Official

Today marks our 3rd week in Albuquerque….. and two weeks in our new home!

We had a blast in CA! As we headed from San Francisco to L.A. to visit family, we had such a beautiful ride. Time with family was priceless. Got lots of exhausting swimming in and plenty of pizza!  :-) And peacock feathers for the taking! What fun to see peacocks on the street like we would see squirrels in Chicago! We spent time checking out the ‘musts’…. according to offspring. One wanted to go to Diaso  Japan, another to Hollywood Blvd.. On the way out of town we also made a swing past a famous filming spot for Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Excitement was impalpable!

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As we headed south and eastward we decided we just must pass through San Bernadino to visit the site of the first ever McDonald’s. The older two and I had watched The Founder not long ago and wanted to swing by and see the spot and visit the free museum. It was super cool and the curator was eager to give us a very VERY interesting earful of the ‘real deal’ …. quite a fascinating experience all around!

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Having the gumption to make it as far as possible we over-nighted in Phoenix. Warm and cozy and closer to NM! I felt like it was getting to complicated finding a temp housing situation in Albuquerque via internet and phone so I made the executive decision to just get there, spend a weekend in a hotel, hit the ground running, find a place and move. Little did I know just what would transpire!

 

20170607_115444(0)We landed here June 7th in the evening. That gave me till the following Monday to find something. I spent that evening scheduling appointments and setting up a schedule for Thursday. We leave early Thursday morning to see a few places. As I’m seeking, looking and realizing I see that the better option would be to get a short term lease with a move-in special. After the first few stops we are thinking we have selected the place we want, but for save measure we opt to drive to other places listed on the vast checklist I’ve made. As we are cruising along I spot this place with flags and balloons waving, “move-in special!” I veer off the road to check it out. The place is awesome! Nice, neat, clean, 2 pools, 2 laundry rooms, a playground…. the view of Sandia’s is incredible! The units are perfect for what we are seeking, AND…. a 6 month lease and affordable to boot!

All this transpires to us having a new home!!!! We are officially New Mexicans (wanna be’s perhaps)…. But we have a semi-permanent residence here which will allow us to still do our fall travel, allows us to meet the homeschool community (which we’ve already had the pleasure to attend 2 park days, yeah!), and….. find a place where we will ultimately/permanently land when the 6 month lease is up!!! I still wake daily to the need to pinch myself as this place is just so freakin’ amazing! We are steps to the mountains and over see the whole town of Albuquerque. I have switched my license over, as well as driver account over so I was able to continue driving for Lyft here. It’s fun and amazing the kindness of people here. Everywhere I go I am beaming from how kind folks are. The landscape around me soothes my soul and the kindness of people makes my cup overflow.

We are planted here for the rest of the summer with many day trips all over this amazing state. Just the other day we did a complete route around the Sandia peeks and it was super duper fun and adventurous. We found a back road that was quite the back road…. we just laughed and joked the entire time at the situations we always encounter. At the massive peek we were able to look down and see all of the foot hills we’ve been hiking as well as our new home. We’ve had daily swimming in our pools, and the dry heat is just a sheer blessing. Nothing better. My daily Vit D doses the highest I’ve ever felt ’em and that makes me one happy mama.

K is gearing up to do the 48 Hour Film Festival here in Albuquerque in July!!! (With viewings the week to follow, early August.) Towards the end of the summer we head to another conference in Alabama. From there we will get a bit of travel in, head to Chicago and unload our storage unit and bring everything home…. our new home! Already planning for friends and family to come visit and our doors are open to YOU if you would like to visit Albuquerque as well!!! We will have a blast discovering new things together! Just let us know when you arrive and you have a place to stay!!!

xoxo, off to the pool!

 

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Portland Onward

The incredible journey rolls on!

After our hole up nights in Spokane we ventured onward to Portland for our first ever Life is Good conference. Passing the Multnomah Falls for our first ‘real super tall’ falls sighting was a blast! We also enjoyed the other beautiful sights right around that state park area. 20170525_192210Oregon is just breath taking, in so many ways. The falls, the mountains, the river, and then the ocean! We landed in Portland a few days earlier to spend with a sweet friend from the Peace Corps. She generously hosted us for two nights and we got some nice perusing of Mt Taber where we could spot Mount St Helens and Mt Hood as well. Such a gorgeous day we scored trapsin’ around there. We also visited this cool little bird sanctuary/gardens called Rhododendron Garden. Tons and tons of some really cool ducks, and the greenery ain’t to shabby either.

It was a blast cooking in a real kitchen! Made some Domoda (a West African dish) that is just sooooo fun too cook with/for people who appreciate the dish. The kids and I had been craving it for some time. Being on the road alters you intake quite drastically. We’ve been super healthy. I can count on one hand the number of times we have eaten out in the last months, but that said, if you’re camping stove is tucked away…. you alter what you eat quite a bit. I think I’m about to go completely raw just to alleviate thinking about it any more 😉

Any rate…. we enjoyed cooking on the stove! And next day headed to our LiG conference. It was hosted at an Embassy Suites which you know is like living in luxury. The made-to-order breakfast omelets and the free happy hour are incredible…. but my all-time-favorite is the insanely huge king size bed and blackout curtains! Even my early risers were not waking before 9am every day! We had lots of fun meeting new people, expanding our growing tribe of cool people. It was fun to be amongst this long-standing conference and enjoy their activities. We had lots and lots of fun! Even got swimming and hot tub soaking in too!

20170528_131213It was another amazing birthday at the end of the conference! D turned 13 on us! I can’t believe how much the time has flown. For her birthday, knowing we would be on the road when she decided, she requested to visit San Francisco to visit Japan Town and also a favorited Kawaii shop of a YouTuber she knows and follows. It’s been high on the list for a very very long time, and since we knew were doing the conference in Portland I told her it’d be possible to make the visit. She was ecstatic of course. The store she wanted to visit was not open except for weekends, so for her actual birthday we headed from the conference to the Oregon coast. We stayed in a yurt for two nights at Umqua Lighthouse State Park and spent endless hours on the ocean side. Beach combing, fishing and seal lion spotting. It was such a magical time. It was just so beautiful, and the weather cooperated with us the entire time. Plenty of campfires and cooking, which made us all happy. Super great sleeping, and the yurt was so fun! (Our first experience in a yurt!)

In the midst of all of the conference and birthday hoopla, we celebrated another lost tooth!20170601_115421 Somehow in the mix of adventure, life is still happening! :) From Umpqua we headed down the coast to CA. San Francisco bound we passed this most incredible rest stop…. I was just driving along thinking we would not make our first stop for another hour and a half or more, and then I spot all these people turning off the road, and I glance over at these masses of amazing rock, a climbing hill, and gi-normous waves lapping to the coast. I pop a quick U-y and head back to see the sights. We climbed out and all gasped…. it was such an amazing spot. We trekked all over the place, made some sandwiches, cut a watermelon, and at least two hours later we were ready to depart again.

That evening we made it all the way to the Avenue of Giants. I just had to pass through one of my most favorite spots before arriving in the big city. We ended up boondocking on the Avenue and waking to the Giants early in the wee hours of the morning. It’s such a magical place to visit. Awe-inspiring. Breathtaking. We took the Avenue straight to 101 and ended up on 101 to SF….. which was so cool cause the last time we did this trek we were on 1, right along the ocean. That is an amazing drive as well. 101 was super cool to experience cause we could see a whole new part of the country, and you get to experience Redwoods for miles and miles. At one point, we pulled off at this super cool gift 20170603_175652post/shop and we were the first people in for the day…. the cool owner let the kids feed the fish their breakfast. I purchased some super cool bumper stickers to add to the bus, and we toured his amazing wood sculptures. It was a treasure trove for sure.

Since we had left so early we arrived in San Francisco by early afternoon. Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, we landed in Japan Town for a little poking around, and then cruised over to the Kawaii shop. Nothing disappointed! Everything exactly as she anticipated and she thoroughly enjoyed her extended birthday. We enjoyed some Chinese food (another birthday wish) and headed to a hotel. Fortunately, I had a hotels.com credit to use for our hotel this time around cause MAN! SF is expensive! Not to mention…. ‘holy California gas prices Batman!!!’ I will not be sad to depart from the state, merely due to the cost of being here! But happy we got to hit all of our favorites before doing so.

Today we depart the comfort of the hotel and make the trek to LA to visit my brother and family for the evening. From there the trek through AZ and finally to NM. We are all kind of excited to have a spot to land for a few weeks. And to have time to plan future treks. But I, for one, am already relieved that the trek has taken a slower pace and the trek is ours to command now. Time is on our side and we can venture at our own pace.

AND…. sunshine!!! I’m welcoming the warmth and long-overdue sunshine! (Never enough if you ask me 😉 )

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New Territory

It’s been quite a week! One of adventure and tons of newly unexplored territory!

For starters, I mentioned our beloved annual gathering at Kalahari Waterpark last week. The week was a tremendous blast. Kids got to catch up with friends from all over, we had much much water-logged days and gorgeous sunshine as well. (Just too bad the outdoor park was not opened yet!) We brought a buddy along with us as well, so that added to our fun and excitement for the week. The unanticipated ‘fun’ for that week was that I got robbed on our very last day in the park there…. it was such a major bummer.

I had brought along my Ergo baby carrier with me and I always presume this is the best place to put anything at all cause most (1) don’t even know what the Ergo is when they look at it, and (2) more than likely have no idea there is even a pocket on it somewhere. WELP…. totally proven wrong this particular day. I left our stuff at a table, which consisted of a few shirts, flip flops, towels and my baby carrier. In the baby carrier I had my phone, two credit cards, my room key and my most favorite kick-ass tree of life ring. Some point between 12:45p and 2pm someone nabbed my carrier. The whole stinkin’ thing. Gone. It was right about 2-2:30pm that I noticed it gone. Sort of in shock and looking all over the place I’m thinking ‘holy crap…. someone stole it.’ And the next thing I heard was ‘cha-ching, cha-ching’ as I heard my money being drained from my credit card and checking account.

I run over to the front desk and report it stolen and they contact security. But again, as the minutes are ticking by I hear money leaving my account. I ask them to send security to my room so I can run and close my credit cards. I run up to the room contact checking first and sure enough, there is a $400.29 charge at the Best Buy down the street at 2pm. Between contacting them and the next bank (where $373.68 was charged at the same place), the security from the hotel shows up. Going through the low down they offer to call the local police. I’m all for it…. if there is anything that can be done to recover my things, I’ll do it.

She goes to escort the Deputy to our room and I handle the other credit card closing. Both banks, by the way, are super great and easy to deal with. They close immediately and no further charges are incurred. And they reverse the charges or will issue refunds. So it’s handle pretty easily. Chase offers me a new card by walking right into a branch and providing ID. So that process as pretty painless….. not nearly needed or appreciated, but easy none the less. Thankfully.

After filing the report with the Deputy he says he’s headed to Best Buy for surveillance footage at or around 2pm that day. I finally get a shower, which allows me to feel half human again and the adrenaline is able to chill a bit. I take the little kids out and about the resort peeking around for the potential of them throwing my carrier somewhere. I was kinda hoping I’d just see it in the trash along with my phone. The carrier and phone are fairly useless to someone…. likely they are just hitting it for the money, right? But no luck. Nothing found. I drum up the urge to drive down to the Best Buy as well. I feel like if I have searched around there I will have done all I can possibly do in this situation.

While down the street peeking around I realize this is kinda stupid. My stuff can be anywhere on this planet at this point in time….. So whatever urge took over at that time, I decide to park and go in and talk to the manager. The thing that really got me was how the heck this person could have done this without a PIN number or ID?! I walk in and ask for the manager. When he arrives he asks, “how may I help you today?” And I reply with, “Uhm…. I’m really not even sure. I’m just trying to grasp something here…. HOW on earth does this merchant allow someone to make purchases of this magnitude without a PIN or ID?” He instantly knew who I was. But I continued on. I explained, I can hardly purchase a burger in Chicago without one or the other…. How does this even happen? He is immediately flushed in the face and is extremely apologetic but explains that is how the merchant works and the banks allow them that option. He goes on to explain that the Deputy did indeed come into the store and they went through footage. They have footage of a young woman coming into the store, purchasing a TV and a laptop and leaving into a silver jeep that had pulled up directly in front of the store.

So… the upside… they have good footage. They believe this person(s) is(are) local and my fingers a crossed resolution comes about this situation. BUT…. at the moment what is there to do but move on with life, right?! So the very next day we drive home to Chicago. The plan was to have a night’s sleep there anyway cause are headed westward to Portland for our first time at Life is Good conference out there. The downside was that we would be delayed cause I had to replace the debit card and stolen phone. The bank was so simple to deal with, the phone… ugh… a whole other story… of which I will not bore you with the details. I’m sure anyone who has Sprint knows exactly what I may have gone through that day, and after 5 hours of dealing with Sprint in person and on the phone, I’m finally back in business. I was even able to locate a new-to-us Ergo for just $30 on FB Marketplace, just 5 minutes away from the store where I got the new phone!!! So everything aligned fairly easy…. if you subtract the hours upon hours with Sprint. So…. we high-tailed it outta Chicago later in the day that Saturday!

 

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(Our celebratory dinner…. the “Yeah! Mama didn’t kill anyone at Sprint today! AND…. we are hittin’ the road!” dinner.)

 

We head north and west through Wisconsin. We had an overnight in the wee wee hours of the night just next to the the Minnesota border, spent the day in and around Minneapolis seeing the Stone Arch Bridge, Minnehaha Falls, and Indian Mounds Regional Park. It was a super fun morning before heading westward further to Fargo. We did an overnight in Fargo, ND and then headed out to Standing Rock. The kids and I wanted to see the spot where we had heard of so much going on with the water protectors. 20170522_165215We drove out to the camp to see the bulldozers out there doing what they do. We drove just to the bitty start of the reservation and felt we wanted to go back and see the camp spot again. It was powerful…. even with it completely abandoned. We knew people who went there during the whole stand in, and we were well involved with collecting and donating. So it was a very powerful visit.

Onward… the journey and miles needed to be accomplished so we trekked onward. We next visited the Painted Canyon at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It was stunning and beautiful and we were there right near sunset so the sun was coming down right beyond the amazing canyon peeks. We crossed the Montana border just before sunset and had an overnight in Billings, MT, and just before I spotted a 2000 lbs wild bison grazing just outside of the national park outskirts! (SO COOL!!)

It was mutually agreed upon we’d blow through one more huge leg of the trip to Spokane so that we could then enjoy a two night stay in a hotel…. no car! We were all feeling pretty fried. Fired up and excited cause we just discovered all of this new territory, but fried…. It was a lot to take on so quickly, but we also all knew that once we got the bulk of this journey down, the onward adventure would continue at a much slower pace. We have approximately 5 days in Portland and our trip southward is a no-rush adventure. We will be spending four to five weeks in Albuquerque, and a slow journey east ward from there. Eventually, later this summer we travel south and will spend most of the winter there. We are even discussing finding a place in Albuquerque to have a more permanent place, and continue to enjoy our long adventures. Lot’s to see, experience, discuss and decide.

For now, we are holed up in a Super 8, enjoying Wifi, snuggly beds, swimming pool and hot tub. We all slept till at least 10am today and it’s been just such an enjoyable day needed for all to recoop from the long-haul. These amazing kiddos accomplished NINE states in FIVE days and crossed four time zones! They rocked it and hard! Tomorrow we will enjoy much of this truly amazing scenery on our way to Portland. A mere five hour drive may be drawn out to six, seven or eight with the intentional stops to see the truly amazing parks, waterfalls, river scenes and more along the way. I love this breathtaking road and adventure!

We are excited to land at our friend’s home tomorrow! I know her from the Peace Corps and excited to catch up and visit. After two nights with her we will be at our first Life is Good conference, which we are very excited about as well! It’s going to an amazing time in Portland!!!

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Home

There are those places on earth that you may not get to all that often, but every time you return it’s like returning home…..

That’s where we have been the past…. uhmmm…. about 11 days. A truly beautiful place in SE Ohio. A farm quiet and quaint. Charming and beautiful. And yes, the aesthetics are pleasing, but the friends we visit are the highlights of the adventure there. We are always just so excited to see them and share in what I call their little slice of heaven. It’s been a wonderfully magical time.

Among the adventures on the farm, we also enjoyed a few day adventures. One included taking the kids bowling… which none of us had done in quite a looooong time. So we stunk… big time. But we had a blast! We had a blast stinking and then we went out to eat to fill the bellies of the bodies that lifted and threw bowling balls over and over again. It was still fairly decent out that day so I trekked to find a playground to enjoy and then back home for more fun.

 

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Another day I took my kiddos on day trip. We ventured to Moundsville, WV where I replaced my West Virginia State Penitentiary bumper sticker. This was an adventure we had done last summer… visiting the most haunted paranormal jails in the states was super fun and exciting. We acquired our bumper sticker from the outing but sadly it went off on our RV when we sold it. So I was kinda determined to replace it. After revisiting and accomplishing that task, we headed up to Wheeling for some fun. After checking out the cool layout of Oglebay Park, we visited a very cool wooden park, a sorta cool “sculpture park” that had a whooping 3 statues in it, and saw a very beautiful suspension bridge over the Ohio River. We strolled down the over-full river side where we saw some very cool historical markers, and enjoyed the (finally) warm sun on our chilled bodies. We enjoyed some food out and the older kids met up with our friends to see another friend’s orchestra performance while I took sleepy little ones home to bed early.

 

 

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Another outing we had was to Pittsburgh! We took a day trip and enjoyed the National Aviary. This was a truly amazing spot. Quoted from their website as being a premiere bird zoo, we thoroughly enjoyed this newest adventure. Not only did we score free admittance because we were gifted a membership to a Chicago garden that was granting reciprocity to this place, but it was such an amazing, cool spot to visit was just soooo thrilled we made the trek out there to check it out. Several rooms with birds flying all over the place in and out their hiding places. We witness several feedings of various species, and enjoyed seeing some of the most majestic birds on the planet. It was super cool!

We planted ourselves at a hotel for the evening that night and the very next morning we popped on over to Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum in Wheeling. This was such a cool little spot as well! Another major score! I was a little apprehensive about how much it may have displayed, but not only was the museum truly amazing, but the interactives for the kids kept us there all day long! We had a blast exploring and playing for several hours that afternoon! Definitely recommend if you find yourself driving through!

 

 

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Aside from our miscellaneous side trips, we enjoyed quite a few beautiful hikes in Raven Rocks with our friends. In and out of the woods and ravines. Soaking up the warm sunshine. Oh…. and the few bonfires as well as the full moon! It was a magical (plus) week out in SE Ohio!

This week ahead…. we have landed ourselves at our annual retreat at Kalahari Waterpark for our Unschoolers Waterpark Gathering. We are excited to be attending our eighth year, reconnecting with our tribe and getting some mega swim on! Enjoying this week each year is a very special time for each and every one of us! There is nothing like being around like-minded to rejuvenate the soul!

 

 

 

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Tick!

Take off has been fairly seamless. A fantabulous week down with many more to come!

To start…. we took off for the Indiana Dunes to do a bit of camping (albeit COLD camping)… but camping for the birthday boy’s wishes! He’d been longing to get in some outdoor time, tent time, hiking, and of course s’mores. We all thought we could pretty much hack it, but ultimately the cold did dig it’s vicious grips into our deepest cores and sent us packing to a hotel for a swim, hot shower and heat!

We did get in quite a bit of hiking though, while we did last. Enjoyed the most amazing ice cream cake (another birthday wish which I was not as certain I’d be able to accomplish)…. alas, there was a Dairy Queen just 10 minutes from camp so the boy scored the best Death by Chocolate Ice Cream cake…. which we promptly ate as a complete lunch upon arrival to campsite.

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The ‘highlight’ if you’d care to call it that, was M carrying away to a tick attached to her neck as we departed. It apparently grabbed hold of her some time on Tuesday and just a few hours later in a Walmart parking lot as I was herding them outta the car I noticed something on her neck/chest area. With a double glance at how she may have attained this weird mark on her body I realized right quick that she had a little carrier friend along for the ride. Without trying to freak out to much we swiftly marched into the Walmart to attain some supplies for a quick removal. Once gone, we sat in a Subway to feed some bellies and chill some nerves. With the plethora of information on our dear friend Google, I was feeling like I could chill a bit more. At the hotel I called our insurance nurse hotline and they felt we were a-okay and outta the woods…. but a bit more research and a visit at a Ohio urgent care we opted for the more preventative measures and started a round of antibiotics.

All that aside, we arrived in Beallsville, OH with dear friends we had met several years ago at an unschoolers conference. After several prompts to visit them, we did so last year and had so much of a blast we returned a few more times before fall season hit. Coming here is like returning to a place that feels like home. Such dear friends who share their little slice of heaven here in SE Ohio each time we return. It’s quite enjoyable catching up with them and enjoying the countryside. We will be here for the week to come before we head off to the Unschoolers Waterpark Gathering the following week.

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Onward!

It’s been a very busy winter’s end and start to spring! Conclusion to it all however is that we are now onward and excited!

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February brought about a very magical Unschoolers Platform week! This year was such a warm, heart-felt group of truly amazing people. It was a wonderful week of connecting, supporting, loving. I simply can’t put words to how fabulous our second annual conference went this year!

Proceeding the conference it was full-on-sell-RV time!
I had the Class C advertised most of the winter, but as you can imagine, the response during the winter was pretty minimal. No one quite serious enough to pull the plug. As the summer weather was coming about, dozens of people came out of the wood works! It was fabulous. Lots of calls, emails, texts, and showings. I even had offers coming in, but I was holding out for the right offer. March 31st we are just so lucky to have the right family needing, wanting, and able. The whole thing went just smoothly and perfectly. And it was then we quickly said goodbye to our 2nd nomadic home in just a very short while.

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The intent after leaving brick and mortar in our mini van was to have the Class C. Once having the experience of the Class C and realizing with kids it would work ever-so-better to be able to separate house and motor…. *and* have a wee bit more space for the stuffs. There is just kinda a lot of stuff, even in the minimalist’s world, to carry along with 5 kids. So we learned quickly with our Cobra that we’d like to have a separate motor and home and that was the end goal with the sale of our then 2nd nomadic home.

We were fortunate to find exactly what we were looking for. We landed inside a 2016 Ford Transit 350 XLT which only had about 21K miles on it when we purchased it. It is a 12-seat passenger van with the tow capability to pull a travel trailer if/when we decide to purchase and tow one. But the brilliance of this vehicle is that we can maneuver the country very swiftly in it as the space is incredible. So we feel so-so-so lucky to have scored this great deal.

So yep…. conference in February, RV sale in March, and car purchase in April! It’s been busy. We’ve celebrated a 15th birthday, lost a tooth, shaved long curly locks, braces removed, explored gardens, forests, said goodbye to a dear sweet guinea pig, watched our dear sweet puppy grow, and all the while finishing up swim team, virtual job hunting, and enjoying the fluke warm days Chicago was willing to grace us with. We’ve had quite a few fun adventures (pics enclosed below), but the biggest, most obviously, was the prep to hit the road once again. We have all be itchin’ for quite some time now. We set a departure date and set all sights on the when. The biggest thing happened upon purchase of the car was that I opted to sign up to be a Lyft driver. I have spent the last three weeks working pretty much full time for Lyft to pack some money away for the numerous adventures we have in store for this summer. It was a massive change for all of us. I have never ever been away from the kids full time for employment, and they rallied and then some. I hated being away from them so much, and they did not care for me to leave. But we made the agreement that we’d see this three weeks through because the income was so immensely beneficial to all we wanted to do and see this summer (and fall).

After a very successful three weeks, I closed out my Lyft career last night, we packed up the car today, and hit the road. We celebrate a 9th birthday tomorrow and this little gentleman wanted to explore the Indiana Dunes for his birthday…. so we are not all that far from home. Which ended up being a good thing as it took a great deal of time to get the car packed up and ready to go today. And then, on top of the length of time we took to depart, it was pouring rain and dark, so we ended up choosing a hotel nearby and move into our camping spot tomorrow morning for a full few days of exploration.

It’s amazing to be back on the road! Looking forward to sharing the adventures with you here! Meantime…. here are some fun pics from our past few months!

#nakitababynomads

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