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.

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Grand Canyon Adventures

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After being nearby for over a week, we finally made it to the Grand Canyon.

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Lots of stuff to play with

We stopped at the visitors center on the way in to see the Grand Canyon Imax movie. We tried to see it together but mini-man didn’t want to. Instead, we split up – one watched the movie while the other played with mini-man in the gift shop. We later learned that this wasn’t the official visitors center and that there was a free movie available inside the canyon.

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Our first stop was Mather point, one of the easiest, most accessible areas of the canyon. Since the boys just had naps, we were all able to visit this area. The scene was spectacular.

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We then got to do something special – drive Hermits Rest. Most of the time, this area is only accessible by bus. But during this time, we were able to drive to some of the prettiest spots on the canyon. At this point, it was late, so Damon hopped out at each stop to take some pictures while I stayed with the kids in the car.

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Some local residents

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Part II – Finally Exploring The Grand Canyon

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Kickin’ it on Route 66

Health – Check. Weather – Check. Things to explore – Double Check! After being in Williams for a week, we finally went to the Grand Canyon.

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Absolutely gorgeous (and hardly any people!)

“The Grand Canyon is too massive to be captured in a single photograph”, is an understatement. The canyon has several stops and multiple places to get a spectacular view that its not possible to see the whole thing in one stop.

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Williams, the small town where our RV park was located, was absolutely adorable.

The next day was beautiful weather, which gave us a chance to explore the small town of Williams – the last town on Route 66. The town is filled with cute shops, restaurants, and lots of Route 66 nastalgia – which I adored. It took some doing to get mini-man to walk with us but once we made it into the small town, he had a blast running around (so much so that he cried when we went back to the RV).

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Bearizona offered a lot of animals, including bears!

Sunday brought another day of beautiful weather, so we decided to check out a popular, local attraction – Bearizona. This drive-thru/walk-around zoo is home to hundreds of animals that you can get up-close and personal to.

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Choo choo!

Little-dude slept through most of the trip and mini-man didn’t want to get out of his stroller – until we got to the gift shop. Suddenly, he wanted to explore and wander on his own. Then we got to the center of the store, which had a model train. I swear, he sat there forever watching the train go round-and-round. Unfortunately, it was lunch time and we wanted to leave to get food. Mini-man was not on board and screamed all the way back to the car. I felt bad for him, so we went back to the store and let him watch for a little while longer. This time when we left, he was much calmer and fell asleep in the car on the way home.

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Since we skipped our trip to see snow in Denver, I’m glad we got to see some snow here

The next day brought more snow. But this time, it was constant snow, covering the whole campground in 3″ of snow! Before now, the only snow I’d seen on this trip was a light dusting. It was amazing to see the snow build up. It looked beautiful.

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Yup, I’m a Florida girl – lasted just a few minutes in the cold before I high-tailed it back inside

The downside to the cold has been out water and sewer hoses. Apparently we got the hoses that work only in warm weather. Once the snow came, we had two sewer hoses, a water hose, and our water filter break. Which meant that we had no running water for over a week. To compensate, we filled up a bucket of water for our daily needs.

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Finally got my tooth removed

The big day arrived and I finally got my tooth removed. Everything went well and I now have a big hole in the back of my mouth. Eating has certainly been fun.

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Snuggles help when your sick

Thanks to the cold weather, our mini-man caught a cold, which, naturally, I caught as well. So we spent the rest of the week bundled up, inside trying to get better.

By the weekend, we all felt better and had some nice weather, so we went to Flagstaff for some shopping. This meant that mini-man actually went outside and walked in the snow! I was thrilled, him – not so much. Oh well, at least he tried it.

Mama’s breakfast is nummy

As my next dentist appointment neared, we made plans to move onto California. Unfortunately, my mouth hadn’t healed as well as he liked and wanted to wait another week to remove the stitches. Luckily, my former dentist is in Glendale, where we will be next week, and my current dentist agreed to have him take them out.

On the road again (finally!)

Success!! We can finally get back on the road. California, here we come!

Driving Through the Desert

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On the road again

Our next leg from Albuquerque to Arizona looked to be a long drive. Since we were all still sick, we decided to divide the trip into two hour, two night stops. This way we could make some progress would wearing ourselves out.

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While beautiful – there was no cell service!!

Our first stop was Blue water lake State Park. This park is beautiful but lacks a few things this princess is used to having:

• No water hook-ups – makes cooking and going to the bathroom interesting
• No cell service!!! – I went through withdrawals
• Weak antenna service – 9 channels and three were PBS
• Far from anything – 20 minutes to the closest store

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Damon loved that trains went by every few minutes

After we arrived, we realized we needed a few things from the store. As we left, we learned that the park closed at 5p and if you weren’t inside, you couldn’t get in until the next day. That was one of the fastest store runs we’ve ever done!

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Blue Water Lake half froze over night – the white part is ice!

The next morning we explored the park. A major downfall for me is the parks high elevation -8000ft! I have sensitive lungs, which makes breathing difficult during usual elevation (think smoke allergy). Add in high elevation and it makes things even more interesting.

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A canyon a part of the campground

Despite my difficulties, we managed to see some of the parks beautiful scenery.

We then headed out to get some lunch, see some souvenir shops, and run to Walmart – which we just managed to finish before the park closed.

The evening started out disappointing as we couldn’t get the Superbowl game on – couldnt stream it, didn’t have the antenna channel, and couldn’t leave to go see it elsewhere. It turned around when Damon hooked up my computer to the TV so we could watch The Love Boat!!

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Beautiful terrain seen on route to the Painted Desert

The next day we hit the road – this time stopping to see the painted desert and the Petrified Forest.

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KOA near the Petrified Forest

These shorter runs are really nice – we get somewhere new without feeling like we’re sitting around all day. Plus, it gives the kids more time to stretch after the drive after being cooped up for so long.

The Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert

Finally feeling better, I was so excited to see the Painted Desert. Over the course of an afternoon, we saw the Petrified Forest, the Painted Desert, and an old hotel from the 1920s! It was all very beautiful.

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Why can’t I get better!?!

Unfortunately, during the trip I noticed my jaw start to hurt. At first, I chucked it up to being pain from the cold. But over the next 24 hours, the pain got progressively worse. Not able to bear the pain, we made an emergency run to the local dentist. The good news was that he figured out the problem – an infection in my back crown, which needed to be redone. The bad news was he couldn’t see me for a week! Instead I got some antibiotics to help with the infection and a dentist I could see at the Grand Canyon.

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24 hours after starting the medication I felt horrible and my jaw was very swollen. However, we persevered and headed to our next stop – The Grand Canyon. I just hope that I feel better soon so I can enjoy it.

Maybe We Should’ve Taken That Left Turn in Albuquerque

Thanks Bugs!

As we pulled into our campground in Albuquerque, we were all still sick but on the mend.

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On the mend

By Monday, we’d made it 24 hours without someone throwing up! To celebrate, we went shopping. While we were out, Damon started to be feel a tickle in his throat … Yup, he was getting a cold.

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Grrrr…sick again

To say I was annoyed was an understatement. We’d had colds in December and just gotten over food poisoning – now this!! I stocked up on vitamins, smoothies, and anything healthy I could grab. I was determined to not get sick this time.

Ya, not so much. Not only did we all get sick, mine managed to travel to my throat and I got a bad infection.

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Nothing better than snuggles when you’re sick

After a few days in bed, I broke down and called a doctor. I hate going to the doctor, waiting forever to sit with someone for five minutes just to be told to go home and rest. Fortunately, a friend of mine recommended the app ‘Doctor on Demand’. This was seriously awesome!! Mom’s, a doctor sees you through your phone while your in bed! No leaving, no waiting and it’s fast. Within 10 minutes, my b doctor sent a prescription to the local Walmart. Once I had those, I feel so much better. I’m definitely using this again!!

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Fun times at the playground

Finally feeling better, we jumped at the chance to get outside and took the kids to the playground. They were thrilled.

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Hasta La vista Albuquerque

During this time, Damon and I decided to change our route a bit. We had planned to go to Four Corners and take a small trip to Denver to see snow. But after being trapped inside for weeks due to the cold and being sick, we want to stay far away from the cold.

Ready to go!

So we are now heading to Phoenix, Arizona. Since this is a big jump, we chopping it up into smaller jumps to make the journey easier. First up, Blue Water Lake, NM and the painted desert.

Carlsbad Caverns

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So long Texas!

After a much needed stop in Ft. Stockton, TX, we finished our drive to Carlsbad, New Mexico. This cute little park was in the middle of the desert, yet it was situated on a lake.

We pretty much stayed inside the rest of the day as the winds were absolutely insane! We even contemplated pulling in the slide at one point to help ease the rocking. Our camp hosts told us that this was unusual for this area and should ease up by the next day.

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Great covered playground – if only the kids felt better 

Thank goodness they were right and we were able to get out for a bit. Sadly, the kids were still sick and didn’t want to play that much.

Which meant another low-key day for us, playing inside.

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Aliens were everywhere!

By Wednesday, we all felt pretty good so we took the opportunity to get out. A short drive away is the city of Roswell and who could pass up the opportunity to see aliens!?!

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amazing assortment of animals for a free zoo

While, sadly, we didn’t encounter any being from another world we did get to see some animals from this one at the Roswell Zoo. This cute zoo is free and filled with lots of animals that the kids could get close to.

Right next door is a cute playground, while had a 1970s rocket slide – which Damon had to try, of course 😄

It’s been a while since we hit a Goodwill, most of the small towns we’ve visited the past few weeks didn’t have one. So we jumped at the chance to visit the one in Roswell. I scored a pile of books for the kids (I collect old Disney and Golden Books – they’re awesome and these are a steal!).

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This McDonald’s was outta-this-world!

At this point, the kids were pretty worn out, so we headed back to the RV. Before we left, we made a quick stop at McDonald’s, which had an extraterrestrial feel to it 👽.

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Since we were in Carlsbad, we’d hoped to visit the famous Carlsbad Caverns. Unfortunately, the only way to see it with kids is to use their elevator, which was down for maintenance all week. And, while it was supposed to be fixed before we left, the lovely government shutdown delayed things. Which meant no caverns for us this time. I was pretty bummed – I visited the caverns with my Grandma when I was about 6 and wanted to revisit it.

Instead, we used to day to clean the RV (which really helps with leaving the campsite), and going grocery shopping. Since it’s been cold out, I made my Crock-Pot Chili (and no, I’m not scared to use it. The ‘This Is Us’ guy died from bad wiring and NOT a Crock-Pot!).

And so ends another RV stop. Next up, Albuquerque.

Leaving the Lone Star State

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Welcome to the border of Mexico

Even though Damon and I’d been sick for a few days, I was more than ready to get on the road. Seminole Canyon State Park was a beautiful park, but being 40 miles away from everything starts to wear on you (I’ve also started to have an all new respect for Walmart’s).

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All he wanted to do was sleep on me

Unfortunately, I was up most of the night trying to keep little-dude asleep, so I was exhausted. Instead of delaying another day, Damon took little-dude so I could get a few hours of sleep. Around 9:00, I was ok enough to get on the road.

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you know he doesn’t feel good when he wants to be held in the store

About half-way to our destination, mini-man got sick. Trying to take care of a sick toddler and a baby while I was sick and exhausted was definitely trying. And, oh ya, we were driving too

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mini-man loves his bean bag

We arrived at our destination, Lajitas RV Resort, ready to just collapse. We had to the choice to stay one night or two – I opted for two. Man, was that the right decision.

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Word

After another long night, we spent the morning lounging and napping. At this point, we’d spent close to a week cooped up in side the RV. Despite not feeling great, we needed to get out.

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The mayor was very nice. I can see why he was elected

Luckily, it was beautiful outside, so we decided to go for a walk. Just down the street from our resort was the home of the local mayor, Henry Clay. So we got out the wagon and went for a short walk to visit him.

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Lunch on the porch of the General Store

After visiting with the mayor, we visited the general store next door to grab some lunch. It was really great to be out and enjoying the atmosphere.

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It it had water, mini-man wants to be in it

Came back and attempted to give little-dude a bath after he had crawled through a lot of dust and started to look a little like pig pen. Sadly, he didn’t feel well, so a bath really didn’t sit well with him. Luckily, mini-man, the lover of all things water, was more than happy to use the bath water. Damon placed the bathtub outside and he proceeded to have a blast with the water.

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This is the grandfather RV to our RV!

Our next leg started late again due to continued illness – this time mini-man and little-dude were sick. This, combined with multiple stops, meant that we got into our lunch stop, in Ft. Stockton, TX, around 2:30p. Once we ate, shopped, and refueled, it was just after four. With three, of the four, of us sick, I thought it was a really bad idea to try to continue.

And, once again, the decision to take things slow wins again! A few minutes after we pulled into an RV park for the night, mini-man had an explosive diaper (that would not have been fun to deal with while driving).

After we all had some rest, I wanted to give mini-man a bath. Since we don’t have a bathtub in our RV, I purchased a collapsible mini-tub, and use it in the parks showers. It’s great because mini-man can make as big a mess as he wants and no one is bothered. Added bonus, I was able to grab a shower for myself.

After, yet another, long night, we were hoping this leg would be easier since we were less than three hours away from our destination. Ha! What we thought would be an straight, flat road turned out to be a windy, rocky road that was constantly covered in dust! The dust got so bad at one point that we could feel ourselves breathing it in. This hecticness did not help with any of our illnesses.

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I was very happy to pull into our campsite in the early afternoon. Not only is it beautiful, but we are here for a week! Plus, after 10 weeks in Texas, were in a new state – New Mexico.

Fingers crossed this is enough time for all of us too finally get better. At this point, Damon and I are thinking that his doctors might have been wrong about his food poisoning diagnosis. The fact that each of us, the boys included, have gotten sick and none of us ate the same thing, leads us to believe that we probably got the stomach flu. I guess we’ll never know.

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! 

Surprise!!!

Our new home!

Meet our new ride – 2016 Thor Challenger 37KT.

We want to play more and clean less

A few weeks ago, we stayed in a rental house while we got our trailer fixed. When we came back we realized there were some things that were missing in our current setup.

The day after we got our trailer back, Damon showed me photos a Class A motorhome with a layout similar to what we have now, a rarity in bus style RVs. It had more storage, room to move about while we’re on the road, and a washer/dryer!

Much more storage than what we have now

Fortunately, a dealer nearby had one on hand so we were able to look at it in person the very next day.

We. Fell. In. Love. And, thanks to Bitcoin, we could afford it.

Look at all that storage! And that’s only half of it!

However, we are practical people and didn’t want to spend money just because we could afford it. We found two other units with better prices to help with negotiation efforts, but the dealer wouldn’t come down so we walked away.

Mini-man going over the paperwork 😄

We got in touch with a seller in Michigan who was selling a slightly older model for a great price. We were all set to fly up there with the kids to get it when a government decision affected the deal.

Nice, big living area

Turns out the land that the seller was about buy  in giving up their RV had a view of a recently announced steel mill development. He was really sad but thought it was best not to sell. I have to say, I don’t blame him.

A King sized bed!!!

During all this, we stumbled upon the same RV as the one we first toured for an amazing price, just four hours away. After an inspection found the RV to be almost brand new,  so we bought it!

Fun Fact: we bought this RV for $99,900 using Bitcoin worth only $8000 this past January. Wow!

By Tuesday, we finally all had recovered from colds, so we decided to jump and go pick her up. A bank transfer, a rental car, a four our drive, walk through, paperwork and four hour drive back wiped us out. It was a bit much, but we did it.

The closet I’ll ever come to driving this monster

And this is only the beginning. Now we need to move our stuff and sell our current setup. Fortunately, Damons parents are visiting for a few days to help us get everything done!