Time does not stand still for us. Things keep happening and life continues to move forward. As we travel through this amazing country we find so many new and interesting things to experience, but we still have to manage to fit in everyday things. Our refrigerator does not fill itself, the dishes don’t wash themselves, and no one comes to take out our trash while we explore a new city. There is still an endless amount of chores that need to be done on a daily basis and honestly it can be challenging to find time to fit things in when we are so busy discovering new places. It is also important to us that the kids pitch in to help with some of these tasks, but they are still learning and it takes time to teach them how to do these things right. Life is a balancing act whether stationary or on the road.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.