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I Knew I was a TrailBlazer: The Peña Family

This issue, Trailblazer would like you introduce you to the Peña family, or as they’re known on Instagram: @thatcutelittlervfamily! From fishing lessons at Peace River (very successful lessons, might we add) to exploring the Pacific Northwest, the Peña family is making the best of their Thousand Trails membership and have fully embraced the RV lifestyle.

TB: How long have you been camping and RVing? Who introduced you to it?  Tell us how it all began! 

SP: We’ve been RV camping for 4.5 years. RVing kind of just happened to us. We were already running an online jewelry shop on Etsy and homeschooling our children. The rise in the cost of living in the Silicon Valley (our home) plus the fact that we really enjoyed adventuring and spending time with our kids made the decision to buy an RV and travel an easy one. We heard about RVing from YouTube. I first searched for tiny living options that then led me to another video featuring a family of 9 living in an RV. It was very intriguing and after presenting the idea to Julio and a little bit of convincing, he finally was on board. I think what really convinced him was when I mentioned that we could go fishing all over the country.  

The Peña Family

TB: How did you first hear about Thousand Trails? 

SP: We first heard about Thousand Trails while we were dry camping at Grand Canyon National Park from a family that was at the visitor center. Our kids were talking then the parents introduced themselves. Since we were all enjoying each other they asked where we were staying and we were confused and said “here at the Canyon, of course,” assuming everyone did that who RV camped while visiting the Grand Canyon. They proceeded to tell us about Thousand Trails, since that’s where they were RV camping. We had already been on the road for five months and this was the first time we had heard about it. We didn’t think about joining until the next month when we were making reservations to RV camp near Yosemite. Julio called around to campgrounds and without knowing he called the Yosemite Thousand Trails campground. When we booked our stay, the individual on the phone told us that if we signed up for the Annual Camping Pass, it would be roughly the same cost of two reservations. It made sense and we were sold. Since then we’ve upgraded our membership and it’s made our journey much more memorable and affordable. 

One of the Peña girls kayaking

TB: What is one of your fondest camping memories?  How about one of your fondest TT memories? 

SP: We were staying at a Thousand Trails campground at Peace River, Florida, when several other families asked my husband if he could show them how to fish. Many of the kids saw us catching fish so they wanted in. My husband was eager to share one of his passions and off they went. They ended up catching 21 fish in one very productive, exciting day so they all decided to host a fish fry cook out! Julio showed them the process from the beginning, setting up the rod with bait, to end, cleaning the fish and getting it prepared for my friends and I to start cooking. It turned out to be an incredible, memorable potluck with hush puppies (that we’ve never tried before – I know, unacceptable!), cocktails, other goodies, and about 130 fish tacos! What a delicious night! 

The Peña family RV

TB: Any funny camping/RVing stories? 

SP: We were in a small town called Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, and the kids and I went to their downtown looking for shops and things to do. I noticed that there was an art studio that said that a homeschool group was meeting and that all were welcome. Me being me, I opened the door hoping we could join. We were warmly greeted by parents and invited in. I informed them that we were traveling, and they insisted we stay and mingle. It ended up being such a fun group of homeschooling families. But what was really funny and cool was when one of the families said that they had already seen us the week prior, which was impossible because we had just arrived in that town. I assured them that it wasn’t us but then they described my husband saying that he had a dark beard, which he does so I thought it was strange but thought nothing else of it. It wasn’t until several hundred miles later that we realized what they were talking about…or more like who they were talking about. We pulled into a campground and then less than an hour later a family pulls in next to us. The husband and Julio started chatting and quickly Julio realized that the family from the town in New Mexico was talking about was them. They had visited the same exact town the week before us! And he (the husband) really did look like Julio, beard and all! At the time, both of our families did not have a Thousand Trails membership. Since then, we’ve both become members and have upgraded our memberships. It’s been awesome meeting up with them at different Thousand Trails campgrounds through the country. 

TB: What type of camper are you/what equipment do you use? What do you prefer and why? (ex: fifth wheel, RV, tent, cabins, etc.) 

SP: We are in a class C Jayco Greyhawk RV.  It’s a 32 foot. We find it’s a great fit for our family as it’s easy to drive and the perfect size for hard and tight locations. We love being able to freely adventure and pack up quickly. 

The Peña Children

TB: Where have you gone that you wouldn’t have otherwise, if it hadn’t been for your Thousand Trails membership? 

SP: Without our Thousand Trails membership we probably would have never visited Vancouver, Canada. 

TB: What is your favorite part about the outdoor lifestyle? 

SP: Our favorite part of the outdoor lifestyle is giving our children the biggest backyard they have explored.

The Peña children at the beach

TB: This is the question we will be finishing the feature with in every issue.  We want to know when you knew you were the consummate camper, a true TrailBlazer. Can you finish this sentence?
I knew I was a TrailBlazer when… 

SP: I knew I was a TrailBlazer when I looked at the map and got excited about all of the new destinations to be explored.

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