Travel and World-Schoolingj

Our 6-7 month trip is coming to an end, and we have had the most amazing time! Lots of ups and downs, lots of last minute plan changes and we have all grown so close.

We have all learnt so much as a family and as individuals, and we are very grateful to be able to experience everything that we have, we feel very lucky.

Here are some things that me and Glen have learnt:

  1. Never plan ahead just take each day as it comes
  2. Possessions are not important
  3. Life is for living and loving
  4. You only live once
  5. Take risks
  6. It’s important to say “I love you” everyday
  7. Surround yourself with people who are happy and smile alot
  8. People can be incredibly generous
  9. Animal therapy is an actual thing, and cuddling a dog, cat, rabbit or petting a horse will make you happy
  10. It’s always best just to laugh at everything that goes wrong (especially if you break a bed in a lovely hotel)
  11. You will never get 1 minute to yourself when travelling with your children
  12. You can love and hate your children at the same time
  13. Our girls are more demanding and strong willed than we realised, and could probably run for prime-mister one day.
  14. You can teach maths pretty much anywhere everyday, using sugar sachets, counting objects under water, and lift buttons
  15. There is never a “language barrier” when you are a pro at charades….
  16. ….And you have google translate
  17. Booking.com will take your money regardless if you like your hotel or not
  18. Americans’ and Thais’ are the happiest people we have met on our travels
  19. Baths, dressing gowns and Yorkshire puddings are missed everyday (by Gemma)
  20. Glen has learnt how to play the ukulele
  21. The girls are now ready to settle somewhere for a while

What Ellie and Maisie have Learnt:

  1. To swim like mermaids
  2. They have both learnt how to belly surf and now they want to learn to do real surfing
  3. Both learnt how to horse ride
  4. Leant how to fish, gut and cook a fish
  5. How to feed a baby goat
  6. How to make friends and play with children from all over the world with out worrying about language. They have friends from China, India, Thailand, Japan, France, Russia, Netherlands, Germany, America, Fiji, New Zealand….
  7. How to say hello, goodbye and thank you in many languages
  8. How to get used to change and constant moving around, nothing fazes them now!
  9. How to pose for photos around 5 times a day for Indians, Thais And Chinese as they love their skin and hair colour!
  10. Learnt how to say goodbye without getting upset
  11. How to get used to only having a small bag of cheap 7-11 plastic toys
  12. Both can now walk for 3-4 miles with out complaining
  13. Both have tried new foods and realised they like new things
  14. Both of them are a lot closer as sisters than they were before we left
  15. Both of them want cats, dogs, rabbits, horses as pets, they have a list…
  16. Academic Lessons America– History, Cowboys, Tectonic Plates and mountains, astronomy, weather, wildlife, art, music
  17. Academic Lessons New Zealand– earth quakes, tectonic plates, and Thermal activity, wildlife, the sun and the moon
  18. Academic Lessons Thailand– Language, friendships, religion, culture, cooking and food, swimming,
  19. I’m sure they have learnt so much more than this list!

But now it’s time for a new adventure, in a new country with a different language that we have been practicing as much as we can!

Keep reading our blogs to find out what we are doing next!

Love Gem, Glen, Ellie and Maisie

Xxx

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The Big Bend National Park, BBNP for absolute beginners, children and non-hikers!

The Big Bend is an 801,163 acre park at the border of Mexico, separated by the 100 mile Rio Grande River; the park is named Big Bend after the bend in the river in west Texas. The BBNP has been attracting tourists for many years, who either choose to cycle, hike, or drive miles through the park to see the beautiful mountains, waterfalls and forests.

“No fire can burn so bright, no projection can duplicate the colours that dance over the desert or the bare rock formations that form the backdrop. No words can tell you, and no painter can hold it. Its only to be visited and looked at with awe” Ledwig Bemelmans 1956.

Imagine smelling the sweet smell of bluebonnets perfuming the air as you drive through the long smooth roads, surrounded by miles of monstrous mountains; This place is not just for full time enthusiastic hikers, it’s also suitable for young children, the elderly and ofcourse photographers/artists – This is The Big Bend National Park, Texas!

In this blog we will be going over The Big Bend National Park for absolute beginners/Non-hikers telling you where to stay, where to go, what roads you can access with an RV, roads to avoid with an RV, how to get amazing photos of stars and landscapes, and finally where to hire a 4 x 4 (which is an absolute must!)

Is there anything I need to know before I go down to the Big Bend?

There are a lot of things that we come across that we wasn’t aware of before we left, and we would like to share this with you to make sure you are fully prepared!

  1. There is no Wifi and no service what’s so ever within a 50 mile radius away from the park, as soon as you start your way down there you will find even when you are an hour away you will not be able to make any phone calls or check on places to stay. (you can get Wifi in the park at Panther Junction, Chisos Basin, and Rio Grand Visitors centre)
  2. Do not rely on RV park Wifi If you need to make bookings for later on in your trip, the Wifi is also limited here too (we spent 24hours without Wifi at our RV park)
  3. With the above two points in mind, we would advise to Book up and make all your calls you need to do before you leave, as if there isn’t any space, you will not be able to call or email any other park as you wont have wifi or service. Once you are there you are off the Grid.
  4. The RV parks inside the Big Bend are booked up weeks in advance.
  5. First stop you should make is Panther Junction Visitors centre – or any Visitor Centre that you past first, they will give you all the information about what places are suited for you.
  6. The winter is still hot (esp for us Brits) it will get cold at night, as cold as -2 degrees but during February it has been 18-25 degrees. If you are planning on going in the summer be prepared, as it will be extremely hot.
  7. End of Winter/Spring is highly recommended as all the flowers begin to blossom.
  8. It will take you a long time to get through the park, the first road is 20 miles before you get anywhere so if you are planning lots in one day just take that into account.
  9. You can’t drive an RV over 24 foot down some of the roads, take this into account when planning your day.
  10. If you are a photography enthusiast take a tripod.

Do I need to be a Hiker to Visit Big Bend National Park?

Our children are 8 and 4, and not good at long walks and we spent 4 days at the park and still felt as though we could of done more! There are plenty of overlooks, mini trials, drives you can do so don’t worry if you cant walk for long you should still visit!

How Much does it cost to visit the Big Bend National Park?

It cost us $30 for a 7 day pass into the park, you can go in and out as you please for the whole 7 days.

What are the Gas/Petrol Prices at Big Bend National Park?

Gas is very expensive at the Big Bend, Marathon was at $3.79 and Sturdy Butte was $2.77 so I would suggest waiting until you got to Sturdy Butte before you fill up. There is another in the park at Panther Junction if you are getting empty.

Where can I sleep over night with an RV in Big Bend National Park?

Rio Grand Village is a very popular RV site, if you cant get booked up there (we would advise booking well before you arrive as this one is always fully booked) any of the RV parks along the 118 from Sturdy Butte/ Terlingua, or within the Ghost Town (approx. 5 mile radius around that area) is a great “base”. Unfortunately we didn’t realise that we would need to book beforehand, and we ended up in a beautiful RV park called Terlingua Ranch, we had 2 nights here. It was within the mountains, absolutely fantastic stars to see, but it was down a long 16 mile road to nowhere, and then 3 miles off road! We had to drive 30 miles before ending up anywhere near the park.

We then stayed at Big Bend Rv Resort and Adventures, which is a lot closer to big bend national park, we opted for dry camp at $20, and our last night we asked to hook up so we could dump/get water. This cost $39.

How many days should I plan to spend at Big Bend National Park?

We spent 5 nights at the Park and we found something to do and see everyday – and this did not include hiking, you can easily drive around in a day and see a few spots but if you want to explore and see some back roads we would suggest at least 3 days.

Can I drive my RV round the whole of Big Bend National Park?

We were unaware of the difficulties driving around Big Bend with an RV/ motorhome until we arrived. We just assumed we could turn up, find a spot and that’s it. You can only drive on around 2 roads with an RV over 24 foot – for example you can’t get to Chisos Basin (access to the Window) with a larger vehicle, or close up to the Hot Springs. These routes are either full of sharp twists and turns, or off road. We were advised not to drive down Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive but we found that ok with our RV which is 28 foot.

If you are wanting to explore more of the park and have an RV over 20 foot we would highly recommend renting a 4×4 Jeep!

How do I rent a Jeep and what Roads can I drive down off road at Big Bend?

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We rented a Jeep from “Far Flung” which is along the 170, off of the 118 (opposite the Petrol Garage, and RV Park) They charge $189 for a days hire from 9am to 7am the next day. It sounds like a lot, but honestly this was by far the best day of our travels so far! We left our RV in their carpark, and picked up our RV at 6pm (posted the keys in the letter box)

Our first trip was off to the Window, driving down Chisos Basin Road, this road has sharp turnings, and is not recommended for RVs over 24 foot. We then travelled down a road called Glenn Springs Road, onto River Road East towards the Hot Springs. The map says its around 22 miles, but this thrilling off road drive took us around 3 hours, and was unforgettable! The Road is very off road so do not attempt this unless you have a 4 wheel drive, you will drive along narrow roads full of gravel and stones hanging over a cliffs edge! The views are spectacular and felt like we were ontop of the world.

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Subscribe to our Youtube channel for a video on our jeep adventure: The England Family Travels

I am not a Hiker what Trials can I go on at the Big Bend National Park?

We went to the following:

  • Talinguar Ghost Town before Big Bend off 118, along the 170
  • Santa Elena Canyon Trail – 1.2 miles 1 hour (but we just walked ¼ mile to the river/opening)
  • Chisos Basin Over Look Trial – 0.5 miles ¼ hour walk
  • Hot Springs – 1 mile ½ hour walk
  • Rio Grand Overlook – Park and look
  • Boquillas Canyon Overlook – Park and look
  • River Road East Scenic River (4x4s only) Scenic Drive with a Jeep
  • Boquillas Del Carmen Port of Entry to Mexico

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You could do but we run out of time; Basin Loop – 1.8 miles one hour walk, Sam Nail Ranch – 0.5 miles half hour walk, Fossil Discovery – 0.2 miles 15 minutes walk, Rio Grande Village Nature Trial – 1.2 miles 1 hour walk

Is it worth doing the Boquillas Del Carmen Port of Entry to Mexico?

We were not sure if we wanted to go across to Mexico –

  1. We were not sure if it would be safe for children
  2. We were told by others its just a old run down town and there is nothing to see

The Port of Entry to Mexico was probably the most random day we have ever experienced, ever! and so glad we did it! You start off by showing your passports at the Port at Texas (this is only open Wednesday – Sunday 9-5pm) You then go to the river, get onto a small rowing boat. The little Mexican man will then row you over the river (approx. 30 seconds) when you get to the other side you are then Mexico – you can choose from walking ¼ mile, or taking a DONKEY ride to town. If you opt for a donkey you will also get a guided tour, we had a man called Lopo, he was fantastic!

On our return we had to check in in Texas like you do at the airport, but via one of them digital passport machines, a camera and a telephone call – also a very strange experience!

There isn’t a lot to see in town (people are right) just a few old Mexican restaurants and lots of locals trying to sell handmade items – but the experience of being about to hop over to another country in 30 seconds, and doing that via a boat and a donkey is an experience like no other!

You must do it, but remember if you go over there on a Sunday, and miss the last boat back you’ll be in Mexico until the Wednesday.

Subscribe to our Youtube channel for a video on the crossing – The England Family Travels https://youtu.be/I2vlV382tyQ

Will I see Stars?

Pictures abov: 1st picture just after sunset, 2nd picure 2-3 hours after sunset.

When it gets dark, look up and you will see millions of stars; there isn’t any light pollution at the Big Bend so you will be able to see the Milky Way. If you would like to photograph the stars, you will need a tripod with you, and preferably a Mirrorless camera – I have a Sony 7 II its absolutely fantastic!.

To achieve the photos below I set my Sony camera up using the following settings:

– Photo Style: Night Sky

-Shutter Speed “25

-ISO 4000

-I have a 14mm 2.8 Stigma Lens so I was able to put the F stops right down to 2.8, if you have other lenses just put it to the lowest F stop possible (usually F4.5)

Point the camera up at the sky, on the tripod and take the photo! You might have to adjust the settings depending on the outcome. Please comment below if you have any other photography questions.

Before you leave, don’t forget to take a visit to Talingua Ghost Town

Driving through the local Ghost Town is a very unique experience, lots of old fallen down derelict buildings contrasting with new buildings, and residence staying in teepees, cool RVs and some of the old buildings! If you fancy eating there, we ate at Starlight Restaurant and Saloon www.thestarlighttheatre.com it has a calming atmosphere tables with candle light and warming décor. We were there on a Thursday evening, as the sunset, with live music playing – it felt as though we were somewhere else intown! Our food was absolutely perfect, probably the best meal we have had yet! Highly recommended.

Final Words

The Big Bend is a must on your to do list while visiting Texas, its suitable for all ages/abilities and is rated one of the top place to go to escape every day life. The vast contrast between mountain, desert, and river will dazel you, the bendy roads will excite you and the nature will amaze you. If you are one of them that are able to trek miles to the top of mountains, the views will be out of this world.

If you are going to the Big Bend or have been and want to add please comment below.

 

 

 

How to Find the Perfect Ranch in Bandera Texas

While in San Antonio we found out that a close by town called Bandera was the “Cowboy Capital of The World” and at last minute decided that we had to go! We struggled finding somewhere that would take an RV, and emailed the Visitors Center. (Email director@banderacowboycapital.com) They were extremely helpful, and kindly emailed back with a list of a few good local ranches. We looked through them all, and of them was Twin Elm Ranch which luckily takes RVs (also has other accommodation so anyone can stay) After looking at their website we booked up straight away, as they looked absolutely AMAZING!

http://www.twinelmranch.com

A Typical Day at Twin Elm Ranch in Bandera

A typical day at a Ranch is totally up to you, there are a number of activities you can book, one of which is a 1 hour horse ride with the Wrangler through the forest and river. This is for Adults and children aged 6 and up, so we opted for pony rides for both of ours so Maisie aged 4 didn’t feel left out.

“There are many activities to enjoy here at the Twin Elm Ranch, from horseback riding to evening campfires and hayrides.. you are sure to have fun filled days without the stress of your typical daily life.  Take a cool dip in the swimming pool, play volleyball, horseshoes or basketball.  Hike the trails looking for arrowheads or spot wild life.  Maybe even a nice stroll to the river to dip your toes! We also have a game room for your enjoyment equipped with a pool table, ping pong and air hockey.  Relax on the couch and read a book, play a board game or watch your favorite cable TV show.  Fun for the whole familyTwin Elm Ranch

http://www.twinelmranch.com/activities.html

We only spent 24hours here, so we didn’t get to do all of the amazing things that they had to offer.

Our experience at Twin Elm Ranch

We arrived at Twin Elm Ranch mid day hooked up our RV, and took a short stroll to the horse stables. Ellie and Maisie has a pony ride booked for 1pm, and were all dressed up in cowboy hats ready to go. We had a friendly welcome from the Ranch Wranglers Nancy And Shirley, taking both the girls by the hands leading them to their horses. Both of them had help onto their horses, and were taught how ride…in just 10 mins both girls had control of them! Absolutely amazing how much children can learn in such a short space of time. All the horses were extremely well behaved, calm and friendly, and we had a lot of trust in them. We enjoyed the experience so much we booked another horse ride later in the day.

The Ranch has a calming effect, and extremely peaceful. We all felt part of the family straight away, everyone is so friendly and welcoming! We could of stayed forever!

We took a stroll after lunch, and was lucky enough to watch a horse being re-shoed by the local Farrier. He had his own mobile workshop built into van that he drove around all the local ranches. Ellie and Maisie were both fascinated and made sure they asked many questions!

Later in the day we walked back to the horse stables, the sun was setting, the light was casting over the horses- perfect opportunity for photos! Again the girls had an amazing horse ride and loved every minute.

We booked a campfire for the evening, which was worth every penny! And highly recommend that you book one if you stay at Twin Elm Ranch.

Is it worth booking a campfire at Twin Elm Ranch?

Absolutely! Twin Elm Ranch have an option of booking a camp fire- this MUST be on your to do list! We arrived at the campfire at 7pm, the logs were burning and we were greeted with a warm smile. Others join you at the campfire, so you get to make new friends and talk about your day. We had s’mores, listened to the guitar playing before being invited to try lasso throwing!

We all spent the rest of the evening being taught how to throw a lasso on a metal bull- we had so much fun!

Is it noisy at a Dude Ranch at night?

Twin Elm Ranch is probably the quietest RV stay we have ever had! Not a pin drop, or a dog bark, or a horse neeeey! Absolutely perfect! Most peaceful night yet….and a wonderfully magical morning watching the sunrise in this calm tranquil ranch.

Would you stay at a Dude Ranch again?

YES YES YES! We have a special space in our hearts for ranch life now, and could easily stay somewhere like Twin Elm Ranch forever….The most memorable experience on our whole trip yet!

We would highly recommend a Dude Ranch experience, if you like to get involved, find out about new cultures and different ways in which people live this is a must. Our whole family was welcomed with open arms at Twin Elm Ranch, And we thank each and everyone of them for an experience of a life time!

We will never forget our 24hours at Twin Elm Ranch, Bandera Texas

http://www.twinelmranch.com

810 FM 470, Bandera, Texas 78003

P. O. Box 117, Bandera, Tx 78003

Ranch: 830-796-3628    

twinelmranch@hotmail.com

 

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So after the -30 weather conditions at Chicago had settled down we decided it’s safe to leave the hotel after 4 days cooped up in there.

So we grabbed our very first Uber(ever!) to take us to pick up our RV, our Uber driver was a lovely lady called Roz she was a lot of fun. The 20 minute ride we shared with Roz was full of laughter, and excitement about our trip, she said a blessing for us for our travels – right there in the car park of ARTS RV’S.(www.artsrv.com) Roz is a great lady, and that’s a great service right there thank you Roz.

So we dragged our bags through the snowy car park and into ARTS RV’S, throwing them down as soon as we were through the doors. We watched the tutorial video, sign all the paperwork then from around the corner appeared our RV, (the moment we have all been waiting months for) a brand spanking new 28ft long RV pulls up.

It’s even better than we imagined, it turned out that the bad luck with the weather was a blessing in disguise, we got a brand spanker of an RV, first people to use it with 181 miles on the clock, thank you very much.

So we had the grand tour of this big beast and they explained how everything worked, and once they were satisfied that we understood  everything, we were free to hit the road in this thing and we couldn’t wait.

As we pulled out of ARTS RV’S we all felt that this adventure had truly begun, and what better way of showing it, than us all shouting YEEE HAAA as loud as we could all so excited to have finally hit the road in our RV, and heading away from the snow.

First stop Walmart. We drove for about 20 minutes till we see a Walmart and we couldn’t wait to get in there and stock up the RV with all the things we were going to need for this adventure , we spent a small fortune in that hour we were in there, we got food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, we got things to make the RV homely like a door mat, towels, table mats, potpourri (you know all the essentials).

So once we’d done our 60 minute make over we were back on the road, and heading south on i-55 for DOUBLE J’s RV park (www.doublejcampground.com) in Chatham Illinois. It was about 3 hour drive on a nice straight road, just what we needed to get use to driving the beast, set cruise control to 70mph hold on to the wheel and enjoy the views.

We arrived at DOUBLE J’s around 5pm, it’s the first RV park any of us had ever stayed at so we wasn’t too sure of how it all worked, we pulled up to the office and was greeted by Liz who was so helpful and friendly. Liz explained how the site runs, where we are staying, and offered to help set us up. We drove around to our plot, and thankfully remembered the tutorial from 4hrs ago about how to set up the RV when arriving at a campground. First thing check the RV is level with the spirit level they provided, plug the electric in, plug the cable TV in (would of hooked it up to the water but our RV had been winterized, this means the water tanks on this RV were filled with anti freeze due to the winter weather in Chicago so we had no on board water facilities, no shower, no tap water etc)

But as soon as we get to better climates we would have it de-winterized to give us full use of the facilities.  So we were starting to get the feel of this RV life, was pretty good to drive, easy to set up, and it felt like home, hey this is easy, and a lot of fun.

We stayed at DOUBLE J’S  for 2 nights , it was a great RV park and it could not have been a better starting camp for us beginners.

 

So it was time to hit the road again, and we had MEMPHIS in our sights, we just had a 5 hour journey to concur first, again we got on   i-55 south set cruise control and enjoyed the view, this time singing Elvis Presley songs for most of the way.

We stayed at the MEMPHIS K.O.A JOURNEY RV (www.koa.com) campground on i-55 which is actually in Arkansas but bordering Tennessee, what a fabulous campground this is. The staff there were very friendly and helpful and gave us great tips on where to go and what to see, the campground was very well looked after and we really enjoyed staying here. We had a fire in the evening which we all enjoyed sitting around roasting marshmallows.

The next day we went to THE CHILDRENS MUSEUM OF MEMPHIS,(www.cmom.com) which we had a lot of fun at, they have some great things for the kids here to play with from real police cars and fire engines, airplanes to climbing frames, disco rooms, milking cows, shopping experiences, and air tubes which were really fun. The best part was the carousel, this  was in pristine condition and had so much history behind it, it was a pleasure to ride such an amazing work of art.

After that we drove to a little place they call Graceland (Elvis Presley house)                        (www.graceland.com),  we cannot believe we had the pleasure of visiting Elvis Presley house, (how crazy is that) one of the most famous if not the most famous person ever to have walked this earth and our little family is at his house, it’s something we are never going to forget, we truly appreciate that moment. We signed the wall and floor of Graceland as many millions of others have, but seeing THE ENGLAND FAMILY TRAVELS wrote on the wall of Elvis Presley house was truly a magical moment, and we are truley thankful……. “thank you, thank you very much

The next day we went to the Peabody Hotel in Memphis                    (www.peabodymemphis.com) to witness a daily tradition they celebrate called the “March of the Ducks” which is where you can watch duck’s come down an elevator at precisely at 11am EVERYDAY from the penthouse suite where they live in this 5 star hotel. They march from the elevator on a red carpet to a very grand water fountain, where they spent the day swimming around until 5 pm where they then hold another ceremony where the duck’s get out of the fountain! They march back up the red carpet to the elevator, and up to the penthouse suite where they live in absolute luxury until 11am the next morning, it’s absolutely barmy but a lot of fun to watch. There’s a great story behind all of this as to why they do this, check out the Peabody hotel duck story it’s pretty neat.

After that we went to Beale Street (this is the main party street in Memphis) full of neon lights, bars, street performers, and live blues, soul, funk, and rock music. We stopped in Silky O Sullivan’s bar (www.silkyosullivans.com) for a bite to eat and listen to the band, we had a great time and food was fantastic. The band played great music which we all sung and danced to and believe it or not they had goats in the back garden, we KID you not. So a lot of fun was had by all.

So our time in Memphis Tennessee was great but it was time to hit the road again, so we have packed up, got the RV de-winterized and we are heading South for NEW ORLEANS.

World Travel Family, sold everything, and left England to travel the world to escape the rat race – The England Family

So our plans  has changed slightly due to -30 weather conditions in Chicargo. The first day of becoming a world travel family has been a crazy adventure….

We flew from Gatwick and to Chicago on Monday afternoon via Norwegian air, our flight was great, airline company was excellent and Ellie and Maisie was well behaved. Considering it was a 9hr flight, anyone who knows our girls will know that they don’t sit still for 5 minutes, so all was going great. We skipped off the plane all excited, and ready to jump on our next plane to Dallas Texas knowing that we just had to wait 5hrs in the airport first. We planned to grab some food, watch the planes out of the window, and before you know it we would be on our way to Dallas.

We thought it was all going so well!…. 

As we stepped off the plane we felt the bitter cold hit us, breathing steam out of our mouths and laughing about it, because it’s fine, we were off to Dallas soon where its 18 degrees. We then head off to collect our bags,  and bundled onto a cold shuttle bus to terminal 3 where we checked in for our next flight to Dallas.

At the checking desk, the lady told us the flight was delayed by 2hrs, so we planned on having a little nap somewhere as we were all tired. This meant that we would be checking into our Dallas hotel at 2am rather than 12am US time. So we checked in, went through security, and then headed off to find our gate, where we decided to set up our base camp for the next 7hrs.  Our “temporary camp” consisted of 5 chairs in a horse shoe shape, up against a wall and in the middle of the chairs we laid coats and blankets on the floor so the girls could have a sleep. We both sat on guard and took it in turns in napping, behind us was a huge window looking out to all the planes at the gate. The snow was coming down hard, and there were people in cranes firing jets of what we guessed was antifreeze.(Looked like a scene from Die Hard 2).

Anyway, about 2 hours went by, the girls were asleep on the floor, we were both nodding……. then we heard the words that no one wants to hear ” flight no NK903 has been cancelled, repeat flight no NK903 has been cancelled”.

So we had 2 sleeping children, 4 lots of hand luggage and we had been awake for far too long; So we decided to overcome it, grab a wheelchair, stick the sleeping girls in it and made a dash for the checking desk. We then discovered that we wouldn’t be flying untill Wednesday (today is Monday) and because it was a weather issue, (not the plane) they told us that they cannot offer us a free hotel. We looked up the weather forecast to find that the weather would be getting worse as the week goes on, and we decided to get a refund  (If they wouldn’t fly in -8 we couldn’t see them flying when its -30)

We book nearby hotel, grab our bags and called a taxi – we decided on spending the night coming up with a new plan!

Plan B

So after our airport disaster, we managed to check into the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel www.starwoodhotels.com/four-points.marriot.com – a short cab ride away from the airport, the girls were shattered, we chucked our bags down, put our PJ’s on and went to bed. As shattered as we all were we still managed to wake up at 4:30 am (damn you body clock), the kids are re-energized and excited to be on holiday – so it doesn’t take long before the beds turn it to trampolines and the hysterical laughing and shouting begins. 

So we are pretty much snowed in, all the news channels are covering how bad the weather is and not to go outside as you can get frost bit within 2-5 min! the wind chill is -55! We did take it in turns to pop outside to see what -30 feels like (Just the adults) and to take some photos. It takes your breath away, and the inside of your nose starts freezing up as soon as you inhale through your nose! It’s a weird sensation, but glad we experienced it. 

Last night Maisie was sick, which we did not plan for (esp all the extra washing), she was sick all over Ellie and Ellie didn’t wake up! We have spent most of the morning picking lumps out of clothes, hair and bedding….another hurdle for us, I wonder what could happen next.

We are now on our last day of our 4 days in this big hotel, we have played board games (Escape room Jumanji is amazing! https://escaperoomthegame.com/en-us/jumanji), we have been swimming, watching TV, home schooling and writing our blogs. We pick up our RV tomorrow from Chicargo instead of Dallas depot and our adventure begins! New places added are: Springfield and Memphis on route to New Orleans – 1000 miles in 4 days wish us luck, and keep following us!

For other world travellers looking for RV Parks:

Springfield RV Park: www.doublejcampground.com/

Memphis RV Park: www.koa.com/campgrounds/memphis/

 

Just incase you missed the post about why we are doing this:

https://theenglandfamilytravels.com/2018/11/08/the-journey-begins/

From Glen-

It’s 4:42am on 28th January 2019 and I’m wide awake, laying in our Premium Inn bed at London Gatwick thinking about what is about to happen with our lives. Thinking about the adventures we will have, what problems we may encounter, how this trip is going to benefit our lives, and what impact it will have on the girls. What will life throw at us, and how will we handle it; I’m thinking all this laying in this hotel bed in the dark while the 3 girls are sound asleep, I’m writing on my phone with the brightness turned all the way down and when one of the girls move or make a sound I flip the phone down to hide the screen so they don’t see I’m awake and think it ok to get up.

We have a long day ahead of us today, we won’t be checking in to the hotel in Dallas till about 12 midnight tonight, so a full day of traveling with a stopover in Chicago for 5hrs then another flight to Dallas Texas, so the girls need there rest for this long day ahead.

I’m also thinking about the comfortable life we’ve left behind, Gem had 2 businesses she started from nothing which she loved, and I have worked 14years at the same company, the last 5years being management. We were both very comfortable and stable with our work situations, we rented a lovely house and we filled it with all pretty things to make it our home – we had a comfortable life…………. But where’s the excitement, where’s the adventure? We could go on with our lives working 60hrs + a week up until we retire , and squeezing in fun things to do over the weekends sure 95% of the population does and it works, But that doesn’t work for us, we have been stuck in groundhog Day for to long……

“STOP THE RIDE I WANT TO GET OFF!”

We have sold everything we own, I’ve quit my job, Gems closed her business, we’ve moved out of our home, and we have taken the girls out of school. Our lives as we knew them is no more, but boy does that feel good.

All we now own are 4 ruck sacks full of clothes, a fancy camera ,2 phones and a laptop, oh and of course Gemma’s beloved trumpet and right now it feels liberating. We feel free, we have no weight on our shoulders (other than our rucksacks!)

So that’s it from us, from The England Family we are jetting off to the USA to start our amazing trip!

nothing planned blogJust thought Id write a little bit about how we are going to travel around the world – and if you were thinking of doing the same, how to go about it!

Firstly, sell up, jump on a plane and see where the wind takes you.

Ok, im kidding! Close friends and family who know me (Gemma) know how much of an organised freak I am! I have organised EVERY THING to the last hotel and flight!

We booked our flights,  around 2 months ago with a company called Round The World flights – a lovely man called Geoff was extremely patient with my every question, our constant plan changes and date changes! If you are looking for someone to help you source out lots of flights go to http://www.roundtheworldflights.com and ask for Geoff – say I sent you. He has no idea I am writing this!

We then downloaded an app called Tripit, this is an amazing little app – it sieves through all your emails, collects all your fights/ hotels and puts it all in one app. We have shared this information with our parents so they can see where we are at what time…We have a feelling they will turn up unexpectidly to spy on us – like Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents program on BBC!

USA

So onto our trip, the first country we are flying to is Dallas USA. With plans to visit New Orleans/ Huston/ San Antonio/ Big Bend/ Amarillo/ and then across to California in 2 months. We spent ALOT of time pricing up – we discussed car/hotels, and RV/campsite options and I must admit neither are cheap! We decided to opt for the one that would be an adventure for us and the kids! So we have booked an RV with a company called El Monte. Again this was not cheap, but we feel will be worth every “cent!”

We have sourced alot of free campsites within National Parks that we are planning to stay at, but we have booked and paid for New Orleans, San Antonio. Santa Fe and Hollywood. These are our four main town stops – the rest of our stops are National Parks and other must see locations – we will talk about these in another blog.

FIJI

Our next stop after USA is Fiji, this will just be a relaxing 10 day holiday! We are staying with a Fijian family, in their spare house on the beach, and hoping to learn about their way of living and culture – and they have invited us to have BBQs with them every evening!

NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand is our next location after Fiji, and again – we have spent many hours planning our drive! making sure we can fit it all in in 6 weeks – as we are hoping to drive South to North – Very north to Cape Reinga. Cape Regina is the very tip of the North Island, all that is there is a light house looking out to the Pacific Ocean….absolutely breath taking.

We spent some time deciding between New Zealand and Australia, we couldn’t do both due to cost, and the weather. As a photographer I wanted to take advantage of New Zealand’s beauty during Autumn – during this time its super cold in Australia – so decided to stick to just New Zealand.

Again, the same as USA we opted for an RV, this time I found a website called Vroom Vroom Vroom – and found a good deal on a Maui RV. You can free camp in New Zealand if you have a self-contained vehicle – which we do! We have had to book and pay for a site in April as we are there during Easter – which is a very busy holiday in New Zealand.

THAILAND / BALI

After our 6 weeks in New Zealand we will be visiting Thailand and Bali, Thailand I have typed up a whole booklet of hotels that have been booked – we haven’t messed around! We will be using the train, and Airbnb and Booking.com while in Thailand.

I will be blogging about each country individually, and where abouts we are planning to go and see! so keep an eye on future blogs.

Travelling with children can be hard work, and having a plan can help – I must admit we have probabaly gone slightly OTT, but atleast we know that our girls will always have some where safe to sleep – which is very important to us.

So for some of you that are planning a trip of a life time with your family, be prepared for lots and lots and lots of research and planning…..

Love The England Family

 

 

 

Have you ever wondered why we are here? Have you ever wondered what life is all about, and what we are supposed to be doing? Have you ever dreamt of escaping the ‘Rat Race’ of day to day life that we all unconsciously follow day to day?

These are the very questions we have been asking our self’s this year – we have had a few close family members pass away, making us realise how quick life can be taken from us. Call it an early mid life crises if you like – regardless, we have found ourself’s questioning life…how short it is, and whether working 60 hours a week, and waiting until we retire is the way forward for us.

We love being different – for example both of us love our music  Ska, Jazz and Old Skool Garage, rock ,80’s, 90’s if its got a beat you can dance to chances are we like it, Our ipods are random, one minute we are playing Disney, and the next we are raving to 90s dance music.

We have already done our fair share of travelling, Glen spent alot of his teens travelling America – while myself (Gemma) has also done a little bit of travelling to Thailand, which was the most amazing experience and recommend it to anyone!

We must put our hands up and say – we have never followed society! – We have our own way of living, our own way of thinking and our own ideas….some people think we are crazy for not liking what everyone else likes – but we dare to be different and dare to take a risk.

So we have decided as of January 28th 2019, we will break the rules of society and the rules of everyday life, and we’ll be putting everything in storage and travelling the world! Yes we are crazy, and yes we do not know what we are going to do at the end of all this – but I tell you this – Life is short, you could die tomorrow, life is all about experiences and we are here on this earth to live life to the fullest.

So what about Ellie and Maisie I hear you ask? Yes they are certainly coming with us! And YES they will probably drive us insane at times along the way – we know that it will not be all cupcakes and rainbows – but it will most defiantly be the best experience of their life’s.

So, our plans for the next few months are very busy! We will be giving up the lease on our house, selling most of our possessions, aswell as our car! We are also trying to loose some weight (as we are a little overweight at the moment), making sure that we are fit and healthy ready for all the travelling plans we have ahead…We will be blogging about our weight loss too! so keep an eye out!

So that’s us and our crazy plans, I hope you all follow us with our adventure!

Lots of Love

The England Family – Gemma, Glen, Ellie and Masie

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