Our Story

Welcome to our site! We are Joanne & Steve. After 20+ years working for a city school department and police department, we sold almost everything, bought an RV, and started living on the road with our three children. Joanne homeschools and works online.
What we have chosen is to live life as unencumbered as we possibly can and to spend time with our family, for our family, and as a family.
This website is a record of our travels. But, we also hope to educate, entertain, and inform others about RVing, roadschooling, and the great places we visit in this country.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Liquor, Liquor Everywhere

Growing up in Rhode Island, one grows accustomed to driving to the local liquor store for all our libation needs.  You are not allowed to drink them until you get home, of course.  You cannot even buy a single beer; only a six-pack or larger.  And, when you get to the store, you have to get out of your car to go inside to make the purchase.

Well, Rhode Island being adjacent to Connecticut, we knew that you could also purchase wine and beer at grocery stores in that state.  But, once we hit Ohio, we got our first taste of Drive-Thru Liquor stores.  Yes, drive-thru.  You don't even need to get out of your car.  Now, of course, that doesn't mean that the person driving will start to drink in the car.  Just as it doesn't mean the person walking in to buy liquor will drink when he gets back to his car.  However, it was still a bit of a shock to see.

While we stayed in Florida, I was amazed, if not pleased, to see that even CVS and Walgreens sold beer and wine in their stores.  Not a huge selection or high quality choices, but, nice in a pinch.

Then, we hit Louisiana.  Just across from our campground is Crazy Dave's Daiquiri Bar and Grill...with a drive-up daiquiri window.  Here's the window below, and the row of daiquiri selections.  Of course, Louisiana has an open-container law, meaning, you aren't allowed to have an open container in your vehicle.  And, of course, the bartender just hands the driver the closed cup with the straw, and of course, you, the driver would never puncture said cover with the straw in order to sip whilst driving.  

Or would you?  The temptation is certainly there.  It is hard to believe that, in this day and age, the opportunity to drink and drive is so readily available and legal.  I don't quite get the reasoning behind it.  I had one of the daiquiris and they taste more like a Dunkin' Donuts Fruit Coolatta than a daiquiri.  Too sweet.  

But, if you decide to venture into Crazy Dave's, and you've had a bit too much to drink, and want to camouflage that fact, just drop into the restroom for some complimentary 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Pancake Designs

My son bought me a great Christmas gift!  The Good Cook Pancake Creator.
I used it this morning. 

 You fill the creator with your favorite pancake mix.  There are two tips to use; one is smaller to draw an outline and detail and the other larger to fill in the gaps.

Draw your outline.  The longer the mix is left on between pours, the more detail will show.  (As the pancake will be cooked a bit longer .)

Deranged Santa and Stocking

Obviously, I need to practice.  Check out the website.  You can upload your creations.


Legos, Legos, Everywhere

Well, I haven't actually counted them all, but I'd say we are pretty close to about 50K.  We started with a lot, then this summer's birthdays brought more, then Legoland and Lego Store at Disney, and now Christmas.  We must have at least a 50,000 Legos.  Fifty-thousand Legos in a camper.

And, of course, when you buy Legos they come in sets.  And when you have to put away your Legos, you want to keep the sets together.  And if you want the sets to stay together, you need to have separate containers for each set.  That is a bit impossible.

Right now we have standard Sterilite containers (Sterilite products are made in the US.)  Each holds, I'd estimate, 10, 000 Legos.  And we have about 5.  And the kids know every piece they have.

I have seen the Lego containers sold that sort the sizes, but they seem too small for what we need.  They also sell Lego Brick boxes, the boxes themselves look like bricks, Lego Head storage boxes, and of course, plastic drawers.  We need transportable, stackable, not-too-large-not-too-small-not-too-expensive solutions.
Around $40
Around $40
Around $50

Around $50

Around $65

So, what do people out there use, in homes and RVs, to store the thousands of Legos your kids have?  anyone have any creative Lego Storage Secrets?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Max, I've a Feeling We're Not in Rhode Island Anymore

This Christmas Day started sunny and mid-70's, quite nice.  We had a great time watching the kids open their gifts.  We were expecting a dicey sort of day with the strong storm/wind/hail/tornado watches of the past couple of days, so we were pleasantly surprised the day was starting so nicely.  Didn't last long.

By 11:30 am we were starting to prep for some pretty scary stuff.  Between the TV, Weather Bug, the Weather Channel app, the WAFB Titan 9 app, and Google Maps, we are tracking the storm as it travels through the counties and towns of Louisiana.  None of  which we are familiar with.

The local news has been on for about 30 minutes, and plans to be on indefinitely as tornado warnings continue to be set.  I am watching the clouds moving from the west, looking for greenish color, or circling...or a witch riding by on her broom.

You can see Livingston and how we are right now (2:30pm) sandwiched between the two major cells.

Constantly referring to Google Maps to see our vicinity to the counties with tornado warnings.

WeatherBug's interactive radar.

LA county map.  Warnings are given by county...we don't know them.

Great app when you are in LA.  

Our "take shelter in the campground bathroom" bag is packed and ready to go.  I was able to bake a pumpkin pie, so at least it smells nice.  I have no appetite to eat it though.

So far, so good, but, I think we will be in a direct path before this is all over.

From http://www.erh.noaa.gov/box/watchvswarn.html

A tornado watch, like a severe thunderstorm watch, means that conditions are favorable for severe thunderstorms to form, but it also means that a few storms may be capable of producing a tornado. 

A tornado warning is the ultimate in severe warnings, it means that a tornado is either occurring or imminent based on radar. You should take cover immediately.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Tornado Safety

What do you do if a tornado warning is issued and you have slight minutes to find shelter that will keep you safe, hopefully?

The Storm Prediction Center of Oklahoma
suggest these things:

Know the signs of a tornado: Weather forecasting science is not perfect and some tornadoes do occur without a tornado warning. There is no substitute for staying alert to the sky. Besides an obviously visible tornado, here are some things to look and listen for:
  1. Strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base.
  2. Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base -- tornadoes sometimes have no funnel!
  3. Hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can't be seen.
  4. Day or night - Loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn't fade in a few seconds like thunder.
  5. Night - Small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level near a thunderstorm (as opposed to silvery lightning up in the clouds). These mean power lines are being snapped by very strong wind, maybe a tornado.
  6. Night - Persistent lowering from the cloud base, illuminated or silhouetted by lightning -- especially if it is on the ground or there is a blue-green-white power flash underneath.


 In a house with a basement: Avoid windows. Get in the basement and under some kind of sturdy protection (heavy table or work bench), or cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag. Know where very heavy objects rest on the floor above (pianos, refrigerators, waterbeds, etc.) and do not go under them. They may fall down through a weakened floor and crush you. Head protection, such as a helmet, can offer some protection also.
 In a house with no basement, a dorm, or an apartment: Avoid windows. Go to the lowest floor, small center room (like a bathroom or closet), under a stairwell, or in an interior hallway with no windows. Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down; and cover your head with your hands. A bath tub may offer a shell of partial protection. Even in an interior room, you should cover yourself with some sort of thick padding (mattress, blankets, etc.), to protect against falling debris in case the roof and ceiling fail. A helmet can offer some protection against head injury.
 In an office building, hospital, nursing home or skyscraper:Go directly to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building -- away from glass and on the lowest floor possible. Then, crouch down and cover your head. Interior stairwells are usually good places to take shelter, and if not crowded, allow you to get to a lower level quickly. Stay off the elevators; you could be trapped in them if the power is lost.
 In a mobile home:Get out! Even if your home is tied down, it is not as safe as an underground shelter or permanent, sturdy building. Go to one of those shelters, or to a nearby permanent structure, using your tornado evacuation plan. Most tornadoes can destroy even tied-down mobile homes; and it is best not to play the low odds that yours will make it. This mobile-home safety video from the State of Missouri may be useful in developing your plan.
 At school:Follow the drill! Go to the interior hall or room in an orderly way as you are told. Crouch low, head down, and protect the back of your head with your arms. Stay away from windows and large open rooms like gyms and auditoriums.
 In a car or truck: Vehicles are extremely risky in a tornado. There is no safe option when caught in a tornado in a car, just slightly less-dangerous ones. If the tornado is visible, far away, and the traffic is light, you may be able to drive out of its path by moving at right angles to the tornado. Seek shelter in a sturdy building, or runderground if possible. If you are caught by extreme winds or flying debris, park the car as quickly and safely as possible -- out of the traffic lanes. Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows; cover your head with your hands and a blanket, coat, or other cushion if possible. If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway,leave your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands. Avoid seeking shelter under bridges, which can create deadly traffic hazards while offering little protection against flying debris.
 In the open outdoors: If possible, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If not, lie flat and face-down on low ground, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Get as far away from trees and cars as you can; they may be blown onto you in a tornado.
 In a shopping mall or large store: Do not panic. Watch for others. Move as quickly as possible to an interior bathroom, storage room or other small enclosed area, away from windows.
 In a church or theater: Do not panic. If possible, move quickly but orderly to an interior bathroom or hallway, away from windows. Crouch face-down and protect your head with your arms. If there is no time to do that, get under the seats or pews, protecting your head with your arms or hands.

We will be practicing our escape plan at each new campground.

Getting Used to Tornado Warnings

Growing up in the Northeast, we were used to different kinds of weather warnings and had our own preparation routines for each type.

Hurricane:  Stock bottled water, charge flashlight batteries, make sure gas cans and propane tank (for grill) were full, get the candles ready, put away any potentially flying debris.  During the storm we'd watch anxiously for falling trees and see the rain fall sideways.  Buying that Generac 10,000 back in 2000 from a guy that had wanted it for the catastrophe that was to be Y2K, was the best thing we ever did!

Nor'Easter:  Get the wood into the house to keep the wood stove running, gas for the generator, diesel for the tractor, propane for the grill, salt for the steps, have winter clothes ready, lots of snacks and liquor.

Tornado:  Hmmmmmmmmmmm?

We are learning the preparations for this fast-moving, unpredictable storm.  The preparations we make will be slightly different than for those who live in a sticks-and-bricks house.  We cannot hunker down in our camper...our camper may be air-lifted and slammed to the ground at very, high speeds, which would be not-so-good for us.

Our first encounter with just a tornado warning was our very first night in Louisiana.  We set up Eagle and went to bed at some point.  At 4:00 am, we were awakened by our iPhones alerting us though our Weather Channel app.  The app has push notifications that alert us to changing weather patterns, including dangerous weather.  [Of course, if we lose cell phone service, there go the alerts.] And there went sleep that night!

We wondered where in the campground we would go for safety if suddenly we heard a freight train blowing through.  I had mentioned the bathrooms (which are constructed of cinderblock and have a key code lock) and, so, we grabbed the code and memorized it.  Later that day, I confirmed with the office that this indeed was the place to go.

Luckily, that night was just windy and a tad rainy.  Neither the rainiest, nor windiest, by far, that we have encountered in this rig.  Tonight, December 23, we are following another alert for, well, we think Dec 24th into Dec 25th (the National Weather Service's alerts are difficult to decipher.)  A very restless Christmas Eve and Christmas Night is in our future.  All part of the journey.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Frostproof, Florida

Once we finally got ourselves on the road, we lived for a month in Frostproof, Florida.  Frostproof is about 68 miles south of Orlando, 75 miles from Tampa on the West Coast, and about 94 miles from Port St. Lucie on the East Coast.  Miami is more of a hike at 190 miles south.

The "campground" where we stayed was more of a permanent manufactured home retirement residence with some converted RVs.  But, we had a great site and met some very nice people.  We stayed at Camp Inn Rv Resort on Highway 27.  There were two pools, one which was heated, and quite comfortable.  Right across from our very large corner site was a pond with alligators, although, I think they went to warmer waters while we were there.  We did get daily visits by two sand hill cranes! The place is a little stuck in the past and could use a facelift, but it was adequate, and pretty large.  The biggest drawback was the size of the streets...very narrow.  With our rig being the size it is, it was a little nerve-wracking.

So, what does one do in Frostproof?  Well, not a heck of a lot it turns out.  There are no shopping plazas or restaurants to speak of.  You can drive a little north to Lake Wales or a little south to Sebring and you'll see some civilization.  We spent a good deal of time in Sebring and were treated to some different eateries.  Two places topped our list:  Chicanes at Inn on the Lakes, and Island View at Sun 'n Lake Golf Club.  Both establishments had early bird menus with great prices and the decor was comfortable but slightly elegant.  Chicanes dressed beautifully for Christmas.  The food and service were fantastic at both places as well.

Chef Brendan meets Chef Kevin of Island View.
"Downtown" Frostproof consists of very little; a library co-op with a fairly nice playground; a couple dollar stores, Bank of America, and lots of orange groves.

We chose Frostproof because we were staying in Florida to visit with Steve's dad and had a hard time getting a decent-priced campground closer that would allow kids.  So many are 55+.


Island View

Camp Inn

So, other than wanting to be in the middle of cows, oranges, and a long stretch of fairly empty highway, there's not a heck of a lot of reason to stay in Frostproof.  Our next Florida visit will find us on one of the coasts.

App Review: Splash Math

Math is high on the focus of my homeschooling plan.  Never been a big Math-thinker, or at least, never thought myself one, but I do know the importance of at least basic math skills.  I will never forget the day my dad explained to me how we would cut the angle of a deck we wanted to build (never did) by creating a triangle and doubling the sides, adding them and getting the cut side....a squared + b squared = c squared.  The Pythagorean Theorem! Who knew?  Thank you Mr. Oliva!

So, being a 20-year veteran of first and second grade math, I can safely say, I am freaked beyond belief with Trigonometry, Calculus, and beyond.  In fact, I barely passed Calc...had a wonderful, kind, VERY Portuguese Professor (and I am Portuguese) with a very thick accent which, as the class complained, was far too difficult to understand, especially for a bunch of non-math majors.  Reluctantly, we asked for some help, and URI sent a Professor's assistant; a very, nice Chinese man with VERY thick Chinese accent.  And, so, my math career ended with that class.

Luckily, today, there are several wonderful online programs available for a nominal fee to help kids learn math in a fun way.  One that I have discovered is Splash Math.  I have Splash Math for first graders.  It is 10$ to download the app, but you can sign up to 5 students.          I have my twins on this app.  You receive weekly email updates as to how your child is doing on the skills represented in the app.

I like SplashMath because the format is somewhat challenging.  The questions are not the rote memorization of old math but a challenging, variety of simple, but thoughtful math questions.

The app allows children to think about math in an abstract way, but allowing for concrete visuals.  And, if your child cannot read well enough, the app reads the directions for them.

The app covers addition, subtraction, time, money, and more.

Awards are given for correct answers and good scores.  Kids get to play with awarded prizes.  

Check out first grade here at 

Check out second grade here at

Check out third grade here at