Visiting the PEZ Visitor Center on our way to Mystic, CT!

The second week of August we were finally done packing up our house for the big move to Georgia. And our camping vacation through the North East was ready to start!

Kevin’s mom, the “Rolling Turd Seven Oma”, had flown in to leave with us and we were to meet friends of ours to hit the road together. Our first stop was in Vermont to visit a friend of mine for a day. After that, we were off to our first “vacation” stop. The town of Mystic, CT. But first, we spontaneously stopped in Orange, CT at the PEZ Visitor Center and factory.

The aftermath of PEZ tasting and a sugar high for everyone

When looking how far out of our way it was to stop there on our way to Mystic we decided it was well worth it. Before that day, we didn’t even know that such a place existed! Have you ever heard of it before? So, our group decided to stop. Thankfully, the Tractor Supply Co. down the street let us park our big rigs in their lot during the time of our visit, as the visitor center parking lot was crammed full of vehicles. There were signs of bus and RV parking but we did not see such an area when there. It’s something to be aware of if you do decide to visit.

Jennie heard where we were going and got super excited as PEZ are her favorite candies. And really, who DIDN’T love them as a child?! So, while the rest of the group went to park the vehicles, Oma Dale, Jennie and I hopped out and went into the visitor center to get everyone’s tickets.

We were pleasantly surprised when we walked through the doors as we didn’t really know what to expect. It was much bigger than we had thought (over 4,000 square feet!!) and packed full of fun!

You can find information about admission prices HERE.

As we entered through the big glass doors after getting our tickets, we were greeted by a giant PEZ dispenser that kids can operate by the push of a button, there were hundreds of PEZ dispensers on display from all the years they’ve been made, you could buy the candies and dispensers in all kinds of different sorts and varieties, play games and learn about the history of the company and all things PEZ. What we thought would be a quick 30 minute break from a longer travel day turned into a 2 hour long visit that was worth every second. If you’re up for it, you can take a tour of the PEZ factory connected to the visitor center. Or you can just watch how the candies and dispensers are packed through a big glass window wall.

What a fun way to spend an hour, two hours or entire afternoon! You certainly won’t be bored at this place and everyone in our group left with a big smile, a small tin bucket full of PEZ candies as well as some dispensers. Hey, “when in Rome”…

We definitely recommend a visit as it has something to offer for any age group, is inexpensive and a quick drive from the highway. Additional information about the visitor center, such as location and hours of operation, can be found HERE.

Well, it’s been a while…

It’s been almost three months since my last blog post. Life has been a bit crazy, to say the least! So, I figured it is about time for an update!

As some of you may know, we area a military family. And as such there are always things that can change our plans. For example a move to a different state. Which is what we are about to go through. We will be relocating from the “arctic north” (WNY, but what’s the difference come winter?!) to the sunny south, Georgia! So, since the end of May/beginning of June we have been packing up our house bit by bit, planning our move and the next couple of months. But that wasn’t even all of what was going on. There is even bigger news!

Literally the day after we found out about the transfer to Georgia we also found out that we were expecting. Twins. Identical. Twins. What the WHAT?! How much excitement can a family take?? We were SO psyched about all of the news. Even though the timing may not be perfect (but honestly though, is there such a thing as perfect timing?) things have worked out great so far. No complications, I just have to take it a little easy with walking too much and, obviously, am not allowed to lift anything during the moving and packing process.

Thankfully Jennie has been dealing really well with all of the changes. Because on top of all of this craziness we had already planned 2019’s big summer camping vacation. This time we were going to explore all of New England in just about 2.5 weeks!

From WNY to Vermont, driving up to Boston and then through Maine to Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park. That’s how far we have made it as of last night. It’s been fun, albeit not as relaxing as we had hoped for the first few days. We all need to get a little bit of a break and at least we were able to get away from all of the stress of packing and selling the house.

At the top of Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park

Today we are on our way to Mount Washington in New Hampshire and I’ll be blogging about all of our stops on our vacation ASAP! Thanks for being patient with us!

Love, The Rolling Turd Seven

Visiting Quartz Mountain, OK

During the months of March and April we camped near Lawton, OK and got to do some hiking/exploring at a few very neat spots. Our first outing was to Quartz Mountain State Park. It wasn’t far from where we had set up camp and the drive there was rather pleasant. Not a lot of traffic, nice roads and easy to find.

When we arrived we saw a couple nice RV camp sites and cabins as well. The park was very clean and didn’t have a lot of traffic. Our destination was the lake so we drove just a little bit further.

Jennie “fishing” at the Lake Altus-Lugert

The lake has a really interesting history. It’s fairly new and made by a dam. Until 1947 it was the location of the town of Lugert. And the town wasn’t there for very long before it got flooded. It was founded in 1901 by Austrian immigrant Frank Lugert when the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache reservation opened for settlement. The town had a population of about 400 at its peak and Mr Lugert ran the post office, general store and train depot. Everything was great until the town was hit by a tornado on April 27, 1912 and 41 of the 42 business buildings were swept away. The town continued to exist until 1947 when the W.C. Austin damn was completed for the Lugert-Altus irrigation system and water soon covered the townsite. When you’re at the lake shore you might be able to catch a glimpse of some brick foundations of buildings, depending on how high or low the water is. Either way, it is a nice place to visit and to spend a few hours or even a weekend.

If you are looking to go there and want to camp, they have five camping areas with over 200 total campsites, eight cabins and a lodge for you to stay. There are hiking trails, swimming beaches, boat docks and other activities for everyone to enjoy.

Why we began documenting our travels and started a YouTube Channel

When we first started traveling together in “The Turd” we began taking photos and videos mainly to keep family and friends updated via a group text and also to have a few snapshots for ourselves. But it didn’t take us more than the first day with Dale on our big trip when we decide to take as many photos and videos because we had a feeling this would be the trip of our lifetime.

From the camper needing repairs and little tweaks every few days to us experiencing a new place together to Jennie learning a new word on the road, trying a new food or popping yet another tooth. So many firsts for all of us and many things to document. So, when we arrived at the Grand Canyon (post to follow!) we had decided to start a YouTube channel when we are home and began documenting the remainder of the trip as best as we could.

From watching a lot of videos and subscribing to several camping/RV life channels we had gotten an idea of what to prepare ourselves for before we set off on that maiden voyage of “The Rolling Turd Seven”. So another reason we wanted to get started was to help others that might be looking to get into camping like we did.

Furthermore, there are so many people that may not have had the chance to go traveling to all the places we have been to and it may give some good ideas for things to do, things not to do and also some ideas for sights and places off the beaten path.

So, I will be posting more blog posts about our big 2017 trip, continuing with our visit at the Grand Canyon. And if you’d like to visit out YouTube channel you can do so HERE! Please subscribe, let us know what you think and what you’d like to see next. Thank you!

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Echo

Echo watching the sun set over the Grand Canyon
June 2017

In my past posts you’ve seen photos of our dogs. One of them, Echo, always stands out because her looks are so unique. That’s what drew me to her when I saw her adoption photo in March of 2014. Here’s a little back story about how she came into our lives.

Echo was a double merle Great Dane, born deaf to a so-called backyard breeder in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Being unable to sell her, she was supposed to be shot or drowned in their backyard, along with at least one other sibling who was born just like her. Thankfully they had a guardian angel.

After ending up with a someone who took Echo in as a free BOGO puppy, that person decided she didn’t want that “useless dog” anymore (her words) and posted her for free on Facebook. “Someone take this dog or it will be put down in 24 hrs!” Thankfully someone from a Great Dane Rescue saw that post and a volunteer went and got here to safety.

We had been on a wait list for a special needs dog with that same rescue for a few months, wanting to add a third dog to our pack of 1.5 year old Great Dane sisters. When I read the message from the coordinator about Echo I instantly fell in love with that scrawny little pink-nosed puppy.

Who couldn’t smooch that little snoot all day?!

We chose to adopt her after discussing the matter for only a very short time. I knew she was meant to be ours! So, only two weeks later I was on my way to pick up Echo in Baton Rouge, our two other pups in tow. And I just couldn’t wait to hold her. We had an instant connection and she became my heart dog, and I her person. She was my little white shadow, following me wherever I went and she fit right into our family and home, like it was always meant to be that way.

She may have always had this annoying look on her face but I swear she was a happy dog!

In 2015 I became pregnant with our daughter Jennie and we kept saying that Echo will become our little one’s best friend one day. And we couldn’t have been more right. Echo loved to snuggle with my baby bump and, after I gave birth, was always right next to Jennie. The two of them seemed drawn to each other and had this special bond that needed no words.

When Jennie became more mobile their connection became more and more obvious. She would crawl or walk somewhere and Echo followed close behind.

I would post photos and videos of them together and our family and friends kept saying we should send them to the news or a magazine. Little did we know that only a few months later a news agency would contact us about publishing the story of their friendship and the local news came out to our house to do a story about them as well. Who would have thought?!

Echo and Jennie, both totally relaxed in front of the big camera

Jennie walked Echo by herself when we went on our daily walks together and the two of them always walked right next to each other, keeping a comfortable pace.

But Echo didn’t just love on her sister Jennie. She also went to therapy dog training, visited local nursing homes, volunteered with me for our local shelter and for a local organization that helps veterans with PTSD. Being around people and spreading love while getting lots of attention were always things she absolutely loved.

❤

Sadly, Echo passed away in March of 2017 after a battle with cancer that we were unaware of until it was too late. She was strong for us as long as she could, not showing that a terrible disease was raging inside of her body. Her passing left a gaping hole in our hearts and not a day goes by where we don’t think or talk of her. Jennie still talks about her as well and has several photos and artwork of Echo with her in her bedroom.

Our big camping vacation in 2017 may have been Echo’s all time favorite trip ever. She enjoyed the outdoors so much and would lay outside of our camper for hours on end, just soaking up the warmth and sun while enjoying what was going on around us. I am so grateful for all the memories we made with her and because of her. Hopefully Jennie will never forget about her. And maybe some day we will be ready to open our hearts for another special dog, when Echo sends the right one our way.

If you are interested in learning more about dogs like Echo and opening your heart and home to a Great Dane in need, check out Keller’s Cause here http://www.kellerscause.com as well as OZR Great Dane Rescue by clicking this link http:// http://Ozrdanerescue.com/about

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


Traveling with a toddler… AND a mother-in-law!

Ah, road tripping. It can be a little exhausting. Wether you are traveling alone, or with a partner. It WILL be exhausting if you travel with a toddler, trust me on that one! But you can still make it a blast and less exhausting if you plan around your little one(s) routine and pack plenty of snacks and entertainment.

We were a mix of three very different personalities, driving for hours on end and then adding a fourth one, my dear mother-in-law! Some people may think that’s insane, to go on a month-long vacation with your husband’s mom… But, they had no idea!

First of all, let me start with the fact that I LOVE my mother-in-law! And I am not just saying this because she is going to read this (Hi Dale!) She is just the right kind of crazy to make it several weeks with us. Stuck together in nothing but a truck and a camper… A camper that unknowingly had started to fall apart on us while in storage. No way to escape. Unless you feel like hiking through the scorching hot Midwest all by yourself…

So, Dale was a big help with entertaining Jennie and also added plenty of comic relief. Wether intentionaly or not. And she certainly helped create memories that will last all of us for a lifetime! We documented our trip as much as we could, we did as many things together as physically possible and not once did I get into so much as a disagreement with her. She is a wonderful travel companion and I think one of the reasons we get along so well is that we see eye to eye in a lot of things. We all just really tried to have the time of our lives! And boy, did we ever!

Elk Selfie at the Grand Canyon! Guess this lady elk had the same idea as us of checking out the souvenir shops…

From hiking around the Grand Canyon together, to exploring Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon, horseback riding at Yellowstone and moose spotting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. No opportunities to do something fun and/or crazy together were missed. And those are only a few of the places we have visited as a family. So much more was added to our list that summer, with no end in sight!

If I had to give any advice to someone that plans to take a vacation with their mother-in-law I’d tell them to make sure not criticize each other, to relax and to have a glass of wine together while complaining about the men in your life. Not really. My husband will be reading this, too 😉

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Well hello there!

Thanks for joining me and welcome to my blog about our life as a camping and outdoor living family. Follow me as I share our past and future adventures of camping our way through North America.

I am Marion, the wife and mom of our pack. I am responsible for our travel photography, packing food and snacks for everyone and entertaining the little one. You’ll almost never see me without photography equipment, snack packs and a toddler (and sometimes even a dog or two) attached to my hip. #Momlife

In 2012 I moved to the US from Germany and since then my husband and I, as well as the rest of our little tribe, have traveled as much as physically possible to explore this beautiful country together.

And in 2016 we purchased our first camper together. She was a 2003 Dutchmen travel trailer and we nicknamed her our “rolling turd”. Don’t get me wrong, we LOVED that “little” camper but there was almost daily maintenance or at least tweaking required. But hey, it sure never was boring when traveling with it!

We took a few short trips right after we bought our new home away from home and then, in June of 2017, set out for the trip of a lifetime! 7,500 miles throughout the states. My husband, our daughter, my dear mother-in-law, our (then) three Great Danes and myself. It was crazy, amazing, hilarious, sometimes a little nerve racking (we never knew what would need fixing next) but overall we had an awesome time and no one tried to kill each other!

So I will share with you the memories of that trip along with many other camping trips we have taken, some hacks, tips and ideas and also advice on camping/road tripping with a toddler and dogs.

Thanks for reading!

Find us on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram for videos and photos of our camping adventures!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.