A quick update…

Hello everyone!  Quite a bit has happened in the last few months, and we honestly thought we would have some definite info to share with you a long time ago, but as of today, things are still up in the air.  But, just so you don’t think we’ve fallen off the face of the earth, here is a quick update, with lots of details and pictures to follow very soon:

We are still in Grand Isle, LA.  We put an offer on a house that’s needs some TLC on 2/8, and we are still waiting for closing.  Our offer was contingent on us being able to move into the house prior to closing, so we have been living on the beach since 2/14.  There have been lots of ups and downs along the way, with field trips and sandcastles in between.  Needless to say, we will not be returning to Rapid City any time soon.  Our travel bug has not left us; we think of this more as a pit stop.

As I said, once everything is finalized, we will be posting photos and details and bringing everyone up to speed just as soon as we have solidity.  Thanks (as always) for your patience.

PS – Please say a quick prayer for a relative who lost her son in a recent plane crash.  He was newly married, and there are many mourning hearts.

Days 195 – 208 – Leaving Dallas and Headed Back to Grand Isle

Day 197, Wed, Nov 13 – The kids and I took a field trip to the Texas Motor Speedway. I must be honest and say that none of us follow racing to any degree, so we really didn’t know what to expect. But just seeing this speedway from a distance was mind-boggling. It is huge! Once we found the tour building, we jumped in a van with the tour guide, and he proceeded to fill tremendous details. For instance, there are 1000-3000 sq ft condos at the second turn of the track, and the prices range from $300,000 to $900,000. The Texas Motor Speedway is the only track owned by Bruton Smith that he built from scratch (was not already in existence). The speedway is in the process of getting the Big Hoss TV screen, which will be 79% bigger than the screen at the Cowboys stadium, so it will be nearly as large at the condo building that is next to its spot! In the center of the track are RV hookups, repair bays, a care center with a helipad (and 5 doctors and 7 nurses on call during races), the only Sunoco fuel station in the state of Texas, and Fuzzy’s Taco shop, which is the only food on site (all concessions are outside of the seating area). There are 45 pit stop areas, which are between the light poles (see pictures). In the stands, the red seating is roughly ground level prior to the removal of I can’t recall how many cubic tons of dirt so that the track is out of the wind as much as possible. Behind the stadium seating, there are 194 catered suites seating 64 in each. There are two dirt tracks next to the main track, one of which the Bandero cars race. Generally the tour guide will take the van out on the track so the tourists can get a feel for the 24 degree angle in the turns, but the track was being used by Team Texas on the day of our tour. However, because of this we got to watch several cars make their way around the track, and the tour guide explained to us where the cars need to be in the lanes during the straights and the turns. We learned quite a bit and had a great time. I highly recommend such a tour to everyone.

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Day 199, Fri, Nov 15 – The kids and I joined the NICHE homeschool group for a tour of the Dallas Museum of Biblical Arts. Most of the tour was spent discussing just a few rooms of art, so the museum provided us with tickets for free admission later, although I don’t know that we’ll get the chance to use them (though I would certainly go back!). We spent nearly an hour discussing Tapestry of the Centuries, a 9×18 foot canvas painted by Vladimir Gorsky which comprises the people and events that shaped world history from the birth of Jesus Christ through 1999 AD, just prior to Y2K. The kids also participated in a scavenger hunt in a room that included The Resurrection Mural by Ron DiCianni, which depicts the moment Christ walked out of the tomb after conquering death. We also enjoyed a quick run through the Bible collection, which was quite extensive, and included original printings of the original 1611 King James Version, all of which were slightly different in content. I was able to view and read about the “wicked” Bible, which was printed in 1631 and included a terrible error: The 6th commandment reads “Thou shall commit adultery.” This mistake eventually lead to the bankruptcy of the printer. There was other incredible art with plenty of great stories. It was a great field trip.

Day 201 – Jacin was supposed to land in Dallas from Denver at roughly 11:40 pm, but his plane was an hour late, so he officially landed today, Sunday morning. So we got to bed pretty late, then up fairly early to hit our last church service. Justice’s youth group had recorded a good-bye video that they presented in worship, and her life group had a good-by party. We will all greatly miss Irving Bible Church. It is a God-fearing, bible believing church with authentic people who do great things for the community. After church, the boys dropped Justice and I off at the Grapevine Mills Outlet Mall, where we spent the rest of the day trying on much and finding little, but just enjoying some girl time as a way to celebrate her upcoming 14th birthday. We also picked up the recent IronWorks magazine which features my sister, Jessi Combs, on the cover as well as a great article inside.

Day 202, Monday, Nov 18 – I worked a bit and we took our time getting packed and heading out of Dallas. We were originally going to leave first thing so we could make it to Grand Isle in one day, but rather than be in a hurry, we did some last-minute running and said our good-byes to our friends in the RV park. We drove until dark, making it to a Louisiana Welcome Center near Alexandria, where we stayed for the night as the tail lights on the pickup were pitching a fit.

Day 203, Tuesday, November 19 – We woke up and had a quick celebration for Justice on her official birthday. Nation had bought her an old-fashioned fountain pen, and I had picked her up some little things we found together during our mall trip. Then we hit the road, and we made it back to Grand Isle! It took us a while to get settled in the RV Park, after which we were “bombarded” by neighborly love from everyone else who is staying here, and officially invited to our first “family” dinner of boiled shrimp (and everything else you throw in the pot for flavor: potatoes, corn on the cob, sausage, spices, etc). I had work to do so made my way back to the RV, but the boys visited for quite a while with our new neighbors. It was so refreshing to sleep in a quiet town with no traffic noise. We are so thrilled to be back!

Day 204 – Jacin set his alarm for 6:00 so we could catch the sunrise on the beach and run together (yes, really, this was his idea). So we were up early with 68 degree temps and enjoyed a nice jog on the beach. The weather showed that today might be our last sunny day for a while, so after getting ready for the day, we played hooky and explored the beach and checked out the nearby communities today. It was sunny but windy, but we had a great time together. We also spent some time checking out the library and we got an official Grand Isle Public Library card. Justice has been reading through books too quickly not to take advantage of this great resource, and we are thrilled that it is here.

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Day 205 – Jacin and I went running again. We enjoy the time together first thing in the morning. The kids jumped back into schoolwork, though it will be a light load today and tomorrow rather than jumping into a new full week of lessons now. Jacin cleaned the roof of the RV and fixed some plumbing, then after school work was complete, we took the kids to the park for P.E., where we dinked around on the equipment (I was scoping it out for workout possibilities). Then we walked down the road and found some abandoned rope swings. Jacin and I showed the kids how to climb ropes, then Justice got brave and decided to climb on an (old) elevated platform so she could get to a higher rope. Suddenly, we heard a crash, but when we turned to look, Justice was not there! She had fallen through and hurt her ankle, so we headed back to the RV to rest a bit. We had a fairly quiet rest of the day. We finished the evening by watching a great old movie, “Magnificent Men and Their Flying Machines.”

Day 206, Fri, Nov 22 – Jacin was too sore to run far today (we did a few sprint drills on Wed that are catching up with him, along with the pullups and other things he tried at the park yesterday 😦 ), so we took a nice long walk on the beach this morning. After schoolwork, we hit the library again, this time being allowed an unlimited supply after returning our first three checked items, so we stored up for the weekend on books and a few movies. The library is nice and small, which allows justice to really pick through the books and decide what she thinks will be a good read, rather than just guessing with an overwhelming selection. We then stopped by a local welder’s house to have him fix a broken fender bracket from the RV (which didn’t hold up when Jacin tried installing it later). Then we headed to Elmer Island for an afternoon of beach fun. Elmer Island is just up the road from Grand Isle, and is only open on Fri, Sat, and Sun each week. It is the only local beach that can be driven on, so we took advantage of that and really checked out the beach. When we got to the end, there were a few people fishing, so we let Nation have a go at it. I collected seed pods that were strewn about the sand, Justice walked the beach looking for treasures, and Jacin had fun catching hermit crabs. It was 75 degrees outside, warm enough that we were all rolling our pants up as high as they would go and doing the same with our sleeves. It was an absolutely beautiful day, and we are so blessed to be spending time at the beach this time of year, when the temperatures at home are so terribly cold. This is truly a dream come true! Nation and Jacin ate fried fish and clams with the neighbors, and Justice and I had homemade chicken noodle soup.

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Day 207 – Jacin talked to some neighbors inquiring about work on the island, and it sounds like he may have something lined up in a few weeks. Then the boys headed back to Elmer Island to fish while Justice and I stayed back to read and work. The boys watched as several men brought in some HUGE redfish as well as a couple of sharks, and Nation got to hold one! Then, they invited Nation to take over their pole and catch a fish. He brought in two 3-foot long red fish, with great effort, and the men let him keep them. The boys brought the fish home to clean, which was quite an experience. These fish have scales like armor, and cutting through them sounds like cutting through thin rock (like mica schist). Lanny, the RV Park owner, showed Jacin how to get to the meat and what to discard. I am on a gut-healing journey, so I asked Jacin to save me a carcass to cook into broth. Well, the head alone filled the biggest pot I had, but I was able to sneak in a few fins and some carcasses of smaller fish caught by Lanny. While the fish broth was cooking, Jacin took both kids back to Elmer Island in hopes of holding more sharks and having more adventures. However, the wind had come up and the fishing fun was over. When the family returned, they were welcomed home by the inviting smell of boiling fish heads (which I will NOT do again inside the RV!!!). We spent the next several hour trying to air out the house, everyone bundled up in clothes so we could keep the windows open and the fans running. Live and learn, right?

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Day 208, Sunday – We had a nice quinoa pancake breakfast, then everyone got ready for church. We headed to the First Methodist church just a few blocks away, and it literally took us one minute to get there. There were less than 20 people in attendance, and the pastor preaches a sermon in a church up north along the bayou, so the congregants start the worship without him, and when he arrives, he takes over.  It was a good service, and we are hoping to get the kids involved in the Wednesday night youth programs, although they won’t be meeting this week due to the holiday.  Hopefully the kids will have a chance to meet others their age before the next youth activity.  After church, Jacin and I headed up the road 35 miles to Walmart to stock up on things that we can’t get locally (which for restricted diets turns out to be quite a bit).  Stocking up with limited RV storage is a bit challenging, so it will be interesting to see how long we make this trip last.

More in Dallas, and visiting home – Days 154 -194

We are past the need for apologies, right? I mean, it’s become quite clear to anyone who is actually following the blog that I am constantly falling behind. Being in Dallas for such a long time has gotten me lazy with that part of my job, because we are in a routine, and with routine comes dullness. We have had some great days mixed in with our daily grind in the last month, but there is not a lot of exciting detail to report. I will highlight those “special” days below, but all in all, there was a lot of schooling for the kids and working for the parents. We are set to move on in about a week, though (details in the blog posting below), so we will have more to report about our daily experiences very soon. Thanks for hanging in there!  (FYI – Generally, any pictures in the post that do not include one of the kids were taken by Justice, as she has a more steady hand than her momma.)

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Afternoon of painting together – sometimes they do get along!

Day 156 – Thurs, Oct 3 – The kids and I were headed to the zoo. First we hit a Corian repair shop to pick up our sink cover, which had been mortally wounded in a dish-washing accident. Per my increasingly impressive navigation skills, the repair center was within a few miles of the zoo, so we could just swing by on the way. After picking it up, however, something dawned on me. The Dallas Zoo was within a few miles away, but I seemed to recall that it was the Fort Worth Zoo for which I had already purchased tickets to the homeschool event. Even though this area is called the DFW (Dallas-Forth Worth), the FW part of this lovely reference is really not very close. Needless to say, it took another hour to get to the right zoo, and the kids were impressed yet again with my skills (ask them about my “short cuts” sometime). It was fairly hot and humid, but we did enjoy our time visiting all of the animals. We spent a good 30 minutes with the monkeys, and even got to watch one force himself to throw up several times. (I had never seen this kind of behavior before, but I recently listened to an interview with a Paleo author- yes, I am a nerd – and he mentioned that many zoos were witnessing this sort of behavior with apes until they started feeding them a diet similar to what they ate in the wild. I found this fascinating, especially since just having seen it for myself.) The kids enjoyed watching the boy and girl Rhinos “party” (I believe Justice’s actual words were, “Gross! Really?” And dear Nation wondered out loud, “Why is he wiggling like that?”) We also enjoyed the ostrich who walked around with his head hanging between his legs. It was a very educational day, and good fun was had by all.

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Day 162 – Wed, Oct 9 – My fearless sister, Jessi Combs, broke a women’s landspeed record today! The kids and I were hoping to be there in person, but getting to eastern Oregon from Dallas turned out to be surprisingly hassle-filled. Thankfully, my mom and her wonderful hubby were there (along with my little sis, and my dad made it too!!), and mom kept us up-to-speed during each attempt. We were all very excited about her success! Check out this link if you haven’t already heard or read about this:


Day 165 – Sat, Oct 12 – While driving to boxing lessons this week (which should be on everyone’s bucket list, by the way! Thank you Groupon for allowing to me to try it out so cheaply!), I saw a sign for an Armenian Festival, so we headed to check it out. It was hot and humid (as always), but we had a great time watching several traditional dance performances and watching women make Baklava rolls, as well as looking through historic artifacts and learning a bit about the culture. We were all a bit surprised when the announcer said everything in both English and Armenian. It seemed as though this would be unnecessary in the middle of Texas, but it’s not the first time we’ve found small communities within this city that have simply transplanted themselves here while attempting to remain in their own country, so to speak. Fascinating! After attending this fest, we headed to downtown Carrollton just a few miles away for Santa Fe Days, a Native American Festival. This proved to be very similar to such gatherings at home, with the traditional drum dancing and feathered wardrobe. Nation made a bird feeder there, after which we called it a day and headed home to cool off.

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Day 166 – Jacin’s 3rd day off! After church, we took the kids to the Texas State Fair, the biggest fair in the world! Even knowing this, I don’t think any of us were prepared by the enormity of it all. After quite a drive, it took us another 20 minutes to figure out parking. Once in, we walked through the entire fair, looking at vendor booths and car shows (displaying upcoming models), checking out the rides, and enjoying the overcast day. We rode the tram through the park to see it from above, and Nation and I went on a kiddie roller coaster (which proved to be too much for both of us), and Jacin and Justice hit a bigger one. We didn’t partake in much fair food, but they had everything you could imagine fried: fried Twinkies, fried Oreos, fried Nutella, fried Thanksgiving dinner, fried meatloaf, fried grilled cheese sandwich, fried spaghetti and meatballs, fried chicken and waffles, fried snickers, fried Resse’s Peanut Butter Cups, fried butter, and fried beer, to name a few. I was grateful for the Saladmaster vendor booth that provided a lovely fresh chopped salad, which prevented me from starving. We also found some Nada Moo coconut milk ice cream for $3.50/pint (a steal!), which we all shared. Justice had a burger and fries, but otherwise we tried to hold off on eating dinner on-site. We wrapped up our day with a Mediterranean dinner at It’s All Greek To Me and called it a day.

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Day 169 – Wed, Oct 16 – I had one final weekend intensive in Fort Collins before graduating from Quantum Energetics Institute, and due to Jacin’s crazy schedule, the kids had to come along. So, we decided to make a trip out of it and visit home. My brother had planned a biking trip in Moab, UT, so it worked out that he could pick us up on his way back to Rapid City. I had a great time visiting with him on the 6-hour drive home. The kids were pretty quiet for most of the trip, as we didn’t arrive in Denver until 6:00 pm, but Justice perked up quite a bit when we were about 20 miles from home. She was exclaiming how she recognized everything and was so excited to see it all, even to the point of “oh glorious random bridge!” We didn’t pull in until roughly 1:30 am, to be greeted by our beloved borgy (beagle/corgy), Kira, and my anxious momma. Poor Kira was frightened by the kids running towards her in the dark pulling their large luggage, and she took off around the house. It took Justice quite a while to coax her out! But in the house, she would not stop licking us and whining for more lovin’. She’s such a good dog, and we were very thrilled that she had not forgotten us. We all stayed up until around 2:30, and finally forced ourselves to go to bed.

Day 170 – We had coordinated with Jacin’s aunt and uncle, Roxie and Dave, who were visiting from Mitchell, SD, to meet us for lunch with Jacin’s mom, who had no idea we were coming. We thought she may have figured it out with all the weird answers we had been trying not to give her in the weeks preceding our trip home, but we were happily surprised to find that she truly did not have a clue. It was so much fun to just walk in and see the look on her face! Dave had to run back to Mitchell, but we enjoyed a lunch in Kris’s apartment along with Roxie and my mom. We made plans for the kiddos to spend some time with them over the next couple of days, then headed out to pick up my car. Oh, my car! Yes, I knew I missed it, but I did not realize just how much it missed me! It was wagging its rack and everything. 🙂 There is simply something special about a standard 5-speed turbo that just can’t be beat. After attempting to park the Tundra for the last 6 months (without much luck), I was so looking forward to whipping in and out of crammed spaces with ease. It’s the simple things, really, that make me happy I guess.

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Surprise, Grandma Kris!                                                                      Nation’s choice project at Grandma Nina’s house.

Days 171-180 – The kids kept me busy taxiing them to visit friends, and I did get to spend a bit of time with my best friend Natalie and my good friend Matt. I unfortunately had a LOT of work to do while I was in Rapid City, though, so most of my time was spent sitting in front of a computer and delivering reports to clients. It was nice to see several of them in person, though, and I am ever grateful for their flexibility with my extended travel. I did find time to work on my mother’s kitchen while I was staying at her house, whether she wanted me to or not. She had removed all of her upper cabinet doors when she moved in back in 1997 with the intent to update them, but they had never been put back on. So there were shelves, especially those above the stove, that needed to be sorted through and cleaned. I also had a VERY BIG NEED to clear off her counters, taking as many appliances as possible and putting them into the newly cleared out cupboards, and finishing the entire project with a repainting and rehanging of the doors. I am not sure how many hours we spent on this project, nor how many tears I forced my mom to shed (poor thing), but we were successful! I was reminded at just how poorly I can plan the time it will take to complete projects, unless they are accounting related. I was hoping to help her with so much more, but my time quickly ran out. I headed to Fort Collins on Thursday for a weekend full of classes, and my mom came down with her family and my kids to celebrate graduation with me. After 20 months of studying, classes, interning, and practicing, I’m officially a Quantum Energetics Structured Therapy practitioner! I am not sure what God will have me do with this wonderful either while we are still traveling or when we plant ourselves back home, but I am trusting that he will use it for his glory.

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Kyrie, Justice, and Nation headed to Fort Collins                                             Graduation Celebration

After graduation, all three kids somehow got on the topic of the meaning of the word “ditto”, which led to a bet that if either Nation or Kyrie ordered a dipped ditto cone at Dairy Queen, Justice would pay them one dollar. Well, Nation pulled it off quite well, without much smiling, until the poor girl at the register said, “Uhhh, sorry?” Then we all cracked up, but the Dairy Queen employees didn’t seem to think we were funny. They basically gave the kids their ice cream then kicked us out so they could close up.

While we were in Rapid City, Jacin got to know a few of his co-workers better as well as some other adjusters in the RV park. He even went to a Steve Earl concert! I was thrilled that he was taking this time to enjoy himself a little, which he hadn’t done much of since we arrived.


Day 181 – Monday, Oct 28 – Mom, Chuck, and Kyrie stayed with us in Fort Collins long enough to enjoy a lunch together at Garbanzo’s, and then they were gracious enough to drive my car home for me while the kids and I jumped into a rental car to dink around until our late flight out of Denver. It was so good to see everyone, but it went by much too quickly. I am not sure why I was expecting it to be different than other trips to visit family – probably because it’s really the first time I’ve visited home. It’s truly a strange concept for me. Hopefully the kids have filled their tanks with fun memories of their friends, enough to get them through to the end of this adventure.

Day 183 – Wed, Oct 30 – Jacin was notified today that Friday will be his last day on the job. We have some planning to do! This is about 2 weeks earlier than originally expected, although there had been rumors flying around that it would likely happen. The work load had lightened up substantially, and at least one group ahead of Jacin’s had been let go early as well. He is relieved, as the last few weeks of monotony have been hard on my can’t-still-still-even-when-on-vacation husband. Now we just need to figure out what to do during November…

Day 184 – Halloween! Well, Justice is officially too old for the festivities, or at least that’s what she’s been insisting for the last several days as we’ve been trying to figure out a costume for Nation. Nation wanted to be a vampire, with real teeth to glue on and the whole shebang, but it just seemed silly to invest too much in the costume, especially when we don’t have a bunch of room to hang onto something that is not in use. So, yesterday we hit the Goodwill store to go through the very picked through Halloween items. There were just parts and pieces of several different costumes, not one that was his size that was complete. So, I suggested that he go as everything, and he excitedly agreed. So my sweet son, who is generally very easy-going, dressed up in a witches hat, crazy glasses, a werewolf shirt (with fur at the neck and cuffs), a pink tutu, with a zombie’s scar on his leg. When it came time to go trick-or-treating, I wasn’t feeling well, so I just followed him through neighborhoods driving the truck as he walked around by himself. He was such a trooper, and I loved listening to people ask him what he was and enjoy his response of, “Confused!” He was such a hit that one house even gave him two extra large candy bars in addition to a handful of smaller candies. He had a good time. When we got home, he and Justice (who is too old to beg for candy but not too old to “swindle” it from her brother) sorted through the candy and made up a bag for their friend Ian, also living in the RV park, who couldn’t go out due to illness. It was a good night for sure!

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Day 185 – Friday, Nov 1 – It’s Jacin’s last day. We were hoping he’d be off in time to go on a field trip with us, but he didn’t quite make it. The kids and I headed to see a flying car! We were given a tour at the home of Dr Vernon Porter, who is working on the car in his garage. It has a foam interior and fiberglass exterior, with wings that fold underneath. It is the same footprint as a Cadillac Escalade, weighing 2000 lbs loaded with fuel and 2 passengers. It runs on regular car fuel and should range 400 miles at 150 mph before needing to refuel. He used a highly modified air-cooled engine from a 69 Corvair. He is hoping to get some publicity and some investors so that he can eventually sell the car as a kit (which will allow it to be classed as experimental aircraft, keeping the FAA out of the picture). This was a fun field trip and definitely got the gears in Nation’s head spinning. When we got home, Jacin had been there a while and had already replaced the rear hydraulic levelers on the RV, as well as had cleaned out the black tank so well that it finally read “empty” on the gauge (first time ever). I can tell that we are going to run out of things for him to do quite quickly!

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Day 186 – Nov 2 – We had a lazy morning and checked out a local gun shop, then headed to downtown Carrollton for a Festival at the Switchyard, an annual celebration with music and vendors. Nation got to jump on the Spider Jump and had a blast. We walked around a bit, but I started having gut problems, so we hit the movie store as well as the health food store before heading home. Jacin and I made homemade chicken noodle soup (with rice noodles), which is such a tremendous cure-all, and we watched Monster University as a family.


Day 187 – I am part of the choir at Irving Bible Church, and we were on for all three Sunday services, so I spent most of the day at the church while the family worked on laundry and other such fun things.

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Fun with hardware store purchases

Day 189 – Nov 5 – We’ve been watching the weather to determine the best day to take the DART train to downtown Dallas and tourist around, as there have been storms off and on for several days. The weather forecast today is overcast but warm, so we headed to the train station and jumped on board at nearly the beginning of the green line. We jumped off in Downtown Dallas, near the 6th Floor Museum. Then the kids and I spent two hours in the museum (Jacin had already seen it on an earlier trip to Dallas), learning about Kennedy and the day he was shot, and the days following. It is a really well-done museum. We joined Jacin for lunch at Chipotle, then jumped back on the train and headed to the art district. We walked around for quite a while checking out the sculptures all around town, although Justice seemed more interested in the more hidden artwork intrinsically alive in a big city. We had also read about a Samarai collection at St Anne’s School Building, which took a while to find, but it was certainly worth it. The kids were pretty wiped by the point, so they stared at the pieces from a bench while Jacin and I read the historical information provided with each piece. We headed back to the train and rode it further south so that we could ride it north again when it was dark and witness the city lights. The ride home was long but enjoyable, and we truly had a good day together.

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Day 193 – Sat, Nov 9 – Jacin flew to Denver today to help his best friend, Tony, remodel his bathroom before we head further east. Tickets from Dallas to Denver are quite a steal through Spirits airlines, silly not to take advantage of them. Before taking him to the airport, we hit the Grapevine Mills mall and the boys checked out the LEGOLAND Discovery center while Justice and I did a bit of shopping. The boys had fun with the 4D rides and the mini-models of Fort Worth and Star Wars Cities. After dropping Jacin off, the kids and I hit the grocery store and had a night in.

Day 194 – Today has been filled with church and laundry, and I’ve been working this afternoon while the kids read and play games. Justice has just finished dinner (spaghetti squash with tomato sauce), so I am headed out to enjoy dinner and a movie with the kiddos. I hope you enjoyed the (VERY LENGTHY) update, or if nothing else, the pictures.

Our plan at this point is to head back to Louisiana next Monday after Jacin is back from Denver. He hooked up with another insurance adjustor who has a few shrimp boats that need repairs, and then it sounds like he will try his hand at shrimping! We are excited to head where it’s a bit warmer, and then hopefully back to the Gulf coast for a while.

Blessings on you all! I will hopefully update within the next week with tails of our final field trips in Dallas as well as our first days back in LA.

Dallas Fun through Day 153

Day 147 – Wed, Sept 18 – The kids and I went with our homeschool group to the International Museum of Cultures.  We had a tour guide who had lived among several different tribes in her life, and she was a wealth of information.  The museum had several rooms, each dedicated to one or a few tribes from a certain region from the world, with various clothing, tools, weapons, etc, on display.  We enjoyed the Native American room, where there was a picture of a buffalo in Custer State Park (ah, home!).  We all walked away learning something new and fascinating.  We expected to find a new phone to replace Jacin’s malfunctioning iPhone, still under warranty, but it was nowhere to be found (even though FedEx claimed to have left it at our front door).  Hopefully we’ll find it in the front office tomorrow.

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Nation’s next project – the three-pointed spear?

Day 148 – The office did not have Jacin’s phone, so I began preparing little notes to tape on our neighbor’s RVs.  While getting ready to hang the second notice, I found the phone tucked way under the rear door step of our neighbor two sites away.  I was relieved to find it.  Now we have the challenge of figuring out how to transfer everything form the old phone to the new one.  The day ended with a heavy rain storm that began as soon as Jacin was putting on his helmet to ride home.  He was soaked and cold when he got home.

Day 150, Sat, Sept 21 – The kids and I headed to the AW Perry Homestead museum for a modern homesteading session.  The kids got to make candles, and they had their hand at hand-quilting.  After the event, Justice went out to lunch with an intern from church, and I took Nation to the Red Bull Flugtag event, as suggested by my sis.  We watched as several homemade contraptions were launched off of a ramp in an attempt to “fly” farther than the others.  Our favorite was the flying port-a-potty!


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We attended church on Sunday (awesome as usual), and then I buckled down to work as the kiddos read their books (also awesome!!).  Our week so far has just included school and work, and several hours of continuing education for my CPA certification.  I am behind, even after being granted an extension of time, and trying to catch up.  Procrastination never pays. 😦

Blessings to you all, until next time!

Days 123 – 146 in Dallas

NOTICE: I finally uploaded some pictures for your viewing pleasure. Sorry for the wait!

I am just getting worse and worse about posting.  Being in one place this long is like being at home, where we were often too caught up in the happenings of life to keep tabs on anyone or anything.  Didn’t we leave to get out of that rut?  How easily I’ve fallen back in…

So, when we were traveling (pre-Dallas), I relied on Jacin’s journal to refresh my memory about what we had done and what to post about.  His journal writings are very minimal now and do not provide enough details of our days to recall much of anything.  Most of his days read something like, “Another day at work, much of the same, etc, etc, and so forth.”  In fact, just the other day he said he feels like he’s living the movie “Ground Hog Day.”  Poor guy!  We know he is getting restless, and not having at least weekends off is already getting to him.  He is such an explorer by nature, and being tethered might drive him to madness.

Well, I am going to attempt to piece together the last (over) two weeks, but not necessarily day by day (I heard a huge “Thank the Good Lord” to that one!!).  We have had some adventures and laughs, and hopefully I won’t bore you to death.  Keep in mind that we have started school, and of course I am still working, but I won’t mention all of the dull details of our daily routine unless something abnormally interesting happened.

Day 124, Monday Aug 26 – I had scheduled a mobile RV repairman to come out and fix our water heater, which was not working on electric, only LP.  I made this call the first day we were in Dallas, so it was quite evident that they were pretty backed up.  Anyhow, our repairman showed up over an hour late (around 11:30), but he seemed really nice and he was very informative.  He had me turn the power to the water heater on so he could attempt to figure out what was causing the problem.  However, I do not recall getting the instructions to turn the power back off.  Even after him making comments about how he tries to keep from getting shocked more than twice a year, it didn’t occur to me that his next step might be to attempt to pull the water heater out.  So, as I was standing near by, I suddenly hear this long, tortured scream from under the RV.  The kids say they heard me scream, too, but I am pretty certain it was his voice moving into a higher pitch toward the end.  It was scary and awful, and yet quite funny.  He was such a dramatic man that I couldn’t help but giggle (behind his back, of course).  I know, I am mean, I guess.  Perhaps you had to be there.  It took him quite a while to settle down from the event, with more dramatic verbalizations during his quieting down.  (I later found out he was invited to a casting call for an RV TV show, and this did not surprise me one bit!).  Anyhow, he was off to a great start.  The poor man ended up having to make at least 3 trips back to his shop or to the hardware store for replacement parts that kept showing up after he thought he had everything cleared up.  He did not leave the RV until 6:45 that night, and the water heater did not appear to be working.  He said to me with a hung head,”  Looks like I’ll need to come back.  I’ll call you sometime tomorrow to let you know when the calendar is open.”  I headed off to a homeschool meeting, and to all of our surprise, the water was hot when I got home.  I was able to call him the next day and give him the good news, and I could hear the relief in his voice.  He was so great about it all, even though weary when he left, and he stopped “the clock” when everything started going down hill.  He was more than fair and did a great job.

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The water heater and its small hole.                                                            Some of the parts that needed to be replaced.

Day 126 – We took Justice to an orthodontist because she was complaining about her retainer hurting her gums when she wore it at night.  During the appointment, the orthodontist showed me how it was not touching any of her teeth at all!  He was not sure he could adjust it, so warned me that we might end up with a completely broken retainer.  We was very handy with his tools, though, and got it to fit snugly.  But, Justice was still complaining of it hurting her gums, even more so that night because it was so tight.  We just hope that it will loosen up enough for comfort but still provide support to do its job.

Day 128 – Jacin had a long, frustrating day at work dealing with pushy contractors over the phone.  I picked him up at 8:00 and we headed to pick up a pair of motorcycle boots he saw on Craigslist.  Well, we found out the hard way that buying things from Craigslist in Dallas is not the same as it is in Rapid, meaning that it may not be a quick 10 minute drive.  It took us over 30 minutes to get to the meeting spot, and by then Jacin was starving.  He caught a bite, then we met with the seller and bought the boots from him.  We didn’t get home until after 9:30, and Jacin was overdone.  We were all ready for bed.

Day 129, Sat, Aug 31 – The kids and I went garage sale-ing, and Justice found a great old book with a fun cover that she is looking forward to displaying in her room (when she has one again).  She has been tortured quite a bit here, as she has found so many pieces of great furniture and other items that she has been dreaming of collecting for her future room (which she has been designing).  We of course have no way to haul it around, so she just drools and moves on.  We stopped at one sale that had so much stuff, it almost made me claustrophobic.  We have so little with us, compared to living in our house, and even then we fell like we have too much.  Seeing this guy’s stuff just made me want to get rid of more of ours!  Nation did find a model car there, though, and I love for him to have projects to work on.  Later, at another garage sale, Justice caught a glimpse of something in a tree ahead of us.  We looked more closely, and we realized that it was a squirrel, but he was completely sprawled out with his legs hanging over the side of the branch, and his tail dangling.  Obviously we were not the only ones struggling in the heat that day!

Day 130 – Went to church with the kiddos, and we all enjoyed ourselves, even Justice who was able to fit in better with her middle school group.

Day 131, Labor Day – Jacin had the day off!!!  We figured it was a fluke on his schedule, since he was told there would be no days off for the first 30 days, but we were all glad for him to have it.  We headed over to Garland to check out their Labor Day fesitval.  They had a car show and a few booths in a park.  Nation’s quote of the day:  “How far are we from where we are?”  That had us in giggles.  To our pleasure, there was a chiropractor at the festival and Jacin was able to get adjusted for the first time since Salt Lake City.  Sitting for so many hours each day is really taking its toll on his body.  Jacin had found a Yamaha TW200 on Craigslist (here we go again) that he wanted to check out in order to save us money and me time from running him to and from work everyday in a truck that makes 10 miles per gallon.  He him-hawed quite a bit about the dirtbike before finally deciding to head over to look at it.  An hour later, he was riding it around the Lowe’s parking lot, and before we knew it, it was loaded into the back of the pickup.  While we didn’t really do anything exciting for his day off, I think he may have been a little excited about his new purchase.  🙂  It gets 70 miles per gallon, and gives him at least a little riding time each day.  And we’ll easily be able to sell it when we leave (unless Jacin has grown so attached to it that we’d have to saw a leg off to remove him from it).

Day 132 – Ever tried licensing a vehicle in your home state while traveling somewhere else?  Ever tried to find a notary when you don’t have a home bank in the city you are visiting?  Well, we spent all of Jacin’s lunch hour attending to paperwork to send home to our mail forwarding service so they could get the dirtbike registered, which stressed us all out a bit.  Jacin hates being late, and also hates being stressed because of being late.  Needless to say, I have figured my way around prety well, so I got him back to work with a few minutes to spare, but not without launching off of a few crazy bumps in the road (the streets in Irving where Jacin works are atrocious).  We were able to squeeze in one final stop to pick up a hitch rack for the dirtbike that Jacin found on Craigslist for crazy cheap.  (I’m beginning to think he’s already attached to the bike…)

Days 134 and 135 – We noticed last night that our neighbors accross the street had vacated their site, and it looked rather lovely compared to the ant infested, utility pole crowded spot we were in (the grass is always greener, right?).  So, I started watching the site to see if it would be worth the move, the main factor being shade.  By 12:00, the entire site was in the shade of a lovely nearby tree, and we were sold.  So, I made my way over to the office to get dibs before it was spoken for.  This was no easy task, getting our account transfered to this new site, which had cheaper rent but its own utility meter.  The poor lady at the front desk was pretty confused about making it all work, and she was trying to get me to pay  MORE money for the cheaper spot.  Well, don’t argue with an accountant about financial matters!  Needless to say, I eventually won (her computer system finally agreed with my numbers), though I am not sure she understood why.  I was as nice as I could be through the whole thing, because the last thing I want to be is on the bad side of our neighbors (all of the staff lives on site).  Jacin got home after 8, which is after sunset here, so we moved and set up in the dark.  We attempted to plug into the utility pole, but the 30 amp receptable was cracked and not properly grounded.  So, we dug out one of our “dogbones” to convert from a 50 amp receptacle to our 30 amp RV.  After maybe 20 minutes, all power to our entire RV was completely lost.  After flipping the breaker, Jacin became worried that we had somehow damaged our AC compressor by hooking up with the dog bone.  I jumped on the internet to research it, and Jacin hailed down the security guard, who contacted the manager, who came over to inspect the problem.  He showed us where the breaker for the 50 amp service was (on a different pole for some reason), and praise God, all the lights came back on.  I had in the meantime decided, based on the internet research, that it should be perfectly fine to plug in the way we had.  Unfortunately, the AC continued to trip the breaker, so that meant another service call.  In the morning, I also noticed that our water pressure was more like a trickle.  So, I called the service guy (a different, well-recommended one) to see if he could come out and have a look.  He was really great and walked me through a few things over the phone after realizing that he couldn’t be of help with the AC.  He lead me to believe it was either a problem with the post, or with the compressor, and I was praying for the former.  So, I made my way over to the office and asked them to replace the 30 amp receptacle, to which the manager said,”Sure.  I don’t think it will solve your problem, but I’ll send someone over.”  Well, Praise God, once the new receptacle was on, we had no further problems with the AC.  The water was still an issue, though.  So, I filled the tank with water hoping that we could just use the pump rather than the city fill, but the water pressure did not improve.   This didn’t make sense, but finally after a couple of hours of trying to figure it out, I realized I heard a funny noise, texted Jacin about it, and with his help deteremine that I had forgotten to push a button to properly switch to using the tank.  Oy, I have a lot to learn.  So, the pressure was great with the tank, and I planned to order a new pressure regulator for the city water hookup in hopes that that would solve that problem (per my phone discussion with the service man), so we wouldn’t have to keep filling the tank every day.  It’s amazing how much water we go through when we have water to go through!

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Our old site, very crammed and ant infested…                                    Our new site, in full shade by lunchtime, and much more room.

Day 136 – Sat, Sept 7 – Nation and I unloaded the freezer so we could defrost it, because it hadn’t been keeping a low enough temp and the ice maker had stopped working (I know, right, but we actually use quite a bit of ice in this heat).  Then we headed down to a church carnival around 10:00, trying to beat the heat.  Unfortunately, the heat won, so we decided to try again later.  We went and picked up some raw milk and fresh eggs I had ordered earlier in the week, and the kids were in heaven.  They were truly looking forward to cereal with “real” milk!  We headed back to camp to restock the freezer and chilled in the AC for a while.  Took it easy most of the day, then headed back to the carnival around 5.  We bought a few tickets so the kids could pet some farm animals and participate in the cake walk (does anyone else remember the cake walk with adoration?).  Then Nation decided he wanted to compete in a bull-riding contest.  He stayed on quite a while, until the bull went crazy, spinning in circles, until Nation launched off.  We had a good night!

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Nation’s photo – can you tell what it is?                              Kids having FUN during the cake walk



Day 138 – The kids and I went north to Lake Ray Roberts to meet some other homeschool families and enjoy a day at the lake.  On the drive, Nation saw some hawks out the window and said, “I’d love to be a bird.  (Then with a heavy sigh), To be a chickadee in love with the sky.”  Justice and I couldn’t help but giggle, to which he responded, “What?  If I was a chickadee, I would be in love with the sky.”  He sure has a great appreciation for the things the rest of us take for granted.  At the lake, Justice ended up hitting it off with a lovely young lady named Megan, and Nation played with her little brother Michael for several hours.  After the other homeschool families left, we enjoyed another hour playing in the sun, and went home sunburned, as usual.  Jacin went to a chiropractor on the way to work, one I had lined up at the church fair over the weekend.  We are hoping we can take advantage of being here for a while and get his poor back straightened out.

Day 139 – Justice ended up sick during the night, whether due to lack of sleep (resulting in a migraine and nausea) or sunburn, we’re not sure.  We ended up taking it easy today.

Day 140 – Wednesday night church at IBC.  I joined in with choir practice, and the kids enjoyed time with friends and learning about Jesus.  Great ending to another great day.

Day 141 – Jacin grabbed some movies on the way home from work, Star Trek for us (yay), and Parental Guidance for the kids (which didn’t really turn out to be a kid movie – it’s hard to find kid appropriate movies these days).

Day 143 – Sat, Sep 14 – I have been working long days the last several trying to meet the corporate extension deadline, including several hours this morning.  But, around 4:00 the kids and I headed out to a hot air balloon festival in Celina, TX.  We wanted to get there for the 5:00 launch, but as it turns out, that did not happen.  I don’t know if it was a misunderstanding on my part, or if it was too windy, but there were no balloons in the field at all.  Well, there was an antire carnival there as well, complete with carnie food, so we decided to have some dinner while we waited for the lighting ceremony.  The kids had some authentic mexican burritos served by a woman who appeared to speak no english, and I found a stand with loaded baked potatoes, topped with beef brisket.  We also treated ourselves to a fresh squeezed lemonade, then foundspace on nearby bleachers to wait for the grande finale.  They ended up only inflating and lighting a total of 4 balloons, two at a time.  We were able to get a few pictures, and the kids enjoyed watching the flying pig.  It was a nice evening with a warm breeze, and even though there weren’t as many balloon acitivites as we had anticipated, we had a nice time.

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Day 144 – Sunday Sep 15 – Jacin requested the day off, so we planned a great day with the kids.  First we treated them to breakfast at IHOP.  Then, we attended a great service at IBC.  Next, we took the kids to a place called Main Event, where we played unlimited laser tag and topefor only five bucks each.  It was the most running any of us had done in a very long time, but we had a blast.  Finally, we ate at an amazing Thai restaurant called Coconut Grill.  It was so nice to be able to splurge a little and spend the entire day with Jacin.  We had such a great time.

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Day 145 – Took the kids to listen to a seminar on creation vs. evolution by Mike Riddle from Answers in Genesis, who presented free to our homeschool group.  It was a great presentation, and I am glad that the kids got to hear some of his arguments so that they may be better equipped to defend what they believe if ever the need arises.

Day 145 – Tues, Sep 17 – It’s been a fairly quiet day, with school and a bit of cleaning.  I am grateful for these slower days interspersed with the excitement we’ve enjoyed in the city.  Following are some events/memories from the last few weeks that I can’t place on a certain day, but are worth mentioning:

I was headed into a store one morning when I heard a shuffle and saw some movement out of the corner of my eye.  I turned to look, and saw only a dead rabbit at first, but then slightly behind it was a beautiful hawk.  It completely took me by surprise, but I was able to get my thoughts together and snap a quick picture with my phone.


We were saying our evening prayers one night, and Nation’s portion went something like this:  “Dear God, thank you for this day.  Thank you for the roof over our heads, and I ask that the birds would stop walking on the roof over our heads, and that the roof over our heads doesn’t cave in on our heads.”  (I think he covered all the bases on that one.)

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it, but we were able to get a temporary library card while we are here.  I am so thrilled to have it, because the kids have been devouring books since we got here!  I am so blessed to come home from errands or to come out into the living area after working for a few hours, only to find them sitting on the couch reading.  Every mother’s dream!

Well, that was another long one!  I do apologize!  We hope you are all well, and we pray for our loved ones often.  We miss you all, but are so grateful to be on this adventure!

Our first week in Dallas…

First, I must apologize for the lack of pictures.  Jacin is our photographer, and now that he is working 11-hour days, I don’t have a lot to show for our adventures.  I will do my best about getting better at this, but unfortunately this post is pretty naked. 

Day 111 – Tues, Aug 13 – We drove all day to Dallas, arriving at Sandy Lake RV Park late in the afternoon.  It is a bit cramped, but it seems like a good place.  We made a quick run to NAPA for some hardware to fix the generator, then to Goodwill in search of some good used books.  We attempted to hit the pool, but it was closed due to heavy rains earlier.  So, we had a dinner of meat that needed to be used up (not quite to the green stage yet), and watched some Chuck.

Day 112 – We had a quiet start.  Jacin secured the generator (the one that had attempted to escape a few days earlier) and then took Nation to the pool.  I worked for a few hours, and then we met our first neighbor, Caroline, who is also a full-timer with her teenage son and husband.  We had a nice visit discussing the many blogs her family heads up.  We then headed to Grapvine Mills Mall, grabbed a bite to eat, and window shopped a bit.  Nation drooled over the Lego Discovery center.  Perhaps after a while we will feel the ability to splurge on a trip there.  We tried to find an RV store , and ended up at a very high end RV lot.  They directed us to a different store (because as it turns out, Winnebago is not THAT high end 🙂  ), but we failed to actually find it.  So, we headed back to enjoy the pool.  We were surprised later to have UPS deliver a part for our water heater straight to our door!  It will take some getting used to, being in one spot for a while!  Jacin worked on a few license applications after dinner, then we called it a night.

Day 113, Thurs, Aug 15 – Jacin’s first day of work!  It was a long day – 11 hours of orientation – but he had a great day, met a lot of people, enjoyed the professional atmosphere, and is excited to get through the training and get started.  The kids and I were without wheels, so ventured around the RV park a bit, and somehow blew 11 hours without much to show for it.  But honestly, we didn’t mind that at all.  🙂

Day 114 – Day two of training for Jacin.  Another good day with more excitement for what is to come.  I took Jacin to work so we could have wheels, and I stopped by a fitness center on the way home to check out the facilities.  (It is my intention to fully enjoy being in one location for a while and get plugged into as much as possible.)  I had a short meeting with the manager, and once he found out I was a personal trainer, he tried to talk me into a job.  Maybe later, as for now I have plenty to keep me busy with work and upcoming homeschooling.  I was told they were running a crazy cheap special deal starting tomorrow, so I will check it out sometime this weekend.  Just looking for a few classes and access to free weights.  After I got back to the RV, I took Nation over to the office for free coffee and donuts (boy does that kid love his coffee).  We later headed back to Goodwill for another perusal through the book section, and also checked out the local neighborhood.  After picking Jacin up from work, we had a quiet evening in.


Day 115 – Jacin got to work when he was told to, but found it mostly barren.  He finally rounded someone up to help him locate his workstation, which had yet to be assigned.  He ended up with a corner cubicle next to windows – BONUS!  He had no supervisor all day, so he was just self-directed all day, but did fairly well with that.  Since we will be here for a while, I began checking into all of the various fitness programs and finding the best deals, and taking advantage of having someone kick my butt for a while.  Working out on the road has been difficult – lack of motivation and a schedule has made me fluffy, and I am DONE with that!!  There is truly any and every form of exercise here.  I attended a free CrossFit class, and while they scaled it down a bit for the newbies, it was not as hard as I expected, but it was a good workout.  The program is pretty pricey, though, and the drive was a bit too far, so I’ll, be trying to find something a bit closer and see if other locations have better prices.  On the way home, I stopped by a garage sale which lit a deal-finding fire under my butt.  So, after getting cleaned up, the kids and I attempted to hit a few more.  We don’t really need much, aside from clothes for the ever-growing kids, but it is still fun to shop.  While driving around, we started following signs for a Fellowship Church.  When we found it, we were amazed at the enormous size of the parking lot, not to mention the many buildings.  I googled it on my phone and found that there was an evening class within the hour.  So, we headed back to the RV to dress for church, then back to the mega-church.  It was 20,000 attendees and the Pastor is Ed Young, who is a Christian author.  Everything was well organized and people were friendly, but it was so big!  Justice made the comment that it felt like we were walking through an airport while going from the kids area to the worship center, and the closer we got, the louder the crowd was.  The worship itself was great, but crazy – it felt more like being at a Jeremy Camp concert than worshiping God, but the team was certainly talented.  They played a short video with Pastor Young interviewing the devil.  The crowd (I mean congregation) was truly enjoying themselves, but we felt a bit out-of-place.  The sermon was good, but by the end of the experience, we decided it was just too big for us.  We do not need to have church “sold” to us, and are looking for something a bit more intimate.  We’ll try another church tomorrow, one that has a few homeschool families.  After church, we picked Jacin up and ate out – Indian food (yum).  Then home to watch a movie and hit the hay.

Day 116 – We dropped Jacin off to another day of the same thing, being self-directed and trying to find his way around everything, and headed to North Church.  We arrived at roughly 9:45 for the 10:00 service, and there was literally no more than 4 people there.  But, we were there, so thought we’d give it a go.  The worship was great, and the people were friendly, but there only ended up being maybe 100 people in a building that was meant to house at least 600.  It just didn’t feel like the right fit either, which was actually quite discouraging.  I was hoping to get plugged into a good church as soon as possible, and didn’t want to “waste” several weeks trying to do so.  So, when we got home, I checked out a church Jacin had driven past on his way to lunch one day, and I found that they had an evening service.  So, after researching it a bit more, then working for a few hours, I packed the kids up and headed to yet another church.  The worship was genuine, and the message was good.  It truly felt like home, even to the kids.  They served a dinner meal after the service, so we enjoyed a nice, cheap meal then checked out all the different programs they have available.  We are excited to check out their youth and adult programs, and we signed up for a “newcomers” meeting to learn more about the church.  After we picked Jacin up, we headed home for a quiet evening.

Day 117 – Monday, Aug 19 – Took Jacin to work at 8:00, and arranged to take yet another CrossFit class at 9:00, at a closer location.  It was smaller, but more intimate, and it truly kicked my butt.  I was sore directly afterward (and for DAYS following).  The owner also offers a kids program, so I will have the kids give it a try this week.  We started school, taking it slow and trying to wrap our heads around a new school year.  Jacin worked phones all day, and found out his schedule will be 9-8 every day, which isn’t the best schedule for a morning person, but we will not complain!  I took the kids swimming before picking Jacin up, and we had yet another quiet night in.

Day 118 – Took Jacin to work again.  Even though he is learning something new each day and has roughly 9 software programs to figure out and weed through, his days get easier and easier.  The kids and I went through another day of school, and while I worked for several hours, Justice read a book (for a very long time, which makes her momma happy), and Nation worked on creating an App for his iPod.   I quickly hit a yoga class right before picking Jacin up, wanting to TRY to work out some of the soreness from the CrossFit class.  When Jacin and I got home, Justice had dinner prepared – pasta alfredo with “cute” peppers.  It was a good day.

Day 119 – Jacin had yet another “better” day.  We had the regular school day with another few hours of work, and then I took the kids to CrossFit.  After the warmup, they both looked at me with the “are you trying to kill us” eyes, but they pushed through it and ended up having a good time.  And I was blessed to be able to work out while they were busy.  Right afterwards, we headed to an oil change, which took 1.5 hours.  Then we rushed over grab groceries before picking Jacin up.  We had a quick dinner of roasted chicken and potato salad (thank you Walmart), then started watching the Cape.  The off to bed to prepare for another day.

Day 120 – Thurs, Aug 22 – Jacin had another great day, working a lot of claims and feeling like he was truly getting the hang of everything.  The kids and I had school, and I worked while they read and worked on the computer.  The kids and I headed to Irving Bible Church to attend a newcomers meeting, and left feeling even more at home.  It is great to have found such a wonderful, welcoming church so quickly.  We picked up Jacin and headed home.  His schedule makes it difficult to plan dinners.  We are not big fans of eating late, but perhaps we will figure out a workable solution.  Jacin mentioned that his supervisor told him how impressed she was with his performance, since we was so new to this.  Go Jacin!

Day 121 – Jacin’s praise yesterday ended up tripping him up, and he got knocked down a bit by having to fix a mistake.  Thankfully his supervisor was great about it.  The kids had a small school load due to it being Friday, and we hit a Nature Preserve for a hike.  It is still unnerving to be hiking, then hear a very quick scramble right at your feet, only to find a lizard shooting out of the way.  They are everywhere!  After the hike, we hit the animal shelter to enjoy the animals for a bit, then headed to the library to get a temporary card.  The kids have found a few series they are enjoying, and I am going to take advantage of that!  We headed back home to get out of the heat, and spent the afternoon reading, working, and app-ing.  I headed off in the afternoon to try out a free TRX (suspension training) class, which I want to experience so I can incorporate more of it in my boot camps back home.  It was more than the suspension training – it was a full-fledged boot camp that incorporated weighted ropes, medicine balls, and the TRX rip stick.  It absolutely kicked my butt!  I felt great afterwards, though, and the trainer encouraged me to come back in the morning and try it again.  I will have to see if I can fit it into my schedule.  I picked up Jacin from work, and when we got home, we found Justice wide-eyed, and she said, “You will never guess what I just caught!”  She had spotted a VERY large toad and coaxed him into a bowl to share with the rest of us.  Jacin took him out of the bowl so we could get a picture, and the poor toad “let a lot of water loose” all over the place.  We snapped a few pics and let the timid guy go, then watched yet another episode of Cape with the kids.

Day 122 – Jacin headed out early to check out a topper for sale that would fit his truck.  He’s been tossing around the idea of replacing his current TracRac with a topper so that our belongings will be more secure.  It was a good fit, but he is still toying around with the idea.  After I dropped him off at work, I headed back to the TRX class for round 2.  It was another great workout!  I headed home to clean up, then the kids and I headed to a farmer’s market.  We got there too late to buy anything, but we will definitely make a point to go back next week and get some fresh food!  We walked through a fancy house next door that was having an open house.  It was beautiful, but after making due with such small space, it just seemed wasteful.  This entire area, actually, is filled with very expensive homes, and it is truly strange to drive through it all everyday.  We definitely don’t fit into the affluent community.  🙂  The kids and I had ice cream for lunch (yeah, I know), then realized it was Jacin’s lunch break, so took him to Chick-Fil-A.  Then the kids and I did some quick shopping and headed back to the RV to get out of the heat. It’s over 100 degrees today, which makes it pretty easy to just hide out indoors.  We are now headed out to the pool before we need to pick up Jacin.  The kids and I are looking forward to church tomorrow!

Headed back to Texas

Day 109 – Sunday, August 11 – We woke and took our time getting ready to leave and head toward Texas.  We drove through some of the hardest rain we’d seen in months.  Jacin planned a quick sidetrip to Avery Island, home of Tabasco Hot Sauce.  We watched a short informative film and had a short tour of the facilities, then enjoyed some time in the country store, where we got to sample jalapeno ice cream and browse through all things Tabasco.  We even got free mini bottles of 4 different flavors of Tabasco each, free with the tour.  Upon leaving, we stopped for fuel, and Jacin noticed that the generator was literally hanging out from under the RV.  Praise God it had not fallen out completely and done major damage to the RV and the pickup!  Being the ingenious handyman he is, he used a few of his ratchet straps to get it back into place until we can get the right parts to fix it correctly.  We stopped at the visitors center at the TX border hoping to see gators in their viewing area, but no luck.  We had decided to stay in Martin Dies Jr State Park near Jasper, TX, in order to gague whether we could live there as camp hosts.  It is a gorgeous park with thickly pine-forested areas interspersed with swamps.  We fed the kiddos and headed to bed.

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Day 110 – I worked for a few hours while Jacin worked on an insurance fraud class in preparation for his upcoming work.  We took a quick driving tour of the park (so very pretty, and really big – it’s no wonder they need more help), then headed into Jasper to get groceries and hit a few places to find various parts for various repair projects.  (Jasper, TX, has a story that made the news in the recent past – Google it if you are not aware of the tragedy).  It took 4 different stores for Jacin to round up everything he needed, then a long (crowded) trip to Wal-mart to wrap things up.  It was 3:00 before we ate lunch!  Jacin then worked on repairing what he could (unfortunately the generator problem will require something different), and he and Nation rented a canoe for the evening.  We all went out in search of gators, but I must confess that thinking about doing so and ACTUALLY doing so result in two very different sets of emotions.  While we’d like to see them in the wild, thinking about coming across one in the water was a bit unsettling for me and the kids.  It turned out to be a short canoe ride.  We made a camp fire and had our first s’mores of the year.  It is very strange being near a campfire in 85 degree, humid weather.  It just doesn’t cool off at night like we are used to in Custer State Park.  But we tried to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible before bedtime.  Because, here it is, Monday night, and we are headed to Dallas tomorrow, where we will be city-locked for several months.  It will be very strange not being a complete family 24/7 as we have for nearly the last year.  But, we are looking forward to consistency and a schedule, as well as getting plugged in to a church and a homeschool community, at least for a while.  Thanks again to everyone for keeping us lifted up.  This amazing journey would not be possible without the support of family and friends, and we are so thankful to God for allowing us this adventure, even through all the ups and downs.  Blessings on your night, and we’ll be posting again soon.

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Detour to the Gulf of Mexico

Day 105, Wednesday, August 7 – After several calls yesterday, we knew we needed to head toward Texas. Jacin talked with two state parks in particular, Martin Dies and Inks Lake, which were ready to have additional help in their parks now. We were told that our background checks could be pushed through as quickly as Friday, so we thought we’d head to Martin Dies (the closer of the two) for the weekend to scope it out and see if it would be a good place to call home for a while. We took our time packing up and eventually headed west. About an hour into our long day, we passed the turn off to Grand Isle, which is a small island off the coast of Louisiana. Jacin absently stated, “This will be our last chance to see the ocean for a while,” and that settled it. We headed south and grabbed a spot in Grand Isle State Park, which is right on the Gulf of Mexico, separated only by a sand levee. While we were still in the humid Louisiana heat, the proximity to the ocean offers a constant breeze which cools things down a bit (aka it blows on the sweat that is constantly flowing from your body, thereby decreasing your body temperature slightly :)). We walked the beach for a while, then stopped at a neighboring camp to see what was in the buckets next to their camper. Lo and behold, they were full of crabs. We must’ve made an impression with our questions and curiosity, because roughly an hour later they invited us over to share in their feast. They schooled us in the art of de-shelling, and we were off! I have no idea how many crabs we ate, but we were stuffed full by the end of it (except for Justice, who couldn’t even stand the smell let alone attempt to put any of it in her mouth, so didn’t even hang around for the great conversation). We learned so much about the Grand Isle area, which is one of their annual vacation spots, as well as New Orleans, which is their home. Some time after dinner, we headed back down to the beach to catch the sunset, but we got down there a bit too late to see it. That didn’t prevent us from enjoying some more time in the water, and we also bumped into our crabbing neighbors, who gave us a quick tour of their crabbing pots, which were already starting to fill up after only a short time in the water.  What a wonderful day!

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Day 106 – Jacin and I got up early to see the sunrise of the Gulf of Mexico, only to get down to the beach and find quite a build up of clouds.  We enjoyed our quiet time together, listening to the waves and watching the sand crabs work on cleaning their homes.  It was quite entertaining, really.  Jacin headed back to camp to work on some apps and I ran a few sprint drills on the beach, finding treasures along the way.  I went back to the RV and grabbed Nation to come along with me.  On the way to the beach, we found our smallest frog yet, smaller than Nation’s pinky nail.  Next we found a large fish spine with the “ribs”, which looked like spikes from a sea monster.  Then we found several beached jellyfish and set one out on a picnic table to see what would happen (we found that all that was left the next day was a little bit of shiny film on the table).  Jacin and Justice joined us shortly, and we took a long walk along the beach, picking up shells as we went and finding several still inhabited by hermit crabs.  We had a late breakfast, then later took our bikes down to the beach.  Justice road along the coast through the incoming waves, then came to a crossing and decided to go for it.  She found out the hard way that it was much deeper than it looked, and ended up waist-deep in the water.  She was quite surprised, but pushed through it and came out laughing.  Later, after changing into dry clothes, we took the kids into town and checked out a souvenir shop, as well as taking a self-guided tour of the historic houses in the town, all of which were built in the mid- to late-1800s.  The island was settled by pirates, and most of the people living there can trace their roots back to a pillaging past.  We also explored a local cemetery, with the above-ground tombs, and marveled at the houses on stilts – even the school was built up off the ground!  After dinner, Justice was experiencing major discomfort, so I worked on her a bit then sent her to bed with a heating pad.  We all prayed over her complete recovery.

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Day 107, Friday, August 9 – Jacin and I were up early again to attempt to see the sunrise, but were met by another cloudy morning.  So, we again just took in the sights and enjoyed some alone time together.  Once back at the RV, Jacin cleaned himself up and headed into town to find work.  We have all fallen in love with Grand Isle, and it is the first place that feels like home.  Justice headed out for a walk on the beach while I worked a bit, and Nation and I joined her later.  We met Jacin back at the RV, and he informed us that he had spoken with a local construction company that could offer him work, as well as had found an RV park that would let us stay for free in exchange for some handyman help.  We were all very excited!  So, Justice and I headed to the showers to get ready to check out the RV park and make the move.  When we got back, Jacin was on the phone, and we could tell our plans were quickly changing.  When he hung up, he said, “Well, I got the call.”  THE call, the one he has been waiting for since last October, finally came when we were ready to settle down for a while.  God works in mysterious ways.  We decided to celebrate with a meal out, and found a quaint little diner called The Starfish, where Jacin and I were treated to a seafood-stuffed baked potato, Nation had a shrimp patty, and Justice had the best hamburger ever.  After lunch, we decided that rather than head to Dalls right away, since we didn’t need to be there for almost a week, we would enjoy a couple more nights in paradise.  But, we had to switch campsites because our spot was reserved for the weekend.  We found our new neighbors to be just as incredible as the last ones.  We took a quick ride along the beach, and got fairly wet from a quick rainstorm.  When we returned, Bob and his brother John (our neighbors) got their shrimp out that purchased from a dock in town and showed us how to prepare them for cooking.  They cooked up red fish and shrimp, and we supplied the veggies, and we all shared a meal and stories together.  We even enjoyed a treat off an ice cream truck that came through the campground right after dinner.  It was another great day.  Thank you, Lord!

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Day 108 – Jacin woke me around 5:30 to see if I was up to heading down to the beach again.  I just couldn’t do it, and it was not too hard to convince him to sleep in with me.  It sounded windy and not too promising.  After breakfast, Jacin went for groceries while I worked and the kids kept busy reading and walking along the beach.  We had another nice dinner of fish and shrimp again with Bob and John, then headed down to the beach for the last time, until we return again.  Truly, besides Morro Bay, CA, this is the first place we’ve truly fallen in love with.  We are all grieving somewhat about leaving, but hopeful that God will allow us to winter here.



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On to Lousiana…

Day 95 – On the eve of day 95, Jacin and I felt the pull to find a church to attend in the morning.  So, we googled churches in the area (truly, what on earth would we do without internet?), and we picked one that sounded like home.  So, we got up early enough to get the family ready and headed to Parkway Life church in Lumberton, TX.  Everyone was so welcoming, knew that we were new visitors, and we even got a Parkway Life mug as a gift.  The music and the service were great, very charismatic.  The sermon was somehow extremely appropriate to our current situation (how is it that a Pastor, no matter where you are, knows exactly what you need to hear?), entitled “You’ve Got What it Takes,”, addressing how God only gives us as much as we can handle.  After church, we headed back to camp to get packed up and head out.  Louisiana offered a lovely rain storm, followed by an amazing 18-mile-long bridge over the swamps.  At one point, Jacin “felt” something strange, so he pulled over to check the tires, which had been nothing but problems the last few days.  He checked everything over, but didn’t notice anything wrong, so we headed down the road again.  Maybe two miles later, we blew tire #3 on the front driver’s side.  We called roadside assistance (even though they hadn’t been able to provide assistance on the previous two blowouts), and after making several calls, waited 2 hours for help to never show up.  So, Jacin and Nation walked back to the closest exit to a truck stop we had called when we first blew the tire, to see if they happened to have someone who could help (even though they weren’t helpful with the phone call effort). The truck stop is called Tiger Truck Stop, so you won’t be surprised to know they have Tigers on display….  Within 30 minutes, we had assistance swapping out the spare and were on the road again.  During our wait, we discussed whether it was a good idea to try to continue on to the state park where we had made reservations for that night, and we decided that rather than pressing our luck, we would stay in the nearest RV park and hit a Baton Rouge tire shop the next morning to replace the rest of the tires.  So, we stopped just 10 short miles down the road in Port Allen and called it a night.

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Day 96 – We were up early to hit the tire shop.  Jacin got a quote of $3000 to replace the remaining 4 tires, which made me throw up.  That was more than twice as much as the two tires we had replaced on the side of the road in TX!!!  So, I went in with Jacin and had the guy recheck his math, which ended up shaving $1000 off the quote.  Phew!  So, we unhooked the truck to let them do their magic and journeyed off to find an alternator repair shop in hopes that they might be able to fix the slide pump motor that Jacin was able to slip off easily that morning.  The repairman first looked into ordering a replacement, which would cost $100-$200, plus we’d have to wait on shipping time.  But, he was willing to take a peak inside and see if there was anything he could do.  So, we left the motor with him and headed to a local mall to ill some time.  We checked out our first Big Lots, then went to a thrift store where we picked up a few new books.  The repairman called and had worked his magic – he was able to get the motor running with a minor clean up job!  Praise God!  So, we picked up the motor and headed to the tire shop to check on their progress.  Not good news.  They had switched out the front two tires, but the rear driver’s side wheels were completely bound up and could not be removed.  They worked on them for several hours to no avail, so we just loaded up the last two tires and headed to New Orleans, praying that we would not have any additional blow outs during the 80-mile venture.  We made it safe and sound to Bayou Segnette State Park, a nice large campground with a pool and free laundry!  Jacin spoke with the campground host and got a number for an on-site repairman to contact tomorrow.  He also installed the pump motor, and praise God, the slides worked!  On a very sad note, we found out that Roxie, Jacin’s aunt, has Stage 4 malignant brain tumors, so we will be keeping her family in our prayers.  It certainly made us realize just how small and petty our problems have been, even though they’ve seemed insurmountable at times.  Perspective…

Day 97, Tuesday, July 30 – Jacin left early to head to a State Farm certification class in New Orleans.  He was able to walk down Bourbon Street and the French Quarter a bit during lunch.  I worked most of the day, and Justice caught up on laundry that had not been done in a while because it had been trapped in a closet behind the slide.  The kids and I did go swimming and toured around the state park a bit.   It was a long class day for Jacin, but he felt good about being there and what he had learned.   He was home by 6:00, and we had a quiet night.

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Day 98 – Jacin was up early and headed to the city for another day of class.  He had a good day learning the estimating process of State Farm, and surprisingly, he ran into a familiar Rapid City face over his lunch hour, the daughter of one of his mom’s friends.  What a small world!  I worked again for quite a bit of the day, even taking a bike ride to the nearest post office to mail out a couple of tax returns.  I can’t even describe what it feels like to exercise in such heat and humidity.  I sweat more in 5 minutes outside in Louisiana than during an hour of Insanity!!!  Once back, the kids and I went swimming again.  They worked on a bit of school work to keep themselves busy and gear their brains up for the real deal, which is soon coming!  In bed Jacin and I discussed our next step.  We are both feeling anxious regarding what will happen after his training, not really knowing whether work will result quickly, and if not, where we are supposed to go.  The financial pressure after the whole tire fiasco is a bit overwhelming at times, but we are trying to stay strong in our belief that God brought us here for a reason.  We will see what the next several days of training bring.

Day 99 – Yet another day into the city for Jacin.  He had a very positive morning as the company presented itself and their work opportunities.  Jacin was in touch with a tire company, and they came out to the RV to attempt to whack the rear tires off.  The poor young man gave it his all for almost 2 hours, then let me know that his boss would come out that evening to try himself.  The kids and I swam again and also worked on schoolwork.  Jacin got home early, so Justice and I headed to the grocery store while Jacin and Nation waited on the bossman.  When Justice and I got back, we were so pleased to see that the old tires were laying next to the work truck!  The boss and his brother didn’t have it easy, but they were able to break them loose without applying heat.  Praise God!!!

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Day 100 – It really feels crazy typing 100.  Hard to believe it’s been so long, really.  Jacin headed to New Orleans to take his State Farm Cert tests.  He called around 10:00 to say that he had completed his first test, the estimating portion, in 20 minutes.  He passed with a 100%!  He had several hours until the next test began, so he headed out to tourist around in the French Quarter again.  He called again at 2:00 to let us know that he passed the policy portion of the test with an 84%.  We were so proud of him, and he was relieved to have the tests done.  Rather than come home right away, he did yet another bit of touring so he could participate in a Q&A session that afternoon.  I worked quite a bit of the day, but found time to go swimming with the kids again.

Day 101, Saturday, Aug 3 – Jacin headed back to the city yet again to participate in the Louisiana Citizens certification.  The class was pretty dull, as it was just a refresher of most of what he’d learned in previous classes he’d taken, but he signed up for a level 2 class to be held on Monday in the company’s Hammond office, with the hopes that he’d get a chance to make more contacts and see the work environment.  The kids and I rode our bikes to a Farmer’s Market that was advertised on the city’s website, but there was nothing there when we arrived.  So, we headed back to camp so Justice could catch a phone call with her best buddy in Rapid City, time much needed to ease her homesickness.  We of course went swimming.  Jacin was home early, so we decided to drive around a bit and see what there was to see.  We checked out a church he had been eyeballing on his various trips to town.  He also gave us some short tours of areas he’d been able to visit, including pointing out a lot filled with movie trucks (we assume for a Costner movie being filmed in the area), and we even got to take our truck on a ferry from Algiers to New Orleans.

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Day 102 – We made it to the 9:00 service at Celebration Church and enjoyed the worship service singing familiar songs.  The church, including the entire service (announcements, ordering, and all), was very similar to Open Bible.  They had a bookstore, where we picked up a few clearance fiction books for evening enjoyment.  After church, we headed to the French Quarter to experience the Satchmo Summerfest music festival and all the vendors.  It was SOOO hot and humid, but we had a good time.  The kids and I decorated coconuts, and we had some local cuisine off the vendor carts (a crepe with Nutella and bananas for Nation, red rice and beans for me, and fried fish for Jacin – nothing for Justice as she was too hot to eat).  We headed back to camp to cool off in the pool.  Then Jacin and I found the nearest RedBox and picked up a couple of movies for the evening.  We watched Rise of the Guardians and had Frosties for dinner (making memories, let me tell you!).

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Day 103 – Jacin had to leave very early to get to Hammond by 8:00, and he got to see a beautiful sunrise over Lake Pontchartrain.  I worked for a few hours, then the kids helped me go through all of our treasures and belongings to determine what could be given away (I know, right, can you believe we have a “Goodwill” pile while on the road?), and what we could at least send home and not keep with us in the RV.  We also did roughly 300 loads of laundry :), then attempted to go swimming, but the gate was locked.  So, I let the kids watch National Treasure while I read for a little while, then started on dinner.  Jacin got home pretty late and was discouraged.  We were hoping and believing that today would be a future-determining day, but there is simply no work right now due to no storms.  So, we really have no idea where we are going or what we are doing next.  That is a first on this trip.  We tried to keep our mind off of it by playing games with the kids, then really didn’t talk much about it at bed time.  Just needing everything to sink in, needing to pray, hoping that sleeping on it will help…

Day 104 – Tuesday, August 6 – Well, we are hunting for our next move today.  Jacin and I have spent the morning scoping out state parks in Texas, and calling on camp host openings in several of them.  The first few calls were discouraging, as they had no openings, but then Jacin talked to a couple of parks who are in need of help now.  We have submitted applications and are praying that this will result in something.  It is just after lunch time, and since we don’t really have a solid plan yet, we are going to stay here at Bayou Segnette at least one more night while we wait for things to come together.  Our family in San Marcos has been encouraging to come back and stay with/near them, so we are looking at parks in that area.  God knows, and we are doing what we can to move with his direction.  We are hoping to know more very soon.  Thank you to each person who is lifting us up in prayer and supporting our adventure with positive thoughts.  While I’d like to report that we have been nothing but strong and peaceful about all of the ups and downs, it would be a lie.  We trust God, absolutely, but that doesn’t always prevent us from being confused about where we are right now.  We have no doubt he is using this adventure to mold us, but we should know that won’t be easy, right?  We are grateful for our adventures up to this point, and that we are able to spend this time with our kids and see country that we never seen before.  And so we try to keep on a good face and take each minute as it comes.  Those of you who know us well know that that is not an easy task for this bunch, but it is good.  We will keep you posted…

Day 94 – Village Creek State Park, Lumberton, TX

We interrupt this message for a quick update on Day 93:

We had the most incredible, helpful tire angel at blowout #2.  He saved us $400 over taking the RV to the nearest Camping World, and he also gave us very useful information (although telling us all the tires need replacing is not happy information, it is need-to-know info).  Thank you, Gustavo!  We arrived in Lumberton roughly 3 hours after we intended, and our GPS (and phones) routed us to the wrong place.  So, when we finally checked in and picked a spot, it was already getting dark.  Jacin worked at getting the RV ready for the night, only to have our spare cell phone slip underneath the slide out, the pressure of from which was apparently the last straw for the hydraulic pump.  After 20 minutes of “If you’d like to make a call, please hang up and dial again,” he was able to free the cell phone from its tomb.  We are happy to report that the cell phone survived, but we were stuck with the slide half-out, and unable to run anything on the hydraulic line (both slides and the levelers).  We tried dinking with it in the dark, but finally decided to wait until sunlight.

Day 94 – Needless to say, my poor husband was up most of the night trying to think through how to get us out of our most recent mess.  Before any of us was awake, he had the propane tank fixed and was digging into the hydraulic pump.  We replaced one of the solenoids, but to no avail.  We were able to manually retract the living room slide, so at least we can drive to New Orleans tomorrow and hopefully find a reputable person to help us get everything back in working order on Monday.  So, after hours spent running to parts stores and rolling around in the gravel, we quickly grabbed some groceries, had a quick bite, then headed out for a hike.  It was 1 mile to the swimming area of the state park, so we ventured off down the path.  Justice found the ittiest, bittiest, cutest little frog along the river, so of course brought him along to be her hiking buddy.

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When we finally made it to the swimming beach, we were all drenched in sweat.  And I am not kidding when I say drenched.  Every layer of clothing, soaked.  Justice and I excitedly headed into the water, fully clothed, only to find that the water was the same temperature as our hot bodies.  So, without good reason to jump in, we chased some more baby frogs, then headed back to camp.  We all took cold showers then settled in for a dinner of ice cream (which sounded like a good idea at the time, but our tummies are complaining now) and a quick episode of “Chuck.”  We are calling it quits early tonight in an attempt to catch up on some sleep after a restless night last night.  We are praying for safe travels tomorrow with no hiccups, and God’s hand in finding us the right parts and the right repair person on Monday.  We miss you all!  Thank you for your continued support!

PS – A BIG happy birthday to both Jessi and Austin today!