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I talked with the Bickmeyer family back in January when they were part way through a year long RV trip around the U.S. They had started by going out west. Unfortunately, they ended up coming back to home base for a few months due to the Coronavirus. They decided to get back on the road in June and spent four more months road tripping on the East Coast. I caught up with them again to ask about their East Coast journey and how things were different on the second leg of their trip.
Q: Why did you initially cut your trip short?
A: Things were just getting too scary with the Coronavirus. It was early March, and there was too much uncertainty around the virus and how it would impact our plans. Most of the state and national parks were closing, along with some of the private campgrounds. We were concerned we wouldn’t have as many options of places to stay, plus with all of the parks and restaurants closed it would’ve taken much of the fun out of traveling anyway. It felt like the right thing to do was to get home and wait it out. Luckily, we weren’t far from home at the time, so we were able to shoot back in a couple of days.
Q: When did you get back on the road?
A: The beginning of June. By that time, things were opening back up and we felt comfortable venturing back out.
Q: What was your track on the second leg of your journey?
A: Before ever leaving Florida, we decided to travel coast to coast. While both my wife and I have been lifelong Floridians, there were parts of the state that we hadn’t seen yet, including Everglades National Park. From Florida we headed up through the mountains of north Georgia, then west as far as Hot Springs, Arkansas, then up through the Ozarks to the coast of Lake Superior in Minnesota. We then rode along the southern coasts of the Great Lakes, then east to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park in Maine. From there, it was south through New England, then over through West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina. We ended by going down along the East Coast until we got back home.
Q: What was it like traveling with Coronavirus concerns?
A: It was challenging, especially with the kids. The rules and regulations varied greatly from state to state, so it was difficult to keep track. Eventually, all of the recommendations such as wearing masks and social distancing became normal. We were already living a lifestyle where being outdoors and in open spaces with few other people around was the norm, so that made it easier for us.
Q: How did Coronavirus affect your experience?
A: We experienced some closures of historical places and government buildings that we were excited to visit. We couldn’t do a White House tour for example. Many restaurants and breweries were only open for takeout. There were other restrictions at places such as zoos and theme parks. All of this changed the experience a bit, but none of it was deal breaking.
One of the surprising benefits it had was requiring that we slow down and stay in each place longer than we normally would. We’re usually pretty fast travelers, but some regulations forced us to slow our roll. This really gave us the opportunity to experience so much more of what each place had to offer. That proved to be a blessing in disguise.
Q: Did you have any interesting experiences?
A: Lots of interesting experiences. The one that’s most memorable from the second leg was in upstate New York, near Niagara Falls. I misunderstood a sign warning of a low bridge and ended up having to pull into a median before decapitating the RV. Getting out of this situation required help from a team of New York State Troopers. They ended up blocking traffic, so we could go the wrong way down a stretch of highway, before getting us back on the right track. It was a stressful start in the state of New York, to say the least.
Q: What was your favorite destination? Why?
A: There were several places that really surprised us on this stretch. Many beach towns along the coast of the Great Lakes really come to life in the summertime, which was cool to see. We also really liked Wisconsin, upstate New York, Vermont, Maine and all of the New England territory. This was our first-time visiting Boston, and it has now become one of our favorite big cities.
Q: Did you prefer the first or second leg?
A: They were both very different, in so many ways. The difference in the landscapes is remarkable. While I loved most of everything on the second stretch (East Coast), it’s really hard to beat the concentration of amazing places out west. This opinion may also be slightly skewed, on account of the Coronavirus, which only affected our East Coast adventures.
Q: Will you all do a trip like this in the future?
A: I would absolutely love to. We now know which areas we liked the most and could plan on spending more time in our favorite spots. It would also be interesting to travel to many of the same areas, but during different seasons. Whether it’ll be another full-time family trip, or something different, we definitely hope to take another extended trip within the states again in the future. No matter what the future has in store, we certainly don’t have any regrets in having done the trip. It took a lot of planning and work. However, it was a trip of a lifetime and something that we’ll cherish together as a family forever.
If you want to check out more from the Bickmeyer family’s journey around this amazing country, check out their Instagram, @ramblin.fever for more!
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