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!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Central High School and the Little Rock Nine

It thundered and lightninged and rained hard all night, but we are grateful that there was no wind. Our LP gas detector went off a couple of times startling us awake, but there was nothing running on gas so we are thinking it must just be because we have been all closed up with the nasty weather. It stopped after the second time. We sure felt tired when we woke up. On my way over to the public restrooms, our neighbors passed in their truck and the lady rolled down the window and asked us where we'd gone for shelter last night. I laughed and told her that we'd not been too sure where to go. She said they and a couple others were in the bathroom for a couple of hours. Turns out the bathrooms really are built to be tornado shelters. They are completely concrete that is stamped to look like wood siding and cedar shakes. Inside has these chintzy fiberglass walls that look like a mobile lab or something since there is a shower in there, but evidently those are just for looks too. Oh well, now we know.

We worked on school and work in the morning so that we could take a field trip this afternoon to the Central High School Museum. Little Rock is the first city and Central High School the first high school to integrate their students. The Little Rock Nine were the 9 black students, ages 14-16, who chose to make the switch from their all black high school to make a difference and to receive an education that would better prepare them for college.

The museum was free to attend and was really well done. The most impactful thing for me was listening to the personal stories from several of the students via recorded testimonies at several kiosks with telephone handsets. Spencer and I sat together and listened to all the available audio recordings and it probably took 30-40 minutes. There were present day interviews interspersed with the students narrating while showing video footage from 1957. It is definitely different to see and hear the actual people and real video versus just reading about the events in a textbook. I'm not sure how much of it really sunk in with the kids, but I think we all seemed to get a sense of those students courage and tenacity and commitment. It is hard to grasp how difficult it was for those students and their families (and anyone who tried to support them) and it is challenging to imagine the perspective of the anti-integration people. It was very sobering.

The gas station where a mob gathered across the street from the high school.

 The school is actually a very beautiful, huge building and it is still an operational high school. When we got to the area, current students had just gotten out of school and were milling around. It was pretty neat to learn about the events and then walk over and see the front of the school where the nine students, on the third attempt, were able to attend classes. We got to see in the videos how the 101st Airborne came in to escort them in. In the interviews, one of the girls mentioned how one of the soldiers opened the door for her and called her ma'am and it really meant something to her to be treated with such respect by anyone let alone a white person. That really hit me...how important that we treat everyone with that kind of respect which should be considered "common courtesy". Then one of the guys talked about how this third attempt to enter the school, they didn't try to sneak in a side door as they had the other times, the soldiers marched them right up the front steps. When we went over to the front steps it was easy to imagine that you were there. Gave me goosebumps...even though it was 89 degrees outside and extremely humid.

We came back to the trailer right between 5 and 6 pm. We had some school work to finish up and Brock worked most of the evening, but we kept an eye on weather forecasts and tried to decided what to do tomorrow...stay or go, as originally planned. We learned that Oklahoma had been hit today with more tornadoes.

We started to have some pretty big thunderstorms in the evening. We've been under a flash flood warning pretty much the whole time we've been here, but the "creek" (shallow drainage ditch) behind our trailer had mostly dried up again. We decided to just see what tomorrow looks like.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Severe Weather

Today we got up and started school and work, but the plan was to be ready to leave the rv park by 10:30 am for our drive from Branson to Little Rock, Arkansas. (The intent being to get moved and settled before the forecasted thunderstorms hit.) We managed to be on the road by 10:30 so that was excellent.

The drive was somewhat slow, taking close to 4 hours to go about 160 miles, but it was actually very pretty. Everything is so green this time of year and the first one-third of the drive was through mountains so there was quite a bit of cool, rocky landscape too.

We got to our campsite for the next couple days, Maumelle Park, a COE park a little ways outside the city, arriving mid-afternoon. There are a lot of trees here and it is close to the Arkansas River, but we're on the opposite side of the loop from the river and the river's level is not too high. There are a lot of grassy areas. The clouds were piling up and the skies were very gray. The air was very humid, but there was no wind and we didn't have any watches or warnings.

We finished up our school work and had dinner before the storm started to get going outside. It started to rain. About that time, the Brock's phone alerted him that we were under a tornado watch. By the time bedtime for the little boys rolled around the thunder and lightning was getting to be about as active as I've ever seen. We were watching the news and different weather reporting services on our phones and trying to figure out what to expect and what the plan should be. While I was doing dishes, there were a couple of booms that were just jarring they were so loud. We kept looking around for any sign of a tornado, but didn't see any greenish skies, didn't hear any loud freight train noise. There was really not much wind at all. Just the warm rain, tons of lightning and earth shaking thunder. The local weather TV station that was updating on the conditions and "watches" kept beeping and finally announced that our county was under a warning. That was a little startling and we weren't sure what to do. I think a warning is supposed to mean that you take shelter right away. The bathrooms here at the campground aren't extremely sturdy looking. When we looked out and saw that the sky could've had a greenish tint and the thunder seemed right on us, we put on our shoes and hopped in the car, thinking we'd try to go to a store or something. On our way by the bathrooms, I saw someone peeking out and there were a couple of cars parked in front of it, so I could tell that at least some people were sheltering in the bathroom.

We drove a little ways until we came to a Kroger and we parked and went in. There weren't a lot of people in the store, like probably more employees than shoppers, but they are open 24 hours so we knew could wait it out there if necessary. We got out our shopping list and did a little shopping. The extreme downpour started once we got inside. The rain was so loud even from inside the store. We kept finding little puddles of water on the floor in different aisles. It seems that the skylights in the building's roof weren't designed for that heavy rain.

We eventually settled back in the home furniture section and the boys struck up a game of Go Fish. Brock called his parents to let them know that we were fine and Bryn and I brainstormed curtain ideas for her bed before finally scrapping the plans yet again. We visited for quite a while with a young man who was pushing a broom in the store. We talked about our traveling and asked him about the storm. He said "this happens sometimes" and didn't seem the least concerned with the weather. He was interested in talking more about where we'd been and where we're going.
The little brothers love watching someone play a video game...anytime...anywhere.

Once it settled down outside, we paid for our items and headed out to the car and we decided to get gas for the Yukon while here. We observed people in the drive thru at Sonic and driving around just as normal. We know that God is absolutely in control and we choose to trust Him no matter what, but it does help you to stay calm when no one around you seems to be panicking.
This made me laugh...

We came back to the trailer and there was a LOT of standing water in the drainage ditch area just behind our trailer.  Several of the sites had little lakes all around their rv's. This county is under a flood watch now for the next couple of days and we discussed whether we should move the trailer up to higher ground in the park. There was an available parking lot, but after watching it for awhile, we could tell that the water was definitely going down despite the fact that the rains had started again. The river here is not up to the top of the banks so it just appeared to be runoff.

By this time, it was around 10:30 pm and the kids needed to get to bed and we were both really tired too. We decided to sleep on it and check on the water in the morning.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Returning to Routine

Today was pretty much a normal day. The return to our routine. I ended up using the campgrounds really nice laundry facility and washing all our laundry, Brynna's and Brock and I's sheets, and Heidi's blanket. It was about five loads! Fresh sheets are so nice though.

I am completely creeped out by all the ticks we've seen here. I'm sure I sound like I'm repeating myself, but today we saw a couple ticks on the dog and Brighton and I went to town searching her over and removing them one by one. We bagged 13 in that expedition and then took a break and later removed a couple more. They are kind of making us all paranoid (but maybe not, like maybe there's a good reason.) ;o)

The best part of today was when we finally finished up our school work and headed to the park's big clean pool which was completely empty except for us. Brighton got in too, but only for a little while since the water was actually pretty cold. The other three kids had a great time and I was kind of with Brighton. I just stuck my feet in.

Spence got pretty close on his dive moves.

Sky carries Brynna

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Silver Dollar City

After a not so peaceful night of sleep, with one kid getting up with upset stomach from eating too many ribs at the Rib Crib, several gun shots heard outside a little while later, and then a pretty loud thunderstorm all before an early morning wakeup, we had a little trouble keeping our early morning plans to meet at the Worldmark at 7:30 for a biscuits and gravy breakfast. We ended up texting the crew a message to go ahead and eat without us and we would get there as early as we could. We ended up getting to the condo about 8:15, hoping we could help everyone with their cleaning and packing up checkout procedures.

Some of the sites on the strip in downtown Branson.
Another Titanic museum. Clever idea to put spray at the front and make it
seem as if it's moving.
Silver Dollar City opens at 9:30, but since Tim and Gwen are season ticket holders, we could all get in a little early. Tim and Gwen also get a couple of guest passes at intervals throughout the year and since they had gotten some just in time for this weekend, they treated two of our family to free admission! The whole group got to get $5 off our ticket price too.

We were all filled with anticipation for what the day would hold. I think I'll let the pictures tell the story.

Our crew who was brave enough to take the American Plunge, a log flume ride: (Front to back) Sarah, Greg, Joe, Brighton, Skylar, and Brock.
The wet daredevils after the log ride.

Brock, Greg and Sarah were the ones to go on Wildfire (5th row from the front)
The kids were so happy to see Brock when he got off.
Ride statistics. Little Joe was so sad because he was about a half inch
too short and couldn't go on the ride. I was amazed at his level of courage.
He wasn't afraid of any ride and so we all headed to Outlaw Run.
Greg, Sarah, Brock, Joe and Brighton rode Outlaw Run. The world's most daring wooden rollercoaster. The first wooden coaster to go upside down multiple times and it features a 162-foot drop at an 81 degree angle and reaches speeds up to 68 miles per hour. Some of these crazy people rode it twice in one day!
What goes up...must go down!!

All the kids and I went on the kiddie coaster. Bryn said it was just her speed. It was actually pretty fast, just small and low, but I saw several little kids leave in tears. Our whole group left smiling thankfully. :O)
Kiddie Coaster
You look in the hole and the boat people use your face as a target for their water cannons.

After Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn got through with us. It was actually the observers who could shoot us with water cannons that got us sooo wet.
After the Fire in the Hole ride. We all went on it, learning about Baldknobbers.
Brock drank some "filtered" water.
This one looked worse than tea cups to me.
My hunky husband, riding a "scary" ride.
Sky was stoked that he was tall enough to ride alone.
These brawny guys stopped the earth from turning and then started it the other way.
There was actually more than I can picture including a very wet raft ride and some classic style swings.

When the park closed and we all headed to the parking lot at 6 pm, it was a terrible bottleneck of people trying to get out. The park requires the traffic to go through the gift store and then through narrow exitways to wait in line for a bus or tram to take you to the parking lot. We decided to walk and actually beat the half that rode to the car. It was time to say goodbye to everyone since they were all returning to Springfield. Their plan was to hit Lambert's Cafe in Ozark, Missouri on the way home. Our family decided to postpone the goodbyes and drive back 40 minutes (almost to Springfield) to join them. We caught some of the delicious, hot, throwed rolls and our dinner was actually really good much better than what we ate at the Alabama location. I think everyone enjoyed their food and we all enjoyed laughter and the blessing of being together. We're not sure why God brought us all together, but we're so glad He did. Our family is thankful for this respite of a weekend and for the encouragement of being with friends.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Branson, Missouri

This morning we awoke to mostly cloudy skies, that looked like they might drop rain, and the air felt somewhat humid. I had slept a little later than normal due to an interruption to my soft slumber at 3 am when I felt something crawling on my arm. We've seen so many ticks that after I reflexively swiped it off, I turned on the light, expecting to see a tick, but instead saw a fat bodied spider. I found a Kleenex and eventually got it smooshed, but by then my adrenaline was flowing pretty well and sleep didn't come back immediately.
Here's Tim and Gwen's big yard moose that I love.
Once I went inside Tim and Gwen's, I learned that Greg and Brock (and Heidi) were going to drive to a nearby park for a run and Gwen, Sharon C., and Sarah were going to walk the trail while they did that. Gwen graciously suggested that their washer and dryer was empty and available and so I took her up on it and did a couple of loads of free laundry. Woohoo!

I got out our grill with the griddle and Russ whipped up some perfect pancakes on it and Betty made some crispy bacon in the house and everyone who was around the house ate a great breakfast, enjoyed our coffee and/or juice and especially enjoyed visiting with one another. The kids played together some outside, some dominoes, some video games.

I brought in and washed up our dishes from the trailer (since the gray tank is full and I couldn't do it in there). Bryn and I got the first load of clothes folded and I took a nice shower in Tim and Gwen's shower.

Once I was putting all my toiletries away, Brock and the rest of the exercisers got back.  A crew of people decided to head into Bass Pro Shop. Since I still had the laundry going and Brock still needed to shower and we both needed to get the trailer ready for travel, we stayed at the house, but Brighton was invited to go and he was thrilled.

All of us, minus Brighton, worked together to get the trailer all ready to leave. We thought it might be difficult to get the trailer turned around in the driveway, but Brock did it no problem at all and so we were ready to head out. We needed to leave before everyone else because we had to drive to a dump station and get all emptied before we hit the highway for Branson. I got the last load of clothes folded and we loaded up and headed out. It was only about a 10 minute drive to the dump station in a nearby little town and then we were on the freeway headed for out destination.

Branson was only about a 45 minute drive away. We were surprised by how pretty the area actually was. It is a lot hillier and greener than I expected.

The plan was to get to our rv park, get setup, get the air conditioning going for Heidi and leave her and the trailer at the park and meet everyone at The Rib Crib for all-you-can-eat ribs.

We followed Tom right through historic Branson and he said we'd arrived at our destination only we hadn't. He'd taken us to Turkey Creek Campground or something like that when we were looking for and had reservations for was Ozark Country Campground because it was the closest one to the Worldmark Resort that everyone else was staying at and it was a participator in the Passport America program which would give us unlimited days at half-price.

We ended up having to make this big 18 mile loop to get back to the other side of Branson where the campground was actually located. We'll need to report that to Rand McNally that their database is wrong. This is a good lesson though...always doublecheck with the actual source to get the address instead of just looking up the campground from the internal gps directory.

The campground looked great with full hookups and very nice, helpful staff. We got unhooked very quickly, took Heidi for a quick pee break, filled up her water and locked her in. She didn't seem to mind much though because she was pretty zapped from running in the heat this morning.

We made it to the Rib Crib before the entire party was finished eating, but not by much and once they were done some of the group watched us eat for awhile. ;o) The ribs were really good. We learned the difference between St. Louis and Baby Back ribs and between the sweet and sticky style and the rubbed. Our favorites were the sweet & sticky baby backs. The meat was leaner, more tender and just fell off the bones so it wasn't hard to eat. We ate a lot and the sides were great too! We decided that all-you-can-eat isn't necessarily a good thing for us because it does encourage you to eat beyond when you would normally stop and we were a little uncomfortable when we walked out of there. (To the Moses Family: "Our food babies were kicking!"
One table nearly finished with their ribs...
...and one table hungry because of the delays. (We didn't have to wait long)
We left The Rib Crib and drove to the Worldmark so that the rest of the gang could get checked in to their rooms. We enjoyed seeing the resort and getting more time to visit.

Gwen gave Brynna a private, crash course in knitting and Brynna really had a knack for it. She picked it up very quickly. Gwen generously gave Brynna some cool bamboo circular needles to get her started and some yarn so that she can keep practicing and not quickly lose what she learned today.

While Brynna was knitting, Brock took the boys and several others from the group went over to the rec room for a competitive game of ping pong and Spencer worked out in the fitness room reporting that he burned 500 calories on the treadmill. Brock said he was on it for nearly an hour straight.

Eventually several of the group went swimming in the resort's pool and enjoyed a vigorous game of marco polo. Greg and Jim were especially good sports to get that going and it looked like everyone had a great time. The rest of us enjoyed watching from the pool deck and lawn chairs.
The marco polo crew
A challenging game by the looks of it
Sweet big brother moment when Bri sweeps up Sky and carries him around shouting "Polo!"
The evening finished with a few snacks in the condo and highly anticipatory discussion of what tomorrow will be like and who will be brave enough for what rides. We are all looking forward to Silver Dollar City!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Great Day at Camp Moosie

Tim and Gwen's place has been called Camp Moosie and there is an awesome moose in their front yard to celebrate their "Alaska Heritage". I'll have to remember to snap a picture of it before we leave because I love it.
The whole group, minus Spencer, who was having a bit of a melt down this afternoon. Thankfully, he recovered.
We started our day with our coffee and devotional reading times and four of the six of us took extreme water conserving showers here in the trailer. The kids could barely wait to get back into the house and receive some more of that wonderful stroking attention that comes from performing for an adoring crowd. ;O)

A wonderful breakfast of fruit and yummy muffins and cinnamon rolls was provided for us. There was also apple cider that Tim and Gwen produced themselves from apples grown right here on their property. There was also grape juice made from concord grapes grown right here too.

We all left to caravan down to Tim and Gwen's church which started at 10:30 am. Our group took up a row and a half plus of seats there. We felt privileged to be a part of the family atmosphere there and to hear the message from God's Word being opened to us. The pastor was really gifted and able to present a passage of scripture that most of us were pretty familiar with in a very different way and one that really related to each person there.

After church, we came back to Tim and Gwen's to begin lunch prep. Heidi got out for a bit and ran with the Slabaugh's dogs all over the property. She loved it, but it was not planned and that's always a little stressful. The ticks are really bad at this time of year here, I guess, and we've pulled about 5-6 off of her today. Thankfully they haven't been too embedded, but Sheesh! She is a tick magnet. Talk about heebie jeebies.

Lunch was absolutely the best steaks we've had for such a long time and really yummy sauteed mushrooms and baked potatoes, more yummy asparagus, rolls and garden salad. Gwen has some fabulous balsamic vinegars from a place, I think it was called Devo, where they age it 18 years. It was very delicious.

Spencer and Tim sharing a moment and Tim's chair ;O)
Everyone had a good time visiting and laughing while the food digested. Brock and I ended up running into town to get gas in the Yukon and pick up some needed items at another Walmart. We were able to pick up a gps unit for the Rostecks and a webcam for Tim and Gwen so that they can Skype now. Betty presented each family with a goody bag of items to make our car trips more bearable and then Gwen called all the ladies into the dining room and gave each of us an opportunity to pick from a pile of hand knitted scarves that she had made. They were beautiful! What a lot of time and talented handiwork!
One of a kind scarves for each of us...from Gwen
(Gwen, Sharon Rosteck, Sharon Cox, Me, Betty, (front) Brynna and Sarah)

Finally in the evening, we all piled into three of our cars and headed in to town again to try some of Andy's Famous Frozen Custard. It was very goood. Several different combinations were sampled and I didn't hear anyone say anything less than stellar about their choices. Skylar chose a strawberry shortcake sundae which was funny because he'd already had strawberry shortcake for dessert after lunch. I guess he really likes strawberry shortcake.

After custard, we drove around a little bit looking to see if there were any hotrods still hanging around town because there was an event at the fairgrounds this weekend, but it looked to be over and we didn't see any.

We caravan'd back to the house and it was actually past time for the kids to be in bed so we pretty much went straight to that.

We did figure out today that our water conserving showers were not enough and we actually filled our gray tank in pretty much one day which is disappointing, so I washed a few dishes in the house before brushing my teeth and heading back out to the trailer.

Tomorrow, we are all heading down to Branson where we have an RV site reserved and everyone else has two condos at a Worldmark resort close by the campground and we anticipate some more wonderful memories will be made.