Warmer Temperatures

While we enjoyed our few days in the snow, we were happy to enjoy the balance of warm mornings and cool evenings of Arizona and into Nevada.

The kids have finally gotten back adjusted after a long Christmas break doing school again each morning (without complaining) and then going out to enjoy our campground or the surrounding city. Whenever we get the chance, we like to enjoy a picnic lunch by the water. We had Pizza Hut on the Colorado River!

The last time we traveled to Las Vegas, we didn’t explore much with the kids, so they were looking forward to seeing the city.

Everyone had something they wanted to see:

Madison (our chef) wanted to visit Gordon Ramsey’s Hell Kitchen and Carlos’ Bake Shop.

Mackenzie (our fashionista) wanted to see the high end stores, like Louis Vuitton and Gucci (actually she wanted to buy something but that wasn’t happening).

img_20190117_135739002_hdr

The little ones just wanted to eat hamburgers! So we went to In-N-Out since we can’t get that back at home.

img_20190117_142110684

For us, we were just looking forward to the sites…

…and taking pics of and with the kids.

As we planned our monthly date, 18thfor18th, we made sure we’d be in Las Vegas.

We enjoyed seeing the city.  We looked at RVs and stopped by the Vegas Harley.

Then we spent a few hours walking on the strip before eating lunch!

Normally, we leave the strip before it gets dark, but we stayed into evening, enjoying some time away from the kids and enjoying the lights.

Before heading into California, we checked out a flea market (swap meet) the next morning. We’re always on the look out for good deals, and picked some vinyls, puzzles, and some DVDs.

Until next time…

Snow: Enjoyed It And Then Escaped It!

Driving into and through New Mexico, we were ecstatic to see the snow all over the ground and in the mountains.

 

 

We were able to enjoy the snow for a few days…9441~29442~29444~2

img_20190110_170959306img_20190111_135250226_hdrimg_20190111_133854489img_20190110_163938014img_20190111_135501876…and hiked to Church Rock in it!

img_20190111_111103777_hdrimg_20190111_100602637img_20190111_104047166_hdrimg_20190111_105421529img_20190111_111405192_hdrimg_20190111_111050067

We enjoyed some authentic Mexican Food in Gallup.

 

 

And, learned about the Navajo Code Talkers while in town.img_20190111_134305376_burst000_cover_top

Snow is fun to play in and look at, it’s not a favorite of ours to drive in.  So we (once again) changed our plans and decided to leave beautiful New Mexico a couple days early.screenshot_20190111-173852  We drove all the way across Arizona in one day to run from a major storm.

img_20190112_094411521

 

 

That didn’t prevent us from visiting a few spots though.

We stopped by the Petrified Forest National Park, and while we couldn’t get in, it was on the way, so we took a chance.

 

 

Visited Wigwam Hotel, inspiration for the movie “Cars.”

 

 

Stopped at a couple Harley Dealerships.

 

 

After a longer than normal driving day, we got to our campground for the next couple days, got some laundry done, and let the kids play in the little area behind our site!

 

 

Until next time…

New Mexico is Beautiful!

Did you know that northern New Mexico is at a higher latitude line than where we’re from in N. Georgia? We were pleasantly surprised with all of the snowy weather, the landscape, and topography of this beautiful state.

Here’s some of what we’ve seen!

Beautiful sunrises…

20190109_064638

…sunny days…

img_20190110_081041758

…and magnificent sunsets!

img_20190110_172435498

And the snow; it’s everywhere!!

 

Even got some good shots of us on the road by ourselves!

 

We’ve been through this state twice but have never explored it like this before. It’s absolutely stunning.

Until next time…

Shutdown Won’t Stop Us!

We started school for the year with the usual excitement (we’re sure it’s going to be short lived).

 

 

But for now, everyone is excited, especially about the scenery and the weather.

img_20190106_094018519img_20190106_151544321img_20190106_154113619img_20190106_152135252_hdrimg_20190106_154554650_hdr

Texas is huge and we’ve finally made it into New Mexico!

 

 

We were unable to go to Carlsbad Caverns National Park and Guadalupe National Park due to the government shutdown but we were able to do some great hiking in Lincoln National Forest at Sitting Bull Falls!

 

 

 

 

Just down this road are the two National Parks that we’re missing. I guess we have an excuse to come back!

img_20190108_113613173_hdr

Until next time…

Old Friends and New Friends…and more rain!

It’s amazing how many friends we have in the state of Texas.  Sadly, we aren’t able to see all of them, yet we were fortunate to have a meal and visit with two families in the Dallas area.

William grew up with Ebony in Massillon, Ohio and hadn’t seen each other in about 16 years.  It was great to meet them for breakfast, meet her husband for the first time, and for them to meet our children (Ebony met Madison when she was a newborn).

9479

Somehow, though none of us are really sure how, we connected with a family on Facebook a couple years ago, Dan and Emily Crutchfield. We have really enjoyed our social media relationship with them. They were welcoming enough to have us come over to their home and they cooked a fantastic Greek meal for us as we visited with them for a few hours.

(In all of our fun, though, we forgot to take a picture!)

The rain seems like it’s been following us since we left. We’ve driven in it and  many of our campsites have had some big puddles around it. At least our sites have been private, spacious, and beautiful, including this latest one.

We got a little reprieve from the rain to explore downtown Dallas…

…as well as picking up two additional Harley Davidson poker chips…

…and making our daily grocery trip.

9727

The weather report is looking sunny and warmer over the next few days and we’re looking forward to it!

Howdy Y’all!

Everything is bigger in Texas!

The signs…

FB_IMG_1546205701924

…the buildings…

 

…the hats…

 

…and the Harley Dealerships!

IMG_20181231_110450600_HDR

Right on the border of Arkansas and Texas is the second most photographed Federal building (we’ll let you find out the first), the Texarkana Post Office.  The post office is separated right down the middle: one side is in Arkansas and the other is in Texas.

 

The clerk there provided us with some great information and history of the building and we even mailed some of William’s client packages from there with a special stamp (only Post Office that has two states on its stamp)

20190101_140407

To this point, we’ve had less than stellar weather, but the sun decided to come out for a bit while we were in Sulphur Springs. They have a quaint downtown area, but are known for their Glass Public Bathrooms. You can see out but can’t see in!

 

Heading west to California will keep us in Texas for about a week.  We’ll finally start hiking in the coming days and weeks and we’re super stoked about that.

Until next time!

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.

FB_IMG_1546086207684

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.

IMG_20181228_111426780_HDR

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.

Screenshot_20181227-171554~2

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.

IMG_20181228_081302538_HDR.jpg

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

IMG_20181228_081837124_HDR.jpg

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.

IMG_20181228_113246738IMG_20181228_111537655-1

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

received_318012118922306

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

received_753907961674934

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…

received_2117499741800620

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

Macey and Phillip with Legos

received_800525270294324.jpeg

Mackenzie with The Sims on Xbox

received_339296456668213

Madison with a movie on her phone in her bunk

received_326963507912202

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.

20181225_194802IMG_20181225_033531831

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.

FB_IMG_1545786516375

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.

FB_IMG_1545781526040

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

FB_IMG_1545781521584

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

And now, the adventure continues!

 

 

 

 

 

 

#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

IMG_20180202_143240098