Posts Tagged With: full time rv’ing

Prince Edward Island

We love books and I like to try to have family story time in the evenings as often as possible. Several months ago we began reading Anne of Green Gables which is based on the fictional town of Avonlea on Prince Edward Island. The real name of the town is Cavendish and if you visit that town you will have the pleasure of seeing many attractions all based on the book.

Naturally we went to visit the Green Gables house.

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If you are familiar with the story you might recognize the names of these walking trails around the house: Haunted Wood and Lover’s Lane.

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Haunted Wood

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They even had characters from the book dressed up in costume walking around playing their parts.

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Anne, Gilbert Blythe and Diana

We also went to visit the cute little Avonlea Village.

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Cow’s Creamery has been voted the best ice cream in Canada. Of course we had to try it out to make sure, and we all agreed it’s quite good, maybe it really is the best in Canada.

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While in PEI we stayed at a beautiful VRBO vacation rental. It was right on the water and had an amazing deck!

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We all loved hanging out on this deck and enjoying the view. Jake enjoyed some Raspberry Cordial (another treat based on Anne of Green Gables).

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That wraps up my posts about our visit to Canada.

Soon I hope to post an update on the RV situation. We’re still dealing with that 3 months later. Sigh!

Categories: canada | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

A long time friend of my parents has a home on Cape Breton Island that he only uses part time. When he heard about our RV situation and having to cancel all of our campground reservations, he graciously offered us the use of his home for a few days while we visited Cape Breton with my parents. We are so grateful for his kindness and generosity!

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The highlight of our time on Cape Breton was driving along the Cabot Trail and stopping at several of the beautiful view points.

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What a gorgeous drive! If you go there be aware that it is a very long drive around the entire Cabot Trail. It took us several hours to make the complete loop. It was stunningly beautiful and definitely worth the trip, but kids tend to get a little bored on long drives like that. Don’t ask me how I know this. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The next day we went to the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site where we traveled back in time to the 1700s to tour the fort and reconstructed French town.

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The house where we stayed had no cellular signal at all which in a way was kind of nice. It gave us a chance to unplug in the evenings and play games. Sometimes it’s nice to get away from the distractions of smartphones and computers.

This wraps up my posts about our time in Nova Scotia. Next up I’ll write about our visit to Prince Edward Island.

 

Categories: canada | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Day our Heartland RV Left us Homeless

It has been a long time since my last post and a lot has happened since then, but quite frankly I haven’t had the heart to share this until now. Usually I’m sharing beautiful pictures of the amazing places we have been. It’s really hard to share a post like this instead. I’ll warn you — the pictures aren’t pretty.

Our living and traveling in our beloved home on wheels came to an abrupt halt last month on a lonely stretch of highway in rural Maine. We had just finished visiting Acadia National Park which I haven’t had a chance to blog about yet. I will eventually, but first…this:

We noticed another stress crack in the sidewall of the RV. If you remember we had one of these repaired back in 2016. I sent the pictures to our contact at Heartland to ask for help since he helped us find a place to have the first crack repaired a couple of years ago.

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My Heartland contact never answered me so we talked to some repair centers near us in Maine and although none of them could fix it for us, they said we should be fine to wait until we could find a repair center in Canada where we were headed next.

We left Acadia and headed towards Canada where we had planned to spend a few weeks exploring and visiting family up there. My parents were flying up to meet us in Nova Scotia.

The roads in Maine were pretty rough and bumpy and after several miles of that we stopped at a rest area. Someone pulled in after us and said that he had been behind us for several miles and he thinks something is wrong with our trailer. He said our trailer shifted to the side and the wheels didn’t look quite right. Chris looked around and noticed the wheels protruding out too far on the driver’s side and the frame looked bent.

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Frame shifted to side and wheels protruding.

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Frame shifted to side and wheels protruding.

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Bent frame.

We also noticed the crack in the sidewall had gotten worse and we had 3 new cracks on the opposite side!

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Passenger side crack.

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Passenger side crack.

Chris broke the bad news to me that we weren’t going to make it to Canada and we just needed to find the nearest campground so we could figure out what to do. We called Good Sam Roadside Assistance, but they were not able to send someone to help us. They actually told me that if we can’t tow it neither can they. Well, we couldn’t very well live at the rest area so we had no choice but to move on. So I searched on my phone and found the nearest campground in Calais, ME called Keene’s Lake Family Campground. It was about 30 miles away so we put on the hazard lights and drove slow. By the time we got to the campground the initial crack had gotten so much worse that the roof was starting to separate.

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Passenger side crack with roof separating.

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Passenger side crack gets worse each time we move it.

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I know the passenger side crack is pretty bad which is why I share the most pictures of that one, but I don’t want to ignore the other 3 cracks on the opposite side of the RV.

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Driver’s side crack #1.

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Driver’s side crack #1.

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Driver’s side crack #1 interior.

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Driver’s side crack #2.

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Driver’s side crack #3.

The campground owners were very accommodating and kind to us while we were there, letting us stay as long as we needed while we sorted things out. Once we were set up in a campsite and opened the slides we noticed further damage on the inside: the crack goes all the way through to the kid’s bedroom, paneling fell off the ceiling, a wall separating in the kid’s room as well as the floor separating in their bathroom.

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Passenger side crack interior.

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Bathroom floor and kid’s bedroom floor separating.

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Bathroom floor and kid’s bedroom floor separating.

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Bathroom floor separating exterior.

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Bathroom floor separating exterior.

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Kid’s bedroom wall separating.

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Kid’s bedroom wall separating (close-up).

Chris called our insurance provider to file a claim. They sent someone out a few days later to take pictures and inspect the unit. Unfortunately they did not cover the damage because they said the damage is due to “frame failure” which is a manufacturing defect. I guess rough and bumpy roads should not cause an RV to literally fall apart without there being a weakness somewhere in the build of the unit.

I started conversations with the manufacturer Heartland to see if they would help. Heartland only offers a 1 year warranty and our unit is 3.5 years old. Still, I had hoped that since there was such extensive damage to a relatively young RV that Heartland may step up and do the right thing. I had wrongly hoped they would agree that an RV they built should not fall apart after just 3.5 years.

My initial conversations with an employee at Heartland ended with this email:

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He said this has nothing to do with manufacturing but he thinks something was “drug down the top of the sidewall”. Well, if that was the case then our insurance provider might have covered it. Then there would have been an actual incident that caused this. However, this explanation makes no sense because it does not take into consideration all the cracks on the opposite side of the RV and the interior walls and floors separating. So we did not just go away with this explanation as I’m sure they hoped we would. After pushing them further, 2 employees at Heartland said they would send someone to inspect the unit.

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Email asking me for the unit location so a frame vendor can come to inspect it.

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Email from our selling dealer letting me know someone is coming to inspect it.

Well it turns out they lied about sending someone to inspect it because about a week later I spoke with Anthony Roberts (from 2nd email) on the phone and he told me he does not believe anything is wrong with the frame and he will not be sending anyone to inspect it.

Chris decided to contact him after that to which he replied that they would inspect the unit if we bring it to them in Indiana. Seriously?

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Email telling us to bring it to Indiana if we want it inspected.

We had previously told them the unit is unsafe to tow. We had to move the RV from a campsite to a storage area within the same campground and in doing so some of the cracks got worse and the hole in the side opened up even larger. Also one of the slides doesn’t even go in correctly anymore. Do they really want us driving this down the road??

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Slide goes in at an angle.

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Slide goes in at an angle.

Does Heartland really think it is reasonable to ask us to tow this all the way from Maine to Indiana? Do they really want that liability on their hands if we were to have a serious accident on the way?

Anyway, after informing Heartland that I would be publishing this story on social media, they finally decided to send someone to inspect it. But guess what? The inspector was a paid employee of Heartland and so I’m sure you can guess how that turned out.

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Notice that this inspection is for the “Benefit of Heartland”

Here is a picture from the inspection report basically claiming that we hit a tree.

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This totally disregards the fact that the crack was there in June long before our incident in July on the road when the unit just basically started falling apart. We did not hit a tree or anything other than maybe pot holes in the road. This sidewall crack was already there before we moved from Acadia. On that drive the crack got so much worse and the roof began to separate. The inspection report also totally disregarded the 3 cracks on the opposite side of the RV. He didn’t even mention those! Obviously that’s what happens when a manufacturer sends their own guy out to inspect a unit. Whatever it takes to swing it in their favor!

I used to give positive feedback about Heartland because we experienced great customer service through them in our first year. You may remember I blogged a couple of years ago about a previous crack we had in the sidewall and how Heartland took care of us and helped us find a place to have it repaired:ย RV Repairs in Louisiana. Back then I was so impressed with how Heartland took care of us when our selling dealer in Jacksonville did not.

I didn’t realize when I used to praise them for their great customer service that it only lasted while we were under the 1 year limited warranty. I guess they don’t care about keeping customers for life. We had been looking into upgrading our RV to a toy hauler at some point, and had considered another Heartland. Not anymore — now we will never buy another Heartland because we know from experience that they do not stand behind their product. We will also discourage anyone we know from purchasing a Heartland.

I realize that not every Heartland will fall apart the way ours has, but wouldn’t you like to know when you buy an RV that the manufacturer stands behind their product when something this extraordinary happens? Even though we are well past the 1 year warranty, if they were a company that cared at all about maintaining customers for life they would have done something to make this right. The frame should really have a longer warranty than 1 year anyway — I mean who buys an RV and doesn’t expect it to last longer than 3-4 years?

Unfortunately many RV manufacturers have a reputation of making poor quality units, but I have been researching and asking other RV friends for feedback to find out if there is any manufacturer who truly stands behind their product. I have been consistently hearing great things about Grand Design. All of my RV friends that have a Grand Design rave about their excellent customer service. Perhaps our next RV will be a Grand Design and if so, hopefully we will experience much better customer service with them than we did with Heartland.

So, that’s the story of our life for the past month or so. The good news is we were able to make it to Canada. We moved all of our stuff out of the RV and into a storage unit and then stored the RV at the campground.

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Our last night we spent in the RV. Still smiling and looking forward to seeing the grandparents in Canada.

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Fat Cat hid in a moving box to make sure we didn’t forget her. ๐Ÿ™‚

We met up with my parents in Nova Scotia and visited several places with them while staying in VRBO rentals and with friends and relatives. It wasn’t quite the same as having our home on wheels, but we made the best of it.

After a vacation in Canada with my parents we headed back to Maine, loaded everything we own into a Uhaul trailer and headed south to regroup and start over.

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We came to Maine with our home on wheels and left with a Uhaul trailer. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

I will write later about our travels in Canada and also about our time in Acadia before this disaster happened.

I will end this with a reminder, please think twice before purchasing a Heartland RV. Remember, when we had trouble, they left us homeless and refuse to accept any responsibility.

Categories: Our Rig | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 148 Comments

More Family Time in Massachusetts

After leaving Cape Cod we went to Billerica, the town I grew up in when I lived in MA. Some long-time family friends graciously invited us to park at their house where they conveniently have an RV spot. We were only parked in Billerica for 5 days, but it was a very busy 5 days of time spent with close friends and family.

Our first night we were able to have dinner with the Picariellos. My parents met them when I was just a little girl so I feel like I have known them forever.

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Dinner with the Picariellos

The next day we left the RV parked in Billerica while we went and stayed in Waltham for a couple of days at the Richard Hilton (also known as Fred & Rita’s house). ๐Ÿ˜‰ We had such a wonderful time staying with them and enjoying our evening “happy hours”. Fred even played chauffeur to us for the weekend, knowing we were not comfortable driving the big truck around all these towns so close to Boston.

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Happy Hour with the Richards

Fred took us for a ride in the “stang” which was so much fun!

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Jackie and the boys met us in Boston for a day of sightseeing.

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Boston Public Garden

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Boston Public Garden

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Beacon Hill

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New England Holocaust Memorial

This is a very sobering memorial dedicated to the 6 million Jews killed during the Holocaust. Smoke continuously rises up as a reminder of the gas chambers.

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The numbers represent the numbers tattooed on concentration camp prisoners

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The next day we had a lovely brunch with Jim and Deborah at their home in Cambridge. Jim made a delicious quiche!

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My Uncle Jim with the boys

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Jackie, me and Jim

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The boys with my cousin Devin

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Chris and I with my cousin Sam

After that it was time to head back to Billerica and check on Fat Cat who was feeling pretty lonely by now. We also enjoyed a cookout with the Dunton family, our gracious hosts who allowed us to park at their house for a few days.

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The Dunton Family

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Roasting marshmallows at the Dunton’s house

On our last evening in Billerica we had a delicious Italian feast with the entire Picariello family. Our kids had so much fun with all of their kids and seriously did not want to leave!

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I think I gained 5 pounds while in Billerica, with all the socializing and delicious meals we shared with everyone. This was such a fun visit! We even drove by the old house where I used to live and the elementary and middle schools I attended. My kids thought it was pretty neat to see all of these places where I grew up.

As usual, our time with family and friends went by way too quickly, and now we are looking forward to the next time we can all get together again.

 

Categories: Massachusetts | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

NYC – Times Square and Central Park

We started our second day in New York City at Times Square. Let’s just say this was over-the-top on crowds and noise. It was quite overwhelming with all the noise, lights and signs, crowds and countless people trying to sell us tickets to whatever (bus tours, shows, bike rentals, you name it!)

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I loved seeing the Times Square Ball with 2018 on top. We will definitely be remembering this sight when we watch the ball drop again this New Year’s Eve.

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We stopped in the M&Ms store which was enormous!

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Once we had our fill of the over-stimulation of lights and noise, we started to head toward Central Park for a taste of nature in the midst of the city chaos. On the way we stopped to pick up some lunch at the Original Soup Man. We are huge Seinfeld fans and this was the restaurant that inspired the famed “Soup Nazi” episode.

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“No Soup for You!”

We brought our soup lunches over to Central Park (the soup was delicious by the way), and enjoyed several hours meandering around the park. Who knew that it could literally take days to explore Central Park? That place is huge! And such an oasis in the middle of a noisy, crowded city.

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There are 21 playgrounds within Central Park. We managed to hit several of them, but definitely not all 21.

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The Strawberry Fields section was a memorial to John Lennon. I love oldies music like The Beatles so I enjoyed visiting this area.

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There were lots of areas to just sit and relax.

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When the boys were little we read a book about a sled dog hero in Alaska named Balto. At the end of the story it mentioned that there is a statue to honor Balto in Central Park. I forgot all about that until we came upon the statue as we walked around.

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Balto, the sled dog hero

After we roamed around Central Park for several hours we headed back into Times Square to find some dinner, but first we wanted to see a couple more iconic buildings.

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Empire State Building

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Macy’s on 34th Street

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One more glimpse of the New Year’s Times Square Ball

While visiting New York we stayed at a county park called Croton Point in Croton-on-Hudson. This park was really nice and didn’t feel like we were so close to a city.

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Spacious campsite with lots of room to sit outside when Chris’s family visited

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Beautiful sunsets over the Hudson River

The best part about the campground was that the train into NYC was just outside the entrance to the park making it very easy to travel into the city. The train took us right into Grand Central Station which was an experience in itself.

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Grand Central Station

From Grand Central you can catch a subway to pretty much anywhere you need to go in NYC. Like I mentioned in my first post about NYC, New Yorkers were surprisingly helpful to us in figuring out where we needed to go and which subways to take. One person even got on a subway with us, then let us know when we got to the right stop and kept reminding us which one to catch next. I suppose not all New Yorkers are nearly as nice and patient, but in our experience everyone was super nice to us.

I love to leave an area on such a high note, having made such incredible memories. That’s how it was when we left New York. It beat all of my expectations and now I look forward to visiting again someday.

One last surprise from our time in NY actually happened after we left. Chris’s cousin Bob who lives close to where we stayed in New York never had a chance to get together with us while we were there. He was Facebook messaging with me on the morning we left NY and asking me where we were headed. I didn’t really think it mattered since we were leaving NY and not going to be so close to him anymore, but I answered his questions anyway. Once we got set up at our next campground in Connecticut he showed up to surprise us and we had a wonderful rest of the day catching up with him. We haven’t seen him since our wedding day almost 18 years ago!

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Chris with his cousin Bob

Categories: New York | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

NYC – Statue of Liberty and 9/11 Memorial

One of the nice things about traveling is not only visiting some amazing places, but also seeing family and friends that we don’t get to see very often. Chris is originally from New York and still has several family members there, but he hadn’t been back there since before I knew him. We had a wonderful visit with his sister Laurie and her husband Steve and also our nephew Ryan who has really grown up!

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It was so nice to catch up with all of them. The boys enjoyed playing some games one afternoon with Laurie and Ryan.

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We also got to visit with Johnnie, a man that was like a father to Chris when he was growing up. We surprised him one afternoon showing up unannounced. It took him a few minutes to realize who we were, but once he recognized Chris his whole face lit up and he had tears in his eyes. What a sweet man and I’m so glad we were able to see him while we were in New York.

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Anyway, if you know me you know I’m not a fan of cities. Visiting New York City has never been high on my bucket list. I was pleasantly surprised to find out just how much fun it is to visit NYC. I had a common misconception that New Yorkers were rude and unfriendly. I could not have been more wrong! We found them to be so helpful and friendly, even going out of their way to help us navigate the subway system or find our way around town.

We spent 2 days exploring the city. This post will cover our first day when we visited the Statue of Liberty and the 9/11 Memorial. Several months ago I learned that Crown Access tours to the Statue of Liberty sell out way in advance so I reserved these tickets back in January. Do you know how hard it is to decide in January which day and time in May we would like to visit Lady Liberty? I prayed about it, asking God to help me pick just the right day when the weather would be nice the week were planning to go. And you know what? The date/time I picked just so happened to be the most beautiful weather we had during a week that rained most days. Needless to say I was very thankful for answered prayers.

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The tour included a boat ride over to Liberty Island where we could visit the statue museum, walk around the grounds listening to an audio tour and climb up inside the statue not only to the pedestal, but all the way up to the crown. This was so cool!

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View of NYC skyline from the statue pedestal

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Inside the statue getting ready to climb up to the crown

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Inside the crown

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View from inside the crown

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Another view from inside the crown

The Statue of Liberty is part of the National Park Service so there were a couple of park rangers at the crown to answer questions. As we started back down they made sure we noticed that we could see the eyes, nose and mouth inside the statue.

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Can you see the face of Lady Liberty?

A little bit of information if you plan to do this: it is 354 steps in a tight, enclosed area to climb up to the crown. Children must be at least 48 inches tall and cannot be carried. We booked our tickets at this website: Statue of Liberty Tickets.

After we came back down we toured the museum that had many displays explaining the process of building the statue.

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Then we walked around the grounds a bit before catching the boat that would take us to the next stop on the tour: Ellis Island.

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Here we learned about the process that immigrants went through after landing in NYC.

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The immigrants had to declare their destination and we were surprised to see our hometown of Fernandina, Florida made one of the lists.

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View of NYC from Ellis Island

I am so glad we took this tour, it ended up being one of the highlights of our visit to NYC.

Later we walked over to see the 9/11 Memorial. This was a beautiful tribute to so many lives lost, and brought back a lot of memories of that day back in 2001. Our kids were not born yet, but we told them all about what we were doing that morning when we first heard the news. How sobering to come to the spot where this occurred.

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There are 2 of these memorials, one for each of the Twin Towers. The names of all the victims are engraved along the sides and the interior is a continuous fountain, like a fountain of tears falling into the hole in the ground.

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I don’t really know what to say about this or how to describe it. It was such a sad time in our nation’s history and it was very emotional.

We had a very busy week in New York, between visiting with family and sightseeing. I have one more post about our 2nd day in the city when we visited Times Square and Central Park. Stay tuned for more on that later.

Categories: New York | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Washington D.C. Cherry Blossoms and More

On our last evening in DC we walked around the Tidal Basin where there is the highest concentration of Cherry Blossoms that were in full bloom. Cherry Blossoms are a big thing in DC, they even have a Cherry Blossom festival every spring.

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There are several memorials to check out as you make your way around the Tidal Basin. The first one we came to was the Jefferson Memorial.

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Jefferson Memorial

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Thomas Jefferson

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As we continued walking around the loop we noticed that in some areas there were so many cherry blossoms it looked like snow!

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Next we arrived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial.

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Franklin D. Roosevelt

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Eleanor Roosevelt

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More cherry blossoms

Continuing on we arrived at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.

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Martin Luther King, Jr

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And more cherry blossoms

After making our way completely around the Tidal Basin and visiting all of those memorials we were back out at the Reflecting Pool where we had been a couple of days earlier. This time we were there in the evening when everything was lit up really pretty.

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Lincoln Memorial across the Reflecting Pool

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World War II Memorial at night

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Representing Florida!

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Washington Monument lit up at night

We ended our time in Washington D.C. on such a high note by spending this time viewing the cherry blossoms and seeing DC lit up at night. After 3 full days of exploring the city we were completely exhausted, but so grateful for all that we got to see and experience.

If you missed my first two posts on DC you can see them here:ย Washington D.C. Memorials and Arlingtonย andย Washington D.C. Capitol and Museums.

Also, another Fulltime Family blogged about their time in DC that I found extremely helpful in planning our time there. If you would like some tips on visiting, I would recommend reading her posts starting here:ย Barry Good Times.

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

Washington D.C. Capitol and Museums

One of the highlights of our time in DC was visiting the Capitol building.

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A few months before our trip I contacted our congressman’s office to schedule some tours. They set up our own personalized tour of the Capitol building by an intern working for their office. While talking with the intern during our tour we realized that his parents live in the same area of Florida where we used to live and he was also homeschooled! Not only that but I recognized his mom’s name when he mentioned it. We have over 20 mutual friends on Facebook so I knew her name sounded familiar. It turns out she’s friends with lots of my other homeschool mom friends back in Fernandina. Small world!

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Anyway, we really enjoyed our tour! The rotunda which is the large room under the big dome you see on the outside of the building was really beautiful on the inside. There were famous paintings surrounding the room featuring our nation’s early history.

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Ceiling of the rotunda.

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Old Supreme Court Chamber used from 1810-1860.

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Memorial honoring the heroes of Flight 93 on 9/11/2001.

The absolute best part of our Capitol tour was getting the chance to sit in the House Gallery which is the room you see on TV where the state representatives argue about political stuff. Unfortunately we could not take any phones or cameras in the there, in fact the security to get in there was very extensive (including those full-body scanners they use at airports). It was worth it though to get to sit in and watch and listen to some representatives argue about a budget amendment. I can’t say the subject matter was all that interesting, and I honestly did not recognize any of the people in the room, but it was still really cool to sit in and watch that nonetheless.

In addition to the Capitol, we also visited Ford’s Theater where President Lincoln was assassinated. The museum was very well done and had many exhibits about Abraham Lincoln’s presidency and the Civil War.

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After touring the museum, we were able to sit in the theater to listen to a ranger talk about the events of the night of the assassination.

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Theater box where President Lincoln was sitting the night he was shot.

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Peterson House where he was taken after being shot where he later died the next morning.

We also visited the National Archives museum but unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures there either. We saw the original documents of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It was very cool to see those original documents, even though the writing was quite faded and difficult to read.

Lastly we visited the new Museum of the Bible. The children’s area was really fun!

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Jesse pretending he is Samson knocking over the pillars.

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Jake doing the same thing.

There were a lot of arcade style games with Biblical themes that the kids loved playing.

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While they played in there I wandered around some more of the museum. We didn’t have a lot of time to spend there and I didn’t get to see much of the museum, but I did like the Amazing Grace exhibit featuring the history of the writer of the famous hymn, John Newton.

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The museum had 6 floors and I only had time to explore one. I guess that means we’ll have to go back again someday.

Also, we never had a chance to make it to any of the Smithsonian museums. I didn’t realize there was so much to see and do in DC and I clearly did not plan on enough time there. What my friends at Ditching Suburbia taught me is that we should not leave an area with regrets of what we did not see. It’s impossible to see it all, and it’s always nice to have a reason to return. We definitely left many reasons to return to see more of DC!

I will have one more post about our time in DC to share pictures of the cherry blossoms. We coincidentally timed our visit perfectly so that we were able to see the beautiful cherry blossoms in full bloom! Stay tuned for that post next.

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

Washington D.C. Memorials and Arlington

We had an amazing time exploring Washington D.C. I will need to write about it in more than one post, otherwise this would be too long.

We stayed at Cherry Hill RV Park in College Park, Maryland. This was the perfect place for us to stay because we didn’t have to drive the truck anywhere! The campground offers daily sightseeing information sessions to help you learn how to get around DC. The Metro bus stops right at the campground and takes you to the Metro station where you can take the train right into DC. We got Metro cards from the campground and were able to re-load them at any station.

Our first day we took the Metro to Arlington National Cemetery. Before going there we did a lesson on the history of Arlington. I learned about this lesson from another Fulltime Family and you can download it for free here:ย Arlington Activities. This study was so helpful to us in preparing for our time visiting Arlington.

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Arlington National Cemetery is beautiful and sobering all at the same time. It is a sea of gravestones as far as you can see. It’s incredible to think that each one of these represents someone that sacrificed for our freedom. Someone that doesn’t even know me, yet I get to enjoy freedom thanks to each of these remarkable people. To say I’m grateful would be such an understatement.

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Freedom is definitely not free.

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If you look closely in the picture below on the left-hand side you can see horses pulling a casket to a funeral. Arlington averages over 20 funerals each weekday!

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We got to watch the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We learned about this in the lesson we did, and I found it so interesting how much goes into ensuring that this tomb is properly guarded and respected by soldiers that must pass a very strict process to be able to participate in this.

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Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

We also visited John F. Kennedy’s gravesite where an eternal flame glows, although you can’t see the flame in the picture below (it really was there!)

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My favorite quote from John F. Kennedy.

After visiting the cemetery, we walked across the Arlington Memorial Bridge to see the Lincoln Memorial, the Reflecting Pool and several other memorials.

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Korean War Memorial

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Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial

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Reflecting Pool looking back at the Lincoln Memorial

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World War II Memorial and Washington Monument

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World War II Memorial

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Lastly we walked over to see the White House. It was amazing how crowded this area was! I’m glad we got this picture with no one else in it, well except for that secret service agent behind us.

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Our first day in DC was so incredible and exhausting. We walked over 20,000 steps that day. We really appreciated the campground hot tub that night!

Categories: Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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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! ๐Ÿ™‚ย 

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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: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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