How RVers Chronicle Their Journeys
How RVers Chronicle Their Journeys
5 examples of special ways to commemorate travel moments.
By: Noel Fleming & Chris Miller
Stories. We are our stories. They link us to our history, give meaning to our present, and inspire the volumes yet to come. As travelers, the desire to remember our stories resonates in a whole new way.
Here are some special ways some RVers have chosen to chronicle their travel journeys:
1. A Meaningful Story Catcher
Above the dinette in our Winnebago EKKO, hangs a 5 x 8 frame. It is our story-catcher. Aside from documenting our travels via Instagram (chrisandnoel), writing for the GoLife blog, and testing the limits of iCloud photo storage, we wanted a tangible item. Something we would see every day that would highlight a piece of our story.
The frame’s contents are updated on a continuous basis, whenever a new salient memory is deemed worthy to take its place. We pop the present item out of the frame, move it to the back, and insert the new visual for our current narrative.
At first the frame held a thank you note from a fellow RVer. Over time, its contents included a map of Kings Canyon National Park, artwork highlighting Dark Sky areas, a restaurant receipt from Magnolia Table where Chip and Jo picked up our breakfast tab, a travel poem crafted on a vintage typewriter by a poet at a farmers’ market in Durham, NC, and a beer label featuring an RV from a brewery in Rochester, NY. Each time a new item is placed in the frame, the former item is added to our archived collection.
2. Stitching Cherished Memories
Andy and Jeanie Bienvenu bought their first Winnebago in 1983. They were inspired by Andy’s parents and sister who already owned Winnebagos. Immediately they became very active in local clubs and state chapters. Around that same time, Jeanie attended a wedding where guests signed a tablecloth; these signatures would be embroidered over and the cloth would be a lasting keepsake for the bride and groom. Jeanie loved this idea and thought it would be a perfect way to keep track of the people they connected with while RVing.
Over decades, this tablecloth has been signed by friends from local group camp outs, participants of over 10 RV caravans that they have led, and at special events like Winnebago’s annual rally in Forest City, Iowa.
Jeanie states that she’s become pretty swift at embroidering over the tablecloth signatures. As a child, Jeanie’s mom taught her how to sew and embroider. Jeanie used that skill to sew and embroider clothes for their three daughters. The girls loved it when she embroidered designs on their jean pockets. Later their granddaughters asked Jeanie for personalized monograms.
The tablecloth continues to be a labor of love for her to complete while relaxing and watching TV. The tablecloth reminds them of the people they’ve met along the road and prompts conversation with new travelers.
Andy is a skilled storyteller. One look at a signature reminds him of tales that he uses to recall stories with old friends or to introduce newcomers to former RVers and past events.
Jeanie chose wisely when she selected a special linen for the tablecloth as Andy and Jeanie are known for sharing and serving their phenomenal Jambalaya on this very fabric. It has been laundered many times and remains a family favorite whether they are on the road in their Winnebago Sunstar or at home where it gets pulled out for special occasions.
3. Artistic Keepsakes
According to Jill Hawk, she has been an artist her whole life. When she was young, her parents supported and encouraged her creative sketching and painting. Her love of travel was also prompted by her parents. She readily recalls family trips to the Smokey Mountains and Mammoth Cave and credits her Mom with her current love of travel.
While visiting the national parks, she participated in a variety of kid hours at the parks. Many years later, Jill became a National Park Ranger and served for 26 years before retiring and buying her first motorhome, a Winnebago Aspect.
In 2016 she and her wife Di set off on her retirement adventure. They completed a circle tour of eight national parks and a number of historical sites. It was on this trip that she started documenting their journey with a sketch a day.
When time permitted, she would often sit, sketch, and paint on location. Creating the art keeps her present due to the level of focus required to attend to even the smallest details of her work. For her it’s meditative, calming, and relaxing. It requires her to be in the moment and sharpens her senses to all that’s around her.
When they added dogs to their family, she didn’t have as much time to paint on location. She adapted her process by sketching on site and painting later, using a photograph to recall the distinct colors of the landscape or scene. Jill’s collection of sketchbooks is organized by trips or time periods. When they recently spent almost six months in Alaska, the result was six sketchbooks. There were too many memories to capture in a single volume.
In her own words, “the sketchbook extends the memories of the trips. Each time I revisit the pages, it’s like taking the trip over again.”
4. Small, but Meaningful Mementos
Vanessa Herbst and her partner George have been collecting pins for the past five years of their RV travels. She says that while she was not a collector in her younger days, she wanted to collect representations of the amazing places they have travelled in their Winnebago Travato.
Vanessa stated that she was very intentional in both what to collect and the criteria for making the cut. Size was the initial reason for choosing to collect pins as they are small but also, being an artist herself, she was drawn to the artistry of the different shapes and colors. The criteria is simply that she and George must do something active in that area.
The pins, secured to easily mounted cork boards, serve as both a gallery and a reminder of the recreational areas they have enjoyed. When the van slider door is open, the collection is clearly visible which has generated many conversations with other campers or a passersby.
In fact, when crossing the border, the Mexican Border Patrol officers visibly enjoyed the art display and wanted to touch the pins. Vanessa loves that this display location invites conversation and story sharing with others.
As far as which pins to choose, Vanessa states that she and George usually agree. She indicated that one of her most memorable pins is Chiricahua National Monument due to its beautiful, rugged wilderness. Another favorite is Blue Mounds State park in Minnesota. Their experiences there included hiking and rock climbing while enjoying the beauty of the prairie grass, waterfalls, and bison.
5. Photo Journaling
Becky Ratliff has been journaling for the past year, and her personal mantra is to take advantage of every moment! Through written word she records memories about people, sites, and campgrounds that she and her wife Terry Sue have enjoyed. Becky doesn’t just document the where’s, she delves into the why’s of what brings meaning to her experiences.
Recently she acquired a Canon Ivy 2 Bluetooth which turns photos into small pictures with an adhesive backing. These photo stickers, when added to her journal pages, prompt memories to highlight in her journal. She says that a picture truly is worth a thousand words, particularly since she went through a health scare that impacted her memory. The photos make her both happy and grateful for their journeys.
While being a masterful artist with 3D clay and glass, she initially struggled with journaling. The photo prompt is a necessary component for capturing the moments and recalling her stories.
By chronicling our stories, we preserve the memories for ourselves and to share with others along the way. As an RVer, how do you document your story?
Comments on this post are moderated, so they will not appear instantly. All relevant questions and helpful notes are welcome! If you have a service inquiry or question related to your RV, please reach out to the customer care team directly using the phone numbers or contact form on this page .