Hope you guys are having a great summer so far!!

We are gardening

Playing in the creek

Raising baby chicks and a quail, unexpectedly, for a neighborhood who is out of town.

They are really well behaved. Look at them lined up and quiet!

Exploring flower gardens

Reading lots of books and trying every size, sauce base, and topping Amazing Pizza Company makes

Having weekly summer date nights with each kid.

Making pottery

Having weekly summer date nights with each kid.

Hanging out with friends, and playing as much as we can play.

Enjoy your summer!!!

Summertime….

“And the living is easy. Fish are jumping and the cotton is high…..”

Do you know that song from Porgy and Bess? My mom used to sing it to me when I was a little girl.

I feel like I am living that song right now, except I’m not growing cotton and my Daddy’s not rich.🤣

But, oh, I am looking forward to a sweet, sweet summer at home. Only taking about 3 trips this summer, but I plan to do a couple of posts about our summer life.

So far we have been enjoying the outdoors and the beautiful weather. The kids have been playing and helping in the garden some. I have been working in the garden a lot. We built a clay oven in the back yard out of mud, sand, and straw.

We had a homeade pizza night and cooked them in the outdoor oven, saying goodbye to Sam before she headed to Missouri to work at a camp.

We also loaded up our giant van with all the neighbors we could fit and went to my friend, Judy’s homestead and watched the Blue Ghost fireflies do their dance in the dark woods. So cool.

I don’t any pictures, because, well, it’s pitch dark and you can’t take pictures. 😊 But they are amazing!

Here are a few pictures of our clay oven build and our homeade pizza baking.

We used red clay from the back yard and play sand to make the oven slab.

It was a messy job, but the kids had a blast playing in the mud.

We used clay, sand, and straw for the oven itself.

Outdoor projects are so much fun, especially when they work!

We learned that next time we will burn the wood for about two hours before cooking to get a large amount of very hot coals. We also learned the value of a little battery powered leaf blower for creating a kicked up oxygen source inside the oven! Hot flames!

Enjoy your summer everyone!

Would you like to vacation in nice resorts with all the amenities at an affordable price like we do?

We are NOT travel agents, but we love to vacation and are creating a friends list of a small handful of people who would like first dibs on deals we find that we can not take advantage of ourselves.

The way we think will work best for everyone is to create an email list of a few people we trust to use these vacations.

We don’t have the bandwidth to search for specific locations, bedrooms, and dates for each person, because inventory changes every day. But what we can do is share bookings we have made that include:

The Specific Resort

The Dates booked

The Number of Bedrooms and sleep capacity.

The price for the entire number of days booked.

For example: (NOT a real booking)

3 Bedroom Deluxe condo (sleeps 8)

Edisto Island, SC

May 8-12 (4 nights)

$600

You could then google the resort to get all the other details you need about the area, see pictures, etc and then let us know if you want it.

If you would like to be on this email list to receive notifications of bookings, please let me know your Full name and email address and I will add you.

Thanks and have a wonderful day.

Day 63

Well, this was the LAST DAY of our cross country trip!

Whew! Can’t believe it’s over. But so glad to be home!

We headed to the Vegas strip. What a blessing to have found free parking at Mandalay Bay. Maybe because it was Sunday.

We got a mid morning snack. 😂

The girls don’t like opera. And it was really hard to throw this away.

The Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay is really cool! So glad we got tickets ahead of time because they were sold out by the time they opened at 10:00 am.

Some really big catfish

We walked the strip the rest of the afternoon.

Did a few history lessons based on the different themes of the casinos in the city. This one led us to ancient Egypt to discuss pyramids, pharaohs, mummies, and the Sphinx.

The New York New York with the Statue of Liberty fueled our discussion of its symbol of freedom for our walk on this block.

Had lunch in New York New York

And visited the Hershey’s shop.

Look at this Twizzlers statue of lady liberty!

Nina took a selfie with a Kiss

There is a really cool mosaic sidewalk all the The Park.

We spent a while in the Coca Cola shop.

And did a thorough tasting of all the international flavors.

The Ballagio fountain. We saw the water show driving through one day but missed it at might with the lights, timing didn’t work out all week.

Nina really likes gelato

Delighted to see Chik-fil-a thriving in downtown Los Vegas. Not sure why I was surprised by that. That opened up some interesting discussion. 😊

We spend ridiculous amounts of time in line and with personal shopping guides at some of the most expensive shops in the world. Came out with some really nice fragrance samples on a card.

The girls were limo spying all day. They like the Hummer limo the best.

We had a late night plane flight. Midnight.

Said bye bye to Vegas

Bye bye to the city lights.

Settled down for an over night flight.

Nina was out before the city lights were out of view.

Bye bye to our adventure across the west.

Home home home, back to North Carolina and our family and friends we love and have missed.

We have come to the end of our 63 day adventure. Back to the home we love. It’s been amazing. Thanks for going with us on this journey. Those that followed us every day, God bless you, and I hope you enjoyed the adventure as much as we did.

Day 62

It’s hard to believe that tomorrow is the last day of our trip.

We really enjoyed exploring Red Rock Canyon today. It is a short 25 minute trip from Downtown Vegas.

These sandstone formations are incredible. And they are a lot bigger up close than they look from a distance.

Mimi and Becca climbed to the top and down the other side of the canyon. I almost had a heart attack when they yelled at me from the top.

That is them way up there!

We could have spent all day in just the Calico Hills, but we wanted to hike at least one trail.

We had a picnic a Willow Springs.

The purple is in bloom! So pretty.

The rocks are so amazing. We hiked the Lost Creek Trail and did a little off trail exploring under the huge mountains.

This is an awesome park to bike. Nice, one way 13 miles of paved rolling hills. Definitely will be back here to bike this one day.

It was truly a perfect day. 66 degrees, sunny and breezy. The rocks have good grip and feel safe to climb wherever your heart desires to try. Lots of rock climbers were out.

The girls are enjoying their last afternoon at the pool while I lay in the sun and blog.

We made reservations for Lotus of Siam. But…Accidentally for the wrong night, so we waited an hour and fifteen minutes for a table. Legendary Thai food.

Soup in a fire pot. That’s cool.

Sooo exhausted. Preparing for our last day tomorrow.

Day 59-61

A bit of home came to us for a few days. Our friends from NC visited! It was nice spending time with them and seeing sites together neither of us had seen before.

We finally washed our car. Found an awesome car wash with power air guns.

The kids mostly played.

The girls were excited to see their friend and play in the pool a while.

And explore the desert a bit at dusk.

I love this picture of them against the sky at dusk.

And the silhouette of the mountains at night fall.

A short cruise to the strip. Lady Liberty is wearing a mask.

Not sure why a picture of all of us together didn’t make it to my phone.

But I got a few of us together at Hoover Dam.

This thing is massive.

A true engineering masterpiece.

My acrophobia was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be walking across the dam.

The girls and I said goodbye to our friends and sent our car back across the country with them. Then went to shop for bathing suits. We have officially warn out or left in a hotel all of ours on this trip.

Got some milkshakes too since it was 90 degrees.

Well, that was the excuse.

This pool has been a nice Oasis in the Nevada sun.

The girls have been dying for Ramen noodles, so we found the best.

Oh my gracious, homemade Ramen is delicious. This is our first experience with fresh! Now we are going to have to try making it at home. We watched a few videos before bed and it doesn’t look too hard!

Counting down the last two days of our trip. Talking about the things we are going to make and do when we get home. This has been such an incredible journey for us. Time enough to really enjoy as well as begin longing for home again .

Day 58

Zion National Park

This is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen!

Let me just give you one bit of advice, maybe two.

Plan at least one day AHEAD, before you drive up to the park like a dear in headlights thinking you’ll just drive in and drive around and see what you want to explore.

You can’t drive in.

It’s either go on a shuttle bus, private shuttle, walk, or bike.

And don’t bike. It is NOT the best park for bikers, just saying.

And if you DON’T reserve the shuttle the day before you go, you will have to get a private shuttle for $40 per person. How do I know this? Ahem.

We started at the Grotto and hiked the Emerald Pool trail for a bit longer hike with better views.

Lots of juicy prickly pear cactus the girls wanted to check out.

You get a little splashed underneath the falls, but it feels good.

Next we went to the Narrows. This was our favorite hike of the day.

People had water trecking gear on. We didn’t.

We went anyway.

The rock is so brilliant.

The sand is the color of cocoa powder.

The squirrels are very aggressive, but fluffy and cute and hard not to feed. ($100 fine)

I think maybe Becca accidentally dropped some cheese because he came right under her to have his snack.

This hike is absolutely amazing.

We only hiked a couple of bends and stopped at knee high water because the girls didn’t have appropriate shoes for the rushing water. Two of them lost one of their Croc’s and we had to catch them downstream.

We saw wild turkeys there.

We bit into the sweetest orange ever waiting for our shuttle.

We finished our day on the Watchman’s Trail for a sunset view. It was pretty steep and we were tired so we didn’t go all the way up.

I definitely want to come back here and do ALL the trails one day. It is just beautiful.

We bought the girls some new Birkenstock’s in the cute little village (they have put over 350 miles on their sandals these last 58 days.) while we waited on our table and had dinner just outside the park. A nice way to end our day.

Day 57

The Valley of Fire in Nevada

This was definitely one of our favorites!

Unbelievable rock formations and sand. The colors are beautiful.

And we saw wild Big horn sheep!!!!

Becca at the Beehives

So many caves and shady spots

The sand is incredible. Warm on top, cool a few inches down, and so fine!

Purple in places

Check out the different colors in the rock formations.

We e person Ed our first slot canyon!!! These are amazing.

It’s part of the 1.5 mile White Domes loop.

The girls were lizard catching a while so I sat and enjoyed the view.

Nina and I found our hand rock about half way down this trail.

This place is really really neat. It can easily take all day to just see the marked spots. We only had time to hike two trails.

The kids found a Bearded Dragon on the Mouses Tank trail, so that was their favorite.

Nina found a bedroom for everybody in the family. The nooks and caves make great shady rest spots from the strong Nevada sun.

The ride through the park is fantastic. I want to bike it next time we come. Perfect biking hills .

Exiting the park on the East side we headed to Utah. We drove through Virgin Canyon. It was stunningly beautiful, but driving and couldn’t take photos. Want to hike through that one day.

Had dinner in Hurricane, Utah

This is a great little hometown place!

We took a little dip in the hotel pool before bed.

Girls swam while I roasted in the hot tub.

First time in Utah. It is much more beautiful than I ever imagined. Excited about spending a couple of days here.

Day 56

We are kind of stuck in a Vegas sandwich this week. Hard to explain except to say; I don’t want to be here but have to because of our flight home situation. Anyway…

We are trying to find kid friendly places and make the most of it.

The resort pool is nice. There is a warm pool, a cool pool, and a freezing splash fountain.

The smoothies are a hit too.

The night time view from our room is really pretty too.

This morning we had the worlds longest breakfast experience.

It involved a “best breakfast place in Vegas” recommendation on another bloggers site, fighting the traffic on the strip, ending up valet parking at Caesars Palace for $25, dragging three kids through a smoky casino, waiting 90 minutes for a table, shopping to kill time and dodge marijuana smoke, buying too much candy, getting a bath soak demonstration, eating what was then lunch instead of breakfast, exploring the Mirage, and running two city blocks as fast as we could to meet our four hour valet parking time limit. 🥵

Brunch was good, but not sure it was worth the ordeal or expense…

The Cobb Salad and the Homeade strawberry jam were delicious.

In the Mirage we got to see some awesome creatures. Excited that having AAA got me in free! Saved $25!

Underwater dolphin viewing area.

Went for an afternoon swim

Based on the concierge recommendation for a kid friendly evening….

We went to the Fremont Ave experience.

Well, it was an experience all right.

Nothing kid friendly about it.

But we did enjoy the Container Park before hitting the wild strip.

The girls got a 15 minute magic lesson with the purchase of their kit.

And have been practicing ever since, even while waiting for our dinner table.

There were some interesting acts we watched briefly.

We waited an extraordinary amount of time for dinner. Glad the girls could practice their magic tricks.

Realized after we sat down why there was a 90 minute wait.

Every famous chef from food network was plastered on the wall after having dined there.

And their chicken was the most tender I have ever had in a Thai stir fry.

We will be back here before we leave Vegas, but we’ll make a reservation first.

Nina barely made it back before falling asleep, even after a few sips of Thai tea.

Nite nite all, it’s been a long day.

Day 55

Sequoia National Park

Wow! This is a must!

We got to walk among giants!!!

I mean HUGE trees, in a magical forest.

Be prepared for a long, windy road up and down. I don’t know why I was expecting to find giant trees in a valley, but, no no, they won’t grow in a valley. So you got go up, way up, 5000-7000 feet up.

We drove our Sequoia in Sequoia

I held my breath for this photo

There was purple blooming everywhere the first 3000 feet.

And incredible views. You’ll wanna take your time.

These trees are really, really big

What an amazing phenomenon of the perfect conditions to grow these incredible giants.

The girls climbed and explored inside and outside of a hundred trees.

Carved in some falls ones

We finally found a tree SMALL enough for all four of us to reach around! This is “our size hug” tree.

Here is the largest tree in the WORLD. You’re not aloud to hug it. It is 110 feet around. That would take our whole family!

Mimi can’t get over how small Sequoia pine cones are. The seeds are so tiny too!

It’s amazing. Other, smaller pine trees have giant cones!

This is not a sequoia, but it has a cool tunnel to crawl through.

The moss is so bright it looks spray painted.

We had lunch at the Village. The restaurant was only open for dinner but they have snacks and free coffee.😁

Then we hiked to Tokopah Falls. What an incredible hike. 1.7 miles up along the river. Just beautiful.

Nina and I found our “Mother /Daughter hands on rock” rock.

On the way to this huge rock mountain!

The falls are incredible

Yes, there is still snow up here in April.

We hiked 11 miles today and my whole body hurts, but boy, was it worth it.

We stopped to see the sunset on our way back down.

This was a most wonderful experience and a place we will cherish forever.