By Susan Van Arsdale
Published in The Burg July 29, 2021
Carol and Robert Robison left Illinois a year ago. They sold their house, sold or gave
away most of their possessions, bought a camper and a pick-up truck to pull it, and took off to see the United States.
During the first leg of their journey they have visited 10 states and stayed in 12 campgrounds in the southeast region of the country. They are now back in Illinois for a couple of weeks to see friends and family. That is a long vacation.
Carol said, “We don’t consider that we are on a trip as much as this is just the way we
live. We don’t usually stay in any one location more than a month, and we want to see all of the 48 lower states in four years.
As they reminisced about their journey so far, Carol said, “Every day, every place, has a
special place in our hearts.” However, they admitted that Arkansas was one of their favorite places to stay.
As they travel, they always look for opportunities to serve others. “God has been our pilot
all the way and we look to Him daily for opportunities to serve Our desire is to spread love and encouragement everywhere we go.”
In Arkansas they hiked up Sugar Loaf Mountain where the view was amazing, but they were shocked by the piles of garbage at the top. “After making inquiries, we hiked back up the following week armed with garbage bags. We had 2 ½ hours to gather as much as we could and get it back down the mountain before the boat came back to pick us up.”
Often they find a church near their campsite and do whatever they can to help the people
there. They have cleaned church buildings, worked in gardens, done yard work, made new friends and prayed with them.
The most moving experience they had was visiting Vicksburg National Military Park in
Mississippi. Veterans groups and states from both sides have placed more than 1,400
monuments, there as a testimony to the courage and sacrifice of blue and gray alike, and to help with the healing and reuniting of the nation.
Carol said one of the activities they really enjoyed most was they went on a 15 mile
kayaking trip on Sugar Creek in Turkey Run State Park that took them under three covered
bridges. They carry two kayaks inside their camper when they travel so they they always look for a campground with a body of water.
They also golfed in every state they visited. The best campground they found was in
Georgia because it had its own nine hole golf course.
Robert said he has learned that “I don’t need much. Our life has become been very
deliberate and uncomplicated. Our calendar has no agenda as we take each day as it comes.” Of course there are things they miss, like a full sized oven and reliable Internet, but they love being outside and being active. They have also found that the local libraries are willing to loan them books while they are in the area.
They found out that maybe the most difficult thing they faced the entire trip was getting a new mattress inside the camper, around the corner, up three steps and into a very small bedroom.
Then they decided maybe it was the time they came to a closed road and had to back up the camper and truck around a very sharp u-curve. Robert said, “When we get ourselves into a situation we just take a deep breath and wait for God to get us out.” And pretty soon someone came along and offered to help them figure out how to get turned around.
This time of July in Illinois has been filled with family and friends, and they have enjoyed it all tremendously, but Carol said, “The road is calling us. We really do enjoy this vagabond life style.” They take off for South Dakota and the Southwest next week.
(Susan is a retired English teacher from the Monmouth area who writes a monthly column for The Burg called Senior Travel.)