We are so excited to finally be moving and traveling on our own. Follow our blog as we adventure around the country! We hope that you will enjoy reading our story just as much as we are experiencing it.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

We are on Pacific Time

So, you read right...we crossed over to Pacific Time tday. We are now near Spokane, Wa. We have been having an awesome time with Ben and Darlene and our cousins, the Brueggemans. We spent the week hanging out with them at their rental near Whitefish, MT. What a beautiful part of the country. We did get to go into Glacier but the road to the sun was closed due to snow, so we didn't get to see snow. But the area was still breathtaking. The winters must be harsh though.
Tim and Tracy were the best. Tracy made some great meals! And that is no easy task for over 14 people...not to mention 3 hungry boys who eat even more after a 8 mile bike ride. We did get to return the favor and have everyone over to our campground for dinner last night. Darlene prepared shish-ka-bobs with delicious steak and veggies. And the kids all got to roast hot dogs and marshmellows. We bought huge campfire marshmellos...yum! Today we pIcked up my van, which looks like new, and said good-bye to our cousins. We drove to Spokane and we will camp here for the night. Tomorrow we drive to Sisters, OR. Yeah! We can't wait to see you Mom and Dad! Chuck's truck started having a problem going into reverse...hopefully this will not be a problem tomorrow! We have to laugh, as this is one in a series of mishaps. At least we are all together and well. To quote Chuck's Dad, "Life is messy."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Glacier National Park

Our intent for today was to get to Glacier Nat Park, do some fishing and maybe a boat tour of McDonald Lake. We took until 1030 getting out the door, turning breakfast into brunch. By the time we were ready to go it was noon. Luckily Jenn had planned ahead and packex much of what we would need for picnic lunches at the park. We left Rookie at Tracy's and headed out with a short stop at the trailer to get fishing gear and chairs. I'll put it this way, the chairs came in handy. We ended up taking three cars into the park, but we had enough passes and eligible seniors that we could have smuggled a platoon into the lake for cheap if we wanted to. We waited at the visitors center and got everyone together for lunch. The scenery was amazing and majestic. The lake was surrounded by snow capped mountains on three sides. Instead of fishing, which was reported to be bad due to heavy water flow clouding up the water, the kids voted to take kyaks and canoes out on the lake. Shannon and I chased Jessica and Molly, Samuel and Thomas, Dad and Miles around the lake having splash fights and racing. I like kyaks. We might have to get one.
Afterwards we went to a huckleberry and ice cream store. The kids got ice cream... before dinner. Thanks Papa and G-ma Darlene. Lastly we got changed (we were soaked to our under- roos) and met up with Tim in downtown Whitefish at the weekly Farmer's Market and Craft Festival then we ate dinner at the Buffalo Club. They didn't serve buffalo though. Afterwards I drove dad and the kids back to the campers and Darlene and Jenn did some shopping/errands. Thankfully its bed time. Who knows what we'll end up doing tomorrow.


Whats been Happening

Hi! So sorry that I have not posted recently, it has been a long time since we were in South Dakota. While we were there we hiked around mount Rushmore and hung out with the horses at the broken arrow campsite. We had a bit of trouble finding it and Betty (our GPS) almost learned how to fly. Mount Rushmore was amazing, president Jefferson had some work done on his face. You could see a big scar thing on his left cheek. Thomas had so much fun with the horses, he is really good with animals.
After South Dakota we made our way to Denver, Colorado. We saw wild buffalo, antelope, and prairie dogs for the very first time. The scenery of the country side was so beautiful, I really liked it. We went to stay at Will and Carrie's home, which was very big and nice. We got to play with Bre and Brody, they were a blast. We also got to hang out with all of their horses. Captain, Smokey, Tank, Thunder, Rheba, and Apachy. Thunder was the littlest and the cutest. We played predators and sardines in their basement, which was super fun. We also got to visit with Aunt Pat, Keith and Beverly and Lydia. Aunt Pat was so much fun, we played bannagrams and loved on her dog Sydney. We got a lot of hair off of her when we brushed her, there was enough for two more full grown dogs. She was too sweet. The next place we visited in Denver were Keith and Beverly's house for dinner, I really like their backyard. We watched two movies, Charlie and the chocolate factory and E.T. :) When we visited with Lydia we went to an outdoor shopping mall to celebrate fathers day, and dad really went all out on the dark chocolate bars. He had at lest six in his bag by the end of the day. We went to a brewery/ grill place too and dad had a gluten free beer. Shannon also got a new hat, It is a cute green frog hat. After we went to the mall we went to the weather center museum, it was very interesting, I liked the fossils the best.
We left Denver to head to Yellow stone, but we had to stay the night in Wyoming because the trip would of been too long. The people next to us had the cutest little boxer puppies. We continued on to Yellowstone to meet Grandpa Ben, Grandma Darlene and Rookie (their dog). The road to Yellowstone was very moutainy and we almost did not make it to our camping site. Dad's truck over heated, but it was a very good thing that we had spare water on hand to kepep it cool enough to get over the mountians. Our first day in Yellowstone we just chilled out and got settled. The second day we went into the park to meet the Brueggermans to see old faithful and the other hot-springs in the park. We got a two hour delay because we ran into a buffalo herd migrating on the road! The big ones got really close and scared us really good, especially grandpa. We had to keep Rookie on the floor because he would bark at them and probably get us rammed. the baby ones were adorable though, and the moms were syronized in walking, their butts were swaying side to side together. When we finally got there Old faithful did not fail, We got there just in time to see it spew into the air. I was really glad to see our cousins, they are really fun to hang around. (Molly, Myles, Tracy and Tim) They brought their dog Bentley too. We spent the whole day at Yellowstone viewing the historical structures and the natural hot springs. There were so many different colors of bacteria and lichens, that every spring looked like a rainbow. The wildlife actually uses the springs to keep warm in the frigid winters. But it is way to hot and chemically to drink or swim in, you would die. The second day, Mom, Grandma, Sam, Shannon and I went up into Yellowstone again while the boys stayed at the trailer to hang out. Did I say that the mosquitos were awful? So anyways while we were in Yellowstone for the second time, we saw elk, hydrothermic waterfalls and foutians, and bubbling mud pots. They were all very interesting, the mud pots made me think of pudding though. :) The waterfalls and foutains looked like a river of gold in a white desert. They were goregous. After that we went to go have ice cream, and then made our way back to the trailers.
When we were finished in Yellowstone we made our way up into Montana, we are staying at a place by the river with Grandpa and Grandma. The Bruggermans have a house that they are renting up here, and Hans and his girlfriend Kaylee live here too. We hun out for the first day and we pampered Rookie with lots of walks and attention, he got very clean. :) We have been hanging out with our cousins the enire time we have been here. That means, bike rides, dancing competitions, all sorts of games, grillin, dog walking, sleepovers, baking, cooking, shopping, and movies. Bentley and Rookie really like eachother now and they are best buds. We some how managed to get the adults to play gestures (kinda like sherades) and do just dance for wii. It was so much fun. The kids always beat the adults though and the girls won at getures. Today we went into the naional park called Glacier. We had a wonderful picnic with the cousins and grandparents. After lunch we went out on the lake in a wide assortment of aquatic vehicels. Molly and I got to go in a Kayak and so did Sam and Thomas. Dad and Shannon went into a canoe and so did Myles and Grandpa. We all go super soaked, but Molly and I did not get splashed as bad because we were way to fast for everyone to keep up. I had so much fun and the view of the mountains on the lake was just incredible. I had never been Kayaking before and I am glad I got to do it with someone so wonderful as Molly. After went sloshed back ontu shore we went to go get some treats. We then headed over to the local Farmers market, which was huge! And the we went to the Buffalo cafe for dinner. Oh, and Shannon got another hat at the market too. For those of you who are not keeping track, Shannon has three hats in her collection. Well I think that was pretty much it, save from the fact us girls dressed up Rookie in American girl clothes. :) To cute!

part 3 of Montana

Hello welcome to my blog i`m going to tell you about Montana well a little bit of it ill tell you the other stuff later . So that starts me off at the sleep over at the Brueggeman`s house First I woke up and I wen`t upstairs to eat breakfast I ate breakfast and my parents came while I was eating .Then miles and I played until it was time to leave to glacier we canoed And got in a water Fight with everyone then we wen`t and got ice cream next we went to our trailer and changed our clothes then went to eat out after that we went to our trailer and went to sleep .


We've been in Montana since Saturday evening. Sunday was very enjoyable. We spent most of the day hanging out with Tim, Tracy and kids. We went to their rented house for dinner and the kids stayed over. Tim and Tracy stayed up all night with them and played a Wii dance party game and watched movies. Too much fun.
Monday morning Jennifer and I were on the phone early with our insurance company getting a claim filed and finding an authorized auto body place here in Kalispell. We found one, but since it was a short week (holiday weekend starting Friday here) they weren't sure if they'd be able to fix it before the weekend, and we are scheduled to depart Thursday anyway. So of course we told them to give it a shot and they expect to have it done by Thursday afternoon, which may put us a day behind on traveling to Paul and Claudia's. We'll see if we can get out on Thursday, or at least get back into striking distance from Sisters for the weekend.
The estimate on the damage rolled in at $4500.00. We have the $500 deductible. So, in keeping with our established tradition of the tires for the trailer at $500+, the truck water pump at $500+ and this, we are effectively whittling away at our monthly income $500 at a time about once a week.
Yesterday was fun. We had breakfast, lunch and dinner with Tim and Tracy. I got to see the Iron Horse club properties where Tim works. Tracy and I took the kids for an 8 mile bike ride in the "Country". Shannon will disagree with that description, but despite the view not always being the prettiest (gravel pit), we did see some rolling hills with pastures and rode out a long dirt road with a good sized hill at the end.
Today we plan on going fishing in Glacier National Park at Lake MacDonald. Supposedly trout like power bait and its free. I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Yowza! As if it couldn't get anymore fun.

We're in Kalispell, Montana tonight and we plan to spend about a week here with Tim and Tracy and kids, along with Ben and Darlene (and Wookie). We're right next to a river in our campground, which when we made the reservation sounded like a good idea, but since we've seen news about flooding everywhere I'm not so sure. If we get one good storm here we might be leaving in a muddy hurry! Anyway, dad, Thomas and I spent yesterday lounging around (I was working on my truck and the camper getting them organized and p.m.'d) while Darlene and Jennifer and kids went back to Yellowstone for some additional buffalo experiences. They saw some wonderful stuff further north in the park than we ventured the day before. I needed a down day. I was glad to get my truck back and see that it was working as advertised after the new water pump was installed. Jenn and I will need oil changes soon though since we've logged about 5000 or so miles since we left South Carolina. The Rockies aren't easy miles either. Consider the extra 2000 pounds or so in the bed of my truck and the 10,000 pound trailer and Ole Bessy is getting a workout.
We had some interesting discussions about the future yesterday late into the evening, which I won't share here but may make their way into my other page. I need to work on that more than here I think. [Smiles]
This morning started out okay. We headed out the 287 towards Butte. Stopped for lunch at a Safeway in the middle of a construction zone. Safeway has their own brand of dark chocolates that are reasonably priced so I tried them out. Not bad at 78% Cocoa. We stretched to a little crossroads where we intercepted the 83 heading north where we got gas. Dad's truck seems to be able to keep pace with me very well. It might be that he has a lighter load or maybe my truck is showing signs of being tired. Not having owned a diesel before I don't have a good feel for it. However, his range is a little less than mine as I almost ran him out of fuel before we stopped. He took on 25 gallons, it was about 32 for me. His tank is 27 and mine is 37, I think. Anyway, that's where the fun began.
Pulling out from a light getting onto the MT 35 north dad "bumped" Jennifer's van at the stop. We surveyed the damage along the route to Kalispell. I know dad was upset and a bit embarrassed that he didn't stop in time, but accidents do happen. We'll be talking to the insurance company on Monday to see if we can get a new rear hatch and bumper on Jennifer's van. I'll have to borrow Jenn's phone to post the picture. As an aside, I parked the van facing dad's camper and wrote "Papa was here" in the dust across the dent, [Smiles] which I'm sure he really appreciates.
After arriving at the campsite we set up facing the campers together this time, which is nice, I cut my finger open while connecting the sewer hose. I can just imagine all the lovely buggies crawling around in my bloodstream tonight. Then, to decompress I poured a drink and went to throw on a movie when my hard drive flew out of the cupboard and landed on the floor. Luckily it still worked, unlike the microwave that shared a similar incident a few days ago. A new one is waiting at the Bend China Box [Walmart], since they are the ONLY place that sells these gadgets! As much as I badmouth them they sure have been a handy place along the way. I still refuse to shop there except in extremist, but that seems to be more common on this trip than anything.
So, after having a wreck, cutting my hand and almost losing our sole entertainment hard drive all within about an hour's time frame, I settled in to a chair with a cigar (courtesy of Joust Grilli's baby being born in August of 2010) and a small pour of Crowne, and tried to forget all about it. Jenn and Darlene graciously afforded dad and I a respite from duty and made dinner without our assistance tonight. The campfire was warm and wonderful. The jokes were bad, but somehow funnier than usual. And we have internet, so you get to read all about it. I know, pictures, pictures, pictures. We need one of those online albums for all the pictures we've been taking. Now were all sore and tired from another long day on the road, so its off to bed. Hope we can stay warm tonight, last night was freezing. You've gotta love the cold, clean air up here though. The weather has been... wait, better not jinx it.
The views along the roads on our way here were spectacular and I eagerly anticipate the experiences of Glacier NP, Kalispell, Whitefish, Big Fork, Lake Flathead and the rest.


It is hard to believe that just a week ago we were hanging out with our family in Denver.  Since that time we have been spending several day in Yellowstone National Park with Ben and Darlene.  They met us on our adventure last week and we are so thrilled that they did.  The kids are having a wonderful time with them and Rookie, their cute dog!

Yellowstone was absolutely amazing.  I know the kids will have lots to tell you about our time there.  I will let them do most of the describing, but I will tell you that if you ever have the opportunity to go to Yellowstone, take it!  It has to be one of the most fascinating places I have ever been. 

We especially enjoyed catching up with Tim and Tracy Brueggeman and Molly and Miles.  They, too, are on a travel adventure and were able to meet us at Old Faithful!  We spent the day with them and are even getting to see them again here at our next stop....Kalispell, MT.  We plan to visit Glacier National Park with them while we are here.  I am told that we will need clothes for the snow, because there will be some there. 

Our trip has been so much fun.  We are getting to see so many unique places and lots of family and friends along the way.  Our internet access has been spotty, but we hope to get everyone all caught up while we are here in Kalispell.  We have loved our time with everyone that we have gotten to see and we look forward to our visits yet to come.

Until next time.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Wow, what a a great time we had in Colorado. We were extremely blessed to be able to park our camper at my cousin Carrie's house. She was so sweet to have a bbq for us with all the family. We all loved seeing everyone.....Aunt Carole, Travis & Stephanie, Jeremy & Dee and kids, Joe & Connie, and of course Will and Bree and Brody. What a wonderful family we have. If any of my family ever gets the chance to get to Denver you should definitely visit Carrie and gang.

The kids loved all the animals at Carrie and Will's. Lots of horses, some cows, and buffalo. Not to mention 3 dogs and a bearded dragon. Chuck especially enjoyed getting the opportunity to feed all the animals while Carrie and Will went to the mountains. I think Chuck and the kids are hooked....I on the other hand sneeze perpetually and am not so sure about the whole animal thing but I do love seeing Chuck so happy.

In Denver, we also got to visit Aunt Pat, Lydia, and Uncle Keith, Beverly, and April. We thoroughly enjoyed all of our visits. Lydia, we loved Boulder and thank you so much for showing us around. I loved our time with you and I truly admire you. You are a strong woman and have a special gift for caring for others as a nurse.

Aunt Pat, thank you for allowing us to pop in on you and take over your kitchen. My kids loved playing games with you. Your happiness is contagious....we had lots of fun.

Keith, Beverly, and April, we had a great time visiting with you and the food was delicious! We can't wait for the next Kelly Family reunion.

We are now with Ben, Darlene, and Rookie in Yellowstone. Today we rest and tomorrow we meet Tim, Tracy, Miles, and Molly at Old Faithful!

LOTS of catching up to do. Internet has been sparse.

Denver. Its Sunday, Fathers Day, and we've been going like crazy since we pulled chocks in South Dakota. We avoided another large storm on Thursday while tracking south on the 385. Its a good thing we didn't go through Cheyene WY on the 25 because we would have gotten clobbered, again. We stopped for gas/diesel in a little town in Nebraska and a lady next to me was filling her tires because her car said they were low. She asked me to help because it was hard to get air into the tires. Well, no wonder, she had over 80psi in her front tires! It took me longer to let air out than it normally takes me to put air in. It took a while, but I got her set up, then we were off. We rolled in to Jenn's cousins, Will and Carie Sweckard, farm/ranch just before the BBQ kicked off. Carie's mom and dad, Joe and Connie Young were there. We always have fun with them and were glad to see them before they headed out on their week long fishing trip. Joe brought Jennifer's great aunt Carole along. Bree and Body, Carie and Will's kids are great. Our kids had a blast playing with them. Bree was an especially gracious little hostess. She is quite the little equestrian. They have seven horses, two steers, a cow, two buffalo, three dogs and a bearded dragon. Needless to say the horses were the stars of the show and Bree and Carie helped introduce them to the kids. They loved it. Back to the BBQ, we also got to see Jeremy and his wife DeAnn and their kids. Jeremy just got promoted to Lieutenant with the Denver Fire Department. We really wanted to catch up with them some more this weekend, but time is running short. They're really a lot of fun so we hope we'll have time together again in the near future. Travis, His girlfriend Stephanie and their "puppy" were there too. Travis played a game of hoops with the kids before the wind got kicked up beyond their ability to play in it. Needless to say the food was great and the company even better.
On Friday we got up and Will and Body headed for the hills. Carie and Bree were here to show us more with the horses. The girls even got to feed the buffalo by hand, and pet them. There's something not eveyone can say they've done. We ate lunch and headed out. We planned to meet uncle Keith, aunt Beverly, Lydia and April for dinner at Mimi's Cafe later on. We shopped at Target for some supplies then went to see great aunt Pat in south Denver. She joined us for dinner. She has a Norweigen Elk Hound named Sydney, given to her by her son. Billy and his wife Glenda breed them in Grand Junction, CO. Shannon and Jessica loved on that dog all weekend. They brushed her clean. There was a dog sized mound of hair on the porch. At dinner Connie, Carie and Pat were there and it was a lot of fun. We ended up having to take aunt Pat home, whicg was about 50 minutes one way, so it was late when we got back to the farm.
Saturday we got up and Carie showed me how to feed the horses and cattle so I could do it Sunday. We did some laundry, and found out why the smoke smell from the SD campfires wasn't coming out and why my socks were so soft; we thought we were using detergent when it was actually only Downy fabric softener. Oops. After lunch we said goodbye to Carie although we were leaving the camper parked in their driveway. Very nice of them to let us leave it here. We headed out to meet Lydia in Boulder. I really like the feel of Boulder, but the people are a bit unpredictable. Pot is legal, so apparently there are a lot of stoned people driving, biking and walking around. We ate lunch at Smashburger. Very good by the way. Recommend it. I had a chicken sandwich, but tasted Jessica's left over burger. It tasted like grassfed beef. The sweet potatoes fries were great. After lunch Jenn, Lydia and Jessica went to get pedicures/manicures and the rest of us went to REI were I finally found a decent monocular! After helping Sha fijnd another iPod case at Best Buy we picked up the girls and headed to Keith and Beverly's where uncle Keith BBQ'd for us and April. We had a ton of fun just visiting.
Sunday, we started by getting the animals fed then heading to Lydia's by way of Harbor Freight. I needed more ratchet straps. The bike rack has been breaking them at the rapid rate. We went to the Pearl Stret Mall and did some fun shopping. Shannon got a new animal hat, a frog, that the got me to wear for incriminating pictures over lunch. I got a variety of dark chocolates (my Carb of choice) mostly local brands, I.e. Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and Boulder's Chocolove. We went to BJ's for lunch where I tried a sorghum based gluten free beer. It was okay, but sorghum had an affect on my stomach. Okay maybe it was the chocolate. Who knows. It was a fun lunch and I got a cool Father's Day 2011 beer glass out of it. After lunch we headed up to the NCAR in Boulder. National Center for Atmospheric Research.
We learned some interesting climatelogical facts and Thomas especially liked the tornado information. Afterwards we dropped Lydia off and said our goodbyes. We then headed to aunt Pat's, via the grocery store, to make dinner with her. The dinner was fun and the company outstanding. We played Bananas and watch the weather channel as some pretty big storms hit Colorado. We got some hail and decided we should head home. We head out in the morning for Boulder Wyoming, which is just south of the Grand Tetons National Forest on our way to Yellostone. Were all excited to see Papa and grandma Darlene in Yellowstone.

Today is Monday. We traveled to Boulder, WY. It was a long day. We had lunch at a rest stop in the hills north of Fort Collins where we discovered our half-time convection oven took a short flight to the floor in the crappy Colorado roads. The floor has a new hole in the linolieum and although I managed to put it mostly back together it no longer works. That won't be cheap. However, I met a gentleman next to the rest room who is 65 years old and is riding across the country with his son on a bicycle. Wow! Best of luck to him. They started out on May 16th from Yorktown, Virginia. They sleep in two man tents and sleeping bags carried on their bikes. It looked like something that would be a real challenge, but I think I'd have more of a safety net than they had. We passed him later and honked. He had made it a very long way in a short amount of time.
We got to Boulder around 8 p.m.. We went to dinner in Pinedale, which is near Boulder, at the Wind River Brew Company. The food was okay, but overpriced and we had to sit outside since it was primarily a bar and the don't allow children inside, even with parents except to go to the bathroom. It was about 50 degrees out and the heater wasn't hacking it. Anyways, we left there to get groceries at the only store in town, where they don't carry wine, to get eggs, milk and other necessities. The wine hunt went on for a while afterwards. Being Monday, the liquor stores were all closed early, but apparently the bars double as package stores. The one lady I talked to told me that I could go to the alley behind the Cowboy Bar and get a bottle. I told her thanks, smiled and left. We didn't bother, especially with all four kids in the car. In hindsight, we should have gone to get the wine because as we groped our way back to the trailer in the dark we got pulled over for doing 60 in a 50, which is funny in so many ways its not worth describing. I wasn't even doing 60 because I was groping in the dark for the entrance to the RV park. Just so you get the picture, we were outside Boulder and had just passed the 65 speed limit sign when we passed a car going the other way, who I noticed making a U-turn behind me and turned out to be the patrolman since we were the ONLY two cars on the road for miles. So basically he lied when he said he, "clocked me in the town of Boulder doing 60 in a 50 because he didn't even pass me until we were well away from the few houses along the road that comprise the "town" of Boulder. In case you were wondering I got off with a warning, which is good since being retired I would have the time and gumption to come back out here to fight the ticket... maybe. Its pretty obvious that the Wyoming State Patrol are generating revenue by writing tickets on Hwy 191. At least they have somewhat of a softspot for military, even if they have a beard! That just strikes me as dishonest. I've never had much use for police or judges.
Cousin Tim called to tell us he'd be joining us in Yellowstone tomorrow with Papa and Darlene. We're excited. Also, our house closes tomorrow and the carpets got cleaned today. Melinda, our real estate agent said the house looked good. It will all be history in about 12 hours. Jenn is tired of driving.

Tuesday. I was awakened by my phone. Hillsborough Title in Tampa was requesting that I get a payoff amount faxed to them from Navy Federal since they weren't responding to their requests. I did that and they provided me a copy of the information afterwards. The trip started out normal enough. We got gas and got on the road. We headed up hwy 191 through some beautiful National Forests and along the Hoback River, which was rushing an very full. We got to Jackson, WY and headed out on Hwy 22 towards Teton Pass. The pass is about 8500 feet and has about three miles of over 10% grade right at the start. We headed up, probably a bit too fast. At about the halfway point I noticed the temperature gauge rising, which has happened before, but we hadn't been going up a 10% grade at 8000 feet. I quickly pulled over on a pullout on the left side of the road. The temperature gauge went full hot and when I shut down the truck steam erupted. I quickly turned it back on to save the coolant, let it cool down a bit at idle then shut it down. We lost about 3.5 gallons of coolant. I was worried that the truck wouldn't make the hill and we'd be forced to turn around, going back down the hill to Jackson, which by the way seemed to be a pretty nice town.
Luckily, a couple of mountain bikers pulled in next to us after having come down the hill. Jenn asked how much further the hill went up before we cleared the pass and they told us we were about two-thirds of the way up and that it levels out a bit from where we were on. I used some water we had bought as drinking emergency water in the radiator. Jenn went ahead and scoped out the hill for turnouts and I got back on the road. This time instead of having my "heavy tow" program on that allowed me to do 50 MPH up the first part of the hill I tuned it down to normal towing and went 25 with my flashers on. I had the heat blasting full and Thomas and I were watching the road and the temperature gauge intently as we went. We made it to the top with Jennifer's constant call outs and information and the temperature never went above one-third. We cautiously went down the steep grade on the back side and rolled into a town (Wilson I think) for lunch. The coolant level isn't dropping but there seems to be a leak coming from the water pump now. Probably something I did.
We were eating lunch in the parking lot of a grocery store, a very nice store considering we were in the middle of nowhere Idaho now, when I got a confirmation on my phone that the sale of our house had gone through. The money was in the bank. We sure got lucky qualifying for the Homeowners Assistance Program. I was even able to send the security deposit back to our tenants so we are DONE with that house. It was our last financial ball and chain. After lunch we pushed on into West Yellowstone, Montana where we met up with Dad, Darlene and Rookie the dog at the Yellowstone Grizzly RV Park. The misquitos are terrible here, like what I heard they were like in Minnesota but didn't experience while we were there with our friends Joel and Tara (wazzup brotha!).

Wednesday. I woke up to my dad knocking on the camper door around 9 am. He is an early riser and was out walking Rookie. We were catching up on sleep after a long couple of days. We went to his camper, which is parked next to ours, for breakfast. It was good. Dad and Darlene have been eating Paleo and have both dropped weight. Its coming off slow but you can definitely tell. Shannon has really hit it off with Rookie. She takes him for walks, brushes him, and even cleans up his poop! Being around and taking care of Rookie will really be good for the kids.
I followed my dad to the auto repair shop to drop off his truck to get the oil changed and my water pump started leaking pretty badly. That lesson will end up costing me over $500. But hey, I don't have a house payment anymore. Ouch.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Black Hills

Some quick updates. Everybody voted for a down day yesterday, so we didn't do much of anything and it was great. I P.M.'d my truck (oil, tranny, coolant, etc.) then we just hung out. We're actually at 5600 feet here. Jenn says she can tell the air is thin, but I just think its clean. It truly is beautiful to look out at the green valley with the rolling hills and trees and perfectly blue sky. The kids rode their bikes and Thomas pet horses all day. We met some other campers who were really nice and talked for a while. Today, Mt Rushmore and Keystone. There's an 1880's style steam train that looks fun too. I could live like this. We'll be headed to Denver tomorrow. Hi Lydia (we talked yesterday). TTFN

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

family by will

Hay!Hay!Hay all my adoring fans! It's me Thomas reporting from mount rushmoore. Which mind you are smaller than in the post cards. However let me tell you about the past few day's. We went to blue earth and got to see the green giant and while we were looking around my dad got interviewed. We got to see Casey,Rachel,and Kile. Plus their mom, dad and family. We got to tour a dairy farm owned by Kile's aunt. After that we ran into a huge storm and had to hunker down in a pizza shop before going to set up were we saw snow in the middle of summer. That's all for now. BY!

Here in South Dakota!

We got to see the dairy farm the day before we left from the Rauenhorst's house. I really liked seeing the dairy operation, it was interesting. We got to see baby goats, cows and kittens. We drove all day yesterday, it was raining and there was lightning out too. We had to take shelter in a pizza place at dinner because the storm was really severe and we could not drive through it. The pizza was good and they let us bring Swoosh into the store. We are going to relax today and hang out before we do anything big.
-Jessica :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Custer SD

We made it. It was 1100 at night and one massive thunderstorm later, but we made it. Sorry dad, cell phones weren't working. More later. Sleep now. We're safe. Thanks Joel and Tara for your wonderful hospitality.

So, we're awake on the first day in Custer SD. I got checked in with our camp hosts at Broken Arrow campground, which is another equestrian oriented site. They were cracking jokes about all the late check-ins (us) from last night. I felt a bit sheepish. Not the first time and it wont be the last. Jenn and the kids are wiped out. Jenn got up around 9 am, but with the exception of Sam they're all still out cold. I got a hot shower this morning since it was too late to bother trying to find them last night. The weather was gorgeous this morning. Were at about 4000 feet (I think). The air was cool, the sun was warm and the grass and trees were tall and green. There are horses everywhere so Jenn's allergies are flaring up with the windows open. So now I blog, and then make some breakfast, then blog. :)

Yesterday was interesting. It was hard leaving the Rauenhorsts in Minnesota. The farm was peaceful and beautiful. We really enjoyed being there with our great friends (my brother from another mother...).

On Sunday we enjoyed meeting Tara's brother Troy and his wife Chris, daughter Stephanie and two sons who gave us a tour of their dairy farm. They had calves, kittens and baby goats (kids) that quickly stole the show. We walked around and saw the types of feed that they gave their cows, mostly byproducts of other "food" processes. They feed things that are affordable but to my surprise include things like messed up gummy bears, corn protein pellets left over from corn syrup extraction, cotton seed, fermented corn silage and hay. They did use the Monsanto (spit) Bovine Growth Hormone, which if you've ever seen the documentary "The Corporation" you'll know why I'm not a proponent. Nevertheless, we certainly enjoyed seeing the operation and learning a ton, like ALL milk is antibiotic free in this country. Chris, the owner, assured us that the "Organic" label was a marketing scheme and the "antibiotic free" moniker was nothing more than a scare tactic. Not a big deal for us since we drink almond milk. :) But, the milk is tested for antibiotics before it gets to the processing plant and is dumped if it has more than .002 percent antibiotics present (if I remember correctly). We've got some great pictures. Thomas, Jessica, Shannon and Sam were put down in the milking pit and helped put the auto milking devices on the cow udders. Thomas even gave a couple of old fashioned tugs to make the milk come out. Then we went out to a nice dinner at the LeRoy Inn. The food was surprisingly good as it was the only sit down restaurant for two whole towns. Bottom line - we'd like to thank Chris, Troy and Stephanie for their time and very fun and informative tour. They are a lot of fun and Joel and Tara are lucky to have family like them relatively close by.

Back to yesterday. We got the truck and trailer all hooked up. The new tires are holding up well. I power washed the vehicles on Sunday so they were relatively clean. They had been very muddy. The front of the trailer was covered in mud for the first few days since the roads are dirt/gravel for about 2 miles prior to their concrete pad in front of the machine shed where we were parked. We cooked breakfast together, ate and collected our belongings. (The kids all got "Ho Ho Ho" Green Giant shirts. Oh yeah, we took a tour of the Seneca (formerly Green Giant canning plant). Did I already blog about that? That was back on Saturday.) We had a lot of fun cooking meals together. We rolled out about 10:30, and we're looking forward to seeing them again in February in Las Vegas! On the way out of town we stopped to get gas and my radio interview aired on 1560 AM at 1045. It was fun for the kids to hear me on the radio. It ran about 2 or 3 minutes. I thought I sounded like John.

Once on the road we pushed for a couple of hours. We stopped a couple of times for gas and lunch. For lunch we stopped in Hartford, SD (just outside Sioux Falls to the west) at a grocery store. It was pathetic. They didn't have much and what they did have was not too appetizing. The deli meat was greying. They didn't have spinach (not even frozen). Around Mitchell there was a huge storm that dropped flood levels of rain and hail, so we had to pass up Mitchell for the next stop to get Jenn some coffee. We ended up getting another break with the time zones as we rolled into Rapid City. We went to Target, stocked up on some food and closet organizers (the old ones broke due to the rough roads) then I needed to get gas. I couldn't get gas in town and ended up losing Thomas (he got a ride with Jenn) and headed down highway 79. Another massive lightning storm was brewing on the horizon so I filled up and asked the attendant where a nearby restaurant was. She pointed us to the Lindtz Brothers Pizza parlor down the road where we went directly and holed up (with Swoosh) as the storm slammed us. There was hail, winds and down pours. We ate dinner there. The pizza was really good (as reported by Jenn and the kids). We lost the hour we had gained plus some. It was still raining a little when we left. Did I mention, we got to see some highlights from the Indians victory over the Yankees.

The road through Custer National Park was eerie. It was dark and there was steam or fog coming off the road. The road was winding through the hills with a lot of turn offs. Betty did a pretty good job until we got to Custer (the town) then she lost it. I had to call the campground to get directions. Luckily they answered and got us on the right road. Betty (spit) actually took us off into another campground, down their driveway and back out onto the same road we had been on a quarter mile later. She must have thought there was construction there, but there wasn't. She almost took a one way flight after that. After we pulled in we proceeded to get set up. There are full hook-ups here which means showers in the camper because there's a dump at the site. Thomas was a huge help even though he was tired and fading fast. Sam was asleep already. Jessica not far behind. Shannon held the flashlight for me during the whole set up. What a trooper. Many kudos to this crew. Jennifer and the kids patience and flexibility are truly appreciated and amazing. This is really becoming home for us while we're on the road. The kids get tired and say, "Lets go home." meaning the camper. Home is where your heart is, I guess, and I am happy to say our hearts are wherever our family is.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Here we are in Minnesota!

Hi everyone we traveled from Chicago and made here at our goods friends house/farm here in Minnesota. We had an eventful transit the bike rack straps ripped off and we had to replace pretty much all the tires and that took a while too, but we prevented a huge accident. We drove through a big thunder storm too, but we made it to the Rauenhorst's house just in time. We have had a lot of fun here, I got to see all the animals that are resident here and I am having so much fun with our friends. Cassie and Rachel got Shannon and I hooked on Anime and Manga. My favorites are Tokyo Mew Mew and The Host club. The host club is so funny. We are not going to be able to go and catch bunnies today, Oh well, Rachel promised she would show us the next episodes of The Host club! We also went to see Blue Earth and the Green Giant. We also got to tour the factory too! It is not owned by Blue Earth anymore though, It is owned now by Seneca. We will be leaving to Mt. Rushmore tomorrow, I will be sad to leave our friends, but I will be excited to moving on on our journey.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Twitch, Tara and kids

Joel, aka Twitch, and I have been hanging out for the past couple of days. We pulled in to his farm at 9:45 pm on Thursday night. That day travelling was long. We didn't get on the road until 11 am because of all of the thunderstorms. It had rained all night. Once on the road we discovered that two of our tires were dry rotted and another seriously worn. We ended up having to replace those three at China Box (Walmart), where they were less than happy that we showed up. Amazingly, we found a nice gentleman (Larry) to help me replace the tires and he even allowed me to purchase road hazard warranties on them. With the help of his 3.5 ton floor jack and air tools the trailer is now riding on four new Goodyear Marathon tires. Around 2 pm we stopped to get propane at the farm supply store and ate lunch in the trailer in the parking lot. Iowa seemed to take forever. After getting gas/diesel for the last time we pushed on through dinner to get to the Rauenhorst's. One of the bike straps cut loose so we had to stop to repair that, but otherwise we just drove.
Once we got off the highway near Joels we were on pavement for about five minutes, then we were on dirt, mud and gravel for the next 15 minutes or so. I was fish-tailing with the trailer and having to use 4WD. Jenn was getting left behind in her front wheel drive van, but was a trooper and slowly caught up. It was a long day of travelling, and it sure was nice to see Joel and Tara at the end of it.
Joel is farming 600+ acres, which is no small matter.
We slept in Friday and then went up to Mankato for dinner. We met up with Joel's good friend Jeff Zabel and had a great time. We saw the plane Joel will be flying for his part time job. We also got to see Ray and Sharon at their house in Easton (Joel's mom and dad). Nice vette Mr Rauenhorst!
Today we went to Blue Earth MN for a tour of the Green Giant canning plant where Joel and Tara met while working over the summers in college. I got interviewed by a radio guy about the trip. Ha! It should air locally Monday at 10 am. So far its been great. More later. Time to hit the rack.

Blue Earth, Minnesota

> We have been enjoying the last couple of days with our wonderful friends, Joel and Tara Rauenhorst, here in Minnesota.  Joel is now farming the land that both his Dad and Grandfather farmed and is living in the home he grew up in.  Tara and Joel have been good friends of ours since we were stationed in Japan 15 years ago.  Our children have also known each other for awhile as we were also neighbors in Temecula, CA for 3 years.  Rachel is now in college, but home for the summer.  Cassie is going into her senior year in high school and Kyle will be in 8th grade next year.  It's hard to believe that these are the same kids that played with our then 3 year old twins and newborn Shannon in Japan and entertained newborn Samuel and 2 year old Shannon in Temecula. 
> Joel showed us around the farm today.  We got to see all the amazing equipment he uses to plant, fertilize, and harvest corn and soybeans.  I sat in one and he showed me the computer system in it.  It all seemed so complicated so I asked him if it was more difficult than flying an F18.  He admitted that they are both challenging but that farming in 2011 has definitely become much more complicated than when he was growing up.
> Later we went to dinner in Mankato, the nearest city and place where Rachel is going to college.  Tomorrow we will go back and see more.  Including a trip to the Green Giant Museum!  We did get to meet a Joel's friend from high school, Jeff.  Jeff is also a pilot and took us to the hangar at the airport to see the cool plane that Joel will be flying in his spare time, which is mostly in the winter when there is no farming to be done. 
> We saw Joel's parents, Ray and Sharon Rauenhorst, at their new home in town.  Ray recently bought a new car and plans to enjoy it now that Joel is taking over the farm.
> Our kids are having a blast running around and playing.  They love the dog, kitties, and baby birds in the rasberry bush, but mostly they love hanging out with Cassie, Rachel and Kyle.
> Sunday we drive an hour and a half to Tara's brother's dairy farm.  The kids are going to get a tour and then we head to one of the small town fairs here.  Apparently there is a kids cow milking contest, malts, rides, and fireworks.  We'll try and post some pictures next.
> Time does change many things, but what hasn't changed is our friendship. 
> Thanks for an awesome time Rauenhorst family!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hi Hi Hi! Niagra falls was a blast! We went behind the falls and got soked. But it was all worth it. We saw fireworks and just enjoyed ourselfs. We all ate pizza and wached Gulevers travls for the first time. Mom and dad went out to eat.
The next day we drove out of Canda and drove back into Ohio.
The day after that we said our good by's to Tommy and Sue and were off to Chacago!
We spent our one day there playing with Felicity and Caden and visiting with Pete and Vicki.
After that we spent a few days the Rauenhorsts. That was a whole lot of fun. Wile we were there we toured a dairy farm. We milked some cows and I got hit on the mouth by a milker!
Now we are in South Dakota. Thar are a lot of horses here.

Having fun on the road,

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

We love our family

We have arrived at our 12th stop on our summer trip across the U.S.  We have almost reached the half way mark.  I can hardly believe we have been on our trip over a month now.  I have to say that seeing all of these places we have never seen before has been a thrill, but what has been even better is getting to see our friends and family.

In Florida, when we first started our adventure, we got to visit all of our friends.  I especially enjoyed getting one on one time with my good friend Sylwia Pleak and her sweet girls, Chante and Sava (and her hubby Joe).  I miss you tons!  And I certainly wished I could have had her with me in New York....shopping in the city that never sleeps would be awesome.
And my wonderful friend Renae (daughter Abby and hubby Sid) again made us feel like we were right at home...which for my daughter Jessica is true as she claims Renae and Sid as her 2nd parents.  I loved Bunco at Renae's and getting a chance to take care of her for a change.  I'm glad to find out that after 9 weeks she can finally put weight on her foot (long story but she broke a bone in her foot, when I wasn't there to do anthing to help her).  At least I got to prepare the food for our cinco-de-mayo bunco for her.
We spent time there with our good friends and neighbors, who I hope will still like us after selling our house, Jackie and Kevin (daughter Raegan and son Zach).  You guys are the best neighbors we ever had, and I'm not just saying that because of the arcade in your house.  Everyone should be so lucky to have neighbors like them...they are the real deal and we miss them a lot.
Now when we started planning our trip we knew we wanted to see certain sights, but we also knew we wanted to see our family along the way, so here's a quick recap of who we have gotten to see so far:
South Carolina-
Larry and Bobbi Rice

Heidi and Scott (Montana and Tyler)

John, Cory and her brother Tommy

Tim and Tracy Brueggeman with
Molly and Miles, and Tim's dad, Bud.

North Carolina-
Patsy and Gene Hemphill (Chuck's Aunt and Uncle)
Cousins- Kevin and Jodi and Kelly and Sue


Tim and Bernadette Haggerty giving a
Washington Crosses the Delaware lecture

 Colby and Charley Haggerty (not pictured)
Kate and Dennis Varley

Tom and Sue Quirk (Chuck's Aunt and Uncle)

Pete and Vicki Coon ( Chuck's Aunt and Uncle)
Cousins Felicity and Caden ( we missed seeing their Mom and Dad, Matt and Karen as they were getting ready to move).

Now we are getting ready for the next part of our trip...we leave for Minnesota to visit our good friends Joel and Tara Rauenhorst.  We have been friends with them since the twins were babies.  Chuck and Joel flew F 18's together...now they are both retired from the Marine Corps. We are traveling and Joel has taken over his Dad's farm.  It will be fun laughing over old times

Naigra falls

Hay all my adoring fan's it's me Thomas reporting live from the windy city. To start you of we went to Niagara fall's, the Canadian side. Which is way better eh? It was awesome we got to see one of the most beautiful sites on our trip. We had a hotel room that looked right over the falls and to make things better we got to go behind the falls and see it in it's full glory and power which was quite wet remind you. After that we went to chicago and set up camp. That's pretty much it except for Tommy and Sue who were kind enough to let us use their house for a couple of day's. Thank's you two adoring fan's!

Sam and Niagara :)

After Ohio we went to Niagara Falls. I thought the falls were amazing. If you look at it from the hotel it looked as if it was a big gaping hole in the earth. We went behind the waterfall, it was soaking wet and cold, but it was fun. I found a bunch Canadian pennies and got lots of neat pictures. It was gorgeous. We ate pizza at our hotel room, and we also watched a movie. After Niagara we went back to Ohio and slept at Uncle Tommy's and Aunt Sue's old condo. After sleeping in the condo, we drove to Chicago. It was really long. We got there at almost 10:30 p.m. We set up the trailer and went to the Big skillet restaurant, it was closed. We went to I-Hop, It was closed too. Then we finally found an Applebees, had a big dinner and went to sleep in the trailer.

Uncle Tommy's Cabin.

Let's see where did I leave off. Oh yeah New York is for chics. We ended up getting matching I(heart)NY t-shirts as our souvenirs. We went to breakfast at the same spot two days in a row, Evergreen restaurant (highly recommended). Then we went back to the room, got packed up and jumped on the bus (tour), which was good for 24 hours, to get back to NY Penn station. We got back on the train heading back from New York. We picked up Swoosh from Tim and Bernies. This seems like so long ago now. It was great seeing them all, and thanks again to Tim and Bernadette for their wonderful hospitality.
I'll skip ahead to after leaving Pennsylvania. We arrived in Stow, Ohio at my uncle Tommy's townhouse. We rolled in exactly at 6pm as planned. It was a long day, but not overly so. Tommy pulled up right after we pulled in. He and Sue are still trying to get over there colds. They had their townhouse setup for us to use since they had moved into their new condo. They hung out and we BBQ'd some chicken. The next day, Saturday, I hijacked Tommy for some errands. I found a good rate plan and a nice 4G capable phone for Jenn (at Target of all places), which is what she really wanted for her birthday. Now she has a new phone, number and unlimited data, text and talk. No more 1000 minute limit for her. I hope I can still talk to her every once in a while. We decided not to take the Acer tablet back although it's playing second fiddle to the phone now. That night we went to a Kent State local establishment, Rays, and it was really good. We got ready for the trip to Niagara that night and turned in.
The trip up on Sunday took about 6 hours because we stopped at Meeters Restaraunt in Ripley NY then had to figure out how to get into Canada for the first time. We were a little nervous I must admit after hearing all the horror stories (more so coming back into the U.S.). We were trying to stay off the ubiquitous toll roads and turnpikes, and did a pretty good job until Betty (spit), our GPS, got me turned around.
The Peace Bridge was pretty easy and we didn't even have to exchange currencies, but I did as we left to come home since we'll be going back in July. Besides the kids are collecting coins now.
Niagara was awe inspiring and beautiful. Jennifer in true form reserved a suite for the night on the 34th floor overlooking the Horse Shoe Falls! We could have just sat in the room and enjoyed the view and that would have been enough for me.
Instead of waiting for the following morning we headed out and walked along the Canadian side looking at both falls from the cliff side park. Then we went down to the parkway and got an even closer view. We walked up to Horse Shoe Falls then into the Welcome Center (gift store and food place) where we hoped to discover some of the history. NOT. Tourism and Capitalism were in one of their purer forms here (as we will discover even more later). We had some time so we decided our one activity would be the "Behind the Falls" journey which took us down an elevator to near the base of the falls and into a tunnel behind the water. It wasn't what I expected. The Maid of the Mist tour probably would have been a better way to spend our $70, but the observation platform down there really let you appreciate the 34 million gallons per minute rushing over the 170 foot falls. They did take a tourist photo against a green screen that we really liked, and that was another $25, but hey, what the heck. We all actually had our eyes open and smiles on so we grabbed it! HA!
After the drenching at the falls we walked back up to the hotel where there was a guest reception. Jenn and I enjoyed our complimentary glasses of wine and the kids had some pretzels, gummy bears and sprites. Major junk food for them. We let Jessica babysit with room service pizza and a movie (Gulliver's Travels) and Jenn and I went down to get a dinner. The Keg Steakhouse overlooking the falls was $30-40 per plate so we decided to go downstairs to TGI Fridays, but they were the SAME PRICE! TGI Fridays! So we went back up and waited an hour for the table at the Keg Steakhouse. The wine was pretty good so the wait, although painful, got less so by the sip. :) When we finally got to our table we ordered a bottle of wine that cost less than the two glasses I got from the bar! This place was MORE gouge-tastic than New York if you can believe it. We spent more on our dinner and bar tab for Jennifer and I in Niagara Falls than we did at a nice restaurant in NYC for all six of us.
The dinner was wonderful though, the view fantastic, the company superb (we proposed to each other all over again - isn't that what you're supposed to do at Niagara Falls?) and to top it off, there were fireworks. The kids, however, couldn't see it from the room since it was over the America Falls vice Horse Shoe, so we called up to the room and had them run down to the restaurant to see them. They got there just in time to see a little plus the finale. They were good but didn't last long. Then Jenn had her latest accident, while running back to tell me the kids were at the window watching the fireworks she tripped on the stairs and bruised her hand while catching herself - thankfully averting another face plant. She waited to tell me until the morning.
Getting up on Monday we ate breakfast late and checked out. We headed back to the states without doing much in the way of sight seeing, and had an uneventful crossing back to the U.S.. The border guard was from Lithia, FL. He was like, "Where in FL did you live?" He knew were weren't some crazy Canucks when we were able to accurately describe in detail his former home town. No body cavity exam for me! Yeah. Woohoo.
So four hours and a couple of emergencies (bathroom and food) later... The Red Hawk Grille between Painesville and Mentor off the 90 was pretty darn good, if not expensive, we made it back to Uncle Tommy's Cabin.
We had dinner together again where I got to show Tom how to make the turkey veggie curry and garlic stir fry from the wedding lunch that he liked so much. Jenn did so much laundry that she pushed the dryer over the cliff in the middle of the last load. Tom and Sue were so wonderful that we wanted to stay and hang out for a month or so, but they had prospective renters coming to look at their place last night... (Hope it went well Tommy!)
We didn't get to tour the Kent State historical events, primarily because I had hijacked Tommy, Sue was really rough on Saturday, and Jenn and the kids were just enjoying the down time in a nice condo (a-la-Tommy and Sue).
Waking up on Tuesday the skies were black. We got all loaded up and then the storm hit. We made breakfast and Tommy and Sue came over to see us off. When the storm broke we said our good-byes and headed out. Betty (spit) turned me the wrong way onto a highway headed back to Cleveland (we had been heading towards the 30 and Fort Wayne IN). I was torqued a bit about that happening again, but we hit a good gas station where we got filled up and Jenn bought me a CLEVELAND BROWNS ball cap! It was sitting on my mirror when I got out of the restroom. :) Go BROWNS!
The trip across the plains was interesting. I was surprised at how many GIANT windmill generators were going up in the farmland of Ohio. When we got to Indiana it stopped. I don't like those things, even though it's supposed to be "clean" energy, they really junk up the view and the side effects from the electrical fields that those things generate is unknown. There were hundreds of them and more going up. Not one was turning and it was pretty windy. I wonder how many millions each of those cost.
We were running late so we had resigned ourselves to checking in after close time but eating dinner. The forgotten time change helped us out and we decided to push through. The kids thought we'd be spending our first night in a China Box (Walmart) parking lot if we didn't make it so they were not complaining about being hungry or having to pee. Amazingly we only hit about 20 minutes of traffic penetrating Chicago. We made it to a wonderful little hidden campground called Paul Wolff at Burnidge Forest Preserve. $25 a night (plus the $17 per night we lost on our reservation by not going to the Great Lakes training area campground) isn't bad. We had to get a 50' water hose and a filter (iron in the water) after dinner at the China Box. Real bathrooms. :) Its the little pleasures. Anyway, we ate about 10:30 last night and got to bed around 11:30. Yikes. Now, we're starting slow this morning and the ever-present storms are coming again. We're off to see Pete and the grandkids. Vicki's at work. Matt and Karen are down south looking at apartments, so it's just us.
Tomorrow we'll be off to Minnesota to see Joel, Tara, Kyle, Cassie and maybe Rachel for a few days. I think we've voted to meet at the Dairy Farm to see some cows on the way in. Signing off until then. Cheers!

Hi from Chicago, Illinois!

We got caught up in a storm yesterday before we got started on our trip. We did get to visit with Aunt Sue and Uncle Tommy while we were waiting the storm out. The storm was really small and it did not take to long for it to pass over us. When it was over we set off on our seven hour journey to Chicago. I can do 5 to 6 hours just fine, but 7 and a half is a little much for one day don't you think. I am not a long driving trip person, could you tell? Ha! I sound like such a whiner baby, I am having to much fun to be worrying about the driving. We skipped going to dinner so we would be able to make it to the campsite before it closed because there was a huge amount of traffic. There was a time change when we got into Chicago so it is one hour earlier than in the south. So we skipped dinner, saw the Chicago skyline, and made just in time to set up our camper in record timing. There was still the small problem of eating dinner, so we set of trying to find a restaurant that would still be open at 9:30 p.m. We did manage to find an Applebees, thank goodness. Then we went to Walmart to get stuff for the trailer.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Back from Niagara Falls, the Canadian side

We just got back from visiting Niagara falls, it was breathtaking to experience. Why do I say experience instead of see, well, we all went behind the falls and got to see it right up next to it and... it was wet, very wet. We stayed in the awesome hotel that overlooked the falls and we had pizza and watched Guilliver's travels while Mom and Dad had a nice dinner together last night. We also got to see the fireworks go off over the falls, they were very pretty. We ate breakfast and swam in the hotel pool and then we departed from Canada. The border was pretty painless in my opinion, Mom and Dad on the other hand thought it was rather annoying. We had so much fun though, Mom really enjoyed herself because Niagara was on her bucket list. :)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Hi hi hi! I have not blogged since I told you we were going to go horse back riding. Let me sum that up for you. IT WAS AWESOME! I rode a horse named Flee. Flee was so funny and nice.
I had a whole lot of fun in Pennsylvania. We visited with Tim and Bernie a lot. That was so much fun. Tim gave us a tour of Philly. While we were there we all tried a Cheese Steak. That was very yummy. We saw the Liberty bell, rubbed Ben Franklin's head, went through a museum of history, got sworn into being a president, and flipped a penny on Ben Franklin's grave.
Riding the train to New York was a whole lot of fun. But we did not get a taxi so we had to walk all the way to our hotel in Time Square. That was one heck of a walk. We tried New York style pizza that day. It was super yummy! Later Jessica and Mom went to the New York city ballet. Meanwhile Thomas, Sam, Dad, and I explored New York. We went in some shops and took pictures at Time square. It was so pretty when it was lit up.
The next day was tour time. We took a tour bus around New York and saw the sights. Later we went to Mary Poppins. That was so much fun!!!!!! Sadly the next day we had to leave. But before we left we all got I love New York t-shirts. Then we left.
We had a 7 hour drive to Ohio. Now we are staying at Uncle Tommy and Aunt Sue's Condo. Sam and I are sleeping in the man cave!!!
Having fun on the road,

Sam's post

After Virginia we drove to Pennsylvania and set up our trailer. We got invited to a barbecue by Tim and Bernadette, then after that we went to bed. In the morning I woke up to a big happy birthday and I turned ten. We ate breakfast and then went off to see Kung Fu panda 2. I had tons of fun at the movie, then went to Kate and Dennis's house. I thought it was funny because there was a hole in the ground were the stair case is. Then we went to ring rocks, you heard me ring rocks and they rang good. It's all from a glacier deposit and some how the rocks are hollow.
We finished my birthday at the trailer. We cooked the cake in a microwave type thing and it turned out good. I opened presents after we ate dinner and cake and I thought that all my presents were awesome. Then me and my siblings went and played wii and then we went to bed.

New York

HELLO ALL MY ADORING FAN'S! It's me Thomas reporting live. I just went to the big apple or the city that never sleeps.
Can you guess what it is? IT IS NEW YORK! We had the most wonderful time there. We got to tour the city and see all the sights and stores which of course were for girls. We got to sleep in a hotel at time square and got to eat a fancy dinner. At the last day we got to see Mary Poppins. It was SUPPER-CALLA-FRAGILLISTIC-ESPIEALA-DOSHAS. On the return trip we rode a train and had to find our car in a maze. Not fun. Then we traveled all day to Ohio were I am reporting in Tommy and Sue's old Condo. Well that's all for today. You guys and gals remain awesome. BYE!

Two states later

We have been on a whirl-wind of activities.  I am beginning to forget what day of the week it is and find myself counting days by what state we were in last.  New York and Pennsylvania were unforgettable.  The Haggerty family and Varley's made our time there wonderful.  Tim and Bernadette, you guys are the best!  The kids will never forget the Tim tour through Philly.  I feel like a native now that I have had a Philly Cheese Steak with Whiz at Geno's.
New York was a once in a lifetime experience.  Mary Poppins on broadway was amazing....well worth the money.   Staying in Times Square was so much fun for the kids.  They now know that New York is really the city that never sleeps.  (We saw people working in the office building across the street well past 10 p.m.)
Samuel turned 10 during our stay in Philadelphia.  He especially enjoyed ringing rocks near our campgound....I'll let him tell you more about that.
We have lots of pictures to share and we hope to put a few on the blog while we are here in Ohio.  We are visiting Chuck's Aunt Sue and Uncle Tom.  They have graciously given us their condo since they are now living in their new place nearby.  Unfortunately, Sue is quite under the weather, but being the amazing person she is, she had the condo and dinner for us on arrival.  Tomorrow we drive to Niagra Falls on the Canadian side.  We stay over night right near horseshoe falls.  Can't wait!

Good morning from Ohio!

We left Penn. yesterday and drove for 7 hours and 30 minutes, Ugh! I did not get car sick this time though because we drove mostly on the freeway which is mainly straight. We got to hang out with Uncle Tommy and Aunt Sue yesterday as well, we had dinner at there old condo. We will be staying in there old condo for two days not including last night. Swoosh has relaxed a bit now that he is back with us again.

P.S- While we were in New York we all got I Love NY t-shirts, mine is pink. I have been wearing since we got it :P

Later! -

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Quick Post from New York City.

New York is for chicks, I've decided. Not that it's not fun and all, but everything has been geared towards the girls so far. I'll explain myself later if I'm not too wiped out after Mary Poppins tonight.
On my last post we were in VA. Since then we moved to Pennsylvania. We skipped Gettysburg over Memorial Day weekend (not a big fan of crowds - NYC YIKES!). Anyway, we pushed on to Upper Black Eddy, PA near Allentown PA and north of Philadelphia where Jennifer's second cousins Tim and Bernadette Haggerty and Kate and Dennis Varley live. Tim and Kate (brother and sister) are Paul's cousins. Have they ever been great! Tim has bent over backwards in making the whole Philadelphia and New York experience amazing. As usual, I rolled into town without a plan and Jennifer's cousins filled in all the gaps and made the whole week just roll. So, back to why we pushed past Gettysburg. Tim and Bernadette were having a BBQ for their son Colby, who was home from Air Force training on his way to his first duty station in SD, and their son Charley who will be graduating from High School in a week. Kate and Dennis were going to be there and it was the perfect chance to catch up with them all. It was wonderful. This was Saturday and now it's Wednesday and I'm just starting to get hungry again. We got to meet their neighbors who let the kids borrow swimsuits to take a dip and they all had tons of fun.
So on Sunday was Samuel's 10th birthday. He wanted to see Kung Fu Panda 2, which was a worthy (funny) sequel to an awesome kid flick. We ate at Red Robin and saw that in IMAX. Once you've gone MAX, you'll never go back. :) We went over to Kate and Dennis' after that and saw their house (Dennis had designed it). It was very cool. They're expecting their first grand children (twins) on July 24th. Samuel was very patient, but he was wanting cake (baked in the trailer!) and his favorite dinner, chicken and noodles. Mission accomplished. He caught up to the other three with a Harry Potter wand of his own, a Wii game and some other things. He was very happy hearing from everyone (Cory, John, Tricia & Bob, Nate and Sarah, Paul & Claudia and Ben & Darlene, plus many more).
(I guess I'll keep going since the boys are just getting in the showers.)
Monday, Memorial Day, we made breakfast and then met Super Tim the Tour Guide and Burnadette at the George Washington Crossing Park on the Deleware River, where in 1776 Washington crossed on Christmas Day to engage the Hessians at Trenton in the first decisive victory for the Colonies in the Revolutionary War. The volunteers at the park were amazingly informative about the battle and the period in general. Thomas was entranced, as was I.
From there we went to Philadelphia, where Tim took us to eat a REAL Philly Cheese Steak sandwich "with wiz" at Geno's in Philly. This place is world famous apparently, and the family loved the experience. From there we saw the Constitution Center, which was fun. There were some parts that were standard propaganda, but it was fun. We saw the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall (my favorites), where it all began. Jefferson (with others) wrote the Declaration of Independence nearby and it was signed there. After we left Philly we went back and Bernadette had prepared, you guessed it, ANOTHER BBQ. :) After a long day of sightseeing it was the perfect way to wind down. We got to see Charley again too. We even did the toast to my fallen brothers as a group (I usually do it alone from the bottle of Crown Royal I got from doing a missing man fly over for my friend Matt). Kuddy, Woody, Boo Boo, Slim, Matty, Shoe, and others were remembered.
We slept fast on Monday night. We were up early Tuesday to meet Super Pet Sitter Tim at his house, where we left Swoosh for a couple of days. He led us to Hamilton Station in Trenton NJ where we caught our 1.5 hour train ride into NY Penn Station. The kids loved the train. We hiked over to the hotel (31st Street to 47th Street, about 1.25 miles). The kids were troopers. After checking in we went to get lunch at Rays Pizza for the authentic NY Pizza experience. We've done that twice now.

More later, my turn in the shower.

We just got back from Mary Poppins... more on that later... too?

After Rays for lunch we went to check out some places the girls had been eager about. Forever 21 and The American Girl store. We also saw the Lego store. We ate at City Lobster and Steak. The food was pretty good, the service pretty good, the prices... well, it is New York. Ouch. Afterwards we went to the GAP to find Shannon a dress (Its orange with white designs.. she wore it to Mary Poppins with her red Converse shoes). We put Jennifer and Jessica in a cab to the NYC Ballet and headed off to get ice cream at Ben and Jerry's in Rockefeller Center (underground in the mall area). We went back by the restaurant to pick up Jenn's shawl that she left and headed to Toys R Us and Best Buy for a little fun time. When we got back to the room we just hung out until Jenn and Jess returned. What a smile on Jessica's face. The ballet was very fulfilling for her.
Today started with our going to breakfast at Evergreen Restaurant. The hotel is extremely expensive on food. Then we bought a bus tour for us all and rode the bus in the sweltering heat and humidity. My kids from South Carolina were complaining about the heat. We have sun burns to prove it! The city information was pretty good, but nothing compared to the carriage rides in Charleston or Savannah. New Amsterdam must have been a pretty neat place back in the 1600's. We saw the Empire State building, Ground Zero, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the bridges, the U.N. (General Assembly), Chrysler Building, SOHO, TRIBECA, the lower East Side, Central Park, Battery Park, the entrance to the Museum of Natural History (Night At The Museum fame) and much more. We ate lunch at a cafe near the NY Stock Exchange with no other tourists in it... (very local of us). We had gotten off to see Ground Zero of the WTC and ended up walking to Battery Point and we ate lunch along the way.
For dinner we had planned to eat at Carmine's, but the pre-curtain crowd prevented that since we didn't plan reservations. A nearby sandwich shop sufficed.
Then we went to Mary Poppins.
Wow! The experience will be with the kids for their entire lives. Even Samuel will be hard pressed to forget going to see that show. Ashley Brown and Gavin Lee were Mary and Bert, and they were amazing. We came back, put the kids down, grabbed a glass of Pinot Noir and are calling it a night.
Tomorrow we're off, back to PA before we head to Ohio and Uncle Tom and Aunt Sue (who are still suffering from illness contracted at or enroute to the wedding).

Peace Now. Everyday's a Saturday.

Oh my gosh! What a rush!

Three days ago we were in Pennsylvania and hanging out with our awesome cousins Tim and Bernie. We were there for memorial day weekend and had lots of fun at there house. We also got to go to Philadelphia with Tim. We tried the famous cheese steak, I loved it, and we got to go see the liberty bell, some museums, and constitution hall, I think. The next day we rode the train into New york. We had to leave Swoosh with them because we couldn't possibly bring him into New York with us. Yup we are in New York and having a blast. Our hotel is right on Times square, called the Double tree. I went shopping yesterday at Forever 21 and got the most adorable sun dress and I wore it to the New York city ballet last night. I can't believe I actually got to see them! They were amazing and Mom and I had such a good time together. We have also gotten to try New york style pizza which I am now officially hooked on. Today we toured New york and got to see pretty much everything, we rode on one of those hop on hop off tour buses, it was fun. We saw Central park, the Empire State building, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis island. We are now getting ready to go out to dinner and then go to the Broadway show Mary Poppins.

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