Travel Tuesday- Jackson Lake Island 

When my husband and I first started dating it became woefully apparent to him that I was hopelessly out of date when it came to movies. As he listed off his favorite movies I inevitably had not seen it. In those early days we watched one of his favorites, Big Fish. And by watch I mean he watched and I fell asleep somewhere towards the beginning. Nothing against the movie; I just need theatre seats, popcorn, and an Icee to watch a new movie. Regardless of our rocky beginnings, I knew this was a favorite of Austin’s. Awhile back I ran across one of those random articles that shows cool places you could visit. Imagine my surprise when I saw that you can visit The Town of Spectre, the movie set! And it was actually on an island in Alabama! When we lived in Texas this seems like quite the trek, but once we moved to Mississippi it was more plausible. After following Jackson Lake Island on Facebook (link), I found that you not only can visit; but you can camp there too! And there the idea was born… Betty would be making a trip to Millbrook, Alabama. And let me tell you, it was magical. Take my shoes Spectre, I never wanted to leave! ​
The Camping 
This isn’t your traditional campground. We would hazard to say this wasn’t the original plan, but it is growing nicely. They don’t take reservations, but we did let them know we were coming and bringing a bus. They have a limited number of hook ups, but we lucked out with an electric only spot on the water. They have a nice, new bath/restroom house that Bobby cut a path to for us. Bobby went out of his way to make sure we had the hookups we needed, toured my husband around the island, and checked on us daily. They have a few RV spots, and some primitive spots for tent campers or boondockers. 

Activities 
The number one attraction here is obviously the movie set. They have a good number of the set buildings from Spectre still up, a sign, the hanging shoes, and the two big set trees. Away from there they also have where Jenny’s house used to stand. Nature has caused it to go away, but it still has the columns and a sign explaining the spot. This place is also perfect for fishing, boating, and enjoying nature. I read an entire book in the peaceful setting on the island. 



We got some rain in Sunday morning. It worked out well because we cooked breakfast and watched Big Fish on the iPad to pass the storm. 

Meals Trips & Tricks 
The main meal we did up right was breakfast. 
On the first day we relied on an old favorite, sausage and potato hash with scrambled eggs. Honestly this is one of my favorites. Basically you cook up a pound of breakfast sausage in your electric skillet. I throw in some butter and add frozen potatoes. You tend to it for awhile, adding butter as needed for the “fry” feel and seasoning. Once you can just about done, throw on some cheese and let it melt. Talk about filling and perfect for a day full of adventure. 


Our second breakfast was a little more adventurous. Started with a good ole pack of bacon and then disaster struck. I didn’t have oil for the waffle mix. But we did have bacon grease! Into the mix it went and it was perfect! Didn’t taste bacon and the waffles cooked perfectly. This will be my go to in order to avoid packing another ingredient for trips. 


Our clear winner was a BuzzFeed find… TATOR TOT WAFFLES! What?! Yes… we cooked tots in a waffle iron and I was in love. Crispy and delicious. One of the best meals in a long time out at the camp site. Heart eyes for days here 😍😍


Local Attractions 
Off the island you are really close to Montgomery. If you are there during baseball season, do yourself a favor and go see the Montgomery Biscuits. They are a minor league team, but man are the games fun! Modestly priced seats and honestly the best souvenirs around. 


Final Thoughts 
This island is magical. I can see why they filmed the movie there and I feel like I left part of my heart there. Bobby runs the place and I have decided he is one of the most interesting men alive. You’ll have to find out why for yourself. Go here. Stay here. Watch the movie here. Pass the time in this little corner of the world, I promise you won’t be disappointed.  

Travel Tuesday- Huntsville State Park

Growing up my family had a lake house about 30 minutes from this park. When I was a teenager I went to a camp 20 minutes from the park. But somehow I never actually went to this park, which is a real shame. This place is beautiful and quickly became a favorite spot for us. It’s crazy to think a place so wonderful is only an hour from our house! 
We took this little weekend get away with my parents and their RV. 
Where

Huntsville State Park

In the middle of the Sam Houston National Forest. 


The Camping

We are relatively new to camping in state parks, but HAVE YOU SEEN THESE SHELTERS?! We didn’t have one, but I’m loving this screened in concept… Especially for our friends who tent camp. There are a lot of spaces for RVs, skoolies, and tents. Each spot is unique, but there is a book at front with pictures that helps to decide which spot is best for you. 


Activities

This park has a good variety of activities. They have hiking, boating, fishing, biking, and horseback riding. We actually did a lot of the activities and it was awesome! 
There are a couple different places to fish at. We were parked right next to a dock and we had pretty good luck with worms. I don’t think I never saw this dock empty. We did spot some gators, which was pretty neat! 


My mom and I went canoeing! They have canoes, kayaks, and paddle boats for rent. The lake was really smooth and a good workout. If you are an experienced paddler I would leave the general area where everyone else is paddling and take your own adventure. Will definitely canoe again here! 


I also went on a solo hike! I haven’t done this in years, but it was really nice. I’m already jonesing to get out there again. Just a short 45 minute hike (half in rain), but I enjoyed it. Especially this bench to take in the scenery! 


Meal Tips & Tricks

We had a few AWESOME meals. Friday night we used our new mini grill to to grill some pre marinated pork chops. I then used the electric skillet to make cheesy potatoes(recipe coming soon!). To round out the meal we had a salad… Note to self: Always bring a bagged salad! This was stupid easy. 


If you follow us on Instagram, you know we’ve been experimenting will making biscuits in an electric skillet. 3 attempts later and we still aren’t there yet, but our alternative was awesome! We did Sprite biscuits with jalapeños and cheese, but cooked them like pancakes. They were delicious! Our other breakfast included browned breakfast sausage with shredded potatoes and cheese. We loved using our new electric skillet! 


Local Attractions

If you are ever in Huntsville, make sure you stop by City Hall Pie Bar! We stopped by the try the pie and ended up getting some appetizers too. They had pretty good cheese and bacon potato wedges and homemade tater chips. For dessert I got the chocolate cream and Austin got the blackberry cobbler. Both were good calls! This place is really cutely decorated too… Shabby chic, but in a manly way. They had a lot of elements that guys would like. 


We got breakfast one morning at Toasted. We’ve been here before, so it’s a favorite of ours. Sometimes the service is slow, but it’s worth it. Wonderful biscuits, good breakfast variety, but skip their coffee. Prices are reasonable and they have booze! 


Growing up I watched them build the statue of Sam Houston. Somehow I have never actually stopped to look at him in the twenty something years he has been up. This changed with this trip! Austin and I went and looked at this statue up close. It was pretty cool and created some fun photo opportunities.

Final Thoughts

We loved it here! I seriously can’t believe a place so perfect for a weekend getaway is this close to home. I’m glad Austin and I got our Texas State Parks passes so we can have some cheaper weekend getaways. Can’t wait to go back!! 

This park also piqued my interest in the CCC. I can’t wait to learn more about this program through the parks we visit. 

Travel Tuesday- Lazy L and L [River Trip]

Traveling is so much fun when traveling with friends. This is the second year Austin and I have floated with a group of people we volunteer with. They made the trip so fun, so read on! 
Where

Lazy L & L Campground

River Road- New Braunfels, Texas
The Camping

This campground has it all! Camping spots, full hook up RV spots, etc. They also have a general store, food truck, and a pavilion with a bar and live music.


Austin and I always camp on the riverfront and we highly recommend it! It was crazy seeing Betty as we floated down the river.

Isn’t Betty cute from the river?

Activities

The number one thing to do here is TUBE!! This was the whole purpose of this trip and it couldn’t have been better. With this campground you can rent tubes, cooler tubes, or a river radio. When you pay for the tube, it includes a ride back from the other side of the river. Pretty standard practice. I brought my own tube, but Austin rented one and a cooler. The cooler tube covered my ride back! If you bring your own tube you do have to buy a ride back.

My hubby rocked a sparkly hat on the river… We shall call him “Sparkles”

There is a pavilion that plays music has a bar for the weekends. Austin and I are always too tired to go, but everyone who went loved it.

Meal Tips & Tricks

Since we came with a group our meals were luckily covered, but I will share some fun tips!

My mom flips some pretty good burgers.

Grilled Biscuits- That’s right, you can grill biscuits! We used the pop can biscuits, flaky worked best. Just throw on a pan and grease the biscuits and cover. We flipped them so they browned both sides. We smothered with sausage gravy and were ready to float the river!

Breakfast of champions! Grilled biscuits and sausage gravy

River Sandwiches- SKIP THE SANDWICH BREAD! After a day floating the river the regular bread gets gummy and does a poor job soaking up the booze you drank that day. I always pack a sandwich on a pretzel roll and luckily my H-E-B has green chili and cheese or bacon and cheese topped pretzel rolls. They hold up really well in the cooler and are super satisfying on the river. We fill with deli meats and cheeses… They also do an excellent job of holding up. I individually bag the sandwiches so everyone gets what they want.

River sandwich bread!

Beverages- Real talk… It would taken an entire other post to share the different “beverages” I made for this occasion. Stay tuned another time friends.

Local Attractions

On this trip we stayed at the campground and river, but I’ve been to the part of Texas a few times to know where you need to go!
There are plenty of wineries to hit up if you love wine. The frozen sangria at Dry Comal is amazing and the blueberry wine at Winery on the Gruene.
Gruene is always a good call. They have the oldest dancehall in Texas, cute shops, and good food! The Gristmill is a great stop as well! Real talk, now I am jonesing for a trip to Gruene.

The drive down River Road is beautiful

Final Thoughts

This was such a great trip with wonderful friends. Betty got to meet a lot of new people and we had an awesome time! Thank you so much to Diana D. for setting up this trip… It was the perfect, relaxing trip. You and I your cavalry family rock! Can’t wait to hit the river again next year!

Awesome shirt from Lazy L&L and river trip bandanna! 

Thanks for following the adventure,

Ashley

Travel Tuesday- Sea Rim State Park [Sabine Pass, Texas]

The adventure of #BettyTheBus doesn’t end with the renovation, in fact that was just the first leg of our journey.

 

I think the best part of this adventure is the excuse and desire to GO. In our day and age it is easy to focus on work and let our freedom take a backseat.  Having a beautiful, functional, and personalized RV has given Austin and I a whole new appreciation for adventures. As we travel I will review the places to go and give some insight as to what you can do!

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Where

Sea Rim State Park- Where marsh grasses meet the surf!

Sabine Pass, Texas

 

The Camping

This park has 15 camping spots (plug in and water) and some primitive beach camping. I really enjoyed how spaced out the sites were. The campsites have marshes surrounding them, so come prepared with bug spray!

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Betty parked at our camping spot!
Activities

This park is known for their beach. As with the gulf coast it was a little on the brown side, but it was still nice! There are 3 sections of beach; 2 on each end that can be driven on and a middle section that is only available by walking by bridge over the swamp area. We spent our time on the middle beach and it was wonderful! Not many people and fairly clean. We brought chairs, a pop-up tent, and food/drinks. Perfect setup for a beach day. Austin and I gave the beach a try at dusk on our last evening and it was pretty awesome! No need for a tent and super peaceful.

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The beach at sunset
We spent an entire day crabbing at the beach. It was as simple as 2 broom sticks, string, turkey necks, and a net. We caught enough to make stew and boil a few. Make sure you understand the law as far as the correct size they have to be to keep or release back.

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Austin checking the size of a crab he caught. 
If any of you are like me, it’s not a vacation if you don’t read an entire book. I grabbed Elin Hildebrand’s newest summer read on the way out and it was excellent! Honestly, reading a beach book on the beach is really the best. I highly recommend anything by Elin… She does an excellent summer book.

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Confession: I read this entire book here!
The ranger office has fishing poles you can use to fish from shore. If you are fishing in a state park (not from a boat), you don’t need a fishing license. Take advantage of this classic beach pastime. Austin tried his hand at fishing, but we were more focused on crabbing when we were there.

 

One other park activity that we will be taking advantage of next time we visit are the kayaks and canoes they have to rent. They have paddling trails in this park and they looked like a lot of fun. Since we were there in June and weren’t quite ready for Texas heat we skipped this, but we will definitely hit it up when we come in a cooler month.


 Meal Tips & Tricks

 

When camping it is easy to stick to the tried and true camping dishes… We did those and a few others. This is where I’ll share what we ate that worked.

Spaghetti & Meat Sauce Pro Tip: Make your homemade meat sauce before hand and just make the pasta fresh at the site.

Beach Sandwich Pro Tip: Skip the regular loaf bread! Do yourself a favor and get a loaf of bread cut at your bakery… This keeps your sandwiches from feeling “gummy” like a school packed lunch.

Skillet Rice: Don’t have a stove top? No worries! Don’t want to turn on the oven inside when it’s already 80 degrees in there? Go outside! We made crab stew and then cooked our rice in one of those plug-in electric skillets… All outside in the shade.

Breakfast Favorite: On a whim I had Austin brown our breakfast sausage and then add the frozen potatoes we brought. He wasn’t 100% sure at first, but this will definitely be a camping favorite for our electric skillet. I will most likely pre-cook the sausage next time to make breakfast quicker so we can hit the beach earlier.

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Outdoor meal cooking is the best! We caught the crabs here and brought our own H-E-B shrimp. 
Local Attractions

While here we didn’t actually plan to go do anything. We were there to camp, hang at the beach, and that was it. We decided we wanted to eat some local food, so I ask my Aunt where to go. They used to live in one of the neighboring towns, and BOYYYY was that a good idea! She directed us to Sartin’s Seafood in Nederland. This was a 30-ish minute drive each way, but it was so worth it!

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Awesome meal selection. BBQ crab, inside of their crab balls, shrimp po boy, and their crab cake burger
Austin is a little bit of an engineering nerd, so we spent some time sightseeing all the different boats and platforms.

 

There are also a few battleground areas in Sabine Pass to get a taste of history.

 

Final Thoughts

This was an awesome little vacation for us. Our positive experience has given us a new appreciation for the various State Parks that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department have for us to visit across the state. This is a park will visit again and so should you! (Except not all of you… I want a few spots open for us to go to)

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Thanks for following the adventure,

Ashley

Covering those windows [Ashley]

One of the most distinct features of our Skoolie is that all of our windows are still intact… Yes, even the ones in the bathroom. This poses a few problems, most obviously that we would lack privacy. Depending on the time of year, insulation is also another concern. 
Most Skoolie conversions include getting rid of most windows or altering the Windows to avoid these problems. I did not want to do this. Not because we are lazy, but because I had serious dreams of what our windows could me. I imagined sunshine streaming through white eyelet curtains and a light breeze blowing through them. There is something peaceful about that mental image and I knew that what exactly what I wanted. 


Let’s get real… We live in Texas. It gets HOT here and where we hunt it gets COLD. There was no way some breezy little curtain was going to compete with the elements, so off to research I went. My husband showed me all sorts of things we could do to fix this problem, including window tint and some space-age looking fabric. I wasn’t having it. Not quite my style. So I fell back onto an old hobby and some crafting sense. Which I how we ended up with what I call “Window Quilts.” It is exactly what ir sounds like- miniature quilts sewed for the Windows that have magnets to keep them in place. Easy to put up when the weather calls for it, take down when the weather is nice, and throw in the wash when needed. To date we have made one, but it is on my long to-do list to complete Miss Betty. 
Now what about those mystical white curtains? Where do they come from? How do you hang them in a bus? Why are those so many ways to hang curtains? Where do we start?!?


I started in Pinterest and fell in love with galvanized pipe for our curtain rods. And decided I HAD TO do it. Which led to another question. How do you hang curtains on a rod that is permanently attached to a wall? And why do all those solutions cost so much money? It’s cool, I figured a way around both… BINDER RINGS! Yes, those metal rings you used to put index cards together with in high school. They are wicked cheap and easy to find in bulk. 


The curtains themselves I sewed out of white eyelet fabric from Hobby Lobby. I created my own little system to cut each one at a yard increment and went from there. I hemmed 3 of the edges and then added grommets at the top. The grommets HURT SO BAD to put in, but the effect was so worth it. 
I installed galvanized pipes and the curtains for this overall look. I love the way it turned out. We have a few curtains that are hung with magnets where curtain rods aren’t feasible. 
I have a few thank yous for these projects. First and foremost, thank you to my Grandma Larkin and Aunt Darlene. These two ladies took the time to teach me to sew and somehow all these years later, it has stuck. Thanks to Carla for the use of a super awesome sewing machine. Thanks to Joanna for always answering my random sewing and fabric questions, and helping to celebrate my little successes. And thanks to my dad for showing me how to grommet!

We’ve come a long way baby…

We’ve had #BettyTheBus for a little over a year and she has come such a long way! Over the past few months Austin and I have been busy living life and doing projects on Betty in our free time. Over the next few weeks we will be updating you on how we did what we did, but for now… Here she is! 


She is equally pretty on the inside! Here is my favorite shot on the inside, this is the best place for bedtime. 


Stay tuned for more updates!

Austin’s Bus To-Do List

Once the bus is back in Houston I’ll have about 4 months to make it pretty. Our next goal is to have it pretty looking and somewhat nice to camp in by Memorial Day weekend. Every Memorial Day weekend we go up to Oklahoma for my wife’s family reunion. This year we’ll be taking our bus. We bought the bus the weekend after Memorial Day 2015, so I guess that’ll be our one year bus-iversary.
Here’s a preliminary list of the things we need to complete before then:

-Seal windows (I’ve got leaks and now is the best time to fix them)

-Fresh water tank/pump/12V electrical (we can’t camp at that campground Memorial Day weekend without fresh water tanks and a pump. They don’t allow you to stay hooked up to their water for any longer than the time it takes to fill up your fresh water tank)

-Black/gray tanks (I can’t keep using this portable thing forever)

-Finish insulation and wall paneling (since I haven’t actually done much paneling so far, I may be able to go back and take out most of the interior sheet metal and insulate better)

-Finish up electrical and install lighting (right now I’ve only got one circuit connected to the 120V system and no lighting. we’ve got some nice 120V mason jar lights we’re gonna make. I also think I need to contemplate some 12V auxiliary lighting for when we’re not connected to AC power)

-Finish out shower stall (right now it’s just plastic shower curtains taped up. I think we’re gonna go with some sort of corrugated metal design for the shower stall. We also need to come up with a better way to hang the shower curtain)

-Bathroom door (I keep saying I’ll get around to it)

-Vinyl flooring (I’ve gotten several splinters in my feet from the OSB floor this hunting season. Also, my wife wants it to look pretty and she doesn’t like the OSB floor)

-Counter top for bathroom sink (the current counter top is also OSB)

-Finish out dining area (my wife is getting excited about the table top and cushions she gets to make look pretty)

-Safely anchor my wife’s passenger seat and seat belt

-Build cabinets/storage areas under the bathroom sink, under the bed, under the dining area, and under my wife’s passenger seating area

-Make curtains for the windows

-Body work/prep/paint the exterior of the bus

-Paint/trim for the interior of the bus

-If there’s time left, contemplate the kitchen area (I’d like to at least have a fridge and a place to put the coffee pot, but a stove/oven/microwave would be nice too)

I’m sure there are plenty of other things that belong on this list. Progress has been slow these past ten weeks because of hunting season and the 5 hour drive I had to make to work on the bus. Hopefully work will pick up again once I’ve got the bus back home

A very #BettyTheBus Christmas [Ashley]

Hello dear friends! In true form of the holiday seasons, I’d like to take a moment to share our new goodies with you guys! We have a very bus-themed Christmas to help out the progress of Betty…Austin and I are so very lucky to have so many people in our lives that support our bus project and us. 

Here are some of the goodies we got… Can’t wait to put them to good use! 

  
Bless the hearts of my dad and Austin’s dad… We’ve been using their tools for most of this project. This holiday we got a good amount of tools and accessories to make big strides in the form of tool peace. All of these are Austin’s new babies. Pictured is a nice socket set; a toolbox with assorted tools; the start of a Ryobi power tool kit- with power screwdrivers, fan, and light; and a set for turning a 5 gallon bucket into a tool organizer and set, along with a better handle for it. Not too bad! 

  
  
We got some goodies to start stocking our little kitchen! Austin got me a salsa bowl and spoon to match our kitchen. I got him 6 spice holders that can magnet right onto the wall! And since I can hardly function without caffeine, we now have a beautiful Keurig to add to our mix. I guess now is the time for us to start rocking and rolling on building our kitchen. As soon as hunting season is over, you bet I’ll be itching to add that on. 🙂 

  
 
  
I am lucky that I have a sister-in-law who is a graphic designer with access to making vinyl! I can’t wait to cash in our gift certificate to get Betty’s vinyl work done. Here is the design that Carla has made for Betty 🙂 

  
I think one of the best #BettyTheBus gifts was the ones we gave each other. We had no idea that we were on the same wavelength here… I got Austin a small canvas print of us and the bus while he got a cute bus picture frame for the same picture of us. What can I say? Great minds think alike. 

  
Since it is December 27th, I’d like to wish my sweet husband a Happy 2nd Anniversary to us! Life with you  is certainly an adventure and I’m glad we brought #BettyTheBus into the mix. I love you 🙂

Merry belated Christmas friends, 

Ashley 

Nightstands- The tops! And a completed project [Ashley]

You know a project is intense when it calls for two blogs posts. Really, the bottom and tops of my nightstand project were so drastically different from each other that I couldn’t group them together. 

I decided long ago that I wanted to use this technique from Pinterest to do our dining room table. Once I saw that our nightstands were missing a top, this became a good way to practice this technique. 

  
Austin ordered the stencils from Cutting Edge Stencils. I spent a good amount of time researching the method and creating a shopping list of supplies. After a trip to Lowe’s we were ready for some crafting! 
I decided to line up my two nightstand tops and paint their stencils at the same time. I rolled the paint on and moved the stencil to make sure the whole thing was covered. I let the boards dry for 24 hours. 

  
The next day I stained these beauties. The stain is darker than I anticipated, but I like the way it turned out! I let this dry a day as well. 

  
The next day I put on two coats of poly on. One in the morning and one in the evening. This was a fairly painless process and I like the sheen it put on the boards. 

  
At this point then drawers and tops made the trip out west unattached to each other. This was a mistake on my part… They made it through on rain and the tops actually got a little warp… To make sure the tops stayed flat I cheated and put screws directly through the top into the drawer bottoms. One day I may countersink them to hide the screws, but for now they blend pretty well. 

  
Here is my completed project installed in the bus! I love how they turned out and they work really well in Betty 🙂 

  

Nightstand- The adventure of the bottom half [Ashley]

Once upon time I took a buildings class in college. This coupled with the many projects my dad worked on with me and the countless hours I’ve spent on Pinterest, I really wanted to make a solid effort on refurbishing the nightstands we are using for Betty. 

During one of Austin’s trips to ReStore (an awesome place that sells building supplies and the profits support the NW Houston Habitat for Humanity) he found a set of cabinets that he wanted to used for the nightstands. They needed some TLC and after some time chilling in our garage, I found the inspiration to refurb them. 
I brought them inside to get a feel for what I was working with. I got the feeling that they used to be a part of a kitchen or bathroom with lighting underneath. I removed the lights, the wood underneath that held the light, and spent a good amount of time trying to remove random nails that used to hold the cabinets in place. Basically I just made a lot of noise and created a box of trash. I then used a magic eraser to get some of the old grime off. 

  
At this point I called in my dad with his sander to help get things sanded down for paint. There was plenty of wood putty used to build up some broken spots and sanding to get things pretty. 

  
Once they were good to go, I primed them to get them ready for paint. I’m notoriously bad with paint, so I may of made a little mess in the cleanup process. Dang you primer! 

  
I then painted these bad boys a plain white so we could give it a nice pop with drawer pulls and a cool tabletop. The final parts of this project are in the next post! 

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