The Shaw’s Do DC

So you should know that most big cities are impossible or just too expensive to actually stay inside of.  DC was no exception.  We did find a nice regional park just 40 mins north of the city though that was perfect for us!  Camping there was very similar to state park camping; very wooded, with trials, and bugs (thank goodness no ticks), and for the very first time ever, we did not have a water hook up.  We had to fill our fresh water tank up and try extra hard to monitor our water use.  It was an adventure in and of its self and I feel like getting us one step closer to boondocking (camping without hookups), which is also FREE!

View from our campsite.
View from our campsite.
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Playing at the playground

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Sweet Bean
Sweet Bean

So DC was great!  Better than I thought it would be!  But the very bestest, best part of being there, was that some of our best friends from Texas randomly were there that very same week……WITH THEIR KIDS!  We have just had the best luck on this trip with meeting up with friends and family!  I haven’t had a chance to be lonely even once!

So our first night there, Kim and Bryan came over to our campsite, and when friends come over, I make dinner!  Indian chicken.  The knats flying around our faces while we ate, just gave it that little something extra.

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As an added surprise, Kim brought gifts and letters from everyone in our neighborhood back home! We are a tight group, and this helped ease how much we miss everyone, and somehow made it worse too!

So Kim, being the no-nonsense girl she is, and me being the procrastinator I am, made a plan to go and see the city with the kids the next day while the boys worked.  The girls got to have Lily spend the night, which is a rare treat on this trip!  And the next morning I met her at the train, 20 mins late, with all the kidos.  Kim had a perfectly thought out, survival-like, light weight backpack stuffed with everything from personal water bottles, to dehydrated rations, and boogie wipes.  I on the other hand arrived with my usual diaper bag crammed full of empty bags of goldfish, two crumb-filled diapers, kids jackets (that they would not be wearing on this 90 degree day), and bandaids (I always have bandaids!  Added bonus: it’s the single item Kim never has, so it makes us equals.).  Alright, ready to go!

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This was our first time on a subway as a family, so I hadn’t yet learned to strap Jonah to me while ridding and he ran and fell all over the place; bandaids! I had just thought subway=fast. No. About a 45 min ride into the city.
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We took pictures in front of the white house.
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And went inside the newly renovated white house visitor center, where we got our Jr Ranger books, learned about the white house, and watched a movie on it as well.
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The city is filled with old buildings like this one!
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Jr Rangers!
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We walked all over that city, with Kim navigating our way with subway and city maps. That goodness for Kim! And then we rode the carousal.
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And the kids played in the park while we had a beer.

It was a fabulous day and the kids were all troopers, walking everywhere with very little whining, and only needing a few more band-aids before the day was done.

It was on Joe’s must do list to see Gettysburg while we were in the area as well.  So we all loaded up one day after work, and crossed the state line into PA.  We took the auto tour of the battlefield and enjoyed making stops along the way.

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The eternal flame

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Looking out onto the battlefield.
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Bryan with his huge cannon.
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These kids are guarding a monument that looks like a castle. Some of them were massive! This one you could go upstairs to the “tower”.
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Here is the Pennsylvania Monument. It was the most impressive one was saw while there!
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Very sobering to see how many young lives were lost in this battle.

We also found time to all fall in love with the little town of Fredrick, MD while we were there.  It was an ADORABLE town with steeples, and underground music stores, tons of coffee shops, cool bridges, and ice cream stores.  It was just the right size and had so much to do!  So we spent a couple of days there.  I could have spent the rest of my life there, I liked it so much!

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When you find a good place to eat while on the road, you go there twice! And we did!
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And then we got ice cream, twice!
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Another day we went to the visitor center and watched a movie on the town and then went and saw one of the painted bridges. Cool!

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And with that, it was time to say goodbye to our friends.  We had such a good time with them!  And I always just feel good knowing there are people we know near by.  But all good things must come to an end.  We love you Osborne’s!

We had a few days left in the area, so one of those days I took the kids to an indoor aqua center.  It was pretty awesome!

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I was going to take the kids to a river to swim, but Bean requested “pool water”.

IMG_7559Out last day there, we took Daddy into DC since he had not yet been.  Knowing how much walking we would have to do, and knowing that not having their friends with them as a distraction would mean our kids would whine like banshee’s all day, we decided to do a bus tour of the city instead of walk it.  It was a good call!

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The Lincoln Memorial did not disappoint! It was amazing to see and at the top of our list.
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The capital, under renovations for the next two years.
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It was so cool to stand here and look out at this historical view!
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This is our “The Shaw’s Do DC” pic.

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As much as big cities usually intimidate us, this was a good trip!  The monuments and historical sites, gave purpose to navigating the city.  And as you know, if there’s a gold colored, plastic Jr Ranger badge in it, WE ARE DOING IT!  We all learned a lot while we were there.

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Our Time in The Mountains

 

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Our time spent in The Smokey Mountains was wonderful!  The weather was so cool during the day, it felt like air conditioning.  It smelled like trees and the place we were staying, Maggie Valley, felt like the tiny mountain towns I spent my early childhood in.  Plus, I believe there’s no stress that can’t be cured by putting your feet in a cold mountain stream.

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The stream that ran through our campsite, with ducks! Can you see them?

We were advised to go to Asheville, NC by several friends.  I’m cheap, so we didn’t end up staying in any of the campsites actually in Asheville.  Instead, we stayed 30 mins outside of the city, in Maggie Valley.  The campground looked a little sketchy at first, but as we so often find, after a day we got used to the place and liked it a lot!  We did end up driving though the town of Asheville a couple of times, but felt like it was a little too big for us to get a handle on with only a week there, and so we ended up spending most of our time in the little towns surrounding Maggie Valley and loved them!

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IMG_7303We went for several dives along the famous Blue Ridge Parkway, stopped at several overlooks, and took a hike!

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Our 2.2 mile hike with our bad ass kids, took us to some incredible views!
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As usual, we were racing the sunset and almost turned back several times. So glad we kept going!

 

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The views were amazing!
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But I like this one BEST!

Another day, when it was a little rainy, I took the kids to a bounce house, at Bean’s request.  That kids just loves bounce houses! We had the place to ourselves and it was a great time!

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Oh, the slide.

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As a special treat, I took the girls horseback ridding one afternoon.  I love ridding horses, and so does Lou.  Bean, not so much we found out.

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I loved going on this hour long horse ride. My horses name was Slim. He followed the leader well, but I liked making him go wherever I wanted to on the trail. ~Loralai
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Ridding by fields of flowers.
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Bean was over it, but she was a good sport and posed for the camera.

I took the kids to The Great Smokey Mountains one day.  We had gone once before in 2013, but it had been awhile and the kids saw the place with new eyes.  As in, they didn’t remember it from before.

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We spent most of our time at an old farmstead they have preserved, learning about the buildings and how they stored food.
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The girls chose this day to dress like fairies. Oh wait, that’s most days.
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We also visited a working mill there.

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We also took a hike with the whole family in the park one day and several more hikes to waterfalls, all when Joe got off of work.

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Soco Falls

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Here’s a video of us hiking in the Smokey Mountains in 2013.  Jonah’s there too, just in my belly, so he’s not on the screen.

And sometimes this week, we just hung out too.

Here's a shaving cream lesson.
Here’s a shaving cream lesson.
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That maybe went a little too far!
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I wonder what plans are being cooked up in there!
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I love my little dog. Especially because she’s chubby! But also because we always get snuggle time together! And I dressed her up for this picture. ~Loralai
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My sister always falls asleep first! ~Loralai

The girls also meet a pair of 4 and 7 year old sisters and played with them every second we were at the campsite.  One night, Joe and I went over to their camp fire and had a good time for a few hours.  Always fun making new friends!

There was also a big Memorial Day Dance and Live Music the last night we were there.  We all danced the night away, and Lou got to dance IN the show later that night!  Gota get that girl some cloggin’ shoes!

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Dancing Friends.
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My dancing partner was the lightest guy on his feet there!
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Into the night.

It was a sweet time, and we’d definitely go back!

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Getting a Handle on this Traveling Thing

IMG_7353So we are 2 months in….OMG!  Has it really only been 2 months?!?  It feels like much longer then that!  But in actuality, we have only been out and about, on the road for just 2 months now.

Things are going well.  I mean Joe and I still like each other.  And we haven’t lost even one of our 3 kids while zipping around and touring new places yet.

We’ve seen a lot of nature, and new cities, and beaches, and even friends, as well as meeting some new ones.

We are having a generally good time.  Thanks for asking!

So what’s not perfect?  Cause FB is so good at making it look like everything is annoyingly wonderful, but mostly cause no one wants to watch a 2 hour video of your kid throwing a fit when you tell them there are  no more popcicles, and after you’ve had an especially rough day, the last thing you want to do is think up some whitty way of saying your day sucked in a FB post, so you just don’t.  And some issues are just too real and drawn out to bother even talking about, and you know deep down could probably be fixed by you just waking up at 6am everyday, but you just haven’t started doing that yet.

So yes, there are “challenges” to this lifestyle, in addition to all the adventure and excitement!  Like, we still haven’t done our taxes!

And here are a few  more…

Top of the List!  Homeschooling is damn hard!  Okay, homeschooling Loralai is Damn Hard!  It’s a pie chart of problems (no time to plan, no incentives for completed lessons, no solid cirriculum, no quiet time for her to work without siblings around, with changing locals a schedule is hard to keep, she’d rather be playing, she’s Loralai).  We are addressing each of the issues in different ways and seeing what works, but we seem to have a ways to go!  Damn!  And I was hoping this would be easy!  Bean on the other hand, LOVES to do school work!  I think partly, just to rub it in her sisters face.  But I’ll still take it!  She’s actually been quietly painting for over an hour while I write this.  Too bad she’s not the one that is supposed to start 4th grade when we return.

Learning new places EVERY WEEK is overwhelming!  I mean, I grab the brochures!  I have brochures coming out of my ears!  But then I have to read those brochures, and they are never enough.  So I have to search online “Kids, place, hiking, events, parks, dog parks, stare at google maps, libraries, stores, etc”.  And I have no time, cause I have these 3 kids, ya know.  And all the time I take to research, is time taken  from actually DOING things, or homeschooling, or keeping up with laundry.  So we are going to SLOW DOWN after we meet up with our friends in Maine in the upcoming couple of weeks.  We’ve been moving fast to get there in time and we are feeling it.  The plan is to start staying in each place for 2 weeks instead of one.  I can’t wait!  Not only will this give us  more time in each place, but I’ll feel less pressure to figure it all out and do it all in 5 days!  Maybe I’ll even have time to do the laundry!

All of us in 200sqft working, learning, playing, cooking, and napping….  It can feel a little tight at times.  Not always.  But during times when Joe gets a work call and we all have to go outside until he’s done, or the girls are being too loud and wake the baby, or when we are all in a rush and trying to get dressed or use the one tiny bathroom at the same time, it can feel cramped.  Usually we can work around things and it even feels roomy in the RV, but sometimes we do feel the tightness.

I have NO TIME to myself!  None.  I have my kids always.  And I think that’s great!  Until I don’t.  And then all I want is a babysitter!  Hey!  Maybe our sweet, teenage babysitter from back home would like to tour the US in an RV with us this summer!  Hummmm…

My truck is a disaster zone!  Yes, this is a big enough deal to include on this list!  The kids are definitely mostly to blame, with all their snack spillage, and toys they bring in, but never take back out.  But I can’t blame them entirely, cause there’s Joe too!  Just kidding, mostly.  The front seat is covered with maps, and those dang brochures, and receipts, and sunglasses, and, and, and.  And I can NOT keep it clean!  No matter what I try!  I clean it out at least 3 times a week, and yet, every time I open the door, it’s like 3 monkeys were let loose in there overnight!  Don’t even talk to me about actually getting to vacuum the floor or clean it with real cleaning products!  That’s just something I dream about.  You’d have to be able to SEE the floor to clean it and I’d  have to get those kids somewhere else to have the time to clean.

I have an 18 month old.  Enough said.

Darby is kind of an asshole.  But just kind of,  cause I love the crap out of her!  She does require attention and to be walked, 4 times a day, and then you have to pickup and dispose of her crap.  So that’s added fun.  I won’t even go into what she does when we are on long drives, but it’s stinky!  Very, very stinky, and requires me to change my shirt or bring a towel with us.  She barks like a crazy dog when other dogs go by our campsite, and sometimes at people too, and sometimes those people are children.  And she’s chewed up the screen door twice when we were gone.  But right now she’s laying peacfully across my lap while I write….so I’m glad she’s on this trip with us overall.

Internet, cable, water, laundry, cooking, propane, electricity, tank space…..IT’S ALL MORE COMPLICATED now.  We don’t just HAVE that stuff anymore.  It’s all something that has to be taken into consideration and researched, and worked around.

I worry all the time about the truck breaking down.  I mean, that would kind of render us homeless, in an unfamiliar place, with no one we know near by, on the side of the road, so….

I HATE driving through the mountains!!!!  But I love GOING to the mountains.  Equals problem.  Driving though the mountains while hauling 14,000lbs means your truck sounding like it’s going to blow up while driving 30 miles and hour on a hwy up and smelling your breaks while watching for run away truck ramps on the way down.  Terrifying!  See above for compounded fears.

Yes, cleaning your RV/Home only takes 20 mins.  BUT, those 20 mins just cycle over and over and over again.  It’s never done.  And the crumbs!  Don’t even get me started on the crumbs!  They are everywhere!  In the bed.  On the couch.  On the floor.  Gram Crackers are now an OUTSIDE ONLY food group, along with crackers of any kind, and cheezits!

So, as you  can now see, traveling the US with your family is AWESOME, but it’s not all rainbows and butterflies.  It has its challenges.

But now that I’ve written this, all of our problems do seem pretty trivial.  I mean, except that truck thing!  That would be real real bad!  But it’s all a process, and we are in it for the long haul.  Well, at least for 10  more months!  Living and Learning everyday.

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