Posted in family adventure, homeschool, Uncategorized

Family RV Adventure 2017, Part Two

Part two of this RV Adventure was an overall favorite of our family!

Summer has been busy and lazy at the same time, so, this week, I am catching up on our road trip!  If you missed part one, find it here:

https://raisingfourblessings.com/2017/06/06/family-rv-adventure-2017-part-one/

We traveled from the Grand Canyon through some of the most remote country I could even imagine.  We only passed a few houses in the first 3 hours of driving! The wind in this area was almost frightening! Driving in a 30 foot RV and whipping wind in one direction made me trust in my husbands driving abilities even more than before!  He literally struggled to keep the RV on the road at times.

We traveled through Marble Canyon (google it, it’s amazingly beautiful) and through the North Rim area of the Grand Canyon and over to Zion National Park.

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Notice the large boulder on top of this house!
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Marble Canyon

 

We arrived at the Zion River RV Resort and Campground (about a 4 hour trip from the Grand Canyon) and relaxed for the remainder of this traveling day.   The grounds were immaculate, and the showers/bathrooms were mom approved (unlike the Grand Canyon campground showers).

At the showers late that night, a few of us were waiting outside on one of the boys to finish.  A lady and her daughter walked up and sat down.  It’s such a small world, y’all! She is a fellow homeschooling mom, a friend of friends that we have known for years.  They live 20 minutes from us in Georgia. And, we stayed at the same campground in Utah for the same two nights!  Crazy!

Zion National Park was on the agenda for the next day.  We heard rumors that the parking filled up by 8 or  9 am, so we planned to leave early.  This is so not our usual! We don’t go anywhere early!  But, this time, we made it to Zion by about 7:30 am!

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Almost to the entrance to Zion National Park

The main part of Zion is in a sort of valley in between towering rocks on both sides! So, visitors park at the Visitors Center and ride free, propane fueled shuttles to the different stops.

There are truly no words for the beauty of God’s creation in this park!

Our first stop was the lodge.  We decided to hike the Emerald Pool trail, which takes you to a waterfall and Emerald Pool.  A new term I learned from this hike was scrambling.  Some of the hike was nice, more manicured trail, and some was rock that you had to scramble over (kind of like climb but not as much of an incline).

 

When our family hikes, Ella and I are in the back trying our hardest to keep up with the fit, athletic boys who walk lightning fast.  It was a good workout for the two of us! We came back down a different trail and, because the boys get so far ahead, they took a wrong turn, and we were separated for a short time!

 

We ended this trail back at the lodge.  Next, we traveled further into Zion to the Narrows and the Riverwalk Trail.  The Narrows are a trail that visitors can actually hike in the river.  It was some of the coldest water I have ever experienced.  The views from there were simply one of a kind!

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There were several other hikes that we didn’t try!  One was called Angel’s Landing, where the trail is the only surface and to each side is cliffs!  My husband says this is a must do on the next trip to Zion.

We stayed at  the Zion River Resort again that night.

We left out early the next morning for Bryce Canyon.  The path to Bryce was beautiful! There was still snow on the ground on the top of one of the mountains we crossed (our trip was in the end of May).

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Bryce Canyon was my favorite park of all of the ones we visited. We drove through the park and then settled on a hike at the Sunset and Sunrise Point trails.

We started the hike at Sunset Point.  The hike allowed us to experience the canyon from the very bottom, which provided amazing views of the hoodoos!  The trail was sandy and fairly easy to maneuver! This trail took us to the Queen’s Garden trail and the Navajo Loop trail. We ended at Sunrise Point.  I rate this hike as my favorite of all time!  It is a great family hike and short enough for a new hiker!  The views are unmatched!

The weather was perfect for hiking with a little breeze!  We eventually put on sweatshirts by the end of the hike.

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We got to our campground for the night in a small town called Panguitch, Utah by about 10 pm.  We woke the next morning and were on the road again.

This was another remote trip to what seemed like the middle of nowhere!  We had booked a campground called Thousand Lakes RV Park for this night in Torrey, Utah.

 

We checked into the campground and went to explore Capitol Reef National Park.  This is one of the least visited National Parks. The trails do not have large parking lots and there is no transportation like Zion offered.

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We hiked to one of the arches at Capitol Reef.

We did one hike in Capitol Reef and spent the evening at the campground.

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The views were just too spectacular to do anything else!

Have you traveled out west? In an RV? What is the most remote area you have been to?

 

 

Posted in family adventure, Uncategorized

Family RV Adventure 2017, Part One

We have dreamed, talked and planned for nearly 17 years for an RV trip out west!  My husband is the adventurer, I am the cautious planner.  Since we began homeschooling 7 years ago, we hoped to have the flexibility to travel more.  Life gets in the way sometimes.  Providing for a family, running 3 small businesses, and other commitments and schedules seem to take precedence over adventure.

We are walking through several changes in our family and business.

My husband became a pastor.

Our oldest will go back into public high school in August.

We hired a fabulous office manager, who takes over the business, scheduling and other duties so that my husband can take a break!  We are immensely thankful that the Lord provided her!

Over the winter, when we made the decision for our oldest to re-enter public school, we decided to take the trip!

Say “Yes” to the adventure!

Go for it!

We began to look at our options! Our dream had been to travel across the country in an RV.

We don’t own an RV!

We decided to pursue purchasing one, though.  We explored our options, looked at different models of campers and RV’s.  After weighing the possibilities, we came to the conclusion that we simply do not have the time to use a camper or RV on a regular basis.  Definitely not enough to justify the cost.

The next option we considered was to drive in our van and stay in hotels and lodges.

Somehow, this just doesn’t seem like as much of an adventure for us.  I looked into cost and functionality for this option. We have 6 people in our family, so lugging the necessities for a long road trip in a Honda Odyssey didn’t seem like the best option.

Another problem, my husband wanted to camp.  Who goes to the National parks and doesn’t camp?

Truth be told, I don’t love camping.  I camp because my family loves to camp.  Camping with 6 people for 2 weeks out of a mini van wasn’t working for me!

The last option was to rent an RV.  We didn’t know of anyone that had taken this option.  I did a search of rental RV outlets and found one closest to us.  The one we found was Cruise America.

I had calculated the cost of staying in hotels and lodges.

We had ruled out purchasing our own RV.

This rental option was the last hope…for me anyway!  This was the compromise we needed, because my husband was set on camping.  I was determined not to camp out of  a minivan!

We booked a 30 foot RV, which would sleep 7 and began planning the trip!

It’s not easy planning a road trip to places you  know nothing about!

Booking campgrounds not knowing if their bath house was acceptable.

I mapped out the trip!

Our older boys wanted to visit the Four Corners Monument.  So, we planned to stop there first.

The second stop would be the Grand Canyon.

Then, we would visit Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, the Young Living Lavender farm in Mona, Utah (my treat for the trip), Arches National Park and, finally, Canyonlands National Park.

I booked campgrounds for each of the main stays on our trip, leaving the traveling days open.  We had no idea how far we would travel each day, so booking a campground for travel days was impossible.

We left for our adventure on Monday morning, May 22.  We left Georgia, drove through Alabama, Mississippi into Tennessee and Arkansas.

My navigational skills are bad! Just really bad!  I struggle navigating even with GPS. So, late…late Monday night, we decided to stop in Oklahoma at a KOA in Checotah.

Using my phone, I navigated us right into downtown Checotah (the home of Carrie Underwood).  It’s a cute town.

My husband is the map reading, navigational expert of the family and decided I was leading us astray.  The almost 15 year old agreed.  We were on the wrong exit.

We turned around, heading back for the interstate.  As we approached a low-lit gas station, we see blue lights behind us.

The nice officer pulled us over to inform us that we had no tail lights.

He never asked for license or insurance.

He simply suggested we ride with flashers on until we could remedy the problem and let us continue.

The teenager navigated us to the Checotah KOA.

We settled in around 10:30 pm. This KOA was near the interstate but remote and quiet.

KOA’s are a fantastic option for traveling.  Most even have small cabins available for rent for those traveling without a camper.  The bath houses, probably the most important part of a camping trip for me, are almost always clean and well-kept!

The next morning, we got on the road bright and early.  Our next stop would be the KOA in downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico.  I would love to visit Albuquerque again.  It is a beautiful town.

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Flowers in the campground in Albuquerque, NM

 

 

The third day of our trip, we would visit the Four Corners Monument and arrive at the Grand Canyon.  This drive, from Albuquerque, was extremely remote. I couldn’t help but think what it would be like to live in this area of our beautiful country, so far from an actual town.  Many houses are far from even the closest neighbor.

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One of the many rock formations on the drive to the Four Corners Monument.
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Passing the time with My Little Pony. Our three options for watching movies in the RV didn’t work. We would need a good wi-fi to download an app on the laptop to watch a movie.

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We finally made it to the Four Corners.

Native Americans sell items like necklaces, magnets, dream catchers and t shirts around the monument.

Of course, the boys had to plank in four states at once.

Our next stop, the Grand Canyon.  This is our third day of driving and close to 1600 miles.

We arrived near sunset at the Grand Canyon, South Rim.

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These young elk were grazing very near the entrance gate.

We purchased a one-year pass to the National Parks for $80.  The cost just to enter the Grand Canyon would have been $30. The pass is a great value, considering that we were visiting 6 National Parks on this trip.

Normally, the ranger should have asked for an identification with the purchase, but she was distracted by a man exiting his car just ahead of us to take a selfie with the elk.

We continued on to the first view point.  Sunset was an amazing time to be introduced to these views!!

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Amazing sunset!

After a time of amazement and awe at God’s beautiful, spectacular creation, we continued on to the campground inside the park.

We arrived at approximately 10:30 pm.  The lady at check-in asked for photo identification, aka drivers license, from my husband to verify the reservation.

He came back to the RV, where we were waiting patiently.

He didn’t have his drivers license.

Not in his wallet.

Not in his pocket.

Not…anywhere!

We scoured the RV, suitcases, everywhere!

Was it stolen?

Did he leave it at another campground or at a gas station?

None of those seemed to be the answer.

Who drives across the country without a drivers license?  I had prayed a lot over this trip, for safety, that no one would fall off a cliff, that we would have safe travels, that no one would get sick, the normal “mom” things to pray.  Now, I was praying for my husband to be able to drive us around Utah and back to Georgia without his drivers license.

No one had asked for his identification, not even the nice officer in Checotah, Oklahoma a few days before!

Thankfully!

This was the end of our third day!

The next day, day four, we explore the Grand Canyon and move on to Zion National Park.

 

 

 

Posted in family adventure, fashion, Uncategorized

Shopping, Modesty and New Adventures

New adventures!  Exciting, challenging and scary all at the same time!  My sweet little family has several new adventures coming our way!  I like to call them “adventures” instead of “changes”….sounds a little more fun, don’t you think?  I will share more on the adventures later!

Yesterday was a rainy Spring day, so soccer and baseball practices were both cancelled! It’s a rare occasion that we have nothing to do on a Monday night! In the text from my handsome husband announcing the cancellations, he asks if I would like to go on a date! Of course I would!!!

We took the kids to my parents! We had a delicious supper for our first stop!

Second stop…the mall! Our little local mall doesn’t have the greatest selection of stores, but it works for times sake!

My husband needed to pick up a few clothing items for these new upcoming adventures!

Of course, he went straight to the men’s section! I, without any children tagging along, did not pass up the opportunity to shop a little for myself!

I have a love-hate relationship with shopping!  I see so many cute, sassy items that catch my eye! But, upon further inspection or after trying on, I realize why the “hate” part of the love-hate relationship comes into play!

Modesty is a controversial topic! What I deem modest for me may be totally different for another!  The problem I see with modesty is that many people don’t give it a consideration.  I see moms dressing their teen daughters provocatively and then fussing for them to cover up!  I have 3 sons and a young daughter! She is 4. I have always had a heart for modesty and felt uncomfortable with certain clothing items.  I pray that starting early with her will give her a heart to honor God with her body!  God doesn’t expect perfection.  He doesn’t expect us to dress like the Amish!  He does tell us in His word to be respectful of others, to honor Him with all that we do!

Shopping Issue #1 from last night’s trip!

Lace is a huge trend this year.  It is EVERYWHERE!!! I didn’t find a single trendy, lacy shirt that I could wear without a tank top underneath (remember our town’s tiny selection)! It’s hot in the summer! Who wants to wear layers in the summer in Georgia? The lace either shows the stomach (ain’t no mama of 4 got time for that) or the bra straps!

Shopping Issue #2 from last night’s trip!

Cleavage! Hello!  Low cut shirts and tie front shirts and off the shoulder shirts and maxi dresses with plunging necklines and spaghetti strap tops! The prints are cute! The styles are adorable! But, nowhere in the stores did I see any options to cover the cash and prizes!

Shopping Issue #3

This is one that comes up in conversation in our home.  Leggings! Leggings are all the rage! You have surely seen the woman!  Middle-aged, over weight! Wearing leggings with a  too-short top!  We all have!  But, overweight or not, middle-aged or not, 100 pounds or 300 pounds, leggings show all the cash and prizes and leave no mystery to what we have to offer!  Please, for the sake of people with eyes, wear a longer top over your leggings!  At least finger tips, y’all!  This presents another issue because it can be difficult to find a shirt long enough to match the adorable floral printed leggings that you bought from your friends facebook pop up!  I get it! It’s worth the time, though! That same company that you bought your leggings from surely sells a top long enough!

There are options to help us look presentable, covered up and fashionable at the same time! I have searched the world over for ways to wear the low cut cute maxis and tops without giving away all my secrets!

One product I love is the Half-tee!

Half-tees! Half tees are like a tank top but stop below the bust!  These are modest without the added heat of a full tank!

Tank HALFTEE (Modal)

Another favorite is the skinny tee!  This version has a higher neckline without looking too high!

http://www.qvc.com/skinnytees-Seamless-Scoop-Neck-Layering-Tank.product.A291480.html?sc=SRCH

The way we dress tells the world so much about us!  If we dress in a way to attract attention, that attention may not always be good!  I believe that a revealing outfit tells the people around us that we don’t value ourselves and our identity in Christ enough to be accepted without drawing all the attention to our body parts!

Modesty starts at the store not the morning you are getting dressed! Plan ahead to dress well and respectfully! What are your thoughts?

 

Posted in family adventure, sports

Sports and life lessons

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Our boys love sports!  They are energetic, competitive and love the outdoors!  So, sports are a great outlet for them!

S is our oldest!  He is 14 now, but when he was 7, he started playing football!  It was love at first snap!  He loves the contact and thrives on the action!  D is now 11, and he started playing football at age 7 also!  Thankfully, my husband loves football and has had the privilege of coaching their team.

Each of our boys have played soccer and enjoyed that as well!

D loves baseball!  He usually plays short stop.  In the first game last year, he hit two grand slams!  I think he loves the team atmosphere as much as the game!

L is 8.  He played soccer this past fall!  He says it’s his favorite!

I love the fast pace of the game of soccer!  My boys are always exhausted after the game!

I often wonder what our 4 year old daughter, E, will enjoy! Right now, her interests are ballet, juneastics (gymnastics), and soccer. She wants her daddy to be her coach!

 

Kids sports often get bad publicity!  We have consistently had great coaches for our boys.  We have encountered coaches on other teams who were out of control and taking things too seriously!  If our boys had been on those teams, the season may have ended early (mamabear).

We parents sometimes take the game too seriously….our babies are out on the field giving their entire heart to this “fun” sport!  Sometimes, we don’t remember in the heat of the battle, that the goal is good sportsmanship and fun! But, that really should be the goal! Our kids have to learn to deal with loss and heartache and disappointment!

 

Sports have provided our boys with great life lessons….

Someone has to lose!  Every child cannot be a winner! Losing builds character and humility!

The referees will make calls that seem unfair…they are only human!

Everything won’t go your way, even if you give 100%!

Other people may cheat or “play dirty,” but you must always strive to play with integrity! Your best is not the next persons best!  Your attitude means everything!