How We Earn our State Stickers

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One of our first purchases when we began our full-time RV journey was our U. S. state stickers Map I had seen these maps on other peoples RV’s many times and was intrigued, I wanted our own. When I was just a kid my travel curiosity was ignited, after my grandparents took a multi-week roadtrip from our home in Maine all the way to California. My grandfather described beautiful square flat mountains of many colors, which were so big they could be seen on the horizon for many miles before reaching them driving in the car. This concept was beyond my six year old imagination, but I dreamed someday of being able to see vast spaces like that for myself.

Traveling with my wife full-time in our Leisure Travel Van I now have the opportunity to explore those places and build my own map full of states, I immediately felt like that excited kid, and wanted to explore everywhere all at once. How will we earn our state stickers? Jess and I had visited or driven through all but six states in the lower forty-eight Washington, Oregon, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Louisiana when we began our full-time RV journey. Neither of us felt right putting stickers on the map of states we had not yet fully explored. I decided to research the state map sticker rules.

How Do People Earn Their State Stickers?

I searched websites and Facebook pages, and asked google questions about how people earn their state stickers. I was amazed with the amount of information I found. The first thing I learned, is that this subject has the potential for being a hot controversial topic. Many people have their own rules and are very passionate about them.

The next thing, I learned is there are no official rules! When you see a state sticker map on a vehicle or RV there is no way to know how that person chose to earn their state stickers. Some people count a state if they drive through it. Others pick a specific activity like visiting a brewery or participating in a wine tasting. Some people have many rules such as staying over night and participating in multiple activities. We met a couple who decided to run a 5-K in each state to earn their sticker.

Our State Stickers

Jess and I talked about many ideas. We chose to live full-time in our RV to be able to explore this beautiful country. We want to see and experience as much as we can in every state, but we realize the enormity of this challenge. Each state may require many visits before we feel we have adequately explored its many offerings.

Our first decision, we would start earning our state stickers on day one with Jess and I together in our new RV, nothing before that day would count. We also, did not like the idea of counting states we just drive through, we wanted more substance. Secondly, we decided that an overnight stay in the RV in the state was important to us and should be part of our requirement.

The last condition we thought was important was activities. There were so many to choose from, a hike or visit to a state park or historic place. But what about about visiting a city like New Orleans or Nashville that should also count. Finally we settled on the idea of an activity, any activity a hike, a landmark, a museum, a show, etc. will earn us our activity piece of our sticker. It was decided. An overnight stay in the state in the RV, and an activity in the state would earn us our sticker.

Where Do We Put Our State Map?

Now we know how we are going to earn our state stickers, but where do we put our map? We just purchased this brand new beautiful RV, and now I’m going to put stickers on it. As much as I loved the idea of filling this map with stickers chronicling our exploration, I have never put a sticker on any vehicle.

I see most people’s maps on their RV’s slide out, we do not have a slide out. Another popular place is on the back of the RV. I did not like that location either, we knew we were going to have Voyager’s name put on the LTV, by a professional. I considered a spot near the entry door, but I couldn’t do it. Looking at the way our LTV shined in the sunlight it was just too beautiful to mess-up.

Then as I was sitting there trying to decide what to do, Jess opened the RV door and it came to me. I grabbed the map and held it up, it was a perfect fit. That would be the spot, the inside of the bottom of the entry door. In a few minutes I had it in place and we put up our first state stickers. Colorado, Minnesota and Nevada were the only states we had earned with our new perimeters.

Nineteen States

We earned nineteen states in our first year as full-time RV’ers. We chose to travel to Maine and spend some extended time with family, we also arranged to hike a section of the Appalachian trail with a friend. Crossing the country from Nevada to Maine through Minnesota gave us a great opportunity to earn many state stickers.

If you follow our journey on our hiking memere Facebook page you already know we are very active and take lots of pictures. Writing this piece is forcing me to decide what pictures to include, which is turning into a review of our first year of travel. I am sitting here smiling while viewing our library of photos. I am thankful to not only have this opportunity to explore, but to be doing it with someone like my wife, is better than a dream. We have both stepped out of our comfort zones, and learned so much and explored many beautiful places.

The people we have met across the country and through sharing our journey on social media, have become new friends. The RVing community is an eclectic group of people from many backgrounds and fun to get to know. They possess a wealth of knowledge, which they are willing to share and are never more than a click away.

Our Pictures

Deciding which pictures to choose for this piece was the most difficult part of the project. These pictures tell the story of our first year of full-time travel, in alphabetical order by state. I hope you enjoy!

Sedona Lookout, Mt. Wilson, Arizona.

I chose this picture from our hike up Mt. Wilson, Sedona’s highest point, because it showed in one snap shot many of the beautiful places we hiked to Sedona is one of our favorite areas, a vacation here five years ago fueled our desire to travel long term. When we returned home to Maine we started to put our plan in motion to become full-time explorers.

The Crack, Historic Bell Trail near Strawberry, Arizona.

Swimming in the crack in the Wet Beaver Creek Wilderness, was pure exhilaration. A few mile hike on the Historic Bell Trail led to this incredible oasis in the desert. My first jump into the creek was exciting and scary because we did not know how deep the water was, or how we would climb back out of the canyon. The sudden immersion in the cold water took my breath away.

Jess and I took turns jumping from different places along the ledges and swimming in the creek, afterwards we felt accomplished and energized. Swimming in the creek was one of our favorite activities!

Zapata Falls, near Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado.

Zapata Falls was an activity which almost did not happen. After a few days boondocking outside of Great Sand Dunes National Park we decided we would move to our next destination near Mesa Verde a day early, because we were running out of activities. Before we left I wanted to complete one last hike to Zapata Falls. The unexpected hike through the frigid water to see the falls turned out to be our favorite hike in the area!

Love’s Overnight Stop, Utica, Illinois.

Love’s Travel Plazas are our favorite overnight stops when we are traveling, because they are clean, safe and have plenty of room for our RV. Boondocking in a parking lot is an important option when we travel long distances and I am happy they allow it!

Whitewater Memorial State Park, Liberty, Indiana.

Whitewater Memorial State Park was our first overnight stay in Indiana in the RV. We had traveled many times through the state over the years, but it was never a destination. My only activity in Indiana before this stop was a speeding ticket, several years ago! This visit was much better we hiked and biked and explored the area for several days, seeing many animals and beautiful mature forests.

Devonian Fossil Gorge near Coralville Lake, Iowa City, Iowa.

Devonian Fossil Gorge is a 375 million year old ocean floor, which was exposed because of two flood events in 1993 and 2008 at Coralville lake. We hiked through the gorge finding many types of fossils. It’s amazing that this area was only recently discovered.

Reddington Tent Site, Appalachian Trail, Maine.

Backpacking on the Appalachian trail in Maine was a highlight of our trip. We planned two events over the entire year, and this was one. Jess and I have enjoyed many multi-day backpacking trips in our life together, I always joked with her that I wanted to live in a tent, our LTV is quite an upgrade. We carry all of our food and gear for multiple days on the trail in our packs. Water we pump from a stream using our filter, when we need it. A bath is a luxury we enjoy if we find a swimming hole. Daily business is completed in outhouses (privy) or the great outdoors whatever is available. After many days in the woods, boondocking in our LTV feels like a 5-star hotel.

Bemidji, MN

We traveled so far in Minnesota, we found where Pig’s Fly in Bemidji. My mother joined our journey for two weeks while we were in Minnesota. We spent time visiting family and then took a trip to see the headwaters of the Mississippi River at Itasca State Park.

Pompeys Pillar National Monument, Montana.

Pompey’s Pillar rises 150 feet above the Yellowstone river and has many petroglyphs as well as the signature of William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition engraved in it. This is an example of an early canoe, it was one of the many exhibits we enjoyed at the National Monument. Standing in these places and reading the history which we are vaguely familiar with, fuels our desire to explore.

Fort Niobrara Wildlife Refuge, Nebraska.

Nine miles of the Niobrara river run through the Fort Niobrara Wildlife Refuge. The refuge provides homes to many species of birds and animals including elk, deer and bison. We hurried our trip, because we were trying to avoid severe weather in the area, which did not allow us to see any of the free range bison roaming the refuge.

Valley of Fire State Park, NV.

Valley of Fire State Park was one of many beautiful places we visited while we were in Nevada for several months. My biggest surprise was, why had I never visited before? This State Park is a gem, it’s a short drive from Las Vegas, and provides a glimpse into the local topography in a concentrated area. Jaw-dropping Red rock, canyons to hike through, big horn sheep and so much more!

Mt. Hale, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire.

Mt.Hale will always hold a special place in my heart. It is one of the forty-eight New Hampshire 4000′ peaks, of which I have hiked them all with Jess and my daughter. Mt. Hale was my first attempt to climb a 4000′ peak after my bone marrow transplant for leukemia in 1999. I had hiked the mountain a couple times previously, but my daughter needed to hike to the peak. I struggled from the beginning, my hiking group was patient and offered me encouragement. After many hours on the trail which, should have only taken a couple to complete, I decided I was done and that I just couldn’t make it.

My step-mother finished the remainder of the climb with my daughter so she could earn her peak. While I sat there on the side of the trail a shell of pre-transplant self, trying to muster the strength to descend, I awaited their return. My road to recovery would be difficult, but I was alive and felt like I had been given a second chance. I vowed that day to work as hard as I could to live. I have hiked Mt. Hale many times since, and every time I still feel the defeat of that day and it reminds me where my drive comes from.

Umbagog Lake State Park, Errol, NH

Umbagog Lake State Park was our second New Hampshire destination on our trip east. This was the maiden voyage of our new two-person Driftsun inflatable kayak. If your relationship is challenged backing your RV into a site, I do not recommend an inflatable, two-person kayak on a windy day. It was quite a challenge learning how to work together and move in the direction we chose. But we figured it out and were rewarded with sunsets like this, throughout our stay.

White Sands National Park, New Mexico

White Sands National Park in Alamogordo, New Mexico was one of our favorite places. The park is surreal, the white is mesmerizing. To see the white sand touching the bright blue sky of the horizon, is like nothing we had ever experienced. As wonderful as White Sands is Alamogordo and the surrounding area is just as incredible.

Gilbert Lake State Park, Laurens, New York.

Gilbert Lake State Park was a quick overnight stop in a long several day drive towards Maine. Jess’s work dictated our entire schedule. On work days we had to ensure we had satellite coverage for wi-fi, and power available to combat the 90 degree days we were experiencing. In addition, we were trying to stay ahead of the severe weather which was being created from the excessive heat.

We arrived at the campground late in the day and had to leave early to safely get to our next destination, we had no time to explore this beautiful place. The only picture I have is this campground map. I am excited to go back someday, and even happier that Jess decided to take some time away from nursing. Thus allowing us to immerse ourselves full-time into this RV lifestyle.

Fargo, North Dakota

Fargo, North Dakota was our second planned activity in our first year of travel. I began searching for concert tickets as soon as I learned of Pink’s 2023 Summer Concert tour. Where should I look? When you live full-time in an RV where do you go to see a concert? I decided after looking at dates and locations, Fargo was perfect. It was not far from our daughter’s home in Minnesota, and the weather in August would be wonderful.

We planned our travels around this date and location. Fargo is one of our favorite discoveries, its urban feel and eclectic shops had much to offer. Walking and biking paths connected our city park RV location directly to the downtown, we biked everywhere we wanted to explore. The concert was icing on the cake one of the best I have ever experienced.

Mill Creek Campground, Berlin Center, Ohio.

Mill Creek Campground, Berlin Center, OH was one of the first COE Campgrounds we visited. COE”s are campground’s which the US Ary Corp of Engineers have helped build and maintain. Many of the campgrounds have dams thus providing recreational swimming and boating opportunities in their reservoirs. There are typically hiking and bike trails as well. We make reservations for these sites on and they are a cost effective alternative to commercial campgrounds.

Shenango Campground, Transfer, Pennsylvania.

Shenango Campground was another COE campground and one of my favorites to date. Our site was perfect, a few small trees which provided privacy and shade, without interfering with our satellite reception. It was a several day stop on our journey towards Minnesota. Biking, hiking and relaxing was exactly what we needed at this stage in our journey.

Dignity Sculpture overlooking Missouri River near Chamberlain, South Dakota.

Jess took this photo as we were driving down the highway, it is the Dignity sculpture, which overlooks the Missouri River near Chamberlain, South Dakota. Just after snapping the picture we saw a visitor center where we decided to stop. An unexpected, informative, and interesting activity, our ability to seek out and find these places has improved the more we travel.

Zion National Park, Utah

We visited Zion National Park in Utah, while we were staying in Las Vegas. Many National Parks have strict dog policies most not allowing dogs on trails. Zion was a couple hour drive from our RV park, which was too far for us to leave the dogs at home. If we brought the dogs with us we would only be able to explore the park roads. On a cold snowy day in January we decided the drive to the park would be a great activity. We explored all the park roads including the tunnel and enjoyed the snow from the comfort of the warm car. One day we want to return and hike the trails.

Bison at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

Yellowstone National Park was amazing! Herds of Bison, Bighorn Sheep, Elk, and Mule Deer all on our first day in the park. We spent three days exploring, Jess and I took turns hiking to the many different thermal features while one of us stayed in the car with the dogs. We experienced the thrill of watching Old Faithful with a herd of others and survived a hail storm at 7500′. This National Park is another place we hope to return to someday.

How We Earned Our State Stickers

Writing how we earned our stickers became a wonderful trip down memory lane for Jess and I. Our first year of travel has surpassed any expectations we held. The people we have met and places we have visited throughout our journey have been incredible. We are excited to continue exploring and earning our state stickers! Live Simple Live Happy

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