Van Life Travels: An update and reminder during uncertain times surrounding the Coronavirus

A reminder that travel is a privilege and we have a responsibility to be put others first and pay attention.

These are uncertain times. ⁣

Where should we go?⁣
What will the government do next?⁣
Will borders close?⁣
Will we have enough food and water? ⁣
How will people respond and react to the unknown?⁣
Will our parents & grandparents be ok?
Our family who work in police, hospitals and as emergency responders, are they safe?⁣

In this season of our lives, we are privileged to have choices. We do not have jobs and children to consider. We have the ability to self isolate in our van sure, but we still need food and gas…⁣

I am torn about what to post and what to say, I hope your social media is staying a positive place through all this. We don’t feel panic but we feel a heavy sense of responsibility right now.⁣

In being good neighbors, good citizens of the world, we have a responsibility to listen to legitimate sources like the WHO and protect ourselves and protect others. A big message has been limit unnecessary travel…and for most of us on the road, in the van life and rvlife community…

listen up that’s us…

Stay put, this might seem like a great time for a trip to wherever…it’s not. Your travels are not more important than the communities you touch along the way.⁣

This is an inconvenience to us, we’re missing out sure, but it’s so much more to so many others. Our hearts go out to everyone, people are being impacted physically, emotionally and financially, and we owe it to them to behave responsibly. ⁣

Traveling is a luxury and a privilege, as part of the travel and van life communities I don’t want to spread fear, this serves no one, I want to spread the idea that, if this all amounts to nothing, you have lost very little by staying still and paying attention right now. ⁣

You can use this time to catch up, rest, save money, learn something new, call your grandparents. It doesn’t matter what side of this you are on, hopefully, this all blows over and the decisions were overkill but in the meantime friends. Slow down, lay low, wash your hands and remember this isn’t just about you.⁣

Our family pretty much unanimously agrees that they want us back in Canada, and we are on board for that. So instead of finishing up our time in the south with epic adventures, we are finishing up with long driving days.

We will also self isolate for 14 days when we get back as recommended by health authorities in Canada.

Sending Love from the road,

Kira, Logan & Holly🐾

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Finding Free Camping In Junction, Texas

So excited to share this free camping in Junction, Texas!

We have now made the journey across southern U.S several times. We have taken different routes but often find ourselves at some point on Interstate 10 in Texas. It is a long stretch from San Antonio to El Paso or from the Guadalupe Mountains to the Gulf coast, and finding free spots along the interstate can be a little underwhelming.

Free Camping in Junction Texas

Fort Stockton Walmart & Dominos Again…

Most of the spots you find along the way come in the form of rest stops, picnic areas, truck stops and Walmarts. We have stayed at the Walmart in Fort Stockton on 3 separate occasions now. Rest stops in Texas are also really nice and well maintained. We appreciate these types of stopovers to break up a long driving day and rest our heads for a night. But they aren’t really the places we hope to camp along the way.

Free Camping in Junction Texas Van Life

Our most recent trip from the Guadalupe Mountains along I-10 heading East brought us to the little town of Junction, Texas. This sleepy little town lies on the shores of the Llano River.

Free Camping in Junction Texas Van Life, Texas, Roadtrip,

We were fortunate to make it to Junction and have a few quieter days to enjoy our free campsite and explore the town.

There are several options for camping around Junction. These included Llano River State Park and a few RV parks. We were stoked to find a super picturesque free spot right on the river.

Free Camping in Junction Texas

Schreiner Park is a county park located on the west bank of the South Llano River. The park allows 3 days of free dry camping!

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The park offers: an outdoor community pool, the home of the women’s softball team, beach volleyball courts, playgrounds, a huge picnic area, and a massive community smoker.

This area was devastated earlier this year by flooding, and we did see some of the aftermath. The city park across the river as well as the RV Park were being repaired.

But as far as free camping in Texas goes this spot was pretty perfect.

When we arrived most of the pull-through spaces with covered picnic tables and barbecues were actually being used by locals. So we opted to pull right along the bank of the river. I think the park is actually more dedicated to day use, but no one seemed to be spending time in the area we parked.

We enjoyed hot Sunny days with the park basically all to ourselves. Got to take a few dips in the river to cool off. Long walks with Holly, and she loved swimming in the river. Park workers, as well as police randomly made rounds throughout the day so we always felt safe. Every time a local drove by they smiled and waved.

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The park is clean and well kept. There are restroom facilities that leave a little to be desired, but if you need a free washroom this park has it. Covered picnic tables and BBQs are scattered through the park.

The pool was not open while we were here but if the timing worked out it’s $2 to use the public outdoor pool and I would assume that there are showers available here.

While you’re here pop into town grab a bite at the local diner, visit quaint local shops, take a scenic drive, grab an ice cream cone and slow down. Don’t forget to take your camp chair over and cheer on the Eagles Ladies Softball Team!

If you enjoyed this info on Free Camping in Junction, Texas check out our visitor guide to Big Bend National Park

Louisiana ~ Off The Beaten Trail

Full-Time Van Life Travel: Louisiana has so many hidden gems!

Visiting Louisiana ~ Off The Beaten Trail. Last year we saw New Orleans and Natchitoches in Louisiana. Both offered amazing history and culture (and a visit with my rad cousin). It was awesome, but this year we decided to take a slower quieter route through the south.

Louisiana ~ Off The Beaten Trail van life dog

Logan has been really enjoying birding this year, it is something he has always been in to. Now with decent binocs and a new spotting scope he is stepping it up a little.

Louisiana ~ Off The Beaten Trail Birding, Free Camping,  Vanlife

So we found some new great spots. We experienced a quiet, wild and beautiful side of Louisiana. This trip included almost 100 birds species, and some amazing free camp spots.

Big Branch Wild Life Refuge

Our first stop. There is no fee to visit the refuge that is located just outside of Slidell, north of New Orleans.

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For birders, Pelicans, Egrets, Herons, and other waterfowl are out in full force. A highlight was seeing the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker, which is rare and considered endangered.

Birding, Louisiana, Travel Tips, Free Camping,Wildlife Refuge, Vanlife

There are boardwalks and trails throughout the refuge. Access was easy, narrow paved roads lead to large gravel lots. No garbage or toilets so these areas are pack in pack out.

We also drove south of Lacombe and watched the birds put on a show during a gorgeous sunset. We boondocked at a boat launch which is also an area where manatees can some times be spotted, though we didn’t see them.

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Our spot was quiet but buggy, as we learned that is to be expected all along the water and bayou areas.

Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge

Tucked way off highway 10 just east of Lafayette. Driving out to this spot was a little intimidating. You are in hunting territory.

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Trailers and hunting cabins have a real backwoods vibe to them, we even saw hog heads mounted on someone’s fence posts.

That being said the reserve is really beautiful, it is a forest on the banks of the Atchafalaya River. It was very quiet overnight. Our free spot backed onto the river. Practically perfect except for hunters we hear shooting in the morning. Update** There are designated free campsites in the WMA please find them here

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Also, this was the first time we saw warnings in the south for Bears!

Lorraine Park

We discovered that there is a Parish Park system that is made up of small parks with limited sites for RVs and campers.

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This little park outside of Bell City and Hayes has 9 spaces with power and potable water. It also offers shower, washrooms, and a dump station…for $12 per night!

The park has a boat launch and backs onto Lacassine Bayou. Owls, gators and the chance to see manatees. This park was perfect.

You are tucked away, it felt like a bit of a locals secret. The park is next to the Lorraine Bridge which is a historic spot. A resilient little bridge that has been knocked down and rebuilt to connect two parishes several times since the 1800s.

Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge

This was an interesting loop drive with birding aplenty, and gators galore. Whistling ducks were a highlight during our visit.

The loop is an unmaintained dirt road and it is overgrown in a lot of spots. Bumpy doesn’t begin to describe it, we actually drove on the grass in certain parts, following the lead of vehicles that were way better equipped to handle it.

From Lacassine we wandered down to Rutherford Beach, it is a pretty popular boondocking spot. Our experience was short and not great. It was intensely foggy and buggy. Beach camping and porta-potties, for free. But our van actually got overrun with mosquitoes and we had to high tail it out of there. We spent the night casino camping and clearing out the van in Lake Charles.

Sabine National Wildlife Refuge

We stopped off and did a couple of walks through this refuge. This is part of the Creole Nature Trail. We spotted some Rosette Spoonbills but missed the local gators. Definitely, a nice spot to stop and check out.

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Holly Beach

Our last night in Louisiana we boondocked at Holly Beach. There is hard-packed sand at the end of the road, it was super quiet, and we only had one neighbor. It was free and with no one around Holly finally got to run and play in the water.

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The downside to this area on the gulf coast is being able to see the offshore oil rigs.

Next stop Texas!
Tell us some of your favorite places in Louisiana!