At the Dunes

We were at the Dunes for my Son’s birthday

Just on the border of Arizona and California is a place called buttercup. A fun place to play in the sand dunes. My brother has a RZR, and a friend let us borrow a Rino.

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Our middle son loves motorized toys so we let him celebrate!
We learned that it is illegal for a 14 yr old to drive a UTV/ATV without direct adult supervision.

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We were watching, but the police informed us it was not correct. Yep, our son was pulled over on his birthday. The officer was gracious, and didn’t issue a  ticket because it was his birthday.

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 We also celebrated with some dessert in the desert. He wanted an ice cream pie.

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We set up camp on the sand, and had a great time!

got to love the Southern weather!

My brother owns Main Street RV, so this was his RV this weekend.

Sea World

We are spending the holidays in San Diego. Our family Christmas present was a pass to Sea World. Four years ago we had to cut a family Sea World trip short when our youngest son was hospitalized. This year they were running a sale. Buy a year pass for the same price as a multi-day pass. If we never use it again we already got our money’s worth.

Our first day the sun was shining, and it was in the low 60’s. A nice change from the rain and cold we experienced in Portland just a few days before.

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We went to Shamu stadium to watch the killer whales perform. Yeah we sat outside the “Soak Zone” it was warm out, but not that warm!

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We experienced The Polar Express in 4D. I got a little nervous when they announced that we might get wet. No one got wet but it did snow on us.

We really liked the shark experience and turtle exhibits. One of the turtles must really like it in the aquarium. It was a rescued in the wild, returned and had to be rescued again. It thought the plastic shopping bag was a jelly fish.

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We petted the bat rays, while the older boys rode the roller coaster.

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Our older boys convinced the youngest that he would like the roller coaster. Lets just say it was fun once it was a memory. His exact words while riding were “GOD IS WITH ME.”

On our next rip we saw the last dolphin show of the year. It was sunny, but cool. Once again we didn’t want to get wet on purpose.

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I’m not sure these people wanted to either. Watch out for the whale tail.

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The dolphins are amazing!

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One of their Dolphins is 49 years old. Most of them were born and raised at Sea World.

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We had a great time! We still have time to return before 2013 ends…May-be next fall. We have to see where we are.

Christmas Card 2012

Our Hawaiian Christmas Card

Hawaiian Christmas

This year has been anything but typical, and since the end of world is predicted to be tomorrow we figured we should say Merry Christmas to you, our friends, before it’s too late. Since our blog already tells you what we have been doing this year we thought we would share a few things we are looking forward to.

If the world doesn’t end tomorrow, we are planning to spend Christmas near San Diego, CA. We had early Christmas gatherings up North with family, and love spending time with them, but this year is about living simpler. So..we will find a church to attend Christmas Eve; the kids will open a few presents around our small tree, Christmas morning; we’ll look for a homeless shelter that needs some help serving a Christmas meal; and hopefully have a family bonfire on the beach if the weather permits.

We have been so blessed this year to travel, and have enjoyed meeting new and existing friends all over the country. We are looking forward to connect with more in the new year. For the moment we are really excited to be under clear skies. Merry Christmas from the Leighton’s. Thanks for following our journey.

 

 

 

 

 

On Vacation

Some may see our year-long trip as a vacation, but the reality is we have just made our residence mobile. We still work and our kids attend school. So what does vacation look like for us? How about somewhere we can’t take our RV…Hawaii.

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We went to Wailea, Maui for 7days. By our 2nd day we were trying to figure out how to move to the island. No school, no work, lots of fun!

My wife and I had been to Maui for our honeymoon almost 19 years ago, but this was our kids first trip.

I had been told we needed to take the road to Hana. We didn’t get there last time, so we went this time. We didn’t realize how much the road zigzagged and how long of a drive it was.  The video explains better than I can.

What a drive!

We made it to 7 pools, but unfortunately didn’t have the time we needed to really explore the area, but what we saw was pretty cool.

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It’s a huge park.

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This is the rainy side of the island. I was told they get 3” per day. It rained most of the drive to the park, and stopped while we were hiking.

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We thought the trees were pretty interesting. the roots just kind of dropped down, I guess when they needed more water.

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This looks like the Oregon Coast, but the air and water were about 80 degrees.

My Brother-in-law talked me into scuba diving with sharks. My wife agreed once she knew the life insurance was up to date, but didn’t want to join us. Diving with sharks, that was a 1st for me. I have to say it was a lot of fun! Check out what else I saw…

We also enjoyed the hotel pool.
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and beach everyday.

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We found a zipline that was family friendly. The guides “Mr. T” and “Yedy” were great.

I would love to move here, it’s so pretty..The next pictures are right around our hotel.

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We had a great time with our extended family too.

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Hard to sum up 7 days. I can’t think of a better place to go on vacation. We arrived back to Seattle with lots of rain welcoming us home. Missing Maui already.

Homeward Bound

We are Homeward bound.

Except for a few days we have been in sunny and fairly warm weather. Home is always home, but I’m not missing the rain and cool cloudy skies of the Northwest.

Since leaving New Mexico we have been reminded that it really is winter time. Our first awakening was traveling I-40 toward Flagstaff. We had to pull over and wait for a storm to pass. We had planned to spend the night in FlagStaff, AZ and hike around the Grand Canyon, but 50-70 mph winds and snow changed our plans.

We have been in Las Vegas, at our Thousand Trails camp for week. The temps have been comfortable during the day, and cool to cold at night. It has been a busy week of catching up on school work for the kids.

We had to change our travel plans because of snow in the mountains. Instead of driving up through Reno we cut across Death Valley. The rain started in Bakersfield and was constant and increasingly heavy as we drove North.

Spent a couple days home, mainly preparing to travel without our home (5th wheel). Looking forward to a family trip to Hawaii after Thanksgiving.

 

Tour Our Home

What’s it like living in an RV? Tour our home.

On July 6, 2012 our family of 5 (Dad, Mom, 2 teenagers, and a 9yr old) left our 1600ft home, and moved into a 37ft 5th wheel for the year. We have posted some pictures, but we thought we would give a video tour today.

We all like our set-up. We have all the comforts of home, just fun sized, compared to our house. It’s big enough for people to have personal space, and much easier to keep clean.

The best part is the weather, and neighbors. If we don’t like either we can move.

We were reading a post titled You know you live in an RV when…Here few of the comment we liked.

  • You know the kids are up in the morning because the house moves.
  • The kids wake up and say “Where are we?”
  • Kids say they can’t flush, when using a family members bathroom, cuz there is no foot flusher.
  • you see a picture of a friends kitchen and wonder how they can keep so many glass containers on the counter top.

It’s funny when we talk to people we are planning to visit. They always ask what we’ll need, or how they have items we can use. I always say thank you, but we’ll be bringing our house with us.

Our Home

It always feels like you know someone better when you see their home.

If you have any great suggestions to improve our space let me know your ideas. Thanks!

 

To the Bat Cave

Today we went to the Bat Cave. Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico.

Carlsbads National ParkWe arrived a few weeks after the migration South to Mexico.

BatsI would have liked to see several thousand bats, but I just took a picture of a picture.

Hiking DownThis is where the bats fly out each evening at sunset.

Kids hikingWe hiked down into the cave 750ft down to the bottom.

StalactitesThere were thousands of cool looking stalactites and soda straws hanging from the top of the cave.

Huge StalactiteThis is one of the few still growing stalagmites in the cave. Most of the water in the cave has dried up, but there are a few areas that at still moist.

Almost a columnI wanted to watch these two become a column, but I didn’t have enough time to stay and watch.

caden walking downThe whole hike was about 2.5 miles. Some of it was pretty steep grade, but it was paved pathways the entire tour.

the bottomless pitWe learned that a bottomless pit is 150ft deep. In the early days the cave explorers didn’t have lights that could see to the bottom of the pit in the great room.

It was a great hike!

Lake Texoma

We have a Thousand Trails Membership which saves us a lot of money on camping fees. This week we are at Lake Texoma. Enjoying some great weather.

It’s  the beginning of November, and we went swimming.

Connor swimmingIf you live in the Southern part of the US that isn’t big news, but being from the Northwest it is pretty exciting!

Caden ready to jump in the poolOh, every so often we have a sunny day in November in Oregon, but you have to wear a coat.

Carter looking coolO.K. full disclosure…The pool was cold, but we did swim. I think the water temp was in the 70’s and the outside temp was in the 80’s. It felt brisk.

Clark by the poolIt felt good to lay in the sun and sit in the hot tub. The pool just looked refreshing.

Visit to the Salt Mine

We visited the Underground Salt Museum in Hutchinson, KS. It’s 650′ below the surface. The mine is still active today. They said they could mine rock salt from this mine for the next 2700 years. This mine provides rock salt primarily for large cities that melt snow, and animal feed primarily.

We received our safety talk, they explained that we would be using the same safety equipment that the miners wear. My favorite part was when they said to use the carbon monoxide converter…They said, “If it feels like your lips are burning don’t worry it’s working.” They also asked us not to touch or lick the walls.

This is a former mined area and now serves as a hall to the museum. The exhibits explain how miners keep the mine level, and how they believe all the salt was deposited.

This is a 6,000lb piece of rock salt.

It is cheaper to keep everything in the mine rather remove old equipment, because of that miners maintain their equipment regularly. They have machines running today that they were using in the 1940’s. No one makes equipment just for salt mining, so the miners are good at scavenging parts and making their tools.

The temperature in the mine is always 68 degrees with 40% humidity. For that reason it seemed like a great place to store items for safe keeping. Currently Hollywood stores lots of movies, TV shows, and memorabilia.  There are many other important documents stored in the mine too.

We also went on a “Dark ride” they showed us what it would be like for a miner if the lights went out. It was so dark I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.

12 days in Wichita, KS

After a few weeks in MO we headed Southwest to visit friends in Wichita, KS. the Branscom’s invited us to park in their driveway. I’m not sure they knew what they were getting into. We were able to fix two of our holding tank valves that failed, and Visit the near by Salt mines.

Erin Branscom is a popular blogger, and her husband does a little blogging too. Here is what Erin shared about one of our days together.

Blogging together

While we visited we got some very helpful advice to improve our blogs. I worked for several days reorganizing WeeRV and making it easier to read. While Claire mapped out a new design for ClairesHealthyHome. We had a great time! Our virtual friends became real friends.