Christmas in Kerrville: Day 13 & 14

We loved our simple little Christmas this year in Kerrville, Texas. We were one of only few campers on the expanse of land and it was so quiet and very restful. We went to the cutest restaurant after church Sunday (and church was a different experience all in itself) and Mabry told our waitress that she didn’t know if Santa would come because we didn’t have a tree. The owner of the restaurant went and dug up a miniature Christmas tree and decorated it and gave it to her. We were blown away by the genuine sweetness of this place. And yes, Santa did make his way into the camper. No small task I assure you! Gress announced at 2:30am that Santa had come and Mcree quickly told him to go back to bed for it was too early. (Thank you Mcree!) No matter what gifts you give the kids, it will always be the ones unexpected that they love the most. Once we made it outside that morning, I found Mcree playing with a plastic bag (a homemade parachute) attached to a tiny army backpack. This went on for the better part of an hour. It has been interesting to see what draws their interest. I love that they are more drawn to nature than anything else.

We always love to get outside on the holidays so we set out for a 3 mile hike and surprisingly Mabry hiked the WHOLE way. It was a gorgeous warm day and the kids AND dogs loved running wild.

We were thankful for respite in this little town. It was so good to stay put for awhile. Monday we headed out for Carlsbad, New Mexico. More to come.

A Different Season: Day 11 & 12

Every day looks different. I keep thinking we will get into a rhythm soon, but it hasn’t quite happened yet. There has been so many things to see and do in this quaint little town that we are happy to just explore and get ready for the road ahead. Every morning, the kids ask if they can get dressed and go outside. Today, Gress and Mcree went into the woods to explore. They came back with the most gigantic antlers from an axis deer (originally from India where they were food for lions, so long antlers helped them survive.). The odd thing is, they found the pair, which is rare to find them both together. We only know about this deer because we happened upon the most delicious BBQ place today and the owner was an avid hunter and told the boys all about this deer. He even had a stuffed one on his wall where we were eating. That was so perfectly orchestrated. There are so many deer here and this evening Rad forgot his flashlight on a walk to check on the boys showering and a herd rustled right next to him in the dark. I would have LOVED to see his expression of surprise in that moment.

We took a quick trip to town today to get a few essentials from Walmart and do laundry at the laundromat (we finally had to wash all the dirt filled bedding). Rad had to remind me we ARE camping and things will just be dirtier than normal. Remember we knew some of this trip is about being ok with being “uncomfortable” and dirt everywhere is something I am (slowly) learning to be ok with. This evening, we took a hike and the boys sat by the fire while us girls relaxed inside the quiet camper. Rad took a break from cooking (he has cooked every breakfast and dinner since we have been on the road…I love him!), but tonight, we decided to do something easier and I love the flexibility in that.

This Christmas feels so very different. There are no presents placed under our decorated tree, no cozy home to gather in, and no familiar church body to worship with. Yet, it feels so very special to be in an unfamiliar place, with my most favorite people. This town will always carry a special place in our hearts because of the rest and renewal it has given us during this season. I hope that you find peace right where you are this Christmas!

A New Spot: Day 10

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. 

Our Constant Entertainment

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.

What We Need: Day 7 & 8

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!

Where We Find Ourselves: Day 6 & 7

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

Road Trip: Day 4 & 5

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!

 

Road Trip: Day 3

“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.

 

 

 

Road Trip: Day 1

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.

The Next 45 Days

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.

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