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Home.

Home

Well, the end has come.

The  minute I took this picture, it started raining. Figures.

The minute I took this picture, it started raining. Figures.

23 states.

22,000 miles

One adventure after another.

Remember when we got lost? Well, remember when I GOT us lost?

Remember the fateful canoe trip?

How about the trip on needles highway, or the SNOW in Yellowstone, the RAIN in the northwest and the SNOW in Texas?

There was Thanksgiving in Malibu with great friends and Christmas in Arizona.

The friends we met along the way…

The friends we reconnected with along the way.

And there were the hikes, so many amazing hikes.

When we pulled back in to Michigan and met up with our family and friends, these stories were told and re-told and it was so amazing to relive them with the people we love. I know so many have been following our blogs, but to tell them in person was special.

The walk from our RV back to my parents house in the woods. Glorious.

The walk from our RV back to my parents house in the woods. Glorious.

Grandpa giving all the kids a safety talk before letting them loose on quads

Grandpa giving all the kids a safety talk before letting them loose on quads

And now as I sit here in Colorado, embarking on my career as a nurse, exploring the foothills and missing my family I realize that no matter if home is the place you grew up and still find yourself, whether you have moved around every 2 years, live somewhere new that speaks to your heart, or live in a 300 square foot home that moves every couple weeks, home is wherever the people you love are.

Though this is the end of our RV Trip, I hope to still blog about our adventures and travels, so I hope you will continue to follow along. If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year (and I’ve learned SO much) its that you must get out of your own “bubble” and see the world and meet people in order to really grow. I hope this has inspired you to take a step away from all you know for a day, a weekend, a month, or a year.

You will never regret it. Never.

travel

 

 

 

The last leg…

The time had arrived for the final leg of our journey. As we drove to our RV park near the Jersey Shore that would give us a jumping off point for our NYC day we contemplated the end and talked and talked about how we just couldn’t believe it was here. It just didn’t seem real.

jersey-shore-2

I was so glad to have made it to the Jersey Shore. The day we went turned out to be a gorgeous (hot and humid) day and the kids loved playing at the arcade, getting ice cream and walking the board walk. We even took some photos of some rental places that could be an amazing future vacation spot. What fun!

jersey-shore

The next day was what we are calling The New York City Blitz! We woke up early (a huge feat for the Boyd house) and drove 1/2 hour to the New Jersey Transit train station. We purchased our tickets and were on our way!

Times Square!

Times Square!

Walking the streets

Walking the streets

I felt pretty confident after spending my long weekend in NYC already, but having Brandon and the boys relying on my navigational skills puts a bit of pressure on me. But overall we did really well and walked 7 miles in total. 7 miles!

Central Park

Central Park

The famous Sprinkles cupcakes!

The famous Sprinkles cupcakes!

Lady Liberty

Lady Liberty

The World Trade Center Monument - truly an eerie place to be

The World Trade Center Monument – truly an eerie place to be

nyc

Our next stop as made our way through southern Pennsylvania was of course, Gettysburg!

The boys being silly

The boys being silly

The RV park we stayed in was great. It was right in the actual area of the battle of Gettysburg (which is huge) and really if you wanted you could walk to the visitors center from the campground. The other neat thing was that when you stayed at this campground you received coupons for a a free visit to the Gettysburg Diorama and the Lincoln Train Museum. I told the kid this was their LAST history bit for the year and would conclude their formal schooling other than standardized testing that Alec needed to do yet. They were excited that it was almost summer break for them! As Austin keeps telling everyone he sees, “my brain is exploding with history!”

The Diorama

The Diorama

The diorama was interesting. Its the largest in the world and I really had no idea what it would be like. There was a narrated light show that went along with it and wow was it ever involved. It was very detailed and hard to follow but it was still neat to be a part of. I really had no idea what the battle of Gettysburg all entailed and boy did we learn. To walk near where Lincoln walked and stood was inspiring for sure. The train museum was very inspiring to see how far we have come in our US history.

The train museum

The train museum

The visitor’s center at Gettysburg was really amazing and probably the best visitor’s center/museum of any National Park we have been to. the film being shown was first class and narrated by Morgan Freeman. It brought everything together for me after my overload from the diorama.  It also is home of a large painting of the battle that is beautiful to view. The museum was fantastic as well. Gettysburg is huge, so even if you do not want to do the bus or driving tour, going to the visitors center and seeing the movie and viewing the painting is well worth your time.

A piece of the painting - too large to get the entire thing

A piece of the painting – too large to get the entire thing

Probably at least 3 months ago we knew for sure that our last city we would be going to would be Cincinnati, Ohio. The reason for this is there is a family that lives there now that is SO special to us that we have not seen in years! It was so important to us to get there for a visit and it worked out perfectly that it fell on Memorial Day weekend.

Let me tell you what did NOT work out perfectly…. the fact that we have been “camping” for the last 10 months and this is THE weekend that the rest of the world goes camping. It didn’t even cross my mind, but I could not find a campground spot to save my life. Every single campground was booked solid with waiting lists!

So guess where we ended up on our last weekend of our trip living in an RV?

In a hotel.

Yes, in a hotel. Hysterical I know.

Alec photo bomb

Alec photo bomb

We had the most amazing weekend reconnecting with our friends. It did our souls so good and I think theirs too. I’m so glad we ended our trip this way.

Such special people

Such special people

An added bonus was seeing some more old friends who have recently started a BBQ food truck in the area and we surprised them by showing up there. It was amazing to see them, to catch up and of course, for my husband and boys they were once again in BBQ heaven.

Our friends and their food truck!

Our friends and their food truck!

Staying in a hotel and seeing old friends really made the last leg of this trip feel like a vacation. Its just so hard to believe the ends is near!

 

Shenandoah, A NYC Preview, the Appalachian Trail, and DC!

We headed not far to Shenandoah National Park and checked into a nice place only 1/2 hour from Shenandoah. We wanted a place close to the park but also not far in order for Brandon to take me to the nearest train station so that I could head to New York City for a health coaching conference. This campground was really beautiful and felt very similar to South Dakota. It had a pool they were opening up that week due to the unseasonably warm weather and a nice restaurant on site and a huge rec room where Brandon could work.

Brandon and the boys dropped me off at the train station the next morning and because the train was 2 hours late, I started my adventure of the Amtrak and being at the mercy of its unpredictable times. It was a good 5 hour ride and I got to get some good reading done! My friend Shelly and I rented an apartment in the East Village through Airbnb and I cannot say enough about how wonderful it was. I felt like a real New Yorker and by the end of the weekend I could make my way around on the subway by myself!

My NYC Apartment

My NYC Apartment

A night at the club! We didn't last long... ha!

A night at the club! We didn’t last long… ha!

Peaceful demonstrations in support of Baltimore

Peaceful demonstrations in support of Baltimore

While I was gone, the boys had quite a wonderful time doing another overnight camp out with a strenuous hike which you can read all about when my husband catches up on HIS blog!

When I came back from my long weekend refreshed and ready to conquer the health coaching world, we knew we wanted to do a family hike on the Appalachian trail. This has been a bucket list item for Brandon and me for years. Hiking on the trail makes you feel like you are a part of an inner “club” of cool people that have all hiked before. As usual we dealt with much whining and complaining from the youngest of our group, but once he was out there, he was all in and we had a wonderful time. We even met a father and son team (the son being 10 years old) that have been hiking the trail since February and they were very inspiring for the kids to meet.

Virginia-app-trail

Father and Son Team Hiking Since February!

Father and son team hiking since February… notice – not much stuff!

A drink along the way

A drink along the way

Beautiful Shenandoah!

Beautiful Shenandoah!

To prove we were really here!

To prove we were really here!

Next came another big highlight of our trip and culminating the end as well – Washington D.C.!! The other highlight about this week was that my Aunt Laurie and cousin Jacob and Noah who is the same age as Alec would be joining us! The boys were so excited and could hardly wait for them to arrive. We met them for dinner right when they got there and spent time planning our trip.

A couple tips I learned for visiting DC – you must go through your congressman or woman’s office to book a white house tour (its the only way to get a tour unless you know someone like secret service, etc.) and booking a capital tour through them is very beneficial as well. I did this, and we found out we DID receive a white house tour. We were super excited about that because they tell me that about only 8% of white house tour requests are actually granted, so if you can get one you are in the minority.

Heading into Justin Amash's office

Heading into Justin Amash’s office

By going through our congressman Justin Amash, we were treated like VIPs. We arrived for our capital tour and were able to stash our bags and purses, were asked if we needed anything and given a wonderful tour through the hallways that the congressmen walk (and sometimes run) back and forth to vote on issues at hand. We were in a small group tour while watching all the very large group tours going on. It was wonderful and I would highly recommend it. I didn’t get a ton of pictures of the capital outside because it is still under major construction with no end in sight I am told.

The boys asking questions of our guide... or were they just trying to impress her?

The boys asking questions of our guide… or were they just trying to impress her?

Beautiful paintings and architecture everywhere

Beautiful paintings and architecture everywhere

Everyone rubs their feet on this "good luck spot" in the very center of the capital

Everyone rubs their feet on this “good luck spot” in the very center of the capital

When traveling back and forth to DC if you are staying outside the city, I also highly recommend getting a SMARTrip Card rather than a one time use paper card for the subway. First of all you save $1 each way when you use this and it is much easier to track and add money to it. Most train stations have a SMARTrip card “vending” machine – you just need to look around for it – but it is worth it.

The Supreme Court - a gorgeous building

The Supreme Court – a gorgeous building

We also really enjoyed the Supreme Court. You can actually hear live sessions of the justices debating cases if you are there during the right time of year. They were done for the season, but we were able to go inside the actual courtroom and hear a lecture on how it all works. We ate lunch in the cafeteria and enjoyed going to the administration office to get our own copy of one of the latest cases and its final decision. The spiral staircases there were gorgeous!

Spiral staircase

Spiral staircase

Another tip – plan more time for the Smithsonians. We didn’t even make a dent. One incredible highlight, however was an old friend from high school who treated us to a private tour of her office in the Museum of Natural History and gave the boys a wonderful lecture on meteorites. They even got to hold pieces of the moon and Mars. They really enjoyed that and I was so grateful for such a neat addition to our time in DC.

My friend Cari with the coolest job!

My friend Cari with the coolest job!

My own special highlight was Julia Child’s kitchen as it was originally and now located in the Museum of American History. Though I didn’t spend long there, I did take pictures of every angle of her kitchen to get inspiration for good storage solutions. I just love her.

Julia Child's kitchen

Julia Child’s kitchen

I'm a dork. I realize...

I’m a dork. I realize…

Seeing all the monuments was very inspiring and a nice walk through the National Mall on a nice day. We were in DC at such a good time due to spring break being over and summer not quite started. Other than dealing with stinky 8th graders on field trips – its a perfect time to go.

Washington Monument

Washington Monument

Lincoln!

Lincoln!

Vietnam Memorial... very powerful

Vietnam Memorial… very powerful

"Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope."

“Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope.”
The kids reading MLK's most famous quotes surrounding the monument

The kids reading MLK’s most famous quotes surrounding the monument

The Korean War monument

The Korean War monument

Memorial honoring the women who served in World War 2 - mostly as nurses.

Memorial honoring the women who served in World War 2 – mostly as nurses.

Arlington Cemetery was up next, which was moving and powerful. Once there, you must make your way to the center of the cemetery to watch the changing of the guard. Soldiers of a very special unit guard the tomb of the unknown soldier and have been doing so 24 hours a day 7 days a week since 1930. they have stood here through 9/11, hurricane Sandy and many other things. Its fascinating.

The changing of the guard - a must see!

The changing of the guard – a must see!

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

 

A beautiful, serene place to walk around

A beautiful, serene place to walk around

We also made sure to go to the Holocaust Museum. So many blogs and reviews I read beforehand warned of taking children there, but unless you have super sensitive kids, I would recommend taking them. I feel like the museum did a good job of discreetly keeping the most intense footage out of sight that you would have to be more in tune to find and this museum is so important for kids to experience. We also did the dedicated children’s part on first floor, which was great as well but really geared for much smaller children. My 9 year old did love this and it was nice to do this last after the more intense upper floors. Boy did we talk a LOT about Hitler and the war and hatred. My kids will not forget this.

The White House tour was, in my opinion, great. Was it what I expected? No, but it was just neat to be there, to go through security clearance and to feel the history seeping through the walls. To see rooms where press conferences are held, to walk where Lincoln walked, to view the painting that Dolly Madison rescued from the fire that burned the white house during the revolutionary war and to see the pictures of the Kennedy’s children having a picnic on the lawn was inspiring. Even if you do not get a formal tour or if you do, you must go over to the white house visitor’s center. The movie there is wonderful and the wheel to see what some famous presidents ordered from the white house kitchen was just neat. Our kids did complete their junior ranger badges here as well!

Up close and personal

Up close and personal

Junior Ranger badges!

Junior Ranger badges!

When you go to Washington DC – please wear good walking shoes. We averaged 4 miles a day – and we exhausted by the end of the week.

So tired.

So tired.