After that mosquito ridden festival in Everglades it petrified me to open the windows in the Keys. Seriously. I worried that just across the water the mosquitos couldn’t be any different. Fortunately I was wrong. In fact, we spent a few nights outside playing games by the bay. Perhaps that is why I love the Keys so much, because I came off a terrible experience, but I’m thinking it has a lot to do with the Keys just being so beautiful and unique.
My first impressions were good ones. Slender islands lend to beautiful views while driving, on both sides in fact. The businesses are beachy but not particularly worn out or run down, something I see a lot of in beach destinations. Plus, with so little room for buildings and stores (that whole slender thing), it’s not overly crowded with shopping. All this is fantastic because that water is turquoise marbleized with deep blue and mesmerizing. It’s all I wanted to look at.
Our campground, Grassy Key RV Park, was around $100 per night (off season its half that.) We knew we’d have to pay out because the state parks here book out a year in advance and we of course booked in February when we sold the house. Frankly, after Everglades, I was okay with that. Having a little wifi, water, a swimming pool and great laundry facilities was a-okay by me. It very much helps when the facilities are top-notch and clean. The distance to the pool was mere footsteps and with so few campsites in the whole campground it felt quite like we owned the place. Money well spent.
The pool sucked us in. After one visit to Sombrero Beach, we decided we quite preferred the non-grassy/non-rocky bottom of the pool anyways. With so much pool time the boys became super swimmers. We’ve done our share of swim lessons, but this week in the pool just made it all click. They both progressed so quickly that they were happily swimming the width of the pool and underwater by the end of our visit. Maybe it’s that broken air conditioner that had us in the water more often than not. The swimming progress was a fine development.
We also spent time waterside playing ladder ball and reading under the tiki hut. We discovered iguanas and cormorants and happily watched them watch us. The campground was tiny, and oddly all rock, but so pleasant I was grouchy to leave. Apparently I rambled on too much about our campground. Yikes. Expect more Keys from me, I’m not done praising this fabulous destination.
Last month we finished up Journey to the Bottomless Pit: The Story of Stephen Bishop and Mammoth Cave by Betsy Mitchell. The boys and I were fascinated by Stephen Bishop’s discoveries in Mammoth Cave. We were intrigued by the owners of the cave before it was a National Park. We loved hearing about the excursions, visitors, and news in the 1800s. Finally, when we read he was still buried in a little cemetery at the park, I thought it would be crazy not to go one last time and see it.
Last week’s warm Friday provided the perfect chance for a visit. We arrived around noon and spent time surveying our National Park passport options. Our first book is weathered and needs to retire. We thought new books for this road trip was in order. The boys settled on the blue passports (they have different kids versions or larger more elaborate versions) because they have ample stamping room and are pocket-sized. Each fella got his own book to stamp as he wishes at all the National Parks (and probably State Parks) we’ll encounter. The store employee was incredibly helpful and instrumental in helping us decide.
We then met up with some school friends for a hike to the grave site and around the grounds. It was a quick walk to the site and with clear signage we located his stone placement easily. We headed just a bit further to Sunset Point and looped down and around to the natural entrance. Little fella kept breaking off icicles in large sections. Dear Husband and my older son walked ahead at Mack’s (our dog) pace.
After the hike, we meandered into the museum. I was thrilled to catch a short movie about Stephen Bishop and his two fellow guides Mat and Nicholas. It spoke to their adventurous spirits and contributions to Mammoth Cave. I watched it through and then found the boys and watched it with them as well. I’ve not seen this movie at the museum before and wonder if I just didn’t notice it or if it was new. Either way, we enjoyed it.
Feeling satiated, we headed back for the evening. Passports in hand, their first stamps and National Park clicked off, we were ready for another National Park the next day.
Dear Husband is finishing out the month at work, so we are living “on the road” locally. That’s actually worked out fabulous for us. We have had our share of kinks to work out. For instance, my muck boots failed miserably. Who knew they were so leaky? New muck boots located, check. We realized our wheel chocks were a big fail, as Tracy literally hopped forward while we had the jacks setting down. It wasn’t as scary as it sounds, but, yes, we had new wheel chocks shipped in.
Plus, the closet situation is failing. It has a “false” floor with a hidden storage bucket underneath, but darn it, that lends no support for actual “stuff” because it’s not solid. I had two plastic drawer storage containers in there that were just weighing too much. They shoved into the bucket, pushed that down, it collapsed. I removed one unit, it collapsed, I removed more, it collapsed, well, you get the idea. I had to switch some things around. I think I found something that will work. Let’s see, our Berkey water filter broke too. Then I’m also adjusting to Dear Husband’s laptop computer. It’s been very hard for me to check photos for clarity, because every time the screen moves, the photos look different. Well, that wraps up most of the fails.
It’s not all tragedies though, in fact it’s been pleasant with this wave of warm weather coming in. Waking up with the sweet flock of ducks (including unique Muscovy ducks) has been a treat. My youngest son said they take the place of our chickens and requested we have some ducks when we resettle. I washed dishes outside the other day while a dozen or so ducks had their heads tucked behind their wings and rested just at the shore beyond our site. It was darn adorable. The boys are on their bikes more than they ever have been (me too and my thighs are feeling it!) and the park is the favorite hang out as of late. The weather warmed up so much that the barren campground awoke and flooded with campers and campfires galore. I sure do love checking out those fellow Airstreams! (I think I’ll be sharing sweet rig photos in their own posts.) We also got the hammock up, but the boys are in it so much I still haven’t had a chance. I think we may need another hammock. In fact, I think that will happen quite soon.
At night, Dear Husband and I are planning our trail and revising as needed. We are also planning a fun upgrade to the trailer this week. (Dear Husband was checking some wiring for said upgrade.) The boys are getting anxious to “really” start the trip. Just a few more nights and we’ll be heading out.
Dear Husband and I have traveled since we met. His job provided ample opportunities and I was fortunate enough to tag along crossing the US. Pregnancy didn’t slow us down, and frankly neither did having a little fella, then two, to bring along. By the time my youngest was three though, our endless travel opportunities changed. Instead, a new opportunity presented itself. One that involved relocating near Nashville, TN.
We have been near Nashville for a little over four years. During that time our traveling has lessened considerably. Of course, we have squeezed in many fun camping trips and overnight adventures, but something has gnawed at us. Our boys are growing, quickly. They don’t remember when we dragged them to Mount Rushmore and the Grand Canyon. For over a year we’ve had lots of late night talks. More serious thoughts. We decided to put our house up for sale in October.
Through the entire year we have sold, cleaned out, planned, cleaned up and shown the house, and saved money like we were a couple on a mission. We were. We are. We are moving into our Airstream trailer and taking to the road for a trip of a lifetime.
We are storing our items (trailer pictured above), bringing the necessities (muck boots waited patiently aside while other items got packed for storage) and settling back into a life on the road with our kiddos (their favorite “pups” have found a little home atop our cabinet in Tracy).
I expect posting to become sporadic as WiFi won’t be under my control. But, I WILL be posting! I started this blog to capture our little stories. This new adventure is a big part of those stories.
So there you have it. It’s a new path for us. One we’ve prepared for, one we know very well, and one we are thrilled to embark on with older boys who will be able to remember some of it.
In more good news, Stones River National Battlefield will be featuring our family trip on their Facebook page here. We will be their “roving reporters” celebrating 100 Years of our National Parks. See you down the road.