Des Moines, Iowa

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Oh boy. The drive to our campsite was an adventure. We left early as we had a five hour drive ahead of us. To shorten the drive, a bit, we decided not stop at Walmart. Instead, we found a McDonald’s at a truck has station to make lunch for ourselves and get McDonald’s for the kids. During this stop, Damon decided to start the van to charge the battery. Somehow, the doors locked and the keys got stuck inside while the car was running. Everything seemed okay, so we continued on to our campsite.

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This is the first time Google directions has failed us. Our first attempt to find our campsite led us to a road that was closed for construction. Then it left is to a camp that looked like it connected to our campground but we couldn’t be sure the roads were public so we turned back. We talked to some construction guys who were able to point us in the right direction, which, of course, is when we see the detour signs to our campground. During this time, we’d been driving down very dusty, dirt roads – our RV and car looked great. It’s only after we find the camp that we discovered that the very first road we came upon an hour before led directly to the campground. Google was sending us down the “shortest/fastest route”, not the easiest route. I really wish Google maps would get an RV option.

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We arrived at a beautiful state park, with no cell service – of course. Since we couldn’t turn the car off, we couldn’t detatch it which meant we couldn’t park the RV. So we headed to the local Walmart – they have lots of parking where we could leave the RV while we waited for help, plus we could go shopping.

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After we got the car unlocked (which took the guy about 15 seconds to accomplish), we headed back to our campsite to set up – which took a couple of trys. The signs at our site were confusing, so we pulled in one direction. Then after conferring with out neighbors we realized we weren’t parked in the right direction, so Damon had to turn us around. Needless to say, it was a long day.

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The next day was the Fourth of July and we didn’t have anything planned. We spent the morning plotting our next several stops, including adding a stop in Indianapolis. We got excited, and wanted to plan more, but this is difficult without cell service – so we headed to McDonald’s. The kids got to eat while Damon and I planned our leg after Chicago.

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We drove around a bit afterwards to run some errands. No thrifting, as all the stores were closed. But we did get the car washed (which was desperately needed after our drive down a dusty, dirt road) and picked up stuff for a cookout.

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We spent the evening enjoying our outdoor campsite. Damon hung the festoon lights, set up chairs, and put out the rug, making the whole area feel very cozy. The boys had fun playing outside. We even roasted marshmallows and had s’mores (little-dude loved that).

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The next day we took the boys to the Blank Park Zoo – Mini-man loves his animal books and was very excited to go inside. Despite being the day after a holiday, it was pretty empty and they had a lot of animals out. We got very close to a tiger, giraffe, and penguins – all of which Mini-man adored seeing. Little-dude enjoyed walking around and climbing on anything he could. As for me and Damon, we had our first real experience in parenting in the summer – enduring the heat so our kids could have a fun day at the zoo.

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Afterwards, we hit a few thrift stores and scored some awesome toys for the boys – including a stuffed horse that mini-man is in love with.

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One advantage to being in an area with few attractions and no cell service, is you eventually run out of attractions and start to tackle the little projects that have been put on the back burner for months. Damon fixed several drawers, reattached some fallen trim, installed a new bathroom faucet, and reinstalled our digital picture frames. These small projects didn’t take long and it felt amazing to have them complete.

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Out last day in Des Moines was beautiful. We were outside when mini-man kept asking to ‘wis’ (his word for swim). Knowing there was a lake next to our campground, we thought we would try to have the kids swim in a lake for the first time (we tend to avoid lakes in Florida thanks to alligators).

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It took some coaxing, but once we got the kids into the water they were sold. The both ran around, splashing and playing to their hearts content.

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Afterwards, we took the boys to get something to eat when it became apparent that they still needed to play. Fortunately, there was a playground next to the McDonald’s and the boys had a blast running around. It was a wonderful way to spend out last day.

This stop very satisfying – we had a cook-out, went swimming, went to the zoo, and completed a bunch of projects. Now onto our thirtieth state – Nebraska.

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Hittin’the Road – Part III

After six weeks in San Antonio, it’s time for us to get back on the road. It was great to have a break and get so much accomplished. Now that the batteries are recharged and we’re reorganized, were ready to go!

  1. San Antonio, TX: Ok, so we’re only going 30 minutes away but we have somethings we want installed and fixed before we truly hit the road. Plus we can visit Gruene.
  2. Seminole County State Park, TX: Rio Grande!
  3. Maverick Ranch, TX: because Texas is big and takes a while to get out if 😋
  4. Brantley Lake, NM: Home of Carlsbad Caverns.
  5. Albuquerque, NM: Everyone says it’s beautiful
  6. Navajo State Park, NM: Close to Four Corners (cause why not!). Plus, close to snow areas in Colorado to take the kids sledding!
  7. Grand Canyon, AZ: Never been and heard it’s a fun stop.
  8. Southern California: no exact stops, yet, but excited to explore
  9. Sequoia National Forest: I’ve always wanted to visit
  10. Lake Tahoe, CA: Another beautiful place to visit
  11. Northern California: Still researching stops but really excited to explore this area
  12. Redwood National Forest, CA: Another place I’ve always wanted to visit
  13. Coastal Oregon: Still researching the area but need to go through this area to get to our final stop
  14. Seattle, Washington: Damon and I visited here a few years ago and loved it! Plus, it’s a short ferry ride from Victoria, home to the Butchart Gardens

San Antonio – Week 4, Part I

No days off from being a mom

Sure, cause who wouldn’t want to move during the holiday while sick with kids 😝 But we only had a few days to get everything moved – thank goodness we had some help.

Ready to move!

Thursday: Damon’s parents showed up in the morning and we got to work moving into our new RV. Fortunately, we were able to park both trailers near each other, so we didn’t have to move our stuff too far. 

Me and my boys ❤️

It is very interesting to try to move when you have two kids and you love to be the one organizing everything. After some trial and error, I ended up at the new RV directing people where to put stuff.

I think they were trying to tell me something

After a fairly productive day, we rewarded ourselves with a trip to the San Antonio Zoo to see their Christmas lights. 

Amazing lights!

It was nice to walk around the zoo and enjoy the atomosphere. 

Building a fort

Friday: We managed to 90% of the trailer enpty by the end of the day. Which gave us time to relax outside and enjoy the day. It’s nice to move without too much stress.

Three men standing around the RV with the hood open … This can’t be good

During this time, we realized that the batteries on the RV weren’t holding a charge! Luckily, people in the RV community are very friendly and we had someone helping us instantly. After charging the driving battery all night, we learned that we needed a new one. Glad we learned that now while we have time to fix it than in the middle of nowhere, like we did in the past.

Back to a minivan!!!

Saturday: New RV means we didn’t need our Chevy Suburban any more. Now we have a 2009 Honda Odyssey. To be honest, I’m not going to miss the suburban and thrilled to be back in a mini van – it’s quiet, more fuel efficient, much more comfortable and there’s room for me to be near both kids in the back.

Playing with the grandparents

Sunday:  As the old saying goes ‘All good things must come to an end’. We managed to clean out the trailer and get her ready to sell by the end of the afternoon (not too bad for four days of work). And after spending some time in the new RV, I’m not going to miss our old one. I love our adventures in it but I’m thrilled to have our new one and can’t wait for new adventures to come. 

First, big drink in a long time – let’s just say it ended in giggles

We capped off the trip at the RiverWalk and eating at a fabulous Mexican restaurant, called Rita’s (Very good!).
Now to get everything organized and ready for the road in just two weeks! 

Visiting SeaWorld San Antonio

Mini-man’s first visit to SeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld has a special place in my heart. I grew up going to the park in San Diego and worked for the Orlando park marketing for many years. So I was very excited to have the opportunity to visit the San Antonio park.

Some of my favorite SeaWorld memories

Now before I talk about our visit, I want to make something clear – I support Seaworld. They aren’t perfect, but no company is. As a whole, their efforts help marine animals around the world is incredible. I don’t care if you’ve seen that film. Seeing a 90 minute documentary doesn’t make you an expert. Educating yourself, helping animals, dedicating your life to conservation – that makes you an expert. Which is what SeaWorld is all about – teaching the public how to care for our oceans. Because if we don’t, then we’re in danger of losing a whole, valuable eco-system. Now I will step off my soap box and tell you about our wonderful trip!

Main entrance to the park

Unlike her sister parks, SeaWorld San Antonio is a seasonal park. Right now, they are only open on weekends and start letting people in at 1p. Another difference is their entrance plaza. Unlike San Diego and Orlando, all of San Antonio’s parks are next to each other.

Entrance to SeaWorld

So when we arrived, we were greeted by a nice, albeit slightly confusing, entrance plaza. 

Both boys enjoyed the Bay of Play area

Once we entered the park, the first thing we see is Bay of Play, the kids play area. This is great for us, as we could get the kids out instantly and start playing.

The comedy styling of Clyde and Seamore

Next we headed to see everyones favorite sea lions – Clyde and Seamore. I’ve always loved them since I was a child. However, the jokes in the show only made sense to locals, which I guess is their primary audience.

I. ❤️. 🐧!

Afterwards we headed to see the penguins, one of the few animal exhibits in the park. I love penguins and felt giddy going through the exhibit. Mini-man even enjoyed seeing the penguins!

The area outside of Shamu Stadium was beautiful

At this point, the sun is setting and the Christmas lights are starting to come one. The park was absolutely beautiful covered in 8 million lights. 

Im super proud of this picture. I’m no photographer, so the fact that this came out makes me really happy.

Next up, was an impromptu stop to see Shamu’s Christmas Miracle. I’m so glad we stopped. It’s a beautiful show filled with Wonder music. Plus, their staduim wraps around their killer whale pool, giving everyone a nice view of the show. 

Loved all the lights

At this point, we we’re all tired, so we started to head towards the front of the park. This worked out well as most of the pathway was lined with Christmas lights. 

We had a great time and highly recommend visiting the park if you ever get the chance.

San Antonio – Week 1, Part II

Our temporary home while the RV was in the shop

Since our RV was in the shop, we spent the second half of the week in a rental house, near downtown. 

The famous San Antonio RiverWalk

Monday: After relaxing in the morning, we decided to take advantage of our proximity to downtown and headed to the RiverWalk. I’ve heard wonderful stories about the RiverWalk, and it did not disappoint – it was beautiful and really lovely place to walk around (although I could imagine it’s not so nice when it’s busy). 

Happy to get some good Mexican food. Not the greatest I’ve ever had, but still satisfying

Mini-man fell asleep, so we decided to stop and have some food. It was enjoyable to eat and drink by the river front. The food was good but the service was terrible – we ordered just appetizers, which hadn’t come when I saw another table receive their entree’s, which were ordered after ours. We didn’t get anything until we complained. Super annoying

Mini-man made himself at home in the rental house. Nice layout, but too big for us

Tuesday: What. A. Rough. Day. Little-dude hit the peak of teething, so I was up most of the night nursing him. I was exhausted. When I finally got him to sleep, mini-man woke up and started making tons of noise. Resigned to no sleep, Damon and I traded kids – I played with mini-man and he carried little-dude. 

Little-dude loves playing with the other baby

But of course, when mini-man got tired, we switched back – mini-man went down for a nap with Damon and little-dude woke up wanting to play. Don’t know how I ended up with the awake child all day. By the end of the day, I was tired and very cranky. Fortunately, Damon and I stopped and talked, which always helps. We eventually got both kids to bed and I managed to catch up on sleep.

This playground was just a short walk from our rental and was great for mini-man

Wednesday: This time, everyone got great sleep, which means energy. We took advantage and headed out to play. We found this amazing playground the mini-man loved. Lots of things to touch, splash, climb, and play on. And it was empty! It also gave Damon and me some ideas for a future project. 

Huge slide!

Interesting story: while mini-man was playing on the splash pad, some people come by with their dogs and were high on something. They start letting their dogs go into the water (which isn’t allowed), intentionally scaring them, and let them drink the water. I’m an animal person and hate seeing animals harmed, so I mentioned that the dogs could get sick from drinking the water. Two of the group were nice about it, but the third (obviously the dumbest of the group), took offense and started arguing that I was accusing him of mistreating his dog. 

The playground was so amazing, Damon couldn’t resist playing on it himself

Luckily, the other two pulled him away before anything could happen, but I really couldn’t believe what was happening and got very upset. I was trying to help and get attacked. I truly feel sorry for the dogs. 
Fortunately, we didn’t let that little episode ruin our day. We spent the rest of the morning, enjoying the playground. 

Lovin’ my new clothes

After a lunch break, we head to the mall for a much needed shopping trip for me. My body’s changed since having two kids and many of my clothes are either maternity or nursing tops. I was ready for some new clothes that fit better but still allowed me to nurse. I feel so much better with my new clothes!

One week down, four to go and so many more things that we want to do.

San Antonio – Week 1, Part I

Welcome to San Antonio

We’ve been in San Antonio for a full week and a lot has happened. 

Mini-man didnt care that the water was cold, he went straight in

Thursday: This is the first stop in a long time that’s had an opened pool. So once we set up, we had to visit, much to mini-man’s delight.

Watching big brother, who’s almost ready for a bicycle, is fun!

Friday: A much needed shopping day. After weeks of small towns with small grocery stores, it was wonderful to get back into a Costco and Sam’s Club to stock up on some basic supplies.

Saturday: We met up with my Uncle Sherif and Aunt Coral for lunch at In-and-Out Burger and enjoyed catching up. 

Then we took our kids to SeaWorld. With this visit, I’ve officially visited all the SeaWorld parks. Although it’s the smallest, that worked for us since we had two small kids. We enjoyed seeing the lights but wished  there were more animal exhibits. See more in our Visiting SeaWorld San Antonio blog post.

We love our trailer, but she needed some help

Sunday: As you may recall, we’ve had some issues with our RV for a while (electrical, water, just a couple of small things) and FINALLY got it into a repair place. The day was rough as both kids had horrible nights and we were all tired and cranky. Luckily, Damon and I regrouped and managed to get our things together and move into a rental house. 

Fun fact: my dad and Uncle Sherif, one of his best childhood friends, were born on the same day 😄

After a quick drop off, we headed to my Uncle and Aunt’s house for dinner. It was fun to see them for a few hours and have a delicious meal, prepared by my Uncle. 

Not quite done!

All that in just half a week! See what we did during the second half, in our San Antonio, Week 1, part II blog post. 

Texas Stop #2 – Land of Lights

During our walk through downtown Corsicana, I learned of a local Christmas light attraction, The Land of Lights. So after our time in Waco, we decided to visit. What we found blew us away – almost two miles of lights, music and vignettes. It was very well done and we all had a great time.

Pretty Pittsburgh – Part III

Phew! As you saw in Pretty Pittsburgh – Part I and Part II, we did a lot in two days, including visiting Carnegie Mellon and lots of shopping. Too much, it turns out, as we ended up exhausting ourselves and the kids. So we agreed to slow it down for a few days.

Part of being overwhelmed was the fact that the trailer was a mess – again. Tired of all the stuff everywhere, we started sorting each room, fixing, organizing, and purging as much as we could. After a few hours, we felt miles better. 

Partly to reward ourselves, partly because we’ve wanted one for a while, we decided to get a drone. We’ve researched them for a while and found one at Costco that had amazing reviews and folds up for easy storage! Damon was so excited, he started charging the battery in the car 😂

However, the kids we’re going stir crazy in the car, and we were looking at a long drive home thanks to traffic. Instead of sitting in traffic, we pulled over and visited Three Points Park, where the three rivers of Pittsburgh meet. It’s also home to the Pittsburgh Steelers (it’s refreshing to be back in a town that takes pride in it’s football team. It reminds me of San Diego, before the Chargers left.)

We’ve learned that anytime we decide to stop and rethink our next step, it’s always better. And this visit proved it. The park is beautiful and we had fun spending some time with the kids there 😍 (which is way better than sitting in the car with two stressed kids in traffic 😱).

The next day was spent with completing more projects and playing with the drone. As you can see, it takes some pretty cool video. 

So many things accomplished, and yet, there’s more! Check out our final part in Pretty Pittsburgh – Part IV.

Calm Week in Cape Cod

Farewell Connecticut

After weeks of short stays, it was great to stop for a full week in Cape Cod at Sweetwater Campground – especially since I sick.

Home to a beautiful lake

Located in the heart of Cape Cod, Sweetwater Forest Campground is a beautiful place to set up camp – campsites we’re spaceous and far apart. It can be a bit confusing to navigate, so I highly recommend calling them to arrange a campsite (their online directions are confusing if you’ve never been there). It’s great for families with a beautiful lake and fun playgrounds for the kids. The only downside for me isn’t their fault but there isn’t a fast food place or large grocery store that’s really close (being from Orlando, I’m used to having four grocery stores within 10 minutes of my house). Other than that, I highly recommend this park.

Diggin up some fun while mommy got some rest

On our first day, Damon took the boys and explored the campground, which gave me some much needed time to rest. I felt a lot better by the end of the day.

Finally got little-dudes bouncer installed and he loves it!

The next day was a bit gloomy out, so we used the time to restock and finish some projects, including our water leak! Turns out that one of the valves was loose. Once we tightened it, the leak disappeared (thank goodness for an easy fix – we have too many other big ones to solve at the moment).

This lake was amazing. Mini-man loves throwing rocks and playing with the water

The next few days were all about relaxing and enjoying the campground. We were so tired from the constant travel that it was great to just enjoy time together as a family. One of the highlights was their gorgeous lake. Mini-man loved walking there and discovered throwing rocks into the water.

Welcome to Provincetown

A friend of Damon’s recommended that we visit Provincetown, about an hour from our campground. 

Me and mini-man

We arrived at lunch time and after driving around we found that there were many cute restaurants. The downside to this adorable town was the small streets that are shared with houses, parked cars, bicycles, and pedestrians. So you can imagine how nerve wracking it was to drive our monster SUV around 😱

Lunch time!

Once we parked, we walked around and stopped at ‘The Post Office Cafe and Cabaret’, food by day and the best entertainment in Provincetown by night. We stopped here so we could enjoy some local seafood outside and get mini-man some toddler aimed food (i.e. french fries 😝). 

Trying some local cuisine

Overall, not a bad place. It took a while to get any service and it wasn’t always clear who was serving. I ordered the lobster-crab cakes, which I’m pretty sure we’re shrimp, not lobster and okay for that (never really been a fan of shrimp). Damon got a cup of clam chowder and the pulled-pork sandwich – both of which were fine. It took a while to get refills and our bill (the servers kept disappearing and generally weren’t  that friendly). We enjoyed the experience but probably wouldn’t go back.

Perfect afternoon for visiting the beach and throwing rocks

Afterwards, we decided to walk the boys over to the beach (can’t visit cape cod without visiting the beach). The weather was beautiful and perfect for a walk on the beach. Of course, mini-man had to throw some rocks into the water. However within a few minutes, both boys showed signs of wanting naps.

These small, walkable streets were cute but hard to drive down

So Damon carried little-dude and I pushed mini-man in the stroller, and went for a walk through the town. Both were asleep within minutes. 

Provincetown is  made up of art galleries, restaurants, more art galleries, B&B’s, and even more art galleries (did I mention there were art galleries? 😝)

Mmmmm…. Tastes like chicken

After enjoying a short walk, we headed back to the car. While we enjoyed our time, we had an hour drive ahead and still needed to make dinner.

More playground fun

We spent our last day at Sweetwater playing with the boys and finishing some last minute projects. This was definitely what we needed to rest up from lots of traveling. 

Bye-bye Sweetwater

Now we are ready to get to our ultimate destination – Springfield, Vermont. With projects out of the way and feeling rested, we’re hoping to get to see a lot of this area.

One Night Stand in Stonington, Connecticut

We officially survived boondocking. While most of it was ok, the no AC in the heat was no bueno and no running water thanks to our latest RV issue – a leak near the water heater (can’t wait to get this girl into the shop).

We’ve learned that trying to drive long distances with kids and cats leaves us all pretty drained and not a lot of time to set up the RV. So we decided to cut our NY stop short and head to Cape Cod early, with an overnight stop in Connecticut, at Seaport RV Resort.

While we didn’t get to experience everything at the campground, it was quiet, well kept, and very pretty. Their site offer mini-golf and an outdoor laser tag, which looked like fun. The site is also located in Mystic (as in Mystic Pizza 😍). Definitely keeping this one on our list to revisit if we get the chance.

This stop became a huge blessing. While the short drive was nice, it was great to not be in the car for hours while sick. As luck would have it, the boys all got runny noses but I got a full-blown cold. I needed rest – desperately.

As most mom’s know, the best you’ll get is sitting while watching a kid, but at least I got some sleep. I can’t wait for this to go away ’cause our time here is up.

At least we’re in Cap Cod for a full week! Fingers crossed I’ll be better soon and can enjoy some of it.