an encouraging lesson from the American Revolution

Museums used to be boring, now they captivate me. I am not sure who has done the most changing: me or the museums. This apparent good news does come at a cost: I’ve become the perpetual caboose. I wander behind the rest of the family at half-speed, my little black notebook in hand: reading, studying, learning.

When we arrived at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, I was a little nervous for my family. How long would they have to wait for me this time? In the end, the wait was worth it. I walked away with more than just a history lesson. Continue reading “an encouraging lesson from the American Revolution”

Yorktown’s life lesson: the gabion basket

As I enter the Yorktown National Historical Battlefield, I carry with me the knowledge that I’ve ascertained primarily through osmosis while staying in this historic triangleI am standing at the site of the last major battle in the Revolutionary War.

I did not know this one week ago.

I knew about the Revolutionary War mind you–I’m not completely incompetent. But when I hear the word “York,” I think of peppermint patties and cute little terrier dogs–not a battle sight.

Continue reading “Yorktown’s life lesson: the gabion basket”

Jamestown National Park: a refreshing history lesson

We step out the door lunch in hand. School for today involves a close encounter at Jamestown National Park. The kids abandon their game of stick-war and climb into the car. Trent pulls up the directions on our GPS. Siri informs us that we are 27 minutes away by car, 1 hour 33 minutes by bike or 5 hours by foot. The irony of our options, of our directional exactness to the Jamestown Settlement, does not escape me. If only the English settlers of the past could see what was in store for future voyagers!

Continue reading “Jamestown National Park: a refreshing history lesson”

2,200+ miles and still alive

In college I drove 279 miles from Spokane, WA to Seattle, WA alone. I remember turning up the music full blast, rolling down my window and eventually pulling over numerous times to jump around on the side of the road in an attempt to wake myself up. In our early years of marriage, there were a few times that I offered to drive on a long trip to relieve Trent when he was getting sleepy. I never lasted more than 30 minutes before he needed to take over again for fear that I would be the one to fall asleep. Therefore, you may understand when I say I had a legitimate concern about driving the van on this trip. “We may die or at the very least, we may arrive a week later than expected due to frequent stops to wake myself up,” I reasoned.

At the beginning of the trip, I did struggle. Montana worked out okay, partially because I was on an adrenaline high from beginning our adventure. However, South Dakota was harsh. My mind was turning to mush out there on the prairie and was threatening to blow away my focus like the tumbleweeds. By the time we arrived in Minnesota, Trent and I were having serious discussions about leaving the van at his parent’s house and simply continuing together as a family in the truck. This option would be doable, but not ideal. Having a second vehicle gives us freedom and flexibility. We can easily leave the truck and RV at the registration desk at a campground, jump in the van together and scout out the best RV site without having to navigate the truck and RV around the countless loops. Once we are parked at a campground, we can use the van for day-trips. Should the truck (or van) have issues, we are not without a second back-up vehicle . . . However, none of these options matter if I can’t stay awake.

Somehow a little miracle happened. This last Thursday I drove 256 miles, stopping just one time so Trent could gas up. I could have kept going! My driving muscles seem to have slowly strengthened with each passing mile. Is that possible? Perhaps more probable is that the landscape has grown increasingly more interesting as we’ve traveled. Thursday was no exception. We left Indiana in the morning and arrived in Virginia by mid-afternoon. It was slightly mind blowing to leave the mid-west and arrive in the east-coast in a matter of hours. Driving through the state of Kentucky was a treat. The distant hillsides were filled with tremendous texture as the hardwoods heralded their splendor, intermingling color and shape and size. Closer to the road we were treated to picturesque views of fenced green meadows with grazing horses. Who could possibly fall asleep while seeing this for the first time?

falltrees

As we arrived at our campground location in the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, we felt doubly blessed to be situated in such a lovely location for a portion of our trip designed for downtime.

cumberland-gap-campsite

After enjoying a slow start to our morning and completing our school goals, we ventured out to the ranger station for the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park. After our three youngest finished their Junior Ranger booklets and received their new badges, we ventured up to the pinnacle overlook. From this location we were able to take in a breathtaking view of the Appalachian Mountains and see where the three states of Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia come together at the top of a nearby ridge. We could also locate the Cumberland Gap where between 1175-1810, 300,000 settlers traveled after Daniel Boone helped clear a trail for their travels. The kids hurled countless acorns over the side of the viewing platform, but no matter how hard they tried, the acorns kept landing in Virginia.

cumberland-gap

Fact: I’ve now driven over 2,200 miles.

Fact: I’ve been the only adult in the vehicle.

Fact: I have had at least 3 of the 4 kids with me at all times.

Fact: We are all still alive.

Let’s celebrate!

 

Travel details:

  • Cumberland Gap National Historic Park has no admissions fee.
  • Camping is $20 for a site with electricity and $10 without. There is no water or sewer. Camping is first come, first serve with no reservations.
  • They have a lot of sites but many of them are too uneven or too short to work for our 40-foot RV so this was a time in which we appreciated having our van along to help us scout out where we wanted to go.
  • Despite the fact that we arrived mid-week, nearly all the sites with electricity were full. We ended up staying at a non-electric site. The public bathroom and showers are very clean.
  • The camp hosts were friendly, quick to welcome us and fill us in on the details of the park.
  • We spent about 1 ½ hours at the ranger station. If we were not helping kids with their Jr. Ranger booklets we would likely have been there 45-60 minutes.
  • There are Gap cave tours available for $8/adult, $4/child (ages 4-12). These book up early so plan at least a day in advance. We opted not to do a tour here as we recently did a cave tour in South Dakota (Jewel Cave) and plan to visit one again in a few weeks (in the Mammoth Cave area).
  • There are many hiking trails in the area as well.