Tag Archives: homeschooling

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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Year 2 in Review (the first 6 months)

We started on the road mid-summer of 2010. We can’t actually remember the exact date! There was estate sale-ing and house closing and veg oil system installing and it really made our exact launch date a little muddy. But we don’t mind. Half the time Chris and I forget our anniversary until someone needs a calendar that day and it triggers the memory. So we mark our years on the road roughly by starting at the end of summer (when we originally left Texas after all the afore mentioned horsing around) and going until the following.

Why do we mark at all? We found after our first year on the road that it was pretty freakin’ fabulous to look at our map and a quick slideshow of the year to see where we’d been. We visit more places and do more things in a year than we ever thought we’d do (than most people visit/do) in a lifetime!

Have you seen our brief (we have an extended version as well but it’s LONG) highlight video of our first year?

I’m working currently on the video for the second year so stay tuned.

In the meantime, here’s a map of the first six months of our second year. Yup- just six months. And we never felt rushed.

Click here to view the map in a browser. You can click on the stops to see our highlights!

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Posted by on March 9, 2013 in RV, Travel log


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California’s a Big State (final post):: The Redwoods

North we go and once again find the coast.  At first site of the ocean (around Eureka, CA), the kids were so excited (and it was so beautiful) that we pulled the whole rig over for an ocean play break.  Chilly but awesome!
Hello again, Pacific!!!

Klamath, CA – right smack dab in the middle of Redwood State and National Parks.  State and National?  We’d never heard of this kind of park collaboration before so I was concerned our National Parks Pass wouldn’t get us in to the park or that there would be extra day use fees.  Turns out that we were not charged a fee (and I didn’t even need to present the pass) though there were fees posted.  The Junior Ranger Program was quite similar to the others the kids have done at other national parks except the lack of a present ranger at the visitors’ center prompted the gift shop attendant to leave me in charge of swearing in my rangers when their work was complete.  OK.  I guess this would have been a bother for the kids had they not done so many previously but they liked completing their activities at home and having the badge to add to their collection right away.  I did a little research after the fact to look into this ‘state and national parks’ thing.
Jurassic Elijah

The Redwoods comprises such a big area of the coast that the Highway 101 runs right through it.  The scenic highway (parallel) takes the traveler west just a bit to drive among the towering redwood trees.  It’s really a breathtaking drive all the way up to Crescent City.  There are hiking trails at turnouts all along the scenic highway poriton so there really is no need to hit the visitor center unless additional information is required.  The park host at the RV park where we stayed gave us a great regional map and a finger-walking map-tour of the highpoints of the area so we were ready!  While Chris worked one day, the kids and I went off a'The Farm'nd found The Farm – Radar Station B-71 tucked in and overgrown overlooking the Pacific.  It is two buildings that were built in 1942 to look like an operating farm post-Pearl Harbor and equipped to monitor for Japanese coastal threats.  We felt like explorers and detectives and the like as we waded through tall grass to get down to the buildings and peered in the barred windows.  It sparked an in-depth conversation and some Google research (on the phone in the car) about WWII, Pearl Harbor, and the bombing of Hiroshima.  The historical perspective our kids have is so objective and impartial.  It is not based on some agenda-laden history text or a particular teacher’s biases or…. fear.  The discussions we have about human behavior and historical happenings are fascinating.  When we brought Chris back to check it out, it had been mowed.  So it did not seem as laden with ghosts and mystery but it was still cool.

We took a couple of hikes during our week in the Redwoods.  The kids immediately commented oGnome kidsn how they felt like gnomes in a giant world.  (We have a GREAT and heavily read book on gnomes so we’re up on our gnome knowledge.)  I couldn’t stop an internal giggle after that.  I did, too!  Then I read that the woodsy portions of The Lost World: Jurassic Park were filmed there and we imagine dinosaurs ambling, scurrying, and rumbling through the humongous ferns and collossal plants.  Then Chris remembered that the Endor scenes of Return of the Jedi were filmed among the redwoods and we were giddy with talk of ewoks.  Yes, these trees (and, for that matter, all of the giant plants and thick greenery) evoke a feeling of being small, childlike, vulnerable, inquistive, wild, and adventurous. 

We also spent a cloudy day at the beach before being warned by a passerby about sleeper waves.  Eek!  With all of the signs about being in a ‘tsunami hazard zone’, we didn’t know about these rogue waves.  Apparently it’s a pretty regular hazard.  Glad we had a lovely rogue-wave-free day before scurrying back to the car and home for dinner!
Kids in the distance

There are several Roosevelt elk viewing hotspots in the Redwoods as well.  Once nearly extinct, presElk at Prairie Creek Visitor Centerervation practices have helped increase their numbers to over 1,000.  We got a great roadside view of a small herd grazing across from the Prairie Creek Visitor Center. 

The night we arrived at our RV park in Klamath was the first Celtics NBA playoff game.  And we arrived to find that in my web surfing of the various local RV parks, I had inadvertently chosen one without cable hookup.  Chris was freaking out quietly when we got there (I had prepaid over the phone) but the host hooked us up immediately with a satellite box he had on hand.  Sweet.  We noticed chickens roaming the park near the office and were given 2 dozen free-range chicken eggs during our week-long stay!  I’m really glad we chose Kamp Klamath RV Park after driving around the area.  It was convenient to the highway but not right on it like most of the other parks.  They were a bit overgrown on the other side and sprucing up for the true beginning of their season (as fulltimers, we’re noticing we’re not always in parks in their on-season).  The cafe had burned down last year.  The playground was a small backyard type and grown up with grass.  But there was plenty to do in the redwoods.  The park host was on par with the sweetest, most helpful people we’ve met on the road.  That makes all the difference.  Sadie and I made him a flourless chocolate cake with some of the eggs.  🙂

Lots more photos of our time in northern California on Flickr!

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Posted by on June 4, 2012 in California, RV, Travel log


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Last Christmas, Sadie wanted and received one of those insect kits to raise butterflies.  We’ve been so busy traveling and visiting that we just haven’t used the voucher to order the larvae and start the process.  She recently pulled the box out of her cubby and it seemed the perfect time.  So we went to and used the voucher from our box to order the larvae.  We paid only shipping because the kit included the voucher but you can order and pay for a variety of insects there without the kits as well.  Sure enough, 2 days later we received 5 little black caterpillar-looking larvae.

They grew like mad!  It seemed everytime we walked by their little cup, they were significantly bigger to the point that they ended up greenish, brownish, fat, fuzzy caterpillars.  The cup had tiny air holes and included the food they needed to get to their chrysalid phase so we didn’t do anything but watch for about a week.  They made silk strands criss cross the cup and walked around on them and one day one of them attached its rear end to the paper lid liner of the cup.  The other four promptly followed.  That was about a week ago.  We watched them change from soft and squishy looking to covered in hard, dry casings that had iridescent gold spots on them.  According to the instructions, we removed the paper lid liner from the cup and safety pinned it to the lower inside edge of the net butterfly house.  In the process, one of the chrysalids fell off.  Yikes!  I was able to gently rub the silk remaining on the top against the cup and it stuck back on.


Yesterday I got a call while I was out from Chris.  “We have a butterfly!”  Indeed, we do.  And it is a beautiful miracle of nature!  So awesome.

Sadie picked the heads off of two of her potted petunias, mixed the sugar water, and dropped a few droplets on the petals.  We all watched this morning as our butterfly friend extended its proboscis and drank the sweet mixture.  It was visibly disturbed by our hands, our presence, and household noises.  Before our bumpy drive to Austin this morning, we decided to set this one free.

We have four other chrysalids remaining.  In the process, the same chrysalid that had come detached before fell again.  We picked it up and examined it and could see the butterfly wings inside!!!  This time it would not stick back on.  I took a piece of dental floss and tied it to the silk hanging off and tied the other end to the strap on the top of the net house then zipped the zipper closed over it.

Guess what?!  As I’m typing this post, that butterfly has emerged! Phew. I was kind of worried about that guy.

We are all excited to observe other insects from Having read just about everything about butterflies we have gotten our hands on, it’s positively awesome to watch their transition first hand. I think any other observations may have to wait until spring weather… The nights are getting chilly here in Texas already!

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Posted by on October 6, 2011 in Projects


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Mexico Beach, Florida

Coming to the conclusion that we rather like traveling more slowly makes actually getting to a destination tricky.  Chris and I huddled up in Sedona many weeks ago and planned out our entire winter.  Albeit late, we were able to sneak in amongst the snowbirds and book a site in Florida nearby his grandparents for the month of January.  We’ve been anxiously awaiting our visit ever since.  After a really fun couple of days in New Orleans, we boondocked one night and arrived for a one week stay in Mexico Beach, Florida.  We were so excited to spend some time on the white sand beaches we’d heard so much about from some friends in Texas. 

But wait, isn’t Florida supposed to be warm?  Not this part, apparently.  This was a cold week.  Now I’m not talking cold like Michigan or Massachusetts or wherever you’re reading this from right now cursing at me as you wrap your hands around your cocoa and pull up the covers.  But for a family on the road in a not-so-well-insulated, lightly packed RV chasing warm temperatures and expecting warm sand between our toes, it was cold.  We stayed at Rustic Sands RV Resort– a lovely treed campground amongst beach cottages in a town 40 minutes from the closest anything. 

It made for a great week for ‘downtime’ (aka- doing less exploring).  Chris had work to catch up on after our 2 full days jaunting around New Orleans and there were plenty of projects and cleaning to be done around the RV.  We had replaced the fuel filter housing on the side of the highway in Alvin, TX (just before New Orleans) and took one of the afternoons here to clean the back of the RV, tow car, and bikes of the fuel (diesel and veg) that had escaped prior to our discovering the drain valve was stuck open.  It doesn’t take much to make a big mess.  Blech.  The kids played outside and spent time on their computer games.  Elijah is a World of Warcraft fanatic and Sadie became a potion entrepreneur with Fairy Godmother Tycoon.
Mexico Beach, FL  1/2011  beach romp

There were two afternoons during our week that were not downright freezing or pouring and we made for the beach- about a mile walk from the campground. These kids are crazy. As Chris and I put up our hoods and turned our backs to the chilly winds, the kids ran straight for the numbing waves. They had so much fun that cold was an afterthought. Glad we brought extra clothes for the walk home!
Mexico Beach, FL  1/2011  kids
Oh yeah- and I got a new camera! I’m having so much fun reading about it and playing with it and capturing all the gorgeous moments of our lives. I’m reading the manual, getting help from great friends, watching Youtube videos, and Googling. It’s definitely not enough to just have a fancy piece of equipment. Knowing how to use it and having an eye for composition are a big deal!


Posted by on February 14, 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


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


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Canyon, Texas- We’re creating our dreams

We stayed two full days in Canyon, Texas- just south of Amarillo in the Texas panhandle- on our way northwest out of Texas.  The draw for this stop was a picture in our state parks guide of the lighthouse rock formation at Palo Duro Canyon.  Yes, it’s that kind of life.  Where there’s intention, there we are!  This was our first experience in the creation of our dreams and it was WILD.

We’ve never seen anything so magnificent!  I know, I know- I’m originally from the Berkshires in Massachusetts and Chris from southern New Hampshire.  New England is gorgeous.  We know that… now.  The places we don’t know, haven’t seen, or have only seen in movies hold this mystique- almost as if they aren’t real.  We’ve travelled a bit- all over New England, Aruba, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, San Diego, Santa Barbara, DFW, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, New York City.  There may be a few others that I’m missing.  Maybe we’ve travelled more than the average, working family.  The big difference- we have found- is that those were destinations, visits, stops on a round trip back to ‘real’ life.  This time it IS life.  OUR life.  The one we’re creating and it’s absolutely magical. 

In accordance with our repetitively stated need for internet, we stayed at Palo Duro RV Park just outside the state park/canyon.  Once in the park, there is no mobile phone signal at all.  The RV park had good WiFi and, because the musical Texas! was off-season, so was the park.  We had lots of space.  The park wasn’t lovely but very functional and friendly for the three nights that we stayed.  Chris and I had our hearts set on seeing the Lighthouse rock formation and then read in the information that it was a 6-mile roundtrip hike.  Could we make it? We psyched up the kids, packed lots of food and not enough water, headed out on a Saturday morning, and (tried) to resign ourselves to the journey rather than the destination.  It was awesome.  We were in this spectacular canyon, jumping off rocks, touching the walls, exploring trails.

I won’t lie.  There was some grumbling around the 1.5 mile mark.  At 2 miles, we could see it- the Lighthouse looming in the distance.  It was a little anti-climactic.  We thought it would be bigger.  We almost turned around then but met a couple coming from there who gave us instructions on how to get up to the Lighthouse which included rigorous rock climbing.  The kids were sold!  We forged ahead.  The trail became rocky and the incline steep.  We paired off- one adult behind each child- thrilled with this new aspect of the adventure.

As we got closer, the Lighthouse lived up to its fame.  It was enormous and multicolored and beautiful and…. and….!  We scaled steep rock ledges and wound up directly at the base of the Lighthouse and its sister formation, the Castle.  I gave the remainder of the water bottle I was sharing with Chris to a teenager suffering from heat exhaustion.  We headed back with a spring in our step.  Chris alternated putting the kids on his shoulders between the trail markers as the kids counted them down for each tenth of a mile to the trail head.  It was so hot but we all felt like we had done something so BIG. 

Our feet were sore and we were seeking a cool drink.  But a cool dip in the water at the water crossing certainly helped!

Canyon is a supremely quaint little town- the epitomy of ‘sleepy, little bedroom town’.  There’s only one restaurant that serves alcohol (you have to fill out a form- it’s a dry town) and almost nothing open after dusk.  We drove the desolate brick main street after our hike looking for potential restaurants to ask for waste vegetable oil and ended up eating some delicious Thai at the only place with cars out front- Sayakomarn’s Thai & Lao Cuisine.  Yes, the kids hiked 6 arduous miles AND ate Thai.  How I love this journey!

Canyon was so pivotal for us.  It really marked the beginning of the journey out of our comfort zone and into our dreams.  Will you share something in the comments section that has been a dream come true for you or a step in the direction of your dreams?  Let’s inspire each other!

Nature gives me so much inspiration.  In addition to the amazing terrain we encountered in Canyon, meet some of our new friends!

Yes, that is a real tarantula- live and in person!  He wandered across the trail as we were hiking.  I think a ‘tarantula crossing’ sign is probably warranted.

Hello, fine sir!  He stood so tall.  It felt only right to address him as the regal creature that he is.

An iridescent green guy!  Supercute.


Posted by on October 8, 2010 in Texas, Travel log


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