On The Road Again: One Woman’s Journey To Discover The Story Of Her Grandparents’ RV Adventures

Every family has its history, its stories. Maybe we hear them when we are children, and distracted by other things, don’t listen. But sometimes, when we are older and more interested, they may reveal a treasure of information.

For Baltimore-born Carla Brown, a photographer, printmaker, and filmmaker who uses her skills to examine themes of gender, race, and family, the discovery of an amazing family story happened when she was in her thirties. Although she had always been close to her grandparents, Benjamin and Frances Graham, spending summers with them in their travel trailer at Jellystone Park in West Virginia, she was too young then to understand the importance of their personal story.

For over 35 years, starting in 1965, when Benjamin was 38 and Frances was 40, the Grahams visited the 48 contiguous states in their travel trailer at a time when few African Americans took the risk of cross-country travel. And during each of those trips, which covered more than 94,219 miles, Grandfather Benjamin kept scrupulous logs.

“As a child, I was vaguely aware of their trips and of some travel logs my grandfather had kept,” says Brown, now 43. “It stayed somewhere in the back of my mind. But years later, for some reason, I thought, ‘Let me get my hands on those logs, let me take a look at them.’ And once I did, I was completely blown away by the details. There are three logs, covering thousands of miles. It covers where they went, what they saw, what they spent, and even what they ate. If they bought two soda pops, they listed it.”

The logs inspired Brown to plan a documentary called “Everyone but Two,” a project supported the past three years by Go RVing. Working with industry partners, Go RVing provided Brown with RVs for portions of her travel, as well as technical and logistical advice. Go RVing is continuing to support the project through the editing process and is looking forward to a release date in 2021.

In addition to retracing her grandparents’ travels, Brown was able to visit, as a surrogate for Benjamin and Frances Graham, the two states the Graham’s could not get to — Hawaii and Alaska — thus completing the family’s journey to all 50 states.

It was after a summer trip to New York City in 1965 that Benjamin first decided he would save up his 30-days of leave every year to see the country. Summer travel was possible for the Grahams because Frances was a teacher and had summers off. Benjamin was a postal worker and could use his vacation time when they could pack up and hit the road.

“This was how they traveled until they retired in 1981 when Benjamin was 54 and Frances was 56,” says Brown. “Once they retired, the length of time they traveled was extended.”

There was little advance planning in the beginning.

“They were totally winging it,” says Brown. “They just happened to find a trailer to buy, and so they just got in the trailer, opened a map, and picked a place that sounded interesting. At first they were just interested in the travel, and over the first few years they centered their trips on visiting relatives. But as time went on, they got more comfortable, and set some interesting goals. One was to drive on every interstate!”

The 1960s were a time of high racial tension in the U.S., and traveling could be risky, complicated, and uncomfortable for African Americans. During their travels, Brown’s grandparents were able to avoid most potential racism and hostility because their RV allowed them travel on their own terms. They didn’t need to stay in hotels or go to restaurants, which helped insulate them from the discrimination and mistreatment that was common. Their travel trailer was what allowed her grandparents to travel across the country and go places that other African Americans did not feel comfortable going at that time.

“African Americans weren’t on the road as much then,” says Brown. “There was once a publication called the Negro Motorist Green Book, created by Victor H. Green, an African American postal worker from Harlem. It was published from 1936 to 1967, listing the cities, places of entertainment, lodgings, and other businesses welcoming to African Americans.”

“The Green Book was not the only guide though,” says Brown. “My grandfather, started his own log in 1965. He wanted to document his family’s travels through the 48 contiguous states. Although both he and my grandmother were very aware of the racism in the US at that time, they took no apparent notice of what was simmering in the United States the week they decided to leave. The day they left, August 10, 1965, was during the week that the Voting Rights Act was signed and the Watts riots erupted.”

Along thousands of miles, the Grahams took hundreds of photographs of one another, often in front of a state sign to document just where they were at the time.

“If they were making those trips today,” Brown says, “they would be posting to Instagram, with thousands of followers!”

As she continues work on her film, Brown says it’s fulfilling several important personal goals.

“One is to celebrate my grandparents’ love of adventure. My grandmother has passed away, but my grandfather is 93, as sharp as can be,” Brown says. “I wanted him to be a part of this film. I have already interviewed him and plan to conduct an additional sit-down with him sometime this year as I continue to shape the film.  Another reason is that I want people to know that there is so much to see across the country. I’m supportive of everyone who wants to travel in an RV and explore. Remember, if you don’t see it, you don’t know for sure it exists.”

Go RVing works with a diverse group of influencers to reach new audiences and tell their stories and how the RVing lifestyle has shaped their lives, families, and future generations. The Go RVing team continues to work with Brown in the development of the film and hopes to promote the film upon its release.

For more information about Carla Brown and her film, visit EveryoneButTwo.com.

Go RVing and KOA Partnering on Napa Valley RV Media Trip in April

Go RVing and KOA are partnering on an RV media fam trip April 24-26, 2020 in Napa Valley.

Go RVing and KOA are planning an RV fam trip for April 24–26, 2020 in Napa Valley, and influencers, content creators and journalists are invited to apply.

Go RVing and KOA have partnered on three previous fam trips in different areas of the country, including Mystic, CT, Ventura Ranch, CA, and Port Huron, MI. Each campground is unique and offers a variety of family-friendly activities such as t-shirt tie dyeing, swimming, rock climbing, hiking, biking, and boating. 

At the upcoming fam trip, Go RVing and KOA will provide an update on what’s new with RVing and camping, as well as how RVs are a fun and affordable platform to outdoor adventure. Participants and their families will have the opportunity to experience RVing and RV campgrounds for themselves in a fun, flexible and relaxed atmosphere.

The schedule will include group activities and meals, as well as free time for content creators and their families to explore the campground, take part in optional activities, or to relax and connect with each other.

The Go RVing fam trip at the Port Huron KOA in Michigan provided fun for the whole family.

The most recent event, held at the Port Huron KOA in Michigan, featured a cruise on Lake Huron, catered meals (including homemade donuts) from Chef Shells, and evenings with cocktails and a s’mores bar around a cozy fire pit. The Ventura Ranch KOA fam trip included an evening hike to find Big Foot, learning how to salsa, and zip lining across the campground. The Mystic trip featured a tour of Mystic Seaport, a pancake breakfast and an epic volleyball game that went for hours.

For the upcoming event, select influencers, content creators and journalists will be invited to join the fun and experience what RV camping is about. Go RVing and KOA will provide beautiful Park Model RVs to stay in, lots of activities and some great food. Participants are welcome to bring their family, and anything special their kids can’t live without. 

A Go RVing fam trip wouldn’t be complete without a great s’mores bar. The one in Port Huron, Michigan was provided by a nearby General RV dealership.

If you’re interested in being part of this fam trip, please email Christy Hamilton at christy@fireituppr.com with information about yourself, your content, and the makeup of your family (who would be coming with you on the trip). Please include your media kit and make sure provide information about the size and demographics of your audience.

Go RVing Announced As Platinum Sponsor At TBEX North America 2020

Attendees at TBEX North America 2019, held in Billings, Montana, check out a Taxa Cricket trailer provided courtesy of Go RVing.

Go RVing is pleased to announce it is the first Platinum Sponsor for TBEX North America 2020. Scheduled for October 7-9 at the CajunDome & Convention Center in Lafayette, Louisiana, TBEX is the largest conference and networking event for travel bloggers, online travel journalists, new media content creators, travel brands and industry professionals. Go RVing’s media relations team is excited to meet with attendees and form partnerships with content producers, brands and destinations for 2021 and beyond.

“RVs offer travelers a flexible platform for nearly unlimited outdoor adventure,” said Kevin Broom, Go RVing director of media relations. “We see natural synergies in working with influencers, outdoor companies and destinations to show people how an RV can work for them in an array of settings, and we’ll be actively seeking new partners for the future at TBEX in Lafayette.”

Go RVing will be sponsoring two fam trips at this year’s conference — a pre-conference trip starting in coastal Mississippi and ending in Lafayette, and a post-conference trip with a to-be-determined itinerary. If you’re an influencer interested in participating in one of these trips, make sure to let TBEX organizers know when you register.

This will be Go RVing’s second year at TBEX. As a sponsor in 2019, Go RVing met with more than three dozen influencers from 14 states who wanted to learn more about how they can share the benefits of RV travel with their audiences. Four of those influencers are partnering with Go RVing on their own RV adventures in 2020.

To showcase one of the many RV options, Go RVing arranged to exhibit a Taxa Outdoors Cricket at the 2019 TBEX. Each day, influencers and attendees crowded the Cricket to see an example of the innovative new designs emerging from the RV industry.

“We create mobile human habitats purposefully designed to inspire the journey towards and into nature,” said Garrett Finney, former NASA architect and Taxa founder. “Habitats that remind us we are part of nature, not apart from it. Think of Taxa as adventure equipment that you sleep in.”

Go RVing Releases New Away Videos to Reach Diverse Audiences

Will and Britta Brown are full-time RVers who want to inspire others to step outside their comfort zones and explore America. Check out their new video for Go RVing.

The Go RVing team has released seven new videos featuring a diverse group of RVers. The videos reflect the campaign’s research-driven strategy of using authentic RVers to inspire others to consider RVs for their own travel and outdoors adventures.

The group includes:

  • Gus Kenworthy’s Cycling for a Cure – In 2015, Kenworthy became the first Olympic skier to come out as gay. In this video, he uses his RV on a bike ride to raise money for research to find a cure for AIDS.
  • Wylder Goods’s Into The Wylde – Jainee Dial and Lindsey Elliott are founders of Wylder Goods, an online outdoor retail company that provides outdoors gear made by women for women. Their video focuses on how RVs enable them to have an array of outdoors adventures.
  • Loki the Wolfdog and his human Kelly Lund, as well as girlfriend Ally and her dog Bailey, have more two million Instagram followers. Loki Off-Leash highlights how RVs enable the entire family – even the four-legged members – to travel together. This is a key demographic as research shows 65% of RV owners bring their pets when they travel by RV.
  • Will and Britta Brown are an African American couple passionate about RV travel. Our Happy Place inspires people to use RVs to step outside their comfort zones and explore the country.
  • Ish Monroe is a professional angler who’s on the road approximately 200 days a year for fishing competitions. In Reel ‘Em In, Monroe talks about how RV travel has enabled him to see the country and make great home-cooked meals on the road. He also discusses how traveling in an RV is a great education. “Everything you’ve ever learned about in a book at school, when you go RVing, you get to see that,” Monroe said.
  • Oneika Raymond is an African American woman and solo traveler. In Single Female, Will Travel, she’s in constant motion encouraging every woman to go on a solo adventure of their own.
  • In the Purrrfect Adventure, JJ Yosh and his cat Simon take an RV trip from Boulder to Durango for outdoor adventures including mountain biking and whitewater rafting. The video hits key touchpoints for potential RVers, including pet travel, cooking and active outdoors activities.

The personalities showcased in the videos reflects America’s diversity of interests, activities and identities, which is increasingly important because of the country’s changing demographics. Go RVing promotes the videos across its social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube.

The videos featuring Kenworthy and Wylder Goods were produced in partnership with Outside and also appear on Outsideonline.com along with short articles.

Visit AWAY.GoRVing.com for all the great videos that inspire people to consider an RV for their own active outdoors lifestyle.