Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tonight was amazing.

We went back and forth about eating out. We wanted to go over to see a dinner show, but also felt like we really should eat at home. We drove over to investigate the options for spending the night in the parking lot of the Capone Dinner Show because the alcohol is included in the cost of admission; I didn’t want to drive after drinking, and Gary didn’t think I should just forgo the free rum. Spending the night there was not possible, so we drove on.

We stopped at a Ponderosa Restaurant. Gary went in to investigate while I parked. He came out rather unimpressed, so we got back in the camper (not before Joshua accidentally stepping in a puddle of sludge!) and headed to Cici’s Pizza.

After dinner I noticed that we were close to Disney so we decided to drive over to see if there was a place to park the motor home thinking that we could walk around Downtown Disney.

The first two lots were full, and realizing that we weren’t going to pay the admission for Disney Quest, we drove on. I remembered that the Floridian Hotel had the gingerbread house that I have been pining to see for many years, so I thought we could just drive by. I didn’t think they would actually let us in just to gawk, but I was wrong. Not only were we directed to a huge cast parking lot, but we were met by the hotel manager on a golf cart who drove us right to the front door. As if that weren’t enough, she found us a little while later in the lobby and told us that she wanted to be sure that we experienced her hotel’s magic, and handed us a bag full of the complimentary pillow chocolates. I didn’t count them, but I’m guessing there were 30 or 40 of them!

We took pictures of the massive Christmas tree and the amazing gingerbread house, then wandered out by the pool to have a look. We headed down to the beach to enjoy the hammocks, but before too long we could see the fireworks from the Magic Kingdom so we walked closer to have a better view. It was incredibly exciting for all of us!

Then we wandered around the gift shops inside the hotel, taking many pictures of kids in a myriad of hats. It was a blast. 

I have always wanted to go see the interior of the Disney hotel, the Grand Floridian in particular because of the gingerbread house. In fact, whenever I have thought about planning a Disney vacation I’ve been terribly torn because I wanted to see the Christmas decorations, but I also wanted to visit the parks at a time when it would be less crowded. I feel like my dream has already been fulfilled. What an exciting evening!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The days are flying by so fast with little time for me to reflect. Today we woke up in the parking lot at Cracker Barrel. We had dinner there the night before after a harrowing experience where we literally felt that our lives might have been in danger.

Today was spent at the Wagon Wheel Flea Market; an exhausting endeavor. We have been able to pick up a few Christmas gifts for the kids in the past few days, so that’s been nice.

Doing the shuffle every night has been really tiring. I feel like we spend hours looking for a spot, scouting it out, and setting up, even when we have a place all lined up. That is the part that is really hard for me. That, and the constant stress from injuries. I’ve already been to the ER and the walk in clinic, and have three children with visible contusions on their faces. I can only imagine what people think!

Molly waiting.

Despite being told by three different medical providers that she needed to be seen not only in an ER, but that it was important that we take her to be seen in a children's hospital, they did nothing more than admire her laceration before sending us on our way.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ft DeSoto (Heaven on Earth)

Palm Harbor. Walmart. Unremarkable. We just spent the night and got on the road the next morning. We were anxious to get to my father’s house because we were planning to park the motor home with a neighbor of his for a month. Everyone was looking forward to settling down and enjoying being in one place for awhile.

We texted my father to let him know that we were 45 minutes away, and he texted back that our parking spot was no longer available, but he had a lead on a campground. As we had looked into all the camping options prior to coming down (and only came to Florida because he had a place for us to stay!) we knew that wasn’t going to work out for us. So we stopped driving and spent the night in another Walmart, this time in Brandon, FL.

The next morning my father mentioned that he had other options, so we headed over to his city to see him and what he had to offer. His condo doesn’t allow motor homes so we pulled into a nearby shopping plaza and he met us there. We walked down to his condo and out to the water where the kids found horseshoe crab shells by the dozen.

My father’s plan B also fizzled out, so we headed to a campground to regroup and figure out our next step. We had neglected to budget for lodging as we used most of our monthly budget for gas and planned on having a free spot.

We ended up at the campground at Ft De Soto. We met a park ranger who told us some funny stories. He was very animated making them much more entertaining then they will be here.

One night he was working late and got a phone call about a travel trailer on fire. He rushed down to the location to find a man laying on the ground yelling that his service animal was still inside. The ranger ripped open the door and ran inside to find a very agitated kangaroo. Said kangaroo was not in the mood to be rescued and stood up on his tail and kicked at the ranger’s chest until he was bruised and bloody. He said he got his butt whooped by a kangaroo, which his coworkers enjoyed reminding him of often. Our ranger friend finally managed to get the kangaroo outside and the man yells, “what about the other one?!?!” Thankfully “the other one” was just a goat!

The beach is just amazing. It feels like heaven to be here.

Last night we were walking down to the beach around dinner time. There was a raccoon making himself at home in the picnic area so I told the kids to make a wide path around him. We ran into two gentleman who were off to the side looking.

“Excuse me ma’am, what IS that?”

“That’s a raccoon.” I told him, “and you don’t want to get too close to it.”

“Oh, I thought it was a pet. There were some people feeding it and playing with it but I’ve never seen anything like it before.

After talking with them for a few minutes we discovered that they were from Bangladesh and even though they had been in the US for a great many years (including time spent in West Virginia and an encounter with a bear) they had never seen a raccoon.

We walked further on toward the beach, where an older woman was shooing the raccoon away and her daughter was scolding her. “No Mom, move! I’m trying to take a picture!”

It was then that we heard the gentlemen from before yell out in warning, “MAAM! NO! Don’t take a picture! That’s a RACCOON!”

The kids and I could not help but to burst out in laughter.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Last week (Monday 11/8 to Sunday11/14) was spent in North Carolina visiting with several friends. We went hiking and thrifting and stayed up way too late! I didn’t have a minute to blog (I was so busy that I still haven’t read a real letter I received while we were there!) The kids all ate (cold) Krispy Kreme donuts. Gary and I just sniffed as we are still sticking to our vegan diet.

Our friend took the kids four wheeling in their jeep and they got stuck in the river necessitating a hike out, a lawnmover ride back in, and a wench to pull them out. I almost got a ride, but as I climbed (way) up into the cab, someone stepped on the fire extinguisher and it appeared that something was on fire, causing our usually calm friend to scream, “EVERYONE OUT!!!” I guess it was a pretty funny sight as three adults and a gaggle of kids came flying out. He was able to use the leaf blower to clean it up, but that was enough excitement for me for one day!

Another thing that the kids couldn’t get enough of was riding the zip line into a pile of leaves. Our North Carolina friends really know how to keep our kids well entertained!

It’s Monday (11/15) and we are spending our second night in South Carolina. We had planned to visit with a friend in Georgia for a few days, but she was unavailable last minute so we decided just to head to Florida. As we went through South Carolina it’s beauty just sort of drew us in. We spent a night at the Walmart in Orangeburg and now we are sleeping in the parking lot of the Mount Pleasant Walmart.

We spent the day enjoying all that Mt. Pleasant has to offer. There is a beautiful new bridge with a wonderful park underneath. We played at the park, walked out on the pier, and had the pleasure of watching a cruise ship depart knowing that our friends were on board. We didn’t (couldn’t) plan that and were so excited to be able to wave to them (even if they couldn’t see us!).

This area feels like someplace that we could all be happy living near, and what is really interesting is that my best friend spent many years living here, and is planning a move back with her family within the next couple of months. I don’t feel like I’m quite ready to settle down anyplace until I at least get myself out to the west coast, but that would be pretty neat to live in the same state as my best friend of 25 years!

Gary called about a house we saw for sale here. It was very nice and near the beach, but 2.4 million (short sale for only 1.3 million!) is just a little more than we’d like to spend.

The trip is going really well. The space is really (really, really) tight, making it hard to navigate inside, but I like being so free. So far we have found free water and dumping, and have not been to a campground once in the two weeks that we have been gone.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

Yesterday we stopped for a couple of hours in Hershey Pennsylvania. The kids and I spent two days there last year and we wanted Gary to see it. We were in need of a driving break so it was perfect timing.

Milton S. Hershey is one of the greatest American heroes, in my humble opinion and not because he made the best chocolate, but rather because he failed several times in his business endeavors and never gave up, built an entire city and kept people working through the depression, and created a school for disadvantaged boys that is still operating today. If you get a chance, read up on his biography, it’s fascinating.

Last night we stopped for gas and found FREE water and FREE air. Woo Hoo! When we started this trip I was under the impression that we would only be able to travel for a night or two before requiring a campground visit in order to “reset” everything, but it seems like we might just be able to travel indefinitely without hooking up. It’s all very exciting to me and I feel like we are finally getting some experience under our belts.

I am hugely regretting not buying the travel coffee pots that Marden’s was selling for $10. Right now we need to turn on the generator to make coffee, but if we had that nifty coffee pot we could run it off the batteries. Oh well, I guess I just got caught saying, “I should have bought it when I saw it at Marden’s!”

We slept last night  in a Virginia Walmart, and today we travel to visit with some North Carolina friends.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I lost my entry from last night. Sigh.  I was all excited because we found a FREE dumping station that caused me to do a happy dance of joy in the parking area.

Also, leaving "first thing in the morning" translates literally as "3:00 in the afternoon". We got lucky this morning because no one remembered the time change so we got out early.

Last night we stopped in Poughkeepsie New York because it was home to the nearest Walmart to where the children’s complaints/baby’s crying started. I was so excited to be staying in Poughkeepsie and offered 10 points to whoever could tell me who lived in this wonderful town. Of course no one had the answer so I had to tell them; Poughkeepsie Phil!

While shopping in the Walmart I offered to cheer up a grumpy teenager by offering to ask every Walmart employee if they knew Phil personally because we had traveled all this way and hoped to meet him.

Later, in the camper after singing “Poughkeepsie Phil” out loud for the four hundredth time that “Puxatony Phil” came out instead. Ooops. Then of course everyone claimed they would have known who lived in Puxatony!

We had a great time last night laughing way too hard. I know it’s only been a few days and our trials have been few, I’m really enjoying this.

Katherine would like to give a shout out to Amanda and the Gang. I’m going to have to see about setting her up with a user name on this blog so she can post. She has a lot to say; her journal is filling up quickly.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Massachusetts has a hold on us.

We are embracing this new freedom. While we only planned to be here for one night, we keep staying, simply because we can. The kids are having a blast with their friends, Molly is getting in some good Grandma time, and Gary has been helping my mother with a project.

Noah’s best friend Stevie was told that we would be gone by the time he got home from school today. We of course are still here. I heard the school bus arrive, then I heard Stevie yelling, “Yes! Yes! Yes! Noah’s still here!” I looked out to see him running and jumping with joy.

We debated the merits of borrowing my mother’s car tomorrow so we could head into Boston to purchase a museum membership that could be used reciprocally throughout the country, but as I head to bed tonight the plan is to just drive south.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


It's been a looooong day (heck, it's been a long week!) but we are finally on our way and have successfully landed in Massachusetts. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

The First Post

Welcome to the new blog. We are 4 days from departure for our amazing adventure, which means that I have no time to be sitting here blogging. If you see my husband, tell him I was packing! Thanks!