Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Napkin Dreams Review

This is our final highlight video, with pictures and stats from beginning to end, over 21 months of fun-filled action!

And these are the final, final stats of our trip, inlcuding many not featured on the video. Quite an impressive compilation!

Trip by the numbers

1 Target
1 Province
2 Tickets
3 Vans
3 Countries
4 Malls
7 People
9 Amusement Parks
11 Flat Tires
12 Birthdays
14 Lost teeth
19 Beaches
21 Months
22 Zoos/Aquariums
35 Workplace Tours
45 States
52 State Parks
68 Museums
75 National Parks/Monuments
131 Unique eateries
202 Campgrounds
203 Walmarts
298 Chain Restaurant stops
368 Wild Animal Species Sighted
630 Days
52,000 miles

Saturday, June 23, 2012

150 places we have been but did not go on this trip

So we got to thinking of all the places we have been in America and Canada that we did not visit on this trip and would still recommend as fun places to stop and see. We came up with 150 places either Patsy or I have been to in these two great countries that we did not visit during our Napkin Dreams Excursion. Most of them we have been to together since we have been married. Can you tell we love to travel? Here is our list in alphabetical order:

150 places we have been but did not go on this trip

Adler Planetarium, Chicago, IL

Adventure Land, Des Moines, IA

Amana Colonies, Iowa

Amish Country, Lancaster, PA

Antietam National Battlefield, Sharpsburg, MD

Appomattox Courthouse National Historic Site, VA

Aquarium of the Smokies, Gatlinburg, TN

Arlington National Cemetery, VA

Art Institute of Chicago

Banff National Park, Alberta, CA

Betsy Ross House, Philadelphia, PA

Biblical Tabernacle Reproduction – Lancaster, PA

Biltmore Estate, Asheville, NC

Booker T Washington National Monument– Hardy, VA

Brookfield Zoo, Brookfield, IL

Burpee Museum, Rockford, IL

Butterfly Conservatory, Cambridge, ON

Cahokia Mounds State Historical Park, Collinsville, IL

Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland

Canal Walk, Richmond, VA

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Cape Hatteras, NC

Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina

Cape May County Zoo, NJ

Capitol Building, Washington DC

Carowinds, Charlotte, NC

Cave of the Mounds, Blue Mounds, WI

Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta, GA

Chancellorsville Battlefield, Virginia

Chase Tower, Indianapolis, IN

Claytor Lake State Park, Dublin, VA

CN Tower, Toronto, ON

Colonial Michilimackinac, Makinaw City, MI

Comiskey Park (US Celluar Field), Chicago, IL

Coronado Theater – Rockford, IL

Cowtown, Wichita, KS

Crazy Horse Memorial – Crazy Horse, SD

Creation Museum – Kentucky

Disneyworld, Orlando, FL

Dixie Caverns, Salem, VA

Dodge City, KS

Donley’s Wild West Town, Union, IL

Empire State Building, New York, NY

Fairy Stone State Park – Martinsville, VA

Family Museum, Bettendorf, IA

Faust Landmark, Rockford, IL

Field Museum, Chicago, IL

Ford’s Theater, Washington DC

Fort Sumter, Charleston, SC

Franklin D Roosevelt Memorial, Washington DC

Galena, Illinois

George Washington Office Museum, Winchester, VA

Gettysburg National Battlefield, Pennsylvania

Gino’s East, Chicago, IL

Grand Ole Opry Hotel, Nashville, TN

Great America, Gurnee, PA

Great Wolf Lodge – you pick location

Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, MI

Henry Villas Zoo, Madison, WI

Hershey Farm Restaurant and Inn – Strusburg, PA

Hershey’s Chocolate World, Hershey, PA

Hoosier National Forest, IN

Hotel del Coronado - Coronado, CA

Hotel Roanoke, Roanoke, VA

House on the Rock, Spring Green, WI

Humpback Covered Bridge, Covington, VA

Illinois Railway Museum, Union, IL

Independence Hall, Philadelphia, PA

Independence Historical Park, Philadelphia, PA

James Madison Gravesite, Montpelier Station, VA

Jamestown, VA

Jay Cooke State Park, Carlton, MN

Jefferson Memorial, Washington DC

John Deere Pavilion, Moline, IL

John Hancock Building, Chicago, IL

Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, MO

Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, FL

Knotts Berry Farm, Buena Park, CA

Korean War Memorial, Washington DC

Lady and Sons, Savannah, GA

Legoland, Carlsbad, CA

Liberty Bell Center, Philadelphia, PA

Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC

Lincoln’s Boyhood Home, Lincoln, IL

Lookout Mountain, TN

Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, Louisville, KY

Luray Caverns, Luray, VA

Mackinac Island, Michigan

Magic Waters – Cherry Valley, IL

Mayflower 2, Plimouth Plantation, Plymouth, MA

Times – choose your location

Midway Village, Rockford, IL

Milwaukee County Zoo, WI

Monticello, Charlottesville, VA

Mt. Rainer, Washington

Museum of Flight and Space – Washington DC

Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, IL

National Archives, Washington DC

National Zoo – Washington DC

Natural Bridge Zoo, Natural Bridge, VA

Natural Bridge, VA

Navy Pier, Chicago, IL

NFL Hall of Fame, Canton, OH

Niagara Falls, ON, NY

North Carolina Zoo, Asheboro, NC

Ocean City Boardwalk and Beach, NJ

Oriental Museum Institute, Chicago, IL

Packers Hall of Fame, Green Bay, WI

Patriot’s Point – Mt. Pleasant, SC

Petersburg National Battlefield, VA

Pony Express Station, Gothenburg, Nebraska

Port Discovery, Baltimore, MD

Putnam Museum, Davenport, IA

Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia, PA

Redwood National Park, CA

Roanoke Island, North Carolina

Roanoke Wiener Stand, Roanoke, VA

Rogers Centre, Toronto, CA

Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, ON

Ryan Round Ban, Kewanee, IL

Science Museum of Western Virginia, Roanoke, VA

Sears (Willis) Tower – Chicago

Seattle Aquarium, Seattle, WA

Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Shedd Aquarium, Chicago, IL

Sinnissippi Gardens, Rockford, IL

Smith Mountain Lake State Park, Moneta, VA

Soldier Field, Chicago, IL

South Carolina Aquarium, Charleston, SC

Space Needle, Seattle, WA

St. Andrew’s Church – Roanoke, VA

Statue of Liberty, New York, NY

Stratford Hall Plantation, Robert E Lee Home, Stratford, VA

Sweden House, Rockford, IL

Times Square, New York, NY

Underground Station, Atlanta, GA

Vietnam Memorial, Washington DC

Virginia Aquarium, Virginia Beach, VA

Virginia Beach Board Walk

Virginia Safari, Natural Bridge, VA

White House, Washington DC

Williamsburg, VA

Winterplace, Beckley, WV

Wonderworks, Pigeon Forge, TN

World of Coca Cola, Atlanta, GA

World War II Memorial, Washington DC

Wright Brothers National Memorial, Kill Devil Hills, NC

Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL

Stadium, New York

Yorktown Victory Center, Yorktown, Virginia

Yosemite National Park – California

Friday, June 22, 2012

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Top 10 Great Americans

Sorry, but you'll have to purchase our book to read this post!
Statue of Dwight Eisenhower
in Denison, Texas

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Time of Debriefing

Whenever someone makes a monumental change in one's life, it is always good to have some time of debriefing to reflect, adjust and prepare. Leaving a life of full-time traveling and moving back into a stick and brick house with a "regular job" is going to be a big transition in our life.

We have spent the past three weeks we have spent living in our temporary home, a house that belongs to Matt and Rachel Cassady, some of our family. We have stored all our furniture in this house in the heartland of America and stopped in a time or two to see how our "things" are doing. This little stay has been a good time to sort through all the mixed emotions of coming off the road.

During this time we have visited with lots of family in the area, starting with Patsy's brother Steve and his wife Jeanne. They bequeathed us with a house warming gift, a life sized cardboard cutout of Han Solo. We do have a strange family.

My entire family got together for some fun but also for a big roofing and painting project on my sister Rachel and her husband Matt's home. The house we have been staying in was in definite need of these repairs, so my dad and stepmom, both my sisters and their families and my own clan got together to help out the Cassadys who have been serving God the past nine years as Matt is a chaplain in the Army. We were so proud at how much we all got done over a weekend, even the kids worked hard at painting and clean-up! To celebrate we spent the afternoon at America's Incredible Pizza Company eating, playing laser tag and riding bumper cars.

Later we took a quick trip to Rockford to visit more family, to do a final interview with Paul Youngblood on WNTA about our big adventure to speak to a group from my mother and father-in-law's church about the things God taught us while traveling across the country. Add in some packing and taking care of normal household duties and we have had a pretty busy time of debriefing.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Final Paul Youngblood Interview

We did our final interview with Paul Youngblood on WNTA in Rockford last Tuesday. This was an hour long show but after taking out the commercials it is less than 40 minutes. So we took the audio and added some of our best scenic shots to it and made a video out of it. We talk a lot about what life on the road for our family was like after 21 months of this great adventure!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Expert Junior Rangers

Our four youngest boys have completed about a ton of junior ranger programs, over 50 actually, on our big family adventure. While we did not participate in Awana or Boy Scouts during this season of our lives, this system the National Park and some state parks have served as a great learning enhancer. They also encouraged lots of hands on activities and physical activities like picking up trash and taking hikes, interviewing rangers and spotting wildlife. As a body of work, doing fifty plus junior ranger programs is a feat accomplished that makes us quite proud of our boys. Blake learned a lot too, helping his younger brothers do the programs (he did about six or seven himself!).

As a matter of fact Patsy and I learned quite a bit and our knowledge of our country has broadened quite a bit since walking with our sons through these cool programs!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chase turns six!

We were blessed to celebrate Chase's sixth birthday with some family when we stopped by my sister Becky's house in aurora. Chase was super excited to spend the day with his cousins and Aunt Becky and Uncle Joe!

We had a cool Avengers cake (he has seen the cartoon, but not the movie). Chase opened presents and we ordered some Chicago style pizza! He said it was all awesome and we had a great time with some of our family. This was our first time seeing our newest family member as well - little Lily who was born just over a month ago!

Baby Lily

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Campground Review - Cassidy RV Park

We had a quick stop over at Cassidy RV Park in Laporte, Indiana.

Staff - 7 - Staff takes care of hotel, they were nice, did not see anyone around during the day.

Natural surroundings - 7 - Nice little pond sits in the center of the park. Interstate runs right by it.

Roominess - 8 - Normal sized lots.

Facility Fun - 5 - Pond is nice to walk around, not much else to do.

Facility usefulness - 1 - Not a lot to offer here.

Bathrooms - 2 - Just an outhouse.

Cleanliness - 8 - Clean and well taken care of.

Nearby attractions - 6 - Close to Michigan City and Benton Harbor.

Value - 9 - Paid $18 a night for a pull-through site with full hook-ups. Used Passport America.

Overall - 6 - Clean park, and the right price with PA discount, but basically just a traveler's park.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fixing Howard

Throughout our trip we have fixed several things on Howard ourselves, and we have had a few repair jobs done by the dealer or a service contractor as well. I am surprised by how many things we have been able to tackle by using some common sense and researching the internet!

We originally purchased Howard from Terry Town in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We took him back there last fall before our standard one year warranty was up and they fixed a few things for us. We did purchase the extended warranty on the major items when we purchased the motorhome, and a couple of those things had some issues so we stopped in again to the dealer on our way out of Cadillac.

I can say we are not sure if the extended warranty was such a great idea since mostly they either did not have time to fix something (our stove), an item was covered but not that particular part (one of the slide-outs) or the part needed to be mailed to the manufacturer (the control for the jacks). So the jury is still out. Supposedly we can take it to any dealer who will work with our warranty company. We did contact Big Foot about our control box for the jacks which is having issues and they gave us the address to mail it to them, so we are hopeful this will be fixed! And we got our slide out fixed, but it cost us about $60.

Being in Grand Rapids for the day without our home always puts us a little out of sorts. We did get to have lunch with a friend who I used to work with in Roanoke, Jon Allen. He and his family now reside in the Grand Rapids area, so we had a nice time catching up and sharing all of our adventures with him.

We stayed the Woodchip Campground in nearby Byron Center, Michigan after we picked Howard back up.

Staff - 8 - Staff was nice enough.

Natural surroundings - 7 - Nice and quiet neighborhood.

Roominess - 8 - Normal sized lots.

Facility Fun - 7 - Playground, outdoor pool (not open until Memorial Day), 

Facility usefulness - 9 - Laundry, dog run, propane, picnic table, fire ring and grill at each site, free wifi.

Bathrooms - 8 - Nothing to complain about here.

Cleanliness - 8 - Nice and tidy.

Nearby attractions - 7 - Close to Grand Rapids.

Value - 9 - Paid $18 a night for a pull-through site with full hook-ups. Used Passport America.

Overall - 8 - Clean park, and the right price with PA discount.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Out with a Bang

We are so sorry, but this post has been removed because it is a part of our book Napkin Dreams that details our trip around America!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cops and Doughnuts

This post has been removed because it is part of our new book - Napkin Dreams!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Campground Review - Valley Plaza Resort

We stayed for three nights at the Valley Plaza Resort RV Park in Midland, Michigan and enjoyed the indoor pool all three days!

Staff - 7 - Staff was courteous but not super so.

Natural surroundings - 7 - Mature trees and not in the city. Still close to highway.

Roominess - 8 - Normal sized lots.

Facility Fun - 10 - Playground, indoor pool, horseshoes, small lake with beach, basketball court, restaurants, movie theater and bowling alley on site, hot tub, sauna and tanning beds.

Facility usefulness - 7 - Picnic table, fire ring and grill at each site, free wifi.

Bathrooms - 9 - Showers were great, part of locker room area for pool.

Cleanliness - 9 - Very clean.

Nearby attractions - 9 - Right in Midland, close to Saginaw, and Bay City.

Value - 7 - Paid $38 a night for a pull-through site with full hook-ups.

Overall - 8 - Fun park and very clean and well-kept.
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