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Books on Our Grand Adventure

What we read while traveling across the country!

Our 2 month cross-country trek called for A LOT of driving. Over 12,000 miles to be exact. Daniel and I listened to 8 books on Audible while we drove and during down time at campgrounds and such I finished 5 others. Here is what we read:


Books I finished


The Vacationers by Emma Straub

This was a breezy read about a family vacation that is perfect for summer. It definitely wasn’t my favorite book ever, but it was entertaining and a super easy read. Lots of family drama in a fun international setting.




The Muse by Jessie Burton

I really liked this one. The plot jumps back and forth between the start of the Spanish Civil War and 1960’s England. There is a mystery involving a rare piece of art that kept me intrigued until the very end (I love when I can’t guess the ending). It was probably not a topic I would have chosen to read on my own, but I had heard good things and it had a pretty cover. In the end, I really loved some of the characters and enjoyed stepping out of my typical reading choices.


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A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

This book was amazing! Maybe one of my favorites for 2017. I’m not really going to go into the plot here because I really liked going into it blind. It has some difficult themes, but I was just completely absorbed by the narration. Though it was written in the 90’s it feels like it easily could have been written last week. I remember I started reading this while sitting in a coffee shop in San Francisco and finished it in just a few days.


61OLegHQzvL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_ - CopyInto the Water by Paula Hawkins

This fast-paced thriller kept me interested for the most part, but I felt a real lack of connection with the characters. Like, all of them. I can’t remember a single name and I kept confusing people even while I was in the middle of reading it. The ending left a lot to be desired. Entertaining, but not my favorite.




The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

This was a quick little read about 2 immigrant families living in NYC. It is more specifically about 2 high schoolers who fall into an unlikely romance. The entire book only spans 1 day in the lives of these high school students, but it was a really enjoyable read. The characters were engaging and seemed like real people you could meet in the every day. I like that the ending wasn’t tied up too perfectly.


Audiobooks we enjoyed together

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A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle-

This was the pick for my book club right before we left so it was an early read for us while on the road. The story was interesting and unique, but I didn’t super love the Audible narration. I found the voices of the 3 witches (god-mothers? guardian angles?) irritating and distracting. I probably will not continue with the series, but I’m glad I read this classic middle-grade work.



A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

I had heard such great things about this book before we listened to it. I’m not sure I was as thrilled with it as others were. It is the story of a young boy who is dealing with his mother’s terminal illness. There is a giant who comes to him and helps him walk through this season of grief. I think my favorite parts were the little stories/parables that the monster told to help the boy look at his situation differently.



Sleeping Giants & Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

Daniel and I listened to this unusual series during several days worth of driving through the California Redwoods and during a few trips to Yosemite from our campground. Not a bad setting, if you ask me. I liked the first book more than the second and I think we both agreed we will not continue with the series if more books are written (the ending is set up for the story to continue). I enjoyed the unraveling of the story from multiple viewpoints and the premise is intriguing. Pieces of a giant robot are discovered hidden all over the world and a huge rescue operation ensues. There

51y5eNwI6NL._SY346_ - Copywere some interesting moral issues introduced, which I enjoyed.  ****SPOILERS****  The second book didn’t captivate me as much after the robot had been assembled and a national crisis erupted over the unstoppable super-weapon. It really lost me when aliens invaded earth and millions of people were killed by a poisonous gas, including several key characters.




61RDG3ETM9LHarry Potter 1-4 by J.K. Rowling- These books were so great to listen to! I wish we had had the time to get through the whole series together. I have read the books previously, but Daniel had only watched the movies. It was fun having him notice all of the missing details that didn’t make it into the movies. I think these first 4 books are my favorite of the series, before they get too terribly dark and while most of the action is happening at Hogwart’s. I highly recommend the audio version; the narrator has a really incredible range of voices he uses. I was totally impressed!


If you are interested in more books I’ve loved and what I’m reading currently, find me on Goodreads under the name Jamie Leake!

All of the photos in this post are from Google.

The Blue Beluga After!

Our 1969 Leisure Time travel trailer reno took us almost an entire year to complete! I don’t think we realized when we started that we would have this much time and energy invested! I think we had a pretty good idea of what needed to be done in the trailer (everything) but each project took longer and cost more than we planned. But we are finally here! To see all the before photos, click here.



We installed a residential fridge in the trailer to conserve power and so we didn’t have to rely on propane while we drove. Our solar power on the roof keeps the fridge running when we aren’t plugged in and is the perfect size for our tiny kitchen!


Daniel built the lower cabinets and counter tops and re-faced the upper cabinets to freshen them up. All the white paint in the trailer is in the shade “Simply White” by Benjamin Moore and the dark grey on the lowers is Software by Sherwin Williams.


I bought several of these shelves from Ikea and they work perfectly in the trailer. The little bar across the front keeps things from sliding. Check out this post for a list of all our stops during our 2 month road trip!


The window to the right of the sink is where the stop sign was covering a gaping hole when we first purchased the trailer. It is the only window that is not original.


The double doors with the chalkboard open for access to our closet. We stole some space from the bathroom to make our closet bigger, and I’m glad we did. Our bathroom is TINY but we usually use the campground facilities anyway.


Our closet is combination of cloth totes and plastic storage containers. We have had no trouble fitting all of our clothes and shoes in here.








The futon bed is a Full size foam mattress we bought on Amazon. It is actually surprisingly comfortable!




I love this little nook on the left side of the bathroom. We used a section of wood fence that we removed around our house for the reclaimed wood and I love the warmth and texture it adds.







We  are so happy with our trailer and so incredibly proud of the time and hard work it represents. We are even more happy to be actually using the trailer! Wifi is hard to find on the road, but I hope to do a few more posts detailing where we have been, what we have loved, and campgrounds we recommend.

Follow along on our journey @thebluebeluga on Instagram and with #thebluebeluga.