Meet the Beilers

On September 25, we split up with the Hoffmans, and us Wongs left Virginia and headed down to Texas to meet up with the Beilers. Do you remember the conference we went to a couple of months ago in Wisconsin? There, we met a few people, including the Beilers, and they eventually decided to sell their house and travel with us, but more on that later.

On the way down to Texas, we stopped at a few places. You might recognize Hodge’s Vineyard (a place we’ve been to twice before) in the video below. Another of the places we went to was Carl Sandburg National Historic Site. Carl Sandburg is a well-known poet, and the house we visited is where he lived with his family. His wife kept goats at the place, and the exact breeds she had are still there today. We got to pet the goats and walk around the site.

Meet the Beilers. The Beilers consist of Chad and Katrina (both in their twenties), Kaleah (3), Caspian (1), and Clara (the new baby). Both Mr. Chad and Miss Katrina like games and playing music, so we enjoyed that together, in addition to the things we normally do with the Hoffmans.

The Hoffmans came down to Texas a month and a half later, and they stayed in the same RV park us and the Beilers were at. All of us occasionally had meals, sang, and gellowshipped together.

We have also been meeting with the Paynes (our friends in San Antonio whom we’ve known for years now). One weekend, they came to the campground we were staying at and visited for a few nights. Check out the video below to see what else we’ve done with them so far.

Us, the Beilers, and the Paynes have done some things together as well, including celebrating Tanner’s 11th birthday at Main Event.

While staying in an RV park in Hondo, we visited the Medina County Museum. There, we learned about the history of the area, and we got to see a bunch of historical items used when Hondo was founded.

This blog post has been a long time in the making. A lot of things changed these past couple of months, so I didn’t want to release it until I had the situation figured out. At first, we (the Wongs) thought we’d be traveling with the Beilers and Hoffmans together. Eventually, we decided to stay in Texas due to some personal reasons, including being able to minister to someone we met a while back while evangelizing. The Beilers and Hoffmans have moved on together since then, and we (the Wongs) are staying at Ramblin Rec RV Park in Hondo, Texas. I’m not sure what kind of blog posts you’ll be seeing in the future, but I expect most of them to be about us and the Paynes. I’m excited to see what God will have us do next!

Waiting for the New Baby Hoffman

While we stayed at Picture Lake Campground, we did a few things including going evangelizing and eating dinner with the Hoffmans on the weekends.  Also, for the birth of the baby, Mimi and Papaw (Mr. Josh’s mom and stepdad) came down with their RV and stayed a few weeks.

On September 2, us Wongs went to Richmond, Virginia and went to a couple of NPS sites.  The first was Richmond National Battlefield Park, dedicated to a bunch of battle sites from the Civil War (around Richmond).  We went to one of the visitor centers and watched a few videos about some of the main battles that happened in the area.

The next site we went to was Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site, the home of an entrepreneurial black woman who lived during the Jim Crow era.  She is known as the first black woman to found a bank, and she set an example for others of courage, perseverance, and kindness.  She lived in her home with her big family (including adoptive children).  We were given a tour of the house, which even had an old-fashioned elevator.

On another day, we went to the Science Museum of Virginia (in Richmond).  The museum’s main theme was speed, and there were time lapse videos, a multitasking test, air hockey with a robot, and more.  The museum was built out of an old train station, so there were trains in the back, which we got to look at.

Anna Joy Hoffman was born on September 14, 2021, around 6:22 PM.  I included pictures of food we ate recently in the video below as well.

On September 21, we went to Pamplin Historical Park, which is really near by to where we were staying.  It was a homeschool group, and a guide at the museum took us around and talked to us about the Civil War.  Inside were displays, an audio tour, and artifacts, while outside, there was a battleground model, historic buildings, and more.  There were multiple buildings to look at and go into, and we went everywhere.

Last time we’d been here, Petersburg National Battlefield hadn’t been completely open (due to covid).  On September 24, we revisited the area and went to the museum in the visitor center.  We also walked around the battlefield and looked at where the crater (a failed attempt at winning during the fighting) used to be.

If you didn’t already know, during the Civil War, this is where a nine and a half month siege took place.  Grant was on the offence and tried to gain control of the railroads that went in and out of Petersburg, since the city was such a large supplier of goods to the South.  Lee fought to protect the city, and when Grant’s attempt to capture Petersburg failed, it led to a long and difficult siege.  Ultimately, the Union won, and Lee surrendered soon after.

Virginia History

On August 9, we moved to Williamsburg, Virginia.  Four days later, we moved to Harbor View RV and Camping Resort in Colonial beach, Virginia.  While there, we went to many NPS sites.

On one day, we went to four places, all of them connected to different Civil War battles.  These places contained stories of Jackson, Grant, Lee, and other historic Civil War heroes.  One of the places led to Jackson’s death, and another is where his arm is buried.  At two of the sites, rangers gave us tours and explained what happened at the sites.  If you want to read about them in more depth, click the links below:

Battle of Fredericksburg

Battle of Chancellorsville

Battle of the Wilderness

Battle of Spotsylvania Court House

Another day we went to Piscataway and Fort Washington Park.  While Piscataway protects natural resources of the area, Fort Washington is dedicated to protecting the historical fort.  The fort was used in defense and training from the War of 1812 through WWII, but before that, other forts took its place.  After the American Revolution, America used the area to build a fort to defend its coast from the French.  Over the years, it was rebuilt, changed, and added on to.

The last place we visited while staying at the RV park was George Washington Birthplace National Monument.  The place has a long history, including George Washington living there and historians from a while ago digging up parts of the site.  As of now, the park isn’t too sure where the house Washington was born in was located.  They also aren’t sure what happened to it.  One theory is that it burned down on Christmas, but they can’t be too sure, since evidence was removed when historians decided a foundation they found wasn’t necessary.  As a result, they dug it up and placed a memorial there (which has been relocated since then).

On August 27, we moved to Picture Lake Campground in Petersburg, Virginia.  We will be staying here for around a month, while we wait for Miss Erin (Hoffman) to give birth to their fourth child.

Searching Together Conference

We moved to Camp Sandusky in Sandusky, Ohio on July 7.  On the way, we stopped at Cuyahoga National Park (also in Ohio).  The site had a lot of hiking and some waterfalls, but we were only able to go to the visitor center and read about them due to time restrictions.

The next day, we visited River Raisin National Battlefield (in Monroe, Michigan).  During the war of 1812, a battle happened there, and the town, along with its food supply, was burned down.  The people afterwards had to fend for themselves.  The lived off of boiled hay and muskrats.  Both were unappetizing.  The site bears witness to the perseverance of the people who used to live there.

In case you are wondering, the site is called River Raisin because the French found a river with wild grapes growing on its banks, so they named it that.

On July 15, we arrived at Bethel Horizons in Dodgeville, Wisconsin.  There, we attended the Searching Together Conference for a few days, meeting and eating with other believers in the Lord.

Last minute, we decided to upgrade to a new RV.  We drove from Wisconsin to Texas, got our new RV (a Talon), then drove to Ohio, where we met back up with the Hoffmans.  On the way, we stopped at three NPS sites.

The first was Arkansas Post National Memorial.  Arkansas Post is at the confluence of two rivers and has been a gathering place for different peoples over the centuries.  At first it was a trading post between the Europeans and Native Americans, but over time, it changed hands.  It belonged to the French, Spanish, Confederates, and US at different times over the years.

The second place was Fort Donelson National Battlefield.  In 1862, during the Civil War, this was a Confederate fort.  The Union battled for it and won, and that led to the surrender of parts of Kentucky and Tennessee to the North.

We stayed at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky on our way up to Ohio.  We went to attend a ranger program there, but it rained (it was an outdoor seating area), and we left.  The program was about historical tour guides of the caves.  We were learning about an enslaved man who explored, led tours of, and mapped the cave.

In Ohio, we saw Mimi and Papaw (Mr. Josh’s mom and stepdad), as well as Mr. Dom, someone we met while evangelizing in Zanesville.

On August 5, us and the Hoffmans moved from Ohio to Meadow Creek Campground in Meadow Bridge, West Virginia.  The campground was basically empty and had no hookups  It was very pretty, with the mountains surrounding the park and natural scenery everywhere.  It bordered a river which we swam, fished, and snorkeled in.  Nearby, there were state parks and a national park (New River Gorge National Park and Preserve).  We hiked at these places during the weekend, and took a tram up and down a mountain on one of the days.

And here’s some food we ate recently:

Williamsburg, Virginia

We met up with the Hoffmans at Williamsburg RV and Camping Resort on June 18 in Williamsburg, Virginia.  There was a community garage sale at the RV park, and Aiden and Mason have gotten into fixing up and selling bikes, so those are some of the pictures below.

On June 19, we went to Fort Monroe National Monument.  Fort Monroe was built in the 1800’s as a defensive location for the Union.  Freed slaves came to seek refuge here, and the Confederate President, Jefferson Davis, was imprisoned here.  We got to walk around the fort, look at the historical weapons, and see the graves of the pets that died at Fort Monroe.

After that, we went to Colonial National Historic Park, which is dedicated to the beginnings of America.  At one of the visitor centers for the park, there was a living history demonstration going on.  There were three people dressed as they would have around 400 years ago.  The blacksmith showed us how he was making metal tongs, while the cooper showed us how he was making barrels.  There was also someone dressed as a Native American, and he told us about how the Native American responded to the intrusion of Englishmen upon their land and hunting grounds.  In front of him there were tools, weapons, and materials the Native Americans would have using during that time.

Afterward, we went to the Glasshouse, which is the ruins of where people used to make glass in the 1600’s.  At the Glasshouse, there were semi-modern furnaces where workers make glass to sell to visitors of the park.  We got there after the Glasshouse was being shut down for the day, so we only looked at the ruins of the old furnaces.

We visited Virginia Living Museum in Newport News, Virginia.  Inside the museum, there were all kinds of fish and other water animals, as well as animatronic dinosaurs.  Outside, there were all kinds of animals, including otters, beavers, birds,  a bobcat, an alligator, cayotes, snakes, and foxes.  There were more dinosaur displays as well, and one even sprayed water from its mouth.  While we were looking at the otters, someone (not us) dropped a toy dino and sippy cup into the water, so the otters were taken out while the workers fished out the foreigners.

On another day, we went to the Virginia Air and Space Science Center in Hampton, Virginia.  The museum had displays on flight and the progression toward space exploration since the Wright brothers made the first plane.  One of the rooms was full of flight simulators and space-themed video games, and another had a movie which talked about modern scientists’ progression towards taking humans to Mars.  On the museum’s ceiling were different models of airplanes.

First Trip With the Hoffmans

On May 20, we moved to an RV park on a private property in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  This was our first trip with the Hoffmans, and we caravanned the entire way.

While in Baton Rouge, we got to visit some friends, Mr. Jack and Mr. Ron, who are fellow believers in the Lord.  We also got to meet some people from their church.

Two days later, on May 22, we carravaned to Hodges Vineyards and Winery in Camp Hill, Alabama.  (We stayed here on April 26 as well).

The next day, we carravaned to Poinsett State Park in Wedgefield, South Carolina.  On the way, we stopped at Congaree National Park, where we took a 2.6 mile boardwalk hike.  Congaree was protected by the NPS because of its historical floodplain, once lived in or used (at separate times usually) by Native Americans, escaped slaves, and loggers.  Now, it is a great place to explore the outdoors, hike, and canoe and kayak.

While at Poinsett, we walked to the small waterfall, lake, and playground.  My brothers and Mr. Josh went fishing, and Mason caught a catfish.

On May 25, we moved to Threads Run Thru It, a quilting shop in Rustburg, Virginia (also a Harvest Host).  On the way, us Wongs stopped at Guilford Courthouse National Military Park in North Carolina.  This is where, in 1781, the Patriots lost a battle to the British, but ended up escaping almost unscathed.  Meanwhile, the British suffered a loss of over a quarter of their men.  The battle fought here weakened the British and helped win the freedom of America.

After that, we stopped at Booker T. Washington National Monument in Virginia.  This place honored the African American boy born into slavery who was freed after the Civil War, excelled in school, and became a first principal of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial School.  He became an author and orator, looked up to by many people of all races.

We met up with the Hoffmans at the Harvest Host, where we ate dinner with them and stayed the night.

The next morning, we got on the road again and went to Appomattox Court House National Historic Park (in Virginia) with the Hoffmans.  This is where General Lee (of the Confederate army) surrendered, marking the beginning of the end of the Civil War.  The reason it wasn’t the end was because the other generals of the Confederate army still had to surrender.  However, Lee’s surrender persuaded the other Confederate leaders to do the same.

At the Park, we walked around and looked at the different buildings, including a prison, the McLean house where Lee surrendered, and the tavern.

After that, the Hoffmans made their way to the Harvest Host we were staying at that night, while us Wongs went to Petersburg National Battlefield in Virginia.  This is where a nine month siege took place, ultimately ending in the Union cutting off Petersburg’s supplies and the Confederates losing.  About a week later, Lee surrendered.

A lot of the park was closed due to COVID, so we only got to see the graves of people who died during the siege (due to clashes between the two sides).

Finally, we drove to Keystone Truck and Tractor Museum in Colonial Heights, Virginia.  We went into the museum and stayed the night with the Hoffmans.  The museum had hundreds of vehicles.  There were tractors, trucks, bikes, and decorations.

The next morning, we moved to Virginia Landing RV Campground in Quinby, Virginia.  At the RV park, we clammed, crabbed, had campfires, and found different sorts of sea creatures like conch.  We went door-to-door in a neighborhood near the RV park.

On Saturday, us Wongs went to Assateague Island National Seashore, a NPS site dedicated to preserving the seashore, island, and wild horses there.  It was a drizzly, cold, windy day, soo most of the time, we stayed in our truck.  We got to see three horses from afar, as well as the ocean and a river (where we tried catching crabs and failed).

We moved after almost a week, but for now, here are pictures of some of the stuff we ate in this blog post:

Wongs, Paynes, and Hoffmans – Texas

Due to delays in the making of the Hoffmans’ RV and a shortage of gas where they were staying, the Hoffmans weren’t able to get to us until much later than they’d thought.  Meanwhile, we moved to Lake Conroe RV and Camping Resort in Conroe, Texas, and went to a few museums in Houston.

On May 9, we went to The Health Museum (in Houston).  The museum was had a section about diseases, one about the human body, another about bikes, and one filled with interactive brain puzzles.  There was even a real lab with professional equipment, where we got to do a few experiments.  Mason and I did one where we extracted DNA from raw wheat germ, and another where we looked at chromosomes from a fruit fly.

On May 13, we went to Buffalo Soldiers National Museum.  The buffalo soldiers were African American soldiers who fought for the US after the  Civil War.  They were given their name by Native Americans who fought in the Indian Wars.  

That same day, we went to Holocaust Museum Houston.  There, we learned about the Holocaust, heard stories from survivors, and saw art and artifacts.  We learned how Jews, along with a few other groups of people were persecuted by those who thought them less than human.  The persecutors thought of the Jews like a disease.  They wanted them killed.  Adolf Hitler shared this view and  started to bring the vision to life—creating a race of “perfect” people.  This resulted in the death of millions of people—men, women, and children alike.  They were abused, forced to work in inhumane conditions, and killed without mercy.

The Paynes (if you don’t know yet, they are a family we met while living in San Antonio) came to stay at Lake Conroe for a few days with us.  We had a lot of fun with them.  We played basketball and pickleball with them, ate together, and swam.

The Hoffmans arrived with their new RV on the day the Paynes left.  The Paynes and Hoffmans both knew about each other, and they got to meet for the first time that day.  Since it was raining, we spent the day at the RV park’s clubhouse.

In the video below, you can see pictures of the Hoffmans’ 20-foot toy hauler.

Update On the Hoffmans and Us

At first, we thought we’d be living in Zanesville, Ohio with the Hoffmans, but when we thought about going door-to-door and running out of places to evangelize at, the Hoffmans decided to get an RV, live in it full-time, and travel with us in order to go door-to-door in different places.  Before I continue on with updates on what we’re doing now, I’ll insert a video of what we did for Aiden’s, Mason’s, and Daddy’s birthdays.

For these three birthdays, we spent them at Mimi and Papaw’s house, where we broke bread and celebrated together with birthday cakes (red velvet, tiramisu, and cheesecake).  Now on to the updates.

So, the Hoffmans and us have a desire to share the gospel with others.  Traveling in RV’s and going door-to-door seems like the best way to do it for us at this time.  We know that the church is not a building or services, but the body of Christ (meaning all believers), so we meet, fellowship, break bread, sing praises to God, and evangelize together.  We have a very close relationship with each other, and we build one another up when we are together.  Although it is a very unconventional way of Christian living, I find that it is very upbuilding to my faith, more than anything we’ve ever done before.

Now, here is something you might not know: our RV (a Crossroads Volante) is in need of repairs, and we just recently were able to get things moving along so it can be repaired.  In the meantime, we bought a smaller, new RV that we’ll live in for 3—6 months (or longer) while our Volante is being fixed.  Here are pictures of us moving into our new RV (a Grand Design Transcend):

We moved to North Carolina recently (temporarily; we will be moving around), and the Hoffmans will be joining us, living in a condo until they can pickup their RV (at a dealership in North Carolina), but more on that in the next blog post.

Oh, and here are some pictures of the National Road campground cat we named Zaney (short for Zanesville) and her recently-born kittens.  We saw them right before we left to North Carolina.

The Realm Audio Drama

The Realm audio drama

Finally!  It’s been about half a year since I told you all about the audio drama my brothers and I were working on.  Well, we recently finished the first episode, so here it is.  Enjoy!

A mermaid named Selena decides she doesn’t want to live in the water anymore, and since she has the ability to change her tail to legs when she goes onto land, she wants to live on a boat.  A way to grant her wish is found when she meets Max, the “world-renowned” scuba diver, and together, the three of them go on a treasure hunt to find a pearl that will give Selena a pirate ship.

There were some changes I made to what we were planning on doing.  First of all, Tanner decided not to be one of the voice actors, so characters were reduced.  I also decided to shorten how many episodes there could be, as the audio didn’t take up nearly as much time as I estimated it would.

In case you were interested in learning about the process I went through to make this audio drama, here it is:

First, I wrote the script over a relaxed period of a few months.  Then, we recorded.  I was both a voice actor and the director.  Once we finished getting all the audio I needed, I opened up Blender (a multi-purpose, free software that I use for video/audio editing), and I inserted all the scenes, sound effects, and music and edited them all together.  Once I was finished with that, I rendered (finished) the file into both an mp4 and mp3 file.  That way, I could upload it to YouTube along with the visuals, and my brothers could put the audio file onto their mp3 players.

Over this whole process, I was the producer, actor, writer, editor, and director.  All of my brothers helped me in one way or another.  Even though Tanner didn’t act, he and Aiden and Mason listened to the file before I rendered it, and they found one mistake, which I fixed.  Aiden helped me solve a problem that I had in editing.

Now, here is another thing I decided when we worked on the audio drama.  We aren’t planning on making more episodes.  Reasons for this are that conditions in our home and what we are up to now don’t fit well with recording, and Mason doesn’t really like voice acting (Mason says I’m very particular over the quality of our acting.  I take it as a compliment).  I don’t know for sure if we’ll never make another episode, but for now, I’m not planning on it.

Turning 16 and Museums – Ohio

We’ve been meeting with the Hoffmans like usual, but we haven’t been able to evangelize due to snow and/or cold weather.  We’ve also been seeing Mr. Josh’s parents, whom we call Mimi and Papaw (because the Hoffman kids do).  In the video below, you can see pictures of when we celebrated Mimi’s birthday at the Hoffmans’ house, then when we celebrated my 16th birthday.  Also, there are two pictures of our pets.  Mommy recently took the pictures after she’d dressed up our cats.  Julius doesn’t mind the necktie, but Tennessee really didn’t like wearing the clothes or bows.

On February 13, we went to First Ladies NHS in Canton, Ohio.  There, we learned about the roles of the First Ladies of the United States over time.  We learned about the White House being built, and how it was decorated, and how it was mainly the First Lady’s role to decorate both the outside and inside of the White House, as well as host parties and celebrations there.

Afterward, we drove to McKinley Presidential Library and Museum, which was a few minutes away.  It is a science museum/historical museum/museum about the McKinleys.

The museum had a special event for the Mars 2020 space mission, where a rover and helicopter will land on Mars on February 18.  As a result, we got to learn about the mission when we went to the planetarium show.  You can actually watch the landing live on February 18, 2021 here: https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/timeline/landing/watch-online.  There will be some options to choose from on this page.

In one section of the museum, a man showed us some cool things that were used during the McKinleys’ time.  One was a stereoscope.  The stereoscope is a device used to view two slightly different images, resulting in a 3D image.  The other thing the man showed us was a Reginaphone.  The Reginaphone is a music box that plays a disk, creating music that has a deep, echoing quality to it.  It sounded really nice.

Another part of the museum was a fake, old-fashioned town, with a blacksmith, a dentist, houses, a firehouse, and more.  We could go into some of the buildings, as well up some stairs to a few other buildings.

More Fun in Zanesville – Ohio

On January 16, we went to The Works, which is a museum in Newark, Ohio, with interactive exhibits on science, the history of the area, and other things.  The museum had cool simulators, two car simulators, and one airplane simulator.  For a lot of the time, us four kids used the car driving simulators, which really challenged our attention and reflex skills while driving.

There was a glassblowing demonstration, where a glassblower with 40 years of experience demonstrated to us how he makes a glass olive oil dispenser.  We watched him take molten glass onto a metal rod, make it expand, and shape it into a bottle.  He even added colored pieces of glass and texture to the bottom half of the bottle.  It was very cool to watch.

Also, we went to the planetarium show, where we watched a show on other planets and galaxies.  According to the show, scientists are trying to find another planet like Earth that can support life, but haven’t been able to yet, given that Earth is such a unique planet, and it has so many factors that make it able to support life.  Earth is just the perfect distance from our sun, is able to trap the perfect amount of heat to sustain life, and has the perfect atmosphere, air, and temperature.  No other planet has been found that has the same conditions.  I think this shows just how intricate our world is.  This proves just how precisely God has planned everything, making Earth just the right place for humans to live.

Before going to the museum, we went to a restaurant called Skorpios Gyros (for lunch), which had Greek food:

Another day, we went to Russo’s Wood Fired Pizza and ate pizza for lunch:

Of course, in all these places, they were taking precautions to prevent COVID-19 from spreading, including wearing masks, using plexiglass, wiping/cleaning everything, and only letting a certain amount of people into closed spaces at one time.

Holidays in Zanesville – Ohio

For the holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s), we went to the Hoffmans’ to fellowship, break bread together, and continue in reaching out to the neighbors and community around us.  Over the past few months, we have met many neighbors living in Zanesville and have been able to minister to some of their needs.  It has been a great opportunity to learn more about the people in this area and how we can best serve them with the love of Christ.

In the video below, you can see us and the Hoffmans playing Hedbanz and other games, as well as the younger kids playing in the leaves near Thanksgiving time.  The last picture in the video is of me, Miss Erin, and Tanner knitting.  Recently, I taught my two youngest brothers and Miss Erin how to knit.  When we are sitting around and talking, a few of us will pull out our crocheting/knitting projects and work on it.

It snowed a few times in December, which provided many opportunities for snow-fun!  We constructed caves and forts, had snowball fights, and sledded.  Aiden and Mason made a huge walk-in cave with Mt. Rushmore-esque heads on the side of it.  We woke up on Christmas day to many inches of snow, piled up and ready for us to play in.  It’s fun to play in the snow, but getting our truck de-snowed was a bit of work which we are not used to.  Two of the Hoffman kids (4 and 2 years old) enjoyed sledding with us down their side hill.  We also had a fun time sledding in the RV park where we are staying.  Although we have experienced snow before for fun, short outings, this is the first time we have been living in it.

Getting Things from Storage – Texas

We drove down to Texas to get things from storage, like next year’s school books for us children.  On the way down, we stopped at two different RV parks, a NPS site, and Buc-ee’s (a favorite roadtrip stop).

The two RV parks we stopped at were Tanbark (in Dickson, Tennessee) and Home Sweet Home (in Texarkana, Texas).  Tanbark had very pretty trees in fall colors, and there was a horse that we looked at.  The RV park we stopped to stay at near our storage was called Medina Lake RV Campground (a Thousand Trails RV Park), and it was near Medina Lake in Lakehills, Texas.  There were lots of twisty trees and friendly deer which were used to being fed by humans, and it was hilly in that area.

The NPS site that we visited was Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site in Little Rock, Arkansas.  We went there on October 21.  Central High is where the U.S. began an experiment to start integrating black people into white schools.  The ranger at the visitor center gave us a tour of the outside of the school.

In 1857, Central High allowed ten black students with perfect grades into the school (out of 200 students who had applied).  A lot of white people were upset about it and showed up at the school to protest integration.  In order to help the ten children more smoothly in their new school, Daisy Bates (also black) was chosen to help them.  The night before the ten were supposed to go to school, Daisy called all of their families with a plan, except for Elizabeth Eckford, since she had no phone.  The plan was to escort the children to school, along with both black and white ministers in hopes that the mob would be less likely to attack anyone.  Daisy planned to get Elizabeth early the next morning.

But Dasiy Bates forgot.  So Elizabeth, only fifteen years old, showed up at school the next day on September 4, 1957, unprepared for what she faced.  The governor of Arkansas, Orval Faubus, called the National Guard to block all African American children from entering the school, which directly defied federal law.  They did their duty, and Elizabeth, very confused, walked away from the school with a mob following her.  They called her mean things, spit on her, and threatened to kill her.  Eventually, with the encouragement of a few nice people and a bus, she was able to get away.  However, that day greatly affected her, and she suffers from mental health issues because of it.

Meanwhile, the other nine children went to school as planned.  However, at the door, they were turned away.  For the first time in their lives, these children had missed a day of school.

On September 25, 1957, President Eisenhower sends the 101st Airborne Infantry Division to escort nine out of the previous ten students into the school.  These nine are known as the Little Rock Nine.

On October 1, the National Guard, which had previously been ordered to block blacks from entering the school, took over the 101st Airborne’s duty.  They were sent to keep watch over and escort the Nine to the school.  However, the National Guard was able to be in basically only the school’s halls, so the students who didn’t like integration harassed and even tried to kill the Nine.  Eventually, the National Guard were removed from the school.  The Little Rock Nine went through the school year bravely.

Rather than repeat the previous year, Orval Faubus got Arkansas’ schools shut down, since he didn’t like integration.  This caused the state’s economy to be affected negatively.

Down in San Antonio, we saw our friends, the Paynes at both their house and the campground we were staying at.  We did a lot of things with them, including playing basketball and card games, visiting parks, and reading the Bible and singing with them.

On November 2, we drove up to Hickory Creek, Texas, where we stayed at Hickory Creek Campground.  We visited the Pattons for dinner a couple of times.

On November 4, we moved to Hot Springs RV Park in Arkansas, right near Hot Springs National Park.  On the way there, we stopped in Hope, Arkansas to go to President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site.  We weren’t able to go inside the home, due to COVID, but we were able to read signs about Bill Clinton’s childhood and family in the visitor center.

Afterwards, we drove on to Hot Springs, Arkansas.

When we had set up our RV at the RV park we went to look around the national park.

First, we went to Bathhouse Row, which is a street with bathhouses built in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s which use water from the hot springs.  Fountains with hot spring water were scattered throughout the area, and we tried the water.  To me, it tasted like normal but hot water.  There was no sulfuric scent to it, like there had been at other hot springs we’d seen in the past.

We also went on a short walk and a scenic drive, where we could see the city and beautiful fall colors

The next day, we moved to Cross City RV Park in Corinth, Mississippi.  On the way, we stopped at Mississippi Final Stands Interpretive Center in Baldwyn, Mississippi, where we read about Civil War battles.

On November 6, while on the way to a Cracker Barrel in Florence, Kentucky, we stopped at Shiloh National Military Park.  We had visited there a year ago, looked around the park, and done junior ranger books, but we hadn’t been able to turn our completed books in due to COVID.  This time, we turned our books in and got badges in return.

On November 7, we drove up to Zanesville, Ohio to National Road Campground.

Zanesville – Ohio

In the last blog post, I wrote about the RV park we were staying at.  Well, this RV park had a few trails that were very pretty, so with our new bikes (some of which my brothers had bought, and another which the owner of the RV park gave to us), we explored the trails.

Fall in Zanesville is very pretty.  There are beautiful red, orange, yellow, and pinkish trees.  In Zanesville, we went to a roadside farmer’s stand, where they sold produce.  We also went to a weenie roast event with the Hoffmans, where we roasted hotdogs and my brothers participated in a cupcake eating contest.

We see the Hoffmans a lot to evangelize and fellowship with them.  For evangelism, we go door to door and talk with the people we meet about the gospel.  One day while we were evangelizing, a stray cat followed us to the Hoffman’s house, where my brothers pet and played with it.  We named her S.C. (stray cat), but we haven’t played with her again, but we have seen other cats that look like her around the neighborhood.  At the Hoffman’s house, we eat and sing together.  Us children like to climb the trees in the front and back yard and give the Hoffmans’ kids rides on our backs (hence the picture of Aiden with the two oldest Hoffman kids on his back).

For Tanner’s 10th birthday, September 28, we ate cake and gave him presents.  Some things he got were painting supplies, rock painting kits, and a bike.  We video called our family in Hawaii who got to sing to Tanner and talk with all of us.  It was nice to see our family on the video calls.

Oh, and here’s a pesky insect that we found was planning on hibernating in our RV for the winter.  It’s the brown marmorated stink bug.  There were tons of them in our RV slides which came out when we recently moved our RV (we killed them), and I’m guessing that there are dozens more still.  When they are dying, they release a stench, which smells like stinky watermelon.  It turns out that our pets don’t like the smell.  Tennessee, our kitten, was playing with one and got sprayed and ran away, and another stinkbug sprayed my bed where Ruby usually naps, and Ruby avoided sleeping there for a while.

Food – Wisconsin, Missouri, and Ohio

Here are pictures of food that we ate mostly in St. Louis or with the Hoffmans.  You can also see the cheeses and salami that we got from Wisconsin.  The main picture above is of spam musubis (in this case, spam fried in teriyaki sauce, sandwiched between two blocks of rice, wrapped in nori or sprinkled with sesame seeds) that Uncle Dean made when we were visiting him and other family in Missouri.

Saint Louis – Iowa and Missouri

On August 17, we moved to St. Louis RV Park in St. Louis, Missouri.  The RV park was in the middle of the city, and it had a pool, which my brothers played in.

Before leaving, however, we stopped at Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in West Branch, Iowa.  It is where Hoover was born and lived until he was nine and was orphaned.  He became our 31st president, and he was president during the Great Depression.  It surprised me that his family was Quaker, and they lived in a Quaker community.  The site had buildings which Herbert and his family would’ve lived or worked in, such as a blacksmith, their cottage, and their Friend’s meetinghouse.

After that, we went moved to the RV park in Saint Louis.  We set up our RV, then we went to Gateway Arch National Park, which has the iconic arch of Missouri.  The arch itself was closed because of COVID-19 (you can usually take a tram to the top of the inside of the arch for a price), but we were able to view it from the outside, learn about it in the visitor center, and stand inside a replica of the top of the arch.  The replica was a very small sliver of what the arch would be like inside, and it had “windows” on it that were actually screens that showed live feed from cameras up on top the arch.  The screens were bigger than the windows would actually be.  We could even see our truck from the cameras.

The site included the Old Courthouse, where the famous first two trials of the Dred Scott case were held.  The case was about freedom of enslaved black people, Dred Scott and his wife specifically, because they filed suit for their freedom in the mid 1800’s.  In the end, Dred Scott and his wife lost, but it helped bring on the fight for enslaved people’s freedom in America, which eventually gave freedom to black people.  We weren’t able to go there, however, because it was closed.

After that, we ate at a restaurant and drove around the city.

The next day, we went to Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site.  The site had a home and some other buildings on it.  Grant’s future wife, Julia Dent, and her family lived here.  Grant met her here, married her later on, then lived with the Dents on the property (which was about 850 acres) in the mid 1800’s.  He tried out farming, but that didn’t work out for long, so he rejoined the army (he had been in the army earlier in his life).  He eventually became a high ranking leader in the army during the Civil War, and later, the president of America.  Grant helped to win the Civil War for the Union side, and he valued African Americans as human beings, even allowing them to fight in the Civil War when others wouldn’t, and he fought against discrimination against black people.

We got to take a tour of the Dent house, called White Haven, even though it is now bright green.  We also got to see Budweiser Clydesdale horses, which are a rare breed of horses.

For dinner, we went to Uncle Dean and Aunty Jeanette’s house.  They are actually Daddy’s uncle and aunt, and we hadn’t seen them since we lived in McKinney (years ago).  I met their son, Evan, and his wife, Emily, as well as their son.  We talked, ate, and played Splendor with them.