Will We Use a Motorhome?

One question Cameron and I kept asking ourselves was, “Will we use a motorhome enough to justify the purchase?” We made lists of trips we could take and compared the price of traveling by motorhome vs. traveling by minivan. We listed the family we can spend time with in other states and countries. Would we travel and visit more if we had a motorhome?

After several conversations, Cameron and I concluded that, for us, a motorhome is a place to sleep that is cheaper than a hotel while also providing a more comfortable way to travel for everyone. The bonus is we can bring our dog, we don’t have to unpack, we can stop when we want, and we can be self-sufficient as we go.

In the end, we knew we liked traveling by motorhome from previous experiences, and we have a dog, Lexi. Having a motorhome allows us to travel with our dog. And take trips that we wouldn’t consider if we had to find a dog sitter or take her with us.

This is Lexi
She sleeps between the front seats while we are driving. She doesn’t really fit there…

We made the purchase two months ago and already went on two trips – one to St. Helena, CA and the other to Montana. The St. Helena trip was basically camping in my in-law’s driveway for a week. We extended the Montana trip to include a quick tour through Alberta and British Columbia before going to Victoria on Vancouver Island to visit my parents.

We may have taken those trips without the motorhome but wouldn’t have stayed as long. The Montana trip was a last-minute trip. It had the potential to be a three day trip to Montana and back for a wedding, and it turned into a two-week adventure in Canada. We wouldn’t have had that flexibility without the motorhome.

So, to answer our question, we will use a motorhome, and we’re ready for our next adventure!

We Bought a Motorhome!

In Australia 3 years ago, we rented a motorhome for ten days and traveled throughout the Northern Territory. We had a wonderful time, and the girls loved it! We have been talking about getting a motorhome ever since and finally purchased one!

Our new home on wheels

Cameron grew up taking vacations in a motorhome around the United States. He always speaks fondly of these adventures. Cameron was concerned that I wouldn’t like traveling around in a motorhome. Little did he know that I grew up tent camping then tent trailer camping around North America. I always envied the people pulling up to their campsite in a motorhome and parking then camp was basically set up. Now we have a home away from home that we can travel where we want with our dog, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, named Lexi.

If you have ever considered purchasing a motorhome, you know there are lots of options. We initially looked at a class B vehicle. I like the class B size because it feels like a big van and I can see over the dashboard. At 5’2”, I need a booster cushion to drive safely in a more traditional class C cab. Unfortunately, the ones we considered don’t fit four adult-size people to sleep. We tried to squeeze in then realized it wouldn’t work for us for any multiple day-journeys. Also, have you seen the prices of those vehicles?! They are way out of our price range for our first motorhome purchase. Maybe when the kids are gone…. 🙂

So, back to looking for the right Class C for our dog and us. RVTrader.com was our starting place. We wanted the shortest vehicle with a cab over bed and no slide-outs. If it was nearby, even better. We weighed model year and mileage against cost. Many Class Cs are rentals until they reach a particular mileage then sold. While these vehicles may be serviced frequently, I wasn’t wholly comfortable purchasing a rental. No one takes care of anything rented as an owner would. We ended up finding a 24’ Gulf Stream in Reno. We went through it last Sunday and made an offer on Thursday which they accepted. There is a queen bed in the back, a double bed over the cab and a u-shaped dining area. It’s compact and perfect for our first motorhome. Bonus, it fits in our parking pad!

The kids quickly claimed the over cab bunk

I’m off now to gather up all the things we need to outfit it for our first trip to Montana for a wedding. And purchase a booster cushion…..

Our Cave House in Oia, Santorini

I’ve mentioned in a past post that we usually stay away from or limit our visits to the most touristy places. We made an exception for Santorini based on a Greek friend’s insistence that we not miss it. We usually don’t listen to those suggestions either, that’s the way we roll.

Anyway, we include Santorini in our itinerary and, after doing some online research, decided to stay in a cave house in Oia.

Me in front of our cave house

As an aside, Home Away doesn’t specify what age a person is considered a child while Airbnb does, and it’s 12 years old. Since my daughters were 12 and 13 years old, they were considered adults on Airbnb. We saved about $100 per night by booking through Home Away. It’s worth looking on multiple platforms before finalizing your booking.

So, Oia. It’s a pedestrian-only cliff town that is very walkable if you are on the main path. There are LOTS of stairs if you venture off it. Most of the accommodations are below the main walkway so it didn’t feel busy near us even when the town was teeming with visitors. Mornings were tranquil, and the walkways cleared out after sunset.

The houses are built into the rock in tiers one on top of the other. Ours had three bedrooms and a powder room inside and the patios out front. Under the top terrace was another bathroom with a shower. It’s unconventional, and it was the best part of our stay in Oia.

To me, Santorini feels utterly different from every other place we went in Greece. Go or not based on what you are looking for.

Quick Trip to Athens

First of all, Athens is an enormous city full of cars, high rises, and lots of people. To get to our Airbnb apartment, we had to drive through it all. Once we found the apartment, parking was another matter…completely non-existent. After we checked in, Cameron and I drove the rental car to the airport then took the train back to the apartment. Thank goodness for Apple Maps!

So, we arrived in the afternoon, and we had the next full day to see everything we wanted then we had a 6 am flight out the following day. Talk about a whirlwind trip to Athens! It turned out perfectly! We visited the Acropolis, the Acropolis museum and did all our shopping in about 36 hours.

We bought sandals from Pantelis Melissinos, the Poet Sandal Maker. If you plan on purchasing some sandals, give yourself lots of time and buy them a day or two before you leave. It’s a busy shop, and they can make adjustments or additions if your sandals don’t work perfectly you. They added additional leather pieces to my daughters’ sandals so their feet wouldn’t slide off the bottom.

The Acropolis is a must-see. Go early. The Acropolis museum was beautiful and sad. Many ancient artifacts had been removed years and years ago for “safekeeping” in London at the British Museum. There are replicas in Athens, so you have to use your imagination…a lot.

There was an impressive lego replication of the Acropolis that had a miniature Gandalf for some reason. We were entertained.

Next, it’s on to Oia, Santorini….

On to Delphi

After two nights in Kastraki, we left for Delphi. It’s a 3-hour drive through the countryside. Did you know that there is a lot of cotton grown in Greece? I didn’t. We passed by many fields.

Driving in Greece is relatively straight forward. The roads aren’t busy, but there are tolls. It seems like a lot of tolls. You will need cash and change. There is always a lane with an attendant, so you can pay and get change.

Delphi is basically on the side of a mountain, so the views are impressive. From the village, you can walk to the ancient sites and the museum on a flat walkway, once you get to the main street. Delphi has a lot to offer, considering its’ small size. There are lots of restaurants, hotels, and shops to accommodate all. We found the best takeout gyros in Delphi, at Dionysios Souvlaki Gyro Shop. It’s on the one way street the buses take through town as they head back to Athens. We enjoyed it so much that we went back again the next day! We ate so fast we didn’t take any pictures.

There are two ruins to visit: the ones you have to pay to see and the ones across the road that you do not have to pay to see. They are both worth the visit. The museum is interesting, too. My mythology loving daughters loved it all!

The Theatre at the Sanctuary of Apollo
Sanctuary of Athena

Delphi is a cute little town that can be covered in one full day. 

Cliff Top Monasteries

I had never heard of Meteora until my husband Cameron started talking about it. He kept telling me about a scene from a James Bond movie that was filmed in Greece, and there were cliffs. It was not a lot to go on, but we discovered Meteora once we started our online search.

It looked interesting, so we put it on our agenda. Meteora is the main reason we didn’t drive a loop from Athens and back. Instead, we flew in to Thessaloniki, in the northeast part of mainland Greece. Meteora is a three-hour drive from the airport, so that was reasonable. We had a SIM card and used the phone to direct us. It was easy.

We stayed in the little town just before you get to the monasteries. It’s called Kastraki. Kalabaka is larger with lots of restaurants and more nightlife. We enjoyed the restaurants in Kastraki, and it was very quiet at night.

Kastraki, in the shadows of the cliff top monasteries

There are five monasteries and one nunnery that can be visited. They all close for one day each week, and it’s a different day for each place. These monasteries and nunnery are on the top of seemingly inaccessible cliff tops. That these were built in the 1500s is a remarkable architectural and engineering feat.

You can drive around all the monasteries on a one-way road and stop and visit the ones you want. You can also walk from monastery to monastery. Warning, it would be a long walk with lots of ups and downs.

The views are beautiful, and many people come out to see the sunset each day. It’s a very peaceful place.

Planning Our Greek Adventure

Early last year we were planning a Fall holiday overseas. We originally were going to go to Scotland but thought the weather in October would be too cold so we looked for a Southern Europe destination that would be warm and ended up in Greece for two weeks.

OK, Greece it is. Now, where to go? Lots of people had recommendations for us, and almost all of them said to go to the islands. Our kids are big fans of mythology and history, so we had to include some ancient sites, too. Cameron wanted to see Meteora, one of the locations where “For Your Eyes Only” was filmed. How much time did we have?!

We planned on driving and didn’t have time to do a loop, so we flew to Thessaloniki and drove to Kastraki, in the shadows of Meteora. From there we drove to Delphi then on to Athens. Next, we flew to Santorini to stay in Oia then on to Crete.

A monastery in Meteora

We usually stay away from the tourist scene but made an exception for Santorini. A Greek friend of ours said we couldn’t go to Greece and not go to Santorini. Fine, we’ll go there. Oia is a pedestrian-only town that is lovely to wander through early in the morning.

Oia, Santorini at sunrise

Crete was a complete unknown for us. It just happens to be the most southern Greek island, and we figured it would be the warmest by later October. We were looking for some time at the beach.

So, that is our plan in a nutshell – Meteora, Delphi, Athens, Oia, and Crete. Now, where can I get a gyro?

Our Favorite Markets on Sunshine Coast

After our adventure at Lone Pine, we headed to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. The Sunshine Coast is amazing! It’s our favorite place for beaches. Commercial and residential development is managed, so there is almost always a green belt between houses and the beach. There are countless paths that take you through, and once you are on the beach, you can’t see the houses. It feels like I’m in the middle of nowhere on a beach. There are only a handful of people ever on the beach, depending on the area. It is a very relaxing place to be.

Castaways Beach in the early afternoon
Sunrise Beach later in the afternoon

We stayed at Castaways Beach. This was an excellent location for us – halfway between Noosa and Peregian. We got seafood from the Noosa Junction Seafood Market. The Noosa Farmer’s Market was also excellent. We purchased fresh fruits and vegetables, locally farmed-meat, mud crabs, and Maleny dairy products plus tried out a couple of the food vendors for an early lunch. I had chicken roti from Dragon Roti, and it was delicious!

Another of our favorite things on the Sunshine Coast is the Eumundi Markets. Check them out when you are in the area. This is an enormous market with produce, food, decorations, jewelry, and more. Our favorite booth is Nature’s Cutting Boards. The boards are made from camphor laurel and smell divine. We have many at home, and still, we buy more. Check out what we got this time. If only they weren’t so heavy…

Camphor laurel cutting boards

Does Anyone Want Mud Crabs or Bugs?

Do you like seafood? I like mild fish and most shellfish, but I LOVE lobster and crab! 

When Cameron and I took the kids to Australia ten years ago, we went with my Mother-in-law. She would talk about catching and eating mud crab when she was a girl growing up in Queensland. Mud crab doesn’t make me think I want to eat that plus they have black shells before they are cooked. Little did I know that it is the best tasting crab I’ve eaten. It’s sweet, and there is lots of it. These crabs are huge! The first one I ever ate was as wide as Cameron’s size 12 foot is long, weighed over 2 pounds with a dominate claw as big as my hand and three times as thick!

Cooked mud crabs – Yum!

Another thing that doesn’t sound appealing to eat are bugs, which are slipper lobsters. I tried them in a restaurant in Cairns years ago, and they tasted like a delicious cross between crab and lobster with the texture of lobster. Every time I go back to Australia, I eat as many bugs as I can get.

Cooked Moreton Bay Bugs – Double yum!

This trip was no different. We ate at least four mud crabs, and I lost count of all the times I ate Moreton Bay bugs. I would eat the bugs every day if I could. So good!

What is your favorite seafood?

Lone Pine – Keeper for a Day

My family loves animals and loves to have hands-on experiences with them. Queensland is a great place to get up close and personal with animals and hold many of them. Our favorite place to accomplish that is Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane. Lone Pine has been around since my Mother-in-law was a girl and we visit every time we are in Brisbane.

One of so many koalas

This time we decided to sign up for the Keeper for a Day program. It’s a six and a half hour program that takes you behind the scenes and in the enclosures to interact with all kinds of animals. It was an unforgettable experience for everyone and the top experience of our trip. After our first encounter in the enclosure with the dingo, both of my daughters told me separately that they “want to do this when they grow up”. It’s a pricey endeavor, and I recommend it and would do it again!

The echidna, Rex, has been at Lone Pine longer than anyone can remember. She came out to eat when we brought her some food.

We gave scratches to the dingo and made a toy for her. Prepared food for and fed the platypuses and cassowary, Chicky. Fed and held the barn owl before and during the birds of prey show. We took a shingleback skink for some outside time in the sun. We fed freshwater turtles, the echidna, Rex, the Rainbow Lorikeets, the kangaroos and wallabies, and the emus. We held koalas and snakes, too. It was at Lone Pine that we learned wombats’ poop is square shaped and where the name of this blog comes originates.

Chicky has an intimidating stare but put some crickets in with her and she will find them all!

Don’t miss a visit to Lone Pine!