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Are you all ready?

 

Are you all ready? It’s the big question that everybody has for me these days and I honestly don’t know how to answer that. Can you truly ever feel “ready” to embark on a trip around the United States in a motorhome with four kids for seven months? I’m coming to the realization that the answer is no. Just because I’ve opted out, this doesn’t mean that you can’t make this trip! As long as you have the right vehicle looked into motorhome warranties and everyone in your family is up for it, there should be no reason as to why you can’t make this happen.

We pull out of our Arizona driveway in one week. We’ll head the six hours up to Lake Powell for our first stop. Our RV spots are all booked for two months and we have some basic ideas of what we might do in each area, so that’s “ready” I guess.

Our motorhome has been making its rounds to various mechanics and handymen ever since Keith drove it back from Florida. She needed a new windshield, the suspension fixed, a propane tank installed in the “basement,” towing contraptions put on, Direct TV satellite installed and today it is still with the handyman doing small touch ups on the inside.

So not one thing has actually made it’s way inside the motorhome yet. She hasn’t actually stayed put long enough for me to get in there and do anything. Piles are stacked up all over the house and garage awaiting delivery into their new home on wheels. There’s the plasticware pile in the kitchen. The kids clothes in the guest room. The road school pile of books, history movies, audio books and even Rosetta Stone’s spanish DVDs in the laundry room. I’m starting to feel prepared, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever actually be ready.

I keep telling myself, whatever gets packed will be sufficient and what we find we’re missing we can just pick up along the way. Normally, I pride myself on my packing skills and my ability to usually remember everything we might possibly need. But, this trip is quite different. I don’t really know exactly what we’re going to need and my Type A self doesn’t like that feeling. We’ve never camped per say and I really have to be mindful of what I’m bringing as to not weigh down the coach.

I’m a little overwhelmed with the feeding people portion of this adventure too. I assume I will fall into some great routine between my crockpot and the grill. In the meantime, I’ve loaded up on Herbalife shakes and bars for now to get us through until I can navigate my way around that little strip of a kitchen.

The road schooling part can take me to a place of anxiety quickly too. I want to have some solid plan for the kids, but yet I want to free us all from the burden of too much schooling. I will do some math program online, but honestly school just let out and I’m not there yet. Although, when these kids want to sit and watch tv and play on electronics during every drive, it’s going to make us nuts, so I know I need an educational plan. I’ll work on it.

I’m a little baffled by what to bring clothing wise as well. We really have to be minimal in this area which is exciting, yet tough at the same time. We do have a little washer and dryer in our motorhome, so I should be able to wash whenever we are parked.

I’m letting go. What will be will be. What I forget to pack, Walmart will most likely carry. So, I guess the answer is yes, I’m almost ready!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why KOA?

I am so excited to be partnering with Kampgrounds of America (KOA) for our RV adventure around the USA. We will be staying at several of their campgrounds along our journey starting with Salt Lake City June 9-12. KOA provides a more upscale experience than what you would normally think of in a camping environment. You’re not exactly roughing it at their locations, which is ideal for our family.

KOA is the world’s largest system of open-to-the-public family campgrounds with close to 500 locations throughout the US and Canada. Even if you aren’t a seasoned camper, I’m sure you are familiar with their popular logoed yellow signage. KOA is known for it’s family-friendly atmosphere while adhering to excellent standards at all of their sites.

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The ease of booking with KOA has truly been fantastic. Their beautiful, easy to navigate website has been a dream to find locations and special offers as well as fun tips. They also offer a Value Kard Reward program that you can join for just $27. As a VKR member you get a 10% discount on all daily registration fees and earn points with each stay, which can later be redeemed for rewards and additional savings. Members also receive valuable exclusive offers, so I highly recommend joining this program!

I also have KOA’s free App on all of my devices, which will be very beneficial while continuing to book future locations from the road. The new App features a campground finder; integrated online navigation system and driving directions as well as up to date special offers and an alert system to inform campers about road closures, storms or other emergencies.

KOA is an obvious choice for our family as their individually owned campgrounds feature a variety of amenities. Most locations offer free Wi-Fi, a KOA store and various activities to keep us all happy and entertained. I equate it with camping’s version of a cruise ship! Scavenger hunts, crafts and inflatables keep kids busy, while there are wine tastings or other events scheduled for some adult fun.

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Not only are KOA’s perfect for RVers, but over half of their locations also have deluxe cabins which sleep four to eight people and feature bathrooms, comfortable beds and sometimes kitchens. This is a perfect choice for those families who don’t own an RV but still want a comfortable camping experience. Nearly all KOA’s offer a wide selection of spacious tent sites with picnic tables, water hook ups and fire pits, as well as clean restrooms and showers nearby.

If camping is on your summer radar, be sure to check out KOA and all that they have to offer. Get to booking though, because their locations fill up fast!

 

 

 

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All aboard for National Train Day!

 

Planes, TRAINS and automobiles. I’m definitely on my share of planes and for sure in my automobile, but on a train? Never, until last week. Today is National Train Day. Local Amtrak and other train related venues are hosting special events all across the country today, May 10.

Unknown_1I can’t really say that I sought out my train ride last week as my first means of travel from Charleston, SC to Raleigh, NC. But, I admit I really enjoyed myself. As a busy Mom of four, riding alone on Amtrak felt about as equal to a day at the spa minus the massage. Quiet time away to read, think, write and even rest my eyes for a bit. Another bonus is that I could plug my laptop in right next to me and surf the internet  with free wifi along the entire route. All as someone whisks me through the Carolinas and I didn’t have to pay attention to anything going on around me except for when it’s approached my stop.

When I realized that there are no direct flights from Charleston to Raleigh, I needed to come up with another plan to get to see my family there. I was not going to fly to New York to come back down to the Carolinas. So, I thought there must be a train I can take and got on amtrak.com to find out for just $66 I could be there in 6 hours. Sold.

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I never think of taking a train for my travel, except when I’m in Europe. It just never occurs to me and realistically it probably isn’t convenient most of the time from Arizona. Normally when I travel, I am in a hurry to get to where I’m going quickly, by plane. But, I can’t tell you the last time that I had an empty seat next to me on a flight like on my train ride. And I certainly can’t charge my electronics and get free wifi when I’m in the air. On Amtrak there are no seatbelt signs, no stressful security lines and I was free to move about my quiet car as I needed to at all times. I am thankful that I chose Amtrak for my travel. I relished it’s simplicity and will definitely do this again.

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Relaxing during my short layover in Wilson, NC

Check out your local Amtrak for a special event near you. Also, up to two children 2-12 may accompany each adult at half the regular adult rail fare normally.

Our Route for June and July!

June 2-4

Phoenix to Lake Powell

June 4-7

Zion National Park, Utah

 June 7-9

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

June 9-12

Salt Lake City, Utah

June 13-22

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

June 22-25

Lava Hot Springs, Wyoming

June 26-30

Glacier National Park, Montana

June 30-July 3

Wallace, Idaho

July 3-July 19

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

 July 19-22

Belgrade, Montana Sheep Farm

July 23-26

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota 

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Intentionally Simplifying….

I love this time of year. Our Arizona weather is just perfect; the kids competitive sports are over (or should be, ahem… soccer…. that’s for another post) and my husband’s hockey job is coming to an end after yet another season. Our evenings and weekends tend to be more relaxed making time for bike rides around the neighborhood, board games and the occasional little league baseball game and practice. We all welcome this simpler pace.

Simplifying is one of the main reasons we are pushing pause on our normal existence. People either think we’re out of our minds for wanting to do this cross country RV trip as a family or others say they are envious and would love to do it. Many tell me stories of how they traveled around the US every summer hitting different spots with their families growing up. Family travel builds connections. It says to each member you are important and worth investing in.

I’m aware that what we’re about to do is not feasible for most people financially or time wise. I am fully aware of the blessings we have been bestowed in order to pull this off. I don’t take any of that for granted. I thank the Lord every single day.

But, if we’re being honest… how many people would really do this trip if they could? One friend called it very courageous and that’s stuck with me. I think she’s right. What we’re about to do definitely takes courage on many levels.

Right now, I relish my Mondays because after hectic weekends alone with the kids, my house and time is quiet once everyone is off to school. I can actually think straight. I know a lot of us, whether we stay home with the kids or not, relish that time when the kids go off to school and we’re alone with ourselves. There’s not going to be a lot of quiet time in 43 feet of living space with 6 people up in it for close to a year. Whoa. There will be a lot of prayers going up for patience I’m sure.

Let’s look at it this way. What if you found out you only had a week left to live, or a month or even a year? Would you be so worried about sending the kids off to school every day? Would you still race around to all the sports practices, games and lessons? Or would you drop it all and do what you’ve always wanted to do with them, whatever that may be for you?

See this is how I look at this trip. Do I really want to be home (road) schooling per say? Not exactly. Like I said, selfishly I enjoy those quiet hours of each day that are mine and that the kids are actually being taught by licensed individuals. But, I will have many quiet hours ahead of me. With four kids born within 18 months, our home is going to get quiet fast.

Parenting in the day to day can feel monotonous. Take time to think about the heart of your family and what you want your kids to take away when they grow up and move to the next phase of life. Think about simplifying your family routine. I say stop the madness even just for a little while. Push pause. I don’t think you will regret it.

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Unschooling?

The biggest question most people have when they hear about the adventure we are about to embark on is “Are you going to homeschool then?” Well, yes, I guess if we’re pulling them out of middle school then looks like I will have to.

Honestly, it overwhelms me to think of finding and sticking to some curriculum. Ugh. That is one main reason we are doing this trip across the US to get away from the mundane of our current every day! To learn through living. Through travel. Now that excites me, not finding some online math curriculum.

I was explaining this to a friend the other night and she said “it’s called unschooling. That’s what you’re looking to do…” Unschooling?! Never heard of it, but sounds right. Yes. I think she hit it right on the head.

From the words of Wikipedia Unschooling is an educational method and philosophy that rejects compulsory school as a primary means for learning. Unschoolers learn through their natural life experiences including play, household responsibilities, personal interests and curiosity, internships and work experience, travel, books, elective classes, family, mentors, and social interaction. Unschooling encourages exploration of activities initiated by the children themselves, believing that the more personal learning is, the more meaningful, well-understood and therefore useful it is to the child.

Unschooling for a few months anyway? Now the thought of that excites me.

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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 on uncharted US territory, we will have to miss some beloved places and people in:

California

Nevada

Oregon

Minnesota

Wisconsin

Maine