Planing for the Road Ahead…

Hi All~

Sorry it’s been a while since our last blog. We have not fallen off the face of the earth or been downed by COVID. Though we have had a few medical issues to contend with (that’s another story.) We had hope that this spring would find us back on the road again and COVID free. Well though one of those is not likely to happen any time in the near future. We are moving ahead with the second and planning a shorter travel season.

Our plans are not fancy, and we have the months of Spring-Summer sketched out. We’ve learned from last year that no matter how much “well-planning” you do, you must keep yourself open to change and fluid to whatever comes your way.

It takes a bit more to plan these days, my little “Clo-ffice” (that’s a closet-office) has been covered with roadmaps, lists, calendars and traveling apps for weeks in order to get to the “few” destinations that we hope to hit in the next several months. I know many others travel less “schedule” that we do.

So you maybe asking why all the work? Easy~ Keith has to have realiable cell service – work, so do they kids for school. Most of our stays are a month a time for the above reason (work and school), so our “sight-seeing” is left for weekends or evening time. We “live” on the road, is not a vacation, so we have to be able to function our every day lives too.

Hard at work planning in my “clo-ffice”…

But we have continued to explored our FL surroundings while we have waited to hit the road. We have learned to be content in every situation we are blessed to be in. To be patient while we wait and to see the beauty in all our surroundings.

We usually close each blog with our signature “quote”, well we’ve been living by it too..

”Remember, it’s not just the destination, but the Joy of the Journey”

Keith & Merari

year in contemplation…McFarland Year End Greetings…

2020, not sure how to describe the year that the world came to a stop. Yet, again in our personal lives, we achieved so many milestones too. So let us recap our 2020 in a nutshell. The beginning of the year found us still on the road with an extensively booked calendar—our hopes to see so many new places for the year. Austin, TX, was the trendy start of our year, then we decided to relax and lay back in Galveston. Little did we know that would be our “shelter-in-place” for many months to come. After our extended and unexpected stay in a beachy but “fogged most days” in Galveston, we made some hard decisions. Unscheduled many hope and dreams for our spring and summer and decided to check on our family in Florida.   Preferring to lay low for the summer and see what this pandemic was all about and if it would hand about pass a “few more weeks.” 

While in Florida, however, we have managed to “celebrate” a few family milestones. Such as – Duncan’s graduation from High School, 18th b-day, getting his full driving license, and starting college – ALL IN ONE SEASON!!!  EllaMaria – celebrated her sweet 16th, got her driving permit, and began the 11th grade (yes – she is that much is closer to graduation too). Xavier – now a full-fledge pre-teen, who celebrated his 12th b-day, continues to become a nature lover and fishing enthusiast. In our new winter “spot” that happens to be a Nature Preserve, he has endeared to score a “junior membership” to the nature preserve society. We believe we have a future National Park Ranger in the making. 

Duncan’s Graduation Celebration

As for Keith and I, we continue to do the best we can within the “restricted” limitation to share our hearts about the ministries that the Lord has placed in our hearts. Our home on wheels and truck still share about “Justice and Mercy International,” so we always get asked who they are. I am now again actively serving in Women’s Ministry (online –, which brings me immense joy to see that this online ministry has provided a haven for women even amid a worldwide pandemic.  Whom may come and gather fellowship, and be encouraged when otherwise they would not have gathered in-person. 

Though this year has looked so much different from what we had initially planned, we still have been so grateful and praise the Lord for the things we have and can do. We have learned that the state we grew up in has much to offer and explore, and we have been able to do it safely and healthily. We have enjoyed a safe and healthy family time with loved ones that memories will last for a lifetime. Our growing children have made some incredible milestones. They show us that time is indeed precious as they are quickly developing into young adults that we “sadly” knew would too quickly come and was a keystone of what set us in our journey to be intentional in our lifestyle.  We hope not to miss the little moments that life has to offer. 

We pray and hope when you all read this, the Lord’s blessing will be upon your family and your person, and whatever 2021 may have for us, may we be a yielded vessel to love, serve and give grace back as is being given to us. 

“Remember it’s not just the destination, but the Joy of the Journey”

not the destination…but oh!!!

I always end blogs with “Remember its not just the Destination, but the Joy of the Journey…” This weekend that was never more evident as we hit the road and our rest stop became delightful and restful ”joy” in our journey.

Of the beaten path in South Carolina, Lake City is a hidden gem. The little town holds historic buildings that are loving being brought back to life with delightful stores and gourmet treats. Our early morning strolled through the main street, we found so many things to delights in, including a delicious bakery ( provided our reward for our morning ”exercise 😃.

Hidden gems like these are what so delights us while on the road. It allows us to see that the destination is not always so important as taking in the daily moments that we live in. I hope that each of y’all does the same

“Remember its not just the Destination, but the Joy of the Journey...”

while at the springs…stuff happens

I know I have neglected to keep up on our sharing of the Journey. I am going to confess, these past few months have been not only extremely busy, but also a bit overwhelming. In our last installment, I shared that our family had decided to slow our travels and stay in the proximity of Florida for many reasons I had previously mentioned.

We have begun to explore the natural sites that Florida has to offer. Such as the first National Wild Life Refuge (Pelican Island), which was established in 1903 near Vero Beach, FL. I loved that even though the mild hikes didn’t make you break a sweat (well I did sweat but that was cause it was almost 100% humidity – it is Florida after all!!). It was such a beautiful tranquil setting. With a marvelous view, well pictures would probably speak better than my words:

After a few more local explorations, we decided to get some “long term logistics done”. Bus maintenance was overdue, and we had tossed the idea of a long term winter spot in Florida since (Keith’s health) does much better in Florida weather. The family celebrated many milestones, to name a few: Ella, Xavier, and Keith’s B-day (plus several extended family members), Duncan’s High School Graduation. Family gatherings’ for Mother and Father’s day.

However, we were itching to get back “on the road again”, we knew that would be limited. So we headed a few hours north of our now winter spot (in what’s known as the Space Coast).

Ocala is known as Florida’s horse country. It didn’t disappoint, to those of you that are familiar with Florida’s landscape and its famous beaches you may not be aware of this hidden gem. In a state filled with palm trees and sand, this would seem completely foreign, with its hardwoods and emerald brilliant rolling “hills” and their majestic horses munching away at the grass. This area is also surrounded by another natural wonder, “hot” springs. So we decided to partake in the delights of the Florida Springs.

Fun Facts About the Springs:

Temperature is a constant 72 degrees ALL YEAR AROUND

Source of 90% of Florida’s drinking water

(The how and why of the spring) Water in the springs rises through the limestone, which has a relatively soft texture. As it rises, the rock itself filters out many of the impurities. Which creates crystal clear and reflective (almost turquoise surface) water.

The family ventured out first to Ginnie Spring near Gainsville. Though the natural beauty was magnificent (the experience however left to be desired as the location was crowded and during these times that can be overwhelming). “Reality” also happens when you live life on the road and one of which is getting sick – I had a double ear infection and had negated to go get medical help until the last possible minute and was miserable and missed that outing. I finally relented and got medication, which I am glad for because that earned me a trip to Silver Springs State Park . We did their famous glass bottom Boat tour of their pristine springs. This is one that I would highly recommend – though I would caution if you do, make sure it’s during the week and not during busy times.

Reality came crashing down as we sat down for lunch after our wonderful day at the springs, everything went up in “smoke”.

So here are a few lessons to share about RV living (even home living). Never neglect your smoke detectors or electrical protectors. So, a quick back story for those of you that travel in RV or such, if you have ever wondered if having a surge protector is an important asset, YES, IT IS. Here is why, as I finished prepping lunch we promptly loss all of our power and the generator kicked in with emergency power. The oddity this time was that when Keith went outside to check the power outage (which in itself is not strange, it happens from time to time). However, what does not normally happen was the smoke detector in the power bay going off. Smoke coming from the shore power cord that provides power to our bus/RV. We feel blessed that our bus/RV has an internal power surge protector and we took measures and added an outside surge protector too. The electrical failure was contained between these and didn’t come into the bus. We have seen too many times where similar situations have caused fires to claim an RV all too quickly. We were sparred, our home on wheels will be repaired and we will continue to explore soon.

This journey continues to show us that we do not know what is around the next bend, we just need to be willing to go with the flow and readjust our trajectory.

“Remember its not just the Destination, but the Joy of the Journey...”

the after…life after COVID-19

How has life changed for you after COVID-19? It is a valid question that many of us have been asking in the last several months. As life settles into a “new normal”. Such as shopping with a mask on, making sure there is some type of hand sanitizer or cleaner available at all times, 6-feet rule…this has become our new “world” every day living. We all look at what is ahead and are not quite sure what awaits us…

Friendly neighbors…

For us, who travel “full-time” life has also taken a new perspective… It has taken me a bit to be able to process this new “norm” and to be able to sit down and write to you all. To recap where this “pandemic” has first encounter us and taken us, and how it has changed the course of our current journey.

We happened to be in beautiful Galveston Island, after preparations to hunkered down and were able to safely spend close to 3-months in shelter-in-place there while waiting to decide on how to best move forward… Able to hear the roar of the ocean even if not able to see it still brought comfort and refreshing breezes, and our neighbors were gentle and friendly horses that loved “carrot treats”. We knew that a change was headed our way.

Duncan – Grad 2020!!

Florida was our next big destination due to our eldest upcoming high school graduation, which like most of the US has been celebrated at home with the well-loved and embarrassing “graduation sign” in front of the bus, cap, and gown party with family (more of that to come). We also wanted to check on our family that was also in the state, especially our parents.

One of our hopes with this life was flexibility, and allowing the Lord to lead the way. Well, we definitely feel like there has been ” A LOT” of flexibility this year and definitely “A LOT” of leading. Once in Florida, it continued to become apparent that many of the scheduled plans we had made were not going to be possible due to partial or full closures. So, we decided to look at what was possible instead.

Florida happens to be the childhood state of both Keith and me, yet neither of us has explored it with the “eyes” that we look at the rest of the US… so we decided to take a fresh look at it and see what everyone else saw too, here is what I have found out so far:
HIKING TRAILS: ESTIMATED 5,000 miles of available trails

So if for the time being, we have to stay “around” one area, guess we’ll have just about “enough” to explore for a while… Stay healthy and safe.

As always remember:

“It’s just not the Destination, but the Joy of the Journey”

2 years..where have you gone?

March is peeking around the corner, the birds are chirping (well in southern TX – the Grackles are making a ruckus – but that is a whole different blog). We find our selves looking back in awe that we are at our “2nd year Nomadiversary”. For those of you not familiar with the term, that means “nomad- anniversary”.

We embraced Full-Time RV living back in March of 2018 (even if it was in our driveway at the time). While we fully transition and finalized all the details,  we lived, schooled, and persevered through the rough spots and hit the road in June (2018). We started in a different “tiny home on wheels”, we’ve discovered more about ourselves, made a few “mistakes” along the way and became fully committed to our Journey. We continue to endure and found that even in all the “ups and downs”, God’s amazing Grace sustains us in this amazing Journey.

We still “do everyday life” – work, school, chores, (yes lots of chores) and lots of fun stuff too … but it’s not a vacation y’all! (though my pictures may make it seem like it is – ok it maybe it is a vacation for our dogs!!). We live intentionally and want to work, serve and play TOGETHER  (and sometimes fight and cry too). Life is REAL.

Our journey has seen many great milestones for all of us. So let us give you a recap. As the saying goes: “A picture is worth a thousand words, the following should be worth…about “a MILLION“!!”


“Remember if just not the destination, but the Joy of the Journey”

a history gem…in the midst of a bustling city…

While in our recent visit to the bustling metropolitan city of Phoenix, we visited a beautiful little gem of a Native American history museum. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Pueblo Grande Museum & Archaeological Park​​​​ allows you a glimpse into the life of the Hohokam people. Hohokam people had a unique relationship with the environment. You will be able to take advantage of the hands-on gallery that explains the process of archaeology, and the changing exhibit gallery, which features rotating exhibits on a wide variety of fascinating topics.


Our kids always have so much fun learning about this part of our rich history.

The day was so beautiful and after strolling through this great museum and we were able to do a little more sightseeing through town and did another great stop – Hole-in-the-Rock. Keith and Xavier were the only two that were dressed for that hike and took on the challenge!! The rest of us meandered around the surrounding area which looked like a watering hole in the backwaters of the Nile…



Hope you are enjoying our journey updates as much as we are enjoying our journey…


“Remember in not just the destination, but the Joy of Journey…”

Making of a Mountain Man…

Many have commented on the evolving “look” that my better-half, Keith has been sporting this past year. His facial hair has indeed been on a journey of its own… Many have concluded that he has become a “mountain man”. However, though he is not a stranger to facial hair this new transition to “full-bearded” Keith has taken many by surprise… I laugh a little as so many puzzles over his choice… Yet, when looking around it seems that “beards” have become the last frontier of masculinity that men have left (to quote a very funny comedian)… And in some aspects, I think this may be true…Whether sporting a mustache, a 2-day stumble or a well-groomed (or not so well) full beard men embraced facial hair all around us.

Looking throughout history men’s facial hair has had diverse meanings (such as masculinity, royalty, fashion, and status.) Many civilizations went as far as creating “fake beards” to achieve this imposing look (i.e. Egyptians)…Many have as intricate grooming rituals as we see today. Items as beard curling iron (to create fanciful cascading curls) to beard oils and specialty dyes to look more “dashing”. Beards have been seen as a sign of wisdom by some while others as a sign of “aggression and authority “…(in the Middle Ages – if one man touched another’s beard it could be construed as a sign of aggression and a duel 🤺 could be issued – glad this is not the case now or Keith would be issuing tons of duel to me…lol)

Beard Historical Chart
“Pick the best beard for you??”

Of course, one core practicality is that it also keeps your face warm (Keith’s favorite attribute), his least favorite… drinks dripping from the beard constantly – and must be constantly wiped off (🙄)…Whether you are a fan of the fuzzy and full beard look or the smooth and clean-shaved  one… Beards are here to stay…As for me (humble wife) as long as it’s clean and groomed, we’ll live with whatever facial hair makes our better half happy…


until next time California …

Wrapping up our visit to CA we took a beautiful drive along the Monterey/ Carmel coast. An adventure in itself, as we encountered such diverse weather. We left in the cool mist of the morning, to arrive at Monterey in a cool, crisp sun, we hiked along the beach path and got some great Ocean pictures (actually – a family competition “who can get the best wave picture”)

Xavier didn’t believe the rest of the family that the Pacific Ocean was cold, insisted on trying out for himself. It was a very “chilly” lesson to learn…

We proceeded to drive the famous “17 Mile Drive” to Carmel and were engulfed by mist and cold fog… there were spots that “well it was just plain hard to see”…

When we emerged at Carmel-by-the Sea a cool crisp sun greeted us and we can see the overwhelming beauty and attraction of this “famous” coastline that has so many enamored with it.


We said good by to CA as we traverse the state again this time via Mojave National Preserve. The drive afforded us unique mountain vistas, which after a recent snowfall was even more beautiful (though I still have a hard time wrapping my head around cactus with snow on them!!) – sorry no picture for that – could not stop 🛑!

We now begin our journey east – we’ll see what kind of adventures and people we’ll meet along the way!!

“Remember it’s not just the destination, but the Joy of the Journey!”

little side trip… to Egypt…

While in our visit to California. I was able to take the opportunity to have a day out with my special “girl” who loves history just as much as I do. Her love for ancient Egypt is contagious and she was beside her self when I discovered that near us was an Egyptian Museum…

Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum holds one of the most extensive collections of Egyptians artifacts in western North America. Yet, it’s not just their interior exhibits that draw you in, but the entire complex. Not sure what to expect when we first arrived, it was such a delightful surprise to have been greeted by a lush “Nile” like-garden landscape. They recreated a mini temple, garden, and even a labyrinth for outside exploration. Also, as part of the museum complex, the Rosicrucian Planetarium which is currently been remodeled (we were disappointed to have missed). If your interests run deeper than just a visit to a great museum, a research library is available upon request. Even though their entrance fee was quite moderate, they still provided great deals for students too.

Each section takes you through a respective era of the known kingdoms and people of the areas. One thing to mention is the museum also included other civilizations that throughout history came into contact with the Egyptians and their influence (including if they conquer the land for a period)…

Hope y’all are ready for some history geeky photos’:

The world of mummification (the Egyptians took this very seriously- they not only mummified themselves- but everything they could get their hands on for their “afterlives” comforts)…

Fascinating to me (and hopefully to you) was how meticulous they were about all aspects of their life. They kept great record and all sorts of writing implements. Tools for trade. For home my favorite if you have not guess were their kitchen items – they had a full set of MEASURING CUPS for baking!!! How awesome is that??? Ella preferred to look at all the fancy bead works and all implements of tools they use to make their beautification routines.


Lastly, a great replica of the interior of a burial tomb as you descend into the “lower” area on the museum to insight a real feel experience…


Hope you enjoyed our little “detour” as much as we did…

”Remember it’s not just the destination, it’s the Joy of the Journey…”

growing along the way…not just for kids

Our journey so far has taken us through breathtaking parts of our country. We meet people from all walks of life. Yet, for me, it has also become an evolving life-altering journey too. The Lord continues to stretch me in ways that amaze me. I never thought I would see myself in the role of principal and education mentor to my kids. Yet, on a daily basis, we spend endless hours working on school projects, time management, and learning skills. I plan and schedule our itineraries and research the areas that we travel (travel agent anyone – lol).

Yet, I, too, am learning while on the road. I love learning about each new place we visit, the history, the “local insights” and its natural hidden gems. “Blogging,” something I would ever do in my wildest dreams. Yet, it helps me process and document this unique opportunity that the Lord has set before me. It has become a voice of my inner being to express how much I love the journey we are in and to make sure I can recall all these details (since I am sure – I will forget not too soon- “curse you old age”).

Photography (though by no means have I become a “photographer”)- has become pure joy. After a few months on the open road – it became clear the amount of beauty that the lens of the camera could capture. (that was just not my great family and awesome fur babies!!) Was endless. Though only equipped with a great phone (yes- all my photos are courtesy to phone technology and some to fun filters ), I will never run out of things to snap up! I think I just might fill up the Cloud!!

Here is a collage of some of my favorites:

Remember It’s Not Just the Destination, It’s the Joy of the Journey…


parking with a view…

Breezy, balmy views and the glam of the city lights find us in our latest stop. As we basked in the breathtaking views of Lake Mead, with the glittering lights of Vegas hovering just in the background.

After a summer of National Parks overload, and overwhelming beauty. We decided to come back to “civilization” and have the amenities of the big city. Though we have travel and stopped here before, we had never explored the nature side of this area. Lake Mead has proven to be a gem and full of history ready to explore. Hoover Dam provided a thrill from its grand engineering to the historical importance to the area. Of course, we were overwhelmed by its size because plainly its “dam” big (ok – I had to do at least one “dam” joke!!)

We decided to venture into Vegas – to show the more “PG” side of the city to the kids, their buildings and well all the “bigness” of everything at least deserved a peek. Our kids’ reactions, however, were priceless. After several hours of walking – the sights and smells were more than enough that all three agreed that they had enough and were ready to leave. Guess its back to nature for us!

Another great place that has been enjoyed by the family is Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area – (in Henderson, NV). Over 48,000 acres of land that has preserved what archeologists believe to be 300 rock panels that may contain 1,500 petroglyphs native cultures from the Archaic to the historical era. Keith best put it to the kids, ” it’s the original graffiti of Native American.”

So our big city stop has been both enlighting and yet still relaxing. We are looking forward to our next stopped as we look forward to reconnecting with old friends.

“Remember It’s Not Just the Destination, It’s the Joy of the Journey. “

ohh Utah…how we’ll miss the views!!!

As we wrap up our time in this unique, beautiful, and rugged state of Utah, the craving to explore it further is already seeping its way into our beings. The last two months that we have meander throughout this state has broadened our horizons in ways that, indeed no other place has so far in our journey.

All good things must come to “somewhat” of an end as the saying goes — our spring-summer of National Parks, State Parks, National Monuments, and breathtaking drives, etc. Now we start to wind down to a “normal” nomad journey as they say. Our kids have embraced and (let’s face it whined) through more than a few hikes. My photo “cloud” it’s screaming from the overload of thousands of pictures taken of our walks and vistas. I am sure we have overwhelmed all of you too.

In all the beauty and amazing things we do; however, we want to take a moment and acknowledge the “real moments of life too.” – We live everyday life: work, routines, and deal with aches, and pains like most of of our loved ones do. Kids have bad days, fight with each other, and with us. At times “blogs and social media” may glamorize life on the road “a bit more perfect than it is,” and though we are so grateful for the incredible journey the Lord has placed us on, we still do live a normal life and deal with everyday issues.

It also helps us to look out not only to the things that are around us but to those that are in need and how to help them and facilitate help for them. As we watch the current natural disasters that are affecting the Atlantic Basin, we hope and pray that you will join us in the efforts to help them via Samaritan Purse.

We have also updated our website and added a new page to feature the work that we do with Justice & Mercy International.

The Narrows

Our last stop in our visit through Utah was Zion National Park. We started our park exploration with a breathtaking hike of the legendary hike of “The Narrows” through Virgin River, and it’s slot canyons. For me(Merari), that has been as much as I have been able to do in this beautiful park(when your sciatic nerve decides to act up!!- well that’s it is all that you can do). Keith and kids have had the joy of doing the rest of the exploring.

Here are some of the hikes and site-seeing:

Remember It’s Not Just the Destination, It’s the Joy of the Journey.

pictures worth…a thousand words..

Capitol Reef National Park, how to describe something that has left us so speechless. So I won’t try, here are the facts about Capitol Reef National Park: Its located in south- central Utah, it became a National Monument in 1937 and formally a National Park in 1971. It is roughly 100 miles long by 20 miles wide. Its terrain – not the easiest to move around and for majority of the park high clearance vehicles are advisable. You should also enjoy extensive hiking and climbing when considering this park. However, the vista are worth the work of the hikes/climbs…here is our picture collage of Capitol Reef National Park:

a little bit of city…Salt Lake City

So after we have traverse throughout the “less traveled sides” of states such as MT, WY, SD, etc., we wanted the kids to have a bit of a break before we continue on our binge of National Parks. So we did a short hop to Salt Lake City (SLC) not really knowing what to expect.


The bustling metropolis, (Utah – most populous and capital city) is beautifully city located amid an expanse valley in the middle of two mountain range. So no matter where you are in the town, and I mean regardless where you are – if you glance out of a window, stop and look up in your parking spot, the view is overwhelming. Though, I would gather that for those that live in SLC full time or are natives,  I wonder if they have grown used to this breathtaking vistas.

Library Day!!

In the short time that we were there, we were able to take in “big city” museum, movies, library, tons of restaurants, but were also able to take advantage some of the great natural beauty that is just on the outskirts of town. We visited the National Forest, which was just a short drive from us for several great hikes (Wasatch National Forest).


The kids enjoyed the benefits of “civilization” as they call it (better known as fast food) and had it as often as we would give in. Natural History Museum was by far their favorite.



We also were able to connect with a fabulous local body of believers that welcomed us and made us feel part of their family which always makes our stays such a highlight in any new town – so if you need a place to worship while in the area don’t hesitate to check out Sandy Ridge Church.

We were glad to have made this stop, but not going to lie after months of being in smaller towns and more secluded parts of our beautiful country it was at times “a bit overwhelming” to be in a big city again…so off we go again to small towns and more beautiful National parks… Capitol Reef – next stop!!!



“Remember is not just the Destination, is the Joy of the Journey.”

Also, keep up with our “shorter update on our FaceBook- updates follow” the link at the top of the page!!!



Yellowstone…the great adventure


We hope that our mini updates have been helpful to keep everyone up to date with our big adventure and continued journey. This stop has definitely been a “once in a lifetime” experience feel for us.  Not to say that we would not stop by and visit again (and again!!) this beautiful area (though we may think about a warmer month!!).

Our kids were amazed how much they’ve enjoyed the experience of the National Park, (though if I am honest when you do three weeks of nature – even the best of kids start to roll their eyes when they see another bison blocking the road.)

The animals have been so thrilling and not just for our kids. When we first entered the park, we were handed the “kids checklist” of Yellowstone animals. We made it a fun family competition and challenge (you want to get fed for the day – find mama an “exotic” animal – seems that getting fed “ups the score” and lots of animal sightings happened). Seeing bison and their babies (called “red dogs”) to otters, coyote, a far (thank goodness) grizzly bear, lots of Elk (including a few bucks), birds of prey, one lonely moose and darting so fast across the road that we almost miss it – an American Marten (I got fed for that one!!!).

We are blessed that our prolonged time in the area gave us the time and leisure to go through the park at our own pace and did our best to avoid the beginning of the tourist crowds. We have been able to see a majority of the entirety of the monumental National Park which (which on average of the summer months can see 850K+ visitors). Some areas we have not been able to see due to colder temps that are still lingering about (even in June- when some snow can be seen in our pictures). Some passes and areas are still not open (or open and close again due to the weather).

Overall, this still feels like a monumental experience, a park that spans three states (Wyoming, Montana, and parts of Idaho), since we were so close, we also made a day trip to the Grand Teton National Park which is just south of the Park (and beautiful all on its own right). 

We will now head into civilization for a bit to get reacquainted with humans and then continue in our National Park bonanza for the summer as we explore the beauties that await in Utah!!!

Remember is not just the Destination, but the Joy of the Journey”

vision…expansion…and remembrance

As we continue our journey west, we venture into the beautiful Black Hills area of South Dakota…there is so much to see here that one stop could not encompass all its richness and beauty. So we stuck with the top highlights…

Of course, the month of May brings a few birthdays that I would be remiss not to mention. Ella and Xavier both celebrated birthdays, and this year while on the road we decided to focused on life experiences vs. “things” to have during these milestones… Each, of course, picked widely different ways to celebrate, Ella’s 15th birthday was celebrated both with a visit to the local hair salon for a bit of “color highlights” and a sophisticated breakfast treat at a local hip coffee house. While Xavier’s 11th birthday, had an all “banana” day and a visit to a local favorite Reptile Museum to delight in all things that slither (sigh…mom REALLY, REALLY!!! doesn’t like these, but pushed through with lots of prayers to make him happy)…

Now, as a child in P.R., and then coming to Miami at a young age I spent many hours reading, and watching so many historical documentaries (i.e., National Geographic, PBS Specials, etc.)…so as we approached this leg of our journey anticipation had begun to build up… So many of these National Parks and Monuments have been more of a “theoretical dream,” than a reality… I have to completely admit as we drove up to the road that led up to Mt. Rushmore, I was excited and trying to explain this to my kids. It was hard to put into words but then I look and the Monument popped into my peripheral view, I was speechless for a few minutes. Something that I had seen in pictures so many times was there right in front of me (I know that’s silly to some). It truly humbles me all that God’s has allowed me to see and experience through this life-changing Journey.


Mt. Rushmore is a National Monument (Sculpted by Gutzon Borglum), which was created to commemorate the “founding, growth, preservation, and development of the United States.” This effort came at a time when the country was at the brink of a recession (the project design began in 1925). The project gave hope to the local community as it employed over 400 men and women for more than 14 years that would have otherwise gone in need.

Another great local achievement and a must see is the “ongoing building” of the monument to Native Americans and hero, Crazy Horse. This significant undertaking began in the 1940s when Chief Henry Standing Bear contacted Korczak Ziolkowski (who was the assistant to Gutzon Borglum during the Mt. Rushmore project). The project was taken up by Korczak and his family (which to this day continue his work). Unlike the other monument in the area, this is a privately funded monument so that the integrity and vision of the project would be followed through to the end. On-site, they house a Native American History Museum, Studio, and are also funding a University and a Medical Center for the local tribes. This vision and homage to the local community remind me that even when we have not always treated all as we should in our history, we can, however, look into the future and recognize the beauty of others.


Lastly, whether we were on mountain tops or delving 34-floor stories into the earth (Jewels Cave National Monument) to see how intricate God’s creation can be, once again, though I do not like to be in enclosed spaces, I “sucked it up” and went deep down in the earth to see the “jewel” of a wonder. Jewel Cave, currently is the third longest cave in the world at 200(+) miles of mapped passages ways (which get updated every few weeks as survey teams head out to explore every 4-6 weeks). They are called “Jewel Cave” for their “calcite” crystals which lined the cave and glitter.


“Remember is just not the Destination, but the Joy of the Journey!!!”

Gateway to the West….


My family laughs at my “epiphany” that though on the road for almost a year, my mind finally feels like the “real adventure” is about to commence!!! We are finally heading to areas that have been “unknown to me.” Above all, years of planning are finally coming to fruition, and it is both thrilling and daunting…

Our first stop was St. Loius.. we were pleasantly surprise not only by the diversity of both history and modern commodities. A perfect example of such which we loved is Forest Park (
* Opened in 1876
* Host of 1904 World’s Fair
* Free
* 1,300 acres
* 6th most visited U.S. urban park
* Has several Museums on its expansive Grounds