So Much History and A Half Million Dollars

For about 30 seconds, the Thomas family had $520,000 of cold hard cash in our hands.  We could feel how heavy it was and it smelled just like you would think a half million dollars would smell.

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It would have been nice if this was our family safe in the background, but it was inside the vault of the Arkansas State Capitol Building.

We haven’t seen many vaults before, but this one certainly was massive. The door was 24,000 lbs alone from O-h-i-o (shout out to William’s people) that had to be hoisted up to the second floor in 1912.

The Capitol Building was stunning: wall to wall and floor to ceiling marble, supreme architecture, marvelous columns, and beautiful symmetry all throughout.

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Our tour guide was fantastic and extremely knowledgeable about both the Capitol Building and the history of the city, both historically and currently.

The rest of city didn’t disappoint either.

We find history, specifically cultural history, to be especially interesting.  We’ve discovered many cities have audio history tours that you can take, so of course, we did this one too.

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We drove by the Horace Mann High School, which was built after the Brown vs. Board of Education decision to end segregation. It was built on the east side of Little Rock where most of the poorer black students lived as a way of still keeping black and white students separate.

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Afterwards, we passed this cemetery where former slaves and free blacks, from the early 1800’s, were buried.

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From there, we went over to MacArthur Park and the Pike-Fletcher-Terry home.  The park was the first city park and has statues to honor those who fought in the Korean War, as well as a statue to remember the end racial segregation in the U.S. Military.

Mrs. Adolphine Fletcher Terry was instrumental in supporting and getting non-segregationists elected to push the end of segregation in schools.

Before heading over to the current Capitol Building, we toured the Old State House…

(Macey and Gig-up recreated the creepy photo)

…which is now a museum, that holds everything from Oddities…

…to quilts woven by African American women…

…and, the dress Hillary wore when Bill Clinton stepped out the front doors to accept his first presidency inauguration.

One can’t visit Little Rock without visiting Little Rock Central High School.  If you are unaware of the history of this school, we’d encourage you to research it for yourself.

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There was so much more we saw in this city, but one must come and see it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Shoe Tree, Mississippi, and Big Buck in Hornsby

The weather while driving in the morning was perfect: cool, sunny, and clear, so we had to stop, on the side of the road, for a photo shoot.received_270887830262525Before making our way to breakfast, the kids put away electronics and worked on a scavenger hunt in their Travel Notebooks. We turned the radio off and just focused on the outdoors.

 

Macey and Phillip tied on theirs but Mackenzie beat Madison by 1 point! The prize was anything you want from Dollar Tree, ha!!

We planned to stop at Chick-fil-A (our favorite) for breakfast. After 24 Chick-n-Minis, a butter biscuit, a chicken biscuit, 4 count nugget, hash browns, and orange juice, we were full!! received_354916658633577

Before leaving out of Alabama and into Mississippi, we pulled over to add a pair of shoes to the Shoe Tree in Cherokee, AL.

 

Along the drive, the kids took out their Travel Notebooks that we created.  These books have some entertaining pages, some educational, and some that have a combination of both. We work hard on using travel as a way to increase their experience and knowledge.

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Quickly through Mississippi and into Tennessee, our stop for the night is in Hornsby.

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The kids were initially disappointed due to all of the mud at our campsite, they wanted to ride their bikes and new scooters that they got for Christmas…

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….but that disappointment didn’t last long. They found other ways to occupy themselves.

Macey and Phillip with Legos

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Mackenzie with The Sims on Xbox

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Madison with a movie on her phone in her bunk

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Today, the adventure continues!

And We’re Off!

This is our second year leaving on Christmas Morning and knowing us, it will become another annual tradition.  It seems like we’ve been counting down the days for a while now and it’s finally come.

On Christmas Eve, we spent some time with both families, had a couple meals, and exchanged some gifts, then hurried home to finish packing and filling the kids’ stockings.

Even though we were up all night making sure we had everything packed in the RV (though we forgot a ton), the kids and Kelly couldn’t stay asleep with the excitement of Christmas morning and the gifts soon to be opened.

So at 2:30am…yes, 2:30am, they went downstairs, “patiently” watched some movies, and stared at the gifts under the tree until daddy came down at 5:50am.

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After opening way too many gifts, we finished loading up the RV, cleaned up all the Christmas decorations, and double checked our to-do lists.  We loaded up the truck, prayed, and pulled out of the driveway.

We didn’t have a far drive, but stopped to stretch our legs, somewhere in Alabama, and our silly kids had to strike a goofy pose.

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Gaining an hour driving into the Central Time Zone, plus leaving an hour earlier than we had anticipated had us arriving at our stop around lunchtime.

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With the mountains right behind the lake, it’s easy to see its appropriately named.

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It was a full day and everyone was either asleep or barely hanging on by 8pm CST.

And now, the adventure continues!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our 8th National Park: Cuyahoga Valley NP

Two of our long time loves (our children and traveling) and two of our new loves (hiking and visiting National Parks) combined make for a fun and educational trip.

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Started off the day, hoping the rain would hold off…

 

 

…which it did so we were able to hike Brandywine Falls Trail…

 

 

…and what a reward for our efforts!

 

 

It is exciting to see our children discovering what they love to do, like Mackenzie becoming quite to the photographer!

 

 

We even got to learn a bit about how the canal system worked, how it brought ships from one large waterway, through land, and to another large body of water.  Pretty neat stuff!!

 

 

Although we have been to many national monuments, national historic sites, national seashores, etc…, we have only been to 8 that have been upgraded to National Parks (9 if you include Gateway Arch that was just upgraded to National Park Status this month). There are 60 total National Parks in the U.S.  and we intend on visiting and exploring all of them!!!

#FloridaForty We’ve Made It Home

2 parents…4 children…40 cities…40 days…27 Harley Davidson dealerships stopped at…14 RV parks…4,152.6 miles driven…71 hours and 2 minutes driving…418.1 gallons of gas…35 new Christmas ornaments for our travel tree…way too many Walmart stops…

=1 grand trip!

Thanks again for joining us on our 40 day journey through the state of Florida.

(and to think that it rained for that many days straight while Noah was on the ark and Jesus fasted for that long while in the wilderness)

Thank you for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers.

Along the way, we made some great memories, had a lot of fun, tasted new food, talked with some fantastic people, and grew closer together as a family.  It is these times that we hope have the greatest impact on our children.

So that we can keep a record of our trip, as well as to share with those who are wanting to know, we decided to share our itinerary as well as the names of the RV/Campgrounds/State Parks/National Parks we camped in.

Feature City                            RV Park

Day 1           Jacksonville                           Little Talbot State Park Jacksonville, FL

Day 2           Ponte Vedra Beach               Faver-Dykes State Park St. Augustine, FL

Day 3           St. Augustine                         Faver-Dykes State Park

Day 4           Mt. Dora                                 Bee’s RV Resort Clermont, FL

Day 5           Howey-in-the-Hills              Bee’s RV Resort

Day 6           Eatonville                              Bee’s RV Resort

Day 7           Lady Lake                              Bee’s RV Resort

Day 8           Clermont                                Bee’s RV Resort

Day 9           Groveland                              Bee’s RV Resort

Day 10         Frostproof                              Kissimmee Prairie Preserve S.P. Okeechobee, FL

Day 11         Okeechobee                           Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park

Day 12         Taylor Creek                          Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park

Day 13         Dania Beach                          Fiesta Key Rv and Marina Layton, FL

Day 14         Key West                                Fiesta Key Rv and Marina

Day 15          Marathon                              Fiesta Key Rv and Marina

Day 16         Islamorada                             C.B. Smith Park Pembroke Pines, FL

Day 17         Miami Beach                          C.B. Smith Park

Day 18         Pembroke Pines                    C.B. Smith Park

Day 19         Davie                                       C.B. Smith Park

Day 20         Miramar                                 C.B. Smith Park

Day 21         Everglades City                     Collier Seminole State Park Naples, FL

Day 22          Naples                                    Collier Seminole State Park

Day 23          Fort Myers Beach                 Little Manatee River State Park Wimauma, FL

Day 24          Winter Haven                       Little Manatee River State Park

Day 25         Clearwater                              Mary’s Fish Camp Weeki Wachee, FL

Day 26          Weeki Wachee                      Mary’s Fish Camp

Day 27          Alachua                                   Suwanee River State Park Live Oak, FL

Day 28          Live Oak                                  Suwanee River State Park

Day 29          Madison                                  Suwanee River State Park

Day 30          Lee                                           Suwanee River State Park

Day 31          Carrabelle                              St. George Island State Park, St. George Island, FL

Day 32          St. George Island                  St. Andrews State Rec Area Panama City Beach, FL

Day 33          Panama City Beach              St. Andrews State Recreation Area

Day 34         Niceville                                  Fred Gannon State Park Niceville, FL

Day 35          Destin                                     Fred Gannon State Park

Day 36          Valparaiso                             Fred Gannon State Park

Day 37          Gulf Breeze                           Fort Pickens Recreation Area-  Gulf Islands National Seashore Pensacola, FL

Day 38          Pensacola Beach                  Fort Pickens Recreation Area

Day 39          Molino                                   Fort Pickens Recreation Area

Day 40          Century                                   N/A Home

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#FloridaForty Day 38 Gulf Breeze to Pensacola Beach

We started off the morning with possibly our last walk on the beach on this trip, watching that waves crash on the beach and collecting seashells.

 

Though we have visited Fort Pickens before, this was our first time participating in the guided tour.

 

The two little kids were able to be sworn in as official Junior Rangers…

 

We learned about how and why Fort Pickens was built, as well as who built it.  It’s amazing to see our children light up when they learn about the enormity of what our ancestors were a part of and how they were a critical part of the birth of this country and its sustainability.

 

We love that they are learning so much!

We picked up another Harley poker chip!

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And finished the evening with a Mardi Gras King cake!

Gig-up got the baby!

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#FloridaForty Day 37 Valparaiso to Gulf Breeze

Kelly has been needing to get to Kohl’s to use $5 Kohl’s Cash that was going to expire on January 31. She kept putting it off until the last day but now has a new pair of leggings.  And there was a Harley right next door, so we knocked out two birds with one stone.

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We made it back to one of our favorite campgrounds…

…with one of the most beautiful beaches!

Ran into this little guy on the way to the beach.

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