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Our visit to the American Girl Place NYC

Kimberly No Comments

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How much would you pay for a hair do, an ear piercing and a special lunch with your special girl… now what if that special someone was an American Girl Doll? Wanna know how much we spent?

Well, the answer’s coming soon, but first a little back story.

I hate American Girl Dolls. I hate what they stand for, I hate how they indoctrinate little girls into a materialistic branded way of life, veiled by fake historic characters and I especially hate how much they cost. I don’t honestly believe there’s a place for one of them in our anti-consumer, rv lifestyle, where we treasure experiences over stuff.

So why do we have one? Because I am a complete hypocrite! Don’t believe me? Keep reading.

Last week, Tonia and I boarded a plane bound for New York to attend the wedding of my oldest friend.

A familiar skyline

A familiar skyline

This trip also provided the opportunity to satisfy my mother’s desire to take her one and only granddaughter to lunch at the American Girl Place in NYC. Knowing of our impending jaunt to this fantasyland of molded plastic, I made a reservation for lunch weeks in advance. It’s not uncommon for this event to be sold out, so if this is something you are interested in, I strongly advise reservations, lest you find yourself with a starving doll and a disappointed little girl.

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American Girl Place NYC

Thursday morning we headed to 5th and 49th street to the mecca of all things AG with Kanani, the 2011 Girl of the Year doll my mother had purchased and stashed away 2 years ago.
My mother had decided that Kanani need not be a full time rver and told Tonia the doll would stay at her house. To assuage the upset, I had agreed to get Tonia an Our Generation doll at Target. With an $18 price tag this is a much more palatable option for me and would resolve Tonia’s issue regarding taking a doll home with her.

However, as we stood in the midst of everything American Girl, the ‘big red bag obsession’ took firm hold in Tonia’s heart and she confided in me she no longer wanted an Our Generation doll, she wanted a “real doll”.

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Meet Saige – the newest full time rving American Girl!

 

Yikes! It was happening right before my eyes! The idea that one 18 inch plastic doll could be more real than another was just the insidious attitude I try valiantly to guard against… or at least I thought I had…

But then I caught my reflection in the mirror and knew the awful truth. There I was in my Miss Me jeans, with my Coach purse and designer cowboy boots. I was really nothing more than an overgrown version of these 6 yr olds running around pleading for overpriced dolls, accessories and furnishings.

In a last ditch effort to impress upon Tonia the implications of owning a $110 doll, I told her that this purchase would necessitate the complete suspension of her allowance for one whole year, while she currently had enough money saved for the Our Generation doll and could continue to accrue her weekly allowance without interruption if she chose to go that path. But it was too late. I had opened the door to Pandora’s Doll House and there was no going back.

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Thank Goodness these dolls don’t eat, lunch was expensive enough!

After we purchased Saige we headed to the third floor to check in for our lunch reservations. Lunch started with some sweet treats as fresh hot cinnamon rolls were delivered to the table, followed shortly by a veggie and cheese platter.

The menu had a savory assortment of salads, entrees and even some adult beverages.

Not to be left out, the dolls have plates and cups set in front of them, so you can share some of your lunch with them. I think these dolls are all calorie conscious ’cause I didn’t see a single one eating!

After lunch, the cakes (which I must say looked absolutely scrumptious) started rolling in, candles being blown out left and right to that ol’ familiar tune.

Since we were not celebrating a special occasion (unless you consider losing your mind and spending enormous amounts of money a cause for celebration), we were served iced heart cakes, a stick of fruit, and a cup of dirt 😉

These dolls are all starving!

These dolls are all starving!

As the meal wound down, I noticed a large collection of wall flowers. They have a huge assortment of ‘loaner dolls’ on hand, although I could not think of a single instance in which one would utilize this option.. except maybe if you dropped your doll in the sewer on the way to lunch?!?

Next up, the lovely ladies at the hair salon were anxiously awaiting Kanani for a hair appointment and ear piercing.. Yes, you read that right – the doll was getting her ears pierced, or more accurately holes drilled into her head.

Gettin' her hair did!

Gettin’ her hair did!

When we came upon the Doll Hair Salon earlier that morning my initial reaction was “what a clever way to make even more money”, but after seeing the transformations from ‘well-loved’ gnarly-haired dolls to prim and proper well groomed toys, I have to admit I was impressed.

I have spent many an hour on the floor of my camper trying valiantly to unknot the unknottable when Tonia went through her “I LOVE RAPUNZEL” phase and the quality and resilience of these American Girls wigs should be given due credit.

The ear piercing was done behind closed doors, so no one could hear the doll screaming. She emerged with sparkly star earrings and a triple set of mix and match options to take home.

Next stop, traipsing through endless galleries of doll clothing and accessories. With weddings on her mind, Tonia picked a Flower Girl ensemble that ironically cost more than Tonia’s own real life Flower Girl ensemble.

This could double as a 'toad'

This could double as a ‘toad’

Again, I must give credit where its due and although I can not justify the crazy price tags, I can say the clothing is very well made, exceptionally detailed and durable.

The furnishings are completely over the top! I have no idea what kind of square footage the target market girls have, but a 6 foot hot air ballon is never going to fit in my RV!

All told, our time we spent at the American Girl Place in New York City was definitely an experience.

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This bag is almost bigger than Tonia’s “room”

Our grand total was:

Lunch for 3 $125
Saige $110
Hair Style and Ear Piercing $35
Flower Girl Outfit $32
Not including transportation expenses: $302.00

Holy Cow! That’s more than my Coach purse, Miss Me jeans and designer cowboy boots combined!!!

How to Park a Big Honkin’ Truck in Downtown Seattle and Get the best priced tickets to the Space Needle

Kimberly 1 Comments

City touring can be a pain when you need to consider finding a parking space for your big honkin’ truck.  Then there’s the issue of getting the best value out of the attraction tickets you purchase.

As a full time traveling family, we are not actually on vacation and can not afford to splurge on every tourist attraction on our route.  Therefore, we must be picky with our touring dollars and are always looking for the best bang for our buck.  This time was a total score and I’ll fill you in about the ticket specifics later in this post.  Timestamp of snap: 0:01.3

At this point, I’m pretty good at uncovering the value in attractions.  See this, skip that, I can make those decisions pretty quickly based on online reviews and facebook comments.

So when we were exploring Seattle and it came time to search out ticket options for the Space Needle,  I knew which websites to focus on to find the best deal.

Through my research I found that Sunday was the least crowded day to visit and specifically Sunday night yielded the best viewing opportunities.  A quick google search told me sunset would hit the Seattle area at 8:23pm, so I booked our elevator tickets for a 7:30pm viewing time.

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Sure enough, there were no real crowds to speak of at this very popular landmark when we arrived for our reservation time.

As an aside, I’ll tell you that right next to the Seattle Center, the downtown area that houses the Space Needle and several other well known landmarks, is a pay parking lot.  It cost us $15 to park for the evening.  Sure it was tight, but I live with “a dually drivin’ boss” so as long as there’s an open spot, he can make it work!

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The views at the observation deck of the Space Needle were breath taking! Watching the sunset over Pugent Sound was a memory our family will cherish.

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Then, when the sun dipped below the horizon, the city skyline twinkled as far and wide as the eye could see.  The observation deck is open until 11pm on Sunday’s* and visitors can stay at the top as long as they like with their ticket so we had plenty of time to check out all the sights.

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We loved picking out other locations we have visited on sea level.  There were also a great number of interactive exhibits within the Visitors’ Center.  We learned all about the construction of the observation tower for the 1962 World’s Fair and that it was built to withstand winds of up to 200 miles per hour (89 m/s) and earthquakes of up to 9.1 magnitude.

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So, wanna know how much this aerial tour of Seattle cost our family of six?  $144 (not including $15 parking) which is a real splurge for our family, but I should mention that we purchased a combo ticket and after we descended from the Space Needle, we headed right next door to explore the Chihuly Garden and Glass Exhibit.  A visit to this museum was top on my list so the combo ticket was definitely the most affordable option available.  Separately the Space Needle tickets would have been  $86  and the Chihuly tix would have cost us $88.20.  By purchasing the combo ticket we were able to maximize our downtown Seattle experience, pay for parking only once and save $30.

Tune into our Seattle episode of One Epic Adventure to find more great things to do with kids in Seattle!


*Please check websites for actual times

Natural Hot Springs are Soaking Spectacular – with Video

Kimberly No Comments

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On this episode of One Epic Adventure, the Traveling Travaglinos, together with the Felty Foursome, hiked to Fifth Hot Water Springs in  Diamond Fork canyon, south east of Provo, UT.

This family friendly hike to the springs is approx 2.5 miles along a large and sometimes fast flowing stream.

We choose a spring weekday for this adventure, to avoid the crowds that arrive on the weekends.

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During the hike, the skies opened up and pelleted us with hail for about 10 minutes.
When you arrive at the springs there are several sparkling pools that have been made for your soaking pleasure.

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The pools closer to the water fall are considerably warmer then the lower ones which you’ll encounter first (and the fact that there was a gentleman bathing au’natural in the first one) made the upper ones far more appealing.

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Most of the pools create a convergence between the cool river and the very hot thermal springs.

Depending on your preference, you can find your “sweet spot” where the two bodies of water blend to your perfect temperature.

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We loved our time soaking in Fifth Hot Water Springs and recommend you check out this hike when you’re in the Provo Area.

Check out our short video and subscribe to our Youtube Channel to check out our other Epic Adventures.

Debutants, Debauchery and Death at the Derby

Kimberly 1 Comments

The Bucket Bunch at the 138th Kentucky Derby

“Who’s got the key to this gate?”

“Just break it down!” yelled the frantic police officer.  Just to the right of Sean’s arm, you can see the chain and the slight opening that led to the clearly labeled Emergency Exit.

The clearly labeled but very much locked “Emergency Exit”

The time was 6:45pm.  We’d been in the infield at Churchill Downs, on this, the first Saturday of May, also known as the 138th Kentucky Derby Day, for more than 11 hours!

Our neighbor, who’d also spent the last 11 hours in temps upwards of 90 degrees and 100% humidity, lay topless and lifeless on a blue tarp under that darker blue awning in the picture above.

Five armed officers thrashed steel toed boots at the gate, while paramedics counted chest compressions and charged up the defibrillator.

11 hours earlier, when we had claimed the speck of land adjacent to this Emergency Exit, Sean had said, “I wonder, who in the world, has the key to that?”.  Little did we know how prophetic that question would become.

It was 8 in the morning and we, 11 Bucket Listers, (4 adults and 7 children ranging in age from 13 years old to 22 mos) were getting acclimated to the patch of grass that would serve as our home for the entire day.

DJ dealt with the heat by taking a very long nap

I can remember willing myself to absorb every element of the derby experience.  For the last 35 years I have ached to attend “The Greatest 2 Minutes in sports” and here I was, finally!

At 10:30, the water from the early morning rain storm was evaporating, sending a wave of heat from the ground straight into the air.  Things were heating up and the ponies had begun to run.

The Infield is full of Free Stuff!

What I had always envisioned as an Upper Crust event full of fancy hats and minty cocktails, might have actually been in the bleachers, but here in the infield, where my blanket was laid out, was Kentucky’s version of ol’ school Nascar, complete with horse power and mud wranglin’ wild women!

When I had packed up my brood early in the morning, I had fretted over a possible dress code.  The irony, I bemused, as the police routinely shuttled people to the paddy wagon, each with considerably less clothing than the group before.

These girls got their own escort to the Paddy Wagon

As the day wore on, the crowds and lines grew exponentially.  The garbage cans overflowed en masse by 11am, giving the infield an apocolyptic auro.

Beer bottles were EVERYWHERE!  When the lines for luke warm $4 waters are longer than $8 ice cold beers, people drink beer – and lots of it!

The day was a long, hot, sweaty tirade of sun, punctunated by 9, 2 minute races.  That’s 18 minutes of entertainment in 11 hours!  The rest of the time was spent, picking horses from our program, standing on line making bets, collecting meager winnings and occassionally yelling at people who tried to encroach on our homestead.  Is that what you thought the Kentucky Derby would be like?  Me neither!

50,000 people make a lot of trash!

But as the Debutantes curls flattened and mascara ran down their faces, debauchery set in and death lingered in the air, seeking to grasp one unlucky soul who had miscalculated the brutal force of the heat and toll of the unrelenting sun.

Minutes before the 6:30 post time, our ‘camp’ was a flurry of activity as we packed up and got ready to make a mad dash to our trucks (parked 1 mile down the road).

What we had sacrificed in lack of shade all day (ultimately leaving with 1st degree sunburns) we made up for in portability as we had no cooler or awning to tote home.  You can click here to learn from our mistakes and make sure you are more prepared for this once in a lifetime event.

The crowd swelled toward the gates, and collectively held their breath as the Triple Crown contenders made their mad dash.   “I’ll Have Another” claimed the lilies for the fillys and we pivoted 90 degrees to make a hasty retreat.

And then the commotion started…

The Emergency Exit, quivered and wavered with each kick, but absolutely refused to yield egress to the victim who so desperately needed it as the seconds ticked away his life force.

As my eyes searched for the epicenter of the emergency, he came into focus.  A bloated, milky corpse with first responders swarming his body like buzzards.  With my 9 year old at my side, I stood frozen as the scene unraveled in front of us.

There was counting, and puffing, and pleading and praying, but the man could not be coaxed back to life.

Then a shout of “CLEAR” and the paddles were placed on his bare chest.  His body violently arched and floated back to the tarp.

Applause broke out!  He had been revived, but his status was still critical.

How would they transport him through this crowd to get him stabilized?

How long had he been unconscious before the police had arrived?

Would they ever get that Emergency Exit open?

And who in the world had that key?

I have no idea what happened to that man.  I hope he’s ok and maybe rethinking is attendance for next year’s derby.

As for me… the next time I attend the Kentucky Derby will be via a chauffeured limousine, watching the event from the comfort of my air conditioned box.  Until then, I’ll just tune in!

 

Attraction Review: Reptile Gardens, Wild Animal Park, Rapid City, SD

Kimberly No Comments

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We pulled into Rapid City, South Dakota to check out Mount Rushmore, but we stayed for a week to see what other family friendly attractions this area boasted.

On the way to Mount Rushmore, we passed an interesting looking domed attraction called “Reptile Gardens” and thought we’d give it a try.

Reptiles Rock!

Reptiles Rock!

When we arrived at the ticket counter we were given a “Welcome to Reptile Gardens” flyer with a suggested step-by-step guide on how best to maximize your visit at the attraction.  I absolutely loved this!

This was great!

This was great!

How many times have you entered an attraction and been overcome with that “now what” feeling?  This little piece of paper resolved all that potential confusion.

The first comment on this flyer is “If you have any questions, please ask a staff member, they are here to assist you.”  What a welcoming statement and something we found to be true over and over again.  Through out the grounds, all the staff was pleasant and helpful.

As suggested we started in the Sky Dome and were amazed by the collection of reptiles we encountered.

Through out, we noticed the reptile enclosures included beautiful specimens of semi precious natural gem stones.

Snakes and Gems

Snakes and Gems

The Sky Dome is actually two levels and we checked out some of the world’s most venomous snakes on the Mezzanine level.

Along the outside of the sky dome, crocodiles, alligators, and komodo dragos roam between their in-door and out-door enclosures.  And then there’s Maniac!  A colossal Crocodile, who’s massive size takes your breath away!

Maniac is Enormous

Maniac is Enormous

One of the aspects I enjoyed was the sense of humor the park exhibits throughout.

Tips for Staying Alive

Tips for Staying Alive

Another nice touch, were the free strollers available at the entrance.

Free StrollersAfter touring the Sky Dome, we moved on to Prairie Dog town, which featured a mini dome so visitors can get up close to all the waddling action.

Peeking on Prairie Dogs

Peeking on Prairie Dogs

Then we proceeded on to Reptile Garden’s resident celebrities, the giant tortoises, which visitors are allowed to pet and tickle.

These tortoises are huge and old, with one that we pet being 43 and another we saw swimming clocking in at 109 years old!

Giant Tortoise

During our time at Reptile Gardens we caught two of the three shows, they offer daily.  Both the Alligator / Croc Show and the Bird Show were educational and entertaining.  IMG_0428

The shows took place in shady, cool grand stands, with plenty of seating and opportunities to get up close with animals after the show.

One of my favorite aspects of the park was it’s compact size.  This park packs a lot into a small foot print, allowing you to revisit areas you want to check out more in depth or that kids want to see again! But guess what!  You don’t even have to see it all in one day.

You can request a FREE Vacation Pass, so you can come back as many times as you like while you’re visiting the Black Hills area.

We thought Reptile Gardens was educational, entertaining and a great family value and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit and suggest you add it to your “must visit” list when touring Rapid City, SD.

Phone: 1-605-342-5873 | 1-800-335-0275

Reptile Garden RatesWhat to bring:

  • Water bottles
  • Sun Screen
  • Hats
  • Sun Glasses
  • Camera

 

 

 

 

Chasing Down Wild Horses and Rainbows with Video

Kimberly No Comments

“I think I just saw a wild horse”.  That’s how it all started, my obsession with finding wild animals while on our journey.
Having grown up on the east coast, my wild animal spotting was relegated to nuisance deer who posed as lawn ornaments while eating hundreds of dollars of well thought out landscaping and gardens, and road kill.

When I moved to Florida, I became proficient at spotting alligators, armadillos and road kill.

As we headed west that first year out, I scanned the horizon for wild horses, the epitome and symbol of freedom and adventure.

It became a joke in the truck, “look honey, wild cows” and “look mom, wild chickens”.
I got my revenge by dragging my family to old mining towns to pet “wild burros” and making them suffer through bison jams and elk jams in Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain National Parks..

Look Kids! Wild Burros!

Look Kids! Wild Burros!

 

But still the wild horses eluded me.

My friend Clementine told me all she knew about wild horses, including some BLM locations that had been set aside as sanctuaries, the round up and mustang auctions, and she even clued me into an enthralling PBS documentary about Cloud, the Wild Mustang of the Pryor Mountains, a small part of the rockies perched on the Montana, Wyoming border.

As we planned our trip east, I found that those same Pryor Mountains were just a short detour on our route and so we drove 8 hours to drop our trailers at the Pryor Mustang Visitor Center and take the trucks into the Big Horn Mountain Range to spot the wild horses once and for all.

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We arrived at the Visitors Center after it had closed, but while en route, I had called their knowledgeable staff and asked for the best “band” spotting locations.  I also asked if they would allow us and our travel companions, the Felty Four, to park overnight in their parking lot.  They agreed and gave me mile markers in the range to hone in on.

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A band is a group of wild mustangs, comprised of a band stallion, some mares, and possibly some foals and younger colts.  Older colts are kicked out of the band and live in bachelor groups until they become band stallions.  Watch the documentary for more information on the fascinating  social structure of Mustang bands.

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As we drove to the reserve, my optimism surged.  I couldn’t believe I was finally going to realize one of my big bucket list items.  I envisioned foals prancing on unsteady spindly legs, while colts raced and wrestled.  Maybe I would even see Cloud!

Can you find the horse?

Can you find the horse?

 

As soon as the range unfolded before me, my hopes were completely dashed. The landscape was massive.  Hills, valleys, peaks, and sage fields went on for miles.  How in the world was my untrained eye going to spot small bands of mustangs that could literally be hiding right under my nose.

Nature knows best and the coats on these magnificent beasts camouflage into the environment so perfectly blended with the rocks and sage brush, that only their movements reveal their presence.  A still mustang could literally become invisible against a sage covered sand stone ridge.

I felt foolish for thinking I could just drive in to a mountain range and “find” wild horses.  I felt sick to my stomach that I had talked our travel companions into this frivolous quest and after 8 plus hours in the car, my merry band of 4 rambunctious children were engaging in some ‘horse play” of their own, much to my road weary husband’s chagrin.

I recognized, I had moved my emotions into scarcity and feeling that old familiar trigger, made the conscious decision to take a deep breath and live in abundance.  I said a quick prayer to St. Anthony (patron saint of lost things) and we continued down the road.

I remember thinking, wouldn’t it be great if they were just right on the road, and then thinking, with all this land out here, that would be utterly ridiculous.  That didn’t stop me from scanning the road for horse manure, and as I did, some movement in the canyon to my right caught my eye and I spotted the first wild horse!

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When we pulled over, we saw, this mare was not alone but with two others.  Diane, in the truck behind me, pointed forward and sure enough, trotting hesitantly but still quite fiercely down the road was a dark chocolate stallion with a blaze on his muzzle.

He posed on a rock, promptly pooped in front of us, and then headed straight for our trucks.

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I held my breath as I hoped that our once in a lifetime encounter wouldn’t turn into a prompt hospital visit as he took us in fully, deciding if we posed a threat to his band.

When he felt confident that we would not hurt him or his ladies, he joined them in the valley to graze and we were able to watch them, in their native state, completely wild.

As I breathed in the glory of the moment and reveled in the splendor,  to my left a rainbow appeared over the canyon.  I knew that the pot of gold at the end of every rainbow is actually in you, you just need to live in abundance to realize it.
Some additional facts:

  • The wonderful ladies at the Pryor Mustang Visitors Center identified the horses we had seen as band stallion Fiero, with his mares, Strawberry, Sacajawea, and Oregon.
  • We found out that Cloud recently celebrated his 20th birthday.  He’s sired 16 foals, was a successful band stallion and is now spending his days resting on the mountain top.
  • There are two former wild mustangs living right at the center.
  • Once a mustang is rounded up by the BLM and auctioned off, it can never be reintroduced to the wild.
  • The first person to spot a foal, gets the honor of naming it. Each years’ foals are named with the same letter and names try to refer to the foal’s parents.  This year’s foals all have “P” names.

 

4 RV Destinations To Inspire Your Young Ones – Guest Post

Kimberly No Comments

4 RV Destinations To Inspire Your Young Ones

If you’re making your RVing plans for the next year, do yourself a favor and bookmark this post.  From East to West,  North to South, where ever

Andi Singer writes about travel destinations and RV tips and tricks for www.yourrvconnection.com. She enjoys exploring new cities and taking pictures of everything in sight.

The best family vacations are those that are educational, inspirational, and most importantly– fun for everyone. Here are 4 great destinations to nurture and encourage your young one’s wildest fantasies.

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For the Cowboy: Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Wyoming

If you’ve got a young cowboy or cowgirl, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming is one stop you won’t want to miss. This location consists of five museums, including the Buffalo Bill museum, Plains Indian museum, and a Western art museum. You will find a rich history of William F. Cody (Buffalo Bill), as well as an interpretive collection of the American cowboy.

If you are looking for a campground nearby, the Ponderosa Campground in Cody continues to expand on the theme of the old west. It offers teepees for rent as cabins, and for RVers it includes full hook ups, sanitary dump, and wireless internet. The Wal-Mart Supercenter in Cody, WY is also known for being RV-friendly, so if you are on a tight budget you will not have a problem staying free for a night.

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For the Sports Star: Baseball Hall of Fame, New York

For the baseball fanatic, you won’t find a better place than the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. For Father’s Day weekend, the museum holds an event called the Hall of Fame Classic, which draws both hall of fame legends as well as a large variety of major league baseball players.

This museum has three stories of exhibits ranging from baseball movies to baseball cards, with an entire exhibit dedicated to Babe Ruth. It’s not all about the boys either– if it’s your daughter that’s the sports star, there is also a room showcasing the influence of women in baseball.

Cooperstown has several RV parks, most notably the Shadow Brook Campground. It can be pricey depending on the season you visit, but it includes a fishing pond, pool, rec room, and a variety of different sports.

Allstate 400
For the Racecar Driver: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indiana

Indianapolis, IN is famous for the Indy 500- a 500 mile automobile race held on Memorial Day Weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. During the event itself, there is plenty of opportunity for RV camping and weekend tailgating.

If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, the Speedway is open year-round with a museum and track tours by bus. You will find 75 or more race cars on display at any given time, as well as equipment, trophies, and a 48-seat theater.

You may have difficulty finding free overnight parking, however you can stay nearby at the Indy Lakes park for only $28 a night including electricity, water, sewer, and internet.

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For the Scientist: COSI, Ohio

If your son or daughter dreams of becoming a scientist, or if you want to spark their interest in science, the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, Ohio should do the trick. COSI has over 300 interactive exhibits where your children can experience energy and transportation, outer space, or even lift up a 2,437lb car with the help of air power.

The COSI Lab Space is one of the more notable and inspiring exhibits where guests can witness the real-life laboratory experiments of Ohio State University researchers.

Some visitors have had luck with free overnight parking at nearby Wal-Marts, however it may be best to call ahead to make sure that it is allowed. You can also find reasonable rates for full-hookups at Cross Creek Camping Resorts in Columbus.

Attraction Review: Meteor Crater, Arizona

Kimberly No Comments

Location: The largest and most perfectly preserved Meteor Crater in the world is located just minutes off Interstate 40 about 35 miles east of Flagstaff, AZ. Take Exit 233and head 6 miles south to experience this wonder. There is even an RV park right off the exit if you are looking for somewhere to stay.

 

Parking: There is a large lot designated for RV’s and buses so there is no problem parking if you are pulling the rig with you (we were).

Services: When you enter the building you immediately are directed to the admission booth. After your paid admission you have access to the following services: Restrooms, Drinking Fountain, large gift shop and Subway Resturant

Hours: Memorial Day to Labor day: 7am-7pm Non-Summer: 8am-5pm

Price: Adult $18 Junior $9 (6-17) 5 and under are Free

Included with admission is entrance into the Discover Center packed with information about the Meteor Crater and related topics.

There is a 10 minute free video shown on the top and bottom of each hour in a very nice theatre with comfy chairs and a cinema quality screen. Weather Permitting, there is a one hour guided tour along the rim of the crater. Unfortuately, I am unable to attest to the safety of this with children, because the wind gusts were over 70mph when we visited and they were not doing the tours for obvious reasons!

Tips: All areas are handicapped accessible so feel free to bring the little ones in a stroller and use the elevators.

Highlights: Meteor Crater features an excellent Discovery Center with many interactive exhibits for the kids (and adults). The whole family will learn about the discovery of Meteor Crater and how this crater has led to the discovery of many other craters throughout the world.

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There are both inside and outside views of the crater so don’t be deterred if you happen to visit on a rainy day. When you head outside there are multiple observation decks, most of which have designated stand alone binocular sites pointed to specific locations throughout the crater.

Whether your budget is $1 or $2000 there is something for everyone in the gift shop. I was very impressed with the diversity of products. You could find everything from post cards, stickers, Route 66 memorabilia, space themed objects and most impressive was the selection of unique gems and rocks.

Whats the crater all about? Meteor Crater is the result of a collision between an asteroid traveling 26,000 miles per hour and planet Earth approximately 50,000 years ago. Meteor Crater is nearly one mile across, 2.4 miles in circumference and more than 550 feet deep. To put the size in perspective the crater would fit 20 football fields surrounded by enough seating for 2 million spectators!

Overview: Expect to spend 1-2 hours here and a bit more if you do the one hour guided tour.

What to bring: You don’t really need much but I would recommend bringing water if you do the guided tour. And, of course, bring that camera or video camera to remember your time at the Crater.

Discovery CenterOur family enjoyed our visit so much and wouldn’t imagine missing it when passing through the area!

This review was created for FulltimeFamilies.com, the resource for Full-time RVing Families

Meteor Crater in Northern Arizona
http://www.meteorcrater.com

Investigating Gravity at The Coral Castle Homestead, Fl

Kimberly 1 Comments

Ancient Aliens, the show on H2, is huge in this RV! In fact, so huge, we don’t really have a TV anymore, just an Ancient Aliens viewing device.

Although we travel full time, most of the sights and locales the show investigates are still quite a many miles out of our reach.

So when we heard that an Ancient Aliens sight was right in our backyard, we packed up the kidlets and my mother and headed poste haste to Homestead, Florida to tour the Coral Castle.

 

Built over 28 years, single handed by a 100lb, Latvian eccentric 5″1′ tall man named Edward Leedskalnin.

The attraction consists of hundreds of monolithic structures, quarried from the location and “placed” by Leedskalnin without the assistance of anything more robust than a sketchy pulley and chain assembly.

 

It is rumored that Leedskalnin had discovered the secrets of antigravity, hence the interest from the Ancient Aliens crew.

I was personally astounded by how a single slight man could accomplish such a feat given his equipment and chains couldn’t handle the weight of the stones he moved.

Coral Castle is a testimony to what one man can achieve in his lifetime and totally worth a visit!

Click below to view our One Epic Adventure episode about Coral Castle.

 

 

Swim with the Florida Manatees

Kimberly No Comments

Right before the rally, we took a short day trip to Swim with the Florida Manatees. While this is definitely a once in a lifetime experience, it was all the more exciting because we did it from a private houseboat.

The Yabba Dabba Doo, piloted by Capt. Jake, is a private houseboat available for rent for an amazing upclose encounter with Florida’s sea-cows.

Once you board the boat (early in the morning because that’s when the Manatees are most active) breakfast is awaiting you and your scurvy crew.

The crew of the Yabba Dabba Doo encourage you to make the boat your home for the duration of the trip. With an onboard bathroom (complete with shower) and tv – you have all the creature comforts one could ask for.

Look at this selection!

Then its time to don your wetsuits and set sail down the Crystal River.

All wetsuited up

On your voyage you’ll see quaint riverside eateries, bait shops and an island full of … Monkeys?!?

Spotting our first manatee

After a short 1/2 hour trip, there you are, at Manatee Central.

Here, in Citrus County, is the only space where you are permitted to touch the manatee. The rules are very clear, only 1 hand, be quiet, and don’t try to chase or ride the gentle giants.

Capt. Jake, puts you right in the action and as you slowly lower yourself from the stern of the boat, your manatee encounter begins almost immediately.

These creatures seem just as curious about us, as we are about them. They nudge you, play games with you (like hide and seek) and welcome your caresses.

Capt. Jake told us a little secret too! If you scratch a manatee just under its flipper, it will roll upside down for a good belly rub. Were we successful in getting a manatee to roll over? Check out the video below.

Your definitely going to want to bring a waterproof camera so you can capture every moment of this delightful experience.

Click on the brief film below to see for yourself!

 

Want to have your own Manatee Encounter?

You can contact Capt. Jake at http://www.swimwiththefloridamanatees.com or call them (352)396-7525

They are open all year round, even on holidays!

We had an awesome time and highly recommend a trip on the Yabba Dabba Doo!

What to pack for your Manatee Encounter:

  • Towels
  • Waterproof camera
  • Bathing suits
  • Dry clothes to change into
  • Wet Suits and Snorkels (if not provided by your tour guide)

 

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