Nov. – Dec. Itinerary

A bit overdue, here is our itinerary for Nov. – Dec.  We will be is Florida for most of December and will be celebrating my birthday there too! (Josh- Dec. 6th).  Though the weather has not been unbearably cold recently (25 degrees tonight) I am excited to be in Florida soon.  I have never in my life had the opportunity to spend a winter in the South.

Nov. Location City
1-3 Philadelphia Philadelphia, PA
3-4 Valley Forge Valley Forge, PA
4-6 Delaware ?
6-9 Wash DC. Wash DC.
9-13 Aunt Patty & David Shipensburg, PA
13-14 Mount Vernon Alexandria, VA
14-16 Williamsburg Williamsburg, VA
16-17 Jamestown Jamestown, VA
17-18 Monticello Charlottesville, VA
18-20 West Virginia Beckley, WV
20-21 Kentucy ?
21-24 Paula’s House (Thanksgiving) Nashville, TN
24-28 Ruth’s House Knoxville, TN
28-30 South Carolina Greenville, SC
Dec.
1-3 North Carolina Leland, NC
3-4 South Carolina Charleston, SC
4-8 Florida Wildwood, FL
8-12 Florida Clermont, FL
12-16 Florida Wauchula, FL
16-26 Florida ?

Happy Thanksgiving- 100 days and counting.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends and family.  We miss you all and look forward to seeing everyone upon our return home (sometime in the middle of next year).  We hope all of you are enjoying your holiday and are able to surround yourself with those you love most.  This Thanksgiving will be the most unique Thanksgiving of our lives, away from both family and home.  We are grateful and thankful for all of you and though you are all far away physically, you are close to us in our hearts.  To our great blessing, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving Day in Nashville Tennessee with our Child Ambassador friends, Paula and Wendy Hemphill, and for this we are grateful.

We were privileged with the company of some of Mel’s family for an early Thanksgiving Celebration on November 10th.  Mel’s parents flew to Pennsylvania, where we all met up with Mel’s Aunt Patty, Uncle David & Aunt Kathy and Uncle David.  It was such a joy to spend time with family away from our own home.

Our apologies for getting behind on our blog (again) and leaving you all in the dark.  We are still healthy and well and we are still on our projected course of travel.  No different than “normal life” back home, we are busy, busy, busy, trying to balance the demands of our new lifestyle while raising our family.

I will try to give an abridged yet insightful account of our last weeks of travel.

After leaving NYC we headed down the coast of Jew Jersey and took some down time from the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple.  We spent an afternoon on the board walk and beach of Atlantic City, NJ.  Mel’s favorite movie as a young middle school girl was set in the city of Atlantic City, and she was able to realize a childhood fantasy of visiting this “magical” location.

Next we headed to Philadelphia, a city that I (Josh) liked immediately because of the well developed bike lanes throughout the city and points of interest.  After I toured the city alone on my bike, peddling 30 miles around town in the early morning hours, I rode back to our motor home and convinced Mel and the kids that biking was the best way to travel around the city.  We rode to and from the historic districts of Philadelphia that day together as a family.  We saw the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Benjamin Franklin’s former property, and original manuscripts of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Articles of Confederation.  And, by my request, we finished off the day with a delicious Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich!

Valley Forge was our next stop, where we participated in a ranger lead tour through part of the historic landmark on a cold, sunny day.  We walked through tiny shelters in the same location where revolutionary soldiers camped the winter of 1776.  We hid out on the high walls of a redoubt, visited the winter location of the then Commander-in-Chief, George Washington, and ended our day in the Washington Memorial Chapel.  Though we would have liked to stay longer, the one day we had there was well worth the time.

We traveled to Delaware for a short respite as we hung out with Mel’s friend Javy, enjoying a picnic lunch, a clean shower at their house, and an evening of spaghetti and beer.

Almost as busy as NYC, we spent 3 days in Washington D.C.  I could endlessly drone on-and-on about all that we saw- just look at the pictures and you will know that much fun was had and that 3 days is not long enough.

Also, while in D.C. we went out to dinner to celebrate our 100th day on our national road trip (Nov. 8th).  It’s hard to believe that it has already been so long since we have been home.

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New York, New York

“Start spreadin’ the news, I’m leavin’ today. I want to be a part of it, New York, New York.” Frank Sinatra’s lyrics rang through my (Mel’s) head from the time we arrived to the time we left. Naturally, I played the song, about 20 times, for the kids too. I couldn’t be the only one with the song stuck in my head. 🙂

We spent five very filled days in New York. I’ve only had the chance to visit NYC once before, for a short period of time, right out of college with my roommate. I always knew I wanted to return and I was so excited to be there to share it with my family. In preparation for our arrival, we watched “Elf” and “Enchanted.” The kids loved seeing the places in real life that they recognized from the movies!

On our first day, we took a boat to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. I could have spent an entire day at each location. It was surreal standing in the very spot millions of immigrants passed through in the hopes for a better life. As I read their stories in the museums, I quickly realized their experiences were no different than the ones immigrants and refugees face today coming to our country. They were fleeing famine, war, persecution, only to come to a country where people feared them and didn’t want them. Those immigrating from Ireland, Germany, Russia, China, Japan, and other European and Asian countries were looked down upon and discriminated against by many in the USA. It saddens me to think that we, as a country, have not changed from our fear of “other”. While we are now more accepting of Europeans and Asians, we struggle to accept people from the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America although their stories of violence, war, and famine are the same as others who have come before. Our arguments to not accept them have not changed over the centuries. At one point, unless already here as a Native American or brought as a slave, each one of our ancestors, starting with the Pilgrims, all came to this country seeking freedom, a chance at a better life, and a place to safely raise their children. It’s what we all want still. We have much more in common with each other than we often like to admit.

Our second day in NYC brought us to the top of the Empire State Building with amazing views of Manhattan; a quick stroll through Bryant Park (where World Vision will be hosting the 2nd annual Give Back Gift Shop over Thanksgiving weekend); a bright, colorful, and character-filled walk through Time Square (Asher fit right in!); past Carnegie Hall; and to the edge of Central Park where we happily munched on large soft-pretzels after all that adventuring.

Our third day brought us to the fun of Rockefeller Center, the grandeur of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the welcoming stairs of the MET (for a much needed rest), and lots of adventuring and playing in Central Park!

Our fourth day found us spending most of our time in one place. Emily, a friend of mine from high school, has lived in NYC for 11 years and has her own jazz band. She is an amazing jazz trombonist (she always has been!). We had the wonderful opportunity to see her and her band, Emily Asher’s Garden Party, play at one of her regular restaurants. I loved getting to introduce the kids to live jazz and have them meet her. It really was a treat. If you love jazz, look her up and take a listen! The really cool thing about the restaurant, Fraunces Tavern, is it is a historical site of the American Revolution. Samuel Fraunces was a friend of George Washington’s. His tavern was a site for people to gather and discuss the politics of the day. In an upstairs room called the Long Room, George Washington gave his farewell speech to his commanding officers at the end of the Revolution. The whole upstairs has now been turned into a museum. I highly recommend going there if you ever get the chance! When we finally left Fraunces Tavern, we paid our respects at the 9-11 Memorial. Even after 17 years, it is still heart-wrenching to think of what happened that day and how it changed our country. We had hard, but good, conversations with the kids about what happened that day. As sad and difficult as it was to recount the memories of September 11, I’m glad we took the opportunity to visit the memorial and pray for those who lost loved ones and pray for our country.

On our fifth and final day, we got to do what I’ve been wanting to do in New York almost my entire life…see a Broadway show! We chose Aladdin as it would be great for the whole family and it was also Josh’s favorite Disney movie growing up. It was SPECTACULAR! We enjoyed every single minute of it. The stage adaptation was fun and just as magical as the movie, the acting was superb (there was even a Seattle actor, who played Iago, that we recognized from Seattle Children’s Theatre and the 5th Ave!), the sets and costumes were stunning, and the energy was electrifying. We all walked away with wide-eyes and huge smiles. It was definitely a highlight of our trip! With that high, we wandered to the final sites we had yet to visit but still wanted to; the New York Public Library, with it’s incredible architectural design and beautiful artwork, and the massive Grand Central Terminal. We finished out our time by heading to Emily’s apartment in Brooklyn which was built sometime in the mid-1800’s. She so graciously invited us over for making pizzas and cookies. It was lovely catching up with her and the kids absolutely adored her and her cat, Dixie. She is now “Aunt Emily.” It was the perfect ending to our very fun and very full time in New York, New York.

Connecticut

Much like my knowledge of Rhode Island, I (Josh) was ignorant to the history and beauty of Connecticut.  We hadn’t much time to explore the state, much larger than RI, yet still small, by comparison, to most others.  Without much reason, we chose New London as our first destination on our quick journey through this once colonial state.  We parked near the waterfront and toured around the city, looking at the aged buildings and points of interest.

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Among them were the Shaw Mansion, a destination that was once also visited by George Washington,  Marquis de Lafayette, and other notable Revolutionary War heroes.

Another site to mention was the Nathan Hale School house in New London.  Much history and attention is given to Nathan Hale, a school teacher turned spy for George Washington, in the state of Connecticut, the location of his birth place.  Even in Seattle we have paid tribute to this man by naming a high school after him.

Our next stop, just south of New London, was Harkness Memorial State Park, complete with a 1906 mansion with lawns & landscaped gardens, plus views of Long Island Sound.  The sun was out, the weather was warm, and we stayed there the rest of the day.  We left only after sunset, as the park rangers ushered us away so they could lock the gate.

The following day, we visited a town named Essex, a small port city on the Connecticut River.  We journeyed to the Connecticut River Museum, home of a replica “Bushnell Turtle,” the world’s first operational combat submarine.  (We watched a revolutionary history cartoon, “Liberty’s Kids,” that depicted the Turtle in action and Eva had her heart set on seeing it in real life.)

We learned much about the history and significance of the Connecticut River- early exploration, trade routes, immigration, and war efforts.  In fact, the port that the museum was on was the location that the colonial army in Connecticut build it’s war ship during the Revolutionary War.

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In studying the great Connecticut River, we discovered the location of a castle built overlooking the river not far north of Essex.  I was compelled to visit and it become our final stop of the day.

I desired to stay and watch the sunset, but the frigid winds forced our family to seek refuge back to our traveling home.  Two days in Connecticut proved to be fruitful.  History, beauty and sunshine will always be among the new memories I now hold of this place.

Rhode Island

When we got to Rhode Island we had no specific plans in mind, other than visiting the capital city- Providence.  Honestly, I (Josh) can’t say that I have ever heard of anything noteworthy about Rhode Island.  Turns out, there are actually a few interesting things about the state.  The first major thing I learned was about a dude named Roger Williams.  He was the original founder of the Rhode Island colony back in 1636.  He left Britain several years earlier to escape the strict grip the Church of England held within the government.  He traveled to the Massachusetts Bay colony so he could exercise the religious freedom that was promised to those who migrated to America.  Unfortunately for him, the boys in Boston didn’t get along with Roger’s progressive religious ideals either.  He was kicked out of Boston and found himself alone in the wilderness in the harsh winter months.  Luckily for him, he was saved by the native folk in the (present day) Rhode Island territory.  He founded a colony there, giving religious freedom to all.  It was the first true example in western history of separation of church and state- on which our county is today founded upon.  He was the original champion of our first amendment rights as we know them to be.  Who knew that such a monumental leader of personal freedom would come out of RI.  Obviously I didn’t.  He was such a significant part of our nations history that the National Parks Department created a Historical Memorial in downtown Providence just for him- The Roger Williams National Historical Memorial.

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Downtown Providence was actually very cool.  A river runs right through the middle of the city which leads straight to the ocean and divides the state into the eastern and western halves of RI.

Like much of the old East Coast, Providence is filled with historical buildings and structures.

Naturally we visited the ocean and saw the brilliant colors of an East Coast sunset.

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Roger Williams was so liked by the people of RI that not only did he have a national memorial in his name, but they named a large park and zoo after him too.  Since we had not yet been to a zoo on our trip, and Mel read that it was one of the oldest zoos in the country, we visited on a pleasant sunny day.

Two days are not nearly long enough to explore an entire state (even if it’s the smallest sate in the U.S.).  Nevertheless, we were glad to learn things we had never learned before and see things we had never seen before.  Obviously this state possesses both rich history and uncompromising beauty.  A delight to visit to say the least.  We are humbly grateful to include Rhode Island as a traveled destination on the Miller’s Motor Home Adventure.

Lexington & Concord

After spending four historically packed days in Boston, we thought we had a good grasp on the reasons for the beginnings of the Revolutionary War.  But something still seemed void.  We understood the unrest of the early settlers towards Britain, we read detailed accounts of Paul Revere racing through the country side warning the Massachusetts Bay Colony about the coming of the “Regulars” (aka Redcoats),  and then the battle of Bunker Hill.  Bunker Hill, we found out, was 2 months after Paul Revere’s ride, two months after….”The shot heard round the world.”  That was the missing link.  Though our itinerary had us going to Rhode Island the day after Boston, we made a one day deviation in our plans to find the last piece of the puzzle- Lexington & Concord.

Our first stop in Lexington was the house Paul Revere rode to the night of his famous ride.  His mission was to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock of the British’s plan to capture them (they were the leaders of the Continental Congress, an illegal governing body in the eyes of the King) and destroy colonial war provisions stored at Lexington.

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Next, we visited the battle green in Lexington, the location where colonial militia lost 8 lives and found 10 wounded as the British forces marched past in their efforts to travel to Concord.

We drove the 5 mile stretch between Lexington and Concord, the very route the British Redcoats traveled as they prepared their assault on Concord.  The U.S. Parks Department has actually created a National Park for this stretch of land called the “Minute Man National Memorial.”  Then we found the missing link.  The “Shot Heard Round the World”, the location that began the Revolutionary War but would eventually lead to our lasting establishment as a Nation.

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After the British marched part way through Concord, and succeeded in destroying approximately 30% of the colonial war provisions, they were met by the “Minute Men” of the surrounding area- Men who had all committed themselves, on a minutes notice, to be ready for such an invasion.  These men lined the North side of “North Bridge” as they waited for the coming army.  This battle was the first time in history the colonial forces were ordered to fire on the British Army.  The Minute Men succeeded in holding the British men from crossing the bridge and the enemy raid was forced to turn back and retreat.  At the end of the day, the casualties added up to about 80 dead on the American side and 60 dead on the British.

Our mission (the Miller family’s I mean) had been complete.  The missing link between Paul Revere and Bunker Hill had been bridged.  The detour was well worth it.  Mission accomplished.  On to Rhode Island.

Red, White and Blue Fall Colors

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Ever since Mel got back from her conference on the 7th, life has been a whirlwind of colors and history.  Over the last week and a half we have driven through the multi colored hills of New Hampshire,

Visited the northern most beaches of Cape Cod,

Landed at Plymouth Rock,

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Seen America’s Oldest Cemetery (1632),

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And spent 4 days in Boston, including:

Riding the Subway;

Walking The Boston “Freedom Trail”;

Standing on the site of the Boston Massacre;

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Wandering through Paul Revere’s House,

Touring the Boston Harbor, site of the Boston Tea Party;

Climbing the Bunker Hill Monument;

Soaking up the Views of Downtown;

Visiting Churches;

Riding the ducks at the Boston Public Gardens;

Marveling at historic buildings.

And oh so much more, we could write and share pictures all day long.  But as is the nature of our journey we must hurry along to our next destination.