The Redwood Forest – Take 2

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After a rocky stay at our previous RV resort, we moved an hour away to the nearby city of Crescent City. Its still near the Redwood Forest (much closer), AND has cell service, wifi, local attractions (like an aquarium!), and stores.

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After a quick stop to get a picture of the RV next to Paul Bunyon (!), we made the quick journey to our next park. Just after pulling in, we felt so much better than our last place – the wifi is super fast, its much warmer and there’s a playground right in front of our site.

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We spent the next day exploring the local thrift stores – not too much but I did score some great coloring books for mini-man. After a quick stop at the store, we spent the rest of the day in the RV, resting. The boys have each been going through their own stuff – mini-man’s sleep schedule is way off and little-dude is constantly eating. Both mean that Damon and I aren’t getting much sleep.

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After playing a bit of catch-up on sleep, we went out on Friday to track down a package of ours. What started as a 20 minute drive to the post office, turned into over an hour drive back to our old RV park. They sent someone to get the package but didn’t know when he’d return… ya, this place just keeps getting better and better.

At first, we tried to stay in the area by visiting a local attraction. However, by the time we got somewhere, mini-man was asleep. I was getting frustrated at this point as we had no cell service so we couldn’t research or navigate anything! While the place we stopped at had a map, we discovered that most of the attractions closed soon and wouldn’t be open long enough for us to pick up our package.

At this point, I was done and we headed back to Crescent City. On the way, Damon stopped at a thrift shop so mini-man could sleep. Of course, as soon as he left the car mini-man woke up and started screaming (yup). At this point, we’d been trapped in the car for over three hours. I can’t blame the kids for feeling frustrated and I felt it too because I couldn’t help them. Lesson learned – if the 20 minute trip starts to get longer, stop and regroup. As we learned, our trip soon became not only longer, but went to a place with no cell service or way to get stuff for the kids.

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Thinking fast, Damon took us to an aquarium across the street from the thrift shop. This turned into a fun stop. Ocean City is an old barge turned into an aquarium, home to sea lions, fish, and sharks. I loved how close up we could get to all the animals, mini-man loved all the sishes, and little-dude loved getting to walk around. It was exactly what we needed after that frustrating car ride.

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I think this car ride came back to bite us later. We’d spent a few days trapped in the RV due to all the lovely rain we were getting and needed to get out. So on Sunday afternoon, we planned to go get lunch and do some shopping. However, mini-man was not having it. He absolutely refused to leave the RV. Instead of facing a car ride with a screaming toddler, I sent Damon to get lunch and I stayed back with the kids. In an attempt to relax with little-dude, I set mini-man up with books, food, and his favorite fish documentary. He loved it – for five minutes. Just as I was getting little-dude down for a nap, mini-man started screaming and throwing things. It took some time, but once I was able to get away from little-dude, I was able to help mini-man calm down and figure out what he needed.

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By Monday, we were thrilled to get a break from the rain and have a warm, sunny day – so we created a plan to get out of the RV. Step 1 – get mini-man in the van. This was not easy but banana’s seemed to lure him in. At least it worked.

We had an ambitious day planned that started with going back to our old RV Resort again. This time, we were better prepared – lots of snacks and activities to get us there and back. And, success!, we managed to get our package without too much drama.

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Next we headed to the Tour-Through tree – an old Redwood that had an opening carved in it wide enough to get a car through. Now this isn’t the famous one (that’s in Eureka), but this was cheaper and way less crowded. In fact, we had it all to ourselves and took advantage – lots of pictures and drive through at least four times.

At this point, our quick dash up there meant that we were all getting hungry and needed lunch. We tried to head back to Crescent City but it soon became clear that wasn’t going to happen.

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A quick stop at the Trees of Mystery to get some selfies with Paul Bunyon proved to be the perfect solution. We all were able to get out and explore the gift shop. And, as a huge bonus, there was a restaurant, called Cafe Forest, directly across the street.

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Not wanting to drive 30 more minutes for fast food, we thought we try it. The food was pretty good but the experience was unforgettable. Think Rainforest Cafe on a DIY budget – plastic flowers in the ceiling in one section and a fish section (which is where we sat, of course). They even had a corner for babies and toddlers to play while the food was being prepared. I absolutely loved that the kids were entertained and we all got to eat. It was the break we all needed.

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After piling back into the van, we headed to the Redwood Forest. Thanks to our break, the kids took naps during the drive. We chose the Stout Trail, about 15 minutes from Crescent City, because it offered a short hike into the forest – giving you the experience without venturing too far from your car.

The kids woke up shortly after we arrived and we headed onto the trail, or at least we tried to. Mini-man was not having it. There’s nothing like tranquil silence pierced with toddler screams. After trying to gently walk mini-man with me, I just picked him up and carried him to the trail.

The funny thing is, that once we were on the trail, he was fine. He even started exploring the trail on his own, touching things and laughing. Complete turn around from the screaming toddler we had earlier. Little-dude loved it too – any time he gets to walk, touch, or climb stuff, he’s on board.

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And am I ever glad that we didn’t stay in the car like mini-man wanted. Walking among these gigantic trees was incredible. And each is different – growing, twisting, and forming different from one another. Some had survived fires and natural disasters by combining with other trees and continuing to grow. Other fallen trees helped by decomposing and creating healthy soil for the other trees. It was one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve ever had.

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And to make it even cooler – this is where they shot Return of the Jedi! Yup, Stout Grove is the exact location of the Ewok Village (So cool!)

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I’ve recently started reading Candace Cameron Burre’s new book, Kind is the New Classy, and a particular passage struck me today – I let my negativity shadow the experience. This definitely happened to me during this stop. I allowed my negative experience at the previous RV resort to color my mood (and my lack of sleep definitely didn’t help). I was ready to just pack up and leave this stop without doing anything because of my mood. I am super happy that Damon helped me push through that and get out. I wouldn’t have these experiences if it weren’t for him. Now, I’m really going to try and not let my negative experiences stop me from having positive experiences.

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And now, it’s time to say good-bye to the Golden State and head to a state that I’ve never been to – Oregon. We have reservations as beach RV resorts for the next three weeks – which will hopefully be relaxing and fun.

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The Road to the Redwood Forest – A Series of Hurdles

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This leg of our journey started as a comedy of hurdles – just as we cleared one, another one pops up, attempting to trip us up.

We start at 330a when mini-man decided to wake up to make noise, which woke up little-dude. They went back down around 7a. With a long drive ahead of us, Damon went to get some more sleep while I stayed up (hate not being able to go back to sleep). Hurdle #1 cleared!

Around 8 Damon was up, so he finished our prep to leave. Of course when we want to leave, can we can’t – the jacks wouldn’t lower due to low voltage (I guess this program is a girl since it doesn’t say what it means). According to the internet ( thank goodness it decided to work), it means that a breaker, somewhere under the couch had tripped (why are these important things hidden?).

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While Damon hunted for the breaker switch, I sat trapped under a sleeping baby freezing since we’d already unhooked and hadn’t turned on the main heater yet. After a bit of a search, the breaker was found and we could raise the jacks. Hurdle #2 cleared.

As we pulled out of our space, the downward hill caught Damon off guard and he stopped short, causing the van to hit the bumper. No damage (thank goodness). Sailed over that hurdle!

Now, were finally on the road and we lose cell service. Usually, I take this time to update our blog posts and catch up on our social channels. This becomes really hard to do when I have no cell service. So to help, Damon pulled over and hooked up our hard-drive to my tablet so I could at least watch something along our journey. Hurdle #4 no problem.

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Back on the road, we encountered our next hurdle – the 101 highway. This is a scenic highway that drives along the Pacific Ocean. While beautiful – it’s definitely not fun to drive with an RV. It also added an hour to our drive time. Amd, ok top of that, we had a lovely layer of fog to contend with. Hurdle #5 survived.

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After four hours, we pulled into Eureka for lunch and shopping. This was the first time in a week that we’d been close to any big shopping areas and really needed to restock. After grabbing some lunch, we headed to our favorite place – Walmart. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to tell a Super Walmart from a regular Walmart anymore and this one was the latter. This means that their grocery section is very small. I was not happy that we couldn’t get that much.

To solve this, we found a local grocery store and managed to get some more stuff. This is one of the harder aspects of being on the road – you can’t always get the items you are looking for (especially in smaller towns).

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At this point, we were all really tired. Little-dude was already asleep and mini-man was in desperate need of a nap. With about 45 minutes left to go, the boys and I all took a nap. Unfortunately, as soon as Damon pulled into the RV park, both boys woke up – and they were cranky.

I wish I could say that this was the end of our troubles, but as you will see in the next post, it was just the beginning.

Ft. Bragg

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It’s a shitty job, but someone’s gotta do it

Our journey began with a bit of a bit of a woosh – literally. Before we left the RV park, we pulled up to the dump station to empty our black water tank (a.k.a. our sewage). As Damon went to drain it, sewage came spilling out (ew!). We think he forgot to close a valve from a previous dump. Thank goodness we had a sewage cap or things could’ve been much worse.

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Damon came back in smelling just lovely (as you can imagine) and, smartly, changed his clothes. Unfortunately, he still smelled for a while during the drive (and, yes, he did wash his hands – several times). I guess sewar is a hard smell to get rid of.

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Having fun!

About an hour into our drive, we stopped at a local shopping area for lunch and grocery shopping. This place was cute and had a lot of stores within walking distance. We hit a GameStop, Goodwill, Burger King, and Walmart, all in one spot.

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It was amazing to drive through the forest

Back on the road, we had the choice between two options – the 1 or the 280. The 1 was shorter, and scenic, but had the same, windy roads that delayed us into San Francisco the other day. The 280 was longer but had easier to navigate roads.

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The Pacific Ocean

Not wanting to take the RV down windy roads, we chose the 280. And, my goodness, was that the right choice. Not only was it easier to drive, but it took is right through a Redwood Forest. It was an absolutely gorgeous drive that ended at the Pacific Ocean. This is definitely the prettiest drive we’ve had thus far.

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We arrived at our campground by the early evening. As soon as we parked, we were outside, enjoying the beautiful weather. It’s so great to be in an area with great weather again.

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Miracle!

The following day kept us close to home as Damon wasn’t feeling well. We suspect that some of the previous days sewage might have gotten into his system. So the kids and I played while he rested. Unfortunately, by the evening, I started to realize I was coming down with a cold (so much for our healthy streak).

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Glass Beach

Tuesday brought such gorgeous weather that we couldn’t stay inside. Armed with medication, we took a short drive to nearby Glass Beach – famed for its beaches covered in glass fragments. The site is certainly interesting, but years of tourism has depleted the glass to just tiny fragments.

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He’s always happy around dirt

The best part for me was watching mini-man explore and play in the sand. He was having such an amazing time.

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After a much needed grocery stop, we headed back to the RV and fired up the grill for dinner. I wish the warmth of the day lasted but California just doesn’t retain heat like Florida does.

With everyone not feel well, the boys and I collapsed early in the evening. Damon stayed up for a bit to finish some paperwork. Unfortunately, for him, by the time he came to bed, mini-man was waking up. Hard as he tried, mini-man didn’t go back to bed until 6:30 the next morning – just about the time little-dude woke up.

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Then, somehow, mini-man woke up just a few hours later (how do toddlers to that???). The boys and I watched some Elmo while Damon slept.

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While we spent most of the day relaxing and playing, we did get something done – we got the car registration back in the mail (Fingers crossed we got everything right this time), I fixed mini-man’s favorite book (that he shredded during a midnight meltdown), and we stuffed mini-man with tons of food.

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The food part worked so well, that mini-man fell asleep at 7:30 again! But unlike the previous night, both kids slept through the night (thank goodness ’cause this sick mama needed the rest).

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We we’re originally scheduled to leave on Thursday, but thanks to illness, we didn’t get to experience everything we wanted to do. But after evaluating our schedule, we realized we had some spare days to play with and decided to extend our stay.

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The boys and I are cleaning the window after Damon installed the window shade

I’m so glad we did this. In addition to giving us more time to complete a few projects, the day turned out to be really warm, so we took advantage and headed to the beach!

Of course, it’s never that simple – both boys fell asleep within minutes of riding in the car. To kill some time, we headed to the local thrift stores where we found some cute toys for mini-man (and paid less than $2!).

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I don’t know why he’s digging under my butt

As soon as we parked at the beach, mini-man was on the ground, filling up his bucket with sand, moving a few feet and repeating the process 😂. And not to be left out, little-dude starting digging as soon as we put him down.

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If there’s water, he must go in it

Then we got to the water. I swear, mini-man doesn’t not care about the temperature of the water – if it’s there, the he has to be in it.

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This stuff is awesome

Little-dude was content to keep digging and crawling around.

After a couple of hours, the boys were more than ready to leave – mini-man was very wet and getting cold, while little-dude was more than ready for his nap.

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Train time!

The next day, we decided to take a ride on the Skunk Train. This famous local attraction take passengers on a breath-taking trip through the Redwood Forest.

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The train consisted of the main engine, two 1912 passenger cars from New York, and a 1970s open flat car from the US Army. After coaxing mini-man on-board, I figured he’d do better in the passenger car and took him to find a seat.

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Just as we were ready to leave, Damon and little-dude headed to the open car for a better view while mini-man and I stayed in the passenger car – I wanted to make sure he wouldn’t freak out.

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After a few minutes, mini-man just say, looking out the window saying ‘toot-toot’. I took this opportunity to check out the flat car. The nice thing about the train being so small was I could walk away a bit and keep an eye on mini-man.

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The open car offered an incredible view of the forest – the redwoods towered above us. Plus, the train went slow, so it hardly made any noise. However, after a while, the smell from the engine started to bother me and I went back to mini-man.

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Just as we got near our turnaround point, I went back to the flat car to see some more of the forest. I tried to get mini-man to come with me, but he was more than happy in his seat. The return trip was easier on me as the train went in reverse so the smell of the engine didn’t come near us anymore.

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I tried one more time at the end of the trip to get mini-man to go to the flat car with me – and he did! For about a minute, then he high-tailed it back to his seat. At least he knows what he wants.

The ticket included admission to the local model train museum. This was awesome – it was a scaled replica the area we had just traveled along. Mini-man was in heaven. He walked along the entire track, back and forth, following each train, saying ‘toot-toot’. I guess this was more his speed. It was a great way to end our trip to Fort Bragg, and I highly recommend it.

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I have enjoyed our stay here but have been increasing frustrated with the internet at this RV park. This small town has limited cell service, at best, so we chose an RV park with WiFi. However, this particular park has zero cell service and inconsistent wifi. After struggling to connect, if you can, the service is fine but only lasts for a few minutes before it drops. It may not seem like much, but this is a pricier park that advertised wifi and it doesn’t work. And I know that it’s not important to everyone, but it is important to me – it’s how I plan future stops, find fun outtings, and stay connected along our trip.

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Here’s hoping we have better luck at our next stop – The Redwood National Forest.

Back to the Cold in Yosemite

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Enjoying one of our last warm days for a while (It’s almost spring, right?)

After finally finding warmth, we drove back to the cold in Yosemite. Turns out, it was warm here until recently. Only when we show up do they have a huge snow storm. I think we might be affecting the weather some how.

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During our drive, we experienced a first for us! When we stopped for lunch, we parked on a small road that had access to an exit. Unfortunately, by the time we were ready to leave, other trucks had shown up, complicating our exit. There was a small gap, so we tried to navigate through it and got stuck. In order to get out, Damon had to block the exit to the restaurant, unhook the car, and move the RV out. Apparently, this is common for class-a’s with tow vehicles.

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Why, Smokey! We meet again.

We arrived at our campsite just in time for the rain. Not feeling particularly adventurous at this point, we settled in for the night

After some rough sleep, we decided to get out and get the boys some fun. First stop, the Children’s Museum of Sierra.

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The kids had so much fun

This place is amazing! Four large rooms fill to the brim with toys and activities that the kids could play with. Both boys had a great time – so great that Damon was able to sneak out and get some car stuff done. Now we can finally get the car registered.

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Our new ride for the week. Not our preference, but it worked. And came in handy, in more ways than one.

The rest of our very wet afternoon took us a “red tape” adventure. Turns out that until we get our paperwork filed, were not supposed to drive our car. So we very carefully drove to a rental place in nearby Fresno to get a car for the week.

This wound up being a blessing I disguise. You see, the van’s been going through oil and smelling over the past few weeks. What better time to get it checked out than when we have a rental car. Unfortunately, we ran outta time and had to leave the van near the rental place for the night.

Since we were in Fresno, we decided to get some shopping done. Totally scored a Lego Dimensions game for half off (I know it’s discontinued but we have all these figurines now and I’m curious, some Lego tape for mini-man, and lots of food! The real fun part was figuring out how to fit this all in our rental truck.

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Gotta love the toy aisle

The following day we made a plan to get the car to the mechanic. While the kids and I had lunch at the McDonald’s in the local Walmart, Damon set about rearranging the cars.

While we were at Walmart, and just as Damon joined up with us, an amazing milestone happened – little-dude to his first steps! I love that they are side-ways steps, since he’s been practicing on the furniture that way 😆

After that, we decided to try some local pawn and thrift stores. Unfortunately, we struck out and didn’t find anything. But, we did hear from a local guy selling his PS3 and games for a great deal, so we went to meet him. Now we can play Lego Dimensions!!

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After an accomplishing, and exhausting, day, we treated ourselves to dinner at BJ’s.

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By Sunday, we’d done a lot and decided to have a nice day at home – which included installing and playing Lego Dimensions (of course 😆). That game is a lot of fun. I’m really glad that we got into it now, when everything’s on sale!

After a few hours of video games, we headed outside for some fresh air. Mini-man had fun with his bicycle and building set while little-dude practice walking with his toy truck (he’s getting pretty good at it 😍).

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Still excited about the Lego Dimensions deal we found, we decided to head into Fresno for the evening and do some more shopping – where we scored a Cyberman from Doctor Who!

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The next day was our nicest, and warmest day, during our stay, so we decided to head to Yosemite National Park.

Knowing that we had a two hour drive ahead of us, and to the cold no less, we prepared like crazy – food, drinks, toys, cameras, tablets, and anything else we could think of. Luckily, the kids fell asleep pretty quickly.

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Another blessing in disguise for our car troubles – having the truck for this trip. Over two hours we saw lots of hills, winding turns, and complicated directions. At one point we had to follow a government snow plow to avoid a clean up crew working on a part of the mountain. This would’ve been a much harder trip in the van.

Speaking of the van, thank goodness we got into the shop (another blessing), it had a lot of issues – brakes almost gone, rear shocks shot, serpentine belt about to break, and cylinder head seals almost eroded. Imagine driving that up and down a mountain.

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Since it was snowing in multiple areas of the park, we opted to take the more scenic route that was longer but didn’t require any snow chains. It was a fascinating drive – it was amazing to see how the road evolved over the decades.

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Once we arrived, we parked at the visitors center to stretch out legs and check out the area. The kids were really happy to get out of the car. The walk to the center was so serene and beautiful – the smell of pine instantly relaxed me. And you can’t miss the half-dome in the background.

The visitors center had a cute walk-through that explained the history of the park. My favorite part was seeing photographs of the same fall from different time periods. The kids loved the hands on elements. After a quick stop at the gift shop (a must), we picked a few areas to visit and headed back to the car.

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Time sure flies when your having fun – we managed to spend two hours in this area! With a long drive ahead of us, we decided to just hit a couple of places. First was Bridal Falls, one of the many gorgeous water falls in the park. Since Glacier Point was closed, the road to half-dome, we continued on.

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We then stopped at Tunnel View, a stop that gives an amazing overview of the valley. It was amazing to me to see the beautiful views and the juxtaposition of the snow capped mountains with the green valley below.

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At this point, both boys had fallen asleep, so we decided to head back home. So glad that we got to experience this gorgeous park.

Our last full day and we were busy! It’s so great that we’ve accomplished so much during this stop – car, paperwork, video games, children’s museum and Yosemite – which led to a very busy last day.

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First up, visiting the thrift stores and pawn shops one more time. Unfortunately, we struck out again. This trip hasn’t been great for our thrifting. We did walk away with another Lego Dimensions character. Can’t wait to see if we find any new ones in the next city.

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On our way to the grocery store, we finally got the call that our car was ready! Woohoo! So Damon dropped us off and raced to drop off the rental truck and get the van. Luckily, the people at Enterprise were really nice – not only did they stay later for us, they drove Damon to the repair shop!

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Meantime, I was chasing mini-man around Walmart, while trying to calm a very tired little-dude. I finally wrangled mini-man and took both kids to the toy aisle to play. Thank goodness for the toy aisle.

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With a long drive in the morning, I’d hoped we’d go to bed on time. No such luck, both kids seemed wired once we got home, with mini-man becoming so over-tired that he became delirious and extremely loud. I guess we tried to do too much.

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Just another lesson learned, I guess. At least we have some fun things planned for the kids at our next stop – San Francisco.

Seeing Sequoia

California is known for many things, but one of the things I’ve always wanted to see, but never have, is their magnificent sequoia and redwood trees. This stop, I get to strike one of those off my list.

Our drive got off to a late start thanks to little-dude waking up at 3 a.m., then mini-man waking up at 5 a.m. Damon let me sleep while he played with the boys, which meant he got no sleep. Once I got up at 7 a.m., Damon went back to bed to get a couple hours of shut-eye. Fortunately, our previous day’s cleaning spree meant that we didn’t need to do too much to leave.

A few hours later, we were ready to go. Before we got too far, we stopped by the bank to get Damon’s debit card, which had been taken the day before for safe keeping. For some reason, though, the bank cut up his debit card. They said it was for our safety, since we’d lost it … even though they were our bank and they had it. Who’s gonna take it? One of your people? Oh well. At least I have my card, so we continued on.

We arrived out our campground by mid-afternoon, after a very bumpy ride (Hey California, how about making your roads a little less bumpy!?!). Due to the rain, we settled in for the night.

I wish! Between both boys I got no sleep. I managed to get a small nap, but you all know it doesn’t makeup for no sleep.

By the afternoon, we loaded up the kids into the car and headed for the Sequoia National Park. Even though it’s just a few miles from our campground, it’s 7000ft up!, which meant over an hour drive.

Luckily, the kids fell asleep and I could enjoy the beautiful scenery. Unfortunately, it didn’t last. Little-dude is going through a ‘I hate my car seat’ phase, which means he cries non-stop. Nothing seems to help him – I hope he gets used to it soon.

We’d almost made it to our destination, the Trail of 100 Giants, when we hit a road closure – snow had blocked our way. At least we learned this now and could try again.

After an hour drive back down the mountain, we headed for dinner. When we arrived, we stumbled upon a local Goodwill! Thinking we wouldn’t find anything, we went in for a quick look.

We. Were. Wrong! We found so much stuff here. Awesome 1980’s Sesame Street books, magnetic toys, a Connect Four, a mystery toy box, and a great GPS!

After the previous day’s long drive to a closed road, we learned our lesson and decided to ask before we drove anywhere. Turns out, the area we wanted to see was snowed in and not accessible by cars.

We did learn that there’s a Grove of trees about two hours away but the thought of spending one of our only nice days in the car didn’t sound appealing to me. Instead, we went to lunch.

There’s at least three

While we were out, we discovered a few thrift stores nearby, so we walked to them. While the Goodwill stop was a bust, we scored at b the .99 cent store – dozens of Lego Dimensions characters, candy, and some cascarones (which mini-man wanted to open in the store).

On the way home, we heard something hit/tumble across the roof of our car. We didn’t think much of it and kept going. 10 minutes later, Damon realized his phone was missing!

So we went turned around and went back to the place where we heard the sound. While Damon searched the side of the highway, I took a chance and called his phone. I heard it! I searched the car frantically but couldn’t find it. Once Damon got back to the car I told him I heard it and had him help in the search. He found it stuck in the roof rack on top of the car. Turns out, he left it on the roof of the car and it tumbled across when we sped up. Luckily, it got stuck and there was no damage.

Once we got home, it was still nice out, so we pulled our outdoor stuff and enjoyed the evening. Mini-man was thrilled to break his eggs (finally!).

The next day, we expected rain, so Damon played with the kids outside for a bit while I cleaned the playroom. Don’t know what happened to the rain, but glad the kids got to play.

Later, Damon and I did a major purge of the kids toys. We realized that a bucket and a hose kept their attention longer than most of their toys. So anything that was a one-hit-wonder (only kept their attention for a few minutes) got donated or stored for future use. Man, does the playroom look so much better.

Per usual, on our last day we get ready to leave. Unfortunately, when we pulled into this sure a few days ago, our living room side got stuck half-out for some reason. The motor engaged but the slide would barely move. Now that we need to leave, we had to figure out how to get the side back in.

Then I remembered that our auto-level jacks couldn’t finish due to slope of the site. Turns out, the slide twisted due to the unevenness of the site. Once we raised the jacks, the RV straighten and the slide started working! Score one for the wifey 😆

So now we say goodbye to Sequoia. I wish we could’ve seen more of the trees but weather has not been our friend lately. Hopefully we’ll have better luck in Yosemite.

Hooray for Hollywood – Visiting the Happiest Place on Earth

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Me at Disneyland in the late 80’s

Growing up in San Diego with a Disney loving father meant that my family visited Disneyland a lot. In fact, my parents got engaged at Disneyland! So it’s become pretty important to share these experiences with my kids. I have to admit, I was so excited the first time I took mini-man I forgot that I didn’t have a teenager, I had a baby – their abilities at a theme park are vastly different.

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Us at Disneyland in 2016, when we were still a family of three

I have taken these lessons and applied them to all of our outtings – take your time, have your must-do’s, be flexible, and relax! Since then, our adventures have been much more successful.

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My boys at the main entrance

Thanks to some wonderful family members, we were able to get some free tickets to Disneyland. After parking, the day was so nice we decided to walk from the parking garage to the park – something mini-man absolutely loved!

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Trains! (by the end mini-man was saying ‘toot toot’

After we got in the park, we attempted our first attraction – the Disneyland Railroad. Little-dude hadn’t been on any rides before and mini-man isn’t the biggest fan of riding anything. We thought that since mini-man liked trains, it was open-air, and slow, that he’d okay. At first, he wasn’t thrilled and tried to get off. But after riding for a bit, and playing with my purse, he calmed down. I was worried about the dinosaur section of the ride, but once it started mini-man just closed his eyes and waited for it to be over. I’d call that a success.

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Mini-man loved the stairs but hated the crowds

Next we took a stroll down Main Street U.S.A (one of my favorite things), and headed to the Mark Twain River Boat. We had a similar thought with this ride – it’s slow, outside, and you can see a lot of things. Mini-man loved climbing the stairs but didn’t like hanging out with other guests. Eventually, he and I found an empty bench to sit on while the journey finished. He was very excited to go back down the stairs.

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Coming soon to a galaxy near you!

Feeling bold with our two minor successes, we took mini-man and little-dude on Pirates of the Caribbean. Little-dude didn’t seem to notice, but mini-man did not like it. He started crying once we sat down on the boat. After that ride, we decided to relax and walk around for bit, making sure to visit some of the new Star Wars areas.

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Tea , anyone?

Once we made it to Fantasyland, we took one last chance and rode the tea cups. Little-dude loved the wheel in the middle of the cup while mini-man was not happy. But, by the end of the ride he went from ‘I hate this’ to ‘it’s not terrible’. Hey, I’ll take it.

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Mmmmm!

At this point we were all tired, so we started for the exit of the park. However, I cannot leave this place without a churro and a dole whip. Luckily, we found both fairly quickly and with very short lines. Mini-man wasn’t interested in my snacks, but little-dude could not get enough. I think he’s following in his mama’s food-lovin’ foot steps.

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All-in-all, it was a very successful, and fun, trip to Disneyland. I can’t wait to return many more times in the future.

Hooray for Hollywood

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California, here I come

This past week, we’ve spent some time in our old home in Glendale.

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This place has great food! I miss having it just down the street

First up – thrift stores! After living here for a year, we got to know some awesome places and they did not disappoint. We were able to get some great toys and clothes for the boys. Afterwards, we walked around our old neighborhood and had a wonderful lunch at Everest burger.

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Animals!!

A few days later, we took the kids to the Los Angeles Zoo. Mini-man and I came here all the time when we lived here and it was great to be back. I really like this zoo – its well laid out, beautiful, and has a lot of great elements for kids. We saw a lot of animals and had a really great time.

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One of my favorite places!

Midweek brought a magical stop – DISNEYLAND! Some wonderful relatives gave us some of their Disney tickets so we were able to take the boys. This was little-dudes first time at a theme park and he had so much fun looking and touching everything – he especially loved eating a churro and a dole whip. Although mini-man has been to several theme parks, he is not a fan of rides. Despite this, he did so well on this visit – he did the train, river boat, pirates, and the teacups!

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Exactly what we’ve been looking for!

After many days of adventures, we took a day to just relax by the pool. This is what we’ve been searching for since San Antonio – a gorgeous day by the pool. Mini-man, being the water bug he is, knew instantly what we were doing when we put on his swim clothes and instantly walked into the water. He spent hours in the pool. While little-dude doesn’t love the water like mini-man, he had a blast splashing around the pool.

On our last day, we got into a cleaning mood and ended up cleaning, organizing, and storing lots of stuff. The trailer looks amazing – we even found our kitchen table! Our little spree also alerted us to some things that we needed before we left, so we headed out for some quick shopping.

While we were out, Damon noticed that his wallet went missing. Luckily, a very nice person found his wallet and turned it in to our local bank branch. They stayed at a local restaurant and waited for us to get there. Amazingly, everything was still in the wallet and they wouldn’t accept a reward. They just wanted to make sure that we got it back. Its so great to meet some genuinely nice, honest people in the world.

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On the road again

And so ends our trip to LA. Next up – Sequoia National Forest!

Quick Stop in Joshua Tree, California

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So Long, Snow!

Our original travel plans had us going to Phoenix, AZ, and then Joshua Tree, CA. But thanks to my teeth, we stayed at the Grand Canyon longer than we anticipated. To make-up some time, we decided to skip Phoenix and go straight to Joshua Tree. What we didn’t realize was the travel time from the Grand Canyon to Joshua tree was double the time as it would’ve been from Phoenix.

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Headin’ on the highway               Lookin’ for Adventure

Damon wanted to try and do the drive in one shot. I was concerned – every other time we’ve tried to do longer trips it’s stressful. To compromise, Damon stayed up late cleaning and getting us prepped for driving. This enabled us to leave early. By nine a.m. we were on the road and before I knew it, we were already in California and just a few hours from Joshua Tree. It really helped that the kids are better behaved in the morning, that I was feeling better, AND I had cell service almost the whole time so I could stream movies along the way.

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No Snow, it warm and lower elevation!

When we arrived in Joshua Tree, we attempted something we hadn’t done since New York – Boondicking! Our last attempt was less than successful since many things in our travel trailer didn’t work and it was really hot! This time, Damon made efforts to make sure that everything in the RV worked, so we’d be comfortable.

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Happy to be outside and warm again!

After we set up, we instantly went outside to enjoy the warmth of the outside. Definitely very different from the freezing tempts we’d left just hours before. However, it was the desert and as the sunset it got very cold.

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Mini-man loved being outside

While we could do a lot without hook-ups, the downside is our RV can’t power our portable heaters and our central heat isn’t working at the moment. So by morning, it was very cold inside. Added to my lack of sleep thanks to little-dude and I was in a bad mood.

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Beautiful Scenery

Since it was our only day here, we decided to explore Joshua Tree. After a beautiful, hour-long drive through the park, we decided to stop for lunch in the small town of twentynine Palms. In a happy accident, we were unable to stop at Five Guys for lunch since it was on a marine base. Instead, we ended up at Andrea’s Charbroiled Burger – a popular, local restaurant.

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Good Food

After an enjoyable lunch, we drove the hour back to our campsite through Joshua Tree. However, this trip wasn’t so peaceful. Little-dude wasn’t happy about being in his car seat and let us know by crying, which upset mini-man, who started screaming, which further upset little-dude. The whole thing ended with my contorting my body so I could feed little-dude while he was in his car seat, which stopped the screaming from every one. However, it didn’t last. The whole thing repeated three times during our drive.

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Actual Joshua Trees

Exhausted, I collapsed with little-dude when we got back. I wish it was a nice nap, but little-dude wouldn’t sit still. I wonder what, of the thousands of things, could be going on with him (teething, growth-spurt, wonder-leap…?). Ah, the joys of parenthood – constantly trying to figure out what’s going on with your kids.

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Joshua Tree National Park

Fingers crossed that our next leg is peaceful. At least it’s shorter than the last one. Hollywood, here we come!

California Adventures: The Kidspace Museum

After a few months of braving the LA streets, I decided to get a little braver and take mini-man someplace a little further away – The Kidspace Museum in Pasadena.

While the drive was trickier – going on small roads up the mountains – it was definitely worth it.

The Kidspace Museum is a perfect place for kids. There are three distinct zones – outdoor science, indoor creative play, and outdoor exploring.

We got a three month pass and have loved taking mini-man here. If you have little kids I highly recommend checking this place out. 

California Adventures: Disneyland

As a self-proclaimed Disney geek (and proud of it) I couldn’t come to California and not visit Disneyland. Since mini-man was little we decided to just visit a couple of times.

Our first trip was when mini-man was six-months old. Looking back, he might have been a bit too young – but we still had fun. He really enjoyed the outdoor rides – the carousel and Casey Jr. He didn’t quite understand the dark rides – Winnie the Pooh.

However, it was a stressful visit – it was hot, crowded, and we didn’t really have goals to accomplish anything.

After this visit we waited a year to go back. The main reason we went back was so I could see Paint the Night before it left. But this time, I was more prepared.

After the first visit, I realized I couldn’t power through the park and try to do everything – kids just can’t do that.

This time I researched everything and made a loose goals for the day. I wanted everyone to have fun.

In the end, the goals worked really well and everyone had fun. What worked best was taking lots of breaks to let mini-man walk and explore in his own.

And I got to see Paint the Night (which was incredible!). Best of all, mini-man loved seeing it too. 

I am so happy that we got to go to Disneyland and create some great memories.