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I have been a Laura Ingalls Wilder fan since I began reading her books in elementary school, and I’ve always wanted to tour her home and museum in Mansfield, Missouri.  I also loved watching the TV show as a child, even though it is pretty loosely based on the books.  As an adult, I’ve wanted to learn more about her life, so I have started taking my family to her homes across the Midwest.  We are lucky to live near to two of those homes–The Little House on the Prairie near Independence, Kansas, and Rocky Ridge Farm near Mansfield, Missouri. Heading to Rocky Ridge Farm I was pretty excited to bring Kristin to Laura’s homes.  She is starting to learn more about her, although currently Jack the bulldog is her favorite character, not Laura. What can I say?  The girl loves animals.  We’ve also stayed a night in De Smet,…

Disclosure:  This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.  All opinions are mine alone. #WeatherProven #CollectiveBias One of my family’s favorite times of year for a road trip is winter time.  Every year, we take a drive through the Ozark hills in Missouri to visit Branson for An Ozark Mountain Christmas.  We visit area attractions and watch live Christmas-themed shows as we get into the spirit of Christmas and revel in the beauty of the season.  We also finish up our Christmas shopping and eat some of the best country cooking you’ll find anywhere.  It’s a special time that my family looks forward to every year. Of course, when driving through the Ozarks in winter, you have to be extra vigilant about road safety.  We live in Southwest Missouri, and the weather can change at any moment, especially in the winter.  It’s important that my family…

It may be impossible to hop on a time machine and travel to the past, but visiting Colonial Williamsburg is the closest you can get without a DeLorean and a flux capacitor. My family recently spent two nights near Colonial Williamsburg, one of the three points of Virginia’s Historic Triangle. I had spent a few hours there briefly during a trip to Washington, D.C., as a child, but I’d never had a chance to really explore. As an adult, my appreciation of history has only increased, and I was so excited to spend some time here with my travel partners in crime–Jeff and Kristin. We really only spent a day and a half in the area, and we decided to come and go into Colonial Williamsburg as we needed breaks. It’s really easy to go for a few hours, take a break, and then head back. We stayed in town at…

If you were anywhere near the path of totality for Monday’s solar eclipse, you could feel the sense of suspense as people prepared for an event that hasn’t occurred in the U.S. in the continuous 48 states in over 30 years, and even then a total eclipse was only visible in the northwest part of the country.  In 1991, parts of Hawaii were able to see a total solar eclipse.  But this was different.  For about two minutes, a swath across the U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina would be known as the Path of Totality.  With this eclipse being available to so many people across the country, it was inevitable that excitement of the eclipse would grow over the weeks leading up to August 21. To be honest, I wasn’t planning to write about the eclipse.  I was excited to see it, but I didn’t think it would become…

When you think of Norfolk, Virginia, one thing comes to mind–the United States Naval Base.  Norfolk and the Navy just go hand-in-hand.  On our road trip this summer, we planned two nights at Virginia Beach.  As we planned this part of our trip, we soon realized how close we were to Norfolk.  We also discovered the Nauticus, a museum that commemorates shipping in every regard–commercial, scientific, and defensive. Adding to our excitement, we learned that you could take a two-hour cruise of the Navy ships nearby.  In fact, you could buy a combo-ticket to the museum and the cruise.  It was a no-brainer!  We had to do it! After our first night at Virginia Beach, we woke up early enough to head over to Norfolk to be at the museum before opening.  It is about a 30-40 minute drive, depending on traffic.  We also wanted to be early enough to…

I’d like to thank The Butterfly Palace in Branson, Missouri, for sponsoring our visit.  As usual, all opinions are honest and my own. When you think of rainforests, Branson, Missouri, is probably not the first place that comes to mind.  Still, you can get a little taste of the rainforest right here in the Ozarks.  The Butterfly Palace in Branson is a lovely celebration of some of the most beautiful creatures on Earth. Arriving at The Butterfly Palace The Butterfly Palace is at the very end of the “strip” as you head west as if you were going to drive to Silver Dollar City.  The building itself sits on top of a hill. Right inside the entrance is a gift shop filled with many butterfly-inspired items.  It’s fun to just look through this area.  Right in the center of the room is the ticket booth. There are two floors with various…

I’d like to thank Sight & Sound Theatre in Branson, Missouri, for sponsoring our visit to see the wonderful production of Moses.  As always, all opinions are honest and my own. If you are in Branson, Missouri, and you are looking for a great show, then look no further than the Sight & Sound Theatre.  On a recent trip to Branson, my family had the opportunity to see Moses, a creative dramatization of the Biblical story about a baby who was spared death and grew up to lead the people of Israel out of slavery and into the Promised Land.  This Broadway-style show is one of Branson’s best, and it is not to be missed! The exterior and grounds of the theatre are really beautiful.  As you enter the parking area of the theatre, you will see this statue. Here is the exterior of the theatre as you drive up.  The…

One thing my daughter looks forward to all summer is going boating and camping at Campbell Point on Table Rock Lake near Shell Knob, Missouri, with Grandma and Grandpa.  Can you blame her?  For a seven-year-old, sleeping in the camper is an adventure!  And it doesn’t get much better than riding in the boat with the wind in your hair and the sunshine on your skin.  Going to Table Rock Lake is a family tradition! Campbell Point If you enjoy camping or boating, Table Rock Lake is a great place.  The lake is clean and clear, and the campground is nestled in the Ozark woods. My parents enjoy camping at the Army Corps of Engineers Campground at the Campbell Point Marina.  Some of the sites are even lakeside.  Click here to see a map of the campground.  My parents like to camp in the more wooded area at the full hook-up site.…

Things to Do in Gettysburg Gettysburg is just one of those great historic places that we’ve been wanting to experience for a long time.  We wanted, of course, to learn more about the battle, but we also wanted to make some family memories together.  It’s important for my daughter to learn about the events that shaped our nation, even if she is only seven-years-old.  Though the events in Gettysburg were tragic, I wanted her to have a basic understanding of what happened along with doing some family-friendly activities.  We spent four nights in Gettysburg, but I think you could easily do a shorter trip or spend more time here.  We spent most of our evenings watching the sunset over the battlefield.  Here are our recommendations after experiencing Gettysburg. Take a Tour of the Battlefield We took a tour with the Association of Licensed Battlefield Guides, and it was fantastic! This…

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