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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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It doesn’t get easier.

We cried when we left Texas. We cried when we left California. Arizona. Texas again. Florida. And now we’re crying as we leave New Hampshire. Family, old friends, and new friends that quickly become old friends. It doesn’t get any easier to say, “goodbye.” We’ve been in NH for two and a half months. That’s the longest we’ve stayed in one place since we embarked on this RV journey one year ago. This is where Chris and I began our journey together with the loving support of our families; where our babies joined our lives; where we met and fell in love with a handful of other families who shared our desire to parent in a connected way and to support our children in pursuing their interests and learning in their own individual ways.

So when you ask me, “is it hard for the kids to say ‘goodbye’?” I’ll tell you the truth. It’s hard. Sometimes it’s beyond hard. Today it’s unbearable… for all of us.

I don’t have a way to make it easier. I have hashed this out over and over in my brain wondering if this was somehow damaging or mean to do to the children. Like with most things, though, the light dawns through our communications with them. We feel the emotions together. We talk about the people we love. It’s raw and honest. We even wonder aloud if traveling is the right thing if it hurts this much to leave.

Here’s what we came to today: We love our friends and family here so much. Time spent here is time spent wrapped in the comfort of the fold. These people are our people. When we are here, we are home. But our home moves. And that is amazing. It means that we have the ongoing opportunity to nurture and develop relationships with people along the way and at our destinations that we would never be able to do if we lived full time in one place. We have adventures and excitement beyond our wildest dreams. And we maintain these heartfelt connections made and grown until we return to throw another log on the fire in person.

We love our life. But saying ‘goodbye’ doesn’t get easier.

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2011 in RV

 

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Light Airline Travel

We bought tickets to go to New Hampshire to visit family some time ago.  Though we intended to visit around July, plane fares were much cheaper for May.  We’re always looking for a better deal or a cheaper way if we can’t simply opt for minimalism.  Since we really wanted to go and can’t get plane tickets used :), we searched kayak for the best fares during different timeframes on the various airlines, found the best deal there, and then went to that particular airline’s site to find the fare even cheaper (there is a mark-up even through the discount sites- that’s how they make their money).  When purchasing, you can let them know how many bags you wish to check thereby getting a few dollars off the cost of the baggage checking.  Once I got over being infuriated that it would cost us $25-$30 each way for each bag, I decided that we could all travel with one carry-on case and one personal item (small bag) each for the seven day trip.  We had two and borrowed two from friends.

I have to admit, there was some doubt as to whether this could be done.  We are notoriously heavy, “just in case” packers.  But our newfound desire for simplicity and excitement over paring down our life for RV living made it seem possible.  It was actually quite easy given our summertime visit (lighter weight clothing).

As you can see, the kids were layered (which we like to do for plane travel anyway).  The kids’ suitcases were more full than Chris’/mine as they packed some little toys to bring in addition to the clothes.  Here’s what the heaviest packer in our family brought:

Elijah – (wore) track pants, tee shirt, socks, Crocs, & fleece (around waist mostly but also great plane blanket); (suitcase) 1 pair casual pants, 3 pairs casual shorts, 1 pair dress shorts, 4 casual tees, 2 dress shirts, 7 pairs underwear, 2 pairs socks, small bag Legos, 5 small stuffed animals, several tiny plastic animal figures/Transformers, bathing suit trunks and shirt, swim goggles, swim shoes; (backpack) Play-Doh; a few Doh tools; several small, paperback superhero books; a big teddy with his head poking out the top so he could see while traveling :); travel pillow; Nintendo DS; headphones

I did one load of laundry before we left there and snuck a couple of things in with a household load at one point.  We honestly could have gone the whole week without having had to do a wash (just barely) and there were still some things that weren’t used.  I really thought we’d have to ship the gifts from grandparents and extra purchased items home given our minimal space.  However, we were easily able to fit it all in (not necessarily in the suitcase of its owner but everything ended up back in Texas). 

This really felt amazing.  It’s becoming so clear to me how little ‘stuff’ we actually need and how happy and light we feel without it.  Our departing flight was actually changed to another airline so we had to switch airlines at Laguardia (yes- out of terminal, bus to different terminal, secure new boarding pass, go through security, etc.).  Our bags never would have made our new flight.  We felt so free and easy having everything we needed right with us!

Things to think about– 1) I had to purchase trial sizes of shampoo, conditioner, gel (for Chris’ faux hawk :)), adult and child toothpaste, razors, etc. when we arrived because of the airline restrictions of 3 oz. of liquids per person and sharp objects in the cabin.  I didn’t have anything in the house in such small quantities but we were able to bring it home- just separated into 3 oz. bags per person.  2) My kiddos are 7.5 and almost 6 years old.  They were proud and able to handle their own suitcases and backpacks (except on stairs and escalators when Chris and I would grab them in our other hand). 3) We borrowed booster seats from friends in New Hampshire so we didn’t have to lug/check ours.  I could also have tried Freecycle for them ahead of time.

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Dallas Symphony Orchestra

Oh my gosh!  We almost forgot about this!  The Dallas Symphony Orchestra puts on really great programs for school children.  And, yes, if you homeschool, you qualify.  They require, however, that seats be purchased/reserved at the beginning of the school year so they can plan their programs.  So this snuck up on me! 

We went to a program called ‘Musical Families’ in which each of the families of instruments were introduced (color coded so it was easy for the kids to pick them out), the differences between the instruments in the families were described, each played a piece of music, and then all of them played together.  As homeschoolers, we got the best seats in the house again this year- in the boxes!  We all enjoyed this program very much.  The length (45 minutes) was perfect as the kids’ attention was beginning to wane at about 40 minutes :).  The DSO organ is world reknowned and justifiably so- it’s collossal pipes and sound are amazing (and hearing the Adams Family theme song on it was so fun)!

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Togetherness

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One of the best parts of being home together is how close the bond is between us all. Especially heartwarming is the children’s friendship. Above Sadie puts on a puppet show for Elijah. Below he returns the favor. The story lines were similar and always seemed to end with the puppets running screaming from the stage across the playroom and two children giggling hysterically.

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We continue with our Star Wars Monopoly game. I continue to hover around the poverty line while the children put up apartments and towers. There is no ‘letting them’ win. They’re just winning (and not very gracefully…).

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This game is Jenga with a twist. It comes with a colored dice and each player must roll to see the color of the plank that they will remove on their turn. It makes it a bit trickier but always fun when it topples.

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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Tennis Tuesdays

Coming to the conclusion that we could replicate all of the exercises practiced at the tennis lessons, the kids requested their own racquets and sessions with Mama and Daddy at the courts down the road. So we started Tennis Tuesdays and were going over to the courts for family practices. So fun!

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Posted by on September 2, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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Photo Shoot

The kids were extra-cute and I was feeling camera-happy.

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Elijah (aka- camera-shy) was feeling quite amenable to a few photos… but only a few! Sadie, on the other hand, took this chance to ham it up!

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Posted by on March 25, 2009 in Family, Parks

 

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