1812

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Summer is quickly slipping away.  As much ass I’d like to just relax and enjoy the last little bit of it I also want to make the most of it.

Today we headed off to a neighbouring community to witness our first “war reenactment”  (Note to self:  Next time bring ear plugs!) 

The kids enjoyed taking part in the Children’s Muster and touring the various camps.  They learned a lot of new things talking to the various volunteers.

The afternoon concluded with a reenactment of one of the 1812 battles that took place in the community.  It’s not every day you see guns a blazing and cannons firing like that….which is a good thing.

 

Woodworking 101

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Today I helped “E” with a woodworking project she has been wanting to do for a while for her FIRST LEGO League team.  It was fun to teach her some of the basics.  Up until now she hasn’t expressed much interest and I love that robotics can get kids to explore new things.  She really enjoyed it, so who knows what will come these new skills.

Yum Yum Yum!

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Today my youngest and I tried out a new recipe I found through PinterestThe Six Sisters’ Stuff: Rolo Cookies are super-easy to make and require only four ingredients.

Rolos
Devils Food Cake Mix
Eggs
and Oil
Powdered Sugar (optional)

 

Now that’s my kind of baking!  They were also a big hit with the kids.

 

*A note to our readers:  We are slowly planning on typing in the past posts from Our Travel Extravaganza.  Hopefully we’ll be all caught up by next week🙂

Fun Photos

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Throughout our trip we couldn’t help but feel that most of the pictures we took were posed with one or more of us standing in front of a point of interest.  Every once in a while we had some fun with these shots and here are the results.

The Big Nickel

Pysankas in Vegreville

Space Needle

Devil’s Tower

Lessons Learned

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We really enjoyed our trip!  Sure there were moments of frustration when someone would be a little grumpy from being over tired or cooped up in such close quarters for too long, but they really weren’t that often.

Here are our pictures before we left and after our return.  See, we survived!

Before

After

With most things in life I like to reflect and analyze things afterwards in an effort to learn for the next time.  This trip is no different.  So, what would I do differently next time?  Well perhaps the biggest thing to note is that I would definitely do something like this again without hesitation.  I guess that’s a good sign and a great overall evaluation, but there are a few things I would tweak.  Some we ended up doing along the way, but I’ll mention those as well so that we keep them in mind for next time.

What I would definitely do again

  • Do research ahead of time to know what we might like to see and do
  • Have a rough game plan of what we want to see and do
  • Have a summary of all those things with addresses, hours of operation, costs, parking info, etc. so we have the info handy if plans need to change
  • Plan to visit friends and family along the way to break things up a bit.  These people are also great resources, providing local travel advice.
  • Bring along my cell phone and GPS.  These were obviously a couple of my most valuable tools on the  road, giving me Internet access and directions.
  • Utilize Walmart to the max!
  • It was a great policy to start looking for a gas station once I hit the half way mark.
  • Love, loved, loved the platform at the back of the suburban and window screens.  We used them all the time.
  • My laundry system of using two XXL zip lock bags and sorting clothing into loads as we went worked really well.  Glad I brought detergent packets and dryer sheets with me as it was convenient and more economical.
  • Have enough flexibility in the schedule to add things in to the agenda, even if it adds in days.
  • Leave no stone unturned!  Do everything along the way that you think you might want to do!  We have no regrets that way at all!
  • Ask EVERYONE for advice on what you should do and see before hand.
  • Eat as many meals as possible on a budget, but once and a while have a nice meal out to keep your sanity.  We avoided fast food for most of the trip.
  • The bag we used for theme related activities on the way was super for collecting the various ephemera we wanted to bring back home with us.
  • Packing certain items all together, such as bathing suites & towels, toiletries, coats, and hats really worked.  Normally we would pack things by person and not by item, but in doing these things together we could access them more quickly and therefore easily.
  • For breakfast it worked well to buy a liter of milk and have cereal.  We were able to drink the remainder of the milk, so we didn’t need to store it and it was always cold.

What I would do differently

  • Make sure my younger kids have velcro or slip on shoes from the beginning!  We spent far too much time tying and re-tying shoes.
  • I brought too much food and water from the start.  It was good to have some, but it is best to replenish along the way.
  • I would take advantage of hotel reward program sooner.
  • Our privacy system for the back windows of the suburban worked out alright, but we ran into a better solution along the way, black curtains that are mounted to the window using a 3M stick on rod.  We found these at “Wonderful Walmart” and used them along the back window.  For next time I would use them along the side windows as well.
  • I would also have different kids responsible for different aspects of vehicle organization.  For example, one for organizing laundry, another for bedding, one for food, and another for luggage.
  • I’d also assign responsibility to go along with stops.  For example every time we stop, one is responsible for emptying the garbage, one for cleaning the windshield at gas stations, etc.
  • Next time I’ll be sure to have shoe deodorizer close at hand in the car as the kids tended to take off their shoes during the drive🙂
  • I’m not sure how yet, but I think I need to devise a better storage system for those frequently used items in the car, like paper towel, cameras, water bottles, etc.  We utilized the suburban’s built in features and had organizers for the back of the seats, but it wasn’t terribly efficient.
  • I would pack the suburban much sooner allowing more time to figure out where everything is going to go.  I did this to some degree, but as we drove it became apparent that we needed access to certain things more regularly, so they needed to be more accessible.  Luckily we got a packing system down pretty quickly.
  • From the on-set I would pack travel toothbrushes and toothpaste in my purse.
  • I wouldn’t book as many campsites ahead of time.  We found our needs changed while on the road due to unbearable bug infestations, poor weather and just our level of tiredness.  It’s much better to go with the flow and only book things you are really set on.
  • I would bring along a basic map, just to give me a better sense of where we are as it can be hard to tell with the GPS as you really can’t zoom out to see how far across the country you are.
  • I’d bring fewer travel games.  We really didn’t find a need for too many games, there was so much to see and do, and in between we were tired!
  • Develop a better system for garbage.  The bag always seemed to have things toppling out.
  • Some gas stations offer reward programs, research them and take advantage.
  • Research sales tax rates ahead of time to take advantage.
  • I would consider a smaller cooler next time and not plan to store anything that requires refrigeration over night.
  • I think we could improve on our shoe storage system for next time as well.

Things to remember

  • Some hotels have laundry facilities you can use, for example Super 8.  This can save time during the day, but remember there are often curfews for these facilities.
  • Not all areas have cell phone service, gas stations or places to eat, so plan ahead.
  • Remember to account for time zone changes.
  • Many areas have a lot of deer or other wild life along the road, so try not to drive after dusk.
  • The further north you go the more day light you have in the summer, so you can take advantage of this.
  • Ask about special rates for auto clubs, etc. at hotels and attractions.  Look for coupons.
  • Plan to stop in at visitor centres to get travel advice.

Day 34 – Home Again!

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We spent a good portion of the day shopping at an outlet mall just a few hours from home.  We figured that being so close to home it wouldn’t be too bad being squished in for the last little bit of the drive.  We also stopped for some groceries just before the border.  Certain items are quite a bit cheaper for us to purchase south of the border, so we like to take advantage of that whenever possible.

We were anxious to get home and it was great to arrive home and finally see the rest of the family (including our dog who broke the rule and came out to meet us on the drive way, normally she is restricted to the backyard.)  This has been our longest separation by far.  They had a great bbq dinner all ready for us and we welcomed seeing our own beds after being so long on the road.

Trip Stats

1 Adult
4 Kids
34 Days
5 Provinces
15 States
13671 km

Day 32 – Dreaming Big

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If there was a theme for today it would have been Dream Big!  This morning we went to “the Field of Dreams”, the farm where the movie was filmed.  Although the movie was fictional there was a definite atmosphere around the field that really made you wonder and it felt as if those baseball players were going to step out of that corn field at any moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next on my dream list was a visit to Harpo Studios.  I would have liked to have made it their while Oprah was still recording her show, but better late than never.  I still can’t believe I drove in Chicago.  I never dreamed I could do that.  I really don’t like driving and here I am driving not only across the continent, but in huge cities during rush hour!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last on my list for today was a visit to Gary, Indiana and the childhood home of Micheal Jackson.  I was a big fan and perhaps even a little obsessive in high school so it seemed appropriate to stop in when we were in the area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
The kids are starting to get tired, so it is a good thing we are on the home stretch.