When I left off, we were exiting California. This was as far west as we would be going, and we've since started our "return trip". We headed into Nevada, where we only had one stop. Henderson, Nevada is about a half hour from Las Vegas. Before everyone gets worked up about this, I'm going to say that we never once (we meaning any of the family) stepped foot in Vegas. We drove fairly close, but no, we had no lost (or gained) money from Vegas.
Now that I've cleared that up, I'll tell you what we did do. About 10 minutes down the road from our RV park was Hoover Dam. Hoover Dam is truly an engineering marvel. It helps power multiple states with its power, and holds back a massive amount of water. We walked out on the dam and the bridge, and got to see the dam from Nevada and Arizona. Both the bridge and dam really are amazing structures.
Another highlight to our time in Nevada was when we found a bike trail that was not far from our RV park. Just off the trail was a "dirt bike" course that we enjoyed riding on a lot. We enjoyed jumping and zooming on the course.
Our time in Nevada was definitely fun, and we'd have liked to stay longer. But our time is running short, so we headed for Utah! To be continued...
California is a huge state. If you've been, you know that it has dozens of neat, unique activities in each city. After leaving the San Diego area, we headed to Joshua Tree National Park.
I think all of us really enjoyed Joshua Tree, and it has been named by the Merchant Voting Association, our favorite National Park yet. We were able to actually climb on rocks here, which is a huge change from our previous visits to National Parks, where you're not allowed to climb or stray off the path. Also, the Joshua Trees themselves were incredibly exotic and very neat. We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Joshua Tree National Park. Our campground there was also very nice. As I mentioned a few posts ago, I've been filming videos a lot on this trip. At the Joshua Tree campground, I was able to film a Star Wars Fan Film. The campground was almost totally empty, and it made for some good filming grounds. Overall, we really enjoyed the Joshua Tree stop.
Our next destination was Los Angeles. Here, we were able to visit the Hillsong Church campus in downtown L.A. The members of this church were very passionate for the Lord, and the whole experience was great.
I also got the chance to go on the Warner Bro.'s Studio Tour with my dad. It was incredible. We were able to see sets from Jurassic World, the TV show Friends, the Ellen Degeneres show, and even a spot where they filmed the very last clip of the new Marvel movie, Captain Marvel. On top of all this, we saw costumes and props used in the Harry Potter movies, Wonder Woman and Aquaman. This was one of my favorite experiences on the entire trip, since I've been making videos of my own!
Also while in Los Angeles, we got to eat with some family, Marsha and Rick Cook and their immediate family. We really enjoyed our time with them, and were able to have some great conversations.
One of the main reasons that we visited L.A. was to visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. The library was really neat, and we were able to go inside the Air Force One and Marine One that President Reagan rode. It was a very neat, interactive museum that we all (speaking for the elder 3 of the family) enjoyed.
After Los Angeles, we traveled to Monterey. This was where we met our friends, the Maxwells, from back home in Atlanta. They were very kind to fly out and spend their spring break with us. We were able to catch up on a bunch of stuff, and we (the kids) were able to play a lot of games and play at the playground.
With the Maxwells, we had the chance to see the giant Redwood trees. I was in awe at just how big they were! There was one tree that was partly hollowed out and had fallen. We got to climb partly into it. In fact, Nate could walk in it for little ways.
With the Maxwell family, we took a side trip to San Francisco for a couple of days. I've been to New York City, and thought that San Francisco would be a lot like that, but it really is incomparable with other cities that I've seen. We were staying near Fisherman's Wharf, where we ate some delicious food, and caught some great views of the bay. Near Fisherman's Wharf is Ghirardelli Square. It was here that we sampled chocolate, bought ice cream, and enjoyed a quick rest from the steep hills of San Francisco. While on the subject of ice cream, we'd highly recommend Over the Moon Creamery in San Francisco. They had amazing ice cream. Even better than Ghiradelli. Case closed. The people have spoken.
We were also able to tour the remote prison, Alcatraz. Alcatraz, if you don't know, is an island in the middle of San Francisco Bay, housing what used to be a maximum security prison. This was a very entertaining and interesting tour, and we got to hear about the cells, breakouts, the guards and their families, and much much more!
We very much enjoyed our time with the Maxwell family, and were very sad when they left, especially knowing that it'd be 3+ months before we saw them again.
After visiting Monterey, we traveled to Bakersfield. We had a few unique experiences there. Our first one began when an acquaintance of my dad's, Mr. Pearsey, invited us to a screening of the movie Breakthrough. He held this screening for first responders in Bakersfield, and invited us to see it. If you haven't seen this movie, I'd highly recommend seeing it. My dad and I very much enjoyed watching it, and a are very grateful to Mr. Pearsey. (My mom stayed back with Nate, because the movie wasn't appropriate for him.) Mr. Pearsey also graciously invited us to his Bible study group on a Wednesday night, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time there. Everybody was very welcoming, and they quickly came around us as friends, instead of quick acquaintances.
Also in Bakersfield, we visited an orange grove. We weren't able to pick any, but were able to watch the already picked ones getting cleaned, sorted and packaged.
Bakersfield was our last stop in California. Our entire time in that state was filled with good memories. We did a lot there, and are grateful to all those who showed us hospitality. If you've been to California, comment below what your favorite part was!
You probably know that our trip is fast coming to a close, and we still have things we want to do. I interviewed everyone in the family (including myself) about what they want our final months to look like, and some other questions.
1. What is one activity we have not done yet on the trip that you would like to do?
Will: Rafting with the whole family.
Nate: Ride a horse.
Beth: Kayak and/or raft, see the stars in a remote location, read a book.
Ash: Some type of boating activity: kayak, rafting/tubing, motor-boating, etc.
2. What is an activity we have done already on the trip that you'd like to do again?
Will: Get some alone time with each of my parents (going out to lunch, going to a movie, etc.)
Nate: Bike a few miles.
Beth: Off road vehicles, exploring, hiking, spending time hanging together outside the RV.
Ash: Off roading in an ATV. We had a blast a few days ago on this activity.
3. What are some characteristics/skills you have learned on the trip that you want to carry back home with you?
Will: My movie making skills that I've honed in the last few months.
Nate: Hand stands and cartwheels.
Beth: Flexibility, endurance, creativity.
Ash: Greater confidence in do-it-yourself maintenance; better appreciation for the flexibility required when changes in life happen, greater appetite for doing and trying things outside of my comfort zone.
4. What do you think will be the hardest part of transitioning back to Atlanta?
Will: Losing my dad full time; jumping back into a "normal" schedule.
Nate: Unpacking all of our stuff ('cause it'll probably take us about an hour) and selling the RV.
Beth: Getting back to a set routine (things such as appointments, meetings, errands); not having Ash full time.
Ash: Getting adjusted to a world where I am working more and recreating less than I am this year, on our adventure. Being with my family over the year has been a real blessing, and I will never regret taking a pause of life to spend this time with them.
Overall, we have generally the same thoughts on each of the questions, obviously personalized for each one. It's been a real adventure, and we're looking forward to ending it well!
Welcome to Stories Behind the Pictures: Part 2! Here, I show you some pictures that may look neat on the outside, but have a really amazing backstory on the inside. Let's get started!
We always go to my Aunt and Uncle's house for Easter brunch after church, and many happy memories have originated there. However, for obvious reasons, we weren't able to go to my Aunt Sue's house this year.
Fortunately for us, this amazing restaurant, Aunt Sue's Chalet, was a mere 2 minutes away from the church we attended for Easter! The food was phenomenal, and the people were very nice. The picture you see is us with Aunt Sue (the Aunt Sue at the restaurant). This was a great experience and will go down in the RV Year Merchant Favorite Meal Book...if there was such a thing.
What are some of your family's Easter traditions?
Will is 15, and enjoys running track, writing,