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By Any Road..Lessons from the Journey

Some wisdom I have learned on the road of life

One of my Grandma’s was a world traveler. One never even had a drivers license. One always on the move, one always home. Both were amazing women that I loved. I am a bit of each of them.

The call of the world and the comforts of home. They compete with each other in my heart. I yearn for both. My life thus far has been one of travel and of many home bases.  Don’t want to be double minded, yet want to incorporate both. And I want to show my children what’s out there.

There are a few things I have learned so far in this journey of life in which I would love to share.

Traveling the road with friends, foreigners and family

Plan, but don’t totally expect “the plan”.

Try as we may, things don’t necessarily go according to your ways. ” My way or the Highway”  thinking really sets you up for failure. We had our wedding all planned out. Beautiful historic Country Club on the beach overlooking the  Long Island Sound with all of the amenities coming to us for our special day. A few months before, it burnt to the ground in an accident. Our well laid plans went “up in smoke”. So we grieved the occurrence and forged on. Rearranged the location, made due and had a memorable nuptial celebration with family in a not so picture perfect new location. We got married, hubby and I, and proceeded to have 7 kids in 11 years after only 3 years of marriage. It’s been quite the adventure ever since.

We plan.. to be wise and to be prepared. What ever happens next is not always in our control. There are many factors at hand. We never truly know our last moment on this earth and we can not see into tomorrow. Go through the motions to set your path and let things fall how they may. Be open to the unexpected and prepare yourself on how you will respond. Then you won’t be dismayed. Plan A, B and C and be ready for the possible plan Z.

An old Dr. friend of ours had an expensive trip to Morocco all laid out. Once he and his group finished up a delicious feast of chicken and the delights of Marrakesh, they suddenly all fell ill and could not continue on with their tour. They stayed in their hotel rooms suffering for 3 days and got in one more day of sightseeing. Only if you know where your meal came from and how it was prepared ( and if your system is immune to exotic diseases and funky bacteria), will you be guaranteed a healthy result.  One recent trip we took with the family, I had an allergic reaction to some food and got so sick it was pathetic. The night we had to drive back home, I was on a one way track between the restroom and the mattress. No going back for me that night. And the whole family had to stand by until I recovered. Be ready for a change of plans so you can deal with any outcome. Go with the flow of things, realize “it is what it is” and take it from there. Looking back you will see how it all panned out to make it one more notch in your adventure belt.

Food Sourcing

Don’t be a Brat

It’s not all about me. I’ve had many travels planned out to the dime and to the hour. When it comes to your well deserved vacation and you have scrimped and saved to make it happen, it does not mean you will get things your way. Maybe you can design it that way when you are all alone and on your own, but not when it comes to a group of humans that you are journeying with.  Be aware of the needs and temperaments of all in your family. Freaking out and stomping your feet because your trip did not meet your expectations will only make things worse. Go with the rhythms of the encounters and let things play out as they will. About 12 years ago when we took 6 of our kids, my parents, great uncle and cousin to “the American Dream of Disney World”, I started to hyperventilate when my Mom , after one of the rides in the Magic Kingdom, stopped to try on some hats in a gift shop. My ingrained New York City mentality kicked in and I urged her to forget about hats and lets keep up the pace. I had to get in the most I could for my kids in that one day at Disney! My Mom knew the secret though better than I did. She enjoyed herself and her Grand-kids while I felt anxiety about making the most of our time there. She stepped slowly while I ran through the park like I was zooming through Manhattan during rush hour. My kids were so happy and excited about all they saw and did. I learned that day to let it go and let things progress as they should. Getting myself out of the way to make way for others to be in the moment and full of the joy of the experience. Not my preconceived expectations of how things should evolve. Now I just follow my family and let them take the lead in our travels. We do need to work together as a team and we still guide and protect them, but I stay in the perimeters and take picture now.

Friends , family and foreigners trying on hats in Colonial Williamsburg

Let the Road Take You Where it Will

I have been traveling since a small child and have gotten bit by the disease..the disease of wanderlust. Flying in airplanes since infancy and living abroad, driving through parts of the continent and seeing a world beyond the typical realm of ole town America. Due to my parents choices, I was blessed to have lived in another country and got a taste of other nations. In my young adulthood, I was able to tour the country and beyond and enjoy all that travel brings to life. My husband and I have been able to take our kids to many destinations, by air and by land. We now live in the woods.. a cozy home and land to grow food, a place of awesome nature and of peace and solitude. And I am truly grateful for these things. But yet, like my Grandma who traveled through the world and showed me through the slide shows upon our suburban walls at home in 1960’s USA, the places that were out there beyond my imagination called to me to seek out the same things she saw. And then again, my sweet caretaker Grandma who took care of her husband and children and filled her home with tasteful and beautiful things to ensure a safe abode , also, she draws me in to her ways of nurturer and keeper of the home. So I move on and dream of both worlds for my family. A home to feel safe and to be surrounded by comfort, and a life of chances to go into the world and let the road take us where it will. Mainly, our faith in a God who orchestrates all things, is what guides us now. I feel freedom in taking the road that comes before us. Being open to chance encounters and getting excited by what is being put before us, as things are meant to be.

The World in Their Hands

By Any Road..

Be ready to accept things as they come at you. Plan your path, dream your dreams, try to be ” free to be”. Let go of preconceived fears and expectations. Who is really in control anyhow? We don’t know our last day on this earth. Be thankful and appreciative of all things. Each day that I wake up and know that I am alive, have a safe home, food to feed my children, hot running water to bathe, clean cold water to drink and a healthy family. I am truly grateful. I have a hard working husband who provides all of this for us. I have a family that I love, and in return, I am loved by them. And  for this I am also grateful. This Thanksgiving in America, I am thankful for my freedom. I hope and pray it stays this way. But if it does not, I want to be able to able to be strong and keep faith and be able to withstand what ever comes our way. We will forge forth and work to improve our lot and hope for grander things. And if there are times where we are in the doldrums of  life, so be it. They are there for our molding and to build character. Be ready for the path set before us and be excited about how we may grow because of this road of life.

Here are a few families that will share with you there lessons learned form the road. Please click on their links to read what they have to share!

BohemianTravelers.com: Travel Lessons: Can You Embrace the Unknown http://www.bohemiantravelers.com/2012/11/travel-lessons-can-you-embrace-unknown.html

The nomadic family: I Know Nothing (and 99 Other Things The Road Has Taught Me) http://thenomadicfamily.com/2012/11/i-know-nothing-and-99-other-things-the-road-has-taught-me/

PearceOnEarth.com: 5 Life Lessons Learned from Traveling

http://pearceonearth.com/5-life-lessons-learned-from-traveling

TravelwithBender: So it’s been 6 Months – You won’t believe what we have learnt!

http://travelwithbender.com/travel-blog/travel-thoughts/6-months-have-we-learnt-anything

Life Changing Year: Life Lessons From The Road – A Little Bit Of Planning Goes A Loooong Way!

http://lifechangingyear.com/life-lessons-from-the-road-a-little-bit-of-planning-goes-a-loooong-way/

LivingOutsideoftheBox.com – 6 Life Lessons From the Road

(why 6? I have no idea!)

http://livingoutsideofthebox.com/2012/11/20/6-life-lessons-from-the-road/

A King’s Life:  Two things I know for sure. http://www.akingslife.com/2012/11/two-things-i-know-for-sure/

Flashpacker Family – http://flashpackerfamily.com/lessons-from-the-road-of-life/

Family on Bikes: Complaining won’t change a gosh-darn thing http://familyonbikes.org/blog/2012/11/complaining-wont-change-a-gosh-darn-thing

Family Travel Bucket List: 3 Things We’ve Learned While Living Outside of the USA

http://familytravelbucketlist.com/3-things-weve-learned-while-living-outside-the-usa

RambleCrunch: 15 lessons I’ve learned traveling the world http://ramblecrunch.com/2012/11/15-lessons-travel-has-taught-me/

Our Travel Lifestyle – Travel: Teaching us about ourselves

http://www.ourtravellifestyle.com/tips-and-planning/travel-tips/travel-teaching-us-about-ourselves

By Any Road..Lessons from the Journey

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Our Nations Capitol ..Washington D.C. !  For the past 8 years we have been blessed to live just 90 miles south of the capital of the United States of America.  While we happen to be living here, we have been trying to take advantage of our close proximity to the vast array of sights and activities. Seat of our government, it’s the heartbeat of this Nation ! The District of Columbia encompasses only 69 square miles and is bordered by Virginia to the South and Maryland to the North . Most of the buildings are made of white marble and are all low lying ( not a skyscraper in sight ! ) This is an exciting city filled with people of many nations, the countries best museums, government head quarters, tourist sights, incredible history, and where our money is printed.  Being a large family ( 9 of us ), we need to be resourceful and find as many free and inexpensive activities as possible! Washington D.C. happens to have most of it’s tourism geared towards all destinations being free. The only challenge is in parking. Getting in and out of the city is easy if you don’t count rush hour traffic . This always needs to be taken into consideration. We take day trips, so I can’t give any examples on hotel accommodations just yet.

View from the Jefferson Memorial of the Washington Monument

It’s very difficult to decide on our 5 favorite locations to see in Washington D.C. There is so much to do in this exciting area. I’ll just mention some of the places we have visited so far.

THE MONUMENTS

Not to be ignored by any age is the National Mall which is a 2 mile long expanse of Monuments, parks and Museums. This rectangular area is marked by the Lincoln Memorial on the East end facing the Capital Reflecting Pool and the Capitol Building at the West end. This is a good hike..146 acres to explore ! Don your best walking shoes ( I learned this the hard way this summer! ) We make sure that our kids ( and our foreign exchange students ) wear comfortable clothes and good shoes . If you are taking small ones ( 6 and under) take along the stroller . Along the Mall you can walk to visit the main monuments and government buildings: The Lincoln, The Washington, The Capitol Building, the various war memorials ( Vietnam Wall, Korean , WW I and WW II ) and most of the Smithsonian Museums ( including the Smithsonian Castle which houses the visitors center.)  All of our kids ( right now ages 9-21), enjoy all of the sights. Once we were able to get a private tour of the Capitol Building ( 2nd oldest public building in DC, the White House is the oldest) by our Congressman Eric Cantor’s office ( he is our nations current House Leader). By appointment, we were led through the underground tunnels that lead from his office to the Capitol Building and got to sit in on a live session in The House and Senate Chambers to witness some  legislation in action! Another time my two oldest daughters and I were privileged to attend a film screening at the Capitol Theater and got to meet and chat with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. !

With all the walking we do, stopping and resting on the cool white marble steps of the monuments is a good idea. We sit to people watch and plan our next destination. For eats and drinks, we pack backpacks with food and water from home. There are not too many choices for eating along the Mall. Our kids are content to eat our food on the Mall lawn and watch the gatherings of impromptu soccer and frisbee games that seem ubiquitous in this park ! A few times a year, we take in foreign exchange students. This is a perfect field trip destination for them. We get to be cultural ambassadors for these kids ! Some of these photos show a guest we had from France this past summer.

Thomas Jefferson Memorial on the Tidal Basin

THE SMITHSONIAN MUSEUMS

Museums and Zoo | Smithsonian

All free..most times that is a prerequisite  for our large family ! We do drive around in circles for a while to find a place to park on the streets ( pay attention to the signs..we got ticketed for not leaving the spot by 4 pm outside the Museum of Natural History). The most popular museums for our family are  :

The National Museum of American History,  1400 Constitution ave. See Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, Edith and Archie Bunker’s chairs from All in the Family sitcom,  Abraham Lincoln’s top hat, Thomas Edison’s electric light bulb and the first record player. But the most impressive to us is the room that holds the Star Spangled Banner ! The flag that flew over  Fort McHenry in Baltimore , Md. during the British attack in the War of 1812 ! As it is for most all of the Museums, you will need many hours to really see all that is on display.

The Natural History Museum, 10th st. and Constitution ave. Our kids always want to head to this museum first. Thousands of real, but stuffed, : animals ( greeting you upon entrance is the 13 foot tall African Bush elephant), insects ( gigantic cockroaches), marine life ( giant squid found off the coast of Spain), dinosaurs ( an 80 foot long Diplodoccus), human mummies, the Hope diamond and Moon rocks !  This place can get pretty crowded if you are visiting during the summer or on school breaks. Because we home educate, we can go on a weekday and off season. Being able to let our kids spend as long as they like to view and read about each display makes such a difference in what they can learn. If we go on a weekend in the summer, I don’t get to see any of the sights..I am keeping a close eye on my kids the whole time !

The National Air and Space Museum, Independence av. between 4th and 7th st. I grew up with the American Space Program from it’s very beginnings due to my fathers work( 1st landing on the Moon all the way through to the Space Station, and the government Aeronautics industry.. F-14 fighter jets..some sold to Iran back in the mid 70’s and because of that, we got to live there for 3 years ! ) So this museum is an exciting one for us ! See up close the Wright Brothers Kitty Hawk and the command module of the Apollo 11. There is a more recent Air and Space museum now located near the Dulles airport that holds a Concord and a Space Shuttle ! These are very impressive destinations and there is an incredible amount to see.

Of course, there are so many more museums in D.C. that are just amazing:  U.S. Botanic Gardens ( live plant species from around the world) , National Galley of Art (  da Vinci, Rembrandt , Georgia O’Keeffe)  National Museum of African Art ( bronze sculptures of Nigerian Kings),  U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum ( replica of a Jewish ghetto), National Archives ( Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and the Bill of Rights are all on display here.) My kids love this place due to the ” National Treasure” films. What an education we all get going to these museums !

THE NATIONAL ZOO and THE WHITE HOUSE

Not to confuse the two : )

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my ! The National Zoo is also free ( but parking makes up for it..$22 for the day) We try to find a free spot on the street and just hike over to the Zoo. Here too, we pack our own food from home. Sounds dull, I know, but because we visit there so frequently, we need to make it affordable. There are so many delicious and diverse restaurants in D.C. , and we have been to some. Just can’t do it every time ( remember there are 9 of us and our exchange students on occasion : ) Here at the Zoo you can see the orangutan crossings over head, the panda village, replicas of most of the world regions with their indigenous animals, birds, reptiles and plant life. It’s a very pleasant and well designed zoo. Our kids can spend the whole day here. One of my friends teenaged guest from Provence, France, visited the zoo with her and her family. After the excursion she asked him what he thought of the place. ” This was the first time I have seen an American Bison”…then she finds out he has been on safari in Tanzania, Africa..whoop dee doo American zoo : ) At least he was very gracious.

The White House ( 1600 Pennsylvania ave. ) is directly across and in walking distance from the  Washington monument. It was originally called the Presidents House and has 132 rooms. Depending on what is happening at the moment in regards to national security or if the President or someone from his family are out on the lawn, blockades are now put up so that your view is much further back. Usually we are able to get right up to the front iron fence to look at the house ( and of course take pictures). Not much else to do after that at the spot. To get a tour now of the inside, you need to apply for free tickets online and it could be a 6 month wait. We have never been inside yet. But it is a good idea to at least go and see it with your kids. It faces the Ellipse park that is an enjoyable circular walk that contains a few more memorials and always seems to have some sort of live Military activity ; U.S. Army Drill Team and Band and The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps. Concerts on the Ellipse are also free ! Mid April you can see the Cherry Tree blossoms and enjoy many of the festivities.

The Smithsonian National Zoo

A Pakistanian Truck on the lawn of one of the Museums

Bureau of Engraving and Printing

TOO MANY MORE FAVORITES !

Much to learn too at the Bureau of Printing and Engraving. Hard to believe when you see how our currency bills are printed..huge stacks of paper money ( really made of cotton and linen) being printed right in front of you. Sufficed to say, NO cameras are allowed to be used in the entire building  ( only in the gift shop ). This is a facility that you and your kids won’t forget ( and it’s free too, you just need to check in up front to get tickets for a certain time during the day in advance). We saw a funny sign that read, to this effect,  “Free $20 bills as a souvenir being given out tomorrow” After our whole tour with a guided speaker, when asked if we had any questions, my husband asked ” Who wrote Little Women?” ( family joke ..my husband always asks that question any where we go ) A lady next to us started cracking up when he said that : )

We have yet been to Arlington Cemetery, the National Cathedral, Fords Theater, up inside the Washington Monument, The National Geographic Museum, The Library of Congress and so many other great places that I can’t list with out writing a travel brochure ! I will post more stories and photos as we experience them. Hope that you all get the opportunity to see our beautiful nations Capital !

A Winter day at the Capitol Building

May God continue to Bless America !

Meeting Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at the Capitol Theater

House Leader Eric Cantor

USDA building and a double decker tour bus

Please feel free to share with us your comments and stories about family travel ( to D.C. or elsewhere). If we can help you with any questions in regards to our travel destinations, we will try to answer them. Peace !

For more interesting and helpful stories about favorite destinations, read these following articles from other travel loving families !

South Australia – Amy Page – Livin On The Road

The Holy Land: Israel- Gabi Klaf- The Nomadic Family

Sunset Coast, Michigan, USA – Jessie Voigts – WanderingEducators.com (twitter @WanderingEds)

http://www.wanderingeducators.com/best/traveling/five-favorite-places-kids-sunset-coast-michigan.html

Vancouver, B.C. Canada-Jess Farrugia – With 2 Kids In Tow

**** http://with2kidsintow.blogspot.com/2012/01/our-5-favourite-winter-activities-for.html ****

Costa Rica- Mary-Bohemian Travelers

http://www.bohemiantravelers.com/2012/01/5-best-places-for-kids-in-costa-rica.html

Brisbane, Australia – Tracy – OurTravelLifestyle

http://ourtravellifestyle.com/travel-diary/5-things-to-do-with-kids-in-brisbane

Five Favorite Places to Visit with Kids in Washington D.C. USA