Join us on our New Adventure

October 19, 2019

I am so happy to be back blogging again!  However, because of our new adventures (which you are about to learn about), I won’t necessarily be blogging more at this point in time.  Instead, I have wanted to find an outlet to communicate about life and adventures in our large family that involves my family more. Mom, sitting at a computer typing away, doesn’t really involve my children and my husband much.  A couple years ago, I stumbled across a YouTube homesteading page in which a man named Justin Rhodes was showing his family’s life on their homestead.  (Check him out:  Justin Rhodes)  He was doing something that is called a vlog – simply a “log” of one’s life in video format.  Ever since then, I have been praying about and considering such a venture myself.

So… we have made the decision to create a vlog!  This will allow us to give an inside glimpse into our crazy but enjoyable lives to people who want to know what the life and adventures of a large family are like.  Someone once told me that they would love to be a “Fly on the Wall” of our home when we were all trying to get ready and out the door on time for Mass on a Sunday morning.  So… I videoed it one Sunday morning.  You will see lots of craziness in these vlogs: trips to the grocery store, a visit to the dentist, meal times, school days, a typical Saturday, etc.  Just look up Kidding Around Farm on YouTube.  Please subscribe to our channel and give us some comments.  So far, I have really enjoyed doing this.  Don’t be surprised if you don’t see much of Alex in the vlogs as she isn’t really willing to be on video, and I am doing my best to respect that.  The other kids also really enjoy helping, so there are plenty of crazy times when they have the camera and are filming whatever they want to film (just watch First Day of School) .  Eventually, my editing and uploading of videos will catch up to the videos that I have filmed, and so what comes out as a new video on YouTube will indeed be a very recent video.

This is a brand new adventure for our family.  We hope you  join us for more adventures!





New Blog to Check Out

Here it is, already half through May. We are trying to finish up our homeschooling year, but I keep getting distracted. Our oldest son, Ryon, is graduating from high school. He has been participating in an online high school for the past 4 years for many of his classes. That online school, Mother of Divine Grace, is based in CALIFORNIA. Needless to say, Ryon likes to travel; he gets that from me 😊, so he decided to take a road trip to California for his high school graduation ceremony. Although we were supportive of this trip, Charlie and I wanted someone to go with him. Nicholas, being an avid homebody and our second oldest child, absolutely refused to go. However, Nathanael, our number 3, is very much like Ryon in his personality, so he jumped at the opportunity to go with Ryon.

Nathanael and Ryon just before leaving on their tripThey decided to blog about their trip, so I thought I would let you all know about it. You can find his blog HERE

Obviously, as a parent, we are doing everything we can from afar to assure their safe return home to us, but the most important thing we can do is pray. So, please pray for them on their journey, as well as for the rest of us to handle any issues well. This is a rare opportunity that we are glad our children are able to take advantage of as it will have a place in the formation of who they are for many years to come.

Meanwhile, as a quick update on our family, we have decided not to do any major traveling this summer and instead to stay home and focus on our garden and animals. We now have 6 cows that we are trying to mob graze (which means they are in a pasture divided into small paddocks and moved every day to fresh grass). We still have a lot of chickens (Tractor Supply had many visits from us this spring purchasing chicks). Our turkeys and meat chickens are on order to arrive next month. Currently, we are trying to incubate 13 guinea eggs that a friend gave to us. (This is our first incubation experience, so we are all fascinated by it.) We spent Saturday of Mother’s Day weekend harvesting our last 2 pigs, which generated at least 150lbs of sausage for future consumption. Now we are in pig pasture regeneration mode. One of our cats had 3 kittens a couple weeks ago. I absolutely think that new kittens on the farm is one of the most entertaining situations for kids. The first thing most of them do in the morning is to run out and play with the kittens. AnaClaire and kitten

And finally, I am so glad we finally did, we managed to get started on planting fruit bushes and trees. These are some of the fruit-bearing plants that we purchased and planted in the fall: blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, figs, peaches, oaks, and a few nut trees. This spring, we have been working on rooting and planting mulberries, elderberries, serviceberries, goji berries, paw paws, and maples. I’m so excited to think about what our mostly-pasture- land will look like just 5 years from now when some of these trees have grown to a more substantial size.

Anyway, I will try to begin blogging more as I enjoy it a great deal. I just have to get into that mode.

Please check out Ryon’s blog to see what is going on in the world of two teenage brothers traveling together.



Day 23 – Saturday, August 12, 2017

We had never stayed at a truck stop before.  I always thought it would be a very loud place to sleep with truckers coming and going and their generators running all night.  Fortunately that wasn’t the case.  I barely noticed the generator of the truck beside us, and there wasn’t a great deal of coming and going.  We had a great night’s sleep.  Charlie and I were so glad we had stopped when we did with that rain coming down as hard as it was.  We still had 45 minutes or so to go before we reached Harrisburg, but that was OK.

After driving for a little while, we stopped for some breakfast.  It was Saturday, so we bought the kids a treat for breakfast.  Unfortunately, we had blown another fuse, so we spent some time changing the fuse and trying to once again diagnose the problem.  Without making any real progress on the diagnosis, we got back on the road heading south.  The fuses seemed to be holding for longer periods of time, so hopefully we woudn’t be stopping constantly.  The van seemed to prefer to be on the interstate as there was less braking for stop lights and such. Harder braking seemed to trigger blown fuses.  We drove for several hours without any incidents.

We weren’t really sure if we were going to push to get ourselves all the way home today or not.  One thing was for sure, Charlie and I wanted to stop and do something fun.  Some of the kids were pushing to get home, but we knew some fun would be good for everyone after several challenging days, so we decided to stop at Luray Caverns.  IMG_1084We figured out that Alex had been a baby the last time we were there, so that was almost 12 years ago.  Even the older three kids didn’t really remember going – Ryon maybe a tiny bit.  The one thing they really remembered were some maze shirts that we had purchased there that they wore for years.  We found a place to park that was out of the way.  We wanted to have a picnic lunch, but couldn’t really find a place to picnic without hauling it quite a long distance.  The caverns were incredibly busy.  Of course, we were there on a Saturday during the summer, so what else should be expect?  We decided that instead of eating lunch right then, we would just take some snacks with us and go get in line for tickets.  I thought we would probably be purchasing tickets for a specific time to enter the caverns later in the afternoon and didn’t want our time to be later than it needed to be.

Fortunately, after spending 30 minutes or so in line, we purchased our tickets and got right into the next line to enter the caverns.  No “come back at the appointed time” tickets.  We entered the caverns at discovered that this wasn’t really going to be a tour led by a tour-guide.  It was really a self-guided tour with tour guides placed throughout the caverns to answer questions.  I was a little disappointed as I feel that you are able to learn a great deal more about a cave when you have a tour guide along the way, and we had certainly paid enough money for tickets to have a tour guide.  However, it turned out OK.  We were really encouraged to move along quickly so that everyone else behind us could move through the caverns quickly too.  It just so happened that this was the weekend of the anniversary of the modern-day discovery of Luray Caverns, so they had used candles in a couple areas of the cave to illuminate the caverns and give us a small indication of what it would have been like to explore the caverns by candlelight.  That was an unusual twist that I have never really experienced.  We were able to ask some questions, and the guides did volunteer a little bit of information.  Although the caverns were beautiful, that was definitely not my favorite cavern tour by any stretch of the imagination.


Candlelight being used to illuminate the caverns.


A column that had actually toppled over during an “earth disturbance”.


Ryon, Amelia, Dominic, and Damien in the caverns


After the cavern tour, we went off to explore our way through the hedge maze that they have at Luray Caverns.  Damien and Dominic were particularly excited at wandering through a maze.


Overlooking the maze at Luray Caverns

As we entered, we were given a small sheet of paper and told to find the four stops along the way at which we could stamp our paper to receive a special message.  We split up into different groups and hurried through the maze.  Well, at least we tried to hurry.  Isaac and I were partners.


Isaac – my partner in the maze

We found the second stamp first, and then had to go back to find the first stamp.  We had a great time trying to find our way through the maze and made it to the middle of the maze before we ever found our first stamp.  This thing had us doing a lot of laughing and exploring.  We had a wonderful time.


Isaac, AnaClaire, Damien, and Charlie at the center of the maze


Nathanael, Alex, Nicholas, Dominic, and Ryon in a shelter overlooking the maze

Afterwards, the kids really wanted to go to the gift shop.  We had not really given them any opportunities to buy any souvenirs from this trip, so we let them spend some time in the gift shops.  Charlie had to go back to the van to replace yet another fuse and was going to try another fix, so he took AnaClaire back with him while Nicholas and I took the little boys and went off to the gift shops.  The older kids went off together to see what they could find.  After purchasing a couple maze books and T-shirts, Nicholas took the little boys back to the camper to fix lunch while I went to track down the other kids whom I knew would take the rest of the afternoon if I didn’t speed them up.


Amelia and Dominic in the maze

We finally finished our shopping, ate lunch, put a bandaid on the camper/van combo and got back on the road.  The van was doing well enough that we decided to just push for home that evening and pulled into our driveway just before midnight.  Yet another long day, but we made it home safely.  Although I love being on the road and seeing our beautiful country (as well as other countries now 🙂 ), even I was glad to be home!  Thank you God for this special opportunity that we had to spend time together and see more of our country, but most especially, thank you for helping us to get home safely!



Day 22 – Friday, August 11, 2017

Today started just as we planned.  We all got up about 6:30am and were in the van and leaving WalMart by a couple minutes after 7:00.  We went ahead and got gas as well as changed a blown fuse, and then drove toward the interstate.  When we almost missed a turn, Charlie braked hard and the fuse blew (within maybe 3 minutes of changing it).  We got on the interstate and stopped at the first rest stop, just a few miles down the road.  We got the kids out to play, and Charlie started trying to figure out what in the world the problem was with this silly fuse.  He found a lot of corrosion in the electric brake wiring harness and had fortunately already bought a replacement part, so he tore that apart and started switching everything out.  After at least 2 ½ hours, it still wasn’t working.  IMG_1076We managed to find a trailer place not too far down the road, so we pulled in there.  They spent about an hour helping us, and we left feeling confident that our problem was fixed.  It was now about 1:00pm.


Do you think he is having fun yet?


Nicholas helping with repairs

In order to get to Albany, we had to take some smaller highways through the mountains.  I was so happy to have the brakes working and not have to worry about getting through the mountains safely.  Just as we came out of the mountainous drive, the fuse blew again.  We stopped at a Home Depot to buy more fuses and figure out what to do next.  I called probably 4 places to see if they could help us, but everyone was booked and definitely not interested in overbooking themselves on a Friday afternoon.  We kept changing fuses and talking about solutions while driving to try to reach Albany.  Charlie discussed options over the phone with his dad and came up with a temporary fix that would hopefully work.  At a rest area north of Albany, Charlie implemented his temporary fix, and we got back on the road.  That seemed to do the trick.  Then, of course, we sat in Friday afternoon traffic for a couple hours trying to get through Albany.


Damien having fun in the van

Once we finally made it through that, we had smooth sailing for several hours.  Then we drove into a bunch of rain.  That wasn’t too bad for a while.  The kids had been treated with numerous snacks trying to keep them happy while they were constantly waiting on repairs, so we waited until 8:30 to feed them dinner.   That part of the plan worked perfectly – they filled their tummies and then went to sleep.  We managed to drive another couple hours in peace and quiet with most of the van asleep.  Then the rain got to be so intense that it was time to stop.  I knew that convincing Charlie that it would be best to stop wouldn’t be the easiest (he likes to push through difficulties), so I started looking for the closest place that we could pull into for the night.  There were no WalMarts in the area, so I started looking into truck stops.  There was one just a few miles away at an exit for Pine Grove, PA.  Since Pine Grove campground in Maine had been a wonderful place for us to be stuck without the van, I quickly pointed out to Charlie that this was a sign from God that it was time to stop. Fortunately, he completely agreed and, we pulled into a truck stop probably 45 minutes north of our destination of Harrisburg, PA.  Charlie and I jumped up into the camper, opened the slide, set up the beds, and then began carrying kids in and putting them to bed.  The rain was absolutely crazy, but it stopped not too long after we went to bed and we managed to get a decent night’s sleep.  The blessings were many: Pine Grove had once again provided us with refuge; we made it there safely; and we finally had the brakes working well enough to get us home and could go to bed worry-free.



Day 21 – Thursday, August 10, 2017

With our van in much better shape, we pulled out of the campground fairly early to start heading for home.  The plan was for the Rabideaus to follow us for a while so that if we had any problems they would be there to help.  We didn’t get ½ mile down the road when a bungee cord flew off the kayaks, so we pulled over.  They seemed to be OK without that particular bungee, so we kept going.  Charlie and Tom had worked on the kayak rack so the kayaks were riding on top of the van instead of inside the camper.  For a little more background on our difficulties with the van, we had been having problems with a fuse blowing fairly often.  This fuse controlled the right turn blinker and was also apparently linked to the electric brakes on the camper.  Therefore, every time this fuse blew, we didn’t have any brakes working on the camper.  Charlie and Tom had worked on this multiple times, but it was still a problem here and there.  So, we finally made it to the interstate when Kathy calls me to say that we don’t have any brake lights working on our camper.  We still had brakes, so that was a relief, but we pulled over anyway to discover that the electric hookup had just come loose.  We continued back down the road when Charlie looked in his rearview mirror and discovered that the Rabideau’s awning kept coming out a foot or two, so we all pulled over to re-attach their awning.   Is this becoming comical yet?

Kathy and I settled on a route that would take a little longer so that we could see the more northern parts of New Hampshire and Vermont.  We were having a nice ride through Maine and New Hampshire.  We stopped for gas, and I finally bought the kids whoopee pies (a Maine treat).  We drove to a town park for lunch and play.  We even stopped at a small roadside overlook to get out and stretch for a little while.  The views at the overlook of the Androscoggin River were gorgeous.


The Androscoggin River


Enjoying a road-side park overlooking the Androscoggin River (just try to ignore Dominic in this picture 🙂


Ben climbing a tree at one of our stops.

I spent most of the drive staring out the window looking at the views and hoping I would see a moose.


The only “moose” I was ever fortunate enough to see on this trip. Well, I’ll always have my moose in the Grand Tetons!

I felt so blessed to be seeing a large bit of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont since we had been forced to stay in the campground for 4 days without doing the sightseeing I was used to.

We were having to pull over here and there to replace the fuse to keep the camper brakes working, but it wasn’t too often.  After we entered Vermont, we stopped at a Welcome Center and then separated from the Rabideaus.  We were hoping to drive to Burlington, VT for the night.

While we were at the Welcome Center, I came across a brochure that I thought would be a treat for the kids.  A certain Vermont ice cream company had tours still running into the evening.  It was on our way, so we decided to stop and have a little fun time out of the van.  We pulled into the Ben and Jerry’s factory and parked.   There was a playground that the littles immediately ran for.  We brought out dinner to the picnic tables so that we would eat dinner before dessert 🙂  We had fun on the quick tour and of course appreciated the sample we received at the end.  At almost $4.50 for a small scoop, we decided not to purchase ice cream there.  The sample was enough.


When Isaac and Damien stuck their heads through, Ryon began gently “slapping” them. I lauged as this looked like a game of “Whack-a-Mole”!


In the end we decided that we didn’t really need to go further that night.  If we kept driving to our destination, it would be really late by the time we got there and there weren’t any WalMarts to stay at in between.


Damien was really excited about this sunset we saw while driving.

We pulled into a WalMart in Berlin, VT and settled in for the night.  Since we were there a little early, we let the kids watch a movie on my computer, and Charlie and I sat outside in the cool air just quietly talking.  It’s nice to find that we can still catch a little time here and there for just the two of us when we are travelling with everyone.  Tomorrow would be a hard day of driving toward home.



Days 17-20, Sunday, August 6 – Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Mass was the first thing on our agenda this morning.  After a quick oatmeal breakfast, we all went to Mass in E. Millinocket, ME.  The van was making Charlie and I both nervous just driving over there, but we made it to Mass and back without difficulty.    We hung out in the campground the rest of the day, just spending time relaxing and visiting.  Tom and Kathy made tonkas that night for dinner (I’m assuming I’m spelling that correctly).


Tom and Kathy making Tonkas

Tonkas are basically a sandwich with filling of some sort put into the middle and then sealed in between two cast iron forms and cooked over an open fire.  They taught Charlie how to make them just right, so after we buy our own forms, we will be able to make them on our own in the future.


Charlie cooking a tonka over the fire

Charlie and Tom got up early on Monday morning to be at the dealership in Millinocket when it opened.  Unfortunately, that dealership couldn’t work on the van and neither could the next closest dealership, so Charlie and Tom drove down to Bangor.  The gentleman at the dealership in Bangor was extremely helpful, but they also uncovered an even bigger problem with the rear axle.   Although we had some work done on a leaky seal on our rear axle before we left, evidently the seal had been replaced incorrectly and the oil had leaked out of the rear axle.  Charlie had not been far from the rear axle completely failing and leading to a very serious accident.  Thank the good Lord for giving us the transmission problem because without it, we wouldn’t have known about the rear axle oil leak.  Charlie left the van with the dealership, expecting to get it back late on Wednesday.

For the next couple days, we just spent time hanging out in the campground.  We took turns cooking delicious meals.  Nicholas even decided to make cookies for everyone one day.  Our campground was on the beautiful St. John River, so we were finally able to take advantage of having the kayaks with us.  Our older 4 children and Ben as well as Tom and Charlie took turns kayaking 3 to 4 miles on the river over some small rapids and had a great time.  The campground had a small playground for the little kids along with a small “lounge” for them to hangout in.  Their “lounge” had a game system as well as a video player that we nixed except for after dark. We played all kinds of games while hanging out.  I had bought a “Skunk in the Campground” game (basically Old Maid) in Acadia to remember Isaac’s skunk experience.  This was perfect for the younger kids, although they were usually excited to get the skunk card and would tell everyone that they had it and not want anyone to take it away.  They giggled and laughed so much over this game that we all had a really good time playing it with them.


Amelia, Damien, and AnaClaire hanging out in the campground


Isaac enjoyed a ride to drop off kayakers in the back of Tom’s truck.

On Tuesday, Charlie suggested that he and I with Kathy and Tom drive into Baxter State Park where Mt. Katahdin is located (the highest point in Maine and the end of the Appalachian Trail).  Charlie knew how much I wanted to see Mt. Katahdin and some of that area, so we left the older kids in charge (along with the TV babysitter) and left for a little sightseeing.  Baxter State Park is a huge state park that was put into a trust for the people of Maine and was to remain in its natural state.  It is more rustic than most state parks, to the point of most of the park doesn’t have paved roads.  We really didn’t venture into the park very far since the rangers told us that the best view of the mountain was at the Visitor Center where we first stopped.


Mt. Katahdin


Charlie wading into the not-as-cold-as-I-would-have-thought water. I was amazed at how much clearer the water is up here.

We weren’t in a position to hike the mountain, so we just spent some time admiring it and then began driving back to Millinocket.  Charlie and Tom had eaten breakfast in a little café that they really liked on Monday, so they took Kathy and I there for lunch.  I was able to experience one of Kathy and Tom’s favorites: fried cheese curds.  They were very tasty!  I also enjoyed a Cuban Quesadilla with a yummy kale salad.  I definitely need to eat more kale salad and will add the sunflower seeds too!  After our lunch treat, we stopped by a thrift store to see what we could find.  Kathy describes shopping in a thrift store as being akin to visiting a free museum.  Charlie didn’t really appreciate her vision – he just sees a store full of clutter and junk 🙂  , but I did come out with some new clothes for a couple children as well as a couple fun learning games to keep us all entertained in the campground.  When we returned, the younger ones were enjoying a movie and had eaten a good many of the snacks I was keeping in the camper.  Oh well – not an expensive price to pay to have a couple hours’ break and see Mt Katahdin.

Tuesday night was also a big treat.  The kids had made friends with a gentleman traveling by himself in the campsite beside us, so he came over that evening and brought his guitar.  His name was Captain Dan, and he was from Florida.  He captains a fishing boat part of the year and travels the rest of the year.  He was formerly a professional comedian, so he entertained us that evening with some great stories and guitar playing.   Many of those songs I haven’t heard in a very long time, so I was thrilled to hear them again being played and sung live.


Sitting around the campfire listening to live music from Captain Dan.

I spent a good bit of Wednesday doing the never-ending laundry.


I found AnaClaire, Damien, and Amelia waiting on me in the laundry room.

I usually encourage my kids to wear clothes more than 1 day if they didn’t get dirty or smelly.  However, when you are camping, clothes don’t stay clean usually for more than 1 hour, so I have to do several loads of laundry every 3 or 4 days.  Ben and Tom went on a kayak trip that morning and then Nicholas and Ryon went that afternoon.


Tom and Ben kayaking

Nicholas ended up in the water on that trip, and Ryon had to catch his kayak.  Ryon also stopped on an island in the river and picked a beautiful bouquet of flowers for me.  I was having an emotional discussion with Kathy when he brought them to me, so his timing couldn’t have been better.  I was really touched at how thoughtful he was.


My perfectly-timed bouquet of flowers from Ryon.

That afternoon, Charlie and Tom drove to Bangor again to pick up the van.  Evidently, Tom suggested that they play a trick on me and leave the van down the road with Charlie riding into the campground in Tom’s truck.  I, of course, would assume that the van didn’t make it back for whatever reason and get all upset.  Charlie knows me all too well and nixed the idea.  In my defense, oftentimes when Charlie does try something like that on me, I am able to see right through him after an initial moment of panic.  Thankfully, they didn’t try the joke, and Charlie, Tom, and 2 vehicles made it back in decent shape.  What a blessing to finally have the van back and ready to drive home.  We had a delicious spaghetti dinner (courtesy of Kathy) and garlic bread (courtesy of Captain Dan)­­ with the requisite s’mores for our last evening of camping at Pine Grove Campground.



Day 16 – Saturday, August 5, 2017

Wow!  What a day!  It started this morning with still needing to finish up laundry that I had mostly completed yesterday.  Since some of the younger kids had gone swimming and “surfing” in their clothes, I needed to go ahead and wash those so that we wouldn’t be hauling sopping wet clothes all over with us.  So I got up early and finished the laundry; then the Rabideaus had to work on theirs too.  Meanwhile, we were both trying to use the wifi.  Tom was trying to get Catholic Schoolhouse work accomplished, and I was trying to get some blogs finished and uploaded.  We were both not getting much of anywhere, so I quit and Tom pursued in the hopes that he could finish.

After everything was packed up, Charlie and I took Ben and our 10 ahead to Parrsboro.  We were going back to the same beach to see the high tide this morning and have breakfast.  Kathy and Tom stayed at the campground to get some work accomplished.  We had a delicious breakfast of yogurt with Canadian blueberries while watching the tide come in.  I met an older gentleman who walked the beach most every day and stopped to tell us some about the area.  After Tom and Kathy met us at the beach, we left to go to the Fundy Geological Museum that Nicholas really wanted to see.  It had bones and fossils of dinosaurs that had been found in the Bay of Fundy area, many of them right in Parrsboro.  We didn’t spend a whole lot of time here since we needed to get on the road and drive back to Maine.


Annette standing above an Arthropleura (a huge millipede)


Charlie and kids at the Fundy Geological Museum


We drove a different route out of the peninsula that we were on in Nova Scotia.  It was a very peaceful scene.  After making it back to the main highway, we stopped at a Costco for shopping and a quick lunch and bathroom break.  Although I tried not to buy so much that it wouldn’t fit in the refrigerator, I didn’t succeed.  Some of it we ate at dinner later and some just stayed in a cooler hoping for the best.  After we left Costco, the van started making some strange noises.  We had been noticing over the last day or two when we switched from reverse into drive that the transmission was shifting a little roughly, and now it sounded like it was going downhill quickly.  We finally became concerned enough that we pulled off at an exit to talk with Tom about it and decide what we needed to do.  Late on a Saturday afternoon is never a good time to have vehicle problems.  Tom thought we needed to let it cool down for a little while, so Kathy and I started making dinner.  We had pulled over onto a dirt road with a shipping container sitting in the middle of it and beside a closed storage unit.  We let the kids out to play and set up Kathy’s camp stove to cook a delicious meal of cowboy beans.  It was nice as far as a break from the road goes.  We couldn’t have found a better place to break down.


Our camper in our break-down spot.


Hanging out waiting on dinner to cook


Playing ball


The shipping container in the middle of the road


AnaClaire picked some Black-eyed Susans


Nicholas finishing up the last bit of the beans. We didn’t want any leftovers and he had already thrown his plate and fork away.


I finally get a half-way decent picture of Nicholas, but he has beans dribbling down his chin. Such is life with a 15 year old 🙂

Tom and Charlie finally decided that we just needed to try to keep going and make it across the border into the US since we were only about 30 minutes away.

We made it across the border without incident and drove straight to a WalMart to reevaluate.


Coming up to the border crossing. We never did see a “Welcome to the USA” sign.

After finding out that the campground we were supposed to be staying at the next night had availability for that night, we decided to head to that campground instead of our original destination.  It was closer than our original destination of Presque Isle, only a little over an hour away and there was a Chevrolet dealership nearby.  Again, we arrived there without incident, parked the campers in the campsites and settled in for the night, wondering how things would go over the next few days.  We were so blessed to just make it to a campground safely.  God is so good!



Day 15 – Friday, August 4, 2017

We had a great night’s sleep.  Since we were hooked up to electricity, we were able to run the fan so that there was some air movement, which definitely allows for a more comfortable night’s sleep.  Here in Nova Scotia, we are on the Atlantic Time, so the sun isn’t quite up at 5:00, and therefore the kids are sleeping a little later.  Not to mention, I think we have finally exhausted the little ones.  I got up and got started on the laundry, knowing that I had a lot to do.

The high tide was supposed to be at 11:04am this morning where we were, so we headed down to the beach a little earlier to watch the tide finish coming in.  The beaches here are so different to me because the sand is all made of rocks and rock pieces, not shells and shell pieces.  We sat on the beach and just watched the water for quite a while.


Isaac and Annette playing Mancala while sitting on the beach


Damien pretending to be a pirate with his dinosaur headlamp


AnaClaire, Damien, Dominic, and Amelia “surfing” on a huge board that was found on the beach.

We took pictures of the high tide with plans to come back when the tide was low so that we could see the huge variation.


High tide at the beach at Advocate Harbor, Nova Scotia

We were in no hurry to leave though.  Ryon and Ben had been gathering large pieces of driftwood (the size of large dead trees) and started trying to put a raft together.  DSCF2260The younger ones were playing in the water and of course were mostly soaked and sandy.  Kathy and I finally went back to the campground to get some lunch items and bathing suits.  While we roasted hot dogs over a campfire on the beach, we decided to drive to Parrsboro where we were supposed to be able to see tides from the dock that were more dramatic because you could see boats sitting on the sand of the beach at low tide and in the water at high tide.DSCF2256DSCF2259DSCF2258


Carrying the raft to the water


Ryon and Ben riding their raft and eventually abandoning ship 🙂

So, we gathered everyone up as well as some BBQ for dinner in the crockpot and drove to Parrsboro.


View of the bay on the way to Parrsboro



It took us a while to find the dock in Parrsboro (none of us were using the internet on our phones since we didn’t want to pay the fees to use data or phones in Canada.), but we finally found it.  We sat down and watched the tide get to low.


Low tide in Parrsboro with the older kids walking in front of the lighthouse.

Tom took some of the older kids, and they ran out to the lighthouse that was reachable during low tide.  They had a great time doing that.


Victory at reaching the lighthouse

We hung out at the dock in Parrsboro watching the tide come in for hours.  DSCF2337IMG_0942It was so amazing to see the changes and how the tide slowly but surely overtook all the mudflats/sandy areas the kids had crossed to get to the lighthouse.  We watched some people fishing near the lighthouse and were sure they were going to get caught out there, but they knew more than we did and came across right before the tide took over their crossover to higher land.


Higher tide. It was completely dark when the tide was at its highest, and we were in bed by then.

The evening was very peaceful.  Everyone had a wonderful time just hanging out at the beach.



Day 14 – Thursday, August 3, 2017

We decided on Wednesday night that we had really already done the major thing that we came to the Eastport area to do – go whale watching.  We had also come to that area because it was close to the Bay of Fundy, and we wanted to be able to see the really high tides that happen there.  However, we discovered that although the tides in the Eastport area were higher than most other places, we could see much more dramatic tide changes if we ventured into Canada.  So, this morning, Tom got on the phone and found a campground in Nova Scotia that was close to the Bay of Fundy where we could witness these dramatic tide variations.  We decided to pull out of Cobscook Bay State Park and head to Nova Scotia.  The kids were so excited that we would be going into Canada.

We packed everything up and left after I spent a while working on blog posts while everyone was getting breakfast ready (pancakes courtesy of Kathy and homegrown sausage courtesy of Charlie).  I am embarrassed to admit that I got rather upset when I needed help and there was no one to be found.  Well, Charlie and Ryon were working on hooking up the camper, but everyone else was a no-show.  Someone was supposed to be cleaning the last few dishes, but instead I found the dishes abandoned and all of the dish detergent (that was less than a week old) dumped out, probably into the dish water since it was very soapy.   Anyway, that was not one of my finer moments.  So, we finally found the help that was needed, packed everything up and started heading to Canada.  Well, we didn’t make it very far down the road before we heard a noise from a kayak.  We pulled over and adjusted the rack.  Went another 10 miles or so, and it happened again.  This time we decided we were done with the kayak problems and needed to get some part to make a better fix, so Charlie and the older boys took the kayaks and racks off the top of the van and put them into the camper.  Finally we could get some miles behind us.  Well, just before we made it to the Canadian border, Charlie realized that the camper brakes weren’t working.  So, we made it across the border without incident but stopped at the first gas station that we could find.  IMG_0892IMG_0895IMG_0899Charlie and Tom worked on the camper and got the brakes working again, and this time we were able to make it to the campsite without any more incidents (except for a wrong-way turn that left us with an interesting predicament about how to turn both the campers around to get back to the main road).  Whew.  That wasn’t the easiest trip.

We finally made it after an extremely bumpy ride on a back road to our campground by the Bay of Fundy.  This was the first private campground that we have been to, so we had electricity, water, and sewer and were all so excited to be able to not have to worry about our batteries going dead.


All set up and happy to have some amenities!

There were some nice playgrounds for the kids, two washing machines and two dryers, and best of all – wifi!  IMG_0904IMG_0902We had a wonderful dinner, put the kids to bed, visited with Tom and Kathy, and then crashed ready for the next day.



Day 13 – Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Tom loves to make breakfast, so he made us a delicious breakfast of fried eggs with corned beef hash.  Afterward, we packed up and left Lamoine State Park to go to our next campground.  This route wasn’t as scenic as many of the routes we have been on, but I still enjoy looking out the window to see this beautiful country God has given to us.  We began seeing a lot of fields with something very low to the ground growing in them and finally realized that these were huge fields of blueberries.  Let me tell you, I would have no desire to go out and pick those gigantic fields of blueberries.  These wild blueberries are tiny and delicious, but “tiny” is the key word here.  It would take hours just to pick one bucket.  I now have a greater understanding of the gentleman at Glacier National Park explaining to me why the huckleberry ice cream was so expensive.  He told me the berries are tiny and it takes a long time to pick just one gallon.  I definitely have a new respect for people who pick wild blueberries and huckleberries!

Our trip wasn’t long, so we made it to the campground quickly.  We were staying at Cobscook Bay State Park near the Bay of Fundy.  This was one of the largest state park campgrounds I have ever been in, mainly because the campsites were very spread out.  They were also very wooded.  Our campsite had a hill with large boulders on it and much of the ground on the hill was covered in moss.  I thought the kids would have a great time exploring on that site.  The Rabideaus ended up with an even better site.  Theirs was flat with a lot of open space.  Ours had a flat spot for the camper, but most of the rest of it was steep hillside.

Kathy, Tom, Charlie, and I discussed that we would like to take a whale watching trip, so Kathy made some phone calls and found us a trip that went out late that afternoon.  It was recommended that we bring shoes that would keep our feet warm on the boat as well jackets.  We quickly got everything together and drove off to Eastport to find the boat.  They were ready for us when we arrived, and it turned out that we had a big enough group that it was only us on the boat.  We had two captains on our boat, Butch and Rob.  Butch drove, and Rob told us about the area.


Our boat

Before long, Rob was pointing out to us a harbor seal as well as some birds sitting on the water.  Then he showed us a whirlpool that is named Old Sow.  It is the largest tidal whirlpool in the Western Hemisphere.  Having never seen a whirlpool before (other than in my bathtub), this was really cool.


Old Sow

We went farther out, and the next thing I knew Butch was speeding quickly ahead.  Evidently, a Finback Whale had been spotted not too far from us.  According to Rob, the Finback Whale is the 2nd largest whale after the Blue Whale.  We reached the area and sat waiting with three or four other boats.  Rob told us we would be looking for a blow first before we saw a whale.  Well, we finally saw it, and we were able to see it several times.


Finback Whale



A beautiful lighthouse near Eastport, ME.

It was magnificent!  I was so excited to see a whale.  I’ve never had the privilege of seeing a whale before, so this was a very special experience for me.  I was hoping to see another moose on this trip, but a whale was my top priority since I have managed to see one moose before.  We watched the Finback surface and dive multiple times before we headed off in the hopes of seeing a Minke whale.  On the way, we spotted several schools of porpoises, and then we pulled close to shore.  Everyone was congregating on the shore side of the boat.  I came running over there to see what whale would be so close to shore.  I could see no signs of a whale, so I asked someone what everyone was looking at.  Then I heard something I hadn’t been expecting.  They were looking at a Bald Eagle.  This was the icing on the cake for me.  I’ve never been fortunate enough to see a Bald Eagle in the wild.  It took me a little while to find it, and then it flew off.  However, the boat moved a little farther along the shoreline and stopped when they spotted the eagle again.  The eagle was perched high in a tree near a nest, and we were able to spend several minutes gazing at it.  It was such a beautiful and majestic bird, and I really felt so fortunate and privileged to be able to witness these beautiful animals in their wild and natural habitat.  DSCF2162Butch did manage to go on and find a Minke Whale also.  It wasn’t quite as big as the Finback, but just as beautiful.


Minke Whale


And the Captains weren’t done yet.  They stopped by a couple of their lobster traps to see what they had caught.  We were able to watch how they caught their traps and reeled them in as well as see the crabs and lobster that had been caught.  One of the lobsters was a huge size and was covered in eggs on her underside.


The underside of a female lobster covered in eggs

Butch notched her tail and released her.  The notching tells anyone who catches her in the future that she is a breeding female, and therefore they are required to release her also.


Ben holding a crab that was desperately trying to grab Ben’s fingers.  Ben won that battle!

After observing the catches in the two traps, we motored back to port.  Wow!  That was the experience of a lifetime!

Back to the campground for another late dinner.  We piled into our camper to eat dinner as it was dark and the mosquitoes were more than horrible.  Charlie made quesadillas for us all with our homegrown chicken that we brought with us.  We hollered at each person going in or out of the camper to hurry and close the door because we were being eaten alive.  Soon after we finished dinner, everyone went to bed as it was late.  Charlie and I played cards for an hour or so and spent that time still trying to kill mosquitoes in the camper.  I have never before seen so many mosquitoes in my life.  I hope I never do again.

Here are some more pictures of us all having fun on the boat.