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Turning Around

Having spent a fun-filled month with the Travaglinos of Fulltime Family fame, we headed on with our original plans to go east and up the coast. Occasionally we have dates to contend with- meet-ups with family or friends, scheduled events, etc. that loosely tailor our overall plans. We have a couple of those coming up- meeting up with Chris’ parents in Hilton Head, SC at the end of April (yay!) and the beginning of our seasonal site in NH on May 15th. Everything else is up for grabs.

So we begin to head leisurely in the direction of east. I am feeling the need again for some natural beauty and peaceful isolation so we head to a Corps of Engineers campground (aka- peaceful isolation) on the Florida/Georgia border. A few hours’ drive and the best spot in the campground happened to open up just as we were pulling in. It was available for two nights only (we were thinking 3-4) but I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. Done- corner spot on the lake with a pair of Canadian geese as neighbors.

Camera Roll-28

After setting everything up in our beautiful new yard, we find the Verizon data signal is abysmal and drum roll… that night our fridge dies. The data signal is so bad it takes Chris most of the night to troubleshoot the fridge issue. By morning he’s narrowed it down to the cooling whatcha-hoozie which is about $1,000 to replace. What the what?! He’s been saying all along that a residential fridge will be the successor when this one dies. At about $500 for a whole new residential fridge, we decide to go that route. But there’s the matter of putting it in… There was door frame measuring, current fridge measuring, comparing online measurements of new fridges and several calls to his buddy Chris Travaglino. They decide they can put it in together.

With my ice box (box with ice in it trying to keep my frozen meat frozen) in tow, we turn around and head back to Alabama for some more time with friends and a new fridge.

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Posted by on April 8, 2013 in Alabama, Florida, RV, Travel log

 

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Year 2 in Review (the 2nd six months)

Well, with all of this Alabama fun tossed with some cold germs, not much work on the year 2 slideshow has been had. The addition of a DSLR camera during our first year on the road yielded amazing photo memories of our travels and the kids’ growing years. However, the ability to snap six shots in as many seconds multiplies the work of choosing photos for said slideshow. It’s also a very emotional tumultuous process as I relive experiences and feel the presence of the family and friends with whom we shared them.

Anywho- here’s the map of the second six months of our second year! Yes, it’s just too much to even put on one map.

Click here to view the map in a browser and check out the highlights of our stops along the way.

Camera Roll-232

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2013 in RV, Travel log

 

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Longing.

Far northern California reminds me so much of rural Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont.  Vast expanses of rocky, rolling mountains covered in the green of spring- the neon of new grasses, bright yellows and purples of the first wildflowers, budding trees and fresh leaves, and the ever-present anchor of the evergreens as far as the eye can see.  As we drive to Klamath, CA- just south of the Oregon border on the Pacific coast, I find myself feeling a bit of longing for the familiarity of the east coast.  This hasn’t happened since we’ve been on the road- at least not at a time when we couldn’t change our plans and quell our desire to be… wherever.  But right now we have solid plans- the Life is Good Conference at the end of the month, friends who have become family awaiting us in British Columbia, Tough Mudder at the end of June, and an Alaskan Cruise/RV to Denali National Park in July.  Not a bad lineup.

I haven’t ‘missed’ anything in a really long time.  It’s an uncomfortable feeling that calls me back to a focus on the present.  What is it about now that isn’t sitting right?  Why the longing?  Generally when I feel I need something – food, sugar, place, person – there is a void that I am not recognizing. 

Lately I have been noticing recurring thoughts of the future.  What will the next adventure be?  How long will we RV?  Will we go abroad?  How?  For how long?  Will the kids decide, at some point, that they want to be stationary?  Will Chris or I?  What if I never fulfill my dream of farming?  Is this a real dream or a romanticized one?  If we did settle down, where would it be?  Is traveling going to continue to be financially feasible?  Would settling down end up being more expensive?

When I look at the questions in print, I recognize fear.  Fear of the future.  Fear of the unknown.  It’s familiar and familiar feels good no matter how bad it feels…  But I know I don’t have the answers.  And I don’t need them.  I am brilliantly happy with my life.  Maybe that’s where the questioning comes in.  A deep breath waiting for the other shoe to drop?  And yet I’m here because of choices made with a focus on living in the present moment rather than the more common sacrificial perspective in which we spend most of our lives waiting, saving, and planning for moments too short or that may never come at all.  The spotlight falls on… being open.  Seizing opportunities.  Staying still when it feels right.  Moving, seeing, doing when we want.  Honoring the changes in ourselves and each other.  Recognizing that we create our lives and choice creates empowered joy.  We always have a choice.

safe haven

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2012 in California, RV, Travel log

 

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California’s a Big State! (Part 1)

So now I’m back-blogging (as in- still behind where we are right now…).  Right now we’re in northern California but we started down at the ‘bottom.’  As you can imagine, there’s a lot to catch up on.  But I would feel remiss if I didn’t try.  There has already been so much that I didn’t record here of our east cost travels that I’ve got to catch up on these last few months since Tucson.

We’ve been in California since March 16th (my birthday).  The stars (or logistics) aligned for us to travel on my birthday.  Ah, well.  The night before we left I made a coconut flour, double-decker death by chocolate paleo cake.  It was freakin’ fabulous.  We made our way to Jamul, CA – just outside of San Diego.  Our drive took us from sunny, dry, hot Tucson where the vegetation makes every attempt to spear you to the rainy, lush, green countryside of southern California and let me tell you how great it is to end a rainy travel day with a huge chocolate cake topped with fresh strawberries (and candles)…

Elijah (and more recently Sadie) had been waiting for this stop for a long time.  Legoland!  We were situated in a rainy, woodsy campground.  The lush green, mountainous area made for beautiful driving to and from our temporary home.  We spent two days in Legoland.  It was- eh.  My theme park bar is set high by Disney World.  Say what you will, Disney is a plugged in, full on enjoyable experience.  I thought Legoland was seriously overpriced.  Disney ticket prices for a Lego Six Flagesque experience.  We were delighted to get the hook-up with information about homeschool day prices.  We ended up saving more than half and that made it all better for me.  The kids LOVED it.  It’s a theme park.  And there are Legos.  Elijah participated in the Lego Mindstorms (robotics) class and (despite not being overly thrilled about taking time away from his theme park experience) thought it was awesome and was glad he went.  It entailed programming robots to navigate a course and perform varied functions to complete an assignment.  The best part of Legoland for everyone was the gift shop.  Holy moly, that is a seriously comprehensive gift shop.

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My oldest brother lives in California.  We stopped through for a delicious dinner and renewed connection and ended up spending the night and making another date for our families to spend more time together.  We are 7 years apart and were always in very different parts of our lives.  It seems we’ve found common ground now as adults with young children pursuing our personal and familial passions with vigor.  Man, that was fun.  It warms my heart to hear my kids talk about their cool aunt and uncle and their super-fun ‘new’ cousins.  My favorite memory?  Hiking in the Cleveland (not in Ohio) National Forest with my brother in his family.  I feel closer to him now than ever.  I’ve committed myself to giving more attention to family connections.  I’ve made this (private) commitment before but this time feels different- it’s out of excitement rather than obligation.  But it’s tricky with poor cell signals and sketchy internet so the blog is my love letter to y’all until we hear each other’s voices again.

Speaking of brothers, Chris has one in California, too!  Jeesh – for east coast kids, we’ve got a lot of family on the west coast.  Back to one of my favorite RV park/campgrounds situated on a horse ranch in the Padre National Park mountains to the east of Santa Barbara (with the Pacific Ocean to the west).  Here we spent two weeks with Chris’ brother and 4 year-old niece.  There’s just something about cousins.  I’m so happy that our kids get to see theirs more regularly than they would if we were living in a stationary home.  The cost of four plane tickets, west and east coast family, and time off from a facetime job made it very difficult.  One of the biggest reasons our kids like to travel is that they get to see family much more frequently.  Park play, delicious restaurants that could accomodate our paleo nutritional choices, an afternoon at the Ty Warner Sea Center with Emma, a hike with spectacular views of Santa Barbara, a hike to another waterfall right from the door of our RV, a horseback trail ride for Sadie and I, and precious time just ‘being’ with family.  Well, we didn’t spend much time in the RV park but we did love our time in Santa Barbara.

OK- well that gets us to central California.  I’m out of breath and will catch up on the rest soon!  One of my toughest parts of blogging is calling a post ‘done’ and pressing ‘publish’ so I must type and publish all in one hit!

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2012 in California, Family, Travel log

 

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Oh My-ami!

From Orlando we headed down to Miami. Our goal was to visit the three national parks of south Florida and we found an absolute gem of a campground. I would go back to this one over and over and we just might. The weather was sunny and warm- gorgeous for visiting Miami Beach, snorkeling and exploring John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park on Key Largo (on my 35th birthday- how cool is that!), Biscayne National Park, Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve. The kids earned Junior Ranger badges at all 3 parks and have sent away for their South Florida National Parks patch indicating as much. The badges are no small feat for such small fries but it’s a great opportunity for us to learn as a family and for the kids to work toward their goal of having a souvenir from each national park that we visit.

Swearing in Junior Rangers- Everglades NP

On our travels there are also many days that we hang around the parks and play. Our older neighbor asked if she could take the kids’ picture on this day. There was some fierce princess and knight stuff going on.

Knight and fierce princess

We had the pleasure of meeting two cousins of mine for the first time during our Miami stay! What a wild adventure that we can spend time with so many people that we may never have met otherwise- including family! Lloyd and Leighton are 1/2 Cuban and were delighted to share their cultural heritage with us. We ate some pretty darned amazing food. The kids still talk about how much they like Cuban sandwiches! The significant difference in our ages (I am 13 and 15 years older than they, respectively) led to some very interesting conversations about dreams, life, histories, passions, and experiences. I was quite taken aback by their similarities in mannerisms, humor, and pensive nature to our grandfather with whom I was very close but they didn’t have the opportunity to get to know well. There’s just something about family.

Spending time with family

On a day when parking was not to be had for Miami Beach (we drove around for over an hour searching), we headed to the Miami Children’s Museum. Our disappointment here was twofold in retrospect. We didn’t find anything interesting or well-maintained about this museum and it seems that we may be outgrowing most of the exhibits at children’s museums anyway. Glad we recently found the list of the science and technology museums that are also included in our Association of Children’s Museum membership! Check out what’s included. You can get a reciprocal membership from your local (traveling families- make sure it’s your local museum- it matters that your ID address match the location on your museum card) children’s or science and technology museum and be a roving connoiseur as well!
Association of Children’s Museums reciprocal museum program brochure
Association of Science and Technology Centers travel passport program

The Art Deco style of downtown Miami is funky and cool. The palm trees, bronzed bikini bodies, and bicycles give it a sultry, smokin’ hot flair. Being there definitely felt like a vacation.

In order to take in Big Cypress National Preserve at close range, we moved the RV into one of their campgrounds at Monument Lake for a few days. We had it on good authority from our traveling friends, The Lundy 5, that, although Monument had no electricity or water to offer our RV, it did have a cell tower right across the lake. That’s the only thing we need! Chris can work and we can boondock to our hearts’ content. The first night the kids were playing Wii Rock Band, Chris was working on the desktop computer at his desk, and I was cooking a grand meal. We laughed at how decadent ‘dry’ camping is. The only differences for us are keeping an eye on our coach batteries and enlisting the RV generator occasionally for a refresh and limiting our grey water usage to ensure that we don’t fill our tank before we’re ready to move on- packing up to dump is a real hassle.

One of our goals was to take a canoe trip as a family which we did out of the Everglades City visitor center of the Everglades. We paddled what felt like a giant WWII metal battleship the one mile mainland to Sandfly Island. Holy cow, it was hard. The wind blew us off course continually, we paddled against the tide all the way there, and there was recuping of patience needed on all accounts at different points on the journey. The hike around the island itself was so cool! It is aptly named, though, and we don’t generally use bug repellant so there was a lot of itching and slapping! Despite our difficulties we would do it again- next time in kayaks like the ones that were gliding by us like we were anchored.

Mama alligator and her little babies 7

One of the most compelling pieces of these national parks has been living with respect for animals. It really changed our perspectives- even as people who honor and love the Earth and those with whom we share it. It stuck with me how ‘advanced’ societies live not only without regard for surrounding animal life but as though it’s a mere interference- relocating and killing animals that are deemed threatening or a nuisance to everyday life. In the parks, we are visitors and this is their land. What a switch! What I liked the most? That humans couldn’t betray this because the alternative to respecting the animals was to lose a limb or a life. Alligators have the run of the place and, with understanding of their behaviors, we were welcome and safe visitors. I love when we’re held accountable by natural consequences. So often, there are fences and rules and guards. It has taken away our natural ability to assess and act in accordance with our environment rather than by resistance and containment.

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2011 in Florida, RV, Travel log

 

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Albuquerque, New Mexico- Serendipity and sadness

Still on a quest to get me to a conference in Santa Cruz, California by the middle of October, we headed from Canyon, TX to Albuquerque, New Mexico (it took me several Google searches to realize I was spelling it wrong before) with a boondock at a Wal-Mart parking lot in between.  Say what we will about the Wal-Mart conglomerate, they do come in handy for overnights while just passing through.
Welcome to New Mexico

We definitely got off on the wrong foot with Albuquerque.  Unable to find a decent (not exorbitantly priced) park and not planning to stay long, we decided to boondock a night or two while we looked around a bit and sought veg.  The first Wal-Mart was a little too city for our liking and the surrounding area had a really low vibe.  After passing on another and getting asked to leave (while I was roasting a chicken in the oven) from another because of a local HOA ordinance, we found one that suited us to squat for the night.  By that time, we were really tired and really frustrated and, might I mention, not so fond of Albuquerque.  In our excursions in the city, I have never been asked for money so many times- not by people sitting on the side of the sidewalk or outside of stores but by people actually approaching us in parking lots, knocking on our windows, etc.  They were all kind enough but it really felt intrusive.

Enter serendipity: While text messaging with our friend Justin Wagner, Chris found out that they were just outside of ABQ up in the mountains of Tijeras, NM.  We headed the 20 minutes up the highway and pulled our big rig in to the site next to them, put out the slides, levelled the RV, and began to hook up when we realized we couldn’t find a water spigot for our site.  Can you say, “WTF”?  Confirmed by the manager of the “we have full hook-ups” RV park, we then had to pack up again, back out, and pull into another site.  I cannot overstate what a process this is.  We shared frustrated hugs with the Wagners who had been having travel troubles of their own and what we planned on being a one or two night stay, turned into the better part of a week.  We had a peaceful time with our friends at Leisure Mountain RV Park which was incredibly reasonably priced with our Passport America membership (highly recommend).  The kids played, we worked, socialized, watched movies, walked dogs…  Aside from continued RV repairs, it was a genuinely great time with friends high on the side of a mountain with a beautiful view.
Kids playing Barbies and Legos

I even met an online friend in person!  We met up for a movie which, by decision of the children, turned into a park day instead.  I’m so glad it did! Sylvia Toyoma and I talked and talked and the kids had a great time playing on the playground together.  It felt really good to connect in person with someone with whom I have shared valued exchanges online.

Tara and I took the kids to Petroglyph National Monument to see 150,000 year-old art that had been carved into the rocks there by indigenous peoples.  We could only guess what some of them were and what they could have meant but it was pretty darn cool to stand there where they stood and see the art that they created still present now.
Petroglyph NP
Petroglyph NP

The landscape in northern New Mexico is breathtaking.  To stand at the top of the small mountain and look down on the landscape and see it littered with walled-in subdivisions looked like just that- litter.  The kids noticed.  I noticed.  It made for interesting conversation for some time after, for sure.
View from Petroglyph NP

Even more interesting conversation was to come.  We decided to caravan on with the Wagners toward Las Vegas- their home and one of our destinations on the way to California. Oh the gorgeous mountains on our way!  Oh the sadness we felt as we drove through and made a stop on Native American reservation land on our way out of northern New Mexico.  The landscape was littered with run-down homes and we stopped in a literal shanty town which seemed to be upheld solely by fast food chains.  Skulking stray dogs wandered the parking lots and cowered and ran when approached with food and water.  The eyes of the people showed a deep sadness tempered in varying degrees with the robotic necessity of moving through life one step at a time.  I considered the rich cultural heritage of these people and felt a loathing for imperialism and homogenization.  New Mexico is famous for its landscape and justifiably so.  I have to say that, overall, we were unimpressed by the energetics of the area of Albuquerque and the route that took us on our way out of New Mexico.  It just didn’t feel good.  We’ll be passing through New Mexico again on our way back through the southwest this winter.  I’m open to suggestion as to things to see and places to go/stay.  As always, there are many different factors that come into play in any experience and I know that we can’t generalize the whole state based on our limited experiences in one area.  It did feel good to be on the road again….
New Mexico landscape

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2010 in New Mexico, RV, Travel log

 

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Houston Children’s Museum

When Chris was still working his regular 8-5 PM gig, the kids and I did quite a bit of traveling on our own.  We visited the Houston Children’s Museum on the weekend of their grand re-opening a year or so ago.  We loved it so much that the kids were really excited to bring Chris there while we were in ‘the area.’  It took about an hour to get there from Galveston but we needed a break at the time.  We were stuck in the swirl of fixing broken things and decided to re-focus.  This was just what we needed to get us back on the track of doing what we love with the people we love. 

It was mobbed during the grand opening and it was mobbed again when we went together a few weeks ago.  It was before school was back in but I wonder if it matters in a city as big and congested as Houston.  It is a fabulous museum and really can’t be enjoyed all in one day but we did our best!

Elijah planned and built a town.  It was interesting and cool to see his vision of what would be important:

Apartments, parking garage, grocery store, ball fields, recreation area, playground, art museum, city hall, restaurants, performing art center, farm.

Not:

Police station, industry, office buildings, schools. 

I’ve given up trying to zoom in on other photos of his calculated town assembly to see what else he left out.  I just remember at the time thinking how much simpler, easier, more joyful, and present life will be when all children are loved and supported and respected thereby generating the same awarenesses in themselves- of themselves, others, and the world around them.  The world will change and I am ready.

Fearless Sadie has been wanting to climb a wall like this for a while now but circumstances just haven’t worked out.  She actually got a little nervous when it was her turn but climbed almost all of the way around the wall anyway.  It felt good to stand there and support her in whatever decision felt right while reminding her of her longstanding desire to <try>.  There was no need to get all the way around or all the way to the top.  She got on and squealed and wavered and conquered the momentary fear of <trying>.

I highly recommend this museum… and focusing on what’s important.

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2010 in Travel log

 

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