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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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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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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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Remembering Orlando Magic

The five weeks we spent in the Orlando area were truly magical. We had a million cool adventures and learned and discussed lots of new things. But in the end as I look back, it’s the people we shared this time with that stand out the most in my mind.

Upon arriving in Apopka, Florida at a sweet little RV park, Chris noticed some issues with our electrical system.  The inverter wasn’t working properly and then proceeded to internally combust resulting in a 3-day RV blackout.  What’s worse?  The door of the inverter basement compartment then fell off.  Go ahead… laugh.  We did.  Sometimes it feels like National Lampoon’s RV Life over here. 

Enter Michael and Jeannette Brown and their pup, Hazel – our new neighbors.   We were feeling pretty pitiful and overwhelmed navigating and trouble shooting the electrical system of the RV.  It’s a vulnerable feeling stepping out of the RV with a tarp hanging off the side in lieu of a compartment door as the other RVers gather in droves to point and whisper.  Oh that didn’t really happen?  That’s what it looked like in our heads…  Michael spent time with Chris as moral support, idea man, and helping hand.  We quickly became friends and got the tour of their traveling livelihoods.  Michael is the baker, owner, salesman, and primary taster of his business The inFAMOUS Welsh Cookie Co.  He has a small, fully functional bakery in the front of their trailer and carries on his family’s tradition of baking Welsh cookies (his grandmother’s recipe) in 23 (and growing) flavors.  Jeannette is proprietor of The Scottish Tinker, selling authentic Celtic jewelry of all kinds – traditional to unique.  Together, they are The U.K. Market and travel the country selling their wares at Celtic Festivals.
January february march and half of april 163

January february march and half of april 168
(above- Sadie has her first paying gig helping Jeannette shine and prepare her jewelry for an upcoming show.)

We couldn’t have asked for better neighbors or friends.  The kids spent loads of time visiting with them and we all really enjoyed their company.  The end of our month in Apopka culminated in several challenging repairs completed (We knew something had to give when Elijah tossed a coin into the water at It’s a Small World in DisneyWorld and wished for electricity.) and lasting friendships formed.  We were very sad to leave the comfort of that bond.

Great Grampa

All the while, we were squeezing in as much time as possible with Chris’ grandparents who have wintered in the Orlando area for the last 17 years.  At 81 and 82 (I’m pretty sure it’s OK for me to post their ages since it seems it can be worn as a badge of honor both up to one’s early 20’s and after about 75), they never missed a beat with one (long) day spent at Disney, one spent showing us around Celebration, one taking us to the Farmers’/Flea Market, many long walks, a few yummy restaurant meals, baking, board/card games, reading, seemingly incessant conversation from all sides, bicycle repair, a playground picnic, and a couple of cookouts.  We reveled in each other’s company.  It was simply perfect to spend SO much undivided time over such a long period with them.  There are very few such opportunities to celebrate and saturate in love and appreciation for others.  When we left Apopka, we had the priveledge of joining them at their RV park for an additional week.  What a treat to be neighbors!  We wandered back and forth between our homes at will – easily and freely.  We met their friends and got to experience the lifestyle of their Floridian winters which had previously just meant time apart.  We were comforted and thrilled to see what full, active, connected lives they have with their winter friends in their winter home.

January, February 2011  Apopka & Disney World 105

As if that weren’t enough! We’d been talking since last year’s Rethinking Everything Conference about getting back together with John Stralecky and his wonderful family. Chris and John hit it right off at RE and we so enjoyed listening to him talk about backpacking around the world on $40 per day during one of his sessions. Cosmically enough, John has RV aspirations and wanted to pick our brains as well. Both of our families have come to the realization that life matters NOW and passions drive all. Sharing a couple of meals at each other’s homes and wandering downtown Disney was time spent with kindred spirits and brought to life that the same realizations about living a joyful life play out in so many different (and perfect) ways. If you haven’t read John’s books (Big Five for Life, The Why Cafe, Life Safari), I highly recommend them.

Sadie and Elijah had a grand time playing with their daughter and I, chatting with John’s wife, Cindy, who has so many interesting tales to tell. I enjoyed talking unschooling with her as they consider educational options and lifestyle based in their unique worldly perspective.

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

 

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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!

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2011 in Florida, RV, Travel log

 

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Inspiration Monday- It’s all around

Tara Wagner of The Organic Sister  posted her Inspiration Monday blog carnival post today.  Being that we’re with them on the road right now, I found it only fitting to participate (now that I understand what a blog carnival is (insert, SNORT- “you’ve been blogging how long?!” here))….

We’ve been hanging with the Wagners on a picturesque mountainside outside of Albuquerque by complete happenstance (as if there were such a thing) for the last week.  What was meant to be a night… or two… has become a caravan adventure.  Our plans have changed… AGAIN.  This is big.  We’re planners.  We’ve always been planners.  And since the beginning of our life on the road about 7 weeks ago, the plan has changed at least 3 dramatic times.  And that was OK each time.  We made decisions and settled on a new plan.  But now there’s something new on the scene- FLOW.  We embarked on this adventure because it felt good to be free and yet we were tying ourselves to expectations- places to be, things to see, timeframes- all along the way.

So I have to say that today I’m inspired by FLOW- going with it, being in it, and enjoying it.  Rather than trying to beat feet to Santa Cruz for my mid-October conference, I’ve bought a plane ticket from Las Vegas.  Chris and the kiddos will stay around the city of sin for the weekend while I’m away and maybe by then we’ll have a new destination in mind.  There were places we had planned to stop on the way.  Time with friends and supporting each other’s journeys has taken precedence.  Between our two homes on wheels, the Wagners and we have seen our share of fixer-upper afternoons and it just feels great to have more heads and hands in those situations.

What else have I been inspired by this week?

 – The fourth issue of Rethinking Everything Magazine– the quarterly magazine I began co-publishing with Barb Lundgren this year.  It feels like a first date every time I send it out and this marks the last issue of our first year in publication!!!

– Shopping carts that fit adults so my kids can push me around the store- it’s slow but super fun!

 

 

 

 

– Tireless men who wrack their brains and dirty their hands until it’s fixed.

 

 

 

 

 

– Boys who play Barbies and Legos… together.

 

 

 

 

 

150,000 year old art.

 

People who remind us to think about what inspires us– thanks, Tara!

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2010 in New Mexico, Travel log

 

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