Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Washington D.C.

We rode the KOA shuttle bus into Washington, D.C.  The ride took approximately 45 minutes, but it was the weekend so there wasn't much traffic.  Daniel enjoyed not driving and it was nice getting dropped off and not worry about parking.  

We were dropped off in front of the capitol building and decided to walk to as many of the Smithsonian museums as we could.  We made a list of the museums we wanted to visit in order of importance because we knew we wouldn't make it through all of them.  

We walked through the outside gardens at the Botanic Garden as it was not open yet and we were in search of a restroom.  Our first stop was the Natural History Museum.  I figured the boys would like it since it has dinosaurs.  I think they were a little bit scared.  I couldn't get them to turn around and look at me so I could take their picture with the triceratops.  I kept saying, "It's not real, only pretend." Yeah, they still wouldn't turn around.

There were so many various displays offered.  We tried to walk through both floors catching a glimpse of some of it.  One display we found intriguing was Genome: Unlocking Life's Code.  You actually get to figure out your genetic code based on traits you either have or don't have.  We also ate lunch here as everyone was hungry.  They offered a wide variety of food choices, but were a little expensive.  

Next stop was the American History Museum.  The display of the Star-Spangled Banner (almost 200 year old flag) and the story of how Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the song are awe-inspiring.  There is no photography allowed to help preserve the flag, but the museum has shared some pictures via flickr.  

We also enjoyed the America on the Move display which showcases all modes of transportation in chronological order.  Check here for learning resources if you are planning a visit. The first cross-country car trip was in 1903. The map and typical car/conditions are pictured below, along with the first travel trailer.  

This picture above of Daniel and the kids was taken as we were leaving the museum and is a true depiction of what was happening.  We were losing the kids.  What in the world were we going to do for the next 3 hours until the shuttle bus came to pick us up?  Here's how we managed to kill some time.

We walked by the Washington Monument, which is closed for repairs due to the earthquake in 2011.

We had an ice cream snack while sitting on a bench in the shade in front of the Smithsonian Castle.  

We watched a street performer play the drums on a bunch of buckets & shopping carts.

I think we found the world's smallest McDonald's.  It was too cute not to take a picture of it.

We visited the Air & Space Museum.  This was by far the most crowded of the museums.  We didn't really walk around and look at much because all of our feet were killing us.  Since there is a planetarium and an Imax theater we figured we could all sit and relax while we watch a short Imax movie.  It was about the astronauts and followed them on a mission in space.  Once we were done with that it was time to start walking back to where we would be picked up in front of the capitol.

On the map all of these museums appear to be rather close together, but when you are walking to them with small children they seem miles apart.

Here's a nice picture I captured of the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial and the Capitol Reflecting Pool.

We found a bench and waited about 10 minutes for the bus to arrive and wouldn't you know it, as soon as we boarded the bus it started pouring down rain.  I am very grateful it held off until then.

At bedtime, no one had any arguments about going to sleep.

Sweet dreams,


P.S. I wish I had known about this when we went, but there is a junior ranger program available at the National Mall.  If you print out the handbook before you go maybe the kids will stay more focused, plus they can earn a junior ranger badge.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Maryland & Beyond

Upon leaving New Jersey we crossed the bridge into Delaware, then continued on to Maryland.  We are staying at the Washington DC/Capitol KOA for 5 days.  Our campsite is extremely roomy and private as we are located at the end of a row.  There are tons of trees which is nice for shade, but Daniel was unable to hook up the satellite dish.  I'm sure we'll be much too busy for watching tv anyways.

When we arrive at a new campground the kids love to explore.  This particular campground is really busy...but it probably didn't help that we arrived on the weekend.  They have the usual amenities, but they also offer outdoor billiards, ping pong table and giant chess game.  

At the pool there is a lifeguard on duty and parents are required to be present with their children.  This is the first time we have seen a lifeguard at a campground.  Every hour the lifeguard blows the whistle and everyone has to clear the pool for 10 minutes.  The lifeguard also checks the chemical levels and adds chlorine if necessary.  

The staff in the office are extremely helpful and friendly.  When traveling in an unfamiliar area you tend to rely on the advice of others and the advice we received there was definitely helpful.  There is a nice selection of goods for sale in the office too, including tickets for the trolley tour of National Mall.

Tomorrow we are taking the KOA shuttle into Washington, DC which means we have to be up and ready by 8:30am.  Daniel is excited because he won't have to drive and maybe he can enjoy some of the sights.  

Get your mobile devices ready by downloading the Smithsonian Visitors Guide & Tour app.

See you early in the AM,


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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Six Flags Great Adventure, New Jersey

From what we knew about Six Flags Great Adventure it was going to be a busy day, so we decided to arrive at the park early.  We got there 30 minutes before the park opened and were able to park in the handicapped section of the lot, which was really close.  We then had to wait amid all the other park goers until the park opened.  Our first stop was guest relations to obtain James' disabled pass.  Then we headed towards the way back of the park to get on the Safari Off Road Adventure since this attraction can have wait times up to 3 hours.  We were extremely fortunate to be able to walk right up and immediately board.

Our tour guide was very entertaining and shared a lot of information with us about all of the animals during the tour.  Since it was in the morning and cool enough we saw every single animal awake and playing.  Some even came right up to the tour bus.

Daniel and I were extremely impressed with this park.  They had two large kid areas with rides for the kids under 54 inches.  They even had a small roller coaster our entire family was able to ride.  Our one complaint with the kid areas is that it seemed to take a long time to get the children on and off the rides.  

The park was very clean and there was plenty of bathrooms.  There was a good variety of food places disbursed throughout the park.  Here we are eating lunch.

They also had several thrill rides for those over 54 inches.  Alex was the only one able to go on those rides with Daniel.  Although waiting for them was incredibly hard for the other kids, we broke it up throughout the day so everyone was able to do something.

And last but not least, Daniel's all-time favorite {wooden} roller coaster...El Toro.

After 8 hours of fun we were ready to head back to the trailer.  We had a great time at this park and would definitely return if we had the opportunity.  For now, we'd better get some rest because tomorrow is a driving day.  We are headed to the Maryland/Washington, D.C. area.


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Friday, August 16, 2013

Statue of Liberty

Today we had a short driving day to New Jersey.  We are staying at Timberland Lake Campground because it is only 2 miles from Six Flags.  However, I personally would not recommend this campground. The road into and inside the campground is a dirt road and extremely rough with a lot of pot holes.  The entrance was gated and looked nice.  There was a pond with fishing docks.  The front area of the campground contained the office, a playground and the pool area which was large with lots of chaise lounges.  On the way back to our space we noticed several trailers that appeared to be permanent, but were run down and cluttered.  In all honesty, we really didn't explore the campground because all of the amenities were so far from our trailer and we were sightseeing so we didn't have much free time.  

We set up the trailer then decided to drive into New York City.  Both Daniel and I wanted to see the Statue of Liberty so we drove to Liberty State Park which is actually located in New Jersey.  The only way to get to Liberty Island, where the statue is located, is by ferry.  After hurricane Sandy, Liberty Island reopened to the public on July 4th, 2013.  We decided we would just view the Statue of Liberty from Liberty State Park and not take the ferry because we arrived later in the day.  Even still, it was amazing!

Then we decided we would drive into NewYork City to have a look around, maybe get something to eat and drive by ground zero.

I am not sure what we were thinking because it ended up being rush hour (again!).  As soon as we came out the other side of the Holland Tunnel it was a nightmare.  I tried looking at google maps to get us to ground zero and we came within a block or two (I think), but there was nowhere to park.  Then people started walking out in front of our car, cars were driving all over the road with no attention to the lanes, a million cars were honking, and there was road construction.  Daniel says just get me out of here!

Once we were back in New Jersey, we were all able to relax a little.  It's a good thing because tomorrow is Six Flags New Jersey and I have heard a lot of great things about that park.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Six Flags Great Escape in New York

We woke up to a beautiful sunny day!  Six Flags Great Escape was only about 15 minutes from our campground which was great.  We knew this was a smaller park and figured we wouldn't be here all day.

The disabled parking was located on the same side of the street as the park, otherwise we spotted a larger parking lot across the street and people walking via a walkway bridge over the street.  There is a lodge with an indoor water park located across the street, but Six Flags Great Escape also offers a water park with its gates.

The first ride the kids saw was Sasquatch and the only one not tall enough was Amada, so I waited with her while all the boys went on.  Johnathan was so funny, he liked the name 'Sasquatch' so he just kept saying it.

Amada was happy when she found out she could drive this car all by herself.  Alex and Johnathan rode together.  I wonder how many arguments were started during that car ride?

This particular park didn't have many roller coasters, but the ones they did have had shorter height requirements so Johnathan was able to go on all of them.  He was a very happy little boy!  They did have a lot of kid rides too.

One complaint about this park is that there weren't many choices of what to eat for lunch.  We walked in circles trying to find something and finally settled on hot dogs/corn dogs.  Later when we entered the back sections of the kids' area there was more of a selection but it wasn't well marked within the park.

The boys thought it was cool to meet Scooby Doo, Scrappy Doo and Shaggy.  {Last Halloween Alex dressed up at Shaggy and James as Scooby Doo.}  Amada would not get anywhere close to them. More characters came out and they had a little dance contest.

There was one ride that our entire family was able to go on together, called Alpine Bobsled.  It was not a smooth ride at all, but it was unique.  It begins like a regular roller coaster on a track, but then it propels you into a bobsled track.  Like I said, unique.

And the last ride of the day was 'The Comet', a wooden roller coaster, and the only ride in the park to take your picture.  {By the way, we figured the best value for purchasing pictures is the USB since we knew we were going to be traveling around to a lot of the Six Flags parks.  I believe the initial expense of the USB was around $35, and each picture we want uploaded is only 99 cents.}

We were able to ride all of the rides we wanted and still be done in the afternoon.  We promised the kids they could play on the play equipment at the campground.  I need to do laundry and buy some groceries before we leave tomorrow for New Jersey.  Have I mentioned I love being able to do all of my laundry in the time it takes to do a single load?


(This blog post does not correspond to where we currently are on our trip.  We didn't have internet for several weeks and are having a lot of fun so I am behind in blogging.  I will continue to post in chronological order.)  

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

New England States

As predicted, we woke up to a rainy morning with no hopes of it clearing anytime today.  The Weather Channel app has been extremely helpful during this trip, from driving days to planning activities.  I especially like that it has a live radar map and I can see what the weather will be on an hourly basis.

The kids were really looking forward to visiting Six Flags NY today, but we had to break the news to them that it would have to wait until tomorrow.  {We made sure to check the weather forecast before promising this to the kids.}  Instead we planned a driving tour of the New England states.  It was better than staying in the trailer all day and Daniel was anxious to add those state stickers to our map.

Vermont and New Hampshire looked pretty much the same: green and hilly.  It wasn't until we were getting ready to cross the bridge into Maine that it began pouring.

I was in awe as we were driving through looking at our nation's historical buildings.  We spotted this old jail (gaol) which was built in 1719.

We did stop on the Atlantic Coast of Maine to take a picture before we ate lunch.

We passed back through New Hampshire into Massachusetts and decided we would drive through Boston while we were here. We didn't plan on it being rush hour traffic or raining so hard a flash flood warning would be issued.  We were stuck in a tunnel for a good hour.  

We passed through Rhode Island and into Connecticut before arriving back at our campsite in New York. Even though it was a 13 hour day, we drove in seven different states today!  Now Daniel is happy he can put those stickers on the map.  And the kids are happy because tomorrow is Six Flags New York.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Lake George, New York

Today we basically drove the width of New York from west to east.  The countryside is beautiful.  Daniel was surprised by how much of New York is undeveloped.  We changed campground locations so we could be closer to the Six Flags which we are planning on visiting tomorrow.  The KOA (Lake George) we are staying in is at the base of the Adirondack Park Preserve so it definitely has more of a woodsy feeling.

Our campsite is extremely private.  However, with all of the trees Daniel was unable to set up the Directv. No worries though as we have lots of activities planned.

After we set up the trailer we headed into town to re-stock our grocery supply.  Our "driving days" have also turned into our grocery shopping days.  We are thankful that Wal-Mart is nationwide.

And of course the kids had to check out the pool here.  It was VERY cold so they didn't swim long.

It may rain here tomorrow so you will have to wait and see if we get to go to Six Flags or have to plan something else.


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