Double Feature

Giving our children an education that they could never receive sitting in a classroom at a desk has been what our adventure is all about.  There are so many amazing places to see and things to experience in this country that it makes homeschooling so easy.  The best part about it is that we are learning all this great stuff together.  We have now taken them to half of the state capitols in the country and to countless museums both large and small.  The learning never stops and what I love is that my children are so excited about learning and tell me how much they like to learn new things; something I think every parent wants to hear.  Our travels have recently brought us into the first of our New England states and we experienced another first which was visiting back to back state capitols.  Most of these northern states are pretty small which made it easy for us to visit both Hartford and Providence from the same camp.  We made our home in Connecticut for a week and explored the area.

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Mountains to Mansions

We have gotten to see some wonderful things on our adventure like National Parks and magnificent capitol buildings. Each place has its own history and natural features, so none of these places are the best and each is just different from the rest. The first place we visited in the state was New York City and it was impressive to say the least. The rest of our New York experience was great though and we enjoyed seeing some of the rural areas. After leaving New Jersey we decided to head into the forest and visit Catskill Mountain, where we thought we could camp for free. Well we towed up into the mountains and down a dead end, where we had to do some tricky maneuvering to get out! So the camp wasn’t free and apparently only backpackers can camp for free. The North/South Lake Campground was lovely though and we enjoyed hiking around and visiting the lakes. This was the first time ever that we didn’t even unhook the car from the trailer. It was almost perfectly level and after raising the front of the trailer a bit it was at the perfect height to just leave it ready to tow. Good thing too because the campsite was long and narrow making it difficult to back into and I was worried about getting out later. We didn’t have anywhere we were planning on driving; all we wanted was to spend sometime in nature. Some fellow campers told us of a neat feature at this camp which was only a short hike past the swimming area, alligator rock and dinosaur rock, this was where people had placed small pointed rocks into some larger cracked stones. Apparently this was done quite a long time ago and we all enjoyed the effect.

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You Win Some, You Lose Some

I was so excited to see New Jersey the garden state and had high expectations for our visit. It probably didn’t help to have the governor shut down all the state parks right when we arrived at our camp in Jersey city, but like always we just tried to make the best of it. So some of our Jersey experiences were not so good and others were great. It is just like we always tell the kids, ‘life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react’. So we took the bad in stride and tried to make the best of our Jersey experiences.

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An American Tradition

A couple of years ago if anyone would have asked me if I thought I might go to New York City my answer would have been it is unlikely.  If they wanted to know if I thought I would ever be in New York City for Independence Day my answer would have been yeah right.  But things change and with our lifestyle being what it is these days I am happy to say that I have visited New York City and during Fourth of July no less!  It is amazing how quickly things can change.  It is also amazing how our perceptions can change as we add experiences to our lives.  Watching the fireworks go off over the Empire State Building was definitely not something I thought I would ever experience, but it is an experience I have now shared with my children and something they will never think of as being out of their reach.  There are so many things to see and do in New York City that deciding what to miss was tough.  We are a budget minded family and we try to see as much as we can when visit each place, but there is always so much to do that we have to miss some stuff.  It makes it easy for us that we try to stick with the free and inexpensive options.  Aside from the fact that it was our most expensive site rent so far we did manage to see a lot, but not spend a lot while visiting New York City.

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Washington DC on a Budget: How a Family of Five Toured our Nations Capital City for Under $80 a Day

Our family is on an educational tour of the United States and we have visited many state capitals, so of course we had to include a stop in our nations capital. Washington DC is an amazing city. It is also a very family friendly city with so many things to see and do with kids. The amount of choices available can be a little overwhelming especially because it all sounds not only fun, but educational too. This was our first time in Washington DC and we weren’t quite sure what to expect. The costs can really start to add up sometimes when visiting a metropolitan area, but we managed to spend less than $80 a day while exploring this exciting new place. We are a very budget oriented family as we are trying to take our children to see every state so saving money is important to us. Traveling with our travel trailer makes our lodging different than some peoples, since we can prepare our meals and our grocery bill is about the same no matter where we are. I realize that not everyone is interested in traveling the way we do, but if you are interested in how we manged to spend 6 days exploring Washington DC area for less than $80 a day please read on.

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Celebrating Our One Year Anniversary

After visiting more than half the state capitols in America, we still felt a sense of awe when we walked into the Pennsylvania state house in Harrisburg. It is a large majestic government building and the dome is green. That alone made everyone in our family pause as we admired the architecture.  Inside the building is just as spectacular and grand, with stained glass, gold, and paintings. The female artists who painted all the murals did a great job and we just gawked at all the unique works of art. Miles was happy that the senate was in session and we were able to sit in the gallery while watching the inner workings of the state government. He quickly realized that sometimes things take forever in government and all we actually saw was the senate recognizing guests, commercial speeches promoting businesses, and a few senators putting up motions to make awareness months for various issues. Then they broke for lunch and although he has a lot of interest and patience, we didn’t want to sit in the empty chamber for a few hours till the senators reconvened. Of course by we  I mean our five year old who finds the inner workings of government to be boring like most young kids. It was great to visit a lovely capitol building with a welcome center for the kids to learn at, but the best part was what we found outside the capitol building. We usually try to walk around the state capitols we visit so we can see all the statues and get lots of good pictures and often we find some great shots at different angles. Well outside the capitol building in Harrisburg they have a fountain that shoots water in a pattern and our kids sat transfixed by the show. It was a great end to a wonderful capitol visit and the capitol at Harrisburg became ours kids favorite, until we find another cool one of course.

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An Urban Oasis

Visiting state capital’s and national parks has become a huge part of our lives in the last year.  So what could be better for us than combining these two things into one great experience? While visiting the capital city of Maryland we stayed in Greenbelt National Park, which has an awesome location.  It is also a great place to camp right near the city.  We are still amazed at how many cool places there are to go and see in this country, no matter where we go there seems to be an endless amount of places we want to check out.  State capitol buildings provide opportunities to learn about history while national parks provide us with experiences in nature.  What I like about these places is that they are free or very inexpensive to visit.  So read on and I will tell you about our family’s adventure to the wonderful capital city of Maryland.

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The First State

I can honestly say that I never thought I would go to Delaware and wasn’t even sure what we would do while visiting the state. Well like every other state we have visited so far, Delaware didn’t disappoint us and we had a blast while visiting the nation’s very first state. We decided to stay at a state park that was south of Dover, since we knew we would be heading to Annapolis when we left. Killen’s Pond was almost full when we arrived and we took the last spot in the camp that our trailer could fit into. I was a bit worried over the camp because it was so full and the campsites were pretty close, but the next day was a Monday and we quickly had the entire loop to ourselves. The camp ground was not the best we have stayed out, which is ironic since they have signs saying Delaware state parks are the best in the United States. There was quite a lot of trash in our site though and we never saw anyone picking up the sites the entire time we stayed there. Every time I needed help at the entrance station it was a fiasco and the workers were struggling. The bathrooms were decent, but were operated with push buttons and anyone who has used this style of shower knows how annoying they are (especially when you have three kids to shower off). The location for seeing the capitol was very convenient being just a twenty minute trip into the city.

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A Hidden Spot To Camp for Free!!!

As you might have guessed by now we really like going to the seashore. The National Seashores are beautiful places and are worth visiting just for the pristine beaches. They also have educational ranger programs, visitor centers, and the kids can do the Junior Ranger programs. The beach is a great place to spend some school time and each National Seashore has something unique to the area. When my parents suggested we visit Assateague Island I wasn’t sure if we would get to or not. Often times the places we visit are a combination of timing and what route we have to take to see the capitals. After staying in Virginia for longer than we had originally planned, we knew we needed to start heading towards Dover, DE. Unfortunately for us the state parks in Delaware seem to be perpetually full on the weekends at this time of year and we were having some trouble finding a spot to stay. That was when Sarah found a free primitive campsite that was about half way between Newport News and Dover that was located in Maryland.

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The Historic Triangle

The state of Virginia contains much in the way of history, especially when it comes to the early beginnings of this country. They refer to three of the historic sites as the Historic Triangle. This triangle includes Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg, and Yorktown. Both Jamestowne and Yorktown have two sites, one being the national park site, the other being a historical recreation. Of the two we only visited the national park sites for both. There is always so much to see and we only have so much time and money to go around. We really wanted to see Colonial Williamsburg though so we decided to buy the tickets and see the sites (you can walk around the town, shops, and eat in the restaurants without buying tickets). They were not cheap to buy, but we had a great time and felt it was definitely worth it at the end of the day.

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