Saturday, December 31, 2011

December 16th

We camped overnight at the WellsFargo campground right in the heart of Tombstone AZ.  Yes the famous tombstone.  Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday tombstone.  Kevin Costner as Wyatt Earp.  The campground was literally right in the middle of town.  Which is perhaps not saying all that much as there is not much to Tombstone.  It seems that it really was  an actual ghost town at one time after all the gold and silver mining dried up after the last mines flooded.  People opened it back up and started a tourist trap err... I mean tourist area.   Amazing, everything they do in this town has a fee except breathe.  We got up and the showers were good even if the building was a bit cold. ( Desert Hot in day Cold at night )  Ate breakfast at a really nice local ma and pa place next to the campground.   Tucker managed to spill two full glasses  in a half hour and squirt the ketchup bottle on the floor while we were cleaning up the water.  Off to explore the town.   Found a shop where you could shoot the iron that shot the lead that won the west as they put it.  Fired Paint, no kick.  Even Cooper fired one.  Only $3 bucks,  Last cheap thing we would do in this town.  Man I seem to really be into guns on this trip don’t I?  Wind was biting cold almost felt like leaving, kids were miserable.  We’re almost on the Mexican border who would guess It’d be this cold.  We decided to “warm up” by taking a ride in a stage coach.  didin’t not work fun experience I think.  Went into several old saloons and hotels, interesting.  Saw the OK Corral and the Alley behind it where the gunfight actually took place.   They had this worn out life size diorama badly in need of replacing with arms that raised up and the hands would nearly fall off when the arms moved.  Funny but gave you an idea of who did what.  The bright spot, a total surprise was an old theater called the Birdcage.  It was shuttered when the town became a ghost town in the 1880’s, boarded up and forgotten.  When it was reopened it was like a time capsule.  Nothing or very little has been touched or moved since it first was closed in the 1880’s.  there are over 140 bullet holes in the building from all the different gunfights that took place there.  It was part bar, part theater, part brothel, part gambling house.  Definitely for me the highlight of our trip to Tombstone.  Then on the road to Mesa.  Got there before dark,  Unlocked house, water on, power on, eat, let’s go to sleep.
 Tucker is mesmerized by Boz the Bear as we head down I-10 in Az.
 Cooper takes dead aim with real steel that only shoots paint in Tombstone.
 Bullet holes in the stage at the Birdcage
 Original setup table and chairs for the world’s longest running poker game at the Birdcage over 9 years!  Doc Holliday gambled here and Wyatt Earp met one of his two prostitute wives here.
Obligatory OK Corral photo

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Since the last post...

We have just entered the state of Arizona. Will be in Phoenix tomorrow night (Friday).
Been a good trip. Stopped at The Alamo in San Antonio yesterday. Cool. It's dark we are going to Tombstone AZ for the night and a little exploring tomorrow.
When you hear that there is 300 million + people in the US. That just seems like a big number. Having been a lot of places in the last 4 weeks that number seems more realistic. Having crossed the country where for miles in Texas you see nothing but desert we realize how massive this land is. So diverse from the mountains in South Carolina to the swamps of Louisiana to the desert mountains in New Mexico. Pioneers sure had their work cut out for them to create what is here today.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Dec 9- 11

Friday (9th) was seminar day. Not to exciting. Rob's mum watched the boys while we were at the meetings. They had fun playing at the playground, playing tennis and basketball. Then it was nap time for Tucker.
For dinner we all walked over to Downtown Disney and ate at Bongos a yummy Cuban restaurant. We were with a group of other doctors and our friends the Brubakers. Hayes Brubaker and Cooper had fun racing cars at Legoland. Tucker tried to participate too. Each time the kids were asked which car was theirs Tucker would put his hand up.
Sat 10th- off to Hollywood Studios. Rob was playing golf with some Drs so Rob's mum and I headed out with the boys. Day started rough with numerous meltdowns but we soldiered through until the cavalry (daddy) arrived. Favorites of the day were the Stunt car show and Indiana Jones stunt show. Copper now wants to be a stunt man and has been practicing fake punches including sound effects. Got a surprise meeting with Mickey Mouse which Tucker was into. We took a class on drawing Disney characters too. Donald Duck was our character. Poor Cooper gave up part way threw in frustration. He laid on the floor and quite sadly said "I can't draw." He made sure we knew that he did not like the girl show The Little Mermaid.
After dark and some fireworks we headed back to the hotel. Ordered some pizza, put to sleepy children into bed and then 3 sleepy adults.
Sunday 11th- started out with devotions at the Seminar and then breakfast with Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck.
After lunch Rob Took the boys for a swim while Rob's mum and I went Outlet shopping. Snagged some good deals and had a lot of fun together.
Monday 12th- after getting everything back in the RV and taking Rob's mum to the airport we headed west. Interstate 10 will be our home for the next 4 days and we'll be in Pheonix AZ by Friday night. Fly out to Australia on Sunday the 18th.
If anyone has mail to send us it can go to:
C/O Ruth Brewerton
14 Avocado Cres.
Kingaroy QLD 4610
(from the US it's 98c stamp)

Will continue to update as we go along.

Dec 8

Thursday (8th) was the big day. Magic Kingdom! AFter a good breakfast we caught the shuttle to the gates and entered our first Disney experience.
So much going on in that place. The day consisted of lots of rides. Cooper's favorite was Splash mountain with the 3 story plunge into water. He enjoyed getting wet. Dumbo ride was his next favorite and be begged to go on it again but after waiting 40 minutes for the first ride we weren't doing that again. Tucker enjoyed Dumbo too. We had dinner at the Crystal Palace where we got to visit with Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Tiger and Eeyore. Adults favorite was the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Saw the evening light parade and fireworks and joined the thousands of others leaving the park. It was a late night but a lot of fun.
 Dumbo ride. 

 Cooper and Woody.

Guess who... Piglet
 and Pooh bear.

 Tea Cup Ride

 3 boys on the Tea Cup ride. Look carefully.
Disney Main Street.

 Lights Parade Pirate Ship.

 Rob and Mum (Bev) with Cinderella's Castle in the background.

Dec 6-11

We've been having so much fun we haven't had a chance to update our page.
So here we go...
We stayed in Charleston SC for 2 days, exploring the historical downtown. We took a tour on a horse drawn wagon and did some looking in the Market that has been continuously in use for a couple of hundred years. We also went on a ferry tour out to Fort Sumpter where the first shots of the civil war were shot. Boys enjoyed the ferry ride.
THe ferry to Fort Sumpter left from a national Naval Museum. We were able to tour the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier. That thing is huge. Wonder how many sailers got lost on that thing.
We stayed at James Island County park and it was a great experience. A huge recreational area and huge RV/ Camp park. They have one of the top 10 Christmas light shows and it was quite the show. Each evening as we drove to the RV we had to drive threw the light show and the boys got so excited at the lights. A lot of the RV's had Christmas lights outside and it was all very Christmassy....
After getting a lot of laundry washed we were off down the coast headed to Florida.
Tuesday night we drove into Cocoa beach right at sunset. We unhooked the Element and raced to the beach. What was I thinking.... The boys were wearing shorts and I told them not to get wet. The boys splashed in the edge of the waves, Tucker was running from the waves, laughing and having a great time. We were doing ok, just a little wet, then about 1 minute before we started back to the car Tucker trips and gets dunked by an incoming wave. I ran in (in jeans) to get him out and now we are all wet. Tucker was soaked and sandy, Coopers pants were wet and so was I. Tuckers first beach adventure. Good thinking, I had put a towel in the car, I figured someone would get wet but not drenched. It was all a lot of fun anyway.
Wednesday (9th) We visited the Kennedy Space center. Not to much exciting stuff that day. The space center was good but we spent a lot of time on the kids space playground. We took a tour and saw the launch pads and even got to see one of the Shuttles in the hanger (from a distance).
We then drove into Orlando where we parked the RV at the hotel and Rob went to the airport to get his Mum who was joining us in Orlando for 5 days.
Later we checked into the Buena Vista Palace and relaxed into a comfy bed. Cooper was happy to not share a bed with Tucker :)
 Eating breakfast. It was very sunny.

 Lights at the Christmas light show in Charleston SC.

 Fort Sumpter as we approach on the ferry.

 Inside Fort Sumpter

 Cannons at Fort Sumpter. 

 Rob posing on the 'gun' on the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier. 

USS Enterprise aircraft carrier.

 Tuckers sandy face after being dunked at Cocoa Beach. 

NASA launch pad in the background.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dec. 5

Cooper had been begging and begging me to go bike riding, so right after showers this morning we went and rented them for an hour.  I realized that this was the first time we had ever been bike riding together which makes sense given my not owning a bike.  Kind of neat.  Amazing place for a county park.  Then Robyn and I worked on computers and printing our contracts.  Even camping you can't escape technology these days.   While we were doing that the boys we outside throwing ash from the previous nights fire on one another, making an absolute mess of one another.  9:00 am and already on outfit #2 for the day.  We decided to go see Fort Sumter and the aircraft carrier Yorktown since the ferry to Fort Sumter was leaving right next to the Yorktown.  this was an eventful day for me with all the history books I've read over the years.  I think visiting all the Battlefields on our trip is even starting to rub off on Tucker this morning I caught him pretending to shoot his brother with a crayola crayon.  That aircraft carrier was so huge.  fort Sumter was really an experience to see.   The battles in and around this harbor in the Revolution and Civil War are so numerous and pivotal in the wars and history of warfare.  It was here that the major battle in the Hollywood movie " Glory " took place.  I have tried grits, southern bar-b-que, mint juleps (you can keep it ), Sweet tea, Cooters pizza from a gas station.  Have not tried boiled peanuts!  What is the deal with that.  It's everywhere even the gas stations have boiled peanuts.  Sittin there just boiling away about like we have nacho cheese and chips at quicky marts they got vats of boiled peanuts.  I have detailed knowledge of this because we buy a lot of fuel.

Dec. 4

Last night Cooper and I (Rob) decided to check out this Festival of Lights thing in the park here in.  I am not exactly what you would call a big going to see Christmas lights kind of a guy but this thing was so over the top.  They say it is one of the top 10 Christmas light displays in the country and I believe it.  Wow!  Then Cooper and I made a fire, burnt some marshmallows,  and got really smoky smelling before we went in to snuggle with mommy, cause mommy's love that sort of thing.  Well maybe not but 6 year old and 40 year boys do.  This morning we found our way to downtown Charleston took a riding carriage tour of all the historic areas.  Amazing to see this whole city flash frozen in time somewhere between 1730 and 1800.  Just nothing like it.  I could spend days exploring all the side streets, nooks and crannies and reading every historical sign on every building because there is one on every building.  Then we found out there was a Christmas parade through the middle of town, so we sat and watched that.  3 hours is a bit long for a parade, especially when 90% of it seems to be fire trucks, cub scout troops, various dog humane groups.   Anyways my opinion, aside the boys loved it.  Great to see a Christmas parade in a t-shirt.

Got groceries tonight, had to endure going through the festival of lights again before we could make it back to our campsite.  The boys helped me as I made my first attempt at cooking hamburgers over a wood fire.  Very good, turned out well.  burgers had a very wood smoked flavor to them.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dec 3.

Now that I have an advent calendar I am better at knowing the daily date. Phew!
Today, Williamston, NC to Charleston, SC. Not to exciting on the drive down. We did school on a Saturday (don't tell Cooper it's Saturday) and read about Abe Lincoln.
See photo below... cheap gas and we bought a pizza and despite it being from a gas station it was pretty good. Wasn't much else around to eat and we are getting a little tired of sandwiches. A nice change.
This gas was in South Carolina. Our lowest yet. We stopped at the SC visitors center and got some good tips particularly on a camp ground to stay at near historic Charleston. We made a quick reservation and were thankful because it was the last one. There is a Christmas lights festival this weekend so that is why it is busy.
We were told to go to Boone Plantation. That of all the plantations we had to visit this one. Should have told the lady that last Saturday we were at Biltmore (Americas largest house and estate). Though Boone Plantation was impressive in it's 300 year history it was mediocre. Glad we had a coupon but still not worth $17 per adult. A lot of things closed for the season even though the season feels like spring in the midwest.
Most exciting event at Boone Plantation: as we are walking from the RV parking lot to the house (RV parking is far away from regular parking) I was pushing the stroller with Cooper in it (yes, Cooper in it) and Tucker was wandering around behind us, as he does and I turn around and Tucker is squatting down in the middle of an ant hill... fire ants we were told later. I ran over and grabbed him, getting ants on me. He had had his hands in the dirt. I started brushing them off, yanked his shoes off and threw them away, yanked his socks off and considered the pants too. Rob had gone back to the RV for something so I started yelling for him and he came running. After a few frantic moments, we got them off of him and Rob threw his shoes on the grass until they were ant free. Surprisingly, Tucker only had 4 bites on his hands, Rob 1 and I 1. Cooper made note he was the only one not bitten and thought the whole thing was quite comical. Thankful that the bites didn't hurt to much, Tucker seemed unbothered by them. Curious and fearless = Tucker.
The trees were really cool. The stuff hanging from them is what you think of when you think the South.
We'll spend a few days exploring Charleston and then head to Florida.

Dec 2

After an uneventful evening at Camp Walmart we drove down to the Wright Brothers National Park. We walked out to the field to see the exact spot they first took flight. There is one marker indicating the point that the plane first left the ground on flight one and 4 markers for where the 4 flights landed. Dec 17, 1903 at 10:35am. The brothers took turns on the flights. The 4th flight went the furthest. 108 years ago there was only sand at Kitty Hawk. It was open to the Atlantic ocean on one side and sound (bay) on the other. It was the perfect spot to practice because it constantly had a wind and a soft landing. The Wright brothers spent many years going to this spot to test gliders and kites until they perfected their flying machine.
We walked up to the monument on top of Kill Devil Hill that used to be a huge sand hill that they initially tested kites and gliders from. Tucker was having a rough morning and refused to walk so I gave him a piggy back ride to the top and that was my exercise for the day. Oh and I had to carry him down too. :)
The boys pretended to be planes making the first flight and we snapped pictures before going inside to hear a talk on the brothers and see the replica plane inside.
I went for a walk from the take off stone to the the landing spot of the fourth flight and I thought about how flight had changed the world and changed my world. Without flight I would never have gone to Canada, never met Rob and never had 2 beautiful sons. Though there are many others who sought to fly and contributed to the race for the air, the brothers came from no where and by persistence and passion achieved a world changing feat. 2 years after the first flight the brothers were doing flight shows in Ohio and within 11 years there were planes flying in WWI.

)Oh, the reason that it is not all sand anymore is that after the brothers made this area famous so many people started to move here that in the 1930's they built up the shore line to stop the sea from covering this far onto land and the vegetation followed. There are houses and shops everywhere now. Not a sleepy town but a huge tourist area particularly in the summer.)

We had talked the night before about the route to take down the coast and though we really wanted to take the long route with 3 hours of ferry rides and gorgeous views, driving right on the ocean on the Outer Banks we couldn't work out the ferry schedule to match out time frame so we headed across Roanoke Island and down State Hwy 17. On Roanoke Island we ducted in to see the Lost Colony. A group of English had come over in 15?? and started a colony on Roanoke Island. After the governor left to go get supplies a war with France broke out and he couldn't get back for many years. When he did get back the place was deserted and no trace of the colonists was ever found. Now that is a series mystery. I stayed in the RV as Tucker had fallen asleep and by the kind of morning he had had he needed it.

We drove down to Williamston and found Camp Walmart again. Just in case you are wondering, we do have water, generator and a heater on board so we are well equipped to dry camp when we need to. At Camp Walmart we were joined by 2 over RV's so we all shared a corner of the parking lot. Walmart allows RV/ Campers to overnight in there parking lot as their founder was a camping enthusiast.
 Kill Devil Hill. Monument to the Wright Brothers.

 Standing at the lift off stone looking toward the 4 landing markers in the distance.

Video is taking forever to upload.. .stay tuned.

 Looking back from the fourth and furthest landing marker toward the brothers shelters and Kill Devil Hill monument.
 Fourth and furthest marker.
 Replica plane built to be climbed on. The boys had fun playing on it. It's set up in the exact position when the plan left the ground. 
 Cooper almost missed the flight.
 Rob hanging out with Orville.
Our rigs looking toward the Kill Devil Hill monument.

Dec 1

The christmas lights are strung around the interior of the RV. We even have 2 stockings hung by the door and an advent calendar to begin the countdown. Cooper is very excited. Tucker is still singing Happy Birthday. 
Today we left Williamsburg on a chilly but sunny morning. We headed south to Norfolk. Rob wanted to visit the USS Wisconsin battleship. They also had a nautical museum with naval history. Norfolk has some large navy bases and Coast Guard bases and it looked like they were either making or fixing navy boats. A cool area. The museum was really cool. Really interactive for kids. They had an old bridge set up that the boys could climb around on, push buttons, turn the wheel, sit  in the captains chair. Cooper went around bossing Tucker to do this and that. Apparently we had run out of gas and needed to fill up again.
We spent awhile playing simulators of airplanes and boats. Learnt how rivers work by racing boats down a simulated river, and saw the ugliest, bright green eel. What else... Cooper used an underwater submarine to pick up chains out of the sand, use morse code and they got to touch a horseshoe crab. Then we went onto the boat... the boys enjoyed running around the deck and we went into the mess hall and some of the officers quarters. Up and down the steep ladders trying to keep Tucker away from the edge. The USS Wisconsin was retired shortly after the first Gulf War. One of the hosts on the boat served on the boat during the Korean War and had some interesting stats to share with us. Really nice guy who obviously had a passion for this ship.
Back in the RV we made peanut butter sandwiches for lunch and were headed to Kitty Hawk, NC. Arriving about 4pm on the outer banks, we stopped at the visitors center for information and then found a Walmart to park the RV. We got a tip from the attendant at the Visitors center on a good restaurant so that’s where we went to eat. We are on the Atlantic ocean so seafood was on our menu. The Black Pelican restaurant (right on the beach. But it’s cold and dark so no views) was once a lifesaving station and the place where the Wright Brothers sent the telegram telling their father about their first flights. 
Rob ordered crab legs and the boys had fun watching him eat them. Cooper finally ate some crab and said it was very yummy. Funny kid, it took him the whole meal to get the courage to eat it. We played with a crab nipper (claw). Tucker thought that was so funny  and we laughed as he tried to nip us and make funny faces. It brought us a lot of laughs and silliness. 
Back in the RV we are watching a documentary on the Wright brothers getting ready for our visit to the place they first flew tomorrow. Should be fun. 
 Christmas in the RV.
 Trying on sailers uniforms.

 Crab for dinner.
 Tucker loved playing with the crab claw. He would say 'ouch, ouch, ouch.'
Crab attack!