Saturday, July 14, 2012


DAY 17 : SUNday, JULY 2, 2012 THROUGH Day 24: Monday, July 9, 2012
Lake it up, baby, now

It’s our favorite summertime stop – the Lake of the Ozarks. It’s was Max’s first visit, so he was pumped.

The rest of us attempted to be a little less snoozy than Max and quickly settled in to the boat, swim, drink, eat, boat, swim, drink, eat routine.  

Andrew spent the majority of his time asking for S’mores. And on the 4th of July, S’mores he did get. Then he got a bath. Sticky. 

The 5th of July, more commonly know internationally as "April's 33rd birthday," was celebrated with an Oreo/pudding/whipped cream concoction with train candles. This selection may have been influenced heavily by a certain 3-year-old. 

A day at the outlet mall produced matching pajamas! Awww cute! 

There were hours spent fishing with Grandpa and Dad...

And then there was a fish... also known as lunch (This despite April's pleas not to kill it. Andrew chimed in with "Don't kill it Dad, just take the meat off and throw it back in.").

Good times were had by all... well all except maybe April's parents who were once again amazing hosts to our exhausting family.  All the babysitting,diapers, baths, laundry, meals, dishes, and general clutter of a couple of kids around the house had us worried about our invite back next year? 

DAY 25: Tuesday, JULY 10, 2012
Leaving the Lakey Lake

We headed out of Missouri and pointed the rig South to see what we could find to entertain ourselves in the middle of nowhere. Luckily we found ourselves at Lambert's so that the boys could learn the finer points of throwing bread through the air and at each other.

We drove and drove and drove and ended up at the lovely Woolly Hollow State Park in Greenbrier, Arkansas. It was like camping in the Fall – leaves falling all around us and nice cool air. Mark busied himself with looking pleased...

... before he and Andrew went for a bike ride and Max helped April whip up a delicious dinner – Fettuccini Alfredo.  It was Max's first Fettucini, and he wore it well. Yummy! 

DAY 26: Wednesday, JULY 11, 2012
on a roll here in little rock

well i know i’ve disappeared a time or two

and along the way i lost me and you

i need a town for my new start

selling vcrs in arkansas at a walmart

We were on a roll in Little Rock to the Museum of Discovery/Donald W. Reynolds Science Center. We did NOT visit the Clinton Presidential Center next door but we did take advantage of their very large parking lot. 


After such a science-a-riffic adventure we grabbed lunch at the Flying Fish.

Still hungry, Mark brought RV to a screeching halt for this Amish country store. He found himself some sweet apple pie pockets and devoured them feverishly. 

Finally we were off to Lake Chicot State Park to make camp for the night. 

Max devoured his new-found real people food as Andrew went about with two of his most common activities: "eating" and "being a Gorilla"

Mark: "Andrew, would you like some more Mac and Cheese?"

Andrew [in a robot voice]: "I'm a Gorilla" [flails arms and beats chest wildly] "I'm a Gorilla"

Mark: "Are you still hungry?"

Andrew [continues robot voice]: "I'm a Gorilla. I'm a Gorilla" [more arm flailing]

Mark: "How about a banana then?"

DAY 27: Thursday, JULY 12, 2012
Jackson sans ottos

Jackson, MS used to be our favorite stop until our best buds the Ottos moved to Florida to be closer to us. Or maybe they moved to Florida for Dr. Otto’s amazing career opportunity? No – we’re pretty sure it was for us.
Anywho – they aren’t in Jackson anymore but we attempted to slay this city on our own with fine blend of Otto knowledge and Google.
We hit the old Fresh Market and breakfast café, Another Broken Egg. Then rain descended upon us and we headed to make camp at Lefleur’s Bluff State Park.
Lefleur’s Bluff State Park is full of stuff to do. One might attempt to load their kids on to the back of the bikes and check out all the activities. In the heat of said excitement, one may continue along their bike ride even as the rain starts up again – or as it went from a sprinkle to a downpour. Mid-forest bike path, as the lightning and thunder began to strike in the nearby vicinity, one might decided they were having a little too much fun riding in the rain and be forced to head back in the now life threatening storm.  Self preservation: what a day killer.
Back at RV we bathed the shivering babes and fired up the grill for steaks by Mark.  While the coals were doing their thing Mark sent April outside to keep an eye on things with this sage Eagle Scout advice: "We are right at the edge of the lake - so do NOT get spacey. A gator could come up any minute and bite your hand off. Take this oven mitt. I'm serious - take it. It may save your life, or at least your digits. And let me know if the grill flares up." 


A gator did not eat us and we enjoyed our delicious steaks and went to bed.  Big day in Jackson tomorrow! 

DAY 28: friday, JULY 13, 2012
woof woofs and meow meows

We really feel silly posting anything but “Happy Birthday Megan!” However – in Jackson, MS life does go on. 

Today it continued to rain, as Andrew says: “Woof woofs and meow meows.”

We extended our stay at Lefleur’s Bluff State Park and headed off to the two museums and one playground on site. Perfect for a rainy day!

First stop – the short but dino-sweet Mississippi Museum of Natural Science.  Roar.

Next, a stop at the mega-playground.
Hungry, we headed for Cock Of The Walk for the best sweet tea and fried chicken money can buy. Andrew slept through whole meal but Max was cool with that – he swiped all his fries. 

Finally, we saved the best for last, the Mississippi Children’s Museum.  We have been to a lot of these places – but this one was the jam.


We took our two tired babes back to camp for early bedtime while Mark grilled up some chops.  Big day.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


DAY 13 : THURSDAY, JUNE 28, 2012


No, no - the vacation is not going down hill - we were just literally driving down hill most of the day.

We left Breckenridge and headed for Denver to pick up our RV. A few frantic calls from Jack the Super-Mechanic and we learned that the parts we had been waiting a week for had finally come in - but they were the wrong parts. No worries - Jack had a plan - but "damn if (he) didn't need just one more day." 

Jack: "I went next door and wouldn't you know I found just the part I needed and I asked the guy I said how in the heck did you have this specific part for a 2003 Winnebago? And he said to me, 'Jack, you ordered it from me 6 months ago and never picked it up.' So you know what we lost some time but we've got what we need so you and the kids head on over here and you can just camp at our shop tonight. We'll plug you right in.You can stay right here in the parking lot."

We booked a room at the Hilton Garden Inn.  

With spare time on our hands, we headed to the Buffalo Bill Museum in Golden, Co. There were some cool rocks outside and we thought Andrew looked seriously cowboy on the rock outcropping on the top of Lookout Mountain. Going to be a mountain-climber like his Daddy for sure! 

So back to Buffalo Bill... 

The museum was packed with Canadian tour groups - what is that all "aboot" - and we had to take our entertainment where we could find it.  


Apparently the Canucks have an obsession with taking pictures of adults in cowboy gear riding fake plastic horses which are meant for kids. Andrew waited 30 minutes to get on this horse. But he rode it like a real champ.

He had a little trouble getting on the calf, though.


Thunder rolled overhead and Dad said we needed to hit the trail - apparently standing on top of a mountain during a thunderstorm is not smart?

So we saddled up in our stylish and hip Crown Vic and continued our trip down to Denver. Goodbye Rockies!

DAY 14 : FRIDAY, JUNE 29, 2012


On our way to pick up our dear old friend RV we stopped at the highly recommended Kokoro. Kokoro is like a fast food version of a Japanese steakhouse.  Except instead of stuff flaming and flying on the table in front of you while you drink Sake for two hours it comes in a made-to-order bowl right in front of your face in about eight minutes.  They even have a drive-through!  So delicious!  

Max was a big fan. 

Andrew loves anything he can eat with chopsticks - and had no trouble putting away a giant order of shrimp tempura.

Bellies full, we headed over to reunite with the Royan Vehicle! She looked spectacular all fixed up and April dropped off Mark to pay the bill while she headed to the hotel with the boys:

  1. Andrew was whining in the backseat.
  2. April handed him his Leapster tablet.
  3. Andrew was happy and played Leapster intently while April curved and swerved through mountain roads.
  4. They hit a rush hour traffic jam.
  5. Andrew started crying - he handed April the tablet.
  6. Andrew barfed shrimp tempura all over himself.
  7. Due to the traffic jam, the poor child had to sit in a pool of his own sick for almost 40 minutes before they could get off the interstate.
  8. Max was disgusted with the entire thing and took a nap.

Now you would think that checking in to a hotel with a puke-soaked kid would be enough. The mother instinct says "just hide the puke as much as you can until you get to the room and throw him in the bath.” That was the plan - until the door to our room opened to reveal a nice elderly woman who was already staying in that room.  Ugh - that's embarrassing - and yet another person who had to be exposed to the shrimp vomit.

Andrew was a champ and bounced right back from his car-sickness with a long bath and a bag of popcorn.  Dad finally arrived two hours later with the rig and we began the process of cleaning, laundering, unpacking, re-packing.  They fell in to bed exhausted at 1am - looking forward to getting on the road tomorrow!

DAY 15 : Saturday, JUNE 30, 2012

Kansas nearly killed us

We FINALLY headed out of Colorado with an empty RV in need of a serious Walmart stop! No worries, a GPS search informed us that we were a mere 250 miles from a major grocery store! Goody!

We stopped for lunch at a tiny Mexican Café with stellar Urbanspoon ratings called Jenny’s Mexican Food (in Kansas – who knew?).  It was delicious and the fine folks inside also lead us to a mini-grocery store that gave us enough rations to survive the following twelve hours. As we loaded up our bags an alarm started to sound and Mark ordered an RV evacuation! The whole team was sharp and exited the rig in record time.  The carbon monoxide detector was sounding and the fear that we could blow up any minute had us road-side and worried.  Of course Mark located the issue and fixed us right up – but a stern talking to was given by Mark to the rest of the family about on-the-road safety.  It put both the kids to sleep.

Two hundred miles later we found a Walmart and had ourselves a two-cart shopping spree! Upon checkout we heard thunder and exited to black skies and driving rain. We put our groceries away and got back on the interstate – apparently having totally forgotten anything we’d ever seen in The Wizard of Oz.  Minutes later the wrath of Kansas hell descended upon our tiny RV and hundreds of other interstate drivers in what the locals call “a thunderstorm.” Keep in mind we’ve lived through many thunderstorms and several hurricanes  – this was something else entirely.  Winds of over 6o mph , lightning, driving rain, hail, no visibility…. Yada yada yada. 

The wind was blowing so hard that Mark’s hair was moving from wind through the window even though it was closed. The back windows of the RV had bubbles around the edges from water being blown through the seals.  It was intense.  We tried to pull off along with everyone else but cops would come along and make us get back on the road – as they don’t seem to favor a line of vehicles huddled under a single overpass. Finally we spotted an abandoned service station off the highway and we were able to pull under it! Hooray! We were still pretty sure we were going to blow over but took the opportunity to make dinner, bathe the kids, and tell some spooky bedtime stories about the “evil monster Kansas.” 

Our fellow shelter-seekers had all sorts of storm issues – including the dudes Mark buddied up to that had a canoe blown off their car that was just hanging across the driver’s side and needed a good hoisting.  Fun times were had by all and hours later the “thunderstorm” passed and we got back on the road.  

The boys were asleep and Mark steered the rig in the direction of a “nice, quiet state park that was just off the interstate.”  As we exited – the GPS re-set and said
“44 minutes to your destination.” Uh – yeah – it was wayyyyyy down a gravel road. In the dark. In the rain.  Never-the-less, we forged ahead and made camp around midnight just as the winds started up again.  April made plenty of comments to Mark about how smart it was of him to drag us even further from civilization in this weather that was hell-bent on sending our tiny camper flying through the air. Mark responded with plenty of suggestions that April should consider picking up a map and making a plan of her own if she wanted to voice her opinions. Their bickering was drown out by the howling of the wind and eventually the whole family fell asleep – vowing never again to visit this dreadful state. 

DAY 16 : SUNday, JULY 1, 2012


Having braved “death”/Kansas weather, Mark decided things couldn’t get much worse and finally decided to do the unthinkable – let April drive.  The plan was to let her do some cruising as he napped in back. However, it turns out napping is hard to do when you feel the tell-tale rumble of the road shoulder as the RV sways and swerves its way down the interstate at speeds meant for Italian sports cars. Mark found it necessary to stay vigilant and gently remind April of the basics of motor vehicle operation. Either way – April crossed driving the rig off her bucket list. Mark took back over per Andrew’s request, “Daddy you drive, Mommy isn’t as good at it as you are.” He does sit up front and has his finger on the pulse of the whole experience. The family got out of Kansas and safely arrived at April’s parent’s house at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Day 8: Saturday, June 23, 2012


Since much of Colorado is literally burning to the ground and the forecast for this weekend in Denver is over 100 degrees, we extended our rental car reservation and pointed it up to the mountain tops of beautiful Breckenridge. Cool weather, a massive outdoor sport culture, and plenty of fit, beautiful people greeted us. We were informed upon check in that the hotel has no air conditioning. Being from Florida we consider this blasphemy, and wondered if Lucifer himself owned the hotel. We would later find out that nobody in Breck has A/C and you actually don't need it in this little patch of heaven.

On an evening stroll we made friends with some locals who gave us killer restaurant and watering hole recommendations. They were obviously fresh off a solid Breck happy hour so the advice poured out as Mark furiously scribbled them down so we wouldn't miss all the terrific meal opportunities.  We dined at one of the local hot spots immediately and Andrew left covered in Alfredo sauce, Max covered in Bolognese. Both also had a serious case of carb sleepies which meant Mom and Dad got to watch another TV show when they got back to the hotel. 


We sacked out, windows open, with views of the Rockies from our pillows.

Day 9: Sunday, June 24, 2012

All About Town

The kids awoke at an eye-scratching 4:45am to sun pouring in the windows (Oh, right, that's the down side to sleeping with the windows open).  After Andrew chomped on a dozen-or-so pieces of hotel breakfast bacon, we rode the Breckenridge Gondola high above town to get our bearings.  So beautiful, so green, and so cold! Love it!  

Once back down, we hiked up again. Andrew scaled his first "mountain!"

Near the base of our hike was the Rotary Snow Plow Park - some trains and  a train museum made our little train lover very happy!



Finally, dinner at Twist - a twist on traditional comfort food - yum!

Yeah - those are pork shoulder tacos with mango salsa and goat cheese and garlic mac.

Day 10: Monday, June 25, 2012

Breckenridge Fun Park

High above this mountain town is an impressive "amazement park" (as Andrew calls all amusement parks) full of adventure.  We overheard an older couple mention that it was on their "bucket list" to tackle the Breckenridge Fun Park, and we felt pretty blessed to do so with our little boys.  


Andrew panning for gold: 

Mark on the rock wall: 

Hiking up to some remaining snow - Andrew's first snow!

Andrew was scared to ride this pony until he learned his name was "Ghost." A big fan of "Casper the Friendly Ghost" he decided to give it a go - and loved it! 

Once Mark's toes got too cold on the snow in his weird-ass toe shoes, we headed back down to town covered in dirt from head to toe.  The boy's bath water was literally brown when we toweled them off, fed them room service grilled cheese, and put them to bed.  Best day ever.  

Day 11: Tuesday, June 26, 2012

There's a Bear in the Cave

The Breckenridge folk were dancing in the street for the downpour today - as the town is a little dry (like most of Colorado, it seems).  We took the cold, rainy weather as a sign to head indoors to the adorable Mountain Top Children's Museum.  What we liked most about it was that Andrew kept saying he was a bear in a cave.  Hahaha.


Max played hard and then sacked out right in the middle of the toddler section.

Andrew played "Pirate Doctor" in the "Ski Patrol Rescue Center" - here he's taking his pirate temperature:

All this fun rustled up an appetite and we found ourselves eating turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce (and avacado and cream cheese) - something that was pounded into April's head by her old college roomie Amy McCullough as the most delicious thing since, well, just sliced bread.  

Pretty sure we could get used to this place! 

Day 12: Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Not everything is cold in Breckenridge 

Morning found us headed out for a hike to see wild flowers - most of which seem to be dead because of the 80 degree "heat wave" - but it was fun just the same.  


Once back in town, we rocked the Breckenridge laundromat before checking out he Red, White, and Blue Fire Museum/Fire Station.  Yeah, the trucks are cool, but April was most impressed, of course, with the firemen.  Not everything is cold in Breckenridge :) 

April reluctantly left the fire station and we went home to pack up our room to head back down to Denver tomorrow in hopes of picking up the RV! 

Snarfs and Snoozes

While driving the 1772 miles home from Bar Harbor, April looked and Mark and said... "What should we call our last blog of the summer?&...