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Grant Cottage State Historic Site (Roadschool Guide)

Erin No Comments

U.S. Grant spent his last days sitting on this porch while writing his memoirs and waving to passersby.

Grant Cottage State Historic Site

Location: Gansevoort, NY

Reciprocal: None

Full Price Admission Cost: $6 adults; $5 kids; 62+ $5; under 6 free; active duty military free

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Ulysses S. Grant isn’t a president we hear a whole lot about these days. That said, he was a fascinating man who led a highly interesting life. Additionally, while the man did have his flaws, he is quite underappreciated, considering his successes. For this reason, a visit to Grant Cottage in Gansevoort, NY is highly recommended in order to dig deeper into the life of this intriguing president.

Every visit begins in the visitor center, which is home to an excellent movie everyone should take the time to view. After the visitor center comes the main attraction: the cottage tour.

The tour starts with an informative talk that acts as a great introduction to our 18th president, and an excellent opportunity to ask any questions you may have. Because the talk takes place on the front porch of the cottage, it’s a great opportunity to get a look at the grounds and enjoy the outdoors for a bit while learning something new.

Grant's deathbed and clock

The room in which Grant died, preserved exactly as it was when he passed.

After the talk, guests are shown the interior of the cottage. This part is absolutely amazing. Because it was made a memorial within months of his passing, the cottage includes all of the furnishings and most other items that were in the home at the time of Grant’s passing, making it a truly unique and remarkable experience. Some of the most notable items in the home include the clock that Grant’s son stopped at the time of his death, the flowers from the former president’s funeral, which were preserved through the use of beeswax, and the many notes he used to communicate with his family when he couldn’t speak.

Funeral arrangement at Grant Cottage

Grant’s Funeral Arrangement, preserved for over 130 years.

Possibly the most interesting artifact was the jar of liquid cocaine that still sits on the shelf over 130 years after last being used. Grant had lost all his money shortly before being diagnosed with throat cancer, and knew that completing his memoirs was the only way to ensure his family’s solvency. Because of his dedication to that goal he was unable to take most pain relieving medication of the time and remain lucid enough to write, so he used topical cocaine for pain relief.

Grant's sleeping chairs and medicinal cocaine

The arm chairs Grant slept in sitting up in front of the cabinet containing his personal items and a jar of liquid cocaine for pain relief.

Although this tour is on the short side, it is well worth experiencing in order to get a better handle on who President Grant was as a devoted family man, as well as what he did to change our nation.

Quick Tips

  • Food is not available for purchase on the premises. Outside food and drink is allowed though, and a grassy area is available for picnics.
  • A parking lot for large vehicles is available down the road from the visitor center. Call ahead for directions.
  • Watch the movie in the visitor center.
  • Walk to the overlook (less than half a mile, round-trip).
  • Plan for about 1.5 hours of time spent on the grounds in order to get the full experience.
View of Catskills, Green Mountains and Adirondacks from Eastern Outlook of Grant Cottage

The Eastern Outlook, with views of the Hudson Valley, the Adirondacks, the Green Mountains of Vermont and the Catskills.

This post may contain affiliate links. By purchasing through our links you will help Fulltime Families bring you more great Roadschooling Guides, at no additional cost to you. Please read our disclaimer  for more information.

Books to Read

For Littles

For Middles

For Bigs

Videos to Watch

Activities to Do

Things to Discuss

  • What is one of the most important things President Grant did for the country?
  • If you were president in the late 1860s and early 1870s, what would you have done differently?
  • If you were around when President Grant ran for president, would you have voted for him? Why or why not?

Other Area Attractions

Below are some of the other great attractions in this area. We try to keep things affordable, sticking to free and cheap attractions and/or museums and zoos on reciprocal lists. If an attraction is affiliated with a reciprocal program or offers free admission, I have noted that beside the attraction listing. To learn more about saving money using reciprocal programs, see this post.

Closest Places to Stay on a Budget

For information on camping memberships, see this post.

Related Attractions in Other Areas

For more great roadschool guides written by Chelsea Gonzales have a look around our blog or visit Wonder Wherever We Wander. A wanderer and lover of new experiences, Chelsea enjoys traveling full-time in her RV while writing about her experiences and roadschooling her son.

 

 

10 RV Essentials You Don’t Know You Need

Erin No Comments

When purchasing an RV there are many RV essentials you know you will need, like water and sewer hoses, but there are also many things you will need but no one tells you ahead of time. Some items are for comfort, some for safety, and some just to make your life a little easier.

This post may contain affiliate links. By purchasing through our links you will help Fulltime Families bring you more great articles, at no additional cost to you.

1. RV waste tanks all have valves that are pulled to empty the contents through the hose and into the sewer. Unfortunately, these valves can break, leading to waste leaking (or pouring) onto the ground. This can be mitigated with a twist on waste valve at the end of the waste line. If any of the primary valves allow waste through, the Valterra T58 Twist-On Waste Valve will help you avoid a huge mess!

 

 

2. Speaking of waste tanks, most sewer hoses come with an opaque elbow to attach to the sewer opening. We recommend replacing that elbow with a clear one, like the RhinoFlex Clear Swivel Fitting. This will allow you to see when the tanks are fully emptied and will allow you to better monitor the tank health.

3. People often complain that their RV moves too much, especially with kids running around. X-chock Wheel Stabilizers will help with stability, as well as prevent the RV from rolling when on an incline.

 

These X-Chocks have been keeping an 18,000 pound fifth wheel stable and safe for over two years!

4. When at a campground family members will often be coming and going at different times, participating in events and socializing with friends. When no one is home you want to keep the RV locked and secure, but it is a pain to have everyone carry a key. A keyless lock is the solution. Everyone needs only to know the combination to lock and unlock the door, and if you need someone to go inside your RV when you aren’t there you can easily give a campground employee or friend the code.

5. Many things in an RV run off the 12V battery, and fuses will need to be replaced. It is important to have a selection on hand.

 

 

6. RV freezers are often small and not as cold as residential freezers. If you like cold beverages, a countertop ice maker is essential. They continuously make and store ice, and bringing a bag of ice to an RVers potluck is a great way to make friends!

 

 

Yes! You still can have ice while living in an RV!

 

7. While cabinets are made to stay closed when traveling, over time some will fail. To avoid finding all your canned goods on the floor after a particularly bumpy road, child safety locks are a great way to ensure things stay closed. These work well for two doors with handles while you will want something like these for single doors.

 

8. Things will break and zip ties are often a great way to fix them, sometime permanently and sometimes as a patch until you can get the supplies to fix it. It is important to have a variety of sizes as well as some longer ones.

 

9. In addition to breaking, things will tear and leak. For issues with the roof you will want Eternabond Tape, if your awning tears you will want to repair it immediately to prevent worsening using Camco Awning Repair Tape, while Rescue tape will save the day when you have a leak.

 

 

10. The final thing you shouldn’t RV without when traveling with kids is a Fulltime Families Membership. In addition to a variety of discounts, a membership provides access to a fantastic community of fellow RVers through Facebook and access to events across the United States throughout the year.

A membership in Fulltime Families is an RV essential for anyone traveling by RV with children.

 

About the Author: Erin Muller, who is originally from upstate New York, has been traveling since early 2016 with her husband, 3 children (16 and 14 year old girls and a 12 year old boy), and dog. While she can’t pick a favorite place they have visited, some that top her list are Yellowstone, southern Utah, and Disney World!

The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation (Roadschool Guide)

Erin No Comments

The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation

Location: Dearborn, MI

Reciprocal: None

Full Price Admission Cost: $23 adults; $17.25 kids; under 5 free

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Rarely have we come across a history museum so engaging and thorough as The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. This huge place was a pleasure to visit, and even after a full 6 hours, we could have stayed even longer to soak up the rich history presented here. We only ended up leaving when we did because it was closing time. Fortunately, we did get to see nearly everything, so we left feeling well informed and full of new and interesting conversation topics.

The “Heroes of the Sky” section covered the entire history of flight. It had a room dedicated to to early flight, another one dedicated to stunt artists, a whole area talking about adventure pilots, and still another section covering flight races. There was an awesome video flight experience, as well as a chance for guests to create and test various paper airplane designs.

Next up was the “Driving America” exhibit. As you might imagine, this section was quite large and took awhile to get through. There was an entire timeline of cars, showing visitors how transportation has evolved over time. Additionally, this section included some old campers (super cool!), a theater showing short videos, and an old roadside diner that actually served up lunch.

“Mathematica” was relatively small. However, it was very cool in that it presented various types of math in interesting ways. In fact, this small room even held our six-year-old’s attention for a while.

Once we finished brushing up on our math skills, we moved on to “The Dymaxion House”. This was an interesting prototype “house of the future” created in the years immediately following World War II. Unfortunately, the project was never finished due to lack of funding. Otherwise, we may be living in weird spaceship-esque houses right now.

Moving on, we found ourselves in “Your Place in Time”, a very interesting timeline of the 20th century featuring a nickelodeon, a living room from the 1930s, a classroom from the ‘50s, a commune from the ‘70s, a bedroom from the ‘80s, and tons of items representing day-to-day life in times gone by.

Finally, we must mention “With Liberty and Justice for All”. This explored the various fights for freedom and equality that have helped shaped our nation, showing how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go. From the Revolutionary War and the Civil War to the Women’s Suffrage and Civil Rights Movements, this exhibit is very thorough and quite moving. It also includes the chair in which Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, as well as Rosa Parks’ bus—both awesome additions.

These were our favorite exhibits, but are far from the only ones. In fact, this review only represents about half of what the museum has to offer. Why not go check it out for yourself? You’ll be glad you did!

Quick Tips

  • Food is available for purchase on the premises. However, outside food and drink is also allowed (within reason) and can be eaten in the museum.
  • Limited bus and RV parking is available.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to walk.
  • Plan on a full day. This museum is enormous.
  • Look at the provided map/guide for interactive experiences and scheduled activities, and work them into your schedule.

This post may contain affiliate links. By purchasing through our links you will help Fulltime Families bring you more great Roadschooling Guides, at no additional cost to you.

Books to Read

For Littles

For Everyone

Videos to Watch

Activities to Do

Things to Discuss

  • If you could live during any time period, what would you choose?
  • Would you live in a Dymaxion House? Why or why not?
  • What can we do to ensure everyone in America has equal rights in the future?

Other Area Attractions

Below are some of the other great attractions in this area. We try to keep things affordable, sticking to free and cheap attractions and/or museums and zoos on reciprocal lists. If an attraction is affiliated with a reciprocal program or offers free admission, I have noted that beside the attraction listing. To learn more about saving money using reciprocal programs, see this post.

Closest Places to Stay on a Budget

For information on camping memberships, see this post.

Related Attractions in Other Areas

For more great roadschool guides written by Chelsea Gonzales, including one for Greenfield Village at The Henry Ford, have a look around our blog or visit Wonder Wherever We Wander. A wanderer and lover of new experiences, Chelsea enjoys traveling fulltime in her RV while writing about her experiences and roadschooling her son.

 

 

 

Adirondack Experience (Roadschool Guide)

Erin No Comments

Adirondack Experience

Location: Blue Mountain Lake, NY

Reciprocal: NARM, Council of American Maritime Museums (CAMM)

Full Price Admission Cost: $20 adults; $12 kids; under 6 free

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

There’s no denying the fact that the Adirondack Mountains are beautiful. What many people don’t realize is just how rich and beautiful the history of this special place is. That’s where the Adirondack Experience steps in. This amazing attraction brings the culture and history of the Adirondacks to life for people of all ages to see, experience, and enjoy.

This enormous museum campus features a number of different buildings. The first is a state-of-the-art interactive museum that introduces guests to the people of the area, both past and present. It explores the Native American tribes that first ventured into the Adirondacks, as well as the many others who bravely followed suit. The new exhibit also explores the many trades people have held in the Adirondacks through the ages, along with some of the customs that have grown from the place. This building is the perfect introduction for those wanting to learn more about the area.

Of course, there is much more to see on the large museum campus. Other buildings and exhibits include a children’s area, a section entirely focused on logging, an exhibit on boating, traveling and temporary exhibitions, and more.

Besides the many amazing exhibits onsite, there is also plenty of awesome scenery and trails to check out. Classes and special programs happen on a regular basis, and meet-and-greets with area artisans are often another option.

As you can probably tell, this is a very neat and informative museum, and we highly recommend checking it out if you’re ever in the area.

Quick Tips

  • Food is available for purchase on the premises. Outside food and drink is also allowed, and picnic tables are available.
  • Bus parking is available.
  • There are many buildings and hands-on activities. It is easy to spend at least 4 hours here.
  • There are multiple buildings and some of the activities are outside, so it is recommended to go on a nice day. This attraction is only open during the warm months. Be sure to check a calendar before planning your visit.
  • For more pictures of our visit to the Adirondack Experience visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/FulltimeFamilies

This post may contain affiliate links. By purchasing through our links you will help Fulltime Families bring you more great Roadschooling Guides, at no additional cost to you.

Books to Read

For Littles

For Middles

For Bigs

Videos to Watch

Audio to Hear

For Littles

For Bigs

Activities to Do

Things to Discuss

  • What do you think drew people to the Adirondacks?
  • If you were an early Adirondack explorer what would you have packed?
  • Would you like to live in the Adirondack mountains? Why or why not?

Other Area Attractions

Below are some of the other great attractions in this area. We try to keep things affordable, sticking to free and cheap attractions and/or museums and zoos on reciprocal lists. If an attraction is affiliated with a reciprocal program or offers free admission, I have noted that beside the attraction listing. To learn more about saving money using reciprocal programs, see this post.

Closest Places to Stay on a Budget

For information on camping memberships, see this post.

For more great roadschool guides written by Chelsea Gonzales, have a look around our blog or visit Wonder Wherever We Wander.

 

 

James Madison’s Montpelier (Roadschool Guide)

Erin No Comments

James Madison’s Montpelier Website

Location: Montpelier, VA

Reciprocal: None

Full Price Admission Cost: $22 adults; $9 kids; under 6 free

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Montpelier is the place James Madison called home. It’s a gorgeous property, and paying the attraction a visit is a fabulous way to step back in time and get up close and personal with the 4th president of the United States.

Guests are welcome to visit the Montpelier property free of charge. That said, the only way to see the Madisons’ mansion is through a tour. Because of this, and because they are so very educational, a tour is highly recommended.

The Signature Tour is perhaps the most popular option. It’s a one-hour guided affair that tells the story of the Madisons, the forming of the U.S. Constitution, and slavery. The information provided is detailed and deep, making this tour better for older students with some understanding of (and interest in) U.S. history.

That said, there is a family-friendly, hands-on tour on weekend mornings. This option is ideal for families with younger children who would likely become disinterested and antsy during the longer tours.

In the basement of the house is an exhibit on slavery. This includes detailed information about slavery and the slave trade in general. It also gets more specific with information on the slaves at Montpelier, including the names of every slave known to be owned by the Madisons and details about their lives. Please note that the exhibit contains audio that is powerful and potentially upsetting.

Outside, visitors can tour several reconstructed buildings used by slaves. There is a daily walking tour that further examines the lives of the enslaved community.

 

The visitor center includes an exhibit on the Dupont family (the family who owned the home for most of the 20th century), an introductory movie, and an exhibit about First Lady Dolley Madison in popular culture. This is also where you’ll find a gift shop and counter-service cafe.

A short walk away from the visitor center is the Madison family cemetery and a slave cemetery. Also found on the grounds are nature trails and a formal garden that is lovely to walk through. As you might imagine, when all is said and done, seeing everything on the property can easily take several hours.

Quick Tips

  • Food is available for purchase on the premises. However, outside food and drink is also allowed as long as it isn’t taken into the mansion.
  • Limited bus parking is available.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to walk, as the grounds are quite extensive.
  • Pets are allowed on the grounds, but not in the mansion itself.
  • A discount of $2 per adult and $1 per child is available when tickets are purchased online.
  • Arrive in time to watch the 13-minute movie at the visitor center.
  • Plan for 1–2 hours in addition to the one-hour tour.
  • There is a lot to do outside, so try to go on a day when the weather is good.

Books to Read

This post contains affiliate links. By purchasing through our links you will help support Fulltime Families at no additional cost to you.

For Littles

For Bigs

Videos to Watch

Audio to Hear

Activities to Do

Things to Discuss

  • What historical events might have gone differently had Madison not been around? How do you think they would’ve gone?
  • If you lived during 1808, would you have voted for Madison? Why or why not?
  • What would you do differently than Madison had you been allowed to take his place?

Other Area Attractions

Below are some of the other great attractions in this area. We try to keep things affordable, sticking to free and cheap attractions and/or museums and zoos on reciprocal lists. If an attraction is affiliated with a reciprocal program or offers free admission, I have noted that beside the attraction listing. To learn more about saving money using reciprocal programs, see this post.

Closest Places to Stay on a Budget

For information on camping memberships, see this post.

Related Attractions in Other Areas

 

For more great roadschool guides, have a look around our blog or visit Wonder Wherever We Wander.

 

How to Downsize and Simplify for Full-time RV Life

Erin No Comments

You have made the big decision to become a Fulltime Family, but now what? You have a home full of belongings and you need to decide what to store, what to bring with you, and what to sell or donate.  Here are some items to help get your started on your journey to Fulltime RV Life.

These Avery Removable Labels will help to keep you organized during your downsizing process. These labels will stay where placed and come off cleanly.

It is likely you will find plenty to throw out. Contractor bags are larger and thicker than regular kitchen bags.

If you are like most people, you will have pictures to store. The Iris Photo Keeper will keep your pictures sorted and safe.

It’s a good idea to scan all your important papers so you have digitized copies with you. The Brother DS-620 Mobile Color Page Scanner is small enough to keep with you on the road.

 

Once your papers are scanned you will want to store them in a water and fireproof safe, along with other irreplaceable items you will leave in storage. The Honeywell Fire and Waterproof Safe is large enough to fit full size sheets of paper along with other small items like old pictures and jewelry.

 

For the important papers you will bring with you a lighter envelop-style fireproof bag is essential. The Large Home Safe Security Money Bag is fire proof to 1100 degrees, water resistant, and large enough for several passports, cash, and other must have documents.

When it comes to storage, vacuum bags are ideal. They take up less than half the space as boxes and when sealed are waterproof. This set from Ziploc has a variety of sizes to allow for bulky, lighter items and smaller, heavier ones.

Once everything is in storage you will want to protect it from pest and moisture. Old Fashioned Moth Balls don’t smell great, but they work well to repel bugs and rodents.

The DampRid products are excellent for keeping humidity down.

When it comes time for the garage sale you will need signs for the neighborhood. This kit also includes price tags, a change apron and more.

You will need bags for your garage sale. If you don’t already have a drawer full, you can get some from Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 


Fulltime Families Showbiz Rally

Erin 3 comments

Earlier this month 45 families had the opportunity to attend the Fulltime Families Showbiz Rally in Branson, Missouri. As we are beginning a new STEAM rally series, we took advantage of being in the “Live Music Capital of the World” to focus on visual and performing arts. Thanks to our Silver Sponsors, RV Health, Usborne Books and More (Stephanie Simpson), Mama Says Namaste, RV Insurances and Workamper News, we had the ability to host a painting classes taught by professional artist Chris Long and hire Forte Theatre Productions  to run a theater workshop. In addition to many parent and teen run activities, including watercolor painting, science art, instruments and puppet making, creative movement, improv and more, we offered Irish Dance classes taught by Chelsea Gonzales of Aistear Mobile Irish Dance Academy.

A favorite at every rally is the Kid’s Marketplace, and this one did not disappoint. Our young entrepreneurs sold everything from handmade toys to snacks to a chance to hold a snake.

Our Vendor Marketplace gave our rally sponsors an opportunity to share their goods and services. In addition to the Silver Sponsors, we had booths from Britches 4 Stitches, Bill and Lise Enterprises LLC, Traveling Creations, Memory Keeping Solutions, The Burnished Coin, Neolife, The Path to Less and Family D on the Road. Fulltime Families also introduced new apparel, including hats, t-shirts and sweatshirts.

Adults attended a variety of coffee talks and seminars on subjects ranging from roadschooling to rv upgrades to personality snapshots and more, as well as lawn games, a Parade of Homes and many camp fires.

Teens planned, advertised, and executed a car wash. After deciding on price, cost, and time needed, they went on a scavenger hunt that included finding people who needed their vehicle washed. The following day they spent two hours washing over 20 vehicles, and split the proceeds that night at the teen camp fire.

Tweens enjoyed a scavenger hunt and movie night in addition to joining the teens for board games.

Our littles and middles loved playground time, stories, and crafts.

We didn’t forget family activities! Dessert and appetizer potlucks, appetizers provided by Fulltime Families, a hot dog lunch hosted by RVing Dads Podcast, food trucks, a Broadway themed dance, Improv Games, and low cost meals provided by America’s Best Cafe.

This rally has made us even more excited for the official start of the STEAM series with Robotics on the Road in Belleville, Michigan from August 14 to 18. After watching the video recap we bet you will be too! We hope to see you there, or at one of our other upcoming events.

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Fulltime Families visits Dolly Parton’s Stampede

Erin No Comments


On Tuesday, May 1, we attended Dolly Parton’s Stampede in Branson, MO with 4 adults and 7 children, ranging in age from 5 to 15. In its 24th season, this “most-visited dinner attraction in the world” includes a line up full of music, friendly competitions, comedic capers, equestrian showmanship, and a 4 course meal. Fulltime Families was charged a discounted media rate in exchange for this review, and provided with some of the photographs included.

Prior to the show we found a seat in the Carriage Room to enjoy the White River Wranglers, a folk band made up of three brothers playing folk, bluegrass, gospel, and even some Justin Timberlake, and snack on nachos and popcorn, purchased a la carte.

After the thirty minute show everyone was led to the arena for the main attraction, where we were seated in individual chairs in front of a counter. Each row of about 25 people had a waiter who served from a designated walkway in front of the counter, allowing them to walk back and forth during the show with little disruption to the view.

The sides of the arena were divided into North and South, and guests rooted for their side in a variety of competitions, ranging from professional equestrians trying to pop balloons from horseback, to pig races, to children from the audience trying to be the first to get their assigned chickens across the finish line. Mixed in was some comedy, magic, dancing, and tricks on horseback. A favorite part of the show was Canine Capers, where two teams of dogs competed in agility, stunts and jumps. The best part was that all of the dogs in the show were rescued from shelters and trained to perform in the Stampede. We also learned about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a program that sends one book a month from birth until age 5 to children in certain communities.

During some carefully timed breaks in the entertainment food was served, including rolls, creamy vegetable soup, corn on the cob, potatoes, a whole rotisserie chicken, pork loin, and dessert. Be warned – there is no silverware provided, so if you have a child in braces you may want to bring a plastic knife for the corn (there is a bag check on the way in). The food was well made and plentiful, and they provide doggy bags. Vegetarian meals are available if pre-ordered, and soft drinks are included and unlimited.

Our entire party enjoyed the one hour dinner show. There was plenty of variety and it moved quickly, so even the five year old was captivated, while the teens and adults were entertained as well. After the show we exited through the gift shop where there were a variety of souvenirs, then past the horses, along with many of their riders, who were available to answer questions.

Most shows in Branson seemed to be aimed at older adults, so Dolly Parton’s Stampede stands out as a family friendly option when visiting the area with children. It will entertain children through grandparents at prices range from $29.99 to $34.99 plus tax for children and $49.99 to $54.99 plus tax for adults.

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