It’s my RV and I’ll dance if I want to

I’ve started singing and dancing while I make dinner every night and the kids hate me for it. SO much eye rolling and impatient grunting, and that’s mostly why I do it. Why shouldn’t I share my obsessive ear worms with my family? Sharing is caring, children.

The morning after our extremely epic space adventure we woke up thinking we were going to have a recovery day. It was A LOT of walking for my two small tax deductions and my lovely retiree with the foot problems. By lunch time we’d decided that the weather wasn’t going to get any better that week, we should just bite the bullet and head to LegoLand.

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She caught air!

I have two things to say about LegoLand. First, I enjoy that the kids can ride the rides without us. I mostly detest amusement park rides, and the children like to be independent, so it works. Second, LegoLand is VASTLY overpriced. I thought this about the nicer one in California, too, and had I known the state of affairs in Florida I would have skipped the Merlin passes all together. The Florida location can best be described as teetering on the edge between shit-hole and novelty. The park really shows it’s age, and it seems that there are no efforts to update the place. Everything is extremely spaced out and hard to get to. We got lost several times – even with a map. I can hear you whispering to yourself that it was probably my fault. Hush, you.

 

 

Nobody was there, it was like a ghost town. We rode this ride at least five times in a row.

It was a submarine ride that swung outward on your command. It was probably not safe.

They also had a two story carousel which they rode first and last.

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Admittedly it was kind of neat. Who wouldn’t want to ride those life-sized Lego horses up there? (hint: me)

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We completed the whole park in about three hours. Because this was our second day in a row filled with walking and being in public, Wesson was in tears by the end and Justin was a hobbling mess. Mara was happy, though!

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I felt terrible for those vacationers who bought tickets at the gate. Spend your money on Lego sets instead and you’ll be much happier.

Two days later we were on the move! This little guy apparently did not want us to leave. He tried to jump onto Justin’s hand when he unplugged the camper.

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Hey.

The first night of travel was spent in a Bass Pro Shops parking lot! We love some BPS! Always there with a boat to play on, a line of parking spaces to hog, and a curb to hang our bed slides over.

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There was a roundabout to go through to get into this lot. Roundabouts seem cool until your vehicle is sixty feet long, then waterboarding seems more attractive.

The next day brought us to our first real stop: Pensacola Air Station!

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This campground was really nice! It was right by the water.

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Don’t you just freakin’ love a watery sunset? That strip of land over there is Alabama, FYI.

Most of the military installations have museums of some sort. This place had a whopper.

Wesson has been wearing his Marine cammies every time we go on a base just to let everyone know where his loyalties lie.

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Look at that face! That boy is precious. If that plane had wings he’d have been gone. The gift shop had something that Wesson has been pining over:

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Dress blues acquired!

Daddy has a soft spot and deep pockets for the little Marine boy. We tried to talk him into a haircut to go with the uniform but he LOVES his long hair. Nine out of ten people assume that he is a girl and engage him as such (sometimes I wonder about people). He is quick to correct them but is never offended because there is nothing wrong with being a girl. He is confident enough in himself that it just doesn’t bother him. Rock on with your luxurious locks, baby boy!

We were off again on January 14th, but instead of going to ONE place, we went to FOUR places; Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, in very specific order. This also gave us three new states on our states sticker map, effectively closing the tauntingly barren gap we had lying between Florida/Georgia and Texas. Some people only count the states if they’ve slept there, other people have more creative criteria. We just have to go there as a family while full-timing. There are going to be some pass-through states, It’s the nature of the beast. Mississippi is just going to have to get over it.

We got into Texas just in time for a nice ice storm. By the second day our camper-cicle was complete. The south has let us down tremendously this year. We’d have been better off going straight to California.

Instead of hanging out in icy Houston we opted to head north to warmer weather. Totally makes sense, huh? We planted ourselves in Whitney, just south of Fort Worth and just north of Waco. If you remember last years stay in Whitney, we had a tornado tear through and hop right over the campground! For this reason I was nervous, but honestly what are the chances? I wore pants to bed so that I wouldn’t get flung into the woods in my underwear. It was the least I could do. Thankfully the days were not stormy and my fears were unfounded.

I’ve talked about museum memberships before (I think). We’ve taken advantage of the wide reciprocity of the Lake Superior Zoo membership in the past. We took a break last year, because you can only visit so many children’s science centers without wanting to pluck your eyelashes out because of the redundancy. This year, we opted to buy a travel membership from Kern Pioneer Village in California because of their broad reciprocity. They are members of Time Travelers, North American Reciprocal Museums, Association of Science-Technology Centers, AND Association of Children’s Museums. If you do any traveling AT ALL this is a worthy investment. Anyway, for this reason we headed out to Waco one day to visit Baylor University and their AMAZING natural history museum. On the way, we saw a sign for something called Waco Mammoth National Monument. Whaaaaat?! How did we not know about this! Plans changed immediately.

 

…and we were SO glad that they did! The tour was fantastic! There have been 26 Columbian Mammoths found in this area, in what is the only nursery herd that’s ever been found in the US. The ranger that led us to the STILL ACTIVE dig site was awesomely friendly and gave us great information. Wesson is, like, the BEST person to have on your tour because he eliminates the awkward silence that is inevitably applied by adults who are still awkward and don’t ever give the docent anything to work with. He’s the participant that you wish that you were.

Also exciting? JUNIOR RANGER PROGRAM! This was surprising because the place has only been in the National Park system for two years.

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Can you find ROADSCHOOL in there anywhere?

The kids had to take their Junior Ranger Pledge with one hand on a Columbian Mammoth tooth!

Thanks, Ranger Rachel from Virginia!

While we were in Waco last time I saw this big greenspace and drove right by, not even realizing it was that place from that show.

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I BARELY know who Chip and Joanna Gaines are but I wasn’t going to skip this again. The shop is exactly as clean and stylish as you would expect.

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This is only one part of the warehouse

The outside was a big, green area of fake grass where kids could play and adults could lounge around on giant beanbag chairs.

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Overall it was ok, nothing to repeat, but now we can say that we did it. If they were there behind the register slinging bags of fake flowers and gingerly wrapping giant timepieces it would have been more of a thrill.

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Saturn V shirt , like a boss.

 

The kids finally got to ride their unicycles! We’ve been lugging them around since we left Michigan in November, and Wesson hopped right on! Mara is almost there. If she believed in gravity a little less she’d be riding circles around her brother. For the record, that tennis court said no bicycles or skateboards and said NOTHING about unicycles. Also, we didn’t get caught.

If you want to learn more about unicycling, check out the Unicycle Society of America! This year’s North American Unicycling Competition and Convention is going to be held in Livonia, Michigan and if you’re in the area it’s worth a stop to see some awesome people do *almost* impossible things.

I had thought that I’d squeeze the rest of January into this post but we are so active right now life is moving faster than my fingers. I have SO much to tell you. Come back soon!

“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little coarse, and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice? Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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We moved for 30 days and I ignored you

WELL! Here we are, a full month-plus since our last conversation. I know, I know. I’m supposed to be keeping you up to date. Would you accept this cookie as an apology? It’s a Keebler Elf with chocolate creme, of course you will.

The sale of the house closed as planned on the day planned. We drove our rig to the closing and hit the road immediately! I’m going to rip out a quick list of places we’ve stayed and then we can elaborate on a few, ok?

  • Bass Pro Shops – Portage, IN

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  • Aunt Terri and Uncle Tom’s House – Grandville, MI (No photo. Dangit.)
  • Camp Dearborn – Milford, MI

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  • Stacey’s House – Holland, MI

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  • Doctor Dan and Amanda’s House – Nunica, MI

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  • Conestoga Grand River Campground – Coopersville, MI

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  • Aunt Brenda and Uncle Dale’s House – Brooklyn, MI

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  • Mom and Dad’s House – Dearborn Heights, MI

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  • Cabela’s – Noblesville, IN

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  • Lousiville Slugger Field – Louisville, KY

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14958416_10154572305768548_1484912478_nThe first thing we did in Michigan was have our heating system fixed at the dealership,because if you are going to voluntarily live in the cold you should probably have heat. Don’t ask me why it wasn’t working, it must have known that we needed it. While it was being fixed we drove go karts and Mara won a big stuffed animal out of a claw machine. She is the Babe Ruth of claw machines. She once won TWO stuffed animals at the same time AND gave one to her brother. A winner with a heart of gold!

We spent a week at Camp Dearborn then headed to West Michigan again. On the way we stopped in Lansing and hung out at the state capital because *ahem* roadschool, remember? We did the tour of the capital building and checked out the awesome state library. On the way back to the East side we stopped there again and visited the state museum. Such a neat place as a whole, rich in history and easy to enjoy.

We visited the USS Silversides museum in Muskegon one afternoon and played on a torpedo or two.

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When we left the West again we headed to Aunt Brenda and Uncle Dale’s house for a week of visiting and fun. While we were there Mara finally got to shoot her rifle. She’d only had it an entire year. Everybody got to shoot that day! It was also a great opportunity to brush up on firearms safety with the children. If you haven’t had that conversation with your kids I highly recommend you do so.

We left there and spent ten days at my parents house. We somehow got the camper in the driveway and although it barely fit between the houses and fences I’m glad that we got to spend all those days there. The kids really got comfortable and we all had a great stay. With Grandma and Grandpa there we had an opportunity to take the kids out one at a time for some fun on their own. We took Wesson to ride the bumper cars, he jumped on a sky bungee thingy, and we got Slurpees. Mara wanted to go to Build-a-Bear. On our way into the mall we stepped into a puppy store and played with the cutest little Daschund. He immediately started licking Mara’s face and made it extremely difficult to hand him back over – that is, until we found out it was close to $3,000 to love him permanently.

What else did we do there… Hmm… we watched flaming puck unicycle hockey, made bacon pancakes, went to unicycle practice, attended Pumpkin Palooza in Plymouth, carved jack o’ lanterns, and went trick or treating!

 

Are you tired? Because I’m tired. We’re at Slugger Field for another few minutes. We came here so that Justin could brew some beer with Goodwood Brewing. It was part of his prize for winning his category in the homebrew competition at the Kentucky State Fair. It lead to creation of his own blog and I’m super excited for him. He’ll be brewing with other people around the US and Canada as we travel. You can follow Roadbrewing.com for updates on that portion of the adventure.

Surprise! I never finished my blog post and now we are in Lexington, KY! We had a great dinner with friends and after we replace two dry-rotted tires on the truck tomorrow we’ll be headed to Tennessee. The destination is really San Antonio, Texas so that Justin can have a small umbilical hernia fixed at the awesome Veterans hospital. We are going to slow-roll our way down there. I promise and pinky swear that I will update you sooner than thirty days from now. I’ll sign off with a selfie of me wearing my sunglasses indoors and a hat that I didn’t purchase, because that’s what the cool kids do.

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Hookin’ ain’t easy, kids.

 

 

We survived ten days in a row!

We were back in town for three days before we packed the new fiver and hit the road again. If you are unfortunate enough to follow me on facebook you probably caught on that we were in Maryland for HomeBrew Con, and Washington D.C. because why not.

I started to write an incredibly boring post. It was seriously terrible, even more so than this one. I had three paragraphs of a snooze-fest written but I just couldn’t subject you to that. We had auto-leveling troubles and it rained every time we put up or took down, but none of that matters. We had a mostly great vacation. Let’s just look at some photos, shall we? Let’s do this!

First, Pennsylvania. We stayed on top of a mountain!

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Beautiful! Next, we moved to the Navy base across the river from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

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This was our spot for an entire week. My parents camper was to the left of this photo, flying the Army flag of course! On the last day the incoming recruits PT’d through the camp.

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*sigh* Couldn’t you just stay there forever? We visited lots of places in the area. When we went to Baltimore we ran into some cadets from the academy who gave us a tour of their ship. They were training for the summer and were stopped there for a few weeks.

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We couldn’t be in Annapolis without visiting the state capital, now could we? Especially since it was here that General George Washington resigned as General of the Army so that he could become the first President of the United States. I’m getting boring again, aren’t I? Whatever! Look at George!

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Not Martha Washington, just some random citizen who wrote down what she had witnessed. Weird, right?

The docks in downtown Annapolis were full of awesome, extremely expensive boats and I somehow never took any photos. Consider yourself spared from the jealousy. Justin and I went back down there the next day to eat dinner after HomeBrew Con and Fort McHenry. I ate my first crab cake! It was incredibly fresh and wonderful, an event I will repeat again. But now, HomeBrew Con:

That’s right, it’s a selfie in front of a giant beer. Deal with it. We sampled a ton of great and not so great beers from around the country, some homebrew and some commercial. While we were childless (thanks to Grandma and Grandpa) we toured Fort McHenry. If you don’t know how important this Fort is to our very existence, I encourage you to read about it. This is one of those places that makes me think we missed out on all the good stuff by being born in the present day. The revolution, the patriotism, the unknown. It’s all excitement to me but it was probably horrifying at the time. Just let me have my delusions, please.

Frances Scott Key peered at the flag waving in this very spot from the boat he was being held on in the river and penned a poem that would become a national standard. That poem is four times as long as you think it is, FYI. https://www.nps.gov/fomc/learn/historyculture/the-star-spangled-banner.htm

Ok, ok. On to Washington! That spot in front of the Lincoln Memorial overlooking the reflecting pool is my happy place. I could sit there for a lifetime! There’s just something wonderful about it, even in the sweltering heat, that I can’t quite put my finger on. The wide open sky and the monuments all around add a whimsy to it all.

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Just leave me here.

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The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History was a hit for these two obsessive learners. They were eager to see all they could. Mara, especially, took her time and made sure she saw everything, down to the last bug.

On the last day in the area we toured Arlington Cemetery and watched the ceremonies at the tomb of the unknown. We were joined there by a few groups of WWII veterans from Honor Flight. What an honor, indeed! They were a great bunch of men and women, and always had a kind word for those who stopped to greet them and thank them for their sacrifices.

It’s worth noting that this day was the US Army’s birthday, and there were no Army events happening anywhere! Rude!

We had the opportunity to be present for the Sunset Parade at the Marine Corps War Memorial. The commandants own Marine Corps marching band put on a wonderful show, as did the silent drill team. It just so happened that the Secretary of the Navy and the Commandant of the Marine Corps were also there to observe! I met a wonderful older woman on the Marine Corps bus over to the memorial. She told me all about when her husband was in the Navy and she pulled her kids from school to homeschool them. She drained their bank account and sold everything and started following the husband around the world while he was on the ship! They would stay in people’s homes while they were on vacation. Sounds like such an adventure, doesn’t it?

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This is where Justin could sit forever.

We saw much, much more than I have shown you here. I could drone on forever if you let me. Washington D.C. is one of those places that I could visit a thousand times and never see and experience everything that I want to experience. We are going to have to come back here for a month when we finally hit the road.

PS – I have written a second post about this trip. Again, if you are my facebook friend you may have read briefly about our troubles in West Virginia. I will publish that post eventually. Let’s just think these happy thoughts together and you can read all about the bad stuff tomorrow, ok?