So Much to be Thankful For

Hope you had a happy Thanksgiving.  We have so many blessing to be thankful for.  We have been busy here in Arizona.  On Thanksgiving we hiked 8 miles around Pass Mountain and had a traditional dinner.  Cali and I even did a little shopping and we decorated our tree.

Marc is doing business consulting work for a friend and Cali is volunteering at the East Valley Children’s Theatre working behind the scenes as tech crew.  We took out friend Freda to see the play.  It was very cute.

Marcus cut apart the 64.5 pound pumpkin we brought with us from Pennsylvania.  He of course destroyed it dramatically.  He did save the seeds to plant next year.

We went to see Harry Potter The Prisoner of Azcaban put on by the Symphony.  While an edited version of the movie played on a giant screen it was accompanied by the orchestra.  It was a delightful unique experience.  I didn’t know where to focus on the movie or the conductor.

We spent two weeks at Usery Mountain Regional Park.  Now we have moved to Lost Dutchman State Park.

 

North Carolina to Arizona in a Week

On Thursday, November 8th we departed the Winston-Salem area.  While we were in Pennsylvania this summer Marc installed all of the needed equipment to flat tow our car.  In Winston-Salem we sold our tow dolly, so this would be our first trip flat towing, which so far is much easier than using the dolly.

We spent the first night boondocking at a Walmart  in Lebanon, Tennessee.  The next day we made it to Tom Sawyer Campground which is near Memphis.  This campground has great views of the Mississippi River.  While we were there we were able to see my high school friend Connie and her family.  We were thrilled to catch up with them again.

Early Sunday morning we headed west again.  We were able to watch church (except for Marc who just listened.)  I even tried my hand at driving.  I drove about 100 miles that day so that Marc could have a break.  We made it 414 miles to Miami, Oklahoma.  We stayed at a casino that had free electric which we were very thankful since it was getting cold.

When we woke up the next morning it was snowing.  We made our way to the Newell factory where our bus was made more than 35 years ago.  When I knew we would be close to the factory I scheduled a tour.  Brian, the salesman who gave us the tour took us to the file room first.  The have a record of every Newell ever commissioned.  Each of the approximately 30 Newells that are built each year are designed by the new owner and the engineers there. Each one is individual.  We were able to see the file and blueprint from 1983 for  our Newell, which was really cool.  Brian took us through the process which takes about 6 months from raw metal to finished product.  He even showed us a new bunk model.  We really appreciated his time and knowledge.  The new ones are really nice!

After our tour we decided to keep moving west.  Marcus and I drove the car because the tow bar needed some work.  That is one thing I have learned on the road.  Things don’t always go just as planned, but God is always there and Marc can fix almost anything. We made it to El  Reno, Oklahoma to another casino with free electric.  In the morning, Marc was able to fix the tow bar and we were on our way.

We were able to make it to Amarillo on Tuesday.  We had a late lunch at the Big Texan and made a quick stop at Cadillac Ranch.

I was very cold Wednesday morning.  We chatted with our neighbors.  They were headed to Arizona, too.  Before we could get on our way Marc did some work at a truck stop to fix a transmission fluid leak on the car.  At least it was warming up.

We made it to Albuquerque by late afternoon.  We were excited to meet up with our traveling friends and their family for dinner.  It was so nice to see them!

On Thursday we were up early and on our way.  Marc and I took turns driving and we made it around 400 miles to our home for the next couple of weeks, Usery Mountain Regional Park.  This is the park we hosted at a couple of years ago.  The views and the people can’t be beat.  It is such a blessing to be here!

 

 

Fall in North Carolina

For the last few weeks we have been near Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  This is the perfect place to be in the fall.  The leaves were just beautiful.  Being  near Bill and Krysta makes this place even more special for us.  We played games, had yummy food, went to plays, visited Biltmore, went bike riding, and played with their pups.  Our time there flew by, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Sams, Windy and Merry, too

After we left Pennsylvania, our next stop was at Sams and Windy’s.  They have an electric hookup for us right in their yard!  We met their new pup Merry.  She is just adorable.  We all loved her.  The fields in front of their house were planted with cotton which was pretty cool to see.  We had a wonderful few days. We played games, shared food, loved Merry, did a little work and enjoyed each others company.

While we were in Grifton we had two opportunities to learn about different vocations.  We took a tour of the Contentnea Metropolitan Sewer District facility.  it was truly an educational experience.  I am so glad Windy suggested it.  The manager, Mr. Smithwick is so knowledgeable about  chemistry,  biology,  electric, computers and the general running and maintenance of the plant.  It is so much more involved than I ever imagined.

We also had a meeting with Mr. Hunter and his daughter Mary Katherine.  They run the company that manages our rental property.  If it wasn’t for them, we would not be able to travel without worrying about our property investments.

At both of these meetings, the one thing that stood out most to me was that these professionals were passionate about what they do.  That is the one thing I most want to instill in my children.  Its not about how much you make or how many things you can buy.  Success to me is measured by enjoying what you do.  Not everyday is going to smell likes roses, but in general you are making the world a better place for others and that’s how I feel about the job I am doing, teaching them.

From Pine Trees to Palms

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post for the blog. But this vacation deserves a post from me. As you know, last winter we got season passes to the world of fun called Disney. While down in the south for the winter, we visited almost every weekday (we can’t go on weekends) afternoon.

Wanting to get full usage of out passes (I’m pretty sure we did while we were there over the winter, but Disney is awesome, okay?) we decided to drive back down in August. So Disney wasn’t the full reason we went, we had some personal reasons too, but it played a large part.

We got together with my Uncle and his family, and they wanted to come down in August as well. We lined up the dates and booked our room. They, unlike us, were flying and only staying one week. Our plans held a second week, and a couple day drive either way.

I think, now that we are nearing the end of our trip, that I can say I am a near master at sleeping in the car. After spending the night at Aunt Krysta  and Uncle Bill’s, we officially reached Florida on August 12th, the same day as the other Perry Family flew in. With 10 people, we were a large group. And ya know what? We did the Disney thing and had matching shirts one of our 5 days in the parks. The week was FUN. To top it all of with the sweetness of chocolate, we had tickets to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party. Marc and I went with the rest of the family, while Mom and Dad ate a Be Our Guest, the Beauty and the Beast themed restaurant.

At the party, you could dress up or not. Marc opted to not, while I was everyone’s favorite Nanny, Mary Poppins. Every was a trooper, and we lasted till park close, midnight. But then, like Cinderella, we all had to ride home. The downside was that we didn’t get a pumpkin carriage.

Flip forward a day, and it was Sunday. Friends from Canada (the two female Elhards. You may have heard of them on the blog before) were planning to come down. Long story short, their flight was canceled. Then they were able to get tickets to arrive on Monday morning. That’s no-drama account.

Since they got down here a little later than expected, they were able to also stay longer than expected, till the next Tuesday (it’s was practically Monday when they left at 4 in the a.m.). This week was more relaxed than our schedule with the Perry’s. Our days started later (like 9 o’clock) and ended later (midnight). Again, we had an incredible amount of FUN. And again, we also ended in a memorable day. We must have something for grand finales.

Mother said it best , ‘Amazing friends, 11 miles, a drenching storm, and rides at 4 different parks equals one epic day.’

First, Magic Kingdom. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Haunted Mansion, and Pirates of the Caribbean. Check. Second, Epcot. Soarin’, sweets in France, and a matching shirt photo. Check. Third, Animal Kingdom. Soaked to the skin with nothing dry, and the Flight of Passage. Check. Here we took a quick break for a change of clothes and a hot shower (for me, at least). Forth, Hollywood Studios. Toy Story Mania, the Elhards first plunge on the Tower of Terror, and ice cream with fireworks. Check. I have photo evidence of all this if it’s to unbelievably awesome.

I hope you can feel my excitement about these two amazing, memorable weeks. If not, I didn’t do it justice.

And that’s the end. I’m going to leave it off on that high note, and just not say anything about the 20 hour car ride back. Not that anything wrong happened, but, ya know, it’s a lot of sitting and truck stop bathrooms. Not glamorous or exciting.

-Cali

On Our Way to Florida

On our way to Florida we stopped at Aunt Krysta and Uncle Bill’s. It was so nice to see them. We had a birthday celebration and some yummy cake! We hung out with Flipp and Waller, played cards and went to a winery that was on an Alpaca farm. We even spent an evening with cousins Lori, Jason, and Megan.

Tingley Lake 2018

This past week Marcus and Cali spent the week at  Tingley Lake with Grammy Red and their cousins Lily, Izzy and Sam.  They had a great time!  They played games, swam, kayaked, sailed and just relaxed.  Aunt Sue, Bucky, Chuck, DJ, Janie, Marc and I also spent time there.  Cali’s favorite part was paddle boarding.  Marcus liked sailing.

While the kids were busy Marc went to help his brother DJ for a couple days.

I was able to go to Pittsburgh to visit my friend Kelly and help her with her classroom.

Our last night at the lake we did a pizza taste test.  Marc, DJ and I brought five pizzas from five different pizza places for us to try.

 

 

Volunteering at the Endless Mountain’s Nature Center

Cali and Marcus had the opportunity of volunteering at the Endless Mountain’s Nature Center this past week with my cousin Rebecca.  I require them to volunteer at least 60 hours each year.  They spent 30 hours as CITs (counselors in training) assisting with walks, hikes, learning about nature, child care, cleaning, and the everyday running of the nature camp.  It was such a good learning experience for them, they made friends and they had fun.

Turning 14

Can you believe these two are 14 years old. Marc and I have been together for 28 years and half of that time we have shared with these two amazing kids. They sure have blessed our lives. I thank God every day for the gift of being their mom.

Acadia

Since we were only a few hundred miles from one of our favorite places in the United States, we decided to make the trip to Acadia and Bar Harbor.  This is how the kids looked the morning we traveled, yes they do have their seat belts on.

We did three hikes while we were  there.  One of them was a bit harder than Cali and I prefer.  We rode our bikes on the carriage roads for over 30 miles.  I just love that we can hop on the free bus right at the campground with our bikes.  We also kayaked right from the campground.  We stopped at Jordan Pond for some popovers.

We did some science experiments.  We played mini-golf.  We had ice cream with friends. We had a fire one night with several other families. That is the one bad thing about this area the mosquitoes are terrible!