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!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

National Air and Space Museum

(Note: I added a couple pictures to yesterday's blog post.)

This morning we got up and got ready for a somewhat early service at a church that was really close to Dulles Airport. The church meets in the facility that used to be the Redskins training center. Everyone that we met there was very nice and welcoming. Spencer and Skylar were able to stay together in the kids' program, so they had a great time and at the end, they both got to pick a prize that they were very excited about so it was nice. Brighton and Bryn stayed in the main service for the song and offering portion and then Bri decided to go to the teen class and Bryn decided to stay in the main sanctuary with Brock and I. We agreed the sermon was good and enjoyed talking with their head greeter after service who, after hearing about what we're doing, said he would put us on their prayer list. :o)

We drove straight from the church to the museum in less than 15 minutes. We decided to splurge and buy tickets to the IMAX movie Fighter Pilots and we bought a Smithsonian Membership which was really reasonably priced and it gave us discounts on the tickets, plus several other benefits including a discount at McDonalds inside the museum. We decided we were actually pretty hungry and since we didn't have much time before the door opened for our movie, we went ahead and ordered a couple McNugget meals and shared them to tide us over until we got back home to the trailer this evening.

After our lunch, we went to the movie. I was afraid I was going to feel some motion sickness, but  there were really only a couple parts in the 40+ minute movie where I felt a little dizzy; otherwise, I was fine. The film followed a single fighter pilot who had followed in his grandfather's footsteps and what some of his training was like. It was really well done. We were amazed at the technology and even more so when we realized that the film came out in 2004!! What must the technology be like now?

After the movie, we spent the next few hours strolling and zigzagging around looking and learning.

We got to see the space shuttle Discovery which is the cargo carrying one that went on the most missions and spent a total of over 365 days in space. It was cool because we were able to look at it really close and walk all the way around it. We listened in on part of a tour which was really interesting, but a little too long and slow-paced for the little boys and we figured that we would probably not make the rest of the museum with them if we continued, so we went off on our own "self-guided" tour.

The Langley Aerodrome A - Samuel Langley had several successful model-size aerodrome flights in 1896 and actually developed a good engine, but after two disastrous crashes, the second one only 9 days before the Wright Bros. successful flight in 1903, Langley's aeronautical work was ended.

Blackbird - Cold War Reconn, Starred in Transformers movie as the old autobot
Spencer liked this glider and thought the sling looked like a comfy sleeping bag
and he would probably just take a nap in it.
Gossamer Albatross - First man-powered (bicycle) flight across the English Channel (1979)
Skylar picked this cute little plane to be "his". I think he liked the idea of the hypnotic propeller.
We even got to go up into the Observation Tower where you can watch the planes come in and take off from Dulles and hear some of the chatter between pilots and the actual tower.
We were all a little tired out by the time we were finished and I'm trying to psych everyone, including myself, up for the rest of the week in which we will most likely have much more walking. :O)

We climbed in the car and drove the hour's drive back to the Cherry Hill, stopping along the way at a grocery store for milk and coffee and a Redbox family movie.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

On to Washington DC

Vacation is finally here! I have the next two weeks off to just spend time with Stace and the kids exploring Washington DC and New York City. The morning was bright and sunny. Stacey made some pancakes and bacon for our traditional Saturday breakfast. After we cleaned up we got to visit with Frank and Stacey who are a fulltime family that our kids have really enjoyed spending time with along with their kids. It turns out they are heading to the same RV park we are in just a a few more days so everyone was glad we could reconnect there.
Brad & Kristi Schrier (Christian, mini collie) and all the McFarlane kids including the furry one, Heidi

Can this be the same bunch?
The drive was nice without any of the forecasted thunderstorm activity. The traffic was a little heavy and some of the drivers here are about as crazy as any we have seen on our travels but we made it to the RV park safely. There was a pretty big line of RVs at the registration line when we arrived but we were able to get to our site within about 15 minutes. We chose this park based on reviews of others and the fact that the metro buses stop right at the park so we can explore DC using the public transit system without having to drive and park.

After we got set up and had lunch we explored down to the pool and club house area. Both are nice and will be great for the hot days here. We then headed out to Target as Brynna really needs some good shoes for all of the walking we are going to be doing the next two weeks. Unfortunately we did not find any there but she did find a new swim suit and the other kids found some items that their gift cards from Brett and Paul helped pay for (thanks guys!).

We then went to Kohls with no luck on the shoe side either. Finally we tracked down a Payless shoes and were able to find a pair of shoes that should work. The park has kids movies every night and tonight was The Hobbit. We were not able to get back in time for it much to the disappointment of a couple of the kids.

Stace and I decided we would hit a church that is located by Dulles Airport which is also where one of the two Smithsonian Air and Space Museums are located. We are planning on spending the day at the museum as our first introduction to all of the sights to see here.

We walked a tiny bit on the park's nature trail on our tour of the facilities and Skylar let out a little squeal and we all looked and there was this huge beetle booking it across the path. It was fast! The cup is a mostly buried 32 oz drink cup for size reference.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Last Day at Harbor View

Today was a fairly quiet day here at the RV park again. In the morning, I worked on some reservations for the New York area. We got a campsite reserved at a KOA. The price was WAY over budget, but we expected it to be and we were glad just to get a site on a holiday weekend.

Having neighbor kids to play with has been very motivational for our kids to get their responsibilities out of the way early in the day so they can play outside. They have loved having the basketball courts right there across the drive from our site. Countless games of H-O-R-S-E and endless variations of it have been played. They also made up a survival game playing with Brad’s gun that shoots something like a biodegradable water pellet. They’re a little bigger than a traditional airsoft BB and slightly smaller than a marble. I think it’s called Xploderz or something like that. Now that this weapon has been introduced to the boys, I think it has made it onto each one’s birthday list. ;o) Survival was played by the shooter trying to take everyone out before someone snuck up and tagged him/her…last man standing wins. There’s just the one gun and I’ve really been impressed with both Brad and Kristi’s willingness to share their things over the course of the week.

After lunch, the kids played some more with the kids outside and came back begging to go swimming. I said we could and they went down with Frank and his kids about 15 minutes before I was ready to head  down. I got my suit on and walked into the pool area. I put on my sunscreen and sat at a table for about 10 minutes. Then I got into the water slowly, about up to my waist. I started watching the thunderheads build and finally we heard some distant thunder rumbling and we called the kids out of the pool.

We all got changed out of our wet suits and invited Brad and Kristi to join the kids and I in the rec room to play games while I did our laundry. They asked if they could watch a movie. I didn’t mind and by the time we got set up in the nicely air conditioned rec room, we’d gained another three kids. Brad and Kristi had brought some cupcakes to share, but then there weren’t enough to go around. We decided to split a couple of them in half so that all the kids could have at least a taste. We all watched the movie Up together while it rained off and on, and poured hard for a while, outside. It was actually a really nice way to get three loads of laundry done.

After our time in the rec room, it was time to get some dinner made. While I was working on that, Brock finished up his work week and we had a good family meeting discussing what values and characteristics are important to us. The neighborhood kids were chomping at the bit to have our kids back outside to play so we then ate our pizza and salad quickly and the kids charged back out for some more fun chasing around. I’m amazed at how much energy they can pour into their activities of choice.

We are so stoked to have Brock on vacation for the next two weeks!! Tomorrow we check out of this park and head closer in to the D.C. area. We will miss seeing the friends we’ve made here.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

George Washington Birthplace National Monument

The kids enjoyed their first day of "summer break" today where they just did a little bit of reading and math, their chore for the day, and got dressed and pretty much played outside the rest of the morning.

I sat outside with Brynna and Kristy and learned how to make a friendship bracelet. I watched all the "neighborhood kids" play together, running around back and forth.

As a short-lived rain shower moved by, I came inside and made lunch.

After lunch, the kids and I piled into the Yukon and drove a couple miles up the road to the George Washington Birthplace National Monument. Admission is free and it was neat to see. We just did a self-guided tour, but there are ranger-led tours available. We learned that George Washington's great grandfather John was the first Washington to come over from England in 1656 and that he received a 700 acre parcel from his father in law as a dowry when he married Anna Pope.
Along Pope Creek, the trail to the Memorial House. The Memorial House was built in 1932 because the original birthplace house burned in 1779 in a Christmas Day fire. They have since discovered the location of the original foundation and have marked it with a white oyster shell fragments outline.

The Memorial House - George Washington only lived in the original birthplace house until he was three years old, but he spent more time here throughout his growing up years.

A child's bedroom inside the Memorial House. The house was styled after other similar buildings of the time.  At least one furnishing in the house, a tea table downstairs, is thought to be original and belonged to the Washingtons, but most of the furnishings are from the time period and over 200 years old.
 A visitor gets to see what a colonial farm would've looked like. They had a working colonial kitchen that we got to see. Boy, was it hot in there with a big fire going. They would set out some coals on the brick floor in several different spots in the room and have several things cooking at once in different kinds of pots and kettles. There were also a LOT of flies buzzing around in there.

We enjoyed getting to see many animals on our tour.

This horse came over from way across the pasture to get a little love.
There were literally, squirrels EVERYWHERE on the property. It was actually a little creepy to see SO many.
This memorial obelisk was first installed in the 1850's (I think) and moved to this site at the entrance to the monument when the Memorial House was built in 1932. (A 1/10 scale replica of the Washington Monument)
I delighted to tour the heritage garden...

As you can see, Brynna joined me in the garden, but the boys didn't delight to. ;o) They decided to sit out on a bench and wait until I was done.

I loved seeing the outbuildings and the wool drying on the fence in the background.
We walked back down the trail to spend a few more minutes in the visitor center before we left. Brynna is always a good sport and poses for me when I ask her to.

In the visitor center, we ran into ol' GW himself.

We just about closed down the visitor center, leaving between 4:30 and 5, and climbed into the Yukon to drive down the road to the Burial Grounds. I saw something that I think was a dark little fox running across the road on the short drive. The burial area also does not look much, if anything, the way it did when George Washington walked here since it was redone by a historical society in 1930 and they built a stone wall around the grounds and rebuilt the vault and consolidated the remains there. It was still pretty awe-inspiring to be in the vicinity of where several generations of Washington's were buried, including the father, grandfather and great grandfather of George Washington.

Cool old barn along the road...didn't even notice the huge buzzard on the roof until I saw the picture tonight.
Look at all the different awesome dragonflies we saw in various spots today...

Once back to the rv park, the little boys didn't even let me park the car before they were ready to hop out and play at the playground with their friends.

Three out of four kids wanted to hit the pool again today, but I didn't feel like getting in and I needed to make dinner soon, so I agreed to give them a half hour. I got to visiting and forgot to give them a 5-minute warning, so when the timer went off, I told them 5 more minutes and then set the timer again. They all got out cheerfully when time was up. Woohoo!

This evening after dinner, the kids and I went down to share the campfire of the Schrier Family. It was nice to visit with Frank and Stacey (funny to find another Stacey who spells her name the same as me!) and compare fulltiming and homeschooling notes with them while the kids played and ran and ate s'mores and ran some more. Brock needed some alone time so he went for a long walk with Heidi.

Once the fireflies came out, I knew it was time to be getting the little boys home and to bed. There was only a little groaning before they headed home to get ready for bed with a promise of more fun for tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Brock's Day of Meetings

Hot and muggy today. We finished up our last day of Sonlight school work. Woohoo! We moved into the nicely air conditioned rec room here at the park while clearing out the trailer for one of Brock's meetings. We finished up just before lunch and the kids rushed out to play with their friends.

We ate lunch and then played at the pool for about and hour and a half. It is a very nice pool other than the rough surface that if you scoot around too much instead of swimming will take all the skin off the bottom of your toes. Spence and Sky both came out a little bloody yesterday, but were eager to try it again today as long as they could stay a little deeper than they could touch. The water is very clean and is just the right temperature to be refreshing, but not startling cold. Soon, I noticed that the clouds were starting to pile up in the distance. I looked up and saw Brock and Heidi coming over to the pool area. I got out to talk to him and he let me know that there was a "severe thunderstorm warning" and the storm was forecasted to hit in the next 15 minutes.

We all got out and went back to the trailer and out of our wet suits and waited, but thankfully, the wind only picked up a little bit and we saw some lightning, but we didn't have any high winds or heavy rain that they'd thought would come.

After a while, I took Bryn and Sky with me to get groceries at the Food Lion. Spence and Bri stayed in the trailer bunkroom and watched a movie quietly since Brock was conducting his big quarterly four hour meeting. The grocery store was pretty decent. (Well stocked and not too expensive.)

As soon as we got back to the trailer, the kids helped unload the groceries and then took off to play outside since Brock was in the middle of the meeting. Brynna and Skylar went visiting at their friends' RV and worked on making friendship bracelets together for a good amount of time and watching a little TV. Skylar enjoyed being around their cat evidently. They stayed there until called home for a late dinner and then bedtime.

The skies stayed cloudy, but we thankful again that we were again unaffected by any of the severe weather that had been forecasted. We are still supposed to have more storms this week, but it seems maybe we are in a protected spot. Hopefully.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Harbor View RV Park

Today we hung around our campground and enjoyed the amenities (after doing the work for our next to the last day of school. :O). It was a very warm day, but the humidity for the first half of the day was a little lighter. Towards the evening it was pretty steamy out and our forecast for tonight and the rest of the week is thunderstorms.

The kids had a great time playing with Brad and Kristi, brother and sister from another family traveling full time. Their family will celebrate their 3rd anniversary on the road this next week!
Mini golf in 90 degree heat really made the pool irresistible.

Spencer's grand entrance...

And endless game of H-O-R-S-E had to be called for darkness and bedtime.

Laundry Day

(Stacey writing.)

You know how dogs are supposed to lower your blood pressure? Not ours. We awoke to the sound of her relieving herself all over the carpet on Brock’s side of the bed. I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt since she’s on a medicine that increases her thirst and also makes her have to go more, but the truth of it is she could hold it for most of the day the day before. She has done this a couple of other times on this trip and it always seems to happen after a day where she was left alone for most of the day so it feels like it is a payback thing.

Other than that, today was about mostly about school and laundry for the kids and I and pretty much all work for Brock.

Late morning, Bryn, Spence, Sky and I loaded up to head to the nearest Laundromat. I let Brighton stay home this time so that he could work on his computer game that he is creating. There is laundry available here at the park, but it seemed a little expensive and I wasn’t sure if the dryers would work well. Plus, I had a comforter and Heidi’s blankets to wash that needed a bigger front loader type machine. Evidently, the Laundromat is only about 3 and a half miles away, but we have to drive 8 and half miles around the long way since whatever happened last year that washed out the bridge between here and there.

We got to the laundry and found that there was no one else there. That always feels good, like I get the pick of the machines. I had to fight with the change machine to get it to break down my twenty, but eventually I won. ;o) After we got all our loads started washing, we walked over to the grocery store across the parking lot and got some cold drinks (super high humidity again) and some crackers and cheese and some more cash because it became clear that my $20 wasn’t going to cut it.

By the time we walked back into the laundry, pretty much all five loads had cycled down and were ready for the dryers. The dryers were the kind where you get 5 minutes for each quarter you feed it. I started them all off with 30 minutes or less depending on what the load was. None of the loads ended up being done with the time amount of my first estimate. Those machines seemed hungry for quarters, but eventually we got everything pretty nearly dry and so, a couple of hours after we started, we loaded everything back up into the Yukon and headed home with my quarter supply about thirty bucks lighter. Not sure now if I shouldn’t have just used the machines here at the park, but at least I got the comforter done. It’s been in the way, in a bag in our storage compartment, for awhile, and I was glad to get it out of there.

When we got home to the trailer, the older kids and I still had a little school to finish up. We only have a couple more days of our core work so we don’t want to slack off now. The kids were all dying to go swimming and I thought it would feel pretty good too given how hot and humid it is and how really hot it had been in the laundry. As we were trying to finish up our last book, the thunder began to rumble. The skies had grown incredibly grey. Skylar in particular was very grumbly that we weren’t going to get to swim since he saw some lightning. (Can you picture him telling me about the lightning, impatiently, with his eyebrows down and his lips pursed? Like would I ever get finished?) I tried to reassure him that since we are staying here for the rest of the week, there will be another opportunity for pool time. Tomorrow is forecasted to be in the 90’s with the same humidity again.
After the storm rolled past, (it was short-lived, we hardly got any rain, just a few sprinkles), he was completed distracted by playing with lots of neighborhood kids and having a ball running all over the place outside.

After dinner, he and Dad got in some one-on-one on the basketball court. It was a nice evening with a little of the humidity blown away by the storm and the temperatures a little cooler thankfully.

PS If we happen to miss a day's blog, please don't worry, the data (& cell!) coverage here is very weak and inconsistent and although I had the blog ready, I wasn't able to post last night.