Category Archives: Meetups

Kentucky Meetup and Unit Study

We spent the month of October in Kentucky with friends this year. Last week Gordon wrote about Halloween and our cave excursions, but what he didn’t mention was the Kentucky Unit Study.

It was the first activity, and everyone met up in the game room that morning. Mr. Burrell explained the plan: we would be learning about a different aspect of Kentucky with each segment, and then working with a randomly chosen partner to create a Kentucky Fact trifold board. At the end of two days’ hard work, impartial judges would pick a winner, providing constructive criticism, and then we would tour Diamond Caverns the next day.

And so it began. I was paired with my friend Emma, and we set to work creating a layout for our board. That morning the lesson had been based around Kentucky state symbols and general facts, so we incorporated those new findings into our plan. Emma wrote “Kentucky” in a large, neat cursive at the top of the page, and traced it with green colored pencil topped with blue, providing a bluegrass look. I looked over the symbols list that Mr. Burrell had printed out, marking particularly interesting items to add, and then we started drawing them. I did a cartoonish cow labeled “Kentucky state drink: milk!,” and Emma drew a big, beautiful cardinal. After about an hour and a half, we had completed the middle of our poster board, detailing many obscure facts about the Bluegrass State. A tidy Appalachian Dulcimer sat near the top, and a baseball bat marked “Louisville Slugger” leaned against the K that headed our page. One of my favorite parts of the trifold board’s midsection was Emma’s beautiful disco ball drawing, which was adorned with green and blue lights coming out at all angles. Next to the art was a square of writing. “Did you know,” it said, “that 90% of America’s disco ball supply is made in Louisville, Kentucky?”

The board that Emma and I designed and created.

The class let out for a two hour lunch break, and we all went to our respective homes to eat. After lunch we kids played several enthusiastic games of dodge ball in the field, and then we headed back inside the building to continue our work. That afternoon the topic of study was famous Kentuckians, and I had had a brainwave. Instead of attempting to actually draw people, we drew out some item that was directly related to what they were famous for. Johnny Depp’s was a pirate hat, Muhammad Ali’s a pair of boxing gloves, Loretta Lynn’s a microphone, etc. Then the drawings were accompanied by a short paragraph of their life, or a compilation of facts. We used one of the smaller side pieces for that, and it turned out very neat and organized.


The next morning, we learned about the Appalachian lifestyle and history, and used half of the remaining side piece to write about what we’d found out, accompanied by pictures. I wrote a small thing on the Hatfields and McCoys, famous Appalachian rivals, and asked Mr. Burrell to print out a related picture to cover a torn spot on the poster board. Emma explained about homelessness and hunger in Appalachian communities, accompanied by a chart on poverty rates in Kentucky. After our lunch break, we all returned to finish our projects. We had decided to use our last remaining space (half of a side piece) for geography. I made a small cartoon cave, and Emma drew a waterway streaming across the page. We then each wrote small explanations of our drawings. I tried to make mine a readable size, but that’s a big problem for me; in order for my handwriting to look nice, it has to be tiny, and the bigger it is the messier it looks. There was still some space left, so I dedicated the bottom of the page to the Kentucky Bend, an incredibly unique geographical phenomenon, and the only one of its kind. It’s a small area of land that is completely separated from Kentucky, and is the only piece of one state that is entirely surrounded by other states. In a great earthquake, it was moved, and now parts of Tennessee and Missouri stand between it and its main state. After we had finished work, we all hung around the room for a while longer, helping to clean up. The judging would take place pretty soon.

Gordon's board.
Gordon’s board, which he created with his team mates Camden and Bennett.

It wasn’t too long until Mr. Burrell was showing in our honorary judges; they were campers at the park, but we didn’t know them. Perhaps some were out for a weekend with their grandkids. Anyway, they walked around the room for a while, conversing in whispers and looking at the entries. I cringed as I watched one lady pick up the board that Emma and I had made. She was trying to read what I’d written about the caves, I knew it, and that was far too small. Perhaps she would stop bothering, and walk away without finding that I knew my stuff. After ages of wandering from board to board, one kind-faced woman came to the front of the group. Mr. Burrell signaled for attention, and then she spoke. She told us how we had all done very well, and that she had only found one wrong article of information on any of the boards. My breath caught in my throat; I had stubbornly written on my piece about Jim Bowie that he hadn’t invented the Bowie Knife, as many believed. I knew that I was right, but these judges might believe differently. But much to my relief, the woman explained that one competitor had written that Mammoth Cave was a state park. It was truly a national park. She praised us for a moment longer, and then the judges left. Mr. Burrell stepped up to where they had stood, and started telling us about parts that had been loved and appreciated in each board. Apparently, my little Kentucky Bend had been much appreciated, and we had been the only ones to include it. But we still hadn’t heard who the winner was, and so we sat with baited breath, waiting to be told. Mr. Burrell used all of the typical drama, the drawing out and the dramatizing, just as I am doing here and now. But finally the verdict came out: Lucas Muller and Camden Walker had won. We all went over to admire their work, and Mr. Burrell told us that the thing that had really pushed it over was a large coal cart that Camden had drawn. The judges had apparently said that the coal industry was a large part of their culture, and they loved that this team had featured it so prominently. 

So congratulations to Lucas and Camden, winners of the official Kentucky Unit Study Trifold Board Competition. You earned it.

Kentucky Meetup (Caves)

The Nomadica October Meetup is almost over and I’m just barely getting time to write about it now. We’ve all been so busy between field trips and football games that blogging has kinda taken the backseat.dc-001

Here’s an overview of the place we’re staying: Diamond Caverns RV Park, right across the street from Diamond Caverns (the cave). We went to the cave the first week we were here and heard ghost stories from the employees, who say they are mysteriously locked in the building and often hear things in the cave.img_3348

We talked to the ranger at the RV park and he told us how to get to a secret cave, where three mummified bodies were found almost two hundred years ago. The story is that the man who owned the land had a guano mining operation going on in the cave and one of his slaves found a mummified baby. The slaves were scared and threw the baby into the woods so they wouldn’t have to look at it. When they told their boss, he said to get him if they found anything else. They did. When he arrived he was looking at two more mummies, a man and a woman. He took them to the city and sold them to a museum. Both are in museums or exhibitions to this day. (That’s the story, anyway.)img_3358

We made a trip through the woods to explore the cave, which has an opening on each end and is not enormous in size. Its ceiling is about a hundred feet from the ground, and it’s about three hundred yards long. It has a stage in the middle because they used to have concerts for the campers. There are lights on the walls, made to shine down on the stage, which are now, of course, defunct. There are ledges to walk along on both sides of the cave, letting you get a good view of the cavern below. We would go to the cave and climb up to the ledges and just explore. We brought speakers and listened to Hotline Bling on repeat. It was our little spot.img_3276

Naturally, we decided to go on Halloween night, and at about 10:15 pm we started the hike. When we arrived we lit sparklers and walked in like explorers, holding our small torches. When they ran out, someone decided to light some candles that were sitting near the stage. We let them burn while we looked around with our flashlights, and when it was time to go we blew them all out but one. I don’t know why but that one just stayed in the cave, glowing faintly in the dark. It’s disputed what happened after that. We all just stood outside the cave looking at the candle. Some will tell you it moved. Some say nothing happened. Lots of us think there’s something spooky about that cave.img_3275

I’ll let you decide for yourself, but don’t just pass this off as a Halloween special, cause you know I like to report on FACTS. In the meantime, I have to go. I think I heard something coming from that closet…

Across the Country in One Post

We did a lot as we traveled from the West to the East this time around. It would take months to catalog all of it, so I’m going to do my best to sum up our recent experiences with one post that’s rich in pictures, to make up for the last (rather devoid) one.

Before leaving Utah, we went out to the woods and Dad taught us how to make burn bowls (small wooden bowls made of Aspen wood, burned into shape with coals).

The Toy and Action Figure Museum in Oklahoma is a unique attraction in the middle of a small town just off the highway. It includes 1200 items in all, though they rotate and are not all on display at once. Even so, the number of toys there is incredible!

Next stop, Cadillac Ranch! You’re encouraged to spray-paint old Cadillacs in Amarillo, Texas, where the lineup shows the progression of the tail fin; you’ll notice we left our mark.

That’s Elvis Presley’s childhood home on the far left. And the hardware store where he got his first guitar. And there, on the right: that’s the very spot where eleven-year-old Elvis stood while his mother Gladys bought that guitar for his birthday. All in Tupelo, Mississippi.

We went to West Monroe, Louisiana, to see the Duck Commander warehouse. On the left is the famous sign featured in episodes of Duck Dynasty, and to the right is the loading dock where the crew hangs out.

While in Monroe, we enjoyed a tour of a friend’s old-fashioned mansion. It was truly incredible!


In Alabama, we stopped at Grandma and Grandpa’s house to celebrate 48 states, and Grandma’s birthday! None of us look fantastic in this picture, I know, but it’s the only one I have.

Aaaand… we’ve reached Kentucky and the meetup! It kicked off with a Kentucky Unit Study, and we were sorted into groups of twos and threes to make Kentucky fact tri-fold boards.

I get to practice archery at Rockcastle Shooting Center, just three miles away! On the right, about half of our large groups hangs out.


Friends in Oceanside

We have some great friends named Grace and Zoe. We’ve been close forever, but one little problem: We hadn’t seen each other in three years! The very day we were leaving San Diego (Feb. 15th.), they arrived! The Pattons were visiting their grandparents in Oceanside, an (obviously) ocean side town just a little north of Encinitas. So of course we went to visit!

Aside from just hanging around talking, laughing, and remembering things we used to do together when we were little, we went to the beach for a long time. At first we didn’t change into swim suits. Pacific Ocean water is freezing, and we weren’t planning on getting soaked. After a while, however, it became evident that trying to stay dry wasn’t quite possible. At first we just waded a bit, and kept the water below our knees. But then I accidentally splashed Gordon. Oops! That resulted in a huge water war, which Zoe and I got out of as soon as we could.

Left to right: Zoe, Gordon, Me (Lillian), and Grace

It was just Grace and Gordon for a while, until my own brother started chasing me. I ran, with many varying futile attempts at staying dry-ish. This ended, of course, in Gordon dragging me halfway across the beach, getting sand all over my already wet clothes, and dumping me in the ocean. After all this we decided we might as well put on our swim suits. That way we would have clean clothes for later.


Boogie boarding is old hat for Zoe, who taught us the tricks. None of us could get hit with particularly big waves without screaming out a little. It was so cold! We caught as many waves as we could, and then, all shivering, Grace suggested we go up to the sand and warm up. I never really realized how warm sand could be when you’re cold. We dug a gigantic hole, and Gordon, quite willingly, actually, sat in it. Totally burying him took a while, but we were satisfied with our work, after making the amazing starfish-man. Then they all buried me. It was really warm, but made me a bit claustrophobic.

The amazing Starfish-Man
The amazing Starfish-Man

We went out to the ocean again after this, and had tons of fun boogie boarding until we were completely numb. Frigid, we made our way stiffly to the hot tub and slipped into those relaxing waters. When we got back we had a fantastic dinner of spaghetti, with ice cream to follow, and played a game of telephone for old time’s sake (we always used to during dinner when we were little).

Our day with the Pattons was fantastic, and it was hard to leave, but we know we’ll be seeing each other soon. That’s the great thing about moving around!

Devils Tower

When we were in North Dakota, we heard that our friends the Perry’s ( were going to be in Devils Tower, Wyoming. Since they were only three hours away, we decided to make the trip and meet them for the weekend. It was great. We went on the walk around the Tower, tubed in the river, watched Close Encounters of the Third Kind (which was filmed there) during a lightning storm, and had endless Nerf wars.

The KOA down the road from the national monument shows Close Encounters of the Third Kind every night on an outdoor TV screen. It’s a movie by Steven Spielberg about a guy who sees aliens and everyone thinks he’s crazy. He follows the clues the aliens gave him and ends up watching them land by Devils Tower. Marcus and I went with our dads to see it at about 8:00 pm. About halfway through, when the aliens start to land near the tower, a huge lightning storm broke out and everyone but us left. The lightning was so bright it looked like daylight and the alien spaceships were glowing as they landed. We were drenched, but we kept watching until a grumpy guy who worked there came and unplugged the TV and we had to leave. Driving back, we saw climbers halfway up the Tower dangling on their ropes in the storm.


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The hike around Devils Tower
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The Bellefourche river.

We found a way to go from the RV park we were staying at to the Belle Fourche river which was warm and shallow, perfect for tubing! We spent two days going up and down the river and building sand castles or having mud fights. We also got REALLY sunburned (my skin is still peeling a little), but it was so refreshing to tube down the river that the sunburn is totally worth it.

The Farm: Part 2

As you know, we already posted once about our friends, the Rager’s farm, but that was about the work, and not so much the play; I’m here to talk about the play. If we weren’t joyriding the golf cart or having flip contests on the trampoline, it was probably because we went out water skiing a few times. I got up on my first try and Lil learned pretty quick too! It was great! We skied all day and got some great pictures out of it!

Another fun thing we did was meet up with our friends, the Manns, who we met in Florida a couple years ago. We saw them for two days and threw a surprise high school graduation party for their daughter Marissa, who works as a housekeeper for the Ragers. Thanks again to the Ragers for letting us park in your yard and teaching us how to ski!


Lakeside Farms

We’re in Angola, Indiana. We’ll be here for a week, and we’re at a friend’s farm, Lakeside Farms. They have chickens, cows, and lots of non-GMO crops. They also sell farm equipment and mowers. The kids are Blake, age 7, Courtney, age 4, and Kendall, age 2. We met the Rager’s last winter in the Florida Keys, and have been friends ever since. Since we were passing through their neck of the woods, we decided to stop and hang out a while.

In the morning, at about 10:00, we get the eggs. Sometimes it’s just me and Blake, and sometimes Gordon comes, but most of the time I go by myself. I got attacked by the rooster once, when I was kneeling down to get a hard-to-reach egg. He attacked me again one time when I was trying to get out the door, and kept jumping at my legs. I kicked him until he finally retreated enough that I could get out the door without him escaping.

Me, Courtney, and Kendall washing eggs.
Me, Courtney, and Kendall washing eggs.

After the eggs are gathered you must carefully rinse the dirt and any stray feathers off of each one. Most of the time there are about 50 eggs to wash. Then you have to dry them and ether put them into egg cartons (to sell at the farm store) or into flats (to put into the big fridge in the confernce room). Afterwords you carry them to the place where that particular batch goes. We must do this twice a day, once at 10:00 A.M.-ish, and once at 5:00 P.M.-ish.

Then there are the cows to feed (which I’ve only done once), and the garden to work on. It’s just planting season right now, of course, and we can’t plant much because it rains almost every day.

Blake is building a tree house, so during free time we help him with that. When we got here he had already made a ladder, and almost finished the floors. The walls are about 2/3 done now, and the floors are reinforced. There’s even a hatch on hinges to climb through!

We also have Nerf battles, jump on the trampoline, play on the climber, and watch Shark Tank at night, after dinner when we’re all exhasted.

A big thank-you to Mr. and Mrs. Rager for letting us stay with you!!! We are enjoying it so much!!!


P.S. Photo credit on the top picture goes to Lakeside Farms!

A Travel Article on Wand’rly

You might know of Wand’rly Magazine. It’s a great website where a travelin’ family writes and has other people write about life on the road. You might want to check it out. But guess what! This month

Mom wrote an article for Wand’rly, and Gordon wrote in it, too. It is called
RVHS: a Roadschooling Community.  This great work describes life on the road, and meeting up with friends. You can read it here.

Th RVHS community.
The article on Wand’rly.

Halloween at Chesapeake Bay

Photos by Mike Burrell

Every year in Chesapeake, there is a Halloween party hosted by the park. Of course, Cali, Emma, and I all made our costumes. Molly’s mom had made her costume. Cali was a witch, Emma was Elsa,  I was Belle (in her blue town dress). At 4:30, all of us RVHS kids gathered at the Burrell’s house for a group photo. Then we set out to trick-or-treat. All of us had pillowcases, and we had had a pillowcase decorating party a couple of days before. There were a lot of RVs to trick-or-treat at. In fact, every single site was full! Two hours later, our feet ached and we dragged our heavy candy bags on the ground. We were glad that it was time to go home, and we gathered at the Burrells’ house to trade.

All the RVHS kids in costume.

After a while everyone decided to go to the haunted houses set up around the park. Emma, Cali, and I went to the first one (which wasn’t scary), but then Emma went home and Cali and I stayed at the clubhouse. Our parents were there, and there was a dance. We tried to do each line dance, copying people around us, until we had memorized one or two, and were able to copy nearly everything. It was really fun. After a while, Emma joined us for a bit, and then went home again. Cali and I danced till ten o’ clock, when the party stopped. Then we went home exhausted, ready for a good night’s sleep.
– Lillian.

A Day In My Life: Chesapeake Meetup

Left to right, Cali, Molly, Zoe, Emma, and I.
Left to right, Cali, Molly, Zoe, Emma, and me.
Here we are playing Bingo. Photo by Mike Burrell
Trick-or-Treating Photo by Mike Burrell

Every year in October there is a travel meetup in Chesapeake Bay, Virginia. This year we went, and almost all of our travel friends went, too! I’m going to give you an idea of what my life is like at the Chesapeake Meetup.

I’m in Chesapeake Bay. I just got here yesterday, after a long day of travel. As soon as I’m awake, I hurry and get ready for the day, and begin on my school work.

Once I’m done, I run outside and to gather up my friends, and we all go up to the playground for a little while to swing or play “Groundies,” a game in which everybody races to the top of the playground, and the last one up is it. The person who is it has to go to the ground, and then try to tag someone else. They can go on the playground, but they have to have their eyes closed. If you are it, and you’re on the playground, you can yell “Groundies!”, and if there’s someone on the ground at that moment, they’re it. If not, you keep going and try to tag someone. There is a great playground here at Chesapeake, and so we play Groundies a lot.

I go home and eat lunch after a while, and so do all my friends, and by the time we are done there’s usually an activity. We tie-dye T-shirts, color scarecrows, play RVHS bingo, carve pumpkins, make glow-in-the-dark lanterns, or practice Pickleball. The kids usually all play together for the rest of the day, sometimes Capture the Flag, sometimes Groundies, or just swinging.

We eat dinner, and then in the evenings there is the nightly adult Pickleball, and all of the kids play Infected at the playground and mini-golf course. Marcus and Cali Perry, and Gordon and I, are usually on a team, and at least one of us almost always wins! Once our parents are done playing Pickleball we go home and take showers, and go to bed to get some rest for the next day.