The Bliss is Back

The gibbons put on quite a show at the zoo. They were my favorite.

Our little winter hiatus has come to an end and the Bliss is back on the road. Our time in Florida was good to us. Chris nagged me often to update the blog but what do you say on a travel blog when you aren’t traveling? I assumed people didn’t want to read about my stationary life.  But, if you’d like a recap of our winter, here it is…

Emerson and I enjoyed weekly visits to the Lowry Park zoo where we stared in awe at the gibbons as they would swing effortlessly from rope to rope.  We squealed at the icky snakes as they slithered around in their glass boxes (Okay, I squealed. She didn’t seem care.)  And, we were hypnotized by the graceful movements of the large manatees. It is a beautiful zoo and we (I) thoroughly enjoyed walking around and being among other moms with strollers.

Me and my little pirate at Gasparilla

We also participated in weekly Gymboree classes so Emerson could be with other babies, eat the class handouts, pull other childrens’ hair, and chew on the teacher’s flash cards/musical instruments/and any other object that could fit into her mouth. We took a sign language class and it would probably work except Chris keeps making up his own signs and confusing our child.

We had the pleasure of meeting up with another full-time Airstream family, Shiny Camper.  Mat, Lisa and Simon hit the road in September 2010.  They were staying at a nearby RV park so we were able to meet up with them often. It was so nice to talk with another traveling family and share our stories. Check out their blog for some fantastic photos and accounts of their travels.

That? Oh, that's just a Buff Laced Bearded Frizzle at the Florida State Fair.

For the third year in a row, we attended Gasparilla. This time, we brought our little pirate along. She was a hit with the drunken college students.

In February, we went to the Florida State Fair. Remember our account of the Strawberry Festival? It’s also a good account of the State Fair. A variety of fried foods, pig races, an exhibition hall that has every “As Seen On TV” product you could possibly imagine, annoying men yelling that they can guess my age and weight, and my favorite, the display of chickens.  No, really, I do like the display of chickens. There are some fascinating looking chickens out there. State fairs are always a good time!

A day at the beach.

We had a lovely afternoon at Honeymoon Island State Park. It was a beautiful day and this was Emerson’s first visit to the beach. Dipping her toes into the water was much more successful here than in the cold waters of Walden Pond. My little girl is growing up. *tear*

And, of course, during this hiatus, we had the joy of witnessing several developmental milestones in Emerson’s life: rolling over, crawling, standing, eight teeth (ouch!), and lots of babbling, cooing, smiles and laughter. It’s amazing how much she has grown.

"Come on! Let's go!!!"

With the weather warming up north of Florida, we decided it was time to hit the road. The Airstream has been baby-proofed and Emerson has explored every little nook and cranny it has to offer. Her favorites? The screened door and that oh-so-tempting blinking green light on the LP Gas Detector. She’s managed to take over our bedroom with her travel crib so Chris and I now sleep in the guest bedroom/dining room/office/living room. Our dog, AJ, is still trying to figure out where he sleeps, but most often, I wake up to find him sharing my pillow. It’s working. And, as I write this, Emerson is taking her first nap in her travel crib. Yep…the Bliss is back.

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My Buddy

Last week was a difficult week for our family.  Our dog, Buddy, had recently been diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery on Monday to remove part of a tumor on his leg.  We brought him home Monday evening but unfortunately things took a turn for the worse and he passed away early Tuesday morning. Chris and I were with him through the night and we held him during his last moments.  While we know Buddy is at peace now, it was difficult to say goodbye.

Buddy became a member of our family 7 years ago when we adopted him from the Italian Greyhound Rescue organization. He was an incredibly nervous dog but wanted nothing more than a warm body to curl up next to. He was happiest in the Airstream, because it meant we were always close by. And, he definitely lived a life of adventure his last few years! Chris put it best by saying, “Although he managed to add a pinch of crazy to our lives sometimes, he also gave us a heaping cup of happiness that will be hard to replace.”

Rest in peace, Buddy. We miss you.

Categories: Airstream Living | 12 Comments

Highland Heaven…er…Haven

Our campsite at Highland Haven

After my meltdown at the old mental institution (hmmm…coincidence?), we continued our journey southward. We didn’t have to travel far, though. Our next destination was only a few hours away.  It was a campground that we had wanted to stay at since we first got on the road. But, every time we made plans to stay there, it didn’t work out. Not this time.  Nope. This time, we were on our way!

Imagine a campground surrounded by an apple orchard.

Where your fellow campers greet you with waves as you drive in.

Where you can get a full-hookup site with mountain views for $25/night. (And, where they have specials so if you pay for 3 nights, you get the 4th night free!)

Sunset views from the campsite

Where homemade rhubarb and strawberry cobbler is served warm (with ice cream, of course) at the club house. And, to wash that tasty dessert down is homemade, just pressed, apple cider.

Where the women offer to hold your baby so that you can sit and enjoy said cobbler and ice cream.

Where the clubhouse has fabulous rocking chairs and a well-stocked library.

Where, upon asking if a late checkout was possible, the campground hosts shrug their shoulders and say, “take all the time you need.”

Where every night you are treated to amazing sunset views.

And, where all of your friendly neighbors understand the Airstream life — because they are all Airstream owners, too.  (And, for one night, our neighbors were Postmodern Hippies. We love meeting other bloggers!)

Our Virginia Tech family photo...in the dark.

Is this heaven, you ask? No, silly! It’s Highland Haven Airstream Park near Floyd, Virginia. And, for one week, it gave me the peace that I needed at that moment in my life.

Emerson and I spent many hours in the clubhouse that week.  We sat in the rocking chair – I’d read a book while she napped on my chest.  We spent some time in our former hometown, Blacksburg, Virginia, catching up with friends and eating at our favorite restaurants.  And, of course, we took our first family picture at Virginia Tech. Go Hokies! It was a very nice week, full of great memories. And, more importantly, no tears.

Categories: Airstream Living, Campgrounds | Tags: , | 8 Comments

Babies and Airstreams

Mom is just going to put pictures of me on this entry because I'm so cute.

Hi, Friends.  I’ve become a terrible blogger, have I not? I apologize.  Several of you have asked how it’s working having a baby in an Airstream. I haven’t been avoiding this question.  (Okay, maybe I have…)  In all honesty, I’ve drafted numerous versions of this post only to delete them because I didn’t like my writing.  It’s a difficult entry to write, apparently.

Emerson just turned six months and in the last few weeks, I finally am starting to feel like a human being again and not an exhausted and overly-emotional new mother.  Those first few months really knocked me off my feet.  I faced some postpartum issues.  Let’s just say, there was a lot of crying that I couldn’t seem to control.  A lot.  For example:

  • Our pediatrician informed me that I was endangering my child because I was allowing her to sleep in my arms at night.  I cried.
  • I was exhausted because my child would only sleep in my arms.  I cried.
  • At night, while sitting upright holding my child, I would look over to see Chris sleeping. Lying down in bed.  I was extremely jealous.   I cried.
  • Emerson was somewhat colicky and she cried.  A lot.  So, therefore, I cried.  A lot.

So, yeah…those first few months my eyes stayed in red swollen state from all my tears.  It’s a good thing Chris is incredibly patient and supportive.  I’m a lucky woman.

On one of our horrible long drives, we stopped so Daddy and I could catch up on some football. Go Hokies!

The explanation above should answer the main question:  Where does the baby sleep in the Airstream?  In my arms.  Eventually, I was able to put her down beside me and we shared the bed while Chris slept on the couch.  But, for the most part, she was in my arms and I learned to sleep upright although it was never really quality sleep thus leading to my extreme exhaustion and subsequent crying fits.  (And, please, no lectures on how this sleeping arrangement was dangerous to my child.  I’ve already been lectured enough by the pediatrician.)

The other major challenge became apparent once Chris started back to work.  He’s on the phone for most of the day.  And, since Emerson cried a lot in those first few months, having conference calls with a crying baby in our small space became an issue. When the weather permitted, Chris would try to work outside but oftentimes, this proved difficult, especially if he needed to be on the phone. We always seem to be in windy campgrounds.  So, Emerson and I took a lot of rides, went for walks when possible, and tried to stay out of the Airstream so Chris could get his work done.  But, sometimes, I just wanted to be in my home to try and comfort my child. Sometimes, having to leave with a crying child wasn’t always the best option.

Here I am sleeping on the bed in the Airstream. I prefer mom's arms as this mattress is not too comfy!

So, yes, a baby in an Airstream isn’t easy.  It can be done, but it isn’t easy – at least for me it isn’t.   Which brings me to the events that occurred after Boston.

We needed to be in Georgia shortly after Boston so we tried to get a lot of driving done that first weekend.  We wanted to get down to Virginia and see some family before continuing on to Atlanta.  What used to be an easy day trip turned into a traumatizing and exhausting drive now that we have a baby on board. That was in October.  We are all still recovering from the Boston to Virginia trip.  But, we made it.  And, we stayed with family in Staunton, Virginia for the week. But, after that trip, we vowed to never EVER drive for that long again.

At a rest stop on the Mass Turnpike, I realized that tummy time wasn't so bad. So I didn't cry for the first time and I held my head up high!

We were allowed to unhitch in the parking lot of the old mental institution in Staunton where my sister-in-law and her husband live.  (Um, I should probably clarify that it’s not a mental institution anymore. It’s now renovated condos.)  During the day, Chris remained in the Airstream working and Emerson and I walked around town and spent time in the condo.  We played on the floor in a spacious living room.  I did laundry (another challenge:  Laundromats and infants.  Not easy!).  And, at one point, I was even able to lay Emerson down for a nap while I enjoyed some peace and quiet.  And, then it hit me: I was ready for more space. I needed rooms with doors.  I needed for Chris to have his own working space while I had my own living space.  I wanted Emerson to be able to play on a floor, to practice her rolling, learn to crawl, etc. I needed more space for the dogs who were driving us crazy and not liking the newest member of our family. I needed more than 160 square feet.

I hated to admit it, but the Airstream life wasn’t working for me. At that point, I did the only thing I knew to do.  I cried.  I sat in the condo and sobbed.  Was our Airstream adventure coming to an end?  More importantly, how do I break the news to Chris that this just wasn’t working for me right now?

Once an Airstreamer...always an Airstreamer!

That night, we talked.  It was a difficult conversation.  The important question we had to ask was what was the best thing for our child and our family at this time?

That was in October. We’ve had a few campground stays since then but for the most part we have taken a hiatus from traveling.  Our wonderful families have opened up their homes and allowed us to stay with them. We are currently enjoying the warm weather in Florida and trying to figure out our future plans.  Emerson is now sleeping in her own bed and for longer periods of time. I am no longer sleeping upright.  And, Chris is no longer sleeping on a couch. We are all happy campers…err…home dwellers, right now.

But, don’t worry – we don’t have another place to call home yet and so we will be back in the Airstream once the rest of the country warms up. (Did you know that last weekend, Florida was the ONLY state without snow.  True story.) Once we are back on the road, our search for property begins.  And, while we may have lost our full-timer status for now (*tear*), we will forever be Airstreamers. And, for those of you attending Alumapalooza this year – we will see you there!!!

In the meantime, stay tuned. I still have more to travels to write about and I will keep you all updated about our plans. As soon as we have them.

Categories: Airstream Living | 13 Comments

On Walden Pond…

Beautiful Walden Pond

I’ve mentioned before about our love for Walden Pond. When we lived in Boston, Chris and I spent many Saturdays sitting on the beach and swimming in the pond. I have such fond memories of those days. While only 45 minutes outside of the city, our day trips there always felt like a vacation. We returned to the city feeling rejuvenated and ready to face another week of work.

We attempted a return trip to Walden Pond in May while I was still pregnant, but the park was closed.  So, on this particular return trip to Boston, we made it a goal to make it to Walden Pond one last time…and this time, to introduce Emerson to one of our favorite places (as well as one of the inspirations for her name.)  Did you know that Ralph Waldo Emerson owned Walden Pond when Thoreau lived there?  True story.  And, since I didn’t want to name my daughter Henry, David, Thoreau, Ralph or Waldo…Emerson seemed just perfect! So you see why we just HAD to introduce her to Walden Pond, right?  Right.

"Ready to feel the water of Walden Pond, Emerson?"

On our final day in Boston, we made our way to Concord with the simple goal of dipping Emerson’s toes in the water and taking a picture. Cute, right? We thought so too. We didn’t have time to hang out at the Pond or take  a walk as we had to get on the road but we were determined to accomplish this simple task.

We pulled into the park with the Airstream in tow and received a funny look from the parking attendant. She exclaimed in a confused tone, “What’s that?” (Pointing to our Airstream).  Chris replied, “Our home.” There was still a look of confusion as she muttered, “ooohhh-kaaay.” I suspect she thought we were going to unhitch and stay awhile.  She wasn’t even sure how to charge us for “that thing” on the back of our truck. But, she let us in the park with doubt that we would be able to park an Airstream.  She obviously doesn’t know Chris. After six years of marriage, I obviously don’t know him, either.  You know the routine by now, right?

Lani: “Chris, the Airstream is never going to fit.”
Chris: “Yes it will.”
Lani: “No, it won’t.”

And, it fit.  He parked it beautifully where there was no chance of us getting blocked in by other cars.  Pfffttt.

"Daddy! Don't EVER do that again!!! WAAAAHHHHH"

We rushed over to the pond.  I started getting the camera ready.  The moment was going to be perfect. Emerson at Walden.  A picture that would forever be special.  Chris bent down with Emerson in his arms.  Onlookers were “ooohing” and “aahhhing” our beautiful daughter.  Her little feet dangled just above the water and then Chris proceeded to dip those tiny little toes into Walden Pond. “WAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH.”  A scream like I have never heard this child make.  I didn’t even have time to snap the picture.  I was completely caught off-guard by this wailing sound coming from such a small person.

In Thoreau's cabin

There we stood. In the middle of the beach at the  very crowded Walden Pond.  With our screaming child. People stared. And giggled. So, yeah…lesson learned. Before you dip your infant’s little feet into Walden Pond, make sure the Pond isn’t freezing.  Apparently babies don’t like cold water.

It took her a few minutes to forgive us.  We rushed back up towards the truck, ignoring the stares of…well…everyone.  On the way, we stopped to pay a little visit to the statue of Thoreau and the replica of his cabin.  Emerson was so not amused.  But, someday she will be.  Someday.

Categories: Airstream Living, Outdoor Adventures | Tags: , | 3 Comments