Let’s go, baby! The Martins take off with Ellie in tow
With New England on their minds and their toddler in tow, Cy and Rebecca Martin bought an RV and hit the road this summer for a cross-country family adventure.
The Fort Smith couple and their 16-month-old daughter, Ellie, set out just two days after Cy came home and announced that he had purchased a recreational vehicle. While some wives would panic at the idea of an impulsive buy and road tripping with a little one, Rebecca has become accustomed to Cy’s spontaneity.
“When we were engaged, he told me that he wanted to buy a school bus and make it into an RV,” she said.
The couple didn’t have an exact destination or timeline, but Rebecca did decide to use her blog, “ArkansasMartins,” to share about their seven-state journey.
In her first post, she wrote, “We’re just going Northeast, with a vague idea of ending up in Maine.” On day seven, she posted “Greetings from Syracuse, New York,” recapping some of their less-than-glamorous moments.
“The first couple of days of our trip were slow going and we had a pretty substantial learning curve. All of my various hair products tumbled out of the cabinets the first day we left ... because who knew you really do have to shut and lock all of the cabinets before you drive off? Another moment when we knew we were novices occurred when we flooded the gray water tank and there were three inches of standing water in our shower that had to be bailed out with one of Ellie’s toy pails.”
Despite the hiccups, the first stretch was filled with several fun stops, including a visit to Cuyahoga Falls National Park in Ohio. There, they hiked to a beautiful waterfall and around unique rock formations known as “The Ledges.” They also picnicked at the lake, where Ellie entertained fellow visitors with her peanut butter sandwich eating “skills.”
On their way to New York, the Martins made a detour to Lake Erie, where they enjoyed a bike ride around the island where they were staying. One of their next big stops was Lake Saranac. The spot was a familiar one for Cy, who at age 16, drove there to work at a Younglife camp for a month.
“Cy relived memories as we walked around where he hadn’t been for 16 years,” shared Rebecca. “He told me stories about jumping into the lake after curfew and about being mentored by older staff – several specific conversations still shape him today.” After their visit to the camp and some New York pizza by the slice, they stumbled upon the Olympic Training Center and the ski jump that was used in the 1980 Olympics. “Cy and I couldn’t believe how tall the ski jump was. We parked across the street from it and just stared for a few minutes.”
Along the way, the Martins split their evenings between Walmart parking lots, KOA sites and other RV-friendly spots. Using primarily a microwave and stove top, they became accustomed to simple sandwiches at lunch and mac ’n’ cheese dinners. “Ellie has been sustained on hot dogs and pouches ... so, she is a happy camper,” laughed Rebecca.
When they weren’t “fine dining” in the RV, the Martins ventured out to try places along their route. One of their favorites was an old-fashioned ice cream shop in New York
“Donnelly’s Ice Cream is on the National Historic Register and still uses their original ice cream machine from 1950s. They only make one flavor a day and it changes each day. Cy and I each got a cone of their strawberry swirled with vanilla. And then we couldn’t stop talking about how good it was.” It was so yummy that they later returned for a “second breakfast” of chocolate and peanut butter ice cream!
The following days included visits to Lake Champlain, a drive through the White Mountain National Forest and, finally, a trip to Acadia National Park in Maine. Soon after, Rebecca and Ellie flew home, with Cy continuing on to make a few sales calls before driving back to Arkansas.
Rebecca and Cy both love to travel, and the RV trip is among the many expeditions they have been on together. “Cy and I don’t really plan the stuff we do,” explained Rebecca. “We’ve been married for two years, and we’ve had plenty of adventures. We’ve driven all over Texas, engaged in countless Craigslist deals, spent 10 days in England, ridden in a 100-mile bike race on our tandem, toured the Blueridge Parkway on a motorcycle, bought and remodeled two fixer uppers, and had a baby.” It appears that Ellie has inherited her parents’ love of travel. “She likes to be on the go and thinks the whole RV is her jungle gym,” noted her mom.
Though they may not have had a detailed plan, Cy and Rebecca did accomplish their goal of making incredible memories. Their flexible schedule enabled them to enjoy their surroundings and to laugh at their wrong turns and “amateur” RV mistakes.
“Cy and I loved our RV trip! Coming off of a hectic and kind of difficult season, it was such a great way for us to really get some good, quality time together and as a family. One of the best parts was really getting to work as a team. Going on an RV trip takes a lot of work and a lot of patience, and it was nice to be able to work through those things together. We will absolutely go on more RV trips - in fact we've already talked about heading out west next year and hitting more national parks and seeing some friends along the way.”
Read more about the trio’s adventure by following their blog, ArkansasMartins.com.
– Brittany Ransom
This article appears in the October 2017 issue of Entertainment Fort Smith magazine.