Thursday, May 29, 2014

Days like today

Days like today

Make me never want to leave here. Being here I don't miss the sounds, sights, or hub bub of the city (and I thought I couldn't live without a descent skyline). I am so drawn to the slower pace, the quiet and peacefulness, and the views that are breathtaking each time I look out a window or step on the porch. 

The kids have been enjoying classes with their friends all week. Tuesday it was farm class, Wednesday was gymnastics and today biography class. After biography today we all went to visit Uncle Darby's pond (our friend's great uncle that literally lives right across the street). The kids  used the paddle boat and caught tadpoles (in all the different developmental stages) and newts. They also caught a really tiny squiggly thing that we put under the microscope and learned (with the help of google) that it was a gnat larvae. How amazing is that... Science at our fingertips. Impromptu learning that couldn't have been pulled from a book. 

Since we've been here, in addition to school related activities, my kids have played chase and tag, play board games, rode bikes, did crafts, read books, played imaginative games, played with baby chickens, played chase, played with dolls, come up with creative story ideas, painted, climbed trees, swung on tree swings, talked to goats, watched horses roll over, built with blocks, watched different species of birds migrate to the bird feeder, and so much more (and none of this was even school work or classes) and not been glued to their phones and game consoles and tablets. 

This is the life that I long for for my children. A slower pace of life where they are just kids doing kid things. Even though I miss the ones I love in Charlotte it's taking a lot of energy and effort to not find a house here with plenty of land and pack up and build a new life here. It's especially hard when the kids are in agreement with moving for once. Maybe I can find me some land here and start that campground I've been wanting to open (and of course part of it would have to be Averie's farm and Joshua's Airsoft field). I could get a fancy RV and live at the campground and then head south for the winter. I'm not sure where the funds would come from but where there's a will there's a way, right?

I know we'll be here for a couple more days and then we are off to continue making our way down south. We'll visit family for a while before finally heading back to Charlotte where the kids will attend camp, I can tie up some loose ends, and we can celebrate birthdays and the holidays before getting back on the road. I don't know what path we'll take to head back but I'm excited about the journey. 

Until next time follow your dreams and figure the rest out later. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

We Made it Back and Now We are Without a Plan

We are back in these grand United States and I'm happy to say we are even out of Maine (no offense to my Maine friends). Going through customs again was an interesting experience. It was much more difficult getting back into my country then it was to leave it. The customs officer ask me questions like where I had been, for how long, why, what do I do for a living, what do I teach, where are the kids father, does he know I had them out of the country, etc, etc, etc. He then searched our RV and confiscated our oranges (apparently no citrus can cross the US/ Canadian boarder... who knew?!?).

Maine was a really depressing, yet extremely beautiful, state to me. There is nothing in the state except trees, hence the huge logging industry there.  Everyday we were in the state it was cloudy and rainy. It could have been the case that it was cloudy and rainy everywhere but that didn't help the long drive alongside the millions of trees and occasional farm along the way. Miraculously as soon as we crossed over into Canada the skies were blue and the sun was shining. The same thing happened when we left Maine and drove into New Hampshire. All I could think along the way was that I completely understand where Stephen King got all of his material from and why all of his horror stories are based in Maine.

We ended up boondocking, or dry camping as some may call it, for the first time in Maine. We left Saint John, New Brunswick and made the three hour drive to Bangor. I had read online that the Bangor Walmart was friendly to RVers and was relieved when I received permission from the manager. Once we were parked we decided to explore the area and walked to a nearby Hibachi restaurant and then the kids enjoyed some Sweet Frog for dessert. When we got back to the RV I realized I had left the lights on and of course the battery was dead. A nice man who lived in his van in the Walmart parking lot must have noticed me trying to jump my battery and came over to help. He was really nice and helpful except he kept coming over to "check" on us and that was kind of creepy. We got settled in for the night and we actually slept great.

Before the food at the Hibachi Resturant
Our chef put on a great show
Stuffing their faces
Enjoying froyo after dinner

We got up and headed to our new friend's house in New Hampshire. Our friends were very welcoming and we were very glad to be there. The kids played and watched movies and ate pizza while the adults chatted over wine.  I had a wonderful time talking and laughing and sharing stories with them. I hope one day they can visit us in Charlotte but until then we look forward to seeing them next summer when we make, what the kids are calling, our annual pilgrimage here.

We packed up and headed out around 9a and after an hour and a half stop at Walmart (where I bought an awesome tire pressure gauge and air pump... so no more having to stop at truck stops to get free air) made it to our friends in Massachusetts in about two and half hours. It was a great drive and I was really impressed with how I handled Honey.

The amazing tire gauge and air pump that plugs right into my ashtray

I think I am finally comfortable with here now and no longer let her scare me. When we arrived our friends were not home an their parents were heading down the hill to grab a bite to eat.  They invited us to join so the kids and I piled in their SUV and headed to The Creamy where the kids enjoyed burgers and hotdogs and yummy ice cream.  Our friends were home by the time we got back so, of course, the kids went straight off to play. I set up camp and transformed Honey from automobile to home.

I'm about to go settle down for the evening now. My friend's mother-in-law gave me a bag of movies she was planning to donate so I plan to go snuggle up in the RV and watch some oldies but goodies (Coming to America, You Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle, etc). We'll be here for a while... I'm not sure how long yet though. Perhaps a week or until we get kicked out :-D.

See that black speck? It's a hummingbird!
Hummingbird again! Beautiful birds here at the farm

When we leave here we are trying to coordinate a meet up with our RVing friends in PA then we are thinking of heading down to Tennessee to see family. So stay tuned to find out what's next!!! Until then peace, love, and travel!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Day 13 Oh Canada

It took us twelve days to get here but yesterday we conquered our goal of RVing our way to Canada. My posts from here on out won't be titled by which day we are on anymore and will probably become more random. This journey to Canada was important to us just to prove to ourselves that we can and will survive this RVing lifestyle. We've learned that not only can we survive it but we LOVE it. We love the randomness of it and not being on anyone's schedule but our own. We love getting to choose where to go next or what route we should travel. There are stressful moments and we do miss our loved ones but overall we are still excited about this adventure and so thankful for this opportunity at this point in our lives.

We are in Saint John, New Brunswick and it is a beautiful place to visit. Getting in here proved to be interesting for us.  Apparently no weapons can cross the Canadian boarder.  I had researched the topic before traveling here (just not thoroughly enough) and thought that only firearms could not cross.  I learned the hard way that tasers can not cross either. I was at a dilemma is the customs office, to turn over my taser or go back across the boarder.  I chose to go back across the boarder.  I found the nearest post office in a place call Calais, Maine and mailed my taser back to my friend in Massachusetts.  After that it was easy peasy crossing over into Saint Stephens.  Once we crossed we still had about 100 miles to drive. The highway was empty and this gave me plenty of time and space to get used to the signs and mentally converting miles into kilometers.

Canadian customs... yay we made it!
View from the bridge we sat on while waiting to cross
View from the car as we passed into Saint Stephen Canada

The city of Saint John is gorgeous.  It is the oldest incorporated city in New Brunswick and sits right on the harbor.  The pollution is not very appealing... white clouds or who knows what fills the sky from the oil refinery near the harbor. However, from our view high on the hill the refinery, the city and the harbor are a spectacular sight.

View from our spot on the hill... picture doesn't do it justice
The kids and I conquered the city today.  We rented a car this morning and headed straight downtown. We found the market square which is a small version of a mall except it had a huge pubic library and a museum in it. We explored the museum (the kids really impressed the tour guide with their knowledge during the whale demonstration... I was proud that they were able to regurgitate all they know about mammals and aquatic life *proud homeschooling mama moment*), visited the library and enjoyed a cup of coffee at the famous Tom Hortons Coffee Shop. After Market Square we found the City Market (an indoor market where farmers and artists sale their goods) where I was able to get my fresh fruits and veggies (For lunch I made some sautéed kale and garlic over linguine with sliced tomatoes on top YUM!). On our way back to the rental car we found a couple of interesting places. One of them was the Freak Lunchbox which turned out to be a very unique candy shop.



After leaving downtown we headed to the zoo. It was a small zoo but it was very awesome. It is privately owned and receives no money from the government but has managed to stay open and in operation for the last forty years.

View from the zoo

The zoo wore us out and we headed back to camp after that. We had lunch and the kids played around the camp for a while before we jumped back in the rental car and headed to the stables. The kids were so excited to feed our bag of carrots to the horses (I was just excited that the carrots didn't go to waste since no one was eating them).

After the stables we walked next door to the playground where the kids had a blast. It was interesting to watch them automatically fall into these small little social circles. I had to drag them away from the playground but by this point I was really tired and we still wanted to go explore downtown again. We decided to go for a ride (making the most out of the rentals unlimited miles) and explored the downtown area in the evening. The area was like most places we have visited, a nice downtown and then the average person living on the outskirts just living life and trying to make it. We found a corner store to stop at where the kids got an ice cream and I was able to chat with the lady behind the counter. So far we have had nothing but pleasant experiences with each and every person we have encountered here (even the random little old lady who approached us in the store and tried to convince us that there is no racism here... completely out of the blue :-/ ).

As I type this I'm watching the kids out of the window. They are "next door" enjoying a campfire with the Brazilian family who pulled in earlier today. The dad is really excited about this fire and I am amused watching the kids (and the dad) overcome the language barrier.  That's the thing about RVing, you never know who your neighbors will be and what wonderful experiences and stories they will have to share. While we are ready to move on (it was a tough decision, we almost signed a week long lease) we are definitely not ready for this adventure to be over. I'm not sure where we're heading tomorrow but I'm excited to get there.

Edited to add: Our neighbors invited us over to enjoy the fish he had caught. It was a lovely jester and we could not refuse.  It was an amazing experience. The family was wonderful. They are on vacation from Brazil and decided to travel across Canada before heading to Orlando for her job (she's a journalist). He cooked an amazing meal consisting of the salmon he had caught cooked with some tomatoes, peppers and onions that we brought (we scrambled to find something to bring once we received the invitation) over rice. He then drizzled olive oil over all the food and it was absolutely amazing. We talked about our lives and why we were traveling as we consumed a bottle of cabernet sauvignon. He is a psychologist and (again) she is a journalist and they are traveling with their 2 year old son. They are finishing their Canadian journey tomorrow after they drive about 400 miles to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where they will fly out to Orlando. The time we spent with this family is exactly what RVing is all about.  A culture experience that enriched the lives of both families. The kids agreed that it was an awesome experience and it was one that I surely could not recreate from a book or field trip.  It's ironic that we came expecting to be immersed in french and ended up being immersed in the portuguese language and Brazilian culture. This is what RVing is all about.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Day 9 through 11 The Cold Rainy Coast of Maine

Day 9-11

It's lonely lovely at the top.  We made it to Mt Desert, Maine today after a long 10 hour day.  We left our friends in New Hampshire around 7a. We rode the coast, route 1, ALL THE WAY here and it was spectacular.  It took us a long time to get here (we pulled into our site at 5:30p) but it was definitely worth it. We made two stops at the beach along the way and each time reminded me why I love the water so much... it is absolutely gorgeous.

Our view driving along the coast from NH to ME

The strangely beautiful rocky beach

An up close view of the rocky beach

Look how small we are against the vast ocean and sky

 We visited the Portland Headlight lighthouse in Portland, ME. The area was very beautiful. The small "museum" left something to be desired but they certainly get an "E" for effort.  I don't regret the $4 donation we gave to get in. The trail right outside the lighthouse that lined the coast was worth the trip. After the lighthouse we set out for our long journey into the Bar Harbor area of Maine.

Portland Headlight, Portland ME

A view from the light house trail

My adventurous babies

I loved driving through all the small towns and villages.  There were so many places I wanted to stop and explore along the way. There a so many, probably to many, little antique shops along the route coupled with just as many motels. It was an interesting combination. When we finally made it to our campground we were exhausted and frustrated. To top it off our rig sprung two leaks and we were really missing our friends and loved ones. We all agreed that that drive was the last leg of our trip but looking back I am sure it was our frustrations talking.

Once we were up and exploring the area we were glad that we were there. We explored the town of Bar Harbor (pronounced baa-haa-baa). We were really impressed that such a small town cared about and considered its RV traveling visitors and offered a place to park. 

Sign says "RV Parking Only"
We explored, shopped, ate, and walked our way through town for hours. After we were worn out from town we headed back to the RV and decided to explore Acadia National Park. We didn't make the entire 27 mile loop because of my fears of driving Honey around the sharp curves and steepness of the mountain. We did enjoy a nice drive and got some great shots. 

In Bar Harbor (Baa-Haa-Baa)

Along the Loop... Nay's not happy because I just made him apologize for hitting his sister

Me enjoying the views and taking a break from gripping the steering wheel of the RV as we travel through the twisty, steep and narrow roads of the Acadia Mountain Loop

A beautiful (and somewhat spooky) pond along the Loop

We slept in until 9a this morning. We decided that today was chore day and we stayed around the campground. The kids worked on school work, which was just them completing their Junior Ranger booklet we got yesterday, while I checked all of Honey's fluids and made sure everything worked properly and is ready for the road. I came in and fixed breakfast and we enjoyed our  pot of cream of wheat outside at the picnic table.  Right after breakfast we started our chores, which consisted of getting the dishes washed and washing clothes in our bucket. All three kids helped wash clothes and actually found it fun.  We swept and mopped the RV and took out all of the trash. Once we were finished with chores we decided to go for a walk down to the water. What they call the "beach" is about a quarter mile from camp down a very steep hill (we regretted having to walk back up the hill when we were done at the beach). The kids had a great time collected crab and lobster remains that had washed up on the shore. I called the place the sea life cemetery as I have never seen so many crab and lobster remains on a shore before. I joked that the kids did in fact get a science lesson in today... marine biology.

He found lobster parts
She found crab shells

We made it back to our camp and decided to get our fire started. We were trying to beat the rain, which we barely did. After five fire started and a lot of dryer lint later we got a really good fire. The fire turned out to be the best we've had so far. We followed all of the rules and did the triangle with the wood and mixed the really dry wood we got from our friend in Shenandoah with the split logs we got from our friend in Gettysburg and it turned out great. The rain put our fire out for us and we are all now huddled on the bed (yes, all four of us huddled on the same bed... which is why I know I don't need a bigger RV because where I go my kids will find a way to squeeze in) reading and playing games. I sit here listening to the kids laugh and joke and read to each other and it is wonderful. 

We head to New Brunswick, Canada tomorrow, the final stop (I think) on this northern adventure before we start working our way back down the coast. I love for once in my life not having a plan and just going where opportunity presents itself. I have met some amazing people and gotten many encouraging words. All in all the consensus seems to be to not be afraid to try new things and follow my dreams... and that's exactly what I'm going to continue to do!

Until next time, life your life to the fullest and worry about the rest later!