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.
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.
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?
They were in Colorado Springs for his birthday!
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.
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.
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.”
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.
He was shocked to tears.
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 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!
We ate in an airplane.
We all crammed into an elevator shaft and went 1000 feet under ground at the Mollie Kathleen Mine.
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.
Mostly, we spent time just being together and then, much too soon, the weekend was over.
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.
We can’t believe our baby is thirteen.
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. 😉
“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Or treasures. Seventy years worth of treasures. When I think of a castles, I think of grand stone buildings surrounded by immaculate gardens…
“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
Or treasures. Seventy years worth of treasures.
When I think of a castles, I think of grand stone buildings surrounded by immaculate gardens and moats. Aside from a misplaced moat, Solomon’s Castle is non of that but so much more. Solomon’s castle is the lifework and imagination of artist Howard Solomon, a slight soft spoken man who wears a captains hat. Breaking the rules of conformity, Solomon has not only built a castle out of newspaper printing plates in the middle of a swamp, he has spent his life turning junk into whimsical art boasting corny but clever names. “EvilCornEvil”, a motorcycle made out of an old corn seeder? Oh yes and that’s just the beginning.
As we toured his castle (totally worth the $10 admission, $4 for kids) I was struck by not only the vast amount of work he had done in his 70+ years (does he sleep?) but by the intensely playful nature of it all. After an hour of wandering around, I felt lighthearted, content, and inspired to continue to live unconventionally in our RV.
I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed it. Brent, my parents, and the boys all had a great time. We all agreed it was worth getting off the beaten path and heading out to the swampland of Ona, Florida.
Who needs a campground when you can park in a yard. We spent over two weeks at my parent’s house in Port Charlotte. This is what we will remember. Visiting…
Who needs a campground when you can park in a yard.
We spent over two weeks at my parent’s house in Port Charlotte. This is what we will remember.
Visiting with my Junebug and Papaw (my grandma and grandpa) for four days. We were so grateful to have that time with them.
Going thrifting with my Junebug. What a hoot!
A boat ride across Charlotte Harbor.
Canoeing in the canals. Ooooh there’s a string ray!
Searching for shark teeth at Venice Beach, Nakomis Beach, and Blind Pass on Manasota Key. Blind Pass was the best beach for shark teeth by a long shot. Nakomis was a close second. Venice gets an F. Thing Two found over 500 teeth. I think we better start panning for gold!
Sunsets at Blind Pass Beach on Manasota Key. Majestic.
Thing Two and I had a special date. We searched for shark teeth and got a table for two at a Greek dive. Love.
Idling on the boat through the Charlotte Harbor canals at sunset and watching the milky reflection of a tiring sky on the water.
Visiting my great grandma Nell’s home. It was where my family stayed when I was a kid. The current owner even let us in. Amazing how much bigger things seem when you’re a kid. Brought back memories of sunburns, bathing caps, and morning walks on the beach with my dad.
Nakomis Groves where you get tiny cups of orange juice and large cones of ice cream. Backwards and worth it. I also used to visit this Nakomis Groves as a child.
Spending time with my parents. Thank you Papaw and Weewah. <=== Cutest grandma name ever!
I’ll just say it. I don’t like amusement parks. There is just not much “magic” in the Magic Kingdom unless you count how quickly your money magically disappears. I’m an amusement park Grinch. However,…
I’ll just say it. I don’t like amusement parks. There is just not much “magic” in the Magic Kingdom unless you count how quickly your money magically disappears.
I’m an amusement park Grinch.
However, like most kids, our kids love visiting theme parks. When we left on our trip we weren’t sure if Disney World was going to be in the budget. As it turns out it wasn’t but we were fortunate to find out a friend of a friend of a relative could get three of us free tickets. Oh joy. I mean YIPPEEEEEEE! For the kid’s sake, I’m grateful.
So we went to Disney Hollywood Studios. And The Animal Kingdom. And Epcot Center. And The Magic Kindom.
All in the same day.
ALL. IN. THE. SAME DAY.
But believe it or not this amusement park Grinch had a blast even though it rained and our feet felt like we had been tap dancing barefoot on rocks for about three days nonstop.
Few things make me as happy as the smell and velvety touch of a horse’s muzzle. As I was struggling with depression, 5 days on a farm was just what my soul needed to be able to soar again
My uncle works at a small farm at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains in Maryville, Tennessee. We played with the goats, gathered colorful eggs, stroked the horses’ woolly winter coats, hiked in the quiet wood, and cuddled, book in hand, as the rain poured outside.
Every morning, Thing 2 rushed for his boots the minute he heard the rumble of my uncle’s truck coming to feed the horses. Thing 1 got into “shoving matches” with Julie the goat. Nico and Nigel met new friends and enemies when Julie decided to give them a friendly headbutt. I think Brent was the only one to escape Julie. I have never met a more ornery goat. (Not that I’ve met a lot of goats.) She headbutted me into the wall within 2 minutes of our introduction.
I felt free. I felt alive. I felt at home.
Yet, the clouds move and I’m caught in their shadow dance. Being at the farm reminds me at how at heart I’m a country girl who ended up in a beach town. A girl who feels more comfortable in a saddle than on the sand. I’m all too aware that as long as we live in Ventura we will not be able to have goats, chickens, and horses.
Thing 2 keeps asking with excitement in his eyes, “Mama, can we live on a farm?” My little animal boy. How I want to gather him in my arms and say, “Yes we’ll have goats, chickens, and Arabian horses!” When God chiseled horses I’m certain his first was an Arabian.
There is nothing like getting ready for church in the Wal-mart parking lot when it’s so cold you can see your breath. We are in Turlock, CA, to see Brent’s…
There is nothing like getting ready for church in the Wal-mart parking lot when it’s so cold you can see your breath.
We are in Turlock, CA, to see Brent’s “Noni”. We’ve been meaning to see her for years and had decided that this was one of the first things we would do.
We got ready and headed over to her retirment community where we took the shuttle bus to Turlock Covenant Church.
Today was one of those mornings where I felt God’s presence as sure as I felt my own pulse. Church isn’t always that way for me. Faith has always been somewhat difficult for me to embrace as I’m a bit of skeptic by nature but today I fought back tears as a deep peace settled into the crevices of my soul.
After church we spent the afternoon visiting with Noni.
The boys swept her porch.
Thing 1 played the piano for her.
I sat in her small apartment, not much bigger than our RV, looking at her things. Everything had a history, a story. I noticed picture upon picture of family and I thought about how grateful I am for mine. Dear family, I hope you know how much I love you.
Later, while Brent and the boys went move the RV closer to Great Noni’s apartment so she could see it, she and I spent a few minutes alone. She told me about her wedding and how her and sister had a double wedding. She told me about how she missed her husband. Being missionaries to Africa in the 1950s, they had their own set of adventures. I was reminded of the real reason behind our year on the road. Love. To say Brent still gives me butterflies is an understatement and going on this adventure with him…for lack of better words…is a dream come true.
Sappy, I know.
We said our goodbyes to Noni…
and hit the road.
We drove through fields
through small towns
and up into the mountains to Thousand Trails Yosemite Lakes to spend a few days enjoying the beauty of Yosemite National Park.
It’s beautiful but sure is cold cold up here…even colder than the Wal-mart packing lot we woke up in this morning.