Roadtrip Fall 2018 - Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, D.C.

The day after we returned from Hawaii we loaded up the kids and the camper and we hit the road for another extended road trip.  This trip wasn’t near as many miles as our California trip in the spring but it was a still a few great weeks of National Parks and new experiences.  

Our first stop was Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Chattanooga isn’t far from home but certainly a city we always enjoy.  There was SO MUCH RAIN that a lot of our time was spent inside the camper while Evan worked shooting a few music videos (not of us, obviously).  It’s times like that when we realize how truly happy we are to have a camper with a TV and a toy box.  The few hours we had without rain led us to a surprise viewing of the National Dog Frisbee Catching Competition.  Yes, that is a real thing.  Yes, there were huge awards.  Yes, it was an international competition.  

When we left Chattanooga we continued through the rain towards Mammoth Cave National Park.  When on the road we always try to adjust our route, when we can, to see friends we know and love. This trip afforded us a quick afternoon lunch with our friend Ashley in Cookeville TN. Try as we may for adult time, the kids quickly took her over. Then on to Mammoth…..its was so much fun to spend a few days at Mammoth and to take the kids for miles into the cave system.  They ate up every singe step of our adventure underground.  Junior Ranger Badges were (of course) earned and somewhere along the way the rain finally stopped.  We enjoyed a few beautiful sunsets and headed north to Lexington. 

Between Mammoth Cave and Lexington we stopped at the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln. We all learned so much in the short time we were there!  I, for one, had no idea that there are actually two Lincoln Memorials and the first was built at his birthplace in Kentucky 11 years before the one in Washington DC. The memorial in Kentucky houses a replica of the cabin in which Lincoln was born, on the land in which he had his humble beginnings.  The land there is beautiful and the National Park system has done a great job of sharing its history. There are some homeschooling days when I’m convinced that I learn more than our kindergarteners.  This was one of those days.

When we arrived in Lexington we were excited for a few days to catch up with friends.  Evan had a wedding to concentrate on first so the kids and I jumped at the chance to spend a day in relaxation mode with our people and being shown around parts of Wilmore Kentucky where they are taking on seminary at Asbury. The adults caught up and all 5 kids played hard all day long. The next day Evan got to get in on the friend fun and we hosted a “we all know each other from Florida but here we all are in Kentucky” gathering at our campsite to enjoy supper, s’mores and good company. The whole weekend was really good for the soul.  Having friends you can rely on no matter the location is priceless. 

Next on our agenda was a visit to The Ark Encounter and let me just tell y’all, that’s a big ol boat!  Phoenix was pretty unfazed by it all just being strolled around but it was neat seeing the big kids take it all in.  There was a lot to see and a lot to read but I don’t think I’ll ever forget how I felt walking onto the boat and thinking about God’s wrath and provision all wrapped up in one.  It’s truly astonishing to be able to somewhat physically grasp the who, what and how of it all.  After we left the boat we headed to Cincinnati to enjoy the city.  We didn’t know much about Cincinnati and were impressed with the downtown area and all it had to offer for families to enjoy.  Also at the top of the impressions list for that area are Skyline Chili and LaRosa’s Pizzeria.  Man, I could go for some LasRoas’s spaghetti right now!   

Beyond Cincinnati we continued deeper into Ohio to visit some more friends on their cute horse farm.  We know horse people.  Who knew?  It was a short 12 hour visit with them but I will never regret making a stop to catch up with friends.

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We rounded out our trip in the Virginias.  We had heard of New River Gorge and made a one night stop to check it out in West Virginia.  We are still kicking ourselves for not spending more time there.  It was seriously surprising and stunning.  The gorge is amazing and the views around it are hard to explain.  The fall leaves were starting to change colors which only added to its majesty.  At one point we are hiking under a canopy of trees with an old bridge behind us and a roaring river ahead of us.  I kept waiting on a movie crew to jump out of the woods and remove the fake backdrop.

We drug our feet leaving the gorge and went on to our destination of Shenandoah National Park.  Our campsite outside the park was the perfect spot for the kids to play and for us to enjoy a visit with yet another set of friends.  We just really love getting to spend time with our people!  We had perfect weather for our day at Shenandoah and we bounced around from bluffs and waterfalls taking in as much as we could in a day.  We were able to watch clouds roll in as we stood on the edge of a cliff with a town below us and it made me feel so small and so invincible all at the same time.

Being in nature is awesome.

Our final big stop for the trip was a day in Washington DC.  We didn’t really know how the kids would do or if they would like it but we didn’t want to miss an opportunity to take them to the capital.  Much to our surprise, they LOVED it and after walking 15 miles on pavement all day long they begged us to stay when we finally headed to the car.   We saw monuments and memorials and had great conversations about presidents and government.  We enjoyed museums and collected several Ranger Badges.  We saw the White House where Gray simply asked “So thats where Donald lives?” (to which we laughed and laughed…because a 5 year old just calling him Donald is funny).  The kids most likely wont remember the conversations we had or be able to recall many facts and figures but I don’t think they’ll forget what they saw.  It was a long day but it was a good one. 

On our way back south we made a stop at Highland Haven Airstream Park in southern Virginia and were only able to stay one night due to weather but its on our short list to return to.  It was a whirlwind few weeks but they were so, so good.  Thank you God for the wonderful memories.

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