• maui

    Already hit our 50th state…

    We went ahead and headed to the beautiful island of Maui this past October on our school break. It would be pretty tough to get here in...

  • calisunset

    Hitting 44 of the 50 United States!

    We will be hitting 44 of the 50 states along our RV tour! (Already did Hawaii and Alaska will be in the spring..) Since we are focusing...

  • springbreaktreasures

    Nothing beats spring break in Cali!

    Dana Point, California is where we normally spend all of our family down time, school breaks and summer vacations. It is a beautiful, relaxing spot in Orange...

One of the top places on my list that I wanted to visit along this trip was Mackinac Island in Michigan. I’d always seen beautiful pictures and heard great things about northern Michigan so I wanted to check it out for myself!

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We enjoyed our stay at the KOA in Mackinaw City and took the ferry over to Mackinac Island for the day. Who knew that the two places were spelled differently but pronounced the same? Not I.

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Well, obviously the sun was behind us so we are shaded but you can see the gorgeous Mighty Mac bridge behind us as we bike around the island!

It was a gorgeous summer Saturday on the island, so it was packed with people everywhere. After eating lots of fudge, we rented bikes and headed off the 8 plus miles all the way around. Any time I can jump on my bike and ride amidst beautiful scenery I am in my happy place! The sun shining, a little quiet time and a little exercise equals a win-win! I loved riding behind Keith and Morgan riding tandem. They made me smile too.

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Back on the mainland, we had the chance to go to the Jack Pine Lumberjack Show! We were really excited to go as we have never seen competing lumberjacks in a live show before and we had not run across any other opportunities to do so along our travels yet. Always love an opportunity to learn something new combined with competition and laughter!

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Owner Dan McDonough is a nine-time world champion Logroller himself and has traveled around with the sport since he was 18 years old! Not only will he take your ticket as you enter and play DJ throughout the show, but he does a fantastic job of engaging the crowd with his witty humor as well. Jack Pine Lumberjack Shows is in it’s 7th season in this beautiful spot in Mackinaw and entertains anywhere from 50-250 guests nightly during it’s season of May through September.

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The hour(ish) long show is a Medieval Times type of a competition where the audience is divided up into two rival logging camps where you are assigned a lumberjack to cheer on. The two competing lumberjacks demonstrate turn of the century skills of chopping, sawing, axe throwing, pole climbing, logrolling and more! Tough stuff!

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Admission to the outdoor show is only $13 for adults (15 and over) and $9 for seniors and children, making this an affordable family night out in Mackinaw! Thanks Jack Pine Lumberjack Shows for having our family! Dan said there are a few other permanent show sites in Wisconsin, Gatlinburg, Alaska and Maine. Have you ever been to a Lumberjack show?

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I feel so blessed to have made it to Baltimore to be with Mary and her family for Maryellen’s service. Everyone who spoke of Maryellen spoke of her gentle love and how she lived her life giving and surrounding herself with love. Ironically, the next post I was about to write before she passed was about loved ones.

We have spent the past few weeks in the midwest visiting with close family in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio.  Living in the west, like we do, isn’t conducive to a lot of time visiting family. In Louisville we had a ball visiting Louisville Slugger, Churchill Downs and Mammoth Cave. But the real highlight was my cousin Zach and his family driving over from Lexington to have dinner with us at the campground!

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Next on the route was Indianapolis. We see my parents in Arizona more than we are able to make it to them, so it’s always a treat to go home to Indy and feel the love! Thanks to their neighbors for letting us park our home on the street for a couple of days without any hassle!

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A little family fun at Indiana Downs betting on some horse races!

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My dear Grandpa was determined to check out our new home on wheels, even though he just had knee replacement surgery! 3 generations of the Thomas family…

Next up was Sister Kerry and her family in Cincinnati. We had a packed three days making up for lost time with these guys. My parents followed us over to Ohio and spent half of the time with us. We enjoyed a childhood staple of mine at Kings Island all together and then Kerry took me for a much needed highlight and haircut before we headed to the Cincinnati Reds vs. Boston Red Sox game!

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I had to include this because it’s so funny! The girls were humoring me by riding with me on what used to be my favorite childhood ride, the Scrambler. While we were in line waiting they were asking for someone to ride with these two young kids because they were too small to go alone. Grandma was MIA. I did end up getting to smash between these two beauties for a ride with them after all when Granny finally made an appearance.

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Love this “groupie” that my nephew Garrett took of all of us at the game!

I can’t express how much we loved our time in the midwest with our family. It’s been the biggest blessing of buying this RV and doing this crazy trip! We have reconnected with so many friends that we haven’t seen in years, along our route as well. Love you all!!

Please excuse today’s blog entry as it’s not my normal post with pretty pictures and happy travel reviews but it’s today’s truth. This post would’ve remained in my personal journal before this trip. But, since you are along with me on this ride and have asked for the truth, here you go….

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Today I am feeling trapped by this RV. Suffocated by our cross country campground tour. My best friend Mary’s Mom died and I’m feeling overwhelmed not being there. In upstate New York, I am much closer in distance to their home in Maryland than normal, but yet I am hours away from an airport and honestly just can’t figure out how to get there before her Mom’s service, which is 24 hours from now.

Who cares about touring Lake Placid at a time like this? Who cares about any of it? My friend’s Mom passed away and I need to be there. I need to get there to hug her and cry with her and tell her it’s so not fair in person. She tells me that it’s ok and that she understands if I can’t make it. She’s giving me an “out” as she usually does, but something in me isn’t buying it.

Our family has missed numerous celebrations to do this trip. Celebrations we would’ve really liked to have been at. We’ve missed Bar Mitzvahs, Graduations, parties and weddings. All the fun celebrations that a normal summertime brings. I even turned down a keynote speaking opportunity for a blog conference that I really wanted to do. Just stay focused. We committed to this trip and everyone understands. But, today I just want to be back in my normal existence where I could’ve just jumped on a plane from Phoenix to Baltimore without thinking twice. Instead my head has been spinning trying to figure out how to get to Mary from here. So close yet so far. After researching my options for hours last night, I decided to sleep on it and knew that God would lead me in the morning.

When I woke up today, I decided that I wasn’t going to leave my family to drive to Lake Placid without me. I decided that it all felt too much to figure out so I called Mary in tears to tell her that I just couldn’t make it. I knew deep in my soul that I should be there and that I want to be there, but I didn’t know how to make it happen. I’m not in my element. I am in the middle of a campground, in an RV, in the pouring rain, in the middle of our epic trip. I just can’t make it. She’ll understand.

With tears streaming down my face, I made the phone call to tell her I wouldn’t be there. She picked up the phone without a hello and sobbing said, I am not ok Amy. I am just not ok. I keep telling everyone I’m ok, but I’m just not. Then, there was nothing but tears between us. God had spoken and I would find my way to her. My family would understand and would be capable to continue on a few hours and set up home in Lake Placid without me. They would have to.

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My dear family dropping me off at the Albany train station! On to Lake Placid they go without me.

Mary and I have been pals since we met in 4th grade. Her family moved to Maryland our junior year of high school and we vowed to remain the best of friends. We have lived on different coasts for 20 plus years now but have remained close despite the distance. We have seen each other through first crushes, first and second marriages, first babies and now a first death of a parent. I will be there. I will see you through this as well my friend.

I walked back into the RV and said to my husband. I have to go. Please help me make it happen and just book the closest train station to get me there. And he did. The stress of getting on an airplane just made the relaxation of my friend Amtrak more appealing for my travel today down to Baltimore. The price was the exact same for a one way ticket as the flight on Southwest and I could’ve been there in an hour and a half instead of 6 hours, but I needed this time to decompress. I also thought that dropping me off at the Albany train station would be easier with the big rig than an airport! Plus, I didn’t bring a suitcase or any travel sized toiletries along in the RV so it felt nice to just throw stuff in a bag without thinking about how many ounces it was or how sharp it may be. Another Amtrak plus.

Then I realized I didn’t even bring along an outfit for such an occasion. When I skimmed my closet, I came to a dress I picked up in an Omaha boutique. I had pictured wearing it out one night on a dinner date with my husband, most likely when we returned to Arizona. It’s the only piece of clothing I’ve bought along the journey so far. Who knew it’s what I would now be wearing to my best friend’s Mom’s funeral.

Today I took a detour from our family’s planned trip to tend to a friend. To say goodbye to a sweet, loving woman who’s house I grew up in and to help bring comfort to her daughter. I think my kids can learn from this just as they have been learning about our countries history and landmarks along the way. Close friendships and loving relationships are life’s most precious gifts. May we always remember to take the time to invest in those who have brought joy, love and happiness to our lives. I’m on my way friend.

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The hustle and bustle of a Friday night layover in Penn Station in NYC!