- We are thankful for warm days, dry ground, and a quaint little town of Kerryville, Texas. We moved further into the campground (that was originally closed when we arrived due to a bow hunt that was taking place). The feeling of being on this side of the camp is magical. As I am typing this outside by the fire, there are deer moseying near by. There are miles of hiking trails, lots of land to explore right around our camper and even a tepee you can sleep in. We found out they were blocking off the majority of the sites due to the holiday coming up. WHY would we leave. So we aren’t. We all agreed this would be a special place to spend Christmas. It has been warm. So warm that we visited an amazing local park along the Guadalupe River and the kids played in the fountain. We have been back to the park several days to picnic there dining on authentic tacos from a little joint we found close by. It is scheduled to get much colder so we will see how that changes the feel of this place. We are excited to rest, to have time to just “be” and to enjoy this season together in nature.
I realize I don’t have one photo of Luna lately. This cattle dog is stealing the show. She loves to sit in the front seat or on the arm rest between the front seats and watch the world go by. Rue is quite a character. And in case you think this playground was for the kids…it was more like a training ground for dog agility for Rue. She might have been gently pushed down one of the slides only to take a whole entire slide full of water with her as she shot out the bottom. We love her so.
Sometimes what we want is not always what we need. That’s how I feel about our final destination today. Our campsite doesn’t have a ton to explore, or anything that really excites us, but if I am honest, it is the perfect location to recharge and refuel for the trip ahead. We left Fort Pickens below Pensacola 2 days ago and our trip was about 10 hours long yesterday. We drove on Interstate 10 through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana (where Rad introduced the kids to Cajun cooking for dinner) and then made it just over the border in Texas. I found myself wanting to stop in each state just to explore something and have a memory there but there is so much we want to see more west so we had to keep going to make some headway. We boondocked (aka: gorilla camped in a parking lot for free in the Winnie Texas Fairground parking lot) overnight last night. We then drove all day today hoping to stop at The Alamo but honestly pulling a trailer through a city is a bit harrowing so we opted just to pass on it and head to an authentic Tex Mex Lunch (in another overly crowded parking lot) and then REI (which you would have thought we would have learned our parking dilemma issues already) to try and get the kids some snow gear (we were all stir crazy by then so we left without purchasing anything). Overall, the kids and dogs did GREAT! Rad rarely takes naps so I knew that we might have pushed ourselves a little much when I found Rad laying asleep on the bed as soon as we set up today. Rad and I are learning a lot about ourselves in the moments we feel most stretched. I think with wet campgrounds these last few days and driving in harder conditions (rain, city traffic, tight turnarounds, etc), we lost a bit of our joy for the journey. Hoping these next few days bring back the carefreeness we started to embrace. Thanks Kerrville,Texas for a place of respite.Rad set the point of no return as Mobile, Alabama and not going to lie…Mcree and I might have had second thoughts about this crazy road trip thing. We soon got over that and are again happy to be meandering!
Rad here. Guest blogging for the first time. So many firsts this trip. Why not me blogging?
Here goes….another light and fun, but busy, day. We find ourselves in Ft. Perkins National Seashore. An incredibly remote and gorgeous section of Pensacola Beach. Early risers set an early start in the camper this morning. Of course, this set the tone for our day today. The sun started peaking through an amazing red/yellow sky that seemed to pull everyone out of bed earlier than usual, as they all began dressing for their day around 6 am. Me, on the other hand, thought to start another day with a delicious cup of coffee in bed. Why change the perfect start as set by the last few days? Well democracy won the day so we left early for a quiet walk through the campground to a trail head. Once on the path (desolate, happily), the dogs and kids were set free. Good thing. Running and stick dragging and yelling commenced. It was a GREAT start to our day.
The plan was a family trip to the Naval Aviation Museum. But a brief discussion blew that up fully. Emily opted to stay at the campground with Mabry, freeing the boys and I to a full day slowly taking in all that the museum had to offer. And I must say, it was INCREDIBLE. As in, blown away. A world-class museum that could take days to go through, all for free. While I’m not a big military aircraft geek, it was hard not to be proud of the American strength and engineering on display. I speak to the kids a lot about national pride and how thankful I am to God that He chose America for us to be born in. So our day provided many opportunities to talk about American strength and power, and the responsibility to use it well. Suffice it to say there is no doubt we as a country are the most powerful on earth, still!
The girls stayed behind and had some lounge time as well as some productive time. Lounging meant a brief walk (it started sprinkling on them) and Mabry played in a hose and bucket outside while Emily organized and cleaned the camper. Then lunch and naps…but not before a local armadillo moseyed through camp, right by Mabry playing outside! Amazing.
The boys and I returned late in the afternoon, pretty much wiped out. But that did not stop the kids from running laps around the campground, in the rain and barefooted! Such is the camping life we are learning. Letting kids stretch out is a joy to watch.
I’m writing sitting in the camper, after dinner, listening to the rain noise on our aluminum roof. Should make for interesting sleeping…but I guess the kids are so wiped out nothing will stop them from deep sleep.
Tomorrow holds a bit of mystery…we don’t really know where we are headed exactly, beyond West. The goal is to get to San Antonio mid-week. But there is nothing in-between that is drawing us to stop. So as of now, we plan on rolling out of here leisurely tomorrow and drive until we are tired. We hope to “boondock” for the first time. This means finding a Walmart parking lot or truck stop to overnight in, then continue pressing on the next day. I’m sure this part of the journey will warrant it’s own blog entry.
At this stage I have little to offer as far as deep thoughts or personal insights. I’m struck by thankfulness. And by contentment. These days are purely fun, and calm, and joyful, and mysterious. Nothing seems as valuable to me as the time we have before us. I hope I can continue to appreciate the big and little moments. And seeing my dear family sop them all up along side me.
Road Trip: Day 6 and 7
All day I thought it was Friday. I have no calendar to remind me how fast (or slow) time is passing. Just the sun rising and setting each day to create a rhythm to my days. I haven’t fallen into a routine, or burdened myself with feeling like I must be here or there. For today, I just experience what is right in front of me. There is honestly such sweetness in living life that way. My over planned life in no way sets me up for a “rich” life. There is something so special about taking a slow walk and meeting people along the way, or forgetting to make lunch for our road trip but instead finding an incredible seafood restaurant that we only stopped at because all the kids needed to go the bathroom. I am learning (slowly) to not have a plan.
Yesterday we hiked several trails at Florida State Caverns and found several more caves amongst the granite rocks. The terrain in this park was really different and we loved seeing all the moss and blue “pools.” Today we left that park early and headed to Fort Pickens State Park which is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore situated on Santa Rosa Island (just south of Pensacola). Gress was most excited that there was a fort near our campground. The kids were able to run free and explore miles and miles of forts and artillery. Somehow our satellite imaging of the campground and the direction from an uninformed park ranger didn’t get us the best spot at the campsite so we were able to switch once we got there. Lesson learned…don’t have a set plan!
Our sweet farmer friends created a box of questions for Rad and I that we are to ask each other along the journey. Today we opened the box and chatted about our first question. Nothing like getting straight to the heart. We both love great conversation. What a gift these questions will be!
Excited for what tomorrow will bring!
“The glory of nature awaits you, hid in the depth of the earth, take care of God’s awesome handiwork and preserve for others its worth. -G.W. Hoover, SR
This was the saying on the path to the underground caverns today. We really didn’t know what to expect. It was AMAZING! These caverns were found after a tree fell over in the woods and pulled up limestone with it. We were the only people on the tour and that in itself made it so much more special. Florida Caverns State Park also has tons of hiking trails so we headed out on an early morning hike, and have plans to hike for the next few days before hitting the open road again. We had plans to leave tomorrow however where we are headed didn’t have the most ideal spots available yet (thanks to helpful park rangers and satellite imaging). So our plan is to head to Fort Pickens National Sea Shore west of Pensacola, Florida Saturday through Monday.
Something struck Rad and I on our walk today. We have the option to fill our days with everything we can possibly see around us or we can experience life where we are and enjoy the richness right in front of us. We are choosing the second.
The best made plans. You know that saying right? If you remember, we are only planning a day at a time. That whole “sanctification, live in the moment” thing. Yes. I am already feeling stretched. Everything in me wants this planned out. And not having it so is breaking me of all control. Its a good but hard thing for me. We left Savannah on Tuesday, ready to head to Florida Caverns State Park which was about a 5 hour drive. But we still had packing and cramming, and closing down the house, to do. Those last minute things take WAY longer than you think. A couple hours into the trip, we decided to book the location, only to find out you can’t book online the day of and you have to be in the gates before 5:00pm if you want a walk up (aka, First Come, First Serve) campsite. Considering we were only getting 8 miles per gallon (and top speed of 62!) there was NO way we were going to make it. I was quite irritated (at Rad) that this wasn’t planned. But maybe this was part of God’s plan. To strip me of all control day one of the trip. It worked. We picked a closer location which ended up being an amazing diversion. We stayed the night at Stephen C. Foster State Park in the Okefenokee Swamp. We were pretty much there by ourselves. We walked some beautiful swamp land, were awoken in the middle of the night by the loudest Barred Owl we have ever heard, found owl pellets on a hike, saw tons of deer, and explored every inch of swamp land. It was perfect.
How did we get to the place where we felt like it was a good idea to run away from our life. See, the funny thing is, some people see our escape as rebellious and frivolous in the face of responsibility for what we “should” be doing. We aren’t running away rather running to the life we want. Something went missing in us over the years of taking life too seriously. We lost the fun sides of us. And we just started living life without purpose to why or what we were doing. A few weeks ago, Rad said, lets go on a road trip and I am always up for his fun adventures. They never disappoint. Little did I know how saying yes would be the start of something so much more than we were expecting.
This will be our home for the next 45 days. We will celebrate Christmas here, open our memory jar full of this year’s memories as we enter a new year, we will see different landscapes, learn how to live with less, remember how to be thankful for everything and etch very sweet moments into our hearts. I don’t know what to expect, but I know it’s going to be great (and exciting, and stretching, and crazy).
HERE WE GO. First destination (picked an hour before launch this morning): Florida Caverns State Park in Marianna, Florida.
If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing big. All too often, we take the long season to dream and plan for what is next. Usually for us, we never get to the living part of those dreams. The monotony of the every day takes over the joy of what could be. So we are planting our flag, and we are hitting the open road to remember, renew, and reclaim what we love. We leave in a few days. If you know us, you know we usually have a plan, perfectly laid out with every detail. Not this time. For the next 45 days we will be wanderers headed toward the southwest. We have no idea where each day will take us, and we are trying to embrace the discomfort that causes us. We want to be undone. Unhindered. Unscheduled. We want to be reminded what it feels like to say yes to spontaneity and be fully engaged with the experience. We want to live with only the daily bread God gives us and to have more dependance on Him. We aren’t looking at this as a vacation but as an awesome opportunity to be set free.
(I am most excited about all the windshield time and great conversations I get to have with Rad!)
Mcree really wanted to go camping for his birthday. One of his favorite places to go camping is at his friends cabin in Augusta. So that is what we did. Usually it is a boys trip only. But lucky for us, the girls got invited along and we were so excited that our friends that own the property were going to be there too. This family heaps on the generosity and the boys get taught so many great things while they are there. The boys frolicked on the mule and hunted, and explored, and ran wild and free on the acres and acres of land. It was so renewing for the whole family. Our Savannah friends will soon be moving to Augusta full time so it was a fun time to connect with them. We will surely miss seeing them here but we are already planning many adventures to the woods! When we asked the boys their favorite parts, their answer was the WHOLE weekend. I loved the hike we did together as families, and even the little cattle dog was able to keep up the several miles we trekked.
Happy seventh birthday Mcree!