Rest and Relaxation

That is always the hope when you go on vacation.  Not sure our upcoming vacation will be full of rest and relaxation, but are hopefully it will be full of smiles and laughter.

After a quick trip to Illinois where we will visit family and friends, hubby and I will head south to Florida with a van full of kids for 5 days on the beach for . . . . .

Body boarding
See the source image

Which won’t look anything like this when we’re hitting the waves.  🙂

Building sand castles

Ours likely won’t look anything like this.

Collecting shellsSee the source image

Watching sunsetsSee the source image

Taking walks along the beachSee the source image

Swimming
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SnorkelingSee the source image

I will share stories and pictures along the way.

 

Souvenirs

We recently returned from a trip to Dallas where we visited family, did some shopping and went boating.  We had a wonderful time, but the souvenirs we brought home SUCK!

Instead of picking up magnets, post cards or coffee mugs we picked up a flu bug.  Unfortunately, it was spreading during our trip.  In fact, we cut our trip short by a day and a half, but it didn’t preclude that little bugger from joining our travels home.

First Naomi got sick on the drive home.

Last night it hit hubby and Lili.

Now I’m braced for it to hit the rest of us while hoping that somehow we have dodged the bullet.

Eventually I’ll get back to my blog on a more regular basis, but for now I’ll leave you with this.

Georgette and the Great Southeast Adventure – Part 9 & 10

We were in for a looonnngggg drive after leaving the Greensboro Campground, but we didn’t know just how beautiful of a drive lay before us.

Our trip took us north thru North Carolina, into Virginia, West Virginia and on into Ohio.

The drive was absolutely spectacular.  One of the most scenic drives I’ve ever been on, but I have no pictures to share because I was driving.  For a matter-of-fact, once I got comfortable behind the wheel of Georgette, hubby planted himself in the passenger seat and hasn’t driven since.  Yes folks, I really do have control issues, but hubby also enjoys being the passenger more than the driver.

Next time we make that drive, I’m going to make every effort to stop and take pictures along the way.  The Great Smoky Mountains and the Appalachians are breathtaking and we were fortunate to have taken two different routes that allowed us to see both.  Although, I think the Smokies are part of the Appalachian mountain range.  Guess it’s time for us to do a little geography lesson on U.S. mountain ranges 🙂

We stopped in Dayton, OH for the night at the Dayton KOA.  We got there in time for hubby and the 3 oldest to go for a swim while I stayed back to get things ready for our evening.

Although I didn’t get out to explore the campground, I’m told by hubby and Lili, that it is an awesome campground and we need to go back to visit for more than just a night.  I don’t think it will happen this year, but it sounds like we’ll be putting it on our campground list for next year.  Unfortunately, because I didn’t get out to explore, I didn’t get pictures again.  Plus, two of our dogs were having tummy problems which meant I was making more that usual trips outside with them.

Sadly, on Day 10 we headed home and as we pulled into the driveway I felt a little rush of sadness.  I suppose the end of a good vacation always brings about tinges of sadness, but having spent 10 days with Georgette felt more like saying good-bye to a good friend.  Silly I know.  Especially since she sits in our driveway 🙂

Our Great Southeast Adventure had it’s fair share of challenges.  Since we don’t have perfect children . . . .  let me rephrase  . . .  since we have perfectly normal children, there was bickering, arguing and fighting from time-to-time.  Hubby and I weren’t always on our best behavior every moment either.  FS1, while appearing to have a good time on our trip, was also out-of-sorts which was stressful and yet somewhat expected.

However, despite those little stumbles along the way, we built lovely memories on our trip and in many ways we can thank Georgette.

I also learned a lot from our adventure.

– Thanks to hubby, I think I can now set everything up on my own at campsites.

– Getting from place to place in an RV just takes longer.  While we certainly saw many RV’s flying down the interstate, we kept Georgette at recommended speed limits for safety.   Allowing ourselves more time and enjoying the sites along the way will make future trips much more enjoyable.

– Traveling as a family of six with that much room is much more comfortable than sitting in a vehicle while driving across 8 states (9 if you count crossing into South Carolina several different times on this trip).

It’s really is nice being able to stop for the night without unloading luggage only to load it again the next morning.  I suppose one could argue that you still have to do some set up for the night, but an overnight stop set up is minimal and probably takes less time than hauling luggage back and forth.  Although the girls do enjoy riding on hotel luggage carts 🙂  They probably consider that the downside of RV travel.

– Being able to take our dogs with us has its own set of challenges, but is better than trying to find someone to watch them or boarding them while we’re gone.  Plus, they really like going.

– Having our own beds to sleep in each night is NICE!!!!

– I really should use a set up and tear down checklist.  I know I forgot to strap the refrigerator/freezer doors at least twice on this trip.  Oops!!!!

Of everything I learned, the most prevalent was coming away from this trip with a greater understanding of how much better our lives would be if we lived smaller.  Smaller house, less stuff = more time to enjoy life.  As such, I have once again begun throwing things away and clearing out the junk in our lives.

I must admit, it’s hard.  One cannot spend this many years accumulating things they want or ‘might need one day’ and easily begin tossing without the hold habits surfacing.  And they surface often, but I’m working on it.

So thank you Georgette!  You carried us across 9 states and helped to make this trip a wonderful adventure!!

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Georgette and the Great Southeast Adventure – Part 6

It was our last day at Camp Wilderness 😦

We very much enjoyed the campground.  It was clean, well-kept and the staff was friendly and helpful.  The kids enjoyed running around, climbing, playing in the sand and simply being outdoors.

One of the reviews I had read was a complaint about being so close to the airport and the planes flying over the campground.  I really didn’t notice it much and we actually enjoyed watching the planes fly by.

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One of my favorite parts of the campground were the pine trees.  They were so fragrant and I found myself inhaling much deeper while walking thru the campground.

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Having enjoyed our visit so much, we talked about a return trip to the area to stay at Camp Wilderness.

After getting things cleaned up a packed away, it was time for some lunch and a siesta.  We had plans to return to Carowinds later in the afternoon.  Tickets were less expensive if going after 4 p.m. and it is cooler in the evenings as well.  So we all laid down for some rest so we could enjoy a late evening at the park.

At Carowinds, Lili was really looking forward to checking out the Dinosaurs Alive exhibit, but first wanted to take a ride on the Carolina Skytower.  The ride carries you up a 262 ft tower and slowly rotates for a view of the park and downtown Charlotte.  FS2 and I decided to stay back and wait while hubby took the other 3 kids on the ride.

As they came back down, I began feeling some sprinkles of rain.  By the time they came off the ride, the sprinkles were beginning to change over to showers, so we took off for Harmony Hall to get out of the rain.  It wasn’t far, but by the time we got there, the raindrops grew rapidly and the tiny drops that had started to fall became 10 x’s bigger.  We were quite wet and wondered if our plans to spend the evening at the park would be ruined by rain.

Since we hadn’t had any dinner and since we had a rain delay, we grabbed some snacks and drinks.  What we weren’t expecting was entertainment, but before long, one of the theme park bands took the stage and began performing.  The kids were mesmerized and thoroughly enjoying the entertainment.  It was a nice distraction from the rain, which had since stopped.  However, the kids were so enjoying the music, singing and dancing, that we had to convince them to leave.

We made our way to Dinosaur’s Alive and while I really wasn’t expecting much, I found myself very pleasantly surprised.

Upon entering the exhibit, we all stopped to have our feet photos taken while standing in dinosaur tracks.

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And this picture of little feet just because they are so cute.

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Of course I neglected to get any photos of my feet in dinosaur tracks.

Ah, the life of the photographers.

Then we entered the exhibit to find life-sized dinosaurs spread out along the path.   They moved, made sounds and at each stop we were able to get information on the dinosaur being displayed.

What I expected to be a short 10 or 15 minute visit turned out to be about 30 – 40 minutes and we all enjoyed it more than I thought we would.

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I loved the roller coaster in the background of this exhibit.  I call it, “Bringing the past into the present”.

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We left the exhibit and headed off to enjoy more rides.

Lili, having ridden her first big roller coaster a couple of days earlier, was anxious to go on the big wooden roller coaster with me.  She decided afterwards that one time was enough.

However, she did decide to up her game and we got in line for this one.

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The Carolina Cyclone!

I hadn’t been on a roller coaster like this in many years and really wasn’t sure I was up for the challenge, but we got on and off we went.

Up, up, up

Around and down

Loop-da-loop

Another drop or two

A couple of corkscrews

Then back to the beginning again.

Lili wasn’t sure she liked it, but as she saw hubby, she ran to tell him about it.  The next thing I knew, they were getting in line for her second time around.

Apparently, the second time is better, because now she was sure she enjoyed it and I was so proud of her ability to overcome her apprehension.

One more stop for Funnel Cake and it was time to head back to see Georgette.  We were heading out the next morning and while we were sad to say good-bye to Carowinds and Camp Wilderness, we were excited about our next stop.

Georgette and the Great Southeast Adventure – Part 5

We woke up to another beautiful day and it was clear that we would be spending the majority of our day at the campground.  There was swimming to be done, but the bigger reason was LAUNDRY!  The amount of laundry six people can accumulate in 5 days is amazing.  All that laundry in approximately 300 square feet is crazy.  So I headed out in   search of the campground laundry facilities.  I walked thru the campground, over the parking lot, past the pool and found the laundry room.  Boy was I glad we still had the rental vehicle!   I had two full laundry bags that needed attention and they were heavy.  It would not have been fun dragging them to the laundry room.  It was also in that moment I decided I would invest in a collapsible wagon.

I’m quite sure there are more RV trips in our future that will require doing some laundry. Having something to haul those heavy bags in seems like a good investment and as I was doing laundry I began to think of other uses for this wagon – carrying small children, carrying pool towels and toys, loading and unloading the RV at home.  The ideas just kept coming.

But enough about my need/want/desire for a folding wagon.

After some time at the pool and with clean laundry put away, we decided to grab some dinner and pick up some needed grocery items.

We found a Mexican restaurant not too far from the campground –  La Poblanita.  It got some high ratings and having eaten there, I would agree that rating is well deserved.  Even being short staffed, they provided good service and the food was awesome!

I didn’t get many pictures of our day.  After all, no one wants to see our dirty laundry 🙂  However, I did take some pictures during dinner.

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I love this picture of Lili, although she was very uncomfortable smiling and had been uncomfortable for a few days.  She had two canker sores in her mouth which caused her lips to swell quite a bit.  This made eating and drinking quite difficult.  She had never had such bad canker sores before and I felt terrible for her.  Fortunately, they started getting better the next day.

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Naomi and hubby!  She is quite a cuddle bug and especially loves cuddling with her daddy.

Our day was done and while it wasn’t necessarily an exciting day, I found myself enjoying the RV more and more each day.  Yes, Georgette got a bit crowded with 6 people and 3 dogs, but she was comfortable and cozy.  She felt like home and I went to bed loving our traveling home.

Adventures, Part 3

Saturday night in Denver was not as expected.  After our trip to Dinosaur Ridge, some rest at the hotel and a quick dinner, we headed out the door for our next Denver adventure to the Colorado Railroad Museum.  We had tickets to a very special event there.  We had been told about road construction, so hubby mapped out an alternate route.  Since we didn’t know exactly how long it would take to get there, we allowed ourselves an hour.  If we were early, we could check out the museum a bit, but we certainly didn’t want to be late.

By this time, it was getting dark quickly and we were on our way.  Then it happened.  We hit traffic.  It was bumper to bumper and hopefully wouldn’t last long, but it continued.  And continued.  And continued.  The clock kept on ticking as we inched our way along.  Then suddenly hubby saw a road sign and realized he hadn’t taken us on the alternate route, but had taken us directly into the road construction traffic.

At this point we began preparing the kids for the possibility of not making it to our event in time as we continued to look for an opening in the traffic.

Emotions were high.  Patience was short.  All we could see ahead were hundreds and hundreds of tail lights.

With just a few minutes to spare, we made it to our exit and as quickly as we could we made our way to the museum.  We jumped out of the Suburban and ran into the building, checked in and were escorted to our train on to discover they didn’t seem to have room for our family.  I had purchased tickets prior to leaving Illinois and there was room when I purchased the tickets, but now it appeared our family was a little large for the seats that were available.  After some discussion among the employees, we were escorted to our seats on the train.  It was room enough for 4 and we were a family of 6.  Fortunately, we are a family of 6 with some small children, so we made it work.  Yet hubby and I were less than thrilled with the way things had been going thus far and our excitement about the event had since vanished.

Now seated the show began.  We were taking a ride on the Polar Express.

Actors began dancing in the aisles as the Hot Chocolate song was sung over the speakers.  Hot chocolate was then served to each ticket holder on the train and soon actors began walking the aisles with a very large Polar Express book.  The story was being read as they turned the pages.  We sipped hot chocolate wondering what would happen once the story was done.

With the last page turned, we sat there.  And sat there.  And sat there.  Hubby and I looking at each other wondering if we had just spent all the money, sat in all the traffic, gone thru all the stress getting there only to hear a song and have some hot chocolate while the story was read.  Certainly not!!!!

Then we were escorted off the train and still confused as to what was happening when we heard someone say we were going to board the Polar Express.

We made our way to another set of tracks and stood watching another performance of the show.  Music from the Polar Express movie played and finally, around the bend we saw the smoke and heard the train whistle.  A steam engine came chugging into the station as excitement built.

Everyone was taken to their train cars and we boarded the train.  An old-fashioned steam engine that would be taking us on the Polar Express train ride.

The train began to move.  Along the way we saw different scenes from the movie were being acted outside the train along the route.

Eventually I realized that I had not had my camera out and began digging thru all our things to find my camera.  when suddenly I looked up to see FS1’s eye’s widen.  He reached his hands out and said, “Hi Santa”.  Santa had boarded the train behind me.  The expression on FS1’s face was priceless and I didn’t have my camera out.  But he was in awe!

Santa greeted each of the kids asking if they believed and then handing each of them a jingle bell as they responded, “Yes.”

Once Santa had greeted each child on the train, he got off the train and the ride continued.  We were given a bag of Polar Express hot chocolate mugs and the ride was over.  All the stress and frustration of the drive gone.  All the frustration over appropriate lack of seating gone.  My disappointment over not taking any pictures still lingering, but mostly replaced with wonderful memories of our ride on the Polar Express.