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...
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Our family of six is on a family sabbatical traveling by motorhome around the United States. Keith’s job as a coach/scout with the Chicago Blackhawks combined with our kids competitive travel sports schedules has ruled our lives. We decided to stop the madness for the next seven months and experience all that our country has to offer together… We are currently in GRAPEVINE, TEXAS.
The past couple of weeks have definitely felt like winter in the south as we traveled through Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas. Brrr! I’m not going to complain though because we could most certainly be stuck in northern New York right now. Those poor people! But, that’s why we went through that area in August and not November.
When we planned our route to Arkansas, we decided to go through Hot Springs and check out the National Park. This urban park is like no other that we’ve experienced in the National Park Service system. It is comprised of a series of old-time American spas lined up along what is called Bathhouse Row. You really have to see it, to believe it.
The Fordyce Bath House is where the Visitor Center is housed and it is just gorgeous. You can take a self guided tour inside to see what an old time american fancy spa used to be like. The kids can also earn a junior ranger badge here and it’s a good way for them to learn the history behind these spas.
Outside the Visitor Center you can feel the scalding hot thermal mineral waters!
We were bummed that there is no actual pool that we could sit in outside, like the other hot springs that we’d visited in Montana and Idaho. In order to experience the waters, you have to go to one of two spas that are still in operation. The Buckstaff Bathhouse has been in continuous operation since 1912 and remains the only bathhouse providing the traditional bathing experience in Hot Springs National Park. The minimum age is only 10 to soak in a thermal water tub here. The downside is that it costs $33 and our kids weren’t too keen on the idea of relaxing in a private room by themselves! We weren’t keen on the idea of paying for them to do it either!
You must be 14 years of age to go to Quapaw, which excluded our family. Of course if the kids weren’t with us, we would’ve probably checked both of these out. So sorry, I can’t report on what they’re like inside! They are all beautiful from the outside though I know!
There are several nice trails above Bathhouse Row. The Grand Promenade is really pretty and it’s fun just to wander around the town. Cute shops and restaurants line the other side of the Row as well. We loved the feel of the town even if we didn’t get to go to the spa!
We loved watching the locals show up to these public fountains with all of their huge water jugs to fill. Nobody is buying bottled water around these parts! We took the few items we had in the RV to fill up with the spring water and we were laughing the whole time because we really looked ridiculous with our Tupperware and Aladdin pitchers as well as our tea kettle. But we had a good time and we wanted to grab what water we could while we were there too!
Our home base was the Hot Springs National Park KOA and we couldn’t have been happier! We hadn’t been to a KOA since we were in Florida, so it was nice to be back to the yellow sign we know and love! This KOA was just a few miles from downtown and the National Park/Bathhouse Row.
Our spot by the pond was just perfect. I loved that the Arkansas trees still had color, despite the cooler temperatures.
Tortillas proved to be good bait for Kade and Aidan at this pond, as they were able to fish right outside our front door once again! Thanks to the friendly staff and owners of the Hot Springs KOA for hosting our family for our Arkansas stay! Hope to see you again one day!
Walking around the French Quarter in New Orleans, Morgan was drawn to his sign- Pick a subject, get a poem. Ok. Let’s do it! We gave David the subject of our family traveling around the USA in our motorhome. He asked us to give him 15 minutes to compose something and here’s what he came up with. Simply brilliant!
Life on the road in an RV
Running from one gas station
to the next smelling oil
and tire pressure across this
America landscape where the
plains meet the cities and
the cities run into mountains
from one coast to another.
Finding friends among
strangers and culture in this
frosty New Orleans air.
Living never felt so good
when you’re an explorer
and every destination is
a chance to learn something new.
America is your classroom and
experience your teacher.
David has been creating improv poems for tips along Royal Street in Jackson Square for 2 1/2 years now! Have you ever spotted him amongst the artists, performers and tarot card readers? Seek him out the next time you visit NOLA! Happy Friday everyone!
New Orleans, Louisiana is one place that has been on my bucket list for awhile. I was so excited to finally get here to check out the Crescent City! New Orleans isn’t necessarily known as a family spot, but I beg to differ. Here are a few ways to enjoy NOLA with kids in tow!
1. Hang out in Jackson Square - This popular square is a perfect starting point! There is so much to see in just this little area. You can also take a carriage ride tour from here around the French Quarter. Be sure to go into the St. Louis Cathedral. Not only is the architecture gorgeous but this is the oldest cathedral in the United States still in use.
Musicians, street performers and other local artists surround this beautiful square. Make sure to have plenty of low bills on hand to tip these fun entertainers!
2. Beignets at Cafe Du Monde - You have no choice but to grab a table on the busy patio at this well known spot and indulge in the city’s infamous french donuts. They come in orders of 3 for under $3. Be sure to indulge in a Cafe au lait or Coffee and Chickory as well! Yes, we made our way here a couple of times.
3. More beignets at Cafe Beignet- We decided to become beignet connoisseurs during our three days here. Unfortunately, the day we were here was freezing and rainy, so we didn’t get the live music that normally would accompany your experience here but a few of us did rate these beignets higher than Cafe du Monde. You try them and let us know what you think!
4. Debris Poboys, Gumbo and Jambalaya at Mother’s on Poydras - It does seem like all we did while visiting New Orleans was eat! There are so many great restaurants and new dishes to try here that you just can’t help yourself! We loved this local eatery for an authentic Creole lunch!
5. Rock’n'Bowl - This was my favorite thing that we did while visiting New Orleans! We listened to some live Zydeco music as we bowled. Rock’n'Bowl was such a unique place and so much fun! We wanted to find a family friendly spot to listen to some local music and this was just perfect! Admission was $10 per person.
The fun energy here helped my bowling for sure as I was victorious in our family’s game! It is $24 to rent the lane for up to 6 bowlers for the hour. Shoe rental is just $1.
6. New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park - Who knew that this little National Park was tucked in the French Market? Be sure to visit it and have the kids earn a junior ranger badge while learning about the history of Jazz music in NOLA. Then you can continue on and shop at all the booths in the French Market.
7. Louis Armstrong Park/Congo Square - While on the subject of Jazz music, make sure to take a stroll through this park which is on the edge of the French Quarter in the Tremé neighborhood. The beautiful park is dedicated to one of the City’s most celebrated native sons and to the tradition of jazz in the City. It is also very close to the Basin Street Station Visitor Center, which you will want to hit as well!
This poor area suffered so much devastation at the hands of Hurricane Katrina that it’s no wonder they celebrate the end of hurricane season with concerts and other festivities. They were just setting up for this one in Armstrong Park as we were getting ready to leave.
8. Ride a historic Streetcar - Riding one of the streetcars here is a fun, unique and inexpensive way to get around certain areas of New Orleans. We took the St. Charles green Streetcar out to see the Garden District, Uptown and the Tulane University campus. It is only $3 for an all day pass to hop on and off the cars.
9. Good ‘ol Bourbon Street - We had been warned to stay off this famous street with the kids. There just isn’t any point in waltzing the kids along here to witness insanity! We did have to walk along here to go to Cafe Beignet but it was very tame in the morning rain, so there was no action that day thank goodness.
BUT, we were walking from Armstrong Park to Jackson Square on our last morning and happened to cross Bourbon Street. This was our view at 9 am. At least it provided us with some last minute laughs. I guess it wouldn’t be New Orleans without a little crazy!