Category Archives: Cross Country Tips

Dream. Explore. Discover.

Today, while having lunch with my older 3 boys, I was surprised by my eldest saying “I sort of like the vagabond life. When we were traveling, I liked learning new things and seeing things we had never seen before.” His twin teen brother piped up and agreed saying he loved to learn that way, too.

Wow! It’s been about three months since we’ve been home and they’re beginning to dream about places to go and new discoveries to experience.

image

Let’s begin to dream…What will you  explore this year? Where do you yearn to go and experience for yourself? It doesn’t have to be far away… Share something you’ve always wanted to see and why in the comments below!

Need inspiration? Follow our pins on Pinterest… https://www.pinterest.com/5kidsandarv/

Our Wish for Your New Year…

If there’s anything I’ve learned from our travels in 2015, it’s this… that the best things in life are the people we love, the places we’ve been, and the memories we’ve made along the way.

This last year we took our dream trip traveling cross country by RV to be a part of wheat harvest and to visit with family that lives in the northwest. This was a big first for us as in the past 11 years we have always flown. It was an amazing experience that stretched us financially, emotionally, and physically — and most of all taught our children that we can trust in Jehovah God.

We attempted the trip actually three times in the same year — even having to turn back from St Louis at one point and return home due to things going on with my husband’s job as it went thru a transition.

We learned a lot about relationships. We reconnected with some, were blessed by those friendships sending us off and reminded of what love really is, probably let some people down because we couldn’t always do what we hoped to do or because we were away for a long time, and we met some great people along the way. This blog will share that journey as we recap and prepare for our next trip.

Wishing you a Happy New Year full of new adventures and the people you love... Erin & Jes and our tribe
5"x7" Post Card Template

Most of all, we grew stronger as a family. I thought we were close before, but when your sitting in close-proximity with 7 people for 5 days straight and experience stressful driving conditions in the midst of all that, well, you learn just how much you can do as a family! lol

So, lots to share with you and if you’re thinking about taking a trip this year — I hope you pursue that dream. Make it a goal and put everything you’ve got into it. I don’t miss the things we sold and the sacrifices we made to take our trip, but the things I do remember are moment after moment watching my children grow in love for the people we love and their wide-eyed excitement about exploring this amazing world God has created for us.

I look forward to you journeying with us thru this blog in 2016… Happy New Year!

Erin

Follow us on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/5kidsandarv/

Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/5kidsandarv/

So you don’t think you have enough money to travel…

Quote by Graham Cooke
Our boys exploring the gentle giants — Redwood trees in Northern California — something that has long been a dream of ours to experience.

When you have a dream and chase it, you say no to the things that you might want now in order to experience what you want later.

When everyone is at a movie opening night, you wait to watch that movie until Apple has a digital rental for $4.99.

When others are eating out, you’re eating at home and fixing dinner even though you’re tired and don’t feel like it.

When others get a fancy latte concoction at the local coffee bar, you’re brewing a pot at home.

When others go out for ice cream at the ice cream shop, you go to the grocery store and buy what’s on sale and have a sundae party at home.

When others are upgrading their phone to the latest technology release, you say to yourself, “My phone is just fine – thankful it works” and avoid the Best Buy or the Apple Store.

When others are getting a new car (or new used car), you take care of the one you have and remain thankful she still carries you where you need to go and throw some duct tape on that seat that’s starting to tear from use.

When others go to the nail salon to get a mani-pedi, you pull out your nail clippers and nail polish and give yourself your own mani-pedi.

You clip coupons and look for deals when you have the time to do so.

You don’t run into town whenever you need something, but instead make purposeful trips and stock-up.

You cancel that outrageous Cable/Satilite contract, buy an Apple TV and Netflix membership and your annual cost goes from $1,800 (estimating an average bill of about $150 a month) down to roughly $200 only annually.

Delayed gratification. It’s tough. It’s no fun. It’s doesn’t earn you popularity points on Facebook. But that’s OK, ’cause you’re on a mission to make a dream into a reality.

But when you say “no” to the things that bring pleasure now so you can say “yes” to experiencing something you’ve always wanted, well — there are no words to describe how that moment feels when you reach that goal. Simply amazing.

Want to travel, but you don’t think you can afford it? It’s like Mr Cooke says, “… you must be prepared to do things you’ve never done before.”

Now go chase that dream!

Dream Big! You can do it!

Memphis, TN | No Rock-n-Roll, Just Heavy Metal – Part 1

Memphis Tennessee

Ah Memphis… When I think of Memphis, I think of Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jazz music, and world class barbecue.

The night before we rolled into Memphis for the first time, we stayed outside the city and boondocked at a Super Walmart at Olive Branch that offered overnight parking.

RV Terminology: Boondocking is essentially camping without hookups and at no cost using public land or parking overnight with permission.

Boondocking at Walmart in Olive Branch

In the morning, I began to look into activities that we could do while also towing a travel trailer because we only intended to stay in Memphis for the day and then continue on to our next destination. When researching options, the key is to make sure there is adequate parking and sometimes that means calling ahead and having a game plan.

All my sons love music. My middle son (who is 11-years-old) he tends to be the one that wants to make music, so I asked him if he wanted to go see where Elvis lived and the museum that talked about this music legend. I realized I hadn’t done due diligence in teaching him about the King of Rock and Roll when he simply asked, “Who is Elvis?” (Gasp!)

So, I did a quick search on YouTube and played some videos of Elvis. I was shocked – my boy was unimpressed. When we weighed the cost of going to Graceland, I did not want to drop $171 when our family that didn’t have any interest. When traveling cross country, our goal in choosing activities was to keep it cheap to stretch resources and to make sure that things we chose to do would be something everyone wanted to take part in. So, right out of the gate, Graceland got bumped.

Graceland and Platinum Tour:
– Adults $40 ea x 2 = $80
– Youth (13-18) $36 ea x 2  = $72
– Youth (7-12)  $19 ea x 1 = $19
– Child (under 5) $FREE
TOTAL for Graceland Experience for 7 people = $171

That kind of money would purchase about 73 gallons of diesel (@ today’s cost of $2.35).  And 73 gallons of diesel would take us about 728 miles (using our average 10 mpg when we tow.)

When I checked Trip Advisor, the number one rated thing to do was Sun Studios. The cost for our family would be $12 ea. x 4 adults = $48 (children 6-11 are free, so one child would be free in our situation.) The downside to this option was that there was no convenient place to park a travel trailer nearby AND they do not allow children 5 and under in (we’ve got two in this age range).  So, Sun Studios was put on the “visit another time” list when we were in a better position to enjoy the experience.

National Ornamental Metal Museum

We decided to check out the National Ornamental Metal Museum since our older two sons have been interested in taking up welding. But this museum is more about blacksmithing than welding and they include a one-of-a-kind apprenticeship program for those wanting to learn the art.

Metal-Museum-RVSetup
When we make a stop, we have to make sure there is room to park both our 36′ travel trailer as well as our tow vehicle.
National Ornamental Metal Museum Blacksmith Shop
On Saturdays, there are supposedly metalwork demonstrations. We hung around for an extra hour hoping to see one that was posted and the guys who were suppose to do it must have decided to take a break because there were no demonstrations as posted.

Our boys loved the sculptures in the garden and we enjoyed the quiet courtyard and the picnic tables that invited us to enjoy a picnic lunch.

memphis-picnic-lunch-fam
They had some picnic tables in the courtyard and so we decided to get some sandwiches from the trailer and enjoy the quiet courtyard.
memphis-picnic-lunch
Traveling with five children is all about making choices with money. We save money by eating food from the grocery store instead of going to restaurants. Sweet tea, sandwiches, and chips are an easy fix!
Mississippi River
The kids stand in front of the the Mississippi River. We took the opportunity to talk about the Louisiana Purchase and the role that the Mississippi River played in that land acquisition. While traveling across the bridge that took us over the Mississippi River, I pulled up a YouTube video that explained more about the role that the river played in that land acquisition. You can also search history.com or go to the online World Book Encyclopedia and read more about a topic. The fun part is everyone learns something new right on location!

metal-museum-cattails

metal-museum-gate-exhibit

Most interesting was how the docent explained to us how one goes about passing their Journeyman Bladesmith Certification by making a knife and what his/her knife must be able to do before being considered a work master craftsman. The make two knives — they make one for structure and one for aesthetics. The one made for structure goes thru a series of tests and ultimately is put in a vice and bent at a 90 degree angle. If it survives, the test is passed. (You can learn more by watching this video.)

peyt-and-knife-collection
Our middle son loves to collect knives. If it weren’t for the docent, we would have totally missed the drawers that housed a magnificent knife collection from craftsmen. Listen to the video to learn more about how an artisan must pass a test by making a knife.

If you’re looking for unique, one of a kind hand artisan gifts, check out their online store.

Details-Costs

WHAT KIDS CAN LEARN THRU THIS EXPERIENCE:

  • The craft of metal working and the diversity of the trade and how much practice a skill requires to become good at it.

It took us about an hour-and-a-half to go thru the museum buildings and walk around the grounds. Here are the details for planning your budget and outing…

Cost:
– Adults $6.00
– Seniors (62+) $5.00
– Youth (5-18) $4.00
– Child (under 5) $FREE

RV & Bus parking available along road outside of the museum.
*Children must be accompanied by parent or guardian. Be sure to check their website before you visit to see if there are any other restrictions as things change from the time of this posting. 


TIP: Bring a picnic lunch on a nice spring or fall day! They have a couple of picnic tables and a lovely courtyard. If you go on a Saturday or Sunday, you may be able to see a demonstration. Check the Web site for details.


Hours:
Tuesday–Saturday / 10AM–5PM
*Closed Mondays, Easter Sunday, July 4th, Thanksgiving Day, Dec 24-26, Dec. 31, and Jan 1.  The Museum is CLOSED due to weather when Shelby County Schools are closed.

Demonstrations: Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 pm (forging) and 3:00 pm (casting), except when there are classes in the Metals Studios. Visitors are invited to watch classes. Please call to confirm demonstration schedule.

Pets are not permitted on the grounds.

For a more enjoyable visit, plan to spend 1–2 hours.See Map Graphic
National Ornamental Metal Museum
374 Metal Museum Drive
Memphis
 Tennessee 38106
+1 901-774-6380


Was this information helpful to you? If so, please click the links below to share on Facebook or pin to Pinterest so that others may enjoy this experience as well. Thanks for spreading the word!

5 Kids and a RV recommendations are based on personal experience and do not represent the business or not-for-profit we feature. We share our experiences in an effort to inspire parents and caregivers to engage and explore with their children. On occasion we may post a review or provide information as an affiliate.

5 Kids and a RV: “Let’s go learn something today!

 

101 Days and 15,000+ miles

It’s been two weeks since we’ve returned home after being on the road for 101 days.

I remember the day we returned home… as I walked into my home, it felt like I was touring a home for sale. There were no smells of living life… dinner on the stove, or a sweet cake baking in the oven, sweaty boys or their stinky shoes, vanilla candles burning to freshen the air… nope. None of it. It was this surreal experience that you just have to probably experience to truly get. There was a part of me that knew it was our home and another part that felt I had stepped into a page from my past.

As I went to turn the water back on in my kitchen, I noticed my large sink. As I went to put things away in the kitchen, I noticed all my counter space. The kids were running inside and out the door, excited to reclaim our space. I noticed how clean everything looked. Unlived in. A home is a home because of who I share it with… and I was reminded in that moment that magazine-worthy-pristine-condition homes may be pretty to look at on the page, but they are empty of what’s really important — my people. And my people were busy running in and out the back and front door to reclaim their space.  My littlest turns to me and asks if we will be camping here for awhile. I chuckle — “Yes baby. We’re home now.”

“Every traveler has a home of his own and he learns to appreciate it the more from his wandering.”

            — Charles Dickens

Coming home to my clean house (except for the dust and a few spider webs), I realized how my perspective had changed after living in our travel trailer for 101 days and traveling over 15,000 miles across country. My home hadn’t changed. I had changed. And it was a good change. My home that I had complained wasn’t big enough to hold my growing family, suddenly didn’t feel so little anymore. I realized that it was a matter of perspective. My heart felt THANKFUL for my beautiful quartz countertops and the spaciousness they offered to cook a family meal. My heart felt THANKFUL for my large bathtub to bathe my children. My heart felt THANKFUL for my laundry room and “maids” in waiting.

Do I long for a larger home. Sure. But I know I can live in a small one and keep up on the chaos in those 34 feet better than my 2,200 square foot home. I know I’d rather live small in order to live large.

“I know I’d rather live small in order to live large.” — Me

Oh, and our kids? Check out what my middle son left on the fridge for my hubby and I that just melted my heart…

Note from Peyt'

I am forever changed by our cross country trip. So, hang with me. See what’s possible when you decide to chase a dream.

Technology and Travel

I am so thrilled with my new set up!

I’ve been using the built-in touch key pad on my mini iPad to write posts and I asked my husband if there was a better way of doing things. We first got a Zagg small external keypad 50% off at Best Buy (it was originally $110). It was the same size of my mini iPad and my fingers felt so crowded on the keypad that I could barely type without making mistakes.  So that item got returned and I opted for the Apple wireless keyboard at Best Buy for $69 (but you can purchase online here). [The keyboard is pictured below with a rose my son picked from our yard.]

image

Look how thin and light it is! I love it! It pairs to my mini iPad automatically after setting up once thru my mini iPad’s bluetooth settings.  All you have to do is turn it on (it’s “on” switch is that round circle on the end that you see there below).

image

The upside to the keyboard is not only a lighter weight keyboard that is larger to type on, or the fact that there are no cords to deal with, but the one draw back is no place on it to attach a stand (Apple Product Planners, take note of this needing an accessory option.)  My husband and I looked at doing a Steelie Ball on the dash, but we were concerned at how the airbag, if deployed, would affect the safety of whoever (namely me) was sitting in the front passenger seat.

While doing some online research, my husband found this great solution — a portable media-friendly work desk by LapGear that has a slot to fit either a mini iPad or a regular size iPad along with a keyboard  — it’s at the perfect angle to view, too! I love how it quickly can drop into the groove and be removed with ease. The keyboard I had before was sort of a tight fit to the device so the keyboard had o live with the device. This method, I can easily remove and use the iPad only if I need to without have to pull anything apart. It’s awesome. Underneath the work desk it has a squishy elongated beanbag that makes it comfortable to rest on your legs. It also has a non-slip felt rectangle to the right that you can use to put an iPhone if you desire.  I thought the wrist pads would get in the way, but they actually make typing more comfortable.

image

All in all, I’m really pleased with my new set-up. It was originally $27, but the grey version (pictured above) was on sale — Amazon had a clip-to-click offer that gave an additional 10% off plus we had free ship because we have Amazon Prime. This set-up will help me connect with friends and family from the road by typing emails or FB posts faster as well as aid my in writing for the blog.

Oh! And managing power for recharging… We have a dual USB power cord that powers two devices at a time that plugs into the available 12-volt outlet. It easily reaches my mini i-Pad. My keyboard has a built-in battery, so no need to change right now. After using the keyboard for awhile, I’ll be sure to circle back and offer an update.

For Wi-Fi, we connect the mini iPad to either of our iPhones thru the Personal Hotspot feature. If you’ve never used this feature, you go into your settings on your iPhone… (the silver icon in the center of my Utilities folder that you see in the image below.)

image

Next, select “Personal Hotspot” (the fifth option on your settings window if you are operating 8.1.2 OS)

image

Next, if the selector tab is not green (as shown below) slide it to the right to turn on the Personal Hotspot. Next, you will want to set a Wi-Fi Password. DO NOT use “password” as your password. Get creative — the longer the better along with numbers and characters plus capitalized letters all mixed in is best. Something like this (but don’t do this one) “$Upercal1fragiliSticxpedaliouc0us”. You get the ‘gist.

image

To join your iPhone’s Personal Hotspot, all you have to do is go to your mini iPad’s Wi-Fi and refresh if needed until you see the name of your phone pop up in your Wi-Fi options. Select, enter the password you set as your Personal Hotspot password (you should only have to do this once and it will remember automatically thereafter) and you’re online and ready to access the Internet.

If you have a laptop that needs to be powered or other iPhones in the car (maybe you have a child that has a device as well), we like this ENERGIZER 500-watt power inverter that plugs into our rear 12-volt charging outlet. (I’ll take a photo of it and update this page.)  It does a great job powering all our devices keeping the kids occupied on long stretches of driving.

The last thing to consider is security. You never want to leave a device in a car because of a) possible theft and b) extreme heat during summer months especially can damage your device. Make it a habit with your kids to take personal responsibility for their device and to secure it on their person at all times.

Do you have a set-up that works well for you? Feel free to share any tips in the comments below that you’ve learned along the way!

To Scrubba or not Scrubba… that is the question

So, the Scrubba caught my attention today… it’s a little sack that you can seal and swish (agitate) small items that need to get cleaned when you don’t have a washing machine nearby.  I’m thinking I need this on my Christmas Wish List for the RV.

First off, I love that it is light weight and collapses. This is a major plus for storage and for traveling when every ounce adds pennies to your fuel bill. If we want to see a lot of sights, then we’ve got to keep things light!

scrubba3

Second, I love that it isn’t very big and clumsy.  I can forsee using this for when the boys soil a shirt, when the littles soil their unders, or wet the bedsheet, or if we need to clean some socks until we get to the next laundry facility.  My mind is reeling with the ways it can save me the hassle and stress from dirty situations. This could definitely be my ally.

scrubba2

One key factor using this set up is you need a spot to rinse and dry items, so keep that in mind if you’re looking at this to buy as well.  But definitely going to circle back to making sure this is on our next trip. I’ll give you a review once I use and let you know if it was worth the $50 or not. 😉

scrubba1

Kids get dirty. This would be a great backup plan for when we don’t have a laundry machine nearby. Maybe I’ll buy five and each kid can do a load. Hmmmm…. Now there’s a thought… 😉

Preparing for a Cross Country Trip: State Visitor Guides

FBPOST_statetravelguides

I’ve been pinning areas of interest we’d like to visit via Pinterest for awhile now. But, today I began the process of requesting Visitor Guides from the states we plan on traveling through as a way to involve the kids (holding tangible brochures with pictures and information) in the planning process. We can also use the materials for educational purposes as they learn about each state they visit and add it to their scrapbook. Each state also has digital versions available to download. Click the link and look for “Travel Guide” and you’ll see usually both options: print and digital. Hope this helps your research!

Alabama
Alaska
Arizona + Pins
Arkansas + Pins
California + Pins
Colorado + Pins
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida + Pins
Georgia + Pins
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana + Pins
Iowa
Kansas + Pins
Kentucky + Pins
Louisanna
Maine + Pins
Maryland
Massachusetts + Pins
Michigan
Minnesota + Pins
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska + Pins
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York + Pins
North Carolina + Pins
North Dakota
Ohio + Pins
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania + Pins
Rhode Island
South Carolina + Pins
South Dakota + Pins
Tennessee + Pins
Texas
Utah
Vermont + Pins
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin + Pins
Wyoming

Our First Boon-docking Experience

Our first time boon-docking was a bit of an adjustment as we are accustomed to being at a campsite – not on pavement. We weren’t entirely comfortable with the attention we got from curious folks we asked if we were “camping”. My pride twinged a bit and I shook it off as I reminded myself that the money saved that night could go back into the travel and play fund. A woman sat on a nearby curb, having a smoke and talking on the phone – an odd spot being that we were parked at the furthest point away from the store.

The kids felt a bit uneasy, too. My middle child asked if he could lead us in a prayer. I loved that he knew God could be our source to qualm any fears and that we could place our trust for safety in Him. Daddy headed into Walmart to grab some ice cream – a great treat as we watched the sun set. 

The evening was warm and we found it more comfortable to sit outside and enjoy the breeze. At one point, while settling in at night, a van towing a pop up tent parked right outside our front door. My husband asked if he couldn’t park further away being that the whole parking lot was available.

When it came time for bedtime, we fired up the generator and the AC did it’s job to make everyone comfortably sleep. Everyone except Daddy that is. He never quite settled into sleep as any noise had him up checking on things.

Evidently we had a drunk wander past and continued on after hubby opened the door to make himself known. The parking lot cleared out quite a bit. Our youngest woke us up at 7 am, so we just packed things up and off we went down the road in search of coffee and breakfast.

I have to hand it to to Walmart at Hamilton, TN. The manager was very accommodating and friendly. There were other trucks and another camper that joined our area later that evening.

I think one nice addition for our own peace of mind would be so sort of video on the front to see the vehicle and door as well as the back if the trailer – that would give my husband and I some eyes to what might be outside. I know my Mom’s Tiffin has these feature and I can see why that might come in handy now. Otherwise, I loved how we saved money and would be open to trying it again!

Bumps in the Road: Learning to Roll with ’em

When Plans Don't Work Out as Planned

For Mother’s Day, my husband felt ambitious and took on the task of heading out for a three-day week-end. We were going to stay in a state park and when we arrived, we were warmly greeted and given a site. We backed in, unhooked, leveled everything and hooked up the amenities. The kids were settling in to the new space and even the lawn chairs had been unpacked. My husband went to go pay for the week-end and then… we learned that the hosts of the campsite and assigned us a site that had already been rented out.  They wrote down 4-5 options and so my hubby and I drove around to check out the various site.  Settling on one, we returned to the front gate to learn that… you guessed it, once again they had made a mistake.

So we managed to secure our third site choice and paid for it before we even moved the RV. We returned to our original site, unhooked all the water and electricity, pulled in the slides, and hooked up the trailer to our vehicle, loaded five chairs, fishing gear, and lastly five kids.  Down the road we went, found our paid site and unhooked. Rain began to dump from the sky in a torrential downpour, my husband getting soaked as he parked the truck and rain around the trailer to come in.

To say the least the “perfect week-end get away” didn’t feel so perfect.  I felt mad. I felt irratable.

And then I remembered. I had a choice.

I could choose my attitude.

And as the rain thundered and pounded on the rooftop of our RV I began to count my blessings. “Lord, thank you I am not in a tent right now.” “Lord, thank you that I am surrounded by those I love and not alone.” And as I began to do this in my head and heart… my husband pulled out the popcorn and put a batch into the microwave.

It’s amazing what a little thankfulness and the smell of popcorn can do for the heart and mind. Popcorn popped and popped and popped until everyone had their fill. And we smiled again.

You see, not every moment will be picture perfect.  Every good adventure is frought with obstacles to overcome. And some of the best stories have ups as well as downs.