Welcome to our Adventure...

We packed up the kids, dog and the trailer and headed out for adventure, learning and helping others. During our adventure we will try to update this site as often as possible to keep everyone interested involved in our travels and to keep a journal for ourselves. The plan is to be working, schooling, helping and sharing on the road for a year.
Please feel free to post comments and questions! Thanks for following!

Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve

Today started out a little rough as a typical Monday morning. It was a normal school and work day for us. Brock went in to work at Ryan's office. The kids and I hung around the trailer and worked on our school work and got the laundry done.

Today's weather was really nice. At one point when I was walking down to the laundry room, the sun was on my back and I was in a t-shirt and I realized that the sun felt really warm and I felt happy. Last night was really cold and our propane tank ran out so our heater kept trying to warm us up, but it wasn't being successful. Brock ended up going out and swapping over to the other tank. For some reason, he had to go out and fiddle with it a little to get it to start flowing and eventually the trailer warmed up. I felt very blessed to have Brock that he was willing to go out and do that and let me stay under my warm comforter.

Brock came home from Ryan's office between 5 and 5:30 and said that we were invited over for BBQ hamburgers and hot dogs tonight. The kids were so happy. They'd been asking me all day if we were going to invite the Williams over to our trailer for a New Year's party, but I didn't think that would work so well. They knew that we plan to leave Valdosta tomorrow and they really wanted to see the Williams again.

Brock also informed us that he tried the southern delicacy of the fried pickle while out to lunch with Ryan at the Wooden Nickel Pub. He thought it was pretty good! The kids were fairly jealous that he got to try it without us, so I guess we'll have to keep our eyes open for another opportunity.

We had another fun night visiting with our new friends. The food was great and the kids laughed and squealed and ran around a lot.
Can you guess who is under all that curly black hair?

My all-boy child was obsessed with this gruesome
costume accessory.

All the kids enjoying some down time, giggling together over Despicable Me.

Eventually, Robyn turned on Despicable Me and it quickly sucked all the kids in and they were all sitting quietly watching. It is definitely funny how captivating it was to our kids who really haven't been watching much TV at all on this trip.

Time flew and before we knew it, it was time for us to head back to our trailer. It was sad to say goodbye to Ryan, Robyn, Nate and Owen. We are so glad that we had the opportunity to meet them and spend time with them over the last few days. They have been so hospitable and comfortable to be with.

It was after 11 pm when we walked in the door of our home sweet home. There was talk by the kids of wanting to watch the ball drop. Sky had no desire whatsoever. He was "sooo tired" he couldn't even brush his teeth and could I do it for him? I did. And he promptly was snoozing in his bunk. I told the rest of the kids that if they got all the way ready for bed, they could stay up. They did. Brock climbed in bed about 11:30, though I think he did make it past midnight. 

How weird to be on the East Coast for New Year's and actually be watching the ball drop LIVE. It is a surreal feeling to know that as I write this, it isn't even happy new year time yet back home.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday in Sunny Georgia

Today we awoke to a beautiful sunshiny day. Brock took Heidi for a little run and we all got ready to attend CrossPointe Church here in Valdosta with the Williams' Family who were trying out the church for the first time as well. It meets in a converted grocery store, but you'd never know it from the inside. Spencer and Skylar attended the kids classes. The rest of us enjoyed the 11 o'clock service. They have a talented worship band and the pastor was just introducing a new series. 
After church, Ryan and Robyn invited us back to their house for a second crack at that delicious sub bar that they'd put together. Everyone built their own sandwiches with all the fixings again. There was chips and potato salad and sweet tea and it was perfect. It was so enjoyable to just relax and visit with them while the kids had a great time playing together. Fun to get to know our new friends!
About 3 o'clock in the afternoon, we decided to head out and hunt for some more geocaches. First, we all headed back to our trailer so that our family could change out of our church clothes and into our geocaching clothes and we could give the Williams' a tour of our home on wheels. Then we headed to Langdale Park where there are A LOT of geocaches hidden out in the woods.
The first successful cache of the day!
Our whole pack descended on the clues for the first geocache and we had success within about 15 minutes. It is pretty cool. You can use a gps to get you pretty close, but then you just have to hunt around. Some of the caches are just small and you find it and put your name in it and that is what our first one was. Within another 15 minutes or so, we'd found a second cache within about a quarter-mile. This one was a treasure trove for the kids with several different little trinkets inside. The rule is if you take something out, you put something in. So, we contributed a couple of our prized shells that we found on the beach in Florida for a toy skateboard that Spencer really wanted out of the cache. The thrill of success was on us and so we set out for another one further down the road. We had a lot fun tromping through the woods and our caching team was a pretty good one as I think we found 5 caches. All of the ones that we set out to find for the day. One of the caches had a "trackable" in it which we took. We have to register that we took it and then we can place it in a cache somewhere else. There is a checklist of states inside and the silly little monkey that was our trackable shows that it's been to Oregon! We plan to see if we can find a cache in either Louisiana or possibly Alabama in the near future because it hasn't been to either of those states yet. Fun!! We only quit because we didn't want to get trapped out in the woods after dark.
A cache with some loot!
Owen checking out some of the booty.
Skylar liked the Spiderman inside the cache,
 but in the end, he put it back.
Nate and Sky were hiking buddies at the end of the day.

We need to come up with a good team name for our geocaching group.
Ryan invited us back to their house for cocoa which turned into ordering pizza for dinner and we got to eat with their family again and the kids had so much fun and played so nicely again and Robyn treated us to fancy cocoa with whipped cream and sprinkles. If it weren't for how much fun I think ALL had, we'd feel like quite the moochers.

We really try not to have the Cousin Eddy thing going on. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Friends, Swamps, & Geocaching

Today we got up and Brock and I took some time to figure out our next steps and made the decision to head East for a bit before we head West. We're heading to Savannah and then Charleston and up through northern Georgia before we head back south and hit the panhandle of Florida. There's too much history to miss seeing and we're not sure we'll come back this far south when we make our way East again in the spring. So, it feels great to have a plan and we have reservations made that will take us up through the third week in January.

After we had our breakfast here and got cleaned up, we got to go to the Williams' house. Ryan is Brock's HTG group member that has an IT business here in Valdosta and he and his wife, Robyn, invited us over for lunch. We decided to do a little exploring before we ate and they took us out to Grand Bay Nature Center so we could view the swamp and look for alligators. Our kids had a great time getting to know their boys, Nate and Owen, who are the same ages as Spence and Sky.

The swamp was really different from anything we've seen before. It was definitely not a place that I'd like to be at night! The moss is really cool and moves in an eerie way in the wind. Today's high was just under 60 degrees and we didn't see any alligators. We're not sure what alligators do when the weather is cold. We did learn last week at the Homosassa park from a ranger that alligators are dormant in the winter, meaning they don't eat when the temperature is below about 70 degrees. The alligators we saw at that park were very stationary just soaking up some sun. Not sure what they do when there isn't much sun.

When we got out to the end of the boardwalk there was a tower you can climb to the top of to have a 360 degree view of the area. It was chilly and windy up there, but it was a cool vista. Brock and Ryan were discussing geocaching. Their family has a little experience and we decided to give it a try. We downloaded an app on Brock's phone which has a database of locations. Turned out there was one at the very near where we were standing on the boardwalk. We used our phones gps and compass capabilities and clues that were in the app and it led us back to the tower where we scoured the beams and Brock finally found the little capsule in a tiny triangle between steel girders. So fun! You open it up and sign a paper (if you bring a pen, which we didn't) telling the date and where you're from and your name. There is a little sense of being a treasure hunter that is pretty addicting. There was supposed to be another cache somewhere near the education center at the start of the boardwalk, but we weren't able to put the clues together and located that one and after all of us spent a good 20 minutes looking, we eventually admitted defeat and moved on. There was another cache that the Williams family had found before at the park entrance and so they stopped and showed us that one and we had a pen and the McFarlane kids were able to record their names for posterity. Everyone enjoyed it and I think it may be something that we can do just about anywhere along our trip. The database showed, I think, over 2 million caches hidden worldwide.

Our first geocache find.

The first official record of our geocaching. :o)

All the kids enjoyed playing with this race track for hours.
When we left there, we went back to the Williams' home and had an amazing, delicious spread of build-your-own sub sandwiches, chips, potato salad, and sweet tea or soda. Everyone ate really well. The kids played together all the rest of the afternoon and evening. It was fun to hear them laugh and dance around together. Brock and I really enjoyed the adult interaction as well. There was even yummy chocolate cake and Keurig coffee for dessert. That was my first taste of Keurig and I had the hazelnut flavor with hazelnut creamer added and it was GOOD.

We are truly grateful for the generous hospitality of the Williams' family and for the chance to see some new faces besides our own. ;o)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday in Valdosta

Another cold night last night but our heater is working well so we were comfortable. The campground is fairly close to the highway but the noise is not too bad. I did my early shift and then got ready to head into the offices of Nexxtep which is an IT company here in town that is in our peer group.

Google lady routed me a weird direction but I was able to find the office pretty easily. Valdosta is a town of about 80 thousand people and highway 75 runs north-south just west of town so it makes it somewhat easy to get from one end to the other without going through traffic.

Nexxtep just moved into new office space in the last couple of months and their office is really nice. They have plenty of room for expansion and the office looks very professional. Ryan gave me the office tour and we had some time to compare notes. I also got to meet with their service manager Robert who seems like a great guy for the position. It is funny how when we compare notes we all seem to encounter the same challenges.

For lunch we went to the Smokin Pig BBQ here which had Georgia food. I was not overly adventuresome but did have Brunswick stew which is a local dish and was tasty.

After lunch I got some work done remotely and got the chance to walk through a great software program Nexxtep developed which allows a business to map out the reccuring things a business does every day (its business processes) and help automate them to make sure everyone that is involved with the process knows what they are supposed to do and stays on track.

On the way back to the RV park I checked out another RV park that may have been a couple of bucks cheaper per night but the facility seemed a little scary so we decided to stay where we are at.
Our current home in Valdosta, GA

Stacey was just finishing up multiple loads of laundry when I returned. She reported that school had gone fairly well with a side comment of "It seems easier when you are not here" (at least that is how I heard it) so I am not sure how to feel about that.  :-)   [That is NOT what I said.]

She was happy that we were going out to dinner with Ryan and his family to the Texas Roadhouse so there would be no cooking tonight. When we got to the restaurant the place was PACKED. We had to park across the street and the line was out the door. Luckily Ryan had called ahead and we only had to wait about 20 minutes to get a seat which is not bad for our party of 10. We got to have some good conversation and dinner with Ryan, Robyn, Nate and Owen. The kids were really excited to be able to interact with other kids so there was lots of talking all through dinner and we had a really good time.

Ryan mentioned some places to go and things to see tomorrow and we laid out some plans. One item that sounds like something fun that we have not tried before is Geocaching which apparently is available now via a smartphone vs. having to purchase a handheld GPS. Ryan has done it with Nate and it sounds like alot of fun so we might give that a shot tomorrow.

Sorry about the lack of pictures. We should have some tomorrow to post.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

On to Valdosta

We are on the move again. We got up early and found cold temps but a nice blue sky. I got my morning shift items done and then we got the trailer all ready to hit the road. It did not go quite as fast as we had planned so we hit the road half an hour or so late. We really liked the campground we were at so I think that may have added to our delay in hurrying out.

The drive north was great weather. Sure glad we waited a day as the same drive yesterday would have been pouring rain, wind and lightning. We made pretty good time and were parked in our new campsite by about 1:00PM.

There was gnashing of teeth when we mentioned that the afternoon would be doing school as apparently the expectation was that it was a day off. Everyone finally got into the sync of things but by the time dinner rolled around I think Stace was ready to have some alone time. Unfortunately we needed to hit the Walmart and I needed to get some RV parts so I volunteered to split the kids up and take whoever she wanted with me.

Shopping was uneventful. Valdosta seems like a nice town from what we can see. I was able to connect via email with Ryan from Nexxtep here and will be visiting their offices tomorrow which will be great.

We have noticed the accents here. A little funny how driving three hours can put you in an area that has alot different accent than where you were. It is actually kind of cool hearing the southern twang in conversations. We are looking forward to the weekend and exploring the area a bit and hopefully meeting up with other families. And maybe a pecan pie!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Day after Christmas

We woke up to some pretty gray skies. We were planning on moving to Valdosta, GA today but Stacey checked the weather forecast and it called for thundershowers and pretty heavy winds. We checked and we could stay another night at this RV park and the weather was supposed to get better tomorrow so we decided to stay. Good thing we did too because within a couple of hours there was thunder, lightning, high winds and a downpour of rain.

The kids had a pretty rough time getting back into the schooling after having 4 days off. It is hard to help them understand that they have a pretty easy schedule compared to most kids in terms of hours spent on school since we can get through lessons alot faster. It also seems to be an issue treating your teacher with respect when it is also your mom. Still we made it through the day in tact.

Tomorrow we plan on moving on. This has been a nice campground to be at the past week but I am looking forward to seeing new places and experiencing new things.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Not-Your-Usual Christmas

While everyone back home in Bend is enjoying a white Christmas, we are here in Florida where a cold snap of our own is going on...the high was only about 71 degrees!

Ben read part of Jesus' story from his story Bible. Then Brynna and Brighton took turns reading Luke 2.

We had a yummy breakfast of Christmas pull apart rolls.

We opened presents. The kids received gift cards from their Uncles. We also received funds for special experiences on the trip from a couple of different people. Brock and I sat down and told the kids, as we'd been saying all along, that this trip is our present. Orlando parks were our present. We want to keep our eyes open for another big fun family activity that we normally would not spend the money on and we will do it as our family Christmas present.

Yay! A gaggle of new DS games to share. Thanks Aunt Carly,
Uncle George, Jaden & Ava
I love my owl necklace especially first thing in the morning. Doesn't it
set off my pjs nicely?

Fun lunch included in our shipping box to take up space
and make us guess at what could be in there. Thanks, Chopper!

Grandma Beth and the kids picked this up for Dad when she was here
earlier this month. :O)
Bryn's new OSU tee courtesy of Grams
and Gramps!

Spencer loves his jersey!

Brighton with his manly tee.

Ben is number 1...also. Grams is so smart.

All of us Beaver fans - Thank you, Grams & Gramps!

After that, everyone went off into their corners to investigate and play with stuff.

Brock and I went for a nice walk around this big campground. Skylar scootered with us for the first mile and just us (and Heidi) did the almost second mile.

The kids and I went down to the playground for a little while and played around while Brock worked just a little bit since we were planning to drive out tomorrow and it would eat up a big chunk of his day on the road.
Big boy on the tire swing.

Spencer fake posing--hovering over the ant slide.

Cute Sky--fakey smile.

Spencer looking slightly devious.

Wow, Bryn is flying!!

After Brock finished working, we had a great dinner of "choice" rib, mashed potatoes and broccoli. It was all pretty good if I do say so myself.

After dinner there was a bit of a Lego Batman Wii marathon until it was time for bed.

Dad is Batman!
It was really hard being far away from the people we love today. I really enjoyed staying near to Facebook and seeing people's posts and pictures. It helped me to feel a little closer. We are very thankful for our family and that we are blessed to be on this journey. We are most thankful for Jesus. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

We got up fairly early and got ready for the day and then headed to the Food Pantry where we hoped to help out this morning. When we arrived, the director apologized profusely, but said they couldn't allow children in the warehouse. She was very nice and said she could use Brock and I, but the kids couldn't be inside. She gave us a tour of their operations. It was actually really large and very well organized. After the tour, we asked if maybe there was anything the kids could do outside and she said they could sweep out one of the trucks and also sweep out the bay where the truck parks. They walked all around the buildings looking for any garbage they might pick up, but it was very clean. Brock and I were able to help sort some food boxes that came in. Mostly produce, pulling out anything that wasn't good and putting those in boxes for feeding pigs and goats and putting the good stuff in other boxes to be picked up later that day. There was a lot of waiting because it seemed that the truck deliveries from the stores come sporadically. Only one delivery came while we were there and they said there would be four or five more today. We had hoped to help out with one more since Brock could help carry around some of the heavier boxes, but it didn't show up before we had to leave. There were a lot of really nice people, all volunteers, that we met and we all really enjoyed ourselves.
We had to leave in order to reach the post office to pick up our wonderful box from home that was waiting for us, but we had to get there before the PO closed at noon. We made it and got the box with no trouble at all. It was my first general delivery mail ever! It contained our mail from home and LOTS of presents from Carly, George, Jaden and Ava. We decided to wait to open the presents until tomorrow so we can put them around our little tree. :O)

We saw a cardinal on our way to the pool. No good
zoom on my phone though.
When we got back to the trailer, the kids were dying to go swimming. Today's high was still only about 60 and I had to do laundry. The sign on the laundry room door says not to enter with wet swimsuit so therefore, I couldn't swim, but fortunately the laundry room is right at the pool so the kids swam for a long time while I babysat the laundry and then folded four loads of clothes by myself since they were playing together nicely and having fun in the water. I told them that was their Christmas present from me. ;o) Only half joking. LOL
Tonight, we ate dinner and then opened up Brighton's present to the family, the movie Ice Age 4 and a pack of Starbursts, and we had a family movie night. Fun times.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Eve Eve

We started out this morning attending a non-denominational church service right here at the campground's clubhouse. There were probably around 20 people there and the regular pianist was absent so the pastor played the keyboard to lead the three hymns, two of which I'd never heard before. The music part of the worship time was a little uncomfortable and the service was a lot more ordered than we are used to, but the message was heartfelt; the pastor had prepared a nice sermon with good perspective on the character of Jesus' earthly parents. The service finished with communion which was neat.

After that, Brock took the kids to the playground while I made lunch in the peace and quiet of the trailer. Nice. Then we all ate together and everyone settled onto their separate electronics for a little while and we tried to decide what to do with our day. The pastor and her husband had told us that there was a little beach within about 10 miles of the campground with a pier and a little trail.They also told us that you could rent kayaks or canoes and explore around very locally and you can really get close to manatees. Or rather that they like to get close to you. That sounded really cool, but for today we just decided to go check out the beach.

It is still a little chilly today (I think the high was 59 degrees) so the beach was not the same experience that we've had most recently and this felt more like a little sandy crescent than a beach. It was still kind of pretty and it was interesting that the area has a big power plant with a coal plant and two nuclear power stacks as well. This beach didn't allow dogs either so Brock took Heidi for a walk up the road and the kids and I walked on the beach for a short while. They mostly just scared up the seagulls. Then we walked out on the pier and looked around. The trail from the beach to the pier was really cool. It was a boardwalk through what felt like a jungle.

After that short walk, we searched on google to find a local ice cream shop preferably on the water. There was one with really good reviews, but it was 20 miles away and we decided that was too far so we went to another one that was more on our way back to the campground. It was ok, but we wished that we'd just gone to Dairy Queen afterwards since most of the ice creams had big ice crystals in them and the brand that they carried was one that I see in just about every grocery store freezer around here.

Back at the trailer, the kids went back to the playground. I worked on sending a few more Christmas letters (super slow, inconsistent wifi) while Brock puttered around on his tablet. Close to dark, I took Heidi for a long walk. While we were out, I smelled all kinds of dinners BBQing and it made me realize that I was actually a little hungry. When we got back to the trailer, the kids had returned from the campground and they and Brock were watching the end of The Polar Express in anticipation of The Grinch coming on after.

We ate dinner and watched The Grinch together and after dinner, Brock moved into the kitchen and made some sugar cookies. Not our yummy traditional ones, but they were from a box and they still tasted pretty good. I especially liked that I didn't have to make them.

Tomorrow we get up fairly early and see what we can do at the Food Pantry. We're all looking forward to that.