North America · 39 Days · 190 Moments · April 2017

Our Epic SouthEastern US Adventure.

27 May 2017

Home in 15 mins. No palm trees but still a very welcome sight
More Niagara Falls pics
Niagara Falls
The least attractive of our hotels was last night. But was clean and friendly and that's what mattered. Ate take out Swiss chalet (the idiots forgot the chalet sauce - seriously) while watching a classis star wars next generation episode. Then bed. (Trek)

26 May 2017

New York! 1 1/2 hours till hotel in the falls (Canadian side)
Pennsylvania We will only be in Pennsylvania for about 45 mins. Very narrow at the top.
The King made a chewy Jolly Rancher shark
At Boonshoft Museum Probably the coolest one we've seen And we've seen a lot
Eddie's making dolphin and manatee out of Swedish fish. Ethan's making rockfish and marlin out of starburst
We've arrived at new hotel If you don't hear from me I'm sleeping and it's all good.

25 May 2017

Econlodge part 3 My kids and I sat in the lobby for the next 10 mins while we talked to  They called and spoke to her to confirm what I'd said was accurate before issuing the refund. She agreed and they issued the refund.   When we got up to leave she was ignoring us and I said goodnight on the way out.  She did not reply.  I made a comment to my husband abour the level of customer service and she and her red-headed co-worker laughed. This was a very uncomfortable and unpleasant experience.  We have been in the United States for 5 weeks and we have not experienced anything as inhospitable as this.   I am an authorized trainer of the OTEC customer service program in Ontario.  I also run a specialist high skills major in hospitality and tourism at our local high school.  This was not cool. I email customer service Arghhh
Econlodge part 2 This time we had room 232.  We went back upstairs. This room also smelled of smoke. Several lights were missing lightbulbs. And the light switches did not work.  However the bathroom light and fan were on and the door was closed.  It had recently been sprayed with a strong cleaner or air freshener.  My husband was frustrated but I was still feeling hopeful and calm. When I told Barb about the smoke smell, the lightbulbs, and the switches not working she insisted that that couldn't be the case, and that I was doing something wrong.  She said "ma'am do you just not want to stay here tonight?'.  I reiterated the problems and she said she had no other available rooms.  Despite the fact that I was the one being inconvenienced by the inadequate and dirty room conditions, she acted as though I was being the problem.  I asked how I'd get a refund and she told me to call Then she sat and stared at us. (Continued)
Wow. Horrible experience at Econlodge Now driving on to Cincinnati We attempted to check into our room at the Econlodge about 1 hour ago.  We are travelling across the US from Canada with our 7 and 11 year old. We arrived at the hotel at around 10:15 pm. Barb S was the person at the desk.  She was polite when I arrived and gave us our key to room 226.  We had reserved a non smoking room with 2 double beds from   In order to get to our room we had to walk up some very dirty looking stairs.  When we opened our door the room smelled strongly of cigarettes.   None of the light switches would turn on the lights.  So I went back to Barb to tell her the issues with smoke smell and the power issues.  I asked if there was a different room. She didn't apologize, she just found me a new room and gave me the keys.  (Continued)
Day feels​ like 1000 Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah useless information. Sanity level 2.3 I drove the hole day my sanity level is at 2.3 We got too the hotel after 8 YEARS... There was no electricity and it smelled like smoke. Needless​ to say that Americans put up with a lot. So thi... WARNING WARNING SANITY LEVEL AT 0.1 WARNING WARNING POWER LOW WArn...
Powering thru to Lexington Ohio Then another 8-9 hours of driving to Niagara falls Ontario Home Saturday late afternoon
What we've noticed about Tennessee: 1) fireworks signs everywhere 2) older woman always on phones - in middle of parking lots in parked cars blocking traffic, in middle of road in turning lane, walking super slowly across parking lots and streets.
Listening to a podcast with Rob over the course of the trip called 'Sunday School Dropouts'. It's a former Christian, turned Atheist woman, and her sort of raised Jewish boyfriend, reading thru the Bible for the first time, and analysing it. Pretty funny. Definitely not for kids or for people who really love the Bible. As a person who is pretty unfamiliar with the Bible, it is very interesting
Craving a buffet, American style. We haven't been to one yet and we are running out of time. So stopping at Golden Corral in Knoxville. I'll let you know how it was. Update OMG Food baby - Triplets Shouldn't have had that second salad..
Bye bye Georgia Hello Tennessee (And hi to my relatives both living and passed in Tennessee) RIP Maisy and Durd Yesterday in Georgia we stopped at a roadside pecan stand. We met the best salesman ever. He convinced us to buy two bags of pecans and I also got a bag of peaches Good deal in the state known for pecans and peaches? NO! $35 American But it was worth the experience to meet him
Stopped at the Tellus Science Centre in Cartersville GA Was cute. Probably better for younger kids than Ethan, more like Eddies age, but good. They found sharks teeth in the fossil area and gems in the mining area Outside was beautiful
So bored. Listening to audiobook of Walking Dead The Rise of the Governor as we drive through Atlanta Georgia. Very appropriate
So this has been a really awesome trip so far. We've all gotten along really well which is a pretty good achievement for 35 days. We've managed to find a good balance between free, cheap, and expensive things. We've been surprised by the natural beauty. And all of our accommodations were great (so far). We've had too much pizza and waffles. And way too many sandwiches on picnic lunches. We've been in a lot of water. Atlantic Ocean, Pond in South Carolina, newt pond in North Carolina, a lot of rain in North Carolina, Gulf of Mexico, Clearwater Bay, 4 pools, 3 splash pads Eddie has become a much stronger swimmer. I've really enjoyed the trip planning. Those who know me, know that that's a strength of mine, but I've also gotten a lot better at adjusting plans when needed. Rob drives very well and a lot - already knew this though, and this may be related...he's also watched a lot of racing. I've gotten very skilled at diner dash. Kids have been exploring Acapella music in the car

24 May 2017

Day ??? Heat level 11 hydration level 32 sanity level 9 I was stuck in a building full of skeletons​ today. There was flesh eating beetles, mutated animal's.
Super 8 Valdosta Georgia. Better than the Days Inn But under tornado watch and raining. So.... Couldn't deal with eating out again so had soup / chef boy ardee in the room with crackers and cheese. Then popcorn with the survivor finale
Skeleton Museum of Osteology Orlando Cool place - not too big - able to cover it in about an hour. But pretty neat. Each skeleton is donated from a zoo or animal sanctuary once the animal dies. Then they skin and clean it with humans. Then beetles take over and get all of the tissue out of the hard to reach places. Then they bleach the bones. Then they reassemble it. Each skeleton had a pic of the original animal and a little blurb. More spanking.

23 May 2017

Outta Control Dinner Show Magic, Comedy, Food I don't think we actually have any pics. But it was most funny that Ethan couldn't stop laughing. He thought everything was hilarious. Rob and I laughed often but Ethan...non-stop. Eddie said it was funny but denied laughing.
Coco Key Waterpark Orlando We were a bit reluctant as the reviews weren't so positive for this waterpark. But overall it as cool. The water features were fun, and had a good level of scariness for all ages. Eddie wasn't as daring as Ethan, but he did try several times, then backed away as it became his turn Rob and I got to sit and relax which was nice, and we all swam in the big pool together. Ate a cheap lunch at the place ... Very unhealthy, but cheap. Which was a change. Most attractions are hugely overpriced. More spanking here.

22 May 2017

Steak and Shake Kids new favourite restaurant.
Wonderworks in Orlando Very cool place Hoping to have some pics posted. Lots of cool things to do - not just science. Also art, sports, trivia, video games, laser tag, ropes course, 4d movies

21 May 2017

Eating pizza and watching Netflix
We are at our Orlando accomodation now It reminds me of the types of motels our family used to stay at on our road trips. It's pretty basic - we've been spolied so far I remember once being mortified that we were staying at the 'econolodge'. Got here, swam, and just ordered pizza Gatorland was an experience! And hot!!!
Day ??? Heat level 108. Hydration level 3 sanity level 21. Today was brutal. Yah know how I was talking about alligator's yesterday? Well I was literally at gator land. There was gator wrestling birds everywhere and worst of all... BUDGIE'S!!! Dun dun DUUNNN! I lost my hand.
Gatorland Orlando
On the last leg of our journey. Leaving Largo. Heading to Orlando. Going to Gatorland (really good reviews but I'm not sure how ethical they are...might be a good teaching opportunity for the kids...) Then a hotel in Kissimmee for next 3 nights
Rob's GPS for today
My aunt's gorgeous place in Largo

20 May 2017

Last night at the beach At Indian Rock Beach Have been to 8 beaches.. Surfside, Myrtle, Clearwater, Belleair, de Soto, Shell Key, Treasure Island, Indian Rock. Favourite Beaches: Paula - de Soto Robert - Indian Rock...maybe de Soto if we hadn't gotten sunburnt Eddie - de Soto Ethan - de Soto

19 May 2017

Ethan's journal. Day ??? Heat level 99.999999999 Hydration level 2 Sanity level 35 I was attacked by wild animals today. Nothing I haven't already done on this trip. Vultures foxes hippo the turtles weren't that hard to out run but the alligators were fast.
Homosassa State Park! 2
Homosassa State Park! 2 Manatees
Homosassa State Park! 3 Birds
Homosassa State Park! 4 Flamingos and Roseate Spoonbills
Homosassa State Park! This was my absolute favourite 'attraction' on this 5 week vacation. It was only $36 for the 4 of us to get it. The talks, boat ride, tram ride, and centres are all free. It was a beautiful and amazing experience. It's a rescue location for all Florida native creatures (except 1 African hippo). It's run by volunteers - all seniors that I could see). We saw aligators, manatees, hippo, Bobcats, fox, red wolf, turtles, many types of owls, reptiles, deer, about 30 different species of bird - very beautiful mostly. And once again, as we pulled out of the lot I cried. It's so wonderful to see these types of places.

18 May 2017

MOSI Tampa

17 May 2017

Legoland - star wars minand Ethan's rating 1000000 stars because it has Star Wars.
Legoland. Part 1 At the end of our day as we left Legoland both Rob and I noticed that many of the parents were very angry with their kids. It was actually uncomfortable walking to the parking lot. 1 mom spanked her kid, then threatened spank him 12 more times . Another mom threatened her kid that Jesus doesn't love kids who misbehave. And several kids were crying. Weird...actually seen a lot more spanking in the states than Canada. Anyone else notice this?
Legoland - Ninjago - part 2
Legoland - Rides - part 3
Legoland - part 4
Legoland - star wars miniland - part 7
Legoland - miniland - part 8
Legoland - part 5 Look at my arm's in the first picture. Ethan.

16 May 2017

Sunken Gardens 1
Sunken Gardens 2
Sunken Gardens 3
Sunken Gardens 4
Sunken Gardens 5
Sunken Gardens 6
Today we just arrived at Sunken Gardens. Then getting lunch at Tijuana Flats. Then maybe to children's museum again, and to another park...Dell Homes Park. Looks awesome. Update: Sunken gardens was beautiful, mostly shady, and relaxing. Saw flamingos up close. Tortilla flats has great tacos and guacamole. Yum! The park was excellent, however the 95 degree temperature was too much for us Canadians. So after a short time we went home. Sooooo hot!
Yesterday for fun we visited 6 parks in the Dunedin area. We decided to make up a rating sheet and figure out which was the best based on the kids chosen criteria. We went to Edgewater, Weaver, Highlander, Amberlea, MLK Jr., and Sunshine Limitless. The favourite for our kids was definitely Weaver. It was pretty awesome, although sadly there was a sewage smell so I was a bit grossed out. The official results and photos will be posted later. Fun experiment, but had a hard time leaving Weaver. Yes we are a nerdy family.

15 May 2017

Mother's day cards First is Eddie's. It shows a manatee in the water with a guy in a boat above it, and a dog on the beach with a red frisbee. His manatee is named Scooty. Second is Ethan's. It's a 2 pager. There are so many art tools. I could use all of them. Orrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr... I could be lazy and use one Yah, that's what I'll do

14 May 2017

Yesterday was mother's day. The kids made we lovely cards. We went out for lunch at a Greek restaurant. Then at night we went to Treasure Island Beach and watched the weekly drum circle at sunset. It was very cool. The drums sounded great, the dancers were awesome, and it was a fun vibe. Good day. Thanks Rob and boys!

13 May 2017

By the's Mother's Day tomorrow!
Clearwater Bay Aquarium - Rescue, Rehabilitate, Release Great time with my boys today. Got to see Winter, Hope, Rufus, Panama, Mavis from the movies The dolphin in the 5th picture (Nicholas, who played Panama in the movie), splashed Ethan (a lot) and Eddie (a bit) during the husbandry demo. We all touched rays and sea urchins today. For the first time since we've been here very few bird encounters (phew). Got to walk thru a simulated hurricane was scary and loud and windy. On our behind the scenes tour our guide had Ethan play the role of doctor at the simulation stations.
And pics from the water ferry and the trolley we took to and from aquarium. We saw dolphins from the ferry but sadly the pics never work out
More pics from aquarium. Thekids decided to share on the cost of a stuffy so they bought a Manatee. Named it Scoot, apparently oldest living manatee is named Scooty? But the couldn't quite agree so Scoot is the proper name, but Ethan calls it Scooter, and Eddie calls it Scooty Eddie likes to pose with any animals: manatee, otter, turtle, etc. Ethan agreed today to do funny faces and more traditional faces in our photos. He prefers the funny ones

12 May 2017

Today was great. The beach was stunning, it wasn't too hot, water was clear and calm, no gull infestations at picnic, saw the historic military fort, saw dolphins, saw more pelicans, pulvers, and ibis'. We had ice cream, walked on the pier, enjoyed the views, got more shells and lots of sand dollars. Downfall? We all got a bit sunburnt.
More pics from North Beach at Fort de Soto in Tierre Verde
Today we are going to Fort de Soto park in Tierre Verde. It's an award winning beach and has lots to explore We plan to stay till sunset. Hopefully it's a good day.

11 May 2017

Just left Children's Exploration Museum in St Petersburg Got in free due to reciprocal membership and it was great. Now off to Straub park Straub park was disappointing. So we walked to Demens Landing instead. There was a playground and it was on the water. We saw a ray and an eel. We were going to go back to Straub park for picnic and to watch outdoor movie (Princess Bride) but there was no parking and it was really packed. So we skipped it. Went back home, had breakfast for dinner, and watched the second movie about Winter and Hope (dolphins) at Clearwater marina. We are going there Saturday.
Thursday at the Children's Exploration Museum. Being things: pirates, pizza makers, vets, builders, and store clerks/shoppers.
Ok. It's fine. Trying to have a Zen moment. Just a car, not too much money, better to know now than break down unexpectedly. Could be a lot more things that are worse news. Breathe in, exhale. Repeat
Seriously Shocks and brakes need repair! Argh Who has to go to a mechanic on vacation? We do.
Sunset tonight

10 May 2017

Just leaving Sand Key Beach. Watched the sunset, collected some shells
Just left Heritage Park A 31 structure village from the past. It was very cool. Figured we'd spend an hour there, but spent three. Most places were air conditioned. Great tour in the 7 Gables house. Also it's free. Donations accepted​. Volunteer run.
More Heritage Park Pics of us Ethan's freckles, Rob and Ethan stoically posing in front of railway station, kids asleep in church, me preaching to the choir, Ethan taking a photo of Rob and I (very light or very dark), Eddie obediently posing at another sign.
Yesterday after Seminole Park we went to a Chinese Buffet. The one in the picture is not the one we chose... Then home for a swim. At night we went to Largo Central Park which was pretty amazing. Very cool playground, and pathways to walk on, statues, gorgeous mature trees, water, and a ton of pokestops. Came home and had Hungry Man TV dinners. Watched survivor, planned out rest of our trip. Then bed.

9 May 2017

Walked again this morning. Did more yoga. Then mapped out all of the very cool parks and beaches we'd like to visit while we are here. Slept well again. And swam in the trailer park pool last night - was warm and clean. Yesterday we were at Clearwater Beach. The water was grungy because there have been some storms recently. We swam in it anyway. Mom would not have! Then we went to the park at the beach and walked up the pier. From the pier we saw dolphins and pelicans. This vacation is really putting my bird phobia to the test Pics to follow.
Just at a very cool park (but also very hot). Seminole Lake Park. Saw a white ibis, swans, red headed woodpeckers, an ahinga and an alligator. Tried getting a pic but he's very stealthy. Too hot for playground so going back to trailer to swim Will check out Largo Central Park Tonight The alligator is the speck in the water to the left of the sign The ahinga is also called a snake bird BC it swims underwater with just its head out and it looks and moves just like a rattlesnake. The actual bird body is similar to a cormorant.

8 May 2017

Got up, did yoga, walked around trailer park. Feeling good. Met the park owner, she told me the good things to do. (Pool, billiards, bocce, etc)'s mother's day next weekend! Don't forget!!

7 May 2017

We made it to Largo! Just unpacked. Phone almost dead. Pic of sleeping kids And pic of the huge bridge across Tampa Bay
Florida Welcome Centre
Welcome to Florida!! 4 more hours to go
Welcome to Georgia! Watch out for zombies and ticks. I got my bff as protection Unfortunately Darryl was unavailable.
Folks here don't want us to have coffee without sugar. One needs to be very specific in this regard when ordering.

6 May 2017

Last day fun in South Carolina
So long South Carolina! RW

5 May 2017

Today we had a quiet day. Swam at indoor pool, sat on the sunny back deck, made curry for dinner, had ice cream out, and walked along the beach for hour and half.
Went to 'Ye Olde Fashion Ice Cream Shoppe' tonight Ethan - peanut butter cup cookie dough and minty mint chip Eddie - cotton candy and birthday cake Rob - chocolate marshmallow and moose tracks Paula - fudge brownie and salted caramel. It's clear who had the best taste.

4 May 2017

Rob and Ethan are gone to opening night of Guardians of the Galaxy 2 tonight. Eddie and I had a Ninjago moment watching tv in bed. Then he got hiccups - which usually means a half hour before he falls asleep. Anyway, watching episode 1 of 13 Reasons tonight
Great...tornado watch for Myrtle and Surfside Beach 6:00 am update now we are under a tornado watch, a riptide surf advisory, and a severe thunderstorm warning. Tornadoes tornadoes tornadoes tornadoes tornadoes tornadoes tornadoes tornadoes tornadoes tornadoes!
Ethan about to FaceTime with Will.
Just got back from the resort's weekly prime rib dinner. It was pretty good. Kids liked the meat (once I removed all trace of fat) and they enjoyed the veg as well. Ethan had his first ever chef salad.
Ashley, Toby, Jodi and all other dog lovers. Coolest dog park ever. Contains a lake, shade and climbing structures for dogs, dog water fountain, and lots of benches for owners
At Savannah's Playground.
The little kid area and swings
The rest of playground. Big kids area, music area, sensory area, zipline, mist area (our favourite on this hot day) Pretty amazing. Adding in paddle boats and splash pad next
Pokemon Central
On the bridge. Swarmed by turtles
My 3
Rob walked across bridge to get us coffee.
At Savannah's Playground. An accessible playground that actually is accessible. And huge, and awesome. The harmony music park section where the music actually sounds really cool and pretty
Ashley wins the prize for most loyal follower and consistent commenter. Thanks Ashley!

3 May 2017

I like using the 'nightlife' icon to highlight my lack of a nightlife​. So tonight, after putting eddie to bed Rob and I watched the first 2 episodes of a Netflix show "dead white people". Interesting so far
Walked back to condo after breakfast. Nice view.
Sitting by the pool at night doing a crossword while the kids woosh by in the lazy river over and over again
Today we got up and went for breakfast. It was called the Golden Egg. Pretty good food but too much! They had this skeleton at the door - not sure why - so I made the kids pose. Grandma Judy - notice they are wearing their new clothes from you.

2 May 2017

Another relaxing morning. Maybe too relaxing. Boring? Just leaving now for Surfside Beach for day. Kids loved the big waves. They did not live the taste of the salt water, and I did not live what it did to my hair! When we first got their we encountered a dead jellyfish on the shore. It took about 20 mins of discussion to convince kids they wouldn't be stung by a horde of jellyfish upon entering the water. Once there were in the water they were really relaxed and loved their new tubes.
At the beach. -RW

1 May 2017

Today we had a very relaxing day. Then after we ate lunch spent afternoon at pool. Hot but very windy so a kind of good combo. Until you get out of the pool and the wind is making you very cold. Although I've heard that compared to Ontario I have nothing to complain about. So my apologies in advance. Hoping to play some board games tonight!

30 April 2017

Had Hibachi steak and chicken and Korean beef with rice and veggies at Jimmyz Hibachi tonight. Very good. Then visited the ocean with the kids for the first time, then came home and swam for a few hours. Home now and tired. Oddly enough the kiddie pool area is open till 10 pm. The pool across the street is open 24 hours.
View outside our front door
Pics of deck, bedrooms And one pic of kids bedroom after settling in They are currently sitting in the empty jacuzzi tub talking while we wait for Rob's F1 race to end.
Checked in to resort in Myrtle Beach (actually Surfside Beach) earlier this afternoon Made the kids wait so I could get some pics before it had all of our stuff in it Pics of living room, kitchen, and bathrooms
More goodbye pics of farm
Pics of the view from the enclosed back deck. Woke up before everyone and had some alone time
So we have officially checked out of the cabin. We said goodbye to the animals and Melissa We were only in the car a few seconds before I teared up and a few seconds later I was totally crying. Wtf? Is it because I will miss the animals and need to be on a farm? Do I feel a kindred spirit with the woods? Am I mourning the end of our more 'natural' part of the journey? Do I desperately want to live in cabin? Did I appreciate all of the down time just being with my kids and husband? Probably all. I'm good now. Not crying. Still a lump in my throat. But better.

29 April 2017

Tonight I think we were all going thru technology withdrawl. So the 4 of us climbed into the big bed. Rob and I raced each other on Mario cart 7 on the kids' 3DS. Eddie played Terraria on a device. Ethan listened to Undertale theme music while he drew.
Tonight we went back to Barn. After only 2visits the birds associated me with food and I had approximately 20 hens, ducks, and roosters​ following me around. A bit scary for a bird-phobe. We fed hay to the animals, found done more eggs, and then played ball with the dog and cuddled the cats. Eddie and Rob found blackberries. We will miss these animals - they are all funny and cute.
This afternoon we hiked around the lake to use the pontoon raft and swim. Required a lot of 'mom' bravery as I'm not a fan of mushy lake bottoms or lake swimming in general​. Once I was in the water and a few feet from shore it was good. Ethan and I spent a long time in the middle of the lake, then Rob and Eddie joined us. Eddie even swam in the lake which he started off saying he definitely wasn't going to. We encountered a South Carolina Wolf Spider. I'll let Rob post about that Lovely afternoon and the lack was very refreshing.
On the pond. RW
This morning Eddie and I went to the farm to help feed the animals. We fed the sheep,collected eggs, petted the pony and horse, watched the roosters, hens, and ducks, okayed fetch with a dog, petted the cats, walked with another dog back to cabin, and we learned about beekeeping. Then we came home, thoroughly washed our hands, had a quick snack. Now enjoying a coffee and going to make breakfast soon.
What do you do in a log cabin after a long drive/day without tv, video games, data or wifi? You play games. Rush hour, connect 4, Jenga. We had some homemade chicken noodle soup I'd made and the strawberry icecream. Then got into our very cloud-like beds.
Our log cabin on the farm in Eastover SC. We got the warmest welcome from Melissa. She had homemade strawberry ice cream in the freezer for us and a breakfast basket in the fridge with her farm eggs, homemade granola, sausages, bread, cream, milk, oj, and a stocked Keurig. She invited us up to the farm at 8 pm to help feed her animals. A big smart goat, 3 sheep, 2 horses, many chickens, 2 ducks who think they are chickens, 2 roosters, her 2 dogs, and 5 cats. We fed the sheep, oetted the animals, played fetch with Arla the dog (named for Boba Fett's sister), and got to smell the root responsible for root beer (sassafras), try honey suckle, find blackberries, and see fireflies. She then walked us down to her pond and showed us where we could fish, and swim, and which 2 boats we could use (a makeshift pontoon raft and a little row boat). Then she invited us to join her at 8:30 to feed the animals in morning. Eddie and I are going. Ethan and Rob chose sleep. She is an amazing host.
And more pinball pics
More pinball museum pics

28 April 2017

The Asheville Pinball Museum
Walking around downtown Asheville. Very cool downtown. Wig shop, statues, fountains, street performers, toy store, cafes, boutiques etc.
Going to walk around in downtown Asheville untill the Pinball Museum opens at 2:00.
At Rocky's Hot Chicken Shack Amazing Tennessee Fried Chicken. Their medium sauce was like our suicide in Canada. Kids had plain Everything was great Plus we got to eat on our first patio
Pinball Museum, Asheville, NC
The roads to our mountain cabin are starting to get washed out. Any more rain and we'd have been stranded.
We are leaving the cabin in the mountains.

27 April 2017

And here is the listing info from Airbnb for the cabin we are just leaving
We've enjoyed our stay here a lot and will miss the mountain cabin. Tomorrow morning we are driving to Asheville for the day. Apparently it's the new Portland? Then continuing on to the log cabin guest housr on the farm in South Carolina. We are only there a few days. Here is where we are staying (see pics) In case you like airbnb here is the listing info for Eastover SC
Today was a bit sad. We met lots of great people and we had to say goodbye. We had a chance this morning for everyone to say goodbye, and to take some group photos. One with just the kids. One with everyone. And there should be one posted soon of just the adults. There was a woman there taking a ton of great pics but she hasn't posted them yet so when she does I'll pick the best and post. I did gain about 10 new Facebook friends from all over USA so that is cool. We were the only Canadians.
We saw a lot of animals etc. In the wild: Deer, opossums, snakes, rabbits, squirrels, mice. And at the farms around us: cows, pigs, horses, goats, sheep, dogs. The kids and Rob are out on a twilight nature adventure right now to see what they can find. I'm having a wine break
Wednesday was another great day. It was sunny and warm. We went to the retreat early so the kids can play with their friends and Robin I could just sit and relax and talk to some people. Then it was Hogwarts time again - today we made Bowtruckles, Polyjuice potion, and played Quidditch. Then kids continued to play by creek and Rob and I attended the Unschooling Discussion group. It was neat to hear how everyone got to this point of unschooling. After that it was table top gaming. A group of teen boys (Nick, Adam, Trevor, Dominik) taught Rob and I how to play Munchkin. It was brutal and hilarious. Then it was time for the dance which my boys weren't interested in so we went out for pizza and then back home.
Okay. I'm finally not doing anything. So here is an update. Tuesday was a great day. Rain stopped. Went to retreat. Kids played with other kids (nerf guns, pooh sticks, messing around in the ravine, catching newts). We went an amazing Hogwarts workshop where we were all sorted (we all got Ravenclaw...weird). We made wands, screen printed t shirts, did a hoarcrux hunt. Then Rob and I ran the Breakout Boxes and they were a big success. People of all ages enjoyed them all and each person did at least 2, some did all 3. Rob broke out the charcoal grill and we had a picnic in the field. More time for the kids to play. We sat on the deck and talked to other parents. Finally it was time for the talent show. Lots of silly talents, a few really good ones. Partway thru Ediso said "mom, I want to do a home but I'm afraid" so we practiced in the porch, added his name to the list and he did it. He (and we) was so proud and brave. Then we drove back thru mountains to our cabin. Phew!

25 April 2017

Still not raining. Off to retreat for 10 hours.
It's not raining.
Edison and I took in our first NASCAR race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee on Monday. It was rained out on Sunday so we were able to go. Great experience even with a slim crowd. Bristol holds 150000 which must be something​ when they fill it in the Summer. -RW

24 April 2017

My 3 Breakout Boxes are ready to go for tomorrow! Let's hope I'm as organize as Dave and Jeff were when they did it at THS.
Quote from Eddie: I went to a race today but I could only hear the sound of the cars and some guy talking on a speaker. My favourite car was Kyle Bush M&M car. Quote from Ethan: I almost puked. My sanity level is now at 70%
Btw. I am tired of driving up and down mountains. I have no cell signal on mountains but as soon as I hit the base my phone beeps and the text messages come in. So I have about 15 mins before my next mountain to respond to everything. Then no more texting till the next day. I'm pretty sure after we leave North Carolina we will have cell service all the time. And yes, it is still raining. And every place we drive to is under a flood warning. Which is funny because we are in mountains. But not really funny BC floods are bad.
Just leaving the potluck. Rob and I and the kids are sooooo bad at mingling. Plus it seems like most people there have known each other for some time. But we still suck. Yesterday I talked to 4 different people/couples. Arp from Florida, Laura/Scotty from Tennessee, Patty from Illinois, and Keith/Erin from Vermony. They were all nice. Tonight I talked to 2 new people, plus said hi to the ones from last night. Tonight: Kim from Calgary/Florida, and Dana from Flint. I'm hoping tomorrow when we are going to actual events and running events we will be more outgoing. We shall see. Funny story with my salad. The tables were organized like this: meat, vegetarian, vegan So my deconstructed salad that could have been any of those options got placed at the meat table. And all my efforts to be inclusive were wasted. Plus side I got some compliments on it, presumably from the carnivores. Ethan feeling better. Eddie enjoyed race. Rob enjoyed race. I'm sure he'll post later.
They are home
Ok. So it's still raining. But also incredibly peaceful. Sitting on the deck listening to the rain, dry, green all around. I still love it. Ethan feeling better. Rob and Eddie on way home from race. Going to attempt the retreat potluck tonight. Bringing an Asian salad that could be enjoyed by vegans, the gluten free, and the eaters of anything. Even made up a handy chart. Yes I've had some time on my hands today.
Relaxing with my unwell boy and listening to Harry Potter Deathly Hallows.

23 April 2017

Still raining. Hard. Flood warnings for the town we are in. Landslides in the mountains near ours. But so far we are warm and dry. And not in a collapsed house. Thankful! Went to registration tonight talked to unschoolers from Illinois, Vermont, Tennessee, and Florida. Was nervous but got over it, as usual. Tomorrow morning: ice breaker games and pancakes...Just a little more terror in my day.
Rainy day. All day. So we hung out at cabin. Did a test run of the Harry Potter and the Scaredy Squirrel breakout boxes. Tacos for dinner. Assembled some Lego. Just waiting for 6:00 and then we'll head off to registration for conference / retreat.

22 April 2017

Video of boys falling and almost falling in creek. Major lighting and thunder storm tonight. We played monopoly. The boys crushed us. Completely.
Snack on porch
Day 2 quote from Ethan Nobody cares about how wet or dirty I am. Or about my sanity. My sanity bar is lowering .
Explored the woods and a mountain creek trail. Watched the cows. Went to town (Spruce Pine) for groceries. Came home a different way to check out the unschooling retreat location. Saw a giant snake. Then returned home. Waiting for the beer to cool while the kids play in the woods. If you look very close you can see them in the one pic. The one of Ethan is right after he fell in the creek. Edison is of course carrying a big stick
Btw rarely have cell service but do have wifi. So you can facebook or email me.
Woke up and did my OCD unpack and organize. Noticed the power was out. Sat on the porch and listened to all the birds. We are totally in a mountain cottage and I love it! Eddie was having breakfast and he said "I think I see an animal". Down the hill from us is a little farm with gorgeous grey cows and a brown dog. We've also heard a horse. It's supposed to be a crazy storm this afternoon and tomorrow - hail, lightning, a lot of rain. The house has a big covered porch though, a BBQ, a fireplace, and candles so we are goid. Unless there's a mountain landslide. Pics are views from the deck. Thank you Universe!

21 April 2017

Finally crossed over to North Carolina. 20 mins.
Hello and goodbye Virginia. We were only there for an hour or two but it was a wild thunderstorm in twisty mountain roads. Now we are in Tennessee I have relatives here but the ones I remember have all passed away. The roads we are on are still twisty and very religious. A lot of Baptist churches. Rob just exclaimed "it's the Bristol Speedway!". He loves racing. Pics are of the Speedway. Maybe an impromptu race for him and boys tomorrow?
140 miles to our day's destination. Ethan has pointed out that Americans like to compare size to football fields, so that is approximately 2500 football fields laid end to end to end to end...
Ethan's entry. Day 1. I almost died of boredom. I got to listen to music and draw and eat good food though. The grass in the states looks different, a weird green colour. Edisons' entry:. The entire day was a car ride, the entire day. I liked the gorge.
Ethan's entry. Day 1. I almost died of boredom. I got to listen to music and draw and eat good food though. The grass in the states looks different, a weird green colour. Edisons' entry:. The entire day was a car ride, the entire day. I liked the gorge.
Classy dinner at DQ in Bland VA when had a "OMG we are running out of gas and it's raining too much on the mountains and there are too many trucks". Paula (I) was driving. Rob is always calm under pressure. He's going to drive the last 2 1/2 hours through VA, TN, and NC
Rest stop at a huge gorge.
Btw I won't be posting as much minute detail after today. Not much else to do on13 hour car ride when not driving.
6 more driving hours till we reach the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina This is where we are staying
Morgantown has the cutest transportation system ever.
West Virginia is beautiful. And sunny. And green. Just stopped at WVU town (Morgantown) for lunch where they have the best burgers and shakes. Tailpipes Burgers and Shakes. Very good burgers, and an indescribable salad dressing. Post lunch naps and sketching
So tired. And paranoid. Feels like somebody's watching me.
Looking out the windows. Pretty high up. Almost in the clouds
Got a bit lost and ended up driving thru Pittsburgh and not around it. Pretty bridges
Paula has taken over driving after 400km. 900 more to go! Should probably switch to miles now though. Everyone is now listening to their own musical selections except me as I am the drive facilitator. This is usually Paula's position and is like being an administrative assistant in a mobile office. Looking forward to driving again.
Our first stop.
Crossing the border. A lesson in gender roles, junk food, and education. We got I'm the wrong line. I knew it but Rob would not switch. . First she was baffled that kids aren't in school so we explained why. Then she needed to know all of our destinations and why we were staying there. She couldn't quite understand how I could homeschool and teach. Had to explain 3 times that Rob was main homeschooler, not me. Made the kids open the door and asked if they were munching on oranges. Kids who had only been awake for a few minutes just stared at her. She made a comment to indicate that kids didn't really eat fruit anymore anyway She reminded me of Nadine from Twin Peaks with the eye patch, minus the eye patch. Then she sent us on our way but forgot to give us our passports. So we got them. Homeschool lesson of the day: listen to your wife, Americans might struggle with non traditional gender roles, don't eat fruit at the border, and it's always best to just stared blankly.
Ethan asleep. Rob and I rocking out to Sweet Child of Mine. (80s playlist)
Eddie's asleep. Foggy and wet drive. No use of handbrake yet. Ethan is quiet and reflective. Lol
Quote from Ethan in response to the sluggishness of van due to all weight in back. "Well at least with all the weight in the back you can use the handbrake and do a serious 360." Bye Trenton Walmart We are off 51 mins behind schedule. Edison rather distressed about the congestion in his nose. Ethan being a joker. Both a bit high on gravol
I'm up. I promise the entries will be more travel related. Later. But here's a pic of my room to entertain you

20 April 2017

Of course. I can't sleep
Going to bed. Be up in 5 hours!
Leaving in 10 hours. Feeling super anxious. Hate the thought of being gone so long and away from family, friends, cats, and security of my home. For some reason I always get nervous before a long trip. I know is I've overpacked but that's the way I am. I can't imagine anything I've forgotten. All of our accomadtions are paid for and set except for a few on the way home. But despite this I feel stressed out. It's been an insane week and it was like the universe was trying to prevent is from leaving. Credit card fraud to money mishaps to issues with insurance and van problems. But we persevered and after about 6 hours of phone calls, and 3 trips to the mechanic we are good to go. Anyway...I hope I feel better after we leave. Probably when we successfully cross the border i'll feel better.

19 April 2017

2 more days till we start our journey. Still packing. Still working out the kinks. We are very excited but also a bit sad. We will miss our house, our cats, our family. Our friends, and our town