Williamsburg, Virginia

We spent 2 weeks in Williamsburg, VA and it was still not enough time. There is so much to see and do in that area! We stayed at a Thousand Trails park which usually means we are sure to meet up with other Fulltime Families, which of course we did. The park was awesome with an indoor pool and hot tub that we enjoyed on more than one occasion. We also enjoyed mini golf and Jesse loved playing basketball with Chris just about every evening.

We wanted to visit Busch Gardens along with all of the historical areas so I was thankful to find a combined ticket that gave us access to Busch Gardens and Colonial Williamsburg for a week. We spent Easter weekend at Busch Gardens. That park is so much fun and has so many thrill rides! I can’t take a lot of pictures while I’m riding roller coasters all day so you’ll just have to use your imagination, but trust me, the thrill factor at that park is high! Here is a picture when we were riding the train taking a temporary break from roller coasters. See the tall tower in the distance? I’ll tell you a story about that shortly.

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I always like to take a break when the guys ride bumper cars… that ride gives me a headache.

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Here’s a funny story about that tall tower… it’s called the Mach Tower and it’s one of those rides where you are on a rotating tower that goes really high, giving you really awesome views of the park, then suddenly drops you. Typically I would ride anything like that, but Chris would not. Neither Jake nor Jesse would ride it with me either. I didn’t want to ride it alone so I figured I would be skipping that one. Suddenly Chris decides he wants to ride it. I honestly didn’t believe him because it goes really high, and if you know Chris, he does NOT do well with heights. Anyway, he said he wants to do it so I decided to go with him. Neither kid was willing to go, so they were going to wait for us and watch. The ride started to go up, and really hadn’t gotten very far and I started feeling very panicky. I did not want to go any higher but we had just started and I couldn’t stop the ride. Strangely though, the ride suddenly stopped and came back down. They announced that they had to re-check everyone’s seat. When the ride attendant came around to me I told her I want to get off. They let me off and Chris got off the ride with me. Our kids were wondering what was going on, and why did they stop the ride and let us off? Of course that’s not why they stopped the ride, but I took that as my opportunity to get off because I was seriously panicking about it. Anyway, a few hours later we met up with another Fulltime Family and I suddenly changed my mind and wanted to try it again. Their teenage daughter who is willing to ride anything was happy to go along so she, Chris & I all went together. This time they did not stop the ride and I was not able to chicken out. I went to the top and inside I was pretty panicky the whole time. Chris kept talking to me, asking me if we were at the top yet, and I couldn’t answer him. I literally could not speak, I was so scared! The drop itself didn’t bother me at all, but being up so high really scared me. Funny, since Chris is the one that normally has an issue with heights! πŸ™‚

Anyway we had so much fun exploring this park with our friends, and the kids loved riding this with their friend Dean. I love their faces in this picture!

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The following weekend our good friends from Fernandina came up to stay with us and explore Colonial Williamsburg. We spent 2 days exploring that historic town. It’s kind of overwhelming when you first get there. The whole town is set up like a town in the 1700s and it takes a long time to absorb it all. We were glad to go back a second day once we had a better idea of what we wanted to see.

The people in the town all dress up in colonial costumes. I guess Jesse and I don’t quite match this guy with our 2018 dress code. πŸ˜‰

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This was a replica of the governor’s palace where Thomas Jefferson once lived.

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We sat in the church pew that belonged to George Washington.

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And Charlie and Emma sat across from us in Thomas Jefferson’s pew.

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We explored many homes in the town.

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Check out the calf’s head in the center of the table. The tour guide said that it was typical lunch fare in those days.

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Charlie and Jake got to participate in a mock trial in the courthouse.

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Colonial Williamsburg was a really interesting town to visit, but it can be overwhelming with so much to see. If you have a chance to visit, I would recommend allowing plenty of time to fully explore the town and have a chance to talk with the colonial townspeople to really get a feel for the history.

After 2 days in Colonial Williamsburg we went to visit Historic Jamestowne. We started with a living history talk by “John Rolfe” from the 1600s. He married Pocahontas in 1614 which ended the hostilities between the early American colonists and the Powhatan Indians. His talk was so interesting and gave us so much historical perspective before we ventured out to explore the grounds.

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Please ignore Charlie’s bunny ears over Jake’s head! πŸ™‚Β 

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Pocahontas

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Ken & Kelli — we love these two!

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We’re thankful they’ll travel to meet up with us on the road.

So many of the early settlers died of starvation. It was so interesting to hear the history of the “gentlemen” from England. They did not think they should have to work or get their hands dirty, so they did not do anything to find food to eat. So many starved to death rather than hunt or fish for food. Pocahontas was kind to them and brought them food, but it wasn’t until they learned how to work the land that they were able to learn to sustain themselves.

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I just love learning history and visiting these historical places. After Williamsburg we moved on to Washington D.C. where we learned even more about this beautiful country that we call home. I took way too many pictures there and it will take some time to sort them out. In the meantime, please enjoy this beautiful picture of our precious kitty courtesy of Emma.

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Categories: Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Carolina Beaches

After we left Florida we started traveling up the east coast stopping at beaches in both South and North Carolina. This is not new territory for us since Chris and I both lived in Charlotte, NC for many years, in fact that is where we met!

Our first stop was Myrtle Beach, SC and that is a place that we have been to many times. I remember going there when I graduated high school and then several times over the years after that until we moved to Florida. Considering Chris and I haven’t been there since the year 2000 though, it almost seemed new to us.

We took the kids to Broadway at the Beach one evening. It was still the off-season so not very busy, but still fun to show them where we used to hang out in a previous life.

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Chris and I celebrated our birthdays there that week, and since it’s not too far from Charlotte my parents came to visit too. I can’t remember the last time I saw my parents on my birthday so that was a real treat!

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Mini golf at Ocean Lakes Family Campground with the Grands.

Mom and I had one really nice and warm day on the beach while Dad and Chris played golf.

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Looking at this picture of Jake, I realize how much he has grown up. He looks so serious in this picture. I can’t help but stare at him lately and wonder where my little boy went. I wonder if other moms of boys go through this? I see him changing into a man before my eyes and I have to admit it makes me a little sad. I’m happy to watch him mature into a wonderful young man, but also sad that he’s not a little boy anymore. At least I have other pictures that still show his younger side, like this one:

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And this one…

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That last picture is from our next stop along the Carolina Coast. That was at Cape Hatteras KOA which is on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. That was actually new to us! We had never been to the Outer Banks even though we lived in NC. We were there during the off-season and it was quite cold! It barely got out of the 40s that week, but we enjoyed our stay anyway, having the park pretty much all to ourselves.

The ocean was on one side of the campground and the sound on the other where we saw a gorgeous sunset.

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Jake took Fat Cat for a walk on the beach one day — I can tell you she did NOT enjoy that!

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We visited the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse which was the prettiest lighthouse I have ever seen! I’m not sure if they just painted it, but it really was beautiful!

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Lastly we visited Kitty Hawk, NC and visited the Wright Brother’s National Memorial.

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We really enjoyed our time visiting these beaches along the Carolina Coast, although I wish it could have been a little warmer. Next we moved on to Williamsburg, Virginia. Stay tuned to read about that.

 

Categories: North Carolina, South Carolina | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Wintering in Florida

Like many fulltime RV’ers we spent most of the winter in Florida. After spending the holidays with family in North Carolina we headed back to our hometown of Fernandina Beach, FL to stay at Ft. Clinch State Park in January. Most of the time we were there it was very cold, well by Florida standards that is. I know most northerners would question my definition of “cold”. We woke up one morning to find that the water coming into the RV from the outdoor spigot had frozen. We’ve traveled for 3 years and that has never happened. How ironic that it would happen in Florida of all places!

In spite of the cold we had a blast hanging out with friends, playing lots of games, enjoying lots of campfires and watching gorgeous sunsets.

We were so happy to be in town to attend one of our best friend’s surprise 50th birthday party!

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Good friends Danny & Kim

So much fun with friends…

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Game nights with Mimi

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Catching up with Kym

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Camping with Kelli and the rest of the Norstrem family

One night while watching the sunset we were so excited to see a couple of dolphins playing so close to the shore. Photo credit to Kelli for these beautiful sunset pictures.

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After almost 4 weeks in Fernandina we headed down to another one of our favorite places: Disney’s Ft. Wilderness campground. This time my parents, sister and brother-in-law joined us for some Disney fun.

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Later in February we moved on to Three Flags Thousand Trails where some good friends were staying. In the past I have shared pictures of some of the incredible campsites we have been blessed with that included lots of space and gorgeous views. Well, sometimes we end up with a site with a lovely view of the neighbor’s camper with barely any room in between.

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Jake and Jesse with their good friend Gavin

The sites at that park were pretty close together, but thankfully the neighbor was really nice. She brought treats over for the kids often and even told us we could use her golf cart anytime we needed it. We didn’t take her up on that, but I have to say she was one of the nicest neighbors we have ever had. In addition we got to hang out with some other Fulltime Families which made our stay there really fun.

Even though we didn’t have a lot of space between our campers, our back yard was pretty amazing with cows coming to visit us every day.

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From there we moved on to “moochdock” at a friend’s house. We met these friends on the road 3 years ago. They recently bought property in Florida with a very nice, large RV spot.

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Keith and Michele’s house

We went kayaking in Silver Springs while we were staying with them. That was lots of fun until we realized we missed a turn and ended up 2 miles downstream which meant we had the strenuous job of paddling back upstream that far. I was so thankful Keith tied a rope to my kayak and helped tow Jesse and me back!

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Peaceful and beautiful while we were still heading downstream.

Next we spent a quiet weekend at a beautiful state park on the Suwannee River.

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Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park

Lastly we attended our 6th Fulltime Families rally in Madison, FL at one of our favorite Jellystone Parks. We used to go on weekend camping trips to this Jellystone years ago before we started traveling fulltime. They have a really awesome water slide and lazy river. The entire week the boys were so excited for them to open the water park. It was a chilly week, but the campground promised they would open the water park for the rally no matter how the weather turned out.

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Well, the campground kept their promise and many of the kids braved the cold to enjoy it one afternoon. The outside temperature was in the 60s, and I have no idea how cold the water was but based on the blue, shivering lips of most of the kids it was quite cold!

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Photo Credit: Brooke Foster

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Photo Credit: Brooke Foster

Rally weeks are always so busy and super fun. One day we had a field trip canoeing down the Suwannee River.

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Another day they had field games like relay races and crab soccer.

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We also had campfires, pot luck dinners and lots of other fun with old and new friends.

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FtF Rally Group Picture – Photo Credit: Brooke Foster

So that wraps up our winter in Florida and now we are making our way up the east coast. We are so excited to begin another year of adventures and making memories.

 

Categories: Florida | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Third Nomadiversary

Three years ago today we moved into our home on wheels and began the adventure of a lifetime, exploring this beautiful country. I can’t believe it has been that long already! I thank God every day for this lifestyle and time with my family.

We have now visited 29 states and 2 Canadian provinces, but I’m afraid I have lost count of how many national parks we have been to. My talented brother-in-law put together this recap video of our 3rd year on the road. I hope you enjoy it!

I love the lyrics to the song in this video:Β If Today Was Your Last Day… what would you do if today was your last day? You may not sell everything you own to travel the country in an RV (I know it’s not for everyone), but what is something you have always wanted to do, something you say you’ll do “someday”? Please allow me to encourage you to do it today, don’t wait.

Each year I like to get a picture of the boys pointing to our sticker map of states visited. As I look back over the pictures from each Nomadiversary, I see that our sticker map has filled in quite a bit, but what I notice even more is how much older Jake and Jesse look. Time, please slow down!

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I tried something new this year — a color-coded map of our travels from the first 3 years.

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Green = 2015; Red = 2016; Blue = 2017

It looks like we’re missing a bunch of states in the upper right-hand corner. As much as we love the west, we decided it’s time to explore the northeast. So stay tuned for year 4 of our adventures as we explore the east coast states and eastern Canada.

If you feel like watching our first two Nomadiversary videos you can find them here:Β One Year NomadiversaryΒ andΒ Second Nomadiversary.

Categories: Our Travels, Roadschooling | Tags: , , , , , | 16 Comments

Cross Country Road Trip

After an amazing summer in the Pacific Northwest it was time to start making our way back east for the winter. We had 6 weeks to get from Washington to Florida. This post will cover the stops we made along the way.

First we spent a quiet week in eastern Oregon on the Idaho border, recovering from a couple of very busy weeks in Washington. We stayed at Farewell Bend Recreation Area on the Snake River across from Idaho. It was beautiful and peaceful!

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The 2nd week we spent celebrating Jake’s 13th birthday in Park City, Utah which I already wrote about. You can see it here if you missed it:Β Birthday Celebration in Park City, Utah.

Week #3 was spent in South Fork, Colorado where the fall foliage was gorgeous! Our campground was right on the Rio Grande River.

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We spent week #4 in Amarillo, Texas for a couple of days and then the rest of the week in Oklahoma City.

In Amarillo we used the complimentary limo service to go have dinner at the Big Texan. This was so much fun and a shining example of true Texas hospitality!

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We also stopped by Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo to leave our mark on the classic cars and to meet up with our good friends the Thomas family. Somehow we always end up on the opposite side of the country as them, and our paths crossed here in Texas as they were headed west and we were headed east. Someday I hope we’ll be in the same state again for more than a day or two!

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My beautiful friend Erica who I miss so much!

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After a busy 2 days in Texas we moved on to Oklahoma City. Our campsite here was interesting, right on the mini golf course!

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While in Oklahoma City we met up with my sister’s good friend Rene who gave us a personalized tour of the Oklahoma City National Memorial where she lived and worked at the time of the tragic bombing. This was a very sobering site to see, and so interesting to hear Rene’s story of the events that happened that day in 1995.

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We also visited the Science Museum in Oklahoma City which we could go to for free on our ASTC reciprocal membership. The boys enjoyed this science museum very much!

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We moved on to Arkansas for week #5 to visit Hot Springs National Park. I have to admit we were not all that impressed with this national park after all the amazing and scenic parks we’ve been to out west. This was basically just a town with historical bathhouses. Maybe were missing something, but it seems like it’s probably more interesting for adults… not including Chris and me, we’re not adulting right now. πŸ˜‰

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It turns out we were parked next to another Fulltime Family at the Hot Springs KOA and we enjoyed getting to know them. I hope we meet up with them again in the near future.

The Mid America Science Museum is located near Hot Springs and it is also included on our ASTC membership so we went there too. Another super fun science museum that the boys really enjoyed!

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After an overnight stop in Tupelo, Mississippi where Chris & I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary at a Japanese Hibachi grill along with our kids, we moved on for week #6 in Woodstock, Georgia where we were able to visit with my sister and her husband for the week. We stayed at Victoria Campground which had very nice and large sites and beautiful sunsets on Lake Allatoona. We had lots of fun with Cheryl & Chris playing games and just being our silly selves.

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And then finally, after 6 weeks and over 3000 miles we were back “home” in Florida at our happy place, Disney World just in time for trick-or-treating at Ft. Wilderness.

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We purchased new FL resident annual passes and got busy exploring our favorite amusement parks all over again. Lots of other Fulltime Families spend the winter in the Orlando area also, so it was fun to meet up with some of our friends at the Disney parks.

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We even enjoyed a visit from my parents at Ft. Wilderness one weekend while they happened to be in the Orlando area.

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As much as I love traveling out west, it is good to be home. We’ll spend the rest of this year hanging out with friends and family in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. I will probably be taking a break from blogging until we begin traveling again next year. Until then, I hope you all enjoy a blessed holiday season. Remember to make the most of your time with loved ones and be thankful. πŸ™‚

 

Categories: Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Birthday Celebration in Park City, Utah

It was almost 3 years ago that we set out on this adventure of a lifetime. I started this blog 3 years ago this month with this post about why we are doing this. In that post I mentioned that the #1 reason we are doing this is because “blink and they are grown”. Truer words have never been spoken! It seems like just yesterday that my first child Jake was born, and the next thing I knew he became a teenager. How did that happen??

We were in Park City, Utah to celebrate his 13th birthday at the end of September where we spent the day at Park City Mountain riding alpine slides and coasters.

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Getting ready for our first ride down the alpine coaster.

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This was so much fun! We were able to ride it several times that day with little to no wait since it was a weekday and not crowded. On the alpine coaster you ride up the mountain in the coaster for about 5 minutes or so, enjoying the views, and then fly back down in much less time.

I took this picture on the way up, but I couldn’t take any pictures on the way down.

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We also rode up the scenic chairlift a few times to ride the alpine slide.

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Jake going down the alpine slide.

We purchased a day pass so we could have unlimited rides. The day pass also included the Legacy Launcher, gem mining and mini golf.

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Jake on the Legacy Launcher

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Gem mining.

After we closed the place down, we headed into the cute little mountain town of Park City to find some place to have a birthday dinner. We ended up having Mexican which seems to be what we go for most often.

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The shops on Main Street were so cute!

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We loved Park City Mountain and would really like to return there for skiing in the winter sometime.

We stayed at Jordanelle State Park that week which was gorgeous with the mountain views and beautiful fall colors. It was even snowing the day we got there but didn’t last very long as it warmed up slightly that week.

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Beautiful campsite at Jordanelle State Park

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I think this was a great place to spend Jake’s 13th birthday, and it’s definitely on the list to return again someday.

Categories: Utah | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Exploring Seattle

When my parents visited us in Washington, they flew into Seattle. We were staying in Port Angeles which was a 3 hour drive from Seattle. Rather than drive the whole way we decided to make it more interesting and include a lesson in modes of transportation for roadschooling that day: Planes, Trains and Automobiles (and ferries too!)

First we drove to Bainbridge Island (about 2 hours away from Port Angeles). From there we took a ferry across the Puget Sound to Seattle. The views from the ferry were so beautiful!

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My handsome first born — soon to be a teenager!

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Beautiful Seattle sky line.

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Once we got to Seattle, we found the Link Light Rail train that goes all the way to the SeaTac Airport where we met up with the parental units. After another train ride back to Seattle we hopped aboard the ferry back to Bainbridge Island with 2 extra passengers in tow, one with quite an interesting hairstyle.

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Don’t you just love my mom’s hair in that photo? It was just a bit windy that afternoon! I loved the Facebook comment from her sister Jackie: “That’s a riot! The Flying Nun is still alive!… And look at Tom! Cool as a cucumber. Every hair in its place!” Don’t worry, my mom has a great sense of humor. πŸ˜‰

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Once we got to Bainbridge Island it was a challenge to find a place to eat a late lunch.Β I wanted to share this review I wrote on Trip Advisor about the cute little diner where we ended up — Madison Diner, the place that redeemed Bainbridge Island for me.

Trip Advisor Review: “This place redeemed our first impression of Bainbridge Island. To give some background, my parents flew out to Seattle from NC that day. My family and I were staying at a campground in Port Angeles so we traveled about 3 hours between driving, taking the ferry from Bainbridge to Seattle and then the train to the airport. By the time we had picked up my parents and made our way back to Bainbridge Island we were all famished and exhausted. It was about 2pm. We first went to Streamliner Diner because we had heard good things about that place. As soon as we walked in the door they told us we couldn’t stay because they were closing at 2:30pm. So we walked down the street and saw the Ale House. We assumed they also served food and my husband would have loved a beer. The 6 of us walked in (our 2 kids included), and the lady behind the counter immediately began yelling at us to get our kids out of there — that they weren’t allowed in there. Geez! Talk about feeling unwelcome. So after getting kicked out of 2 places and still feeling very hungry, we stumbled upon The Madison Diner. We hesitantly walked in the door wondering if they might also kick us out. But instead we found friendly faces and a welcoming atmosphere. The third try was a charm! They seated us outside in the back which we loved because it was a beautiful day. The food and service were all wonderful! Thank you Madison Diner for showing us such great customer service and changing our first impression that Bainbridge Island was not very friendly.”

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So if you ever find yourself hungry in Bainbridge Island I would highly recommend Madison Diner.

So, fast forward 2 weeks later (after several fun adventures that I already wrote about), and it was time for the grandparents to return home. At this point we were camped in Concrete, WA, about a 2 hour drive to Seattle. We decided to spend the day exploring the city since their flight wasn’t until late that night.

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Seattle Space Needle

We didn’t actually go up in the Space Needle because it is quite pricey. Instead we just took a picture in front of it and then went to the Pacific Science Center where we got in free on our ASTC reciprocal membership.

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The outdoor water works section was really fun, and the indoor fast food window was a lot of fun too. The boys enjoyed taking orders at this window and informing the customers (us) how many calories are in the food choices we selected. If we selected unhealthy choices they would suggest healthier and lower calorie alternatives based on the script provided at the exhibit. Can you imagine a real fast food drive-thru doing this? “Excuse me sir, but you just ordered 1500 calories worth of food. Maybe you’d like to try again?” πŸ™‚

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We had so much fun at this science center and spent several hours there.

Later we took the monorail to Pike Place Market, yet another form of transportation. Seattle sure has some excellent public transportation options!

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A really cool place to check out here is the Pike Place Fish Market where the employees playfully throw fish around.

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WARNING: these next photos might gross you out if you’re a germophobe.

The Gum Wall, where you can add your own gum to the collection!

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The boys adding their own gum to the Gum Wall.

If you’re still reading, don’t say I didn’t warn you! πŸ˜‰

Lastly, we found an amazing playground right near the monorail. The kids played there for a bit before we had to say good-bye to Gramma and Grampa. They took the monorail to the Link Light Rail to the airport, and we headed back to the campground to rest up for a couple of days before leaving Washington and starting our trek back east.

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Artists at Play Playground

Good-bye Washington and the lovely Pacific Northwest. We really enjoyed an amazing summer in that part of the country!

Categories: Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

San Juan Islands

Washington state has a great ferry system that we took advantage of a few times. The first time was when we went to Victoria, Canada. The second time we took a ferry from Anacortes, WA to the San Juan Islands. This is a cluster of islands off the northern shore of WA, but still a part of WA state. We only went to one of the islands known as Friday Harbor.

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Just like on our trip to Victoria we chose to walk on the ferry rather than drive the big truck. It’s much cheaper that way, and then we used an island taxi service to take a drive over to Lime Kiln Point State Park, one of the most scenic places on the island. This park is also supposed to be one of the best whale-watching spots on earth, but unfortunately it was so foggy the day we were there that we didn’t see any whales.

Lime Kiln Point has a few short hikes, the first one we did was to Dead Man’s Cove. Interesting name for a hiking trail, don’t you think?

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Hiking to Dead Man’s Cove

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Dead Man’s Cove

We spent quite a while just hanging out and playing at this secluded little beach.

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Jake (or is he Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn?) decided to make another raft out of the driftwood like he did back at Ruby Beach.

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Later we hiked over to see the Lime Kiln Point Lighthouse.

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Lime Kiln Point Lighthouse

We took another taxi back to Friday harbor and spent the rest of the day exploring the little seaside town including a visit to the Whale Museum.

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Then we caught the evening ferry and sailed off into the sunset again, back to the mainland.

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The boys enjoyed working on a partially completed puzzle on the ferry ride back. I wonder how many ferry trips it took before the puzzle was completed.

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Categories: Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

North Cascades National Park

After we left Port Angeles we headed over to the little town of Concrete, Washington to visit North Cascades National Park.

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This park is known for mountains, glaciers and lakes. The glaciers are a beautiful turquoise green color like in this iconic view of Diablo Lake.

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Diablo Lake

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A park ranger explained to us that the glaciers moving against the rocks over time result in the stunning green color in the water. I was curious why the glacial melt in Glacier National Park results in blue water while this park’s glacial melt results in green. The ranger showed us how rubbing 2 rocks together from this area creates a fine green dust, while the rocks in Glacier must be somewhat different in the color resulting in a blue dust.

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We started the day at the Gorge Powerhouse, walking across the suspension bridge and then a short hike up to Ladder Creek Falls.

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Ladder Creek Falls

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Then we hiked the Thunder Knob Trail to see Diablo Lake. This hike was 3.6 miles round trip and to be honest it wasn’t really that interesting except for the end. There was not much to look at for the hike up, but once we got to the top we were rewarded with this view. This was an out and back hike so the hike back down was just as uninteresting, but easier of course as it was all downhill.

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If you’re short on time I wouldn’t bother with this hike. You can get a much better view of Diablo Lake from the Diablo Lake Overlook (the pictures from the beginning of this post were taken at the overlook). I don’t mean to sound negative about this hike, but my personal preference is to hike trails where you have amazing views throughout the hike, not just at the end.

Next we drove further down the scenic North Cascades Highway to hike the Rainy Lake Trail. This was a short 2 mile out and back hike to a beautiful lake. Again, the hike wasn’t all that interesting, but it was short and paved, and ended at this awesome view.

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Rainy Lake

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A few more miles down the road we stopped at the Washington Pass Overlook for some spectacular mountain views.

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Lastly, on the way out of the park we stopped at Cascadian Farms for some organic ice cream. I thought the blueberry ice cream was delicious!

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We stayed at the Grandy Creek Thousand Trails while we were in this area, and also celebrated Jesse’s 11th birthday that week. We had been so busy sightseeing and exploring while Gramma and Grampa visited, and I think everyone felt the need for a break. Jesse requested that we stay home for his birthday and not go anywhere. So that’s what we did. We spent the day at the campground, playing games and mini golf. I made his favorite ice cream cake and one of his favorite dinners — lasagna, meatballs and homemade bread. I bet you didn’t think we could bake all that in an RV, did you? πŸ˜‰ Last Christmas my dad and Chris switched out our microwave oven with a combination convection/microwave and I love it! The standard oven that comes with an RV is pretty useless since hardly any pans even fit in it. The convection oven fits my lasagna pan and bread pan perfectly. And I cook meatballs in our Instant Pot, one of the best kitchen appliances for an RV.

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I wasn’t sure how we could possibly top his 10th birthday that was celebrated at Mall of America, but he said this birthday was just as fun. Sometimes it’s the simple things in life I guess. πŸ™‚

Categories: National Parks, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Two Amazing Days in Victoria Canada

When we were parked in Port Angeles, WA we were right near the Black Ball Ferry Line that goes to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. It’s much cheaper to walk on the ferry than drive on, so that’s what we did. We headed out bright and early, packed with a couple of overnight bags and walked on the ferry to sail across the Strait of Juan de Fuca and enjoy a super fun couple of days in Victoria.

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Grampa and his boys waiting to set sail.

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We’re on our way!

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Arriving into the port at Victoria

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Watching sea planes take off.

Victoria is a very pedestrian-friendly town where it was easy for us to get around without having a vehicle. And Chris sure was glad he didn’t have to drive the big truck for a couple of days! Our first order of business was to walk a couple of blocks to our hotel to drop off our luggage. Then we headed out to catch a bus to our first destination, the Butchart Gardens. On the way to the bus I just couldn’t get over the lovely architecture of this beautiful city!

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Parliament Building

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The Empress Hotel

Our bus driver informed us that we could enjoy afternoon tea at The Empress for a mere $75/person. Oh my, I think we’ll pass. Besides I don’t even like tea.

So it was on to the lovely Butchart Gardens.

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I hope I didn’t bore you with too many flower pictures. They were all just so pretty it was hard to decide which pictures to use!

Later that evening we walked down to the Fisherman’s Wharf to eat dinner. All of the shops and restaurants in this area were literally floating!

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Fisherman’s Wharf

Even the homes float! It was really fun to walk around and check out the charming little floating homes.

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Chris may or may not have wanted to get this for the grands. πŸ˜‰ Just kidding, Mom and Dad!

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We spent the night at the Royal Scot Hotel which had very nice large suites and an indoor pool and hot tub. That hot tub was wonderful after all the walking we did that day!

The next day we rode the hop-on-hop-off Big Bus Victoria all over the city, getting off the bus at times to explore.

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One of the stops was in Chinatown.

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Fan Tan Alley in Chinatown is the narrowest street in Canada.

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Another quick stop to see this view of the bay.

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We even stopped to see a castle!

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Craigdarroch Castle

After our bus tour we shopped for t-shirts and souvenirs, had dinner and then it was time to go catch the ferry back to Port Angeles.

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View from the ferry dock.

Then we sailed off into the sunset, literally. We enjoyed a spectacular sunset on our way back across to Washington, and then later a full moon!

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Oh my goodness, we had such an amazing time in Victoria! And I just have to thank my Dad for doing the trip planning for this part of their trip to see us. He arranged the ferry tickets, hotel rooms, and trip to Butchart Gardens. It was so nice for someone else to take care of the plans for a change since I spend so much time all year long trip-planning. I don’t mind really, but it is a lot of work! So, thank you Dad! I love you!

Categories: Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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