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Don’t stop at “making” memories in an RV

Make a memory – Document a memory – Revisit a memory

By Nina Soltwedel
Owning an RV means, for many of us, taking extended trips. Many reading right now may recall having taken a many-thousand-mile trip in their RV, camper, trailer, etc. – a trip that took them to far-off places to see vistas they’d not seen before, to meet new people along the way, to discover hidden treasures such as a magnificent vista just around that corner up ahead, or a place to camp on the edge of a peaceful lake with just the hoot of an owl to keep one company. You get the idea.

However, did you document that trip so that, years from now, you can open a notebook and relive the trip all over again?

I imagine some of you are thinking, “Yeah, but we took pictures. That’s documenting the memories.” I agree, but I suggest taking it one step further: Document the trip with something in addition to photos.

Worthington Glacier

Recently, I decided to sort through the decades of photos, letters, cards, etc., that my hubby and I have accumulated, which were stored in assorted large plastic bins in our basement. I had three huge bins filled with items going back as far as when we both were babies (our respective parents saved everything), along with three smaller boxes overflowing with family photographs. I began sorting, and while doing that, I began to travel down Memory Lane … a very long lane!

Sorting through the photo albums, letters and keepsake items, I came across a camping journal I had purchased before we left on a trip to Alaska the summer of 2002. While we took many photos during our journey, the journal added so much more.

Denali

It provided boxes to check off campground amenities such as electricity, showers, shaded sites, laundry, etc. There was a place to rate each campground, space to record fuel purchases, plus food, entertainment and that good old standby, miscellaneous costs. By recording the date, time, place, beginning and ending miles, plus a one-word weather report, it was easy to remember each stopping point. I had added pages to the journal to record extra places we visited each day, knowing we would be traveling more than the 32 days’ pages the journal contained.

Grizzlies at Hyder, AK

Seventeen years later, as I turned the pages, reading the names of the campgrounds we visited and the added attractions of nature and wildlife viewing, I enjoyed the trip all over again. I rediscovered that the round-trip mileage was 9,150 miles; that we saw moose, caribou, sea lions, antelopes, eagles, puffins, spawning salmon, harrier hawks, humpback whales, bears (black and grizzly); that we saw panoramic views, crystal clear streams, rivers, and icebergs; that we walked on glaciers, took a bus partway up Denali, went to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, visited several Native peoples’ museums, visited the extensive museum at the University of Alaska, took the ferry to Vancouver Island and spent time in Victoria, and so much more.

While we were in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, for the second time (on our homeward-bound segment), I met a woman from my birthplace in Wisconsin, whom I had known when she was a little girl and I was in high school with her big sister (that was a long time ago!). We were attending the Frantic Follies that evening, and she sat in the row in front of us. She now lives in Iron River, Michigan, and we live in Boulder, Colorado. Small world!

I ran out of journal pages in late July but had brought along enough extra pages to continue making a record of the trip. By reading the journal, I was reminded that we left home on June 16, and pulled back into our driveway on August 8. It was a magnificent trip … and now I can relive it all again whenever I choose.

Happy memory-making wherever you roam … and don’t forget to make notes!

Nina and her hubby, Bob, have been RVing since 1998. They have visited the United States in their RVs except Delaware and Hawaii (still waiting for that bridge to Hawaii to be built), and much of Canada. They have been members of Discovery Owners Association since 1999. Nina served 12 years as Editor/Publisher of the club’s quarterly newsletter, Discovery Express. Owning an RV has enabled them to meet many wonderful folks from around the world and form lasting friendships.

##RVT1080

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Sue
2 months ago

After we retired my husband and I started our own personal website back in 2005 when we ran/hiked the Appalachian Trail and have continued it ever since, with hundreds of entries and thousands of photos about our RV travels, ultradistance foot races, hiking, cycling, dogs, and other interests. It’s great fun to go back and read over those entries and remember all the places we’ve been and things we’ve done since retiring. It’s easier to do a blog using someone else’s format but we decided to start from scratch with our own website so we’d have total control over it.

Last edited 2 months ago by Sue
Steve H
2 months ago

We produce hardback photo books with captions of our most significant trips using websites like Shutterfly. We have books for a trip to Fiji, New Zealand, Australia; our 50th Anniversary trip to Ireland; our 3-month RV trip to Alaska; etc. We leave them on the living room coffee table for our kids, grandkids, and guests. Unlike an old-fashioned slide show, the books can be viewed at the reader’s leisure.

Drew
2 months ago

Great article! That’s a lot of memorable material to go through- I think I’d just leave it as is :).

Catherine H
2 months ago

I, too, am a journaller! I started with my family trips when I was a young teen and still have those 60 years later. Later in life they go with photo albums and now digital diaries and photos. When I re-read them, all those memories come flooding back.

Roger Marble
2 months ago

Good idea. I think you might have the Worthington Glacier picture mislabeled, but I could be wrong. https://www.alaska.org/detail/worthington-glacier

Gregory Illes
2 months ago

At the urging of my nephew, I started an email blog in 2012, and later converted it to a WordPress entity. I’ve been really happy about doing that… it’s great fun going over my old writings and memories (several hundred blog posts now).
In addition, my wife and I have taken photos from our travels and put them into a “carousel” display (a small TV hanging on the wall). It’s set to randomly display our 1400+ collection; one every 10 seconds, always a treat.

Admin
RV Staff
2 months ago
Reply to  Gregory Illes

Here’s Greg’s very interesting blog: http://www.divver-city.com/blog/ Lots of great info and amazing pictures there. 😀 –Diane

Melita
2 months ago

I have been journaling our trips for over forty years. Besides the usual entries about what we did and what happened to us, I am careful to document travel routes, campgrounds, site numbers, etc. It is surprising how often we refer back to these writings.

Tom Gutzke
2 months ago

My wife and I started ‘camping’ in 1981 in a Bethany pop-up. Our trailers grew from there. Sadly, my wife died three years ago. In that 52 years of marriage and 38 years of RVing we stayed overnight in and saw things in all 49 states on the continent plus a bunch of Canadian Provinces. On our 50th anniversary we flew to the 50th state [Hawai’i] for an 18-day stay on Oahu, Maui, and Hawai’i islands. I’ve been looking through the photo books and written reports on what we saw and did every day, re-living the journey. I’m now making new memories with a lady my wife introduced me to just a few weeks after we started dating. She and her husband were the best friends we could ask for. Memories bring a smile to my face. Creating new memories is a bigger smile.

Frank Wright
2 months ago

I do a journal with pictures on all of our trips and have for the last 10 years. It serves a couple purposes. One, it is helpful if I travel to those places again reminding me of the best trails, best campsites and local restaurants. Two, it is so enjoyable to read about our trips and all the details I write down. As you say its like revisiting each trip. Now that I am in my 70s I cannot remember all the details of our extensive travel; however, when somebody asks if I have been to a particular campground, I can go back in my journal and relive and tell them all the details. Three, its just fun to write it down. I highly recommend it. Someday I am sure our kids and grandkids will get a hoot out of reading our journals.

Stephen Snure
2 months ago

We started RVing in February 2018. Since then we’ve taken nine trips, the shortest being six weeks and the longest 99 days. For our maiden voyage, our good friends bought us a journal named, “RV There Yet?” (available on Amazon) which prompts us to enter daily details about our trip. On every one of our trips, my wife has done just that. On trip number three I began my own journal, but using the online program “TrackMyTour”. I like this format as in addition to text I can upload pictures. It also allows me to share our adventures with friends and family. On occasion my wife will pull out one of the now six “RV There Yet?” journals and reads aloud so we both can share in the memory. I also do the same with my online journal and display it on our TV to share details and pictures. It’s so easy to forget the details of our travels, but our paper and online journals are quick to remind us of the good, bad, and ugly, but now funny details of past travels.

Sherry
2 months ago

Scrapbooking is the answer. About 25 years ago I started scrapbooking in earnest on Shutterfly. I would send them film. When I scrapbooked it was like reliving our trips. I find myself taking pictures with an eye toward scrapbooking. Last year Shutterfly changed their program & became impossible to negotiate. It took me a couple of months to recover and find another vendor but now I am on Mixbook. Recently I got a letter from shutterfly saying I had to spend a certain amount of money with them or i would loose access to my thousands of pictures. So these are now my rules for managing pictures. Do download ASAP to your scrapbooking vendor but also back up on a jump drive. If you are on a trip and find it is difficult to write up a full diary just jot down phrases to jog your memory later. Finally all the books I have cannot be taken away from me by shutterfly. They are a solid memory of our life as full timers which our family will enjoy when we can no longer travel

Cheryl V Clark
2 months ago

I’m a writer (retired) and kept a journal on most of our trips. Coupled with our old photo albums and movies, they help us enjoy those trips again. Before the days of digital photography, I wrote about our meals instead of snapping pictures of our plates with my iPhone. I wrote about our hikes and bicycle rides, and interesting people we met. I treasure those journals.

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