A family on the road living fulltime in an RV.

Category: Family

Farewell to Full Time RVing with Family

Looking in rearview mirror of the last four years of our full time RV adventures, I see a road littered with memories… The emotional up and downs of going through years…

Family on the Road in RV

Looking in rearview mirror of the last four years of our full time RV adventures, I see a road littered with memories…

PicMonkey Collage Stuff Before the Road

The emotional up and downs of going through years of stuff and young boys sorting through piles of toys pondering what to store and what to give away. Little did we know that they would outgrow them before those boxes would be opened again.

5th Wheel LOOK!

Thing 1’s face at the sight of our new (used) RV being delivered. The RV I had to decide to buy without Brent because he was too busy with work to go look at it!

Downtown Ventura

The lights of Ventura disappearing behind the mountains as we drove north on the 101 exchanging the known for the unknown.

Boys in Tree Houston

Chasing deer, catching frogs, climbing trees, skipping rocks, getting stuck in mud, and building forts.

Father Son Nakomis Beach

Collecting sharks teeth and seashells along the Gulf Coast of Florida.

Brothers at Fredericksburg National Battlefield

A trove of plastic gold Junior Ranger badges earned by once eager little boys who pinned them to their vests with pride.

Jennn Boys Couch RV

Cozy afternoons spent cuddling on the couch.

Family at Capital Washington DC

The history of our country coming to life as we visited places like Jamestown, Boston (where we were evacuated to an under ground tunnel),Philadelphia and Washington DC.

Snowboard Family Epic Mix

Our “epic” four months camping with friends and learning to snowboard in the wildly beautiful Rocky Mountains.

Hike to Delicate Arch Moab

Long and short hikes, steep and flat hikes, wet and dry hikes, hot and cold hikes…each one a stamp on my soul reminding me of the majesty of our Creator.

RV Walmart Calgarly Canada

Overnight stops in parking lots and rest areas where I forgot what was outside our RV windows because family, not a place, is home.

IMG_4089

Two pink lines on a white stick that turned a quiet morning after a long night along the coast of Washington upside down.

Dixie RV Heartland Gateway 3650BH

Searching for and finding the perfect new RV.

PicMonkey Collage pregnancy baby shower FL

A surprise baby shower thrown by a group of wonderful gypsy mamas.

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A baby boy born at home

Thing 1 Piano Alaska

The sound of Thing 1’s keyboard filling the RV.

family-key-west-to-alaska-ig
The 6000 mile drive from Key West to Alaska with a 6 week old baby.

Exit-Glacier-Hike-Collage-Alaska

Being surrounded by the sublime wild that is Alaska.

Lake-meziadin2

Pulling into campgrounds after dark and waking up to glassy lakes and mountain vistas.

remembering-nigel

A pug who made it to 49 states before giving in to his failing body and saying goodbye in Portland, Oregon.

RV 101

White knuckles and held breath while taking hairpin turns on Highway 1. (Note: don’t take Highway 1 to Fort Bragg if you are towing a 40’ fifth wheel. Take Highway 20 instead. TRUST me.)

friends

Traveling with fellow RVers and the friendships that grew.

PicMonkey-Collage-brothers

Big brothers bonding with with their little brother.

Snowboard Couple Epic Mix

Snowboarding dates with my love. (How I loved living in a small space with this man.)

Presque Isle Family Bikes OH

Bike rides through forests, down paths, and over desert rocks.

PicMonkey Collage friends 2 RV

The smiling faces of friends, from Washington to Florida and everywhere in between, who graciously opened up their driveways and homes so we could reconnect.

PicMonkey-Collage-Chess-Jenn-Thing-2-NM

Games of chess and family movie nights.

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A family who is now complete.

PicMonkey-Collage-Family-on-the-Road-2011-2015

Swimming with manatees, snorkeling, horseback rides on the beach, campfires, museums, glaciers, sunsets, battlefields, RVing at the beach, amusement parks, detours, breakdowns, gold panning, getting lost, boat rides, mountain ranges, wildlife, small towns, huge cities, a reality show episode, new friends…

I could go on and on about the places we’ve been and the things we’ve done but the last four years have not really been about places and things, they’ve been about simplicity and family.

A picture may be worth a thousand words but even that’s not enough to describe the love we have for our boys.

Brothers Jamestown Settlement VA

Our boys.

Our boys, who in four short years, became young men. Young men who tilt their heads downward to give me a kiss. Our boys who have not only grown in size but in number with the addition of Things 3 and 4.

Bradbury-Science-Musuem-Brothers-NM

Our boys.

They’ve taught us so much about ourselves, sometimes more than we wanted to know. Living in an RV has been challenging at times and every so often I wondered what the hell we were doing but mostly it was amazing. We wouldn’t trade anything for these four years spent exploring the country in the RV with our boys.

There is nothing we wouldn’t do if we knew it was best for them.

Fort-Union-National-Monument-Ruins-Brothers-NM

Even give up the life we love so much, our life on the road.

Soon I’ll share the details of why we have chosen to give up RVing with our family full time and later I’ll share what’s next for us but today I’m just going to remember and give thanks for the time we had on the road together.

Thank you for being part of the journey. We hope you stick around as we figure out the next chapter.

PicMonkey Collage first and last family

Love and Laughter (and tears),
Jenn and Brent

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Limbo

Boxes have replaced dressers and nightstands.  Mattresses sit on the floor.  Old toys en route to new homes whisper memories of little boys.  A rainbow of threads is scattered under…

Boxes have replaced dressers and nightstands.  Mattresses sit on the floor.  Old toys en route to new homes whisper memories of little boys.  A rainbow of threads is scattered under the kitchen table where my friend and I spent three days making not just curtains but memories.

We’ve said our goodbyes and yet we are still here tying up the loose ends.  It makes for a strange state of mind.  Today, I sat on the floor folding my laundry as if it was an ordinary day.  A day where I would wake up in my bed, a bed that is no more.  A day where I would sit at my desk, a desk who days are coming to an end.  A day where I would school the boys on the couch, a couch who has moved on.  A day where I would drive the streets I know, the streets that I will miss.

For a moment, I wanted it to be any ordinary day.  There is so much beauty in the ordinary when we see with our hearts. I desperately wanted the boxes and bags to disappear.  I wanted to slip seamlessly back into my routine.  I wanted to know, as much as is possible, what tomorrow would bring.

I held onto the laundry on my lap as if it were an anchor.

Peel enough layers and there is fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear that paralyzes and moves me.  Fear that smothers and ignites me.  Ignites trust.  Trust in a God who loves.

Meow Cow has taken to napping in his travel bag.  It seems he is trying to tell us something.

We said our goodbyes.

Yet we are still here.

But not really.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Open “House”

Saturday morning, we decided we would have an rv open “house” on Sunday.  We had been *thinking* about the open house for a month and leave it to me to…

Saturday morning, we decided we would have an rv open “house” on Sunday.  We had been *thinking* about the open house for a month and leave it to me to invite people 24 hours beforehand.  The truth is I wasn’t procrastinating.  I was just being thorough. Everything needed to be “just so”. Which explains (or muddles) why we were still up at 12:00 am hanging cabinet doors and sweeping piles of screws into the drawers.  Those finishing touches.   Nothing says we are ready to go like  clean countertops even if the closet is filled with paint cans instead of clothes.

The party was at noon and at 11:30 am we found ourselves an hour behind schedule still trying to hitch up the trailer.  You see, we waited until right before the party to test out the hitch and as it turned out our truck “hitch height” is different than the previous owner’s truck making it impossible to “just hook up and go”.  Somehow Brent figured it out (he always does) and we pulled up to our little get together.

There are a lot of things we are going to miss about Ventura this year…the beaches, the mountains, the fabulous weather, two Trader Joes…but none of that compares to the way we are going to miss the people.  So many wonderful people.  I’m thankful that a handful of these wonderful people were able to make it out on such a ridiculously late notice and I hope they know just how much it made our day.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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The Couch Angel

Last week, I mentioned a great friend was coming over to help me reupholster the rv sleeper sofa frame. Well she’s not a great friend…          …

Last week, I mentioned a great friend was coming over to help me reupholster the rv sleeper sofa frame.

Well she’s not a great friend…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She’s a saint.
(If you could of seen me around 12:30 when I was hungry you would agree….A SAINT.)

Not only is she a saint but she is also one of the kindest, most creative, and thoughtful people I know.  She got to my house at 10:00 am and left at 9:30 pm.  That’s 11.5 hours (for those who are mathematically challenged like myself.)! ELEVEN and a HALF hours!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the rv sofa before.  We thought about getting an entirely new sofa but not only was it expensive, it was hard to find one to efficiently fill the space.  We didn’t want to waste any space and we wanted to keep the sofa bed for the future when the boys want to bring along friends. I scoured Craigslist but nothing the right size with a bed was coming up and most of the sofas on Craigslist didn’t fit our style.

What to do….

We decided the most cost effective solution was to pay someone to reupholster the cushions (I can sew very simple things like pillows but cushions with piping and zippers are waaay out of my league.) and we would reupholster the frame.

I found someone to recover the cushions with buttons, piping, and zippers for $40 a cushion (and it only took him a day and a half!).  I have no idea what it costs in other parts of the country but for southern California this was a steal.  I know because I called, visited, or emailed pictures to nearly every upholstery shop in our area.  He did an exceptional job and I couldn’t have been more pleased.  If you are in the area the shop is Robert’s Upholstery and the number is 805-659-5600.

So I made two treks down to the LA fabric district and got some gorgeous wool fabric in the exact color we wanted for $2.99 a yard.  The problem was the fabric had a pattern every 3 or so feet and they only had 14 yards.  I bought it anyway because those are the type of irrational things I do assuming we could make it work.  As it turned out the fabric made us work.

This was around noon when I hungry and cranky nearly gave up and called Robert to ask him the cost to recover the sofa frame.  It was going to be more than we wanted to put into the sofa so we persevered into the dark.

See the southwest pattern?  Grrrrrrr!  After Robert had used 8 of my 14 yards for the cushions we only had 6 yards left.  Take out the pattern and it was less. (See my math is improving as I write this post.)

Still working into the night.

Is this still a sofa?

If you ever decide to reupholster a sofa frame, do one side first.  I don’t know what we would have done if we had not left one side intact.  I took pictures and notes of taking it apart to have for references but I might as well been looking at Monet painting from 2 inches away at 3 o’clock am.  They made no sense.  Being able to look at the original side was a sanity saver.

Almost done.  We still had not screwed the frame back together and the cushions are sitting on boxes which is why the cushions look like they need Botox but you get the idea.  The couch itself is ordinary so to add some character I decided to add buttons like this ridiculously overpriced settee from Anthropologie.   All in all, with fabric and labor (not counting our own) it cost about $200 to reupholster the sofa.

So if you ever want to reupholster your own rv sofa frame, here are some tips.

1. Make sure you have enough fabric.  A total no brainer and it worked out okay only because this is an rv sofa and 3 of the 4 sides are hidden.

2. Give yourself plenty of time especially is you don’t follow number 1.  Had we had enough fabric it wouldn’t have taken near as long.

3.  Do one side first so you can look back at how it was put together.  Also take notes of the pieces and the order you take them off.

4. Have the right tools.  I don’t know what the “proper” tools are but here are the tools we used: staple lifter, hammer, pry bar, electric staple gun, needle nose pliers, screw driver, and scissors.  We owned all of them except the staple lifter and the electric staple gun which I borrowed from a friend.

5. Find a saint to help you out.  Most important!

By shopping around for fabric and reupholstering the sofa frame ourself we saved about $300 since the least expensive place cost $500 to reupholster the entire sofa. More important than saving money, I have a new fun (now) memory saved in my heart.  Thank you, Diane.

We are thisclose to being done with the interior!  Brent is finishing the floor this weekend and I have to do the curtains but those are the last major things to do.  I can’t wait to show you pictures!

love and laughter,
jenn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fun Times in the LA Garment District

Fabric is one of the most important considerations when redecorating an rv.  After all there isn’t much wall space that doesn’t have at least some fabric on it and with…

Fabric is one of the most important considerations when redecorating an rv.  After all there isn’t much wall space that doesn’t have at least some fabric on it and with only a few pieces of furniture per room “the fabric” takes up a lot of the space. Redecorating our rv has “required” two trips to the LA garment district.  “Required” meaning –  you saw but didn’t buy the perfect aqua tweed because you were going to use “greens” but then changed your mind and couldn’t find “the perfect aqua tweed online” so you had to go back to “that one” shop on what’s that street called?

Oh darn.

Despite having to battle Los Angeles traffic the fabric district or properly called the LA Fashion District is one of my favorite places to visit in LA and I was so excited to show my boys my mad haggling skills.

Since I have two boys, the two trips seemed even more more appropriate.

Trip 1 with Thing 1

As per a friend’s recommendation, we started at Michael Levine’s “The Loft”.  As you can see by the picture all the fabric is only $2.50 a pound.  Yep, fabric by the pound.

The catch is you have to dig through boxes to find anything.  I had high hopes for this place but I left empty handed.

The purpose of this trip was to find upholstery fabric.  We walked up and down streets and in and out of crowded little shops looking for the perfect fabric at the perfect price. I wanted to spend $10 or less a yard and I accomplished my mission when I found a lovely wool in the exact color Brent and I wanted.   Almost.   I didn’t hit the streets of LA in search of a southwest pattern, not that there is anything wrong with a little southwest, it’s just not our style. But a high quality wool in the perfect shade of orange for $2.99 couldn’t be passed up.  I figured that pattern was nothing a pair of scissors couldn’t fix.  Oh boy….

Our last stop was Michael Levine.  It’s about the only shop that runs like a “standard” shop and not a foreign bazaar.  There are actually price tags and no haggling. Bummer.  I love haggling.  If you visit the LA fabric district Michael Levine is not. to. be. missed.

Rows of thread (just like paint chips) make me oddly happy.

You have no idea the restraint it took to not purchase everything on this wall as I imaged headbands of every size and color.

 

I spent over two hours texting images of fabric to Brent.

Thing 2 was such a trooper.

This is for my sister.

I thought that was going to be my final farewell to Los Angeles until we return to California next year…until…Brent and I changed our minds and decided to go with aquas on the couch side of the living room.  I told him about this lovely turquoise tweed I had spotted but didn’t buy.  After searching online for a similar fabric, I decided another trip was in order.

I’m not often always practical.

Trip Two with Thing Two.

First stop was to find “that one shop” with the aqua tweed and we did.  Guess what?  There were only 3.5 yards left…exactly, what we needed to cover the cushions.  I don’t think I impressed Thing 2 with my haggling skills.  He told me later I was “cheap” and “weird”.

 

Then it was back over to the Loft.  This time I left with a small scrap of fabric and some trim I’d like to use on lamp shades.

After accomplishing our mission, Thing 2 and I wandered around taking in the sights.  We looked at the small water turtles that were being sold by sharp eyed street vendors.  I told him about Clifford, the “street” turtle I bought downtown LA about 15 years ago who later retired in a turtle “sanctuary”.  Really.   We made our way over to Santee Alley where we looked at crazy shoes, knock off sunglasses, and cheap toys.

Finally, we stopped for a little refreshment and headed off to our car.

From the roof of the parking garage, I blew a kiss to the city I love and loath in equal parts.

Tips for visiting the LA Garment (Fabric or Fashion) District

1. Print a map.  You can print one here.

2. Bring cash and be prepared to haggle.  Some of the shops don’t take credit cards or will give you a better deal if you have cash.

3. Don’t be afraid to walk out.  One guy started at $26 a yard and by the time I reached the door he was at $10 a yard.

3. It can be really overwhelming so bring a list of what you really need and try to stick to it.  It would also be helpful to bring a notebook to jot down notes of stuff you see but don’t want to purchase right away.

4. You might was well start at The Loft.  At $2.50 a pound you’ll be hard pressed to find a better deal and it’s a fun experience!

5. There is street or lot parking.  I prefer the lots because I don’t have to parallel park and I don’t  have to remember to feed the meter.  I paid $6 for all day parking my first trip and $4 dollars my second trip.  I noticed when I left later that afternoon the parking had changed to $2.

6. There aren’t a lot of places to eat so eat a big meal before you go, buy food from the street vendors, or go to one of the few nearby restaurants.

7. Bathrooms are also hard to come by.  There is a restroom at Michael Levine that cost a quarter.  It helps if you don’t drink a lot that day. 🙂

8. Give yourself plenty of time.  Not only is it a fun place to shop but it’s a fun place to people watch as well.

love and laughter,
Jenn

 

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Pinholes of Light

Some photos, a preview if you will, I snapped with my phone this week. Brent has been crazy busy finishing up the video and I’ve been painting, cleaning, and going through stuff at our…

Some photos, a preview if you will, I snapped with my phone this week.

Brent has been crazy busy finishing up the video and I’ve been painting, cleaning, and going through stuff at our house. Finally, some pinholes of light are making their way into this dark box of busyness.

It looks like we’ve moved our trip back a week.  I’m a little bummed because we wanted to leave on our official/unofficial (depends on how you look at it) anniversary.  It will be better because I’m nicer when I’m not stressed we won’t feel rushed and we will get to spend some time with some of the people we are going to dearly miss.

A good friend is coming over this morning to help me reupholster the couch frame today.  Clearly anyone brave enough to risk hanging out with me while I impatientlywield an electric staple gun, is not a good but a GREAT friend.

I’m *hoping* to get a Thrifty Threads Thursday post up today.  I found the cutest green vintage dress yesterday when I dropped off a load of stuff at the thrift store.  I also got a vintage Coach purse for $2.  TWO DOLLA can I hear a HOLLA!

Hope you are having a fantastic week!

with love,
Jenn

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“Go Wild”

                              Yesterday, this was my living room. Today it is slightly better. I am not proud. When Thing…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday, this was my living room.

Today it is slightly better.

I am not proud.

When Thing 2 decided to “go wild” I thought, why not?  It’s not like he’s going to mess anything up. 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now you know where the wild things are.

with love,
jenn

 

 

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Is there a forest around these trees?

Life may be a tad bit on the busy side right now but I still want to document it. This week we’ve been painting, sanding, painting, sanding. From how much…

Life may be a tad bit on the busy side right now but I still want to document it.

This week we’ve been painting, sanding, painting, sanding.

From how much we’ve I’ve been painting you would think that we are moving into a 3000 square foot house not a 300 square foot trailer.

I may or may not have had a breakdown in the bathroom last night over….

LINT.

Yes, there was lint in the polyeurathane and it nearly sent me over the edge.  Good times.  Good times.

I’ll just let you imagine how I felt today when Brent told me today after driving home from the LA fabric district that the polyurethane (I spent an entire day applying to the cabinets) didn’t dry clear and everything has to be re-sanded and re-painted.  I thought I was done with the kitchen cabinets and now I’m almost back at square one.  I basically wasted an entire weekend.

Except I didn’t because…

…I spent precious time with this guy.   His hard work blows me away.

I’m really trying to see the forest through the trees and remember what this trip is really about.

Family.
Adventure.
Memories.
Love.

Who cares about a little lint.

We are hoping to leave October 9th, our 12 year anniversary.  I can’t think of a better way to celebrate.

But…there’s the to-do list.

RV
Finish paint and Hang Cabinet Doors (we took them off to paint)
Paint Living Room Walls
Install Wood Floor
Build Brent’s Desk
Sew Curtains
Find Upholster for Cushions
Upholster Couch Frame – We were going to take it somewhere but it won’t fit out the door!
Install Closet Organizer
Install hardware
Paint Fan
Paint (or Find New) Light Fixtures
Re-upholster headboard
Buy storage bins
Install and plumb new bathroom sink
Purchase various small items

House 
Sell, giveaway, or burn stuff we are not taking.  (This is a mile long list in and of itself.)
Sell Car
Pack RV
Clean and repair current house. (Another list as long as this list.)
Trim bushes at current house
Fix stuff at the rental house. (Our tenant just let us know there is an opossum living under it.  Awesome.)
Order a few more school books

Misc
See friends
Keep up with laundry

Oh and that video we shot in July?  The deadline is fast approaching. When I think I’m working hard, I remember how hard Brent is working.

How many days to October 9th?

Don’t remind me.

But I’m not complaining because it’s all going to be worth it.

I think.

I hope.

with love,
jenn

 

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Making a “house” a “home”.

Today was our first official work day on the trailer. It’s a family affair.  Almost.  Thing 2 pops in and out offering encouragement.  Sort of. However, Thing 1 is more…

Today was our first official work day on the trailer.

It’s a family affair.  Almost.  Thing 2 pops in and out offering encouragement.  Sort of.

However, Thing 1 is more than happy to get to use tools help as long as we don’t paint the kitchen cabinets green.  We won’t talk about the breakdown in Lowes when he and I mentioned Brent and I were “thinking” about a green kitchen.  You would have thought I told him we thinking about giving up electricity.

We started in the bunk room.

 

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Putting new handles on the cabinets.  Thing 1 doesn’t mess around.  He scoffed at me when I suggested a screwdriver

Off comes the border.

 

 

 

 

 

Prepping the wall for paint.

We also brought Meow Cow over so he can begin to adjust.   Seeing that he’s not hiding under the bed, I’ll assume he is adjusting rather nicely.  Oh wait, he can’t hide out under the bed.  Hmmmm…..

You may be wondering what was I doing?  I was sitting on the couch texting while my child worked.  Isn’t that why we have them?  Kidding, I was killing brain cells painting primer on the walls and at the rate I’m going that is all I’m going to be doing this week.

with love,
Jenn

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Making Trail

Nathanael’s Boyscout Troop is heading out for their first backpacking trip since he joined next weekend. He insisted that before he joined them in this outing we would do our…

Nathanael’s Boyscout Troop is heading out for their first backpacking trip since he joined next weekend. He insisted that before he joined them in this outing we would do our own father & son trek. So last week we made a trip to Sport Chalet for backpacks, sleeping bags & cooking equipment then Saturday afternoon we hit the trail! We ended up getting a late start (5:30) but it was only a 3.5 mile hike so no worries… right?

Starting at Sunset

Our Destination was Big Cone Camp, right up the hill from the Punch Bowls – a destination I have heard about for so many years yet had never actually visited.

The first leg of the hike is just getting to the trail. You have to walk around the perimeter of Thomas Aquinas College then past some oil fields then cross a stream before actually hitting the trail.

There seem to be many small variations of the trail that have been established over the years and I think we sampled a good many of them… which made for somewhat slow progress.

making trail

Surprisingly colorful “flora”…

color

We made it into camp just as darkness was finally setting in. We set up camp & had some of the best cheese & crackers ever, according to Nathanael (Laughing Cow & Club crackers for the record).

Side note: one of my trusty Vasque hiking boots delaminated 1/2 way to our destination. Thankfully I had my Vibram TrekSport. I wore them the rest of the trip & they worked great!

Next morning we made awesome breakfast burritos with Trader Joe’s chicken sausage (our fave) then headed down to check out the Punch Bowls.

morning campfire

punchbowls

 

Plenty of refreshing water there just waiting for a swim…

jump

After much cajoling …

cajoling

swimming!

swim1swim2

Then for the long slog back to the car…

 

We got a late start back so we were hiking in the full heat of the afternoon sun.

sun

Slow & steady did the trick. By 3PM we were having a late lunch in Santa Paula.

This was a special first backpacking trip with my boy. He kept a great attitude even when he was worn out, we were loosing light and hunger was setting in. I was proud to see his strong character shining through. I look forward to many more great wilderness treks with Nathanael.

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