Salt Lake City – Wrapping Up

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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 – The RV Shop

On the road!!

So our first official adventure in our new RV last just 30 minutes and ended at the Texas RV Service center. Don’t worry, we didn’t break down. This was all planned. 

We Are Family

Part of the reason we started this adventure was to spend time together. Unfortunately, trailers aren’t equipped for laundry or dishes – two tasks that usually pile up and take a while to tackle. 

So after we got our new RV, we made an appointment to have a washer-dryer, dishwasher and new cooktop installed, have our slide fixed, add some additional batteries to our battery bank (which allows us to store more power and go longer between hooking up to electrical), get the car ready to be towed and get some minor trim work done. 

Mini-man’s favorite place to hangout

Day 1: Damon got up early and took the mini-man to the shop. While they worked on the car, Damon came back to the RV and we got ready for our first drive. Thankfully, we had lots of practice from our travel trailer, so packing up didn’t take to much time. 

Loves watching Curious George (note – this is not while we are driving)

Driving was luxurious! It’s much smoother than the travel trailer and soooo much more room 😊. Added bonus, I could stream Curious George on the TV for mini-man 😍

The hose had a leak which froze over night!

Day 2: Woke up freezing! We just happened to be getting work done on the RV while a super-storm was hitting the country, making almost every state cold. It didn’t help that mini-man loves to turn off all of our heaters 🤦

Sleepy boys

Since lots of work needed to be done on the RV, we decided to take the kids to a drive-thru zoo and run some errands. However, after we got some lunch, both boys passed out 😴

Grocery stores are fun

Instead, Damon did some shopping while the boys slept in the car with me. Once they woke up, we went grocery shopping, one of mini-man’s favorite activities (he loves all the food).

We have a washer-dryer!!!

When we got back, our new washer-dryer was in! 

Less than impressed

Day 3: We we’re hoping to have all of the work done by today, so we ventured out again. This time, we did make it to the zoo.

The Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch is home to hundred of wild animals. When you arrive, you are given a bag of food to encourage animals to visit you. 

He got me

Unfortunately, this brought out the worst in other drivers – driving slow or stopping, hanging out of the windows, touch the animals – all things not permitted by the park but there’s no supervision along the way. Even I got bitten when I tried to throw food out the window.

Sorry, dude. You’re cute, but I’m spoken for

All-in-all, it was fun and amazing to see these animals so close up. However I’d rather visit when it’s not so busy.

Beautiful sunset

After the zoo and some errands, we came back to the RV. Unfortunately, we got back after closing and couldn’t tell if any work had been done.

This was at 10a, after we’d all been up for a while 😴

Day  4: After a very long night with very little sleep, we decided to stay in the RV while it was worked on. We  learned that a lot had been accomplished but our goal of leaving were dashed – the dishwasher, the slide, and the cooktop all needed to be finished. 

The dishwasher!!!

While most of these were finished by the end of the day, our cook-top was delayed and couldn’t be installed until Monday 😞

So.Much.Space!

Day 5/6: The RV shop isn’t open on the weekends, so we took the opportunity to get organized. With the washer-dryer and dishwasher installed, we were able to install the rest of the shelving and get the kitchen cleaned up (and it looks amazing!)

Day 7: Woke up Monday  morning, tired but ready to get on the road. Unfortunately, our stove hadn’t arrived. It was due to be delivered at some point, so we were at the mercy of the delivery company (we don’t know which one has it 😑).

Mini-man trying help fix the trim work

While we waited, we decided to get some last minute errands done. Our next stop isn’t close to anything, so we wanted to make sure we had plenty of supplies. I decided to stay back with the kids 1. So Damon could get the errands done faster 🏃2. I was too tired to go out with kids 😴

Finally!

Finally, at 2 o’clock, our stove top was delivered and installed! Every thing is now, officially done, and we can hit the road. Next stop – Seminole Canyon Camp Ground.

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!

Pretty Pittsburgh – Part II

School of Arts – where Damon spent most if his college days

After a rough ride to Mountain Top Campground, we were really excited to go exploring. First stop – Carnegie Mellon.

Beautiful campus

Damon was very excited to show us his Alma Matter. And I can see why, the campus is beautiful. I could imagine waking around or studying on the lawn. What was strange to me was how small the campus was.

The student returns 16 years later

I went to UCF, a state school in Central Florida, which is one of the largest in the nation. I’m used to huge classrooms, parking garages, and lots of amenities close by. In contrast, Carnegie Mellon is in the middle of a busy city area, mostly street parking, and had few amenities close by. I saw no fast food restaurants close, whereas UCF had several.

The buildings were amazing

I thoroughly enjoyed waking around the campus, seeing where Damon spent his college years. It was amazing to see such gorgeous architecture and feel a bit jealous that he got to go to school there.  

We stopped for lunch at Essie’s Original Hot Dog Spot, a local restaurant famous for it’s hot dogs and ‘O’ fries. They were so good that little-dude decided he had to try some of mine 😄

Future architect??

We spent the rest of the afternoon shopping. While staying in small towns for a few weeks is peaceful, it means it’s hard to find somethings we needed, like a mattress, Costco for diapers, and places to get some new clothes for me. 

It was so great to stock up on grocery items, and even find my mattress. All-in-all, a very productive day. See what happened next during our stay in Pretty Pittsburgh – Part III.

Be sure to follow all of our adventures on Facebook and Instagram

How Can You Afford This????

This is an excellent question. Undoubtedly, trying to travel the country while neither of us is working is daunting. However, thanks to some financial decisions Damon and I made when we were first married, combined with some recent financial gains, have made our dreams of traveling as a family a reality.

Like many couples, we were living right at the edge of financial comfort when we were first married. We bought a 3,000 sq ft house, on a quarter of an acre of land, in a nice neighborhood in Orlando. Damon soon realized that we spent more time maintaining the house than actually enjoying it and it was stressing him out (I should realize that when Damon is ultra-stressed out, then were doing something wrong.)

After a wonderful vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains and Hilton Head, we realized two very important things:

  1. We wanted to travel more
  2. We wanted to start a family

Both of these required more financial freedom than we currently experienced. But, instead of just crossing our fingers and hoping for the best, we became proactive with our finances. We sold our too big house and moved into a smaller, more manageable house; paid off our cars; paid off all our debt; and reduced our spending so that we could afford our lifestyle with just one of our salaries.

So what did we do with our money? We diversified our investments into the following categories

  1. House
  2. Precious metals
  3. Short-term Lending Club
  4. Bitcoin

After seven years, two of these investments (precious metals and short-term lending) have stayed constant. The other two, however, have increased significantly in the past year.

  • House: The housing market is at an all time high at the moment. Combined with some updates we’ve made and our house value has gone up.
  1. Bitcoin: This cryptocurrency has been in the news a lot lately. I’ll write more about it later, but in simple terms, it’s digital currency. Damon researched it years ago and became very excited about it, so we decided to invest.

    Between these two investments, we can now live comfortably in our house for years. But we quickly realized that we would just be existing in the house. We wouldn’t be living. What’s the point in staying home if we can’t enjoy ourselves?

    So instead of living comfortably for a few years, why not reduce our expenses even more and be able to live for close to a decade? That’s right – we decided to sell our house, buy an RV trailer, and hit the road. 

    Part of our investments went into buying and renovating the RV and the rest are going into our other investments. The hope is that the other investments will continue to pay off and we can travel for many years.

    Of course, we are maintaining the mindset that if it doesn’t work for us, or if we run low on money, that we can always go back to Orlando. No decision has to be forever and it’s OK to change your mind.

    Slight Change of Plans

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    So, you may have seen that there is a little storm named Irma headed to Florida in the next few days. I have lived in Florida for 20 years and have experienced a variety of hurricanes. Most of the time, these storms don’t phase me. This one scares me. Add into the mix that we live in an RV with kids plus cats and I am not taking any chances.

    Originally, we were going to stay in Central Florida til Saturday, then head to Daytona, then onto Savannah – a.k.a all destinations in the path of this storm. Instead, we are high-tailing it out of Florida. Here is our new plan:

    • Wednesday: Central Florida (to get some things done)
    • Thursday: Heading to the Florida/Georgia Border
    • Friday-Sunday: Staying near Atlanta
    • Sunday-Friday (9/15) – Staying at Rock State National Park, TN

    Trust me, this is a scary storm and it should not be messed with. If you are in the path, please get out if you can. If not, stock-up and hunker down. Hopefully everyone in Florida stays safe and the storm just fizzles (Fingers Crossed!) in the ocean.