….With Sugar on Top!!

I keep getting requests/demands/pleas for blog posts.  It’s so much easier to update to Facebook, I’m sorry I got in the habit of just doing that quickly since it takes seconds. Wish blogging was as quick and easy…I need to figure that out, surely it can be.

So I’ll TRY to post some picture here that I’ve not posted on Facebook.  Why do I not update here more?  Well, it’s just not as easy. No unlimited wifi, not always having access to a great computer for that, and then time…fitting in travel, school, work, sight-seeing, visiting some folks along the way, and the normal life things (cooking, cleaning, snuggling etc etc) well….I tend to just crash at the end of the day instead of hooking up the camera and logging on.  This post alone has taken me a couple states and I never got several of the pictures I wanted for it to upload.  But I’m just posting it anyway in hopes of those few of you that have been watching, just MIGHT forgive me.

There is no way I can go fully backward without starting right where we are I don’t think at this point.  I mean…our last state I posted on was Maine.  Sigh…and now we are moving through Arizona.  So I’m going to start with some of our most recent wanderings.  THEN, I’ll try in my spare time to throw in some major backtracking and share with you the amazing things we’ve seen thus far that I just never took the time to post.  Will you forgive me then??  Maybe??  Pretty pretty PLEASE (with sugar on top)??!!

We first stayed outside of Houston in the Lake Conroe/Willis area.  We stayed at the Thousand Trails park there on the lake.  We loved it!  What a great couple of weeks (made better by the folks we met).  Our travel is largely based around Hubby’s work schedule.  His work schedule determines how long we stay somewhere often and also what days we travel.  We get asked a lot IF he works. Although he jokes that he’s a bank robber when we’re asked what on earth he does from the road.  He’s not (as far as I know) and yes he DOES work.  He works hard, to make this adventure a possibility for us! So our travel is planned around making sure he is able to do his job…well.  We were fortunate to be able to stay in Houston two full weeks…and a little more.  Good thing…we got a stomach bug.  Ick!! Are you planning for your grand RV adventure with children onboard??   Make sure you have SOME sort of puke bucket! You will thank me later.  Even if you won’t have kids on board…have a bucket.  Trust me!!

Houston Highlights:

  • Seeing our friend Freeda after so many years!!!  What an enormous blessing this was!  Worth the trip to Houston right there.
  • Seeing Brandy Walker and meeting her girls…sad our trip to the zoo got cancelled, but thankful to have had even just a few min
  • NASA visit
  • Sam Houston Museum (we loved this)
  • Trips to the library to work on research papers
  • AWESOME Salvadoran food  (papusas!!)
  • Honduran banana soda and Jamaica Zuko
  • Wolf Sanctuary (with other full-time families)
  • Blue Bell Creamery factory tour (also with other full-time families) and getting more ice cream than we could eat…for FREE!
  • game nights with friends (HUGE highlight)
  • yummy potlucks with friends!
  • greeted with open arms in 2 welcoming congregations
  • being a part in a small surprise b’day celebration
  • nighttime walks (and alligators crashing into the water as we approached…okay we don’t know they were gators..but a couple of us were CONVINCED)
  • Shipley Donuts
  • Meeting lots of new friends

It was a GREAT visit!!  We would recommend the campground, although we’d add to lock up your car and rig.  We never felt unsafe, but we did have some things stolen (although thanks to our ‘find iPhone’ app we were able to get just about everything back…the important stuff!!).

We could not have planned a better stop.  We felt so blessed to have met some WONDERFUL other full timing families. We are so thankful for the group we are members of “Fulltime Families” (link to right).  It helps us connect with others that might be in our area.  We had SUCH fun with these families, so much so we hope to meet up with those that are traveling (a couple families were somewhat stationary for a time) along the road in the next few months sometime…if they were just not going to stinkin’ slow. We’re just too fast for them.  HURRY UP guys, we look forward to more potlucks, Peanut, MadGab and Wits & Wagers!!!

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(Blue Bell factory tour….pre-ice cream coma)

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(Fulltime Family potluck…meeting new friends…who are on similar adventures making it happen in various ways.  It’s always so cool to share stories, learn what things they’ve seen that you might want to, and just have the spirit of camaraderie that is created because of this lifestyle we’ve chosen)

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Why yes, that is Santa Anna’s chamber pot (Sam Houston Museum…we seriously LOVED this museum and grounds)

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Terrible picture, but the kids were interviewed for the Sam Houston State University newspaper about the scavenger hunt they had going on in the museum.

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Space Center Houston Tram Tour of NASA buildings and grounds…a must do if you go to the Space Center!

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NASA

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Oh yes, that’s a wolf nuzzling my baby boy…and him giggling nearly uncontrollably.  This is the owner, who was even more fascinating then the wolves to me.  Which says a LOT.  I wish I could have videoed one would who wanted out of his run so badly to get to Jeremiah.  Not in a harmful way. They were fascinated with one another. All during the presentation this Jeremiah watched this wolf’s every movement. Then as we started moving and prepared to leave “Romulus” (the wolf) did everything he could to attempt to get his attention again and get to him.  Again, not threateningly in any way, it was actually amazingly endearing.  Promise.  Really.  I’m not insane.  Well…maybe I am, but I promise I wasn’t threatened.  Of course he was behind a couple of layers of fencing.  But it nearly made me want to take him home because I felt like Jeremiah would have a protector for life!!!  It was actually really neat the way to two seemed to have oddly connected and truly impossible to describe in words.

So there you have it…just a BIT of our Houston fun (and pix hopefully not shared on our Joy in Simplicity Facebook page).

A quick trip to Poland…Maine that is

(on our drive we stopped off here for lunch.  By chance, hubby had eaten here when he was a young boy on a visit to Maine as well.  They had some yummy homemade ice cream…like every other street corner, in that area of the country. Southerners might eat tons of fried food and perhaps even smother it in gravy but goodness I’ve never seen so many Dunkin Donuts or Homemade IceCream/Custard shops in all my life….ever!)

Hubby’s parents flew in from their home in Alabama and joined us for some of our time in Maine.  My father in law is a “Mainer”  We were beyond blessed to all get to meet our cousin, Trudy and her husband Pete, face to face for the first time after my inlaws arrived.  I began a letter writing and email relationship with Trudy’s precious, spunky Mother back 14 years ago when we chose our daughter’s name.  It was Trudy’s grandmothers name.  So when we chose it, I discovered the daughter of our own daughter’s namesake was alive and hubby’s grandmother got us in touch with one another.  I let her know we’d chosen her Mother’s name from our family tree to name our daughter.   I’m SO glad I did that!!  Not only did I get to know Pauline, but then when she passed from this world, I got to know her daughter from afar as well.  How cool to finally get to meet face to face after all these years!  My father in law and she drew our family trees and shared stories of our family while we all enjoyed lunching at the Maine Diner  together (yes, hubby got the Lobster Pie as featured on Diners Drive-Ins and Dives.  He loved it!).

Amazingly, in that experience, not one of us took ONE picture…not one.  How on EARTH (I had 3 cameras with me)?!!  We had hoped to get to stop by Trudy’s house enroute to New Hampshire to visit a bit more and see some family keepsakes she has…and TAKE PICTURES….but hubby’s work schedule changed and we weren’t able to…SOB!  Just one more reason…we HAVE to go back to New England soon (but not before it thaws…sorry guys, we’ve been looking at the current temps already and we’re officially southern WIMPS!)!!!

After enjoying a couple days around the area close to the campground (Kennebunk was a favorite) we headed on to my father in law’s old stomping grounds.  Enroute to our destination, we drove through the town of Poland, Maine.  We’d been sipping on Poland Springs bottled water the entire time we were there, so my father in law drove us by the source of it.  He had said we would enjoy it, and I’m not sure what we were expecting (a large bottling factory perhaps), but he was right! We would have never known to stop here, but it turned out to be a great little place to pull in for a quick stop filled with interesting history!  Definitely our kind of stop!

Poland Springs water (now owned by Nestle), comes right out of the ground here in Poland, Me and has since the early 1800′s

The old bottling facility, on the right, where they were able to bottle 8 bottles a minute originally if I understand correctly.  ”The Source” room on the left, where the spring was enclosed in glass so the wealthy could come and sit in a beautifully tiled room to be close to the source of the mineral water believed to hold healing capabilities, etc. It’s kept now, pretty much exactly as it was then.

I promise my oldest son isn’t mad (the toddler probably was)…they are recreating a picture they saw from the early 1900′s of others sitting in seats just like those around ‘the source’ (they were dressed much for finely in the photo however).  Individuals visiting and staying in the (now burned) hotel were always supplied free  unlimited Poland Springs water.  They would come and gather in this room at the source and be served fresh dipped water in glass tumblers that read “In Nature’s pure and simple drink, find health, long life and happiness” and just enjoy being near the springs.  Many would spend entire summers on the property here enjoying the milder weather…and the fresh spring water.

Got to love pictures taken in your comfy, cozy traveling clothes…ugh (baby was sound asleep behind us in the car, safely being watched over by the dogs….and my mother in law).

 

 

Maine (part 1)

Maine (part 1)

This was our goal…our BIG goal.  To get to Maine to see the leaf change…and before it got too cold as we had dear friends and family we wanted to visit there that we’ve always wanted to and it’s just not been feasible before full timing.  So Maine…well in as few words as I can come up with was a dream come true trip.  It was gorgeous and we enjoyed just about every single second!

I’ve typed and retyped, erased, deleted, and rewrote a post about our trip to Maine.  But quite frankly I can’t.  Just too many words to tell you about our time there and I struggle to read wordy blogposts myself…so I’m going to TRY to keep it to largely just pictures….(I said TRY) while I just sit back and relish the amazing time with our friends (old and new), family, and God’s gorgeous creations.

Our pictures could never do it justice.  Never!  But the most treasured pictures are burned in our mind and in our hearts (oh yes…I just got all sappy…it was worth of some sappiness I assure you)!

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Oh how I wish I’d been prepared for this…camera at the ready, but alas, when I grabbed it my phone was dead, and I only had a second to grab hubby’s and this is the only picture I got as his camera was full…..sigh terrible blogger right here, that’s me.
we were greeted by our dear friends “Honduran Style” as we pulled on to their family’s property.  The last time we saw them was in Honduras…in 2009.  If anyone knows anything about Honduran history, that was an adventurous summer for sure. I don’t think any of us imagined when we said goodbye that it would be this many years before we got to hug each other again!  These kids are some of the most creative I know (much like their parents).  They had ‘stations’ set up all along our drive in welcoming us…”Honduran style” It was wonderful and had me in tears by the time we got to where we were to park.  This roadblock, had us cracking up completely.  It was all just so delightful…and perfect!!

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These kids have all grown up SO much since saying their goodbyes in Roatan, Honduras back in 2009, but you’d never known it had been that long since they’d seen each other.  All of them were on a countdown til we arrived….and then it wasn’t possible, I don’t think, for them to spend enough time together.  GREAT memories!!

The Thousand Trails/Outdoor World campground in Wells, ME is convenient to SO much beauty.  Oh MY!  It’s right at Ogunquit and thus, right down from (4 miles as per their website) the iconic Nubble Lighthouse!  It was gorgeous!!  I don’t think they’ll mind if I move in, do you?

Oh yes…we ate lobster!  and lobster rolls, and lobster salad…YUM!

Excuse the blurry handsome young men…the phone focused in on the lobster (sorry guys…I love you, really I do!)

If you are in that area of Maine…do not miss The Marginal Way.  It’s just a lovely walkway (stroller and wheelchair accessible)…with amazing vistas.  All along the way you will find where many “raise an Ebenezer” for one reason or other, marking their visit along this gorgeous rocky shore.  Our kids decided to raise theirs on one of the tallest boulders they could find. It was great fun for us to watch them work together, passing the rocks along, creatively fashioning them together (with Jonathan’s skillful guidance).

Their finished monument. It was amazing!  Notice the tiniest of rocks balancing heavenward on the top!  Cool moment of the evening: as we walked back from our walk and passed this spot again there was a couple photographing specifically the kids stones.  It was worthy of that.  It was great!  (I can guarantee Sara and Rachel got some amazing shots of it, I need to get copies of all their pictures because they are photographers…eh hem…hint hint ;-)

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All sorts of balancing stacks of stones were scattered along the path.  No one took them down and you didn’t see unruly kids knocking them down.  They added a cool mystique to the beauty of the shoreline!

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The Daddies with our excellent extras (the babies that have been added to our gang since we worked in Honduras together). Please excuse all the passersby in this picture, I didn’t get a lot of opportunities to photograph all 3 of these kiddos together…they aren’t exactly still very often!

A sailboat coming into harbor as we ended our evening stroll.
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yet another day the Daddies, big kids and Sara’s  sweet Mother went for a hike up in the mountains. Noticed things are still largely green….we got to watch it all transform around us in our two weeks there.  AMAZING!

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Apple Farm Fun!   It doesn’t get much better then this right here for this little one…he’s destined to be a farmer.  He LOVES cows!  We have precious friends at home who raise Texas Longhorns.  Their Mama cows happen to love to eat pop tarts.  he’s now convinced after a being invited to meet their two babies (and feed the Mama’s), that pop tarts are cow food (as he’d never had one before feeding them to their cows). Had this calf not been being fed right when we came up, I’m quite certain he’d have been turning to me looking for pop tarts to feed it!!


This little one has come to LOVE apples…I mean LOVE them.  He got his first taste this day at McDougal Orchards in Lebanon, ME and hasn’t looked back.  Wise boy…we just THOUGHT the New York apples were delicious and before that we had thought our fresh picked Georgia apples were super yummy.  Oh my….the Maine honey crisp apples were no less than divine!  We bought…well, lots!  We also enjoyed cider donuts and fresh cider.  Nothing quite like a cool fall night and some hot spiced cider!  Wish I had some tonight!!

While in Maine we stayed at Moody Beach Outdoor World – fee $0 for 2 weeks (for members of Outdoor World/Thousand Trails).  It was a great campground!    Pull-thru sites were quite close.  If I were going back Id look along the very back of the pull-thru area farthest from the playgrounds and such.  But we went to the first one we saw we could get into easily (it was a full park that time of year) just to get into one (they are first come first serve at OW/TT parks)!  But as much as I love to have more space, it wasn’t horrid.  The campground was clean, had a great play area and close to SO much I could overlook the ability to look in my neighbor’s windows and them in mine (and their ability to hear my babies crying, dogs barking, etc….bless the hearts of all those who have had to be close neighbors of ours!)