A family on the road living fulltime in an RV.

Tag: Homeschooling

Valentine’s Day in Orlando, Florida

If there is one thing our kids miss about school, it would be sugar class parties. If there is one thing our kids miss about living in Ventura, it would…

If there is one thing our kids miss about school, it would be sugar class parties.

If there is one thing our kids miss about living in Ventura, it would be friends.

Spending ten days in Orlando with other fulltime RVing families gave my kids the opportunity to hang out with new friends.  Since Valentine’s Day fell in the middle of our stay, I thought why not have a little party and some sugar with our new friends. We made Valentine’s Day cards and ice cream sundaes. However, Margie Lundy had the best idea of the party. When we were done with the cards, we passed them out around our the “neighborhood”. I think it made everyone smile.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Chickmauga and Trouble in Tannehill

We’ve been busy and a little bit lazy. I think it’s the Florida sun. It’s hard to stay indoors and write when there so much beauty outdoors. Except I miss…

We’ve been busy and a little bit lazy. I think it’s the Florida sun. It’s hard to stay indoors and write when there so much beauty outdoors.

Except I miss you.

I miss sharing our adventures with our little circle of friends.

So here we go. Catch up time. This week. For sure.

After we left Tennessee, we headed to Alabama but not without a stop at Chickamauga National Military Park. We are in hot pursuit of the special Junior Civil War Historian Badges which requires completing 3 Jr. Ranger programs at participating parks or 2 Jr. Ranger programs plus an online activity. Chickamauga is a participating park and we were ready.

Except we weren’t.

The time change. We drove as fast as we safely could to the park thinking we had an hour to browse the visitor center. As it turned out we had about 2.5 minutes before it closed.

Awesome.

Still we drove around and read the brochures I begged the ranger to give us before he locked the door to the visitor center.

The next day was better despite waking up in a Walmart parking lot.

We rolled out of Wally World and 20 minutes later arrived Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park. It was early, leaving us with a whole day for school and exploration. Tennehill Ironworks Historical State Park is a home roadschoolers dream. It’s hands on history complete with a museum and numerous old buildings in a beautiful setting. We took off on our bikes for the Iron and Steel museum of Alabama. Afterwards we checked out the cotton gin and made our way to the old furnace. I watched as the boys explored with excitement.

Yes, these are the days I dream of.

Almost.

Feeling overly ambitious, I suggested we take another route back to our trailer.

We headed over the bridge to what looked, on the map, like a short trail back to our campsite.

All was well and lovely until I looked back and saw this…

Somehow Thing 1’s back wheel had gotten out of alignment and it was sticking on the break making it extremely difficult to peddle.

And extremely difficult to stay calm. Notice the distance between Thing 1 (in the top right corner) and his bike? I’ll let you guess how it got there.

We carried on because “according to the map” the campground must be right around the corner. Wrong.

We rode and rode.

And I had some very unhappy, hungry, thirsty, tired, little boys.

What felt like miles later, we came to the end of the trail except there was no campground in sight. Uh-oh. Thankfully, there was a maintenance man and he explained to us that we had missed the short loop and had ended up on a different trail. He also offered to take us back to our campsite.

What started off like this.

Ended up like this. Thing 2 won’t even look at me.

Sigh.

At least there were deer right out our window. That always makes for smiles.

I think Meow Cow agrees.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Day 56: Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

We didn’t know what to expect when we decided to go to Hot Springs National Park in Hot Springs Arkansas. All I knew was I getting the cancellation stamp in…

We didn’t know what to expect when we decided to go to Hot Springs National Park in Hot Springs Arkansas. All I knew was I getting the cancellation stamp in my National Park Passport.

Hot Springs National Park is the smallest national park and was the first federal reserve in the United States. For hundreds of years people have come to Hot Springs seeking health in the warm waters. Over time an industry of bath houses grew up around the hot springs. The heyday of bathing has passed and today most bathhouse are no longer in operation. However you can still tour the Fordyce bathhouse, now the park visitor center, for a peek back into history and take baths at one of two operating bathhouses, the Buckstaff or Quapaw.

You can also do the Jr. Ranger program. Hopefully with more enthusiasm than Thing 1 or 2. Try as I might, I couldn’t convince them that the “Ladies Cooling Room” was a spectacular place to fill out their Jr. Ranger activity books. Although the movie about traditional bathing held their attention with it’s 1980’s aesthetic.  Apparently, it was so cheesy it was funny.

After touring the Fordyce Bathhouse, we ventured out back to put our hands in the last remaining open hot spring and stroll the paths above the bathhouses. Then we drove up through the park to watch the sunset over Hot Springs before returning to our campground, Gulpha Gorge.

Gulpha Gorge may be one of our favorite campgrounds yet. As the name suggests, the sites run through a gorge along a creek. It was lovely in December and I can only imagine its beauty during warmer months. The sites are large with many of them along the creek with full hookups.  I loved hearing the sound of the creek when we stepped outside in the morning. Full hookup sites are $24 or $12 if you have the  National Parks Membership Card, a fantastic deal considering the beauty, spaciousness, and condition of the sites.

Two months ago we had not even heard of Hot Springs National Park and today not only it is a treasured place in our National Park system but a treasured family memory.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

If you enjoyed this post you can follow one of three ways! 1. Subscribe to the RSS Feed 2. “like” Newschool Nomads on Facebookor 3. Sign up to have posts emailed to your inbox. Simple dimple!

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Days 44 & 45: Space Center Houston

Hi guys! Just when I was almost caught up blogging about our trip, we lost a strong internet connection. One night I sat at the computer for over an hour…

Hi guys!

Just when I was almost caught up blogging about our trip, we lost a strong internet connection. One night I sat at the computer for over an hour trying to upload 5 pictures. Frustrated, I decided the blog would just have to wait. Then we came up to my parent’s for Christmas so we’ve been busy with family. I’m going to be here for the week and I’m hoping to get all caught up so I can start writing in (almost) real time again.

Tuesday morning, we left San Antonio for League City near Houston. It was the longest driving day we’ve had since we left Marfa.  We pulled into the campground before dark which, for us, was very exciting.

And meant time to to just hang out.

Wednesday morning we visited Space Center Houston.

Space Center Houston is cool. Really cool.

The space center is filled with exhibits, tours, movies, and hands on activities for the entire family. (I sound like an infomercial, forgive me.) My favorite part was the Starship Gallery. There were videos featuring one of the astronauts (I can’t remember his name..ooops.) on the last Apollo 17 mission. He talked in detail about the last mission and what it was like to see earth from outer space.  While listening I kept looking at the Apollo 17 Command Module imagining it in outer space and looking down at the earth. Thinking about it gives me chills.

Next time I want to complain about the shower in our RV I will try to remember the shower in Skylab.

We also took the tram to see historic Mission Control, the astronaut training facility, and the Saturn V rocket. That thing is crazy huge. HUGE!

The space center opens at 10:00 am but we got there at 11:30 am. At 5:00 pm security was pushing us out the door as we lingered in the exhibits trying to see just a little more. We considering hiding in one of the space capsules until after closing so we could play all night but the security guard was pretty frightening.

I thought from now on it would be nice if I share some visiting tips. Maybe someone will find something helpful.

Visiting Tips

– Buy tickets online. You will save $5 per ticket.

– Try to get there when it opens at 10:00 so you have all day. They told us it takes people 4-5 hours to see everything. We had 5.5 hours there and wished we would have had another hour or two more. We didn’t even watch all the movies or read everything. If you purchase a ticket two hours before they close they will let you come back the following day for one day’s admission.

– The audio tour was totally worth the extra admission to us. The only downside is you really have to look for the audio guide numbers. I ended up missing quite a few including the one at the Saturn V exhibit. I listened to it on the tram ride back to the museum which wasn’t nearly as interesting as it would have been walking around the rocket itself.

-We were glad to have brought our lunch (which they let us bring in because it was cold outside) as there was only one restaurant open in the food court. The guy at the door did say that they normally don’t let people bring in food and they have to eat outside at the picnic area.

-Watch Apollo 13 the night before you go! It adds an extra layer of excitement. Of course, if you aren’t in the mood for something as intense there is always Space Camp. It was all fun and games until someone got “launched”.

Love and  Laughter,
Jenn

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Day 43: Remember the Alamo

After a long day trapped in the rv while it poured rain we were ready for some adventure. San Antonio Did we see the Alamo? Of course!  No matter how…

After a long day trapped in the rv while it poured rain we were ready for some adventure.

San Antonio

Did we see the Alamo?

Of course!  No matter how many times I hear it, the story of the 13 day siege and fall of the men at the Alamo fascinates me. Thing 2 too. He never gets tired of battles. Did you know that Davy Crockett died at the Alamo? I didn’t until today. We walked the grounds of the Alamo and the boys did the Alamo Patch Program .(Similar to a Jr. Ranger program.)

After the Alamo we walked along the River Walk to the Plaza where the San Fernando Catherdral has been standing since 1731.

Tomorrow, we head to Houston to see the Space Center.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Day 25: Three for One (Madrid, Santa Fe, and Friends)

Today felt like three days in one. After our glamourous morning in the Walmart parking lot, we headed up the Turquoise Trail en route to Santa Fe.  We didn’t know…

Today felt like three days in one.

After our glamourous morning in the Walmart parking lot, we headed up the Turquoise Trail en route to Santa Fe.  We didn’t know what to expect.  We were taking the scenic route based off of a friend’s recommendation and my distaste for the interstates.  Unlike, our first foray off the beaten path this one turned out to be the sort of day that lived in our pre-trip dreams.  The Turquoise Trail led us to a little town of about 300 people called Madrid.  Not unlike Jerome, Madrid was once an active coal mining town, turned ghost town, turned vibrant tourist town, thanks to artists and craftspeople.

It was a cool morning, perfect for a stop at for coffee and hot cocoa.

We wandered down the street taking in the brightly colored old houses and exploring shops that caught our eye.

We got lost like like children in a store called Weasel and Fitz.  Weasel and Fitz sells…well lots of things but most of them are made from recycled and found objects.  I found the perfect Christmas gift for my mom.  😉

If I had more room (and cash) I would have definatley purchased on of these lampshades made from old metal signs.

Next door, I stumbled into a dream a non-profit vintage/consignment shop named Resources.

I was small and quaint and run by the sweetest lady.  I ended up purchasing a dress and a coat.  (A thrifty threads post is in the works.)

I desperately wanted this dress.  It was the most beautiful pink with pleats and buttons but it was just too big.  My sewing skills are not up to par for altering anything dresses with lots of pleats and lining.  I’m also kicking myself for not buying a great pair of Frye boots in perfect condition. If you are in Madrid and love vintage be sure to stop by.

We arrived at Los Campos, our campground in Santa Fe, around 1 pm and after setting up camp, the boys and I headed downtown to the New Mexico History Museum while Brent stayed at home to work.

I know this may sound silly but when I think of colonization of the United States I always think of pilgrims, the Mayflower, Jamestown, and New England even though for the last 15 years I have lived in California where almost every town and road has a Spanish name.  I forget that while pilgrims were settling the east coast, the Spanish were moving into the south and southwest.  It’s been fun piecing together history with the land it grew from.

It’s also been cool for the boys to see relics pertaining to the stuff we are reading about in history.

Learning about the the first atomic bomb blast.

In painstakingly stark contrast to the atomic bomb exhibit, upstairs there was a special exhibit, The St. John’s Bible and Contemplative Landscape.  It took calligraphers, artists, and theologians over 13 years to complete this Bible that will be housed permanently by the Benedictine monks at Saint John’s Abbey.  We read a passage out loud (quietly) and tried to reflect on it’s meaning.  Not easy to do with two boys who are about “museum-ed out”.

Before heading back to the campground we ventured over to The Palace of the Governors for a quick visit.

Thing 2 enjoyed sorting pottery pieces.

It was a lovely afternoon despite almost having a heart attack trying to drive the big ole’ truck through the tight and confusing roads of Santa Fe all by myself.

The day ended at DKB fitness with a kettlebell workout taught by my “buddy” from my RKC certification followed by dinner with her and her husband. We had traditional New Mexican food of enchiladas with eggs on top and sopes with honey.   So. much. fun!

What a crazy day from waking up in an Albuquerque Walmart to a kettlebell class in Santa Fe with museums and vintage stores in between.  Tomorrow we are heading off to Carlsbad.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Day 24: Neurotic Nomads – Montezuma Castle and The Petrified Forest National Park

At Montezuma Castle, it is easy to imagine being Sinagua people making our way through the sycamore and cottonwood trees to gather water at Beaver Creak before climbing up the…

At Montezuma Castle, it is easy to imagine being Sinagua people making our way through the sycamore and cottonwood trees to gather water at Beaver Creak before climbing up the ladders to our home way up on the cliffs.  Except that I’m afraid of heights.

Montezuma Castle was mistakingly named after the Aztec king by settlers in the mid 1800s.  As it turned out, it didn’t belong to the Aztecs, in fact, it’s not even a castle.  It is an adobe community clinging tight to the cliffs.  Like Tuzigoot, it was built by the Sinagua nearly 2000 years ago.  Until 1951, visitors could go inside Montezuma Castle but due to vandals it was closed.  Now visitors can stroll the path among the white barked sycamores and imagine, if you are like me, life as a Sinagua, your life depending on the whims of Beaver Creek.

Back to the reality of being a newschool nomad, after both boys were forced to earn earned their Jr. Ranger badge, we hit the road and headed hurriedly east on I-40.  There would be no long bathroom breaks or food stops.  We were on a mission to get to the Petrified Forest National Park to see the highest concentration of petrified wood in the world and the painted desert by 5:00 pm.  As long are you are at the gate by 5:00 pm the park lets you in and you can at least take the 28 mile drive through the park to soak up the beauty.

A National Monument and Park in one day.  Maybe we should be the neurotic nomads.

At 4:15 we pulled into the gate with just enough time to visit the visitor’s center (sometimes it pays to be bossy) and stroll among the ancient stubborn trees who refused to fall prey to decay.

The boys climbed on trees that were as hard…as well…rock.

I had doubted our decision take the time for a detour but the first glimpse of the hills covered in Saturn-like rings of color (my photos do not even to begin to capture their beauty), my doubts were put to rest.

It was otherworldly lovely.

The boys kept exclaiming we were on Tatooine (a planet in Star Wars).

As magical as the sunset was I was sad to see her disappear and leave us in darkness as we drove the last 5 miles back to I-40.

If you ever get the chance, drive through the painted desert at sunset.  You will never be the same.

I couldn’t imagine a day filled with more beauty despite going to bed in an Alburquerque Walmart parking lot.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Day 23: Jerome and Tuzigoot

Please bear with me as I catch up on our blog by posting a few posts a day.  I want to share our journey with you and I want to…

Please bear with me as I catch up on our blog by posting a few posts a day.  I want to share our journey with you and I want to have a day by day account to give to the boys so they can remember this adventure. We just spent 10 days in Austin with my best friend.  I typically write at night or in the morning but since I rarely get to be with her I spent every free moment I could hanging out and creating memories.

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Jerome, an old mining town, is nestled high atop Cleopatra Hill in Arizona’s Verde Valley. In 1900s,  Jerome was a boom town. Copper had been discovered and thousands flooded to Jerome their hearts filled with ambition.  Some even referred to Jerome as the “wickedest town in the west”. If only those crumbling walls could talk. Jerome’s population reached it’s peak of 15,000 during the 1920’s but every good party comes to an end and in 1953 the mines closed. Not long after, Jerome was declared a ghost town with a population of around 50 people. Leave it to the artists to rediscover the beauty of Jerome during the 1960s and 1970s.  Today Jerome is a communtiy of about 500 people.  Artists, artisans, writers, and families seek out Jerome for another kind of wealth.  The streets are no longer filled with miners in search of an improved life but tourists walk up and down the hilly streets reflecting on a different era.

We wandered around the worn streets and down a slope to the front face of an old building that sat precariously on the mountain. The walls had long ago crumbled but the facade arched proudly  to the sky.  We noticed a sign for glass blowing demonstrations. “Glass blowing demonstrations from 12-ish to 5-ish” We headed in and much to the boy’s delight a man with long grey hair tucked under a red bandana was giving a glass blowing demonstrtation.  He spun, shaped, and colored the molten mass until he had a tear drop shaped stem that shimmered in the light that poured through the large windows.

The Jerome Historical Society’s Mine Museum was well worth the $2 admission (children are free).  The museum boasts many relics and exhibits that help bring the town’s history to life.  Just down the hill is the Jerome State Historic Park.  Unfortunately, it was closed.  Thing 1 was really ticked because he wanted to see the Douglas Mansion. However, the Audrey Headframe Park was open right next door and the boys got to stand on glass above a 1,900′ shaft.

After Jerome we took a short drive to the Tuzigoot National Monument.

Tuzigoot is the remnant of an ancient pueblo built by the Singua around 1000 AD. The views are amazing and I imagine haven’t changed much since the Singua gazed across the valley. There is also a museum where you can look at artifacts and learn about the site’s excavation.

On our way home we passed a Goodwill. Brent stayed in the car while the boys and I puttered around the store. As I was going through a rack of jackets (I’m on a mission to find a myself a vintage peacoat.) a strange man approached me. After asking if I had found any treasures, he asked if I had dinner plans. Yes, with my husband but thank you. I guess. As I was telling Brent about the brief exchange (that he had watched through the window) Thing 1 piped up, “Why didn’t you say yes?  You could have brought us back something.” That’s one way to look at it.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Backyard Pugs

Before we moved into my parent’s place to save money for our upcoming adventure, we had a backyard. Oh the possibilities! One afternoon, it was particularly hot and everyone was…

Before we moved into my parent’s place to save money for our upcoming adventure, we had a backyard.

Oh the possibilities!

One afternoon, it was particularly hot and everyone was particularly cranky.  We decided to seek comfort under the big avocado tree in our backyard.  We set up a fan (because we’re classy like that), spread out a blanket, and read a book.  Everyone’s mood changed dramatically.  It was a small change of scenery but since we normally read on the couch reading outside became an “adventure” (kids are so easy to please).  Adventures always help bad moods.  And the fan!  Who doesn’t love a fan on a hot day. We weren’t the only one to enjoy ourselves so did the pugs.

With love,
Jenn

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