After having traveled through this country with my family for over a year I thought I would write about some of the highlights of our adventure. However after thinking about what I would write I realized that it would be a very extensive article since we have been able to do so many awesome things this past year. I also realized that our website is filled with articles about the amazing places we have been and you could easily go to anyone of those to read about some cool places we have traveled to. Instead I decided I would highlight some of the difficulties we have encountered after a year of living full time on the road. Because we all know that it can’t always be like a vacation when it’s our life. So let me tell you about some of the challenges we have faced that were unexpected and some of the things we dislike about life on the road.
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.
People have asked us how much it costs to travel to every state in America and it is a hard question to answer. For us it costs almost the exact same that living in a 2300 square foot house cost. It might seem like we are living a really expensive lifestyle because we see so many great places, like museums,zoos, and historical sites, but in reality we spend very little on our family fun. Playgrounds and capitol building tours are always free, which is why we visit them where ever we go. Packing a lunch costs the same in a large house or in Washington DC. Yes, we have found the cost of goods is close to uniform across the country, so if something is a little more expensive in one place, then something else is probably a little cheaper. The reason it is almost impossible to answer the question how much does it costs to travel to every state in America is because it largely depends on the traveler. If you are the type to try to save a dime anytime it is possible, then it will be cheaper than for someone who spends without a worry. Since we are frugal travelers, who like to save money, we thought we would share some of our money saving tips we use while traveling America with kids.
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.
We move frequently, by frequently I mean on average about every four days. This means we spend quite a bit of time looking for a new home (aka campsites). Before we started this adventure we did a lot of research about many aspects of traveling full time in an RV. We even did a mock up of what a month of travel might look like to give us an idea of the cost. Not having traveled in an RV before, however; we didn’t really know what to look for in a campsite (price was our main concern during research phase). When you find yourself constantly in unfamiliar territory it is difficult to know what an area will be like. After having stayed in many different campsites in many different states we have a much better idea of what to look for and how to find a site that suits our needs.
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.
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.
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.
We loved our visit to the USS Texas in Houston and when we saw the USS Wisconsin was on the ASTC museum list we were excited to visit it. Unfortunately there was just too much to see in what is known as the Historic Triangle and we ran out of time. Our first trip out of camp found us at the NASA Air and Space Museum in Hampton, VA. We had wanted to visit a space museum in Texas and in Florida, but they were pretty expensive and we had to pass on them. Since it was on the ASTC list we decided that it would be our first stop, especially when the weather report showed rain everywhere else in the area except in Hampton. Well it turned out to be a great day to be at the museum. I was really impressed by the Apollo 12 Capsule on display and yes it is the actual capsule that went to the moon! Everyone really enjoyed the flight simulators and now we know that landing a spaceship is exceptionally difficult to do. The plane simulator was cool because it had a dozen rows of seats plus the windows were hooked into the computer program, so they showed what the pilot was doing, making it more realistic. Of course the kids really liked the cockpit with the thousand switches and buttons you would expect in an airplane. During our visit we also went to Mars in a simulation and got to see the inflatable structures that NASA is designing to build habitats on the red planet. From the Wright Brothers Flyer to Rockets this museum had everything you could imagine about space and flight. After half a day of learning though we were getting hungry, so we walked over to the marina and had a picnic where we could look at the yachts and sailboats. Journey wants to go sailing after we visit every state in the country, but that is a long way off.
We are heading north up the east coast and we plan to be in Maine sometime this summer, but we have a lot to see before we get there. This includes a few stops in the Virginia area where there is a lot to see. Richmond VA was one of our stops, it being the capital and all. Virginia has so much history involving the founding of this country and its early beginnings that we were looking forward to touring the capitol building in Richmond. There was also a science museum nearby that we wanted to check out. There is always an opportunity to learn something new at every place we go, but we love that it comes so easily when visiting museums and historical sites. We also get the added bonus of it being fun too!