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.

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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 – 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.

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.

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.

Hooray for Hollywood

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California, here I come

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

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

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

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Animals!!

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

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One of my favorite places!

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

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Exactly what we’ve been looking for!

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

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

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

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On the road again

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

Quick Stop in Joshua Tree, California

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So Long, Snow!

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

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Headin’ on the highway               Lookin’ for Adventure

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

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No Snow, it warm and lower elevation!

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

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Happy to be outside and warm again!

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

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Mini-man loved being outside

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

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Beautiful Scenery

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

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Good Food

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

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Actual Joshua Trees

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

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Joshua Tree National Park

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