A family on the road living fulltime in an RV.

Category: On the Road

Heart or Head – Searching for the Best Family Travel Trailer

Finding a new RV We began our search for a new RV the moment we decided to sell our old one. My heart bleeds gypsy blood and to not have…

Finding a new RV

We began our search for a new RV the moment we decided to sell our old one. My heart bleeds gypsy blood and to not have an RV would make the next few years feel even more like a prison than it already does. Okay, so I’m being a little dramatic but we love having an RV for many reasons. It makes traveling affordable. RVing allows us to be remote or as urban as we want to be. It’s one of the ways our family connects and creates forever memories. RVing allows for more comfortable and extended visits with family. I love my family but I also love my space.

Jayco pop-up trailer

When we first started RVing many years ago we had a pop-up trailer that we loved. We would park it under the shade of the Sequoia trees in the Sierra Nevada Mountains or along the California Coast. It was perfect for that time of our lives. Since then we’ve discovered we love winter RVing so a pop-up isn’t going to work. We’ve also grown a bit and were spoiled by our 41’ Gateway fifth wheel.

cedar-creek silverback 5th wheel camper

In between the pop-up and Gateway, we had a 35’ Cedar Creek fifth wheel. It was really great but the big boys really wanted more space if we were going to keep full timing and I was kinda tired of the small kitchen counter. The one thing we loved about the Cedar Creek was the shorter length opened up more camping options. Many parks have 35’ length restrictions and we fit in a lot of driveways. The Gateway at 41’ no longer fit in my or Brent’s parents driveway and occasionally we couldn’t stay in some parks because it was too big. We don’t regret purchasing the Gateway and would buy it over again if we were full time RVing but now that we aren’t, we are looking for something shorter so we have more options.

Last but certainly not least, we no longer have the diesel 3500 Chevy dually to pull the RV. After some discussion we decided that we didn’t want to continue paying those expensive truck payments for a truck that our entire family couldn’t fit in. In hindsight, we should have bought a less expensive truck that seated six. Or maybe not. Six of us in a truck would have been tight especially with two car seats. So after a lot of research we decided to buy a diesel Ford Excursion. I’ll do another post on buying the new SUV because a lot of  research went into it but the short of it is that it can seat six people comfortably and it can haul a heavy load giving us more options for travel trailers, the point of this post.

So without any more rambling let’s talk travel trailers. It seems to us there aren’t as many bunkhouse floorplan variations for travel trailers as there are for fifth wheels. Also there aren’t as many slideouts presumably to keep the weight down since slideouts are heavy. So we have been trying to prioritize and figure out our needs for RVing. While we aren’t full time RVing we do plan on taking a 2 month trip every year and want to be comfortable. So here is what we are considering so far.

Weight – A trailer that weighs less than 10,000 pounds unloaded (UVW). The lighter the better but we can go up to 10,000 as long as we make some modifications to the Excursion. Again another post.

New or Used – Our first two trailers were used and they held up great. Normally, we buy everything used so it was a big deal for us to buy a new trailer when we bought the Gateway. We had looked at probably over a hundred floorpans and it was the only one we loved everything about and it was new that year. Of course. We decided it was worth it to purchase the Gateway even though we rarely purchase new. We are facing the same problem again, a few of the floor plans we love are new this year. Obviously, we would prefer to keep cost down and purchase used. However, we don’t regret our purchasing the Gateway new at all. Surprisingly, it held its value very well and we sold it quickly. Since we had such a great experience with a new rig (the warranty is nice) we are considering new.

Slide outs – Are slide outs a must? If so how many and where? Two slide out bunkhouse trailers tend to put one in the back bedroom and another one in the middle living area. Three slide out trailers have a few more options. Some have one in the back bedroom and two in the middle. Others have two in the back bunkroom and one in the middle. A few have one in each room. Regardless, if we decide we “need” slide outs, we are trying to decide if we want more space in the living room or bedrooms. We are leaning towards extra living room space but trying to decide how important double living room slide outs are to us.

Bedroom Layout – At first it seems like the only travel trailer floor plan option was a back bunkhouse and a front queen bed with the head of the bed situated at the front of the trailer. But then I found the front bunkhouse models. These typically have more room around the master bed and since the littles sleep in our room with us (they do in our house too) this would be much more comfortable and give Brent a good space to work for extended trips. The tradeoff is a smaller bunk room but the teenagers they don’t need as much space as they once did since we aren’t full time. Even in our Gateway they spend a lot of time lounging in their beds so we are leaning towards a larger master bedroom.

“Character” – Before we went on the road we looked at a vintage bus and I loved it. It had so much character and personality. However practically outweighed personality for full time RVing. Since this one is for part time only, we are considering something more “fun” like a vintage camper. We love remodeling/renovation projects and think it would be fun to renovate and older trailer and make it something that “fits us”. However, vintage trailers sacrifice modern comforts and we just aren’t sure we want to sacrifice modern comforts.

Best Family Travel Trailers

It’s hard to say what “best family travel trailers” really are because each family has different needs. After months of research these are the travel trailers that we think would be best for our family.

Cougar X-Lite 32FBS

cougar

The Cougar X-Lite 32 FBS was the first travel trailer floor plan we came across with a rear master bedroom. When we went to Indiana over spring break, we saw it in person and loved it. There is a ton of space in the back bedroom and there is more floorspace in the Cougar front bunkhouse than some other travel trailers due to the slide out closet and two as opposed to three or four bunks.

cougar32fbs_3

The downsides to the Cougar are: it’s only available new and it only has one slide in the main area. However, since there isn’t an island the the floor space is about the same. It’s really just sacrificing counter space.

Highland Ridge Open Range Light LT308 BHS or Roamer RT310BHS

While at the dealership looking at the Cougar, we saw the Highland Ridge Open Range Light LT308BHS. I was impressed with all the space the moment we walked in. Although the master is in the front, there is still more room in the master than other travel trailers of the same layout because Highland Ridge adds 4 inches in width over the standard width of most travel trailers. When you are talking space in RVs a few inches can make a HUGE difference. Highland Ridge also comes with a 2 year warranty and is known for its quality build.

highland-rdge-RT310BHS-floorplan

The Roamer RT310BHS is basically the same floorpan but with an extra slide out closet in the front bedroom for a total of FOUR slides! 

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We absolutely LOVE these Highland Ridge floor plans and if they were in our budget we would buy one of these in a heartbeat.

Puma 32FBIS

puma32FBIS

We haven’t seen the Puma 32FBIS in person but while I was searching for front bunkhouse travel trailer floorpans I came across this one. I love the layout with the master bedroom in the back and the double slides in the living area.

puma32fbis-1

We are concerned about how this one would do in colder climates though so we will be doing some more research. Also the front bunkhouse is a little tight if there is an outdoor kitchen but it’s fine without the outdoor kitchen. A few more with this great floor plan are the Prime Time Lacrosse 336BHT and the Prime Time Avenger 32 FBI. We aren’t familiar with the Prime Time brand but we love the layouts.

Grand Design Reflection 308BHTS

grand-design-reflection-308bhts-floorplan2

Grand Design is a newer brand. We toured a Grand Design fifth wheel when we filmed the reality show, Going RV, last year. They seem to be of very high quality. Then we went through one of their travel trailers at the RV show in Denver a few months ago.

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We really liked the finishes. Although the trailer has a front master bedroom, it felt a little more spacious that some of the others we’ve toured.

Cross Roads Zinger ZT29DB

zinger-29db-floorplan

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Thanks to my OCD, I’ve been checking Craigslist multiple times day and came across the Crossroads Zinger 29DB. We really like the back bedroom and how the bunks lie horizontally in the front cutting down on the length and weight of the trailer. While we don’t LOVE this RV, it’s affordable and would be comfortable for our family without adding debt. Since it’s used I wouldn’t have emotional hang ups about painting brand new cabinets and walls. It would be so much fun to do another RV makeover!

 Vintage Airstream

rv-7-airstream-park-city-ut
For years, Brent and I have talked about buying a vintage trailer or bus.  In a post I wrote in March 2011, I mentioned my dream of rolling down a dusty highway in an Airstream, a shiny piece of Americana. We love bringing old things back to life. Although, we don’t have experience renovating a trailer, we did renovate two 1950s houses in California. A trailer can’t be that much harder to restore than a house, right? Years ago, when we bought our pop-up trailer, our tow vehicle was a Honda Odyssey so we were very limited by weight and budget. Today, we have a bigger budget and tow vehicle so maybe now is the time to pursue our dream of restoring and remodeling a vintage Airstream! We have a perfect space to park it while we work on it.

We’ve been researching and really love the 1980’s Excella models, particularly the 34 footer with the double beds in the back. We have all sorts ideas to customize it to fit our family and personality. The downside, besides the lack of slide outs, are the prices of older Airstreams are all over the map and good deals sell really fast. Seriously, we saw the exact trailer we wanted for $7200 but it sold the night before we called. The same models are ranging from 9K t0 20K and upwards! The upside is Airstreams are well built and hold their value.

There are so many choices and each one has their pros and cons. Do you have experience with any of these brands or models? Should we go with our heart and buy a vintage Airstream or use our head and buy a newer RV? What would you do? We would like to make a decision soon!

Love and Laughter,
Jenn and Brent

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Parked in Park City, UT

Home to me is an open road ahead with Brent by my side and my kiddos tucked in the backseat.  (And a fat black cat sharing shotgun.) The drive from…

Home to me is an open road ahead with Brent by my side and my kiddos tucked in the backseat. PicMonkey Collage Driving to UT

(And a fat black cat sharing shotgun.)

The drive from Lake Tahoe, CA to Park City, UT was longer than expected.
(It always is.)

I’m not sure why every time I map up to our location I actually think we’ll get there in the estimated time.
↑↑↑
(The power of postivive thinking does not seem to apply in this case.)

PicMonkey Collage Winnemucca NV

Our first night we made it to Winnemucca, NV.
The following morning, we treated ourselves to a rare breakfast out at The Griddle.

RV 4 Bonneville Salt Flats UT

The highlight of our drive to Park City was stopping at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

PicMonkey Collage Bonneville Salt Flats 2 UT

We thought it would be dark by the time we got there but instead the sun had just set.

The only word that comes to mind is magical.

PicMonkey Collage Bonneville Salt Flats UT

It was like Mad Max meets Monet.
(That’s “magical” right?)

RV 4 Park CIty UT

It was dark by the time we made it to Park City. We bloodied our truck and trailer on the way up the mountain when we ran over an already dead large animal after the car in front of us swerved at the last minute to miss it.
Bam.
It was scary.
(Thankfully there was no damage done.)

PicMonkey Collage 3 rv park city ut

We were hoping for lots of snow but aside from a few days we didn’t get much.

Panorama Snowboarding Park City UT

Our RV park was an easy 10 minute drive from Canyons Resort.

Thing 1 Snowboarding 3 Park City UT

PicMonkey Collage Snowboarding Park City UT

10957345_549346941873599_6951440577815107661_nThis is what the boys do when they are with their dad.
(Brent said it was actually very crowded and safe up there. But still…)

Brent Thing 1 Snowboarding Park City UT

Snow Trees Canyons Resort Park City UT

Thing 1 Snowboarding Park City UT

PicMonkey Collage 3 ice castles ut

One evening we headed over Midway to see the Ice Castles.PicMonkey Collage 2 Ice Castle UTBecause of Utah’s unusually warm winter they were only open for a few days.PicMonkey Collage 1 Ice Castles UTWe purchased tickets for the first time slot of the evening. I’m glad we did because when we left there was a line of cars over a mile long waiting to get in the parking lot.

PicMonkey Collage Olympic Park 2 UT
Utah Olympic Park was only a few minutes away from our RV Park.PicMonkey Collage Olympic Park 4 UT  PicMonkey Collage Olympic Park 1 UT

It was interesting and worth a stop.
(Does anyone else like to daydream about being an Olympic athlete?)

Park City UTDowntown Park City with its old school charm was nearby.

PicMonkey Collage Park City UtSundance Film Festival was going on while we were there. We looked for Roberty Redford without any luck.
PicMonkey Collage Park City 3 UT

We also tried to get tickets to one of the kid’s movies but they were sold out.

RV 11 Park City UT

Our Park City Experience at a Glance

Where We Stayed:

  • Park City RV Resort – This was small, well-maintained, owner owned park with a GREAT location. The daily rates are on the high side but a weekly or monthly rate is much more affordable.

The Highlights:

  • Bonneville Salt Flats – So the salt flats aren’t in Park City but we stopped on our way there and they were so cool!
  • Canyons Ski Resort – It’s part of the Epic Pass and a really fantastic resort. The boys also tried Park City Ski Resort but thought Canyons was much better.
  • Utah Olympic Park – Worth a quick stop and the museums are free.
  • Ice Castles – Maker reservations for an early time slot. Ours were for the first time slot and when we left there was a line of cars at least a mile long waiting to get in the parking lot. However, this could have been due to the warm weather and short season for the ice castles.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Throwback Thursday – Our Backyard in New Jersey

Some of my favorite memories are the simplest. So simple that I rarely photograph them. It’s easy to remember to pull our your camera when Old Faithful is erupting. Unfortunately,…

Some of my favorite memories are the simplest. So simple that I rarely photograph them. It’s easy to remember to pull our your camera when Old Faithful is erupting. Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to remember to capture the ordinary moments you’ll want to remember in 50 years. Moments like when your kids share stories and laughter.  Our 8 days in South New Jersey were simple days and, coincidently, are some of my favorite memories.

We really didn’t do much those 8 days and I don’t have many photos. Brent worked a lot. The boys and I took up jogging together. (That lasted a week.) Thing 2 got a new nickname, “Little Boy Long Long Legs”, when he kept pulling his shorts up high. I worked out under the pines. We explored the lake by paddleboat. We stumbled upon a delicious restaurant, George’s Place, in Cape May. We played in the water slides at the campground. We took sunset walks.

There weren’t any grand vistas or historic monuments but there was love and laughter and being together with my favorite people. That was enough.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Sold Our RV!!!!! And RV Makeover Pictures. (Better late than never!)

There has been a lot of change lately. First, I found out I was pregnant. Whoa!!! Next we visited our hometown, Ventura, CA, after two years of living on the…

There has been a lot of change lately. First, I found out I was pregnant. Whoa!!! Next we visited our hometown, Ventura, CA, after two years of living on the road and decided we wanted to stay on the road. (Our decision to keep our family on the road full time deserves its own post.)

Then Saturday we had stopped for propane on our way out of Austin when I checked my email. In my inbox was a message from a couple who really wanted to see our RV which I had listed on Craigslist a few days before not really thinking I’d get a response. Posting the ad was kinda of a “let’s just see what happens” sort of thing.

Undecided if we should just keep on driving, we sat in the parking lot of the propane place discussing whether I should call the number in the email. My first response was no let’s just keep going. Afterall, we just had 10 wonderful days at our friend’s house and had spent the morning packing, cleaning, and saying our goodbyes. We were ready to move on and get to our next destination, New Orleans. Then Brent said I could call the number and just explain our situation and they could meet us on our way out of town, assuming, of course, they wouldn’t want to do that.

I called the number and the person who answered told me it was the wrong number. I sent an email explaining I tried calling but the number was wrong and we were headed out of Austin. I mentioned if they got the email soon they could call me back. Then we headed on our way.

A few minutes later my phone rang and a woman explained she and her husband were really interested and they could meet us right away. Thirty minutes later, after a mad cleaning spree, we were showing the RV. Thirty minutes later they made an offer.

What?!?!?!

That was Saturday and they couldn’t get a check until Monday or Tuesday so we went back to my best friend’s house. Sunday morning the buyers sent over a deposit. Today, we spent the day trying to pack up all of our stuff into a much too small U-Haul trailer.

Now here we are still in Austin waiting and wondering….what have we done?!?!?!  Yes, we wanted to sell this RV. It’s been on our radar since we found out we were having another baby and deciding to stay on the road. The back bedroom is a little cramped for Thing One and Thing Two. We want a double slide out in their room so they can have their own space to study, create, and play. We’d also love a little more counter space and a second bathroom. If budget wasn’t a limiting factor, we’d also have a washer and dryer, bathtub, and kitchen island. A girl can dream! Right now our priorities are a bigger back bedroom and a space where Brent can work.

BUT…

What’s next? Unless we find a new rig here in Texas in the next few days we are going to head to Florida with our stuff in a U-Haul. We’ll stay at my parent’s place until we find a new home.

AND…

Even though we have wanted a new RV for a few months, I’m still sad. Really sad actually. This RV is our home where created incredible memories and tomorrow we will say goodbye.

I realized this weekend as I was cleaning the RV up getting her ready to go I never shared pictures of our RV redecorating makeover project.

Like most RVs, ours was lacking in decor. If we were going to use our RV for the occasional weekend trip we would have kept our RV interior design as it was but this was our home. Brent and I wanted to feel like we were in our home and not staying at a hotel. So we spent the next month and a half sanding, painting, sewing, and doing some minor remodeling. It was a lot of work but I don’t regret a minute of it.

This was our home and how we brought it to life.

Living/Dining/Kitchen

RV Before Living Room

RV Redecorated Living Room 2

RV Before Bedroom

RV Redecorated Living Room 3

RV Recovered Couch 2

You know you have good friends when they spend 12 hours at your house helping you reupholster your RV couch. I got the fabric for the couch, dinette, and most of the curtain fabric in the LA Garment district, one of the most fun places in LA!

RV Redecorate Kitchen

RV Fruit BasketMeow Cow the Black Cat

Since we have a small fridge I try to buy lots of fruits that will keep at room temperature.

livig-room2

LEFT: The chandelier was the the last thing to be hung. It was another Ikea purchase from years ago that I had been planning to hang in our house bedroom. I hung it at midnight the night before our “open house“. RIGHT: Small details

livig-room3

TOP LEFT: Glass bowl from Target that has since cracked. BOTTOM LEFT: School books and a basket to store dish towels. RIGHT: Small vintage globe on loan from my mom. 🙂

livig-room1

LEFT: Apron hooks from World Market. MIDDLE: Map garland was a gift from a friend who I met for the first time in person when we hit the road. RIGHT: Bird curtains and wall sconce. We painted the metal of the sconce and glued a little trim around the bottom of the shade to give it character.

living-room-4

LEFT: This is the moulding around the slide. It was covered in the same fabric as the couch. Instead of taking all the fabric off, I took of the wood trim and stapled burlap over the fabric and painted the wood. TOP RIGHT: Key holder from Urban Outfitters. BOTTOM RIGHT: Glass knobs on all the kitchen cabinets. I really liked these because I had the same knobs in a different color in my sticks and bricks kitchen so they felt “homey”.

Bedroom/Office

RV Before Bed

RV London Bridge Headboard

towerbridge

In place of the headboard we painted with help from another friend a silhouette of the London Bridge. We were engaged in London and that morning after I said “yes” we walked along the Thames River where we took this picture. The quilt was made by my grandmother using an Amy Butler pattern and fabric.

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Across from the bed is our dresser, office, and shower. When we bought the RV there was a sink where the desk is now. We bought an small Ikea sink and put it in the water closet (toilet room).

RV Shower Before

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RV Remodel Curtains

My friend, the same one who helped with the couch, helped me sew (Okay…she did most of the sewing.) new curtains for every window in the RV but these turned out to be my favorite.

bedroom2

LEFT: I didn’t keep many things from our old house but couldn’t part with this metal cat that I found at a thrift shop. It opens up and I store jewelry in it. RIGHT: The knobs and drawer pulls were on sale at Anthropologie and I love having impressions of nature inside since a big part of this trip is about exploring the outdoors.

bedroom1

LEFT: When Brent and I met he said, “we fit together like Legos”. For our first Valentine’s Day I made him the “I <3 U” out of Legos because we were too broke to buy each other real gifts. We eventually decided to quite celebrating Valentine’s Day altogether but he still kept my Lego message.  TOP RIGHT: I painted an old mirror white and bought some organizers from Ikea to make a little makeup vanity. RIGHT: It’s true. 🙂

Bathroom

RV Before Toilet

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IMG_1240

We didn’t do much to this room except paint and add the the Ikea sink. Changing the sink plumbing was much easier than you would think!

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The photo frames are a mixture of Ikea purchases and painted thrift shop finds.

Bunk Room

RV Before Bunk Room

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Thing One wanted to keep all the cabinetry its original color but we painted the room and made new curtains.

bunkroom

Two years and 48 states later, I never got tired of nor regretted our RV makeover. It made it home.

Now it’s time to say goodbye and move on to a new chapter and another blank canvas.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Surprise!!!!!!!!!

Life on the road is not always fun and games. Especially when you are an about-to-be-a-teenager and your birthday comes around. Especially when you are an about-to-be-teenager who is used…

Life on the road is not always fun and games.

Especially when you are an about-to-be-a-teenager and your birthday comes around. Especially when you are an about-to-be-teenager who is used to having birthday parties with lots of friends and family.

Last year, we spent Thing One’s birthday at the Biltmore Mansion.

This year, he was going to be 13 so we wanted to try and make it special.

Thing One is a family guy. He asked if we could go back to Indiana to celebrate his birthday with my family so he didn’t have to be with “just us” this year.  I said, “Sorry but we just can’t do that right now.”

Little did he know I was plotting.

For a month and a half, I hid in the bathroom to text or slipped away to the campground clubhouse to make calls for the surprise birthday I was planning.

It worked.

Thing One and Two were a bit confused when we asked them if they would like to go to Denny’s for ice cream at 10 pm. (I’m not sure if they were more surprised that we said Denny’s or that it was 10 pm.)

Regardless, they were even more surprised when we drove up and saw a couple that looked like GG and TT (my grandparents) walking into the restaurant. Oh no!!! However, much to my relief, they were distracted by ice cream and didn’t think it was really them. I mean GG and TT were in Indiana not Colorado. Right?

Wrong!

Surprise TT CO

They were in Colorado Springs for his birthday!

Dennys GG TT Boys CO

Saying he was happy is an understatement.

The birthday week kept getting better.

Two days later on our way up to GG and TT’s hotel room, I suggested we check out the conference rooms as a potential place to celebrate his birthday. He reluctantly agreed.

Who is that! Bday CO

When we got to the conference room, we discovered it was locked. Like crazy woman I started jerking on the handle. The caterer opened the door and told me there was a party going on. She didn’t realize it was our party.

Uh oh.

So I stubbornly politely threatened said, “Well we might want to have a party here so we’ll just take a quick peek at the room.”

What!!! Bday CO

Thing One was mortified as I pushed past the caterer and told him to take a look. That was until he saw Weewah and Papaw (my mom and dad), GG and TT, and our very good friends waiting for him.

Weewah Papaw Bday CO

He was shocked to tears.

Surprise Bday CO

Elated!

Later, he told me it was one of the best birthdays ever. I think it was even better than the time I made the dilapidated limo cake.

Thing Two Weewah CO

Thing One wasn’t the only one we managed to surprise. Earlier in the day, I had dropped Thing Two off at the hotel for some alone time with GG and TT and he was shocked to see Weewah and Papaw had joined us!

It was a special weekend, indeed!

Airplane Restaurant CO

We ate in an airplane.

Molly Kathleen Cripple Creek CO

Miners CO

Mineshaft COGoing Down CO

We all crammed into an elevator shaft and went 1000 feet under ground at the Mollie Kathleen Mine.

Bakery Victor CO

On our way home from the mine, we stumbled upon a delicious little bakery run by German immigrants in a town of just 300 people and ate the most delicious food.

Grandparents

Family Pic CO

Mostly, we spent time just being together and then, much too soon, the weekend was over.

I love my TT CO549

Silly Thing Two CO

And it was time to say goodbye.

So sad but so thankful they came to spend time with us and make the birthday of a teenager so special.

Thirteen Years Old CO

Thirteen.

Family Bday Party

We can’t believe our baby is thirteen.

blue

This just seems like yesterday.

Time is turbo charged and shows no mercy.

It makes us that much more grateful for our life on the road together.

Even if it means living in a small space with a teenager. 😉

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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By Blood – Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park

Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, was about 45 minute drive from our “home” in Colonial Beach. The Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park is the second largest military park in the…

Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, was about 45 minute drive from our “home” in Colonial Beach.

The Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park is the second largest military park in the world. During the Civil War four pivotal battles, Battle of Fredericksburg, Battle of Chancellorsville, Battle of the Wilderness, and, Battle of Spotsylvania Court House were fought in the area resulting in over 100,000 casualties.

Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park

The boys in front of the Fredericksburg Visitor Center where they earned another Jr. Ranger badge.

Looking for bullet holes at the Innis house on the Sunken Road.

Getting along. (Praise God)

The second Jr. Ranger badge of the day. This time Thing Two is wearing the “right” hat.

Considered one of the best military strategists in US history by historians, Civil War legend, Stonewall Jackson, was accidentally shot in the arm by his own men at the Battle of Chancellorville. Upon hearing about the wounding of Jackson, General Robert E. Lee is quoted as saying in affection, “Jackson has lost his left arm, but I have lost my right”.  Jackson survived his left arm amputation but he died 8 days later of complications from pneumonia. This stone, located on the Wounding of Stonewall Jackson Trail, was placed in his honor not far from the place where he was mortally wounded.

Later a more formal monument was erected.

Atop the stone sat two flags bound together by not just a satin ribbon, but, by blood.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Fourth of July Fun

What can be more fun than celebrating the Fourth of July in Boston? Celebrating the Fourth of July in Boston with another family on the road! Fourth of July fun with…

What can be more fun than celebrating the Fourth of July in Boston?

Celebrating the Fourth of July in Boston with another family on the road!

Fourth of July fun with friends!

The weather forecast the morning of the Fourth of July was sketchy with a 50% chance of rain.  Large crowds give me slight anxiety. (Luckily, I’m good at disassociation that is how I brave lines at Disney World.)  However, being in a large crowd in the rain is one xanax away from a nervous breakdown.

Still I was determined. Determined to have fun. We didn’t drive all the way from California to miss experiencing the Fourth of July in Boston. So we packed up and headed to the nearest subway station.

Things started getting fun in the parking garage at Quincy Adams. This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve had fun in a parking garage.

In a parking garage with over 2000 spaces, we parked next to another fulltime rv family. I almost couldn’t believe it either.

When I noticed a sign on the back of their truck, I did what any normal person would do. In less than a minute, I found them on twitter, took a picture of my children next to their truck, and tweeted them the photo.

They actually tweeted me back and we ended up meeting them at the celebration. Crazy huh!!!

Not only that they came over for dinner two days later. Of course, I forgot to take a picture but it happened here is the proof. They were shocked to find out there were other families on the road. Welcome to the world of fulltime rving families!

Fourth of July just kept getting better.

There were interviews by NECN.

Here is the link to the video.

There was singing.

There was dancing.

And a whole lot of other fun.

Until the a policeman behind us told we might want to pack up. Huh?

There was a nearby storm and they were thinking about calling the show. We were told everyone could be evacuated into a tunnel to wait out the storm. Since we were near the exit he didn’t want us to get trampled.

Trampled.

Yes, his exact words.

Comforting.

We headed into the tunnel with thousands of others.

Luckily, I’m stubborn as hell and don’t mind ignoring authority, i.e. ,policemen on bikes who kept telling us to move down, we were near the “exit”. Amazingly, I didn’t even get anxiety despite the crazy thoughts bouncing in and out of my head.

It must have been because we were with friends. I bet we are the only families to have a group picture taken in this exact spot ever.

We were only in the tunnel about 25 minutes before we got to leave.

The show must go on rain or shine or evacuation.

And rain it did. A sudden downpour during the firework show.

And this is where the fun stopped.

After the celebration, we tromped through the puddles to the subway. As soon as I saw the mob waiting outside the station I considered walking the 45 miles back to the campground. (I also thought about kicking the park ranger who told us, “whatever you do don’t drive into Boston on the Fourth.” Apparently, she has never ridden the subway on the Fourth.)

Our friends who drove into the city, granted they parked in Boston early, got home over an hour before us. They were also spared being herded like cattle and witnessing a fight on the subway at 1 am.

At 2 a.m. we pulled into our campground exhausted but grateful. Grateful for friends, fun, and freedom.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

If you enjoyed this post you can follow our family on the road one of three ways! 1. Sign up to have posts emailed to your inbox. 2. Subscribe to the RSS Feed  or 3. “like” Newschool Nomads on Facebook (Just make sure to check subscribe if you want it to show up in your feed.) Simple dimple!

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Smiles and Sluiceways

We have a camping membership called Thousand Trails. It’s sort of like a time share but less classy. Instead of a condo on a beach, we get a campsite in…

We have a camping membership called Thousand Trails. It’s sort of like a time share but less classy. Instead of a condo on a beach, we get a campsite in a network of campgrounds. Some of these campgrounds are wonderful. Most are really great. A couple have been “meh“.  One or two have made me wonder if I’m up to date on my tetnus.

Forest Lake Campground in Advance, North Carolina, was wonderful. We only stayed here for four days. Four days that were full of simple pleasures like walking through the woods, fishing, and exploration.

We could see the lake from our campsite where Thing Two spent hours fishing.

Dinner. Seriously.

One afternoon the boys and I decided to explore the nearby small town of Lexington, North Carolina.

Our first stop was The Candy Factory where I had to say no more than yes.

We found a great antique/vintage shop complete with a military room. Thing Two could have stayed in there all afternoon.

Another afternoon, the boys and I drove to Hiddenite Gems for some prospecting.

Sluicing.

We left the sluiceway for some “creeking”.

Thing Two was in his element. (Pun intended.)

He could have searched for gems all day.

Thing One put on a happy face and posed for some shots for me.

In reality, he thought creeking was about as exciting as trimming toenails. He prefers the finer things in like visiting mansions.

But after I told him to “at least act happy” I got this.

And this “Do I look Like I’m Having Fun Now?” smile.

“Is this happy enough for you, mom?”

We also made some little friends.

Pictures like this make me forget that “mom” is synonymous with “referee”.

Finally a real smile. On our way to the car.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

If you enjoyed this post you can follow our family on the road one of three ways! 1. Sign up to have posts emailed to your inbox. 2. Subscribe to the RSS Feed  or 3. “like” Newschool Nomads on Facebook (Just make sure to check subscribe if you want it to show up in your feed.) Simple dimple!

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Holidays at Home Away from Home – Lenoir and Boone, NC

I started blogging as a way to keep a digital journal of my life.  Never did I imagine that my cyber pathway would lead to new friends. I can’t recall…

I started blogging as a way to keep a digital journal of my life.  Never did I imagine that my cyber pathway would lead to new friends.

I can’t recall how I actually met Jen but I know it was on a cyberpath.  Over the last few years we have had many email conversations and discovered we had many things in common aside from our first name.

We even both have black cats.

After a few years of cyber friendship we finally got to meet in person when I spent the day with Jen in her town of Boone.

Our weekend in Lenoir (which is near Boone) was Easter Weekend. For years, we have spent Easter in Scottsdale, Arizona with my grandparents. This year, I admit it felt a little lonely without them but we did our best to have fun in our little hideaway in the mountains.

Our morning started with the campground church service.

After lunch we colored eggs. Coloring eggs in our house is an event especially when the only people we have to celebrate Easter with is ourselves.

Here we have a Harry Potter, a “Where We’ve Been” Map, Humpty Dumpty, a kettlebell, a Storm Trooper, and a cat.

Who do you think made this “I love Nico” egg?

Yep and boy does he ever love that little dog even with those crazy eyes of hers!

What about this “camouflage soldier” egg?

Of course!

While the boys and I went on a short hike Brent hid the eggs for an hunt.

Brent’s Humpty Dumpty was my favorite.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.

Humpty Dumpy had a great fall jump.

This is so Thing Two, enjoying something simple like playing with his Easter eggs.

Someday, I’m going to look back at this picture with so much nostalgia it will hurt.

The rest of our Easter was spent hanging out together and being silly. Holidays at home away from home aren’t so bad.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

If you enjoyed this post you can follow one of three ways! 1. Sign up to have posts emailed to your inbox. 2. Subscribe to the RSS Feed  or 3. “like” Newschool Nomads on Facebook (Just make sure to check subscribe if you want it to show up in your feed.) Simple dimple!

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Birthday Boy at the Biltmore Mansion

We have lovingly called Thing One “the youngest old man” since he was little. From as early as I can remember, he has liked “fancy things”. His early elementary drawings…

We have lovingly called Thing One “the youngest old man” since he was little. From as early as I can remember, he has liked “fancy things”. His early elementary drawings were of detailed Roman columns and thrones. In third grade, he was elected class treasurer. The next day he insisted on wearing a suit “to work”.  Instead of collecting bugs, he collected toy limousines. One year I tried to make made him a limousine cake for his birthday. Today, even with our limited space, there is still room for his robe and suit.

Yes, as long as we don’t count his penchant for Taco Bell Beefy Fives, he is a man of fine taste.

I’m not sure Brent and I, or even he, understands his interest in finery. After all, we live in an RV more like gypsies than high flying executives. But he is who he is and we love every inch of him.

Knowing all this, it makes perfect sense that for his 12th birthday he wanted to visit largest house in the United States, the Biltmore Mansion in Asheville, North Carolina.

I don’t have a lot to say about his visit to the Biltmore Mansion because I wasn’t allowed to go. It was a “daddy and me” trip only.

However, he did write Tips for Visiting Biltmore Mansion for his Wandering Educators travel blogging class.

While Brent and Thing One visited the Biltmore Estate, Thing Two and I rode bikes along the river at Wilson’s Riverfront RV Park. (Such a great little park near Asheville and it’s 50% off with Passport America.)

We also watched James and the Giant Peach which I had never seen and am still trying to understand.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

If you enjoyed this post you can follow one of three ways! 1. Sign up to have posts emailed to your inbox. 2. Subscribe to the RSS Feed  or 3. “like” Newschool Nomads on Facebook (Although with Facebook’s new “pay to be seen” policy the posts are likely not to show up in your feed.) Simple dimple!

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