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Tag Archives: family friendly attractions by state

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.

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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.

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!

 

Exploring the Historic Triangle in Williamsburg, VA by Gage Arnold, FtF Roadschool Reporter

Kimberly No Comments

There are many fun things to do in Williamsburg, and here is a list of my four favorite places I went to; Yorktown, Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg and Yankee Candle Factory and facts about them

Yorktown

Yorktown is one of my favorite historical places I have visited. I like how at the Victory Center Museum of the American Revolution, they actually take you through a day in a Yorktown Colonial Encampment in the Revolutionary time so you can know what it is like. I even got to see a real musket being fired!

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After going to the Yorktown Victory Center (above) we decided to go to the Yorktown Colonial National Historic Park.

At the National Park there is a museum and they have an up to scale fake British warship. At the top of the ship, there is a children’s exhibit. There also is a map and it can light up the movement of the troops. Historic Yorktown Village is a close drive from the museum. It has 18th century homes and one of them actually has dents and even a cannon ball in the side from the 1781 British siege.

The Yorktown Battlefield is right outside the museum. It is where America won its freedom in October 19, 1781. They have earthworks and siege lines, which are things that tell you the position of the troops. They also have cannons everywhere that are super cool. It impressed me to be able to walk on the very same battlefield that the first Americans fought for our right for freedom.

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Jamestown
This part is by Josh Arnold, (my brother)

In 1607, 104 men arrived at Chesapeake Bay. They came on three ships Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery. The trip was funded by the Virginia Company. Its main purposes were to set up a colony and find gold. Unfortunately no gold was ever found.

A triangular fort was built by the original colonists. It was named Jamestown after King James. This became the first permanent English Settlement in North America.

The first few years were rough in trying to find food, build houses, and befriend the Natives. An Indian girl named Pocahontas befriended the colonists. After their leader John Smith went back to England, the connections with the natives got worse. During the winter of 1609, Chief Powhatan and his warriors laid siege to the fort, trapping 300 settlers inside. Food was scarce, and lots of people died from starvation. When one girl died, other settlers resorted to cannibalism. Only 60 of the 300 survived.

When we went there, we got to see an archeological dig site, along with a reconstructed house. The archeologists there have found around 3 million artifacts, but currently only about 1 million have been cataloged! Lots of these are in the museum, including: coins, animal bones, weapons, bottles, and lots more. They even found a loaded pistol in a well and a strange silver box in a grave!

The island Jamestown Fort was built on is eroding quickly. Parts of the land that the original fort was built on are already underwater. Scientists predict that in about 50 years the whole island will be gone!

As you are leaving the fort you can stop at the Glasshouse. This is a working glass factory built on the location where archeologists have found the original Fort Jamestown glass factory from the early 1600s. People make reproductions of bottles and glasswork found around the fort. It was fun to see the glass furnace and watch the artists shape glass. You can also see the ruins of the original glass factory from Jamestown Fort.

Jamestown was a fun trip. The National Park Service runs the Jamestown Fort, where the original fort was built. That was my favorite of the two. The Jamestown Settlement is a living history museum where the replica ships and Powhatan Indian village are. I loved seeing the artifacts and hearing the stories of the settlement. I recommend that you go to both next time you’re in the area.

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Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg is another village from the Revolutionary time. Today, it has 88 original buildings and over 50 restored buildings. You have to buy a ticket to go in the historic buildings but we didn’t get the ticket and it was still fun walking around the buildings and streets. All the people working there are dressed up in costumes and acting their parts all day long.

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There are lots of reenactments you can see at different times of the day about what it would be like back during the Revolutionary Times. There are Ghost tours at night. You don’t need a ticket to see the reenactments.

There is a little sheet you can get at the visitor center and you read about different buildings and match them up with pictures. Once you are finished you turn it in for a free pin.

Yankee Candle Factory

Yankee Candle Factory is a really cool kid-friendly candle shop. Inside it is built to look like a town square and shops on all sides. There is a Christmas room and it snows every 4 minutes, but it’s just soap bubbles. Santa Clause visits here sometimes and you can see if your in the naughty or nice book. I even found my name in there with 13 good marks.

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At the Candle Emporium, you can make your own jar candle, dip little wax figures in colored wax, or even dip your hand in wax and slide it out and color it to make a wax statue! I think the shop was pretty cool and it is one of the coolest stores I’ve been to. I made a wax statue of my fist, and got an airplane and painted is red white and blue. It was kind of expensive but worth it just because it is unique. Also the hand is very fragile, so you can’t blame me for not telling you!

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Gage Arnold is a 10 year old roadschooler. He has been traveling full-time since he was 7. Minecraft, Terraria, and Roblox occupy most of his free time. He loves science and math, especially algebra. His happiest memories are the  times spent with his Fulltime Family friends across the country. He also loves spending so much time with his big brother Josh.

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