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Author: April Pearson

Are We There Yet?

Are We There Yet?

Off we go.

My oldest daughter, Chrystal, lives in Chicago.  She tries to make it home once a month or so to see her only grandson, Xavier, who lives here.  All her other little ones are girls.  Two of them live in Texas and the other two are currently in Germany.  She is Damion and Elaina’s favorite aunt as well.  The timing of her trips depends on what’s happening here and at work.  Things came together this past weekend and we spent the whole time entertaining toddlers.

On Saturday, there was an Easter Egg Hunt and a trip to the movies.  Sunday morning we all went to church, but the real gig was on Friday when we took the three of them to the Land Between the Lakes Nature Center.   

Now, these three are roadtrip veterans.  Xavier, the oldest, has gone with his grandmother to visit his Dad in Texas several times.  We’ve taken all of them to the Kentucky Railway Museum a couple of times, most recently to see Thomas the Train.  We have a Pearson Family Reunion in Ohio every year and, usually, take them along there too.  We all love zoos and we’ve been to St. Louis, where they have a cousin, as well as Nashville and Louisville.  Other family members also travel with them occasionally.  So, they understand that, when we tell them it’s a long trip and pack movies, snacks, and books, it’s going to take quite a while.

Of course, they spent the first twenty minutes of the trip devouring most of their snacks. Then they got restless.  In spite of the fact that they’ve been to the Nature Center before and kind of remembered it, they started asking, “Do they have giraffes?  Will there be elephants?” Then, as proof that they were just playing around, “Do they have sharks and octopuses?”  Their imaginations are ten times the size of their bodies and they were in full charge the rest of the hour long drive.  

Even the movies they had chosen to bring didn’t really occupy them for long.  It was like being trapped with the a pack of howling puppies.  They weren’t being bad, not arguing, not whining.  They were having fun, laughing, talking (all at once), asking questions, even singing.  Strapped into their seats, they couldn’t wrestle or climb around the car physically, so they made up for it verbally.  

They enjoyed the Nature Center and were just as amazed and fascinated by it all as ever.  They loved the inside displays.  They hung on every fence and searched for each animal as though they’d never seen one before, even though there weren’t as many as usual and most of them were hiding in their dens.  They especially loved the raptors, but the polliwogs they found along the edge of the garden pond were a big hit too.  They made friends with a dog out front and had to stop to pet him on the way out.

Since it was past lunch time and the grown ups were hungry even if the toddlers were still full of snacks, we drove back to Grand Rivers and stopped at the grocery store for supplies to have a car picnic.   The adults had sandwiches and the kids got lunchables.  

We had planned to take them to see an eagles nest that Jim knew about, but the birds weren’t really flying.  Plus, there was a crowd of serious photographers toting three foot lenses on tripods.  It didn’t seem like a place to release the Wild Bunch, so Jim took a few shots while we waited in the car.  The trip back was just as rambunctious as ever.  The hour or so spent running around hadn’t burned up their energy at all.  We really do love traveling with toddlers.

 

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Pennyrile Hike & Photo Walk

Pennyrile Hike & Photo Walk

View from the top of the dam.

Many times during the year, we all make short trips that seem routine.  We tend not to bother documenting them.  After all, a half hour drive isn’t Really a Roadtrip is it?  But our lives are made up of these moments.  If we only pay attention to the big ones, we miss out on the chances to share our daily experiences with others.  

One of our frequent stops is the state park at Dawson Springs.  Every year, Pennyrile State Park has photo weekends, one in the spring and another in the fall.  Various members of our local photography club participate in these and compete for awards.  However, the park also holds nature hikes and other events throughout the year that we sometimes attend without thinking of them as an actual TRIP.  This past weekend several of us joined Naturalist Becky Clark for a morning hike along two of the park’s most popular trails.  

All trails in the park are clearly marked.

We started out behind the lodge, climbed down the natural limestone steps to the dam, that creates the lake, and walked across the top.  Becky gave us a brief history of the park before we proceeded down to the base of the dam for a quarter mile hike along the Clifty Creek Trail.

 Since our group was familiar with the area, we tended to lag behind, more interested in taking photos than listening to Becky’s talks.  She was very patient with us as we caused her to repeat several times, “Our photographers are catching up now,” before the main group could move along.

From Clifty Creek, we crossed the road and headed up the quarter mile Indian Bluff trail which, while being the same length as Clifty Creek, is a bit more strenuous.  By the time we got back to the lodge, my Fitbit claimed we had climbed up the equivalent of 10 flights of stairs.  The trek was leisurely though and the information Becky presented along the way about various wildflowers, trees, wildlife, and cliffs was interesting.  

The weatherman played an April Fools joke on us with his forecast.  Instead of sunshine and warmth, we got overcast and a chilly breeze; but it wasn’t too cold and it didn’t rain on us.  The cool spring has made some things late in blooming, but we did get some nice wildflower shots and the rocks on Indian Bluff are interesting any time of year.   After the organized hike, Jim and I decided to check out one of our favorite spots in the park.  A small waterfall hidden in the woods at the end of the beach.  It has a nice flow, at present, due to all the rain we’ve had lately.  Overall, it was a pleasant trip shared with friends and natural beauty.

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We tend to dismiss places that are close to us as though travel is required to make a place interesting.  One of the things I hope to do over the next few months is demonstrate the fallacy of that way of looking at things.  Kentucky has many beautiful spots.  In May, we will be paying a brief visit to the Red River Gorge area.  This trip will be mostly reconnaissance.  We’ve never been there before.  Years ago, we talked about making short trips to places in Kentucky and Tennessee, but then we got too caught up in heading cross country.  This summer maybe we will begin to correct that.  

 

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Coordinating Toddler Schedules

Coordinating Toddler Schedules

As you can see from the new countdown plugin, we have several trips planned.  I will be researching for most of them over the next few months and will be posting highlights from what I find from time to time.  One trip that we are trying to put together is still up in the air because of scheduling problems.  

My oldest daughter, Chrystal, is currently living in Chicago.  She is a favorite with all our Littles and they miss her very much since she moved last summer.  She comes home to visit as often as possible, but it’s a six hour drive each way and that limits her trips to once a month or so.  It’s hard for toddlers to understand why she isn’t here more and they have no concept of where she’s now living.  

So, she and I decided last fall that we’d plan a trip this summer for her grandson, Xavier, along with Damion and Elaina, to see where she lives and works.  There are a million fascinating things to see and do in Chicago and we know they will have an amazing time.  It would be nice if we could take all seven of the ones who live here,  but traveling with that many under the age of six is too much even for me.  As it turns out, getting three of them there may be too much.

Obviously, we thought, the trip would have to wait until school was out.  I suggested sometime in June.  She said, “Probably not.  I think Xavier will be in Texas with his dad then.  July is also impossible, even if Xavier is home by then, Damion and Elaina both have birthdays that month, as does one of Xavier’s sisters that lives in Texas.  School starts back the first week of August.  Damion spends every other weekend with his dad, so that left only two available weekends in May. We settled on the week of May 20th.  When we started notifying parents, Damion and Elaina’s grandmother said, “No, we’ve already got plane and hotel reservations to take them to the beach that weekend.  (Hmph, sigh) 🙄  Back to the drawing board.

Another consideration, Damion and Elaina will be playing T Ball this summer.  We don’t have schedules for that yet, so we can’t even begin to see how it will affect things.  Their grandparents will also want to take them camping, at least once.  They only do one kid at a time, so that ties up two more weekends.  

Maybe we should just give up on the summer.  It is much shorter than it used to be when school didn’t start back until Labor Day week.   I’m thinking maybe we’ll have to wait until fall break in October.  We are both retired.  Chrystal is off every weekend.  The kids are five and under.  Scheduling shouldn’t be this hard.  I dread to think what it will be like when they are ten.

 

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Revising Our Goals

Revising Our Goals

When we started this website, our purpose was to provide a way for friends to follow us on our trips and to share some of our photos with them.  That has been a problem from the start.  To begin with, when we are traveling, we don’t really have much time for posting.  We are on the road for six or more hours a day and spend evenings editing pictures or just relaxing after the long drive.

Secondly, we don’t travel every week, or even every month.  That leaves us with long periods of time with no new subjects for posting.  We could just give up and take down the site, but we aren’t ready to do that.  So, I’m trying to come up with travel related ideas to fill in the gaps. Originally, we had thought to do that with local weekend trips.  However, with the advent of 12 little Indians in our lives, that hasn’t really happened either.  Most of the time, we are just too busy living to spend much of it traveling.  

So, I’m open to suggestions if you have any.  My current thinking is that Jim spends a lot of time lately chasing trains.  He could make a short post once a week about where he’s been or where he’s planning to go and post some pictures of his excursions.  I haven’t mentioned this to him yet, but it was my first thought.  He’s also made several trips this past year on other photography related adventures that he could write about.

For myself, the furthest that I travel most weeks is to the church and back five days a week delivering children to preschool and picking them back up.  That will change somewhat when school is out though.  There will probably be trips to the parks and the zoo.  There’s the family reunion in Ohio.  Still, not a regular thing that could fill a blog.  

 However, one thing I do all year round is get ready for our big trip in the fall.  Jim’s Combat Camera group meets somewhere in the country for their annual reunion and I design a trip around that location.  I plan the route and research interesting places along the way.  In the past, we’ve spent up to three weeks on the road with the 3 day reunion somewhere in the middle.  I’m thinking I could share my research.  Who knows, you might decide to visit some of the spots I look into yourself.

This year’s reunion is in Colorado Springs and we are probably just going straight there and straight back, a week at most.  This is an economizing measure because next year, we are planning on skipping the reunion for a trip to Europe.  That one will require a lot of research.

Jim has wanted an excuse to go back there ever since he got out of service.  My grandson Brad is stationed in Germany, at present, and Jim sees this as his opportunity. The only parts of Europe I’ve ever longed to see are Ireland and Scotland, but I am an aficionado of mountains and i’ve heard they have some good ones in many parts of the continent, so I’m willing to give it a try. 

I’m hoping that, one way or another, we can come up with, at least, one post a week.  Stay tuned for a potential schedule.  

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Planning is Underway

Planning is Underway

Today, we sat down together and semi-finalized our route for this year’s Combat Camera trip.  I’ve struggled for the past week with the new version of Google Maps.  It sets strict limits on how many stops you can include on any one map.

We’re going to be gone for more than two weeks and we’ll only be spending one night at most stops along the way.  That means many more points than Google allows.  So, I’ve broken it down into 3 sections.  They are posted on under the Trip Maps tab.  Check it out.  If you know of something fascinating or amazing that we should see along the way, tell us in the comments.

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