It’s all over…. Let’s do it again!

Overall, after 2 countries, 5.5 weeks, 16 states, 5000 miles the District of Columbia we wanted more. As I mentioned in the last post, we couldn’t believe that we were only a few days away from the end of the trip. After our last night in Yellowstone we returned to our regular itinerary of a playground a day and plenty of playtime for Cora and things settled down a bit with her. Harlan slept a little better our last two nights in Coeur d’Alene and RV living seemed to be the best way to go. But all good things must come to an end, isn’t that the saying?

When we arrived back home, we were shocked at the space we had in our living room alone. Harlan, however reveled in it. He decided he was ready to crawl and stand up using any and everything available, which he wasn’t doing just the day before in the RV. As for us mobile folks, Cora jumped right into played with her favorite neighbors next door and we didn’t even venture into the rest of the house until the entire RV was unpacked.

The trip had been long enough for the house to feel unfamiliar, and we’d gotten so many new habits for day to day living in small quarters that we weren’t quite sure what to do with all the room. It reminded us of Hurricane Ike in Houston. Without power for 3 weeks, you develop new habits that are slower, more neighborly and allow you take it all in. We hoped (much like then) to keep some habits going after our return.  At least for longer than we did post-Ike!

Everyone has asked what our favorite parts of the trip were. Here they are:

For Sean – the complete baseball pilgrimage – Cooperstown, NY and Kansas City, MO

For Me – visiting all the friends and family along the way

For Cora – Jumping Pillows, “those are my favorite”


The End is Nigh

Yup, after spending so much time with my little girl, the mirror has shown I have a flair for the dramatic. The world as we’ve known if for the last month is in fact coming to a close. This life on the road has been quite eye opening in a great many pleasurable ways (and some intensely trying as life with a toddler can be in any environs). As we sit in our rental RV looking at the Winnebago website at floor plans, we are amazed that we’ll be back in Seattle in a few short days. We skipped our last national park stop in Glacier N.P. due to poor weather and fishing conditions we’ve found along the way. We decided to add a day back in Coeur d’Alene, ID to be beach bums.

Some lessons learned, while a bit of a rehash from the traveling with kids post, I’ve learned even more after spending 6 nights in one spot for the first time.

The great outdoors aren’t a replacement for a good slide and a swing to a 2 year old when they can’t follow their own schedule. Telling your toddler to hurry up more than once in a day is a recipe for tantrums and willful resistance even in the awe-inspiring beauty of the US’s first national park.

As it has taken me over an hour to put this post together, the other thing I’ve learned is to live a little more in the moment and not worry so much about what is left to be done. Because there will always be more to be done, or see, and it will still be there. And a blog is fun at times, and when you’re on sketchy RV park wifi, a chore at others 🙂



Family Gatherings While on the Road

When we thought about our trip, it really was a tale of three trips. The first was a lot of sightseeing in large urban centers such as New York, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia. This was in addition to the other sites we visited such as Cooperstown, Gettysburg, Shanksville (site of the United Flight 93 9/11 Memorial) and Niagara Falls. The second was visiting family. We were fortunate enough to be in an area where we had a lot of family. In Washington D.C. we visited Brie, sister, aunt, and sister-in-law and my oldest cousin, Don May, who works in a gorgeous office in the middle D.C.


After the big push for seeing the sights, we went to West Virginia and visited my father’s family. My parents came up to West Virginia to visit while we were there. We had four generations of the Beard family under one roof. My aunt and uncle, Jill and Rick Turner, hosted us in Hurricane, West Virginia while we visited. It was great to have the family together. All of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandmother visited, and I am always happy to show off my children. No one had met Harlan yet, so it was great to make the introduction.

In addition, I decided to use the fishing rod I had been carrying since we left Seattle and managed to catch 12 fish in the creek behind the house. These weren’t big game fish (small mouth bass, sun fish, and another type of fish referred to as a creek chub), but it was fun to catch them with a dry fly.


After West Virginia, we went to Frankfort, Ohio and visited my uncle and god-father Gary May. I enjoyed seeing his house without all of the ice and snow I was used to seeing. Typically, trips to Frankfort have been at Christmas, so I haven’t seen the full trees or even a thawed pond. It was great visit, but it was a shame that my cousin Susie was unable to join us.

The final stop in seeing family was to visit AJ’s uncle Chris and his wife Joanne in Cridersville, Ohio. On our way to Cridersville, Google maps got confused and directed us in a round-a-bout way around Dayton, and as a result allowed us to avoid a potentially dangerous situation with tornadoes.

Also, before we made it to Cridersville, we stopped in to the Armstrong Air and Space Museum. We didn’t realize how many astronauts have come from Ohio, and the museum a was small but very fun stop. Cora managed to crash the space shuttle quite spectacularly multiple times.

In Cridersville, we visited with Chris and Joanne and had a great stop, in addition to some real good food. Ahhh, Texas style grilling and barbecue (and old school drank!). When we left Cridersville, we were excited and anxious to get to Chicago and get in the RV.

It was a real and rare treat to be able to see so much family with the kids.



Busy Days On The Road

I know it may seem like we have disappeared off the face of the earth. And some days we have the feeling that we have been transported to another world. Spotty cell phone service, funky wifi and hours on the road have made it difficult to get to the blog and share the details. A totally different challenge is that travelling with two little ones means there really is no down time. Prepping the RV for the day’s travel or to get dinner ready and the kids to bed is full time work between naps, feeding a busy toddler and infant, and seeing the sights. So thankfully, digital technology is letting us capture it all in pictures and we’ll hopefully get the time in the next couple of weeks add words to the details for sharing before we get back.

These next two weeks will actually be spent in only three places, the Black Hills of South Dakota, Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park. There are a couple days to get us between the long hauls, but primarily, we will be spending 3-5 days in each spot.

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DSCN5651 (2)South Dakota has been a real treat thus far, we are already planning on coming back! We have traversed almost the entire state along I-90 and have seen the pride of folks living in a somewhat hard and isolated state.


Kansas City, MO

The trip to Kansas City was the final stop to complete the baseball part of the trip. There, we went to the Negro Leagues Hall of Fame and Museum. As we approached Kansas City, I also remembered that barbecue (real barbecue) was a bit of specialty in Kansas City, and we decided to put it to the ‘Pepsi challenge’ with Texas barbecue.

It just so happened that Arthur Bryant’s, a world famous barbecue joint, was four blocks from the museum, so I said bring it on … and they brought it. Not only did they give us a ridiculous amount of food – the sandwich I got had enough brisket for three meals -but the food was delicious. Put simply, it was spectacular and melted in our mouths.  We also had cole slaw, baked beans, and French fries. Also in insane quantities. The one point of displeasure was with the sauce. I have long believed that truly good barbecue, doesn’t require sauce, and they put a lot of sauce on their meat. However, I did have some that escaped the deluge of sauce and it held its own against Texas barbecue. Since I get barbecue of that quality so infrequently, it was heavenly.


The Negro Leagues Hall of Fame and Museum was incredible. It had examples of how professional baseball has flourished outside of Major League Baseball. It also showed how the Negro League was just as much of a cultural icon of the black community as the MLB had been for the white community. In addition, the Negro Leagues had some of the best players to ever play the game. The main room was an incredible site. It had life-size bronze statues of the most renowned players at their position and art by Kadir Nelson. Unfortunately, we had the camera settings all wrong for the lighting, so not many pictures came out.

In addition, we happened to visit during an event with several former Negro League players there to tell stories and sign autographs. I managed to get all of their autographs across two Negro League Museum baseballs. A bulk of the former players were from the Kansas City Monarchs. I will update this post when I get the names straightened out. A great visit, and I only wish we had more time to go through all the information on display.


Wide Open Road

We’ve reached the portion of our trip we’ve really been waiting for: RV time. This part is a welcome change of pace from the first two segments, while they were very enjoyable, it was hectic sightseeing in city after city, hopping from hotel to hotel, and jumping from one family member’s house to another. It was a new bed almost every night and hauling too much stuff from place to place. Kids do that to you. If you didn’t know, having the arsenal packed with items to calm, cajole and fill bellies takes up a lot of space.
The first night in the RV tried to prepare us for the worst. We got a later start than we had hoped, and thought we could get out of Target to stock the RV kitchen and bathroom faster than was realistic. Provisioning for a one way RV trip is a lot like moving out of your parent’s house your freshman year of college.
Pro tip: if you want to avoid the sticker shock of buying much stuff, find a goodwill or value village in your pick up city and buy the stuff you may not plan to use again.
Heavy traffic, bad weather, screaming kids, a soggy, leaning RV site did not reassure us we had made the right decision for the sabbatical.

But as I write this, the weather is clear, we made one simple beautiful stop, the kids are down to bed on time, the dishes are done and I’m enjoying a cold beverage with my honey on the ‘porch’ in a bumpin’ RV park on MO. This is livin’!


On The Road With Little Kids

Many have questioned our sanity in trekking across the country for 6 weeks with two children under 3 years of age. And there have been a few days in our last 9 days in which I, too, have questioned our sanity. However, I would like to share some tricks we think we’ve figured out how to work it.

  1. Balls
  2. Books – audio books for the kids
  3. Plenty of snacks
  4. Big gas tank in the car
  5. Snacks
  6. playground mapper (Google, bing, anything that will show green spaces)
  7. more snacks
  8. Know your daily distance limits

The kids play better together outside than in.

A hungry kid is an angry kid. Food keeps them and you happy. Playing in the car with a lightweight ball is actually more time consuming than you would think and not nearly as dangerous as trying to ignore screaming toddlers. Reading books seems to really work for Cora. The audio books from the Seattle Public Library were a nice addition to the collection for the trip, and when she would leave the headphones in, she would stay engaged for about 20 minutes. Having to stop for gas more frequently than you need to stop to exercise the kids is BAD. Tactical location of parks for meals is a great way to make sure you don’t live at McDonald’s or the mall to get some laps in for your kiddo during much needed breaks.


Snuggle time before we hit the road.

It’s  wishful thinking that this list of ideas would always work, but I figured some of things were unique and might help others considering a long road trip  with little ones.  We have resigned ourselves that we can’t be on the road for more than 5 hours of driving. That is not total time on the road, that is the amount it takes to get to the destination  It will take at least 1.5 – 2 hours to do the playtime, feeding and potty breaks necessary to keep the sanity you were aiming for to begin with.

Making a picture frame to decorate the RV.

Making a picture frame to decorate the RV.

Harlan plays peek-a-boo in the Jeep.

Harlan plays peek-a-boo in the Jeep.



Scratch One Off of the Bucket List – National Baseball Hall of Fame

Today we made our way from the bustling metropolis that is New York City to the sleepy village, yes I said village, of Cooperstown, NY, home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Coming to Cooperstown was the seed that germinated for the cross-country odyssey that we are undertaking now. As far as getting to Cooperstown, all I can say is that you have to want it. It is in the back rural country in the middle of New York state. There are no interstates that come by town, and when you get there, there is only two hour parking everywhere, so we had to move the car in order to take everything in without getting a ticket.

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hof 02 - 05072014There was a lot of baseball history, it was a way of recreating some of the most memorable moments in baseball history and in a weird way, gives you a connection to the baseball legends whose stories still circle around baseball today. Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Cy Young Connie Mack, Casey Stengel are all still alive and well within the hallowed halls of the Hall of  Fame. It was also good to see that Negro league players such as Josh Gibson, James “Cool Papa” Bell,  and Buck O’Neil were enshrined in the hall, having played their entire careers in the negro leagues. FYI, Josh Gibson was quite possibly the greatest hitter to ever play the game of baseball. All in all, the Hall of Fame was a real treat to see. I took quite a few pictures of bronze plagues for players that I have enjoyed watching play or listening to stories about.  I also hope to be coming back next year to celebrate the induction of Craig Biggio, and witness the first Houston Astro to go in to the National Baseball Hall of Fame..

hof 03 - 05072014hof 04 - 05072014For those interested: The reason the Baseball Hall of Fame is in Cooperstown, New York is because of the work A.G. Spalding (of Spalding sporting goods) did to try and prove that baseball was a pure American game. In his “research”, he found someone named Abner Graves who claimed to have been taught to play baseball by Abner Doubleday in 1846 in Cooperstown, NY. Abner Doubleday went on to gain some notoriety in the Civil War for the Union forces and has a monument at Gettysburg, which we found on our trip. Having a Civil War hero create the game before the civil war was a great motivator for Spalding to claim that baseball had been invented by Doubleday. The story of Abner Doubleday creating baseball is accepted as being a myth and not fact. The fact is that baseball evolved with the country. It is derived from a game called rounders and the first known mention of “base ball” was in 1792. The game evolved in to a game called town ball or country ball or any number of variations. In 1845 the New York Knickerbockers baseball club was formed and they set down a set of rules for the game that, most, are still in use today in major league baseball. Alexander Joy Cartwright, is really the Father of the modern game.

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New Yooooooork City!

We like New York, it’s flashy, it’s unique, full of people and sights and sounds we don’t see often. It’s also a place we love to visit but could never live in. We learned a lot about our opinions this time around visiting with small children and a car. We chose to stay in Brooklyn to save some money since we would have a car and hoped for a bigger room to fit us all. We found a hotel through Hotels.com which sounded too good to be true, because it WAS. Bedford Stuyvesant was the neighborhood we ended up in, in a hotel that was much smaller than we hoped. The neighborhood wasn’t too bad once you got over the smell of urine and the bustle at rush hour(s), and it was really close to the A train to Manhattan. However, we didn’t know how many people would also be trying to get into and out of the city during rush “hour”. Which was not pleasant holding little bitty ones and their stuff. With your face stuffed with other people’s backs, bags and backsides, or being skipped by trains that were too full to fit anymore, the travel left a bad taste in our mouths. We’d gotten pretty minimal in our day pack for sightseeing but it still involved a stroller which isn’t that easy to get on and off the subway. We did get some entertainment on the train however. (An example since my video never wants to load).

But enough whining, here’s the other good stuff about our visit to NYC !

The 9/11 memorials:  Washington, DC, New York, NY and Shanksville, PA. The National 9/11 Memorial was a breathtaking site – the sheer size of the memorial as well as the sense of depth created by it. The water features gave you a sense of rushing and then immense calm at the deep pits in the middle. Because it was much busier, in the middle of the financial district, and the airport-like security, it had a very different feel than the Pentagon Memorial. I definitely recommend seeing it if you’re in New York. You really have no excuse- it’s free, it’s accessible and it’s a very significant marker of US History.

We also played the tourists for this trip to the Big Apple. I had never been to Liberty or Ellis Islands before so we hopped on the ferry to see each. Plus the “castle” where the tickets are sold, Castle Clinton, was nice to explore with Cora. The ferry trips were long (the wait to get on from Battery Park and from Liberty Island in particular) and the kids were kind of done, but I got my fix for the Lady Liberty. We skipped Ellis Island – waved to it without getting of the ferry – then headed back to Brooklyn.

I always like to talk about food when I travel. The first night we ate dinner at Shake Shack as recommended by our neighbors in Seattle. No offense, but What-a-burger might be the winner here. Although those custard milkshakes were a close second. Courtesy of Bed-Sty we were exposed to some Caribbean food from Jamaica Grill in the neighborhood and we enjoyed some oxtails, jerk chicken, beef patties and plantains. Made me miss Reggae Hut in Houston. Good meal! Two nights in one city really only means one day of activities for that stop, so a few meals and the ferry was about all we had time for. But they were worth it and we will definitely be back when the kids are older to explore more.


Statue of Librety – you could pay to have that on a penny.

Bedford-Stuyvesant Proud

Bedford-Stuyvesant Proud





Philadelphia, PA

We stopped in Philadelphia (apparently I’m not allowed to say Philly) on our way to New York, spending one night there and the morning after. We stayed really close to the sights we wanted to see so we didn’t have to deal with in and out parking or the train. We wanted to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall and the city had great facilities for seeing both. Philadelphia also has a wonderful amount of opportunities to learn about the history of slavery in the union and the Underground Railroad. There is so much history on display in Independence Hall. It’s operated by the National Parks Service and they held tours every 15 minutes. The tour included the meeting, court and the signing rooms of Independence Hall.


The ranger giving the tour was quirky and made the information more interesting to me, Sean thought she was a little too much. She probably doesn’t have anything on the History Channel, of which Sean watches a lot more than me!



The Liberty Bell had a fairly new structure around it with more installations dedicated to the Underground Railroad, slavery, the state of the union at the time the bell was in use and its transition to a bigger symbol of freedom. If I may show my ignorance, I totally thought it was going to be bigger in person.