Adorning the side of a TAB is a map of the United States. Each state is filled in with a colorful photo depicting the state it represents. This isn’t just any map; it’s a tapestry of memories and a testament to Mickey Monty’s wanderlust. Behind each sticker is a story of adventure as Mickey made her way across 48 states, with Nevada the last on her bucket list.
Her story of exploration begins in Washington State in 2017 after she purchased her camper, lovingly nicknamed Tabby. This spring, she bid farewell to her house in Alaska — her home of nearly three decades — to embrace the open road and the promise of adventure.
While Mockey spends most of her time on the road in her beloved Tabby, she doesn’t consider herself a full-timer. In addition to her travels, she occasionally house-sits, stays with family and friends, or jets off for an international escapade. The past six years have been filled with exploration and new experiences, and in this interview, Mickey shares the motivation behind her multi-state odysseym her strategies for navigating the challenges of an ever-changing world, and her dreams for the future.
To follow along with Mickey’s real-time wanderlust, check out her Facebook at Meandering Mickey, where she posts photos of the places she has been with (and without!) Tabby.
A nationwide journey
Tell us about what led you to start this nationwide journey.
I was just looking to get away and do something different. It was my friend’s daughter who gave me the sticker map that you put on your camper. She also requires me to “do something” in each state to earn the sticker, saying, “You just can’t drive through.” So that has made it a little more interesting! She was the one to put on one of the first stickers for Idaho when we went to the solar eclipse.
Which state did you visit first? Which state is your last to go to, and have you completed it?
Washington was officially the first state since that is where I bought Tabby and took the first little trip to Olympic National Park. Then I decided to have her barged up to Alaska, where I was living to be able to drive down to Idaho for the eclipse. As of August 2023, I still have one state to go: Nevada, the 49th state. I have driven all around it and was so close on a couple of previous trips.
How do you decide on your itinerary?
That changes every year and is based on what is going on with my family, the country, and the world. I have friends and family up and down both the East and West coasts, so I often make maps of how to connect them with National Parks and other destinations.
I tend to schedule road trip portions and then stay put somewhere for longer amounts of time. I have been known to go way out of my way for an interesting place to camp or check out. Boondockers Welcome is a great resource for connection and camping that I also use to plot my route.
Do you travel alone or have a companion (human or otherwise!) accompanying you?
My best friend and sometimes her daughter travel with me. My best four-legged friend traveled for the first two years with me.
Have you had any unusual experiences or interactions during your journeys?
So many!! The solar eclipse in Idaho was my first big trip, and amazing! This same trip was complicated by Canadian forest fires that forced us to change our route. My travel companion was plagued by severe pain that required me to do all of the driving. At least two to three times, I have had to wait for a herd of bison to move off the road in order to continue, and several more times for other wildlife.
Tabby was rear-ended, heading south on I5 in northern California. I didn’t realize the extent of the damage until that night when I rolled over in bed and saw the ground. So, I decided to return to a friend’s house in Washington. Tabby ended up spending the whole winter at the awesome repair shop in Poulsbo, and I flew to Florida.
Recently, I met a young backpacker who had lost his wallet on the trail in Yellowstone. He was initially worried that I was trying to take his campsite, so after we cleared up the misunderstanding, we became friends. I drove him three hours to the nearest airport so he could fly home safely.
Campers are a different breed of people; most are very friendly and helpful. I have been amazed at all of the wonderful people I have been able to meet over the past six years.
My family was so worried about me when I first hit the road, and my sister still wants to know where I’m camping while on a road trip. I am not worried and have never felt that I was in danger. If a place looks sketchy, I move on to the next.
I have gotten much better about finding campsites and making reservations. At first, I just wanted to play it by ear and then find a place along the way. That allows you so much more freedom; however, I often ended up frustrated, tired, or at a motel. Sometimes, I still wing it when I am in an area of the country with lots of options. The security offered by having a place to stay already reserved for the night allows me a more relaxing drive in the afternoon. This is much more important for solo travelers. I cannot look for campsites while driving.
How did you handle the Covid period? Where did you stay: campgrounds or boondock?
In March 2020, I returned to the US after being in Japan. Tabby had been waiting for me in my sister’s carport for a whole year. I spent the spring helping my parents and figuring out if it was safe to get back on the road. After making reservations at Boondockers Welcome and Recreation.gov, I was able to put together a route to Washington.
Since camping and hiking were safer than other recreational opportunities, I went ahead and got the America the Beautiful pass and visited some of the less popular destinations in Washington, Oregon, and northern California. We wore masks, cooked our own food, were socially distanced, and stayed safe.
What are some of the aspects of being an RVer that you find most attractive or enjoyable?
It is the best combination of new and familiar. I love waking up in my own bed in a new and exciting location. I love cooking in my own little kitchen after visiting a farmer’s market and finding fresh local foods.
It also allows me to spend most of my time outdoors. When you travel with a tiny trailer, you use it for a home base and then explore your surroundings. There are often great hiking and biking opportunities near great camping spots. I love being able to camp and not drive for a few days because I am totally entertained by natural beauty.
If I am being totally honest, I should also add that it is less expensive than most other ways to travel and to live. When I average out my free camping and paid camping fees, the total is still much less than most people pay for rent.
Were you always a camper, or was this your first experience?
As a kid, my parents had a pop-up camper and that was how we took family vacations. My aunt and uncle owned a campground in Vermont that we visited every summer. As an adult, I always did a lot of car camping and some backpacking.
I am also no stranger to long road trips. When I was 19, my friend and I drove cross-country one summer to visit her relatives. Then, when I was 27, we drove from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific and Arctic coasts of Alaska.
A passion for travel
When she’s not traversing highways and back roads, Mickey is a physical therapist. She has found ways to make her work flexible, allowing her to embark on these journeys. She’s currently exploring ways to work remotely, enabling her to continue her travel escapades.
As her quest to conquer all 49 states nears its end, the future remains an open book. The possibilities are limitless: crossing the Canadian provinces and territories off her list, visiting every National Park, indulging in pickleball in all 50 states, or even venturing beyond the Americas to explore the continents.
Mickey Monty’s story is a testament to the enduring spirit of exploration that embodies many nuCamp owners. At nuCamp, our mission is to build exceptional RVs for extraordinary customers. Our team loves to hear your stories of past adventures, and we eagerly anticipate the adventures that lie ahead. Share your story with us!