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!

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.

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.

East Coast History and Crabbing

On June 1, we moved to Chesapeake Bay RV Resort in Gloucester, Virginia.   The boys crabbed and fished while we were there, and they also played in the swimming pool.

On June 11, we stayed the night (and bought some donuts, pie, and other things) at Morris Farm Market in Barco, North Carolina.  The next morning, we moved to Oregon inlet Campground in Nags Head, North Carolina.  We dry camped at both of these places, meaning we had no water, sewer, or electricity hookups.  The campground at Oregon Inlet had dunes which you could walk over to get to the beach, so we had a lot of fun playing there.  We also flew kites, crabbed, and played in the sand.

On the way to Oregon Inlet, we stopped at Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina.  There, we learned about Orville and Wilbur Wright, the two creative and innovative brothers who started out as bike builders, but eventually made the first plane.

Us Wongs went to Cape Hatteras National Seashore, which was near the campground.  The NPS site was made to protect part of three of the barrier islands, along with the lighthouse and animals.

Another place we went to was Fort Raleigh National Historic Site in Manteo, North Carolina.   We learned about Roanoke Colony, the first place the English settled in America.  Roanoke Colony is also known as the “Lost Colony,” because the colony mysteriously disappeared, leaving behind only a few letters on a tree for their returning governor to find.

The museum taught us about how the English decided to come to America, and how they fared in the new land.

Centuries after Roanoke Colony disappeared, Freedman’s Colony took it’s place, sheltering and becoming the home of freed slaves.  These people stayed here, under the protection of the Union Army.  We went to a ranger talk and learned about some of the injustices the freed slaves faced due to prejudice.

Due to the lack of AC and electricity, we moved four days later to Northwest River Park and Campground in Chesapeake, Virginia, while the Hoffmans stayed behind.

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.

Turning 16 and Museums – Ohio

kayla wong

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.

Holidays in Zanesville – Ohio

Zanesville blog

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.

Back in Ohio to Stay – Indiana and Ohio

“Back in Ohio to stay…wait, did she write stay?”  Yes, I did.  As a matter of fact, we are planning to stay in or near Zanesville, Ohio, by our friends, the Hoffmans (I wrote about them in this post).  Some reasons for this choice is wanting to fellowship with likeminded believers in Christ and to share the good news of the Gospel with people in this area.  But more on that later.

On the way to Zanesville, we stopped at George Rogers Clark National Historical Park in Vincennes, Indiana.  George Clark was the older brother of the famous William Clark (if you don’t know who that is, maybe the phrase “Lewis and Clark” will trigger your memory).  George Clark is known mostly for his success in gaining the Northeast territory for America, from the British.

In the late 1700’s, the British claimed land west of the Appalachian Mountains and proclaimed that no one should settle in the land there.  When settlers did not listen, and the Revolutionary War was intensifying, the British sent Native American groups to fight the disobedient people.  As a result, George Clark took a party of Kentucky militia to fight back where the raids were happening the most.  This went on for a while, but when Clark learned that the British would be attacking in the spring, he organized a group of tough, persistent Americans and Frenchmen to travel through the freezing, flooded lands of Illinois to get to the British fort of Hamilton, believed to have been where the park now is – Indiana.  They captured the fort, the British surrendered, and the British had been stopped from achieving their goal of stopping Americans from gaining the Northwest.

The park had a very tall memorial that was circular, made of granite.  According the the NPS website, it is 80 feet tall, 90 feet wide, and the walls are two feet thick.  Steps led to the memorial’s inside, where a statue of Clark stood, just a bit taller than he was in real life, and seven murals painted on Belgium linen lined the walls, depicting Clark’s mission.  The memorial was completed in 1933.

We took much longer than we’d expected to get to the Hoffman’s house, due to traffic, bumpy roads, and construction.  We arrived around 10 o’clock, but we took long to park.  The neighborhood had steep streets and narrow roads lined with vehicles, which made it difficult to navigate the area.  We got stuck a few times, had to ask neighbors to move their vehicles, and in the end, we couldn’t make it into the Hoffmans’ driveway.  The neighbors were really nice and accomodating, and the people at the bar down the road offered to move their vehicles out of a parking lot so we could park there.  We parked, but the space was too unlevel to take out our slides, so we stayed in the Hoffmans’ house for the night.

The next day, we moved to Campers Grove RV Park in Hopewell, Ohio, about 10 minutes away from the Hoffmans.  We are here right now (check the published date at the top to make sure you don’t get confused when “now” is), and we plan on staying here until we can find some land to buy.

More updates will come later!

A Great Lake – Michigan

On June 22, we moved to Ohio.  We stayed at National Road Campground in Zanesville, Ohio for a week, visiting with some friends, the Hoffmans.  We had met the Hoffmans over 4 years ago in 2016 while we lived in McKinney, Texas and they lived nearby in Richardson, Texas.  They recently moved to Ohio a few years ago to be closer to family.  We went over to their house a few times, and they came over to our RV park once.  The RV park had a playground with swings and a cornhole (bean bag toss game) area, so we played there.  Mr. Josh made his famous bacon grease popcorn.

We also saw our first Tim Horton’s here in Zanesville since Canada last year in 2019.  We didn’t realize Tim Horton’s was in the states and were thrilled to get coffee there!

On June 28, we moved to Bear Cave RV Campground in Buchanan, Michigan.  This general area is known to locals as Michiana (a combination of Michigan and Indiana) because the areas blend into each other around the state boarder here.  Locals go back and forth to shop, eat out, and recreate.  In this area, there are lots of fruit farms (blueberries were in season when we were there as well as cherries) as well as fruit farm stands and U-picks.  It’s a very pretty area but also very crowded as many locals and tourists flock to the beach along the shores of Lake Michigan during the summer heat.

On July 3, we went to an Indiana Dunes National Park in nearby Indiana.  The national park stretches 15 miles around the southern shore of Lake Michigan and is known for its sand dunes.  The state park area with beach access (which is within the national park) was packed this holiday weekend with a huge line of cars down the main road, so we opted to drive to a different area of the national park: the Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education.  Here we learned more about Indiana Dunes and did junior ranger books.  Later in the day, we took a scenic shoreline drive within the national park and got to see the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair Century of Progress Homes, which were built at that time to show the modern houses that could be built, with materials like glass, and with things like dishwashers and air conditioners.

After that, we went to Pullman National Monument in Chicago, Illinois.  We were given a tour by a ranger and learned about the Pullman area.  George Pullman designed sleeping cars that were comfortable and luxurious for railroads.  As demand for his cars grew, Pullman bought land and started a model town.  He designed his town to be beautiful, clean, and orderly, and he allowed only his workers to live there (while paying rent).  By the day’s standards, it was a very nice town, far above other towns’ standards.  However, Pullman put strict rules over the town, even to where tenants had to ask permission to plant flowers in their front yard.

When the demand for Pullman’s cars went down, Pullman decreased his workers’ wages without decreasing their rent.  This led to strikes and boycotts, which were sometimes violent, and they spread across America.  Pullman died in 1897, the Pullman Company was ordered to sell all non-industrial holdings, and Robert Todd Lincoln became the new president of the company.  Eventually, sleeping cars on railroads were no longer needed.  Pullman’s model town was a failure.

At the town, we looked at the historic homes and some of the old buildings.  We didn’t go inside, however.  The houses were being rented out.

On July 4, we visited Grand Mere State Park in Stevensville, Michigan.  We took a hike through a marshy forest, over hot sand dunes, and finally arriving at the shores of Lake Michigan.  The sand dunes were really big, and they were also super hot.  Climbing up them was difficult, but running down was fun.  The water of Lake Michigan was refreshingly cool and there were fun waves to swim in (just like the ocean).  However, unlike the ocean, it was freshwater, meaning that it didn’t sting my eyes.  The sand here was very fine and soft.

When we were going back home to our RV park, we found people doing fireworks right outside the park entrance in the residential area.  We were able to pull over and watched them set off tons of big aerial fireworks for about an hour.  There must have been thousands of dollars’ worth of fireworks.  It was like a professional firework show.  At the end, they did a grand finale, which is the video below.  It was a nice ending to our Independence Day.

The next day, July 5, we went to Local Harvest Michigan Fruit Stand, where we bought some local Michigan vegetables, blueberries, and cherries.  (We recently tried the Michigan grown onions from there, and they were super sweet and delicious!)  After that, we went to Warren Dunes State Park in Sawyer, Michigan and stayed on the beach for a few hours.  Just like Indiana Dunes and Grand Mere, Warren Dunes is known for its huge sand dunes and the cool waters of Lake  Michigan.  The sand here was more rocky than the last beach, with small pebble-sized rocks mixed into the sand.