Day 5: Farmland and Prairies and Dust, Oh My!

Started the day with a parting gift from the campground staff.  They had found this snake skin near the pond and offered it to the kids.

We left Lawrence, KS for a long day of driving toward Denver, CO.  We stopped in Topeka for lunch at HuHot Mongolian Grill, which was great.  And, like Bloo from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends liked to say, it was in fact very hot in Topeka.

Since we knew it was going to be a really long drive through west Kansas, we decided to take the back roads: Highway 24 that runs parallel to interstate 70.  Early on we saw signs for the "road to Oz" and then for Oz Winery.  Decided to check that out, since I had remembered to bring the wine glasses and all.

 We bought a red wine called Oil Can and a cabernet called O.E.O.

 They had kid-friendly treats, too!  :)

Unfortunately the Oz Museum was closed for the day.  So was Totos Tacos restaurant.

We continued along Highway 24:  long stretches of prairie, farm land, and lots of big clouds of dust broken up by very small towns.  We eventually stopped in Cawker City, home of the World's Largest Ball of Twine.  Yes, that is really a thing.  And, yes, we really embraced our inner-Griswold and went to see it.

 Signing the register

 These are similar to most of the buildings we saw in the tiny towns with only a few small shops, schools, lots of empty buildings, a diner, sometimes a Pizza Hut, and various repair businesses.  

 Oh, and lots of unmanned gas stations with no store attached.  
Is that a small, rural town thing?  A Kansas thing?

More bug guts than I've ever seen in my life.  

We actually ended up stopping at a truck wash in the middle of the night because our windshields were so covered that we couldn't see well anymore, and our window cleaner & wipers couldn't clear them!

The ground later in the night looked so light in the reflection of the moon that it almost looked snow covered.  Anxious to see what it looks like in the day.  We stopped for the night to dry camp about an hour east of the Colorado border.

Day 4: Last full day at Lawrence, KS campground

Today is the last full day at the campground. Tomorrow, when Matt finishes his onsite work, I will start driving us westward while he works from the rolling office.

The kids and I decided to venture out onto the highway on our bikes to check out the 50-foot concrete tee pee just down the road from our campground. 

Maya and Seth and the flood line marks from the Kansas River floods in 1935 and 1951

 View from our campground moon bounce.  Dust flying up from cars driving down the road.

Later in the evening, Matt and Riley went to the Lawrence skatepark.


Day 3: Lawrence Y'all

This is a nice little town.  We're getting anxious to get on with the trip, though, and ready to have Matt home with us through the days.  Hoping to leave for Denver on Thursday as soon as Matt gets off work.  I'm not sure how we'll manage all the dry camping we're planning to do.  We're working on conserving water but still manage to fill the grey water tanks daily.  Should be interesting!  We don't seem to have forgotten too many things at home, which is amazing since we didn't do much more than the vaguest of planning or make packing lists.  I forgot the ice trays (again!) but did remember the wine glasses this time.  Priorities!  :)

At the campground:

Children of the Corn
at the entrance to the campground corn maze

They decided to call this lone tree in a big circle at the end of the corn maze the "tree of life" since it was sort of a beacon and relief after a long time wandering lost in the heat, bugs, and itchy green things.

Downtown Lawrence:

 Matt can learn some skate tricks now!

Walking through downtown Lawrence.  
Massachusetts Street is lined with all sorts of shops and restaurants.

 I mustache you  for some new sunglasses.

Some of the smaller shops were closed early, and we only got to look in the windows.  These are two of the places we want to get back to when they're open.

Are you my Mummy?

This place. An Anglophile's dream store!


Day 2: Missouri

Today was a driving day through Missouri toward Kansas City.

We woke up in a parking lot somewhere about an hour east of St. Louis.  Boonedocking (a.k.a. dry camping: parking your RV somewhere without any water/electric/sewage hookups) in a parking lot probably seems weird.  It did to us too, at first; but after the first overnight stop we were hooked.  When we traveled by car and stayed in hotels, a late night of driving ended with two tired, grumpy adults waking up 3 sleeping  kids and one restless dog to drag them, sometimes through nasty weather, into a brightly lit hotel.  Not a big deal, but usually not the most pleasant part of any trip.  Now, we drive until we're sleepy, find a stopping place just off the interstate, park, close the curtains, go to bed.  We wake up the next morning and are on our way.  It has ended up being one of our favorite changes about the actual traveling part of our trips!

Another thing everyone enjoys is the space to spread out and do things while traveling.  At one of our stops, I snapped some pictures of what the kids had been up to while on the road.

 Seth with some Legos he built today

 Maya is working on a Minecraft comic book series

 Riley putting together a new skateboard

Driving through Missouri:
The Gateway Arch and the Mississippi River

Much of our drive through Missouri follows along the Lewis and Clark Trail.  We split off in Kansas, going west while Lewis and Clark and crew went more northwest.  Maybe next year...

Matt found this great natural veggie food restaurant in Columbia, MO called Main Squeeze. He even managed to find a parking space on the street that he was able to pull the RV into!

We finally arrived in Lawrence, Kansas where we're camping for a few days while Matt works here.  Driving the RV without the tow car was great:  so much easier to maneuver into and out of places.  We did manage to lose the gas cap at a gas station along the way, but that's easy to replace. The campground here is a typical Jellystone site except very close to a busy train track that apparently intersects with traffic nearby -- lots of train horn going on!  Looking forward to lots of swimming at the campground this week and checking out the town.

Westward Expansion 2012: Day 1

Yesterday we headed out on the trip we've been dreaming about: crossing the country to the west coast and back.  We settled on a southern route for this year's trip.  We start with Matt working in Kansas City and end with him working in Memphis.  The vacation falls in between:  Denver, Moab, Lake Powell (Lake Silencio for fellow Dr. Who fans), Grand Canyon, Yosemite, San Francisco, Pacific Coast Highway, Santa Cruz (surf school!!), Venice Beach, Death Valley, Petrified Forest, and Roswell.  We aren't big planners and will likely make things up as we go, but this is the basic idea for the trip.

estimated list of stops

vague trip route

It turned out to be great timing for getting away for a while  We had been at our house for a full week between trips and someone reported us for having the RV parked in our driveway.  Zoning in our county doesn't allow that, so we're going to have to figure out what to do.  Storage isn't a practical option for us since we travel so regularly.  We may have to add in a concrete pad at the side of our house, which is allowable according to zoning regulations but seems wasteful and silly since the RV will still be in view and we already have a concrete pad at our house -- the driveway.  I'm hoping everyone likes this trip so much they just want to live in the RV fulltime and ditch suburban neighborhood life for good!

Spent last week finishing painting and remodeling the interior of the RV (will get before/after photos posted eventually!) and getting some books and other activities together for the longer drives.  We also have Minecraft, some new field guides (everyone's interested in the southwestern, new-to-us wildlife), lots of legos, craft supplies, a guitar, and the x-box with us!

And we have Pablo, of course!

So long, Suburbia

Our first stop was in Frankfort to see Matt's brother's new home and visit with his mom, brother, sister and her kids and grandkids.  


After that, we did our moral duty as people who grew up in Frankfort but no longer live there and ate dinner at Taco Johns.  The rest of the evening was spent driving westward into the sunset and feeling greasy and  dehydrated from the ridiculous amount of salt and oil we ate in those gross-yet-awesome Potato Ole's.  


Relaxing in Memphis

July, 2012

A relaxing week at Memphis Jellystone for a week of sunshine, pool, waterslides, and general campground fun before heading back to the sticks-and-bricks house for a couple of weeks.  

 "Boondocking" at Camping World in Bowling Green, KY
Taking care of some routine things like dog brushing...

...and getting bikes ready to roll.

 Morning on the patio

 New haircut for Maya

 Hanging out by the swimming pool and beautiful southern sky.
It was too hot to stay by the swimming pool for long though.  
Much better to be in the swimming pool

 Campground activities:  Relay Races


 Wagon Rides