A Canyon is Anything but

What’s in the Grand Canyon?

Nothing.

Or is there?

This place is filled with many things one of the most beautiful places in the world (my world) is filled with magic. Beauty. The awe-inspiring look on first time visitors (mine included) reflects out of this trench in the earth. A trench dug out of the earth that stretches for hundreds of miles. Standing on the rim it goes as far as the eyes can see.

It’s full of fearless visitors climbing out to the edge of the cliff for that all important selfie and status update to share on instagram. it’s full of pounding hearts, trembling hands and sweaty foreheads of the many climbers, hikers and the like.

Day 41 Sunday, September 21

We packed up and checked out of the campground to make the 65 mile journey to the canyon in our RV.

Travelling much lighter with only one stroller a nursing cover, diapers and some water we went to the Yavapai Geology Museum for the Geo-Glimpse Ranger talk. Darryl especially enjoyed learning about the canyon’s history and origin. I was particularly freaked out with how cavalier the ranger was leaning on the guard rail at the edge of the south rim’s cliff.

After our 30 minute “schooling” we trekked along the Rim’s trail following a timeline of rocks and gazing out over the edge high above the Colorado River.

I’m in awe of the kids and how they don’t take it for granted but also don’t seem the least bit phased by the majesty either.

They’re just here with us walking along rubbing the ancient bedrock chunks displayed along the trail.

The trail, a little over 1.5 miles brought us to the Vercamp’s Visitor Center where we finished our booklets and toured the gift shop.

We wandered around to find a ranger for our badges but wasn’t resolved until a shuttle bus ride back to the RV and drive to the Canyon Village Visitor’s Center in the nick of time-they locked the doors for the day just as we entered.

Badges in hand and the sun setting we ate dinner and started out of the park.

Next stop the Petrified Forest!

 

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Lakes and badges

Monday September 1st Part Two

YELLOWSTONE!

From the moment we entered the park the scenery changed, the road changed, the world changed.

A sense of uneasiness overcame me and anxiety filled my veins. The trees were eerily baron and the air stale.

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The spectacle was not as spectacular as I was expecting.

You hear stories of greatness and mystery. The mystery abounded and the greatness was in size.

The size of the park and trees. The river. The lake. The waterfalls. The amount of steam heaving up and out of the earth. All great but not in a good way.
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I thought it was my own fear and reservations about being in a seismic and active volcanic place but Darryl felt it too. (I found out later as we were leaving)

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We got our education with a ranger led program about the wildlife in the park. Lemon learned “how to not get eaten by a bear.”

 

We camped in a dry slot in the woods outside the boundary of the caldera and were quick to leave in the morning without visiting the world-famous geyser, Old Faithful.

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We did visit the mud volcano and had sulfuric steam blasted at our faces and that was enough of Yellowstone for us.

Tuesday, September 2 …. Day 22

Getting up in the morning was a task because we wanted to leave as quickly as possible.

I had difficulty sleeping; tossing and turning in the night battling Papa Bear for the blankets as the cold air crept into our house.

We got moving before breakfast and as we exited the park our sense of road trip bliss returned almost instantly.

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We snagged our Junior Ranger badges on the way out of Yellowstone and arrived at Grand Teton National Park within a few hours.

The overall feeling in Grand Teton is how I had imagined it would be in Yellowstone but I was sadly mistaken and disappointed.

After another ranger-led program and junior ranger badge pinned to the sash we walked in the woods and down along Jackson Lake to get some ice cream and to take a moment to soak in these mountains that are appropriately named “grand.” They are magnanimous and peaceful to just sit and look at.

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We had another dry campsite which means we need to find water and service our tanks as soon as possible.

Wednesday Sept. 3rd…. Day 23

A busy morning of cleaning and packing up for the next leg of the trip through Idaho. Darryl was tired so he napped for a while. I drove and just 45 min. down the road I found a cute little town, Jackson, WY. I stopped so the girls could play at park and playground. They haven’t had much play time since we left Cody; we’ve been busy with national parks. They had a lot of fun just playing, making friends and running around.

Afterward, we continued west into the mountains on the steepest road I’ve ever driven. 10% grades up and down on the side of a gigantic rock.

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I followed the road into Idaho Falls where Darryl found a FREE RV park. We setup camp and picnicked dinner at sunset before we slept well.

Thursday September 4…. Day 24

After breakfast and cleaning house we headed into Pocatello, ID for Costco and to restock our supplies. Almost an hour and a half and $400.00 later we were back on the road and after a stop in Twin Falls, ID for liquor and to print some pictures for our scrapbook, we made it to Hagerman where we had dinner, canvassed the fossil beds and found another free spot to spend the night.

Friday Sept. 5 ….Day 25

Every morning is the same. One by one we wake up and rub our eyes. Juice. Cereal. Eggs. Coffee! And then I get the kids dressed while Darryl washes the dishes. We make beds, sweep the floor, walk the dog and the day is in full swing.

We drove a couple of miles down the streets of Hagerman, ID a small town consisting of a handful of shops and businesses. If you blink, you’ll miss it. We walked into the Fossil Beds Visitor Center where we learned about fossils(obviously) but also rocks, minerals, and the Oregon Trail. I especially enjoyed the exhibit on the World War II concentration camp nearby where Japanese Americans and their families were detained after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

More badges, a stamp in our Passport then lunch and rest time and we were off without a hitch.

We stopped in Boise for dinner where we took care of our tanks and showered. We pressed on some more before we parked for the night in Vale, Oregon, another new state under our wheels.

Saturday Sept. 6… Day 26

Sensing the morning, I awoke and nudged Darryl who was able to get us into OR further before the girls woke and we really started our day. I’ve been pressuring him to make it to Crater Lake for my birthday since Astoria was out of the question. The day was mainly spent driving with few exceptions to a playground, stop for lunch and fill-up the gas tank.

We ate dinner at a free campground outside the national park and made it to the Crater Lake Lodge just after sunset.

But not without experiencing THE. MOST. FEAR. I’ve ever had while driving. Rim Drive is a narrow two lane road with no shoulder or guard rails and barely hugs the side of the mountain that holds Crater Lake.

Rim Drive

Rim Drive

Some of the black top at the edge of the road has crumbled and tumbled down the side of the cliffs as I imagine we would have if there was oncoming traffic.

 

I was so scared my knuckles were white from clinging to the steering wheel.

Beyond scared!

Beyond scared!

I drove down the middle of the road and luckily there were only 3 cars that passed us the opposite direction and they did so when the road was wider with more room to maneuver around them. Like I said we made it to the Lodge at sunset and were not brave enough to challenge Rim Drive in the dark so we illegally camped in the Lodge’s RV parking lot. Rebels, I know.

A ranger kindly informed us of our infraction the next morning but the deed was done and we were unscathed.

 

Oregon Sunset

Oregon Sunset

Cody, the new member of our family.

August 27….Day 16

We rode into Wyoming a few miles and ate breakfast at a rest area with a playground(those are the best) While the girls burned up some energy, I cleaned and Darryl was able to make calls and get work done before we packed on some miles. It’s a long way to Yellowstone.

Gilette, WY is 89 miles from the SD border where we stopped to get Oliver a bath, picked up some scrap-booking supplies and found a cute frozen yogurt shop called Sweet Frog. 20140827_160005 (2)

 
As storm clouds loomed over us once again we pressed on to keep out of the bad weather and ended up in Buffalo, WY at a helpful visitor’s center which afforded us useful information where we talked to a local volunteer working the joint and she told us where to camp for the night. Bless her because without the guidance we wouldn’t have found this:

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Big Horn National Forest was another hours ride but it was worth it. A desolate campground that uses the honor/envelope system whereas a lockbox with envelopes to deposit the camping fee and use the grounds. We got the first empty spot on the river.

After eating dinner and washing up we were put to sleep by the shushing sounds of the water and woke up well rested with the midwestern sun.

Travelling with the time zones is easy heading west, we’re not looking forward to working against the sun on the way home. Mom and dad have to find a lot of patience to stow away for these busy bodies at 11pm on the east coast.

August 28th     Day 17

We ate breakfast, then went for a peaceful walk in the forest.

Butterflies and birds flitted by as squirrels played in the trees. Chipmunks scurried across rocks and we saw deer eating at the river’s edge before they climbed the nearby mountainside. The beauty of nature was abundant and the girls soaked every ounce of it in while Darryl and Dogwood had their naps.

We packed up and continued through the mountains on some questionable roads for a few hours when we arrived in Cody, WY. Aah, Cody!

Named for famous Wild West Showman “Buffalo Bill” Cody, the town is teeming with history of cowboys, indians and the “Hole in the wall gang” of infamous Sundance Kid.

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Steak dinner at a local restaurant left us disappointed but Darryl was able to have parts shipped to a HVAC company in Cody and finally got our A/C fixed. When we don’t really need it anymore, it’s possible.

A geocache left us at a recreational complex atop a hill with a grand view of the town. Bonus: a water supply too! Now that he knows what to look for Darryl is finding water everywhere.

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We stayed the night talking planning and sharing a drink. It’s nights like this that we get to connect, have some adult conversation and just enjoy being in each other’s company…we still got it!

August 29…. Day 18

The morning was filled with history and one of my favorite reasons for homeschooling. We visited Old Trail Town where we toured original 1800’s cabins filled with artifacts from the era. We learned about early western life and what it was like to be an outlaw, a posse member and an indian.

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The kids asked questions and looked on in awe and wonderment. Lemon was particularly curious about how they would wash themselves. (that’s my girl!)

Another fantastic learning experience for us all. We ate lunch and found a Laundromat to rewash everything from Keystone.

This place was clean, reasonably priced and the real bonus was the machines did their intended job.

Mama bought a pair of cowboy boots and instead of heading over to Yellowstone as we had originally planned we decided to wait until morning so as not to miss “the most beautiful 50 miles” according to President Theodore Roosevelt.

After thinking about it further we decided to call Cody home for the weekend it being Labor Day and the anticipated traffic and people bombarding Yellowstone for the holiday did not appeal to us.

Our first experience boon docking at the Wal-Mart which is a “thing” for campers. We didn’t know. Other than the few RV’s we see at our local Wal-Mart back in PA I never really thought about it. For us it was a matter of convenience and that it was where we were when we decided not to venture into Yellowstone just yet.

August 30 & 31 Days 19 & 20

We found several playgrounds to explore as well as washed every ounce of removeable fabric from the RV. Went grocery shopping and enjoyed our standstill. I didn’t realize how much being on the road was taking it’s toll on me until we stopped for a bit. Cody is great!

I’ll take the blessing of waiting to move on because it’s been storming for these past few days. Luckily we got to spend them here at an indoor pool and rec center.

One last night in Cody and we’re sad to leave. It’s the type of place where strangers are friends and it just feels like home.

Monday, September 1st….Day 21

Well, we woke up and left a piece of our hearts there in Cody to be sure we return. Just before entering Yellowstone and after travelling that 50 beautiful miles we stopped for lunch and shopped the giftshop, I getting a cozy mug that says “Cody”, Darryl a utility knife that says “Cody” (can you tell we liked Cody?) Juniper our future geologist a bag of rocks, Lemon chose a deck of playing cards, Ash and Oak a horse and frog cuddly friends.

We were able to splurge here because a lovely couple admiring our family during their meal decided to pay for ours on the condition (the waitress relayed to us) the kids pick something special.

Karma is in deed real and will come back to you.

I have been struggling to find a way to pay this one forward. We never did get to thank that lovely couple but it was the perfect way to end our stay in Cody and that kind of act of generousity is the very definition of what Cody is. Also a reminder of the way this country used to be and hopefully what it can become again.

A windy rush

Monday August 25……Day 14

For the two nights Oliver was in the hospital we went a few miles down the road. On the first morning we woke up in the Black Hills wilderness to a field of prairie dogs. That’s one of the good (and bad) things about travelling at night, you have no idea where you are or what’s around. While eating breakfast a Bison (buffalo) wandered just feet from our window. Olivia shouts, “cow!” as we all turn to see and this majestic beast is just walking right past our house.

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It is the 75th anniversary of the park service and tickets to Wind Cave National Park are free, today only!

We enjoyed the two-hour tour through the largest cave system in the world despite descending 300 steps into the dark slippery caves with a baby strapped to my chest and a toddling two-year-old, a ball-of-energy three-year-old, our clumsy five-year-old and scared-of-the-dark six year-year old without any injuries, potty accidents or emergencies.

I never cease to amaze Darryl with MY multitasking skills because I somehow managed to nurse the baby with one arm and guide Oak down the steepest and longest section of stairs without slipping on the puddles myself.

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We learned about the most sacred part of the Black Hills to the native american tribe, the Lakota and the first cave explorer along with the cave’s history which was all very fascinating and exciting.

From Wind Cave, we made a preliminary visit to Mount Rushmore, ate dinner and made the trip back to Rapid City to visit Oliver in the hospital, where we stayed the night.

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Tuesday August 26…. Day 15

In the morning, we ate breakfast and cleaned house. Oliver was happy to be back with us and we were happy to have him.

On to Mount Rushmore! We were able to use our pass from yesterday and really take our time. Juniper and Lemon got into the Junior Ranger program and learned all about the presidents, the sculptor, how the mountain was shaped, and the history of the Black Hills natives. In fact, we were very happy we came back today because there was a Lakota drum and dance demonstration right on the viewing terrace.

Papa Bear particularly enjoyed the ingenuity that went into the fabrication especially the precision of the blasting the faces with such detail.

Lemon and all the girls had fun pressing a mock plunger and watching an explosion on a monitor. She was busy blowing things up for a while.

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We earned our first Junior Ranger badges and the girls were ecstatic. I only wish I’d learned about this program earlier. Badlands and Wind Cave, also national parks, offered the program as well.

As we walked through the Avenue of Flags we sang a fifty states song I learned in fourth grade and found our state flag of Pennsylvania.

Darryl found a gem of a resource on the internet that tells us where we can fill up on water and purge our tanks.

So, we dumped and filled in nearby Keystone, did some laundry (boring job but someone has to do it…me) the machines were $2.50 to wash and $2.50 to dry, the most expensive I’ve seen and I left there after spending over $30.00 on 4 loads with wet clothes. (sad face)

We rode down the highway en route to Wyoming, stopping in a roadside pull off to sleep.

What’s the Maine idea?

What does a pig, a whale and a moose all have in common?

 Our trip to Maine!

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It started with a moose and ended with a pig but everything in between was riveting. We set out on a Sunday in an RV out on the open road, just the six of us. That’s right, we are a family of SIX! Dad, mom, five-year old, four-year old, two-year old and one year old. One Man and five women. Before you think it… we DO have our hands full and it IS a lot of weddings. Okay, now that that’s out-of-the-way; our RV is a class B motor home that sleeps 10 and the layout was perfect for our needs. With four beds in the back, bunk style, a queen up over the cockpit and a cafe table and couch that convert, we were able to leave the table and sofa usable while the kids slept we could still cook, talk, watch TV.

I know what you’re thinking: We are nuts! Who takes four small kids on a long trip in an RV?!? We do. For argument’s sake, it’s not easy and requires planning and a special “traveling with small child” attitude that took my husband a few days to grasp and a few more to master and by then we were home again. He didn’t agree completely to the idea stating that “they are too young.” Resistant and wanting to be accommodating to me he went and is worse for the wear.

WHY MAINE?

WHy Maine

Miss Rumphius, a book written by Barbara Cooney, is about a young girl aspiring to lead a life like her grandfather; she wishes to travel, come home to live by the sea, and the third thing he instills in her is to make the world more beautiful. As she accomplishes her dreams, this children’s book follows her to faraway places and back home to live by the sea, and when she realizes she still needs to fulfill the most important of her desires, she stumbles upon a brilliant idea of lining the Maine coast with lupines and becomes known as the Lupine Lady. This beautiful story is my favorite to read to my kids because before reading it, I too wished to travel to faraway places and live by the sea but my most important and steadfast dream has always been to make this world more beautiful.

Inspired by Miss Rumphius; I began researching Maine a little and what it has to offer. I found a plethora of information on a popular website that if you search the internet “visit Maine” I’m sure you will find the same one. The problem is that I plan this trip to explore exciting and fun nature-loving activities like moose watching (everybody was really looking forward to this one) and then we are on our way up there, a 400 mile 7 hour ride, only to find the advertised website and amenities are another 4 hours further into Maine than they were supposed to be, it was disappointing. The website divides Maine into several regions and you can search amenities by region and then city, which was convenient. I found campgrounds museums and excursions, one of which included moose watching. When I called the phone number to make our reservation I reached a web hosting company that managed the website of the company that ran the tours. After the run around, I finally got through to find out they do not in fact offer moose watching however, their sister location another 4 hours northwest does, did we want to book with them? HA! Dream of moose watching on this trip crushed. We only have until Friday to return our rented RV and the purpose of this trip is to explore the coast, just like in Miss Rumphius.

The only moose we saw on this trip :(

The only moose we saw on this trip.

 

WHY RV?

Ah, the renting of an RV. Three of the keys to traveling with any small child is bathroom breaks, snacks, and busy fun.

The layout

The layout

An RV affords these three essentials easily while maintaining steady pace traveling to the destination. I’ve heard stories where it takes a family SIX hours just to leave their state which should only be about one hour because of the catastrophes of being ready for the trip. The bathroom is on board in a RV so there is no searching or getting lost trying to find one. The bathroom is a big one for me, I’m a kind of mysophobe when it comes to public restrooms. We know who has used it and the last time it was clean, I don’t have to fumble with tissue to “make the nest” and the privacy of not listening to a stranger’s business and likewise is comforting. Snacks are more manageable in a full kitchen. We are not limited to what fits in the snack cooler and one to two kids cups and then have to restock. We had a refrigerator stocked with affordable normal sized packaging, not wastefully expensive travel packs and juice boxes. Keeping the kids happily busy is a key to their sanity and ours because if they don’t have something to do we become their something and typically the goal is being as obnoxious and needy as possible. My kids are far from perfect but they are well-behaved and sweet to the core so keeping them happy is easy. We buckled their car and booster seats at the cafe table. Snacks and coloring or games and toys were easy to manage riding down the road. We were even able to work on reading and math in their learning workbooks.

Aside from ease in traveling with small children, renting a RV opposed to other methods of travel poses some serious savings in your pocketbook.

First method of travel I’ll review is flying:

Our closest airport to Portland, ME charges $1,536.00 for four seats on an hour and a half flight. (our one and two-year old would be on our laps)

We would need to rent a car for the five days that we were there at $100.00 per day for a total of $500.00.

An average hotel room for 4 nights is $155.00 per night which totals $620.00.

Our meals would be from restaurants and take out or delivery menus. On average a family of six could eat breakfast at a local diner for around $40.00, lunch in a cafe $50.00 to $60.00 and dinner easily would be upwards of $80.00 a total of $180.00 per day. Eating out for the week would be about $900.00.

Not including souvenirs, activities, or incidentals, just getting, staying and eating comes out to $3556.00

Of course there are ways to decrease this budget by renting a smaller car, I priced out a minivan because our car seats and big family needs a lot of room. We could eat at McDonald’s everyday but we choose to live long not die young, and the cut-rate motel charges half of that comfy clean hotel but realistically I wouldn’t let my kids breathe the air in that fleabag of a hole in the wall.

Moving on.

Just to drive ourselves in our own car and stop along the way at hotels would be a much longer trip and expensive to boot.

Our van gets 19 mpg and would cost $217.00 in gas to travel a round trip of 1100 miles.

We would be wearing and tearing it up all the way there and back bringing in maintenance and repair costs that are immeasurable.

The quality of our trip would consist of waking our kiddos earlier than the sun to eat a cold breakfast and sit for hours and hours if we were to make it up to Maine before dark. A seven hour ride on a one and two-year old is rough. It would be a lot of tears and complaints.

The hotel and meal costs would be the same but rental car eliminated, the total for this scenario is $1,737.00 not included the added maintenance for our vehicle, which would likely include an oil change, tire rotation and an alignment or brake work, our van needs breaks every 1800 miles.

Sure, the price tag is appealing but it comes at a greater cost to our children. Riding in cars for hours is not fun, no matter the destination!

Another method of travel we considered was by train. This excited me because a new experience is an opportunity for learning! I’m not just referring to the kids; dad and mom would gain a lot from it too.

We would first have to make the two-hour car ride to NYC to board a 2:40am train at Penn Station traveling a little over five hours to Boston, then change trains to head up to Portland, ME on a two and a half hour ride arriving at 11:35am. Total travel time: nine hours thirty minutes.

The cost of this method would run $560.00.

Add in the rental car, hotel and meals and we are up to $2,580.00.

Taking a bus is of course an option however not practical for our family of six so I have opted out of pricing that one.

Now on to what our trip actually cost.

The rental fee for the RV totaled $1,575.00. We spent $325.00 for gas. Our food bill for the week was $135.00.

Totaling $2,035.00!

a note about food: when going on vacation we rush to finish the milk or suffer and cringe at throwing it out because we know it will be rancid by the time we come back. This trip, we took it all with us; milk, butter, eggs, cheese, jelly and mayo. From our fridge into the RV and back home with us.

We also were able to use all our own sheets towels cooking utensils and everything in between. downside: the laundry. Yes I had eight loads of laundry to do when I got home, but that’s not any different from a regular week I spend in my home.

The beauty in an RV is that it’s our method of travel,  hotel and restaurant(kind of) all balled in one.

PACKING PREPPING PLANNING

We packed enough clothes to not have to worry about doing laundry until we got home. We brought along a first aid kit and some busy work for the kids. Other than that we were left to the devices of the open road and spontaneously stopped along the way for food(other than what was in our fridge) at local markets and attractions.

We made arrangements for our pets early on and dropped them off on our way to pick up the RV.

This being our first RV trip, we just kind of winged it. Something I enjoy, you never know where you’ll end up or who you’ll meet. One night we slept in a Sears parking lot. We followed RV park signs and with what little research on the area I found one incredibly amazing RV park we will definitely be returning to.

I planned this trip long in advance. I’d been aching to visit Maine for years and summer 2013 was it. I chose summer because Maine, being a northern state, wouldn’t allow much outdoors time in sandals had we gone any other time of year. (I hate socks!)

On the first day we brought the RV to our house and loaded her up right in our driveway-no suitcases needed. 🙂 Milk eggs and butter from our fridge to the RV and away we went! The excitement of a new place and riding down the road in this house-on-wheels was enough to keep the kids occupied and happy for a few hours before our first dilemma. Even a seasoned traveler(which I am not) forgets the occasional toiletry. I forget my toddlers bottles! Oh jeez, we were approaching bedtime on the very first night not even 100 miles from starting out and my baby is screaming in hunger because dopey mum forget to bring the satchel of bottles.

So, we did what we could on short notice: found a grocery store-bought a few bottles and a brush, boiled them up and filled her belly. Aaaahh what a stressful first few hours.

After that we were smooth sailing into West Hartford, CT Sears and “parked” for the night. Rough beginnings do make for great trips, though! Just wait until the end.

Morning came and we were well rested. A quick breakfast and back on our way. The thing about travelling with small children, they need to stop and stretch and run every few hours so it’s best to keep that in mind when they start to get antsy in their pants. I was looking for local farmer’s markets to find fresh fruit and vegetables and I notice a highway sign for Idylwilde farms.

idylwilde_logo

I thought FARM but it was just what we needed. You can check them out here. Fresh organic produce with meats and cheeses, it was lovely!

After the market we continued on and little while later we made it to Portsmouth, the one and only coastal city in New Hampshire and found our first spontaneous attraction:

The S.S. Albacore!
The S.S. Albacore!

A Naval Submarine that was used as a test sub, the S.S. Albacore “holds a place in history as the first Navy-designed vessel with a true underwater hull of cylindrical shape that has become the standard for today’s submarines worldwide.”

I had an amazing time, learning a lot and picturing what my Grandfather’s life would have been like had he been in a sub while serving our US Navy.

The girls had a blast too! Testing out gadgets and pushing buttons.

We got to look in the periscope and steer, we learned about living quarters, mealtime and what life is like on a sub – so much information!

The Sub was a nice stop for the kids and very affordable on our wallet; I paid $7.00 for me and the girls (under age 7) were free! While I took the older two in, Darryl stayed in the RV with the littler ones while they napped. After eating lunch we were back on the road and in no time, made it to the mid-coast section of Maine arriving at our first RV park.

This being our first, all the others have a lot to measure up to. This place was gorgeous! Quiet, clean and very well maintained. Camping was easy with the general store stocking firewood and other incidentals.

Fun

marshmallows

Marshmallows were roasted and fun was had by all.

We were only here for one night, unfortunately. Otherwise, we would have spent more time enjoying the amenities; if only whale watching wasn’t awaiting our eager little sea discoverers.

In the morning after a short ride over to Boothbay Harbor, ME, we were at sea on our whale watching tour.

We found ample parking for our RV close-by and enjoyed a successful tour of the Maine coast viewing lighthouses, finding seals and spotting whales along the way learning, learning, learning!

Lighthouse

We started out on the top deck out in the open sea air which was fun…for a while. Once we really started moving, we learned of Juniper’s lack of “sea legs.”

Juniper sea sick :(

Luckily and conveniently we went down in to the lower enclosed level and she felt much better; we also had a better view of the whales, being closer to the water.

feeling better

That’s where all the action happened!

SEAL!

SEAL!

After our first spotting, it was hard to get these little eyes unglued from the view 🙂 Which makes the whole trip worth it!

glued

Then…

whale

WHALE!!

WHALE!!

We stayed with a pair of whales for a while but learned they dive deep and stay under for 15 minutes or so, until they need more air so we continued on and found even more. The trip was a great success and we had a blast!

After our awesome whale watching experience we explored Boothbay Harbour a bit.

... admired the art

We walked the streets,

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then did some local shopping

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and enjoyed scenery and the gorgeous weather.

Next: On to Damariscotta!

I love visiting little towns and meeting new people. A really nice shop owner watering her flowers admired us admiring her planters and offered to take this family shot for us. (a rare thing sans timer because mama-duck is usually behind the lens.

This gem of a place just fell in our lap. As we explored the town and just as Darryl and I were saying we were hungry we happened upon this welcoming store front that was a local grill.

We had an entire dining room to ourselves, while the front of the restaurant was busy, we quietly enjoyed the water views and splendid Art that adorned the walls. Darryl “felt like a king” as the kids ate well and the adults conversed; the sun set and we peacefully reflected on our adventures thus far.

Tummy’s full and time-a-ticking we made the thirty minute ride over to New Harbour, ME and second RV park. It was bed time, we were exhausted so we didn’t take any time to explore but this RV park was also very nice. (Must be MAINE!)

The next morning we rose early and beat the guard to the lighthouse…people were excited!

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

Just as I had imagined it, The Pemaquid Point Lighthouse sat amid a rocky coastline perched way up above the ocean. When I climbed the tower I felt I was literally on top of the world.

Top of the world

The view took my breath away; the staircase did too.

staircase

After we toured the lighthouse museum and explored a bit outside.

Exploring pemaquid

Darryl took the three youngest to have a snack, while Juniper and I went on a coastal excursion. I was so proud of my little 5 year-old! In flip-flops, this girl climbed, slipped, slid jumped and hurdled over trenches, and slippery rocks like a professional – it was some nice one on one for us too!

Mom n juniper time

This next part was really special:

Lemon Tree has always replied, when asked, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” with the cutest little, “an artist.” While she bats her eyelashes, tucks her folded hands under her chin and looks up at me with a smile. Well… it just so happens that Bristol Park, where the lighthouse is located, also has an art gallery and other buildings to explore. We ventured into to the gallery which was filled to the brim with local artists’ works of beauty. At the back corner a display was being emptied, we approached and asked “Are you the artist?”

An artist

Indeed, she was the artist and although lemon’s face doesn’t show this, she was ecstatic and couldn’t stop talking about it for the rest of the day, about meeting a REAL artist. It was a lovely encounter and really makes our decisions to home school, travel and be spontaneous that much more valid. Every parent questions themself, whether they are doing their absolute best. After this, I am certain, we are!

A few miles down the road was a sandy beach we found nestled in the rocky coast.

we found a beachIt was small compared to the Jersey coast, which I am used to, but not crowded. And the sand….. oh the sand!

Sparkly beach

If not for anything else, get to Maine to witness one of the most beautiful geological treasures this earth has to offer, many of you probably prepare your meals on it: granite! In all its natural glory, the Maine coast is speckled with shimmering rock and smooth stones. This beach is no different, the sand is speckled and shimmering like a fairy sprinkled pixie dust all over us, we played for hours digging, collecting trinkets and just relaxing on a pristine day.

716

We ate lunch and went back to the campground to shower and begin our journey back home. The trip felt short because we stayed busy but it felt long because we had no idea what was in store for us next. Along the way, we paused to browse antique cars for sale on a small lot. We parked and pulled out our little grill for steaks and more marshmallows. After dinner, everyone pajama’d and we started back to the New Hampshire border. We found an inconspicuous parking lot and docked for the night. Woke to experience breakfast at  the famous NH Roundabout Diner. Being from Jersey, We know our diners and this one is tops!

roundabout diner

The service was great and food, amazing! We always struggle to get a group shot and this time was no different:

There is a sculpture garden I’d heard about right at the border here and I was excited to bring the kids because not only is it art, a walking trail and spending time outside; they had goats and a pig we could feed. More learning and life experience … so I thought.

What was a quiet easy walk in the woods admiring the art pieces scattered among the trees quickly turned horror movie scene and traumatizing nightmare for my whole family {except my sister, she burst out into tearing fits of laughter every time this story comes up} We approached the goats but just before we were able to feed them our apple slices, the pig! As it came out of its house its tail was wagging and Juniper bent down to give it a piece of apple; she dropped it between two rocks. As I bent down to retrieve it, the  pig charged us and attacked me. It gnawed at my leg and as I tried to push it away it bit my elbow too! OUCH! I didn’t know that pigs were aggressive animals.

Juniper froze in fear, Lemon ran and screamed, Ash cried in terror and Oak sat in her stroller speechless. Darryl? Oh, he was just standing there; watching. Yep. finally I called to him for help but he didn’t do much, so I grabbed the kids and scurried back down the trail fast as we could.

Recovering.

Recovering.

They ate the apples intended for the goats while Darryl stayed behind to keep the pig at bay but a few minutes later when Darryl came down the path, the pig followed him. After Darryl chased him back home, we assessed the damage and let that be the end to our trip.

Ouch!

Ouch!

On our way home and in the days to come we asked the kids what their favorite part of our trip is and Juniper says “The Whales!” Lemon says “I don’t like the pig biting mommy” (traumatized) After all the fun and exciting things, she remembers the last thing; the worst thing. What a way to end a trip!

We had a lot of fun and it was a memorable trip. I hope you enjoyed coming along for the ride and if ever make it to Maine you’ll visit some of these amazing places.

So there you have it. A pig, a moose and a whale: MAINE!

DIY Easy Number Line Craft

Our little learners have been very interested in numbers and how they relate to each other in equations. They have been adding and subtracting small numbers for several months. I happened upon cute character workbooks in the local dollar store and they LOVE them!

One page has a number line at the top for easy reference and I found them going back to that page for the number line. I drew one on the wall…er….chalkboard but it was difficult because they would have to keep getting up and down to use it.

LIGHTBULB!

We were due for a craft and our supplies have overflowed out of their designated homes so:

THE NUMBER LINE CRAFT

Cardboard tube Paper (optional) -Glue -Rubberband -Tape Scissors Pipe Cleaner Bead(s) Pencil

Cardboard tube
Paper (optional)
-Glue
-Rubberband
-Tape
Scissors
Pipe Cleaner
Bead(s)
Pencil

We cute our paper in half to make two Number lines

We cut our paper in half to make two Number lines

Rolled the paper around the cardboard tube

Rolled the paper around the cardboard tube

then trimmed the excess from the tube.

then trimmed the excess from the tube.

we added a rubberband to hold the paper in place while the glue dried

we added a rubberband to hold the paper in place while the glue dried

then added tape for reinforcement

then added tape for reinforcement

after cutting 1/2 in. slits into each side of the tube we strung our bead

after cutting 1/2 in. slits into each side of the tube we strung our bead

then slid the end of the pipe cleaner into the pre-cut slits

then slid the end of the pipe cleaner into the pre-cut slits

this is our number line thus far.

this is our number line thus far.

after measuring we added lines at 1/2 in. intervals.

after measuring we added lines at 1/2 in. intervals.

Lastly, we added the numbers!

Lastly, we added the numbers!

... and voila!

… and voila!