Campground Review – COE Campgrounds

On one of our winter trips to Texas, while visiting in Waco with our pals the Gaines’ (just kidding, I only pretend we are friends, they don’t know us:)) we stumbled across a COE campground. I found the Speegleville COE campground using my handy RV Parky app. I had never heard of COE campgrounds before, but we quickly learned that although the campground was a bit off the beaten path, the extra 10 minutes added to our drive was well worth it for the oasis that we discovered.

Let me tell you why we have fallen in love with the no-frills, all-views, COE Campgrounds! COE is short for Core of Engineers, (technically, the name is United States Army Core of Engineers, but that is a mouthful!) According to their website :

The Army Corps of Engineers is the steward of the lands and waters at Corps water resources projects. It’s Natural Resources Management mission is to manage and conserve those natural resources, consistent with the ecosystem management principles, while providing quality public outdoor recreation experiences to serve the needs of present and future generations. https://corpslakes.erdc.dren.mil/visitors/visitors.cfm

High Quality H2O

So the COE campgrounds are centered around water recreation in some form. This is reason #1 why I love them. Hello beautiful sunrise/sunset! There is just something peaceful and wonderful about looking out over the water. There have always been wonderful water views whenever we have stayed at one of the COE parks. Fishing, swimming, boating, or just hanging out on the shore and skipping rocks with your kids, there is plenty to do along the water.

Wide Open Spaces

Sometimes you roll into an RV park because it is convenient, right along the highway, or maybe you like extra ammenities like cable and free wifi, typically (not always) these convienient types of RV parks are a bit on the crowded side. I don’t know about you, but I don’t particulary love being about 10 feet away from my neighbor’s sewer hose. Reason #2 that I love the COE campgrounds – Very Spacious campsites! These sites are, by far, the largest, most spread out RV sites of any that we have stayed in over the past 4 years.

Bargain Hunters Unite!

You would think that with all this bragging on the great features of my favorite campsites, that I would be trying to justify an expensive price tag. But, I don’t have to because these guys are totally affordable. Reason #3 that I love the COE campgrounds – affordability for families! Like 20s-30s, and if you are a senior citizen, you can buy some sort of lifetime pass and get 50% off! We travel as a party of 7, and sometimes campsites like to charge an extra $2-$5 per person over 2 people, per night. The COE campgrounds we have stayed in allow 8-10 people per site! As a disclaimer, I wil mention that these campgrounds do not offer long term stays – two weeks is maximum in one site. This does not bother us as we are on the move often.

Is there anything not to love?

I feel like I should give full disclosure that as a nomadic family, we really keep on the move. Most of that is due to the fact that my husband is preaching in a different church every week. Sometimes we will be able to stay in one spot for a couple weeks at a time if the churches are close together. Because of this constant moving, we are able to see alot of campgrounds and compare them. Typically if a campground is level and not overly expensive, we are good to go.

We do not tend to look for campgrounds that have lots of activities and amenities just because we are not there long enough to enjoy them. Honestly, we rarely go into the shower/bathroom facilities because we have our own. So, if you are looking for a long-term type of stay with plenty of entertainment, this might not satisfy your desires. If you are looking for a peaceful, no frills getaway check out the COE campgrounds!

Bonus – an adorable visitor

This post would not be complete without mentioning the little visitor who came by during our stay at the Airport Park COE near Waco. According to another camper, this little guy was rescued by a couple older ladies when they saw his mother die after being hit by a car. They were raising him when they were reported for not having the proper license to care for a wild animal. It was decided to drop off the young deer at this local park because it was known that a group of deer lived here. When dropped off however, the fawn went directly to the campsite to be with people, with whom he had an attachment.

He would come by often and visit with us, he was very friendly. We did get to pet him and he had the most beautiful big eyes. Unfortunately he did not love the jumping and nipping from our puppy Oliver and eventually started to attack him with his hooves.

Thank you for reading along as I talked about the COE campgrounds, so far we have stayed at Speegleville Park and Airport Park both in Waco Texas and Millers Ferry Campground in Camden Alabama.

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

I hope you all are enjoying your adventures!

2019 – Year End Review

Our family of seven has been traveling in a 36 ft RV since April of 2016, but this blog is a new thing we have tried this year, so this will be the first time to do a year end review. I enjoy looking back to see where we have been and reflecting about the places we have experienced and the friends we have made along the way. This blog has been a fun way to share about our travels, and I think it will be fun to put together a list of all the places we have been this year.

Sometimes I am surprised at the places we have seen in such a short time. Sometimes I get mixed up with the timeline of things. So, I have put this together month by month, listing the places we stayed, the churches where we ministered, and some Highlights and Crazy Moments that happened.

January – Elwood, Indiana to Memphis, Indiana to St. Louis, Missouri to Claremore, Oklahoma to Norman, Oklahoma to Waxahachie, Texas

Churches where we ministered:

  • Open Door – Converse, Indiana (Sat-Sun)
  • First Assembly of God – Norman, Oklahoma (Sun-Thur)
  • Revelation Church – Duncanville, Texas (Sunday)
  • The River Center – Tool, Texas (Sunday)

Highlights:

  • Starting out the year at Open Door (the church where Matt got saved as an 8year old boy) has become a special tradition for our family. Not only for sentimental reasons, but because the services are always powerful and, in a way, seem to set the tone for the year.
  • Our old car bit the dust on Christmas Day, someone generously gave us $5,000 for a new car!!
  • Visiting the Blue Whale on Route 66 along the way.
  • Extended services in Norman Oklahoma, there was an excitement present and people were committing their lives to the Lord!
  • Staying for a couple weeks with our dear friends, Randy and Joanna Herndon!
  • Eating super yummo tacos at Taco Suave in Waxahachie!
  • Returning to Revelation Church and visiting with Matt’s old college professor Randy Jones and his cool family.
  • Our kids especially enjoyed playing with the Herndon kids while in Texas.

Crazy moments:

  • Losing our windshield wiper and then burning up our windshield wiper motor while driving through a snowstorm southwest of St. Louis.

February – Cayuga, Texas to Waco, Texas to Dulac, Louisiana

Churches where we ministered:

New Beginnings Assembly of God – Cayuga, Texas (Sun-Thur)

Lord’s House of Refuge – Dulac, Louisiana (Sun-Sun)

Highlights:

  • We were at two new churches this month, both of which were very hospitable and friendly. They both welcomed our family and we truly felt loved.
  • We made our second visit to Waco, Texas, this time staying over for a few nights in a beautiful campground outside the city. Mammoth bones, shopping downtown, and of course, the Silos. This time we even drove by some of the houses featured on Fixer Upper.
  • So much food!!! Southern hospitality is really a thing, these churches loved us with food, we ate so much! In Louisiana, we tried so many new foods, their spices are unique and delicious.
  • Salvations, Healings, People getting more excited about God!
  • We loved listening to the accents of our new friends in Texas and Louisiana.
  • The landscape in Dulac, Louisiana on the bayou was so different and unique, we feel blessed that we were able to explore the area for nearly two weeks.

March – Dulac, Louisiana to Mobile, Alabama to Clanton, Alabama to Prestonville, Kentucky to Brown County, Indiana to Elwood, Indiana to Clay City, Indiana

Churches where we ministered:

  • Temple Asssembly of God – Clanton, Alabama (Sun-Thur)
  • Calvary Full Gospel – Prestonville, Kentucky (Sunday)
  • Holy Chapel of God – Shepherdsville, Kentucky (Sunday)
  • Discover Church – Indianapolis, Indiana (Sunday)
  • Clay City Assembly of God – Clay City, Indiana (Fri-Tue)

Highlights:

  • 2 revivals in one month is alot, but it was awesome!
  • The pastor in Clanton gave us a tour of his beautiful property – he has an impressive collection of horses and cows, and a cute basset hound.(the cows were my favorite)
  • We enjoyed a short return visit to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.
  • Catching up with pals at return churches is always a blessing
  • Particularly powerful altar ministry time in Shepherdsville Kentucky
  • Celebrated my mom’s 60th birthday party at Brown County State Park, it was a fun family camp out time, complete with an old-fashioned group photo.
  • Matt was healed from his painful diverticulitus that he had been diagnosed with back in Nov.(2018)!

Crazy moments:

  • This was the month where I decided it would be a great idea to start 7nomads, an online t-shirt shop. I didn’t discover until a couple weeks in that there was a blog option included with my online store package. As you can see, the store didn’t make it, but the blog took on a life of it’s own!
  • We discovered, on the way to church in our tow vehicle in the most unpleasant way, that our youngest gets car sick on winding roads…
  • Poor Caleb broke his wrist during the family-campout at Brown County in an unfortunate scooter accident.
  • Speaking of camping – Indiana State Parks do not turn on the water hookups until late-April/May. We should have known that…

April – Elwood, Indiana to Memphis, Indiana to Elwood, Indiana to Argos, Indiana to Edgerton, Ohio to Elwood, Indiana to Jasonville, Indiana

Churches where we ministered:

  • Grace Tabernacle – Laconia, Indiana (Sunday)
  • Restoration Church – Sellersburg, Indiana (Sunday)
  • Trinity Assembly of God – Lakeville, Indiana (Sunday)
  • Cornerstone Assembly of God – Elwood, Indiana (Wednesday)
  • Jasonville Assembly of God – Jasonville, Indiana (Sun-Wed)

Highlights:

  • This was a month of preparation for our Alaska trip, it was full of excitement and anticipation, as well as a month of soaking up the love of friends and family. We had a wonderful Resurrection Sunday with family up in northern Indiana and Ohio.
  • A dear friend from Edinburgh set up a get-together, it was wonderful to see some old friends.
  • Powerful worship service at Grace Tabernacle in Laconia!
  • We really felt the love and support of the churches this month as we prepared for Alaska.

Crazy moments:

  • It seemed like a rush to get all the kids’ dentist and eye doctor appointments in this month and last month, plus the extra appointments for Caleb’s broken wrist.

May – Jasonville, Indiana to Urbana, Illinois to Clinton, Iowa to Storm Lake, Iowa to Plankinton, South Dakota to Rapid City, South Dakota to Miles City, Montana to Conrad, Montana to Balzac, Alberta, Canada to Rochford, Alberta, Canada to Grand Prairie, Alberta, Canada to Pink Mountain, BC, Canada to Muncho Lake, BC, Canada to Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada to Fairbanks, Alaska to Denali National Park to Houston, Alaska

Churches where we ministered:

  • The Church of New Beginnings – Storm Lake, Iowa (Sunday)
  • The Oasis Group – Grand Prairie, Alberta, Canada (Sunday)
  • Harvest Church – Fairbanks, Alaska (Fri-Sun)
  • South Fairbanks Assembly of God – Fairbanks, Alaska(Sunday)

Highlights:

  • The Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, crossing into Canada, making it to Alaska!
  • There is really too much to share about this month, it was amazing!
  • I did a whole blog series for this trip if you want to read more about it: Epic Road Trip to Alaska

Crazy Moments:

  • So.Much.Driving.

June – Houston, Alaska to Anchorage, Alaska to Nikiski, Alaska to Whittier, Alaska to Chickaloon, Alaska to Tok, Alaska to Destruction Bay, Yukon, Canada to Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada to Iskut, British Columbia, Canada to Hope, BC, Canada to Seattle, Washington to McMinnville, Oregon to Waldport, Oregon to Crescent City, California to The Redwoods in California to Boonville, California to San Francisco, California

Churches where we ministered:

  • Hilltop Assembly of God – Houston, Alaska (Sunday)
  • Aurora Heights Assembly of God – Nikiski, Alaska (Sunday)
  • Bethany Church – Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada (Sunday)
  • Hope Pentecostal Assembly of God – Hope, BC, Canada (Sunday)
  • Family Life Christian Center – Boonville, California (Sunday)

Highlights:

  • Like the month of May, this month was filled with unforgettable experiences, most of which are documented in the blog series “Epic Road Trip to Alaska”, feel free to check it out.
  • Hope, British Columbia was amazing in so many ways – what a beautiful place! Several movies were filmed in this location, and it was easy to see why. The church services were powerful here as well, with the small Canadian congregation and pastor’s family being especially kind and welcoming to us.
  • In this month, we drove through Washington and Oregon, skirting the Pacific Ocean for a couple days. It was beautiful, and we were even able to land an ocean view campsite on my birthday!
  • Seeing (and also smelling, unfortunately) wild seals along the Oregon Coast.
  • The Giant Redwoods in northern California!
  • The Golden Gate Bridge, and other random interesting sites in San Fransisco. I know this sounds overdramatic, but when we pulled out of the tunnel just north of the Golden Gate Bridge and I first caught a glimpse of it, it literally took my breath away. It was spectacular.

Crazy Moments:

  • The drive to Boonville, California. It was beautiful, but also extremely curvy.
  • Driving around Portland, Oregon, unable to find a campground (all booked up and no boondocking allowed around the city)

July – Somewhere northwest of San Fransisco to Fernley, Nevada to Salt Flats, Utah to Brigham City, Utah to Green River, Wyoming to Cheyenne, Wyoming to Loveland, Colorado to Pueblo, Colorado to Ordway, Colorado to Colby, Kansas to Kansas City, Kansas to Edina, Missouri

Churches where we ministered:

  • Green River Assembly of God – Green River, Wyoming (Sunday)
  • Edina First Assembly – Edina, Missouri (Sun-Wed)

Highlights:

  • The Salt Flats in Nevada! We didn’t even realize when we were planning this trip that we would be going through the salt flats, so it made for a very cool surprise!
  • We made a small detour up into Idaho so that we could put the sticker on our USA map, AND visit the home of Napoleon Dynamite and friends.
  • Wyoming is a very scenic state, and we quite enjoyed the change to wide open spaces after being in the more densely populated areas in Washington, Oregon, and California.
  • The pastor at Green River took us for a drive into the Flaming Gorge in Utah. It’s almost like the Grand Canyon, but a bit smaller and less crowded.
  • We reconnected with one of Matt’s college buddies and his wife and kids while in Wyoming and they showed us around their lovely state.
  • My parents came out to Colorado while we were there, enjoying a week vacation around scenic Colorado.
  • We also visited with some old friends who live and minister in Colorado. They took us on a trip to Bishop’s Castle near Pueblo, it was quite an interesting place, it deserves it’s own blog posts one of these days…

Crazy Moments:

  • The RV sprung a leak in one of the hydrolic hoses, but it happened when we pulled over checking on the generator that had stopped working. If we had been driving, it could have been very bad, causing a fire or even an explosion. God was watching out for us, as soon as the leak was discovered in a parking lot, the generator started working again. Matt was able to replace the hoses in Wyoming because he’s a stud.
  • Just East of California, we stumbled across a historical marker that told the tale of the Donner Party. If you, like me, forgot this story from your history books don’t look it up and then read it out loud to your children before reading it yourself first. Chilling.

August – Edina, Missouri to Elwood, Indiana to Union City, Indiana to Argos, Indiana to Edgerton, Ohio to Columbia City, Indiana to Elwood, Indiana to Vevay, Indiana

Churches where we ministered:

  • Calvary Assembly of God – Union City, Indiana (Sun-Wed)
  • Victory Barn – Edgerton, Ohio (Sunday)
  • Power Surge Tent Revival – Edgerton, Ohio (Sun-Wed)
  • Victory Christian Fellowship – Columbia City, Indiana (Fri-Sun)
  • Vevay Assembly – Vevay, Indiana (Sat-Sun)

Highlights:

  • Powerful altar times in Edina, Missouri.
  • Family wedding in Kokomo, it was great to see everyone in one place for such a joyous occasion after being gone for 3 months.
  • Our first Tent Revival to plan ourselves. We had great support from family and friends, as well as the Victory Barn Church.
  • Great services at the Outpouring Conference in Columbia City with some old friends.
  • We looked at, in person, the lake house that we had been looking at online for some months now, and then we made an offer!
  • Powerful services in Vevay Indiana.

September – Vevay, Indiana to Elwood, Indiana to Akron, Indiana to Delphi, Indiana to Akron, Indiana to Columbus, Indiana to Memphis, Indiana to Akron, Indiana

Churches where we ministered:

  • Cornerstone Assembly of God – Elwood, Indiana (Sun-Wed)
  • Delphi First Assembly of God – Delphi, Indiana (Sunday)
  • Northview Assembly of God – Columbus, Indiana (Sunday)
  • Free Gospel Fellowship – Pekin, Indiana (Wed)
  • Faith Harvest – Greenville, Indiana (Friday)
  • Hardinsburg Assembly of God – Hardinsburg, Indiana (Sunday)

Highlights:

  • We bought a house this month! It’s on a lake! We love it!
  • We really enjoyed ministry this month, there were moves of God, and we saw old friends rededicate their lives to the Lord.
  • My parents selflessly helped us move all of our stuff from the parsonage in Elwood to our new home base in Akron!
  • We had a nice time in southern Indiana, exploring Corydon and Louisville, and visiting with Matt’s Aunt and Uncle.

Crazy Moments:

  • Extensive dental work the day before we closed on our house. Ouch.
  • We bought a house! I’m still in shock.

October – Akron, Indiana to Blanford, Indiana to Kingman, Indiana to Akron, Indiana to Prestonville, Kentucky to Akron, Indiana

Churches where we ministered:

  • Grace Tabernacle – Blanford, Indiana (Sun-Tues)
  • Spirit of Life Ministries – Kingman, Indiana (Sunday)
  • Calvary Full Gospel Church – Prestonville, Kentucky (Sunday)
  • Lakeville Trinity Church – Lakeville, Indiana (Sunday)

Highlights:

  • We invited all our family over for a birthday party at the lake house! It was still warm enough to enjoy the outdoors.
  • We enjoyed returning to familiar churches this month, they are open to revival, and are very loving towards our family.
  • We attended two very sweet weddings this month.
  • We were able to visit the Covered Bridge Festival while in the area holding services.
  • Matt preached at his dad’s church this month and we also celebrated his dad’s birthday.
  • Our oldest daughter got her driver’s license this month! We are still trying to convince her that she can drive the RV.

Crazy Moments:

  • Nothing too crazy, just enjoying life, getting used to having our own home base. We did alot of the boring stuff required of grownups: finding local doctors, putting up a mailbox, switching our address.

November – Akron, Indiana to Memphis, Indiana, to Akron, Indiana to Petersburg, Indiana to Akron, Indiana to Greensburg, Indiana to Akron, Indiana to Columbus, Indiana to Akron, Indiana

Churches where we ministered:

  • Agape Community Church – Cannelton, Indiana (Sunday)
  • Living Waters Assembly of God – French Lick, Indiana (Sunday)
  • Love Never Fails United Christian Church – West Baden Springs, Indiana (Sunday)
  • River of Life Assembly of God – Petersburg, Indiana (Sunday)
  • New Beginnings Assembly of God – Greensburg, Indiana (Sunday)
  • Come As You Are Ministries – Columbus, Indiana (Sunday)

Highlights:

  • We enjoyed returning to these churches this month, some of these pastors are among the first that had us come in and minister at their churches.
  • We celebrated Thanksgiving with Matt’s family and then hosted Thanksgiving with my famiy at our little home.

Crazy Moments:

  • We did quite a bit of driving this month, traveling on the weekends and staying at our lake house throughout the week. Although it did require more planning and packing, it is starting to get cold, and makes it a little more comfortable to be in the house this time of year.
  • Some crazy guy tried to intimidate and threaten the congregation during one the services this month. The church was prepared, though, and quickly diffused the situation.
Photo credits: Monica Middleton and Celia Fitzcharles (Thanks)

December – Akron, Indiana to Batesville, Indiana to Akron, Indiana to Edgerton, Ohio, to Akron, Indiana

Churches where we ministered:

  • Church on the Rock – Batesville, Indiana
  • The Reformation Faith Ministries – Kokomo, Indiana
  • Safe Harbor Church -Rochester, Indiana

Highlights:

  • It’s Christmastime! It has been fun to decorate our little lake house this year, and we are currently enjoying celebrating the season of our Savior’s birth!

In closing, it seems like this year could be described as “Going, Going, Going, and rest.” Thank you for reading along, I hope you all had a year of your own adventures!

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

So, We Bought a Lake House!

sunset on lake

We bought a house, and it’s on a lake! I have had so many emotions about this decision, even though we knew it was the right decision and the right time.

Backstory stuff

Here is a little backstory of our nomadic lifestyle (does anybody else hear the little lego guy imagining the “Wildstyle” lego girl say “backstory stuff” when you hear the word backstory? Maybe it’s just me) Anyway, my husband Matt and I, along with our 5 kids, moved into a 35 foot RV back in April of 2016. My husband resigned as pastor of our church and we embarked on the adventure of full-time evangelism as Kingdom Pursuit Ministries. We wanted to do it as a family, traveling together and so it seemed like getting an RV was the best way to do this. Not only has living in an RV been the most cost-effective way for us to travel, it has been, and still is, a great adventure!

We travel most of the time, and so far we have driven through 43 states and 4 Canadian provinces. Indiana is our home and we minister in Indiana churches about half of the year. My parent’s driveway, Matt’s brother’s giant propery, and other relatives have been very generous and gracious hosts to us over the past few years. No one ever complained, but we never wanted to wear out our welcome, we knew we wanted to eventually have our own homebase, to park the RV when in Indiana. We have always been looking, and pricing out properties, trying to decide what our homebase would be. It has been weird, because we didn’t really need a house, our house is on wheels, and is everything we need.

Last year a wonderful Pastor couple asked us if we could use a home base. They didn’t know that we had been looking for something. They had bought a home and the church parsonage was empty if we would like to use it. We accepted this generous offer and we were able to use the parsonage as our home base for a year. Looking back now it really prepared us to know how to manage two separate homes, and to pack up in a timely and efficient manner.

Why a lakehouse?

While we were traveling up to Alaska, we were also searching for properties online. We first looked at land, but found out that a large downpayment was necessary and expenses like a well, septic, added driveway, etc. kept adding up. It made more sense to look for a little, low-maintenance home that also had a large enough driveway for our beloved RV. We looked at duplexes that we could rent out one side and live in the other, but nothing worked out, and that is probably for the best, because we are too busy traveling to be good landlords. That led us to the idea of finding a property that we could rent out when we are gone(which is every weekend and for up to three months at a time). That idea led us to look at lake properties.

We were pleasantly surprised to find lake properties that were super affordable and not too far from our family(we do understand that distance is a relative term, an hour or two drive is not a big deal to us). When we first found our future house, Matt’s parents looked at it for us and took lots of pictures. We feel in love, just looking at the photos and hearing their descriptions. We probably would’ve made an offer over the phone, but we had to make sure the RV would fit in the driveway.

With a little manuevering, and some excellent backing up skills by my husband, the RV fits snuggly in the driveway, with room for up to two cars next to her. Yay!

Excitement, mixed with guilt filled our hearts as Matt and I took the leap and bought this sweet little lake house. Excitement, because, of course! Guilt, because in a way we felt like we were cheating – on the RV, on the nomadic lifestyle, on filling this traveling evangelist family role that we had given to ourselves. Can we do both? Can we be a traveling family and still own a home? Is it selfish to want both? It brought me to do some serious soul-searching and see that this ministry lifestyle isn’t centered around an RV, but that the RV is just a tool, a wonderful tool that keeps us traveling together and sharing in adventures.

I still feel in shock most days, waking up and looking at the peaceful views of the little lake. I didn’t think we needed another home that we loved, but I feel like it is such a refreshing place, it has brought a much needed settling to my heart that I didn’t even know I needed. Will we use airbnb for our lake house? I am not sure, but I do think it will eventually be a place that we can offer for others to use as a getaway of sorts.

Does the lakehouse mean that we are stopping the travels? No. We are still traveling together, now we just have a place to come back to that is just ours. And what a lovely place it is.

Here is a bit of a photo tour of our little place:

Thank you for reading along, if you have been following this 7nomads blog, you will notice that we no longer have the 7nomads t-shirt shop. We have decided to lose the t-shirt idea, it didn’t quite turn out to be all that I wanted it to be. But, I discovered along the way that I really enjoy blogging, so we have kept the blog.

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

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.

The Value of Community

My childhood pastor (and now father-in-law) used to often say “The only thing you can take to heaven is your relationship with God and your relationship with others.”  I’m paraphasing, but the idea is solid.  You aren’t going to heaven without a relationship with God and if possible we should live peaceably with others, our relationships will last for eternity.

   I follow other traveling families on social media and I have noticed a common theme – community. I think when you travel a lot, you notice the human need for community and for friendship, or fellowship as it is often called in church life. Before we traveled around the country, we lived like everybody else and in one sense you could say that I took for granted the built-in community that you get by going to the same church several times a week, seeing the same neighbors every day, and having a routine that is consistent. In another sense I can see that even back then, in what sometimes seems like a lifetime ago, I had to make the choice to participate in community, to be friendly when, for me, it was sometimes easier to keep to myself. 

     Now that we are living this nomadic lifestyle, it takes even more effort to maintain friendships and build community.  We are always meeting new people, and I find myself frequently pleasantly surprised at the connections we are able to make with people whom we have just met.  I like how C.S. Lewis puts it; “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'”

kids in hammock

   So the making of new friends isn’t really the difficult part. It seems that I could get along with just about anybody for a short time, finding common ground in one place or another. Disclaimer: this has not always been easy for me, I find myself naturally awkward and shy. After years of being pushed by my parents to make friends, or at least conversations, or at the very least, eye contact, and then 20 years of marriage to a very outgoing husband, I have found myself not only able to be friendly, but actually enjoying the process of meeting new people! Do not fear, fellow introverts of the world, friendliness can be learned!

     Maintaining friendships is harder. If you live a regular, stationary life the difficulty might be that after being with someone for a while, you find things they do that get on your nerves, or find out that they might happen to have different political views, or whatever.  

     In this nomadic lifestyle, it is difficult to maintain community because of obvious reasons. The distance is the main obstacle. It takes effort, I can’t rely on the fact that I will see the same lovely faces three times a week at church. I have to make that phone call or send that message and set a date and time and then we can sit together and eat and talk and laugh. 

     I remember fondly a time this past spring when a friend reached out and made that connection a reality for me. I had posted something on facebook about being with family for easter and how it was such a blessing.  A friend of mine commented “When are you coming down to visit?” and I didn’t know for sure so I just said that I missed them and hoped to see them soon. That answer didn’t satisfy and she called me up. I am so thankful for persistent friends! She set the whole thing up and we visited with her and several other friends the next day. It was just what I needed.  

fun times

   I think I am guilty of using social media to fill the void of community  sometimes. I feel like it isn’t just me, too many of us are sucked into a virtual world and missing out on the real one. The irony is not lost on me while I sit here typing on my blog that I will post online. Looking at pictures and commenting about loved ones’ lives is great and I love to be able to see their lives and keep up. But it is a weak replacement for the real thing. Not only that, too often I miss out on my own little community – my husband and 5 kids!

     We had breakfast with an older gentleman a short while ago and he showed us his flip cell phone. He said if he wants to talk to someone, he will call them because calling is better than texting. He demonstrated by acting like he was talking to a friend “It’s so good to hear your voice! I have missed talking to you! How are you today?”  He’s right. But I don’t see myself going back to a flip phone.

    I still see the value of these online tools, and I regularly use texting. I think they have their place. But they also have their limits. Texting is great for short bits of information, but not so much for a meaningful conversation. Social media is great for friends and family gossip, I mean updates, (hehehe) but it is a weak substitute for actual community. 

    Can we also just talk about how spending time with friends AND food is a great idea? This isn’t a new thought, it is even in the Bible: “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,praising God and having favor with all the people…” Acts 2:46-47  We have found that when you spend time over a meal with people, your relationship deepens. This is true with new friends, old friends, family, and especially within our immediate family.  

friends and food

     Something pretty cool has happened on the road as we have been traveling, we find ourselves returning to places we have been before, and reconnecting with people. It is pretty cool because it seems that with friendship, you can pick up right where you left off. The kids have made friends along the way, and it is cool to see them excited to go back and visit. 

Buddies

     I’ve also noticed that I value my time with my friends and family more. I don’t get to see them as often so I have realized how precious that time is. I think traveling has affected all 7 of us in this way. I have really been working on being intentional with my time and appreciating the people I happen to be with.

     Thank you for reading this post as I talk about community. I hope that you are all enjoying that sense of community and friendship in your own lives!

     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 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 6!

 This is the 6th week of our Epic Road Trip to Alaska, I hope you have enjoyed following along with us. If you are just joining us, be sure to check out Weeks 1-5.  We were talking last night about this trip and how there hasn’t been one time that the drive was boring, some areas are more majestic and beautiful than others, but it has all been beautiful, there is something new to see around every turn. If you love to road trip, I would recommend this trip for you. It has truly been an epic adventure!

Wednesday, June 5th – Anchorage to Nikiski 

     Today we left our spot in Anchorage and drove south toward the Kenai Pennisula. There is only one way to drive from Anchorage to the Kenai and part of that route is a scenic byway called the Turnagain Arm. It was a fantastic drive, the road skirts the mountains, which are butted up against the inlet. There were plenty of turnouts and scenic spots to stop. 

     We stopped at Beluga Point. It was a really cool spot, the train ran in between the parking lot, the rock formations and the water where the Beluga whales can be spotted. We didn’t see any whales, but it was still a nice spot to get out and look around.

Turnagain arm

     We kept driving south for a bit and then turned onto the Sterling Highway and then the Kenai Spur Highway towards Nikiski. Matt will be preaching here Sunday, and it will be our landing pad for the next few days while we explore the Kenai Pennisula.  

     Once we got the RV settled, ate dinner, and stretched out a little bit, we decided to explore Nikiski. It is a small town and the last one going north on the Kenai Spur Highway. We decided to test it out and see how the highway ends.  It took us to Captain Cook State Recreation Area. The highway turns into an access trail of some sort for the pipeline according to my phone navigator.

     We drove back into Nikiski and took the beach access road.  It took us to a rocky beach overshadowed by a ginormous oil rig setup.  There were several people fishing and families enjoying the beach and so we figured it was safe and we wouldn’t be eaten by a bear.  We had a nice time beachcombing and found some cool rocks. On our way home we spotted a moose and her twin babies – so cute!

Nikiski beach

Thursday, June 6th – Nikiski to Kenai

     After we did our school work in the RV today, we made the 15 minute trip back to the city of Kenai to run some errands and explore their city a bit. We were out of food at the RV so we ate fast food and then drove to the historic old town center of Kenai. There are amazing views from Kenai of the Kenai River and the Cook Inlet. There was also a Russian Orthodox Church from 1895 that has been kept in excellent condition. 

Kenai

                                                                                       
    After exploring the historic area, we went to an awesome park to let the kids run off some energy.  We had been playing for a little while when, all of a sudden, a moose comes running out of the woods!  We were hoping that he had just been startled by the airplane that had just flown overhead, and that he wasn’t being chased by a bear. The moose didn’t seem to care about all the people in the park, he just wandered over to a thick patch of grass and have a bite to eat.

moose playground

     After the park, we drove down to the beach and I was pleasantly surprised to find it sandy and beautiful.  We even found some cute pink seashells. The view from the beach was perfect, there were several mountains and volcanoes across the inlet.  I always love going to the beach, and while this one was much too cold for us to swim (not for the locals, there were some swimming) it was a lovely evening.

     After the beach we made a trip to Walmart for groceries and such and we noticed that the prices are a bit higher down here on the Kenai pennisula.  It ended up being a more active day than we had planned, but in a good way – so we head home tired and happy. 

Friday, June 7th – Nikiski to Homer

     We were excited today to make a day trip down to Homer Alaska. One of the unexpected benefits of these long hours of daylight in Alaska has been the ability to explore much later into the night. Sometimes when we are traveling south in the winter, it is difficult to get our school work done and explore because it will start to get dark at about 4:30pm!

     Our first stop on the way to Homer is Ninilchik Village. The old town center is tucked along the base of some cliffs overlooking the Cook Inlet. We had a picnic lunch overlooking the water and the volcano in the distance. After lunch we stopped in a little gift shop and I bought a cute little necklace made by the artist who lived there. 

Ninilchik Alaska

     Our next stop is Anchor Point. I read in the milepost that there is a sign that reads “The Most Westerly Highway in North America”  so we decided to stop for this photo op. Little did we know that Anchor point is also a spot where bald eagles gather on the beach!  We spotted about 10 of them, gathered around some sort of dead animal/sea creature turned eagle-feast. We unhooked our tow vehicle because you can also drive on the beach. This is great for us, another excuse to run around on a beach!  We also spotted a tractor driving out into the water to pick up a boat on a trailer.

Anchor Point Alaska

     We arrive in Homer about 3 or 4 in the afternoon.  This little gem of a town lives up to all the wonderful things the people in Alaska have been telling us. It is yet another beautiful spot where the water meets the mountains. There are amazing views in every possible direction.  

     We make a stop at the free “Island’s and Ocean’s Visitor Center”.  It was a really cool place with interactive exhibits that the kids really enjoyed.  We didn’t stay very long because we knew we wanted to explore the Homer Spit.  

Exploring in Homer

     The Homer Spit is a long stretch of land with beaches, restaurants, shops, the harbour, and all kinds of stuff.  It sounds like it would be touristy, and although the prices were a bit higher, it didn’t feel too touristy or crowded.  While we walked around the board walk and shops, we spotted otter swimming out in the water – I love otters, I wish we could have gotten a closer look.  We also saw some fisherman preparing their fish for a tasty meal.

     We ate dinner at a little restaurant on the beach.  It was super good, I had the halibut taco and a side salad. Homer is the Halibut fishing capital of the world, so we had to try halibut from here. I am glad we did – yum!

homer spit

   After dinner, we did some more beachcombing. I had read that you can find seaglass in this area.  We did find some more cool rocks, Caleb found a fossil, but no seaglass.  

homer alaska

It has been another wonderful day, and we drive back to the RV tired and happy again.

Saturday, June 8th – Nikiski

     Today we slept in and relaxed with tv and super mario brothers for a while.  A friendly and hospitable couple, elders at the church, invited us over to their house on Island Lake.  We had fun kayaking and canoeing and I realized how out of shape I am after peddling the paddle boat around the lake for a bit with the kids.  The family have 3 golden retrievers who quickly became Hannah and Sophia’s new bffs.  We then enjoyed pizza and our older girls made cookies for all of us.

lake day

Sunday, June 9th – Nikiski

     Matt preached today at Aurora Heights Assembly of God. They are a friendly group and were in high spirits as they had just voted in a new pastor. There was another family there with lots of kids and our little ones enjoyed playing with them.

     After church we went back to the couple’s house on the lake and enjoyed lunch and a visit. We didn’t do any boating today, instead we went back to the RV for our day of rest. We did see a mother moose and her baby wandering around the neighborhood tonight, she walked right past the RV.

Monday, June 10th – Nikiski to Seward to Whittier

     Today we leave our Nikiski spot and decide to do a little sightseeing on our way back towards Anchorage.  We make the trek down towards Exit Glacier and Seward.  It is a detour south but we have heard that it is worth the drive. Exit Glacier is huge and there were signposts along the way that indicated how far the glacier had been in former years.

     The town of Seward is lovely.  It was a tad bit busy with people coming in off of tour boats and the RV parks were almost full as well.  We found a place to park the RV for an hour or so while we explored.  We walked the docks around the harbor, keeping our eyes peeled for sea lions and otters, but they remained elusive.  We did see a couple huge halibuts being weighed on the docks – they were well over 60lbs. I think there was some sort of competition going on. 

Seward Alaska

    After exploring the harbor we drove over to a cool playground with views of Resurrection Bay.  It was a beautiful spot and the kids enjoyed running around.   

      After we left Seward we decided to stop by the town of Whittier. This town is very unique. There is only one road in and out, part of this road goes through a mountain – a tunnel that is one lane about 3 miles long, that tunnel is shared with the train. So when you go through the tunnel, after they tell you it is your turn, you are driving on the railroad tracks! Crazy! I was feeling a little claustrophobic riding through this tunnel.

crazy tunnel

     The population of Whittier is about 250 and more than half of the residents live in the 14-story high Begich Towers. This highrise is also home to a church, the post office, and an underground tunnel that leads to the school. At one point the town was a military base and the large building where the military lived is now abandoned.  

Whittier Alaska

     We had an amazing dry camping spot for the night, we were surrounded by mountains and overlooking Prince William Sound. It was peaceful and majestic. I really enjoyed our stay in the fascinating town of Whittier.

Whittier Alaska

Tuesday, June 11th – Whittier to Chickaloon

     We left back through the crazy tunnel, but not before seeing the train come through, which was pretty cool.  We drove back up along the scenic Turnagain Arm and into Anchorage.  We stopped back at Cabelas to buy Matt an early Father’s Day gift.

    We drove up through Palmer (where we should have stopped for groceries because they were way more expensive in the smaller, isolated towns). We ended up staying at Pinnacle Mountain RV Park just south of the town of Chickaloon. The Camp owner also had a cafe and shop where Matt bought some homemade cookies for the kids.  

     We have had such a wonderful week, Alaska is such a beautiful place, I feel so blessed that we have been able to go on this adventure. If you are considering an Alaskan road trip, do it! You won’t regret it. 

     Thank you for reading this weeks post in our Epic Road Trip to Alaska!

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

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