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A Peek Into Our 12-Day Road Trip

Peek Into Week

It feels like we were on a road trip the whole month of August. Truthfully, it was only 12 days… but that’s a long time to be on the road! And it came right after a 5-day roadtrip to North Carolina and South Carolina, so that made it feel longer than it was, I think.

We’re not quite finished with road-tripping, because we’re headed back to South Carolina next week. I was planning to fly there for a few days to spend time with a few of my close friends, but as we looked at the map and realized it was well within an easy day’s driving distance, Jesse suggested we just drive and he’d take the kids sight-seeing during the days I was with my friends.

It’s weird because we used to not really be a road trip kind of family at all. But I think as our kiddos have gotten older and now that Jesse and I are both self-employed and can work anywhere, we’re probably going to become more and more of a road-tripping family.

Our kids love visiting new areas and studying the history, we can homeschool on the road (our core curriculum this year is the Monarch Online Homeschool Curriculum for the girls and LIFEPAC Kindergarten for Silas), and we’ve learned how to travel very inexpensively by using hotel points accrued through my business travel (we always sign up for the rewards programs for everywhere we stay and it’s amazing how quickly the points have built up this past year!), gift cards earned through Swagbucks (in big part to the many of you who have signed up through my referral link! Thank you!), and looking for the best deals in whatever area we’re going to be traveling to.

Peek Into Week

The first stop in our 12-day trip was to spend the week with my entire extended family on Bull Shoals Lake. This is a yearly tradition that we’ve had even before I was married.

Our kids had a blast being with all their cousins on my side of the family. It’s so fun to see them all growing up!

Peek Into Week

The highlight for me of our time at the lake was going jet-skiing with my husband. It’s been a big year for us as a family and there have been many hard moments in the midst of some pretty big life changes, and I’m so grateful that our marriage has stayed strong through it. Truly, I love my man so much more than I did than when I married him 11 years ago… and I didn’t think that was possible.

{Note: That does not mean that there haven’t been many tense moments and harsh words and even all out arguments. Trust me, we’ve had more arguments and fights in the past three months than we’ve probably had in our whole married life, but we’re truly growing together instead of apart. And I’m so very grateful for that. Our commitment these five things have been key to helping our marriage stay strong in the middle of the storms of life these past few months.}

Peek Into Week

Another wonderful memory of the trip was when my older sister (Brigette), my younger sister (Gretchen), and I somehow managed to all fit on the tube at the same time for a wild tube ride courtesy of Dad, the boat driver. There was much laughter, squealing, and holding on for dear life, but we had a blast! 🙂

Peek Into Week

After our time at Bull Shoals Lake, we headed for a day and a half in Springfield, MO to take a breather. And trust me, when I say “breather”, I mean that quite literally.

We slept, we watched movies, I worked on my next book some, and we just totally took it easy for a day and a half. We’ve found our kids need some “down” days on longer vacations otherwise it’s just too tiring for them and then that turns into a cranky situation… for kids and parents alike. 😉

We then went and met up with Jesse’s extended family in Branson, MO. Growing up, we went to Silver Dollar City just about every single year from the time I was a toddler. We have so many, many wonderful memories there and we’ve tried to take our kids there every year to carry on the tradition of my childhood.

After going to Disney World for the first time earlier this year, I realized that, for me, Silver Dollar City is one of my “happiest places on earth.” {Yes, I know, sorry Disney. You don’t hold a candle to Silver Dollar City, in my humble opinion.}

Peek Into Week

Word to the wise: if a ride at Silver Dollar City warns you that you will get bathtub wet, they aren’t kidding. We had so much fun, so it was worth being sopping wet.

{I was so soaked, I went in the restroom, and wrung my clothes out. I probably wrung out at least a few cups of water. I kid you not.}

Peek Into Week

Our last stop in Missouri: Bass Pro Shops… One of the boys’ favorite stores in existence. I’m pretty sure they could spend hours in there and never run out of things to look at. 🙂

As for me, I chose to have a cheerful attitude and go along with it even though it’s one of my least favorite stores. And it ended up being a fun family outing!

Peek Into Week

And this is my favorite picture of the whole trip. Why? Because it represents me punching my fears and “I can’ts” right smack dab in face. And it gives me courage to continue to showing up and living with wholehearted courage. You can read the story behind this picture here, in case you missed it.

How have the past two weeks gone for you? Did anything interesting or exciting happen at your house?

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  • Karen says:

    How wonderful to see your happy, lovely family enjoying life!
    A wise older woman once told me that if couples don’t have arguments they aren’t relating fully to each other. It’s the growth and change that comes from working through disagreements that makes you stronger as a twosome (and family!)

  • Jessica says:

    We love Branson and Silver Dollar City too!! It’s always fun to visit in the summer, but Christmas time is our favorite! You should take your kids to the Polar Express (Branson Scenic Railway) and don’t miss the Christmas special at the Sights and Sounds Theater . . . It truly brings Jesus’ birth to life for kids and adults alike! I enjoy reading about your adventures. God bless!!

    • Isn’t Branson the BEST?! We need to go at Christmas sometime. Jesse and I went one year together — maybe five years ago? But we’ve not taken our kids. And the Sights and Sounds Theater seems like it would be so cool! Definitely on our bucket list of things to do in Branson!

  • WOW! Looks like a lot of fun! We will be roadtripping to OH soon and I am soooo glad that I found your blog! I have learned so much about saving $$, am motivated by the “we paid cash” posts, and LOVE freezer cooking! I run my own business as well as work part time for a travel agency and with a toddler freezer meals have saved my life!

    Thanks for all that you share and do!

  • Jenni says:

    We do the Bass Pro shop when we visit my parents. Grandpa takes the boys there. They call it the fish store. My family enjoys a lot of camping, so while grandpa is checking out the boats with the kids, my hubby and I go and look at all the camping stuff we dream of having. :).

  • Nora says:

    You are so real about life and that’s why I love you so. Thank you from this older women in a different season of life…and it is a little scary.

  • RachaelP says:

    So glad you enjoy SDC too! I grew up going there too. Now, my kids (about the same age as yours) love going! Bass Pro is 1/2 mile from my house – we spend many hours looking at the animals, playing in the boats, and just walking around.

  • Our family has always loved road trips to visit closer relatives, but this summer, we took a 2 week road trip to visit my brother. He and his family live 18 hours from us, and we decided to enjoy lots of stops along the way. If you are interested, here is a post about what it was like for our 40+ hours in the van. Our family’s best vacation ever!

  • Cheryl says:

    Thanks again for the post, our summer has just been a laid back, lazy, take a break from the school/fall schedule and just enjoy the family. We’ve also done some simple in state road trips and have some great memories from them. Our kids are 11 and 10 and more independent and I just cherish the time with them, because it Has been passing quickly. I remember when they were 2 and 3. Hug and hold them each day!

  • Elizabeth says:

    Ah road trips. While I don’t think of my family as a trip family I suppose we are to a point. Every year we drive out to N. Carolina and stay out on the ocean. And every year it seems I take a drive to South Dakota to visit family up there. This year we stopped in Saint Joseph just above Kansas City, MO. for our resting place (16 hr drive to where we go in SD) if you ever get the chance they have a great museum up there called the Pattee House.
    Last 2 weeks? Well… school mostly. Yup it’s back in session here started over a week ago.

    • School starts early here, too! It feels like it should still be summer, doesn’t it? But I’m sort of glad to get back into a routine, too!

      Thanks for the recommendation of the Pattee House museum!

  • Victoria says:

    Our family is a big fan of road trips. My favorite ones are last minute ones, where we decide the morning of to just take off and go somewhere for the weekend.

  • Charissa says:

    Thanks for sharing! Looks like a great trip! I always appreciate your honesty and the way you share the big and little parts of your life with us!

  • Yvie says:

    Welcome to the road-schooling club!!! I post coupons and fun freebies that we stumble upon every place we go, so be sure to check there for some pretty random stuff…which usually turns out to be some of the most fun , unplanned, adventures on our trip! We look forward to following your travels, too. 🙂

  • Melissa says:

    I grew up in Springfield (now living in very hot SWFlorida) as a kid I loved Silver Dollar City it’s been over 15 years since I’ve been there. It’s funny how as you get older you can say “I remember when”
    Well I remember when The Springfield Bass Pro was the tourist attraction of the area before they popped up around the country. It makes me want to plan a trip

  • Meagan says:

    Love Silver Dollar City! My parents took us there many times and I had so much fun introducing my kids to it last summer. I much prefer it to Disney as well. Another great amusement park for families is Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana. I’m hoping we can take the kids there next summer; my husband and I took our nieces there before we had children of our own and we all had such a blast!

  • I’ve sat by that exact bear and had my picture taken too! 🙂

  • Sarah says:

    I’d be interested to hear how you like Monarch homeschool curriculum 🙂

    • We did it last year for Kathrynne (the offline version) and it turned out to be a great fit for her. So we’re trying both girls this year and switched to the online version to give more flexibility (plus, it’s less expensive). So far, so good. It’ll take a few months to know for sure, though.

  • Sounds fun! I’ve never even heard of Silver Dollar City!
    At my house, we’ve been working hard getting ready to go on vacation too. 🙂 Just a few days and we’re bound for Colorado for a little writing break / photography break / nature-ogling vacay. 🙂 I can hardly wait! 🙂

  • Terri says:

    Silver Dollar City is our Disney too. LOVE Branson, we keep our camper down there year round and it’s our home away from home. Definitely go to Sight and Sound someday, it’s amazing! Oh and next time you are in town hit me up, we have buddy passes and never use them all, we could have saved you some money 😉 and gotten you in free! lol Usually we just pick someone in the crowd and say hey, wanna be our buddy! I’ve gotten so many hugs and it’s so fun surprising someone who is waiting to buy their tickets with free passes.

  • Sonya J. says:

    We travel a lot as a family and we love our LIFEPAC’s. We have used other curriculum but my kids have asked for only LIFEPAC’s. It is easy to pack. It is our favorite! My kids are 14 & 12. Blessings to you as you start your new school year!

  • Amy says:

    You are correct—Silver Dollar City is way better than Disney!!!

  • allison says:

    Oh my goodness!!! I have been reading your page for years…. that being said, we were at sdc august 13. I would have had a stroke if I bumped into you in line. Glad I didn’t have to embarrass myself!! And, yes, it is our happy place also.

  • Dana Ticknor says:

    Our life is one big road trip! lol. We haven’t stopped at Silver Dollar City yet, tho….sounds like I need to put it on our bucket list! 🙂

  • Britny says:

    We lived in Branson for two years and loved every minute of the experience. Silver Dollar City, the shows, even just downtown. My kids have also been to Disney, but Silver Dollar City is still where they talk about going back to! It will definitely always be one of our happy places. We hope to get back to Branson soon. Glad you had a good trip 🙂

  • Lisa says:

    Ahhhhh! My Sister in Law lives in Ozark MO and we were just there a couple weeks ago! Went to Bass Pro and everything! Next time you go to Springfield you MUST try Andy’s Frozen Custard! There are 2 locations and they have the absolute best custard that I’ve ever tried!!

  • Janice says:

    We also had summer family gatherings at Bull Shoals Lake. We rented cabins at the Wagon Wheel in Peel, AR. My husbands family lived in Harrison, AR. at that time. I miss those family gatherings and the pontoon boat rentals along with the fishing and the huge catfish that all gathered at the boat dock for feedings. Thanks for the memories!

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