Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Cousins x 5

Dallas was next on our stop for a number of reasons.  My favorite in-laws live there with a house full of 5 of our kids' cousins.  It's rowdy, it's loud, it's chaos, but it's always full of memories.  I traveled to Haiti with Trades of Hope while in Dallas too, so Jon had some backup while I was out of the country for a week. (Blog to come about Haiti) What I love about Dallas is that we don't even have to leave the house to have fun.  The kids all get along great (My kids are 5, 3, and 1 while the cousins are 8, 5, 4, 2, and 6 months) and keep things interesting.  Nana is a godsend with fun crafts and endless patience.  Papa lends a certain responsible fun to the mix too ;)  He keeps all of us big kids in line.

I've been mentioning our campgrounds along the way, so, here in Dallas we alternate between 2.  We are at a Corps of Engineers Campground about 20 minutes from all the cousin action for most of the time and a Thousand Trails campground about an hour away when the other one is booked up.  The COE one is covered in chiggers and tarantulas this time of year.  That's right, tarantulas!!!  I explained to Jon that we will be selling our trailer on the spot if I find one inside.  (Can you tell I love spiders?)  The chiggers make it hard to spend any time outside with the kids.  They will be sleepless and miserable for days after, but it's nice and close to my in-laws so we just minimize our time outside there and maximize it in my in-laws well manicured yard. (complete with slip n slide and inflatable pirate ship pool).  The TT campground is a step up in amenities but it's a little too "camping" for me.  It's dirt everywhere!  There's no way to keep it out. And the fire ants are plenty.  Let's just say these aren't me favorite campgrounds, but they supply exactly what we need to be close to family.

We encountered a bit of vehicle trouble here in Dallas too.  While at the TT campground, which is in the middle of nowhere, our batteries died.  With one vehicle this makes fixing it difficult.  Fortunately we got to borrow Nana's car to get it taken care of.  We are still troubleshooting why we have gone through 3 batteries in about 18 months. This was followed by a challenging brake job.  After Jon removed the rear tires and brakes we discovered that the brakes were just about non-existent. One pad fell apart into multiple pieces in his hands as he removed it.  So new pads and rotors plus some added complications with stripped bolts out-of-the-box took a lot longer than expected.  But by the looks of the brakes, we are just fortunate to have someone watching over us.

Jon gets the opportunity to work in Dallas.  Which helps offset the cost of the COE campground.  The local Naval Operational Support Center organizes and mans all veteran funerals in the DFW area. So when we are in town Jon calls them up and let's them know he is willing and able to help out.  I think he enjoys having the opportunity to honor veterans this way and feels like he is working to support our travels.  Unfortunately due to the aforementioned vehicle issues, he didn't get a chance to participate this time around.

Both of the boys got celebrate their birthdays with their cousins.  LJ's request was for a water slide and AJ's request was for a bowling party.  Both of which were super easy and fun to accomplish.  See photos below.

The final event of Dallas were the swimming lessons. Nana and Papa gifted all the grand-kids with swim lessons for Christmas last year and this was the first time we've had the chance to take them up on it.  So the boys participated in 2 weeks of swim lessons to include learning how to be: Sharks, Starfish, Bobs, and overall more comfortable in the water.  It gave us the chance to get Adah a little more acclimated to the water as well.

*For all of our photos check out our albums on our facebook page:

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Travel Destination Guess-Em!

Now on the precipice of our trip, I thought it might be fun to do something a little interactive.  What follows are stock (stolen from internet) photos of various locations we will, or at least intend to, visit over the next 4 months.  Your job is to guess the city or National/State Parks we'll be visiting from the photos below.  I'll try to post these on Facebook as well so it is a little more comment friendly, but feeel free to make your guesses here in the comment section if you'd like as you guess your way through our journey.

Hint: The pictures are posted in order of our approximate route of travel, starting in Texas and initially heading west.  

Stop "A"
Revealed - Sweetwater, TX 

"A- Day 2"
Revealed - Carlsbad Caverns, NM  

Revealed - Albuquerque, NM

Revealed - Taos, NM region (Cimarron Canyon - not pictured)  

Revealed - Garden of the Gods - Colorado Springs, CO

Revealed - Pikes Peak, CO

Revealed - United States Air Force Academy

                               Revealed - Evergreen, CO
 (Stayed in Golden, CO)

Revealed - Denver, CO

Revealed - Frisco, CO

Revealed - Frisco, CO

Revealed - Carbondale, CO
(Stayed in Glenwood Springs, CO)

Revealed - Carbondale, CO
Revealed - Arches National Park - Moab, UT
Revealed - Starvation Reservoir - Duchesne, UT

Revealed - Salt Lake City, UT

Revealed - Bear Lake, UT

Revealed - Grand Teton National Park, WY

Revealed - Grand Prismatic Spring - Yellowstone National Park, WY/ID/MT

Revealed - Old Faithful - Yellowstone National Park, WY/ID/MT

"M" - That's an easy one!
Revealed - Worland, WY

Revealed - Mt. Rushmore, SD

Revealed - Wind Cave National Park, SD

Revealed - The Badlands National Park, SD

Revealed - Sioux Falls, SD

Revealed - Omaha, NE

"S" - Hardest pic of the bunch
Revealed - Lake Okoboji (diverted to Sioux City instead)

Revealed - St. Cloud, MN

Revealed - Duluth, MN

Revealed - Duluth, MN

Revealed - Pictured Rocks National Seashore, MI

Revealed - Macinac Island, MI

Revealed - Ann Arbor, MI

Revealed - St. Clair, MI

Revealed - Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Revealed - Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Revealed - White Mountain National Forest, VT

Revealed - White Mountain National Forest, VT

Revealed - Acadia National Park - Bar Harbor, ME
Revealed - Kennebunkport, ME
Revealed - Boston, MA

Revealed - Newport, RI
Revealed - Wilkens Fruit & Fir Farm, NY!