Sunday, August 29, 2010

An update on our plans

Wow, it has been a year since I updated this blog. We were so excited at the time about our big trip. We seemed to think we had everything together and a fool proof plan.

So here is what happened. We were taking the Dave Ramsey course and in the last post I said we were going ahead with the purchase of the new travel trailer. Well, we found out that we couldn't get a loan for it so we didn't get it. Our small 30 x 10 camper has done us well again this summer at the campground. We finished up the Dave Ramsey course and thoroughly enjoyed it and the love the message, however we didn't quite grasp it like we should have and didn't even make a budget after that first month (last October).

We were so depressed about not getting the trailer that we booked ourselves a Disney World trip instead. Probably not a very good idea but we got the food plan for free and we had a great time.
Winter and spring seemed to creep up on us and we continued with the status quo, wanting to change but unable to commit to change. We enjoyed our camper again at the same campground every weekend and the kids and I pretty much stayed there through the entire month of July.

Reality set back in when I realized that my summer vacation was over and I had a few days before returning back to work (as a teacher) August 2 from my month long vacation. (I only have a month off where I work). We decided to spend a few more days at our river house (camper) and during that time we made the final decision that we were going to make this 'big trip' work this time.

We came home with renewed interest in making all the necessary changes. My husband is working hard to make as much money as he can right now and in the process try to sell his lawn care business. We would really like for him to be able to keep it going while we are away but that doesn't seem possible really. I am working on a 'long shot' and making a proposal to my bosses to give me a year's paid sabbatical. It is a terrible long shot but I am going to go for it anyway. All they can say is NO.

Here is our plan: departure date: July 1, 2011.
*New fifth wheel travel trailer in tow using our existing Dodge truck. It will be a tight squeeze for the kids in the back but we don't plan to travel too far at one time. I think we will be okay for a start.
*Sell the house, move into an apartment or the trailer until school is over, save money and store the bare essentials.
*Sell all possessions that we are not totally in love with and worth storage fees to keep.
*Save, save, save. But before we can do this we have to pay off our second mortgage $17,000 so we can sell our house. Then we have to pay off a line of credit (another $17,000) so we have a cushion of emergency money if we need it and no debt on the road.
*Come up with a money making activity that we can do on the road to make us some money while out there. This is going to be hard and I welcome any ideas you all have for this.
*Explore, make lists, and try to plan for any hardships that we might expect. I know we can't plan for everything but if we can learn from others then we are one step closer to no surprises.

Here is the fun planning:
*purchase National Parks Annual Admission Pass ($80) and will be well worth its weight in gold! We just went to a National Park last weekend (post to follow) and spent $14 for admission. We figure a few more parks and we have this one paid for. Yippeee!!!
*Work on curriculum for the kids for next year.
*Begin to plan our course of action, where we will visit, approximate time spent places, research research research.
*connect with other families doing this exact thing, begin to make friends on the road.
*work on our re-entry plan, possible jobs, businesses, etc. This goes along with what to store, and what to sell. There are days I struggle with this.

I welcome all advice on these topics.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fort McHenry (War of 1812)

Today we went to Ft. McHenry. We were in Baltimore for a funeral but decided to make the most of the trip and we wanted the kids to earn their first Junior Ranger Badge.

The Junior Ranger program is available in most National Parks and Historic Sites. Fort McHenry is titled with being both an National Monument but also an Historic Shrine. It is the only park to have both these titles.

During the War of 1812 after the British had captured Washington, DC and
was in the process of burning it to the ground, the British set their sites on Baltimore, a large port city. In the distance the people of Baltimore could see the orange glow of the flames just beyond the horizon to the south. They were fearful that the British would in turn burn Baltimore
too. They began to set up defenses to keep the British out. There were several military forts in the area but Fort McHenry was the most important due to its strategic location on the Patapsico River and jutting out into the river thus protecting the ports of Baltimore.

The fort is star-shaped and gives the best defense for
this peninsula to guard its territory. Lt. Colonal George Armistead was in charge of the fort. He was an interesting man with a lot of bravery and, well, guts!
When he knew that the British were coming he commissioned two flags to be made for the fort. Mary Pickersgill was commissioned to sew these flags. The first one was a 17x 25 foot flag. A storm flag it was said to be. The second was even larger and Armistead wanted "a flag so large that the British would have
no difficulty seeing it from a distance". It was this large flag that flew over the fort and will forever go down in history, being the most famous American Flag. Why is it famous you ask? Not only is it the flag that now hangs in honor at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC but is the
very flag that Francis Scott Key saw in the early morning light
knowing that the British had not taken Baltimore and that there was hope for our fledgling country after all. He was then inspired to write the words of our, now, national anthem.

This flag is huge!!

We also saw the guard house where they kept prisoners, the enlisted men's bunkhouse, the magazine, and the officer's quarters. We explored many cannons that were used during the War of 1812 and the Civil War. We also saw the statue of Orpheus, which is a bit odd. In 1913 Congress officially made "The Star Spangled Banner" the official National Anthem, although it had been sung as
such for many years. In 1914 they commissioned this statue to stand in honor of Francis Scott Key for writing the anthem. Looking at it in the time period of a return to Greek and Latin
roots and loving all things "classical" it fits. However, nowdays, I think they would have been better off having a statue of Francis Scott
Key himself. While his name and face are on many plaques around the fort, there is no statue of him.