Fulltime RV’ing

More Random Thoughts

It’s been quite a while since I first posted some random thoughts about life on the road. You can view that post here:¬†Random Thoughts about Life on the Road. I figured it’s time for an update now that we’ve been on the road for a little over 2 years. I usually only post about destinations we visit, but I think some people like to hear what it’s like to live in an RV fulltime.

I’ll start with some funny things that have happened. Living in campgrounds and RV parks means you get up close and personal with neighbors sometimes. I remember one time sitting at our kitchen table eating lunch while I watched our neighbor out the window in his bathrobe letting his dogs take care of their business. Still in his bathrobe after noon? Sure why not? I sometimes stay in pajama pants all day!

Another time we had one of the only campsites with a porch swing. One day Chris left to go somewhere, and I guess our neighbor assumed we all left with him because he used that time to make himself comfortable on our porch swing. I thought it was cute and hilarious! I didn’t want to embarrass him by letting him know the kids and I were still inside, so I just took his picture out the window so I could show Chris when he got home. ūüôā

0515151218

Then there was the time our GPS took us down a dirt road on the way to a campground in Idaho. Oh boy was that a mistake! If I hadn’t been so nervous at the time I might have thought to take some pictures, but you’ll just have to use your imagination. This was a long one lane dirt road up and down hills and over a narrow wooden bridge. There was no way for us to possibly turn around so we just had to keep going and hope for the best. Thankfully we made it to the campground safely, although with a very dirty truck and RV. At least the campground let us wash the vehicles there and they let us know of a better road to take when we left.

Another funny thing happened in Dodge City, Kansas. We were on a very long drive and needed a place to spend one night before we continued on the next day. We pulled into a cute little RV park right off the highway in Dodge City called Gunsmoke RV Park. The lady that checked me in was quite interesting. She informed me that checkout time was at noon sharp! If we planned to stay until 12:01 or later we better pay up or get outta “dodge”. I suppose that was supposed to be a funny play on words since this place was in Dodge City. Anyway, since we were just passing through for the night, she didn’t have to worry about us overstaying our welcome, we were on our way bright and early the next morning. Besides the strange welcome, she read me a super long list of rules for the park. One of the weirdest rules was that our truck must be perfectly lined up in front of the RV. It could not be parked sideways or diagonal; it must be perfectly lined up. What?!? I wonder if they come out with a yardstick and make sure everyone’s RV and truck are perfectly in line? There were so many other weird rules that I don’t remember now, but that was definitely not the most welcoming place we have been to.

I spend countless hours trip planning and trying to book us into the best possible campsites with lots of space, privacy and amazing views. But every once in awhile we end up in a very crowded RV park so close to neighbors that you don’t even want to sit outside unless you enjoy sitting beside your neighbor’s sewer hose. Yuck! We were recently at a campground where a truck camper pulled in next to us as close as he could possibly get. We still can’t figure out the logic behind why he did that. He had to squeeze himself in between us every time he needed to get something out of his storage compartment. I could see the top of his head every time I looked out the window and I could have handed them ketchup through our windows if they needed any. Talk about being up close and personal!

0221170856_hdr2

I definitely prefer a view more like this one.

0901161952_hdr

I’ve learned that I absolutely love the west, but I miss friends and family in the east so we end up doing a lot of back and forth. Whenever our truck and home take a turn onto an interstate going west I get super excited!

Some people assume we are on a permanent vacation, but that is just not the case. When people we meet at campgrounds realize we fulltime RV they think we won the lottery or are somehow independently wealthy. No, we still work and it’s a constant balancing act between getting our work done and fully enjoying our current location. And trip planning is like a second job for me. Imagine having to find where you’re going to park your home every single night of the year. And I’m picky! I don’t want to park at some junky run down RV park. I like amazing views and space and kid friendly locations. And of course I have to make sure wherever we go that there is Verizon coverage.

Some days are just regular days; we’re not out exploring and doing exciting things every day. We have real life like everyone else. We work, we do school, we clean and do laundry, etc. We just replaced all 4 tires on the RV, had annual maintenance done which included re-sealing the roof, and we had to replace our refrigerator. There seems to be no shortage of things that need fixing or replacing in a house or an RV, so in that respect it’s not all that different from living in a house.

The #1 question people ask me is “how do you get your mail??” Good question, and I wondered that too before we embarked on this adventure. The RV community has already figured that out for us. There are several mail-forwarding services that cater to fulltime RV’ers and boaters. We have a mailing address in Florida which is the address we use for our driver’s license and registration. All of our mail goes there and when we receive mail the service scans the envelope and sends me an email so I can view it online. I can select the option to have them open it and scan the contents, or hold it until I can have it forwarded or have them shred it. Most RV parks allow us to receive packages so when I’m at a location that will allow that I can have the mail forwarding service send our mail to us there. I also make heavy use out of my Amazon Prime membership when I’m at a campground that allows deliveries.

Life on the road can certainly be challenging, but it is so worth it! I absolutely love waking up to new and exciting places and adventures every week or so. I love that we have been able to see so much of this beautiful country, places we never would have seen if not for living in an RV, including some hidden gems that I would never have even known about. I love the priceless memories Chris and I are making with our children. I love the close family bonding we experience living in such close quarters 24/7. Okay, so maybe I don’t always love that when the kids are fighting, lol! But I honestly would not trade this life for anything! I feel so incredibly blessed to be able to live this way.

If you have any questions, send them on. I’m happy to answer questions people have about this lifestyle.

 

Categories: Fulltime RV'ing | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Fulltime Families Tally Rally

We attended our 5th Fulltime Families (FtF) rally in Tallahassee, FL at the North Florida Fairgrounds. Affectionately known as the “Tally Rally”, this was the biggest rally we have attended so far at approximately 85 families. I have to admit, being an introvert, I was quite overwhelmed by this many people at first. When we first pulled into the giant field where we all camped for the week, I really had second thoughts about whether or not we should have come. But I needn’t have worried about that. Within an hour or so some good friends from previous rallies stopped by and we got out and about meeting old and new friends. We ended up having a blast!

0202171155_hdr

fb_img_1486607387358

Here is a cool video that a rally attendee made early in the week:

The rally week started with a field trip to the Mission San Luis where we were transported back to the year 1703 and learned about how the Apalachee Indians lived.

0131171502a_hdr

0131171529a_hdr

fb_img_1485903089716

The next day we had a field trip to the Tallahassee Museum and Tree to Tree Adventures. The boys had their first experience on a ropes course. Jesse was not yet tall enough for us all to do the larger ropes course with zip lines, so Jake and Jesse did the ropes course for smaller adventurers. The larger one looked like lots of fun so once Jesse is a little bit taller we will look for a place for us all to do this together.

0201171409c_hdr

Besides the ropes courses, the museum was fun to explore. It was more like a zoo and gardens.

0201171518b_hdr

0201171530_hdr

fb_img_1485989957912

One of the really fun activities for kids at the rally was building a box city. Many thanks to the mom who came up with this idea! It was a big hit with all the kids. They built a city out of boxes and then had to sell stuff and earn “money” to spend at other businesses in the city. Some of the kids thought it was funny to commit crimes so they would be arrested and brought to the city jail. ūüôā

0202171418a_hdr

0203171045a_hdr

0203171106a_hdr

One afternoon some of the adults played bubble soccer. This was hilarious to watch! Chris played, but I did not. It looked pretty dangerous and painful, and you even had to sign a waiver in order to play because you could get seriously hurt or even die. No thanks, I’ll just watch. ūüôā

0204171538c_hdr

0204171538e_hdr

fb_img_1486607235603

fb_img_1486607298513

One evening the moms attended a Pampered Chef party, other evenings were spent having potluck dinners followed by games or dancing. After all the other festivities, we usually could be found at one of many campfires around the fairgrounds while the kids ran around and played until they crashed from exhaustion.

0131172126a_hdr

fb_img_1486744358215

We had such a great time at this rally! If you are a fulltime traveling family or planning to be, I would highly recommend attending one of these rallies. For us it has been a great way to get to know other families living this lifestyle.

 

Categories: Florida, Fulltime RV'ing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Second Nomadiversary

Two years ago today we moved out of our house to begin this amazing adventure on the road, and what an incredible ride it has been! We started out saying we would do this for 2 years, but we quickly realized that there is far too much to see in this beautiful country to stop after 2 years. So we are onto more adventures for year 3. ¬†But first I would like to share this video of the highlights of our second year on the road, as well as give an update about what we’ve been up to lately.

If you missed our 1st year nomadiversary video you can watch it here:¬†One Year Nomadiversary. This is why I blog. I am certainly not a professional blogger and I don’t do it for money, but I like to keep this as a sort of travel journal so we can look back and remember everything we did. It is really fun to look back at prior blog posts and nomadiversary videos and count our blessings. If it helps anyone with travel planning or inspires you to travel, that’s an added bonus.

In 2 years of travel we have visited 24 states and 24 national parks/monuments. It’s hard to say what has been my favorite experience so far, but in 2016 I would say it’s a tie between Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks.

0116171607c_hdr

I never did get around to sharing last year that we were interviewed by Epic Education Radio. Here is a link to the podcast if you would like to listen.¬†http://www.anepiceducation.com/eer069-family-rv-living-in-the-usa/¬† Honestly I probably didn’t share it because I am generally shy and not comfortable talking in an interview like this. But some people said they liked it and it was helpful, so here it is for your listening pleasure. ūüôā

It has been a while since my last post. Since then we have been spending time with friends and family in NC and FL. We stayed at Ft. Clinch State Park twice to visit friends in Fernandina Beach where we used to live.

Ft. Clinch has 2 campgrounds: one on the beach, the other on the river. We stayed on the beach side last year, you can read about that here: Ft. Clinch State Park. This time we stayed on the beach side for 3 nights, and stayed on the river side the rest of the time. These pictures are from the beach side.

0104171715a_hdr

Chris enjoying evening happy hour on the beach hammock.

0104171716e_hdr

Both campgrounds are wonderful, but I think we like the river side a little better. The river side campsites are larger and surrounded by trees so you get more privacy at those sites. We also had a lot more room for friends to visit.

0115171123a_hdr

0107171721_hdr

The boys got a new slackline kit for Christmas which was fun to try out with friends.

0114171453a_hdr

And I finally got to beat Doug at Mexican train dominoes which means I don’t have to eat a bison burger! ūüôā

0112171921b_hdr

The sunsets behind our site were glorious!

1215161713b_hdr

0105171733a_hdr

After Ft. Clinch we moved on to the Gulf Coast of Florida to St. Andrews State Park in Panama City Beach. I will write about that next time. Cheers!

 

Categories: Fulltime RV'ing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

50th Anniversary Celebration

When we left Montana at the end of August, we had exactly 6 weeks to make it back to Charlotte, NC for a very special occasion. We covered a lot of miles in those 6 weeks! The special occasion was a party for my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary. Not many people these days can say they’ve been married to the same person for 50 years. That’s quite an accomplishment and I’m so proud of them.

_w0a7768

The party was held at the Extreme Ice Center in Indian Trail and we couldn’t have been happier with the excellent customer service we received there. Many friends and relatives came in from out of town and we appreciate all of them so much, as well as all of the local friends and family that came out to celebrate with us! It was so much fun spending time with people that we haven’t seen in so long.

14567436_10154633981081983_2706814210461277921_o

Pre-party festivities at Mom and Dad’s house

My amazingly talented brother-in-law Chris and my sister Cheryl put together a really awesome video highlighting my parent’s story beginning from their dating years. There were a lot of really funny parts to the video and I love the pictures Chris captured here of everyone’s laughter.

_w0a7600

_w0a7605

_w0a7583

We had wonderful food, dancing and lots of laughing.

_w0a7712

_w0a7776

_w0a7814

My beautiful Mom with Cheryl and me

_w0a7826

Group picture with my mom’s sister Jackie and her brother John with wife Patty

_w0a7828

Lifelong friends: Jim & Beverly and Fred & Rita

After the party we went back to Mom and Dad’s house for some more family time. Yes I’m wearing pajama pants in the picture below. After a fun-filled day I was ready for “happy clothes”. ūüėČ

14753239_10154642318741983_8734735945556149958_o

My Aunt Jackie… I love her!

After the action-packed party weekend, some of us went to Hilton Head Island to continue the celebration for a few more days. We stayed in a really cute rental house together and had lots of fun playing games and just spending time together.

_w0a7920

My Chris (my brother-in-law is also named Chris so I have to distinguish by saying “my Chris” and “Cheryl’s Chris”) prepared a fabulous dinner one night for everyone including crab legs, salmon and steak.

14720330_989411407851410_1597311080010876510_n

One day the guys played golf while Cheryl & I took the boys for a bike ride, and the rest of the ladies went shopping.

14714994_10154654848036983_7206357350094573800_o

One thing that made this trip extra special is that Chris & I were celebrating our 16th wedding anniversary that week and it just so happens that we were married in Hilton Head. We visited the Westin Resort where we were married and showed the boys the “scene of the crime”. ūüėČ Our wedding took place to the left in the picture below where the green roof is.

1020161204_hdr

14712721_10154658218146983_714891836769618032_o

Westin Resort, Hilton Head Island, SC

The week-long celebration was such a wonderful time for all of us! Next we headed back to Florida.

Categories: Fulltime RV'ing, North Carolina, South Carolina | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Fulltime Families Rally in Colorado

We attended our 4th Fulltime Families (FtF) rally in Montrose, CO.  It was a total blast!  We met up with some families that we met at previous rallies and also some new families.  Some of our favorite memories on the road have been spent with other traveling families.

13483304_10207531638944013_6522466343043309646_o

The rally was held at the Jellystone Park in Montrose, CO.  We went a few days earlier than the rally started which gave us some time to catch up with some other friends that got there a little early.  We went back to Ouray to visit Box Canyon Falls with the Lundy family.  The falls were really cool!  The water coming through the canyon is so powerful and loud!

13501656_10207502146686725_7101990162615666433_n

0621161648_HDR

0621161805a  0621161647

Soon enough more families started pulling into the campground and the rally officially began.

0622161801

I can’t even explain just how much fun it is to be parked next to several other traveling families. ¬†We hung out every evening for campfires and happy hours and talked until late into the night. ¬†Meanwhile the kids were off and running from sunup until¬†sundown (and beyond) having a blast playing with all the other kids.

One afternoon when it was raining outside, several kids ended up at our RV to play with play-doh. Or I should say “to make a mess” because you know that’s how it goes with play-doh! ūüėČ

0623161206

One of the planned activities was an obstacle course for the kids where they went to each “booth” for an activity to complete. ¬†At this table the activity was to paint a mask because the theme of this rally was “Super Heroes”.

0624161401

Jesse’s friend Dylan was¬†showing him how to use the bow & arrow to shoot the colored soda bottles.

0624161409

I love Olivia’s face in this one. ¬†She is determined to hit that soda bottle!

0624161416a

After everyone completed the obstacle course, they all gathered around the Yogi Bear statue for a picture.

0624161432b

One of our favorite activities was the Super Hero Pet Parade. ¬†We made a cape for Super Fat Cat to wear. ¬†She was not happy about being paraded around the campground, but she really tolerated it well. ¬†And she became famous! ¬†After that everyone knew who Fat Cat was, and whenever people passed by our site they would say “hey, there’s Fat Cat!”

0625161042

There were all kinds of pets in this parade including frogs and rats.

0625161034  0625161037a

And dogs of course!

0625161037c

0625161044a

And even stuffed animals!

0625161040_HDR

Once the parade started, Fat Cat tried¬†to fly away. ¬†Too bad her cape didn’t have real super powers!

0625161045d

0625161047d

Strangely, the pool at this campground was closed for most of the time we were there (even though it was well past Memorial Day and the weather was in the 90s). ¬†I say “strangely” because this is supposed to be a Jellystone Park, but it wasn’t like any other Jellystone we have been to. ¬†They did not have nearly as many fun activities and amenities as most Jellystone Parks have, but we made up for that with our own FtF activities. ¬†The pool finally opened a couple of days before we left so the kids wanted to make the most of it while they had the chance.

0625161900a

 

On Saturday night we had the Super Hero pizza dinner and dance party.  Clementine had a really cool costume!

0625161757a

0625161832a

Jennifer made us feel tall by making herself look short next to us. ūüôā

13566063_10153576887856367_2102575618_n

Our last night around the campfire was really fun.  I think we stayed out so late because we knew we were leaving the next day and wanted to make the fun last as long as possible.

0625162219c

I miss these girls!

13466334_10154273631520489_3464768052502912512_n

If you are a traveling family, I would highly recommend you find a Fulltime Families rally near you and go.  We have made the most amazing friendships and memories at these rallies!

One last silly picture of the super heroes. ūüôā

13475204_10207531638904012_6435002662565300304_o

Categories: Colorado, Fulltime RV'ing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Compassion Experience

We went to the Compassion Experience in Ft. Worth, TX. ¬†Compassion International has these at various cities throughout the year, and if you haven’t been to one yet I would highly recommend attending one near you. ¬†Click here to find one.

0408160955

Compassion is an organization that helps children in poverty.  We have been Compassion sponsors for years, but it was really awesome to attend this experience where we were able to see what life is really like for a child living in poverty.

0408161003

0408161031b

While you’re there you wear the provided headphones and listen to the child tell their story on the iPod. ¬†As you enter each room you will hear the child explain what his/her life was like and what the room means. ¬†You hear about how they felt when they heard they have a sponsor, and how that sponsor changed their lives.

0408161001

0408161004

You see what a Compassion center classroom looks like and real-life letters sent to the children from their sponsors.

0408161008

0408161030a

If you are already a Compassion sponsor, please remember to write to your child.  They love to hear from you and to know that you love them.

0408161008c

We became Compassion sponsors in 2007 when we sponsored a little girl named Niya from Indonesia. ¬†She is now 17 and I have been so blessed to be¬†her sponsor. ¬†As a Compassion sponsor you can write letters to your child and they write back to you. ¬†I have been writing to and receiving letters from Niya for 9 years and it has been wonderful to watch her grow over the years. ¬†It is so easy to write to them — you can either send handwritten letters or type a letter on the Compassion website. ¬†They have translators that translate your letter into the child’s language.

Once Jake was old enough to write letters he wanted to sponsor a child his age. ¬†So we sponsored Ramses from Ecuador who is just 5 days older than Jake. ¬†They have been writing letters to each other for a few years now and I think it’s awesome for Jake to learn how life can be so different for some children.

0408161035c

As soon as Jesse was old enough to write he also wanted to sponsor a child, so we sponsored Nehemias from El Salvador who is the same age as Jesse.

And not to be left out, Chris also decided to sponsor someone.  He chose a teenage boy because older children are often overlooked when people are looking to sponsor a child.  His child is now 18.  His name is Ermias and he lives in Ethiopia.

We have been so incredibly blessed by sponsoring these 4 amazing children.  I hope this will encourage you to become a Compassion sponsor.

I have started an Act for Compassion Campaign and my goal is to find sponsors for 3 children in the next 60 days.  If you feel so inclined, please click here to learn more and consider sponsoring a child today.

One thing I thought of today while we were walking through this experience: I wish I could sponsor them all! ¬†I hate that any child has to live like that! ¬†I know I can’t sponsor them all but I can make a difference in the life of one child. ¬†I remember hearing a story once of a boy picking up starfish on the beach and throwing them back in the water. Someone asked him, “Why bother? There are so many of them, you can’t save them all.” ¬†As the boy picked up one more starfish and threw it back in the water he said, “I just made a difference for that one.”

Please make a difference for a child today.

 

Categories: Fulltime RV'ing | Tags: , | 3 Comments

RV Repairs in Louisiana

When you live in an RV having to have repairs done is never fun. ¬†Especially because you have to figure out where you’re going to live while your home is in the shop, and you hope and pray it won’t take too long while you run up a hotel bill.

Last October I noticed this stress crack on the side of our RV.

1022151006a

Since we were going home for the holidays and planned to stay with family we decided to drop it off in Jacksonville and have it taken care of while we were not living in it during December.  Unfortunately the place we left it for 3 weeks did not do anything to fix it.  Once we moved back into it in January we knew we now had to deal with the hassle of finding some place else to have it repaired while we are also living in it again.

We tried to have it repaired in Tampa, but that service center didn’t¬†get around to it either. ¬†After talking with¬†some¬†other RV’ing friends about similar experiences we were starting to think that all RV dealers have terrible customer service when it comes to repairs.

Finally we found Dixie RV in Hammond, LA. ¬†If any of my RV’ing friends ever need something repaired, I would highly recommend Dixie RV. ¬†They were awesome! ¬†They have restored our faith in RV service centers. ūüôā ¬† From the moment we checked in, everything was handled smoothly and efficiently. ¬†I heard from my service contact regularly throughout the week to inform me of the progress. ¬†We also had some other items taken care of while we were there and they completed everything perfectly.

I also would like to say that our RV manufacturer, Heartland RV was amazing!  The rep that I worked with was so helpful with finding a place to get this taken care of.  By this time the RV was out of warranty, but he covered all the repairs anyway because we did try to get it fixed in December while it was still under warranty.  He even took care of some other things that should have been fixed in December.  I am thankful that Heartland stands behind their product and takes care of their customers.

In the meantime we had a different kind of adventure staying at Drury Inn & Suites in Baton Rouge, LA.  We had to find a pet-friendly hotel of course for Fat Cat, and Drury allows pets.  Here is Fat Cat wandering the halls.  She was so confused by all the doors!  She had no idea which room was hers.

0316162059c

Besides being pet-friendly, they also happen to be the best hotel we could have chosen to stay at.  This place was awesome!  The rooms were spacious and comfortable.  They had a heated indoor/outdoor pool and a hot tub.  You could swim under the glass wall of the pool to go in or outside.

0314161942d

0317161639c

0317161639a

They serve free breakfast and dinner every day, and dinner includes free beer, wine & mixed drinks too. ¬†And the dinner wasn’t just a bunch of junk food either. ¬†They had really good food each night like soups, salads, pasta & chicken. ¬†In fact, we happened to be there on my birthday and we were supposed to go out to dinner but I thought the dinner looked so good at the hotel we ended up eating there instead. ¬†We did however go out to dinner the next night and had a wonderful dinner at the Ichiban Japanese Steakhouse.

The hotel staff was the friendliest staff we have ever encountered.  Every single employee that we came in contact with was so friendly to us.  They knew us by the end of the week and would ask us how the RV repairs were coming along.  They knew we were anxious to get back on the road.

I would highly recommend Drury Inn & Suites if you ever need a hotel and one of these is in the vicinity.

By Friday our home was finally ready for us to pick up, and I could not have been happier to get back in it. ¬†Since it was late in the day Friday by the time it was ready Dixie let us camp for the night in one of their electric hookup sites. ¬†They have several of these sites which I think is another perk of Dixie’s. ¬†If you buy an RV there, you can camp there for the night to try it out and learn how everything works. ¬†This can also be convenient if anything doesn’t work (which is normal when you buy an RV). ¬†You’re already at the right place to have it fixed!

0318161729

Anyway, sometimes things need to be taken care of and even though it can be inconvenient, I am happy that things went so well for us that week.  Now we are happily back to our travels, enjoying Texas.

Categories: Fulltime RV'ing, Louisiana | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

One Year Nomadiversary

It’s hard to believe that one year ago today we moved out of our house and into our new RV home to begin our traveling adventures. ¬†I wanted to share this video with you of the highlights of our first year on the road as we celebrate this milestone.

In the past year we have visited 15 states and 12 national parks/monuments.  We have absolutely no regrets for having made the decision to sell our house and just about everything we own to travel this beautiful country.

I love this saying: “Childhood has an expiration date so squeeze out every second you can.” ¬†I am more aware all the time of how quickly my children are growing up. ¬†This traveling lifestyle is giving us the opportunity to squeeze out every second that we can before they grow up. ¬†I will be forever grateful for the memories we are making as we travel.

Happy Trails!

1203151713

 

Categories: Fulltime RV'ing | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Home for the Holidays

Home. ¬†Where exactly do we call “home” when for the past year home has been where we parked it? ¬†Going¬†home consisted of a few different places this year. ¬†First, we went home to Fernandina Beach, Florida where we lived before we started traveling. ¬†Going home to Florida was a strange feeling. ¬†Wandering¬†around our old hometown and driving through our old neighborhood was really weird. ¬†Everything still looked pretty much the same, but felt so completely different. ¬†We visited with our old neighbors and it was strange to look across the street at our old house and realize I can’t just walk over there and go inside like I could have last year. ¬†It really was wonderful though to see some old friends. ¬†I really enjoyed catching up with one of my closest¬†friends Kim¬†over Mexican dip and wine. ¬†I really miss this girl!

1204152234

We camped¬†at Ft. Clinch State Park. ¬†Another blog post about that park later, but it was a real treat to stay there. ¬†I had tried several times to get a reservation there for weekend camping trips back when we lived just 10 minutes away. ¬†I used to ride my bike there and loved the campground, but it was always booked. ¬†It’s one of those state parks that you must book several months in advance to get in.

This is the beach just beside the campground loop we stayed in.

1203151717a

While we were there¬†we visited Santa’s house because everyone knows that Santa Claus really lives in Fernandina Beach, Florida, not at the North Pole. ¬†We used to visit Santa several times every¬†December when we lived nearby. ¬†I have pictures of the boys with him every year since they were babies. ¬†Santa’s house always looks so beautiful!

1205151909

1205151913

Going “home” for us also included a trip to Disney World. ¬†When we lived in Florida we usually had Disney annual passes and would go there several times a year. ¬†My favorite campground has always been Disney’s Ft. Wilderness, and even after all of the campgrounds we have stayed at this year, guess what? ¬†Ft. Wilderness is still my favorite! ¬†Visiting in December is my favorite time to visit because several of the campsites are decorated for Christmas and it’s really fun to ride the golf cart around at night and look at all the beautiful sites. ¬†This was one of the best. ¬†They had a lighted walkway to allow visitors to¬†walk around their site.

1206152131a

1206152131b

The weather was beautiful that week and warm enough for the pool, and not the least bit crowded as you can see by the empty chairs in the background. ¬†I remember coming here when every single chair was taken and the pool was wall-to-wall people. ¬†It’s kind of nice to come when it’s not too busy. ¬†This was obviously in early December before the massive crowds that I heard were there this past week.

1206151444a

1208151355crop

1208151158b_cropped

Another great thing about visiting Disney in December is the amazing display of Christmas lights at Hollywood Studios.  I absolutely love seeing these lights that dance to Christmas music.  Sadly, this is the last year they will have this display.

1208152057

1208151910a

1208152051c

After Disney we visited my sister and brother-in-law at their new place in Georgia.  While we were there we went to another really nice Christmas lights display.  We love to take goofy pictures!

20151215_194635

20151215_194656

20151215_195718

20151215_195219

And finally, coming “home” also meant home to Charlotte, NC where Chris & I lived before moving to Florida over 15 years ago. ¬†We enjoyed a wonderful family¬†Christmas at my parent’s house.

McKayFamily_Snow

We had a chance to see Chris’s sister and family that we have not seen in a few years so that was very¬†nice!

IMG_2667

1230151620_Burst02

IMG_2658

It was also a nice treat to visit with old high school and college friends during our visits to GA and NC. ¬†Unfortunately I don’t have pictures of all the people we visited, but here are a couple.

20151218_192024

20151220_190403

And of course I can’t forget to mention that Fat Cat enjoyed the holidays as well. ¬†She even got wrapped up in paper like a present and she liked hiding under the Christmas tree. ¬† ūüôā

20151224_152406

McKay_Christmas_2015_W0A4887

It was so nice to spend time with so many friends and family over the holidays.  To me, that is what coming home means.  Being at home means being with family.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas season and have a blessed 2016!

Categories: Florida, Fulltime RV'ing, North Carolina | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rally Time in the Ozarks

We just spent a couple of weeks in Branson, Missouri. ¬†Branson is one of the friendliest towns we have ever been to. ¬†People are just so nice and polite there! ¬†We went to Branson to attend the Fulltime Families NOT Back to School Roadshool Rally. ¬†Don’t let the name fool you. ¬†Our kids may not be sitting behind a desk in school all day, but there was plenty of learning (or roadschooling) going on.

12002886_10207743469083403_4918455681159959111_n

It was awesome to re-connect with friends we met at the last rally and to meet some new friends. ¬†The rally was super fun with many fun family activities like campground games, s’mores night, 80’s night, and a movie under the stars featuring what else but the movie RV (my favorite!).

0910151441a

11144410_10153674006787425_5715626089679054061_o

We also went on several field trips.  First we hiked to a waterfall.

0908151018a

My Florida boys thought the water was too cold, but the other kids didn’t seem to mind it. ¬†They must not be from Florida!

0908151029a

We went to the Titanic Museum. ¬†This museum has many artifacts from the Titanic and you can learn¬†all about the ship and its passengers. ¬†It was so interesting, but unfortunately we were not allowed to take any pictures inside the museum. ¬†At the beginning of the field trip we were each given a boarding pass with the name of a real passenger on the Titanic. ¬†The boarding pass had some information about the passenger and let you know what class they were in. ¬†At the end of the museum you found out if your passenger survived. ¬†Jake and Jesse each received a pass with the name of a little boy who was in third class. ¬†Their passengers both survived. ¬†Chris’s passenger was a crew member who also survived. ¬†My passenger did not survive, but she was a hero. ¬†She was in first class and had gotten on a lifeboat, but then she gave up her seat to a mother and child.

Titanic

We also went to see the Jonah show at the Sights and Sounds Theater which was a really awesome show, but again we were not able to take pictures during the show.

0912151459

0912151500a

Another show we attended was the Shoji Tabuchi show.  The Fulltime Families group was honored to be invited to this show for free.  Shoji Tabuchi is an extremely talented violinist from Japan.  The show is very entertaining and has a wide variety of music from swing and polka to country and pop.  The show consisted of a very talented group of musicians, singers and dancers.

0916151935

This theater is known as having “America’s Best Restrooms”. ¬†I heard the men’s room even has a billiard table!

11225300_497465123753543_8848372664096343396_n

We went on several fields trips with our good friends, the Graham family.  We toured the College of the Ozarks.  I was so impressed with this college.  The students all work on campus to earn free tuition.  When they graduate they leave with no student loan debt.  They are also taught to work very hard which is why the college is also known as Hard Work U.  Beautiful views of the Ozarks from the college.

0916151139c

The college is a Christian college and displays the Ten Commandments. ¬†One thing I found interesting¬†was that several¬†students rode their bikes to class and just left their bikes outside the buildings without locking them.¬† Hmm, it’s funny¬†how that works when people are taught “thou shalt not steal”. ¬†Too bad they no longer teach that in public school.

0916151054a

Words to live by…

0916151124

Beautiful chapel on campus.

11221945_497394990427223_3929226211402660550_n

Cute little old fashioned school house at the college.

0916151150

The mill was very cool.  We met some of the students that were working on weaving and basket making.  It was so interesting to watch how she made a table runner on this weaving loom.

0916151214

Outside of the mill.

0916151245

0916151247c

0916151247

Another day we went to the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery where we learned how they breed trout to later be released into Lake Taneycomo.  We watched an interesting short film in the visitor center that explained the whole process.  The visitor center also had lots of reptiles for us to check out.

0917151142

Touching an albino king snake.  I was surprised how soft this snake felt.  Not slimy like they look, but very soft.

0917151108b

Feeding the fish so they can grow up to be released into the lake for the fishermen. ¬†I guess this is what they call “farm raised fish”?

0917151115b

0917151121

Watching some fly fishermen in the lake.

0917151232b

Then we went to the Table Rock Lake dam.  The visitor center there was also very interesting where we learned all about how they built the dam, and that they had to build it due to flooding problems.  The visitor center also had a lot of educational and fun things for the kids to play with.

0917151355

The beautiful Graham family.  I love these people!

0917151346c

Another day we went on a hike to some caves at Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area.

0919151203a

We walked into this cave and thankfully didn’t run into any wild animals, but there were a lot of spiders. ¬†It was creepy!!

0919151231

0919151233

We celebrated Jesse’s 9th birthday at Lambert’s (Home of the Throwed Rolls). ¬†We had never been to a Lambert’s before but I have heard of them. ¬†I imagined we would be getting hit in the head with rolls the whole night, but it wasn’t really like that. ¬†They came around regularly with rolls and if you want one you hold up your hands to catch it and they throw them to you. ¬†They also regularly bring “pass-arounds” to your table which¬†are several different side items and you can have as much as you want. ¬†Between the rolls and pass-arounds we hardly had room for our dinner. ¬†The place really knows how to feed people and you will not leave hungry! ¬†The food was delicious and it was a really fun night. ¬†We were very thankful to have the Grahams join us for Jesse’s birthday celebration. ¬†After dinner we all went back to their RV for a fun game night.

0914151816a

0914151816c

Fat Cat enjoyed her time at the rally too! ¬†Here she is guarding the door. ¬†She’s such a good watch-cat.

0910151759a

And she liked lounging in a beach chair.

0911151658

Some other things we did included a visit to Stone Hill Winery and a date night at Branson Landing with our friends. ¬†The nighttime light show at the landing is really cool! ¬†This has been¬†a really busy 2 weeks! ¬†Next we’re going to rest up¬†for a week in Tennessee before we meet up with our friends again.

11259767_493399854160070_1799976777096347490_n

Categories: Fulltime RV'ing, Missouri | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.