Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Where on earth have we been?

Sorry, I forgot to post...for 3 months.

I didn't REALLY forget.

I got wrapped up in other things.

Sound familiar?

Even in a life where we don't work, don't have obligations, appointments or expectations...sometimes you just get don't get stuff done.

Strange. It feels like we did this, in part, to have the time for anything we wanted. But, lately I feel like we don't have time for anything! Obviously that isn't true, I mean, jeez...we travel full time. We HAVE time. But somehow (just like regular life) time just gets away from you.

So here's the run down...

Most of May was spent looking at real estate in Virginia, Tennessee, West Virginia and Kentucky. We saw places we liked, places we loved, and places SO frightening that we're trying to forget them! We fell in love with a few, and were even ready to buy. Unfortunately, the two we wanted sold right as we were ready to start making offers. Sigh.

So, we decided to take a break.

We went to...

Climbing the rocks at Little Round Top

Bullet holes in the town from the battle.

Icecream. Cause, you gotta stop for homemade icecream.

Yes, he is wearing an entire Union uniform, made lovingly by his grandma.

Cousins having fun at Devils Den.

Hershey, PA

Gabe's graduation party, riding the rides at Koenobles.

Dunkirk, NY

Panama Rocks, western New Yorks best kept secret! Climb, explore, and be free!

We had so much getting lost, and then found at Panama Rocks!

Dunkirk lighthouse museum. We had a great tour of the house, the lighthouse and the grounds.

Treasure hunting in the woods.Laurel found an antique bottle of "Kidney Cure" from the 1800s!

Riding in grandpa's Model A.

New York City

The Firefighters Memorial at the WTC. As a firemfighter's wife, 
this especially hit home.

The WTC memorials are really quite a sight. I was surprised how much they 
effected me. Something about the names all printed out, and the way the water fell once, 
and then again. It was really beautiful.

Chinatown was a big treat for the kids. They really wanted to see the 
roasted ducks hanging in the windows.

American Natural History Museum, this place was a ZOO!

Little raptor baby. So precious.

Central Park is a perfect place to rest from all the walking!

Just a little statue riding in Central Park.

Central Park Zoo, and our new favorite sea lion.

Train ride back from NYC. It was sad to say goodbye, but we had a blast.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Southwest Virgina, who knew?

I have to say, I am a little smitten with Southwest VA. 

It's beautiful.

It's quirky.

The homes (with land!) are affordable.

 Having spent a good portion of my life in Northern VA/Washington DC I thought I knew Virginia. 

(Spoiler- I was wrong)

We have spent the last 11 days in Natural Tunnel State Park. We were fortunate enough to be here during two different events; one being an 18th century re-enactment weekend and the other being a Children's Fishing Derby (with archery and target practice) put on by the wildlife troopers. I figured we'd hit up the Muster Fair for a little while and then move onto the Fishing Derby. (I mean, come on...grown men dressed up like frontiersmen, pretending like they are REALLY in the 1700s?) 

Man oh man was I wrong. We stayed ALL day. This is one of those events that you really have to engage with each person in order to learn from we set ourselves the task of doing just that. I talked strangers. Not just strangers, but strangers in costumes. Not just strangers in costumes, but strangers in costumes pretending like they really were from the 18th century. And you know what? I learned a lot. I learned how to turn flax into linen, how to spin wool, how to make lye soap, tan a hide, basic blacksmithing...and as an added bonus we learned to speak some basic Cherokee and got to hear some awesome Cherokee and frontier lore. 

The people were so willing to let the kids participate.

Laurel looks happy...but really she was petrified, especially 
when the horse jumped over a log!

Us watching an old fashioned horse race.

We spent so many hours talking and interacting with all these guys that we decided to go to their church service the next morning too. It was a little awkward, as you can imagine...but also very cool. One of the guys was an amazing musician and singer, he pulled out no less than three instruments during the service, and gave every old church hymn an appalachian twist.  

Eventually we did make it over to the fishing derby, with just enough time for Luke to hit bulls-eyes with the bow and the BB gun...I guess being obsessively into a million hobbies pays off sometimes.

Besides looking at a whole bunch of properties, and falling in love with two, we also had time to visit some of the local towns, catch up on school work, hike, bike and do some crafting. Luke seems to be in his element here, he would wear his coon skin cap more...but it's hot. He's been inspired by the music, the crafts and the history all around us. He's started whittling whenever he gets the chance, and now he wants to build his own blacksmith shop. (He tried to convince us that he could start right away using the fire ring and our regular hammer...thankfully we convinced him that this was not a good idea.) 

Southwest VA...who knew?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Homestead Hunting

Part of the purpose of this travel year is to find our homestead. It's a big undertaking to try and find the place where you want to finish raising your kids, and put down roots. Usually you just stay where you are, or move for a job...the idea of having the whole country (or whole world) to find the place that feels like home...well, like I said, it's a big undertaking.

We started with a couple of nationwide searches, and over time we found a large swath in Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky that seemed to suit our needs. The prices were good, the acreage was large, the farmhouses are adorable and there are usually barns and other outbuildings. Sometimes there are creeks, waterfalls, caves and other hidden treasures. (This is what makes searching for property so much fun!) 

One of the many covered fireplaces we've seen.

It's very different from looking for property in the city. Don't expect granite counter tops or seamless glass showers. This is not HGTV folks. Most of the properties we are looking at are from people who have passed away and the properties are being sold by their children and grandchildren. These are OLD homes with crooked floors, low ceilings, dead mice, holes in the roof...the good stuff. (Luke even found a collection of syringes on the floor...oh yeah!) These are old farmhouses that people put strange additions on, covered fire places with plywood, and carpeted over hardwood floors. Most of them don't have HVAC, some don't even have bathrooms! (Mmmmm...can't you just imagine the smell of a 100 year old outhouse?)

I wasn't kidding about the low ceilings!

It's like a treasure hunt! The kids found a creek with dozens of frogs that jumped in all at once, old tractors, antiques in the barn and so much more. Seriously, looking for property might be more fun than actually buying one. (Especially cause then we own it, and have to fix the wonky floors and janky ceilings!!)

We found one beautiful property where the painstakingly-built beautiful wood staircase got progressively shorter on the way up. It's as if you're Alice and on the way up the stairs you just start growing. In a new house you wouldn't stand for that, but in this 100 year old property, it's just plain charming. 

We have about 25 more properties to see over the next few weeks. So far we've worked with four real estate agents, all very different, and all great. It's been nice getting to talk to them, find out about them, the local area, and whatever else they'll talk about. One of our agents who was well into her 60s is an active hunter, and hopped fences with us without blinking an eye. Another told us about a wild beehive he relocated to his own farm, and wild ginseng he collects in the mountains. 

Who knows when or where we'll find the right property, until then we are enjoying the process of learning and getting to know new areas.  

And in the meantime we'll just keep enjoying the ride.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Falling Waters State Park: Slowing Down, Savoring Little Moments

You'd think since we're traveling full time that it would be easy to remember to slow down and savor the little moments. 

That is sort of the point of doing this after all.

The one and only attraction to see at Falling Waters, 
a single waterfall falling into a sinkhole.

You'd be amazed that it is just as easy to; waste time, lose yourself in technology, let time get away from you, get short with your kids, get snappy with your husband, let the dishes pile up, etc etc. Truth is, time can get away from you whether you're living a traditional lifestyle (house that's attached to the ground and whatnot), or a less conventional one (house that can float or fly away in any big storm). 

For the first few months of our trip, I feel like I was letting time get away from me. 

It was still great, and we did some cool stuff...and by default we were spending more time together doing things that we normally don't get to do. But it took a while to find our groove. I feel like we're just barely getting in to it now, and we've been on the road for nearly 4 months now! 

Luke's version of fishing, cast it in, and start sketching.

The finished sketches.

Sometimes you just need time in a quiet park, where there are no beaches, manatees, space shuttles...or anything else to run off and do. Sometimes you just need a place where you can bike and walk, hang out and talk, and remember that there is beauty in the everyday enjoyment of life.

Sometimes you just need to curl up with your Dad and take a nap. 
(Please don't tell him I posted a picture of him in his underpants!)

These aren't big things, and that's exactly the point. Life is rarely made up of big's all the little ones that count. When I'm at the end I won't remember all the things I pinned, or read on Facebook or updated to Goodreads...but I will remember today. I will remember Orion shining bright in the sky above us while we ate our dinner under a star-lit sky, and giggling in the hammock with Luke, and pushing him on the swing in his bright red overalls. 

These are the moments to slow down and savor. 

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