By the Numbers 2018

We are home.

The van is unloaded, piles are being put away and the house is being purged of unnecessary things that were happily lived without for a month.


Another really cool thing happened as we were driving home yesterday. My travel Instagram account reached 1,000 followers. These are mostly strangers who love the family travel lifestyle, and love exploring new places like us! It is a really fun community to be a part of.



  • So here are a few numbers from our travels.
  • 8,500 – number of miles we put on our van.
  • 2,638 – number of pictures taken.
  • 1,000 – number of followers on my travel Instagram account.
  • 174 – number of videos recorded.
  • 34 – number of days always from home.
  • 27 – number of picnic lunches eaten.
  • 20 – number of National Park Sites visited.
  • 19 – number of different hotels we stayed in.
  • 15 – number of bears we saw.
  • 14 – number of hikes taken.
  • 13 – number of Walmart’s visited.
  • 12 – number of states visited.
  • 11 – number of souvenir magnets we came home with.
  • 10 – number of new shirts and hats we bought on the trip.
  • 9 – number of postcards we sent.
  • 8 – number of times we did laundry.
  • 7 – number of times we got ice cream.
  • 6 – number of Orth kid loose teeth we came home with.
  • 5 – number of days spent in Canada.
  • 4 – number of Air bnb stays.
  • 3 – number of hot springs we visited.
  • 2 -number of chips in the windshield.
  • 1 – number of bags left in a hotel (swim goggle bag – we had it mailed home).


These blogs have been a scrapbook for our travels. If you have followed along, I am so glad you have enjoyed the journey as well!  Until our next trip…


Our favorite parts of the trip

I love giving the kids time to reflect on our trips and seeing their unique personalities come out in their responses.

On our final drive today, I typed up all of our favorite parts of this month long adventure.

Kellen’s favorites

1. I liked playing with the cats on the prairie

2. I liked Yellowstone because it is a volcano

3. I liked the beach in Oregon. Sliding down the dunes was fun.

4. I liked the jumping place and playing in the tunnels

5. I liked the fun playgrounds we found. I really liked the ones in Seattle.

Brenna’s Favorites

1. Prairiedown towns – I liked these because all of the prairie dogs were popping out their heads out of the holes and we don’t get to see them in Indiana – they are cute.

2. Rodeo- I liked the rodeo because people rode bulls and horses. The bulls and horses jumped, twisted and bucked. It was so cool.

3. Snow – I liked the snow because you don’t get to play in the snow in the summer at home. We made snowmen, snow angels, threw snowballs and snow forts, it was fun

4. Animals – I liked seeing animals because some of the animals that we saw aren’t in Indiana. We saw over 10 bears, elk, moose, prairie dogs, coyote, caribou, big horn sheep, mountain goats, banana slugs, antelopes, marmots, jack rabbits and a lot of deer.

5. Beach – I liked the beach because we slid down dunes on our sleds. We found a house made of driftwood on the beach and it was also so fun to make a family mini National parks in the sand.

Cora’s favorites

1. National Parks – I loved going to National Parks and getting Junior Ranger badges. 2 of my favorite parks were Yellowstone and Olympic.

2. Canada – my favorite parts of Canada we’re seeing bears and the Lake Louise hike up to the tea house.

3. Oregon Dunes – I loved staying at n a house close to the beach. I also liked sledding down dunes and building our sand National Park

4. Science and Industry Museum – it was really fun learning about different things. My favorite was the mirror maze.

5. Urban Air Trampoline Park – my favorite thing here was the ninja course, the high ropes course and the air slide.

Aiden’s favorites

1. Mt. St. Helens

2. Urban Air trampoline park

3. Mall of America

4. Science and Industry Museum

5. Seeing Boise State

6. Seeing the University of Oregon

7. Touring the Old Faithful Inn

8. The rodeo

9. Lewis and Clark Museum

10. Using two hands (he had a broken knuckle at the beginning of the trip) 😂

Alison’s favorites

1. spending the evening and Sleeping on the prairie in the Ingalls Homestead

2. Listening to the Ranger talk at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument with the battlefield right behind him.

3. Seeing Lake Louise again and the hike up to Lake Agnes Tea House. Eating in the tea house.

4. Exploring low tide pools in Olympic NP and the Puget Sound

5. Our time in the Oregon beach house and the dunes

6. Seeing Mt St. Helens and Crater Lake.

7. Spending time exploring Yellowstone, especially Old Faithful Inn.

8. swimming at Chico Hot springs at night, playing with my kids

Steve’s favorites

1. Beartooth Highway. The views of the mountains and seeing all the snow

2. Hiking in the Canadian Rockies. Seeing wildlife. Johnston Canyon. Jasper

3. Daily watching the kids interact with each other in different pairings and building bonds together

4. Olympic NP Rainforest hike and Hurricane Ridge Trail.

5. Experiencing Yellowstone and Theodore Roosevelt NP. Lots that I saw and learned about

6. Cody nite rodeo

7. Exploring Seattle

8. Chico Hot springs

9. Building our sand National Park in the Oregon beach

10. Driving 8,500 miles


Hello Indiana!

We had a bit of a buffer for our reentry into the real world by going to my parents house on a lake for today and for the 4th of July. All the fun of being home with family without any of the responsibilities of unpacking or working.

It was a perfect lake swimming day

Aiden was happy to play some kind of video game after a month away.

One final wrap up tomorrow.

Touring Downtown Chicago

Even thought we live fairly close to Chicago, we don’t come as a family to explore as much as you would think. It ends up being more of a mom and dad escape destination. So it was great to take time today to do all the fun touristy things along the lakeshore area of the city.

First stop was the Museum of Science and Industry. Get your tickets online, because you get $2 off and you skip the really long line when you enter. There are lots of add on exhibits that cost extra beyond your entrance fee including an exhibit on the scorns behind Pixar, a submarine tour, and a coal mine exhibit. Booooo for extra costs!!! Don’t they know that we are finishing a 5 week road trip!

We loved the mirror maze!!! And learning about math and patterns in nature and the world.

Aiden could have watched the model trains going between Seattle and Chicago all day – it is so well done!

Over all we are really glad we decided to go. I haven’t been in 15 years and the kids were at perfect ages for the exhibits. It was kind of like a test run for The museums of Washington DC next spring!!

Our next stop was Millennium Park. I have been hearing such great thinks about Maggie Daley Park, but I was blown away by what an amazing public space it was!

Such innovative play structures, water structures and it was set among nature so well.

There were several areas to explore and play at. Wow Chicago, what a great addition to this area!!

You can’t be a tourist in Chicago and visit the bean. All the people there kind of just become a part of the sculpture!

The sun got really hot and we were ready to cool off. Luckily there are these amazing water structures just steps from the bean!

About every 5 minutes the video face on the wall puckers up and it looks as though they are spitting water out. It is so cool.

We enjoyed some extended time at a Barnes and Noble nearby, had fun watching the “el” fly by and ate at the Shake Shack for dinner. (Amazing, yes, but strangely our most expensive meal of our whole trip!)

We all had close to 20,000 steps but had a really amazing time exploring this great city!

Last night of our trip tonight. I am going to miss our time so close. Look at the face I get to fall asleep next too ♥️

This face, not so much, he’s kind of a stinker 😂.

Now entering Illinois…

It is official. We have been gone a month. Yes, we still really like each other; No, we are not ready to be done with our travels; Yes, we are tired of picnic lunches and eating out. But like it or not, we have 2 days left.

We have now stayed at 18 different hotels on our journey and Brenna has been keeping track!

Brenna also has been keeping busy having fun in the back seat!

When in Wisconsin, you have to eat at the world’s largest Culver’s.

Our very good friends Jon and Taylor live in the Chicago suburbs and so we had a great place to spend the day!

We were able to cook dinner, have adult conversation, let the kids play and just have a great time with close friends.

These two brothers played catch together for the first time ♥️⚾️♥️⚾️♥️⚾️

We had cake and we ended the night with a run to half-priced books and everyone got something.

The Mall of America

We spent this really hot day exploring the Mall of America. The fun part of this place is all the really unique stores you can find. Stores that usually only can be found online can be found in person here. Sometimes it is just nice to see something in person, try something on, or make a really good Christmas lists!

We have already done the indoor amusement park here on past trips, so this time all we took away from the Nick Universe was the all you can drink spongebob icee! We got our moneys worth for sure on this!

We basically have been in the remote world for the last month, so being back in consumer world has been exciting ! Edible cookies dough?! Yes please!! Best idea ever.

There was a live competition of double dare to promote the relaunch of the classic game show! My kids thought that they would have done a better job than the contestants😂😂

Everybody found fun souvenirs. Aiden even found some amazing marbles.

We spent the night swimming and having a pizza party by the pool. The nightcap was watching Full House together.

I am going to miss our time together in the same room. So many great memories and inside joke have been made ♥️

Huge donuts and lots of jumping

We left North Dakota behind for a short drive to Minneapolis today. We have enjoyed amazing mountain weather for the last month, so the wall of heat that hit us today was a total shock to our system.

Look at these happy travelers.

We have talked the whole trip about the Texas Sized donuts in Minneapolis. Well today was the day. In North Minneapolis is Hal’s. We love donuts and we really love huge donuts. All of the their baked goods looked just as amazing.

We are not fans of one trick jump places (ahem sky zone) but we love creative, unique jump places that incorporate ninja courses, rock climbing, high ropes, jumping surfaces and more! We have found these unique places in other cities and so we looked in a city on our route that might have one and we found “Urban Jump”

We stayed here for almost 4 hours and the kids had such a great time. Even when a huge group of summer camp kids came in, it didn’t get overwhelmingly busy.

Kellen did the high ropes course, Aiden loved the sky swing, Cora killed the Ninja course and Brenna jumped around the whole time.

We had a great sit down dinner to satisfy the crazy appetite we worked up with all that jumping and then settled into a great hotel.

This was a different day than any other day in this trip, and a day of fun the kids have really been looking forward to. It didn’t disappoint!

North Dakota

Our trip to North Dakota was a one day affair. Our only stop of the day was to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

This is the only National Park named after a person. Roosevelt visited here and then was a rancher here because he loved the area so much. The area needed to be preserved and so it made sense to honor the man who did so much to conserve so much land in America.

This cross is the brand from Roosevelt’s ranch and it was branded by him into a log of his log home in the National Park.

There are two parts to the park, north and south. We went to the south part which meant a 35 mile driving loop around hilly buttes, green sage brush, and lots of wildlife. These wild horses were the highlight of our day.

We took a short mile hike along a ridge to a lookout and although it was hot – we are not used to 90 degrees yet – it was really pretty.

The sage brush was so pretty and it smelled amazing.


There were prairie dog towns everywhere and we had fun making kissing noises at them to get them to lookout of their holes.

And of course their were bison!

This park was beautiful and so very accessible – like Arches – and it was a surprise favorite. I would love to come back here to hike the many trails, encounter the wildlife and watch the sun on those hills of many colors.

We received out Jr. Ranger badges, packed away our hiking boots and said goodbye to our time at National Park Sites for this trip. We made it to 18 of them plus the Canadian ones!

The rest of North Dakota is flat farmland. Guess what Steve and I did to pass the 5 hours through the state? We planned our 5 week road trip next year!! It seemed to be the right time. 😂😂

One beautiful thing we saw were these bright yellow fields of mustard blowing in the breeze.

We had a great hotel night in Fargo, catching up on laundry (4 loads done!), swimming, playing (aiden needs his downtime), and eating mug brownies.

And just like that, we visited North Dakota!