Arkansas to Oklahoma!

Wish we could report that our drive through Arkansas was full of entertaining sights and stops, but that was not the case. It was a beautiful state to drive through though!

Arkansas’ state sign was oddly placed upon a bridge thus preventing us from getting out and taking a picture.  We have been through all the previously mentioned states, but this was our first time entering Arkansas.

We did stop at Little Rock’s River Market District to walk around and stretch our legs. Phillip enjoyed seeing the dinosaurs at Clinton’s Presidential Library.
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The kids’ favorite part was riding the trolley :).
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We have begun adding the states we travel though on the back of our RV and looking forward to adding our “thomas6travels” hashtag on it in the next few days, as well.
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Our drive from Arkansas to Oklahoma was not too bad.  It was a straight shot down I-40, which made it seem longer than it was.  As we got closer to the Oklahoma border, we could see the rain was beginning start.  By the time we got to the sign, there was no chance we could get all the kids out without getting everyone soaked.  So we snapped a quick picture of ourselves and made plans to hit the sign going out of the state.
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William kept seeing this restaurant that we’d never heard of before called Braum’s. So, after setting up, it was the first place we went to in Oklahoma. It was pretty good.
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Phillip had his first very own milkshake 🙂
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We planned to take the kids to the OKC Zoo but the rain stopped us again as Kelly called the zoo and they informed us that they had closed most of the exhibits.  So instead, we took the kids to the pool, which they had been begging us to do since we got there.  While we did some laundry and William finished some school work, the kids frolicked and splashed in the pool…for 3 whole hours.

Cannot believe that it is only Day 5 of our trip, as it seems like we have done so much already.  Getting excited as, Lord willing, we get into Texas. Heard rave reviews about a particular restaurant and cannot wait to try it.

#thomas6travels #48statesover48dates

Rich in History

Yesterday we hit the 1000 mile mark and today we are headed into a state we have never been before.  The route from day 3 was full of history.  We took I-49 N from New Orleans to Hattiesburg and then followed I-59 to Jackson and on to Memphis.  While we were driving, we couldn’t help but to reflect upon those who previously traveled these roads.  Just a few generations ago, those who were not sure if they would make it to their destination. They braved these back roads to make a stand for hope in America.
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We can only imagine the trepidation and anxiety, but also the determination and resolve that must have been in the hearts of these brave men and women, of all colors, who took this same route to make a difference.  Then, to arrive in Memphis and to see the very balcony where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated brought a whole new sense of gravity to what those before us did.
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The kids had a good day! They learned a valuable lesson to secure your belongings while driving through bumpy Mississippi! This is what their Bunk Room looked like when we stopped.
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We let them go to McDonald’s to get soda, which was a huge deal for them since we usually make them get water!
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Then, they enjoyed a game of War before going to do some sightseeing in Memphis.
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Finally, their favorite part was going to the pool! Even though we have a pool at home, you would think they never get to go swimming by their reactions when I said, “go get your swimsuits on”!
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On the picture of our map, if you have followed along, you will notice different color pins.  The red signifies a place we have stopped to sleep.  Yellow, is a place different from where we slept but where we ate.  And, green is an attraction different from where we ate or slept. Hope that make sense.
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Double J’s BBQ will give any other BBQ joint a run for its money.  If you ever come to Memphis, it is a must to try it!
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#thomas6travels #48in48 #48statesover48dates

COLA to NOLA

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Before we left, we asked that God would give us opportunities to make His name known and to have opportunities to be intentional.   He is faithfully doing so.

The drive through Mississippi and Louisiana wasn’t bad.  Pulling over, however, at the two signs was an adventure though.  The Mississippi sign was in some thick grass and it was wet and drizzling, so we had to get a really quick side shot. 
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Louisiana’s sign came right after we crossed over a bridge, Phillip was asleep, the sun was as hot as ever, and trucks were blowing by.
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It seems like we were just here in New Orleans (here November 2013).  We walked through the French Market and saw some familiar sights and some new ones. 
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Of course, beignets were a must for a visit.  Leave it to Mackenzie to make sure of that.
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We told ourselves that we would eat different than we do normally so we hurriedly made our way down to the House of Blues (trying to beat the rain). 
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We couldn’t muster up the courage quite yet, so we had a burger and fries.  We saw a wall with names of those who sat at that particular booth, and with permission from our server, we placed our tag “thomas6travels” on the wall.
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But for dinner, we met with William’s best and longest friend, L. E.  Partly because we asked him to bring us to a restaurant that would allow us to try something and partly because we knew we had to, Kelly had Chicken Gumbo and William had Crawfish Etouffee.  Surprisingly, we both like it and the kids did too!
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Last night, while doing laundry, we met Curt and Janee.  They recently moved here from Surprise, AZ (J and M G. live there now and S and A F. are headed out that way) and were military kids.  So we had a lot to talk about.  We discussed our trip and he encouraged us to be safe.  He shared with us that he was closing on his house on the 26th after living in a 60 sq ft pop up camper for 3 weeks.  They were excited about their new start and we had a chance to pray together.

Grateful to God for every mile we have driven thus far.  He is ordering our steps and our paths and we are making countless memories while doing so.

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#thomas6travels #48in48 #48statesover48dates

Day 1

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If you have been following us on Facebook, you have gotten to see some of the places we have been so far, Walmart included.  We took pictures in two states so far, Alabama and Florida. (Not sure what’s up with Gigup and that “duck face”!)
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Since we have been through these states recently, it still doesn’t seem like we are soon to be in the likes of Washington, Montana, and South Dakota.

Our ride so far has been good.  We are glad that we decided to drive less than 300 miles a day.  It is during these rides where we are learning so much about each other.  One example of this is the difference between the minds of our two oldest children.  Madison is orderly and has her mind focused on things.  While Mackenzie is a doodler and loves to multitask. We got a good laugh at the differences in their notebooks, especially their License Plate Scavenger Hunt, ha!
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We were hoping that our kids would find some enjoyment in learning this trip and we wish everyone could have seen the faces of our kids light up while at the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site. 
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They asked questions about why people would treat others like that and were watching every video montage with intensity. 
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It was quite intense to hear the interviews of those who went through these experiences and made it possible for those of any color to fly in the Armed Forces as well as changing culture in civilian life. Madison was particularly mesmerized with 15 year old, Kimberly Anyadike.
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Tuskegee was the closest National Park that was supposed to sell $80 National Park passes.  Basically, this annual pass would get us in to every National Park for that one price.  However, when we got there, the lady at the desk said that they did not sell them there anymore.  So she called over to Montgomery and they said that they could mail it to us.  We explained that we were on our trip now and needed it sooner than the 10 days that it would take to receive it and asked where the closest location was for us to obtain it immediately. And that’s when God showed out again.

The lady at the desk out of nowhere asked if we were military.  We said yes, but that we were not active.  She asked if we get disability, to which we answered “yes”.  She responded, “Then you get your pass for free!”  And, not just an annual pass, a lifetime pass!!! (And she also added that Kelly should get that $80 we saved)!!!  I love when God does small things to remind us how He is in control of everything.
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As we drove into Florida, the kids doubted us.  Why?  Because they did not see any palm trees, which they think are only in Florida and that every square inch must have them in the state.  Macey stated that, “palm trees make me get excited”! So once, we got to our location for the night, there was a mandatory stop first to christen our arrival to Florida.
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Excited that we have 47 more days of doing this.  Seeing God work, learning about our children, reviewing history, and making memories.  Picked up our first two mugs of the trip to add to our coffee bar. 
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We are certainly going to have to add another bar somewhere to handle all we bring back.

Thanks for your continued prayers!

#48in48 #thomas6travels #48statesover48dates

Here we go!

Though we have been planning and thinking about this trip for some time now, it is surreal actually getting underway.  Before we left, we went to go see our family (and some came to see us:)). We got to go to lunch with Chase… and Lesly and Eric were there, too 🙂 That’s when it got real that we were really leaving for the next 48 days.
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So what do you pack for a 48 day trip?  Since we couldn’t pack the whole house, we nonetheless forgot a few things. When you forget something, it requires a mandatory Walmart run (right J.H?)
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What did we forget?  Perhaps the most important thing: A 50′ coaxial cable so we could watch the Cavs and the Warriors NBA Finals game.

For most of the ride, it rained but thankfully, when we got to Pine Mountain (outside of Calloway Gardens) it stopped for a bit so the kids were able to go outside.
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They got a little energy out before it started again and began working in their books.
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What an awesome idea the travel books are.  Between the scavengers hunts, school work, and a compliment of educational and recreational activities, it was worth all the research and time behind getting them together.

We have had our travel trailer 2 days short of 2 weeks, although it seems like longer.  But last night was Madison’s first night.  And by the looks of it, she slept really well.
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How awesome it feels to have our whole family on this trip.  We feel so blessed to be able to spend our summer together seeing the country and believe that God is going before us.
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Even yesterday, God in his perfect timing allowed us to run into Tim, who was a diabetic, who lived in his car, and needed something to eat.  1 John 3:17-19 reminds us that we should just stop saying we love others but show them.  To God alone be the Glory, we were not only able to pray with him and return to our trip but we were able to get him a good meal.

Experiences like this make this trip so much more than just a family traveling, but really a chance for us to show the love of Christ.

Tomorrow!

The route is set.  The stops are planned.  The sites are picked.  The attractions are scheduled.  The RV is [almost] packed.  The kids are giddy.  The parents are excited.  And the road is waiting. Tomorrow we leave!  Wow.

It has come quickly.  There is no way we can be quite ready for this but we are embarking on our trek tomorrow.  People have been so encouraging to us and have shared with us their favorite places to visit, eat, and see.  They have asked us what we are looking forward to seeing the most and while we certainly can’t wait to make memories with our children, seeing the various landmarks that make our country unique, there is one overarching goal of our trip and that is to share the love of Christ with those we come in contact with.  Whether that be the clerk at the gas station, the toll collector at the toll booth, or the family camped beside us, we want others to see the love of Christ that resides in us.

Therefore, we understood satan was not happy with our plans. He seemed to be fine with keeping our focus on the temporal things of this world but when we began to pray out loud for the lost we would encounter and the spiritually drained that we would encourage, he attempted to thrawt our plans by hoping to discourage us from taking this trip. When we started to write this part of the blog, we initially were going to share some of the things that went wrong with our first attempt at RVing, however, after discussing it, and realizing it was simply satan’s feeble attempt to get us to doubt, we decided not to give him any glory.

This reminds me of satan’s attempt to get Job distracted from his love for God and how God rebuffed satan’s efforts.  It is so much easier to find joy in otherwise discouraging events when you know God has already defeated satan and controls his every action.

It has been a blast telling others about our trip.  We have enjoyed preparing the kids and assembling their Travel Journals.
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Picking out, shopping for, stocking, and packing the RV has been a blast.  But, you know what we have enjoyed the most?  The nights we spent together planning the trip.  Sitting at the coffee bar or lounged on the couch, huddle on the futon or draped across the bed, orchestrating and organizing the next stop.
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Planning for a trip like this has given us even more of an excuse to hang out together.  We can’t tell you how many late night cups of coffee, box of pretzels, and bowls of ice cream we have eaten just because of this trip.   So from on this side of the trip, if you were to ask us if you should plan a trip like this, our answer is an unequivicable, unwavering, resounding YES!  Even if you don’t take it, the time spent together wishing and envisioning is worth it.

Tomorrow we take this show on the road.  Again, please be praying for us.  For traveling mercies, health, a good time, and most importantly strategically placed individuals who are in need of the gospel.  Can’t wait to write again once we are on our way!

#48in48 #thomas6travels #48statesin48dates

Our First Pin

The salesmen at the dealership told us that we were adventurous for deciding to embark on such a daunting trip so early. In spite of the vast amount of instruction that they gave us, they encouraged us to take a short trip to break Isn’t She Lovely in (oh yeah, that’s her name, “Izzy” for short…and our truck is named Doofus thanks to J. Clark).

We don’t need a reason to take a road trip. We planned on coming to Daytona Beach for FBCW Beach Camp, so we already had the trip. Just a few late minute logistical changes: cancelling our hotel and booking the RV site, and we were ready to go.

On the way out, we ran over to the dealership because we had an issue with an electrical outlet that we couldn’t figure out and also to check out a noise that we kept hearing.
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Of course I was anxious about getting her on the road. Typical, I’m sure: can I really drive this big thing, what if the wind blows too hard, can my truck pull her, and will I get good gas mileage? The first three turned out to be non-worries; gas mileage on the other hand was a little different.

Three times we had to stop for gas on a relatively short 465 mile trip. A little more than we had expected but we were foretold that we would get about 8-10 miles per gallon and that’s about what we got. Other than that and us taking about 12 hours to get there, the trip was pretty smooth.

We pulled into the RV site, after calling and telling the manager that we would not be there before they closed. Honestly, we had no idea what to expect. We stopped by the front office, picked up the map of the sites and found ours. Seeing as we had never been to a site before, we had hoped our site would be a pull thru with no backing in (although I had gotten pretty good at backing into our long driveway). But, of course, that would not be the case. However, as soon as we pulled in, a guy across the way named Brad, volunteered to watch me back in to make sure I didn’t hit anything. He gave us a quick few instructions on what to hook up and where to hook it up to and told us to holler if we needed anything.
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Our neighbor at home, who owns a fifth wheel, told us that the first thing we needed to do when we arrived was to turn on the hot water heater so that we could take hot showers all week long. Thanks M. L., you are a lifesaver. A friend of ours, D. A., wrote us the morning after our first night and asked it how it was. We responded by saying it was relaxing, removing, rejuvenating, and refreshing. Oh boy was it. The kids slept well, except for one falling out the bed. Won’t tell which one, since her 6 year old self would frown if I did.
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So here we are, our trial run. We are not the most rugged campers in the world as we have A/C, a stove, brewed coffee, internet, and even our printer with us.
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But we did set up our own sewer lines, let the kids in the car with sand all over everything, and went to sleep without a TV on. For us, we are expanding our horizons.

Both of us woke up this morning with big, silly grins on our faces. Maybe it’s just first night excitement, we will see. We have a few more days here in Daytona to make sure we can handle being so close to each other and able to enjoy it, so we may change our minds. But for now, we cannot wait to begin our summer trip of 48 states over 48 dates! Because Madison has been with her friends at camp and not with us, this trip won’t officially count for our FL stop, so we will be coming back through to be the inaugural state on our journey. In order to track and see the places we have visited in the RV, we put a large map inside our bedroom.
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Each stop we make to visit, play, learn, or explore will receive a pin. Daytona Beach, receives our first pin!!!!
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At the end of this trip, our children will be able to see the path in which their summers went.

Teacher: “Kids, what did you do this summer?”

Our Kids: (Smiling)….

#thomas6travels #48statesin48dates #48in48 #webetraveling

-William and Kelly