One of the highlights of a trip like this is connecting with friends and family you don’t often see. Due to the issues the bus was having in the cold, we did not get to start our trip spending time
with Kitt’s family as we had planned. Kitt’s mother was, fortunately, able to change plans last minute and have us over for a quick lunch and visit. It was much too brief, but so good to see her and meet her new puppy. Unfortunately, we were not able to see his brother and his family. We were all disappointed as we hadn’t spent time together in a long time. We also missed out on visiting with a friend of mine in DC that I hadn’t seen in 20 years and my aunt and uncle in SC. It was a bummer to have to take a rain check on those visits!
Once in Florida, I made plans with my cousin who lives in Clearwater and who I have hardly seen in our adult lives. She made the trip to Orlando to see us, and it was a great reunion! The kids absolutely loved cousin Laura!! They wanted to tell her all sorts of things, show her around the bus, and take her to the pool. We had so much fun, we decided our next camping spot should be somewhere near her. While in the Tampa area she met us at Lowry Park Zoo one day and at Clearwater Beach another day. It was great to hear about her work and life in Florida. The kids all loved her, and Cake basically attached herself to Laura the whole time!
After Tampa, we worked our way across the state and north to meet up with friends of ours that moved down from New York in the fall. They are a family we met when we were having our first child and their son was a year old. They were our first friends in Canandaigua and leaving them was the hardest part of moving from there. We stayed in touch and saw each other occasionally in Rochester. We knew how happy they were to have moved to Florida and were excited to visit them and see their area. Our first evening there, mama and son came to our camp site and we all walked down to the beach. A thick fog had rolled in and the kids had a great time running from the waves and moving through the fog. It was pretty magical! The next few days we spent mornings at the beach and met up with our friends later in the day. They invited
us to join their homeschool group at a park for some glow stick fun one evening and had us over for pizza, a fire and Chinese lantern launching another night. They very graciously allowed us to do some laundry at their house while we hung out. It was great hanging out with them, seeing them settled in to their new home and meeting some of the people in their community. We’re already looking forward to the next time we are passing through!
Now, in New Orleans, we’ve had the pleasure of hanging out with my cousin from back home. She had said before we left that if we were visiting anywhere on her bucket list, she might meet us, and she did! She’s a carefree traveler, which suits us well. She decided to rent a car and get a hotel room despite our invitation to stay on the bus. (What do you mean you don’t want to bunk with three kids and share a bathroom that opens to both the bedroom and living room???) She has spent some time exploring the city on her own and some hanging out with us. It’s been great having family on this leg of our journey and we’re happy she’ll be joining us for a couple more stops before flying back home.