Archive for the “Places we’ve Stayed” Category

Places we have spent the night during our camping trips.

We left Etowah, NC on June 13th after several unexpected issues.  Our first night was spent outside of Nashville, TN at one of our favorite camp spots- Walmart.  The next day we drove to Springfield, MO and spent another night at Walmart enjoying a Redbox movie and dinner from the deli.  We decided we needed to find an rv dealer to  have our refrigerator checked since the thermometer would not go below 45 degrees, of course not a safe temperature for any food.   After many phone calls we finally found a Camping World that agreed to “work us in” the following morning, so off we went.  We spent 3 nights locked in the Camping World’s parking lot and we still did not find a resolution to our refrigerator problems.  We did get to enjoy a great meal at Lambert”s Cafe (http://www.throwedrolls.com/), known as “the home of the throwed rolls.” Yes, if you want a roll you have to catch it when it is thrown to you from one of the waitstaff.  There was enough food on each plate for at least two meals and both boys enjoyed catching rolls.  This was the first real meal we had eaten since leaving our house.

We decided to leave Camping World and try to find a campground near Joplin, MO so we could start volunteering somewhere in the area.  We arrived at the Big Red Barn Campground on June 18th, settled in to our new spot and started researching to find somewhere we could volunteer with kids.  On Father’s Day we spend most of  the day touring the tornado area, taking pictures, and learning our way around Joplin.  The devastation is far worse in person than seeing it on the news. We arrived almost a month after the tornado hit and it almost brought tears to our eyes as we toured the area. We received an email from another traveling friend who gave us the name of the pastors wife (Cindy Wermuth) at Joplin Family Worship Center who eagerly invited us to volunteer at her church. We did not know that we would meet so many people that would touch our hearts for years to come. JFWC (Joplin Family Worship Center) was a disaster relief center which not only furnished daily necessities to those affected by the tornado but feeding hundreds of volunteers 2-3 meals each day.  The volunteers at JFWC supplied food, furniture,  and a shoulder to cry on if needed.  We worked in the food pantry area sorting, counting and replenishing food as needed.  This is where we met a dear lady named Karen who was supervising the influx of pallets of food, clothes, and miscellaneous items being brought into the church sanctuary.  The sanctuary was the headquarters for the food, toiletries, and clothing including a large quantity of children and baby items.  Brian worked outside bringing the pallets into the church where we sorted and shelved the items.  The next two weeks were spent learning how a relief center runs and how much work it is trying to help people.

We were happy to find out there would be two other traveling families in the Joplin area the same time we were here. The Lundy and Igel families joined us during our time volunteering and we had a great time afterwards swimming in the creek.  On July 3rd, we celebrated Carson’s 8th birthday with the Lundy family.

Joplin will go down as one of our most rewarding places we have stopped.  It was great for our family to volunteer together for such a long period of time.  But after 2 weeks we needed to move on to our next destination.

Below is a video and pictures of our stop in Joplin.  Please remember the people of Joplin as they recover.

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This is another post to get us caught up again.

We left New Jersey around 8:00 on Thursday morning to head to Connecticut.  The traffic was heavy in some spots and we ended up on some narrow roads and we were exhausted so upon arrival in Clinton, CT we decided that the only option was an afternoon nap after getting up at 6:00 am to leave. Zachary and Carson watched television and Brian and I took a power nap so we would have energy for eating dinner at Pepe’s Pizza. Pepe’s Pizza was featured on the History Channel. The pizza was baked in a coal oven and served on a large cookie sheet. Our cheese pizza was a rectangle shaped with a crispy crust and it was cut into rectangle shaped pieces instead of triangle, who knew we would be testing Carson on his shapes in a pizza restaurant.  The pizza was really good and the boys were treated to a pitcher of Coke instead of having to drink water.  After dinner we walked down Wooster Street which had signs stating it was an Italian village. There were several other Italian restaurants and bakeries along with homes and a large church. Our next stop was at Lowes to purchase boards to go underneath our leveling jacks on the motor home. Next to Lowes was Wal-Mart for our weekly grocery trip. We learned that Connecticut charges five cents for every can or bottle with the option of returning them to be recycled. The cashier told me this deposit was an effort for the state to cut down on plastic and aluminum in their landfills.  At 10:00 pm we were leaving Wal-Mart to return to the motor home.

Niantic, CTOn Friday we made arrangements to meet one of Carson’s classmates from Veritas, Garrett at his grandparents summer home in Niantic, CT approximately 45 minutes from Clinton, CT.  The weather was slightly rainy and foggy but the boys did not care that the temperature was only 72 degrees they wanted to play in the sand. Once it started to rain harder, Josh, Garrett’s dad invited us in to have lunch and wait for the rain to stop.  While we were having lunch the sun started peeping from behind the clouds and  the rain stopped.  After lunch the boys enjoyed the water which we were told was a mere 59 degrees along with all the sand toys and a metal detector.  Josh taught the boys how to search for treasures and Brian and Zachary found two pieces of metal in the sand but no rings or coins. Around 3:30 we said goodbye to Josh and Garrett and headed home.  Just after dinner, which was spaghetti tacos (homemade spaghetti served in hard taco shells a recipe from ICarly), we experienced a severe thunder storm that produced funnel clouds in nearby towns.  After the thunderstorm we had no more internet which crippled our blog posting, sorry that is the reason we are behind.

On Saturday we decided to stay at the campground and enjoy just sitting outside under the awning. We met our neighbors, on the left the couple was from Massachusetts and on the right they were from Connecticut. We spend about an hour talking to our neighbors from MA learning about what we needed to see up north. On Saturday night Zachary and Carson enjoyed roasting marshmallows with our neighbors from CT and their family.  Saturday was a very nice relaxing day enjoying time with new friends. Our departure from Clinton, CT was on Sunday so Brian and I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast on the patio before starting our departure procedures.  Off to Cape Code,  Massachusetts for a few days and then Littleton, Massachusetts which is outside of Boston.

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This post is a little late but needed to get it posted to get us caught up.

We arrived at the Timberlane Campground in Clarksboro, New Jersey on Monday afternoon and a short drive from West Chester, PA. We decided to use the afternoon to work, plan our week, and rest. Bella was sitting in her normal location on the window sill when she started barking, I looked out the window and there were two ducks wondering around the camp site. A little later the same scenario started again but this time it was two deer approximately 100 feet from our motor home eating grass. Brian was able to take a couple of pictures before they ran away. I later saw a rabbit run from underneath our motor home when I took Bella out to potty. New Jersey has definitely been the best place to see wildlife closer than the National Zoo.

IMG_2674Tuesday we visited Philadelphia, PA and our first stop was at Tony Luke’s Restaurant,  to taste a legendary Philly Cheese Steak sandwich with Cheese Wiz. After lunch we headed to Historic Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell and all the other history involved in Philadelphia. We visited the Liberty Bell but could not get tickets to see Independence Hall so we walked around viewing other parts of our history including Benjamin Franklin’s printing business where we watched a park ranger print a copy of the Declaration of Independence on linen paper. Zachary and Carson have started the Junior Ranger program that is sponsored by the National Park Service in which they complete certain requirements in a booklet to receive a Junior Park Ranger badge for that particular national park. We just started this program when we were in Gettysburg, so they are now Junior Rangers for Gettysburg and Philadelphia complete with a certificate, one patch and one badge. This program helps both boys learn the history of the area and receive a small reward too. We also purchased two small passport booklets that they boys can stamp at each National History location we visit.  We thought that this would be a good souvenir for the boys to remember the places that we have visited. One of the most exciting places that we visited was The Philadelphia Mint. Zachary and Polly went on this tour since there were no cameras allowed Brian and Carson stayed outside with our camera and the BlackBerry since it also had a camera. We saw some pennies that had been punched and were ready to go through the process to become a penny. After we left the mint we walked around looking at different buildings and reading signs in order answer the questions in the Junior Ranger booklet. The day ended with both boys receiving their Junior Ranger Badges and a stop at Dunkin Donuts for a snack for the rush hour traffic. When we got back to the campground the boys went to the pool and enjoyed playing for about one hour before it closed.

Wednesday, on our drive into Philadelphia we stopped at a wonderful store called IKEA. IKEA is a Swedish company that sells almost everything. This was one of the largest stores I have ever shopped. This one had a kids play area, a cafeteria which had breakfast for 99 cents just about any Swedish food you can imagine. We have Swedish friends that introduced us to wonderful food when they lived in the United States and since they moved back to Sweden in 2003 I have not been able to find Swedish candy or cookies. I could have walked around in there all day but we had other things planned for the day so I had to leave. This IKEA had three levels and had all types of kitchen gadgets, furniture, food, any many different home accessories. We did not hear much complaining from the boys until we had been there over an hour and we did not allow Carson to go back into the play area then he was ready to leave the store. We purchased some Swedish cookies, candy and breakfast, I could have purchased many other neat gadgets but we only have limited space in the motor home. I will have to visit another IKEA

Liberty BellWe rode into to Philadelphia to an area of town where you can find open markets selling all types of vegetables, fruits, and meat that is very fresh. You could pick your chicken, rabbit or duck straight from the cage and carry it home with you. There were meat markets selling all types of exotic meat such as bison, rattle snake, reindeer and ox tails. There were Italian markets with fresh mozzarella cheese and pasta made in the store. Zachary and Carson did not like all the smells and Zachary especially did not like seeing the animals in the cages since he knew why they were being sold, Carson just thought they were ready to be adopted (and no one told him any different). I think Zachary was truly disturbed by selling the homeless people sleeping on the sidewalk, the food hung in windows, and the mixture of unusual smells. Carson was complaining that it smelled “bad” when we walked by a fish market he said it smelled like crickets; he knows what crickets smell like is because we had to buy crickets to feed the 3rd grade anole that Zachary brought home from school. I did not tell him that smell was a seafood market I just laughed. I enjoyed the Italian markets with fresh pasta and cheese and imagining why there is a need for approximately fifty different olive oils in such a small store. Since Zachary was getting really upset about the entire situation we decided to leave. We rode by another market but the parking was $20 for the first 1 hour and then $27 for 2-3 hours, so we decide to drive to Delaware which was about 30 minutes away.

We rode around the river and downtown districts and decided to go back into the motor home. Our visit to Wilmington, Delaware was short and uneventful. The afternoon was spent with working, researching our next destinations, and getting ready to leave on Thursday. Brian took Zachary and Carson to the pool and I washed a load of clothes. We will be leaving early on Thursday morning heading to Connecticut. Please pray for our travels on I-95 through Bronx, NY switching lanes with a 40’ motor home are not as easy as our small Saturn Vue. Hopefully leaving early will get us through New York after morning rush hour and before afternoon rush hour. More adventures to follow in New England.

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This is part 2 of our visit to Lancaster, PA.  Please read Part 1 if you missed it.

Father's Day Breakfast In BedOn Sunday, Zachary and Carson fixed Brian breakfast for Father’s Day and gave him the beautiful cards that each had made on Saturday night. Brian had breakfast in bed consisting of Honey Nut Cheerios and milk.  We also had to do our weekly cleaning session which turned into a major cleaning of the motor home and preparing to leave on Monday. Brian was able to get a Sunday afternoon nap and later we played outside with the kids and allowed Bella to run freely around the field. Brian was able to fly is stunt kite in the field where we were parked and then we played a quick game of kickball before having dinner.

On Monday we left the campground and stopped in West Chester to visit with one of our picnic vendors for our website www.picnicfun.com . Bella enjoyed having free run of their office just like she did in our office.  Daniel and Naomi generally brought their dog, Rufus, to work so Bella had tennis balls and other toys to enjoy. We enjoyed a tour of the facility and lunch with our friends at Spectrum Products and started off towards NJ.

Amish FarmerOur time in Lancaster was a real learning experience by looking at the lives of the Amish and Mennonites that live in the area. It was very interesting to see a horse and buggy in the drive thru at Wachovia or parked in the back of a restaurant in parking designated for horse and buggy. The first day we made a game out of finding a horse and buggy with lights. We got so excited about taking pictures even though you had to try to get a picture without being too noticeable since the Amish do not like to have the picture taken, most of the pictures are taken from a distance or from behind the horse and buggy.  The farmland was beautiful and it was such an experience seeing clothes lines attached to the house with a pulley system to move it back and forth to add and remove clothes and handmade products like our grandparents made them. We tried to compare our new life to the lives of the Amish in aspect that we had down-sized our lives and are trying to live a slower more peaceful life but I do not think this analogy was accepted by the Mennonite gentleman we talked with at the visitors center in Intercourse. He had separated himself from the Amish church some years ago but still dressed in the plain clothes, had no phone, television or radio in his home but he did drive a car and owned a laptop computer.  I guess the Amish and Mennonite communities are much like everyone else some of them “pick and chose” which things in life they can live with and others they cannot.  I think we would enjoy visiting Lancaster again especially if we could have the opportunity to learn more into the everyday lives of the Amish and Mennonite communities.  I think one aspect of the lives of these people that should be on the top of everyone’s daily list is their devotion to God and family.

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Horse and Buggy in TownWe arrived in Lancaster, PA shortly after lunch on Wednesday and our first stop was Five Guys Burgers and Fries, one of Brian’s favorite places to eat and I like it too especially the fresh cut fries. I suggested to Brian that we needed to sample local favorites while we are traveling and try to avoid (if possible) the chain restaurants. We were parked in an open field that backed up to a beautiful farmland at Roamers Retreat Campground. This was one of our first experiences to see an Amish farmer working in the field plowing and later bailing hay.

On Thursday went took a short drive to Hershey, PA to take a tour of the Hershey candy plant. We took the tour so we could learn how one of our favorite foods is made. Then we decided to find a local restaurant for lunch in Lancaster instead of eating around the town of Hershey.  Our choice was Jakey’s Amish Barbeque featuring pit cooked beef, pork, chicken and turkey along with a local side of corn fritters. The meat was being cooked just outside of the restaurant on a large cooker and you could definitely smell the wood burning.   I ate pork BBQ, Brian and Zachary ate chicken with corn fritters and Carson enjoyed a side of fresh cut French fries.  Corn fritters were made with funnel cake mix with kernels of corn added. You had the choice of powdered sugar or maple syrup with your corn fritters.  The pork was good but I am still partial to Eastern NC BBQ with hush puppies.  After lunch we stopped at a small Amish market and I bought fresh bread, cheese and vegetables along with homemade root beer. The family had this small market in front of their home and sold fresh vegetables, cheese, root bear (a popular item) and fresh baked goods. All of the vegetables were grown in the garden behind their house and were picked earlier that day.

Immergut PretzelOn Friday June 22, we rode into Intercourse, PA to the Jam and Berry festival. There were samples of local berries and jams everywhere in addition to music, crafts and exhibits. Brian decided on his favorite food which was not berries or jam it was peanut butter made locally. The kids enjoyed the petting zoo with a miniature horse, a llama and goats next to the playground. We walked around the small town of Intercourse exploring the local shops and our favorite was a small pretzel shop called Immergut, which had the best soft pretzels I had ever eaten, the small pretzel shop was being run by two young Amish girls who told Carson they made and twisted about 200 pretzels per day during this time of year.  I had a sesame pretzel and Brian and the boys had cinnamon sugar pretzels. We later took a tour of a larger pretzel company and learned to make pretzels, we became official pretzel twisters.  After we left the festival we stopped at the farmers market to purchase some fresh vegetables for dinner. Our dinner consisted of fresh red potatoes, cabbage, corn and homemade wheat bread.

On Saturday we started out to ride through the Amish farmland and then have a traditional Amish and Mennonite Home cooking at a restaurant called The Family Cupboard. We sampled some of the local favorites such as fried chicken, rotisserie chicken, meatloaf and steak tips with gravy along with buttered noodles, mashed potatoes, corn and green beans and many different deserts including Shoo Fly pie a local favorite. Carson was not really thrilled with lunch so he enjoyed a bag lunch of yogurt and Cheerios and Zachary had a kid’s meal with chicken tenders and corn.  After lunch we went shopping at the outlets to try to walk off some of our lunch, not much excitement there since both boys were ready to get back to the motor home to play. Just before dark we noticed a horse and buggy coming in the campground from the field next to the campground; and watching we noticed that a young girl and boy were selling goods from the back of their wagon.  We purchased a Shoo Fly pie, another loaf of bread and some fresh eggs, they also were selling several types of homemade pies, jams, jellies. Carson was so curious and he wanted to talk to an Amish child so he followed us outside to talk to the young boy driving the buggy.  The young boy was very shy but he did tell us his name was Amos and he was 8 years old.  Carson did not understand why the young boy was not as talkative as himself.  The girl asked us were we were from and when we told her NC she said she thought she recognized the accent.  She told us that her family had friends in Kenly, NC and that is the reason she recognized our accent. I guess we will not be able to disguise ourselves since our accents were “caught” by a young Amish girl living in Lancaster.

We will continue documenting our visit in our next post.  Stay tuned.  In the meantime, watch our video slide show below for pictures from our trip.  I’ll try to make it a little shorter next time.  We just have so many pictures we have taken.

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