Since we are going to be living here for at least a year, we had to make necessary changes in our residency status. North Dakota does not participate in the K12 program, so we had to consider other education options for the kids. After much discussion, we decided public school would be a good option for them. There were a lot of reasons for this decision, but the most important one is that the kids were really excited about it. It has been over two years since they have been in public school and I think they were looking forward to being in a classroom setting again. My hope is that after all of our travels, and the combination of homeschooling and public schooling, they will be well-rounded kids.

It was still pitch black out this morning when we walked them up to the bus stop for their first day of school. They are the first kids on the bus in the morning and they will be the last kids off in the afternoon, so the ride is a long one, but they were excited about it. Getting up at 5:30am will take some getting used to, though…

Today was also Rob’s first day as a permanent employee of the National Park Service! He had been looking forward to this for so long and I know he was excited that his start date had finally come. The staff here is amazing and I think he is really going to enjoy working here.

And since Rob and the kids were all gone today, it was my first day home all alone. It has been over 11 years since I have been by myself during the day. I have kept myself plenty busy and do not think ‘boredom’ will ever be a word in my vocabulary. I will say this, though, it is crazy quiet here without the kids home…

Rob will be home in a few minutes and then it will be time to meet the kids at the bus stop. I cannot wait to hear how all of their first days went.

Oh, and one more very important thing before I go…

Happy Birthday, Esther!! We love you!!!


We Made It!

All right, enough slacking on my part. We left Hopewell Furnace a month ago today and so much has happened since then that it is about time I begin filling you in. So where do I start? Well, I guess it is best to just start from the beginning…

We had a great drive from Pennsylvania to North Dakota. We had originally planned on just driving straight through, but later decided that we would take our time, stopping and enjoying places along the way. One of our favorite places was Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. As a matter of fact, we liked it there so much that we stayed for five days. The kids spent their days building sand castles and swimming in Lake Michigan, and we relaxed in the evenings with a roaring campfire, spooky stories and enough marshmallows to sink a small ship.

Another highlight was being able to visit with my cousin, whom I had not seen since 1992. The kids had a blast playing with her daughter and it was great to just be able to catch up after so many years. We enjoyed a wonderful meal and great conversation. My only hope is that it does not take another 20+ years to do it again.

As an added bonus, we were able to add several new states to our map. We cheered as we entered Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and last but not least, North Dakota. (Sorry Wisconsin! We will fill you in as soon as we can!) Almost two weeks and 2,000 miles after leaving Pennsylvania, we arrived safely in North Dakota.

We pulled onto our RV pad and settled ourselves in. We arrived two weeks before Rob was scheduled to start work, so we had some time to explore and get familiar with the area. That brings me to the next part of our story, but that will have to wait until next time…

The End of a Season

Our time here at Hopewell Furnace has just flown by, but today was Rob’s last day at work and tomorrow we are hitting the road. We have a 1,700+ mile journey ahead of us as we make our way to North Dakota. We have some stops planned along the way as well as a visit with some family. This time of year makes for some beautiful scenery and we are looking forward to everything that lies ahead.

Rob took the camera out a few mornings ago and got some beautiful pictures of the park. I though it only fitting to share some of them with you on this, our last night here. Hopewell Furnace has been incredible and it is a place that will always hold a special place for us.



Last Friday we decided to take a little trip into New York. Rob received his job offer on Thursday, so taking a drive on Friday felt like a little celebration.

I cannot remember the last time I saw such crazy traffic. Add construction on every other street, and it took us hours to get into New York. Once we finally made our way into the city, we couldn’t for the life of us find a place to park, resulting on us getting further and further into the chaos.

All we really wanted to do was make our way back out, but we weren’t having much luck doing that, so we were excited when we finally found a place to park, because at least we would be able to get out of the car for a little bit. Rob walked up and down the street looking for any signs at all that we weren’t allowed to park there. He couldn’t find anything, so we walked down to the 9/11 Memorial.

After a few hours we walked back to the car. As soon as we could see it we relaxed a little bit because at least we knew we had not been towed. That relaxation ended as soon as we saw a ticket on our window. It took us a minute to figure out what the ticket was for, seeing as how it said ‘Fire Hydrant 0 ft’ and we didn’t park by a… oh, shoot, we sure did. There, right outside the door was a fire hydrant. It was black. Right next to a black garbage can, which was next to a black park bench. We didn’t even see the darned thing. I guess we are used to them being red. Well, $115 later, lesson learned…

We were more than ready to head home, so we hit the road. It was considerably easier getting out of town than it was getting in, so that was a very good thing. Everything was going well until we missed a turn and ended up on a toll bridge. Well, crap, we didn’t even need to be there in the first place, but there was no turning around, so Rob headed toward the lane that said ‘All Cars.’ It wasn’t until it was too late that he realized he was in an EZ Pass lane, with no booth. Cameras shot pictures of our license plate, and we groaned. We parked over by the curb and Rob walked to the office, where he was given a number to call on Monday morning to pay the toll.

There was nothing we could do at the moment, so we drove on across the bridge, crossing from New Jersey back into Pennsylvania, where we ran into a ‘Sobriety Checkpoint.’ Knowing we were not drunk (although I am thinking a drink was probably sounding pretty good to Rob right about then,) we waited our turn in line, where we were instructed to have our license and registration ready. When our turn came, we were asked a quick ‘Have you been drinking tonight?‘ and then were directed into a parking lot, where we were informed we would be receiving a written warning for our cracked windshield.

This took them forever and all Rob and I wanted to do was go home. When we were finally released, written warning in hand, we were hoping like heck that we would not run into any more trouble along the way. We had had more than enough excitement for one day. We arrived home a little after 11pm.

Monday morning I called to pay the toll, just as we were told to do, and was informed there was absolutely nothing we could do. Everything was electronic, so we just have to wait for the citation to arrive in the mail, at which point we are allowed one forgiveness on an ‘accidents happen’ basis, and will only have to pay the toll amount. This seems like a lot of trouble for a $1 toll…

Needless to say, it was not the best trip we have ever had, but I suppose there are bound to be bad ones from time to time. I don’t think we have had a trip that bad since we went to Seattle back in 2006, and believe me, that trip was far worse. There were no doubts that we were going to put New York on our map. We may not have spent the night, but unless someone is going to drive us back in, we won’t be going back anytime soon.

As I mentioned earlier, we walked down to the 9/11 Memorial. They did a wonderful job of preserving the site, and it was absolutely beautiful. We would have liked to go into the museum, but it was a little out of our price range, so we just walked around the fountains.

I am glad we had the chance to go to New York, but it sure felt good to get¬†‘home!’

Meant to Be

One of Rob’s goals has been to get on with the National Park Service full-time. It is a small and competitive field, though, and can be very difficult to get into. He has worked the last two summers as a seasonal employee, with the hope of landing a permanent position. The great thing about the National Parks is that they are all over the country, so the possibilities are endless.

Rob has been applying for jobs this summer and has received a few referrals, but nothing beyond that. Until just recently…

He had applied for a position in North Dakota, and after his interview, was offered a permanent full-time job. This means a lot of things for us: benefits, no gap in the work year, retirement. We are extremely excited that Rob was able to get on with the NPS in such a short amount of time, considering how long it can take.

This does change our end-of-year plans a little bit. I found out today that I will still be able to work the beet harvest, only I have changed locations and will be working in Montana instead of North Dakota. The harvest takes place the first two to three weeks of October, depending on the weather. Also, we will not be heading down to Kansas for the peak season at Amazon. They have been a really good job for us for the last coupe of years, but a third season is not in the cards.

There is a probation period, so we will have to stay in the same park for a minimum of one-two years. From there, Rob will have the option of either staying in the same location, or transferring to another park. But you never know, it may end up being the place we call home

PS – I have a thing for dates, so here are some little side notes, just for fun: Rob received a call on his birthday to schedule an interview. On my birthday, he had his phone interview. Less than a week later he was offered the job and they asked him to start on October 5, which will be the 15th anniversary of our first date.

And since we are talking about dates, August 25, our official launch date, also happens to be the birthday of the National Park Service…

Perhaps some things are just meant to be…