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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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!

Downsizing

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How do you fit a 1600 sq ft house into a 300 sq ft trailer??? The simple to say, but hard to do, answer is – DOWNSIZE. I’ve tried to put myself in a practical mindset – the more we sell, the more money we have to travel and less stuff to lug around. It also helps to remember that if we get rid of something, and want it later, we can always re-buy it.

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Now some of our stuff is a no brainer to get rid of, such as the furniture (since it’s included in the trailer), TV’s (we won’t need four in the trailer), my car (my Honda Fit can’t pull an 8,000 lb trailer), and kitchen stuff (I won’t need my fancy dishes any more).

Then it gets a little more difficult for me. We have cultivated quite the toy collection and play area in our house. I know, realistically, that our kids don’t NEED all these toys, but I do have a joy seeing them play with these toys. I didn’t have a lot growing up, so being able to provide these “things” for my children gives my great satisfaction.

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But then I’m reminded that what we remember most isn’t the actual toy we played with as children. We remember spending time with our loved ones and experiencing the world with them. And that’s what I want for my children – to experience value and love from those around them; not the things around them.

So while I know that downsizing my kids toys will be emotional for me, I also know that we are giving them an awesome experience.

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Now on the flip size, I am used to cooking in a 300 sq ft kitchen (which is the same size as our trailer). How am I supposed to cook in such a small space? Where am I supposed to store everything? I am used to having a lot of cabinet space, not to mention fridge space, to store food. I currently have three different solutions for my dilemma:

  1. Shop every few days, instead of once a week
  2. Stop buying in bulk and only buy what you need for a the meal (portion control)
  3. Grow fresh herbs and lettuce in a window

I have no idea if any of these will works, but I guess this is only part of what I’ll have to get used to going forward. On the plus side, it’s much easier to keep 300 sq ft clean than 1600 – especially with two kids!

Taking our Furbabies on the Road

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These poor cats. We adopted Kizzy and Cloud in 2008 while we were living at our townhouse in Orlando. And over the past ten years, these cats have lived in a lot of different places:

  • 2009 (October): We drove them cross country for three days to move to California.
  • 2010 (April): About six months later, in early we drove them back to Orlando, and into my in-laws house in Celebration, Florida.
  • 2010 (October): After many months of house hunting, we then moved them to our new house in Orlando.
  • 2013 (February): After a few years of downtime, we moved them to an apartment near SeaWorld
  • 2014 (January): We moved them back to our townhouse in Orlando.
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I think this pretty much sums up how he feels about car rides

Is that it? unfortunately not.

  • 2015 (September): We flew them out to California!
  • 2016 (September): We fly them back to the townhouse in Orlando

And now we are asking them to live with us on an RV and travel the country to who knows how long. I think I better stock-up on kitty treats.

Lessons learned – Disneyland

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As a life-long theme park addict (seriously – I have pictures of me at Disneyland when I’m only a few months old), I thought I knew it all when it came to navigating theme parks. I. Was. Wrong! Here are some great lessons I learned from our first trip to Disneyland with kids:

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  • Plan Ahead of Time: Before kids I had no limits to what I wanted to do and when. Now that I have Mini-man with me, it became very important to pay attention to height requirements and ride appropriateness. Some things might be too loud or scary for little ones, even if they meet the minimum ride requirements.                                                                                                                                                 All of this information is available on-line. I suggest noting which attractions you think would be best before you arrive.
  • Be Prepared: admit it – you sang those words 😁. Going to a theme park takes some preparation. I recommend lots of water, sunscreen, and really comfortable shoes. Also, Disney can be expensive so bringing some snacks for all to enjoy will go a long way.
  • Take Your Time: The phrase ‘Stop and Smell a Rose’ is pretty apt here. Pre-kids, I would charge through the park to hit as much as possible. With kids, I’ve learned it’s important to take my time and enjoy the journey. Mini-man didn’t care how many, if any, rides we did. He was more interested in taking in his surroundings than riding a lot of rides.
  • Pay Attention: Pre-kids, I would get the park at opening and stay until the park closed. With kids, I’ve learned we need to go at their pace. Its more important for Mini-man to sleep than for me to get to the park early. During the day, if you see the kids getting tired it’s ok to leave the park for some quiet/nap time. If you stay all day, everyone ends up tired and miserable – which is not great memories for anyone. Its more important to have a fun, relaxing day.

I hope these tips help make your visit to a theme park more enjoyable. We Love to know – what tips do you have for enjoying a theme park with your kids?