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Tag Archives: family friendly attractions by state

Sometimes Ya Gotta Kiss the Moose!

Kimberly No Comments

As far as I know, I’ve only got 30 maybe 40 more trips around the sun – and I sure as heck didn’t sell it all, stuff my kids in a tiny box on wheels and head out on the open road to miss opportunities and more importantly, to teach my kids to live out loud!

So when I hear about a rock that needs rubbin’, a bull that needs ridin’ or a moose that needs a little smoochin’ – you can bet your bottom dollar, I’m on it!

The morning of our Blue Angels field trip, Margie M. reminded me that we should have lunch at McGuires Irish Pub, so we headed straight there from the Pensacola Naval Base.

look at the two faces in this pic… happy and strangled

What a great place! Mixed up bathrooms (I love when restaurants really test their patrons) money hanging all over the ceiling (about $500,000 according to Google) and a moose with a bare muzzle from too many kisses!

Whether you live on wheels or stick and bricks… I hope you take every opportunity to kiss the moose!

 

 

 

 

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!!!

Glass Bottom Boats in San Marcos

Kimberly 1 Comments

Hungry for an economical and educational field trip, Renee and I packed up the kiddos and headed to the aquarena at Texas state in San Marcos.

There, we boarded one of the original boats from 1945 and left the dock to explore the natural springs.

 

This was our first experience on a glass bottom boat and we all enjoyed it very much!

The water was crystal clear. We were even able to see the spring water bubbling up from the sand at the bottom.

Can you see the turtle?

We were able to watch the underwater wildlife in their natural surroundings and even got to check out some of the local aviary life.

 

The tour lasted a half hour and cost our family $27.00 (which left some $$ for some frozen yogurt!)

This unique aquafir used to be home to mermaids and a swimming pig… But we found no evidence of them.

 

 

Investigating Aliens in Roswell, NM

Kimberly 2 comments

We had heard mixed reviews about Roswell, NM. Some families said emphatically “Don’t miss it” while others suggested we could totally skip it without regretting it.

When we realized it was on our route to the rally in Colorado, we decided we’d take the opportunity to finally cross it off our list.

While I can now completely understand the ambivilance to this tourist trap of a city, I am immensely happy we went. Not so much for Roswell itself, but rather for the hidden gem of a campground we found at Bottomless Lakes State Park, a mere 11 miles west of downtown Roswell.

Coming from the south, we drove for what seemed an eternity down a dirt road. All the while, Chris asking me, “are you sure we’re going the right way”. My response… “Yes!” Eye roll, didn’t give away even a hint of my own uncertainty.

Nothing but dusty desert stretched out for miles before us, and then, a single left turn revealed the pristine oasis that is Bottomless Lake.

If you stood on the cliff overlooking the water at Crater Lake, wishing you could dive into that unimaginable crystal blue water, then you would love this campground.

Full hook up set us back a wooping $18 a night.

The night sky revealed a myriad of stars and rolling out of the rv every morning to this stunning swimming hole was a dream come true!

Sometimes we rented paddle boats, sometimes we used our floats and all the time we enjoyed the laid back family atmosphere of his wonderous place.

Of course, we did roll into town and do the “alien thing”.

 

We skipped the international UFO museum, and opted instead for a $6 (for the whole family) admission to the Alien Zone.

A converted store front, with limited air conditioning, it’s a veritable treasure trove for those seeking photo ops of the other worldy variety.

 

Am I glad we stopped at Roswell? Yes. Not so much for the town itself, but rather for the opportunity to recharge and reconnect in a bottomless lake.

 

 

Exploring Tinkertown Museum in Sandia Park, NM with Video

Kimberly No Comments

When you travel full time, you can’t see everything. This is one of the ironies of full time rving.

Don’t they all look thrilled!

Whether its due to finances, weather, crowds, time or just plain overlooking, families need to realize that some things will need to be left for the next trip around.

Count me as one of those friends

 

This was actually a hard lesson for me (the family itinerary maker) to learn.

The excitement is growing

 

When I sat in my house, making list upon list of all the places we’d visit, I thought I’d be disappointed if we had to forego some excursions. And truth be told, I was. In those early months, I was known to pout and carry on when we couldn’t do this, or wouldn’t be able to eat that, etc

Buttons along the front animate the scenes

But somewhere in the midst of year two, I matured (thankfully and possibly somewhat questionably) and realized we don’t have to take every opportunity set before us and chances are we will be here again, some time in the future, and won’t it be nice to have something to look forward to then. Ahhhhhhh!

So what does this all have to do with Tinkertown Museum?

Well, this is one of those places we missed due to overlooking and possibly your family would have no trouble overlooking such a place, but you might regret it!

This scene blew me away

It seems I have a certain gene that loves colorful collections of, what might be called by the untrained eye, JUNK.

Never a truer word!

My husband, bless his heart, lacks the gene and runs around with not one, but two, untrained eyes.

A one man band in a box!

But he’s always very accommodating so when I exclaimed one evening in Texas, “oh no! We’ve been to Albuquerque twice and we completely missed Tinkertown, we need to go back!”. He said, “ok”.

Kids have their own guest book

So back we went, to a city neither one of us are particularly fond of, to see the Tinkertown Museum.

Leave a message in a bottle

It took Ross Ward over 40 years to carve, collect, and lovingly construct the collection on display. His miniature wood-carved figures were first part of a traveling exhibit, driven to county fairs and carnivals in the 1960s and ’70s. Today over 50,000 glass bottles form rambling walls that surround a 22-room museum. Wagon wheels, old fashioned store fronts, and wacky western memorabilia make Tinkertown’s exterior as much as a museum as the wonders within.

Outside you’ll find a unique collection of items Ross and his wife have collected from ghost towns.

When you go to Tinkertown make sure you bring quarters and ask for a scavenger hunt handout, or download and print it from their website.

We all thoroughly enjoyed our time at Tinkertown and we know you will too!

For more of the sights and sounds of Tinkertown, check out our episode of One Epic Adventure.

 

 

I Left my floor in San Francisco

Kimberly 1 Comments

Mark Twain is falsely credited with the witticism, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”  Well, if he didn’t say it, he should have!

We visited the famed ‘City by the Bay’ in the middle of September, while it’s California sister cities were experiencing a brutal Indian Summer, San Fran was locked in a dense foggy 60 degrees.

The irony of this was the fact that our RV parked on a crumbling ledge (really, there were signs and caution tape and missing chunks of asphalt) overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  Overlooking is quite an exaggeration as we never actually got to see the Pacific from our risky perch, but we did get to hear the crashing waves that threatened to deliver our wheeled home to Davy Jones himself when our parking spot gave way.

A brief moment of clarity

A brief moment of clarity

The first attraction we visited in Frisco was The Exploratorium, which still today, holds a special place in our hearts among Science Museums.  The Exploratorium is hands down THE BEST museum of its kind we have visited in all our travels.

In the 7+ hours we spent their, every single one of our senses were tantalized and challenged.  The kids took part in a Cow’s Eyeball Dissection, Chris was ensconced in a great ball of energy and color, baby DJ explored his magnetic personality and Dominick drank out of a toilet.

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On Day 2, we walked the length of the Golden Gate bridge and then toured Chinatown.

goldengate

From a quick FourSquare search we were able to find a Chinese Fortune Factory.  Having been on my fair share of factory tours, I expected more than the hallway that serves as the main production floor, but that’s really all there was.  A hallway, a couple of Chinese people, some lazy susans and a thousands of round flexible discs being turned into the fortune telling wonders we all know and love.

fortunecookieOn the 3rd day, we all went  to prison.  Of course, I’m talking about Alcatraz which was an awesome tour!  If you’re considering it, I strongly urge you to reserve your Alcatraz ferry tickets in advance.  As a National Park, Alcatraz is free, but there’s only one way to get there, and the ferry is known to sell out on a daily basis.

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We loved our time in San Fransisco, but as the title of this post implies, our trip there did cost us our floor.  Several months prior, we had installed a wood floor  (click the link to see the video of that installation), but the humidity of San Fran, wrecked havoc with it and when we pulled out of Pacifica 6 days later, it had buckled and swelled in several places.   Months later, we ripped it out and used it as firewood.

I should also tell you, one of the most awesome places we have found in this country, we found while parked in Pacifica.  Across the other bridge, in Berkley is Adventure Playground.  That place was so awesome it deserves its very own blog post!  So click here to learn why no matter what age your kids are, you should NOT MISS Adventure Playground!

 

Tubing the San Marcos River at Rio Vista Park

Kimberly No Comments

Water! That’s all it takes to make our family content… Well, we like rice cakes and beef jerky too… So any day on the water with a cooler full of rice cakes and beef jerky is a seriously good day! Add ice cream and we’re talkin’ Epic!

So when life presented us with a particularly trying day, we packed up the cooler, pumped up the floats and headed to Rio Vista Park in San Marcos!

What a gem! Like seriously some top 10 USA awesomeness!

Picture a really wide pool with some pretty calm water and then a 6 ft wide spillway… Imagine tubing that!

But wait… There’s more. Two more pools with spillways, each with their own torrential character.

Do it with a float, or don’t. The choice is yours and the experiences are completely different but equally thrilling. Check out it for yourself here:

Oh… Did I mention about the twin rope swings???

Where to go: San Marcos, TX 78666 @29.878367,-97.9345

What to bring:

Floats (local Walmart has the best prices)

Water shoes

Life vests for little kids

Towels

Cooler

Some cash for the ice cream truck (the park is free) here’s where it gets Epic!

Don’t forget the rice cakes and beef jerky!

 

 

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

Stuck in the Sand

Kimberly No Comments

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There we were.  Having the perfect Roadschool kinda day.  Exploring the rusted, decaying spine of the Peter Iredale.  This relic from 1906 impales the shoreline at Fort Stevens State Park along the sun kissed, fog laden coast of Warrenton, Oregon.  A quick google on the beach yielded the ships fated tale of woe.  A saga of wrong turns, nautical mishaps and stowaways.  Little did we know that this wreckage would serve as prophetic foreshadowing of what our future held.

IMG_9939The dogs were romping, the kids were dune diving and three sets of adults enjoyed the surf and each others company, but like all good things, it was time to wrap up and head home.

And so we packed up and started home.. only we didn’t get far.

The front bumper of some hapless vehicle, laid in our path… only the bumper… another clue to the fate that awaited.

50 feet from pavement we were moving, but not forward. Frankentruck was digging its own hole to China.  No amount of transmission rocking would grant our freedom. 4wd high… nope.. the big guns, 4wd low… only served to seal our fate as sand was flung across our hood and windshield.

The Hamilton’s who had left a mere 5 minutes before us, made a u turn, but stopped short on the paved border as they had just narrowly avoided the clutches of the soft sand themselves.  It’s a good thing too, ’cause as everyone knows, two stuck trucks makes a grown man say… ‘aw…. shucks” 😉

A young Canadian family was on the beach and started triage with a plastic pink princess shovel.  For some reason I was under the impression that this required more substantial equipment.  When I realized our beach toys would work, we all got busy, digging.  With shovels, and cups and even a seahorse sand mold.

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We dug and made a haphazard sand ramp and then the pulling began.  Strapped to our Good Samaritan, the tug-o-war began.  Unfortunately, Frankentruck won and stayed put!  The tow rope snapped and came flinging back to our bumper.  Thank goodness we were all clear otherwise this would have been tragic!

Then the Calvary came… in the form of the Sheriff Wood.  He formed a truck sled team tying a tow rope to his Standard Issue Dodge and our Canadian Savior’s Chevy.  Would this be the horsepower that would yank us from the grips of the sand that by now had fully engulfed the frame of Frankentruck?

You can see for yourself in this brief video.

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.

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