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!

Grand Canyon, New Mexico, and Texas

Please forgive us for getting so far behind. It is amazing how many days can pass in what seems like such a short while. This is a long one, so please don’t feel pressured to read it all. Perhaps just peruse the photos (which are coming soon…).

Day 74, Sunday, July 7 – We had planned a trip to Oak Creek Canyon near Sedona for some hiking, but Justice work up feeling ill, which we attributed to some too-old leftover chicken (if only she would eat fish, which is what the rest of us had for dinner last night). Since it was my last day with my dad, Jacin volunteered to stay behind with Justice so we could continue with our plans. Just before we were ready to leave, Sandy volunteered to watch over Justice, because she isn’t up for hiking quite yet, anyway. So, We headed out with Jacin, dad, Nation, and Aaron, and embarked on a 6.6 mile round trip hike on West Fork Trail. It was plenty hot, but the trail had several creek crossings in which to cool down. Our goal, of course, was to hike it to the end, but the blazing heat wore the young boys out, so Grandpa agreed to start heading back with the youngins, and Jacin and I picked up the pace and headed toward the end. It was worth the additional effort. At the end, the trail simply ends at the creek’s edge, and to continue you have to wade. We took off our shoes and headed in, following the water around a couple of bends before deciding we’d shot enough pictures and should head back to meet up with the rest of the group. To my surprise, my anti-exercise husband took off running down the trail. I laughed to myself a bit, wondering how long it would be before he had to stop and heave, but after several minutes of not catching up to him, I took off down the trail to catch him. We ended up running at least 1.5 miles before we caught up with the rest of the family, and we took a break at an area in the creek that had natural slides in the red rocks. The boys played for quite a while before we coaxed them out of the water and made the rest of the trek back to the truck. We made the two-hour trip back to Prescott, whipped up a quick white chili dinner, and headed to bed.

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Day 75 – Jacin and Nation took the RV in to be checked out, and Justice and I stayed behind for chores and QEST appointments. The boys picked up breakfast at Starbucks while waiting for the RV, but after a while decided to head back to the house to check in and formulate a plan. Justice and I headed back into town with them and we caught a late lunch at Taj Mahal (Indian buffet – YUM!). We dinked around a bit before going to pick up the RV. Not so good news – the AC needs charging and the rear hydraulic leveling jacks are essentially shot (though continue to use them, knowing we’ll have to jack them back up). Bummer, especially when you have to pay a bill to have had nothing fixed! (I understand there is time that goes into diagnosing – it is just difficult to avoid feeling like you are getting the short end of the stick.) We headed back to the house and had dinner with Sandy, and the family went to bed as I prepared for a long night of work. The fun never ends!

Day 76 – Jacin and Nation took the RV back into town to have the AC charged, and we girls stayed behind yet again. There is a lot of bookkeeping to be done this month due to the end of the quarter, and I also had to prepare for my QEST finals this weekend. When the boys got home, it was more bad news – the AC was still not getting cold, and Affinity RV decided it needed an additional $400 repair (after we’d already dropped the same amount diagnosing and charging it). It is times like these when we are forever grateful for good friends. Jacin made a call to Danny in Rapid City, a wonderful man who owns a refrigeration/truck repair shop, and he talked Jacin through a few things to check out. Within the course of an hour, he had the A/C working like new – it was only a vacuum leak. Praise God! While he was on a roll, he tried cycling the jacks to see if he could coax them into working properly, but to no avail. At some point we will have to replace them, but thankfully we can work around the problem for a while. After dinner, I packed up to head to Denver the next day while watching a movie with the family. (Code – “Ooh, I’m shaking in my baby seal leather boots!” Code – “Oh, my big blue head!”) 🙂

Day 77 – I packed up and the family dropped me off at the shuttle to Phoenix. It will be a long weekend of internship, MANY tests, and lots of “sit on your butt” time, but as always, I do look forward to class. {Interjection – the next few days of activities will be short and to the point, as I wasn’t there, but rather am reading Jacin’s journal to fill in the details.} Jacin and the kids headed to Montezuma’s Castle, which is a hike leading to ruins built in the side of cliffs, then Montezuma’s well, a continuous fed watering hole.

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Day 78, Thursday, July 11 – Jacin and the kids headed to the Grand Canyon. They ate a big breakfast in Williams, then snapped some pictures of the motel and bar from the movie, “The Canyon”.

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They stopped in Tusayan and bought an annual National Parks Pass (makes sense since we assume we will have lots of opportunities to visit several more National Parks in the next several months), then rode the shuttle into the park. The walked along quite a bit of the rim and snapped lots of great pictures in the ideal lighting and great temperatures. Nation left his water bottle at one of the vista points, but then got lucky and found a replacement, as well as an umbrella. They left the Canyon around 5:30 and made their way home, to a very good night of sleep.

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Day 79 – Lazy day. The monsoons finally arrived, bringing in cooler temps and moisture – much needed and appreciated. Jacin and the kids cleaned the RV and went shopping for groceries. Justice then had an afternoon painting with Grandma Sandy, while the boys veged in front of the TV. After a steak and potato dinner, they all (including Dad and Sandy) retired to movie night, watching “The Canyon”.

Day 80 – Another lazy start. Everyone headed to Watson Lake with dad’s fishing boat and spent several hours trolling around. They spent a lazy evening watching a movie.

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Day 81 – Jacin and the kids attended church with Sandy, then tended to some chores around the house. They spent the afternoon playing cards and enjoying each other’s company. My flight into Phoenix was delayed, so I missed the shuttle up to Prescott, forcing Jacin to make the drive to pick me up. It was a super late night, but always good to be “home”.


Day 82 – Jacin, Nation, and I were able to jump out of the RV and say good-bye to dad before he headed to work (Justice still had her head buried in her pillow). We all got showered and packed up, then after writing Sandy a good-bye note, we headed up to the Grand Canyon. We grabbed a great spot in Ten-X campground just outside of the park. After setting up camp, we headed into the park to try to get a couple hours of touristing in. However, a monsoon storm settled in and the buses were no longer taking people out to the farthest points. So, after getting suitably wet, we headed back to camp and enjoyed a few hours of card games and a movie. It was great to spend some quiet family time together after having been apart all weekend.

Day 83 – We made it into the park around 10:00 and hiked along the rim to several of the western points. Then the clouds started rolling in, so we grabbed the buses to hit the last 4 points before the rain came. Justice found what we believe to have been a baby horny toad at one of the stops, so she brought him along for several of the stops and enjoyed having a pet for a little while. Unfortunately, Jacin’s camera battery ran out before we were done exploring, but we were able to see some tremendous views of several different sections of the canyon. Afterwards, we drove some back roads outside the park boundary in an attempt to get to a few of the points that are not accessible to most tourists. Jacin let Justice drive since we were on gravel and dirt and there was no one around. She got her first lesson in dealing with muddy, rutted roads, and we ended up completely sideways at one point after she attempted to stay out of the mud. We never did find a back way in accessible by vehicle, but it was a fun adventure all the same!

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Day 84 – Time to pack up camp and head east. We drove all day through New Mexico, avoided Albuquerque by taking a smaller highway that bypassed the city, and ended up dry camping in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Socorro, NM.

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Day 85 – Didn’t get much sleep due to heat and noise. At some point you just have to decide whether to keep trying or just hit the road. We left Socorro before the kids were awake. We drove through mountains and clouds, past the Trinity Site (test site of the first atomic bomb), then through Lincoln (last escape of Billy the Kid). We dropped into Carizzozo, which reminded us of Iceland with the clouds and the lava fields. We headed to Roswell, NM, to see some aliens. Justice informed us that it would be a silly stop since “they don’t exist”, but she had fun posing with them anyway. We didn’t take the tour of the museum, but came away with some great evidence. We contemplated dry camping again somewhere in TX, but needed to dump and fill as our camping in the Grand Canyon was without hookups. So, we stopped east of Abilene, TX, to find a place to dump, but just decided to stay the night and take advantage of full hookups. We had no complaints from the kiddos who were able to swim a bit in the pool.

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Day 86 – We hung around Abilene RV Park after sleeping in so that we could catch up on laundry as well as so I could catch up on work. While I had this glorious idea that I could work while Jacin drives, attempting to use dual screens on bouncy roads and making phone calls without having them dropped has been challenging. So, shortly after 12 we headed out towards Cedar Lake State Park campground, our stopping point just outside of Dallas for a few days while Jacin attended an estimating software class in the city. We were surprised to find the campground mostly empty, especially so close to the city and on a weekend. Our site overlooked the lake, and even if there had been others nearby, the layout of the campground keeps most site fairly private. There were so many trees, and the playgrounds were “hidden” in the middle of forested areas. Jacin took the kids to a surprisingly cheap dinner at Pizza Hut while I worked. They filled up with gas, but the nozzle was rigged in such a way that it literally flew out of the gas tank twice, causing Jacin to be drenched in gasoline. He washed the truck afterward then headed back to camp so he could wash himself. He claims he was then going to work on the blog, but he ended up having issues with his mouse that he had to deal with so that his computer would be ready for class the next day. So, we’ll blame it on him that nothing has been updated in a timely fashion. 🙂

Day 87, Saturday July 20 – Jacin was up early to head to Dallas for his Symbility training. I had intended to take the kids to a reptiles program in the state park, but they slept in too late to make it. Once they were up and fed, we jumped on our bikes and headed to a mammals program at 11:00. We weren’t really sure how far it was to the meeting area, and looking on a 2-D map didn’t really prepare us for what we might encounter. Needless to say, after several large hills and 800% humidity in 97 degree heat, we were 15 minutes late and completely drenched in sweat. (Poor Nation’s face didn’t change from the color red until we were back in the RV for at least an hour.) But it was still interesting, as we were able to learn fun facts about local wildlife as well as hold a stuffed armadillo. Nation was even sprayed by a stuffed skunk. Now that’s Texas fun if you ever had it! After the program we took a very quick tour of a farm on the park grounds, then hopped back on our bikes to tour around a bit more. We hit the marina and cooled off a bit inside, then headed down to check out the beach. There were way too many people to try it out just then, so we took an extremely fun (sarcasm) short cut up the side of a wooded hill to our camper, and then spent the next 15 minutes pulling burrs off of our clothing. The rest of the day was spent in the RV taking advantage of the air conditioning. I cannot imagine trying to camp in Texas this time of year without hookups. I helped the kids with a bit of schoolwork, then spent the rest of the afternoon working while the kids veged. Jacin made it home around 6:30 and had homework to do, so it was a pretty quiet night.

Day 88 – Jacin was gone early again to class. The kids and I decided to try out the beach before it was packed with people. We spent a couple of hours playing in the mud/clay bottomed lake. We headed back to the RV and cleaned up for lunch. Jacin sent us a text at nearly 2:00 saying they still hadn’t stopped for lunch, which, if you know Jacin, is NOT a good thing. His brain was shutting down, and I would imagine he was on the verge of being HANGRY (hungry-angry). While Jacin was buried in a test that afternoon, I worked and the kids were happily engaged (chuckle) in more school work. Jacin thinks he fared well, although we won’t have the test results for a while.

Day 89 – I worked on bookkeeping and Jacin updated and submitted applications in the morning for as long as we could before we ventured out of the state park and headed towards San Marcos, where my Uncle Mike and Aunt Mary Alice live. They were able to provide us with power, which allowed us to stay on their property rather than several miles away, which allowed us much more time for visiting. We had a nice dinner together and visited late into the night as we discussed what me might do and see during our visit.

Day 90 – We had planned to head to San Antonio, but we had been up late the night before and had a tough time getting going. So, Mary Alice took us to the head waters of the San Marcos River, where she treated us to a glass-bottomed boat tour. It was incredible! The San Marcos river is spring fed, and the water is crystal clear. We could see several springs, many turtles swimming about, and flowers blooming underwater due to the sunlight’s ability to penetrate so deeply. After lunch, I stayed at the RV to work and the rest of the gang headed to a nearby cave. The tour ended up being too expensive, so Mary Alice took them on a driving tour of San Marcos. Then came back to the house to load up tubes and headed to the river. Mike brought chicken home for dinner, and the men helped a neighbor set up a piano, and then headed to my cousin Faith’s house to install a door. The rest of us headed to Faith’s a bit later and enjoyed a tour of her adorable home. Faith was not in town, but was visiting her siblings in Indiana, so unfortunately we didn’t have the opportunity to see her. It was another late night.

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Day 91 – We left (as early as is possible for this traveling bunch) to head to San Antonio. Our first stop was the San Juan Mission, which has been restored over the years and the grounds kept intact. We were lead through the grounds by a park ranger, so gained some very interesting knowledge about many of the early missions of what was Spain’s earliest attempts to colonize the area now known as Texas. It was great to do this first, before we hit the Alamo, which is in middle of San Antonio, so that we could get a true feel for what these missions were like before the population explosion. The Alamo was also very educational, but our hungry tummies were preventing our brains from taking in more information, so we headed down to the river walk and had a nice Mexican lunch at Casa Rio. We finished off our trip with a boat tour of the river walk area, then headed back to San Marcos before rush hour traffic. After dinner with Mike and Mary Alice, we headed off to bed after a tiring day of touristing.

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Day 92, Thursday, July 25 – We left San Marcos around 10:00 and headed up to Austin to the University of Texas, where my Uncle Mike works as a project supervisor. He showed us several of the larger, more impressive projects he has been a part of over the last several years, and then we were treated to a tour of the main clock tower, where Charles Whitman lead his shooting rampage in 1966. The tower is basically closed to the public, so it was a true treat to see it from the inside. The building used to be the student library, and we saw several rooms that are being restored to their original beauty, which will eventually be used as meeting places. We also were able to go up inside the clock and watch the gear mechanism change the time, as well as walk around the outside of the clock and see where several bullets from local residents had hit the tower in their attempt to stop Charles Whitman. The last treat on the tour was our up close and personal viewing of the Carillon, which is essentially an organ, but with bells instead of pipes. We watched as a student played a music piece for us, using his fists rather than fingers due to the size and weight of the “keys”. Nation also got to take his turn at playing, and he chose the age old, beloved tune, “Heart and Soul”. Afterward, while waiting for Mike to finish his work day, we spent several hours in the Lyndon B Johnson Presidential Library on campus, mostly enjoying the photojournalism of presidents since FDR. Even the kids enjoyed their time looking at all the photos and the memorabilia from President Johnson’s ranch. Afterward, we headed to the famous Black’s Barbeque in Lockhart, TX, where Mike and Mary Alice treated us to the best barbeque we’ve had in years. We spent the evening looking through old family photos while the kids watched Voyage of the Dawntreader in 3D. It was yet another late night.

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Day 93 – So here it is, Friday, July 26th. We left Mike and Mary Alice’s house around 9:30 to start our trek toward Louisiana, where Jacin has classes starting next week. We thought it best to give ourselves a few days, just in case. Well, just in case happened. Right outside of Schulenburg, TX, we had our first tire blowout. We were directed to a great traveling tire savior who helped us get our spare on so we could continue down the road. It wasn’t even an hour after saying to each other, “OK, we can check that off the “travel to-do list” and noting how many tires we were seeing next to the road, that our second tire on the same side blew, just outside of Brookshire, TX. So here we are, having two tires replaced in a truck repair parking lot (as you can imagine, nothing on an RV is cheap), then headed down the road to an RV shop to replace the propane regulator that was blown off our tank from the second tire. I have a telephone appointment scheduled for this afternoon that I am not sure I will make, or may have to try to take while we are still driving, although it will inevitably fall during my peak navigation duties. And such is life on the road, I guess. Tonight we will stay in Village Creek State Park in Lumberton, TX. (Please, dear God, grant us traveling mercies.) Until next time…

More fun in the AZ sun

From Jacin:

Day 69

I was up early to beat the heat and finish oiling the rest of the wood beams. Danielle had 3 people scheduled to work on, so her dad and I moved the crane again, as he wasn’t happy with the safety of the location we started with. It is really quite an ordeal, as it weighs several tons, and isn’t really designed to move on its own. Jamie is a pro at operating it though, and all went well. We also cut up an old pickup for parts for a project, then of to the salvage yard to dispose of parts. As it hit nearly 100 degrees, we decided to call it a day and take the boys to see his land, and then to a small lake to play. As we sat in the parking lot waiting for the boys to walk to the water, a cold front moved in and dropped the temp around 25 degrees. A welcome change for sure. On the way back we checked out the new tractor supply store, and then headed home for dinner.

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Day 70

Got the kids moving and loaded into the truck after breakfast. Danielle and I thought we would take all the kids and give Sandy and Jamie a quiet day. We headed east over Mingus Mountain to Jerome, Arizona. This is an old mining town, much like Lead, SD. There are a lot of great little shops and galleries, and a restored mansion from the mine owner of the 1800’s. Then down the hill to Tuzigoot National Park, where we were able to hike along restored ancient ruins that are believed to predate most native cultures, and there is still little evidence as to who really built them.

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Off to a store for lunch supplies, and on to Sedona, the new age capital of the US. This is a really pretty area, much like Moab, Utah, with its flaming red colors. We stopped at the local tourist info booth and were guided to great place called Grasshopper Point for a picninc and swimming. We hiked to the water to find a super quiet swimming hole, where Aaron was the first to brave the frigid waters. After that Dru and I were in, followed by Justice and Nation. Danielle opted to stay warm, which in the desert heat, seemed a bit anticlimactic….  We spent several hours letting the kids play and cool off, and then headed to Flagstaff. We really just drove through to see the downtown, and headed back to Jamie’s for pizza.

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Day 71       4th of July

Jamie helped me fix lights on the pickup and camper. The previous owner had bypassed a blown fuse, and really left a rats nest of wires. Thankfully, we now actually have decent brake and signal lights. I did some other maintenence items on the camper, and Danielle worked on Sandy again, and then her dad. The grandparents took all the kids to a cowby dance and fireworks while Danielle and I enjoyed a quiet night.

Day 72

I was up early again to take the camper to a dump station at a local RV dealer. I set up appointments for Monday for items I can’t fix without specialty tools. Jaimie and the boys worked to strip the Blazer, that all his family gave him for his 60th birthday.  The boys even got to drive the loader a bit. Danielle worked for a few hours.  We set up a couple of hammocks for the kids to play with, and after dinner made ice cream and decorated cookies.

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Day 73

The Prescott 4th of July parade was a long one. 150 entries, and most noting the lost firefighters from town. It has been interesting to see the local community remember these men. We had some lunch in town, ran a few errands, then headed back to work on the blog. It is hot, so we are planning a northerly excursion for tommorrow, maybe back to Oak Creek Canyon near Sedona.

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