July 7-8, 2016 Kettle Falls, Bottle Rockets and Jarts

On the road at 10am to make our way to Kettle Falls, Wa. and visit with my aunt and uncle.  This is one of our favorite stops.  We try to make it over at least every other year and spend a day or two hanging out with them.  It is always fun and good to see them.

Half way there we stopped at Zips for a milk shake and make a little lunch.  The drive was funny because our GPS has no idea that we are a 29 foot motorhome.  We were twisting and turning along all these back county roads.  It was a slow go but so very lovely.

We pulled into the drive at 1pm and had fun catching up and relaxing.  The weather was far from what we had expected for eastern Washington in July.  The clouds were heavy there was a light sprinkling of rain.

After some time of talking and relaxing we headed outside and Ben got out his bottle rockets that he bought in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  He has been DYING to shoot them off.  It was okay with George (my uncle) for him to go ahead…Ben wasted no time!  Pop bottle in hand and he was in 13 year old boy heaven!

We enjoyed a nice campfire and gorged on s’mores.  The kids also had a blast setting off a big box of confetti shooter things that we had picked up at Costco and some sparklers that we had in the RV.  It was the 4th of July all over again!

This is exactly what we love about coming to visit George and Linda.  Relaxing, chatting and fun 🙂

We finally got to bed after 10pm.

We woke up to rain on the roof of the RV again…bummer.  The weather has not been doing what they say it is supposed to do.  No worries but we really wanted to head to the river today and see George drive his remote control boat.

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Some great coffee…and some not so great coffee, yummy pumpkin bread, bacon and fruit and we were all satisfied.  Rainy days are a good day for games.  SkipBo and Bananagrams were a must 🙂

The skies were getting a little brighter so we figured it was a good a time as any to head to the river.

The boat was pretty cool!  Ben had a fun time getting to control it for awhile.  A guy was fishing and very patiently pulling in a catch.  We watched and watched.  Hid line ended up breaking which was a big bummer because it sure seemed like it was a big fish!

We strolled along the shore and threw sticks in the river.  Sun was beginning to make an appearance and we were warming up.  After some time at the river we headed back for lunch.

Scott and Ben had bought a Can Jam game so we decided to get that out and it ended up being a lot of fun!  I have a lot of bruises on my hands from all the slamming.  That Frisbee is really hard 🙂

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George got out the Jarts (the outlawed your going to kill someone these are no longer legal) yard darts.  The kids were so excited!  The new kind…the safe kind…are not fun at all.  We have those in the RV and they are okay but they don’t hold a candle to the original death spears 🙂

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The boat was having a problem so George and Ben were trying to figure it out

 

We also played a long game of Frisbee.  I forget how fun that simple game is.  Ben and George had some shooting time (another thing you can do in their yard…seriously…does it get any better????)

A great dinner with lots of funny stories and good food.  Time with family is a gift.  I feel so very thankful!   The rest of the evening was spent playing Make Me Laugh and 20 questions.

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Shooting time with uncle George

 

Headed home in the morning and I can hardly believe that a month has passed.  It will be good to be home, see our little (or not so little) kitty Oskar and to settle into our home routine.  It is always a bitter sweet thing to end these trips.  I know we are incredibly fortunate to be able to take this time.  I know that these memories will be cherished by each of us for years to come and I know that time moves swiftly.

Thank you to all who bothered to read along on our adventures as I document these days.  Thank you for praying for our safety.

Off to Bellingham bright and early.

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Gizmo is having fun but will go bonkers when he gets to run in his yard!

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July 6, 2016 One more tire down, Silverwood and Aftershock

Well the rain is pouring down, hard. Bummer! I am hoping that it is not the same in Athol! We did pull out at 7:45 am and hit the road. POURING down rain! Yuck! About an hour into the drive the rain let up and it was just really overcast. Beautiful, beautiful countryside! I really love Montana.

When we had just about made it to Idaho and we stopped at a rest area. Scott had noted on the drivers side rear tire that it looked like it was beginning to fail. We checked it out and it was well on its way…just like the other side. Hmm, what to do. We had 60 miles until Coeur d’Alene Idaho so that is where we must make it to. With some prayers before takeoff we were on our way. I guess one thing we have going for us is that it is a dual wheel so if it blows out we will still have one good tire to stabilize us.

God brought us to Coeur d’Alene with no problems, thank you Lord for your protection! We ended up at a Les Schwab and what was supposed to take an hour took two. Well, it was better than being stranded on the side of the freeway waiting on AAA to tow us to town.

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Another tire shop, thankful to be here!

 

We walked to Jimmy Johns and had a sub while we waited. With the RV all fixed up and ready to go we were on the road to our final destination.

Silverwood is a really great family theme park. They have an RV park right next to the parking area so it’s an easy walk into the park. This is a big deal when you have no car that you are towing and a dog. We were able to get all set and plugged in, dog walked and we are off to ride the rides. They have a water park side and a ride side (similar with Enchanted Village and Wild Waves if you have ever been there) we got a really late start (3pm) so we hit the rides first. The skies had cleared and we were enjoyed a comfortable 74 degrees. Perfect! The biggest ride in the park, The Aftershock, is where we were headed . The kids had done their research and they wanted to ride this 65 mph ride. It goes straight up then you drop going forwards and backwards, there are upside down parts and loops. Not my idea of fun!!! Ben , Katherine and Scott got into line.   Ellie wasn’t tall enough but I don’t think even if she was she would have gone 🙂 Ellie and I watched and waited to see them take on this crazy ride. We spotted them and watched as they went straight up backwards and then came zooming down towards the ground. Yikes!!! When they got off they were all fairly jazzed about the ride. Scott did have some reservations but overall it was good 🙂

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This is the scary ride…the Aftershock

 

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Whew!  They made it!

 

Next stop was the Timber Terrors. This was a long wooden roller coaster with lots of hills. I have become a super roller coaster wimp. Seriously. I don’t know why but I can no longer handle the feeling of dropping and losing my stomach. I guess its just because I’m older or I don’t have that sensation often, I don’t know but I sure am not a fan of it. Ellie and I were together in a seat. I was getting a bit nervous but really, this looked like a pretty tame coaster compared to what Scott just endured. We began to climb the hill. You know the drill, the clickity clack sound….the one they create to build the anxiety with each passing foot. Climbing higher and higher. Clickity clack, clickity clack, you may have a heart attack, clickity clack, clickity clak, you’re too far in no turning back. The top is reached, we go around a little corner then we drop. Ohhhhhh my stomach. I couldn’t even scream because I don’t think I was breathing. In my mind I know I am not going to die but my mind is not working. I am going to die! We get to the bottom of that hill of terror, then up and down more and more. What crazy person came up with this. Ellie screams at me “I hate this!!!” I agree fully! The last hill came and went and we jerked to a halt. Thank you Lord for sparing my life. I am done…no more coasters for this girl!

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Why am I so wimpy I do not know. I am so thankful that Scott likes them and Katherine is catching up to Ben in her need for speed so Ellie and I can ride the kiddy rides 🙂

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We did the log ride as a family which was fun and the kids rode more fun, spinning machines, the bumper cars were a hit and the Round Up was Ellie’s favorite.

We went on the soaker ride where you get in a big round boat thing and go down a river.  There are people that stand and watch and can pay a quarter and cause a cannon of water to hit everyone in the boat.  A cannon of water!  We were DRENCHED by a 5 year old little boy who’s mother was telling him when to push the button.  What kind of kid are you raising lady?  So it was 15 seconds into the ride and we were so wet.  Big drops with waves of water flowing over, under and all around you. At the end of the ride we were so wet we decided to all go again.  The day had turned warm and nice but when you are completely wet head to toe you are cold.  We tried to dry off and then Scott took Ben and Katherine on more rides and Ellie and I went on a dry clothes run back to the RV.

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Never can get enough dogs for these two!

 

Once we were all dry we grabbed some dinner in the park (actually not terrible food or too expensive) we have 1 1/2 hours left so we hit the ground running.  More coasters and crazy machines that take you to the top of a peak and then drop you,  the RoundUp again and then ended our night with a little kids roller coaster that was way more my speed 😉

We all enjoyed our time at the park then headed to our RV and turned on the heat…first time we had to use that.  The time spent here was so fun and we are all tired and ready for bed.

We are off to Kettle Falls, Wa. to visit my Aunt and Uncle.  The kids can’t wait!  We always have so much fun!

July 4-5, 2016 Fireworks, nachos and Singing around the campfire

We are on our way to Polson, Montana which is at the southern end of Flathead Lake. The 375 mile drive was lovely. I have always liked Montana. The hills and trees and the green landscape are so beautiful. The drive seemed to last forever but there are just days like that. We arrived early in hopes to see the parade that goes down Main Street for the 4th of July. Unfortunately we were a bit too late and just found a lot of full streets of cars and no where to park 🙂 We opted to stop at the grocery store and get a few things and pick up some fried chicken from the deli. Doesn’t get much better than that..am I right? We did enjoy the simple lunch on the side of the road in our RV. We were able to check into our RV park early which was great. We hadn’t made any reservations for the 4th of July as of a few days ago. We were not sure where we may be on that date. Once we realized we would be in Polson I got on the phone to a few different parks. There was no availability at one and there was one spot left at the KOA. Of course it was the SUPER PREMIUM site….translation: WAAAAYYY too expensive but what are we to do? There is a lake view and a pool. We decided that we would take it. If we are going big at least we will be looking out at the lake 🙂

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Premium view…pretty great thing to wake up to!

 

We enjoyed some time at the pool and the sand volleyball court. The boys played a little basketball and Gizmo ran around and played in the dog park.

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Game on!

 

Katherine even whipped up some bbq nachos for us…they were delish!

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The area is very nice and our spot is super premium for sure. We had a nice dinner on the concrete patio looking out at the lake.

The rodeo grounds were really close and they put on a great fireworks show at 10:30pm. Ben was moaning and groaning all afternoon about not being able to shot off fireworks 🙂 We have only missed a couple of 4th of Julys at our beach house. We definitely will not miss it next year. Our little pyrotechnic won’t let us.

I was toast by the time the evening was done (all that know me know that my brain shuts off at 8pm) we all climbed into bed and called it a night. We will be here one more night so we plan on enjoying a lazy morning with a real breakfast.

So thankful for this time and for this country where we live.

The next morning was nice and slow on the go. Scott made a great breakfast complete with sausage, bacon, eggs and toast. After our fill of home cooked food we all just hung out. The kids played some more volleyball (their rendition of it) and walked Gizmo around. The girls met a sweet little girl from Texas that they played a game of clue with.

We all walked into town and then ended up eating on the deck of al local grill. The view was great and we were the only ones on the deck for the majority of our time. We ate a pizza that was really good and enjoyed looking out over the lake.

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Bananagrams and SkipBo are our family favorites this time.

 

Flathead lake is a beautiful color of blue. We never got to swim in it but my guess is that it is really cold! The lake is 25 miles long and 15 miles wide with a depth up to 300 feet.

Back at the RV park we let the kids swim with their new found friends (love how kids make friends so easily!) and then had them playing SkipBo at our patio table. Once they had to go we all decided to catch the singing group that was going to be around the firepit. They are called The Singing Sons of Beaches…hmmm, creative name 🙂 Not sure what to expect but hey, its something to do.

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The singing around the fire…the tiki cup is not ours.  They were a funny bunch of guys!

 

It was really fun actually! They were hilarious! A comedy act that sang songs that they have made up from popular tunes. I think our favorite was My Colorectal Surgeon. Creative lyrics that kept us all laughing!

The “entertainment” lasted until 10pm and then we headed to bed. Tomorrow we are leaving by 7am to head to Athol, Idaho and visit Silverwood Theme Park. The kids are soooo excited!

July 3, 2016 Driving, soccer and SkipBo

On our way to Butte Montana for the night. We got on the road before 9am and had a very uneventful drive. The weather was sunny and warm. A few stops along the way including a gas fill up and lunch at Costco. By the time we were about 20 miles outside of Butte the black clouds had moved in and the rain and wind had started up. We pulled off at one point to see if we could wait out the major downpour.

We checked into our KOA in Butte about 4pm. The skies had cleared and the sun was warming us up again. A trip to the pool, which was amazingly not crowded, and some time playing Soccer before dinner. Scott and the kids played more soccer then we all enjoyed a walk. There is this huge statue up on one of the hills in Butte. If you have ever been through here you may have noticed it. It is a GIANT statue of Mary. It took almost 6 six years for the organizers to raise the funds and build the statue. They air lifted it in sections and now she stands watch over the city with a light on her through the night. She weights over 50 tons. Pretty sight to see at night all lit up and seemingly glowing on the top of the hill.

We played a couple games of SkipBo and Bananagrams and watched fireworks all around shooting up into the sky. It was a fun evening. They had a city firework show that went on for a long time over the other hill top that had a huge lit up M on it. Unfortunately there were trees in our way so we would have had to go outside to catch it and the mosquitoes were so bad we opted out. Tomorrow night we will be in Polson, Montana at the southern end of Flathead Lake so we are hoping to see their show a little better.

We finally got into be around 11pm. Not too eventful of a day but a good one all the same 🙂

July 2, 2016 Straight roads, North Dakota and an Oil Change

The RV was over 4,000 miles since the last oil change so we left early hoping to get into the Ford dealer for an quick in and out in Rapid City that is about an hour away.  On the road by 7:15am.  The Ford dealer said no go so we stopped at Camping World (right near Bellingham Dr. 🙂 ) and that was also a no go.  We then stopped at Napa and Scott got the oil and filter and decided he would do it himself at our next stop…Miles City, Montana.

We wanted to go straight north so that we could go into NOrth Dakota .  We have now covered much of the US in our RV.  Our little sticker map is getting filled up.

The drive north was long…once again.  Probably the straightest roads we have seen yet.  Scott didn’t have to turn for miles and miles!

We made a stop in one little town that was all of a block long.  They had a little road side park that we pulled off to.  A little roadside calisthenics and then a family game of tag and we were good to get going again.

The sunshine was out today and the temperature was definitely rising.  Continuing down the road we did end up crossing into North Dakota.  Yay!

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We are done with the western half of the USA!

We stopped in Bowman, North Dakota for a shake at a local old greasy spoon and had lunch in the RV.  Only a couple of hours left and we will be staying in Miles City, Montana.

The RV park is very well kept and clean.  Great deal at $27/night. Nice cool pool for a swim.  The kids were so funny in the pool. Ben was telling the girls how to swim across the pool.  It was very entertaining!  Meanwhile Scott changed the oil on the RV and then we had a simple dinner and some TV and off to bed.  Tomorrow we are headed to Butte, Montana.

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So lovely despite the straight roads for miles at a time

 

This has been such a great trip and we have enjoyed all that we have seen and done.  Looking forward to being home and seeing friends and family but we are not rushing it.  These kids are growing too quickly and it makes my heart burst to hear laughter and silliness!

Looking forward to the next week and getting to visit my aunt and uncle to finish off our travels.

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We had some crazy thunder and lightning storms in the evening

July 1, 2016 On the road again, Rain and Wall Drug

Today our plans have changed from get up and going by 6:30 am to get up and park ourselves at the tire shop at 7am. They open at 7:30 so we want to be there early and waiting to see if they can possibly help us. Luckily the shop is only a few miles away.

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We arrive and the guys are there getting ready to open. Scott is able to talk to one guy who said he thinks they may have the tires but he just needs to finish checking in their order they had just received and then he would help us. He also said he could get us in right away if they did have the correct tires. Whew, that is good to hear. We have about 5 hours of driving ahead of us until we make it to the Badlands. We are hoping to get to the visitors center by 1pm and then possibly go on a few of the little trails that they have. The drive through the park takes about 1 1/2 to 2 hours if you just drive and see and maybe pull off a few times at the vista points.

 

When the shop was open and ready the guy said they only had these all terrain tires left…not the highway kind we needed. Hmmm.   Darn. There is another place down the street….He said he would check one more time since there was another order that had come in that was coming off the truck right now.

Praise the Lord, they had two of the tires we needed. Two and only two. We felt that God was answering prayers. Scott had been wondering if we should do all tires (there are 6 total) or just the two on the side with the problem. The guy said that our tread wasn’t bad and the rest of the tires are good. Thank you God for that direction and for the fact that we were told that the rest are going to be fine. We walked to McDonalds for a cheap cup of coffee then headed back to wait for them to finish up. Great people at that tire shop. Really helpful and worked hard to get us up and going. We were back on the road by 8:30am! We really felt God had protected us. We had considered going further the day before but decided to stop in North Platte instead of drive further to Valentine. Once we were on that road to Valentine I realized that if our tire would have blown we were on a road with nothing for miles and miles and there was no cell phone signal. I don’t know what we would have done. We feel very thankful!

The rest of the morning was spent driving and driving and driving. Long, straight roads that were lined with corn fields and then just rolling green hills with a few trees here and there. Nebraska is a bit different than I expected for the landscape. It really is lovely…just nothing out here.

As we came closer to Badlands the rain drops began to fall. The forecast called for rain and thunder showers around 2pm. It was 1pm and the showers were early 😦 The temperature had dropped to 64 degrees (coldest temperature we’ve experienced since day four on our trip) and the showers were turning into rain. We made lunch in the RV in the visitors center parking lot then headed in. There were some neat exhibits about the area, the fossils found and some of the ancient creatures that used to call the Badlands home. We then watched the movie that they had to offer. We have see a lot of movies at all the visitor centers that we have been to through the years. I have noticed that there seems to be no pattern or regulation on what the video is or what it covers. This one was one of the worst videos we have ever seen. It was so boring that both Scott and Ben fell asleep! It talked about the animals that are there now, the people who had been there and the homesteaders that tried to make their place there and then it was all this music and bad poetry with pictures of wheat and rocks and various animals. No explanation on how they think the area was formed. No explanation of why the hills are striped with reds and tan and brown. No explanation about anything that was really interesting. There was one really cheesy line about “wearing the sun on your eye balls” The girls and I started to laugh so hard…tried to keep it quiet but really…how weird!

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Just plain cute!

 

By now it was really raining and we decided to just do the drive through the park with some pull offs. The landscape was gorgeous! So many hills that were striped with color and plateau that were in the midst of those peaks and covered with bright green grass. Once side of the road would be these peaks and the other side a grassy plain with rolling hills. Wow! Really glad we were able to see it. We pulled off at the overlooks and the dirt there is like clay. It was a mess to walk in so that really made us sure we were not going to be going on any trail. It was so sticky and slick.

Some big horn sheep were grazing by the road and we spotted some more in a field. We did not see any bison which we were disappointed about.

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After our drive thru the park we found our RV park in Wall, South Dakota. Wall is a town that is basically a big drug store. It is not named after the original drug store owner but because it is built on the wall of the Badlands. We stopped through there on our big trip back east a few years ago. It is quite a site to see. On your way to Wall you pass HUNDREDS of signs for what you can find at the famous Wall Drugstore. Free ice water, 5 cent cup of coffee, trinkets, clothing, you name it and you can find it there. We just had to stop last time so we thought it would be fun to go back.

The RV park was a short walk over to the main strip of town. …which is basically the drug store. The drugstore that exists now (a full block of connected stores) is not the original store. The original store doesn’t actually exist anymore. The little handout that they had about Wall drug explained that the owner and his wife and child moved to Wall in 1931. They were committed to the community and committed t making their business succeed. They continued to have little business and figured they would give their store a 5 year time frame. If they didn’t get more business by the end of 5 years they would take that as a sign that Wall was not where they were to be. Funny how they were looking for a sign when a sign is exactly how their business took off. One day his wife went to take a nap with their two children and she came back down to the store shortly after that with an idea. She had said that the traffic off the freeway was so strong that the house nearly shook, the summer was hot and all these travelers just zoom by Wall, South Dakota on their way to Yellowstone park and other destinations. She pointed out that all these travelers just drove across the hot prairie land and must be needing a drink. She suggested he make signs that they have free ice water at Wall drug. He felt silly making the signs and putting them along the freeway the next weekend. By the time he returned to the drug store his wife was running around getting ice water for people. They were never slow at Wall Drug after that and today they still have free ice water and estimate that they hand out over 5,000 a day during the summer months! Wow, that was great marketing 🙂

It was the same Wall drug complete with tourist memorabilia, arcade,  Jackalopes and all 🙂  The kids were surprised at how they had remembered it so much larger 4 years ago, that is what happens.  It was fun to revisit Wall Drug and we got a couple of homemade donuts and some onion rings and headed back to the RV.

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Intense!

 

Really chill evening in our RV watching Nacho Libre…we have been enjoying our movie collection recently!

We are off to see a corner of North Dakota tomorrow (last one on the western side of the US to see in our RV) and then staying in Miles City, Montana.  We are on our way to Flathead Lake for the 4th of July.

June 30, 2016 Lots of driving, Grebble and Bum Tires

Well, we are now trying to get to South Dakota to visit the Badlands National Park. The only thing that stands in our way is the rest of Kansas and Nebraska 🙂  We got out of the RV park and on the road at 8:30am.  The plan is that Scott is going to drive aver 400 miles.  That is exactly what we did…drive the long and straight roads for a really long time.  To break it up we went to an old hamburger place near where we got gas.  They bragged on their milkshakes and German Grebble. We got a few burgers, shakes and one order of Grebble.  Turns out it is basically a German donut…yum!  The burgers and shakes were a good break and then off again.

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We arrived at our RV park around 5pm. The place was definitely old but in great shape and well cared for.  It even had a pool in the shape of Nebraska 🙂  The benefit to old was also the trees.  Lots of big shady trees. There are few of these off the freeway RV stops that have adequate shade.  Katherine was determined to see the “exercise room” .  The machines in there were probably from the time this place was built…I’d say the 60’s.  Funny how much joy they get out of playing on dangerous physical fitness equipment!

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Who knew exercise could be this fun 🙂

 

They also had an old school park with all the death trap toys I played on…you know, the crazy spinny toy like the one we played on early in our trip.  Ben obviously didn’t learn the first time and got sick feeling after Scott gave him a “ride” on the carousel.  After the kids were done swimming I had them all rinse off.  Katherine was already in the RV and Ellie and I were in the restroom.  Ben got done before we did and was trying to freak Katherine out “Hey let me in!  I know you’re in there” (sweet brother) Well, this threat turned into “Katherine, let me in.  I think a bird just pooped on my head!”  Katherine didn’t believe him therefor didn’t let him in.  Ellie and I then show up and he did in fact get a big poo right on the head!  So funny!  We laughed and laughed 🙂  He headed back to the shower.

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Love the old metal slides!

 

We all walked around the park that night, always fun to see where people come from.  At our return I was outside talking with Katherine and Ellie and noticed that our rear tire on the passengers side had a big chunck out of it!  Oh boy…that is not good.  You could actually see the metal belt of the tire underneath.

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Oh boy..bummer!!!

 

This was going to change our plans for take off tomorrow.  Scott talked to the office manager and got a place that we could head to in the morning and see if we could get in.  We felt so thankful for God’s goodness.  So many of the roads we drove today were just long stretches that would have been very bad to be on the side of the road with a blow out.  Wow, I am just so very thankful!!!  We have felt so blessed to be on this journey and this was just such a sweet gift, honestly it was…it was just chance that I looked at the tire.  We had eaten dinner at the table right there, sat around and chatted right there and then at the end of the evening I just looked down….just by chance.

We all enjoyed the evening then off to bed.  Getting up early and saying our prayers that the tires we need are at this shop.