Monday, November 28, 2011

Traveling with a now 2 1/2 year old

I have been meaning to write about - traveling with a toddler for some time now thinking it would be an interesting topic to cover. Today seemed like a good day since Cassia is now 2 1/2 years old or 30 months. WoW!

A collage of pictures of Cassia for family.

By coming down south and traveling around the USA for the winter months from Canada we are essentially 'snowbirds' although younger then most so we often call ourselves 'snow fledglings'.  We meet many snowbirds on our travels and compare notes etc. and we follow many of their blogs. We have much in common - we all have RVs (although ours is pretty small), we have pets and so on-  BUT I have yet to see another that has a toddler on board. We tend to get a few surprised looks.

Cassia comfy on the road in her car seat complete with blanket and baby.

Last year while boondocking in  Arizona and California at places like Quartzsite and Holtville Cassia was VERY popular among the snowbirds we met. I don't think a movie star would have garnered as much attention as Cassia did when we arrived at the Holtville Hotspring for a soak. Many were grandparents missing their grandchildren back home. Cassia was happy to fill the void.

Cassia playing with sticks last year already. What is great is that she is growing up outdoors.

We are not alone traveling full time or semi full time in an RV with our child. In fact, there are lots of families that do it - and most with many kids. How about the Our Traveling Tribe blog - there are 13 (2 parents + 11 kids) of them in an RV!  Fulltime Families is an association to connect these families.  If you go to their member list you can find a whole list of family blogs. Our one seems like childsplay to others.

This is our second trip south for the winter with Cassia along. Last year she was 18 to 22 months old, this year it will be 29 to 34 months. Our first trip in 2008 of course was the two of us. So we know the difference between traveling with her and without.

Last year Cassia learned very quickly not to fall on the desert rocks and she was learning to climb stairs.

The main differences are the things we do (or don't do) and the stuff we carry!

For instance, we spend a lot of time at parks and playgrounds - I don't think either Derek or I have been in one since we were kids. We also do things now like ride in miniature trains around parks or feed the ducks. On the other hand we spend a lot less time in museums and stores.

Derek and I also feel at times that we are pulling around Cassia's trailer and we are just along for the ride. As most of you know, toddlers need? or have a lot of stuff. Cassia has the largest clothes closet! Although we really tried to limit her toys and have containers and baskets to try to keep them under control they sure seem to spread themselves about.

There are challenges of course. On cool or rainy days our 135 sq ft is just not big enough for the 3 of us and a toddlers energy bouncing off the walls. If we can't spend most of the day outside everyones patience start to get a little thin. We also have trouble getting Cassia to sleep some nights since our trailer is one area with no way to section it off.

All in all we wouldn't trade it! We live with less stuff so that we can be with Cassia full time and for us that means living in our RV during the winter months - it is the most affordable option. Living this lifestyle and traveling with children is possible - there are many who do it and happy to offer their experiences and advice. We truly believe that Cassia benefits from spending much of her time outdoors seeing and experiencing the wonderful places and people in it. You can probably tell from the previous posts pictures that she enjoys it as much as we do.

Last year Cassia spent much of her time on Derek's back.

I could probably go on for pages with this topic - if you have any questions ask them in the comment section or email us at

Happy 2 1/2 years old sweet daughter Cassia! You are loved beyond measure. Love Mommy & Daddy.

Today's Interesting Link: Jamie Morrison Curtis is also a mother to a two year old. She began writing advice to her daughter Scarlet Jane. She put these down on a blog 500 Pieces of Prudent Advice for my Daughter which has now turned into a book - maybe you have seen it in stores. Although I don't necessarily agree with all, there are many I will definitely be passing on to Cassia as well.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

San Augustine Texas 3

Rain rain rain! that was yesterday - it rained the whole day. And so it was an indoor day for us - playing, eating, napping, watching Winnie the Pooh and Davey and Goliath. Cassia being young (you remember right - not caring what the temperature was outside) did venture out though - with red slicker and boots she was good to go - although she only lasted a few minutes. The novelty wore off really quickly. I am sure the locals were thrilled with the moisture, since there has been a long drought. With heat, lights and wifi we were content to spend the day indoors.

Roofous was really wet and obviously not too impressed!

All Cassia needed was a stick and some mud.....

to do some painting!

With all that laziness yesterday we couldn't justify driving to the store today, even though it was cool and blustery. I think it only got up to 51F / 11C today - not much warmer then at home which showed a forecast of 8C. 

We found a great route to the shops on the other side of the bridge that took us under the bridge after walking along a back road. Our route led us to the Visitor's Center which has a very long promenade along which we could walk. Cassia actually got out of the stroller to experience the walk herself as always mesmerized by the twinkle lights that they have strung along it's entire length. 

Dad and daughter looking down at the creek.

The lights must look beautiful at night.

After picking up a few items at Brookshire Brothers and filling Cassia's stroller tires with much needed air (for a mere $1 - ouch!) we headed back from wence we came. 

It looks nice but there was a cold wind - good thing the sun was out.

Our route included walking past the rail yards. We were surprised to see a restaurant amongst the rail cars. We went to take a closer look - it seems like a neat place. Closed on Sundays as was the Cookie Factory :-(

The Ice House Depot - looks like it could be a happenin' place.

One of the things Derek and I were talking about on our walk - to mention in the blog - is how much attention Roofous gets! Boy if we could only figure out how to make money with that.....ha ha. Today we must have gotten about six 'beautiful' dog comments. It is one of the most consistent things about our life if you can imagine. Ever since Roofous was a pup this has happened but probably even more comments now that he has filled out. Several times a day we stop to talk about Roofous. He is also very popular among children with all of them wanting to pet him. We guess that there just aren't many 'snow dogs' down here in the south. 

And so it was a much more productive day today - this our second to last day at the Mission Dolores RV Park. Tuesday we continue our trek east with Natchitoches Louisiana as our next destination. Sad to be leaving Texas (have we mentioned how much we LOVE Texas) but we will be back again in a few months time. 

The City of Natchitoches is called the 'City of Lights' which works well for us because we love lights and for Derek and I Christmas isn't complete without them. They are having a huge festival next weekend and expect around 100,000 people for that - a few too many people for us. Instead we are going to stop in this week and hopefully find a place to stealth camp downtown so that we can stroll the streets at night to take in the 300,000 lights. I wonder if we should splurge on a horse carriage ride through the downtown at night - bet Cassia would love that!

Today's Interesting Link: In fact when we knew we were going to be in the deep south for Christmas a few months back I googled 'where is the best place to spend Christmas' - Natchitoches comes back as one of the top spots in the USA. With so many people expected for the festival the secret must be out! Here is their Christmas Festival website so you can see for yourself. You might want to keep it in mind for the future. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

San Augustine Texas 2

A restful day today. Derek and I both feel under the weather so to speak - not sure why - we figure it is either the water or we picked up a virus somewhere. We usually drink the water wherever we are unless it has an awful taste or we really are unsure about the quality. We picked up some bottled for Cassia so she has been drinking that but we started to drink the water here although it doesn't taste great. So we ended up getting some more bottled today just in case.

Yesterday, we took a walk around a bit of San Augustine. It is very small and there was nothing going on downtown - if fact it doesn't look like much goes on there at all. Only a few of the storefronts are occupied and the rest empty. The buildings looked so sad I couldn't even take a picture of them. There is a little shop called the Cookie Factory - it looked cute but was closed - guess we'll have to take a walk back there tomorrow. How can we not go to a place called the Cookie Factory! San Augustine doesn't seem to be a pedestrian town. We had to take the neighourhood streets that are narrow and have no sidewalks but at least it was so quite it didn't seem to matter. Some really nice homes here - and some - not so nice. We always enjoy walking around a town to see how people live.

San Augustine Courthouse.

Interesting that the Architect sign seems so new looking - doesn't look like this building has been occupied in a very long time.

I didn't realize until now that I took the picture with Derek drinking his coffee - oh well - it is a common occurrence so might as well have a picture of it - to know us is to know we LOVE our coffee.

Today we decided to unhook and go 'over the bridge' where the newer shops are located. We stopped in at the two dollar stores - yes two - right beside each other. Dangerous places to go since they have a lot of stuff for great prices - but I always end up in the snack area looking at stuff I should not be eating buying. I was proud of myself that I was able to walk around both and not buy a thing.

We did go over to the Brookshire Brothers grocery store for a few things -  my first time in this grocery store chain. While Cassia and I were there Derek went over to the Tobacco Shop. The difference between the USA and home of course is that they have smoke/tobacco shops here. Anyway, good news is that he paid the lowest yet for smokes - just over $10 a carton. Derek actually switches to filtered cigars down here in the USA, to keep his smoke budget down to about $30 a month. Cigars are not taxed the same and so are cheap cheap cheap.

It is always fun to shop in some of the local grocery stores rather then just Walmart.  I enjoy looking at all the grocery items different from home and the difference in the foods from one state to another. Here I notice a huge increase in grits, cornbread, biscuit mixes and seafood broil. The great thing about our trip this year is all the new foods. I am a HUGE fan of biscuits and so this is the place for me!

When we were driving to the Mission Dolores RV Park where we are now I was worried about finding room. I thought perhaps that for such a low price the snowbirds would know about it. But then I thought that with 32 there would probably be room. When we pulled in my heart sank - it look really full. As we drove around it turned out not to be too bad - about 1/2 full - with big, permanent looking rigs. Oh well. The funny thing now is that there are only about 3 or 4 of them occupied. It seems that people leave their rigs here - almost all from Texas! The camp hosts told us that it is actually really quite - they are usually filled with oil and gas workers - but not this year. We weren't here but a few minutes that I met Glenda as I was heading over to look at the shower building. Glenda and her husband are from Houston area. They keep there tent trailer here and then come up on weekends.

Gas here is expensive! I should have been updating on gas prices along the way which have been in the low $3 lately - most recently $3.079 but here it is $3.279. Luckily we can wait until we get into Louisiana.

Today's Interesting Link: I found this blog a long time ago actually but it seems fitting to put it in now since are still in Texas - but sadly leaving soon. Check in on Homesick Texan - Lisa even has a cookbook out! I may have to make the sweet potato salad with cranberries and pecans - and the tamale cornbread dressing looks great. Did I mention we LOVE tamales - I could eat them everyday I think.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Our first video!

We have just finished our first video - a collection of some of our favourite places and photos set to music. 
We hope you enjoy our 'life made simple'!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

San Augustine Texas

Well it has been a busy two days with a lot of traveling and quite a collection of pictures again. We were sad to leave Pastor Jerry Lockhart and his wife Barbara at the Berean Bible Church in New Braunfels - we were there for a week and enjoyed our stay so much. We enjoyed the fellowship with other Right Dividers and sitting in on the Sunday Sermon. We also enjoyed, as you can see from the previous few posts, our time touring around New Braunfels. But we packed up Tuesday morning and with a final conversation and a round of pictures we headed out.

Pastor Jerry and Barbara Lockhart. 

After making our way back onto the Interstate headed north we happily left it again at San Marcos to catch the 21 - which is a busy little route all it's own. We were excited since this (eastern Texas) is uncharted territory for us. Although we hadn't been to New Braunfels we had been to the Hill Country back in 2008 but never this far east. The trip was fairly uneventful and not overly scenic for the first bit but once we got through the largest of the towns, Bryan/College Station it sure prettied up! WoW! we started to say.

We had decided to stock up on supplies in Crockett since we were headed to the Davey Crockett National Forest campground for a few days. Since it was dinner time we decided to spend the time at  Walmart last night.

Not the best picture - but look at the trees - and how green it is!

First thing this morning we headed there - a mere 16 miles away. All excited as we pulled in we were greeted with 'CLOSED' Yikes! What! Since the gate was unlocked we drove in - somewhere in our minds thinking that it wasn't REALLY true. But sure enough, although we could drive in, there was obviously no camping. Now the issue was that we needed to pull in to turn around. So I headed out on foot to investigate. Seeing somebody working up ahead I went to talk with them. I spoke with two rangers that told me that a tornado had come through last April and then with the drought this summer the trees were really suffering.

So sad - it looks like a very beautiful campground - Radcliffe Lake - we'll try again next year I guess. After successfully turning around we headed into Radcliffe down the road to the Ranger Station to see what our other options were. Ultimately we decided to head onto Nacogoches 20 miles down the road - one of our destinations.

Radcliffe Lake campground in Davey Crockett National Forest.

Nacogoches is the 'Oldest Town in Texas'. We drove into the downtown headed to the Visitor Center. It has a nice downtown with lots of shops - and so we parked along main street and took a stroll around. In the VC Derek found it interesting that they had their last public hanging here in 1902!

The Nacogdoches Visitor's Center.

 Almost all the walkways around the VC are stamped - amazing.

 A courtyard with a garden - so nice!

One of the most beautiful places we have now been is between Nacogdoches and San Augustine! What a great drive! We have NOW found our most favourite place ever! Rolling hills, green grass, beautiful trees, agriculture. We are enthralled with this area and know for sure that we will be back.

I remembered that I had found in my research an RV park with a Visitor Center in San Augustine just down the road - with full hookups and showers! yaaa - so we once again got back into the truck and headed there.

And so - here we are at the Mission Dolores Visitor Center and RV Park. Of course it didn't takes us long to go for a walk - beautiful - just as the sun was setting.

Full Hookups! pure luxury for $12 a night!

One of the great things about Cassia - of which there are many - is that she is happy playing with sticks.

....and running around on the grass.


I am not sure how, but Derek has talked me into staying here a week! A week! Well we do have it all for a really really good price. Guess we will have some time to look around. Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving here I guess our stroll downtown will have to wait until Friday! 

Each day is a new canvas to paint upon. Make sure your picture is full of life and happiness, and at the end of the day you don't look at it and wish you had painted something different.

Happy Thanksgiving 

to all my American Friends and Family, 
Enjoy your day together!

Today's Interesting Link: I know this is very off topic but I have been wanting to add it for some time. As a child I was really into art and making things - boy do I hope Cassia will be the same. I ran across this blog - The Artful Parent. Maybe pass it on to all the people with kids in their lives. Nothing better then kids being creative!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What a great day!

Well, what can I say - we had a GREAT day here in New Braunfels. Sit back and get comfortable - I think this is going to be a long post. We did so much and had so much fun and have the photos to prove it although looking at them they really don't do the day justice. And just so you don't think it was a cool grey day here - no way - the sky was overcast but it was a good thing. I think it was about 80F here today and with the humidity it was hot enough for us. When the sun did come out we almost fainted.

The New Braunfels Farmer's Market was our first stop this morning. We were up early so that we could be there just after it opened. We love farmer's markets and have been to our share of good ones - particularly while living on Vancouver Island. But we have to admit to this being one of the best ever due to the quality of products. The NB market won best farmer's market in Texas 2011 - we can see why!

The problem of course was what we were going to spend our money on - choices HAD to be made! After doing the circuit a few times we honed in on our choices.... Goat's Cheese from Ragels Ziegenhof, Sourdough Bread from Dough Baby, Baba ganoush, 2 types of honey - one from Round Rock Honey, Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler in a jar and Chow Chow and extra hot Chow Chow, and Citrus Oatmeal Goat's Milk Soap. We also shared a pork pastor tamale for lunch. Wow! Here are the pics!

hmmmmm goat cheese from Ragels Ziegenhof

Honey from Round Rock Honey - up near Austin.

Everything you could think of - and more!

Goat milk soap!

The  music was supplied by these 2 guys - the little girl was dancing and they invited here up to sing - wow! she was great - what a voice - complete with a Texas twang.

After the market we headed - as promised to Cassia - to Landa Park. We of course were going back for a ride on the miniature train. What a fun ride around the park! Past the playgrounds, the picnic areas, waterway and ducks. If we thought we were going to get out of Landa Park without a trip to the playground - someone else in our family had a totally different idea. What a parent won't do! We braved the very very busy playground for Cassia's round of slides. A promise of ice cream finally was the trick to move her on. Good going Dad - now we have to FIND some ice cream and not just any ice cream, but the creamy high butterfat kind ! Here are the pics from Landa Park.

Enjoying our farmer's market purchases for lunch in the park - Cassia only had time for a quick wave.

Now in search of some ice cream we decided we may as well head over to the Gruene Historic District. After getting directions from the lady parked beside us we headed out. WoW! Who knew that everyone else would be there too! 

Gruene is obviously a popular weekend destination. After finding a place to park on the outskirts we headed in to take a look. There is no way our pictures do this place justice - with all the mingling, shops, restaurant and music this is a great place - one we will not forget soon! We finally found out that the ice cream was to be had at the Gruene General Store - and what a place that was. After some butter pecan and double chocolate we realized that we had finally worn ourselves out. 

I don't think we were in the truck two minutes when Cassia was sound asleep! So we took a leisurely tour of New Braunfels back to the Church driving through a few parks and neighbourhoods. If we have any more 'perfect moments' here in Texas Hill Country - I seriously don't think we will leave! 

Sans a child - with the great music coming out of here - we could have sat the afternoon away.

Every little girl needs a raccoon hat.....

Cassia realizing that she is FINALLY going to get the promised ice cream.

Santa visit Texas style!

Gotta love all the flowers in November - we loved this bush.

So - that was our day. 

Today's Interesting Link: We have several favourite radio stations when on the road down here in the South. Here we have been listening to 92.1 FM KNBT Radio New Braunfels. It's Americana y'all!
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