Our trip started on May 1st and was to go until May 10th. We had two planned hotel stays, one in Chattanooga, TN and one in Mobile, AL, all the other nights were to be spent tent camping. My husband was graduating from the Nurse Practitioner program at the University of South Alabama and we decided to make the trip to graduation into a vacation/graduation reward for us all. It has been a long three years and we were all glad for graduation day!
We had a great time but it was also a time for learning for us all!
1.) It takes a lot of gear for a family of five to go away for ten days of camping! We still couldn’t see out of the back window having only packed three pair of clothes for each person and carrying a huge luggage box on the trailblazer.
2.) Wool socks are a must! Early May in the NC mountains, TN, and KY is COLD! Everybody had wool socks after the first night.
3.) A toddler and a mommy in a mummy sleeping bag is not the best option, even when there is a cot involved! After three nights Sallie had her own cot and sleeping bag.
4.) Cats go camping sometimes too. While we were doing laundry at one of our campgrounds we met a man and his cat that were camping while house hunting in the area. Sallie loved playing with the cat and walking it on the leash.
5.) Mammoth Cave Campground in Mammoth Cave National Park, KY is the most beautiful campground we have ever seen! We loved it and hope to return for a week long stay next year. While there the boys did the Junior Ranger program and earned their badges. The gift store also gives a teacher discount! Never forget to share that you homeschool. That discount paid off!
6.) There is a lot of history inside Mammoth Caves! There are so many tours to choose from that we would need 2 weeks to do all the tours offered. We took the historic tour. Eli’s favorite thing he learned on the tour is that you can write on cave walls with a candle. Stephen Bishop, a slave, explored Mammoth Caves and is responsible for discovering more than half of the currently discovered cave system at Mammoth Caves. Stephen taught himself to read and write in the caves by doing smoke writing with candles. We also learned that there is a 4th generation tour guide there. He is a descendant of Stephen Bishop.
7.) Chattanooga, TN has a wonderful splash pad and carousel in Coolidge Park!
8.) A ten person tent can be erected in just a few short minutes when it has to be put up almost everyday. A twelve year old can be quite helpful in the process.
9.) It is ok to drive late into the night while all children are sleeping, walk/drag everyone into a hotel with only the clothes on their back, and fall into bed. No teeth were harmed during this event!
10.) At Least one child will tire of camping even though he doesn’t help with camp setup or breakdown. He was very glad we spent two additional nights in a hotel that were not planned. The late night travel a couple of nights didn’t permit a campground to be used.
11.) When you drastically change your diet (go from vegetarian to vegan, no gluten, no soy, no sugar) a restaurant you ate at two years ago (before said changes) will taste awful to everyone! That’s one of those mama tried to tell you moments but that’s between you and me…
12.) Mosquitos in AL fool you. In NC the mosquitos are out all day long. In AL they apparently wait until dark and then get you good!!
13.) Those seashells…aren’t always empty. Eli had collected a nice little pile when I informed him that they were taken already!
14.) Some turtles have furniture pads underneath their shell and thus slide nicely across the floor. We also learned that some turtles enjoy having their shell rubbed just as we like to have our back rubbed. It just feels good!
15.) Four people get extremely excited when the 5th one graduates! The boys learned that hard work pays off for everyone involved. They both walked daddy across the stage at graduation.
16.) It is nice to wake up on Sabbath morning and only drive five minutes to church. Our church is one hour from our house, one way. We stayed one night in Thomson, GA and there was a church five minutes from our hotel. We had to go. Yay for short drives to church!!
17.) Sometimes you bypass a visit with out-of-state family because you don’t want to bring home their sick germs. Hard for the kids to understand but with some explaining it was a unanimous decision.
18.) No matter how far you are from home the last day of travel feels millions of miles away.
19.) That idea of “we’ll have a little more room in the vehicle coming back because we will use up propane, food, plastic ware, etc.” does NOT hold true at all. Not even remotely close! Remember the teacher discount plays a part in this…
20.) It is awesome to come home to a clean house, full cupboards and refrigerator! My mom took care of feeding our cats and watering our garden each day while we were gone. She cleaned those things that are hard to get done with three kids around and restocked our food supply so we wouldn’t have to rush out to the grocery store as soon as we returned home. I hope I am as thoughtful a mom when my kids are grown!
We had a great time and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect for camping. Hopefully this vacation will hold many memories for all of us.
These footprints will be something I remember because I danced with my boys on them and they couldn’t have been happier to do so right there on the sidewalk with people walking by us. They begged to keep dancing…Oh how my heart melts just to remember it!
Until next time!