After welcoming a new car into the family this year, a road trip seemed like a must – especially since the Tesla Model Y works well for car camping.
Admittedly, our first attempt at trying this out in our garage did not go great, but we attributed that largely to the fact that we’d assembled a bed from a mattress topper alone. Thus we upgraded to a trifold twin-size mattress and hit the road hoping for the best, since our car would be our home away from home for the next week!
– feature film –
See the occasion come alive in these video highlights!
day 1 • 04.01.23
Missouri >>> Mississippi
This trip took us through seven states, including three – Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama – we’d never visited before. We also seemingly traveled between seasons as we made our way toward the Gulf Coast, trading bare trees in Missouri for green foliage in Mississippi after this first day of driving.
Refilling our car battery at Superchargers usually doesn’t take more than about 15 minutes, but with every charger occupied at our first stop, it was a longer wait. Fortunately, we had video games to pass the time – then had the entire row of chargers all to ourselves the next time we stopped.
We arrived at Wallace Creek Campground in Pope, Mississippi, in time for a stunning sunset, followed by dinner from the cooler we kept in our subtrunk and a show on the dashboard screen.
And of course, no car camping would be complete without a car campfire:
day 2 • 04.02.23
a new day in New Orleans
We woke up to the sight of blue sky and tall trees through our glass roof, and outside was the lake and beautiful light. We enjoyed it for a bit before hitting the road again, with about five hours drive time to our next destination.
We cooked lunch on the road and had it ready to eat at a charging stop. Then after some more driving, the New Orleans skyline was in our sights:
Although we slept in the Tesla for five of this trip’s seven nights, we did stay in hotels for the two nights where that was the better option. As nice as this hotel was, I experienced some separation anxiety at leaving our little motor home in a parking garage a block or so away!
We made our way from our hotel to the New Orleans Riverwalk, and I found it so funny to see palm trees beside the Mississippi River – probably because no sections of the river I’d seen previously were in a tropical climate!
We also stopped by Jackson Square, a National Historic Landmark in the French Quarter. It features a bronze statue of Andrew Jackson, as well as St. Louis Cathedral – the country’s oldest cathedral in continuous use.
We weren’t sure how busy the French Quarter would be on a Sunday evening, but it was packed! This historic heart of the city is known for vibrant nightlife, street performers and colorful buildings with cast-iron balconies. And as it turned out, Seth in his Royals shirt was a perfect addition to Royal Street:
After taking in the sights and sounds of the iconic Bourbon Street, we made our way to Canal Street, which serves as a dividing line between New Orleans’ historic and modern districts.
We attempted to end the evening with some authentic New Orleans’ cuisine. But not finding any great options within walking distance that didn’t require an hour wait, we opted for Shake Shack delivered by Grubhub to our hotel (where Julia Roberts was having a fancy dining experience, even if we weren’t!).
day 3 • 04.03.23
Before continuing on our trip, we did some more New Orleans sightseeing. Bourbon Street was much quieter than the evening before:
And finally, we did get our authentic New Orleans meal: French toast in the French Quarter.
After reuniting with our Tesla, we went to explore the city’s famous Garden District. St. Charles Avenue especially is known for historic mansions, and it was fun to find all the Mardi Gras beads adorning its trees:
New Orleans is also known for its old cemeteries, and we happened to pass this one on our way out of town.
We passed a Tesla twin as we left New Orleans for Gulf Shores, Alabama. We camped there at Gulf State Park, our car looking so quaint surrounded by big RVs!
day 4 • 04.04.23
white sand in two states
We woke up to overcast skies and hoped they might negate the need for sunscreen. (PSA: They didn’t. Don’t ignore a high UV factor even in thick cloud cover!)
With a length of 1,540 feet, the Gulf State Park Pier is the longest on the Gulf of Mexico. We took a walk along it before heading down to the beach.
After the beach, we went to The Beach House for lunch, followed by dessert next door at Island Ice Cream.
Then we were off to our next state and our next campsite, at Fort Pickens Campground on Santa Rosa Island outside Pensacola. This island is part of Gulf Islands National Seashore, and we were surprised to find that the sand there was as strikingly white as what we’d seen a year earlier at White Sands National Park.
day 5 • 04.05.23
Gulf Islands National Seashore
Although our campsite wasn’t right on the beach, we were close enough to hear the ocean and to wake up with condensation all over our car!
We happened to learn that the U.S. Navy Blue Angels would be practicing that morning and hurried to see them – but visibility was too poor for them to send up more than a single plane for just a short time. Fortunately, our mile or so walk to view the aerial display wasn’t in vain, because it took us to Fort Pickens – which was built in the 1800s to protect Pensacola Bay from foreign attacks.
After Fort Pickens, we hit this beautiful beach that we had almost all to ourselves (other than some crabs, of course).
After showering off salt water and eating another dinner from our camping cooler, we went back out to the beach for one last Gulf Coast sunset.
day 6 • 04.06.23
Blue Angels & an about-face
On this morning, we actually did get to see the Blue Angels fly before making the bittersweet pivot to start the long drive home.
We stopped for a bit in downtown Pensacola – where I loved this spot with balloons and açaí bowls – before making our way out of Florida, through Alabama and into Mississippi.
day 7 • 04.07.23
Elvis’ first home & one last night in our motor home
On our last full day of this trip, we took a small detour to visit Elvis Presley’s childhood home in Tupelo, Mississippi. Also on the grounds of the Elvis Birthplace is the church he grew up in, as well as a memorial chapel and museum.
Elvis actually was born in this house, which still sits on the spot where his father built it.
As we left, I just had to hop out to capture our little white “home” with the Presley family’s little white home. Then we were off on the last little leg of our drive to the same campground where we’d spent night No. 1. We really liked camping beside this lake, so it was perfect “lodging” for bookending our trip.
day 8 • 04.08.23
Graceland & going home
We woke up early to rain on our glass roof and made the hour drive to Memphis – as it was only fitting to see Elvis’ last home after seeing his first the day before. We didn’t have time to tour Graceland, but it was still neat to see it from its gates.
We traveled through seasons again as we made our way back north, finding ourselves surrounded by bare trees as we crossed back into Missouri.
We filled our thermoses one last time this trip at our last charging stop, and I thought it only fitting to feature here the 5-gallon jug that never fails to keep us hydrated on road trips. And finally, once arriving home, our most pressing task was to clean the car that had also been so good to us all week!
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