We enjoy sharing our experiences and challenging others to seek an adventure whether it’s for a weekend or a lifetime. Grab your spouse. Grab your kids. Grab a friend. Grab the dog. Go somewhere you’ve never been before. Learn about the area. Visit a museum or a historical marker. Talk to a park ranger. Talk to a stranger. Make a new friend. Be a light. Spread love, joy, and laughter. Make memories. Give thanks. Live.
On Monday, July 17th, 2017, we celebrated our 2nd Nomadiversary! We have been living full-time in our 5th Wheel and traveling the country for two whole years! We are still loving it! Seeing places we’ve never seen before and experiencing and learning new things just never seems to get old. It actually is just the opposite! The more we travel, see, learn, and explore, the more desire we have to do more.
We blogged about our first year on the road here. It’s kind of fun to look back at the things we thought about then versus what we think about now. We have done so much in the last year. It’s fun to look back and re-cap. So, travel along with us and check out some of the places we’ve been the last year!
I’ll give you my top picks, and try to include links if you are interested in a closer look.
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio was an incredible stop. It was emotional, educational, and extremely eye-opening. This visit spurred further learning about the Underground Railroad.
The Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, PA is a must. It was humbling, educational, and just a beautiful memorial to the lives who were lost that day in the field in Pennsylvania. The rangers do a great job of telling the story. It was a different experience for the kids because they obviously weren’t around in 2001 when it happened, but it was a great learning experience for them. It’s another piece of history. They may not have memories of that day, but they will never forget the experience of visiting the memorial.
The Duquesne Incline in Pittsburgh, PA has been part of Pittsburgh’s transportation system (not an amusement ride) since 1877. It is so neat to take a ride up Mount Washington on a century-old cable car. The best views of downtown Pittsburgh can be seen from riding one of the few remaining inclines in the country. There is a lovely viewing area at the top and a small historic exhibit of Pittsburgh history.
Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center in Gettysburg, PA. There are some places that we visit that I know the experience will last a lifetime. Gettysburg is one of those. We visited the museum, then bought the audio auto tour and drove around learning about the different sites, memorials, and events that took place in the Battle of Gettysburg. We visited the cemetery there and listened to a park ranger tell some of the stories behind some of the people who died and were buried there. We also got to see the location from which Abraham Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address.
Washington, D.C. We started our visit off with a Washington, D.C. in a Day Tour. It was a great way to get a feel for the place. Our bus driver was a great tour guide and gave us lots of information. We were able to get off the bus and see different places, but also scope out places we wanted to go back and learn more about. We were all blown away by being in our Nation’s Capital. It was a lot of fun to see places that we’ve only ever seen in books or online. Such a great learning experience. We camped at Cherry HIll Park, which was very convenient as the public transportation shuttle buses come through the park several times a day. The staff was very friendly and helpful!
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birth Home and Historical Site in Atlanta, Georgia was also really cool! The kids got a big kick out of it, as we had been learning about MLK, Jr. and Civil Rights. We booked a tour thinking it would be similar to the Washington, D.C. tour, and were disappointed when we realized that everything is pretty much in a two block area and most of it is self-guided. The tour guide was highly unnecessary, although he was a nice guy. If you start at the Visitor’s Center, they can point you in the right direction to see everything else. I think our favorite thing was sitting in Ebenezer Baptist Church and listening to a very talented man give the “I Have a Dream” speech. He was word-perfect and very moving.
Enchanted Rock in Fredericksburg, TX. Climbing to the summit of this beautiful, pink granite dome is a pretty good hike. Parts of it are steep, but the view from the top is so worth it! The Fredericksburg area is a lot of fun, too! Lots of shops, restaurants, bars, and my personal favorite, the wineries. 🙂
Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, TX. This is a must-see if you have a dinosaur lover! The day we went, the park ranger was giving a talk about the park and about the dinosaurs that would have roamed in that area. It was very informative and really neat to see the obvious footprints so up close and personal. Note: The footprints are in the river bed, are a little tricky to get to, and depending on water levels, are not always visible. Make sure to do your research before you go or contact the park for more up to date information.
San Angelo State Park in San Angelo, TX. We are a little partial to this park, as it’s my hometown, and where we stay when we’re “Home for the Holidays”. If you happen to be in the area between November – February, there is a good chance we’ll be somewhere close. San Angelo State Park is the home to the Official Texas State Longhorn Herd. I hear there is even a new baby! Nearby attractions include Fort Concho, a restored historic fort; Historic Downtown, which has a shopping district and lots of restaurants and nightlife; the Riverwalk; and the Cactus Hotel. Lake Nasworthy and Twin Buttes Reservoir offer swimming and fishing and are approximately a 10-minute drive from the park.
Davis Mountains State Park in Fort Davis, TX is one of our favorite Texas State Parks. I actually hesitated to include it because I almost want to keep it for myself. 🙂 We visit this park every time we’re back in Texas. It is one of the best places to star-gaze. The McDonald Observatory Star Party is a must while in the area. The sunsets are spectacular as well.
Galveston Island State Park in Galveston, TX. This park was great. It had really mixed reviews online, but we loved it. It’s a pretty quiet park, away from all of the touristy stuff on the Island. I could see the beach from my bedroom window. We were about an hour away from Houston, so we did quite a bit of driving back and forth. We surprised Emily with a Horseback Ride on the Beach for her birthday. It was a great experience! In Houston, we visited the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Houston Aquarium, and The Johnson Space Center. All of these places were fabulous. The Aquarium was smaller than we expected, but the kids loved it.
Battleship Texas State Historical Site took part in some of the most significant naval battles of the 20th century during both world wars. Now docked along the Houston Ship Channel, she serves as a memorial to those turbulent times. We enjoyed walking her decks, and imagining life as a sailor! It also happened to be St. Patrick’s Day when we visited. That’s why we’re all in green. 🙂
San Jacinto Battleground State Historical Site located in La Porte, TX, just across from the Battleship Texas, was an incredible place of historic significance to visit! This is where Texas won their independence from Mexico. In 1836, the “Texians” caught the larger, more experienced Mexican army off-guard and won the battle in 18 minutes. Mexican leader, Santa Anna, escaped that day, but was captured the next day, brought back to General Sam Houston, and forced to sign a treaty that would recognize Texas’ independance.
Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur, OK. We camped at the nearby Chickasaw National Recreation Area. It was so beautiful. We loved learning all about the Chickasaw Nation, their history and culture. The Cultural Center was full of hands on exhibits that the kids really enjoyed. The sculptures outside to the museum are phenomenal.
Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita, Kansas was fascinating! When you step onto the property, you realize you’ve stepped back in time off the Chisholm Trail that is frozen in a 1865-1880 loop. Cowtown is a unique museum with historical and recreated buildings that tell the story of Wichita’s transformation from a frontier settlement to an agricultural and manufacturing area. We were able to see a blacksmith in action, a printing press, and a reenactment of a showdown/gunfight outside of the Saloon, which was a hoot! Fun, historical place for kids and adults alike!
National Frontier Trails Museum in Independence, Missouri was a really neat museum dedicated to telling the rich history of America’s principle western trails. We got to step back in time and imagine life as a pioneer. We took a covered wagon ride through the town. What a neat experience! We also visited the two-story, Chicago and Alton Train Depot, built in 1879. It has been restored on the grounds of the museum.
Watkin’s Woolen Mill State Historical Site in Lawson, MO. The mill is the only 19th century textile mill in the United States with its original machinery still intact. Our tour guide was one of the best we’ve had. She was extremely knowledgeable. Walking into the mill is like taking a step back in history. Totally worth the visit!
Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, Illinois. We love learning about Abraham Lincoln and this was the icing on the cake! We got such a kick out of the details of the Lincoln Home. The ranger was very informative and told interesting stories as we toured the home. This was the home that Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln had their family and lived for 17 years before he became the 16th President of the United States.
The Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site in Springfield, Illinois. We visited Abraham Lincoln’s Tomb and Memorial. It is really something else! We were able to walk through the building to his final resting place. His wife, Mary, and three of their four sons are also buried in this tomb. It’s customary to rub the nose of the statue outside for “good luck”. Construction of the Lincoln Monument began in 1868. Due to design and construction faults, the Tomb was extensively rebuilt in 1900-01 and again in 1930-31. President Lincoln’s remains were moved to their final resting place, below the floor of the burial chamber, after the first renovation because of security concerns (thieves attempted to steal Lincoln’s body in 1876).
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, Illinois is located right next to the Presidential Library. The museum was really interesting. It followed Abe Lincoln’s life from his boyhood home through to his assassination, with great displays and life-size recreations of scenes from his life. It was cool to see some of the places we had already been, in the museum, and we added a couple more we wanted to visit to our list and itinerary.
Abraham Lincoln’s Birthplace National Historic Park in Hodgenville, KY claims to be “the first Lincoln Memorial”. The Memorial building was constructed between 1909 – 1911. The building includes many symbolic items related to the 16th President including 56 steps representing his 56 years of life, 16 windows and 16 rosettes on the interior ceiling are there to remind visitors that Lincoln was the sixteenth president. The memorial building was designed specifically to house the “symbolic” birth cabin of Abraham Lincoln on the site of Lincoln’s birth. They were doing some repairs to the steps when we were there so we had to go around and up a back entrance, but it was still really neat. The video in the visitor center is very informative.
Abraham Lincoln’s Boyhood Home at Knob Creek in Hodgenville, KY. This was the location of the home where Abraham Lincoln lived from the age of about 2.5 to almost 8 years old. This would have been the first home he remembered from his childhood. It was a lot of fun walking the grounds, although we were a little disappointed that the trails were not very well-kept. You could see where they should be, but the grass was really tall. It was beautiful, but we ended up picking ticks off of us the rest of the day.
Camp Chautauqua in Miamisburg, Ohio is a beautiful facility which hosts a variety of summer camps, retreats, conferences, concerts and banquets. This place will always hold a special place in our hearts. We have so many friends there. It was a great experience for the kids to serve. Tyler helped out on the maintenance team and Emily helped out both in the gift shop and in the kitchen. Paul and I sorted through some new lighting they had acquired, hung fixtures, and got them working. We love our Chautauqua friends!
Marblehead Lighthouse State Park in Marblehead, Ohio is the oldest lighthouse in continuous operation on the Great Lakes. It has guided sailors safely along the rocky shores of Marblehead Peninsula since 1822. Tyler and I climbed the 77 steps to the top viewing deck. It was really beautiful. The staircase was pretty steep and not recommended for those who have a fear of heights. Emily enjoyed the view from a bench at the base of the lighthouse. 🙂
Corp of Engineers Blackhawk Park near De Soto, Wisconsin is where we celebrated our two-year Nomadiversary on Monday, July 17, 2017. The park has historic significance as it is where the final battle of the Blackhawk War of 1832 was fought. It was the last Indian war fought east of the Mississippi River. The fate of Black Hawk and his nation was a tragic outcome of the clash of two very different cultures. The park itself is a BEAUTIFUL place! We are right on the Mississippi River. My parents made the trip up from Texas to meet up with us, and they couldn’t have joined us in a prettier place. We have had a ton of fun this week. We celebrated by hanging out, enjoying each other’s company, and watching God’s handiwork. He provided us with the most amazing sunset over the River that evening!
I am so thankful for the opportunities we get to travel, learn, and make precious memories together. We were excited from day 1, learned a lot in year 1, looked forward to year 2, and can’t imagine life any other way after year 2! Praising God for His favor and provision, allowing us to continue on this journey for another year, and looking forward to the discoveries and memories we will make in year 3! We are currently beginning our journey to the west coast, down through California, and back around to Texas for the Holidays, taking time to enjoy the sites each place we stop.
Thank you for following our adventures. The most exciting thing about our adventures is when God places people in our lives. We have made so many amazing friends along the way, both in person and online.
We enjoy sharing our experiences and challenging others to seek an adventure whether it’s for a weekend or a lifetime. So, as I mentioned earlier….Grab your spouse. Grab your kids. Grab a friend. Grab the dog. Go somewhere you’ve never been before. If you like to camp, pitch a tent. If you have a camper, hook it up. If you prefer a hotel, book it. Learn about the area. See the sights. Take a hike. Take a drive off of the Interstate through small-town America. Visit a museum or a historical marker. Talk to a park ranger. Talk to a stranger. Make a new friend. Be a light. Spread love, joy, and laughter. Make memories. Give thanks. Live.
Enjoy the journey, friends, and safe travels!