Monday, September 22, 2014

The Amazing Statue of Liberty

I met a rock star this week. At least that’s what it felt like…

I always dreamed of visiting the Statue of Liberty, but I had made peace that I never would. I really had no desire to visit New York City… too many crowds, too much traffic, too much violence, too much danger… 

But that was before we started planning the 2014 Chicken Whisperer Fall Tour. When New York was added to the list, I was adamant that I wanted to visit the Statue of Liberty; a bucket list item I thought I would never get to mark off. Now was my chance and I didn’t want this opportunity to pass me by! Not to mention, what an excellent opportunity it would be for a roadschooling field trip!

I brought the 3 children’s books I have about the Statue of Liberty with us to read to Caleb and Lily Anne. From the day we left, we read them over and over again building the excitement and interest in the visit of this nation’s lovely lady.

While traveling up the eastern coast on the Chicken Whisperer tour, I researched campgrounds. In most cases, the closest you can get to the city with an RV is about an hour away or so. However, there is one location that is 15 minutes from the Statue of Liberty. You can actually see the beautiful lady while on the premises! Liberty Harbor Marina and RV park is located in Jersey City, New Jersey. The campground offers sites with water and electric only. They do have a dump station and a honey wagon that you can schedule if your sewer tanks are filled while staying there for a fee. There are laundry and bathhouse facilities, which we didn’t use. There’s also a fitness center and restaurant on location that is also open to the public. This campground is NOT cheap and well above the average daily cost that we’ve ever paid at $80 plus taxes! In fact, our beast of a truck didn’t fit within the site we were assigned and we couldn’t switch to another as the park was booked, so we had to pay an additional $20 a day to park in another lot. That’s over $100 a day when all the fees are paid, and yet we’d stay there again. Not necessarily because of the park, but because of the location.
The day had finally come! We were a little nervous about driving with our 50 feet of truck and tow through New York City to get to the New Jersey side, so we created a custom route for us via that took us around the city. It was only about 30 minutes longer, but it was a much less stressful drive. In fact, we didn’t have any problems until we got right in Jersey City and they were doing some construction. There were twists and turns that were making us go cross-eyed! We only made one wrong turn though, luckily the DOT has prepared for this problem with truckers or large vehicles and placed U-Turn areas in various locations so you can turn around and try again. Which, we did and this time we got it right. Our problem was that we didn’t want to go to the Holland Tunnel because that would take us to New York (What a nightmare!), so we avoided that route. What we didn’t realize is that the campground is the last turn before you go through the tunnel, so we actually did need to go toward it. Once we figured that out, we made it to the campground with no problems! 

I saw it first!

As we drove down the street and were looking for the campground entrance, I yelled, “I saw it first!” This is something my husband and I do when we travel referring to who is the first to spot the ocean, Stone Mountain, and other various landmarks around the country. This time, it was me! I saw it first! I really couldn’t believe my eyes. I was so excited! This dream… My dream was becoming a reality!

I was too excited to sleep! Well, I slept pretty well, but I did wake up early and instead of lying in bed and trying to go back to sleep like I normally do, I got up and got going! I had reserved pedestal tickets for the Statue of Liberty (Adults $18) and we also bought tickets for the Big Bus Tour (Adult $34) online, so we had a packed day of activities! We parked at Liberty State Park to jump on the ferry. It was only $7.00 for the whole day. We went through airport-like security and everyone made it through with no problems except Andy as his overalls always make the metal detects go off. Who’d a though? Ha! We rode the ferry over to Ellis Island and got off to visit the museum there. We just did a quick walk through and didn’t take the time to benefit from the complimentary audio tours that you can check out, since we were on a schedule. Caleb and Lily Anne got a book at the gift shop here. Then, we hopped back on the ferry for our ride to the Statue of Liberty. As we got closer and closer, I couldn’t believe my eyes. 

She was beautiful… She was tall… She was powerful… She was AMAZING! I had to remove my sunglasses to just look at her with my real eyes. After taking in this American symbol, my next thought was, if I feel this way just looking at a monument made of copper, how incredible I must feel the day Jesus comes back. I can’t imagine!

When we landed, our first stop was the cafĂ©. The prices were shockingly reasonable! Then, we went through security again, checked the strollers (FREE), stuffed my backpack in a locker ($2.00), and headed up to the top of the pedestal. We took pictures of ourselves and NY from there. While there were definitely corners that people liked to hang out on, overall, I didn’t feel like anyone was being rude in not allowing others to enjoy the view as well. Once we made it back down, we ran through the Statue of Liberty museum quickly and then headed back to pick up the strollers and backpack. Daddy bought Caleb and Lily Anne another book and a small Statue of Liberty souvenir. Caleb loves the little statue so much he’s been sleeping with it at night! Before leaving, we made it to the front of the grounds and took a few pictures. As you can see... Our feet have stood where the Statue of Liberty stands!

Riding on the ferry back over to New Jersey, I felt as if the few hours that we had spent there were mere seconds. From there, we were in walking distance of jumping on the LibertyLanding Ferry (Adult $7 one way, but we got a $2 discount by showing our statue tickets) that would take us over to NY City. Once there, we put our map reading skills to the test and walked a few blocks to one of the Big Bus pick up locations. We rode a double-decker bus with an open top and of course we rode in the second floor seats! We took in great views and it was a perfect way to take pictures until the camera battery DIED! We decided that with the time we had, staying on the bus instead of getting on and off would allow us to see the most sites. That is what we did until we got to Time Square. The air conditioning on the bus wasn’t working (not that we were using it up top), so they were taking it back to the shop. We grabbed a bite to eat (Crepes filled with chicken, mushrooms, and mozzarella cheese and ice cream... Delicious!). We had to wait 30 minutes for the next bus to come pick us up and we were getting worried that we weren’t going to make it back to our ferry before the last pick up time. We rode the bus for a while, but after traffic and a detour that took us way off path, we decided the best thing to do was to grab a cab so we hopped off. Of course there’s a million cabs until YOU want one and then they’re all filled. Finally, we found one and while his meter was off, he said he would take us there. We arrived with 15 minutes to spare!

It was a day of many firsts for our family and our children.

First time to visit Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty
First time to visit New York
First time to eat a New York Brick Oven Pizza

First time to ride a ferry
First time to ride on a bus
First time to ride in a cab

The whole day flashed by, but the memories we made have been seared into my heart and mind and I will treasure them forever!

God Bless your Learning Journey,

Monday, September 15, 2014

2014 Chicken Whisperer Fall Tour Complete

I was hoping to post more frequently so my posting wouldn’t be so long, but it’s hard when you’re traveling from stop to stop daily. We thoroughly enjoyed our trip and I will be sharing more about our personal experiences in later posts, but here is a description of the second half of our journey. 

Our campsites included…

Lamb City Campground – This was a very nice campground with a huge HUGE playground area! There’s actually more than can be seen in the pictures. It’s a gated community and you get a card when you check in. We had a pull-through site with full hook-ups. It was level and shady. We enjoyed a picnic at the playground. Caleb and Lily Anne met a friend and had a great time playing in the sand together. We just stayed overnight, but it was a wonderful experience. The best part was the price. We paid about $30 for the night!

Greenwood Lodge andCampsites – This was a large campground with beautiful scenery. They needed better signage, but our GPS found it with no problem. There wasn’t a playground, but we enjoyed some fun family time anyway. Daddy taught Caleb how to play horseshoes. Lily Anne LOVED throwing the ball. There were a billion rocks to climb and I think we climbed up and sat on all of them! We also found a grass hill to roll down as well! We had a pull through with only water and electric. We only stayed one night, so we dumped at the dump station the following morning.  I think it was about $45 for the night.

Coldbrook ResortCampground – This was a large campground as well. We had a back in site, which was fine because we had to unhook anyway. As soon as we got there, we took a hike (and I mean HIKE… it was very far away) to the playground, which was a disappointment, mainly because Lily Anne couldn’t do anything except swing. The bars on the ladders to get up to the one slide were too wide for her to climb on her own. We had to lift her up. We were required to stay at this campground 2 nights since we came in over a weekend and it was about $42/night with full hook-ups. Luckily, Daddy found a Children’s Museum close by the Tractor Supply event. The museum was nice, not the most appealing to Caleb’s interest (other than the trains… you know the same ones we have in the camper.) It also seemed small. I looked around to see if there were stairs to find more activities, but I couldn’t find anything. When I told my husband about the museum, he told me there was a second floor that we never got to see. Oh well…

Crow’s NestCampground – This was a nice campground and the owner was very friendly. The playground was nice although I have a couple of complaints. First, the digger is so high, even my feet had trouble touching the ground. This was disappointing because it’s always one of Caleb’s favorite things to play with. The second complaint was about a plastic slide you can’t see. I think it was put together wrong because the ladder for a child to climb up was under the slide, so Lily couldn’t use it unless we put her in it. Also, the laundry set up was a little weird. They had one washer and 2 dryers set up in the women’s bathroom and my husband said they had one washer and dryer set up in the men’s bathroom. We’d never seen that before… makes it hard when I have to do laundry with a 1 year old and a 3 year old running around the bathroom. We had a pull thru site with full hook-ups although the set-up was a little funky, it worked. We paid about $42/ night.

Friendly BeaverCampground – This park really caters to children! Just look at the playgrounds and you’re not even seeing everything they have to offer! Of course where does my son end up… in the dirt, as usual. They also had two ponies on site as well as goats. The kids had a great time feeding the goats. I thought it was clever that the campground sold the goat pellets by the ice cream cone. We had a back in site with full hook-ups and paid about $44/ night. There were a lot of seasonals and some full-timers living in the park. The second night we were there another site started blaring music starting around 10:30pm. The kids were already asleep and we were working so while we made note of it, it didn’t really bother us until it continued well past quiet hours, which started at 11:00pm. It seemed to get louder and louder and more and more up beat and obnoxious. We tried calling and emailing the campground, but we got no response. The website told us to find a Camp Host if there was an emergency by looking for a sign in front of a camper. It was getting close to midnight. We were already dressed for bed. We didn’t want to get out and drive around looking for a sign in a large campground. My husband finally looked up the owner of the campground in the white pages. We were hoping he was calling the right person at this hour. Luckily, it was. She said she would take care of it and about 10 minutes later the music FINALLY stopped. We were later emailed by the campground that they had previous problems with the campers at this site and they asked them to leave. It was nice that they followed up with us even though we weren’t there anymore. Other than that, the only complaint we had about this campground was the roads… super bumpy! I’m not sure if it’s because it’s the end of the season and they’re waiting to grade them until after winter, but they were pretty harsh.

Sandpond FamilyCampground – I didn’t get a map of this campground, but it seemed pretty small. Again, a good amount of seasonal and full-timers, but it was well taken care of. There is a beautiful lake with a beach on the property that I didn’t get a picture of. Below, you can see the playground. It’s probably one of the smaller playgrounds, but both Caleb and Lily Anne had a blast, even though it sprinkled on us part of the time. Like I said before, give this boy some dirt and he’s happy. Give him some trucks in the dirt and he won’t want to leave… literally! We had a back in site that was a bit tricky to maneuver, but we handled it with no problem. (Great team work!) We had full hook-ups and paid about $35/night. We just stayed one night.

Augusta / Gardiner KOA – This campground was overall pretty nice. I’m not sure why I don’t have any pictures, but they had a small playground... one slide, a couple of swings, a pretend helicopter, a seesaw, but they had a large grassy area to run and play. We did laundry here, which cost $1.50 for each the washer and dryer. The owner is friendly, but very dry. If you question her on anything, she’s kind of snippy. We called to make reservations over the phone. We have a KOA membership in my name, but we wanted to use Andy’s credit card to purchase the site because this is for his business. She was very short in telling us that we couldn’t do that even though we’ve stayed at KOA’s many times before and done just that. She told us that if we were going to have attitude with her that we just shouldn’t stay there. (Definitely doesn’t have “The Customer is Always Right” mentality.)  In person, I told her we had moved past our issue and went ahead and checked it. She told us that our KOA membership had earned enough points that she could write us a certificate to get $10 off. That was nice… with that, we paid $36/night and we stayed one night. We had a pull thru site here with full hook-ups. The site was slightly unlevel where the camper sat, but it dropped off just a couple feet outside our door. The picnic table was so unlevel that my water bottle wouldn’t stand up without me holding it while we ate.

 Holden FamilyCampground- This was another quick stay and move out the next day, but we did enjoy playing on their large playground equipment. It was really geared to older children, but the kids had fun swinging, climbing ladders and slipping down slides. We got a quick load of laundry completed and Caleb and Lily enjoyed playing with their wooden train set outside our camper on the concrete pad.
Holden Family Camgound – This campsite is a small campsite, but well taken care of. They even had their own older motor grader to keep the roads smooth and it showed! Caleb was so excited to see the motor grader up close. To watch him see the levers inside the cab and touch the blade and tires, you’d think he’d just met a movie star! The playground was small but the kids still had fun. We did another Walmart run to stock up on groceries and found a local seafood place to get some Maine goodies for dinner! We had a pull thru site with full hook-ups and paid $36/night for our last night on the Chicken Whisperer Tour!

The 2014 Chicken Whisperer Fall Tour was a successful event with stops from Virginia to Maine! We got to add 9 stickers to our United States map during the tour and we’re looking forward to adding more on the way home! Caleb and Lily Anne are traveling many miles across this beautiful country and learning a lot along the way. What a wonderful experience for all of us and many of you made it possible by showing up to the Chicken Whisperer events! We’ve met some awesome people and were looking forward to meeting more chicken lovers during the 2015 tours! 

Thank you fans and Thank you Tractor Supply Company for making this possible for our family!

Stay posted as we have a fun and learning packed trip back home. Statue of Liberty… HERE WE COME!

God Bless your Learning Journey,

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Do you know what a Honey Wagon is?

A few days ago, I posted, “Do you know what a honey wagon is? Caleb does…” on TheLearning Wagon Facebook page.

For anyone that is interested in learning what Caleb has learned, below I will share what a Honey Wagon is in the RV world.

 Campgrounds offer a variety of hook ups. Some offer water only. This is traditionally offered to tent campers and provides them with a water faucet they can use for cleaning and cooking. Some offer water and electric providing the tent camper or RV camper the ability to hook up to a power source. This might allow the tent camper to plug in a griddle or the RV camper to power everything in the camper from the water heater for a hot shower to a refrigerator or even a blow dryer. What this option doesn’t give you is a sewer to dump water from your toilet or shower and RV tanks can only hold so much. When you’re staying at a campground that only offers water and electric for more than a few days you are going to have to empty your tanks. No one wants to unhook from the water and power source and hook up their trailer or fifth wheel to their vehicle  just to drive it over to the dump station and then back to the site just to hook back up to the water and power source and unhook from their vehicle again… not once and especially not more than once if they’re staying there any length of time That’s where the Honey Wagon comes into play. 

As you can see in the picture, this Honey Wagon is a tank pulled by a tractor. The campground worker visits sites where  campers need to be emptied, connects hose from the camper to the tank to drain the gray water (water from showers and sinks) and the black water (water and waste from the toilet) into the tank. When the tank is full, it is  taken to the dump station to be emptied and then begins again until all the RVs have had their turn. Most campsites  that have a honey wagon do this once a week, but offer the service to those who need it for a charge on other days that their tank is full. 

We’ve never actually used the service of a Honey Wagon. We prefer to stay  at campgrounds that offer full hookups (water, electric, and sewer), so we can dump on site as needed. In the past, when we have had to stay in a facility where we only had water and electric, we only scheduled a stay for one day. We minimized our use of our shower because that is how our tank fills the fastest. After 2 standard time  showers for us, our grey tank is full.. Instead, we use the showers offered by the campground.  Our black tank can last about a week with our family. 

What is a Honey Wagon? 

Now you know… 

God Bless your Learning Journey ~

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

CW Tour Update

We’ve been traveling the country in our RV most-time (not completely full-time, but almost) for nearly 2 years. We are currently on the Chicken Whisperer’s fourth tour with Tractor Supply Company. You can view the schedule of events to find out if we will be coming your way by CLICKING HERE. 

We are officially half way through the tour at this point and have been blessed with wonderful campsite, which were all chosen and reserved prior to leaving this time (not something we did for the past tours) It was nice because there was one less stressor of having to search and book a campsite especially since we were traveling over a holiday weekend this time. 

Our campsites included…

Stone Mountain Park – This park is a staple for our family. This is park is close to our family and there’s an abundance of activities for us to enjoy with the kids from playgrounds (one on the campground and another outside), a swimming pool on the campground, a museum, hiking paths as well as amusement park activities and much more! We plan to stop back in at the Stone Mountain campsite at the end of our trip. In October, they plan to have hayride and pumpkin carving for the kids!

On our way, we stopped and enjoyed a fun and yummy meal with a friend and Sponsor of the Chicken Whisperer! Had a great time with Frank from The Chicken Fountain! 

Forest Lake (Thousand Trails) – This was a large campground with 2 outdoor pools. One pool was just for adults, while the other was for families with children to enjoy. They had a large clubhouse area with toys for the kids and a great playground! It was super-hot the day we stopped in, so we enjoyed an ice cream from the on-site store. 

Kosmo VillageCampground – This was a small campground with a separate mobile home area. There were about 7 RVs when we visited and most of them looked to be full time, but well taken care of. They didn’t have a lot to play with in the playground area, but what they did have was very cool… a rocket. I believe they said it was installed in the 1960’s when the campground was developed. Andy was sent back to the memories of his childhood seeing it and watching Caleb and Lily enjoy pretending to take off to the moon. I did find a bunch of broken glass in the playground area that I let management know about. They apologized and said they would take care of it. We left the next day.

Fredericksburg, VA KOA – I really can’t say anything about this campground because we pulled in after dark and pulled out first thing the next morning. Driving through it looked nice and I did spot a playground, but we didn’t have time to enjoy any of their amenities.

Rambling PineCampground – While they seemed to be quite expensive, this was a fun place to stay. They have 3 different playground areas, a jumping pillow, a beautiful lake view, goats, swimming pool, putt-putt and so much more. This was our first stop for laundry since leaving Stone Mountain!  I'm not sure why I don't have any pictures of the campground. I guess we were just having too much fun for me to drag around the camera. Caleb enjoyed playing on all the the playgrounds. One backed right up to our camper and had a wooden train, wooden boat, wooden tractor as well as a slide and swings. He also loved playing in the sand around the jumping pillow with his trucks and tractors... one of his favorite things to do!

Circle M (ThousandTrails) – I have to say this campground probably had more free amenities than most I’ve seen and they were geared to children even as young as Lily, whose 17 months old. They had an indoor pool, outdoor pool, water park for the little ones and giant water slide and obstacle course for the older crowd, they had a large playground, putt-putt, golf course, basketball courts and more. We probably could have just enjoyed our time there without leaving, but they are also located in an area rich with activities! We only had 4 days there, but we’re already talking about going back! We spent an entire day at the Dutch Wonderland, which is the best amusement park I’ve been to since it’s is also geared to little ones. For pictures of Dutch Wonderland, CLICK HERE. Most rides allowed Lily to ride with an adult, so she wasn’t stuck in a stroller all day. We rode so many rides and there were still more that we didn’t get a chance to.  We all had a blast and the best part is that we saved a bundle on tickets by finding a coupon and buying our tickets online! The following day we went to Strasburg Railroad. You can see pictures by CLICKING HERE. Again, my thrift husband found a great deal online and saved us a fortune! We rode the train, rode the pint sized Pufferbelly train, and Caleb enjoyed riding the Cranky Cars over and over again! They did have a playground, but we didn’t have a chance to visit it. They also have multiple stores filled with train items. Caleb enjoyed playing with the wooden train set in the back for over an hour, just like he does at home. I had to carry him out of the store so he could enjoy more of the train experience! LOL! On the way home, we stopped at a You-Pick Apples, Peaches, and Nectarines farm. That was a great learning experience for Caleb and Lily too! You can see these pictures by CLICKING HERE. We also stopped into a local dairy and picked up some milk. When we go back, I want to visit more of the Amish area. There is so much to do in Lancaster, PA!

Homestead Campground - This was another quick stay and move out the next day, but we did enjoy playing on their large playground equipment. It was really geared to older children, but the kids had fun swinging, climbing ladders and slipping down slides. We got a quick load of laundry completed and Caleb and Lily enjoyed playing with their wooden train set outside our camper on the concrete pad. 

Cozy Hills Campground – This campsite was a blessing since we tried to reserve about 4 that were all full before finding this one, due to the Labor Day weekend. The best part was that they had a seasonal sight available that had sewer! None of the other sites we previously called even had sewer. This was a hopping campsite when we arrived that night around 5pm. We ate dinner, and then went down to the campground store to enjoy some ice cream and the LIVE band. Andy and I found it amusing to hear country favorites like Johnny Cash, Elvis, and Lynyrd Skynyrd sung by Yankees. While the music was great, it just wasn’t right… We also enjoyed a wagon ride and craft time the next day. Their playgrounds weren’t the most entertaining for Caleb and Lily, but there were some children on site they made friends with and enjoyed playing in the sand together. We did some of our own crafting while there too! Check out our Labor Day Patriotic Hats! 

Sturbridge RV Resort(Thousand Trails) – Here we are today… I’ve done more laundry that I wish to tell you about and we did a Walmart run to replenish our groceries. We’ve also spent time on their playground. They have two areas. One area is mainly swings and the other has play equipment that Caleb does well with. Lily can’t climb the ladders, but one we get her up on the playground she can climb the steps and slide down the slides. We’ve taken a couple of walks around the park and yesterday Caleb learned all about what a Honey Wagon is… do you know?
I’ll try to keep you better updated with our travels and experiences more often, so I don’t have such a lengthy post next time. Here’s looking forward to the next half of our journey…. That it be filled with fun, laughter, and learning!

God Bless your Learning Journey,

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...