ROCK ISLAND — Author Brad Herzog and his wife, Amy, stopped at Rock Island’s KOA campground Wednesday in the midst of their 13th six-week summer trip across America in an RV, without kids for the first time since 2000.
“It’s like our second honeymoon,” said Mr. Herzog, 43, a California-based writer who’s penned three travel books based on his family’s adventures.
“We’ve been able to go out to dinner in Las Vegas; we did some more hikes that would have been more difficult for them (kids) — Bryce Canyon (Utah), for example. We’re moving along a little faster. And we’re also doing these video blogs we’re filming along the way.”
The Herzogs’ sons — Luke, 11, and Jesse, 10, — are at camp in northern Wisconsin and will be picked up today for the rest of the trip. The couple started June 13 in Chicago where their parents live.
They drive a different model RV each year loaned by Winnebago in exchange for Mr. Herzog blogging at blog.gorving.com and promoting RV travel. He has been blogging since 2008.
“It’s a great gig,” he said.
In 1996, they did a 10-month, 48-state trip, which was the basis of his first travel book, “States of Mind.”
Because of their experience traveling by RV — more than 100,000 miles — the Herzogs have been designated the “National Explore America Family” by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association.
The current trip is taking them to 16 states over six weeks. In keeping with a new trend in RVing, they are driving a sleek, fuel-efficient motor home — a 25-foot 2013 Winnebago Via with a Mercedes-Benz chassis and turbo-diesel engine.
It gets up to 18 miles per gallon of gas and has a full kitchen and two flat-screen TVs. Mr. Herzog said they save money by avoiding the high cost of hotels and restaurants.
“Even though we feel like we’ve been everywhere, that’s not possible because there’s always something new to see,” he said, adding that new sights this summer included the memorial for victims of the Oklahoma City bombing, Sedona, Ariz., and Beale Street in Memphis.
They also explored the north rim of the Grand Canyon, which is less crowded and more rustic than the south rim. “It’s the Grand Canyon without the tourists,” Mr. Herzog said.
“We’ve been to 48 states many times over, but when you see it through a child’s eyes, that’s a whole new set of wonders,” Mr. Herzog, who has written many children’s books, said of their sons.
“Children change so much over the years,” he said. “Seeing something at age 5 and seeing something at age 10, is a big deal. They’ve seen children’s museums, history museums, Cooperstown, Field of Dreams, Disneyland, the open flatlands of Kansas and the majestic mountains.”
“I feel like that time is so fleeting, and that time we could take as a family, and just have this common goal, I really value that,” said Ms. Herzog, who does freelance marketing and PR.
“I’ve often said that happiness is the journey, the experience of exploring the in-between. That’s true,” Mr. Herzog recently wrote on his blog. “America is a fascinating place – from tee to green (to borrow a phrase). That’s why the RV comes equipped with a big windshield – like a movie of America playing in front of us.”
Their son Luke already has written his first book, a 200-page fantasy, self-published through his dad’s company, Why Not Books.
“I really feel being on these trips has afforded them the time to look within themselves,” Ms. Herzog said. “Time has slowed down. It allows you to think and daydream a little bit.”
Next week, they’ll be in Forest City, Iowa, for a Winnebago rally, then visit the Field of Dreams in Dyersville again on July 18, and take in a River Bandits game for the first time that night.
“I love the fact the Mississippi River is right there,” Mr. Herzog said of Modern Woodmen Park. “To me, that’s so iconically Americana. Minor league baseball represents all the stuff I love about authentic America, small little towns I write about.”
He said they love coming through the “serene” and “beautiful” Midwest. On this trip, they rode a riverboat on the Mississippi in Hannibal, Mo.
“The Mississippi River, that’s as cool as it gets, I think.”
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