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.

Family Fun in Colorado

So we spent some time in Colorado recently. As a wonderful perk, my parents drove out from Indiana to meet us and explore for a week. Apparently we were not the only ones who thought of Colorado as a great summer destination, it was a bit more crowded than I remembered. We have visited this beautiful state three times now, once in the winter, to ski with family and friends, once in mid-August and this last time it was in the middle of July. I was very surprised to see the difference in crowd size from July to August! 

     As a traveling homeschool familiy we have fully taken advantage of the perks of visiting places in the off season. I should have planned out this trip a little better, and booked some campsites in advance, it was very difficult to find a last minute campsite for two RV’s and Colorado is not a dry-camping friendly state. 

     In spite of my poor forsight, we had a lovely time in Colorado. There is a reason it is so crowded, it is beautiful!  

Colorado

    We started our visit with my parents at the Cheyenne welcome center in Wyoming.  It was a great spot to meet and plan the week ahead.  Wyoming is super relaxed about boondocking, we drycamped with my parents in this parking lot and picked up some supplies at the Walmart in town.

Cheyenne Welcome Center

     We knew that we wanted my parents to experience Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park so we were able to find a campground somewhat close to that area. We stayed at Eagle Campground at Carter Lake. We found the sites to be spacious with just enough shade to help keep us cool. 

     As soon as we got checked into our sites we made the trek to Estes Park.  Going down Hwy 34 proved to be much more scenic and curvy than we thought it would be. Big Thompson River winds through the rocky canyon right along the highway. There were lots of people fly fishing and lots of things to see along the way We were happy to get out and stretch our legs in the scenic and somewhat touristy town of Estes Park.  

      Back in 2016, we had made the trek to The Rocky Mountain National Park, once there we drove on Old Fall River Road through the park. It is a crazy, hairpin, unpaved road that leads to the Alpine Visitor Center. My parents have been hearing about this exciting road ever since. My dad was so excited to drive it for himself, I think my mom was second-guessing her decision to come out and visit the mountains with us!

     Unfortunately (or fortunately if you ask my mom), the Old Fall River Road was still closed for the season. We took the still-scary-but-paved Trail Ridge Road to the top. We found out that altitude changes are no joke, some of us were feeling bad up there at 11,000+ feet. Matt and my dad took two of our kids up the 120+ steps to the peak.  

the rockies

     We drove around a bit more, enjoying the scenery and anticipating to see wildlife when the sun began to set. We were not dissappointed. On our way back down Trail Ridge Road, we saw a herd of over 100 elk! They were pretty used to tourists, people were approaching them and everyone was taking pictures. It was a magical moment with these beautiful creatures at the top of the mountains. 

herd of elk

     We got back to our campsite pretty late, and we decided it would be nice to spend the next day at the camp with no driving. We spent a few hours on a rented pontoon boat on Carter Lake, it seemed to be a perfect solution to the extreme heat.  

     The next few days we stayed in Loveland at the fairgrounds. We explored a few places by car from that location, including a nice church on Sunday; Focus on the Family, Garden of the Gods, and Cave of the Winds in Colorado Springs.  

colorado springs

     We decided to head even further south in Colorado and stayed at Lake Pueblo State Park. Special shout out to my mom for persevering and calling many campsites and finding one that had available space! Thanks mom for letting me revert to my childhood and rely on you to do all the grown up stuff. Did I mention that Colorado Springs is exceptionally crowded in July and it was impossible to find a campsite there?

    Lake Pueblo State Park is very nice. Most of the sites have lake views and all of them are spacious and have lovely views. We were sad to hear from the camphost that someone had drowned in the lake the same day we arrived and were warned not to swim in the lake. This information along with the 100 degree weather helped us to decide to do indoor, air conditioned activities.    

   Matt found some interesting things to do nearby so the next morning we set out for the Royal Gorge. We stopped at some antique shops along the way in the cute town of Florence. The Royal Gorge is a pretty spectacular sight! There is a fantastic suspension bridge over the gorge, apparently the Empire State building could be placed in the gorge and there would still be 10 feet between it and the bottom of the bridge!  We drove up to see the gorge, and walked along some of the trails at the top, but we didn’t actually go out on the bridge. Several in our group are a bit terrified of heights, and that, coupled with the fact that they were charging $28 a person, made it easy for us to say no thanks. 

skyline drive

    On our way back to the campground we decided to take Skyline Drive. It is a short drive with steep dropoffs on both sides. There are some cool dinosaur fossils along one portion of the road.  

     We had such a great visit with my parents, we have been driving so much this summer, so it was nice to be in one state and to take the time to explore, and to be with family.

great week in colorado

Thanks for stopping by and reading along about our adventures in Colorado!

     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 7!

  This will be the 7th and last week of the series “Epic Road Trip to Alaska”. It was difficult for me to find a stopping point on this series because our life is a road trip, we travel most of the year, and there are always new things to discover and talk about. But, this week we left Alaska, so it seemed a good point to end this road trip series. Honestly, I was a little sad about leaving. Alaska is such a beautiful place, and I have enjoyed documenting this adventure. I did find comfort in the fact that we are going home the long way, going down the Pacific Northwest, an area we have never seen before. I won’t be documenting these travels week by week, but I will probably give some highlights once it is all said and done. If you are just joining us on this epic road trip, be sure to check out Weeks 1-6!

Wednesday, June 12th – Chickaloon to Tok 

     Today before checking out of our RV site at Pinnacle Mountain RV Park near Chickaloon Alaska, I bought some homemade fudge from the RV park cafe and then Matt filled up at their propane station. After talking to the owner, Matt grabs a couple of the kids and walks over with the owner to where she is keeping some baby ducklings that she rescued. There were also a few alpacas on the property, the owner weaves with alpaca wool in the winter season – she was quite the industrious lady!

pinnacle mountain rv park

     We stopped in a little IGA on our route north and discovered why people say groceries are expensive up here in Alaska. I don’t blame the grocery store, I’m sure it is expensive for them to get supplies shipped this far out.

     After our quick grocery stop we drive for a while along yet another beautiful scenic highway. I can’t think of one time on this road trip where I would have been bored with the scenery. I am not exaggerating when I say that around every turn, there was something new and amazing to see!

Rainy mountain view

     We stopped at a rest stop so that I could cook dinner in the RV.  While we were parked, we noticed a man with his two boys, changing a tire on his trailer. It seemed to be taking him some time, so Matt went out to see if he needed any tools we might have on board. Come to find out, the man was removing one of the axles on his trailer.  He was coming from the opposite direction and he warned us that the road up ahead was really bad – it bent his axle.  Matt was able to find some extra-long bolts to help the man attach his leaf-springs back onto his trailer.  

     As we got back onto the highway, we were able to see, first-hand, how that man’s trailer was damaged. There were parts of the highway under construction where the gravel had completely washed out and only mud was left. Thankfully, Matt is an excellent driver and we did not get stuck or damage our RV. It was by far the worst road conditions we had seen on this road trip! 

     After we made it through the road construction, we found a spot just south of Tok, Alaska to park and sleep for the night.  

Thursday, June 13th – Tok, Alaska to Destruction Bay, Yukon Canada

     We have made the loop around Alaska! I remember planning out this voyage and thinking that the triangular-shaped route from Tok, to Fairbanks, to Anchorage, and back seemed so small in comparison to the large state of Alaska. That is only because the state of Alaska is Huge!  As one man at a church we visited told us when we were asking what we should try to see, “If you want to see all Alaska has to offer, it will only take you about 50 years.”  He’s right, there is so much to see and explore, we will have to come back.

     Tok is a small town, but has some great souvenier shops, we stop back in at one of them and pick up some small gifts for family back home. There is also a large gas station with a dump station and RV wash facilities that we make good use of.

      Before crossing the border, we stop at the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge visitor center. We had stopped here on the way in, but it was evening and they close at 4:30. It is open this time, and the kids enjoyed exploring the various educational displays inside the center and chatting with the friendly volunteers who work there. We also went out back and took in the views from the deck.

Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge

     We make the trek back across the border and say goodbye to the USA for now. The drive back through that stretch of road that had made us all feel a bit sea sick on the way in doesn’t seem so bad now. We have either gotten used to the wavy roads, or they have done a good job repairing this portion of highway in the last month.  

     As we were driving through this beautiful scenery, I was reflecting on our time in Alaska and the wonderful ministry opportunities we had while there. Up ahead, in the sky is this most unusual and beautiful cloud streaking down across the sky.  It seemed like we watched it for the longest time, creeping closer to it, and then under it. As we passed under it, we noticed a full rainbow arching over us, it was like we drove through it. It was such a beautiful moment.

clouds and rainbows

     We spent the night in the Destruction Bay area. The name sounds like it would be an unpleasant area, but it is a really beautiful area, with the large Kluane lake and huge mountains all around. 

kluane

Friday, June 14th – Destruction Bay to Whitehorse, Yukon Canada

     We have arrived in Whitehorse, capital of the Yukon Territory, Canada. It is a nice city in the midst of the wilderness. Matt will be preaching here at Bethany Church on Sunday. 

     We get settled in and then make a run to the Canadian Superstore to pick up some groceries. This store reminded me of a mix between Aldi and Sam’s Club back home. I have missed those two stores, so I really liked this one – I will talk about it more at the end of this post.

     We went back to the RV hungry and looking forward to homemade pizzas and family movie night. I was busy cooking with our convection microwave and I forgot to turn off the air conditioning when the power went out. Some things about being in an RV full time are inconvient, one of those things is having to think about what sort of power source we have. Matt had just made a comment about not being able to run both things at the same time or we would pop a breaker…

     We were able to use the generator as a backup source of power to finish cooking, but we didn’t want to run it for hours to watch movies. We changed family movie night to family game night. We had a blast, and our son Caleb discovered a new love for the game of Yahtzee. 

     I forgot to mention – today was also our last day of school for the summer!  We homeschool/roadschool so I guess you could say we are learning year-round. But today, we finished up our curriculum for the year(for the most part) so we are looking forward to some relaxing, less-structured days.

Saturday, June 15th – Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada

     Today we decided to explore the city of Whitehorse. It is the hub of activity for the Yukon Territory, and people drive in from all over the Yukon to stock up on supplies. There are plenty of things to occupy your time in this city. Our first stop of the day was the S.S. Klondike National Historic Site. This old stern-wheeler was built in 1929 and used to carry silver lead ore and other cargo as well as passengers up and down the Yukon River. There has been an excellent restoration on this boat and it is now open to tours. It was fun and free.

S.S. Klondike

     We picked up some drinks at Tim Horton’s and then prepared for a scenic drive to Miles Canyon. We saw some great little planes docked in the water and enjoyed our drive. Miles Canyon is such a cool spot. As we got closer to the spot where you can get out and walk to the awesome bridge that crosses the canyon, we kept seeing teenagers in prom outfits. Apparently this is a popular photo opp. 

     I am glad they were there as we are all a bit scared of being eaten by a bear. The more people, the less likely we will startle some wild animal. We crossed the bridge and walked the trail a little bit. It is such a beautiful area, the water is a vibrant blue and it looks like the perfect setting for a fairy tale.

Miles Canyon

Sunday, June 16th – Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada

    Today Matt preached at Bethany Church in Whitehorse. This church is very diverse and we enjoyed ministering to all the different people here. The people were all very friendly and made our family feel very welcome.  

bethany church

     After church, the pastor and his family took us to BP’s(Boston Pizza). It was super yummy.  We had a great time visiting, laughing, and talking about Canadian and American culture and politics.  

     After lunch we went back to the RV to have a little nap time. I am not sure why the kids don’t enjoy Sunday afternoon naps, I always think it is a great idea.

     After our nap we decide to go to A&W’s for a little Father’s Day treat. A&W’s are surprisingly common in Canada, almost like Burger King in America. We had some excellent onion rings and Root Beer floats. Don’t ask me about how the Keto diet is going…

Monday, June 17th – Whitehorse to Junction 37

     Today Matt and Caleb took the laundry to the laundromat and apparently I need to be worried because some older lady offered to marry him if he ever got a divorce! She was very impressed with his awesome clothes-folding-skills. Back off ladies, he’s mine.

     Before we leave Whitehorse we decide to stock up on groceries for the week at the Canadian Superstore. We all decide that it would be best if I go in by myself and shop while everyone hangs out in the RV in the parking lot. It is rare that I get to go grocery shopping by myself, so I had a lovely time.  

     The Canadian Superstore was super indeed! I told you already that it reminded me of a mix of Aldi and Sam’s Club, my go-to grocery stores back home. Feeding 7 people is expensive, I am all about saving money, and coupon clipping just doesn’t work for me on the road. 

     I bought so much food, and other stuff we needed, and maybe some other stuff we didn’t need. The only thing I couldn’t find were paper plates. But don’t worry, as a bonus for buying sooo much stuff at this store, the cashier told me at the checkout that I qualified for a free gift – a cute paper plate party set! What!?!?! So cool. I was apparently having too much fun at the Canadian Superstore to stop and get a picture of it, but here is a picture of my deluxe paper plate gift set.

paper plates

     Even though we left quite a bit later than planned because someone spent too much time in the epic grocery store, we were still able to drive for about 260 miles. We found a spot to stay just before Junction 37 for the Cassiar Highway.

Tuesday, June 18th – Junction 37 to Iskut, British Columbia, Canada

     Today we are excited to drive on new uncharted territory for us – we had been backtracking from Tok to this point.  The Cassiar Highway is a much smaller highway than the Alaska Highway and is a bit more narrow, with most of it feeling more like an Indiana County Road than a highway. It is a beautiful drive none-the-less and we spot several more black bear along the highway today. 

     In my limited experience, I would say that British Columbia is the place to see bear. We saw 18 in British Columbia on our way up to Alaska and we saw 5 more today!  

black bears

     We stop at Jade City (it isn’t really a city, but it is the center of the Jade industry for this region). According to the Milepost, about 1 million pounds of Jade is produced each year from the Cassiar Mountains, and about half of that is exported. Jade City was a fun stop to stretch and look at all the large pieces of jade in rock form. We also enjoyed the gift shop and bought some little jade pieces.  

jade city

    Tonight we stay at Mountain Shadow RV park.  If you are going through this area, I would rate this RV park as a must stay! I picked it because they advertised wifi in the Milepost magazine and we hadn’t had any signal since we had left Whitehorse. We were pleasantly surprised that they had fantastic views and our site had nothing between us and those fantastic views! We had a very pleasant overnight stay, enjoying the majestic surroundings.

     I feel like this picture is a great conclusion to this road trip series. It represents what this trip has been for us: an amazing, majestic, and wonderful adventure from the comfort of our motorhome. 

window mountain view

Thanks for reading along with us!

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 5

Sled Dog

 In this fifth week of our Epic Alaskan Road Trip we finished exploring Denali National Park, celebrated a birthday in Anchorage, and got to see what life is like in Houston Alaska.  If you are just joining this road trip story, be sure to check out Week 1, 2, 3, and 4!

Wednesday, May 29th – Denali to Houston

      We have another day to explore Denali National Park. The park offers a bus tour on a converted school bus, it is the only way back into the park past mile 15 in the summer. We considered doing this tour, but then decided against it when we discovered it was 6 hours long. Maybe when the kids are older and excited about a 6 hour long bus ride.  Instead, we went to the visitor center, gift shop, sled dog kennels, and drove around in our personal tour vehicle – our Honda pilot.

     The visitor center was really cool, there were a large variety of interactive displays that the kids really enjoyed.  We also stopped by the gift shop and picked up a cool vintage-looking print and some fun animal magnets for the kids.   We ate our lunch in the RV and then left the RV in the large parking lot there while we explored the park.

denali national park visitor center

     After lunch, we went to the sled dog kennels in Denali National Park.  We parked and then followed the wooded path to the kennels.  The woods are very thick and hidden about 20 feet off the path was a moose, lying down and watching us walk by.  We were hoping it wasn’t the aggressive moose that we had heard about – the one that likes to charge people on trails – I don’t think it was because this moose seemed to want to hide.  As we got closer to the kennels, we saw another moose, it was moving fast, but not towards us.  We decided to name Jessica our official scout because she has an eye for spotting wildlife – she saw both the moose and had to point them out to us.

     The sled dog kennel experience was a total win.  They have some very well behaved dogs that you can pet and they were very friendly.  I’m not really a dog person, but I couldn’t help falling in love with the sweet sled dogs.  There was also a sled-dog demonstration – a ranger explains all about the sled dogs and the dogs pull a cart around a track.  It was really interesting.  We learned that there are some areas of the park that they do not want machinery or vehicles driving through, and so the sled dogs are vital for carrying supplies back into the park.  We also learned that the dogs use their tails to cover up their faces to keep warm while curled up sleeping – cuteness!

Denali sled dog kennels

     After a bit more exploring and driving through the park, we left and drove south towards Houston, Alaska where Matt would be preaching on Sunday.  We stopped along the way at a turn-out spot and I made dinner.  We arrived at the church around 9:00. The pastor and his wife met with us and fed us all some snacks at their house, which was on the church property. 

Thursday, May 30th – Houston to Anchorage

     Today is our oldest child, Jessica’s birthday.  While on the road, we try to make birthdays special by letting our kids decide what type of day that will be.  Jessica wanted to go out for a birthday dinner and do some shopping, we decided that Anchorage would be the best option.  We left around lunchtime and the hour drive from Houston to Anchorage was very scenic. The area south of Wasilla is very pretty.  

     We went to a bookstore and Kohls and Jessica picked out her birthday presents.  After shopping, we went to Benihana’s for a fun dinner (they offer a free birthday meal if you sign up online).  It was entertaining and delicious.

Birthday fun in anchorage

     After dinner we did a scenic drive just outside Anchorage to let our food settle before we had birthday ice cream cake.  We saw two moose very close to the road.  We do a lot of scenic drives in our tow vehicle, it is able to go places the RV is not.  I think if you live in an RV, you have to like to drive (or ride in my case) and we do.  The kids do too, as long as the drive is kept interesting with stops at a park or for a snack. 

Moose

   Back at the RV we had super-yummo cookie dough ice cream cake and Jessica and Olivia watched a late-night movie with us.

Friday, May 31st – Houston

    This small town of Houston Alaska is what I had pictured in my mind when I thought of us coming to Alaska.  It is rugged, and I imagine that life here in the winter is difficult.  The pastor and his wife are pretty tough, although they would downplay this and consider themselves normal by Alaska’s standards.  We enjoyed listening to their stories of hunting adventures and were amazed by the ginormous woodpile outside their house for winter heating. 

     The church is having a garage sale today and tomorrow.  We don’t really do garage sales very much any more because of our limited space.  The younger three really wanted to go check it out and so I took them.  We found some doll clothes and some pretty doilies to use for the Barbie family that live in the RV with us.

     Today the pastor took us on a short walk through the woods, it was cool and a little scary.  These old cars were swallowed up by the wilderness. I think he said there used to be a mining camp here.

Exploring Houston Alaska

     We had heard the stories of the notorious Alaskan mosquitos and up until this point, we had seen mosquitos, and while they were bigger than the ones in Indiana, they hadn’t bothered us that much.  In this thickly wooded place of Houston, Alaska the mosquitos were fierce.  We put on bug spray (or dope as they call it here) when we went outside and they just swarmed around us but didn’t really bite when we kept moving.

Mosquito attack

     Somehow, the mosquitos found a way into the RV.  Even if we were diligent to open our door and enter/exit quickly, they still managed to find a way.  They struck us at night, those little jerks.  I’m a pretty sound sleeper, but a mosquito buzzing in my ear is enough to wake me up.  Our poor kids were waking up with bites on their faces, hands, and feet.  I was getting bites through my clothes! Crazy. Anyway, we ended up spraying on bugspray before bed, to prevent more bites, it helped a little bit.

Saturday, June 1st – Houston to Wasilla

     Today we made a quick trip over to the town of Wasilla to run some errands.  We stopped at Lowes to pick up some beadboard to fix up the dresser at the foot of our youngest’s bunk.  We also picked up a cute rug to replace the one that has lost its luster after 7 people have wiped their shoes on it for 3 years.  

     We also made a trip to Walmart to pick up some groceries.  

Sunday, June 2nd – Houston

     Today Matt preached at Hilltop Assembly of God in Houston, where we have been parked.  It was a good service, the people were open to ministry at the altars after the preaching.  

     There was a pitch-in meal after the service.  The congregation brought some delicious food, including moose, elk, salmon, and homemade bread. We had a great time talking with the people, and hearing about their life in Alaska.

     Later in the evening, we gave the pastor and his wife a tour of the RV, it is always fun for us to show people our tiny home for the first time. We had a nice visit.

Monday, June 3rd – Houston to Wasilla

    Matt helped the pastor pick up a load of garage sale stuff today while the kids and I did schoolwork.  We are almost done with our school work for the year, and it feels like a milestone because this will be the first time since we’ve been on the road that we will be able to take a summer break.  The first two school years on the road we ended up just doing school year-round. It was difficult to learn how to schedule school time on the road.  We have settled into this life and I would say that our kids are able to work in all sorts of situations.

     After school we drove to Wasilla to visit Newcomb Park.  It had been sunny all day and it started to get cloudy right as we were leaving the RV. We were hopeful as we left because it looked sunny towards Wasilla.  When we got to the park, we noticed there was a little beach there for swimming or fishing.  It was maybe 60 degrees outside, but there were kids running around in their swimsuits and people wading in the water.  I would say these particular Alaskans had a different definition of swimming weather than me. 

scenic road to wasilla

     After the park, we drove to Three Bears Alaska to pick up a couple of things.  It was an interesting store, there were groceries, camping and hunting gear and household items.  They also had some stuffed animals on display.

     When we got back to the RV, the pastor stopped by for a visit and then gave the kids (and Matt and I) a music lesson.  He taught us some chords on the piano, and helped the kids to learn to play together in time.  We have a keyboard, two ukeleles, two guitars, and a tiny tamborine on board the RV, the pastor gave us some music to work on together, I am looking forward to hearing us all improve and learn more.

Tuesday, June 4th – Houston to Anchorage

     Today we said our goodbyes to the pastor and his wife and prepared to move our RV south to Anchorage for the night.  We stopped by Millers Market on the way out of Houston and had some lunch and ice cream – yum! 

ice cream collage

     We drove to Cabela in Anchorage for a boondocking spot for the night.  The kids always enjoy walking around Cabela, there are so many stuffed animals and interesting things to see. Hannah and Sophia were really excited about the large fish in the aquarium.  

     Tonight we met a lovely lady and her two daughters.  Matt gets to talk to all sorts of people when he calls churches, and this lady is a book-keeper at a church in Anchorage.  We had a connection with her in that she knew some of our friends in Iowa.  Anyway, she invited us over to her lovely home with amazing views for pizza.  We had a great visit and Sophia really enjoyed playing with her tiny dog.

     After dinner we went back to our boondocking spot for the night.  We are very excited for tomorrow because we are going down into the Kenai Pennisula.  We have heard so many things about this area being the most beautiful part of Alaska. Next week I will tell you all about our Kenai Pennisula adventures!

Read next: Week 6: Anchorage to Kenai and back

     Thank you for reading this week’s post about our Epic Road Trip to Alaska!  If you would like to know more about our ministry, Kingdom Pursuit Ministries, go to www.kpministry.org

Epic Road Trip to Alaska! – Week 3

This is the 3rd week of our Epic Road Trip to Alaska, if you are just joining us, be sure to check out week 1 & 2 in this series. This has been a week of ups and downs, literally and figuratively. The road from Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory to Alaska is notorious for a reason. Up and down, back and forth, at times I felt like we were in a sailboat and not the RV. The end of this past leg of the journey has been restful, we are in Fairbanks for a week and a half, so it has been nice to have the RV parked and to explore the area.

Wednesday, May 15th – Whitehorse, Yukon to Canada/Alaska Border 314 mi

     We woke up in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory with the exciting feeling that we were getting very close to Alaska. We made a stop at this cool old wooden bridge next to a turnout(rest stop) and decided to make a video with the fam.  We had seen so many black bears along the highway over the past couple days, so we were a little bit scared to stop…

Canyon Creek Bridge

     We made a short pit stop in Haines Junction for gas and coffee.  Matt talked to the owners about the wildlife in the area after seeing a legit bear warning sign on their door. They informed us that they don’t see as many moose in the area because the bears and wolves have been killing them. Scary.

     We had heard rumors that the Yukon Territory was very desolate, and it turns out that north of Haines Junction, this is true. The drive was still beautiful though. We really enjoyed driving around beautiful Kluane Lake. The road skirts almost completely around the lake. We drove right past Burwash Landing because we hadn’t been on the road that long, and had I been reading along in the Milepost instead of working on last weeks’ blog, I would have known that Burwash Landing is a great place to stop before driving the seemingly-never-ending wavy road that takes you through the Yukon Territory.  

     It is interesting to note that this portion of the Alaskan Highway has always been troublesome. The ground is swampy, and has thick layers of permafrost. There were many areas where little pink flags were put next to the road to warn travellers of frost heaves-unpleasant speed bumps where the road has buckled. The ground is swampy underneath the road and it freezes and then thaws, making it never-quite solid. 

    Beaver Creek is the most westerly Canadian community, only 20 miles or so from the Canada/Alaska border.  We stopped and stretched our legs at the visitor center and then had dinner at “Buckshot Betty’s”. It was a nice little break. 

     We took a picture next to the “Welcome to Alaska” sign and then proceeded to cross the border. The border patrol officers were friendly and asked us some questions. They were very thorough to check for forbidden Canadian groceries. They inspected our fridge and we discovered that the bell peppers and avocado we had left in our fridge could not be brought into Alaska. 

alaska sign

     Back on the road again, we stopped at the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge visitor center for a quick photo op under what we later discovered is a cache (a small cabin-like structure on posts to store food and other goodies out of the reach of animals). We chatted with other travellers that were making the journey from the lower 48 and they gave us some tips about Denali National Park.  

scenes along the alaskan highway

     We drove another hour or so and found a large pull off that served as a boondocking spot for the night. We noticed an abundance of ” the Alaskan state bird”, otherwise known as mosquitos, buzzing around the RV screens.

Thursday, May 16th – Alaska/Canada Border to Fairbanks, Alaska! 296 mi

     We feel refreshed and ready to start a new day of driving knowing that we only have about 200 miles to go. Tok, Alaska is a great stopping point for souvenirs. We stopped at two gift shops and bought some postcards and an Alaska magnet for our state magnet collection. It was fun to talk to the owners of the sod-roofed Burnt Paw gift shop and B&B. They were very friendly and gave us some history about the area. 

    Onward to Fairbanks, where we would be spending the next week or two.  Matt is scheduled to preach at Harvest Church in South Fairbanks on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The pastor is very hospitable and welcomed us with some food so that we didn’t have to run to the store when we got in.  We appreciated it very much, it was nice to settle in, eat, and relax for the evening.

Friday, May 17th – Fairbanks, Alaska 0 miles

     Today we had a picnic lunch at Pioneer Park in Fairbanks. There is no admission to enter, and this park has playgrounds, museums, the SS Nenana (a large riverboat) on display, and cabins and older buildings from Alaska’s pioneer days. The cabins are occupied by various shopkeepers and artisans and arranged so that it’s like you are going through an old town – shopping and history in one!  There is also a carousel and train that you can buy tickets to ride. It is still early in the season, so not everything was open, we might go back next Saturday to see it in full operation.

pioneer park

     After our little excursion, the driving and time change hits us. We head back to the RV for an afternoon nap before tonight’s church service.  

     Church starts at 6:00pm and was a special service for the ministry teams at Harvest Church.  Everyone was very receptive and we had a wonderful time ministering here.  After service there was a cake/pie and ice cream reception for everyone.  We have decided to enjoy carbs again for the weekend and get back to Keto next week.

Saturday, May 18th – Fairbanks, Alaska 0 miles

     Today we slept in a bit and enjoyed our Saturday with no RV driving.  We heard great things about the Tenana Valley Farmer’s Market in Fairbanks and decide to check it out. This Farmer’s Market includes farmers and artisans across an area about the size of the entire state of Indiana! Being the beginning of the growing season, there was not a lot of produce, but there were lots of tasty things to eat and pretty things to look at.  We may have had a bit of a carb overload, but it was totally worth it. 

Fairbanks Farmer's Market

     Tonight’s church service was awesome, we were refreshed by the faith of this church! 

     We had heard that it would be daylight here most of the time, and I was a little over confident that my ability to sleep in most conditions would prepare me for the all-sun-all-the-time experience. I underestimated the effect that this amount of daylight would have on our systems. I am not complaining about the weather, the warmth and sunshine have been fantastic. It is just a bit confusing, 9pm feels like 5pm, and it’s actually 5pm back in Indiana. It’s strange.

Sunday, May 19th – Fairbanks, Alaska 0 miles

     Today was the last church service for us at Harvest Church and it was awesome, again! The pastor and his wife took us to The Cookie Jar – a local restaurant/bakery for lunch.  Guy Fieri, from the show Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives made a stop here in 2009! They make huge, amazing cinnamon rolls, and the pastor ordered some as “appetizers” for our table. Yum!

    We went to the RV to have a carb-induced nap.  Afterwards we took the kids to a local park for a little bit. 

Monday, May 20th – Fairbanks, Alaska 0 miles

     Today Matt took all the laundry to a laundromat because he is my hero. Is it too much info to tell you that it was getting a little stinky in the RV because of the abundance of dirty clothes? Gross, but true. 

     We did our school work while Matt was gone. 

     I think now would be a good time to give a little disclaimer: 

     We are not on vacation, but our lifestyle is nomadic, and so some of the details of our day might be ordinary.  Even though we are in new areas most of the time, we are only sort of tourists. If we did all of the touristy things offered in each new area, we would quickly run out of money. I also think we get to know a little bit more about the authentic life for the people who live here when we do “normal” things.

    After our normal school and laundry routine, we went to the Pastor’s house for a moose burger cookout. Yum! The house was super cool – built in the side of the mountain and had a sod roof that we could walk on. There were families there with kids the same age as our kids, so we all had a great time hanging out and making new friends.  

     We then went to Fred Meyers(Kroger of Alaska) and prepared ourselves to jump back into our Keto diet. The carb roller coaster has been fun, but we know we need to get off this ride and get back to Keto. We were pleasantly surprised to find the grocery prices comparable to a Kroger back home, maybe a little higher, but not bad.

Tuesday, May 21st – Fairbanks, Alaska to North Pole, Alaska  13 miles

     Today after school we drove to North Pole Alaska.  We looked at the Reindeer at a tourist thing they had there, but opted out of the tour. There is a huge Christmas store there and we found some fun ornaments for this years’ Christmas tree. It was pretty fun.

North Pole Alaska

     After visiting the North Pole, we drove back to Fairbanks and went to Creamer’s Field, where there is a farm museum, walking trails, and large fields that have become a home to a variety of migrating birds. It was very peaceful and educational. 

Creamer's field Fairbanks, Alaska

     We are enjoying our time in Fairbanks, in many ways, it feels similar to the midwest. There are farm fields and suburbs, and lovely spring weather.  It is nice to be in one spot for a little while.

Thank you for reading along with our Epic Road Trip to Alaska! Be sure to check out the previous weeks in this blog series if you are just joining us. 

Read next: Week 4: Fairbanks to Denali

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

5 Must Haves for Full Time RV Life

While we were preparing for full time RV life, my husband and I did a lot of research to prepare ourselves for this major life change. Thankfully, there is Pinterest, and Youtube and Google! Seriously though, there were so many informative blogposts and videos from people who had been full time RVers and their tips were super helpful to us as we planned and prepared.  I am glad that we had some advice to help us along, and this list is a combination of the things we bought based on that advice and the things we have bought along the way when we figured out that we needed it. So, here are my 5 Must Have Items for Full Time RV Life:

1. Berkey Water Filter

     If you have been on the road very long, you will find out that your water source is ever-changing, so you never know what you’re going to get.  Drinking out of the tap in the RV is not something we wanted to do in most cases. If you have kids, you probably already know that disposible water bottles can be a source of frustration – plastic water bottles everywhere usuallly half-full and nobody knows which bottle is theirs! Not to mention the effect on the environment.  And where do we store this huge case of water – in an RV, space is at a premium. 

Berkey water system

   My husband Matt stumbled across the Berkey Water System while researching RV living and was very impressed. This water-filtering system is awesome! Pour your gross water into the top, it is gravity fed through the charcoal filters, and then the wonderful, clean water comes out the tap. Our Berkey fits on the counter, right by the sink, and surprisingly, the rubber bottom keeps it from sliding around while we drive down the road.  Honestly, I would recommend a Berkey for anyone, RVer or not.(and no, I do not get paid for promoting Berkey products, but maybe I should consider selling them because I love them) For a more technical description, check out their website:https://myberkeywaterusa.com/   

2. Tankless Water Heater

    Again with the water, I know.  When we first moved into our motorhome, we had a 6 gallon water heater. I bet you can imagine how wonderful our shower time was.  It wasn’t.  It was difficult for 1 person to take a hot/warm shower, much less 7! So my husband found this awesome little tankless hot water heater.

Tankless Hot Water Heater

It was tricky to figure out how to regulate the heat at first, it would fluctuate between hot and cold, it was super frustrating. We found a tip from a forum online that suggested setting the temperature and then using only the hot water in the shower. For example, I set my shower at 104 degrees and it is perfect, we set it to about 110-115 for doing dishes.  Guess what? The water heater will heat water for up to 20 minutes. If, by some chance, a person takes a shower for longer than 20 minutes, all they have to do is turn the water off and back on again and it will start heating the water.

3. Blackout shades/curtains

     If you have ever boondocked, or camped somewhere with bright lights, you have discovered that blackout curtains/shades are a dream come true! 

     Our motorhome is a 2007, and the window coverings had frankly seen better days. I liked the idea behind their design, there were 3 options: 1. push up for full sunlight and to enjoy the view outside, 2. Pull the sheer shades to block out some of the glare, 3. Pull the opaque shades to block most of the light. After years of use, these shades stopped working, the strings broke inside, or they would partially work. I had at one point read a tutorial on restringing the blinds, and it sort-of-worked temporarily. They broke again and we ended up tying some burlap string around the blinds to look outside, and then untying it to drop the shades at night. As you can imagine, it was not pretty. I have failed to mention the not-so-wonderful built-in valences and that is because they were very ugly.

RV window coverings before and after

I honestly would have loved to remove the window coverings when we first bought the RV, but it just wasn’t in the budget.  When we first priced out replacing our shades with a similar model from RV stores or online, we discovered that they were quite expensive.  When we finally jumped in and remodeled our RV, we found these wonderful blackout shades from Home Depot! No strings, completely blackout, and much more affordable! We may or may not add curtains, something to add a little color and to block out that tiny stream of light that peaks in the side of the shades.

     Back in the bunk area, we opted for black out curtains.  We thought maybe the kids would roll into the shades and destroy them. The curtains do the job and they look pretty, tied with a strip of fabric.

4. Norwex Towels

     A wonderfully generous relative gifted us a full set of Norwex bath towels,  cleaning towels, and washcloths when we first set off on the RV full-time adventure. I didn’t even know we needed these until we had them! Norwex towels are microbial, and I don’t know the details about how that works, but they don’t get that musty smell, and they dry super-fast, and they are super-lightweight.  The lightweight part is wonderful for the bath towels – we have towels for 7 people hanging in our teeny-tiny bathroom and most of those are hanging on the door! If these were regular bathtowels, not only would they take forever to dry, giving our bathroom a lovely musty smell, they would weigh down the tiny bathroom door.  

Norwex Towels for RV

 I also really love the Norwex cleaning towels. I don’t have room to store a mop or an abundance of cleaning supplies. The cleaning towels are great for cleaning the windows and mirrors, dusting, or mopping.

5. Plenty of Hoses and Electrical Cords

     Unless you are planning on staying at RV parks 100% of the time, you will need a large supply of quality hoses and electrical cords. Honestly, I don’t know much about what Matt is doing when he is outside getting us all hooked up, (I am thankful that he is willing to do all that outside stuff, he’s awesome) so I am going to let him recommend what to get in this area. 

Hi guys, for electric I recomend at least 100ft of cord. Make sure to get a 50amp or 30amp extension cord instead of regular extesion cords which will burn up after time. Menards has 50 & 30 amp extension cords at a nice price. I have a 50amp so I use a 50amp extension but I also have a 30amp because it’s less expensive. Make sure you have all the connections to convert from 50 – 30 – 110! I also use a surge protector (after that one time I plugged into a 50amp at one location and fried out our microwave, game device, and other things). 

RV hoses and cords

For fresh water I always buy drinking water hoses and I recomend you keep at least 100ft on board. I also use a regulator 50-55psi at the water spigot. This protects your water lines and pump from high pressure and I’ve noticed that our on demand Girard hot water heater regulates better this way!

For sewer hoses, don’t go cheap, get the best and you will be glad you did. Especially if you’re a full timer. I like the Rino brand. I keep several sizes handy and plenty of different connectors.

You can also find out more about our ministry, Kingdom Pursuit Ministries at 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