Girls go to NC

We have been settled for awhile, but I knew this trip was coming.  I was kind of dreading it.  Getting packed back up, going into our moving home, and being away from the things that I love – my animals, my garden, James….

But now I am getting excited.  This will be a fun trip and full of memories!

My mom, sister, and I along with Val and my nephew Tyler will be taking The Angry Vegan to NC!  Just girls driving and taking care of all the “man RV” stuff along the way.  It’s a little nerve wracking, but exhilarating at the same time.

We will be leaving in a little over a week.  Be sure to check back for stories and pictures from the trip. 🙂

East of the Mississippi

After our stop in Broson, we headed to the metro St. Louis area.  We were officially East of the Mississippi, and on our last leg to Michigan.

Before arriving at our home, we stopped at a friend’s house.  James had worked with Blake at Scott AFB back in the day, and now we were going to park at his house for the night and spend time with him and his wife.  We had planned on having a poker party there but other things came up.  That was fine enough because then we got to go to Aroy Thai with Blake, Alisha, and Eric.  Yum yum! 🙂

It was a short and quick visit, but it’s always nice to reconnect with our STL friends when we are traveling.

We also enjoyed the green grass!!

And loading up the dolly one last time!!

When we got home home home – Valentine got to show off her special new trick to her Grandpa.  “Nice to meet you!”

Meeting a Dingo in Bronson, TX

I have been a member of MDC for quite awhile (way before I had Val), and I happened to get involved with a group of running moms which we have now coined the Dingos.  Fast forward FIVE years, and I finally have a Dingo meet up!  At her homestead!  Which was on the way back to MI from Gonzales, TX!  I love how things come together. 🙂

She lives on her land that was her parent’s, and her dad built the cabin 40 years ago that they live in now.  They dream big things like houses like Stoneview and converting buses that run on veggie oil.  She runs barefoot, cooks from Nourishing Traditions, and homeschools her boys.  It was just the type of family we dream of communing with about our goals in life and being inspired by seeing these things in action already.  It was something we *needed* on our trip home as there is so much up in the air about our futures right now and what we *want* to do.

I had just ordered my Vibrams for barefoot running, I was thinking of ordering NT’s on the Kindle but after talking to Dana I decided to buy the book and I’ve been cooking from it already, and I will be homeschooling Valentine and any future children – it’s just so great to see it working for another family.  We chatted about all of these things, we skimmed through their books which motivated James to read all about cord wood houses, and she made us amazing food.  I still drool at the thought of her homemade honey latte with raw milk.  Yum yum!

I cannot put into words how much this stop meant to me (and us as a family).  Our time there was far too short!  Maybe we will return to their homestead for a “barn raising” if they decide to build a guest house like one of the books James has read.  Until then… our memories of this visit will be our inspiration as we move forward with our dreams.

A giveaway to share!

Do you remember Sara who put in my dreads?!

Well, she is having a giveaway on her personal blog!  Don’t miss it! 🙂

Hill Shade RV Park in Gonzales, TX

After our trip through El Paso and La Vernia, we traveled a few hours away to meet up with some friends in Gonzales, TX at Hill Shade RV Park.

The park itself was surrounded by trees and lush grass (which we had so missed during our time in Arizona).  There were also long horns that came in during the evenings to graze along the fence line of the park, and there was a dock with water on the other side.

During our time there we got to catch up with The Happy Janssens, meet Organic Sister and her family, meet The Tao of Long, and also meet Welcome to my Brain.

Valentine played with the other (bigger) girls in the park, we shared picnic dinners together as families, and we even had a night time campfire that turned into a grand conversation that I just sat back and listened to for the most part.  It was so educating, but heartwarming to hear so many views that are like our own.  The topics spanned from free range kids, to art, to life on the road, to passions and work, to education and unschooling.  I am blessed to have had that time with such wonderful people who have sparked new ideas and questions in my mind.

We did leave the park during one day to travel to the beach, but it wasn’t much of a beach trip.  It was overcast and windy (no bikini for me), so the time playing in the rocky beach (not even sand) was short for our little family.  But we gathered sea shells and dipped our feet in the Gulf before packing up and heading into town for something to eat before heading back to the RV.

Just as I was starting to feel at home at Hill Shade, it was time to continue our journey.   It was sad saying goodbye to other mamas who share the same ideals, but yet have so much more information to share (and I have so much to learn)! 😉

Our next stop was at the home of another friend I had met online – five years earlier.  This would be our first meeting face to face and at her home in Bronson, TX.  Stay tuned for that post next! 🙂

El Paso and La Vernia, TX

Traveling from Tucson, we connected with a high school friend via Facebook, so we stopped off in El Paso to have lunch and catch up.  Having a loose travel schedule and being connected while on the road is an amazing thing, and I am grateful for it.  I even got to meet their little girl. 🙂

Our 2nd stop to stay was in La Vernia, TX with some friends that James was in the Air Force with back in the day. 🙂  After a drive on a bumpy red dirt road (doesn’t that sound so TEXAN?!), we arrived at their 10 acre homestead.  Did I mention that the wildflowers were in full bloom?  And that the drive on the back roads was beyond beautiful?

Valentine got a lot of play time with their 3 kiddos, a cat named Bob, Roxy the dog, chickens, and sheep.  It was wonderful to catch up, sit and chat and have grown up talk, and share in some great food.  They spoiled us with steaks, James made french fries, and they sent us away with free range fresh from the farm eggs!!

Somehow I managed not to get any pictures of our hosts at this stop – doh!  But do know that they surely made us feel at home and we are very thankful they let us stay in their yard and share time with their family. 🙂

Mt. Lemmon and Agua Caliente Park in Tucson, AZ

We had planned on making the trip back to Michigan in the beginning of May, but plans changed and we even got someone to take over the lease at our rental house in Arizona to make it more worthwhile.

So we packed up, hired some cleaners, and had a going away party.  We planned our trip to visit 2 different friends in Texas with homesteads, stopped at Hill Shade RV park to meet up with Organic Sister and the Happy Janssens.  We also wanted to squeeze in a stop at the beach and by friends in the St. Louis area.

But our first stop with Tucson, AZ to spend time loading up on food from Whole Foods for our trip and last minute stops at the mall for an AZ Cardinals jersey for my nephew and trip items.

We boondocked at the Desert Diamond Casino and it was so nice.  We met nice people, it was very quiet, and although it was close to the airports I never thought it was too loud to sleep or put V down for a nap.

The main goal of the stop in Tucson was for James to ride his bike up Mt. Lemmon, which is the 9th hardest vertical climb on a bike on pavement in the USA.

While he was riding, V and I and the dogs were hanging out the most beautiful park – Agua Caliente Park.

We saw ducks and turtles.  And beautiful scenery.

After James finished, we celebrated with big cookies!

We drove by the ski resort and saw the snow was still being used.

And we caught some great views on the way down.

Including catching someone who was rock climbing about 7,000 feet up!

Be sure to check back for our next stop in La Vernia, Texas.

Dreads from Sara

I promised that I would share pictures from Sara when she had time along her busy travels to edit and post to her blog, so here you go!

Making the dreads

Ta-Da!  Dreadhead!

Courtesy of Sara

If you’d like to book a dreading sessions when she’s near by, visit the Happy Janssens.  Or if you’d like to schedule a photography session with her, visit her at her photography site.

She shared her time with us on her blog as well, so be sure to take a peek over there to read about Making Dreads and visiting The Tree of Life.

Tree of Life with the Happy Janssens!

My family was blessed this week by the Happy Janssens coming to visit us here in Arizona.  They were passing nearby on their way through to Texas, and Sara offered to put dreads in my hair.  Yay!  {It was like having a celebrity to visit since I have followed her blogs for so long!}

When they arrived, it was like I knew them already (the internet really is a wonderful way to make friendships).  There was no small talk – just jump right into regular conversations.  I made a buffet style dinner, and then the dread action began.  Honestly, it didn’t take very long to do even with nursing breaks and hubbies coming and going.  Somehow I managed to neglect picture taking that night.  I am sure Sara will have photos on her site really soon.

On Thursday, we all packed into our minivan and headed to Patagonia, AZ to eat lunch at the Tree of Life Cafe.

What an awesome place to be, especially on the sunshiney day that we had to experience eating in the raw – outside and living foods.  The food there was on a buffet with loads of greens, raw dressings, a yummy kale salad, raw ravioli-like entree, raw spaghetti, raw granola with cinnamon apples, sweet potatoes that were just like Thanksgiving… oh I could go on and on.  Just believe me that it was worth the $25 to enjoy a meal in this way.

Afterwards, we walked around the grounds for a little while getting video of the area and the kiddos and snapping shots of each others families and just enjoying our time outside.  Our tummies were full, our hearts were happy, and we were just soakin’ in the rays.

The time with the Janssen family was one that I will remember for a long time to come.  After all that blog reading and looking up to Sara as a mother, wife, and steward of the Earth – she is as REAL as she portrays herself.  Although, I was sad to say good-bye after such a short visit, I am thankful that I was able to spend those precious moments with them that I did.

Be sure to visit the Happy Janssens and follow them along their travels as they motor around in their Veggie Powered RV!

Guest post – Visiting Arizona

This is a guest post from my mom about her time “west of the Mississippi” with us in the sunny southwest.  She came for a week with my sister, Brenda and my nephew, Tyler.  It was the first time for all of them to experience the desert!

My adventure started on Feb 13 as I met with my first fear and that is of flying.  I was so lonesome for my family in Arizona, that I decided afraid or not I was going to go.  My flight out was such a pleasant suprise!  What a difference bigger planes make for comfort and lack of turbulance.  We arrived safe and sound, and we were early so we were waiting for Jennifer, James and Valentine…when I heard a voice call my name and I turned and my granddaughter was standing there on her own.  A first for me to see her stand and walk on her own.  What a joyful reunion we had!

The following morning was Valentine’s Day, and I wanted to do something nice so I fried some bacon for my son in law.  Then my next fear appeared…FIRE!!  I have a gas stove theirs is electric and I thought I turned the knob to “off” and didn’t!  When James said something smells, I went back to the kitchen and as I got to the stove the grease caught on fire.  It was a very scary experience and with the help of my oldest daughter, Brenda and James they got it out!  (Smother a grease fire – don’t use water!) Gosh, though, the house filled with smoke – windows open and ceiling fans on.  We ended up all going for a ride since it was Valentine’s naptime and we didn’t want her smelling the smoke.  We came home and it was much better, but I was humiliated to think that could happen.  I have cooked for over 40 years and have never had that happen.

One day of the trip, the family, along with the pet dog, loaded up the van and we drove to the San Pedro River to hike.  It was so interesting to walk along the pathways and to see the river flow north – I never realized a river could do that.  I enjoyed seeing the cactus, trees,  and how dry a lot of the river bed was and how in other parts the water flowed.

We decided one day to take a ride and climb a mountain at Montezuma Pass and Coronado Peak.  I was so excited as I saw the mountains but couldn’t fathem ever being on top of one.  I also have another fear – height!  I thought “I can do this!”  Well..I thought I could.  It began with the car ride up this winding narrow gravel road, and on the one side was mountain edge and the other – nothing – a total drop off!  I moved over so far over in my seat that I think I was almost sitting on my daughter’s lap!  We got to the top and the fear eased until James parked the car and it rolled forward.   I flipped with fright!  I thought we were going to fall off the edge!  Once I had regained my composure, I thought I could make the 20 minute hike to the top, but I got only about 20 steps and I started to hyperventilate, my knees got weak, and I could see the drop-off so I had to go back down. I did get to see the mountains in Mexico though and the border wall, and it was an awesome sight!  On our ride down, James was taking us a different way as he knew how scared I was and this way didn’t have the big drop-offs.  We saw free range cattle, a deer that lept in front of the car and some birds which we believe were buzzards.  After a good 15-20 minute drive, the road was flooded so we had to turn around and go back the same way we had come up.  Needless to say, by the time I was back to flat land I was totally exhausted.  Even facing my fear of heights, it was an adventure I wouldn’t give up for the world.

One day Jennifer, Valentine, Brenda, Tyler and myself took a ride to a quaint town called Bisbee.  It was unique and something I had never seen before.  Our ride there was scenic with the mountain views and the houses built in the side of those big peaks.  I truly beleive they only have so many square feet to work with as it seems they are jetting out of the mountain and have no yard and only a house with steps coming down.  I would really love to go back there someday, it is the type of town you could sit on a bench and just watch the people.  They are friendly and kind there also and the shops are awesome to stroll through.  We got to see a mine that was started in the late 1890’s and I can’t imagine how those settlers could do the work that needed to be done and as I looked at the mine that is no longer active.  I wondered how hard it had to be for the men in the summer heat and how many men lost their lives there trying to support their families.   From there we drove to Tombstone, which is an old western town complete with gun fights, a petting zoo, horse drawn carriage rides, and tons of western shops.  The people there are also very friendly, and I met a man from Michigan who left the big city in 1978 and ended up there and never left – never feeling the urge to go back.

My vacation with my family is something I will never forget!  We never had one drop of rain while we were there and the temps were in the upper 60’s.  It was a welcome change from snow and highs of 20’s and 30’s.   I loved watching the sun come up over the mountain every morning, and it became  so bright you that you couldn’t watch it for too long as it hurt your eyes.

But the highlight of my time there was celebrating Valentine’s birthday!!

She learned new words-“COOL” was my favorite, “good girl” was another and she also taught me to sign, which I loved.  Leaving on Saturday was so bittersweet, I had so many emotions..I was so sad to leave my family there, but was also getting lonesome for my family at home, I haven’t had so many emotions all at once and they were so hard to deal with.  There were alot of tears, but I know they will be home in May so I am now counting down those days.   It was time to face my fear of flying again, but as I was in the air I recalled the good week I had and how the plane rides were really worth it.

I’m so glad that my mom got to spend time in AZ with us and especially for Valentine’s birthday.  We had a busy but fun-filled week of adventures, and I hope you enjoyed reading about them.

Thanks Mom for the post! =)

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