January 15, 2017

2016 is a Wrap!

Famous quote by Mark Twain

A perfect quote about the road we chose. Now onto the post. It's been a while.

The last few weeks have been an absolute whirlwind for us as we left Tucson and headed to Flagstaff, Page, Grand Canyon, Sedona and now Vegas. The kids have been on winter break and we have been filling our days and keeping busy. It leaves this mama worn out by the end of the day and I regularly fall asleep when putting Cayenne to bed around 8pm (I really do try to stay awake)! The good news? There is a lot to write about! The bad news? I'm hoping I can stay up late enough to write the posts for the blog! I do fully intend to get back to a twice a week blog posting schedule now that the kids are back in school so be on the lookout for posts this upcoming week. For now, I wanted to summarize our 2016, include some family pics and give you a glimpse of the Cortes Crew 2017 goals. Hope you enjoy!

As of December 31, 2016:

Time in our RV: 16 weeks 2 days
Miles Traveled: 5,380
States Visited:13 (PA, VA, FL MI, IN, TN, GA, AL, LA, TX, NM, AZ, NV)
Junior Park Ranger Badges Earned: 9
Days Spent Exploring: 114
Days Spent Homeschooling: 78
Days Spent Potty-Training: 17
Awards Won: 3 (1st place pumpkin decorating, 1st place family costume, 2nd place kids costume)
Days Spent Planning our Route: Countless!
Pictures Taken: Thousands!
Lessons Learned: Too Many!

2016 was a wild ride. I lost my job. We took a huge risk and rented our house in hopes of moving to Colombia. We went to Philly for one last cheesesteak, were thrown a wonderful going away party and said goodbye to amazing friends (through laser tag parties and ropes course adventures for the boys). We trekked to FL: the boys started a new school, we went to Disney for the first time with Gramma, caught up with tons of friends and family, went to Siesta Key with the Heistand's, Cape Coral for another weekend trip, day trips to the Keys and Miami, Turtle camp and Sailing summer camp for the boys, swim lessons and soccer for the little miss, mama had a girls weekend in Sanibel Island and we all survived a 5 month long stint at Gramma's house (love you and appreciate you for putting up with us, Ma!). In a crazy turn of events we ended up buying an RV and planning for a big US adventure. We flew to Michigan, picked up our RV and drove it back down making a stop at Papaw and Granny's along the way. We enrolled the kids in the Cortes Homeschool Academy, packed our Big Beast up and set out on the open road. We've since been to 6 states in a bit over 3 months and are exploring every place we visit and enjoying our big adventure (not without it's ups and downs, of course!). PHEW! It is nuts when I stop and think or should I say write about how much we accomplished this year. Nuts and it was 100% worth it!

Family in front of their townhouse
Leaving our friends and our home in VA.
Magic Kingdom in front of Cindarella castle
Disney with Gramma
Our favorite memories from 2016:

Niko: Meeting our friends in Tucson
Reno: Our trip to Philly before we left Virginia and flying to Michigan to get our RV
Daddy: Antelope Canyon (more on that in a future post)
Mommy: Our Best Day Ever, Antelope Canyon and Sedona (another future blog post)
Cayenne: "Playing in the mud" (I'm pretty sure we never played in any mud, but ok) 
Cola: Sitting Bull Falls - Cola told me this was his favorite because he got to run around with us without a leash and climb huge boulders

We learned a lot in 2016. More than we can possibly list here and really you've likely read a lot about it in previous posts. We are excited for what 2017 will bring. It's our first year 100% living in an RV. It's funny but as I was staring at the calendar earlier today and attempting to plan our route Edson responded with "Soooo, you are telling me that this is going to be longer than a year?" Yes, Babe. IT. IS. There is no way we can see all we want to see in 12 months. Not financially, not physically, not mentally. It's just too much. 

We decided to come up with a collaborative list of 2017 goals (every member of the family got in on this). Here are our family goals for 2017:

1. Visit at least 15 states. (I am striving for at least 20)
2. Go to another Yogi Bear RV Park (per Cayenne)
3. Visit 10 more National Parks 
4. Try to see our Tucson Family, VA friends and FL friends/family
5. Eat at at least 5 well-known Food Network star restaurants (per Reno-- the foodie)
6. Visit at least 30 new playgrounds (all kids added this one)
7. Find ways to get more involved in the local communities we visit and meet at least 3 new families/friends each location
8. Make a positive impact everywhere we go

That's as far as we got. I'm happy with our goals and know they will keep developing. I am excited to see what our future holds and I better start keeping track of all this stuff. 😛

Now onto some pictures from 2016. I decided to just include family shots of all the Cortes Crew (because I quite literally had thousands of pictures to look through and love all of them. There are so few of them with ALL of us in the shot so it helped me narrow them down) from 2016:

Sunset in Siesta Key, FL
Sunset in Siesta Key
Sunset Dolphin Cruise in Cape Coral, FL
Sunset Dolphin Cruise in Cape Coral

After dinner at Melting Pot in Palm Beach Gardens, FL
Reno's 9th Birthday at the Melting Pot
On Clematis in Wets Palm Beach, FL
One picture of just us: Our 10th Anniversary!
In Key Largo, FL
Fun in the Florida Keys
At the jetway prior to boarding
Cayenne's 1st Airplane Ride. On our way to Michigan to pick up the RV!
Little River in Townsend, TN
In Tennessee at the Little River. We found a rock shaped like TN.
Cedar Creek Winery and Brewery in Martinsville, IN
We have the RV! Our first stop in Indiana at Cedar Creek Winery and Brewery
Horse Creek Winery in Sparks, GA
Another winery overnight stop with the RV on our way back to FL. 
In front of Forest River Georgetown 364TS RV
Leaving FL
Gardens in Austin, TX
In Austin: storytime at the Gardens
Caritas of Austin, TX
Volunteering at Caritas in Austin
McKinney Falls State Park, Austin, TX
A beautiful spot outside of Austin. The places we visit are starting to run together I can't remember what this place was called!
Jacob's Well, TX
Walking to Jacob's Well
Ferry ride in Gulf Shores, AL
On the Ferry in Alabama
Orange Beach, AL
Orange Beach, AL
St. John Cathedral Oak Tree, Lafayette, LA
Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park- Our first National Park!
Rio Grande River in Big Bend, TX
At the Rio Grande
Jellystone in Fredericksburg, TX
Celebrating Niko's Birthday at Jellystone in Fredericksburg, TX
White Sands National Monument, NM
Sledding at White Sands National Monument
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, NM
Hiking to Tent Rocks
Tucson Train Museum in Tucson, AZ
Christmas Fun at the Tucson Train Museum
Little girl in control
Little Miss would like you to grab 2017 by the horns (or ears in this case)! She seriously has complete control over all of us. TROUBLE.

We wish you all a wonderfully happy and prosperous 2017 full of incredible adventures!


  1. Just Awesomeness! It's funny how you have me a book that read 1001 places to visit before you die (when I thought I was dying) and you all end up getting a head start! Only 988 more places to go. So great to see all those smiling faces....even though I can hear a lot of yelling for some reason...lol!! Happy New Year.

    1. I'm just sayin'-- A. I'm glad you kicked cancer's ass and B. You all can meet up with us anywhere on this road and knock a few things off that 1001 Places to See Before You Die book!

      And lots of smiles (and yelling) are happening on this adventure FOR SURE!

      Happy Happy New Year Castro Fam!