Disney World Secrets: Eating at the Be Our Guest Restaurant

It is no secret that Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida is possibly my very favorite place on earth. It is my happy place and I never tire of visiting. Seriously…I NEVER tire of it. I mean, it’s DISNEY! Disney can add magic and brilliance to anything they touch…this I know for sure!! And when you visit Disney World in Florida there are four large parks to explore. That means there are never ending possibilities for magical moments…moments that make memories that will put a smile on your face every time you think of them.

Now, we all know that Disney has made MANY wonderful movies over the years. But did you know that when you visit Disney World many of the Disney movies are brought to life in one way or another?

Beauty and The Beast is one of the many films that Disney has “brought to life” at Disney World. This is exciting because it is one of my favorite movies. Isn’t it yours? Well, it has materialized in the most fabulous way in the Fantasyland area of The Magic Kingdom. There is the castle, Gaston’s Tavern and Belle’s cottage. All of which serve different purposes and were magnificently created.

I’m a little ADD so let me quickly mention the movie again as that is where my mind went. My amazing husband purchased tickets for us, well in advance, to go to the March 17th premiere of Disney’s live action version of Beauty and the Beast.

The movie did not disappoint! It was brilliantly made with nothing being left out and just the right amount of story-line being added. We walked out of the theater and I immediately said that I wanted to see it again. Yeah, it was that good!

Watching the movie made me miss Walt Disney World and crave a meal at the Be Our Guest Restaurant which is located inside the Beast’s castle. The restaurant serves French inspired dishes that are delicious and desserts that melt in your mouth! You can eat breakfast, lunch and/or dinner there and it is an experience I highly recommend!

If you have never been to Walt Disney World but are planning a visit you must plan a meal at the Be Our Guest restaurant. Let me convince you of why this should be at the top of your list of things to do…

  1. Hello! It’s the castle of Belle and Prince Adam! Isn’t that enough reason to visit?
  2. When approaching the castle, you cross a large stone bridge that is guarded by gargoyles. Looking to the left you can see part of the castle peaking above snow-capped mountains in the distance. Closer to you is a mountain stream cascading down from the peaks with green grass and wildflowers. It is all very enchanting. Looking straight ahead you will see the giant doors, protected by an oversized stone lion on each side of the doors. The scene has been set and you know you are walking into something magical and grand.
  3. No detail has been spared from the approach, the entrance, and within. You truly feel as if you are in a castle.

    After entering the large double doors into the castle you walk down Armor Hall to the entrance of the library.

  4. When you order your food, you are in the library.

    Looking into the Library from the exit door that leads to the dining areas.

    There are giant stacks of books all around and each stack consists of a computer hidden within. You step right up to a stack of books, read the screen, which is designed to look like a scroll, and place your order by touching the screen. No money or cards are necessary. You simply hold your Magic Mickey wristband up to the wand, it is scanned and you are good to go!

  5. After ordering you seat yourself and the 3 dining room options are fantastic! 1. You can choose to sit in the grand ballroom with chandeliers, floor to ceiling windows with snow-capped mountains on the other side and a lavishly painted ceiling. 2. OR you can choose to sit in the west wing which is Beast’s forbidden room. This dining area is dimly lit, has the enchanted rose on display and a massive fireplace with a ripped portrait of Prince Adam above it. The mood is set with thunder and lightning happening in the distance every 8 to 10 minutes. This room is absolutely amazing! You have to watch the portrait when it thunders. There is a secret to it that I didn’t discover until our second time eating there!  Now watch closely, okay?
    3. Your third dining choice is a brightly lit, quaint room known as the Rose Gallery portrait room. There are canvas paintings all over the walls of Beast and Belle doing all sorts of things together. The portraits look professionally painted and will make you smile at what they capture.
    In the center of the room is a larger than life jewelry box sculpture of Belle and the Beast dancing and twirling, much like a jewelry box ballerina. It is beautiful.
  6. Once you choose your place to sit and settle in your food will be delivered to you in no time at all! How the waiters know how to find you is a Disney secret that I have yet to figure out. However, before you know it your food is being carted out to you by a waiter dressed in French inspired clothing and pushing a cart, domed in glass, with your food under the glass.

    The Croque Monsieur with pommes frites was my favorite lunch selection. The sandwich is made of carved ham, Gruyere cheese, and Bechamel sauce. Pommes Frites is simply the French word for french fries.

    The food is always hot and delicious and the server is always wearing a smile!

  7. It’s NOT expensive. With a dining experience like this you would think that the prices of the food would be high. Well, they are not! That’s why we eat there as often as we can get a reservation!
  8. The choice of desserts will cause you to struggle in your decision. We chose four different desserts and they were all delicious but trust me when I say, “Try the Grey Stuff, it’s DELICIOUS!”.
  9. Nothing in organization has been missed to make this a joyful experience for you. The only frustration you may have is not knowing to book a reservation. I’m telling you this now…MAKE A RESERVATION…so not being able to get in is a frustration and disappointment that simply won’t happen. UNLESS, you forget to make the reservation. It is super easy to make a reservation using the Disney app on your phone. You can also call 1-407-939-5277, which will connect you to a Disney staff member. They can help you with anything and everything! ((I have them in my phone contacts!)) Also, don’t panic if you are told there are no times available for a reservation. This is a VERY popular place to eat for both the experience and the food, so they book up fast. However, you can still get in. Simply keep checking the app and be flexible. People cancel at last minute and this is how you get your reservation. Last time we were there I tried for 2 weeks prior to get reservations with no luck. Once we were there I managed to get two different reservations. One for the same day I was looking and one for two days later. We took them both and rearranged our plans to make those meal times happen. It was so worth it!!
  10. Take your time and enjoy the environment. After you eat, walk around the different rooms and explore. It is perfectly okay and in fact encouraged.

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Thanks to My Car Sickness and the Need to Exit our Jeep, We Found A Secret Society of Gnomes in the Red Feather Lakes Area

March 5, 2017 was a beautiful spring like day in northern Colorado. Our souls ached for an adventure and fresh air so we took off. We headed an hour north of Fort Collins to the Red Feather Lakes region as it was an area we had yet to explore. It made a perfect afternoon getaway!

Red Feather Lakes consists of a rustic mountain village that sits beside a lake and is surrounded by the Roosevelt National Forest. The people are few yet friendly and the main road of town is dirt. This Sunday afternoon the sky was bright blue and the air was fresh and crisp with snow still covering sections of the ground.

In early March the lake is still frozen but shallow areas are beginning to thaw. As beautiful as the lake is when frozen it was inviting to my imagination as to how beautiful it must be during summer when the grasses are green, trees are in full bloom and the sun is dancing across the water. I could almost hear the hum of activity along with children’s laughter as they enjoy the clean mountain air, bright sunlight and cool water. The locals tell us that the place is busy and full of life during the summer months and I can easily see why.

The drive up to Red Feather Lakes was beautiful and open with few houses, or homesteads, dotted around the mountainous hills. Once we arrived at the village there really wasn’t a lot of exploring to do by car. As I said before, the main road of the village is a dirt road. It is short and wide with less than 8 local businesses divided on each side.

There was one old gas pump that stood in front of the Trading Post and that was it! No gas station full of digital pumps and no convenience store with snacks and/or souvenirs. I liked it that way! It gave me a feeling of life being simple and relaxed.

A Secret Society of Gnomes

The roads leading to the Red Feather Lakes area are well maintained and easy to drive. They are not crazy curvy like other mountain roads which I’m thankful for! Nevertheless, by the time we were there, I was car sick. Seriously, it is such a pain with how easily I can become nauseous from the motion of a moving vehicle.

The first thing we did once we found the lake was to take the dirt road that cuts a path through the middle of the lake to homes, and forest, on the other side. We were simply exploring. Getting a lay of the land and figuring things out.

After crossing the land bridge, we came to a fork in the road and Jason paused while deciding if he should go right or left. In that moment, I exited the Jeep with little warning. I was so nauseous that I desperately needed my feet on the ground, and to walk it off.

The fresh air, and my feet firmly on the ground, took away my queasiness in no time at all. By the time Jason put the Jeep in park and climbed out to join me I was feeling much better. Such relief!

I wasn’t ready to get back in the Jeep though. I needed to walk some. Before moving forward, I took in my surroundings. To my surprise, I spotted a group of Gnomes standing on a large rock nearby. They were staring at me! With a touch of excitement in my voice I pointed them out to Jason and Raine, who had also climbed out of the Jeep, and we went over to get a better look.

The gnomes appeared to be guarding the forest. What an unexpected delight to find them in such an unexpected place. Oh, but what a fitting place for them to reside! I began to take a really good look at my surroundings, peering closely among the boulders and trees. It was only a matter of seconds before I spotted another gnome.

One was sunbathing on a rock that looked more like an island in the snow. Another could be seen peeking out of the snow at us. In astonishment, we realized that we were surrounded by gnomes, and other woodland creatures, that someone had taken great care in placing. Some were on top of giant boulders looking down at us. Some were in little crevices between, or under, boulders. I even found a dinosaur in a tree! It almost felt like a game of hide and seek and as we explored we discovered more and more.

Someone had put a great deal of thought into the placement of these little guys and it was a great diversion to my car sickness! Honestly, for the first time ever, I was glad that I had become car sick. If I had not felt so sick I wouldn’t have exited the Jeep for fresh air. Being out of the Jeep is the only reason I spotted the little Gnomes hiding along the forest path. We were all 3 glad to have discovered this place. It put a smile on our faces and made us feel as if we had discovered a special little secret in the wooded area by the lake.

Because it is still winter in this area there wasn’t a great deal of exploring to do this day. However, our day was not done! A few miles south, back the way we came, is a 600 acre area called The Shambhala Mountain Center. Stay tuned and read my next blog about this beautiful and peaceful place hidden away in a small valley among the peaks.

 

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If You are Afraid of Heights, Do Not Drive Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park

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Can you see the little ribbon of road? Part of Trail Ridge Road scared me to death as there is no side-of-the-road, but a drop-off instead. But then you have areas like this where you feel very safe and secure.

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Trail Ridge Road travels along the peaks of the Rocky Mountains. The same peaks that you view in awe from miles and miles away.

Trail Ridge Road, which lies within the Rocky Mountain National Park, near Estes Park, must be added to your bucket list if it isn’t there already. At an elevation of over 12,000 feet above sea level it is the highest continuous paved road in the United States and is known around the world as a road to travel.

My first venture on this sky-high roadway was May 31, 2016 and it was something that made quite an impression! The views of Rocky Mountain National Park from this road are breathtaking, as is the sharp wind at such an elevation. You drive through a variety of habitat, from mountain meadows and ponderosa pine woodlands to well above tree line into the alpine tundra.

The road cuts a path through snow up to 25 feet deep.

The day we drove this magnificent road was only the 2nd day that it was open for the season. There were still walls of snow on each side of the roadway that towered over our Jeep and the weather was drastically different than what we had left back in Estes Park. In fact, when we left our home, an hour away, it was blue skies, sunshine and 60 degrees. On Trail Ridge Road, it was 30 degrees, windy and snowing. There were people up there that were joyfully playing in the snow and then there were those who only watched, with smiles on their faces, from their warm cars because they were unprepared for such a temperature difference and did not have warm clothing. So be prepared when you travel Trail Ridge Road and have jackets and hats with you.

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It is an exciting day when the snows have melted enough for the snowplows to finally get up there and clear the road. It means summer is here!

Due to the roads extreme elevation, and location, it is impossible to keep it clear of snow, and ice, much of the year. Therefore, it is only open, on average, 4 months out of the year, from Memorial Day to late September. Along the drive, you go from 7,800 feet to more than 12,000 feet at its highest point. The snow up there is known to reach 25 feet deep and there are places where the walls of snow still tower over you in early summer. It is something else to see.

I do highly recommend this drive although there are places along the way that will give you butterflies in your stomach. There are spots where the drop is tremendous and there are no guard rails.

If you choose, make a day of it and follow Trail Ridge Road all the way to Grand Lake, which in itself is a wonderful place to visit. Or stop at the Alpine Visitor Center, have a snack and travel back the way you came to Estes Park. If you travel the road later in the summer, when the snow has had time to melt, there are great trails that you can hike. Simply ask for a trail map at the Estes Park visitor center before you enter The Rocky Mountain National Park.

Make sure you have a full tank of gas as you will find NO gas anywhere along this road or in the park.

Taken in July from Ridge Trail Road. You can see that flowers do indeed bloom on the tundra and there are snow free weeks that allow for hiking and exploration of these magnificent peaks.

 

 

 

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Estes Park, Colorado is a Town Hugged by the Rocky Mountains and a Place Where the Elk Roam the Streets

There are so many amazing communities, towns and cities in western Colorado that call to my sense of adventure and curiosity. The many that we have visited have not disappointed but have thrilled me with their beauty, history, and quaintness. There is a prevailing positive attitude throughout Colorado that is evident in the way of life and the atmosphere of the communities.

Estes Park as seen as a new day dawns and the town begins to wake.

Of all of the small mountain towns we have visited in Colorado, Estes Park is one of our favorites. It holds a special place in our hearts. We have had many amazing adventures in and around Estes. It is a “must visit” mountain town that is nestled in a cozy little valley and hugged by the Rocky Mountains. It is a place that we return to over and over again and never leave disappointed. Estes hosts many street festivals throughout the year along with a downtown trick-or-treating bonanza that is hard to beat. Estes Park is so much more than the shops and restaurants. It’s the friendly and welcoming attitudes of the locals, along with the adventure and beauty to be found in the Rocky Mountains, that brings so many people back year after year.

You can reach Estes Park from different routes but my favorite is Highway 66 through Longmont. By taking this route you go straight through Lyons which is another beautiful little mountain town.

You must stop at the St. Vrain Market, Deli and Bakery, located on Main Street in Lyons, and purchase your lunch. They make the very best, made-to-order, sandwiches using fresh made bread, top quality meats and cheeses, and fresh vegetables! Grab a piece of fruit, and a bag of chips made locally in Boulder and you have a wonderful lunch. If you’re starving, eat it on the ride up to Estes Park but if you can wait, save it until you find that perfect spot to sit and enjoy the views, and fresh air, while you eat!

When you arrive in Estes there is a wonderful Welcome Center just on the edge of town. It is full of information on trails, adventures, history, places to eat, places to play, etc. It’s a great starting point!

Make sure that you do not speed while traveling around town as you are likely to come upon a herd of Elk walking the streets. The town has invaded their space so they roam freely among the streets when they choose.

Kind Coffee is possibly my very favorite place in the entire town. It is locally owned, organic and Fair Trade sourced. It is the very best coffee you will EVER taste. I’m not a coffee drinker but I love their coffee…crave it even! Kind Coffee is a favorite among locals, and tourists as soon as they discover it, so there is usually a line. Don’t let the line discourage you! The baristas work fast while keeping a relaxed smile on their face and friendly atmosphere. They know what they are doing! Oh, and if you don’t want coffee, you can choose from many different teas or other hot drinks. Just trust me, and try Kind Coffee.

Estes Park is a place that many choose to stay while exploring Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). The East entrance into the RMNP is located on highway 36 just 3.5 miles west of Estes Park. It is known as the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station and is a favorite starting point for many. When visiting Colorado let Estes Park be your base camp while you spend at least a couple of days exploring RMNP. I think you’ll be glad you did!

Oh, and if you don’t want to go into RMNP every day that you are in the area, but want a great hike, there are many trails to choose from in the Estes Park area that are not in RMNP!

 

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Let the adventure begin!!

We are on our way!

Eighteen days of travel. Seeing new places.  Meeting new people.  Making new friends.

On our first full day of travel we left northern Colorado and entered Wyoming. We traveled 10 hours deep into that beautiful and somewhat lonely state. I didn’t really take any photos today as we were simply pushing hard to get as many miles down as possible. We didn’t leave the house until noon and needed to get at least 8 hours in!

Although I didn’t take the time for photos this day I can tell you that Wyoming is a beautiful land that is somewhat mesmerizing in it’s vast and empty landscape. Empty meaning you see few people. You see homesteads few and far between with ranching land going on for miles and miles. Mountain peaks, rolling hills, wide open prairie…Wyoming has it all along with a sky that goes on forever and a night sky unlike any you have every seen!  There are no city lights to block out the stars and the view will take your breath away.  The wind will also take your breath away! No kidding!

The Wyoming landscape is so amazing that Pixar actually used it for their movie, The Good Dinosaur. Pixar sent a team, twice, to Wyoming, to get the landscape correct. In the photo below, that is the Grand Tetons they are looking at. How cool is that?

Our first night in our custom-built camper was in the Walmart parking lot of the tiny town of Riverton, Wyoming.

That we stayed in a Walmart parking lot for our first ever sleep in our camper is a little humorous to us.  But hey, it didn’t matter where we parked.  What mattered is how we slept, how warm the camper kept us, how cozy we were and how safe we felt.

We were not disappointed!

Our new beds were super comfortable which allowed for a good night’s sleep. We were thrilled to wake up well rested with no achy body parts!

It was cold when we woke early the next morning, but not overwhelmingly cold, and our small portable propane heater had the camper warm in only a few minutes. The outside temp was in the low 30s so I would say the insulation we put in the camper was a wise choice!

Cozy? Yes! Jason designed it well for our storage needs as well as comfort.  Everything we needed had a place and could be found easily. Adding the blankets, pillows, curtains and rugs added warmth and made it cozy.

And, yes, we were safe.  The door has a dead bolt lock on the inside so we can lock ourselves in.  I felt much safer than I ever did in a tent that is for sure!  But then, I wouldn’t be pitching a tent in a parking lot either!

So, our first night in our camper was a huge success!!

Now! On to The Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park!

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A Wyoming Night

The roads we were traveling were not lit by streetlights.

There were no townships or cities nearby.

We couldn’t even see any signs of houses but we know there were some ranches scattered about somewhere in the darkness.

We were on a country road, in the dark, in the middle of Wyoming.  To say it was dark is an understatement.  It was a darkness unlike anything that I had ever seen.  Inky black with diamonds in the sky.

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Sadly, this photo does NOTHING to show you how magnificent the sky truly was. It gives you an idea though.

The stars were the only light that we could see.

The night sky appeared to be brilliant but our tinted windows dimmed our view somewhat.

So, we pulled over to take a better look and it went like this:

Jason pulls onto the side of the road. I’m a little nervous, thanks to my over active imagination, so I move slowly in exiting the Jeep.

Jason and the girls open their doors and climb out eagerly.  I’m not sure if it was more to see the night sky or desperation to exit the vehicle we had been traveling in for the past 9 hours.

Jason: “Woah!”

Macy: “WOW!!”

Raine: “Oh, wow!!”

Their exclamations overlapped each other and their voices were filled with wonder and amazement.  It was a little comical to hear but without a doubt caused me to hurry up my pace in exiting the Jeep.

I was speechless.  I have never in my life seen such a breathtaking night sky.  I can’t adequately describe it and my camera did not capture the magic of it at all…didn’t even come close!

It was as if I were looking at the sky in an IMAX movie…the kind that makes you wonder if it could possibly be real because it is far too beautiful and detailed.

The Milky Way in full glory, the clusters of stars that looked more like rivers of stars in some places, the variations of sparkle and brightness!  And guys, the canvas before us went on forever!  There was nothing on the horizon to take away from the vision in front of us.  It was cold outside and the sky was clear and crisp.  We could only stand and stare in amazement…until we began to shiver.

We climbed back in the Jeep, happiness bubbling over in what we had just observed, and headed on into the darkness.  We knew that the town we were seeking was only an hour away and we were ready to be there.

It only took us a minute to pull over on the side of the road.  We only spent 10 minutes, standing, staring and soaking in the beauty and enormity of the sky above us.

Those ten minutes that we took to slow our pace, and make an unexpected stop, made such a beautiful impression on us that we may never forget it.  That’s a GOOD memory!  A snapshot in our minds eye that we will always hold onto. We all agree that one of the very best things of our 18-day trip was the Wyoming sky at night.

So, if you are ever traveling through Wyoming at night, please take the time to view the sky.

Make an unexpected stop along your path, no matter where you are, and take in what is around you.

It just may blow your mind a little and make a positive lasting impression in your life.

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8 Reasons We Chose To Build Our Own Custom RV Camper

Why did we decide to build our own custom camper?  What made us choose this route?  Why not simply purchase an already existing manufactured RV camper?  Let me tell you…

First of all, we put a lot of thought into this decision and ultimately knew that it was absolutely what makes the most sense for us.

We love adventure!  We love to explore, get dirty and get exhausted in our explorations. We also love a good night’s sleep in a comfy clean bed after a day of playing and exploring.

We love to camp and be in the outdoors but when you are on an air mattress in a tent in the middle of a wind storm in Utah you do not sleep!  When it is July and you forget to take into consideration the higher altitudes in specific areas of the Rockies and it is 40 degrees but you packed for JULY, you don’t sleep.  When your air mattress has a slow leak and the ground is hard and rocky, you don’t sleep.  SO, our main reasoning for reluctantly leaving behind our tent camping was the need for sleep after long, active, usually exhausting days.

Our second reason was wanting to be able to camp in locations where only hard shell camping is allowed due to threat of bears and mountain lions…which is far more places than you realize here in the west.

We added up the cost of hotels when doing a road trip…it can get ridiculous and who has that amount of money to throw away on one night’s sleep in a hotel?  (I’d rather spend the money on an experience.) And what if you are in an area where there are no hotels?  Or, motels?  We have slept in the SUV when there were no other options!

So, why not find campsites along the way?  Well, we do…BUT who wants to set up camp every single night after hours on the road or hours of adventure?  Sure, if it’s a small single person tent that just pops right up that is no problem at all.  Our tent has to sleep at least 4 so it is large and is NOT fast to put up.  If you stay put in the same area for 2 or 3 nights, which we like to do, but you don’t sleep well on the air mattress which makes you exhausted and achy the next day it kind of takes the fun out of the road trip!

So we reluctantly began exploring the option of a hard shell RV camper.  When we first began to explore our options I was adamant that we only needed a place to sleep.  We don’t spend our days inside so why purchase something large that mimics a home when we won’t be in it most of the time?  Jason, on the other hand, doesn’t like to be as rustic as I do on our road trips, or camping adventures, and wanted a bathroom, shower and such in a RV camper.  UG!  Not necessary!

We realized in looking at different sizes and types of RV campers that they are overpriced for the quality of work and type of material used.  We also never found one that exactly met our every need and want…which really wasn’t a long list in the first place.

Jason is a problem solver and began researching other ways to have what was best for us without spending a lot of money…which we didn’t have.

He wanted to build our own camper and to build it well.  That way there would be no wasted space, the quality of work would be top notch and the materials used would be durable for our roughness, yet look good.  It had to be safe and well-built and sufficient for at least 4 people.  After lots of research we decided on a contractor grade cargo trailer that we could turn into our own safe and secure camper!

We have very carefully drawn out the plans for sleeping, and storage space, that makes the most sense for us.  Can our entire family sleep in it?  No…but because of the ages of our kids we only needed to account for our youngest and her best friend.  Sadly, most of our future adventures will not include our older children because they are grown.  If they want to join us they are more than welcome and we will figure out sleeping at that point.

So, we chose to build our own camper for several reasons…

  1. For the adventure of it!
  2. For the sake of a good night’s sleep!
  3. For safety reasons when camping in the wilderness. **Check with the National Park, or campground, that you may be heading to if you plan on tent camping.  Many of them in the Northwest no longer allow tent camping due to bears.
  4. For the money we will save not staying in hotels…which is A LOT!
  5. For the large amount of money we saved not purchasing a manufactured camper.
  6. Because we were able to design every aspect of it and that was fun!!
  7. Because the thought of not having to keep everything in a suitcase, or pack up necessary daily items every time we head out, and then having to rummage for needed items the entire trip sounds great!
  8. Because the thought of always having a clean comfortable bed ready and available, that is ours, sounds beyond great! We purchased REAL queen sized mattresses, guys, that are comfortable and inviting!

And did you know that there is an app that tells you all of the places all over the US that allow and encourage travelers with RVs or campers to stop and stay the night for FREE.  Yes, there is!  It is locations like Cracker Barrel stores/restaurants, Walmart parking lots and many others.  This is excellent for travelers like us who often decide to stop and explore an area we are passing thru.  When you have a locked in reservation at a hotel you feel like you have to press on no matter how tired you are or what you will miss exploring!  Pulling our comfy, cozy, no-wasted-space home-away-from-home, we can explore any little town, mountain top, lake or museum we unexpectedly come to and still find a safe place to lay our weary heads at night…happy, safe, content and comfortable in our own beds with our own sheets and blankets and no chance of bed bugs!  How great is that?

UPDATE: After our 18 day road trip down the Oregon and California coast we can without a doubt tell you that we did the right thing in building our own camper. It passed every test…kept us dry, cozy and safe. You wouldn’t believe how many strangers, at campgrounds, asked to look inside. They were always pleasantly surprised by the comfort as well as everything we squeezed into the space. I can tell you that the hidden drawers inside the stairs were plenty roomy enough for the 4 of us. The shelves and closet space were great and we never wished for more space for clothes, shoes or personal items.

TRAVEL APP: The travel app for finding a place to pull over and sleep did not disappoint us! It is called RV Parky, it has over 100,000 downloads and a 4.6 Star rating. Every place that it led us to, for an overnight stay, was in a very safe, clean and well lit area. The Walmart parking lots that we stayed overnight in were all newer stores that were very clean and the parking areas were very large. I highly recommend this app for any road trip.

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Hidden Messages

Hidden messages are in our walls!

I am a positive minded person.  I’m always looking for the good and positive in every situation and/or person…and I think little sayings and quotes that are positive, quirky and uplifting are the best!

Therefore, before the bead board walls went up I suggested that the girls each write a message somewhere on the insulation.  The messages would be hidden little jewels of goodness and I liked the thought of that!

Raine grabbed her colored Sharpie Markers and they got busy.

I was tickled to return outside and see just how many hidden messages they had written.  There were “Don’t Ever Give Up On Your Dreams” and “I Don’t Care How Long It Takes Me, I’m Going Somewhere Beautiful” which were both fitting for our family.  Some of the little messages made me smile, some warmed my heart and a couple made me laugh out loud!  I won’t add photos of all of the little hidden messages but here are a few…

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Ohana means Family and Family means no one gets left behind…this has special meaning to us so I was thrilled to see it on the wall.

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If you know these two girls you know which one wrote this! Sassy, sarcastic and out to conquer the world!  Makes me smile.

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Hakuna Matata means No Worries.

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Absolutely!

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Day 3 — Exhausted Arms!

Day 3 was a busy day with lots of hands involved. Thank God for our kids who are willing to help out on this large project!

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Michael, Lane and Jason cutting the Styrofoam insulation.

Four of the kids helped Jason measure and cut the Styrofoam insulation as well as put it in place. The insulation had to fit precisely between each metal bar, along the walls and ceiling, so precise measuring was important. The cutting and installing was very easy and pretty fast since he had help.

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Jason and Michael both work on trying to get the backing off of the tape and are beginning to find the humor in the situation.

 

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Lane waits…and waits…while Jason and Michael try to get the backing off of the tape. It is pretty funny at this point.

Insulation boards had to be held in place until the tape was attached. The insulation wasn’t heavy at all but the amount of time that they had to hold their arms above their heads while holding the insulation in place made their muscles burn. Seriously, they had to hold that insulation in place MUCH longer than they ever should have and it became comical. The tape used to hold the insulation in place was a booger to work with! Everyone ended up tickled trying to get the backing off of each piece of tape…and there were a lot of pieces of tape!

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Jason and Michael joke around while Michael tries to get the backing off of yet another piece of tape!

Once the ceiling insulation was FINALLY in place a thin sheeting of wood went up over it. This sheeting was extremely flexible so it took many hands to hold it in place while someone else used the electric drill to place screws in it.

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There were 4 of these used on the ceiling and when each one was first placed up there it took all extra hands to hold it in place.

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I caught Lane looking all serious and without his smile.

Once the sheeting was finally in place on the ceiling Jason put a couple of layers of white paint over it. We completed the first 3 of many steps to a fabulous ceiling! We have great plans but the final details won’t come until the final stages of the build.

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I can’t wait for you all to see what we do to this ceiling. It will be a long process but will look fabulous!

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