5 Fantastic Spots in Florida City(plus 2 favorites in Miami)

We are a traveling ministry family, and for almost 8 years now we have been on the road, spreading the good news of Jesus Christ all across America. When we are not in revival services, one of our favorite hobbies is finding something delicious to eat.

I don’t know if we qualify as “foodies” because we are not especially particular about what we eat. We love most foods and love trying new foods. So, I decided to start writing down some of my personal favorite food discoveries. Some of the spots I will be writing about are not exactly tourist destinations, but great food can be found almost anywhere – and what a great treasure hunt it is!

Florida City

Did you know that there is a city south of Miami? As a midwesterner, I was aware of the Florida Keys, and the Everglades, but other than that, I assumed that south of Miami, Florida I would only encounter swamp lands and the ocean. When my husband scheduled a tent revival with a pastor in Florida City, I thought we would be fighting off alligators and mosquitos and I wondered how many people actually live in this area.

Well, I found out that Florida City, and the neighboring Homestead are bustling cities full of culture and diversity. We just finished our third tent revival in this place and while most of our time is spent in ministry under the tent(which we love), we have also had the pleasure of venturing out and exploring the area. One of our favorite things to do is to sample new foods. With a climate perfect for growing amazing fruit, and a true melting pot of different cultures, we have found a variety of good things to eat.

In no particular order, here are five fantastic spots that we have found in Florida City.

1. Robert is Here

Positioned in a prime location as a pitstop for travelers on their way to the Everglades National Park, is this most epic fruit stand. “Robert is Here”, I’m sure there is some great story behind that name… for me, (and really our whole tent revival team that descend upon lower Florida longing for an escape from harsh Indiana winter) a more suitable name would be “Mangoes are here”. That is probably because I have never tasted a mango in Indiana that tastes anything remotely close to the sweet, heavenly goodness of the mangoes served here. They will even peel, slice, and drizzle your mango with fresh key lime. Yum.

Maybe mangoes aren’t your thing. That’s ok, they have every kind of fruit you can imagine, and some you have probably never heard of, if you are feeling more adventurous. There are also spots to buy a smoothie and usually some sort of food truck out back.

Speaking of out back, there are plenty of picnic tables in the shaded back yard area as well as a petting zoo. Robert is Here is definitely a must stop, get some fruit, enjoy the atmosphere, and you might even see Robert, the owner.

2. La Michoacana Paleteria / Losner Park

This second fantastic spot is a two-for-one. Because, if you are going to get some delicious ice cream you might as well walk less than 2 blocks over to a great little park. If you are a parent, your kids might even proclaim that you are the best parents ever!

I don’t know how to pronounce the name but I do know how to point out the ice cream that looks good. There are, like, a hundred flavors of ice cream and just as many freshly-made ice cream bars. We have been here several times, there is almost always a line, but it moves quickly and everything I tasted was delicious. As a bonus, everything is very reasonably priced.

Losner Park is right in the middle of the cute Homestead downtown and the unique playground is surrounded by palm trees and tropical flowers. It is a lovely little oasis in the middle of the bustling town.

3. Tacazo

I only have a picture of the outside of this restaurant, and I apologize because the tacos really did look beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that I immediately devoured them. I regret nothing, except that I am now far away from tacazo and I don’t have a delicious taco to eat.

Go here, order tacos, be happy, the end.

4. Mr. Tutis Fruities

This one is more for my teenagers. They love smoothies, and when in Florida City, we are asked daily if we can go to the “smoothie place”. I tend to be a cheapskate and so it troubles me to pay for a beverage when I prefer to drink water anyway. But, I reasoned with myself that if I considered the smoothie to be a meal-replacement, then it was a great deal at around $6.

The smoothies are very tasty. The fruit is fresh, there is the option of using honey or sugar as the sweetener. They also offer shakes, tacos, and other snacks; or for the more health-conscious there are a variety of juice-shots and fruit bowls.

This little shop is tucked in a shopping center behind the circle k, but don’t let the unassuming location fool you. In our experience, quality is a priority and care is taken in everything they make.

5. Florida City 1st Assembly of God

Obviously, this is not a food place. But, you can get fed spiritually here (corny transition, I know) Seriously though, when traveling it can be difficult sometimes to know what church to attend. I recommend checking them out if you are in Florida City.

This church has been hosting our team for an annual tent revival starting in 2021. We appreciate their faithfulness to their community and spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We will be returning in February 2025, so if you find yourself in southern Florida at that time, look for the big white tent in their front yard!

Bonus! Bonus! Bonus!

We made a few, small day trips into Miami while ministering in southern Florida. I enjoy just driving around new cities and taking it all in but it can honestly be overwhelming if you are trying to find a spot to eat. Miami is a very interesting city, full of culture and diversity. On one of those trips we ministered at a Miami church and afterwards enjoyed a tasty lunch.

1. Versailles

This spot is fairly well known, so I will just throw my recommendation in with the others that have already said you need to go and eat here. The restaurant sign reads “The World’s Most Famous Cuban Restaurant” and by the size of the crowd on the Sunday afternoon that we showed up, it might just be the most famous. That being said, this restaurant is extremely efficient! The wait time was minimal, and while waiting, there were plenty of options to fill our time and our bellies. We went over to the walk up cafe section for an amazing little cup of cuban coffee – strong and delicious. There is also a bakery, so that you can take some deliciousness home with you (check out our sweet assortment in the picture above).

Once inside the restaurant our helpful waiter brought us a tasty cuban meal. We have a couple less-risky eaters in our family and they were quite happy with their cuban sandwiches. I shared the Chicken Cordon Bleu and fried plantains with our youngest daughter; my husband ordered some sort of roast, it was tasty. I also shared a cappuccino with my husband and it was delicious. It was a fun lunch and we would totally go back.

2. Revival Tabernacle in Miami

Our main reason for visiting Miami on this particular Sunday was to minister at Revival Tabernacle. We held a tent revival with this congregation last year and fell in love with them. They have a passion for Jesus and for their community, so if you are looking for a church home, or just to visit, check them out.

Thank you for reading along as I talk about one of our favorite traveling hobbies – trying out foods in new places!

If you would like to find out more about our ministry, you can go to kpministry.org

I hope you are all enjoying your own adventures!

-Nadine

Starting a new chapter(and rereading an old one)

We aren’t really 7 Nomads anymore. One of our nomadic children grew up, got married, and moved out, (as she should have, newlyweds sharing a traveling home with the bride’s family is not exactly a recipe for romance). I’m sure all the parents reading this can relate to the happiness mixed with pain of watching your kids grow up, and then move out. Our family is extremely close – in a literal sense -we have lived within 300 square feet of each other for the past 7 years, spending nearly every waking minute with each other. We feel our daughter’s absence, and it hurts, deeply at times. And yet, we are so happy to see her all grown up, and starting out a new life with her sweetheart. It also helps to know that traveling is part of the future plans for this amazing couple.

We aren’t just 6 Nomads though. I wrote about this development in my first blog about Tent Revivals. There are 35 of us now. Not all in the same camper, don’t worry. When we started doing tent revivals back in 2021, some more families joined us on the road. We thought it would be just a few tent revivals a year. It ended up being more like 2 tent revivals a month, from February through October. We have done 46 tent revivals since April of 2021 and what a whirlwind of revivals and traveling it has been! So much so that I have found myself too busy with our hectic life to write any updates on this blog.

But now, it seems, is the right time to document our traveling life again. Today it feels like I am dusting off an old book and rereading a favorite chapter. I had loved that part of our traveling life, writing down my thoughts and sharing our experiences with whoever might be interested. So let me tell you about our traveling adventures once again.

Since 2021(the last time I wrote anything about our travels), we have held about 2 tent revivals a month from February to October. November through January we slow down a little bit and minister at churches on Sundays with the occasional revival meetings. It has been a wonderful time, and we love this crazy life.

Everyone is growing up! How did this happen?!?!?

This past year, 2023, was especially eventful. On top of our regular travels and ministry life, our family has had some major milestones. Our daughter Olivia graduated at the end of May(we had experienced this transition with our eldest daughter and so it didn’t seem quite so scary this time). Olivia decided to keep traveling with us and pursue an online degree in graphic design, so again, I felt myself with a sigh of relief. Yes, she is grown, but I can keep her a little while longer.

Also in May, our eldest daughter got engaged. Enter wedding planning mode…

Ok, I love weddings. Back in the day I did some wedding photography work. My husband, as a pastor, performed many weddings. I have personally helped out and been involved with many weddings. I love weddings, you might even say that I am a bit of a romantic sap and I wouldn’t even be offended, because it’s true. But, was I prepared for the emotional toll and level of stress that would come with helping my daughter plan her wedding while in the middle of a very hectic tent revival season? No. No, I was not.

ALL. THE. EMOTIONS. Tears of joy and of sadness, feelings of anticipation, excitement, nostalgic moments of remembering when all of our kids were little, it was a crazy and wonderful time of planning. Also, are we old enough to have a son-in-law? “Mother-in-law” just sounds old. There was this wonderful excitement for our sweet girlie and also sometimes an overwhelming amount of decisions to be made. We found ourselves needing to haul around our ministry trailer with wedding decorations for a few months leading up to the big day. It was kind of hilarious and I totally felt like an out-of-control circus at times.

Fall in Indiana, what a wonderful time to get married! The wedding was beautiful. They wanted to use the tent for the reception and although it was a little chilly, the rain stayed away. It was such a special day and we would do all that planning and prep work all over again (actually we will need to do all that planning and prep work all over again because we have 3 more daughters).

Down time?

I remember telling people my plans for after the 2023 tent season and wedding. “I’m probably going to cry for a week (because my daughter is gone), and then I will sleep for a week, and then after that I don’t know. “

Well, I did have some grieving, and I did have a couple days of resting, relaxing on the couch and catching up on some reading. After that, I remember sort’ve complaining that I was bored with not having a full schedule, like I didn’t know what to do with myself in the evenings – no revival services, no wedding stuff to obsess over, no travels to plan…

Then we entered a short, painful season where I longed for boredom…

Our beautiful RV brokedown. Every winter we make sure to get the RV serviced and make sure it is in tip-top shape for the next season. This is an expected expense, getting an oil change alone on a diesel RV is a costly endeavor. But this year our beloved traveling home was starting to act up. I will do my best to explain, although I have little to no knowledge of RV engine repair.

A couple days after dropping off our RV the mechanic called with the bad news. They would have to drop the engine to diagnose the problem, but that wasn’t even really the bad news… He asked Matt, “have you guys been getting headaches alot”. (Yes actually…) Apparently there was an extensive exhaust leak, the entire underbelly of our RV was black from the soot of this leak. He said that we were lucky that we hadn’t been sitting with the RV running because we could’ve all died from the carbon monoxide poisoning. Yikes.

Even if we could afford the repairs – starting at $25,000 – they could not get it finished until mid-February at the earliest. We had about 5-6 weeks before we had to be on the road heading south for the season. So we had about 5-6 weeks to figure out what to do.

We told the kids. I hadn’t cried until we gathered in a circle to pray with the kids. Feeling that vulnerability of admitting that we weren’t sure what to do next was tough. I felt that vulnerability again when I called my mom to explain the news from the mechanic.

I mean, we all have unexpected expenses, we all experience financial difficulties, we all have vehicle and home repairs that hit like a punch in the gut. It was more than that though. We could tangibly feel the stress of a ministry schedule planned out, not just for us, but for 6 other families as well. This was the beginning of a short, but intense season of testing our resolve to trust in God; to ask Him alone, to remember that He is our Provider, to know that He is never surprised even though we might be. I remember playing “Waymaker” and “You Hold it All Together” on repeat to remind myself to trust Him.

Decisions, Decisions…

There were some decisions to make, and none of them included what I wanted to do. I wanted to take the RV I loved and continue like we had before. We knew that if we had to, we could sell our house and start from scratch again. I remember praying and telling God that I was willing to do it, to go back to the beginning of travel ministry life, to sell it all and start again. Time was such an issue, we were just weeks away from Christmas and this option just felt wrong, like pure chaos.

Our next path was to try to trade in our broken-down RV to a large RV dealer(where they would have an adequate garage to repair it). We looked at several to try to find a suitable replacement. Finding another Class A Diesel was quickly ruled out – most of those models are designed for retired couples, meaning it is rare to find one with bunk options, and even more rare to find one that we could afford. So we decided to go with a fifth wheel.

We found one we loved. Several actually, fifth wheels are huge and great for families. We loved the ease of travel that Class A motorhomes afford, but decided that we would trade that comfort for the comfort of a more spacious home once parked. After finding “the one” we inquired about a trade, being completely upfront with all the issues our RV had. Surprisingly, the RV dealer was willing to give us a great deal for a trade. We gave our deposit and it was decided that we would pick up our RV on Thursday after the Christmas Holiday weekend.

After Christmas, on Wednesday we emptied our entire RV into the house. Thursday we cleaned it thoroughly. While we were preparing to drive to the dealer and make the trade, 45 minutes before our appointment, the dealership contacts us with terrible news. They were very apologetic, and they returned our deposit, but they would not make the trade, our RV’s high mileage had been overlooked. This set us back to square one, we had to find another RV, and we were supposed to leave on Saturday for a short ministry trip. We ended up trying two more dealerships, both were willing to trade, but financially speaking, either offer would’ve been a terrible choice.

We borrowed a smaller camper for the weekend ministry trip and continued praying over what God would have us do.

Miraculously, in the middle of this searching for a new traveling home, money came in. A few individuals and a local church donated money, not knowing our current situation. Again, we found ourselves humbled by their generousity and amazed at how God makes a way when we ask Him for help, often working through people that don’t even know the need. It was not enough to buy another RV, but it was enough to buy a used truck.

A New Rig

After the new year, we were able to get a loan and buy a beautiful used fifth wheel at a local dealership for an amazing price. It is amazing and we love it. Yes, presently we have two RVs, one that is unable to be driven and for now remains parked. It was not the ending that we were hoping or planning on, but maybe God has a purpose for that RV yet, I don’t know… The new RV truly feels like home, it is more spacious than anything we have had on the road.

That is the story of our new RV transition, and how God keeps providing for us, it is our beginning of this new chapter of our life.

Right now we are in sunny Florida, getting ready to start our tent revival season, I look forward to telling the stories of this year’s travel adventures.

Thank you for reading along, and I hope you are all enjoying your own adventures!

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

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!

Maintaining Routine in the Midst of Change

Good morning to me

The other day, I got up, smelled the coffee and poured myself a cup, I found one of my favorite Pandora worship music stations and hooked it up to our sterio via bluetooth. In that moment, with my foggy morning brain, I realized how content, and peaceful, and at home those two actions made me feel. I didn’t matter if I was in a Walmart parking lot, camp ground, church parking lot, or at our sweet little lake house. I could do these simple things and feel at home.

I might be writing this post just for myself, to remind myself of the importance of a good routine in the midst of change. It seems that constant change can quickly turn into constant chaos if we are not intentional about maintaining our routines. Don’t get me wrong, the constant change in scenery and possibility of new adventures is something I love about RV life.

Roadschooling is crazy sometimes

It is sometimes difficult to maintain a homeschooling routine, but because our curriculum has goal setting as a clear priority, it helps us to stay on track. One day we may only get a few subjects studied – because we drove alot, or we had a really late night revival service and needed to rest, or we are at a beautiful destination that begs to be explored. When days like that happen, we can make up for it by working a little later the next day.

It seems natural to come up with a schooling routine, I do take the education of our kids seriously, and it weighs on me sometimes if I feel like I have slacked off and have indirectly encouraged the kids to slack off. That issue is always in front of my face, there is always school work to be done. I suppose it is the rest of life, the non-schooling part of life, that I have noticed small routines and everyday patterns developing.

What am I doing everyday?

Then it also occured to me that it is important that my routine is built out of good habits and not bad ones. I have found that too often, I have fallen into the habit of becoming a phone zombie and wasting precious minutes, and even hours mindlessly scrolling because it was convenient, familiar, and honestly, addicting. While it might be comfortable for me to do this same thing every day because it was familiar, it was becoming a part of my routine that was, in many ways, doing more harm than good.

I don’t think that social media is in itself bad. (I feel the irony while I am typing on a blog that I will then share on Facebook and Instagram.) I really enjoy seeing what is happening in the lives of my friends and family. We are traveling and making new friends often, and it is nice to be able to see what everyone is doing. At the same time, I don’t need to be able to see what everyone is doing every day, and honestly, every hour. So, I decided I need to make a much more conscious effort to put my phone away.

A new quietness/more free time

I have noticed something while I have put my phone away more often. I have noticed the quietness. The stillness has seemed at first uncomfortable, and it has helped me to realize how often I grab for my phone and that I have such a short attention span. It has also helped me to engage more with the people around me. I may have missed a few opportunities to post some exciting things on instagram, but I also feel like I have enjoyed those exciting moments a little more fully.

In this stillness, I have also noticed that I have more time to do the things that I do feel are really important. I have felt a greater stirring within myself to go and pray, and it is painful to admit that I haven’t noticed this stirring because I was distracted. I honestly feel like God will stir us to pray, but it is a quiet, gentle stirring. I have also been able to enjoy a bedtime routine of reading to my little girls when I had often found myself soooo ready for them to be in bed already. This distractedness had become a part of my daily pattern, and it is something that I can minimize.

Routine improvement

So, right now I am trying to improve my daily routine. I still have times for mindless phone scrolling and catching up with the world, it is just less, and I am liking that. I think noticing and examining my routines was a good first step for me. Some of my routine was good and some needed improvement. Even though our life is full of the change that comes with travel, I have found that there are things that stay the same. What I do with my free time is still up to me.

Thank you for reading along while I talk about my daily routines and struggles. I hope you all are having great adventures and also having some time of quietness.

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.

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

Campground Review – Tom Sawyer’s RV Park

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

 So, here goes my first review of a campgroud…

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

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

Dad: “Hello, what is your name?”

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

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

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

 First Impressions:

Tom Sawyer RV park

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

Overall Campground Impressions:

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

The RV sites:

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

A Special Surprise:

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

Metal Tree House
Tree house

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

Overview:

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

Thank you for reading this Campground Review by 7Nomads!

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

5 Helpful Organizing Tips for RV Life

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

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

1. Organize by Category

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

Organize by Category

2. Minimize

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

less is more

3. Use Plastic Containers with Lids

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

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

Clear plastic containers

4. Go to Ikea

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

Ikea storage products

5. Hide your Junk

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy Your Adventure!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for reading this blogpost about enjoying your adventure!

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