Tag Archives: politics

Road Block Ahead

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This week was a big one at Patchwork Farm!!

It was graduation week for Miss Molly and her nearest and dearest friends, and we had a few action packed days planned for the graduate.

On Wednesday it was secretly decided that we would drive out in shifts; with most of us leaving to head east on Thursday, and Toby and Molly leaving bright and early Friday morning due to work conflicts that prevented them from leaving on Thursday. I knew this trip was going to be especially challenging for Braden. I anticipated the combination of heightened emotions, family togetherness, Ozzie’s absence, and Molly preparing to go away to college, would set off insecurities deep inside that might prompt him to flee rather than have to face Molly’s graduation ceremony… as this has been his pattern recently. My solution to scaling that possible roadblock: throw him off by eliminating the anxiety brought on by anticipation, and simply show up at school a day early with bags packed and jump right on the turnpike, travelling at a speed that would discourage passengers from jumping.

This plan was divinely prompted and it worked out perfectly. By not anticipating a Thursday departure, we were able to avoid the self-destructive behaviors that present during anticipation of upcoming family connection experiences,

And the unpredictability and adventure of an impromptu road trip fed his need for chaos and risk, in a way that was healthy and parent-led.

This plan worked perfectly.

At noon I stopped by the high school to sign Braden out. He joined Grace, Molly and Tyler in the car with all our luggage, we jumped right onto the turnpike. 3 1/2 hours later we found ourselves in Harrisburg for our first overnight stay. The juggling of multiple schedules required us to travel in shifts. My most pressing requirement was to arrive at a location that offered Pathway gathering classes so I wouldn’t miss out on Thursday night gathering points for my college courses. As I looked up Pathway gatherings on the Eastern side of the state, I decided Hershey/Harrisburg area was our best shot. It was timed out perfectly, allowing us to arrive, check-in, settle the kids into the hotel room with dinner and a movie, before I left for class.

My plans were thwarted, however, when we pulled into the Radisson that was to be our home-away-from home for the night and found it surrounded by armed guards, swat teams, local police and military.

My first thought was, “Oh, Crap…They must of heard we were coming.”

My second thought was, “Or maybe someone was murdered.”

It turns out that neither was true. The reason behind the walking/talking fire power was that the Vice President of the United States was spending the night at our hotel for a GOP convention.

Mr. Mike Pence almost lost me 60 points in class credit this week when the armed guards refused to let us through the barricade to check into our hotel. Lucky for my family, I have grown bolder and more fearless in recent years, thanks to MANY opportunities to grow those assertiveness muscles…

Needless to say, after all I have lived through in the last few years, armed soldiers with intense scowls didn’t scare me in the least.

They were simply just another roadblock that needed to be scaled as we moved toward a bigger goal.

I have come to appreciate the roadblocks of life.

They stretch us in ways that the easy seasons of life don’t.

They grow muscles that can only be built through adversity.

They give us a healthier perspective on life.

And they gives us the opportunity to fight for those things and those people who deserve to be fought for, despite the lies that have argued otherwise.

The road blocks of life allow us to prove our diligence, our courage, our tenacity, and the depth of our conviction for the cause we are fighting for.

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Road blocks allow our empty words to have a voice…

The powerful and resounding voice of ACTION.

After some sweet talk and then some straight talk, we were waved through and allowed to check in. I settled the kids in and left them with their faces pressed to the window in hopes of catching a glimpse of someone important, while I raced off to class. I arrived and was only 15 minutes late…a sure miracle given the obstacles we faced.

Everyone did exceptionally well in my absence despite disappointment that no one of note strolled by their hotel window.

On Friday we met up with Toby and Molly at the Home 2 Suites in Downingtown, PA, that would serve as home base for the weekend.

The first big event: Molly’s senior prom!

Stay tuned for pictures of all our gussied up girls!

What a Trip it has Been!

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It was almost 10,000 miles.

We traveled through 22 states.

Over the period of 7 weeks.

We visited 13 National Parks,

and hiked miles and miles of this beautiful country.

Brand new shoes, purchased at the start of the trip,

were worn clean through by the end.

A walking testament to all that was seen and done.

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For those who have forgotten or our joining us more recently, here is a recap of where we have spent the last 50 days.

Day 1: Travel to St. Louis, Missouri with a stop at the Columbus Zoo.

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Day 2: Tyler’s 10th birthday! Explore the City Museum in St. Louis, Missouri

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Day 3: St. Louis Arch

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Day 4: Tour Hannibal, Missouri. Home of Mark Twain.

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Day 5: Drive to De Smet, South Dakota

Day 6: Tour Laura Ingalls Wilder’s homestead and then on to Mitchell, South Dakota to see the Corn Palace.

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Day 7: Visit 1800’s town, South Dakota.

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Day 8: A stop at Wall Drug and a visit to Badlands National Park.

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Day 9: Day 1 in Rapid City, South Dakota: Bear Country USA, Storybook Island, the Dinosaur Park, and a chuck wagon dinner.

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Day 10: Wildlife Loop at Custer State Park to see the world’s largest free roaming buffalo herd in the morning and then a visit to a mammoth fossil dig site in the afternoon.

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Day 11: Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse monuments.

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Day 12: Check out Devil’s Tower.

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Day 13: Day 1 in Yellowstone National Park

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Day 14: Day 2 in Yellowstone National Park.

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Day 15: Visit Grand Tetons and go swimming in hot springs.

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Day 16: College tour of BYU Idaho.

Day 17: Visit temple square in Salt Lake City, Utah and swim in the Great Salt Lake.

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Day 18: College tour of BYU in Provo, Utah.

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Day 19:  Travel to Yosemite National Park.

Day 20: Visit Yosemite National Park in California.

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Day 21: Visit Sequoia National Park, California.

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Day 22: A day swimming in the Pacific Ocean at Newport Beach, CA.

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Day 23-27: Disneyland, California. This was the big surprise of the trip. The kids just found out the day before we left.🙂

Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse statue at Disneyland California. Image shot 2009. Exact date unknown.

Day 28: Las Vegas. Tour Hoover Dam.

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Day 29: See the sites of Las Vegas.

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Day 30: Another (unexpected day) in Las Vegas.

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Day 31: Visit the Grand Canyon.

Day 32: Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

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Day 33: Arches National Park, Utah.

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Day 34: Visit Mesa Verde National Park to see the cliff dwellings and stop at Four Corners monument.

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Day 35: Visit Petroglyph National Monument.

Day 36: A stop in Roswell, NM while driving past on our way to Carlsbad Caverns.

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Day 37: A cave tour of Carlsbad Caverns with my brother, Travis.

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Day 38: Drive all day to Branson, Missouri. (See David and Jen along the way)

Day 39: Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri.

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Day 40: Second day in Silver Dollar City.

Day 41: Explore Branson, Missouri and tour the Titanic Museum.

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Day 42: Branson, Missouri.

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Day 43: Rusty’s 15th birthday. Spend the day in Marceline, Missouri, home of Rusty’s hero: Walt Disney.

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Day 44and 45: Visit Mimi Joy who is serving a mission in the Independence Missouri mission.

Day 46: Visit Nauvoo, Illinois.

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Day 47: Drive toward home.

Day 48: Home Sweet Home!

For 7 weeks our family 0f seven lived in our converted school bus which was lovingly named, “The Rolling Gnomes.”

We slept, ate, did school, and traveled together in 280 square feet.

For 7 of those days our 280 square feet felt like 20 square feet as we lived without the boys’ ADHD medication thanks to restrictive state laws regarding controlled medications.

Our little bus climbed mountains almost 10,000 feet high feet and at Carlsbad Caverns we explored 750 feet below the earth.

We crossed wind swept prairies, majestic mountains, mighty rivers, and desolate deserts.

We made it to the Pacific Ocean and then turned around and drove back home.

Along the way we gained a greater appreciation for our country, and a greater connection as a family.

As a family we grew and learned lessons about ourselves, about our nation, and about each other.

We learned:

About the incredible natural beauty found in the United States of America and gained a greater appreciation for the conservation efforts that have preserved this country’s natural beauty.

On the 100 year anniversary of the National Park Service we were able to explore some of the prettiest sites we have ever seen.

In the NPS’s “Find Your Park” campaign we each found “our park…

each of us falling in love with certain areas of the country and the beauty found there.find-your-park

Here are our “Find your Park” National Park choices:

Toby and Grace’s favorite national park was Grand Tetons National Park.

Rusty’s favorite was Arches National Park.

Molly’s favorite park was the Grand Canyon.

Ozzie loved Mt. Rushmore.

Tyler’s chosen park was Badlands National Park.

And my personal favorite was Devil’s Tower.

Some favorite stops included the City Museum of St. Louis, Silver Dollar City, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Homestead, Titanic Museum , 1880’s town,

and of course, Disneyland!

We fell in love with the Black Hills of South Dakota,

and were little impressed with Nevada and California.

But the greatest revelation that came from our travels was how good the people of this country are.

We met some of the kindest people in our travels, and in all our interactions with thousands of strangers we had only one negative experience.

It was reassuring and empowering to see the goodness that shone forth across this great nation. In an era of sickening news reports and political filth, it is easy to assume that the loudest voices, the ones highlighted on our evening news, represent the majority of American opinion.

But I have found that to not be the case.

The people of this country are good…no, great.

They are moral, and kind. They are friendly and helpful.

They are proud people who love their country and long for its leaders to raise their standards and be better.

On this trip we made many new friends and the experience lit a flame of hope in me that despite the immoral, disgusting, self serving faces seen clamoring to be the representative and voice of the American people,

the people of America are so much better than the faces that represent them.

As we traveled I fell in love with my country and came home with a renewed spirit of pride in our history, our culture, and our citizens.

Through this experience I discovered a buried gypsy within my soul that fell in love with the simplicity of tiny house living and the life of a nomad.

It is good to be home…

To see the people we love.

To soak in a bathtub rather than shower in camp showers.

We loved being reunited with our animals,

But I’m already missing life on the road and look forward to seeing where the Rolling Gnome bus takes us in the future!

Thanks for traveling with us.

It has been a grand adventure!

The McCleerys go to Washington

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When we made plans to visit Washington DC a few months ago we decided to stay for the weekend and visit some of the historic sites while we were there. We debated what to see and the most efficient way to see the city before we decided on a bus tour. We thought that would be the most time efficient way to travel the city and see the most sites in the short time we had, so on day 1 we headed into the city to catch our tour bus at 10:00am.

We booked our tour through USA tours after reading great reviews about the company online. Since we were staying at a hotel outside the city we decided to take the metro in. We left 90 minutes before our tour bus was scheduled to leave the Navy Memorial in downtown DC. We thought that would be plenty of time but we ended up getting there just in the nick of time with only minutes to spare.

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The kids loved riding the Metro and found it to be a grand adventure. Tyler and Ozzie were especially taken with this new and exciting mode of travel.

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When we arrived we took our seats on the bus and met our tour guide for the day, Andy. Andy introduced himself, sharing with us that he previously worked in radio before he became a city tour guide. The melodious nature of his voice was testament to his previous profession. He was a joy to listen to and his rich knowledge of the city added to the value of the tour. As we drove around the city he pointed out the sites and shared with us the stories behind the sites we were seeing.

Along the way we also routinely stopped to get out and view some of the historic sites up close. I felt like we gained a better understanding of the city, our nation, and its rich history than we ever would have touring the city on our own.

The entire tour lasted 6 hours.

Here are some of the places we visited along the way:

1. Our first stop was the US Capitol building. While currently not in session, it is currently under construction. 🙂 The recognizable dome was covered in scaffolding as the cracks in the iron are being repaired. It is estimated that the refurbishment will be completed in 2017.

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  1. Our next stop was the White house. This is the stop Ozzie was most excited for and this stop ended up being our most crowded stop of the day. Due to the masses of tourist gathered outside the White House Andy brought along his trusty stuffed shark to lead us through the fray. This was his version of the proverbial tour guide umbrella.

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IMG_5237 (2)You are no longer allowed to walk the street in front of the White House. The road is closed to traffic and pedestrians. You now must stay on the sidewalk across the street. The congestion this causes is a real problem, but I did manage to snag one good picture before we moved on. I was happy to climb back onto our roomy, air conditioned bus and move on to our next stop.

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3. Our next stop was the WWII memorial, a beautiful memorial that sits between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.  It is a circle of columns surrounding a fountain at the center. The wall is covered in gold stars, each representing 100 servicemen lost to war.

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IMG_5284 (2)4. We then drove around the green to the Lincoln Memorial. This was the family favorite for the day. I was the only one who had been there before. I remember being in awe of it as a little girl but as we approached I was blown away by its massive size. I don’t remember it being so large. It is a stunning creation with a statue of President Lincoln seated in the middle measuring 19′ x 19′.

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  1. From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial we had a beautiful view of the Washington Monument and the Reflecting Pool.

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  1. From there we got back on the bus and headed to lunch at Georgetown’s Washington Harbour. Along the way we passed the Jefferson Memorial.

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  1. When we reached the harbour we got our pizza lunches and boarded a tour boat that took us along the Potomac to see the sites of Washington DC from the water. It was a fun novelty eating on the boat as we listened to the tour guide point out sites along the shore. This was the highlight of the trip for Tyler. He loved being on the water.

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  1. After our boat tour the tour bus picked us up again and drove us over to the Iwo Jima Memorial, also known as the Marine Corps Memorial. This was Gracie’s and my favorite stop of the day. I found the monument and the story behind it powerful. As you drive around the memorial from left to right the flag appears to raise until from the opposite side it looks as though the soldiers have raised the flag of victory.

IMG_5383 (2)                  9.  From there we traveled to two more war memorials. First stop: The Korean War Memorial.

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“Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered a call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met.”

Then the Vietnam War Memorial.

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Both were somber and reflective experiences.

  1. Our final stop of the tour was the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. This newer memorial was dedicated in 2011 and stands as a reminder of the change one person can bring about. From the outside it appears to be a solid, unmoving boulder, but as you walk toward it you can see that what appears to be solid, is in fact an optical illusion. In the center of the boulder lies a walkway created as the center of the stone was thrust forward, symbolizing the path created by the power of one man clearing the way for others. It was beautiful and Rusty’s favorite stop of the day.

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“Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope.”

After a full day with a lot of walking everyone was happy to be dropped back of at the Metro for the ride home to our hotel for a night of swimming in the hotel pool.

It was an amazing day and we couldn’t believe all that we learned and all that we were able to see of the city in that short amount of time. If you ever find yourself trying to see the nation’s capital with only a day to do it in, this is the way to do it.

It was a great experience and a wonderful way for the kids to see and hear and feel the very things they have studied in school and read about in their history books.

Today history came alive and my children walked away with a better appreciation of what it means to be an American.

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“We are blessed with an opportunity to stand for something-

for liberty and freedom and fairness-

and these things are worth fighting for,

worth devoting our lives to” – Ronald Reagan