Our Travels

Seventh Nomadiversary

This month we celebrate 7 years on the road. I haven’t posted in a long time because we really haven’t done anything new or different. 2021 was almost a repeat of 2020, so I didn’t even include a Nomadiversary video like I usually do. Instead I thought I would just write a recap of how we spent the rest of 2021 after my last post about skiing.

After leaving Breckenridge last April, we spent a week in Canon City, Colorado and visited the Royal Gorge Bridge Park.

Next we headed to Texas to spend some time with friends and family. First we stayed at Cedar Ridge Campground to visit the Graham family. We met them our first year on the road, but they are no longer traveling so we like to visit them anytime we’re in Texas. Ironically as I’m writing this we just left that same campground and another visit with the Grahams on our way back out west. But these pictures are from our visit with them last spring.

The Graham Family

We also like to visit my aunt and uncle in Nederland whenever we’re in Texas. Last spring we visited them after the Grahams, and just like seeing the Grahams this month on our way back out west, we also saw John and Patty again. I love when we can route our travels through areas where we can visit friends and family.

From there we headed to Meaher State Park in Mobile, Alabama where our good friends the Norstrems came to visit. This was our second visit to this state park. We love that there are so many sites backed up to the water, and the sunsets are amazing!

Next we moved on to Georgia for the summer. First we stayed at Victoria Campground for a couple of weeks and then moved to Hiawassee for a couple of months. We spent the entire summer there last year and liked it so much we decided to do it again. We enjoyed lots of visits with my parents and Cheryl & Chris while we were there, as well as visits from some good friends.

Tubing in Ellijay

We went ziplining at Unicoi State Park in Helen, Georgia which was so much fun!

At the end of August we headed back to Florida. I know what you’re thinking, who in their right mind heads to Florida in the heat of the summer? 🙂 We do because we had dentist and orthodontist appointments to take care of, plus the kids have birthdays in September and they wanted to go to their favorite place, Universal Orlando.

We headed to Fort Clinch State Park first, and Chris and I enjoyed lots of alone time because the kids like to go stay with their Mimi while we’re there.

Having a date night on the beach

We also got to spend time with some good friends while we were in Fernandina Beach, but unfortunately we must have been having so much fun we forgot to take pictures. 😉

We bought season passes to Universal Orlando and went 4 times during the fall. When we used to get Disney passes we would stay at the Fort Wilderness campground, but since Universal doesn’t have a campground, we stayed in hotels each time.

Universal’s Portofino Bay Hotel

In September we stayed at Cabana Bay which I love because we can walk to Universal’s water park, Volcano Bay. In September when it is really hot outside, I prefer the water park over the theme parks, but we did both.

Later that month we stayed at Royal Pacific which we like because it comes with Universal’s Express Pass and we can walk to the theme parks. Jake turned 17 and Jesse turned 15 in September and we celebrated at the Toothsome Chocolate Factory at Universal’s City Walk.

For the other two trips to Universal in November and December we stayed at Hard Rock Hotel and Portofino Bay. Both of those also come with Universal’s Express Pass and are walking distance to the theme parks. I think our favorite is Hard Rock, but Portofino Bay is absolutely beautiful!

Hogwarts Castle
Inside Gringotts Bank
New Velocicoaster ride

My kids have turned into Harry Potter fans since we started going to Universal instead of Disney. The 2 Harry Potter lands (Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade) are so well done! The new Velocicoaster ride is awesome if you like roller coasters.

We spent a couple of weeks in October in the Keys. We started at my favorite Bahia Honda State Park where we had an incredible site backed up to the water.

Fat Cat enjoying the view from the back patio
The kids floating in the back yard
Amazing sunsets!

We spent a lot of time swimming and snorkeling with the Reyes family while we were in the Keys. In addition, we had a great time with them at Robbie’s in Islamorada feeding the tarpon.

Fun with the Reyes Family

We also stayed at John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo where Jake and I went kayaking through the mangroves and even had a manatee swim right underneath our kayak. We took a snorkel trip to a coral reef which was so beautiful. I don’t have any good pictures from snorkeling, so you’ll have to take my word for it that the coral reef was amazing!

Kayaking through the mangroves

We had a quick visit to Disney’s Fort Wilderness campground after the Keys. I love staying at that campground even when we don’t have Disney tickets. We were there in October and rented a golf cart so we could ride around the camping loops and look at all of the Halloween decorations. My favorite site was the one with all the Stormtroopers dressed up in Little Mermaid costumes.

Isn’t this so cool?

Chris and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary at Fort Wilderness, and then went to the Reyes’ house the next day and celebrated again, after surviving a truck breakdown on the way there.

Camping at the Reyes’ house and toasting with our anniversary glasses

We’re so thankful for friends who have RV spots for us, and we’re also thankful to Keith for rescuing us when we were broken down on the way to their house.

Speaking of friends with RV spots, we spent many weeks off and on at the Norstrem family ranch from September through January. The Norstrems are our other family, not blood relatives, but just as special to us.

The roosters crow outside my bedroom window throughout the day, and I think it’s so funny when I’m on the phone with someone from work and they hear the roosters.

We went to a Tim Hawkins concert with the Norstrems which was so much fun. Tim Hawkins is hilarious! We also looked for gators at Okefenokee Swamp Park, but didn’t find any.

Celebrating Ken’s 50th Birthday

Finally, we spent Thanksgiving and Christmas in Charlotte with family.

Hanging out with Mom, Dad, Cheryl & Chris

As I write this I realize that even though much of this year was a repeat of the previous year, we still had a really great year and enjoyed lots of time with friends and family. There is a lot of craziness going on in the world and sometimes the future seems so uncertain. I don’t ever want to take for granted time with loved ones.

Thank you for reading. I hope everyone has a blessed, healthy and prosperous 2022!

Fat Cat turned 10 this year and we thought this was a funny picture with her tongue sticking out
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Fifth Nomadiversary

When we decided to sell our house and most of our belongings to hit the road and see the country, I had no idea we would still be doing this 5 years later. At the time we thought we would do this for a year or two, but we quickly realized there is way too much awesomeness to see in this beautiful country to only travel for 2 years.

Now, 5 years later, we’re still going strong with no end date in sight. I can’t even describe how blessed I feel to be able to live this amazing life with the people I love most in this world. Making memories instead of accumulating stuff has become my life goal.

Each year has been great. Well, maybe the Heartland disaster year wasn’t that great, but our 5th year really was the best so far. It almost seems like we were making up for the not-quite-so-great year before that.

So on this 5th anniversary of the day we moved out of our house and into an RV, I am excited to share with you this video of the highlights of our 5th year on the road. The song “My House” by Kacey Musgraves is just perfect!

map

Green = 2015; Red = 2016; Blue = 2017; Purple = 2018; Black = 2019

If you would like to see our Nomadiversary videos from the first 4 years you can see them here:

Thank you for coming along with us on this journey.

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Fourth Nomadiversary

Today we celebrate 4 years since we left our home in Fernandina Beach, FL to travel the country in an RV. Four years ago I never imagined we would make it this long, but this lifestyle seems to agree with us so we keep going.

Most of you know this was not exactly our best year since we hit the road. The first half of the year was good, and then on July 8th everything fell apart, literally. We made it to Calais, Maine on the Canadian border where we ended up leaving the worthless Heartland RV and continuing our journey to Canada with just our truck. Eventually we made our way back down south where we purchased our new Grand Design RV.

I wasn’t sure if I would bother with a Nomadiversary video this year, but with the help of my super-talented brother-in-law, we put together a great video which tells the story of our year, the good, the bad and the ugly. I love how it turned out and I hope you do too.

Our first 3 years of travel consisted of visiting lots of national parks, this year we visited lots of friends and family as I’m sure you can see by all the people in our pictures.

Each year I put a lot of thought into the song I choose for the video. This year I chose 2 songs, 1 for each half of the year and my brother-in-law came up with some great sound effects for the scary intermission part. 😉

In the first song (Home by Phillip Phillips), I love the phrase about not paying attention to the demons that will fill you with fear. I thought that was so appropriate as I was filled with a lot of fear and anxiety this year when our RV fell apart. I had so many worries about what we were going to do and where we were going to live. God is so good to us and He is our Provider. I hope I learned this year to rely on Him more and not to fear. The second song (There’s a Light by Todd Smith) perfectly sums up how I feel now at the end of the year. Yes, there was a light at the end of the troubles and there definitely is hope for those who believe.

TravelMap

Green = 2015; Red = 2016; Blue = 2017; Purple = 2018

We had to get a new state sticker map since the old one was still stuck on the Heartland. No we did not visit all these states yet in the new RV, but we decided we did not need to start over on the sticker map.

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We are so excited to be back on the road and ready to continue traveling this beautiful country and making memories with our family! Lord willing, we are trying something different this year… instead of flying south for the winter like most RVers do (including us usually), this year we are headed west for some snow skiing.

If you would like to see our Nomadiversary videos from the first 3 years you can see them here: One Year NomadiversarySecond Nomadiversary and Third Nomadiversary.

 

 

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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: If Today Was Your Last Day by Nickelback… 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.

Map

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: One Year Nomadiversary and Second Nomadiversary.

Categories: Our Travels, Roadschooling | Tags: , , , , , | 18 Comments

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