Its a Wonder-ful Life!

Jennifer Hill
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Editor’s Note: This post is written by a member of LTV’s sponsored content team, The Leisure Explorers. Do you own a Leisure Travel Van and enjoy writing? Learn more about joining the team.

Hello! Allow me to introduce myself! My name is Wanda Jane. My legal paperwork declares me to be “born” in 2017, with a Ford 3.2 liter power stroke turbo Diesel engine on a Ford Transit chassis. My coach is a Wonder Murphy Bed model built by Leisure Travel Vans in Canada, but I became a native of America when I was acquired by my dealer in Colorado Springs, Colorado, which I am proud to say is still my home! My sleek silver paint job gleams to onlookers whose heads turn as my Ford turbo diesel engine allows me to effortlessly cruise the interstates, back roads, and canyons of the beautiful country of America.

I met my family in March of 2018, and it was love at first sight on both of our parts. I’m titled to my long-time owners, David and Jennifer Hill (I will refer to them as “D and J”). Together, we care for the most lovable toy poodle named Oliver, but we call him Ollie.

My white Ultraleather seats are the perfect backdrop against Ollie’s ebony coat!

That day D and J first came to visit me will be a day I will always remember. J came with Ollie in tow and her dad, Stan, who has been one of my biggest admirers since we met. On a beautiful blue sky Colorado afternoon, J, Stan, and Ollie slid into the comfort of my sleek white leather seats, and I used my quiet engine, boasting 185 horsepower, 350 ft-lb torque, and my six-speed auto transmission to smoothly and quietly glide them on their first excursion in a Leisure Travel Van. As we effortlessly hummed down the road, I heard J comment to my dealer how much my drive felt like a car as we embarked on our first outing together. Back at the dealership, as they inspected my shiny paint, gleaming a sparkling silver in the afternoon light, I overheard J whisper to Stan that I was the one! I was delighted when D&J came back a few days later and drove me home to Denver! We’ve been on an adventure since that day!

These days between our adventures, I spend my winters in Florida and my beautiful summer days in the mountains of Colorado. This year, 2022, has been a busy and exciting time for me. After some sun-filled winter months in Florida, we headed to the mountains of Virginia for a surprise 80th birthday party for Stan, and he was very surprised and excited to see me again. As we left the heat of Florida, we had a bit of relief in the evening as we stayed outside of Savannah, Georgia. My air conditioner quickly cooled down my coach area until the temperature dropped enough to be comfortable. The next night in Asheville, North Carolina, we were greeted with pleasantly cool spring temperatures.

As we rolled into the beautiful Appalachian Mountains of southwest Virginia, my diesel engine pushed effortlessly up the curvy mountain roads. I settled into Natural Tunnel State Park in Duffield, Virginia, for three nights. I highly recommend staying there if you are ever in that part of Virginia. It was so easy for me to settle in on our wide, mostly paved, and very level site.

It was an honor to host my old friend Stan and family at my site for breakfast in the quiet mountain air. J prepared a wonderful breakfast, and all our guests ate in the shade of my awning. The smells made me wish my diet could consist of more than diesel!

After the party, D, J, Ollie, and I cruised north to upstate New York with an overnight stay in Hagerstown, Maryland. By the time we spent our travel night in Hagerstown, we had driven back into winter temperatures! My furnace warmed the coach, so we all stayed nice and toasty as we rested and slept.

Sunset in wintery Hagerstown, Maryland

Once we reached our second destination in upstate New York, I settled into a beautiful parking spot with an amazing view where I would take a rest for the next month. The days were warm and sunny, but old man winter still visited at night. D&J was kind enough to winterize me before we departed from Maryland. I was thankful, as the antifreeze in my piping felt nice and loose compared to the tight, scary feeling of expanding water preparing to freeze! 

D&J hopped a plane to Europe for a wedding and vacation in the Burgundy region of France. While they were away, I enjoyed the springtime sun and looking at the Finger Lake vineyards I sat next to. Each day I watched as the vines came alive with new life and greenery. I found wonderful neighbors in a fox family and woke up each morning to baby kits playing close by. I was very grateful to my neighbor friends for keeping the rodents away from my tender wires and undercarriage.

When D&J returned, we took a day to restock my fridge and make sure all their belongings were properly packed in my cabinets. As the sun rose on a rural New York morning, we all hit the road to start our journey toward our Colorado summer!

My view of the vineyards at Seneca Lake, NY

The first night, we stayed at an old friend’s house on Duck Island in Cleveland, Ohio. As we set out on our journey, I listened to D&J talk about the motorhomes they had seen in France. From their descriptions, I’m sure they are my distant cousins, but I’ve never met any of them.


D&J wanted to catch up with their friend, so they leveled me on the street, allowing my propane tank to effortlessly run our newly stocked refrigerator overnight. I enjoyed my view of the Cuyahoga River for the night in this hip neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio.

After breakfast, we were on our way to Ludington, Michigan, where we stayed at the Cartier Park Campground. This campground is run by the city of Ludington, and rather nicely, I must say! We stayed there three nights. On the first day, the family rode their bicycles into town. D rode his black, sleek Electra while J cruised off on her pretty white Electra with turquoise rims and a special basket for Ollie. I must admit, at that moment, I was thankful I had carried the bikes on my handy dandy rack that D attached to my super functional shiny chrome rear ladder on my coach. This gave me a much-appreciated day to rest in the shade of our campsite and take in the songs of the birds after thirteen hours of cruising through four states.


On our second day in Ludington, I took the family on a beautiful scenic drive through Ludington State Park. The small, curvy, sandy roads were a breeze for my sleek 24-foot body. That night, J made her healthy version of the traditional Michigan pastie filling. D whipped up a batch of his homemade cassava wraps in the lodge cast iron skillet on my efficient gas burners. Once again, the smells make me dream of what it would be like to taste something other than diesel!

Healthy Michigan pastie filling with cassava wraps (recipe below)

Our third morning was perhaps the most exciting morning of my entire existence thus far! This was the day we would take the SS Badger Ferry from Ludington, across Lake Michigan, to Manitowoc, Wisconsin. The SS Badger is a historic coal-powered steam engine ferry. It is the last of its kind still in operation in North America. The journey across the lake takes about four hours.

Early that morning, D&J broke down camp. D works very efficiently outside, storing my electric cord, sewer hoses, and freshwater hose, along with dumping my tanks. Simultaneously, J tidied up my coach. I have great storage for all the necessities for living on the road, including a coffee pot and electric teapot! J always starts in the back of my coach and moves forward, ending with putting my sunshades and rugs away. Her last check is always to double-check all my cabinet latches. Hard as I try, I can’t seem to help her when she forgets to close one of those.

As we pull out of the campground, I am filled with anticipation of my very first trip on a boat! I could barely stand the excitement as we pulled into the docks. I was a little concerned when D&J had to separate from me, but my fears and worries quickly melted away as the talented dock hand gently and smoothly backed me onto the ship. I was filled with peace and confidence as he effortlessly guided me into my own cozy spot, along with a host of other motorhome and trailer friends who kept me company throughout the trip. It seemed a very short time until I could see the lake water moving out of the port hole on my side, and we were off on the journey. The breeze filled the ship, and the hum of the steam engines relaxed me so much that I napped almost the entire way. 


After the ship docked, the kind dock hands drove me to a waiting area where I was reunited with D&J. Boy, was I glad to see them! I was worried if their journey had been as smooth as mine. My worries soon subsided as I learned they also had a wonderful trip across the Great Lake. They enjoyed food, shopped at the gift store, and played bingo to pass the time, where J ended up being a frequent winner!

On my way to reunite with the family

Upon departing the ship, D, J, Ollie, and I drove along the pleasant country roads of Wisconsin and found our campground in Egg Harbor, where we would spend the next three nights in Door County, Wisconsin. We filled our days exploring the area. We broke camp every day, as we put in too much mileage for the bicycles, so I got to go along to see all the sights.

Nestled in my spot at Egg Harbor, WI

We found so many country markets in the area. Of course, J purchased the local Wisconsin-dried cherries. She made chicken over the charcoal fire and topped it with the most delicious smelling mushroom and cherry sauce! My coach smelled so good that the smell traveled out my open windows on the crisp Wisconsin evening, and I got a second whiff as it traveled outside toward my headlights.

Cherry mushroom sauce (recipe below)

From Wisconsin, we traveled to South Dakota, where we spent the next three nights. We drove through Badlands National Park to our destination, Mount Rushmore. As we cruised through western Minnesota into South Dakota, I could feel the temperatures start to rise, and by the time we reached the Badlands, it was a fiery 106ºF (+41ºC)! As we rode through the park, stopping often for buffalo and pictures of gorgeous vistas, I felt like I had rolled into an air fryer. The hot, dry heat fueled by the strong winds might have crisped me up if it weren’t for my sturdy paint job. Luckily there is no oil in my finish, or I might as well have been a crispy fresh french fry covered in badlands dust!

For the next couple of days, we explored some of the most gorgeous places, including Custer State Park and the Mount Rushmore National Monument. This area of South Dakota was some of the most beautiful scenery my wheels have ever rolled through. In the spirit of the Wild West, D cooked wonderful smelling steaks over charcoal on the Weber Smokey Joe that we store in my huge exterior storage compartment.

Nectarine salad (recipe below)

As we toured the Black Hills of South Dakota, the landscape started to have a western feel and made me anxious to reach my beloved Colorado summer!

On day 11 of our trip from upstate New York, and a total of fifteen states since we had left Florida, we set out for our home in Colorado. My engine hummed its way along the highways of Wyoming, back to our beloved state. I have never been so happy to make the steep, curvy, and winding trip over the continental divide, where I spend my summers at 9000 feet in the cool mountain air.

Brought some Badlands dust home!

After a shower to remove the Badlands dust from places I cannot mention, plus an assortment of bugs who had no chance when they decided to tackle me, I settled into my spot with a mountain view. A smile has remained on my face all summer as I reminisce about the round about cross-country trip through 15 states for my annual road trip, from the warm winters of Florida to the cool summers of Colorado.

As the summer sun and warm temperatures give way to the golden leaves of the Colorado aspen trees in the fall, I ponder where we will go in this beautiful country as we head out again soon to prepare me for the pleasant days of our winter life in Florida. As I enjoy the few last weeks of my mountain views, I am reminded that it truly is a Wonder-ful life that I live!

My sticker collection got an impressive expansion on this trip!


Healthy Michigan Pastie Filling

  1. Saute one onion and three minced garlic cloves in olive oil.
  2. Add one pound of ground beef. Cook until beef is browned and crumbled.
  3. Add cubed carrots and sweet potatoes that have been previously lightly steamed.
  4. Add 1-2 TBS of fresh thyme.
  5. Add one cup of white wine and simmer the mixture until the liquid is gone.
  6. Serve in wraps.

Cassava Wraps


  1. Two cups of cassava flour
  2. One cup of canned coconut milk
  3. 1/2 cup of olive oil
  4. 1/2 cup of water
  5. Salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.

Combine ingredients in a medium-size bowl until well mixed. Divide dough into 10 equal parts and shape it into balls. Roll out each ball into a thin tortilla on a piece of parchment paper. Drizzle a pan with olive oil and cook tortillas for about 1-2 minutes.

Cherry Mushroom Sauce

  1. Saute one diced onion and sliced mushrooms in olive oil and butter. When onions and mushrooms are slightly browned, add one cup red wine and one cup water
  2. Add the desired amount of dried sour cherries and simmer until the mixture is a slightly thick sauce consistency.
  3. Serve over your choice of meat.

Nectarine Salad

  1. Slice or dice nectarines, cucumbers, and avocado.
  2. Stir together with olive oil and lemon juice
  3. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic.
Jennifer Hill

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