Corydon, Indiana Field Trip

We have been back in our lovely home state of Indiana since the beginning of August.  It has been a great couple of months visiting with family and friends, being in familiar areas, and finding new things to explore.  A couple weeks ago we took a field trip to the town of Corydon, Indiana. Even though we are often traveling and exploring new areas, we do have a curriculum that we are going through with the kids’ homeschooling so we do have to carve out special days every now and then where we take a full day and do a field trip.   

     Corydon, Indiana was the first state capital of Indiana and is not only chock-full of historical sites, it is a very charming town to visit. Our first stop on this adventure was the Constitution Elm, where the first constitution for Indiana was created by 43 delegates.  Why were they all hanging out under this tree? Because it was really hot in June and in 1816 the shade of this ginormous tree was better than the inside of the stone capital building. Thank you, Lord, for air conditioning!  Anyway, the tree is dead now, but the very large stump is still there, with a large stone enclosure around it to protect it from the elements, unwelcome climbers, and graffiti. There are many things to learn about the early days of Corydon, Indiana. This website was super informative:  https://townofcorydon.com/town-history/ 

Constitution Elm Corydon, IN

     In fifth grade, we give a special emphasis on Indiana History, and even though we were all visiting Corydon together, extra attention was given to our little 5th grader to make sure she was getting the full Indiana History experience. 

    After visiting the Elm, we walked around the city square checking out the old stone state capitol building, reading the various historical markers, and taking opportunities for photo opps along the way including an interesting chat with Governor Frank O’Bannon (hehehe). Just off the square is the old Governor’s home and The Old Capitol herb garden. We did not pay for a tour of the buildings, but the herb garden was free to walk through, and (bonus!) there were some very informative gardeners tending to the garden. They patiently answered all of my questions about the plants and told us about the common uses for each one.  Apparently, there is a rumor that Lamb’s Ear was used as toilet paper back in the day! (Well, if you have to use a leaf, pick a soft one).

Corydon Town Square

     After all that learning we took a lunch break and then drove out to the site of a civil war battle. This battlefield was just outside of the town of Corydon, we read all the information about the battle, and walked around a bit.  It wasn’t a big battle, but lives were lost and towns were overrun if even for just a little while.  War is scary and I always find myself thankful for the service men and women that are willing to risk their lives for love of country and freedom. 

Battle of Corydon

     We drove back into town to check out the White House Candy Company because we had heard so many great things about it from some of Matt’s relatives who live in the area. They were right, not only was the White House Candy Company totally adorable and stylish, the chocolates were super yummy. Although we didn’t get any ice cream, I am sure we will be back to give it a try. 

White House Candy Co

 We took a short walk down the block and across the street to Zimmerman’s blown glass. This family-owned business is now located in an old Sinclair station. This place was extemely cool. They were not blowing glass when we were there, but they were making batches of glass in their ovens.  A friendly employee/artist was very informative and gave us a quick tour/science/history lesson. 

Zimmerman Art Glass

     We thoroughly enjoyed exploring the town of Corydon – history, science, art, and candy!  Something else brings us back to this area periodically. Matt’s family, the Eckarts, are from this part of the state, and many of his relatives, including Matt’s mom who died of cancer in 2005, are buried in a cemetary close to Corydon. After exploring the town, we drove out to the cemetary and remembered.  Matt was blessed with a Godly heritage and it is a good thing when we can pause and remember these special people. 

   The surrounding countryside of Corydon is beautiful, and if you enjoy hilly, windy roads, it makes for some fun adventures. Just past the cemetary is a really cool road that drives right through a creek. We always try to make a point to go this way and stop the car right in the middle so we can all get out and walk around. It was a fun way to end our field trip.

Fun times in the creek

Thank you for reading along.  I hope you are all having great adventures! 

If you would like to find out more about our ministry, Kingdom Pursuit Ministries, go to www.kpministry.org.

Dear Kansas, I’m Sorry For What I Said About You

Dear Kansas, 

     I’m sorry for what I said about you in the past.  On roadtrips across the great USA it is often necessary to drive through Kansas. So, I have been through Kansas quite a few times. With the destination in mind, it seems that it has always been a rush, with no time to stop and explore. I have been guilty of complaining about the seemingly endless farm fields, flat lands, and wide open spaces.

     But something happened this week, this week we are driving through Kansas with time to spare. Our journey is taking us from southeastern Colorado to North Central Missouri. The trip is about 800 miles and we have almost a whole week to do it.  

     Upon entering Kansas from Colorado, we stopped at the welcome center to enjoy some free coffee, stretch our legs, get a photo with Dorothy and the rest of the Wizard of Oz cast, and pick up a couple of travel brochures. I am a sucker for welcome centers and travel brochures/magazines. Even with my handy smart phone, I find these old-fashioned paper sources of information much more informative and I like the tactile feeling of flipping pages as opposed to staring at a screen.  Anyway, we were able to find some great information about some places that we would stop at later. 

kansas

     We drove a little further into the state and stopped along a rest stop. I had read on my RVParky app that Kansas rest stops offer free dump stations and overnight parking was allowed. The rest stop had a large circle drive past the dump station. There was adequate space for us to park and have a picnic and run around in the yard. It really was a park-like setting and we decided to stay for the night. Thankfully the extreme heat from last week had passed and we stayed cool with our windows open.  

     The next day we made a pitstop at Walmart and then drove on to the town of Oakley.  We stopped at the Buffalo Bill Cultural Center. I didn’t know much about Buffalo Bill apart from his famed wild west show.  Apparently it was near the city of Oakley that William F. Cody earned his nickname after winning a Buffalo hunting competition against William Comstock where he killed 69 buffalo in one day! Poor Buffalo, but there was a purpose for all that hunting – the meat was used to feed the railroad workers.  

Buffalo Bill Oakley Kansas

     We enjoyed taking a few photo opps with the giant sculptures and face-cut-outs of famous western figures outside of the center. Inside the center we talked to the friendly, helpful workers and did some shopping at the gift shop. I found an interesting book about Annie Oakley (but no, the town was not named after her) 

     Also in the town of Oakley is the Fink Fossil Museum, housed in the same building as the public library. This museum has a very impressive collection of fossilized shark teeth and various sea creatures. These sea creatures’ bones and teeth were found right in the middle of Kansas!  I am often amazed that there is no mention of a world wide flood in museums around the USA, as the evidence seems to point to that possibility, but there is only one accepted viewpoint on the history of things and I wish alternative theories were mentioned. Nevertheless, the fossils were very interesting to look at, even if I disagree with the timelines that were given.  

Fink Fossil Museum Oakley Kansas

     In this museum there were also several displays about the local history of that area, including a sod house, a replica of a train station, local shops, an old firetruck, and a nice collection of artwork by local artists. Before we left we bought a few pieces of candy and the nice lady at the counter gave each of the kids a fossilized shark tooth.  

     The area where all these fossils were found is near Oakley and is called Monument Rock. It is kind of like a minature version of the Badlands. Is it terrible that we didn’t actually go and explore it? The kids were much more excited about the playground next to the library, and I figured I had given them enough learning opportunities for one day. Maybe next time we come through.

     We made the trip into Kansas City for some famous bbq. It was difficult to choose where to go, there are so many choices and they all had great reviews.  We decided on Arthur Bryants for pure historical/nostalgic value. Technically they are in Missouri, oh well, close enough. Arthur Bryant’s did not dissappoint. Yum! Everything was messy and delicious.  

     After our bbq adventure of yummyness we spent the night in the Cabella’s parking lot just west of Kansas City (we actually left our RV there while we drove into the city for dinner). This particular Cabella had a wildlife museum and the world’s largest collection of mule deer. It was interesting to see all of the varieties of animals and the large aquarium. It is funny to me that sometimes we seem to enjoy boondocking in store parking lots just as much as a campground.

Cabela Kansas City

     An amazing perk of full-time travel is there is plenty of time to explore small towns all across the globe. Even if you don’t travel full-time, there is always something new to experience and explore if you look hard enough. It is worth the effort, who knows what kind of adventure you will have!

     The lesson I learned in Kansas could apply to other areas of life.  Complaining about boredom is never a good idea. I don’t let my kids do it, so maybe I should take my own advice. I remember reading somewhere the words of one wise mother who would reply to the classic “I’m bored” complaint from her kids “There’s no such thing as boredom, only a lack of creativity.” True.

Thank you for reading along, I hope you are all having wonderful adventures! 

If you would like to find out more about our ministry, Kingdom Pursuit Ministries check out www.kpministry.org.

Epic Road Trip to Alaska – Week 2

Canada, Oh Canada, you are large and beautiful! As a location-independent family, we always enjoy the experience of traveling to the unknown and unfamiliar. It is so exciting to say, “We’ve never seen this before!” and we have been saying that alot this week! This leg of the journey started in Miles City, Montana and ended in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada.  What a fantastic journey it has been, I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Wednesday, May 8th – Miles City, Montana to Conrad, Montana

    We left our Walmart “campsite” in Miles City Montana and continued northwest across this massive state. It is massive, but not boring. I found the views today peaceful and beautiful. I love that we are traveling in the spring and among all the cows are adorable calves running around.

Montana sky

     We stopped in the town of Roundup, Montana where there was a nice park and wide side street for us to park the RV. We had lunch and then ran around and played an impromtu game of tree tag. It was just the bit of exercise and fun we needed, we got back in the RV refreshed and ready to drive some more.

     We stopped at the Great Falls Walmart and I made dinner in the RV while Matt picked up a couple of things. We kept on the road and drove to Conrad, Montana to a small campground. Whenever we are stopped for the night and have internet service, Matt likes to look up what wildlife are in the area. He discovered that in 2018, there had been a grizzly bear that wandered into the farm just behind the campground (yikes!). We decided that the laundry could wait until morning.

Thursday, May 9th – Conrad Montana to Balzac, Alberta, Canada

     The other campers and camphosts at this RV park were very friendly. One lady told me some cool stories about her grandfather, he was a circuit-riding preacher in that area. We did a bit of laundry at the campsite, and I took the two younger girls to play on the playground (don’t worry, we didn’t see any bear, and there was a large group from a daycare out there as well).  We packed up our rig and headed north to Canada!

     We stopped at a small town along the way to eat the rest of our produce and dairy products before we crossed the border. We weren’t sure what to expect, we had crossed the border before when we went to Niagara Falls, but never in the RV. 

     Border Crossing at Sweetgrass: Our passports and the kids’ birth certificates were ready, and we had left our plants, eggs, milk, and guns behind… The border police asked us a few questions, made sure we had the children we said we had, and politely welcomed us into Canada. It was pretty smooth and painless. It didn’t take long at all. 

Canada

      Some first impressions of Canada:

     1. Canada is living up to their politeness reputation by offering “litter bins” along the highway on the frequent “turn outs”. As a mom of 5 kids, I can appreciate a well-placed trashcan.

     2. Awkard and small gas stations. I have found that since we have been RVers, I am always checking out gas stations, even when I’m in the Honda and I see a nice spacious gas station, I notice. So far the gas stations here are a bit small, and that is weird to me considering the wide open spaces we are seeing, and the large amount of pickup trucks.

     3. Fantastic Mall! (continued later)

     4. Less Restaurants (at least by American standards, which might be an overkill of choices if I’m honest)

     We continued driving north through Calgary where our windshield was unfortunately chipped by a passing car. The campground we stayed at was just north of Calgary in Balzac, Alberta. We were all pretty famished by the time we arrived because we had emptied our fridge earlier in fear of the border police. No worries, just 5 minutes from the campground was a shopping area and we were sure to find a restaurant for dinner tonight. There were not a lot of restaurants surrounding the mall like you normally see in American shopping areas. But, as we drove close to the mall, we noticed the name “Food Hall”.  We figured it was the same as a food court, so in we went. 

     Excuse me while I gush about this mall “food hall”. AH – MAZ – ING!

“How fantastic can a foodcourt be?” You might ask.

Pretty fantastic.

We all ate, it was wonderful, and even though I looked a mess from traveling all day, we decided that we must walk the mall a bit. I was a happy lady.

     After the mall we took the car and drove through a car wash. Then we picked up some groceries from a very lovely and clean grocery store. Back to the RV park for the night. Balzac RV park wins for convenience, but was a bit loud next to the highway.  Shew, that was a long day, I’m getting worn out writing about it.  

Friday, May 10th – Balzac, Alberta to Rochford, Alberta, Canada

     There were some adorable prairie dogs scurrying around the RV this morning as well as some ginormous rabbits. We left the RV park and drove to Red Deer to have our windshield repaired. The repair guys were friendly and quick, and even said “Have a good trip eh” when we left, which totally added to the Canadian experience. 

     We drove all the way to The Ranch RV park near Rochford, Alberta. This RV park had actually been the owners’ cattle ranch for years, but they have since converted it to an RV park. It was situated in the country on a lake, and was home to many migrating birds. We really enjoyed relaxing there, I would definetly go back. We met the owners and they were very friendly and welcoming. 

The Ranch RV park

Saturday, May 11th – Rochford, Alberta to  Grand Prairie, Alberta, Canada

     Today we slept in and left for Grand Prairie around 12:00. We only had about 3 hours or so to drive. We arrived in Grand Prairie and met the pastor of the Oasis Group Ministries, where Matt is going to preach on Sunday. The pastor gave us a tour of their facilities, which are quite unique. They have 21 apartment units, a daycare, a grocery store, and office spaces connected to their church building.  They are truly reaching out to their city by creating housing to help prevent homelessness and create a place of community in their area. 

     I have to admit that I was pretty niave, I just didn’t think of homelessness as being a problem in an area that experiences such a long and harsh winter. But it is. It was inspiring to see the work that they are doing. 

     After meeting with the pastor, we decided to take a break from our Keto diet  for Mother’s Day weeked and go out for pizza. Yum!

Sunday, May 12th – Grand Prairie, Alberta to Pink Mountain, British Columbia, Canada

     Matt preached this morning at The Oasis Group of Ministries. It was a refreshing service, we enjoyed ministering and meeting with all of the friendly congregation.  After church, several of the people gave us tips and advice for our trip farther north. This was the first time we talked with people who had actually done the trip. (Other than my Grandpa, who toughed it out in the 1950s like a true explorer, but that is another story for another day) 

     After lunch and some more visiting, we were back on the road about 4:30 in the afternoon. We drove through the iconic Dawson Creek, and took a photo of the 0 mile marker of the Alaska Highway. As we drove into British Columbia, we noticed the roads becoming more steep as the landscape became more mountainous. I am glad that Matt is driving, he’s a pro. 

     We were within 5 miles from the Pink Mountain RV park when we looked over and saw a beautiful gray wolf sitting up straight and tall along the highway! So cool. When Matt went to register at the RV park, and tell the guy at the desk about the wolf, this guy knew all about it, and he had pictures to go with his wonderful hunting stories. Apparently the wolves had been quite the hunting prize in that area.

pink mountain

Monday, May 13th – Pink Mountain, British Columbia to Muncho Lake, BC

     This day has been our most spectacular driving day so far.  We saw 12 black bear, 1 lynx, 1 moose, and lots of elk and caribou! We did not make great time, the road was winding and sometimes scary, but the views were breathtaking – all day! So many pictures, but I will just share my favorites.

mountain scene
Mountain view
black bear

     After all those winding roads, we were able to stay the night at a pull over spot right next to the beautiful Muncho Lake. It was a great day. 

Here is a video view of our awesome boondocking spot:

Tuesday, May 14th – Muncho Lake, BC to Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada

      We left our most beautiful boondocking spot and drove west towards Whitehorse. Today we were blessed to see wild wood bison. I lost count, there were herds of them! I think they look a bit taller and skinnier than the buffalo we had seen in South Dakota.

Bison Crossing

     We drove past Laird hot springs and decided against the idea of walking the mile and a half board walk to the hot springs after reading about a black bear that killed two people in 1997 and about the more recent “predator bears” that are known to frequent the area as recently as 2013 or so.

     We were making good time today and we made it to the iconic Watson Lake for lunch. Watson Lake is home to the “sign forest”, a man-made forest where people have been hanging all sorts of signs with their hometown/family name on them. There is also a visitor information center behind the sign forest. One very sweet worker there loaded us up with free travel workbooks/info books for the kids.  

Watson Lake
sign forest in Watson Lake

     From Watson Lake we drove further northwest to the town of Teslin, it was our fallback destination if we didn’t make it all the way to Whitehorse. Teslin is home to beautiful Teslin Lake and a large population of Tlingit (Klink-it) First Nations’ people. There were a few museums and heritage centers in this small community, but they did not open until June. 

     We made it all the way to Whitehorse tonight and stayed at the Caribou RV Park. This RV park was very nice and clean and had a quaint “woodsy” feel.  It finally got dark around 11:30, we are so glad we bought those blackout curtains! 

 **A helpful resource for us on this leg of the journey has been The Milepost! You could do this trip without it, there is basically one main road the whole time, but it is nice to have the Milepost. It is a very detailed map/guide book that gives descriptions about the area.  It is very updated and accurate, a new addition comes out every year. There is little to no phone signal  so I cannot rely on the navigation apps on my phone. I am enjoying pretending I’m back in the 1990s, before my phone told me what to do, when to turn, etc. 

That is the end of this leg of our Epic Road Trip to Alaska! Thank you for reading along!

If you would like to find out more about our ministry, Kingdom Pursuit Ministries, go to www.kpministry.org

Epic Road Trip to Alaska! – Week 1

 We are embarking on the longest road trip of our life to date! This journey will take us from Indiana to Alaska, then down through the Pacific Northwest states and then heading east from northern California back to Indiana.  We are estimating it to be about 10,000 miles over 3 months. We are super excited to go places we have never been, learning how life is for people we have never met, and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ along the way. I will be posting weekly, (Wednesday to Tuesday) documenting where we have been and what we have done along the way if you care to follow along. 

map

Week 1: Jasonville, Indiana to Miles City, Montana (1398 miles)

Wednesday, May 1st – Jasonville, Indiana (0 miles)

    We have been parked at Shakamak State Park this week. We arrived Saturday night and have been enjoying full hookups and the beautiful scenery inspite of the rain.  This state park is super nice, it offers swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, and reasonably-priced camping. 

     We are at Shakamak because it is less than five minutes to Jasonville, Indiana, and we have been holding revival services at Jasonville Assembly of God Sunday-Wednesday. If you come to this campground, or live close to Jasonville, I would highly recommend checking out this church. We love coming back here, the pastor and his wife and the whole congregation are super friendly and loving and they always make us feel like familly. This is the last night of the Revival meetings and it was focused on kids and teenagers. It was a really fun night and 11 kids made the decision to follow Christ.

Thursday, May 2nd –  Jasonville, Indiana to Urbana, Illinois (120 miles)

     Matt took all the laundry to a laundromat because he is a stud and does all the laundry on the road – some laundromats are a bit shady and we figure he is more intimidating than me.  While he was there, we did our schoolwork and prepared the RV for departure.  As we left Shakamak State Park, the dogwood trees were simply beautiful and seemed to be giving us a fine Indiana farewell.

RV driving down the road

We met some sweet friends at Bogey’s in Terre Haute and the kids had a blast playing games, eating pizza, and playing putt-putt. 

     We left there about 8:30 or so and drove a few hours to a Walmart in Urbana, Illinois.This Walmart allows overnight parking for RVs so that is where we went and stocked up on supplies. We have never driven to Alaska, but have heard rumors that the prices on everyday products are much higher than what we normally pay. Boondocking (or dry camping, basically parking and sleeping) not only help to keep our costs down, it is a way to save a little bit of time whlie traveling.

Friday, May 3rd – Urbana, Illinois to Clinton, Iowa (206 miles)

     Today we left our Walmart home from last night and headed north and west towards Iowa. We have friends in Clinton, Iowa (right on the Mississippi River) and we were glad that we could stop in for a short visit. We love that we have made friends since we have been on the road that we can go back and visit. It is neat to see the kids pick right back up where they left off.

     The Riverview Park in Clinton is a great stop over spot, it is very clean and well maintained, it has a great little playground, and is fairly inexpensive. It is a self-pay system and you fill out an envelope and drop your payment in the box at their restroom/laundry facilities. The only negative would be the very loud train that runs right next to the campground.

Saturday, May 4th – Clinton, Iowa to Storm Lake, Iowa (296 miles)

     Today we left Clinton Iowa and headed west. We stopped off at a propane place just outside of Clinton on Highway 30. We drove across a large portion of Iowa today and we didn’t do the interstate, instead we took a smaller highway, and it was a beautiful day for driving. 

     We stopped off in Cedar Rapids to check out a local camera shop, my old camera had a problem and I was hoping they would have the solution. Unfortunately the parts are no longer made for that model.  I also had been looking at new models, something small that would be convienient to take along, and something that could shoot videos as well. We found a great little camera, but they didn’t have any more in stock, so we walked next door to Best Buy and they had it. I have been LOVING my new camera, and told Matt it could be my Mother’s Day/Birthday/Christmas gift:)

     We drove to Storm Lake, Iowa and parked at The Church of New Beginnings, where Matt will be preaching tomorrow.  We noticed on the drive that the sky did look bigger. I don’t know if that has something to do with the altitude difference or because there is less population and more wide open spaces, but it seems like we can see much farther across the landscape than back in Indiana.

Sunday, May 5th – Storm Lake, Iowa to Plankinton, South Dakota (236 miles)

     Matt preached today at The Church of New Beginnings in Storm Lake, Iowa. After church we enjoyed getting to know the pastor and his wife and kids over lunch at Pizza Ranch. It was fun to talk about ministry life, parenting, and homeschooling.

     Leaving Storm Lake, we drove north, so that we could drive through the southwest corner of Minnesota and put the Minnesota state sticker on our window map. We then hit Interstate 90 and went west towards South Dakota. 

     It had been about 14 years since we had stopped at the World’s Only Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD and it was time for another visit. We arrived at about 7 or 8 so all the little tourist shops and the corn palace were closed. Even though it was windy and cold, we were able to get some fun pictures and see the Corn Palace exterior up close and personal.

corn palace

     From Mitchell we drove west to Hill’s RV Park and Campground in Plankinton, South Dakota. It was a quiet, inexpensive spot right off the interstate with full hookups and a laundry room. 

Monday, May 6th – Plankinton, SD to Rapid City, SD (251 miles)

     Back on I90 heading west. Today is an exciting day, we have The Badlands, Wall Drug, and Mt. Rushmore on the itinerary! It was hard to describe the Badlands, so the kids didn’t know what to expect, and the younger ones weren’t so excited about a place called badlands and they didn’t know why we would want to take them to a drug store. 

     So maybe we should always downplay new destinations, because the kids were all pleasantly surprised and amazed at the Badlands. I had forgotten how big of an area it is. The scenic loop through the Badlands National Park is 35 miles long, and there was something amazing to look at the entire time.  Even though it was cold and a little rainy, we loved driving through and getting out for a few photo ops.  Someday we will have to stay at the campground and hike some of the trails…

The Badlands

     We had a short visit at Wall Drug where we explored the fun western displays and picked up some magnet souveniers and postcards. We wanted to keep moving because we were determined to see Mt. Rushmore and we heard that they do a nightly lighting ceremony.

     We arrived at the Cabela in Rapid City about 5 or so, I went in and bought a much-needed rain jacket before leaving in our tow vehicle towards Keystone and up to Mt. Rushmore. Fog, crazy dense fog, covered the roads as we made our way up the mountain. We hoped that maybe it would pass over. When we got to our destination, we thought that maybe it was a bad sign that there were no parking attendants, but at least we did not have to pay $10 to see nothing. There were a few other dissapointed tourists walking to their cars in the parking lot – no views of Mt. Rushmore tonight. Back to Cabela for our overnight stay.

Tuesday, May 7th – Rapid City, SD to Miles City, Montana (289 miles)

     We woke up today to more fog and a dense fog advisory alert on our phones.  Did I mention that apparently, in May, it is still winter in South Dakota(at least by my Indiana winter standards). I think, that maybe these people in South Dakota are a bit tougher than me. 
    By the time we arrived at Mt. Rushmore at about 11, the fog was lifting and it had stopped raining. Yay! We could see it! You could almost argue that the bit of fog gave them an even more majestic look.  It was wonderful for us all to see, and the museum was interesting and educational. It is inspiring to see what people can do if they put their minds to it.  We took a scenic drive around the mountain and through some cool tunnels on our way back to Rapid City. 

Mt Rushmore collage

     We left our Cabela home and drove north into the southwest corner of North Dakota so that we could put the North Dakota state sticker on our window map.  Highway 85 north turned out to be a very lovely, scenic drive but also a bit bumpy.  We stopped at a truckstop just inside North Dakota and I made dinner in the RV and Matt bought us both a coffee from the truck stop. 

     Our last stop for this leg of our journey is Miles City, Montana. We took highway 12, going west, and even though it was cloudy and getting dark, the scenery is changing again, and we notice pine trees dotting the landscape here in Montana. We parked the RV at the Walmart in Miles City for our overnight stay.     

     Thank you for reading the first in our blog series “Epic Road Trip to Alaska”!

If you would like to find out more about our ministry, Kingdom Pursuit Ministries, go to www.kpministry.org.

  ** A helpful app I use when planning our overnight spots is called RVParky. I would highly recommend it. It is free and it shows rest stops, truck stops, RV parks, cracker barrell, and any Walmart, Camping World, or Cabela spots. Users of the app add reviews as to whether the locations allow overnight parking.**

How We Roadschool Our 5 Kids

Roadschooling

Roadschooling is homeschooling on the road. I have also heard of a new term for traveling families, called “Worldschooling” which sounds pretty cool, but we are primarily traveling in a motorhome in the USA, so I will stick with Roadschooling. I love that we have the freedom to homeschool/roadschool our children. We actually homeschooled before we moved into the RV, and there are so many things I love about homeschooling in general. Homeschooling on the road is a bit different though, and as you might have guessed, roadschooling does come with its own set of challenges and benefits. In this blog post, I will  give a general overview of How We Roadschool Our 5 Kids.

Logistics

Where does everybody sit? Where do we store our stuff? Is it too noisy in that small space? Obviously, we do not have a classroom in our RV that resembles the typical schoolroom, complete with 5 student desks and a large teacher’s desk at the front.

When we are parked, with the slides open, we have our two oldest children in the front part of the RV at the dinette, the next two are in the back bedroom at a folding table, our youngest is at a small folding table in the front. When we are driving, and our space is much more confined because the slides are closed, two kids are at the dinette, two are on the couch, and one is in the captain chair. Driving school days are a little more difficult, but a benefit is that it passes the time if we have to cover a lot of ground in one day.

One thing that is great about an RV is the storage space, I might not have a large storage closet, or a desk, or a filing cabinet, but I do have a ton of cabinets. In the large cabinet above our captain chairs, each child has a magazine holder where they store their workbooks.  In a smaller cabinet towards the front, I store the answer keys, tests, and extra workbooks. In a lower cabinet below our tv, we store books, mostly smaller books for enjoyment. In our “basement” (the underneath storage of the RV) we keep our “filecabinet” (a large tote with our student records, extra answer keys and workbooks) I also keep a tote with extra books and a large tote full of art supplies. I have actually found myself saying “I’ll be right back, I have to go to the basement to get some score keys”. 🙂

Curriculum

I have been to homeschool conventions and been homeschooling long enough to know that there are enough curriculums out there to make your head spin. It can be a daunting decision. Some roadschoolers/homeschoolers don’t use a curriculum at all or use several and pick and choose different subjects.  The beauty of homeschooling is that there are several ways to do it, and families can pick what works best for them.

We use the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum. Matt and I are familiar with this curriculum because we used it growing up in Christian Schools.

Here is what we love about it:

Flexible – This is a high priority for us, our schedule is not always the same.  We aim to start at 9 and end at 3 every day. Some days, though, we sleep in because we were in a Revival service until 10pm. Some days, we are close to an amazing natural wonder or fantastic historical site, and so the 9-3 school day may be interrupted.  ACE is flexible in that it is mastery-based, and the kids work at their own pace, so if they love to read, they might fly through their reading assignments, but if they struggle with math, they can take some more time with it.

 Christian based – It is important to us that we raise our kids with Christian values. In each workbook(a full school year is 12 PACEs (workbooks) in each subject) the student memorizes a scripture and character trait. I love that the kids are not only learning excellent math and reading skills, they are also learning about compassion, respect, friendliness, tact, and patience – those are important life skills!

Simple – I don’t mean simple as in easy and not thorough, I mean simple as in it is easy to set goals and accomplish them. I am not naturally organized, so I love that this curriculum is laid out for us. We can easily see what each child needs to do and we can easily see what they might be struggling with. There isn’t anything wrong with large textbooks and writing down assignments on separate paper, but honestly, that system is very cumbersome for a small space, and we love the simplicity of these workbooks.

Exploration 

The best for last! There is so much to see and so much to learn about! I love history, and it is so fun to be able to research the area we are in and tell the kids about it, and then go and see it for ourselves! Sometimes they are amazed at what they see, and other times they make comments like “I don’t get the big deal with this rock, mom” (Plymouth Rock).

There are so many beautiful natural sites around America, and it is wonderful to be able to experience these things first hand. There is a sense of awe and wonder that can only be felt, not described. Our world seems smaller the more we travel, and the influence this has had on our kids’ understanding of geography has been awesome.

Another benefit of exploring, that I underestimated, is how we have experienced other cultures. It is really interesting to meet people who live differently than you. To see that cold and hot are really relative terms, depending on what climate you are used to living in. To hear expressions, the way people talk from different areas, and to try new foods.  These are all things that we couldn’t teach our children without experiencing it. I am forever grateful for these experiences.

Thank you for reading “How We Roadschool Our 5 Children”!

If you would like to find out more about our ministry, Kingdom Pursuit Ministries, go to www.kpministry.org

Campground Review – Tom Sawyer’s RV Park

We have enjoyed visiting many campgrounds/rv parks over the past few years all across America. Some have been amazing and some have left us disappointed, but rather than just listing the top ten, I thought it might be a good idea to just talk about what we did and didn’t like at the places we have stayed. As a disclaimer I will add that amenities and public bathrooms are not that important to us, we spend most of our time exploring outside the campground, and our bathroom is in the RV. 

 So, here goes my first review of a campgroud…

The Tom Sawyer’s RV Park in West Memphis, Arkansas. 

    This campground is located on the Mississippi River in West Memphis, Arkansas. I was super excited to stay at this campground because of its name. Tom Sawyer is of course, the well known title character in one of Mark Twain’s classic books. He also is my dad! Yes, my dad is named Tom Sawyer. For as long as I can remember, my dad has been having a wonderful time with introductions:

Dad: “Hello, what is your name?”

New Person: “My name is _____________, what is your name?”

Dad: “My name is Tom Sawyer” (pause for laughter and amusement) “and this is my wife Lisa, and our daughters, Nadine and Celia.” 

So, I was excited to stay at this campground and you might say that this review will be biased because I was already pretty impressed with their name choice. 

 First Impressions:

Tom Sawyer RV park

     We were not familiar with the city of West Memphis, and so finding the campground was somewhat difficult. You could blame it on our navigator app, it decided to take us the fastest way possible, which meant driving through back neighborhood streets and industrial areas, we really thought we were lost until we saw the sign pointing us to the campground.  Driving along the road toward the campground was only a little better, their campground sign could use some refurbishing, or else they were just embracing the rustic look, it was a bit swampy and if it had been dark out, we(ok, probably just me) might have felt scared. At last we found the campground and there was a little cabin building where we checked in. A friendly worker helped us out and we noticed they had a small gift shop with Tom Sawyer swag. 

Overall Campground Impressions:

    The grand Mississippi River could not be missed, and I would say that all the campsites had a pleasant view. It was an overall peaceful setting.The Campground appeared to be well maintained – grass mowed, plenty of trashcans, clean public areas.  There were small cabins in the camping areas with restrooms on one side and a laundry area on the other- small but efficient. Bonus! It was FREE to do the laundry!

The RV sites:

     The sites were set at an angle and felt spacious to me. We were not camped directly by the river, but it was not crowded so we had a lovely view. I would think that even if it had been full there, it would not have felt crowded. I think they offer wifi, but honestly, we didn’t use it, so I cannot comment on the quality or speed. We have a small antenna from Walmart that attaches to our window, and in areas like this, next to a large city, we pick up a lot of channels. The sites were level and had full hookups.

A Special Surprise:

     There was not a playground, but they had something quite unique – treehouses! What?!?! So, as we came in we noticed there were two treehouses. We didn’t know if these were a rented out thing, or just for anyone to explore. I asked the lady at the front office about the treehouses and she said they were remodeling them. She gave us permission to go inside them and asked us to be careful – they were pretty laid back I suppose.

Metal Tree House
Tree house

The first one had a ramp that we walked up, and it looked like a giant tin can, but more awesome. The second one was a more traditional tree house, and I guess you could say it rekindled our fear of heights! The treehouse adventure was such a memory maker, and I am curious as to whether they are renting them out now. 

Overview:

     We really enjoyed staying here, it was not super cheap, but about midrange for the area. I am sure we will return again someday. It was a good spot to stay and explore the city of Memphis.  And of course, I brought my dad back a t-shirt and some other random stuff with their logo on it. 

Thank you for reading this Campground Review by 7Nomads!

If you would like to find out more about our ministry, Kingdom Pursuit Ministries, go to www.kpministry.org

5 Helpful Organizing Tips for RV Life

  I am not a naturally organized person, I actually prefer a little bit of clutter to be honest. My husband likes to say that I am a “nester” – collecting little bits of clutter within arms reach (books I am reading, snack options, my earrings that I’ve taken off, half-finished projects that I can’t seem to put away…) I gather these items mostly around my captain chair in the RV. 

     Why am I confessing my clutter problems to you? Because I think it is helpful to know that these organizing ideas have helped someone like me, someone who struggles with organization. I am not naturally organized, but our RV is organized and efficient.

1. Organize by Category

     Divide and Conquer! In a regular house, this is somewhat implemented, the kitchen stuff goes in the kitchen, bathroom stuff in the bathroom, etc. In an RV, this is done to the extreme. We no longer have the luxury of throwing stuff in a closet when we don’t know where to put it. Everything has a specific place! Our board games are all tucked away in the small cabinet above the couch. We reduced the space they take up by combining several games in one box(an idea we saw online). When items are organized by category, it helps to keep things neat and tidy and it’s easier to find things quickly. 

Organize by Category

2. Minimize

     Once items are organized by category, evaulate if you have too many of one thing. For instance, we have two brushes, one for detangling, and one for thicker hair. Both brushes go in a hanging basket in our bathroom. We have one large skillet and one small skillet, both fit under the kitchen sink. Coffee mugs are easy to collect, and we recently had to eliminate a few. Taking inventory and evaluating our belongings is an ongoing process. We did a huge minimization process before we moved into the RV, but it is something we have to do often. Every now and then, I go through the items in the various cabinets to see if we have collected extra belongings.

less is more

3. Use Plastic Containers with Lids

     Life savers, that’s what containers with lids are in this RV life! This might seem like a no brainer, but I was surprised at how many containers I needed after we had started life on the road. I recommend the type of containers with the latch on the side, bumpy roads will pop the lids right off of the cheap snap on lids. 

     Imagine the things that you would normally put in a drawer, or small cabinet, those are the things we put in these awesome containers. We use these containers as a “medicine cabinet” in our kitchen, toy storage in the back bedroom area, and under the bathroom sink to organize neccessities. We put crayons, markers, and colored pencils in their own small containers, and coloring books, papers, and craft kits in their own small containers. I found these at Meijers and Walmart and they have held up under daily abuse by 7 people for 3 years so far.

Clear plastic containers

4. Go to Ikea

     Seriously, walk around Ikea. That place has been a wonderful source of organizational inspiration for us.  The showroom area is great because most of the room layouts are on the smaller size, like that of an apartment or small house. They are more creative when it comes to storage ideas for things like clothes and shoes, or books and art supplies. I love that their products are designed with efficiency and style in mind. This shoe cabinet in the picture is compact, lightweight, and works well in the kid’s bunks for storing their treasures. I love these adorable gray baskets, we have them all over the RV, storing remotes, phone chargers, brushes, and as pictured here, storing our teenage girls’ stuff.

Ikea storage products

5. Hide your Junk

     This last tip also relates to containers, but not clear plastic ones with lids. I think this idea really helps me (and some of my clutter-loving children) to keep our clutter from running all over the RV. Baskets, boxes, totes, hanging pockets, and totebags, we can fill these cute containers with various treasures, and they don’t have to be perfectly organized, they just have to fit inside. You could call it organized chaos.

     I have this container next to my chair up front, I put my journal, various travel brochures that I’ve picked up, cards that I can’t seem to throw away, books I’m reading, kid’s coloring pages, and whatever else ends up thrown in there. I picked up this cheap container from Dollar General, and it is just the right size, it may seem silly, but it helps me to feel at home and relaxed to have a place to throw my junk. 

     Hiding our junk in cute containers is a win-win situation. I get to keep small collections of treasures and the RV still looks clean and neat.  Plus, it gives me an excuse to walk around Hobby Lobby or TJMaxx and look for cute containers.

Thank you for reading “5 Helpful Organizing Tips for RV Life”!

If you would like to find out more about our ministry, Kingdom Pursuit Ministries, go to www.kpministry.org.

Enjoy Your Adventure!

“You will go out with joy, and be led forth with peace, the mountains and the hills will break forth before you, there will be shouts of joy and all the trees of the fields will clap, will clap their hands! All the trees of the fields will clap their hands(clap, clap), the trees of the fields will clap their hands(clap,clap), the trees of the fields will clap their hands and you’ll go out with joy!”

     Over and over we would sing this song in church when I was a little girl. I remember imagining trees with hands and thinking how silly that seemed, and also loving the idea. I remember loving that adults were singing this song that seemed silly, and it seemed to be such a happy, joyful time. I didn’t know until I was older that this was a “Scripture Song” – meaning we were singing a particular passage of Scripture. We sang many of these songs from scripture in the church that my husband and I grew up in, and I am very grateful for this. I love praise and worship music in general, but I have a particular fondness for Christian songs that sing the Bible verses directly, those timeless words are just as powerful today as when they were written thousands of years ago. 

     This particular Scripture Song is from the book of Isaiah, chapter 55, verse 12. The entire chapter is very quotable, and is full of hope and promise from God. This verse is very important to our family and is a promise to us for our life of evangelism on the road. “You shall go out with joy and be led forth with peace…”

     Before we traveled, my husband was a pastor. We loved the church where we were and had become quite content and settled. About a year before we resigned, my husband and I both felt that a change was coming, and through prayer and confirmation, we knew it was time to launch out into full-time evangelism.  I honestly felt a little crazy sometimes, but I also knew that God was helping us to develop a plan. One of the confirming Scriptures that God gave us was Isaiah 55:12. It was such a beautiful promise for us, we were struggling with different worries, mostly that it would be rough on the kids. 

     Looking back now(3 years on the road), I can see that this promise has rung true. We do live a life of joy. This life on the road has its difficulties, and uncertainties, but what an adventure it is! I feel so alive, and it is wonderful to know that we are living out God’s plan for us. 

   As I think about our life of adventure, and what a joyful life it is, I understand that it is not all about me. God has given each of us this beautiful gift of life! It is not always an easy life, but it can be full of peace and joy!  I remember reading a small book by Ann Voscamp and I loved how she related that she found a new joy in her life through being thankful. I have found this to be true myself. If I take the time to think about all that I have, and the opportunities all around me, I find myself being thankful, and then joyful. I think if you look at your life through thankful eyes, you can find new ways to enjoy your adventure, your life.

    So what is your adventure? It doesn’t matter where you live necessarily, RV traveling isn’t for everyone, afterall. But wherever you live, it can be a grand adventure, and it can be full of joy and peace.

Thank you for reading this blogpost about enjoying your adventure!

To find out more about our ministry, kingdom pursuit ministries, go to www.kpministry.org