Roadschooling

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? πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ˜‰

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
Categories: Our Travels, Roadschooling | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sixth Nomadiversary

Today we celebrate 6 years since we moved out of our house in Florida to start traveling fulltime in an RV. I know I say this every year, but how in the world did 6 years fly by so fast?!

Like for everyone, 2020 wasn’t the best year, but it wasn’t all bad either. We started out skiing in Breckenridge, Colorado — my favorite place in the country! Our time there was cut short when the mountains closed down on my birthday of all days. After that we spent 6 weeks with great friends in St. Louis.

Our original plans for 2020 included spending the summer in Michigan and also visiting Cedar Point in Ohio. We ended up canceling all those plans, but hope to try that again another time. Instead, we headed to the Georgia Mountains for the summer and spent lots of time with family. Then we headed back to Florida for the remainder of the year (except for holidays with family in Charlotte).

In Florida we spent time in our hometown of Fernandina Beach with friends, and also enjoyed lots of time parked at the Norstrem family ranch. We spent Jesse’s 14th birthday at Universal Orlando and also took another trip there in December, and spent Jake’s 16th birthday in the Keys.

So I really can’t complain! In spite of all the craziness that 2020 was, we still had a really good year. I hope you did too.

For this year’s nomadiversary video, we did something different. It starts with a homemade video that we sang along to, and continues with a quick slideshow to the song Holiday Road from National Lampoon’s Vacation movie. It’s a funny video and we had a lot of fun making it. The credit goes to my brother-in-law for his awesome video work, and my sister for writing the Brady Bunch song that we sang. I hope it gives you some laughter! πŸ˜‰

If you would like to see our Nomadiversary videos from the first 5 years you can see them here:

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Coeur d’Alene and Farragut State Park

I never realized how much beauty there is to see in Idaho. This must be one of America’s best kept secrets. It has all the beauty of the other surrounding states and national parks without the crowds. Maybe I shouldn’t be blogging about it, I’m sure the locals don’t want the secret to get out. πŸ˜‰

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Farragut State Park

We stayed at Farragut State Park which was so beautiful. The cell signal there was pretty bad so we had to leave the park and go find other places to work during the week so that was a little frustrating.

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So much beautiful scenery at Farragut State Park!

More pictures from the state park:

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Coeur d’Alene is just 30 minutes south of the campground and we spent a lot of time working there that week. There is an abundance of hiking opportunities in Coeur d’Alene so after work we headed out on some hikes. Based on a friend’s recommendation we headed to Mineral Ridge which was amazing!

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Mineral Ridge

It’s a steep uphill climb but so worth it for this view!

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More pictures from the Mineral Ridge hike:

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Another hike we did in Coeur d’Alene was Tubbs Hill.

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Tubbs Hill

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There are numerous points along this hike where people were jumping off the rocks into the water. Our kids had lots of fun with that!

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These Florida boys said the water was freezing!

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Another view from Tubbs Hill

Another benefit of going to Coeur d’Alene during the week was the abundance of stores like Walmart, Kohls and even a Buffalo Wild Wings! It’s the little things you miss when you’re traveling around national parks and don’t see those types of stores/restaurants for a long time. πŸ™‚

Sandpoint Beach was about 30 minutes north of our campground, another great place to visit (and work if you need a cell signal).

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Sandpoint Beach

Northern Idaho is so amazing and gorgeous, but let’s keep the secret to ourselves, okay? We don’t want it to get too crowded.

Next we headed to Canada where ironically we had a much better cell signal!

 

Categories: Idaho, Roadschooling | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 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 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:Β One Year NomadiversaryΒ andΒ Second Nomadiversary.

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

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