New Orleans

Our drive to New Orleans coincided with a huge storm hitting middle America and the east coast, which gave us a whole day of rain to look forward to. As Floridians, were used to driving in the rain. But driving an RV amongst people who don’t know how to drive in the rain could spell disaster. So we took precautions – we left early and drove under the speed limit the whole way. We may have annoyed some people, but we got to our destination in one piece.

We pulled into a Walmart to grab lunch for the boys when Damon realized the car battery was dead. I have no idea why the battery keeps dieing – Damon thinks it’s the extra things in the car (like our heated seats), that are draining the battery. On the plus side, we bought that battery at a Walmart, so we were able to return the dead one and got a replacement for free!

Our RV park is located just a few miles from downtown New Orleans, which means it’s pretty small and tight. At least we’d be able to get to local attractions quickly. I’d been looking forward to the pool here, but the weather didn’t look promising – cold and rainy.

Thanks to the time changes, fall back plus moving over a time zone, the boys were asleep by 7! Always nice to go to bed early, but it meant an early morning for us the next day.

As predicted, it was cold and rainy, so we took our crazy boys to the Louisiana Children’s Museum. This is exactly what they needed. This two-story facility was filled with hands on activities perfect for the boys. We spent three hours there before they needed lunch. In fact, the museum worked so well, that both boys fell asleep after they had lunch.

After some thrifting, we decided to head back to the RV. The owner of the park warned us that the main highways basically becomes a parking lot from 3p-6p. Don’t have to tell us twice!

The next day was another early, cold, and wet morning. No problem – we headed to the aquarium!

Damon was hesitant to visit as our last few visits to aquariums weren’t very successful. As we approached the building, mini-man got very excited and started talking about sish. Always a good sign.

One saving grace was the aquarium was completely dead. Little-dude had fallen asleep, so mini-man and I were able to just sit and look at fish for as long as we needed.

This aquarium was an amazing combination of detailed exhibits while being interesting for kids. It was also the perfect size for kids to walk around and not get too tired.

The next day we were finally given some dry, sunny weather. We took advantage and took the boys to a local park. In addition to being an amazing playground, it was house in a beautiful park filled with old oak trees.

While the boys played, we noticed a train going around the park and learned that just a few feet a way was a small, kids amusement park.

After we finished the playground, we searched out the train and made the last one of the day. It wrapped the perimeter of the whole park – one of the longest kid trains we’d found. It was so calming that both boys fell asleep.

Of course, as soon as we got back to the car, they both woke up. So we decided to head to Cafe Du Monde. Everything I’ve ever read or heard from people about New Orleans is that Cafe Du Monde is a must.

And I can see why. Despite being busy, we found a table quickly and got served instantly. As soon as the server brought out the beniets, little-dude dove right in. I think he at half of our order! After I had half of one, I offered it to mini-man, who, to our shock, tried! And liked it! He kept shouting ‘YUMMY!’. You know it’s good if the picky three year liked it.

Afterwards, we walked around the French Quarter a bit, enjoying the architecture and the atmosphere.

Our last in New Orleans was absolutely perfect outside and we had nothing planned. However, mini-man started talking about wild animals, which inspired us to visit the Audobon Zoo.

And I am so glad we visited. This was by far the best zoos we’ve ever visited. The quality of each exhibit and habitat was outstanding – lots of detail, an ability to get close to the animals without compromising animal comfort, and a variety of exhibits to explore.

Everywhere we walked, there was something new to see. Although it’s a large zoo, it felt small and cozy. My favorite things was the oak tree lined pathways. These are old trees and I appreciated that the park maintained them and worked them into the expert of the park.

My other favorite part was their attention to children. Many zoo provide a playground and that’s it. In addition to a playground at the front, the zoo offered a water play area and climbing structures, with slides, in each area of the park. It was a great way to see the animals with the boys and let them play at the same time. It was the very first time we’d stayed at a place from open to close.

We did so much at this stop and I feel like we got a very good feel for the city of New Orleans. I’m glad it’s close to Orlando. We hope to come back soon and spend some more time there. But, for now, it’s time to get to Florida!

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A Hop, Skip, and a Jump to New Orleans

With the holidays fast approaching, I really wanted to get to a stopping place for the year and avoid traveling during some of the busiest driving days of the year. With that in mind, we decided to speed up our journey to the South by spending just a day at each stop.

First up, was our 41st state – Delaware. With the boys and I all being sick, our day started off late so Damon could get a little sleep before driving. Luckily, it was only a short, one hour drive to our next stop. We thought it was smooth sailing once we got on the road, but once we got on the highway, Damon realized we needed cash for some upcoming tolls. I always keep cash on me, but since I’d been sick, I had no idea where my wallet was. We proceeded to spend the next 20 minutes pulled over, on the side of the highway, looking through the RV and van for my purse. I finally found it in a backpack. Damon had the idea to put a bunch of valuables in it and assumed I’d put it away and find my purse that way. Of course I got sick, and he forgot about the bag. Annoying, but at least we found it and had plenty of cash to continue the drive.

Normally, it isn’t a big deal to just run to a bank and get more cash, but when your driving a 40ft RV, maneuvering small streets and parking lots can be stressful and complicated. Glad we could avoid that.

The rest if the drive was uneventful. After we set up, we all took the chance to rest and recouperate.

Our only day in Delaware gave us some gorgeous weather, so we headed to the playground. When they had some fun, the boys constantly get cold and it limits their ability to play. So we loaded them into the van and headed out to lunch.

This allowed us to drive to some local thrift stores, where I scored this adorable singing snowman and penguins. Damon thought I was nuts but, to me, it embodies the magic of Christmas. However, once the boys saw it, they claimed it as their own. It’s so cute to see them dancing to these cute penguins.

Thanks to daylight savings, we were up pretty early on Sunday, which have us an early start in our drive to West Virginia. It also turned into a blessing in disguise – the one time a year the Maryland bridge is shutdown for a 10k race happened to be that very day. Thanks to the way start, the delay wasn’t too bad.

Once we arrived, it was our one nice day, so we hopped into the van, grabbed some lunch for the boys and headed to Harper’s Ferry National Park.

This park is home to historic Harper’s Ferry, a civil war era town with roads and buildings still intact from 150 years ago. It was also the meeting point of three major trails, including the Appalachian Trail. Technically, we walked along that very trail through the town, which is pretty cool.

It was fun to walk around with the boys. They liked walking around, but they got cold very quick, so we only spent an hour there. But it was enough to get a good overview of the town.

Once we get back, little-dude passed out, so Damon took mini-man to play some mini-man golf. One thing I love about staying at KOAs are the great activities they have for kids.

The next day was true to it’s word – it rained all day. One of the downfalls of RV life is it can get a little claustrophobic when it rains. To help with this, we took the boys out for lunch and shopping. We needed the shopping desperately, but you can never tell how kids are going to react to stores.

Turns out, they had a blast. Exploring Walmart and Costco was a lot of fun for them. Unfortunately, halfway through Costco, both boys started to run out of steam and we had to carry them through the store. One eventually fell asleep while the other was reenergized when we found a box of kinetic sand for him. That, plus a toy train we found, and he was good to go for the evening.

We started early the next morning, to tackel a five hour drive to Mt. Airy, North Carolina. The bonus to early starts is it’s easier to go longer distances with the boys. The downer for this trip was more rain. Rain makes it harder to drive and colder inside the RV. It also didn’t help that the windshield wiper broke and stopped moving early in the drive.

After a quick lunch stop, we made it to our campground – Mayberry. This place has everything named after the Andy Griffith Show. We later learned it’s because the town of Mt. Airy was the inspiration for the town of Mayberry on the show. Pretty cute.

Once we parked, the boys made it known they wanted to play, so we hit the playground. Mini-man had fun swinging while little dude had fun splashing in mud puddles. Gotta love having boys.

They next day was perfect outside – 70 degrees and blue skies all around. The boys and I played outside while Damon ran a few errands. It definitely proves were making the right decision to head south, towards warmer weather. Say what you will about Florida, at least you can enjoy being outside most of the time. And with two, true Florida little boys, it’s really hard to find them entertainment that isn’t outside.

Curious to see Mt. Airy, we headed to the small town. Unfortunately, we didn’t really see anything that resembled Mayberry, but we might have just been looking on the wrong street. We stopped looking when we found an adorable playground and jumped at the chance to let the boys get out some energy. It worked, as they were both out shortly after we got home.

An early night meant that the boys were up bright and early. Not always great in the adult sleep department, but great in the driving department. Especially when rain was expected. One nice thing about this drive, is it was less than three hours. After a 5 hour drive the other day, 3 goes by really quick.

Once we hooked-up, per our new routine, we headed to the playground. However, our fun was cut short, thanks to an afternoon shower. While we hurried back to the RV, mini-man decided to take his time and enjoy the rain.

The next day brought us continual rain. The boys were hyper, so we went out. We had fun at the thrift store, where the boys found some pom poms and I found a $6 mystery box filled with lots of fun toys, including a lot of Legos.

Then we had the bright idea of giving the boys cookies so we could grocery shop…ya that worked out well. We did get to witness an interesting site – women lining up for Thanksgiving table decorations and grabbing them as they were pulled from the box. I don’t think the decorations made it to the shelves. It was pretty funny to see these women go nuts over these things.

After a short sleep, the boys were up early, so we got an early start to Alabama. The drive was smooth, but stressful dealing with two, very energetic and demanding boys. I was exhausted the the end of the drive. Damon tried to take them to the playground to give me a break, but it only lasted a few minutes.

After so many days on the road, I think we’re all getting tired. Thank goodness we’re in New Orleans for a week.

RV Stop #1 – Fort De Soto

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We’ve said goodbye to Winter Garden RV Resort – our holding place while we finished prepping the house to sell – and headed to our first stop on our road trip, Fort De Soto, Florida.

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This beautiful RV park is inside of the Fort De Soto state park – home to quiet beaches and a historic old fort. If you want a quiet beach weekend, this is the place to go.

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We learned a lot even before we arrived.

  • The two-hour drive occurred during a big thunder storm, complete with thunder and lightning, which made for a very shaky drive. The kids slept most of the way and didn’t seem to notice that anything was wrong. The cats are a different story – the meowed the whole time (I hope they get used to driving soon).
  • Once we arrived, we had to do our first back-in setup (this is when you have to back the trailer into the site). Since I’m navigationally challenged, Damon took the task upon himself and managed to get us set up without hitting anything!

Since it was still rainy when we arrived, we decided to stay inside and have a quiet evening with the kids.

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After sleeping in, we decided that the kids needed to get out, so we took them to the Children’s Exploration Museum. This place is so much fun – the room is divided into different sections, giving kids a lot of options for play. Mini-man loved a lot of the sections and had an amazing time.

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The next day we spent at the campground exploring. This place is very old Florida, with lots of trees, water, and wildlife. It was very relaxing to walk around. A few minutes from our site was a cute children’s playground that mini-man adored.

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On our last day, we decided to be brave and take the kids to the beach. I’d heard that North Beach was a great place to take kids, so we headed there.

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At first, we thought the beach near the playground would be ideal, but the waves were really high. Instead, we let mini-man play on the playground for a bit, then headed further up the beach.
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This new location was perfect- hardly any waves and nice, warm water. Mini-man went in instantly with Damon. I sat at the edge with little-dude and let him get his feet wet (he liked the water but the waves scared him). All-in-all, a pretty successful trip (minus all the sand we brought back).
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Today we head to our next stop, Terra Ciea, just 30 minutes from Fort De Soto. Fingers crossed we can get everything ready before check-out. Last time, it took us several hours to get going. This time, we have just four. Wish us luck!

On the Road at Last

We did it! The house is listed, the trailer is setup, the car is prepped – time to get this show on the road. Of course. For our first time picking up and leaving, it took a little effort to actually leave:

  1. You have to stow everything! And with a very curious toddler around, you can imagine how hard it was to get everything put away. Damon had to go back at one point after we got into the car to pick up some last minute things
  2. Once things are stowed you can’t get to anything until you reach your destination (unless you want to squeeze your way through). So I had to prepare several snack bags for everyone in the car.
  3. Triple check everything! For an RV to work it needs to be plugged and hooked up to lots of things. Damon got in the car and almost drove off before he saw that the power was still hooked up. Then he forgot that the propane was still on. Lesson learned – do several walk arounds before leaving.
  4. Driving in rain is hard. Of course we leave just as one of our lovely Florida thunderstorms shows up, making it a little harder to steer the car (it’s very bumpy back here)

Not too bad for beginner, especially with two young children to care for as well. Hopefully we’ll get faster as we progress. For now, we are thrilled to be on the road, heading to Fort de Soto, Florida.

Home, Sweet Home … For Now

We bought our RV and SUV a few days before little-dude joined our family. We decided to take a small break from moving to adjust to being a family of four and allow me time to heal from child birth. 

Two weeks ago, we talked with our Realtor and are getting the house ready to sell. Which means we need a place to put the RV. After some research we found a cute place close to the house so we could be nearby while we sell the house and move into the RV. 

The actual trip to the RV resort was nerve racking for me – this made it real. Everything’s been abstract for months but actually seeing the resort made it real. And I have to admit, I’m still nervous. This is such a drastic change from what I’m used to. 

However, I’m also kinda excited – the resort is walking distance to parks, restaurants, and much more. Now we will have the opportunity to get out more as a family. 

It took some time to get the RV here as the place we bought it from kept “losing” our moving information. Thankfully, we managed to get the RV to it’s new home a few days ago.

We now have about half our stuff in the RV and spent our first official night. So far, so good. We still have some work to do, but it’s getting there.

California Adventures: The Kidspace Museum

After a few months of braving the LA streets, I decided to get a little braver and take mini-man someplace a little further away – The Kidspace Museum in Pasadena.

While the drive was trickier – going on small roads up the mountains – it was definitely worth it.

The Kidspace Museum is a perfect place for kids. There are three distinct zones – outdoor science, indoor creative play, and outdoor exploring.

We got a three month pass and have loved taking mini-man here. If you have little kids I highly recommend checking this place out. 

Monday Motivation: Six Years of Marriage

Six years ago, my best friend and I made it official. However, I felt married to him long before our wedding day. For me, our wedding day was just making our relationship legally binding. 

Damon and I had met five years prior, at Disney right after a hurricane hit. We were friends immediately. 

Soon after we were selected for a special training class. During this class Damon got up to get some pens for the class. He tripped, and the pens went flying. He turned beet red and I thought he was the cutest thing ever. He asked me out later that afternoon. 

I knew he was special immediately. However, there was a point where I wondered if he was too old for me. Fortunately, some part of my brain yelled at me, telling me it was dumb to stop seeing someone fantastic just because of age.

Soon after that, we traveled to Disneyland together and I knew this guy was special. I wasn’t 100% positive that I would marry him but I knew that he would be an important person in my life. 

So as you can imagine, by the time our wedding day rolled around it was just another day of adventure with Damon. We were already an awesome partnership, which continues to this day. 

I love our life and adventures together. It hasn’t been easy but nothing valuable in life is every easy. And I can’t wait to see what this road ahead has in store for us.

California Adventures: Disneyland

As a self-proclaimed Disney geek (and proud of it) I couldn’t come to California and not visit Disneyland. Since mini-man was little we decided to just visit a couple of times.

Our first trip was when mini-man was six-months old. Looking back, he might have been a bit too young – but we still had fun. He really enjoyed the outdoor rides – the carousel and Casey Jr. He didn’t quite understand the dark rides – Winnie the Pooh.

However, it was a stressful visit – it was hot, crowded, and we didn’t really have goals to accomplish anything.

After this visit we waited a year to go back. The main reason we went back was so I could see Paint the Night before it left. But this time, I was more prepared.

After the first visit, I realized I couldn’t power through the park and try to do everything – kids just can’t do that.

This time I researched everything and made a loose goals for the day. I wanted everyone to have fun.

In the end, the goals worked really well and everyone had fun. What worked best was taking lots of breaks to let mini-man walk and explore in his own.

And I got to see Paint the Night (which was incredible!). Best of all, mini-man loved seeing it too. 

I am so happy that we got to go to Disneyland and create some great memories. 

California Adventures: The Los Angeles Zoo

As many of you know – I hate driving in Los Angeles. However, mini-man was getting bigger and I really wanted to started taking him places where he could explore. I decided to give the Los Angeles Zoo a try.

On our first visit, Damon drive with me so I could get to know the route. However, the route included driving on the highway and even during slow times, people in LA drives recklessly.

We had a blast on our trip to the zoo. Mini-man lived walking around and exploring. I really wanted to take him back but I needed to find a different way.

A few days later, I decided to take mini-man to the zoo myself. But this time, I avoided the highway. Instead I took smaller streets. It might have taken a few minutes more but it was way easier for me. 

I felt so accomplished for facing my fear of driving in LA and thrilled to take mini-man to the zoo.

Since then, we have visited to zoo at least once a week and gotten to explore this really amazing zoo. I highly recommend it to anyone with kids – it’s a great place to let them explore and see new things. And if you get an annual pass, you can come back often and not feel you have to stay all day of your kids get tired. I usually take mini-man in the morning and stay a few hours until he’s ready for his nap.

And be sure not to miss their Christmas Light-Up event – the while zoo is lit up with beautiful lights. Its a great, and affordable, holiday experience.

I will definitely miss having this zoo so close to us.

My Heart is With Orlando

I have lived in Orlando for over 2o years. During that time I experienced several hurricanes – including Charlie, a category 3 storm, which did a lot of damage to Central Florida.

Hurricanes are very dangerous and can cause a lot of damage. We are unable to get back to our house before the storm hits, so we hope that everything is ok. Foruntatly, our contractor is doing some work and is keeping an eye I’m things for us.

This is a scary time for Florida. I hope everyone back home old days safe and that there is minimal damage.  We will see you soon