Tripper of the Week: Maria Scarpello

In this week's interview, Maria Scarpello, Tripper, professional beer taster and author of the blog Trippin With Stanley, shares her thoughts and tips from her year-long RV journey. Her travels have taken Maria, her boyfriend Brian and their dogs Ernie and Budha to thirteen states, eighty breweries and counting.


Tell us about your RV journey and how it began. Was it something you had always wanted to do?

Our RV journey began a year ago April, 2010. A friend of ours mentioned one night that he was planning on buying a RV and a National Parks Pass to spend 3 months going from one park to the next. I thought this sounded like an incredible idea, I had always wanted to buy an RV or an old school bus, gut it and flip it into a home, but it was just something I thought I would do later in life, when I was older. The more I thought about it the more I realized I didn't have to wait until I was older, I could do it now in my late 20's. My boyfriend, Brian, and I have always liked the idea of taking mini-retirements (ala Tim Ferriss) so a week later our minds were set and it was time to find our RV.


You wrote about your RV travels in your blog, Trippin with Stanley. Who is Stanley?

Stanley is our RV! He is a 29-foot Class C Jayco Designer that we renovated over the course of two months last summer. When it came time to name him, we knew it needed to be an old man's name since he was a cantankerous old cuss during the renovations. One of our friends suggested "Stanley" and the name just stuck! Stanley can be a bit stubborn at times, but he sure has been a delight this past year, taking us around to incredible, picture perfect sights, allowing us to let our inner 60-year-olds out.


What is the most enjoyable aspect of RV travel that you can't get with other forms of travel?

Brian and I have backpacked twice in Europe, covering over 14 different countries, while backpacking Europe is truly an amazing experience, it can get tiresome not being able to go relax on your own couch or bed at night. The best part of RVing is you take your home with you wherever you go! We do a lot of street camping, sometimes less than a few blocks from the local brewery, so having your home close late at night is definitely a luxury to us!


The other perk is that we get to bring our two dogs, Ernie and Buddha along for the ride. I hate leaving them when we go overseas and now that we have our home with us we can take them everywhere we go! They love cuddling up beneath the dinette in Stanley and going on hikes to play in rivers and lakes. It has been fun seeking out dog parks and having our best friends by our side during our journey.

Of the 13 states you've visited during your journey, which one is your favorite? Why?

This is a tough question because we hadn't previously visited the majority of the states we went to this past year. Colorado and Oregon definitely make the top of the list, amazing scenery and stellar breweries. Hood River, Pacific City, Eugene and Portland, were our favorite Oregon cities and we loved every minute of our time in Colorado, driving north from Colorado Springs, through Breckenridge, Estes Park and up to Fort Collins.

Maria, you are a professional beer taster. We have to ask: How does one go about becoming a professional beer taster?

Well, when you've sampled as many beers as I have in the past year, you basically inherit the title. We've visited over 80 breweries since we began our journey, sampling all kinds of craft brews from Ales and Lagers to Porters and Stouts. Our hometown, Lawrence, KS has one of the best breweries in the midwest, (possibly the country, but I'm biased) FreeState Brewery, and we've just grown up on great tasting beers. We've found that going to local breweries is a really good way to get to know a new city, especially when you don't know what to do, we just belly up to the bar and start chatting with the other locals and get great tips on where to go and what to do, and in turn, meet new friends on our journey.


What experience with locals has been your favorite so far?

Definitely our time at breweri es, talking with the bartenders, brewers or other beer lovers. It's probably no surprise that conversing over beers is a great way to meet new people and we love talking about the craft and learning as much as we can.


You are currently preparing for the second leg of your trip in June 2011. To what are you most looking forward and what lessons learned will you apply this time around?

We are looking forward to going to some spots we missed the first time around, Crater Lake, OR, Lake Tahoe, CA and the entire Grand Canyon area, including Page, Moab, St. George, etc., as well as the many, many breweries we missed. We spent a lot of time at RV Parks and paying each night to park the first few months of our trip last year and now we are much more comfortable with boondocking (not plugging into electric or water, but more importantly not paying to park). We hope to use sites like the Tripping community to meet locals and find places to park Stanley, we also plan to interview Master Brewers and local Homebrewers for a new site we are launching this summer.


One of the best pieces of advice we had before starting our journey last year was the necessity of going with the flow. There are many times in travel that things don't go the way you planned, sometimes you need to make adjustments and that's okay! We've found the less we plan and just go the more we enjoy the scenery along the way. It's good to have a general idea of where you want to go and what you want to do, but we try to stop there and let life takeover!

Thank you Maria for sharing your story with us! We wish you and Brian safe travels on the second leg of your trip! Cheers!

If you live near any of the destinations along Maria and Brian's journey and want to hang out, maybe take them to your favorite local brewery, connect with them via Tripping. And don't forget you can keep up to date on their latest travels via their blog !