8 Favorite Destinations, Year 4

Hike to Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii

Four years ago we set out to travel the country fulltime in an R.V. When people asked us how long we planned to live in a motor home, the best answer we could give them was “until we’re done.” We didn’t know how long it would take for us to see everything we wanted to see or how long we’d enjoy (or tolerate) living in what amounts to a fancy truck. We now know.

It took us just shy of four years to zigzag across the country from Maine to San Diego and make the roughly 250 other stops we wanted in between. Year four took us along the West Coast, out to Hawaii and up to Alaska, where we completed our westward migration.

With our domestic travels largely completed, we traded in our motor home for a couple of backpacks and set off to see the wider world.

If you ask us now how long we plan to travel this way, lugging all our worldly possessions on our backs, the best we can tell you is “until we’re done.” We may not know the path ahead, but we do have pretty clear recollections of the year we’re leaving behind.

With that in mind, here’s a list of our favorite destinations from our fourth full year of fulltime travel. As always with these posts, the destination header links to the original blog post on the topic. 

Denali National Park, AK

Mount McKinley Denali National Park

We gave mixed reviews to Denali National Park (and to Alaska more generally), but the sight of Mount McKinley easily ranks among our favorite experiences of the past year. We were extremely fortunate for the rare stretch of clear weather that allowed us to see the mountain in all its glory. The fact that McKinley isn’t always “out” and that Denali’s wildlife population is often in hiding too makes this National Park more of a crapshoot than most of the others we’ve visited. But like the little girl with the curl, when Denali is good, she’s very good indeed.

Whidbey and San Juan Islands, WA

Whidbey Pies Cafe

If parts of Alaska underwhelmed us, Washington’s Whidbey and San Juan Islands delivered far more than we had reason to hope. Instead of pop-up tourist towns we found places with their own distinct centers of gravity. Behind the down-home facades and overflowing wildflowers were real businesses serving real communities and selling real things. More than that, it was just what we needed at the precise moment we needed it.

Castello di Amorosa, CA

Castello di Amorosa, Napa Valley, California

A Tuscan castle cannot, by definition, exist in California’s Calistoga wine country. Nor can this particular castle, completed in 2007, be described as 12th century. Yet, in important ways, Castello di Amorosa is both of those things, and authentically so.

The secret and the story behind this seeming contradiction is what garnered Castello di Amorosa a spot alongside our favorite destinations last year. The fact that it’s a castle right here in the U.S. didn’t hurt either.

Big Sur, CA

Big Sur California

So big we needed two blog posts to cover everything there is to see in California’s Big Sur. But more than just big, this California coastal area is also stunningly beautiful.

Death Valley, CA

Artist Palette, Death Valley National Park, California

If you don’t recall our original post on Death Valley, CA, don’t worry, your memory isn’t failing you. We haven’t yet given this great National Park a proper write-up. We nonetheless wanted to include it in this year’s list not only because it warrants a space on any “Best of” travel round-up, but also because the park’s wonderful diversity reminded us of so many other places we visited throughout the U.S. We simply can’t think of a better capstone to four great years of domestic travels than Death Valley National Park. 

Seward, AK

Alaskan Mountains and Water

Getting there really is half the fun. Even after driving from coast to coast, the 127-mile stretch of road connecting Anchorage, Alaska, to Seward still struck us as the most beautiful drive we had ever done. But that really was only the half of it. Strapping on crampons and hiking up nearby Exit Glacier was the other half.

Segovia, Spain

Segovia Cathedral, Spain

Neither rain, nor blockades, nor errant buses could keep the smiles off our faces while wandering the twisted stone alleys of medieval Segovia, Spain.  

Volcano, Hawaii

Kilauea Lava Flow at Night

Watching lava flow from a live volcano is one of those rare experiences that will be hard to top no matter how long we travel. 


Don’t stop now, there’s plenty more where these came from:

Favorite Destinations, Year One (East Coast U.S.)
Favorite Destinations, Year Two (Mid U.S. and Central America)
Favorite Destinations, Year Three (Western U.S.)



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12 Comments on “8 Favorite Destinations, Year 4”

  1. Rajiv April 30, 2014 at 8:44 am #

    You really do have a mobile home! No masters!


  2. digger666 April 30, 2014 at 9:12 am #

    Reblogged this on digger666.


  3. heavenhappens April 30, 2014 at 11:50 am #

    My the photos are wonderful. What a journey you are making through life, and what memories you will have!


  4. Rock Steele April 30, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

    Thanks for continuing to share your lives with us. Always look forward to your posts. Happy trails!


    • Brian May 1, 2014 at 2:26 am #

      Thanks for following along. We really appreciate it.


  5. Golden Getaway November 10, 2014 at 8:24 am #

    Amazing journey! Very glad to have found you both! We are on a similar path and look forward to reading and learning from you two. cheers x


    • Brian November 11, 2014 at 12:43 am #

      Welcome aboard! We are here to help.


  6. Gretchen Michele Palmer January 22, 2015 at 11:47 pm #

    Just found your Blog today.
    I love to travel and have driven across the US from Alabama to Washington and back several times using a different route each time
    It is amazing the differences just a few miles can bring. I agree with most all your choices for fantastic places…I especially wanted to say that I was very pleasantly surprised at your choice of Whidbey Island, Wa!
    I grew up spending summers on the island with my grandparents, it is indeed a wonderful place. I intend to take my children to explore the shops and Fort Casey when we make one of our trips out west next month (flying this time).
    I have enjoyed catching up on all your posts and I look forward to the future ones!


    • Brian January 23, 2015 at 12:00 am #

      Hi Gretchen. Welcome aboard! We’re glad you’re enjoying our site.

      For us, Whidbey was such a wonderful surprise. We expected a bit of a come-down after spending about a month in Alaska. It was anything but. We really enjoyed it and can’t wait to get back and explore some of the islands we missed.


  7. Anna February 10, 2015 at 10:51 am #

    Hey Brian and Shannon,

    I love the photos you took, especially the once of Death Valley and Seward – they look almost like a result of photoshop. Nature is still the best artist out there!




  1. 8 Favorite Destinations (East Coast Edition) | Everywhere Once - June 19, 2014

    […] Year 4 (U.S. West Coast, Alaska, & Hawaii) […]


  2. 10 Favorite Destinations, Year 5 | Everywhere Once - May 20, 2015

    […] Year 4 (U.S. West Coast, Alaska, & Hawaii) […]


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