only thing cooking in the fire. I test fired some of my beads in a campfire as well! Here are some of them before firing:

And here’s what they looked like after firing:

My pie baker didn’t survive the experiment, but my beads did! I will know if the fire was hot enough to bring out the colors in my beads after I clean them up at home.


I had several highly productive studio days in the cell-free zone at Cave Mountain Lake. Unfortunately, the weather turned abruptly colder and rainy at the end of our stay, so I didn’t have time to photograph all the beauiful jewelry pieces I made during our trip as planned. Watch for them to appear on my website in the coming weeks, or come out to visit me on the Chester County Studio Tour on May 20 and 21 to see them for yourself!


Here’s an in-process photo of one of my favorite new necklace designs before I oxidized the copper:

On our way home today, we made a small detour to visit with Bill van Gilder in Gapland, MD. Bill is a master potter who I have studied with in the past, and he gave us a tour of his studio situated below his gallery.

Bill is a gifted potter and a genuinely nice guy, and it was so great to see him at work in his studio and to catch up! Bill is one of the very best teachers in clay I’ve ever had! He shares pottery making tips in a free, info-packed weekly email. If you’re interested in making pottery, I encourage you to join his mailing list so you can benefit from his broad knowledge, and his generosity in sharing it.


He also offers a wonderful line of pottery tools he has developed over the years. The best tools are those designed for potters by potters, and Bill’s tools are inherently useful and very affordable. You can find Bill on social media and YouTube, and you can visit his website to see his gorgeous pots, tool collection, or to sign up for his email list.

As I close out this blog post, the sun is setting on our adventure to the West as we approach Lancaster, PA and - beyond that - home. I’m eager for the long drive to be over, but sad that our RV adventures are on pause for a bit. Planting my vegetable gardens, making work for the Chester County Studio Tour, and filling BanditBowl orders will keep me pretty busy in the immediate future. I’ll be honing my colored porcelain and jewelry design skills as well, as we make plans for our next adventure and the next chapter in our journey: full-time RV living!


While this particular trip is over, I’ll continue blogging because I still have a lot to share about our adventure! We learned so much in the last 64 nights - about RV Living, about camping with our dogs who don’t always get along, about what we should (and definitely should not) pack, about planning our next trip, about Irving modifications that will make our future trips so much more workable… this list could also be endless! Most importantly, we learned a lot about ourselves during this journey. I’ll be sharing it all in future blog posts, along with campground reviews and posts about my work in my sticks and bricks studio, and I hope you’ll stay tuned. Please let me know what you want to hear about in the comments below!


Thanks so much for joining us for the ride. It’s been great to have you along, and I hope you enjoyed our updates from the road!


See you in a week (or so),


Susan (and Steve and Bandit and Oakley)


4 Comments


Guest
Apr 10, 2023

The "pit-fired" beads are awesome. Would love to hear more about the clay and process!

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Susan O'Hanlon
Susan O'Hanlon
Nov 28, 2023
Replying to

I'll be working on clay later in our journey, and will share the processes behind my nerikomi can building and bead making. And since I melted my pie baker pit firing the last batch of beads, I've got some cast iron earmarked for experimentation with the beads. Stay tuned!

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Guest
Apr 10, 2023

I’ve really enjoyed reading about your RV adventure. I always wondered what an extended trip would be like. Now I have a pretty good idea from your posts. Your pictures are great and totally support the dialogue. I love the squirrel and the butterfly. Some of your descriptions almost seem magical ie… lying in the hammock listening to the babbling brook, watching the mist turn into a cloud, being in a cell free environment while cooking over an open fire. thanks for sharing your adventures….

you two are an amazing couple. mike

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Susan O'Hanlon
Susan O'Hanlon
Nov 28, 2023
Replying to

So glad you've enjoyed the posts thus far, Mike! I just released the first from this trip ... watch your inbox or check the blog on my website for updates as we make our way West. :-)

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