Sunday, November 29, 2015


We have officially made it as far east as we can go in the continental United States...Maine!!! What a sense of accomplishment...we have literally gone from the bottom left corner of America (San Diego) to the top right corner of America (Portland). We have seen so many amazing things in this country, things that we would never have had the opportunity to see if it wasn't for this incredible trip of a lifetime we are on with the kids. We have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving and know just how blessed we truly are.

Maine was our stop for Thanksgiving, we couldn't have picked a neater place to experience something different. We had Thanksgiving brunch at the famous Harraskeet Inn , a hotel just steps from L.L. Bean Village known for their Christmas and Thanksgiving buffets. While it wasn't quite the same as home, it sure was delicious! We had the traditional turkey, potatoes and stuffing, along with scallops, duck and lobster! Brian and Craig were in heaven! Between the two of them they ate 7 lobsters (much to my embarrassment!) but definitely got their money's worth!!! The lobster ice sculptures made the day more fun in reminding us "we sure aren't in Texas anymore!".

L.L. Bean Village is seriously is absolutely massive taking up multiple city blocks. It is surrounded by every store you could ever imagine and so many you have never even heard of! Who knew Portland, Maine would be the home to future girls trips?!?!?! Craig had the opportunity to see a friend he has worked with for so many years that lives there and he was happy to show us the sights :) Such a wonderful, nontraditional Thanksgiving!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

New Hampshire

I have always wanted to visit the upper Northeast and now I see is absolutely gorgeous!!! There wasn't one bad thing I can say about New Hampshire...the people were so friendly, the gas was cheap, the scenery is breathtaking, the roads are great, the houses are beautiful and my kids LOVED it here! This is definitely a corner of the country we will be back too!

We didn't do much in New Hampshire...unless you count visiting the Guinness World Record Holding Candy Store for the longest candy counter in the world!!! Uummmm...this was a place I could barely drag the kids out of...I have never seen so many choices for candy in my life!

We woke up to snow which sent the kids over the moon...they have been in some seriously cold weather (in the teens as a high!) in the last few weeks, but no snow The excitement coming from this RV probably woke the whole RV park!!! They were outside faster than I could declare "snow day" dressed in their gear ready to play. Unfortunately as it was the first snow of the season, there wasn't much to play in so we went in search of more snow...and WE FOUND IT! The local ski resort less than 5 miles away had mountains of it, all fresh and waiting to be played in. They were even making snow and let the kids play under the blowers! Two hours later, with frozen toes and red cheeks, my guys called new Hampshire a SUCCESS!!!!

Unfortunately thanks to the snow we had to skip our day trip to Vermont to see the Ben & Jerry Factory and watch maple syrup being made...such a bummer as we were really looking forward to both of these activities. But in the spirit of being important one in an RV...we decided to make our way to Maine for Thanksgiving early :) Now we definitely have to return...we need to complete our missing state!!!

Monday, November 23, 2015


Massachusetts is a state full of things to do...every single one of us found something that interested us! First fun activity...The Basketball Hall of Fame! Brian and Matt were dying to get here...they had researched it online and thought it looked like a super fun place. From the exhibits to the center court where they could shoot and play, topped off with a whole floor of interactive activities for kids, this was definitely a WIN!!!

Next stop was Plymouth...what better place to go during Thanksgiving week??? What a beautiful city this is! It's right on the water and every last street is decorated in a patriotic way!  We went aboard the Mayflower 2, a  full size replica of the original Mayflower that was gifted to America from England over 50 years ago. It came complete with interpreters that were so authentic you forgot they were acting! Luke had a field day marching through town in his pilgrim hat yelling "land-ho" all afternoon :) From the Mayflower we went and saw the actual Plymouth Rock...this was much smaller than I envisioned. I guess I always pictured this huge boulder in the water, kinda like the size of a ship. Ha! Boy was I wrong! It was more like the size of a boulder in your yard!!! Last up was Plymouth Plantation...a village representing the Pilgrims and Indians that was truly a walk back in time. There were so many Pilgrims and Indians to talk with, the kids got to help with the chores and see what life was like for them and we saw them preparing for the feast. This was definitely a stop enjoyed by all of us!

Our last fun destination in Massachusetts was the Boston Tea Party Museum. Craig was the only one excited for the day I had planned as the kids thought it was gonna be lame...ha! By the time we were done they were all talking about how cool this place was and saying that everyone should come here! We all got handed cards with a character we were to portray and the town hall meeting began. What fun to learn about an important historical while recreating it live! We marched in protest onto the ships, threw our tea overboard and had a ball! After the famous tea tossing, we went inside where multiple rooms with holographic characters came to life talking to us and we even got to see one of the actual tea boxes from the tea party! Seriously...there is no better way to learn about history than recreating it!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Connecticut & Rhode Island

Connecticut & Rhode Island are being lumped into one post as Rhode island is pretty tiny ;) Pretty cool little state, but nonetheless, pretty tiny! We really enjoyed our time in Connecticut, everything about this state is pretty. The homes, the landscape, the downtown's, and the beach was home to the neatest shells we have ever seen! The kids and I got to spend time in Groton, CT...which is the submarine capital of the world! It is home to the USS Nautilus, the first submarine to make it to the North Pole, as well as the Naval Submarine Base and the Submarine Force Library & Museum. We had such a good time learning all about submarines and seeing all the artifacts, along with going inside of the USS Nautilus!! Talking with the elderly volunteers who had actually been on these submarines was quite possibly the best history lesson we have gotten so far.

The next stop was a highly anticipated one in this candy loving family....The Pez Factory in Orange, CT! Such a fun place...if you are ever remotely in the area I highly recommend this place! It's the working PEZ Factory, along with a museum with every PEZ dispenser ever made, interactive PEZ games, and the coolest gift shop. We spent far more time here than we originally planned and left complete with sacks and buckets (literally) filled with one of our favorite treats!

From PEZ we ventured down to New Haven, CT where we found the seashell mothership! We wanted to feel the water in the Atlantic so we ventured to the beaches...this is where we found a sight that I in 36 years have never seen. Seashells as far as you could see, stacked as high as 3ft! You were just crushing them as you walked and the shells themselves were bigger than my hand! This is a little kids paradise...I so wish my 3 nieces that just spent time in San Diego beaches with us were here...those little girls were so excited about the dime sized shells like they were real treasure! I can only imagine their reactions if they had seen what we stumbled on!!! I tried to capture this wonder in pictures but it really didn't do it justice :)

The yummiest surprise of the day (even better than PEZ!) was the delicious, mouthwatering seafood shack on the beach that was open and home of some of the best seafood we have to date! Matt had fried swordfish and loved it, Brian stuck with his favorite and plowed through a lobster roll faster than you could blink! I had yummy crab cakes and lobster bisque which was delish! Luke was the family dud ordering a grilled cheese and french fries! Poor Craig missed out so we packed a to go bag to surprise him ;)

We also took the opportunity to venture into Rhode Island. Part of the reason we couldn't make Rhode Island a complete stop was due to seasonal closings. We are finding that being on the east coast in November is more difficult than we thought in terms of finding year round RV Parks, therefore causing us to pick a central location and travel in the Jeep from place to place. Fortunately these states are all pretty small and we can completely cross them in less time than it takes us to get to my parents house back home!

Rhode Island is every bit as beautiful as Connecticut, but I will say the people are less friendly as a whole. Now take this for what it's worth...I am a southern girl who has a huge focus on good manners so I might not be a fair judge of this ;) We found such a fun aquarium in Rhode was a hands on marine biology center that lets the kids touch almost everything there! It is full of 'animals' found in the waters in this neck of America and was awesome! The BEST picture of the trip so far was taken here...Matt was standing watching these sharks and one jumped up a good few feet right in his face! The true look of surprise on his his face was priceless and I am so glad I captured it! We also went and saw Cliff Walk, along with another yummy meal down by the water....Rhode Island...success!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

New Jersey, Part 1

So Craig and I didn't have much planned for New's quite literally the one state in America neither of us really had any desire to even visit. We didn't even really plan a true stop here! Well slap our wrists and tell us how dumb we are!!! The funnest place in America, quite possibly the coolest place we have ever been (and we have been to a LOT of places!) lies right smack in the middle of New Jersey!!! Now we may be partial as the parents of little boys calling this the coolest place in America but I as a girl even had an absolute blast! What is this magical, amazing place you might wonder? It's called Diggerland USA...the only place I have ever seen that allows my kids, even Luke!!!, drive life size, actual construction machinery!!! Holy cow did I earn the title of 'Coolest Mom EVER' with this find!!! Of course we picked the absolute nastiest day of the season so far to trek out in the cold but my guys could've cared less! There is something about a boy and a construction truck that are like magnets to each other :) The most surreal moment of this whole trip so far has got to be when I watched Luke drive off in a massive bulldozer, in full control of wheel and gears ALL BY HIMSELF! The park was crazy complete with a stunt show and rides they made out of the trucks. Seriously...this was such a fun stop and we are so grateful we didn't skip New Jersey!!!

Saturday, November 14, 2015


Well...the kids and I ate our way through Pennsylvania! We ended up making a few detours in this state thanks to Craig's work schedule but it ended up working out :) Our first stop was Gettysburg, a city full of history. We definitely got our social studies done here...holy cow what a NEAT place! I have always thought this city would be a giant blood, guns and battles are not my thing. I can say I was completely wrong! I found it as fascinating as the boys (maybe not for the same reasons!) There are so many museums, places to see, exhibits and interactive things to do here. Did I mention they have the BEST main street full of shops?!?!?! The kids were mesmerized by Gettysburg National Park, so much so that I was literally dragging them out! Lincoln's Train Museum may appear to be insignificant but was my favorite place in the whole city! President Lincoln talking to us and taking us on his train that chugged along the countryside was the coolest thing! Sadly we were here in the wrong season as most of the live reenactment was over for the season but we still managed to have a blast! The kids have already listed this city on our list of places to come back to!

Next stop...Hanover, Pennsylvania...home of some crazy awesome food factories complete with tours!!! This city may be small and not full of tourist attractions but we sure LOVED it! We took tours of both Snyder and UTZ. Both have factory stores that you can shop in, as well as endless samples given during the tours. Talk about FUN! We watched pretzels and potato chips be made from beginning to end...literally saw the potatoes being dumped off the trucks and watched those same potatoes being put in their bags as chips! By time we were done in Hanover we had a trunk full of salty snacks and full bellies!!!

Quick pitstop was next and was a total SURPRISE! My dear friend Sara (from home in Texas) grew up Amish. What a surprise to find out she was less than 40 minutes away visiting her mom! Lancaster here we come...the kids and I had so much fun seeing someone from home while we are so far away, along with meeting her mom & sister and eating at a delicious Amish cafe that came highly recommended. This was such a neat real life experience for the boys to not only see the Amish, but to meet currently practicing ones, along with shopping in their stores with them! And for me to see Sara and spend time with her, plus seeing her in a totally different element was a priceless stop on this adventure ;)

Our final Pennsylvania stop was Philadelphia...better known as Filthadelphia to Luke :) This stop came as a huge surprise to my country lifestyle, living in a bubble, private school kids...they absolutely HATED this stop! They complained the entire time, could not stop commenting on how miserable it would be to live in a big city, were disgusted by the fact that there are not backyards or cul-de-sacs to play in and don't even get me started on their commentary on people walking everywhere with no place for cars! I was truly not prepared for this. My kids are clearly sheltered but I thought had traveled enough in their short lives to be open to other lifestyles. Clearly I thought wrong! They all went as far as to declare they will never marry a girl from a big city for fear they would have to move to one at some point! Good news for me on this stop was I am pretty confident my boys will always stick to the South and be somewhere near their Momma ;) We did manage to squeeze in the Liberty Bell and Independence Halls, plus tried authentic cheesesteaks! (WIN for me...they like mine better!!!!)

Friday, November 13, 2015


Holy Smokies...this family is in LOVE with Tennessee!!! If we ever leave Texas, there is where you are going to find us! We spent almost a full week covering the state... going from Memphis to Nashville to Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg and were still sad we had to leave. Bear with the long post and tons of pictures...we seriously loved this place!!!

Memphis was stop #1 and we literally stayed on the Mississippi River! Tom Sawyer's RV Park has got to be the coolest place and yet there is nothing "organized" to do! Our RV was parked less than 10 yards from the river and all 5 of us were completely mesmerized watching the barges go by! It quickly became a full fledged activity with someone yelling "one is coming" and all of us looking out the windows or sitting on the bench outside. The sheer capacity of these massive floating islands chugging by was such a neat thing to see firsthand. The kids and I ventured into Memphis for a day of fun and education. First stop...the Peabody Hotel, home of the world famous duck march down the red carpet 2x/daily. No joke y'all...this is one of the funnest free things we have stumbled on so far. This man, called the Peabody Duckmaster, makes a hefty living marching ducks up and down their private elevator from their $200,000 penthouse on the roof to the lobby via a red carpet where they climb a few stairs and splash into the fountain! These ducks have been on Jimmy Kimmel, Sesame Street and more...and the daily march has been happening everyday for over 90 years!!! If you have never seen this...put it on your checklist! Our next stop was Huey's, your typical bar food type restaurant but will keep your kids entertained for hours! They hand you a bucket of crayons and toothpicks, plus straws when you sit down. The purpose...color on the walls and shoot the toothpicks through the straws trying to make them stick on the ceiling! UUUMMMM...can we say fun?!?! This place was right up my guys alley and I was litterally dragging them out of there! Next stop...The National Civil Rights Museum, located at The Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed. Brian spent the better part of 5th grade learning about this topic and the events leading up to it and was fascinated by the museum. And the teacher, I feel like I can check a good amount of Social Studies off the list for Matt as he is 5th grade now :) It is the neatest thing to get to go so many places with my boys that they have learned about and see the excitement on their faces when they look at an exhibit, turn around and tell me they already know all about it and excitedly start telling me all the details! We have decided we are much more visual learners and are loving actually seeing things we learn about come to life!

The drive from Memphis to Nashville contained a pitstop requested from Brian...this Summer when my Grandfather passed away, Brian and my Dad drove together from Texas to Ohio for the funeral. They stopped outside of Nashville for the night and had dinner at Maria's Mexican Restaurant, a restaurant that according to them "had the very best Mexican food they have had since we moved from Arizona".  They liked it so much that they actually stopped again on the return trip a few days later. Brian has been talking about this place since August and demanded it be on our journey so to Maria's we went. ( this family that is stuck in TexMex land Texas ever going to pass up an opportunity for authentic Mexican food?!?!?) Maria's was everything they promised...huge portions of true Mexican food and "no gravy, chili, or queso"!!! The best part of this was when the manager recognized Brian as 'the boy who came here with his Grandfather twice in a few days this summer'...clearly they made themselves known...ha!

Nashville was stop #2 in Tennessee. Seeing as how country music is the only music considered music in our house, this was an exciting stop! Brian and I took a backstage tour of the Grand Ole Opry which was a dream come true. I would have killed to score tickets for the Christmas Show going on or the CMA's, both happening while we were there...grrrrrrrrrrr, but you can't have everything! We had the best lunch with an honorary family member, Justin. This kid (I say kid, yet he is now taller than me!) has been a part of my life for over 20 years. I was there when he came home from the hospital, babysat him till he no longer needed one and he was my ring bearer in our wedding. Now he is in college and just about a fully grown man. He and I couldn't get over how weird it was to be at lunch together, at his college, with my kids! The kids and I saw "Cooter's" (and they got a quick lesson on what it is!), and even took a behind the scenes tour with a marine biologist through The Aquarium. Matt was all over this one with the ocean being his passion in life! My second highlight was getting to go to the real "Bluebird Cafe"...a Nashville legend made more famous by my favorite tv show...Nashville!

Our final Tennessee stop was Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg (located 8 miles apart, separated by the Smoky Mountain National Park). Holy about a true kids dream come true! This town is like any really fun beach town in America x1000!!! (And there's not even a beach!) There must be 5 stationary carnivals, at least 25 go kart and mini golf places, all themed differently, home to Dollywood, every restaurant ever imagined (both chain and themed), multiple show halls, at least 100 souvenir stores, Ripley's of every kind, indoor magic quests of every kind, and I kid you not...self controlled roller coasters coming straight down the sides of mountains which my kids LOVED!!!!! And this was only Pigeon Forge! Gatlinburg was its own kind of fun with even more craziness! It had all the same things of Pigeon Forge, plus a huge mountain with not only a ski resort at the top but a "theme park"! You could literally spend a week in this part of Tennessee and not do half of what is offered! Now the best part of these two towns is your are in true hillbilly country, a saying to which they proudly declare and own! It is written right on the buildings and signs. We are talking about true Americans drinking homemade moonshine on their porches and as friendly as you'll ever meet! Our skyride operator proudly declared he "was living the dream"...he was 44, had 9 kids and 6 grandkids, his oldest child being do the math. Friendliest, nicest guy who I'm sure saw the calculating look on my face as I quickly did and redid the math to make sure I was correct :) We rode a mountain coaster at a place called "Goats on the roof" where you guessed it, there were actual goats on the roof! The fact that their laws dictate if you are simply 50 inches tall, you can be strapped into a car by yourself and fly down a mountain at 30mph in a car you control for over a mile is crazy (but really fun!!!) We also rode the Alpine Slide in Gatlinburg, which was essentially self controlled bobsleds down the mountain and insanely fun. The Fall colors in Tennessee were a sight that took your breath away! Driving through them in Smoky Mountains National Park and then going over the top of them on sky rides and ski lifts was something I could do over and over again. The last activity we did in this neck of the woods was The Lost Sea Adventure. This gem was something on my list since my friend Shana did it with her kids last summer. Now mind you, I was perfectly happy with my people doing this without me. I am truly terrified of bats and was panicking the whole time I was in the cave. I even called ahead and was "assured" by a 16 year old that he hasn't seen bats...not sure whether to believe him or not! Matt was so excited to climb down natural caverns and find the largest known underground lake! Taking a boat ride through it topped off that fun. I of course was THAT person...the one who wore flip flops (is there really any other shoe???) and a baseball hat to cover my head from bats, pulled down crazy low so I could barely see (I had nothing I wanted to see!). Go figure I managed to slip on loose gravel, falling flat on my face and ripping my knee, shin and toes apart and then got to spend the rest of the tour with blood running down my leg and everyone staring at me :) ankle held up so at least my reconstruction surgery last year worked!

Sorry for the length of this one but seriously...if they need poster people for tourism to the Rose Family! We have NOTHING bad to say about the whole dang state!!!! If any of you are looking for a random, insanely fun family vacation...RUN to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


Arkansas was a state we were waiting for because it meant we got to see Gaga & Papa!!! We were so excited to get here and meet up with them! Digging for diamonds was the activity we had planned for our short visit and was one we were all excited for :) The drive to meet them was a long one for us, although it wasn't the mileage. It was the crazy, one lane road with a 25mph speed limit and switchbacks galore for 200 MILES that was the cause of our LOOOOOONG day! Fortunately we discovered there were two fun stops along the way...The National Fish Hatchery and The Walmart Museum (who knew this existed?!?!?!) I half expected to find myself on the wall of fame for big spenders (if such a thing existed) between my Walmart and Sam's Club shopping :)

The Walmart Museum turned out to be a really fun place to spend an hour. The history of Mr. Walton was fascinating, all of his original items were really neat, the original 5-10 he started was full of treasures and the original ice cream parlor was the hit in this family! Dirt cheap, delicious ice cream overflowing our cones!

Once we hit Texarkana (Yes...we literally can't get away from Texas...clearly a tribute to how much we love our home state!!), we met up with Gaga & Papa! The kids were thrilled that they had brought their dogs along for the quick trip!!! Not having ours along has been so hard for us, but we know they are in such wonderful places, being loved on so much while they wait for us to get back :) The next morning was the fun we had been waiting for...diamond digging at Crater of Diamonds State Park. The only place where you can keep whatever you find at no charge. We rented our tools and set off. Gaga & I made base camp on a hill out of the mud, while Papa & Craig took the boys into the freshly rained on, mucky hills to find treasure.  Well, sadly 4 hours later we can say we have no more diamonds than the ones my Mom & I came in wearing :) Although someone did find a 1 carat diamond while we were there. We had some seriously muddy boys but lots of smiles and a great memory with Gaga & Papa! This was definitely a quick stop, but one of the BEST ones!

Sunday, November 1, 2015


Due to Halloween falling on a Saturday, Kansas turned out to be a longer stop for us than I had initially planned on but turned out to be perfect! I will admit, I had very low expectations for this state. I mean, how many times do you hear people say "Oh, I am so excited, we are taking a family vacation to Kansas!"??? I personally know one person that loves Kansas and she's originally from there so I have to think she's a little biased ;) Well let me tell you, there is actually a lot of fun to be had in this state, so much so that I would even return to it!

Our first stop was Wichita. We were all glad to arrive as the drive here was our longest day of driving so far. While I will tell you Wichita was not my favorite part of the state, the kids had a ball here! Our RV park was a kids paradise with endless activities, so much so that they rarely wanted to leave it! We did make one trip into downtown and spent the day at the neatest place...Cowtown. A real life old west town right on the river that has fully restored the original buildings of the Chisolm Trail and gives you a true taste of the old west. There are costumed people in the town giving a real life experience and even a working saloon where you can buy lunch! My guys LOVED the swing and bowling alley, and thought seeing how people actually lived 100 years ago was fascinating. Seriously, if y'all are ever in the area, I highly recommend this place!

Kansas City was our second stop in Kansas, or wait, is it Missouri?!?!? Seriously, I have never been so confused as to where I am as I was in Kansas City!!! Every time I got in the jeep I saw nothing but continual "Welcome to Kansas" and "Welcome to Missouri" signs. The kids gave up asking what state we were in as my answer was always "I have absolutely no idea!". For as confused as I was, I was positive about one thing...Kansas City is the neatest city! My dear friend Beth put out a call and had a bunch of her friends in the area give me ideas for this city...they did not disappoint! We had too much to do and sadly did not have the time to make it to everything. Fortunately we hit the highlights...we'll save the rest for another visit :) We managed to take a tour of the Federal Reserve, a tour of Hallmark (I was so excited for this!), visited the Hallmark boutique "Halls" (seriously, who knew Hallmark had their own, amazingly awesome clothing boutique?!?!), had lunch at the Crayola Cafe, played at Kaleidoscope (a completely free children's museum courtesy of Hallmark), saw the WW1 Memorial & Museum, hit the Lego store, found the tallest Barnes & Noble we have seen thus far, went on a fountain hunt for blue fountains (there are tons!), saw how loyal the town is with everything decorated in support of "KC Royals" (world series was going on while we were here!) and had a super fun dinner at Fritz's, a restaurant where a train delivered our food to the table!

The coolest part of Kansas City was the orchard we stayed in. The kids loved being much to do and such a neat setting. We purposely picked this place for Halloween as they had a schedule of events all day for kids. We did arts & crafts, fished, played football, pumpkin chunked into the lake (BEST part of day!), carved creepy pumpkins, they had a costume parade, a hayride and at the end of the day...trick or treating! My crazies had the best week in Kansas and need a week somewhere calm to recover from the "high" they are on!