Ayrril’s Posts

USS Drum

From Florida we drove to Mobile, Alabama to visit the Battleship Memorial Park. This was a stop we had been planning from the start of our trip and I was pretty excited to get there. The park houses the battleship USS Alabama as well as the USS Drum, a World War II submarine. My maternal grandfather, Calvin Ruebush, served on the Drum from 1942-1945. He was a torpedoman on 8 war patrols in the Pacific theater. There’s a display on the Drum that includes many of his personal effects. He died when I was Bridger’s age so my boys only know him through stories and pictures. It was pretty cool to be able to show them the personal items on board the Drum that belonged to their great grandfather and show them their connection to history through his service. I loved my Poppy very much and of course I have always known about his time on the Drum. It was really great to actually be there, with the knowledge I have now of the military, and especially of men in the military. I could actually imagine him and 70 other young men in that small submarine, making their patrols, looking for trouble — young men at war. It gave me a whole new perspective.

It’s exciting when history and family history come together!    -Ayrril

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While Brian was “working” in the Northwest the boys and I spent the month here in Northwest Florida.

We took advantage of being parked and spent a lot of time on school. Carson worked especially hard. He took 4 mid-term exams when we arrived and was ready for finals in those same classes just 4 weeks later. Most days we did school in the morning with the goal of having time to play later in the day. Afternoons might find us in the hammocks with a book or at the marina with a paddle. We had some rainy days too – perfect for playing Xbox in the bus or watching movies. We’re loving the new Sherlock!

Our campground here is beautiful – filled with tall pines and live oaks and magnolias. We’re right on the shore of Santa Rosa Sound, within walking distance of the marina. There’s a nature trail along the sound that’s perfect for walking Sam or for running. We’ve seen snakes and turtles and toads and tree frogs. Lately the fireflies are out (we even had one in the bus!) and even though I know all about bioluminescence (thank you Museum of Natural History!) somehow they still seem kind of magical. For the last two weeks the honeysuckle and the magnolias have been in bloom and our nature trail smells amazing!

We only had one campground misadventure while Brian was gone. Carson stepped out to fill Sam’s water bowl at the spigot next to the bus. As he turned the handle the whole top of the water spigot came off the pipe and launched into the air. He yelled for help and I ran outside and saw a geyser of water, higher than our bus, just next to our electrical box. Carson and I managed to wrestle the cap back onto the pipe against pretty incredible water pressure. We were completely soaked! He held it in place and I called the campground office to ask for help. A few minutes later a fire engine pulled up in front of the bus. I’m thinking “Why would they send a fire engine?” but then… firemen! It was a Magic Mike moment and I can’t believe I didn’t get pictures! The very professional firemen called a utilities crew and they were finally able to get the water shut off and get the pipe repaired. It was a very exciting Sunday morning!

Due to parts delays it took all month for the Jeep to be fixed. We had a rental in the meantime but we really missed our Jeep. It’s finished now and good as new. Just in time too! Brian’s back and we’ll be headed for Mobile and then New Orleans. On the road again!

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Vegas, baby!

I can’t believe it’s been a month since we last posted! We’ve been off the road visiting family and catching up on schoolwork while Brian’s been doing a little work in Portland so we haven’t had much to post. We did something fun last week though! Carson turned 15 on November 29th and we surprised him with a trip to Vegas for his birthday! He didn’t suspect a thing – he got a birthday card in the mail at my sister’s house on the 28th with a mocked up “prize notification” for an all expense paid trip to fabulous Las Vegas. We threw toothbrushes in a bag and were on the road within an hour. My sister Ammie came along with her invaluable Vegas experience and her camera! The boys watched Ocean’s Eleven on the way just to set the mood.

We arrived in the evening and the Strip was ablaze with neon awesomeness! We checked into Treasure Island, admired the view from our room, then hit the streets. Carson’s still too young to gamble but we found lots to see and do. We saw the volcano erupt at the Mirage, we wandered through the Forum in Caesar’s Palace, we saw the fountain show at the Bellagio and did a lot of people watching in between. At New York-New York Casino we found a great arcade and a late night dinner; then it was a quick taxi ride to the Stratosphere Tower. At midnight we were looking over Vegas from 1000 feet above the city. Carson and Ammie rode the Insanity which actually was a little bit insane — the riders hang out over the strip about 900 feet up and then spin at 40 mph! It was a great night. We wound things up around 2 a.m. when we made it back to Treasure Island and beds. The next morning we had a birthday breakfast at Denny’s, then a little souvenir shopping, and a couple of great photo opportunities with Las Vegas street signs. We had so much fun!

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That’s chile, not chili

We’re not kidding when we say we planned our travel route to coincide with the New Mexico chile season. I grew up here and chile was a delicious part of my childhood. I remember big family gatherings to roast chile and even better, to eat chile. I love chile — red, green, hot, mild. Okay, maybe not the mild so much, but I’ll take it in a pinch. There’s chile roasting going on all over New Mexico right now. Everybody’s stocking up for the year. One of the biggest celebrations of New Mexico chile is The Hatch Chile Festival. It happens every year, first weekend in September.  We ate green chile cheeseburgers, green chile fries, green chile burritos, and even green chile ice cream. Brian drew the line at the green chile beer, but I have no doubt it was delicious. The next day we were lucky enough to be invited to the Llañez family farm in Anthony, NM for their annual chile roasting party. When we got there, Carson walked over to the roaster, inhaled and said “That. Smells. So. Good.” Aww… warms my New Mexican heart.  It was a great party! I ate so much — there was a posole with cheese and green chile that was awesome.  We bought 30 pounds of chile, had it roasted on the spot, and then bagged it for the bus freezer. I know that sounds like a lot, but now that Carson likes chile as much as Brian and I do, we’ll be lucky if it lasts until spring!


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