Fun times with family

img_6107Over the next 2 days we slept little and enjoyed the family a lot!  Those of us that are “old” stayed at a local hotel and the “youngins” stayed in tents at Freeman’s.

There was plenty of food and beverages for all to enjoy.  Games were played and just sitting around laughing a lot.  With my family there is never a dull moment and someone is always goofing offimg_6120 or playing a prank on someone else.  We truly enjoy spending time together which some just don’t understand.

Sadly all fun times must come to an end and we all met up at Freeman’s one last time the morning of July 4th.  We helped clean up the yard and Freeman’s house as much as we could.  We all hit the road heading to our own homes by noon.

Mark and I had no courthouses to visit on the way home so we just cruised along with the final destination being our home address.  We dodged some rain and made it home in a decent amount of time.

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Anxious to arrive but enjoying the ride

We were on the road by 10am and headed towards Carrollton.  We found a beautiful church that has been preserved built in 1833.  Even the outhouse was preserved.

When we arrived in Carrollton (Carroll County) the sky was darkening so after getting photos of the courthouse we covered the bike JUST IN TIME!  The skies opened up and we had to run for cover.  We found a little diner for breakfast/lunch and by the time we were done it quit raining.

We visited Lisbon (Columbiana County) and Youngstown (Mahoning County) courthouses and was finally on the last leg to see the family!  We arrived at my brother Freeman’s around 3pm – not the first to arrive and not the last.

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Heading out early…

My brother in PA is hosting all of us, my sisters’, Mom, all the kids’, friends’ and basically anyone who wants to join the fun to his house for the Holiday weekend.  When we all get together there is close to 30 with just family!  Ohio, Kentucky, Florida, and Pennsylvania are represented.  Due to this large gathering I of course am anxious to see everyone and arrive in Hermitage PA.

The trip is 238 miles one way (this is mapped through counties where I need courthouse photos and all back roads) .  In a car on the interstate it takes us no more than 3.5 hours to get from Columbus to Hermtiage… on the bike we are looking at 9 – 12 hours!  🙁

I had everything completely packed and ready to go early of course.  I got the brilliant idea – LEAVE A DAY EARLY!  I started looking for decent priced hotels about half way through the ride and discovered Cadiz, Ohio had a new Microtel & Suites.  I sent a text to Mark with my brilliant idea of leaving as soon as he got home from work.  My coersion worked!

We hit the road by 4pm Thursday June 30th.  We traveled through Coshocton and New Philadelphia and ended in Cadiz.  We had a great 130 mile trip and discovered a new lake we wanted to visit at some point.

Lake Tappan in Harrison County is absolutely beautiful.  The lake is surrounded by Ohio size mountains and fully wooded.   Mark that on our list of must go back to!

 

 

 

 

Summer 2016 Vacation

The summer of 2015 after our many motorcycle adventures we decided we wanted to visit the New England states the summer of 2016 all the way to Maine and back.  We figured we would take 2 weeks and leave immediately from the 4th of July gathering at my brother’s in PA.  In April/May I started looking at the trip more closely and WOW!  A two week vacation with hotel, food and gas was going to cost at a minimum of $3,500!!!  CHANGE OF PLANS!

With our many adventures last summer we have found there is so much  in our own state of Ohio we have not seen and in some cases, didn’t know existed!  We talked and decided let’s just do an extended Ohio trip – usually we do 2, 3 or 4 days.  Now the planning begins.  When do we go?  Where do we go?  East?  North? South?  West and Southwest are done.

We decided July was the time we would go.  Where?  It seems East and South/Southeast we are lacking a lot of counties as well as North – we’re going east and South/Southeast.

In looking at our July schedule we see we have my brother’s family gathering in PA from July 1st to July 4th.  I map out a route to get from Columbus to Hermitage PA to knock out some counties to the East.  We had made camping plans with our besties Doug and Erica and their family July 6th – 8th.   Next on our calendar is mid-July we have Mark’s family reunion in Warren.  OK.  Let’s start in Columbus, head northeast towards Warren, stay the weekend then head south Monday morning!

Where we going to stay?  We have always loved camping.  I begin looking at State Parks.  It will be mid-July and way too hot to stay in a tent not to mention the hassle of setting up each day and taking down.  Doesn’t sound like a vacation to me!  I narrowed the search to State Parks with camper cabins and A/C!

I map out the entire trip and what park we will stay in each night.  Done you think?  No!  I look at everything more closely over the next few days.  I see that some days we drive 100+ miles and a couple of days we drive 60 miles from park to park.  Let’s see if I can find a centrally located park!  The benefit would be we get there, unpack and hopefully stay a few days and just make that park our starting point each day and if we decide we don’t want to do anything – we don’t do anything!

All the route planning and overnight stays are planned!  Now the list making starts!  What clothes we are packing, what will be our meal plan each day, what grocery trips we make for the days we are cooking, etc etc etc.

Each day is documented for both trips so you will have to read on!

 

Huge family cruise

My sisters’ and I have talked for years about getting our entire family to go on a cruise.  My sisters’ along with my Mom have gone on 3, maybe 4, together but have missed having our husbands’, brothers’ and kids’ along to enjoy the hilarity we often get into.  Every time we attempted one brother said “NO!  he would not go on a cruise!”, another brother found difficulty getting off of work, hurdles everywhere so we gave up each time we tried.

In February Mark and I decided we were going on a cruise in 2017.  We decided we were doing an 8 day aboard the Carnival Magic and now it was time to pick the date we wanted to go.  We had chosen June because I would be off for the summer and Mark has plenty of vacation.  I wanted the 8 day that included going to Aruba so we had our date chosen since the itinerary for the Magic rotates and only does Aruba every few weeks.   All the details were finally worked out and what do I do?  I send a group text to the family saying “hey, Mark and I are going on a cruise and here are the details”.  2 of us going on a vacation by ourselves has now turned into 26!!    Mark, myself, our three kids’, two sisters’, two brothers’, Mom, spouses, nieces, nephews, close friends of Mark and I along with friends of  all the kids!  We are going to have a blast and truthfully I don’t regret for a second opening our vacation up to friends’ and family!

This large of a group of course then turned into a few hurdles.  Some couldn’t get off work the week we originally wanted to go – no Aruba for me.  🙁   The next hurdle was finding a location on the ship that we could get all of our cabins together.  I spent 2 days doing mock bookings with everyone’s cabin request (interior or balcony) and which cabin has 2, 3 or 4 berths.  After finally finding basically our own section of the ship with the correct cabin openings I then spend an hour on the phone with a Carnival PVP (Personal Vacation Planner) getting everyone assigned to a cabin.   Now everyone has to go online or call the PVP to make their own deposit and confirm their booking within 24 hours and surprisingly all followed directions and got their part done!

You would think the planning was complete but nope!  Out of the 26 only 9 actually live in the state of Florida.  The remaining 17 of us will be traveling from Ohio, Pennsylvania and Colorado.  I myself will not fly or drive and arrive the same day as the cruise departure.  We have personally been affected by travel delays when flying in the day of departure and luckily had booked our flights through Carnival so they made all of the arrangements to get us to the ship on time.  I have also heard all of the horror stories from the numerous cruise groups I belong to.

I immediately started a search for a hotel with cruise and park.  Mark, myself, our kids and friends will be driving to Port Canaveral Florida.  We have used Cruise & Park multiple times where you stay at a hotel the night before your cruise and you can leave your car in their secure lot while on the cruise.  This usually is much cheaper than paying for a hotel and then also paying for your car to be parked at the cruise terminal.  The hotel then provides you transportation to/from the cruise terminal and is much faster than parking yourself.   Searching for a hotel 16 months before needed turned out to be a bit more difficult than I expected.  Only one hotel actually responded to my request since it was so far away from the date needed. Getting a straight answer from everyone on their arrival date seems to be more difficult than the actual cruise planning.

I created a Facebook event for those going on the trip and I update the event page with excursions and any news about the Carnival Magic ship.  Every once in a while I will post the countdown or an excursion that may be of interest.   With so many people we will not be doing many excursions together.  Mark will be diving at each port – that is the plan anyway and anyone else certified may go with him.

Mark and I chose to do the CanAm Spyder rental while visiting St Maarten and it seems that almost all 26 of us will be going on that excursion.  Look out St Maarten!

My travel OCD was in full swing for the first month after booking and I started printing the luggage tags which I will laminate for everyone, started a binder for the trip which will eventually include all boarding passes and health screening forms as well as excursion info.  I have since cooled off and quit thinking about it.  Luckily we had a busy summer with lots of motorcycle trips and fun stuff so I had something else to plan.