I’m cold and I forgot about you

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I did it again. I went an entire month and never told you about the cool things we did. Mostly because we really didn’t do a whole lot, and partly because I’ve been avoiding sitting down to write anything at all. Today we are trapped indoors by unforgiving temperatures. Our water hose is frozen but not our spirit! This has happened before, and thankfully we have a water holding tank (and booze) to tide us over until we thaw.

15935777_10154789463658548_555591730_nLet’s see, where did I leave off? Oh, right. NASA! The first week of December we stayed at Lake Conroe for a few days and visited the Johnson Space Center. The real, actual NASA mission control. There were so many great things to see and do. My favorite part of the whole place was the tram tour. We went to old mission control and sat in the viewing area. I can only imagine what a privilege it would have been to be there while it was operational. Justin’s parents were kind enough to gift us a membership to the space center so we can go back as many times as we want!

All that fishing in Goose Island State Park and no one ever caught anything. We dipped our fishing lines in the shallow waters of a stocked pond at Lake Conroe, armed with hot dogs and a dream, and caught so many fish we lost count. We also found out the children will hold the fish in their bare hands and the mother will not.

On our way back to the San Antonio area we met up with Santa! He’s a class act, that guy. Always a smile on his face.

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We high-tailed it back to Lake Medina to meet with Grandma and Uncle Steve! My Mom and brother came down to hang with us and watch the kids while Justin had umbilical hernia surgery at Audie Murphy VA hospital. Surgery went well! No complications! We put them up in a cabin across the path from us at the campground. Our Thousand Trails membership provides us with a couple of weeks of free cabin stays, thankfully, so we can have visitors. It was nice to have everyone in the same area. We’re happy that they were willing and able to fly down. Uncle Steve rented himself a fancy Mustang convertible. Thankfully Texas provided him with a few nice days to enjoy it.

Picture time!

After our visitors left we kept a low profile for a few weeks. We hit a few museums (DoSeum and Witte), we played on a few playgrounds, we made Christmas Cookies and decorated the camper.

It was an unremarkable time and lovely to be sitting still. Christmas eve we went SWIMMING. Can you believe it? The pool was colder than an ice cube, but they did it anyway. Wesson declared that it must be a new tradition. We’ll see where we are next year. Maybe they’ll be joining the polar bear club.

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In the past I have come across people who ask “You’re atheists, why do you celebrate Christmas?” Because it’s fun, it’s a reason to spoil your kids, a reason to make memories, and a gentle reminder to appreciate the things and people in your life. It shouldn’t matter to you or me how others celebrate any holiday. Do your thing, and if people get joy from being with or without their families, regardless of why or how, just be glad they still celebrate anything. Eat a Peep shaped like a tree, hug your kids, be kind to your neighbors, and have a holly, jolly whatever you want.

And here we are in Whitney, Texas at Lake Whitney RV resort. Earlier in the week we went to the natural history museum at Baylor University. They provided tons of great learning opportunities for these curious few. Live and fossilized vertebrates, modern and historical methods of communication, a kid’s weather station complete with green-screen, and much more fun! We saw only a small portion of what they offered before we had to leave; we may have to go back.

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We will be in the greater Dallas/Fort Worth and San Antonio areas indefinitely. Justin has to complete the evaluations needed to get a disability rating from the VA. He has a few ongoing things that need to be addressed and the VA has legitimately been so wonderful to him so far. He’s getting help navigating the system from some amazing people at Disabled American Veterans. Hopefully they will all be swift (hahaha, i’m dreaming) and he will be through the process in no time.

In the week after Christmas we hit 100 days!!! We sold our house on September 29th and hit the road the same day. We had been living in the camper for a few months prior to that but the ceremonial termination of the mortgage is the real date of independence, one we can be most proud of.

Until next month…

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The Alamo and a crap ton of deer

Two weeks in the same park, can you believe it? We left Medina Lake today well rested and ready for another adventure! It was a quiet park in the woods, covered in wildlife. There were so many white tail deer that they blocked the road at times. The ground all around us was 41% gravel, 26% dirt, and 79% deer poop. The park residents feed the deer all day every day so they are less wild animals and more like puppies full of pestilence.

There was no escape from the skittish deer puppies. I tried to sit outside one night and the one in the above/right photo would not stop trying to eat my hand. She kept pacing around me and snarfing. I finally had to institute a ‘legs length away’ ban and she still stood there staring at me, licking her nose.

And if we tried to do math? They were all over that.

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Hey kid, got any corn?

San Antonio was a twisty, hilly 50 minutes away from the campground so we’d be remiss if we didn’t go visit the Alamo. Remember the Alamo? Of course you do. I LIVE for places like this. I want to read all the plaques and learn all the facts! The kids were not as enthusiastic but willing to let me give them the Readers Digest version of events as long as they got to pretend to blow Santa Anna away with the cannons.

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Wesson’s favorite piece of history was the ‘line’ that Lieutenant Colonel William Barret Travis supposedly drew in the dirt with his sword, spurring the last bit of umph from his small, tired force.

Sometimes I imagine what it would be like to be present for the inspiring bits of our past and how it feels like we’ve missed out on the excitement. This, however, is one speech that I’m glad that I missed.

On our way back to the truck we walked right by the San Antonio Fire Fighters Museum, housed in one of the old fire stations. We got a private tour from one of the volunteers, who happened to be retired from the department and served in that particular station. He was full of excellent tidbits about all of the equipment. The personal experiences he shared were a fantastic addition to an already great collection. To be honest, we all loved this place!

They got to ‘drive’ the fire engines, run the siren, ring the bell, put on kid-sized turnout gear, and play with fire hoses, valves, and sprinklers. The best part? It was FREE! They had fun and learned a few things in the process, and for that I’m grateful to our wonderful guide. I sometimes forget that tactile learning is their jam. It was the perfect after party for us.

Back in the wooded wonderland, the washer/dryer project was finally completed! HOORAY! We’ve only been hauling it around for several weeks now like a giant paperweight or a terrible microwave. Justin had to drill a giant four inch hole in the side of the camper (in the dark) to run the vent and a much smaller hole out the bottom in case the thing decided to flood our boat. Cutting into the outside was both a living nightmare and a giant relief. The camper is a 2017, it technically should not have been built yet. Our clothes were better for it, though, and we are no longer swimming in dirty drawers.

This is so much easier than going to the gross laundromat once a week. Dreams can come true.

Random tidbits:

Thanksgiving was a creative cooking challenge and I think I got a strong B+ on my work. I wrote it all down so I can remember what worked and didn’t, that is here: https://roadschoolnotoldschool.wordpress.com/2016/11/24/thanksgiving-in-a-box/

One of the things we use on a pretty regular basis is our membership to the Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth, MN. Makes sense, right? The membership was $75 for the whole family and it gives us reciprocal membership to hundreds of science centers, museums, and zoos around the country. We’ve used it so many times it has paid for itself tenfold. This week we used it to visit the DoSeum in San Antonio. Among all of their ridiculously awesome hands-on exhibit they have something called the Spy Academy. The kid runs around talking about his top secret agency all the time. Being in a spy academy is literally his dream.

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We had to go around solving clues, crawling though ceiling vents, and  writing down the secret numbers so we could get our official spy badges and further missions. We’ll be back to San Antonio in a few weeks and you can bet we’ll be in the DoSeum at least once or twice more.

Right now we are in Goose Island State Park on a tiny island that is a puddle away from the Gulf of Mexico. There are oil platforms in the far distance. I walked over to the beach tonight to see the water but there is no moon out and it was so dark that it was like shining my flashlight into a black hole. Tomorrow we’ll hopefully get to play in the sand and catch some fish. How did we get so lucky?

Two tires and a thousand miles later

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Two rotten, nasty tires about to become road gators to be specific. It wasn’t planned but the inconvenience of finding new tires sure as hell beat crashing the rig at full speed on the freeway. We rolled out of Lexington, KY a little late but better for it.

Tennessee was fun! We finally made it back to Adventure Science, which is one of the best science centers we’ve been to so far. On top of an awesome moon-walking deal in the space area and an entire wing dedicated to the human body (complete with a colon slide that lets you become a fart), they have this amazing tower that allows you to climb three stories of tubes, ladders and such to look out across Nashville. It’s a kid’s dream come true!

On our way out of TN we stayed at a state park on the Mississippi river called Meeman- Shelby. Yeah, I hadn’t heard of it either until twenty minutes before we got there, don’t feel bad. It was a really nice place and I was sad that we didn’t get to explore. It’s on the list to visit again later. Mara decided to clean up the playground while we were there. What a girl, eh?15101990_10154617423323548_2077105414_o

15126209_10154617423108548_1497311854_o.jpgOur next stop was Little Rock, Arkansas. We spent the night on the edge of the river in the midst of downtown. We chose to go to Heifer International and had a wonderful time! Not something that I thought I’d ever say. The kids did a scavenger hunt around their ‘village’ and probably learned a thing or two. It didn’t hurt that there was a prize at the end. In and around their facility they are growing crops and raising animals in hopes to learn new ways of operating farms in developing countries.

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A few days outside of Dallas let us breathe for a moment. We did nothing and it was glorious. It geared us up for three nights in Austin, Texas! I think that we’ve always had a ‘thing’ for Austin. We made one attempt to move there a few years ago and failed to launch. I’d like to think it’s still on our short list for permanent residence some day. A magical walk in the park at night, a bat boat ride, underwater bowling at Bass Pro and a trip to the state capitol was just enough. Capitol buildings have been a staple of our travels long before we started this journey. There’s so much history to be seen and felt and learned. Did you know that the same man who designed the Michigan capitol also designed the Texas capitol? The senate ceiling looks almost identical, something that we all noticed immediately upon entering the room. The difference between the two was that the skylights worked in Michigan, letting in warm rays and natural light, and Texas is located on the surface of the sun. They could bake lasagna at their desks before too long and the skylights had to be covered.

Anywho, here we are, in Texas, just outside San Antonio. That’s going to have to be another post because I have too many things to say about deer and deer products.

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I have a few new posts going in my head about our actual school work, some RV specific things that maybe we want to remember – like Sir Robert Turdsley the First, our sewer hose attendant – and a few other matters of possible interest. I now have time to think in bursts longer than thirty seconds! I’ve worked my way up to at least two minutes and that is pretty darn good considering the fact that we are all together 24/7. This old thing is really getting some air. Stay tuned, America.

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Mara calls him Bob