Our 1984 Yellowstone Camper Renovation

This post was a long time coming and honestly, one of the most requested blog posts I’ve ever received. A lot of people want to see our camper renovation, so I’m excited to show you that today!

One of the most exciting things Taylor and I have done during this pandemic (besides give birth to a perfect baby girl) is renovate a 1984 Yellowstone Camper together. Neither of us had done anything like this before, but we were PUMPED. We purchased the camper in Pennsylvania back in June when we saw it on Facebook Marketplace. We replaced the tires right away and drove it down to South Carolina. When we arrived, we jumped in and spent the next month gutting it and making it into something more esthetically pleasing and functional for our family of 3.

The previous owner of the camper did a wonderful job at taking care of it. It was clean and in great shape when we bought it, but there was a lot of wood and it was very brown. It felt dark and dysfunctional. Before we made any changes, Taylor and I spent time talking about what we wanted to do and if we could make it happen. We each had individual things that were really important to us in order to feel comfortable in the camper, so we wanted to make sure we could make those changes possible.

Our number one priority was making it functional for our family with a newborn. Joanne was only 2 months old when we purchased the camper, so she wasn’t able to sleep on the pull-out couch and she was still sleeping in her pack-and-play. We also agreed that it needed to be brightened up! After priming, we used the color, Going to The Chapel by Benjamin Moore on all the walls. We chose this color because it was a warmer shade of white. It still brightened up the space without feeling sterile.

The pull out couch wasn’t functional for us and it was HEAVY. We decided to rip it out and Taylor built a U-shaped bench for seating instead. We have plans to install a table in the middle one day, which will fold down to make a full bed. For now, Joanne’s pac-and-play fits perfectly into this spot, so we’re leaving it open. In the picture above, you’ll notice cabinet space above the bench. The whole front face of that cabinet folds down to form a single person bed. There’s a ladder that isn’t pictured and a mattress topper that fits over the cabinet holes. A small child would love this space! As for us, we’re leaving it as storage.

We ordered thick foam off of Amazon and cut it to fit the measurements of our bench. Then, I bought fabric and upholstered it to the foam! The back pieces of our bench are specifically cut into sections, because they will fit onto the future table when it drops down to make the bed later on. (I hope that makes sense!)

All the old laminate floors were ripped out and Taylor installed brand new hardwoods. They’re waterproof and really heavy duty!

Along with the couch, we decided to remove the large dresser to the left of the bed and the cabinet hanging above the foot of the bed. There’s already a ton of storage in the camper, so we didn’t feel like these two were necessary. Removing the dresser beside the bed also gave us room for Joanne’s pack-and-play, so she could sleep beside the bed too! I’m really thankful that we took this dresser out, because there was a lot of water damage underneath. Thankfully, Taylor was able to remove all the wet wood and repair it. When we removed the cabinet at the foot of the bed, it revealed the breaker, which was an eyesore, but it made the space feel much more open and breathable. We also added shiplap paneling behind the bed to add more texture.

There was a rip in the ceiling wallpaper, so we racked our brains on how to fix it. We opted on cedar planks, which was one of the best decisions we made. Not only do they smell good, but they’re warm and cozy and a really unique feature! We found the cedar planks at Home Depot. They’re 1/4 inch thick and super lightweight.

We found a two pack of wooden shelves on Amazon and installed one in the bedroom and one in the kitchen. We specifically placed the shelf at the end of the bed because our iPad can hang off, and we can watch movies from bed! I also painted the arch around the shelf to give the space more character!

As for the windows, I made custom curtains out of a dowel from Home Depot. I took black hooks, black clips, and linen napkins from Amazon and assembled the curtains! I think they turned out pretty good! To keep the sun and heat out, we custom cut, double reflective polyethylene to fit each window. We can velcro them on when needed, and they fold and store easily.

A lot of changes happened in the kitchen! We painted the lower cabinets green (April Arbor by Valspar), added new hardware, painted the stove top and hood black, installed new countertops, and added a peel-and-stick backsplash. We lost one of the cabinet doors to water during the renovation, so I’m on the hunt for two matching baskets to fill the space! All the hardware and backsplash can be found on Amazon! (I have it all linked below)

The bathroom took a lot of work, but I think it has one of the biggest transformations!

We ripped out all the wallpaper, added new shower walls, added peel-and-stick backsplash, new flooring, new countertops, and installed a brand new toilette. Originally, we were going to leave the toilette that came with the camper, but near the end of the renovation, we agreed that it would look better with a new one. I’m so glad we spent the extra money on this, because I think it makes a huge difference! We left the original bathtub because it was in great shape, but Taylor and I don’t ever use the shower in the camper. We always use the bathhouse at the campground, so the tub is really only used by Joanne. Realistically, we store our clothing hamper in here. 🙂

Because we had the free time, the renovation only took about a month to get it to a point where it was “campable.” Then, we spent another month casually adding the finishing touches. We poured a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into this camper, but it was worth it. Our only regret is not doing it sooner! We’ve had a blast traveling around in this little camper together, and we’ve really shared a love for camping. Joanne really enjoys it too!

Besides adding the table to the living area, the camper could really use a good coat of paint on the outside! Taylor and I are still going back and forth on whether or not to invest in this! Let us know what you think! Do you like the current paint job or should we update it to match the inside?

Links to some of the products we used:

What was your favorite part of the renovation?!

I Can’t Believe We’re Still Here

Hi, Everyone!

The other day I was thinking about how much I missed writing on this blog. I haven’t written much recently (and for good reasons). I just had a baby (beautiful baby girl!) and Taylor and I have been “stuck” in American ever since Christmas. The two of us have been joking about how long we’ve been here. We came home in December with one suitcase between the two of us because we thought we’d be returning in 4 weeks. It’s been 7 months! For those of you wondering, Taylor can’t return to China because they aren’t allowing any foreigners to enter the country. So we wait. With all the chaos happening in my life, I finally feel like I finally have a grip on things and have time to sit and write.

Recently, Taylor and I have been reminding each other how EXTREMELY BLESSED we are. We came home when I was 20 weeks pregnant and we’ve gotten to experience the most luxurious maternity leave ever. Taylor was here before Joanne was born, here to help me recover from a tough post-labor, and we’ve gotten to spend 2 amazing months together loving on little Joanne as a family. This virus has been horrible for so many, but can I just say how much of a blessing it’s been to us? We will always thank God for choosing his timing. Seriously, we’re in awe.2I went back to work this month and Taylor is still doing what he can remotely. Add taking care of a newborn on top of this (as if we didn’t have enough on our hands), we decided to buy a 1984 Yellowstone Camino to renovate! We found her on Facebook Marketplace and fell in love after touring her in person. The camper was in fantastic shape and we’ve enjoyed having something to work on together. Some of my best memories as a child are from camping trips with my family, so I’m thrilled to continue the tradition with Joanne! IMG_5650IMG_5642Although the camper was in good shape, it was outdated. IMG_5605IMG_56091Currently, we’re about halfway through with the renovations, and I’m so excited to share the before and after pictures with you once everything is done! Here’s a little sneak peak…IMG_6124It’s going to look so incredible when it’s finished! We’re planning on taking the camper up to PA to visit family in the beginning of August, so it needs to be at a good stopping place, if not completely finished by then. Life is never dull around here! 🙂 Stay tuned for more camper renovation updates!!IMG_6179Talk to you soon! ❤

Canyonlands & Capitol Reef

Our first night camping in the desert went well! While planning this trip, we really had no idea what to expect weather wise. We knew it would be scorching hot during the day (which it was), but we weren’t sure if it would be warm or cool during the night. On our first night camping in Arches, Taylor said he froze. On the other hand, I couldn’t have been more content. We will tell you this, the temperature can heat up or cool down within minutes. We never needed to set any alarms because the heat always woke us up as soon as the sun rose.

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While Taylor took apart our tent, I walked to the bath house to change and get ready for the day. The bath houses at the Moab RV Resort and Campground were clean and nice! They had a lot of stalls and showers, so you never had to wait. The one thing we forgot to pack on this trip, was a towel. We are those people who ALWAYS forget towels. Whether that be a beach towel or a shower towel, we WILL forget it. Over the years, we have purchased so many overpriced towels because we’re the ones who never remember to pack them. Instead of renting one from the desk for $3, we just used our old t-shirts to dry off…disgusting yes, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do!

Before we left,  I grabbed some complimentary coffee. The coffee was surprisingly delicious! Sometimes, you just can’t expect much when it’s free. We also needed to fill up on gas, and get some new ice for our cooler. There was a McDonald’s down the road that had bags of ice for only .99 cents!

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As soon as we were done, we started our drive towards Canyonlands and Capitol Reef. These are the two least visited parks within the Mighty 5 in Utah. When we arrived to Canyonlands, we immediately went to the visitor’s center to find a map and fill up on water. (Without an annual pass, it will cost you $25 per vehicle to enter the park.) Right across the street, there is a breathtaking view of the canyons, that you MUST stop and see.

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Canyonlands National Park consists of 337,598 acres of truly breathtaking canyons! The entire park is divided into four districts, Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze, and Horseshoe Canyon.  The view in the pictures above is on Island in the Sky.

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The Green River

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After snapping some pictures, we decided to hike the Mesa Arch trail, which is only 0.5 miles round trip. They recommend 30 minutes to enjoy everything, and it’s a short hike that leads to a cliff-edge arch.

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We were in awe of the views that constantly surrounded us. We decided to drive around the park and stop at some overlooks for more pictures. This was such an interesting park because it had those coppery red-toned rocks with arches, and then it also had very white, sandy buttes in another area.

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Once we were finished exploring Canyonlands, we headed towards Capitol Reef National Park.

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It only costs $15 per vehicle to enter this park because it’s not as popular as the others and there isn’t as much to do. There are a few trails, but it’s mostly a very long scenic drive.

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The famous Capitol Dome in the picture above looks so similar to the US Capitol building, that it inspired the name of the Capitol Reef National Park.

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Carvings and paintings that date back to 300 to 1300 CE, can be found on the rock walls. This shows that people used to call this place home a very long time ago. We got to see some of them, but forgot to take a picture…oops!

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Nobody knows why there is a giant crater in the rocks, from the picture above. They think either something hit it years ago, or there used to be a body of water that has dried up.

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As it was getting later in the afternoon, we headed out of the park to go find a place to camp and eat dinner. After comparing campgrounds within the area, we chose Wonderland RV Park, in Torrey UT.

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Of all the places we camped during our trip, this was our absolute favorite. The staff was incredibly sweet and everything was extremely clean and well kept.

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The grass was so lush and green and they even had divider walls between each tent site. Their bath houses were the cleanest we’ve ever seen and they had entire shower rooms, which made you feel like you were in your own home. The best part? We only paid $26.50 to stay here. This was the cheapest AND nicest place! We cannot say enough good things about this campground!

After setting up camp, we ate at Slackers’s Burger Joint. The service was great and they had so many different options to choose from. We even got some ice cream for our scenic drive around Capitol Reef as the sun went down.

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We had a great day enjoying both Canyonlands and Capitol Reef together.

 

Sanibel Island

When the Clemson football team WON THE PLAYOFF against Oklahoma (woot woot!) Taylor and I had every intention of going back to Charleston. We were all packed up and on the road, but the hot weather and clear skies were tempting us, so we turned the car around and decided to stay in Florida! We were debating on staying in Miami, but decided to drive to the golf side of the state and check out the island of Sanibel. We thought this was very nomadic of us. 🙂

In order to get there, we drove through Alligator Alley. Taylor swears he saw a couple alligators, but I definitely did not see any.

The views from the bridge onto the island were beautiful!

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After spending some time driving around the island and exploring, we found a campground where we could stay for the night. It was $40 for our site and was within walking distance to the beach. Taylor did a fantastic job at setting up the tent while I took pictures of him doing it. 🙂

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When the tent was all set up, we decided to take a walk to the beach to check it out. We had the best time looking at everyone’s campsites and campers along the way! We’ve decided that we want to get a small one so we can road trip around the United States one day.

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Sanibel is known for having a huge variety of shells. If you wake up really early in the morning, you can find some really large and unique shells, especially by the lighthouse. After walking down the beach, we were starving and wanted some dinner! Taylor’s family suggested we try Matzaluna, which is an Italian restaurant that was right across the street from our campsite.

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We started with some fresh bread and their famous garlic spread!

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Taylor ordered a pepperoni pizza (of course) and I tried their clam chowder and antipasto appetizer. If you are ever in Sanibel and craving Italian food, this is the place to go! This would also be a fun place to go with a large group. The staff was super friendly to us and really made it a memorable experience. We will definitely be back.

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The next morning we were up early and headed out to find the best breakfast spot. We needed to check out of the campground at 12, but wanted to eat and enjoy the morning hours on the beach. Taylor’s family gave us an awesome dinner suggestion, so we asked for their opinions on breakfast and they told us about Island Cow!

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This place was totally awesome! The atmosphere is so relaxed and beachy and they have great food. They start you off with free blueberry muffins that are surprisingly delicious and they also serve Starbucks, which won me over.

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I ordered the three cheese omelet which came with home fries and fruit. Taylor had cheese grits with home fries, fruit, and whole grain toast. The food was yummy, but for the price they didn’t give us very much, which was disappointing.

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When we were done, we headed back to the campground and then walked to the beach. It was so warm and calm that we really didn’t want to leave.

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After spending several hours in the sun, we needed to check out of the campground and eat some lunch. Taylor really wanted to go to Cheeburger Cheeburger because he had been there before. They have shakes, burgers and salads that you can customize any way you want! I ordered the garden burger salad with cheese, cucumbers, carrots, croutons and a side of Italian dressing. Taylor go a burger with BBQ sauce, cheese and bacon. We split some sweet potato fries as well. YUM!

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We didn’t want to leave Sanibel right after lunch so we took the car to the beach and tried to find a parking spot. It took us 30 minutes to find a parking spot! We had to drive around in circles waiting for people to get in their cars and drive away. It was pretty awful, but the beach was great.

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The winter months are considered Sanibel’s busy season because the weather is perfect. While we were visiting, there were a lot of people on the beaches, but it wasn’t overcrowded. When exploring the island it didn’t feel like there were a ton of people there at all. Taylor’s aunt and uncle visited the island back in July and said it was almost empty. Although it would be very hot, I’d love to come back during the summer months.

 

 

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