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.

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      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.

      Omaha

      After a wonderful time in Iowa, we headed to Omaha, Nebraska. Although it was supposed to be a short, two-hour drive, it stretched out due to a few pit stops.

      Follow the red paved road??

      The first was a much needed stop at a truck wash to give the RV a bath. We’ve owned her for seven months and have never washed her. It was desperately needed, especially after our last stop when we drove down the dusty roads. Now she looked so shiny!!

      She’s never looked better

      Our next stop was our customary stop for lunch and grocery shopping. Now that I’m trying to eat healthier, it seems like I’m speeding through fruit, vegetables, and chicken much faster so it was great to stock up on more food.

      Lake front property for only $30 a night!

      All this meant that you we didn’t get to the campsite until 6p. When we saw our site, we were very excited to get set up to enjoy the scenery.

      After we set up, we noticed that we were in a great spot for the sunset and decided to break out the drone – something we hadn’t done in a while. I’m glad we did because we got some great video.

      A wonderful way to end the day

      After we all got a lousy night sleep, I woke pretty groggy. Some turn to coffee to get started after a bad night’s sleep. Me? I clean. I hadn’t even changed out of my PJs and I was putting laundry away. I don’t know why but cleaning energizes me.

      Since all parties were tired we decided to keep it low-key and just do a little shopping. Found an amazing Goodwill where Damon found some fun stuff for the boys.

      I love that he’s finally getting into stuffed animals

      After striking out at the next few stops, we stopped at a playground so the boys could play. This particular playground included a splash pad that little-dude adored. His water loving older brother, however, wasn’t a fan and he wouldn’t go anywhere near it.

      I may have gotten a little wet

      Usually after a long day the boys konk out early. But for some reason they didn’t go to bed until really late, which late to some serious sleeping in. So much so that we didn’t get out of the RV until after lunch.

      I make this look good

      Which was unfortunate because we found an amazing Children’s Museum that the boys loved. It had a lot of activities that they both enjoyed – climbing, water play, and balls, to name a few. I was such a shame that we got there so late and only had a few hours to play.

      Lots of stuff to do

      After another difficult night, the boys woke up early this time. Even though we were all tired, I was glad that we could get to the Children’s Museum early.

      I have to constantly remind myself that he’s only one

      However, we didn’t get there until early afternoon, earlier than the day before, due to the boys falling asleep in the car. I’d hoped we would spend the afternoon there but it was soon clear that neither boys wanted to stay for very long.

      My little monkeys

      On our final day, we decided to take the boys to the lake that’s attached to the park we were staying in. To our surprise, this lake was filled with the friendliest fish you’d ever see. Mini-man was thrilled! He was able to walk around and see the fish close up.

      Nothing better than swimming with sish

      We got up early the next day and hit the road to our next stop – Kansas City.

      Aren’t we adorable?

      Des Moines, Iowa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      The Road to I-oh-way

      “Funny, I thought it was pronounced ‘I-OH-Wah'”

      “Oh it is, but we just don’t like anyone else to say like that”

      The Music Man is one of my favorite movies. And every time I hear Iowa, I think of this line when Professor Harold Hill first gets off the train in Iowa.

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      But before we actually get to Iowa, we had a few stops to make.

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      After having some fun at Mt. Rushmore, we headed east, across South Dakota, and stopped in Chamberlain. Along the way, we passed a time zone and got pushed back an hour – which sucked since we had to adjust our schedules (from driving to sleeping). 😑

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      Although we only stayed one night, the campground was nice and have us a good place to play outside.

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      We started just before noon the next day for Sioux Falls and arrived fairly quickly.

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      This proved wonderful as it gave us time to go run errands. The boys were thrilled to get out of the RV. We even scored a cute power wheels for little-dude for just $3!

      After a long night, we spent the next day relaxing and enjoying

      We spent our last day exploring Sioux Falls. First stop was the butterfly garden and aquarium. This place was adorable. The first room had cute aquariums fill with fish and a touch tank with the friendliest rays I’ve ever seen (truthfully – they liked attention and interacting with people).

      The next room was the butterfly room and it was filled with butterfly’s. Little-dude loved it. Mini-man didn’t mind them but didn’t like them coming near him.

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      The butterfly garden and aquarium were in a park with an incredible playground – comprised of several climbing towers, suited to kids of all ages. Mini-man had a blast checking out each tower.

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      After a quick stop at a thrift store (where I found these awesome Disney record books), we headed back to the RV for some pool time.

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      I’m super proud of little-dude, who is getting used to the water and even had fun in his float.

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      Afterwards we stopped by the camps playground for some more fun. It was an interesting playground as it was completely surrounded by tents. When your camping, it’s considered a common courtesy to not walk through other people’s sites. So we were confused as to how we were supposed to get to the playground with walking through a site. We have up and just walked through an empty site.

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      You’d think that after all that the kids would go to be on time – nope. Midnight bedtimes and both woke up at 7a. At least we got an early start for our five hour journey to our 28th state, and our stop for the Fourth of July – Des Moines, Iowa.

      Salt Lake City – Continued

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      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.

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      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.

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      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.

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      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.

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      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

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      Three Generations

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

      Salt Lake City

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      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.

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      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!

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      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.

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      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.

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      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.

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      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 🐘

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      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 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.

      The Redwood Forests

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      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.

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      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.

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      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.

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      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.

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      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.

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      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.