A Mammoth sized “THANK YOU!”

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Last Year on Labor Day we were shown the love of Christ in BIG ways!! It was moving day!  The plan was to pull out of Kentucky, on to Ohio for a few days.  BUT,  our truck broke down on a less than ideal section of interstate just shortly after leaving that morning.  When our roadside assistance offered to arrange a tow to a large amenity full campground up the road a little further in the direction we were heading, our oldest son piped up from the backseat “NO!  please ask if they will PLEASE take us back to Ms Beth and Mr Eldon’s campground!!”   We’d gotten to know the owners of the campground where we’d stayed in Kentucky while visiting Mammoth Cave and he’d enjoyed visiting with them as often as he could.  We all had!  You can’t help but love them when you meet them!  We all agreed we’d rather go back to Cave City, so we called back to see if they had a spot for a few days that we might return to if towed there.  They did and they also graciously insisted on one of them coming to get the kids and I from the side of the interstate.  This kind act resulted in the totaling of their vehicle, many Dr’s appts, and surgeries still to come.  Yet there is never a time this year that an update hasn’t included how the Lord is using the troubles and phrases like “God is good, all the time!”   WOW!!

Just as we got settled back into the campground we had an unexpected knock at the door.  It was a member of the local congregation that we’d worshipped with (also where the campground owners attend) who had heard of all that had happened and wanted to invite us to his home for a cookout that evening.   We’d totally forgotten that it was Labor Day in our exhaustion…we had JUST discussed our dinner plan and decided it was going to have to be a cheese and cracker night…its nearly all we had in the house anyway plus we had zero energy.  Instead that night we were welcomed with open arms by their large extended family who refreshed us and gave us so many reasons to laugh and smile.

To the Christians serving at the Cave City church of Christ we THANK YOU!!  From the moment we pulled into your parking lot that first Wednesday night we were in town you all showed us love and welcomed us so warmly.  To the Johnson family for opening your home to near strangers and to your entire family for making us feel a part and so very welcome…we thank you. To Eldon and Beth….those relatively few days with you guys taught us so much about what day to day Christianity and being filled with the joy from the Lord can look like.  Words can never express how thankful we are that we ‘happened’ into your little campground (totally a God thing) that day last August.   Mammoth Cave is cool, but the mammoth love, hospitality and kindness we were shown in your neck of the woods far surpass our memories of the cave!  THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!

Labor Day holds forever memories and reminders for us to reach out beyond ourselves and find ways to serve others and show Christ!

(Now I just need to hook up the hard drive and pull up happier pictures from that day/night…the one above is the one I posted on my blog just after)

….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).