We had an amazing opportunity to get a behind the scenes private tour from the XO of the USS Constitution!
How amazing is that!?
A huge THANK YOU to our friend Manny for pulling some strings!
The CO had one of the sailors who was up for her qualification as an Historian 2 accompanied us.
What an amazing opportunity to be apart of her qualification!
We learned so much more then I had imagined! And she passed! 🙌🏼
We were able to see inside some areas that are usually off limits like the gun powder storage area! We had to climb down a hatch in the floor and the space was tiny!
Before we did the tour we visited the Museum first. This was a great way to introduce the boys to the ships history and I think it helped them connect what our guide was talking about because they saw some of those things in the museum! Plus they had more questions to ask too!
I highly recommend making this a top priority visit if you are in the Boston area! The Naval sailors are so proud of their ship and eager to share the history with visitors, it truly is a unique experience!
New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park is located in downtown New Bedford with in 13 block area. It’s a cute town of historic buildings with ocean themed knick knack stores & art galleries tucked next to restaurants along cobblestone streets.
We started at the national park visitor center after finding street parking. Just FYI you have to download the MobileNOW! Parking app on your phone to pay if your short on change. No credit cards are accepted in the machine.
We stopped at the desk for the Jr Ranger Booklets. We walked around and read the displays on the wall but I’ll save you some time time- just go watch the 20-minute orientation movie! It’s a great little movie and the boys enjoyed it more than me reading to them!
They learned all about whaling. Why people hunted whales and how they were used (products produced) How colonist learned how to whale, where the whales were located, what the economic impact was and ultimately the environmental impact. Also, the roll it had in slave freedom and diversity acceptance in New England.
There is a small hands on area for kids. My youngest loved the city area he could move the wooden house around on. He learned about the different buildings that were used by the docks and in the town of New Bedford.
We walked around the streets looking for things on our scavenger hunt activity which was fun!
Once they finished the booklets the boys turned them into the Ranger & answered a few questions before getting sworn in!
After our day in Boston yesterday doing the Freedom Trail, the Minute Man National Park was the perfect follow up for the boys.
The park is dedicated to teaching us the history of April 19, 1775, the night the British marched to Concord to seize the weapons stores and capture the Patriot leaders, Sam Adams & John Hancock.
The visitors center was great! Giant displays with information on each of the key players on both the Patriot & British side. There is 30 minutes informational hologram video with interactive map in the auditorium, complete with display of what the Tavern looked like. It was so informative and kept the boys memorized the entire time!
After viewing the displays and movie you can walk down the road the Midnight Riders & Red Coats took from Boston to Concord along with some historical buildings.
Sights, like where Paul Revere was captured by the Red Coats on his midnight ride to warn the people, is marked. Along with the different sights of gun fights that broke out and buildings that were significant from that time.
Jr Ranger Booklets can be gotten at the welcome desk. Once complete turn into a Park Ranger!
People think I’m crazy for travel alone with my kids or driving a 35ft RV. Which I actually might be! Ha! But I would be even crazier to let fear hold me back or rob my kids of something amazing.
I’m not going to lie, it hasn’t been 100% easy or fun but you have to pull your big girl panties up so you can have these experiences.
I had been to Boston at least 3 times as a kid for field trips but I had never actually been inside any of the buildings along the Freedom Trail.
Seriously! How sad is that!? So much History!
The boys walked a lot today and learned a ton to earn their Jr. Ranger badges. Keanu even said “Mom I’m literally going to DIE if I walk another step!” But every step was worth it and a ring pop had him skipping down the sidewalk so he obviously didn’t die!!
We did find the farmers market at Haymarket Square, which was amazing! I snagged strawberries and blackberries $1 for each container! And the boys each got a pear to snack on while we walked back.
I can’t tell you how awesome the Jr Ranger program is, you just have to grab a book and see how much you can learn. It’s not easy & they don’t hand those badges out like candy!
The highlight for Kai was getting to be an apprentice to the printer at Faneuil Hall! He even got to keep what he printed. How awesome is that!
Have you visited a National Park or done a Jr Ranger Book?
Why is it when you go to the aquarium you want to eat seafood?
One thing I learned as a Masshole that left the state, trying to eat lobster anywhere south or west is an epic waste of money! 🤑
I was not planning on hitting up the New England Aquarium because we have done it before when visiting but the boys requested. I’m so glad I said yes!
Normally I like to get to places when they open but our day consisted of getting a rental car, grocery shopping and cleaning the RV. We arrived to the aquarium about 3pm and the crowds we’re heading out, the sea life were so active and it was feeding time!
We were memorized by the huge Octopus 🐙 moving around the tank. Man he put on a show!
The huge Honu was amazing along with the biggest puffer fish I’ve ever seen!
We learned so much too! I love how they have so many people on the floor ready to chat and fill you up with knowledge!
Did you know Lobsters color is based on their diet? So if they are picky eaters in the wild you will find blue or white lobsters. At the aquarium they can alter their diet which helps them look for lobster shell disease.
The Morey Eel, the beautiful bright green one, is actually brown but covered in a layer of mucus which gives it a green color! gross!
Exploring with kids who are 7 & 9 is so amazing! They ask questions and actually stop and look at the tanks instead of rushing forward!
Of course we had to find a gluten-free desert option after dinner! Modern Pastry was a short walk but man was it windy & cold!
Day 1 of Boston was a success!
Pro Tip: Parking in Boston can be very expensive! Get a parking app!
You can always take the T from an outer station that has parking but that can easily add up or eat up your day, and the energy levels of kids!
I chose to get a rental car. I lived in Boston many years ago when I was getting my AA and I nannied. So I’m comfortable driving in the city.
There are a few parking apps you can download on your phone and pre book a spot. Some are in big garages and some are in private offices that rent out parking.
Once you pay you will get a QR code to get entry & exit the garage. It will save you about $20 for all day parking!
To Canada!! I have to say I was pretty excited to travel through Canada. I have tried to see Niagara Falls a few times but the plans fell through.
I had arranged to stay at another Harvest Host location that was a farm and winey that had a bunch of activities for the boys to enjoy so we were looking forward to that!
I crossed the boarder with no issues. The traffic was very quick to move, to my surprise! I have my US Passport but for kids you only need a Birth Certificate if you are driving (not flying). Also it is recommended to have a notarized letter from an absent parent stating you have permission to cross the boarder with your children. For detailed & up to date rules please check the US Customs website.
I will offer one tip about crossing the boarder, fill up your gas tank BEFORE you cross! It didn’t even dawn on me to do that and oh man did I pay for it, literally! At almost $5 a gallon it hit me right in the pocketbook! I needed a 1/2 of tank which is about 30 gallons.
It sure was getting hot in the RV! It was about 85 outside when I filled up gas so once we were done filling up I told the boys I would turn on the Generators and crank the AC units.
Started her up and ….. then it shut off. Now our generator has been pretty reliable. Had her serviced, new spark plugs, oil change and new filters and after a quick adjustment to the ideal it ran perfectly. But now nothing. It was not even turning over. I pulled over at the rest stop and tried to tinker with it and the couple who was parked next to me also looked at it. I figured it was the fuse since it wasn’t turning over. The fuses inside the RV were good but I couldn’t tell if the 5v glass fuse was ok that was on the generator. We hung out at the rest stop for a bit and then I got on the road again heading to a Walmart close to our Harvest Host location. I had also found a shop near there that could service the generator.
We arrived at the Walmart and surprisingly there was only about 8 cars in the parking lot. Very odd! Once we got to the doors we found them locked. It was only a bit after 5pm so I was stumped. We wondered over to the Starbucks which seamed to be open and we were promptly greeted with “Happy Thanksgiving!”
The boys looked at me and I shrugged my shoulders and laughed a “Happy Thanksgiving” back at them The guy was quite kind and asked if we enjoyed our dinner and I explained we were from the US and had no idea it was Thanksgiving! He was surprised and happy we were visiting. We chatted a bit about our adventuring plans while my drink was made.
On the way back to the RV I noticed there was an open Dominos Pizza behind the Starbucks. With no working generator we were stuck eating PBJ or cereal but GF pizza just sounded nice!
The next morning I called the auto shop and he said to come down and he could squeeze me in.
Took it in and found the fuse was blown. But the new one that was put in blew right away too, so it was a grounding issue. About 3 hours latter he had an answer for me: The transformer was melted and there was a non functioning rectifier. My generator was really broke and it was not an easy fix,
I was planing on boon docking through Harvest Host locations though Canada and NY so that wasn’t going to fly, plus the 90 degree heat wasn’t going to be doable without AC.
They guy called for parts and pricing but told me he knew I could save 40-50% on parts if I just crossed the boarder. He gave me a full write up (with photos!) and the parts number so I could easily get the work done. Thankfully I’m on my way to my sisters and her husband is a mechanic so he can help me.
If your in Ontario, Canada and find yourself in need of a repair shop I highly recommend Trinity Automotive. They were kind, professional, worked hard to figure out what was wrong and didn’t try to take advantage of me just to make a sale. It took the guys 3 hours to figure out what was wrong and they only charged me for one hour because that’s what I was quoted!
We left the Straits State Park and headed to my husbands Aunt & Uncle house in Owosso, MI. I have been truly blessed to have married into such a great family. Most of the time I visit my husbands family without him. Last time we visited his Aunt & Uncle they were living in Texas and Keanu was a baby!
It was a long travel day and we were all excited to arrive at their house. Polly is an amazing cook and she had dinner all ready for us when we arrived! Unfortunately I have no photos since I was too busy stuffing my face. I got the recipes and will be cooking those up soon!
We ate, we drank wine and hung out for the evening. Danna told me all about Michigan and how much there is to do and see in the state. We will defiantly be exploring MI next summer! He told me about many small coastal towns, wineries and orchards and how unique the weather is in the state. He was a wealth of knowledge!
The next morning after breakfast and showers we headed out for a grand tour of Owasso. It is such a beautiful small town with lots to see. They have a cute little historic village that is open and holds events through out the year.
We drove over to the Curwood Castle and it was open so we ventured inside.
The castle was used as a writing studio of James Oliver Curwood in the 1920’s.
Right next door was a small art gallery we checked out too! The river that runs through the area has a nice walking & biking path and swinging bridge. We walked over the bridge and if the weather was not so rainy we would of walked a bit more.
After some touring looking at all the great architecture, we were on the hunt for some shoes for Kai. We were checking out at one store and Keanu wanted to ride the horse. I usually just tell the kids to climb on and pretend because half the time they never work or I don’t have quarters. Well this was only a penny! I think Keanu was a bit embarrassed once it started moving! He is getting so big! The horse would not stop either! I was standing there with heavy bags and finally had to ask him to just hop off! He defiantly got his penny worth!
Dana noticed my tail light was needing a bit of repair so he offered to fix it for me. He removed it, cleaned it, glued and taped it and got it back on the next morning! I was so grateful for the help. I have so many small projects that still need to be done, now its one less! Thanks Dana!
We left Norther Sun Winery and headed off to a Walmart down the road about 12 miles. I found out that the area I was in was a zero T-mobil area, that AT&T had the area locked out. I also found out that we have limited roaming and that my sons phone was set to roaming which zapped that in like 2.5 seconds. Thanks YouTube.
Thankfully Walmart had free wifi! We had to get a few items anyway, so it was an easy stop!
I wanted to stay close to Mackinaw Bridge, hopefully on Lake Huron side since we would be seeing Lake Michigan while we drove. I called the Straits State Park and they had availability.
Driving through the top portion of MI is beautiful. Lake Michigan looks like you are driving along the ocean. There are huge waves crashing on the shore and all you can see for miles is water. I never knew Michigan was so amazingly beautiful! It was an un expected hidden gem and exactly why I want to travel, I want to find the unexpected.
We pulled off at a rest area about 1pm and I kicked on the generator so I could cook the pizza the boys requested for lunch when we were at Walmart earlier. We parked right along the curb next to the beach access. Yes beach access at a rest area! After we ate we took Koan for a walk down to the beach. It was so beautiful!
The really amazing thing I was not expecting while we were driving was the sand dunes! And I mean big sand dunes on both sides of the road! Sand dunes and ever green trees. If it was not for the evergreens, you would easily think you were driving the coast of Florida!
We got to the camp ground and found our spot. It was a bit uneven but I did my best to level it off. Unfortunately we are ass end in the air.. downward dog style. At least we are level side to side.
The kids had a blast playing at the park right behind our sight! I like they were so close while I set up.
The boys rode their bikes down to the water. It was so windy and overcast, but the water was still a beautiful blue color.
The boys played a bit more at the park while I cooked up a fast and yummy dinner of Squash Soup.
It was a hit! They both had seconds
1 bag of frozen squash
4 cups of Water and Chicken base
Cinnamon, Salt and Pepper to taste
Blend in Vitamix on high speed for 5-7 mins.
I served with Udi’s gluten free rolls
I had Keanu jump in the shower but quickly realized plumbing can’t be doing downward dog to work. So needless to say Kai and me had to wait for showers till the next morning. I pulled over at a rest stoped and just hoped in! How awesome is that!? That is one of my favorite things about our RV, just being able to have the freedom to do anything!
All clean and ready to it the road!
I was hoping to do the ferry out to Mackinaw Island but the weather is not the best, cold, windy and raining, so we will save that for the next visit out here.
We got on the road heading towards a winery part of Harvest Host. If your not aware of Harvest Host it’s a network of wineries, breweries, farms & museums that allow you to stay on their property for free for one night. It’s expected that you will purchase something in exchange. To me that sounds perfect! I would much rather buy wine and food for $30 then pay a camp ground! I’m fully self contained so I can use my generator, I’ve got water so I don’t need hook ups. You can save 10% off the membership fee by using this link to sign up!
Let me tell you, for our first stay with Harvest Host we were so impressed! Susan who is one of the owners welcomed us at the tasing room with the biggest smile! The farm was busy with friends coming in to help harvest the grapes. We had unfortunately arrived to late as they had just finished, but Susan told us to go out to the vineyard and find some grapes and eat them right off the vine.
We got Kona out of the RV and he ran around the vineyard with their dog. It was so funny to see them playing together. Kona was so happy to not have to be on a leash too!
The grapes we ate off of the vine were the most delicious grapes I had ever had. Come to find out they were the ice wine grapes! Yummy!
I did a wine tasting and then took the boys over to see them processing the grapes.
We got to see how the machine removes the stems and learned about the process of pressing the grapes and how some wines sit with the skins on to retain the color and some skins are removed right away.
The winery also does a rhubarb & apple wine! The Rhubarb was one of my favorites so I got a bottle of that along with one of their reds, Marquette.
All of the wines I tased were amazing. Most times I do a tasing at a winery I will like 1 or 2 but I liked all 6 wines I tasted!
I made me and the boys dinner and we took our food over to the patio under the grape vine pergola. It was a perfect 69 digress outside! The boys played for a bit in the yard with some of the yard games they had out and Kona got to run around a bit more.
I sat down to paint, I wanted to give Susan a thank you gift for hosting us. So I painted the grape leaves from the pergola.
In the morning I got up and secured everything for our drive and we said our good byes, hopefully one day we will return!
First Day was a little nerve racking & a lot went wrong. But we are good and lessons were learned… plus the boys like me now because I gave them chocolate!
I left my in-laws house a lot latter then I was hopping, but there was a lot to do! We got on the road about 12:30pm. I was heading to the truck stop about 30 mins from their house first so I could get gas, LP, a final weight at the scales and get the RV washed so it looked … less old! Once they were done washing the RV I pulled out of the bay and went to go inside to pay and noticed the rear tires looked a bit low. Since the place was also a truck shop I asked if they could fill my tires.
RV tires are higher pressure then car tires (110 vs 40 psi) and I also have 3 axels with the middle Axel being a dully or two tires. So I do not have the equipment to do the tires myself. I will probably add that set up soon, although I do want a tire monitoring system though! It took them over an hour to add air! The hub caps were not lined up correctly on most of the tires so they had to remove them which took extra time but it was also hard to get the caps on and off the valves. They had 4 replacement caps that they gave me so air can be added without removing them. I’ll have to pick up 4 more some where else since they ran out.
We finally got on the road about 2:30 but my GPS had a bit of a lag and I thought I had to turn, which I did not and I ended up having to go in a circle 10 miles out of the way.
The drive was going pretty well. I got through Duluth good, had my first 6% downhill grade and bridge experience. We saw Lake Superior and the leaves were beautiful! The drive was only supposed to take about 4 hours so we would be in around dinner time. Unfortunately, at some point the GPS had me turn off of RT2. Since I downloaded a Truckers GPS app I figured it was taking me around a bridge or low underpass. But it had now changed our time from arriving at 6:30 to after 8pm. I had no way to turn around on a very narrow 2 lane road so I had to keep going. I was getting very frustrated, the boys were hangry and complaining which just made me more flustered. I finally laid it out for them and said “Look, something happened with the GPS and I have no choice but to stay on corse. I’m upset too and this was not the plan. I’m tired, my back hursts and YOUR making me more upset by compiling so ZIP it!” They got the point!
The arrival time got latter and latter since I could not go the speed limit because the rain and wind was picking up and once it got dark, I could hardly see. I found out I had NO lights in my dash board. Like I can’t see how fast I am going. Talk about adding stress to the mounting pile!
Then I had to turn down a dirt road. SERIOUSLY and dirt road. I about died. I was having visions of killing me and the boys by falling into a ditch on our first day. NOT THE PLAN. I prayed hard, took lots of deep breaths and gave myself a 1000 pep talks. But what stoped me dead in the middle of the dirt road was the sign that read
What!? Seriously, I am not driving through water. I know I’m big, but that also mean I’m heavy and will sink like a rock. NOPE not in the plan.
I creep up trying to see what lies ahead. It’s pitch BLACK. I’m thinking I need new headlights. They boys are freaking out. I tell them I will not drive through water. I turn on my spot light (Thanks 1988!) and I don’t see any water on the road, it looks like gravel. Which is what the sign up ahead says “Gravel Road”.
So did they fix the road?
I have no idea. I do know on the GPS it looks like the lake comes right up to the road, so maybe this is just a normal thing?
Then a car zips around me and he does not drop into the lake! He doesn’t even displace the gravel he just drove over so I know its well packed down.
I tell the boys we will go slow but I think its ok. I say a prayer and it was a Jesus take the wheel kind of moment…
It was 20 feet of gravel… 20 feet. Seriously…My RV is 34 feet…
We were ok!
Kai said to me “Mom you owe us big time, plus I’m starving now you owe us extra big time!”
I did not plan this… how is this lost on them?
Keanu, my 7 year old said ” Yeah you took us down the High Way to Hell!” He shocked me with his comment and of course made me laugh. Sometimes this kid get gets it and he is so young!
I tell them I will buy them dinner once we get to the casino, because truthfully the last thing I want to do is cook… but they don’t need to know that!
Well that 8 pm turned into 9:30 pm arrival. I check into the smoke shop and chat with the lady at the counter about our drive, she tells me that used to be an old detour but its not active anymore. We register and head to the restaurant…
Which was closed….
Boys stomping off, muttering at me, me yelling at them for being rude and disrespectful squashing that BS faster then they can produce it.
Again, I did not plan this… how is this lost on them?
I whip up a new meal of pizza tacos- corn tortillas, sauce, cheese and pepperoni in our toaster oven air fryer. (Seriously the best toaster oven I have ever had!) It was so good and after the hangrey children were feed, hugs and apologies came my way.
We tucked in for the night pretty quickly, and man was it windy! There was a Gail Warring for Lake Superior and we sure could feel it! Gust were over 20mph!
After all the wind last night we woke up to a beautiful cool morning. I got a great shot of our RV with the beautiful fall leaves on the trees.