Week in Westerville

When we started planning our summer road trip vacation, we knew we had to make a stop to Westerville, Ohio! But, we also wanted to keep it a secret from the kids. When we told the kids we were headed to Grandpa Harold and Grandma Shonen’s house for Mackenzie’s birthday and Father’s Day, they were ecstatic. (You can check out the video here: Surprise, kids!!

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To Grandpa's House, we go!

What better way for William to spend Father’s Day than with his dad (the first time they’ve been together on a Father’s Day in 29 years) watching Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. 

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You’d have thought they had money on the game or played for the Cavs by the way they were shouting at every play.

Since the kids got their first taste of D&B’s in Houston, Texas, they can’t wait to go back again. We decided to go for Mackenzie’s birthday.  She got her own card preloaded with currency to play at her own pace. Though she had a significant balance,  she blew right through it.

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We found a local church in Westerville that was having a week long VBS, so we signed the kids up. Phillip had a small spell of anxiety being away from Mommy, but all in all they enjoyed themselves and met some new people.

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Though it was a bit hot, we found some shade and enjoyed a picnic at Hoover Dam and let the kids play on the playground.

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We went back a couple times during our stay to walk on the dam and enjoy the beautiful scenery!

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We even found a little time to walk around downtown Westerville, without the kids!

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We finished up our stay with a trip to Columbus to see our cousin, Anissa  and her beautiful, growing children over lunch at Red Robin, followed by a late night firework show at Grandpa Harold’s.

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We really enjoyed our time with Grandpa Harold and Grandma Shonen! The kids loved getting to meet their little cousin, Jurnee, playing on the piano, having their own rooms, playing pool in the basement, riding on the Harley, and just spending time together!!

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North, we head…enjoying the temperature drop and looking forward to exploring Michigan.

Until then…
#Thomas6travels

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Cedar Creek to Bandy Creek

We enjoy leaving early in the morning, on our drives, for a few reasons: 1) the kids get to sleep through the drive, 2) less bathroom breaks, 3) less traffic, and 4) since we don’t have to run the a/c we get better gas mileage.image

Leaving from home early makes for some great scenery and some great pictures of the sun, creeping up over the horizon.  Such an amazing sight, each and every time.
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Normally, Kelly sleeps during part of the ride, but not this time…we spent the first three hours just talking about our life, church, kids, politics, money, the future, etc…and laughed more times than you could imagine.  It made the three hours seem like a few minutes.

We arrived in Knoxville, TN around 9am to walk around and to get something to eat.  Most of downtown was still closed, since it was Sunday morning. But, we still enjoyed the sights!
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Bandy Creek Campground, inside of the Big South Fork National Recreation Area, is where we are staying this week.
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The campground is miles from stores and entertainment (Walmart), so we are spending a lot of time hanging out.  We have done s’mores, the kids have rode their bikes and played on the playground for hours, met new friends, built many things with their Legos, and just enjoyed hanging out in the RV and in the tent.
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On Wednesday, for our #15thfor15th date we went hiking at the Yahoo Falls Trail inside of the Daniel Boone National Forest in Whitley City, KY.  image

Hiking was incredible.  We didn’t see anyone on the trail and according to our step trackers, we hiked about 4 miles in 2 hours.  It was incredible and the kids did awesome. It was our first time hiking. I think we have a new hobby 🙂image

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It has been great seeing our kids experience new adventures and seeing new things since we have begun this journey into RV life.  The money spent has been well worth the growth and appreciation that our kids have learned.

We are excited about getting to Ohio and seeing Grandpa Harold and Grandma Shonen!! We have come close to ruining the surprise, several times, for the kids but hopefully they still are shocked when we get there. We know they will be ecstatic!

Abita Springs, Louisiana

They always say that trouble comes in threes…thankfully it wasn’t anything more than three flat tires, but nonetheless they caught us off guard a bit. 

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Glad that neither of them put us in any danger while we were driving.  And now, we have a new tire on the RV, a new one on the truck, and a new spare on the back of the RV for peace of mind.

Maybe it was because we had to wait an hour and a half for the mobile tire repair guy, or maybe because we drove all through the night, but for whatever reason, William was able to convince everyone (well except Macey) to get Waffle House for breakfast.

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Since we “fled” from Galveston, (see previous post) we arrived earlier than expected at our resort, Abita Springs RV Resort, for the week. They were so accommodating in letting us check in a few days early.  We even got to enjoy an ice cream social within a few hours of getting there.  It hit the spot with it being so hot in Louisiana.

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We explored the clubhouse a bit and played some pool, checkers, and some ping pong, and had a blast doing it.

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Sunday was a perfect day to head on over to New Orleans.  Though we have been there 3 times in the past few years, we still enjoy the city so much.  We got to come across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, which is the longest bridge suspended completely over water in the world, at 24 miles long. 

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We visited the French Market and, of course, got some beignets from Café du Monde, as always.

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We could tell we were getting close to the beignets by the powdered sugar trail that was set before us 🙂

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We also got to spend some time with William’s best friend from childhood and his family at their beautiful lakefront home. It was so exciting to see their family expanding and amazing to see what God has done with two knuckleheads from Massillon, OH.

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The kids could not wait to get to the swimming pool, as they had talked about it all trip.  And out of nowhere, both Macey and Gig-up got brave and started jumping in the deep end (10 ft. to be exact), after not even being able to handle 3-4 ft. last summer.

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The town of Abita Springs is a quaint and quiet little town.  We got to walk around and explore during one evening.  They have a neat park that they clearly spent some time in creating. 

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Also, Kelly and the kids found a Snowball place!

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We left this morning to begin our way back home for a couple days of birthday parties, church, and to take care of a few errands.  During our morning road trip, we stumbled upon a neat gift store and sausage factory in Evergreen, Alabama.

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So of course, we went on in and sampled a few pieces, and left with a couple pounds of fresh sausage to cook for dinner.

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Tomorrow, we will sleep in our beds at home for a couple nights.  But, we turn right back around and are headed for another road trip…one that we are extremely excited about!!

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Houston, we have a problem!

Houston, we have a problem! And, it’s called “rain”…lots and lots of rain and floods!!

We had a fabulous time at Galveston Island Beach! The kids love going to the beach so when we told them to get dressed to go, there were so many squeals, ha!! It’s always the free stuff that brings the most enjoyment 🙂

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Though we had plenty of warning with the impending storm clouds and the first few pitter patters of the rain drops, we decided not to pay them any mind.  It wasn’t long before we were on a full sprint, beach towels, chairs, flip flops, and beach toys, to the truck.  Nonetheless, drenched from head to toe, we got a good laugh out of our willful ignoring of the obvious signs.

The next day, we decided to head into Houston, about 30 minutes north of Galveston to explore the city.  Our first stop was to the mall.  It was a nice layout, which made it look a lot bigger than it really was.  We bought a few things at a couple stores, had some chocolate at See’s Candy, but the main purpose was to let the kids get some energy out since it was pouring outside!

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We noticed that there was a Dave & Buster’s attached to the mall, which was perfect for a rainy day!  It was the kids’ first time at D&B’s and they had a blast.  Of course, they used all of their winnings on candy.  Wonder who they got that from? 🙂

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Candy Crush!! Right up Kelly’s alley, ha!

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Madison won BIG time on Deal or No Deal! We were a tad bit excited and we could be as crazy as we wanted since we were the only customers in the whole place!

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Later, we stopped by the Houston Space Center.

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We visited the Buffalo Soldiers Museum and learned a lot about African Americans in the military. We left with questions answered and a great sense of pride.

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We had planned on just driving by Lakewood Church, the largest church in America, but when we got there, decided to go inside. The attendants inside were so nice and even opened the Worship Center for us to see.  It is a pretty impressive campus and right in the middle of the city.

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Mackenzie leading the Pledge of Allegiance, ha!!

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Having a craving for authentic Mexican Food, we did the most obvious thing to find the best one: we asked google. We found Chapultepec Lupita.

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Phillip keeping Daddy warm.

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William ordered a cheeseburger…from a Mexican Restaurant…smh.

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The food was fantastic and the view by the window, watching the cars splash water up on the window was thrilling for the kids.  It was just a sign of things to come.

We had planned to visit the Holocaust Museum and the Children’s Museum before leaving Houston, but as the rain kept coming and the waters were not receding, we used our better judgement and decided to get out of Houston and go back to our RV in Galveston. 

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We made it back safe and sound, and eventually decided to cut our trip to Galveston two days short because of the floods.  Now,  we are in lovely Abita Springs, LA for the week.  But, we’ll get into that next time 🙂

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