Family Travel Stories

Recap of First 20 Days of Trip – The “Honeymoon” Phase

Hiking Jacob's Trail in MA with my parents.

Hiking Jacob’s Trail in MA with my parents.

Tuesday, September 16th (our 19-year wedding anniversary) marked the 20th day since we left New Hampshire on a trip to discover America for ourselves. As we travel through South Dakota, and a very different country side then what we have experienced to this point, I want to recap for you our adventures, which I am calling the “Honeymoon” Phase.

The landscape of South Dakota is dotted with cows and large rolls of hay. Off in the distance, I can see the mountains rising above the farms in the foreground. The kids are in the back seat of the truck excitedly discussing the views they see out their window since it is unlike any scenery they have seen before. We are on our way to Rapid City for one week. It will be good to stay in a location for several days since the first 20 days have been a bit of a whirlwind.

Jacob & Lucas try "snowboarding" at the Ecotarium in Worcester, MA.

Jacob & Lucas try “snowboarding” at the Ecotarium in Worcester, MA.

We left NH on August 27th and headed to MA for a five-day stay with my parents. Following a tearful departure, we started our school day routines.

After the kids wake and have breakfast, we start the day with morning exercise and chores. The kids then tackle a few hours of study followed by a half hour of free time. After lunch, studies continue then we have an afternoon activity or field trip, which almost always takes place outdoors unless it is raining. During supper, we have an activity called “praise and likes” where we each praise the other for something they did that day and share our favorite activity for the day. The kids enjoy this few minutes of reflection at the end of the day. We have one last evening activity after that and then the kids have free time until bed.

The routine has been challenging to keep over the past 20 days since the longest we have stayed in any one place since we left my parents in MA has been three days. Every other second or third day is spent on the road traveling between 350-400 miles before reaching our next destination.

States we have traveled through:

  • New Hampshire
  • Massachusetts
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Ohio
  • Indiana
  • Illinois
  • Wisconsin
  • Minnesota
  • South Dakota

Our campground/boon-docking stops have included:

  1. Lamb City Campground (Phillipston, MA)
  2. Harvest Hosts Abbott Farms (Baldwinsville, NY) – see Jacob’s review about our host Abbott Farms
  3. Streetsboro/Cleveland KOA (Streetsboro, OH)
  4. Chicago Northwest KOA (Union, IL)
  5. Dakotah Meadows (Prior Lake, MN)
  6. Jelly Stone Sioux Falls (Brandon, SD)
  7. Elk Creek Lodge & Resort (Piedmont, SD)

Our field trips/activities:

  1. Doane’s Falls hike in Royalston, MA
  2. Jacob’sHillhikeinRoyalston, MA (affectionately renamed the mushroom trail by Lucas)

    Key Tower is the tallest building in Cleveland, OH.

    Key Tower is the tallest building in Cleveland, OH.

  3. Visit to historic Winchedon, MA
  4. Ecotarium in Worcester, MA
  5. Red Apple Farm in Phillipston, MA – see Lucas’ review about the farm
  6. Presque Isle State Park on Lake Erie in Erie, PA
  7. Trip to Cleveland, OH to see sites:
    • Progressive Field visit – home of the Cleveland Indians baseball team
    • FirstEnergy Stadium – home of the Cleveland Browns football team
    • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
    • Great Lakes Science Center
  8. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore on Lake Michigan in Dune Acres, IN
  9. Train ride/bus trip/subway ride into Chicago, IL to see sites:
    • Wrigley Field tour – home of the Chicago Cubs baseball team – see Jacob’s review about the tour
    • Soldier Stadium visit – home of the Chicago Bears football team
    • U.S. Cellular stadium visit – home of the Chicago White Sox baseball team (formerly Comiskey Park)
    • The Field Museum
    • Magnificent Mile
    • other downtown Chicago sites/restaurants/shops
  10. Mall of America in Bloomington, MN
  11. Trip to Minneapolis/St. Paul sites:
    • Wabasha Street Caves tour – learned about prohibition, mushroom farming and gangsters
    • Vikings Stadium visit – future home of the Minnesota Vikings football team
    • Target Field visit – home of the Minnesota Twins baseball team
    • St. Paul Cathedral tour – where Lucas said a prayer for people
    • Harriet Island Park on the Mississippi River
    • James J. Hill House tour and historic district
    • Fort Snelling Cemetery
    • Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge

      Train ride to Chicago, IL to tour Wrigley Field.

      Train ride to Chicago, IL to tour Wrigley Field.

  12. Trip to Sioux Falls, SD to see sites:
    • Sioux Falls Park – like a mini Niagara Falls
    • Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum
    • U.S.S. South Dakota Memorial site

Rapid City, SD was the first destination where we decided we would spend at least a week. So the first 20 days were focused on getting to that destination with interesting stops along the way. The days just seemed to run together as we traveled to many cities to see sites and through two time zones, including today. Mondays are no longer the start of the week since we work and play every day. Each day is a learning opportunity and we make sure we take advantage of it. The trip thus far has felt more like one big vacation. This “honeymoon” phase is starting to wind down now as we stay longer at each destination.

In addition to core subjects like math, English and reading, the kids have also been studying U.S. History and Science & Nature, and each are recording their journeys in their own blogs. Jacob is also studying Sports Marketing and has thoroughly enjoyed the sports stadiums we have visited. Imagine a kid in a candy store located on cloud 9. That was Jacob. He will also be studying the History of Rap Music. Lucas will be studying Cooking in addition to his core subjects. Both kids will also study Social Action as we create awareness for our causes ALS and Hunger & Homelessness in America.

At Minnesota Twins baseball stadium.

At Minnesota Twins baseball stadium.

There have been very few issues. The generator was wired wrong but Ray fixed it. We had an issue with a wire getting caught when the slide out went out and in, but Ray found and repaired. A piece of wood molding came off, but Ray was able to fix. Outside lights were not working properly, but Ray was able to fix. Yes, Ray is very handy and will be extra handy by the time this trip is over.

We also had a fly infestation, which started in Chicago and ended once we hit colder weather in Sioux Falls, SD. We were having contests swatting them to see who could kill the most. Never had this problem camping in New England so we are unsure what caused so many flies to come inside the camper.

Sioux Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD.

Sioux Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD.

The cats are traveling well. They are loose in the truck on long trips but mostly rest inside their carriers. They take breaks when we do and get food, water and access to their litter box.

We have also met many interesting people. An ultimate list of the most interesting will be generated by Jacob towards the end of the trip. He is enjoying creating this list. It will be worth waiting for; I promise.

Most people have been very kind and helpful. One example is on our bus ride to Chicago. An older gentleman asked us about our upcoming trip to Wrigley Field, which he overheard us discussing with another passenger. He proceeded to reminisce about the forties and his memories of the ballpark as well as his days in the South Pacific serving during WWII. The bus stopped and we exited a few blocks west of the ballpark. I wished him well, shook his hand and thanked him for his service to our country. His smile said it all.

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