Updated: Heartswell Adventures: Leg #5

Update: please see our updated itinerary below

Phew! I think this is the longest we’ve ever waited to start planning our next leg. We knew we wanted to head to the east coast, but kept changing how we were going to get there. First, it was through Wisconsin and into Canada. Then, since we didn’t know if I would have a passport in time, we thought about skipping Canada, and go through the US to New York. Now that I have my passport, we seemed to have settled on Michigan to Canada to New Hampshire. It’s an easy route that hits several places we want to visit. So here is our next leg!

Then we hit a little snag, called Labor Day weekend. It seems that everyone with an RV up here goes camping that weekend. We spent days trying to find anything we could get and finally settled on a place near Cleveland , which has altered our route, somewhat.

Updated Map: Decided to do a loop-de-loop
  • Wisconsin Dells:
      • Water Park capital of the United States, this place looks like a cute place to visit
  • St. Paul & Minneapolis, Minnesota
      • Mall of America!
  • Madison, Wisconsin:
      • Found a place with a pool, so we plan to relax and prep for our long journey to Toronto
  • Chicago, Illinois:
      • We had a fun time in Chicago and it’s the perfect place to stop for the holiday weekend before we press on.

UPDATE: After our stop in Chicago, we learned that mini-man needs dental surgery. One of the benefits of our life is our schedule is very flexible. So we’ve altered our trip a bit to get us back to Chicago for the surgery

  • Cleveland, Ohio:
      • This is a six hour drive! We have a place to stop if we need to, but for now, we plan to drive the whole thing. It’s one of the only places we found a campsite for the holiday weekend. Kept this stop as it was still a holiday weekend and the only place we could find
    • New Stop: Cincinnati, Ohio

    New Stop: Cincinnati, Ohio
        • As long as we have to change our route, might as well swing by one of the best aquariums in the country

      New Stop: Louisville, Kentucky

        • A quick stop on our way to…

      New Stop: St. Louis, Missouri!!!

        • We made it back and we have a long list of things we want to do, including: the St. Louis Arch, City Museum, and a boat tour

      New Stop: Chicago #3

        • Back for mini-mans surgery

      New Stop: Kalamazoo, Michigan

        • Who wouldn’t want to stop here!?! Just to say you’ve been to Kalamazoo

      New Stop: Detroit

        • Quick stop before Canada
      • Toronto, Canada:
          • When I was first researching Canada, Toronto kept showing lots of places to visit with kids, so I’m excited to stop here.
      • Ottawa, Canada:
          • Looks like riding the canal is a must do, so we must do it!
      • Montreal, Canada:
          • I was excited to visited the bio dome here, but it’s closed til next year. I guess we’ll find something to do. It’s faster to just go into the states, so we’re skipping Montreal
      • New Stop: Colchester, Vermont
          • A pretty stop and a faster way to get to New Hampshire
      • Twin Mountain, New Hampshire:
          • We enjoyed visiting New Hampshire when we stopped in Vermont last year. Can’t to see what else is there.
      • Portland, Maine:
          • I’ve heard that Maine is beautiful in the fall. Looking forward to seeing this area.
      • Boston, Massachusetts
          • Damon grew up just outside of Boston, so he’s excited to take the boys to the Children’s Museum and Aquarium

      Were really excited for this leg of our journey. Let us know if there are any must do’s along the way.

      Advertisements

      Chicago – Last Stop on Leg #4

      Thank goodness our drive from Indianapolis was a short three hours. We managed to stop just outside of Chicago to get some supplies and have lunch. Since we made good time, I convinced Damon to stop at a nearby GameStop to get a Lego Dimensions set I’ve been looking for (so thrilled to find it!).

      We made it to our destination, but it’s not an RV park – it’s a parking lot in the middle of downtown Chicago. Amazing location but ZERO amenities – no power, no water, nothing. To help keep the RV cool, we set about covering all the windows with space blankets.

      A cheap way to keep the RV cool

      We turned on the generator in the evening to help cool everything down then went to bed. We then learned the hard way that our Co2 detector works. Turns out our generator doesn’t ventilate out, it just settles under the RV. And with no wind to ow it away, it started to build up and seep into the RV. Opening windows and turning off the generator seemed to clear things up.

      Needless to say, my mind was filled with worry, which made it very hard to sleep. By morning I was a zombie. However, the boys soon made it clear that they needed a day out.

      So we walked to a nearby playground on Lake Michigan, filled with lots of swings, climbing equipment, and splash pad. Little-dude instantly took to the slide and splash area. Mini-man played a little, but was more interested in climbing a tree than playing.

      Really cute playground that wasn’t busy

      Me. I was tired and dehydrated. After we grabbed some lunch, I felt better, so we decided to take the boys to the Lincoln Park Zoo. This free zoo is adorable and filled with awesome animals.

      Eavesdropping led us to this amazing view of Downtown Chicago

      While we were there, we met up with Damon’s brother, who helped us get to a local grocery store to pick up supplies for our sailing trip that evening. Unfortunately, a storm rolled in, cancelling our excursion.

      Fun fact: this zoo is free!

      It was the last day before the weekend, and according to my research, Chicago is very busy on a weekend. So I wanted to get some more visits in before the crowds hit. First up – The Shedd Aquarium.

      How to get the boys to look at the camera – give them food

      Ever since mini-man started liking fish, I have wanted to take him to this aquarium. what was really fun, was he seemed to know where we were going. After parking the car in a parking garage, we had to walk to the aquarium through Millennium Park. About a quarter of the way through, mini-man jumped out of the stroller and insisted on walking the rest of the way. When the aquarium came into view, he sped up and couldn’t wait to go inside.

      Unfortunately, the line for tickets was very long. Here’s a tip – buy them online before you go. I did that while waiting in line and not moving. Within a minute of finishing, I had my tickets in a pdf sent to my phone and was able to go straight into the building. Which also, magically, lets us skip the bag check.

      He was in heaven

      Once we caught up with little-dude and Damon, we went in. I kid you not, mini-man just walked ahead of everyone. He just had to see his sish. Fortunately, there’s a very large aquarium as soon as you get inside. Both boys sat there for a while just watching the dish. This was great for Damon and me, as we could cool down in the AC and get something to drink.

      I love the Washed Ashore Project and the work -especially this otter 😍

      Soon, we were being led through the whole place by the boys. The aquarium is four stories tall and filled with with all kids of exhibits. What I loved was that the Aquarium offered a wide variety of things for kids to touch and climb on.

      After spending about five hours there, the kids were done and ready to leave. Little-dude fell asleep, so we took mini-man to the nearby Maggie Daley Park – which has an enormous children’s playground. Mini-man adored climbing one everything, and even ventured off on his own for a while. I love that his confidence is growing. While we were there, we met up with Damon’s parents, who came into town to visit Damon’s brother.

      This place was huge but very busy

      ONce, Jared got off work ,we headed to a local pizza place, Pizannos. Cause when your in Chicago, you gotta do pizza.

      Broke my diet for this -but I made sure to only eat a few pieces 😜

      Along the way, we did another Chicago staple – the bean.

      Also known as the other endless cloud

      The ride home was certainly interesting. We were in stuck in wall-to-wall traffic for some unknown reason. After some redirection from Google, we made it back and learned that the traffic was due to a Beyonce concert (For those of you reading this in the future – shes a singer).

      That girl can sure stop traffic

      We woke up Saturday and saw that the downtown area was congested again – this time due to a ‘back-to-school’ parade. Wanting to get out of the RV, but get away from the crowds, we headed to the suburbs of Chicago for some thrift store and grocery shopping.

      I love seeing how much fun they have in thrift stores

      Sunday, we decided to do something different. Since parking, and traffic, in Chicago is horrible, we tried biking. After a rough night, we loaded up my bike and rented a second bike for Damon to ride, and headed to the Navy Pier. The four-mile bike ride took us, mostly, along Lake Michigan, so we got to see a lot of the city. The boys objected at first, but soon fell asleep in their wagon.

      At the pier, we met up with Damon’s parents to ride the Ferris Wheel. This turned out to be awesome as it gave us a great view of the city. And both boys did great. They sat and looked around as we rode. I was slightly stressed when the boys tried to push on the doors but loved the experience overall.

      High above Chicago

      After a quick dinner at a nearby TGI Fridays, we got back on our bikes and headed back. We got about a third of the way back, when the boys freaked out so we stopped in front of the Millennial Fountain and let them play. They soon calmed down and we were able to go again.

      Quick stop to fix the iPad

      Then just as we approached the beach close to our RV, they freaked out again, so we pulled over again. The boys seemed to enjoy this stop a lot, as they could play on the beach.

      Boys wanted out of the bikes and instantly went to the beach

      Once they were done, we started to walk back to the RV. Im not sure why we did this. At the time, it seemed like the best option. But we started to feel tired and cranky on the walk back. Both boys wanted to be carried, which made the journey feel like it took much longer.

      I collapsed when we got home – four+miles of bike riding plus walking and my legs were done. After sitting for a few minutes, I tried to get up and realized how much pain I was in. Sleeping was definitely interesting.

      The next day was a monday and is was 80! Perfect day for the each. As soon as we set up camp, the boys were in the sand and clammoring to get into the water.

      Wis!

      We spent our last day in Chicago, back at the Navy Pier. This time, taking the boys to the Chicago Children’s Museum. This two story place is filled with a variety of activities that both boys loved.

      This place was fun

      We returned to our to a very hot, humid RV. At first we tried to cool it down by opening he windows and using fans, in an effort to save gas. However, that didn’t work and everyone felt it. I soon put my foot down and turned on the air conditioner. It might’ve cost us some gas but it was worth it as the cooler temperatures allowed for a much calmer evening.

      And so ends our fourth leg of our journey. At this point, we don’t have leg #5 mapped out. We really should get on that. After next week, we have nothing reserved!

      $35 a night with a view of downtown Chicago. Not too bad

      Indianapolis

      After a too short stay in St. Louis, we hit the road to Indianapolis. We could literally tell when we left Missouri because the highway roads went from nicely paved to nearly destroyed. Unfortunately, we think these bad roads may have done something to the van, for as we made it to the RV park the brakes stopped working.

      Once it stopped raining, we hit the pool. This is the first pool we’ve had in a while and wanted to enjoy it. Plus, after three days of non-stop adventure, we needed a down day.

      The boys loved the pool. This is a perfect pool for kids – lots of splash area, a slide, and it only ever gets three feet deep!

      Little-dude and I went back to lay down in the RV while Damon took mini-man to the playground. While there, they met the campground’s horses! Mini-man was enthralled – he fed them, petted them, and kept saying ‘neigh’. They headed back after that and both crashed.

      Unfortunately, this was pretty late and we all napped til about 9p. This led to a really crazy night of one of the kids being awake and both parents becoming pretty exhausted.

      We spent Damon’s birthday morning trying to catch up on sleep. Around noon, we decided to take the van into be checked. We figured, its better to take it in early in case it needs a lot of work.

      After dropping the car off, we headed to a nearby mall – where both boys fell asleep. Damon and I walked around the Target and the attached mall, trying to keep the boys asleep. Now this place was the epitome of a dieing mall – almost everything was closed. The few places that existed only opened on the weekend. Realizing this wouldn’t entertain us for two hours, we walked to a nearby Five Guys for lunch.

      By the time we reached the restaurant, we were hot, tired and hungry. There was no way we could keep walking around in the heat with the kids while we waited for the car. Thank goodness for Lyft! We were picked up pretty quickly and dropped off at Walmart – the perfect place to entertain us.

      After a little bit of shopping, we heard from the mechanic …$1,500 in repairs (Ouch!). Apparently we had a lot of cracks and problems with the front of the car (I’m sure Damon could tell you exactly what it is). At least its getting fixed and, at this point, there shoudln’t be too much more that can break (right!?!).

      Tired, we caught another Lyft back to the RV resort and headed to the pool. After such a long morning, it was great to relax and play at the pool.

      We relaxed and got some projects done the following day as we waited for the car repairs to finish and we could pick her up. Unfortunately, they found even more damage and needed an extra day, plus $400 more to fix it. Oh well. It has to be done.

      Around this time, mini-man brought me my bathing suit top. Gee… I wonder what he could want. So we gathered our stuff and spent the rest of the day at the pool and playground.

      Saturday looked like our last day without any rain, so we decided to take the kids to the Indianapolis Zoo. Unfortunately mini-man chose to be a typical three year old that day. It all started with our walk to a nearby McDonalds for lunch. However, he didn’t want to do that and proceeded to kick and scream the whole way there. Of course as soon as he saw it was McDonald’s he calmed down.

      Our next bit of drama was thanks to Lyft, and not our three year old, who was surprisingly well-behaved considering what we were doing. We ordered a four seater car to pick us up. What arrived technically a four seat car, but the gentleman driving it was so large that his seat backed all the way to the backseat, thereby eliminating a seat. Though we tried, we could not fit and sent him on his way. When we went to order a new car, Lyft tried to charge us! We had to wait for him to cancel the trip, which took some time.

      Fortunately, our next driver was wonderful and very friendly, who got us to the zoo in no time.

      The zoo is definitely one of my favorites that we have visited so far. It was a hot day but a lot of the exhibits were shaded or indoors. Lots of the exhibits were lush and designed for maximum viewing of the animals. It was great to approach each spot and actually be able to see the animals.

      Once we made it to the back of the zoo, the boys were both hot and tired. We stopped for a bite to eat and drink, hoping it would revitalize them for more zoo fun, but, alas, it became quite apparent that they were done. And perfect timing, as our car was ready to be picked up.

      On the way back, mini-man started to doze off but quickly woke back up (I’m talking minutes). I wish he’d stayed asleep. He started screaming and crying the last bit to the car. He was okay in the car, but once we got into Walmart he went into full melt down mode. We tried to calm him down, but he was hot, tired, and cranky – a very dangerous combination in a three year old. And, of course, it wasn’t until the end of the trip that he got what he wanted and calmed down – a popsicle.

      I wish I could say it lasted, but as soon as we got home, the crying started all over again. At this point I was tired and emotionally spent from the stress of getting around the city, mini-man, and the heat. I put on Curious George for him and I curled up in a chair.

      After a while, we all seemed to cool down, which put us all in better moods. So much so, that mini-man brought me my bathing suit top and tried to put it on me this time. I wasn’t in the mood for the pool, so Damon took both boys to play while I stayed behind. This gave me the chance to clean up a bit and make dinner. Sometimes all you need to reset is a time to yourself (that, and I had no wine in the house, so cleaning it was).

      There’s was a lot that I had planned for us to do in Indianapolis, but after our zoo experience, we discovered that the kids just wanted to swim, play, and see the horses. Why force them out when everything they want to do is right here? Plus, we had a lot of adventures planned for our next stop in Chicago.

      After swimming on Monday, we decided to go shopping to stock up for that next stop. We are full-on boondocking in the middle of the city so were trying to get ahead of the game by premaking a lot of food. We also managed to get in a trip to Goodwill, where we found lots of toys that the boys adored.

      We had a big agenda for our last day – get ready for Chicago. I wanted to cook as much food as I could. Plus we wanted to pack and rearrange some stuff to make, what we think, we’ll need more accessible. About half way through rearranging stuff outside, mini-man screamed so I went to see what was wrong. Most times, this is irritating. This time, it was perfect timing.

      After I restarted mini-mans DVD, which is why he screamed, I noticed a puddle of water near the door. Naturally, I assumed one of the boys spilled something. Then I noticed it was flowing from the bathroom. To which I concluded that mini-man left the sink running and it overflowed. Wrong again. Turns out, the culprit was Damon. He had dumped our tanks earlier and ran the washer to clean out the black tank and left it running. So it wasn’t just water running through the RV, if you catch my drift.

      Thankfully, I came in when I did, so we were able to stop the flooding before it spread too far. Took about 15 minutes to mop up and sanitize. All-in-all , it could’ve been much worse.

      The rest of the evening was uneventful and both boys were down pretty early. However, this led to very disruptive sleep, which led to a nice ally morning. At least we got a jump on our drive to Chicago.

      Salt Lake City – Wrapping Up

      20180608_141524_HDR.jpg
      The wagon always mean we’re going somewhere fun

       

      We ended the week back at the pool. The boys had a lot happen in just a few days, so a fun day at the pool was really needed.

      IMG_20180609_171633_916.jpg
      Someone got really big 

      Saturday was a big day – little-dude turn one! We started at the pool where little-dude had fun and is getting more comfortable with the pool.

      Then we went to a local thrift and scored big time! In addition to finding some great swim clothes for the boys we found this adorable basketball hoop. The boys wouldn’t stop playing with it in the store, got upset when we put it in the cart, and haven’t stopped playing with it since we got it home.

      The following day both boys were sick. Mini-man was covered in bug bites and itching like crazy. Little-dude had a fever. Neither slept.

      20180610_165855_HDR.jpg
      Trains!

      Luckily, with some help from the almighty Tylenol, they were pretty calm. This allowed Damon to run out and get some errands done. Later, we were even able to pick up a new train set for mini-man – which he dove into as soon as Damon brought it inside.

      Despite another rough night, I knew we needed to get out, so we took the kids to the aquarium. Two hours of fish made mini-man very happy.

      PhotoGrid_1529599549331.jpg
      Nothing better than fruit by the pool

      Knowing we had just a few days left until we travel to Wyoming, Damon and I agreed that we needed to get the oil changes in the RV. So I took the boys to the pool while Damon drive the RV to the mechanic. Mini-man loved spending time in the water. Little-dude was still feeling the effects of teething and was content to just sit in my lap on a lounge chair. He even discovered blueberries and ate all the ones I brought (which was a pretty big container).

      The next day hit a high of 97! So we did what any sensible parents would do – we took the kids to the aquarium. We stayed for hours and had a blast. Who knew that the best time to go would be late afternoon – hardly any kids and all the animals were very energetic.

      received_1941693179176455.jpeg
      Definitely one of our favorite campgrounds – beautiful, pool, and close to transit

      We had a lot to accomplish on our last day. Although our drive to Wyoming was relatively short, Google doesn’t take elevation into account – so we were worried that it would be a long drive and wanted to get an early start. To prepare for the drive, we started cleaning and packing things up. Fortunately, it’s an RV and didn’t take to long to pack everything up. Next stop – state #23 Wyoming.

      Salt Lake City – Continued

      20180605_110221_HDR.jpg
      Nothing quite gets a place clean faster than company coming

      After a long day exploring Salt Lake City, I wanted nothing more than to sleep in. However, my in-laws were coming to visit, so I did what any daughter-in-law would do – clean! Thankfully, it’s an RV and I got the place looking pretty good in no time.

      20180605_144738_HDR.jpg
      Learning about creating islands at the aquarium

      We decided to take them to the aquarium, knowing that the kids would have a great time with them there.

      20180605_141347.jpg
      Stopped him long enough for a picture (he looks so thrilled)

      Being one of mini-mans favorite places, he basically went off on his own while I followed him. I think we saw each exhibit three or four times.

      PhotoGrid_1529600575576.jpg
      He loves his new sish towel from Grandma Barb

      At this point, we’d done a lot and the boys needed a down day. So we spent the next morning at the pool, swimming and playing with water toys.

      Damon’s parents came over in the afternoon and we just hung out enjoying the outdoors. This could not have worked out better. The boys had so much fun with bubbles, chalk, water table and water beads, which gave them the perfect opportunity to bond with their grandparents.

      20180607_114653_HDR.jpg
      My clean room quickly destroyed by projects. At least little-dude was having fun

      On their last day, Damon and Phil spent part of the day fixing things on the RV, while Sue and I played with the boys

      IMG_20180606_155914_326.jpg
      Three Generations

      We ended the visit with a cook-out to enjoy the great weather.

      Salt Lake City

      20180529_125403_HDR.jpg

      I’ve been looking forward to this stop since we started planning this leg of our journey. Why? Because it’s packed full of awesome things for is to do with the boys – two aquariums!, A children’s museum, parks, and a zoo!

      As much as I wanted to hit the ground running, we were stopped by summer colds (and we were doing so well on the illness front). Luckily, we seem to get it at different times, so each of us had their bad day apart from everyone else.

      20180602_151710_HDR.jpg
      I love with the boys playroom

      We did push ourselves a little in order to get food and some things for the playroom. We currently have a TV in the upper corner of the playroom, but it’s hard for the boys to see. So we’ve been on the hint for a smaller TV that we could mount lower. After scowering thrift stores, regular stores, and the internet, we found just what we were looking for on Salt Lake City? In fact, they’d just put out this TV as Damon was standing there!

      DSCN2089.JPG
      sish!

      The days of errands and illness caught up with us and we needed to get the boys out. After a bit of a rough start, we managed to get the boys to the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium.

      DSCN2129.JPG
      Shark – wow

      As soon as we put, mini-man knew where we were and wanted out of the car. We were definitely going way to slow for him.

      We spent almost three hours walking around each exhibit several times and saw lots of fish, frogs, sharks, and many other animals. This place was the perfect mix of everything the kids are interested in at the moment.

      PhotoGrid_1529595807721.jpg
      wis , juice (mini-man for swim and water)

      When we got back, the boys were still energetic, so we tried to take them to the playground. Ha! That lasted less than a second as mini-man headed straight for the pool.

      And somehow, after all that we managed to finish a lot of projects in the playroom. The new TV is mounted and hooked up to internet, the shoe rack is fixed, and the play cabinet knobs are secured. No wonder we were all tired by the end of the day.

      20180602_121535_HDR.jpg
      I love otters

      After seeing the the following week brought temperatures in the 90s+(!), we decided to take advantage of the nice Saturday and visit the Hogle Zoo.

      At first mini-man wasn’t into it. Then we saw the giraffes. Suddenly, he became very invested and started going from exhibit to exhibit, very excited. His favorite, by far, was the phephants 🐘

      20180529_193607_HDR.jpg
      I don’t think this guy has a lot of experience

      Unfortunately, we had some problems getting to the zoo. The van was having some issues with the electrical system – sometimes it worked and sometimes the battery was dead or the car had very little power. After getting it checked out, we learned that we needed a new alternator. At least we could get it fixed fairly fast.

      By Monday, we felt adventurous and decided to explore Salt Lake City. We took the trolley, conveniently located next to our campsite, and headed to Temple Square – home to the main temple for the Church of Latter-Day Saints.

      This place was beautiful. Everyone was friendly and welcoming. It felt like a very calm place to worship.

      Since there wasn’t much for the boys to do at the Temple, we moved on and went to the Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum.

      This place was built for Damon – you could build, play pretend, and it had a lot of variety.

      The boys had fun too – it was a great place for them to explore and get some energy out.

      At this point, I was starving. Having walked around downtown in 100+ heat, I was in no mood to cook, so we went to the Cheesecake Factory.

      Unfortunately, we didn’t know the trolley system that well, so we walked 15 minutes in the heat, only to learn that the trolley stopped right at the restaurant 🤦.

      Fortunately, this lesson came in handy for the journey home, and the next day, when we went back for dinner.

      We accomplished quite a bit in our first week in SLC, and we were just beginning.

      Coos Bay, Oregon

      Our original master plan was to get to Seattle, Washington by May, assuming that we’d have some warm, spring weather to accompany us along the way. Unfortunately, the weather this year has been quite unusual.

      Luckily, we’re not on a tight schedule, so we decided to adjust a bit. Instead of running up to Seattle, we chose to slow down and spend some time near the beach in Oregon. Again, assuming that the weather would be nicer.

      This decision resulted in a much shorter drive for us, from the Redwood Forest to Coos Bay, Oregon. We continued on the 101 and it’s still as twisty as ever – it’s not a lot of fun to have constant turns in an RV (similar to waves at sea).

      One nice thing about short drives is you arrive at your site pretty early. As it was our only nice day during our stay, we went for a walk. The campground was beautiful and I could see it’d be very popular in the summer.

      The rest of our trip involved cold, rainy weather. As an added bonus, our site was very dirty which created a lot of puddles and mud. So even when we got a dry day, our site was still wet.

      We took advantage of our extra time and had our car fixed up (again). Luckily, the mechanic was in the downtown area of Coos Bay, which was very walkable and had lots of stores to visit. Our favorite was an adorable thrift shop that had a dedicated kids room. The boys loved playing and exploring – we walked away with quite a few new toys.

      Afterwards we stopped by the local library, where the boys enjoyed pulling books off the shelf.

      Once we got the car back, we headed to Walmart. Mini-man is currently fascinated with fish and now spends most of our time at Walmart at the fish tanks.

      We spent the rest of our time trying to keep the boys entertained in the RV (which isn’t easy). This insipired a new project for us – turning the dining area into a play area for the kids. We realized we’ll never sit around the table until the boys are older. No sense in keeping something that we rarely use.

      As soon as we donated the table and chairs, the boys were enjoying the new space. We even got an old DVD player and set it up to play Elmo’s World on repeat. It keeps mini-man entertained and gives us a bit of a break – win-win.

      I’m looking forward to our next stop – South Beach, Oregon. It’s close to the beach, supposed to have nicer weather, and has some cute local attractions (like an aquarium!). Fingers crossed it fulfills our expectations.

      The Redwood Forests

      DSCN1833.JPG
      The smell here was amazing. I love the smell of trees

      After a rough day of traveling, we arrived at our beautiful RV park – situated in the middle of a Redwood forest. Unfortunately, the beauty is the best thing that I can say about this place. Part of the point of this place is to enjoy the outdoors. This was hard since it was rainy and cold for most of our stay, which made it difficult to enjoy the beauty of our site.

      DSCN1834.JPG
      Enjoying some outdoor time

      Their website, and welcome packet, show that wifi and cable are included with your reservation. However, both items come from one basic account that is shared amongst all the sites. This means that the cable is fuzzy and the internet is slow – think dial-up from the 1990’s slow (in fact, I think dial-up may have been faster). And this was with the place only half-full – imagine this place in the summer when they full. I know that this isn’t why were are here, but we use the internet a lot for researching.

      As the temperature dropped, we turned on our heaters which kept popping our breaker. This has never happened at other places, which led us to believe that our site either had a bad breaker or they weren’t giving us as much power as we had paid for.

      IMG_20180402_152454_386.jpg
      Score!

      After several days, we traveled an hour to nearby Crescent City and we had the best day – shopping, cell service!, lunch, and other amenities that we love. While we were here, we found another RV park that had everything that our current RV park was missing and was only a couple dollars more a month. Sold.

      20180401_110322.jpg
      Little-dude having fun

      That decision became even better when we get back. You just don’t realize how frustrated you are with something until you leave and come back to it.

      As we left, we stopped by the office to get a refund on our bill – they forgot to apply our Good Sams discount. However, they say that once they charge us they can’t issue a refund. The best they could do was $15 off our next stay … ya, like were ever coming back here.

      DSCN1849.JPG
      bubbles

      To be fair, this place was beautiful and great for a weekend getaway. But for a family like us, that needs to research what’s in a new place – internet is a must. And what annoys me is when a place offers a service and then technically offers it, but it doesn’t work. To me, that is not honorable.

      20180404_105242_HDR.jpg
      Headed to cell service!

      Good riddance to this place. I am so happy to be heading to Crescent City.

      Update: We learned that a package of ours was delivered to the local post office, so we went to pick it up. However, when we got there, the package was picked up by our old RV park. So we went to go get it. But they didn’t have it. Turns out someone from their camp was running errands, grabbed the mail and would be back with it at some point. Very professional.

      The Road to the Redwood Forest – A Series of Hurdles

      20180331_080648_HDR.jpg

      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?).

      20180401_111500.jpg

      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.

      20180331_100553_HDR.jpg

      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.

      20180331_101406.jpg

      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).

      DSCN1833.JPG

      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.

      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.