Just to let you know . . . I’ve added some random photos from our Father’s Day boating adventure that have absolutely nothing to do with the following post. I didn’t want to plagiarize any pics from the blogs mentioned below but, since I always appreciate some color in the posts I read on other blogs, I decided to provide you with at least a little something to break up the text. In case you’re wondering what boating has to do with camping, well, that’s a perfect topic for a future post!
One of the benefits of retirement that I’ve enjoyed and appreciated is the gift of more time to read. I’ve always gotten up earlier than any other members of our family and savored that quiet time with the first cup of morning coffee accompanied by a good book or blog, or the latest issue of a favorite magazine. And then I would go off to work having started my day on a pleasant and even keel. Once I escaped from the workforce two years ago, I stretched one cup of coffee into two and began spending my early morning time exploring blogs of different topics, especially those written by other RV travelers.
I always get great pleasure out of digging up intriguing and useful information about the travel destinations on our vacation itineraries whether through reading about those destinations in guide books or on web sites, or by talking with people who had visited them. And I found out that poking around on the blogs of fellow RV travelers is pretty much a combination of all three. I started discovering wonderful new destinations, tips on how to enjoy places we planned to visit and helpful facts about shopping, dining and campgrounds.
Blog authors, just like book authors, have different writing styles and formats, and I soon found that I was drawn to blogs that were well written and had at least a smattering of photos with excellent landscape photography being a plus. And I was particularly attracted to authors whose warm personality and sense of humor was evident in both their blog posts and their relationships with their readers.
The Frugal Girl (link HERE) – This is one of only a few blogs that I’ve been reading for better than the two years I’ve been retired. Author Kristen writes about her family’s efforts to live cheerfully and frugally - lots of good tips and lots of personal family stories here, folks. What I like best about her blog is the way Kristen’s personality shines through. She’s caring, tactful and empathetic and has built a solid community of readers who appreciate her authenticity and the frugal lessons she delivers. You go, girl!
Can I Retire Yet? (link HERE) – I started reading author Darrow Kirkpatrick’s posts before I retired and I always appreciated the topics he covered and the thorough and matter of fact way he addressed them. I believe that his investing style is similar to mine which is probably one of the reasons this blog feels so comfortable to me, but his posts cover a broad range of topics, so please don’t think this blog is simply about investing. True, saving and investing are frequently covered, but the blog is much more than that. Chris Mamula has recently taken over the reins of Can I Retire Yet? with Darrow still contributing an occasional post. Chris, too, seems to be a good writer who might especially appeal to younger readers. Yes, I can retire and I did, but I still read this blog regularly.
Satisfying Retirement (link HERE) – Author Bob Lowry has written several retirement guides including Living a Satisfying Retirement, Building a Satisfying Retirement and Preparing for Your Financial Future After Retirement. Bob writes clearly and honestly about many different issues in retirement including (but most definitely not limited to) those regarding finances, lifestyle and physical and mental health. Not only does he offer resources to those in retirement or considering it, but he has an active community of readers from all walks of life who provide many different perspectives on the topics he covers. Although I only stumbled onto Satisfying Retirement recently, it quickly became one of my favorites.
My Retirement Project (link HERE) – This lively blog is written by Tamara, an active and early retiree. Actually, I considered myself active until I began reading her blog. She puts me to shame, people. But don’t let that prevent you from stopping by to visit. She writes with an engaging style and her posts about her activities (including biking and hiking) and her projects (including major landscaping renovations in progress to take advantage of her lovely location on the coast of California) are always interesting (and sometimes exhausting). If the list of goals she posted for June was my list of goals, I’d tell you to just shoot me now. More power to you, Tamara! You’re certainly an inspiration!
Retirementally Challenged (link HERE) – Janis, the author over at Retirementally Challenged, posts about a really wide variety of items including travel, relationships, photography, gratitude, and other intriguing topics. Her writing is clear and thoughtful and her photographs are often unique and extremely appealing. Plus, an excellent relationship between Janis and her readers is evident. I first linked to this blog (and My Retirement Project) through Satisfying Retirement, so I haven’t been reading either one for very long, but both are definitely on my short list.
Walking the Parks (link HERE) – The National Parks stories and guides on this web site are written by Ladona Stork with help from her husband Brad. Ladona and I have never met, but we both LOVE our National Parks and, as it turns out, have a mutual friend who (virtually) introduced us. (Thanks, Peg!) This couple’s love for the outdoors, in general, and our National Parks, in particular, is very evident in their posts, so if you’re a “park lover,” be sure to visit this blog.
Phannie and Mae (link HERE) – Author Mike Mills has been blogging since 2005 which is an exceptionally impressive streak, if you ask me. He and his wife Sandy are full time RVers now, living and traveling in Phannie, their Class A motorhome. They have 8,462,876 friends – or it sure seems that way. I have a feeling that it’s because Mike is a friendly and outgoing guy with a great sense of humor and I would bet that Sandy's personality is similar. My guess is that they would be a lot of fun to socialize with. (Yes, Mike, I know that sentence isn’t grammatically correct, but it sounds much better my way.) Mike takes a “went here, did this” post to a whole new level due to his great writing style, terrific photos and his very own personal opinion which adds quite a bit of color to many of his posts. I’ve been reading this blog for between one and two years and I think that someday I just might have to go back and start in 2005!
Easin’ Along (link HERE) – Blog author Joe Bruner and his wife, Helen, are retirees who live in Tennessee and travel by RV on a part time basis. It seems like Joe and Helen are always off on a new adventure and, I have to say, their adventures are pretty darn impressive. They have a flair for finding incredibly entertaining things to do and Joe writes about them in a friendly, down-to-earth style. His readers seem to really care about him and Helen, and the fact that Joe cares about them is obvious. This is a fun and friendly blog and Joe often posts some gorgeous photos of places and events he and Helen have visited. This is another blog I learned of through Satisfying Retirement, and it’s another keeper, for sure.
Live, Laugh, RV (link HERE) – I’ve only recently come across this blog, but it’s already one of my favorites. Full time RVers Ingrid and Al travel in their fifth wheel to some of the most gorgeous places in the country. It was Ingrid’s photography that first caught my attention, but it was her writing and her personality that kept it. Ingrid writes as if she’s talking with you, not writing for you, and her posts are filled with her enthusiasm for her subjects. If I’m able to catch a new post of hers early in the morning, it sets a bright and happy tone for my whole day. But, even before her words draw you in, her photographs do the trick. I love her landscapes because the scenery is stunning and her talent for composition ups the appeal even more.
Roads Less Traveled (link HERE) – Adventurers Emily and Mark Fagan have been traveling full time for more than ten years, at times by sailboat and currently by RV. Their home now is a fifth wheel and their canine traveling companion is Buddy. Truth be told, I’d follow this blog if it were just photos of Buddy. He is just SO sweet! But, once you add in Mark’s and Emily’s exceptional photography and Emily’s clear, descriptive and thorough reporting on all of the places they travel, you’ll be hooked. If you read Trailer Life, Emily’s byline will be a familiar one. It wouldn’t surprise me if she writes for other publications, as well. Plus, these three nomads just finished up a video shoot with Camping World a month or two ago. Emily posted the video on their blog but, what was even more interesting, was her post about how the shoot all came together. It was fascinating and you can find that post on their web site if you’re interested. If you’d like to see photos that will knock your socks off (where did that phrase ever come from?!), this is a great place to go. Just scrolling through Emily’s and Mark’s pics will have you compulsively adding to your bucket list!
Wandering His Wonders (link HERE) – Denisa and Mark Engelman are retirees and full time RVers who travel about the country in their Class A motorhome. This is the blog that I’ve been reading the longest (probably a little better than two years) and it is these people who are single-handedly responsible for the most new additions to our bucket list. Because the Engelmans like to hike, bike and kayak like we do, their adventures hold a particular appeal to me. And, like Phannie and Mae author Mike Mills, Denisa and Mark start with “where we went and what we did” and end up with extremely interesting blog posts that make you feel like you’re actually part of the adventure and not just reading about their experiences. It’s hard to tell exactly who is doing the writing, but I’d place my money on Denisa. Mark, on the other hand, appears to be their “researcher extraordinaire” because he finds answers to questions that would leave me scratching my head just trying to figure out where to begin. Plus, both of their personalities (and senses of humor!) and their love of family and adventure shine through in all of their posts. The more I think about it, the more I believe I owe it to these two to step up my comments on their blog simply because of the amount of pleasure I get out of it.
So, there you have it – my initial Blog Roll. I do read other blogs and it’s probable that I’ll be adding to this list over time. But the blogs I’ve noted are my tried and true favorites as of this point in time. The authors write well, post regularly and respond to visitor comments. I do hope you’ll take the time to visit any or all of them and I would encourage you to leave a comment for the author if you find a blog entertaining or useful. (Bloggers love comments!) If you happen to read a blog that you consider exceptional and that you’d like to share with Reflections Around the Campfire readers, please feel free to do so in the comment section below. Have a delightful day and please come back soon!