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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family, Fun, and the Fair-OhioSummer2018

DISCLAIMER: LONG POST ALERT

Normally we try to take a big summer trip.  In 2015, we took a trip across the country (#48statesover48dates).  In 2016, we went west to Galveston and Houston through New Orleans, and then to cooler weather in the Upper Peninsula to Mackinac Island in Michigan.  In 2017, we went back up to Michigan and Ohio to escape the heat.

But, this year, we have a teenager, who started working a “real job” at Chick-fil-A, so now we are grounded more than we like.  However, we were able to sneak away for a two-week vacation to Ohio at the end of the summer break.

We kicked off the trip with a hike in Cuyahoga Valley National Park (last blog post-https://thomas6travels.wordpress.com/2018/07/24/our-8th-national-park-cuyahoga-valley-np/) and headed down to Massillon, Ohio for William’s grandfather’s family reunion.

It was a good time, between the food, kickball game, fellowship, and meeting some family and seeing some that William had not seen in 20 yrs.

 

 

Though it was supposed to rain, we were glad it didn’t.

From there, we headed to Westerville, Ohio for the duration of our vacation.

As usual, we had to make a trip to Easton Mall for Red Robin and See’s Candies. Plus, the kids like to walk around and ask for things that they know they’re not gonna get.

 

 

While we always have fun on our vacations, we like to make sure our kids are learning something.  And, if you can add free ice cream along with that learning, we are certainly down for it. We took a tour at Velvet Ice Cream Factory in Utica, Ohio. We learned the history of the company, which once was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

 

 

The town of Westerville had their 4th Friday celebration with vendors, food, sweets, and some of everything else, so we spent an evening enjoying the activities.

 

 

Of all times we have been to the city of Columbus, we’ve never visited downtown, so we made sure to this time.  Our first stop was to the Harley where Dad bought his bike and picked up another poker chip to add to our collection.

 

 

Then we walked around, enjoyed the German Village, the sights, sounds, food, and architecture of downtown.

 

 

Before heading back home to get ready for school to start, we spent the day at the Ohio State Fair. Grandma Shonen spoiled the kids with unlimited rides and money to buy whatever they wanted! They took full advantage of it and loaded up on cotton candy, candy apples, slushies, lemonade, and funnel cakes.

 

 

This was our 2nd year going to the Ohio State Fair and we look forward to going back again next year! Until next time…

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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