3rd Anniversary Weekend!

We arrived home about an hour ago. Cleaned out our coolers, threw some laundry in. Showered. Settling back in to 1,300 square feet after being blissfully shoved in a van for 2 and a half days. 

This weekend could not have been any more perfect. I will forever remember the energy and excitement, the chill of winter creeping into the nights and the 4 full days of being immersed in what I love most. Outside. (While of course still being inside some. We stayed at our Tara Point cabin again; this being the 3rd year in a row.) 

Wednesday was our third wedding anniversary. Here’s a couple of my favorite photos from the day.

Wednesday night I got off work and B had everything loaded in the car. We got to the cabin around 7pm and made a bread, cheese and crackers plate and drank lots of wine. 

The next morning we woke up but took our time getting moving. Here’s a view from the deck.

We finally left the cabin around 11:30 and stopped for lunch at the Pere Marquette Lodge; the place we were married.

After lunch we drove 35 minutes up the river road to Kampsville, IL to check out the McCully Heritage Project.

I don’t know too much about this nature preserve; but I know that the McCully’s live on the property. There is even a family burial plot we saw. If you’d like to know more, here is a link to their website. This is definitely not the last time we will be there! We went during hunting season so the South Loop trail was closed, but we did all of the North and then the Wetland Trail.

Dog Whisperer B made a new friend immediately upon arrival. She was waiting in the yard and when we pulled up she greeted us and then led us on our entire hike! We never caught her name but she was a sweet pea and amusing and adorable company. 

There were tombstones behind this small cabin. We went in and it appeared to be a classroom for a summer camp perhaps?

Wetland Trail

Heading back to the car. Little pup stuck with us to the end!

Thursday night we headed back to the cabin, B watched football while I “made dinner” (aka: planned crockpot creation!) After we ate B called me onto the deck right as the sun was setting, he spotted three white tailed deer! I only got two in frame because I really had to zoom in to see them.

We spent the rest of the night watching a Simpsons marathon. It was wonderfully lazy and relaxing. 

Friday morning we got up and drove the 40 minutes back home so we could pack the van and the dogs to leave for our camping trip.

Here’s some van love for ya. Guys. It was unbelievably cozy and toasty and ugh. I could have stayed holed up here for days and we aren’t even done yet. We have much left to do on the inside before Hank is finished. We still need a platform bed with storage underneath, a custom cabinet/countertop behind the drivers side, and insulation and reclaimed wood installed on the ceiling. Here is how we survived the 40 degree days and 30 degree nights this weekend; hiked, gloves, lots of blankets, wine, body heat, dog snuggles and a space heater. It was great! (So much in fact, as it rained all morning today I slept until 10.) We spent both nights after dark snacking, watching movies and lounging.

B and I both drink a LOT of coffee, so our Keurig was obviously a must on this trip.

We had a whole camping section all to ourselves tucked away in a corner. Again, hunting season in full swing so all the hunters had set up at the entrance. We saw a LOT of hanging and gutted deer and bucks this weekend, and one campsite even processing and grounding their meat. I will spare you the photos of all that jazz!

Crockpot chicken pot pie soup was a hit. =)

We chose Giant City State Park for a couple reasons. Those being it was close enough to home at a little under 2 hours South and the HIKING. So interesting and different than the terrain and surroundings here.

After hiking around for a few hours we stopped at the Giant City Lodge. It was gorgeous and decked for the holidays. I love this time of year!
We got back to the campsite, parked the van and decided to do a little family photo session for Christmas cards. I have some mad camp hair!

This morning after I finally rolled out of bed (hey, it was gloomy and cold and rainy…) we reluctantly packed up and headed home. Bane wasn’t too stoked on it but now we’re all settled back in.
Tonight I am going to the Botanical Gardens with my parents, sister and niece and nephew to look at Christmas lights and drink hot chocolate. Sounds like a perfect cap to a perfect weekend.

Thanks for following! You can find our travel pics on IG @pottsiepackin.



Well, it’s noon on a Sunday and the first time in months, if not a year I haven’t been up and out of bed before 9am. The holiday weekend was long and busy. 4 different stops over 3 days for us. While fulfilling and warm and cheery…I am wiped out. It’s time for me to hit reset and enjoy a full day alone while B is running some errands and finishing up some things on his record with his band. 

Today I plan to drink a lot of coffee, online Christmas shop, make some grocery lists, clean the house, pack for our cabin stay in Grafton Wednesday and Thursday, and pack/organize stuff in the van (we leave Friday for our first camping trip in Hank!) all while streaming the new Gilmore Girls episodes. Maybe I will even get some Christmas decorating done before the day is over. For now the day is halfway done and I have a lot to do. 

You’ll be seeing a few posts from me this week closer to the weekend. Happy Holidays! 


November camping…

Empty campground, bright moon, stars engulfing you from every angle.

Brisk air, visible breath, passing moonshine around the fire.

Layering up and sinking into a sleeping bag that slowly but surely hugs you with it’s warmth. 

There’s no silence like that of the early winter forest; so cold that even the hungry curiosities of woodland creatures can’t lure them out. 

There are no sounds other than our own voices, crackling of firewood and the rustling of dead and fallen leaves agitated by an uninvited wind. 

Smoke carries into eyes, long hair blown away from faces. The breeze brings no good, just cold noses and exclamations from the mouths below them. 

Days pass so quickly when you’re disconnected. If only it worked the other way around. 



I feel like I say this every other post but seriously…why do weekends have to go by so quickly? I woke up super early (for me!) today at 7:30 and we got a head start on the day by getting to the grocery store by 9:15 or so. It was still annoyingly busy and I hadn’t had coffee yet so navigating the aisles I was feeling cloudy and discombobulated. I also seem to be developing my annual November cough. Joy!

We got home around 10:45 or 11am and started immediately on our third day of putting work in on Hank. It seems Sundays have been best for us since I have been working 6 days a week. Now that wedding season is over for me we will start having a lot more free weekends to work on completing the van. However holiday season is about to kick in and we spend nearly every weekend at parties with family and friends beginning the Saturday after Thanksgiving until Christmas is over. A never ending cycle of busy. Ah. 

Enough about that; onward to some progress pics! 

Today, B’s goal was to get the ladder rack off the top of the van. He unfastened everything and together we lifted it off the top.

My goal was to get that yucky, smelly, dingy ceiling off.

Success! Now we can save for and hopefully install our wood ceiling soon.

After all of that we made a trip out to St. Louis to pick up a full sized mattress for the bed of the van. I posted a status on Facebook asking if anyone had one and we got it for free! Social media redeems itself…albeit very minimally.

On the way home from picking the mattress up we stopped at a salvage yard to see if we could find any interior hardware that was in better shape than what we had. We didn’t find much, but we did come out with a piece that was missing from our console for $6.50 so that was dubbed a win! 

We also contemplated summiting Mount Junkyard but decided against it.

When we got home we cleaned the inside of Hank again for the 200th time before making up the bed, hanging the back window curtain (shower curtain on a tension rod) and stringing up some cute and festive battery powered lights. Which I quickly discovered are the bane of my existence. They tangled and snagged and made me say &$@! every five minutes for the full 30 it took to hang them. But OMG they’re so cute. I had to lie back and stare at them for a moment, imagining all of the places we will get to fall asleep underneath them.

The bed will not be staying like this. We are building a platform horizontally along the back with storage underneath. This is just going to be how it stays until we get to that point. I’m loving the way everything is coming together already! I like to believe these in between milestones are just as exciting as completing it will be.

Here he is – post ladder rack removal in all of his near halfway done glory.

At this point in our conversion, we have done literally everything on our own. The woodworking process we will probably have to enlist the help of my brother in law due to both B and myself being completely clueless on where to begin. I’m super proud of us for coming this far in only nearly 2 weeks and working so well together.

Thanks for following!


IG: @pottsiepackin