Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Camping with no electric, water, or sewer proves to be difficult

I have to make this one short.  I only have 30 minutes left on my laptops battery. 

We are at a campground that is $15 a night with no hookups! 

It does have a bath house and nice trails, though. 

The quiet hours start at 9pm and go until 8am.  That means no generator. 

Now, for those of us who full time, we don't sit by the fire every night of the week, even though we did tonight.  We sit inside and sometimes watch tv and play until bedtime.  I always tell people this is our home, it just has wheels!  So, not having a generator to run this laptop makes my work time much shorter at night. 

All the wee ones are in bed, and all of the big ones are too!  Just me, by myself, trying to get some writing done.

I guess maybe if we got some solar panels it would help, they are just so expensive.  We did buy a bigger battery for our compartment the other day.  That will help to keep the furnace running at night.  We do have propane heat, we just need some electricity to run the fan on it!  Then, the other night our old battery was almost dead and our refrigerator started clicking.  Come to find out, (I'm sure my husband already new this, just not me) that our fridge has to have electric to keep the pilot light on.  So, we need to find a way to have more electricity for these instances.  Now if we stayed in the National Forest or somewhere where we could run our generator at night when it is cold so we have heat, it would not be a big deal.  We are just in a park that has quiet hours.

Well, sorry so short.  The battery is getting lower.  I guess I will get out pen and paper and work on my book.  I am hoping to have it done by the end of May.  It is on our trip, how to do it, stories, and misc. items.

Have a great night.  Oh, one last thought, we are out of water, too!  Good times!!!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Renaissance Festival, Phoenix Arizona

We love to dress up when we go to historical places or just for fun.  It helps the kids feel a part of history instead of a spectator.

So, we loaded up in the van and headed deeper into the desert.

The Renaissance Festival south of Phoenix was a lot of fun.  The kids enjoyed the drama and action that was around every corner.

There were some negatives - the low cut dresses, the emphasis on alcohol, and the heat....that blistering Arizona heat.

Gabe was knighted and Naomi and Josie made Ladies

Gabriel was ready for the joust!


I do recommend going.  We enjoyed it immensely and I feel it was a great learning experience for all of us.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Question about towing with a van and having two vehicles while traveling full time

I am a member of a yahoo group called Families on the Road.  I am going to answer questions for them and also post them on our blog.  I just found a question about towing a camper with a 15 passenger van.  I am not an expert, but I listen to my husband.  He researches everything.  I consider him an expert when it comes to vehicles.

He drives a Dodge pick up and it pulls our 42' fifth wheel.  I drive a 15 passenger van that tows a flat bed with 4 ATVs, 3 kayaks, gear, and 7 bikes.  We make quite a caravan.  It really does work great, but can also be difficult.

I want to cover a few issues with this topic.

1. We went with a Chevy for a few reasons.  We were told that the problem with big vans like that is they roll over easier.  Now, the information I found attributed the roll overs to people that drove the van with many large adults, with all of their luggage, towing a trailer, driving it like it is a car.  Now, I know that not all of those factors are present at every roll over, but the gist of it is, don't pack it too full and drive it like a bus!  You can't go fast around corners, and definitely need lots of room to stop.  We found that Chevy has an extended wheel base so that roll overs aren't as common.   Also, our insurance would only cover Chevys, not Fords or Dodges!  Our friend who has had numerous large vans said he will only buy Chevy.
Our van has done great for us.  It did need some repairs when we first bought it, we got it used. 

2. I like having two vehicles.  My husband is an engineer, so works all week in the camper.  The kids and I go  a lot of places without him.  There were two times last year that we almost had major emergencies.  We did not have two vehicles at the time so my husband would not have been able to get to us quickly.  It was quite scary.

3. Traveling around cities and up mountains can be quite difficult with two vehicles.  We have gotten separated and caught up with each other hours later.  We have walkie talkies and cell phones, but sometimes they don't work!

4. I am going to take out the front row seat and put it in the camper every now and then.  The kids and I want to try to take a few short trips when my husband either doesn't want to or has to work.  I like to sight see a lot and he doesn't.  So, we already took out the back on and left it in our storage trailer.  I think if I can take out the front row temporarily, I could sleep on the floor with a couple kids and some could sleep on the seats and my oldest could sleep in his tent outside the door.  It would just be for short trips/overnighters.  I haven't tried it yet, I will let you know how it goes.  I really want a camper van or a Sprinter type camper van.  But, just can't afford it right now.  I think it would be perfect for us.

5. Towing and going up mountains can get hairy.  I learned the hard way to absolutely not have the air on while going up a mountain. And, if the van begins to overheat, slow down, down shift, and turn the heat on if necessary.  We have had to do this many times and even in extreme heat.  We just pretended we were in the desert.

Read another blog post that discusses my adventure with overheating in the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming!

This is all for now on this subject.  I would be happy to answer any questions on this matter.  If I don't know, I will ask my hubby!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Leaving an area after a long stay.

Wow, I had no idea what the limit was on stuff crammed in this 42' camper, now I know!  I still am not totally sure how I will fit everything back in, but I will.  We have been in Phoenix for four months now and we sure have accumulated stuff.  The problem is that I want to keep it all.  People say, well if you bring something in you have to take something out.  I don't want to take anything out!  I just need about 10 more feet, but I can't have it.  So, I will cram it all in and work our way back to Missouri.  When we get there, we will unload a bunch into our storage trailer.  I did make a deal with Shae that if I can keep the front 2/3 of the camper uncluttered and clean, I can clutter the back all I need to.  Now, I can't help but think, "How on earth does he expect me to not have the camper cluttered with eight people in it and all of our homeschool stuff and everything we need for any kind of weather or activity for eight people, (I know I already said that, but it is an important number!)"  So, the other day I uncluttered everything I could and crammed it in boxes in the back corner in our toyhauler garage/kids area.  It is not pretty, but it works.

Leaving Harvest Church in Glendale, AZ after 4 months of volunteer work.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thought we would leave today, but not gonna happen!

Sitting here eating edamames and the kids left over chow mein for lunch.  We thought we were leaving this campground today, but we just don't think we can be ready to leave by 1:30pm.  We want to leave at that time so we don't have to hit the Phoenix traffic.  You see, I pull a flat bed with four atvs, three kayaks, and a bunch of bikes and gear behind our 15 passenger van.  My husband pulls the fifth wheel behind our Dodge duelly. 
I am not as good a driver as him, so I really don't want to drive on the freeway when the traffic is real bad. 

It is nice to be easy going and not have a bunch of reservations to have to keep. 

The negative side to that is sometimes the campgrounds we plan on going to fill up by the time we get there.  So, we just find somewhere else.  I try to stay away from deadlines and reservations as much as possible.  Especially with having six kids and traveling so slow.  It is very difficult to get places sometimes.  It is so nice to just be able to go when we want and where we want. 

It did come at a cost though.  We don't have a home, we got rid of most of our possessions (did I spell that right?  It doesn't look right to me. Oh well, I don't have time to find our dictionary.)  We all cram in this camper and have very little privacy.  There are a lot of draw backs to our lifestyle.  But, for us it is the right thing. 

We love it 90% of the time and go crazy the other 10%.  Although I have to ask myself, "Is this problem caused by our lifestyle of would we have this even if we lived in a house?"  Anyways, I thought I would take a moment to write a note on my blog.  It seems to be harder and harder to get on here.  I usually do it at midnight, but have been really tired lately.  I have a couple of incredible stories to tell you, both are some of the most amazing of our entire trip.....so on that note, check back soon.  I hope to have them up in the next day or so!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What 5 yr old boys do with free time.....

Kids will be kids.  We all know that.  Well, I have six of them, so my stories are endless.  It seems like a majority of the excitement, activity, and laughter revolve around my 5 yr old, Gabriel.  He is not a bad boy, or ridiculously wild, he is just a boy...300 percent boy that is.

I think it is very important for the kids to have some free time.  I teach them that free time is a privilege, not a right.  We sometimes have to do school, chores, and work and then not get time to play that day.  It is important for them to realize that from a young age or we get these teens and adults that want to have too much play time and not enough work!  Well, off my soap box now....

I do give my children as much free time as I feel is beneficial, which is a lot at age 5.  It is fun to sight see and travel, but my kids just need time at home, too.  Our home just happens to be on wheels and our yard changes continually.

We have been at the same campground for a while now.  My kids have played all of their games outside numerous times, so now it is time for them to get creative.  I do not let my children say they are bored.  It is naughty to say that.  So, the other day my son, Gabriel, decides he is gonna catch himself a WILD CAT!  Now, let me explain.  There are about 9 homeless cats that live in the ditch by our camper.  They were here when we got here and will be here for long after.  In fact, we found out they have been here for years, just new babies every year.  We decided to feed them while staying.  It is so nice to have them around.  We can't pet them, but they are fun to watch.

Gabriel loves them, but hasn't always.  The siamese cats reminded him of the ones from Lady and the Tramp.  He was scared of those for a while.  Now, he loves them all.  He decided the other day to catch one.

He took the laundry basket, some twine, a bowl of cat food, and determination outside.  He tied the twine to the top of my basket and put the food inside.  As soon as a cat went in the basket to eat, he would pull it over on him!

He tried for almost an hour.  Cats would come in, but he just couldn't catch him.  There are quite a few older men here.  A few of them walked by our camper on the way to the dumpster.  I could see memories flashing before their eyes as they thought of times when they were young.

It was a riot watching him try and try.  Oh how I wished he had caught one.  None today.

He did make a fishing pole from a sword and tied a baby toy to the end and caught a baby today!

I have personally read Bringing Up Boys.  It was an excellent book.  I only have one sister, so the whole male thing had me stumped.  It was hard for me to understand some of the things Cody did when he was little.  But, this book helped me with even more than that.  After reading it, I had a better understanding of my husband, why he does what he does.  I do believe God made man special, just as He did women.  I hate to see men put down in society, like their character traits are less honorable than womens.  I rejoice in the manhood of my men.  I respect and honor them for who they are.  Let's let our boys be boys and our men be men instead of trying to turn them into girls and women!
One note on this book.  There are a lot of studies and statistics in it, so, I just skimmed over them.  I trust Focus on the Family and just wanted to get to the content.  I don't have a lot of time to read, so sometimes I just get to the meat of it.  I read this book about 7 yrs ago, and it has helped me for all of these years.  I probably should skim it over again! 
I do not, I stress, do not think that farting at the table is ok though, Shae and Cody!  That is not manhood, that is just gross!!!!! Love you guys!