Wheel of Misfortune (RV Series #11)

(Our family is on a five month RV trip. We are journeying West from Dallas, TX and making our way up the Western coastline finishing in Washington state before we streamline our way back to CO for the summer.)

Well our Yosemite revival didn’t last long. Halfway to San Francisco, stranded on the side of the highway, I considered tying our master sheet to the broom handle and waving it from the roof of the fifth-wheel. Two hours ago I resolved not to surrender. What happened?

We were merging back into highway traffic from a fuel stop when the center of the fifth-wheel’s three rear axles gave way partially releasing its tire. Smoke streamed from the back of the rig. Continue reading

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Cliff Diving in Malibu (RV Series #9)

(Our family is on a five month RV trip. We are journeying West from Dallas, TX and making our way up the Western coastline finishing in Washington state before we streamline our way back to CO for the summer.)

Malibu, CA: The city on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Malibu RV Park: A higher cliff overlooking the city that overlooks the Pacific Ocean.

Malibu RV Park on a cliff

Our rig at the Malibu RV Park on a cliff

Oh yeah, there are gorgeous views to enjoy if your brain ever relaxes from the imminent danger of sliding or shaking off the cliff. Before we ever left Dallas in mid-January, I had a dream (nightmare) that an earthquake tore most of California’s coastline away from the continent and our RV slid into the ocean. I’m not prophetic and I’m not a Nervous-Nelly, but this “dreamare” nagged at me.

So when we awoke on the second morning to what felt like an Alaskan black bear vigorously shaking our rig to empty it of its contents, I was alarmed. I nearly threw John out the front door in his underwear to assess the situation. Within seconds of realizing that the skies were calm, and hungry, wild animals weren’t attacking, it hit me. An earthquake!

I’d never before experienced the earth quaking beneath me. I didn’t want to ever again. I clamored for idevices checking reliable sources on Twitter and Facebook for confirmation that we were about to pull away from the continent and be dumped into the ocean. Continue reading

No Boundaries in Newport Beach (RV Series #8)

(Our family is on a five month RV trip. We are journeying West from Dallas, TX and making our way up the Western coastline finishing in Washington state before we streamline our way back to CO for the summer.)

If there were something to complain about our site in San Diego, it would be the six-foot chain link fence between Mission Bay and us. Apparently the fence was to keep us out of the wildlife reserve (a.k.a. the murky duck habitat). Whatever. Anyway, I didn’t care for it.

San Diego fence view

San Diego fence view

What the San Diego site lacked, Newport Dunes made up for it in spades. WOW. We fell in love with this RV Park the moment we arrived. Once again, our site backed up to a bay but this time, without barriers. No fence. No murky duck area. Just paved walking paths, mature trees, and green grass. Just ten steps from my door, I squished soft sand between my toes. Little slice of heaven to be sure.

Bay view in Newport Beach

Bay view in Newport Beach

While the sky boasted the most brilliant blue in Newport Beach, a dark cloud hovered over my heart. Continue reading

Rockin’ around Arizona (RV Series #4)

(Our family is on a five month RV trip. We are journeying West from Dallas, TX and making our way up the Western coastline finishing in Washington state before we streamline our way back to CO for the summer.)

We survived the Mini bump in the road just three days into our trip. We wallowed in self-pity for a few moments. The insurance company replaced our sporty Mini Cooper with a rental Toyota sedan and we didn’t have a plan for acquiring a second vehicle. But these rental wheels couldn’t deter our plan to explore some Arizona sights in our shorts and flip-flops. In January!

First up, the Heard Museum, and off we galloped to learn all about the Indian heritage and culture of the first settlers in Arizona. Now hear me loud and clear on this museum thing. They’re not my favorite activity. I just feel peer pressure, in my mind, about visiting museums with my kids. Great moms take their kids to museums, you know, when they’re not challenging their kids’ minds to a game of scrabble or chess. It’s especially what homeschooling moms schedule to enhance their students’ learning.

I’m a people-person. I prefer trolley tours around cities. I like tour guides talking and interacting with a group. I like people watching. But by golly, I can pay my admission and walk through a museum with the great moms. Out of sheer guilt, mind you.

Indian boarding school exhibit - by far the most interesting part of the museum

Referring to Indian families forced to send their children to boarding schools

So we spent an afternoon at the museum, and thankfully, they offered a crafty hands-on section, another favorite pastime of mine. Not! Continue reading

Living in Never Land (RV Series #1)

“I’ll never make my kids go camping.” Words I uttered as a 14 year-old girl after spending two weeks with my family in a pop up camper without electricity or running water. “Never!” I said. Well, you know where this story is going.

In the summer of 2013, we felt God prompting us to tour the USA…with our kids…in an RV. Really God? We like our spacious home with walls and doors. “We will never camp,” I repeated, pleading for options:

  • Maybe, instead, we could raise money for a new church in our neighborhood.         We will never camp.
  • Maybe, instead, I could coordinate Vacation Bible School for all protestants.               We will never camp.
  • Maybe, instead, we could proofread algebra books, solve for X without pay.          We will never camp.
  • Maybe, instead, this RV trip wasn’t about camping at all? And all-in we went.

Actually the RV trip could solve a dilemma. Continue reading

Finding Myself at a Book Signing

Sometimes, you just gotta indulge yourself. And I did. One Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago, while watching The Pioneer Woman cook before me on The Food Network, appeared a TV commercial advertising her book signing appearance that afternoon in Denver. No Way, I thought. Today? I had no plans. Why not?

Frankly, I didn’t know a lot about her, this Pioneer Woman. I’d recently begun taping her cooking show on Saturday mornings but didn’t visit her blog/website until that morning. I browsed through her blog posts providing myself the necessary information to call myself a fan. Turns out, Ree Drummond and I have a lot in common: we both live on a ranch, we both have four kids, we both blog, we both homeschool, we’re both married, we’re both women. We are soul sisters, soon-to-be best friends.

I hit the shower, mapped the location, and insisted that my own two homeschool kids tag along for the adventure. We drove 30 minutes to the West side of Littleton and entered the bookstore 1 1/2 hours before her appearance. The organized bookstore staff assigned me a group number and line number upon my arrival. Group ONE, number 78.

“How many people are y’all expecting today,” I asked, looking around the store.

“Several hundred,” the clerk replied.

The 77 place holders before me gathered around the two large screens set up in the center of the store, each holding hardbound books. I was empty-handed. Heart racing, I grabbed one of her cookbooks, her real-life romance story, and her recently released children’s book, Charlie the Ranch Dog, and scooted into the crowd facing the screens. With nothing but time on my hands, I sat on the cold, concrete floor and thumbed through the cookbook making small talk with ladies around me. As I flipped the full-color cookbook pages, one particular woman beside me reviewed each recipe aloud over my shoulder often referring to yummy concoctions in Ree’s other cookbook. With time on my side, I switched out the children’s book for the other cookbook and returned to my concrete seat, thankful I had arrived early as newcomers held numbers in the 600’s.

Continue reading

Learning Connection

We began homeschooling, or as I like to think, learning at home, one year ago today. We skied Beaver Creek during Spring break last year, came home, unpacked, and went to bed unsure of what our first morning learning together would look like. I, the fearful teacher, only had two and a half weeks to prepare the curriculum and the classroom for my two students, 11 and 12.

A classroom. We needed one. My husband and I walked around the house looking for a room that met the specifications: sunlight, shelves, and silence. We found it. His poker room was the one room in our home that fit the bill. Nice round table. Comfy, height-adjustable chairs. Fireplace. Shelving for books. Sunlight peeking in through the garden level window. Silently tucked away in a cozy, basement corner.

Our basement poker/game room. To make it feel super cozy, we wallpapered the walls and ceiling.

Monday, March 28, 2011, the students and I met in my husband’s basement poker room and learned together. We met in the sunny, shelved, silent room each morning for a series of days, weeks, months until I realized what was missing from our learning room. We were missing sounds, a connection to the rest of the house, the world around us. Sounds.

No poker room is complete without 2 mounted tv’s and 2 refreshment fridges to satisfy the sight and palette.

With good intention, I sought a room offering silence but this quiet was deafening at times. Continue reading