Daily Blog - First Leg

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Day One

Destination: Milford Lake State Park

Milford, Kansas


The day started at 7 AM for me, putting together last minute items to pack, There were tons of preparation made for this trip, some ideas that we had not really tested, like our meal system for example.  We opted to take a small five drawer bin loaded with packets of condiments rather than pack and purchase bottles of mustard, ketchup, bbq sauce, mayo, jelly, honey, etc.   (EDIT: This decision would prove to be a good choice later in our trip.) 


I had the idea that if I froze some pre made items (like taco meat or spaghetti sauce), we could put them in the electric cooler, and transfer them to the lunch cooler to keep our sandwiches cool while we drove during the day.  Great idea!  The frozen item would thaw during the day, and we could simply heat it up at night for a quick and easy dinner!  So I proceeded to cook a few things and stuff them in the freezer, later transferring them to the electric cooler, which I had pre-chilled a couple of days before.  Bacon, hot dogs, sausage, premade BBQ, spaghetti sauce, seasoned taco meat, etc. all went into this cooler, along with two gallons of milk, butter, cheese, eggs, biscuits and relish.  I mean really, who goes camping with hot dogs and no relish?!?


I made PB&J sandwiches, added some string cheese, GoGurts and stacked it all in the cooler, gently laying the frozen spaghetti sauce in it's ziplock back on the top.   I then spent some time getting other things ready, and attempting to put the bike rack on the camper, something we just didn't have time to test.  Our HOA does not allow for the camper to sit in the driveway for more than 24 hours.  Monday I was able to get some things done on the camper before it rained, and I button it up.  Tuesday I was able to get the cargo tray installed and all the propane locked up, as well as get the electrical handled.  I rigged up a connector on the 7 pin to charge the battery while we were traveling, but had to do it in an odd way since someone had converted the camper from a six wire to a four wire flat at some point.  I guess they didn't realize that's what this pins are for.....  We had church the night before, so I just simply ran out of time.  By the time we got out of the driveway, it was nearly noon.  A far cry from the desired 8AM departure time, but with no bikes.  The kids were sad, but I told them that we'd get them next trip.  We breezed through Colorado and ate our prepacked lunches and then continued on towards Kansas. 


As we crossed into Kansas, we snacked on things from our cooler, that now tasted like spaghetti sauce.  Uh oh.  A flaw in the plan.  Seems that the ice that had formed from the sauce cut the ziplock bag and had begun to leak out onto all our other items.  Note to self:  Double bag next time.


The kids really didn't seem to mind, after all it was mozzarella, so it all seemed to go together.  Except the GoGurt....


We made it to the camp site, albeit later than desired.  I quickly established the boundaries of where they could and couldn't go (we were very close to the lake) and the kids played hide and seek in the nearly empty campground with their flashlights while I set up camp.  We had an electric site, so I was able to use that instead of the battery, which makes for much brighter lighting inside the camper....

Day Two

Destination:  Graham Cave State Park

Montgomery City, Missouri


I was abruptly awakened at 6:30 to the roar of a boat motor, rivaling the sound of what I would equate to the Titanic hitting the fatal iceberg.  Wow that was loud.  To my surprise, the kids kept sleeping.  We had expected cooler weather, but it was rather sticky and humid by the lake, and the temp was in the 70's.  After a quick cereal breakfast, lunches were made and stuffed in the cooler with the next frozen Item (Taco meat) and then we packed up the camper.    We were happily our way to the next stop.  We knew there wasn't much to do here, and with our late start, we certainly were not in the position to hang out.  We had to get to Graham Cave, which the kids showed great interest in.  The trip was very uneventful, passing through Kansas City where the Chiefs and Royals are idols.  I'm not much into sports, but the kids asked about the teams, so I told them what I thought. They were not amused!


We arrived at the campground around 4:30, and quickly found our campsite.  I had made reservations online, but the State of Missouri required me not only to pick a spot, but pay for two nights even though we were only staying for one.  While on the phone with the reservation agent, I expressed my displeasure at being required to pay for two nights, but she insisted that was their policy and it was stated on the website (I was never able to locate the policy.  I called because their online reservation system would not let me book just one night, telling me that my "stay did not meet the requirements").  Further, this was a "basic" site that I had booked,  meaning that there was no electricity or water, because the reservationist told me that they didn't have any electric sites. OK, not the end of the world, since the kids and I have spent days at campgrounds at 9,000 feet in Colorado without both.  Upon checking in though, it was quite a different story.  We were across the street from the Campsite Host, who informed me that they had PLENTY of electric sites, and that I should to pick one out.  He said he would cancel my reservation and then let me know what I owed him.  I proceeded back to our campsite, only to be chased down by him on a golf cart saying that since I pre-paid, I was stuck where I was.  Now that just doesn't make a lot of sense, but fine.  We were only here for the night anyway.  One of the Park Rangers dropped by to apologize for the mis-information and inconvenient way this was all handled, and then invited the kids over to a workshop about how and why the leaves change on trees in the fall, to which they gladly accepted.  I imagine anything is better than watching Dad set up camp! 


We set up and then took the kids to the workshop, all listened intently as to the hows and whys of color changing leaves.  Corey was especially interested and must have asked a dozen legitimately related questions.  I was proud of him, he has a slight form of ADHD, and it takes quite a subject to hold his attention, but this one did it.  Towards the end of the workshop, it started to rain, but it wasn't enough to write about....


We had dinner and went to bed, eager for the next days adventure.  We were going to Indiana!

Day Three and Four

Destination: McCormick's Creek State Park

Spencer, Indiana


We woke up to the sounds of campers leaving the campground in hoards at 7AM, so we decided we would join them.  We had breakfast, packed our lunch with the next frozen item (hot dogs), and off we went.  We had decided to bypass St. Louis and head straight to our destination because it had been raining for days there, and we had a break in the weather to set up camp....IF we got there in time.  We crossed the state line into Illinois, and needed to get gas soon.  We kept going until we saw Casey, IL, Home of the world's largest Rocking Chair, Wind Chime, and Golf tee, so we pulled off to get a picture of these wonders of the world.  After filling the tank and draining bladders, ironically, we couldn't locate any of the aforementioned "largest" items, but we did locate the world's largest pitchfork, so it would have to do.  A quick photo op, and it was back on the road towards our destination.  As we rolled into Spencer, we discussed our planned visit to a church the next day, and it was then that I realized that while I had packed my dress shoes, I had left my suit bag hanging on the master bedroom doorknob.  Now, there really isn't much in Spencer Indiana, but there is a smaller-than-normal-Wal-Mart there, so we crossed our fingers and hoped for the best....which was sufficient and we were content.  Khakis, a shirt, a belt, and a tie and done.  I had packed an travel iron and small folding ironing board in preparation for Sunday, looks like I'll get to test that out tomorrow morning!


We arrived at camp moments after leaving Wal-mart, and checked into our site.  Really nice private site, with clean restrooms and showers.  Trails through the woods approximately 20-30 yards directly to the playground, which satisfied the little ones.  They gleefully disappeared to play while I setup camp.  I decided at this point that I would try to light the pilot on the camper's fridge that the previous owners had never used in their 15 years of owning it!  I got it lit, and let it start cooling down. I put my thermometer inisde to see how quickly it would cool down.  Dinner had to be cooked on the stove rather than the open fire due to a heavy downpour that erupted shortly before dinner time.  The kids were not happy about boiled hot dogs....  We settled in for the night and updated our camping log book, which we do every night before bed, just as we have done since our first camping trip in July.  Someday we will all be able to look back fondly at the misspelled words and scribbles and recall all of these wonderful memories being made!


The next day we got up early in preparation for Sunday Services.  We had planned on going to church with Claire's biological aunt at a church near her house, which was nearly an hour and a half away.  We had breakfast, ironed clothes and were quickly out the door.  Our GPS pointed us the LONG way, ignorant of the new road that saves 20 minutes on our drive, and instead caused us to be about 5 minutes late for Sunday School.  I hate being late.  Especially for Church, visiting or not.  All in all a good service, although they used an overhead projector and did songs that I've never heard before, so without a songbook and notation, it was very difficult to follow along with.  Claire was a little fussy, but she took a nap during services.  After the service, we headed to Aunt Sam's, where a good time was had by all.  Part of this trip was centered around being able to visit with Sam, who Claire simply adores.  We had lunch, played games, trucks, tractors and watched a couple of movies, then headed back to the camp site.  We got there around 8PM, and there wasn't much to do except make a quick ham and cheese sandwich and head off to bed.  I checked the cooler, a nice 36 degrees!  Every night, I had been taking the electric cooler and plugging it into either an outlet or my 12v socket to keep our food cool.  I had planned to transfer all of our meats and groceries over to the fridge, so I didn't have to power the cooler when the car was off, but forgot all about it when I laid down for just a minute and drifted off into a deep sleep.


 At some time during the night a walnut from the walnut tree we parked the camper under, fell off and hit the top of the camper with a very pronounced THUD.  I awoke thinking gunshot, thunder, or fireworks, but quickly realized as it rolled off the top of the camper that it wasn't a threat.  After calming my rapidly beating heart, I slipped back into a slumber.

Day Five

Destination: Creation Museum

Petersburg, Kentucky


We got up, ate breakfast, and then packed up the site.  The kids were ready to go.  It had rained during the night and the kids' pillows had touched the sides of the camper, and were wet.  So we put them in the car to dry out, and took off to Northern Kentucky, where I had lived for the first 12 years of my life.  As we were about to pull into the Creation Museum, I got a call from my cousin David, who had just recently moved a mile down the road, so we detoured to say hello to him.  Dave and grew up together, neither of us had a brother, so we were about as brother as cousins could get.  We visited him for about an hour, then headed off to the Creation Museum.  We parked, visited the museum, and then strolled in their outdoor garden, which is quite beautiful.  We then left after a couple of hours, and drove another 45 minutes or so to Williamstown, where the Ark Encounter is.  My younger sister Monnie and her family live there, and her oldest daughter Lindsey, works, at the Ark as a vendor.  We arrived about 6PM, and headed to LaRosa's for a pizza party for 11 family members.  I haven't had LaRosa's since I was a kid, but it was better than I remember.  MMMmmmmm pizza......


We parked the camper next door to my sisters house and crashed for the night.

Day Six

Destination: Ark Encounter

Williamstown, Kentucky


Since Lindsey works at the Ark as a Vendor, she was able to get us in for no cost.  What a blessing that was, as we were already going to be over budget because of the fuel mileage that we were getting due to unpredictable head winds.  I had estimated our mileage to be about 13, when in fact it was falling to 11 rapidly.  Now, this was averaged over the whole trip, so I think I was really getting worse than that over the past couple of days, but I digress.  The only person ever capable of controlling the wind was Jesus.  I'll just live with it :-)


We arrived at the Ark around 10:00AM, and were greeted by several staff members at the ticket counter.  Lindsey worked her magic (providence) and we were on the bus to see the magnificent Ark.  During this whole trip, and even before when planning the trip, this was to be the main attraction that we would hit, and the kids and I had long discussed the Ark, Noah, his family, and the reason for the Ark being built.  They were very interested in the story, but when they saw the sheer size of the Ark, the were even more intrigued.  This lead to very good conversations about the world wide flood, dinosaurs, the Ark, Noah, and sin in general, etc.  Try explaining sin to a three year old ha!


After visiting the Ark, we went to the petting zoo, where Claire had to hug each and every goat when it was announced that we had to leave.  Every.  Single. Goat.  And probably the married ones too....


We left the Ark, and went back to pack up the camper.  Next stop:  Memaw and Papaw's house!


We arrived around dinner time and had a great time visiting with them.  It's always a great time at the grand parents!  


We unloaded the dirty clothes from the camper and then I realized that the electric cooler was pretty much shot.  The fan had quit and it was no longer cooling effectively, and had risen to nearly 50 degrees inside.  Not wanting to risk getting sick, I emptied out the contents of the cooler into the trash can, sorrowfully watching bacon (oh that glorious bacon) go to waste.  We went back to Mom's and washed clothes and then restocked our suitcases with the freshly laundered threads.  Ah that fresh clean scent.

Day Seven through Ten

Destination: Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Elkmont Campground

Gatlinburg, Tennesse


We had planned all along to have Mom and Dad camp with us in the Smokies, but Dad's knee surgery 9 weeks ago just wouldn't let it happen.  We tearfully said goodbye to them after spending most of the day with them, knowing that they weren't going to be able to go with us.  We took off to towards Sevierville with the intent on stopping at a Radio Shack to get a new fan for the electric cooler in an attempt to repair it.  After several calls to several formerly-open-sorry-were-closed-number-no-longer-in-service-Radio Shack franchises, we finally found one with a fan that we needed close to our destination.  We picked it up, then proceeded to the grocery store to replace our recently spoiled meats.  I had packed an empty cooler for the kids drink pouches, but hadn't used it yet, so I grabbed a bag of ice when we picked up the supplies and packed them on the roof rack, ate some dinner and then headed into camp.


We made camp about 7PM, when we go to our site, there were people left and right.  Despite my pleas for silence or at least dull roar, my children proceeded to shine flashlights into neighboring tents and play/shout/cry/Dad-Corey-hit-me/Dad-Corey's-looking-at-me etc. We set up camp and went to bed.


The next morning, our neighbors were gone. Disappeared without a sound.  I mean these people had to be related to the VietCong or something, they were so silent I don't even think the crickets heard them...


We ate breakfast, milled around and finished setting up camp.  Now, one of the things that the kids and I like to do is hike.  We hike all the time here in Colorado, where the elevation is around 6500 feet.  That is about the same height as Clingman's Dome!  I think we'll be OK here and not run out of breath lol.


We took off to hike Laurel Falls, which was mostly uneventful.  Ok, that's not true.  We saw a mother bear and her two cubs happily romp across the trail and down into the woods, completely ignoring all of the foot traffic that was going by.  Claire wanted to pet them.  Corey wanted to eat them.  Jesse and Kaye, well they just wanted to see them, but they were behind me and I wouldn't let them around me.  We continued on to the falls, where there are no bathrooms, and the rushing water must have triggered something in my youngest little dude, because he immediately had to, and did go, potty.  In. His. Pants.  Guess this hydration packs weren't such a good idea after all....


After a photo op, we were back on the trail.  We went back to the camp site and milled around until dinner, hot dogs and S'Mores!  The kids thoroughly enjoyed that, it was the first time we'd been able to light a fire since we started!  While we were writing in the Camping Logbook, our new neighbors pulled up in complete pitch black darkness and was attempting to set up camp with a single tiny flashlight.  I lit the lantern and offered it to them, asking only that they return it when done.  They were able to quickly set up camp, and returned it to us when they found their lantern in their camping box.  They introduced themselves as Patrick and Anita from Indiana, and had their two teenage girls with them.  Very nice folks.  We settled in for the night


The next day we had a biiiiiiig breakfast with pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon (oh that glorious bacon) and camp toast.  By the time we got all that done and cleaned up, everybody was too full and didn't want to do anything!  We hung around camp, the kids played with the teenage girls next door, and Patrick and I conversed about where we grew up, etc.  We realized that even though we had never met, we knew some of the same people from where I went to High School!  The world is getting smaller by the minute.  His dad was adopted by some folks two towns over from where I was raised in Kentucky, and his cousins had possibly even graduated with my sister!  What a small world indeed.


My kids insist that they are "In the Lord's Army", and are singing the song with the girls to the top of their lungs, it's cracking me up!  Patrick even joined in.....he said, "Hey, me too!"  What nice folks!


We decided to make the trip up to Clingman's Dome, even though it's closed for repairs.  It's still a good hike, and you can see some beautiful views from up there.  We packed a picnic lunch, and stopped at the Chimney's Picnic area on the way up the mountain.  The kids are having a grand time and loving being outside.  It's a little more warm than we had anticipated, in fact the whole trip has been.  The kids packed long sleeve shirts and jeans, and most of the folks around the campground are wearing shorts and t-shirts!  We finished up lunch and headed up the mountain, and as we hit higher elevations, the leaves started to show their beautiful fall colors.  We arrived at the parking lot for the Dome, and it was busier than a one armed paper hanger.  Cars for nearly a mile previous to the "official" parking spots, so we grabbed the first one that we saw, then headed up the mountain.  Now, with us being at 6500 ft in the springs, this hike was just like a walk in the park, but we did have to stop once so that Corey could "rest my knees".  Claire insisted that she ride on Daddy's shoulders the ENTIRE trip, both UP and DOWN.  Turkey. I guess we both benefitted, she got the view, I got the exercise!  Our work Wellness Committee would be proud!


We traipsed on down the mountain and headed back to camp.  Had a great hobo-taco dinner, with S'Mores, played for a bit and then turned in to bed.  We will be heading back to Mom and Dad's tomorrow.



Not much to really write, we got up, went through Gatlinburg to check out the fire damage from last year, and then headed out of town, back to Mom and Dad's.  A quick stop at Radio Shack to exchange the extremely-large-too-big-for-my-cooler fan for one that fits.... then off to the Coleman Outlet, where a deal is a deal, and they have lot's of deals.....I probably spent too much there....


Arrived in the early afternoon and had dinner with Mom and Dad.  It really was great for them to spend the time with the kids, they really enjoyed having them there.  I think....


Claire was out by 9PM!

Daily Blog - Second Leg

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Day 11

Bible Baptist Church

Mount Vernon, Kentucky


Resting at the Lord's House!  I had the opportunity to play the offertory and sing a special at the church I was saved in.  What a blessing!


https://vimeo.com/238305587


Banter about dragging 4 kids around the US is the first minute, offertory is at ~1 min in (ignore the mistakes....), Song special is at 11:51.


Other than that, laundry, packing up, etc.  Enjoyed the time with Mom and Dad, and they likewise enjoyed spending time with the kids.

Day 12

Land Between The Lakes

https://www.landbetweenthelakes.us/


We stayed a little longer at Mom and Dad's than we probably should have, but we really didn't decide what we were going to do until about 10AM anyway.  I replaced the fan in the electric cooler (finally), and got it running again.  We left around noon and drove across Kentucky, past where the family farm was that my great grand parents owned near Wheatcroft.  We can trace our family history there in a single cemetery at Rock Springs Church at least to the Civil War, (I believe it's actually farther than that).  So much family history in Western Kentucky for me.  We finally arrived and checked in at camp just after sundown and had to set up camp in the dark.  Kids got to see *plenty* of white tailed deer while we set up, seems there was one or two around every corner!  It was COLD that night.  The next morning the kids and I went to play at the beach by the lake and collected some "super cool shells for Mom to put in her aquariums!" according to Jesse.

Day 13 - Route 66

Springfield, Missouri was the original destination, but we decided to camp in a US Forest Service Campground near Chadwick, MO (Cobb Ridge) tonight so that the kids can play outside.  We were on the road by about 10AM, and the kids got to see all kinds of "neat stuff" as Corey put it.  On our way there we passed an Amish buggy, and so we looked for an Amish store to check out....but never really found one.  Ok, I was really looking for a leather shop...... :-)  


I recruited assistance from a dear friend via her much faster internet (and safer since she wasn't driving!) to see if such a place existed, but turned up empty handed.  We ended up pulling over and squatting in a Kentucky cornfield and made everyone PB&J sandwiches in lieu of Amish goods for lunch.  This was about the time that we realized that GPS maps in my 2011 Honda Pilot were....let's just say less than accurate and outdated and didn't include the past 7 years of construction!  We were guided down a road (MO-BB), but the bridge was out 5 miles down, so we had to find an alternative....The road we were on headed south east, then we could pick up another road that would take us back west where we needed to be.  Seemed like a real waste of time to go all that way south east.......So we picked up a county road that, according to the outdated GPS, would cut the corner and save us TONS of time....Or so we thought.  The sun was getting low in the sky by this time, and I *really* wanted to get to camp before dark, and who doesn't like a good old fashioned shortcut!?!?  Well, after this experience on said county road:  ME.  


Approximately 500 feet off of the road, I thought we had been transported into some third dimension, let's just call it..... well..... "Deliverance"...  Cars on blocks.  Burn barrels that were... well, only missing hobos surrounding them, and that would have truly completed the effect..    


The sun was about to completely disappear until the next go round, the all too familiar "No Service" on the mobile phone could lend us no assistance.  The road got more narrow, and much rougher, eventually leading to a creek bed that we had to literally follow IN for about 30 feed to get to the other side where the road was.  Yes, I was beginning to get nervous.  The kind of nervous where you turn down the radio, tell the kids to be incredibly  quiet.....it was FOCUS time.  After the creek bed, things got better....eventually leading us to a paved road, complete with signs!  This town that way, that town this way, mile markers, descriptive points of interest, the whole she-bang!  We were had navigated our way back to civilization!  (No offense to the people who live on 2301 MO County Road whateveritiz....) 


So, we finally arrived at Cobb Ridge. I had bought some toys at the gift shop at the Land Between the Lakes gift shop the day before, as well as a quick stop at the dollar store  Cheap little plastic ATV's that lasted all of about 10 minutes with this rough crew!  They played with these cool little helicopter looking things that had colored LED lights, that you launch with a slingshot, some of them up to 60-70 feet!  Was great until they got some of them stuck in the trees, so I had to come rescue them with a broom by tossing it up into the tree and dislodging the helicopters.  It is an ATV friendly type of park, and there were only two other campers there besides us. Nice facilities, clean bathrooms and showers.  Had to laugh at the guys that were two sites down from us though.....cranking up their ATVs in the cold just to drive 1/4 mile to get to the bathrooms.......that were about 50 feet from them as the crow flies.

Day 14

Destination: El Reno Lake Campground

El Reno, Oklahoma


We started off the day by smashing my finger between a heavy tub and the aluminum track guides for the beds.  All I could say was "oooooh that hurts, that hurts, that hurts!" and "That's gonna leave a mark!"  It only hurts until the pain stops anyway, so we trudged on.  Packed up the camper, popped "Cars" in the DVD player, and headed out for our day of getting our "Kicks" on Route 66!  We made it to Joplin, MO around the time that the characters in the movie discuss all that the interstate drivers were missing by sticking to the fast lane, and we paused the movie to reflect on the benefits a slower paced life.  We travelled from Joplin a short distance over to Galena, KS, and snapped a few pictures while we were there.  Route 66 only has a 13 mile stretch of road in Kansas before it crosses the border into Oklahoma,  but Kansas is proud of their 13 miles!  Once you hit Oklahoma, it's hit and miss, some sections are tiny and very time consuming.  So we hit the interstate to make up for the time we lost picture taking and all around goofing off in Galena and Baxter while looking for a Route 66 Gift shop, all so that we could slap a Route 66 bumper sticker on the camper :-)  We travelled on past Tulsa and every now and then we would exit and hit a patch of Route 66, then come back to the Interstate.  On one of these little "detours", we stumbled upon the little town of Hinton, OK.  The kids thought it was "cool" to have a town named after us, so we went in to take some pictures of various things that had the Hinton name:  Hinton Town Hall, Hinton High School, Hinton Telephone Company, and of course, the obligatory picture of the Hinton water tower!  After that, we it the interstate again, and saw a sign for the Route 66 National Museum, in  Elk City, OK.  We had to stop.  The kids were getting restless, and needed to use the facilities, so we hung out for a while and checked out the museum.  All in all, there is more there that is dedicated to Elk City history (12 buildings) than there is Route 66 history (one building), but there are some cool exhibits there and the kids really enjoyed the break from the road.  A quick glance at the watch said it was time to get back on the road to El Reno, or else we would miss church. We hopped back on the interstate and breezed through Oklahoma City.  When we got to the exit for El Reno, the kids started asking about eating, so I suggested pizza.  A quick stop at Little Caesars for a $5 hot and ready, and then to the campground.  We pulled out the camp chairs and they ate while I set up camp.  Then off to Highland Baptist Church where my friend Travis Jones is the Pastor.  I had heard many good things about the church and we had planned to be here to check it out, and we were not disappointed.  What a great church!  If you are ever near El Reno, you must check it out. On the way out the door with the kids, Phil Haberzettle (havapretzel) nearly tackled me and then promptly announced to my kids that I had told him that we were all going for ice cream after church!  After that joyous meeting with my dear friend, and a quick photo op.......we went for ice cream after church.... THANKS PHIL....jerk!  haha  


After ice cream, we settled in and bedded down for the night.  Another cold night!

Day 15-16

So we decided this morning to skip Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo, Texas and head directly to New Mexico so that we would have a whole day to spend at our last stop, which was determined to be Conchas Lake State Park, about 32 miles north of Tucumcari, NM.  We took our time with a hearty breakfast of cheesy eggs and sausage, and then the kids played at the campground while I packed up the camper.  I stopped and let them play at the park playground for about an hour, then we were ready to hit the road.  On the way, we took various jaunts off of the interstate to snapshot other iconic Route 66 items as we travelled, the leaning water tower at Groom, TX, and Cadillac Ranch just outside of Amarillo, TX.  The kids thought those were "way cool" in the words of my eldest, Makayla.  Corey couldn't understand why there were cars planted in a field.....


After getting gas and a potty break, we beat feat to New Mexico, crossing the state line around dark, and then getting to Tucumcari not much later. The park was about 30 miles north, so I topped off the gas tank, bought some firewood (which I forgot to put in the car after the clerk asked struck up a conversation about our trip, four kids, blah blah blah, SQUIRREL!), and we turned the Pilot northward towards our destination.  Uneventful trip, and the park was mostly empty.  We picked a spot that was right beside the bathrooms/showers, but had to herd the deer out of the spot before setting up camp.


The next day we discovered that there really isn't much to do at this state park.  The main campground was almost under water due to the excess rain that they had gotten in previous weeks, so the playground that was there was off limits.  There was a smaller playground up near the day use area, so we packed a picnic lunch and the kids played there for a couple of hours.  The mosquitos were HORRIBLE during the morning and evening, the wind blew too much for them to bother us during the day, but the pesky mosquitos were replaced by.....flies.  I. Hate. Flies.  I do know that God has a plan for these pesky little winged vermin, but I hope it's after the rapture....


We had hot dogs...on the griddle due to the aforementioned lack of firewood at the campsite.  Well played Circle K of Tucumcari.


Day 17

The next morning we were all packed up by 9AM and we headed home.  New Mexico is beautiful country, although desolate for much of it.   As we drove home, we connected the dots of how the landscape that we call the United States was formed.  The Bible says that after the flood was over, "the mountains rose, and the valleys sank", and we talked about how the Rocky Mountains were formed and divided the continent, and how that would have forced water east and west of them to create plains, canyons, rivers, and oceans.  God's Masterpiece.  And he lets us live here!  He created this world for us to enjoy and take care of.  I don't see how anyone could look around at the things that are and claim that chaos turned to order by a "bang" or by evolving.  Simply slipping away from my kids while I go wash my hands is contrary to that concept!


We pulled onto our street at about 3:30PM, where Mom was waiting on the porch.  The kids all screamed, "MOMMY!" 


We hit 12 states (Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico) in 17 days, traveling well  over 3700 miles, pulling a 25 year old camper, without a major incident.  No car trouble.  No flat tires.  No injuries (other than my bee sting and smashed finger, no injuries for the kids at all) and none of us got sick.  Truly a blessing from God. 


Home at last.