Category Archives: Everyday Stuff

Retired from the road

I am sad to say the “Traveling Kelley’s” have officially set down some roots and are retiring from the road. We have settled back where our journey began – in the Quad Cities. Sophia is officially a 1st grader and Beth and I are in the process of finding jobs. We are ready to live a normal life and not pack up and move every three months. It’s good to be home!

But as good as it is to be home, I know we will definitely miss the road. The past two and a half years have been incredible. We have been able to do some awesome things. The kids have experienced a lot more than they ever could have. The fact that Sophia is five and Sawyer is only three means that they will probably not remember a lot of what we did. My hope is that with all of the pictures and videos, we can keep the memories alive as long as possible. My plan for this blog has always been to create a final photobook that shows everything that we did. That way the kids could look at it down the road and remember things.

And we did a LOT of things! We visited 30 of the 50 states. We swam in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans multiple times. When we started driving, I use to keep track of miles driven, but I gave up after 20,000 miles – and that was well over a year ago! One thing Sophie and Sawyer are good at is road trips!

It’s hard to pick a favorite memory. From camping in the mountains of North Carolina to surf lessons on Maui. From spending Christmas with Mickey Mouse to swimming in a natural hot spring in Colorado. Cubs spring training, Camp Chinqueka, Outer Banks, Volcano National Park…we did a lot of cool things. The places we lived included Durham, NC; Fort Pierce, FL; Phoenix, AZ; Camp Chinqueka, CT; Denver, CO; Maui, HI; and finally Camp Chinqueka again.

The fact is my family has fun no matter where we are. Sometimes the fun is something big like Disney. Sometimes the fun is something small like going on a hike with a picnic lunch. Now that we are “settled down” the traveling certainly won’t stop. Beth and I are determined to see as much of this world as we can. We want the kids to experience as much as possible. Instead of leaving for months at a time, our travels will now have to be a little more focused. We would like to start visiting places outside of the United States. One of the great things about spending our last two years at camp is we now have friends from all over the world!

So I guess this is it. The “Traveling Kelley’s” are officially signing off. I’ll end my blog with a quote that I saw about traveling that I really like.

        “The world is a book, and those who don’t     travel only read one page.” – St. Augustine.


Our last road trip

Any good road trip always starts with a stop at Dunkin Donuts.

Any good road trip always starts with a stop at Dunkin Donuts.

Right now Sophia and I are relaxing in a hotel in Cleveland, Ohio after a long day of driving. We left Beth’s parents house this morning in a 26 foot U-Haul and drove for about 11 hours. I am sad to say that this is very likely the last road trip for the Kelley Traveling Adventures.

Sophie and I had to leave Camp Chinqueka one week early because she starts school in a couple of days. She will be going into 1st grade in Moline, IL. Like usual, it was bittersweet leaving camp. I think by week six or seven, everyone at camp is looking forward to going home. But at the same time, everyone knows once you leave camp, you will almost certainly wish you were back there again. Camp life is much more fun than real life!

IMG_5653Sophia was a rock star camper this year! She stayed in cabin one all summer without any problems. She was the youngest camper in the entire camp. On top of that, she even won two medals! One was for Arts & Crafts and the other was for Outdoor Adventure. She went on every campng trip that she was allowed to go on. And she earned merits in quite a few activities.

Unfortunately, Beth and Sawyer have to hold off on their part of the final road trip. Beth’s nursing skills were needed at camp for the last week, so they both get to enjoy one more week of camp while Sophia and I move into our new apartment.

Bittersweet is a good word to sum up our decision to stop traveling too. The “sweet” part is the fact that we are going home to our friends in the Quad Cities. It will be nice to lead a normal life for a while. But the “bitter” part is that we have to stop traveling. We have done a TON of stuff the past two years, and I’m sure we will miss being on the road.

Lots of beach time and my first 5k race

There are a decent amount of beaches here where we can hang our new hammock and swing chair.

There are a decent amount of beaches here where we can hang our new hammock and swing chair.

It’s hard to believe we have been in Hawaii for almost three months.  Beth’s original contract end date is coming up, so that’s normally when we would be looking at where we are headed next.  But since we are already committed to going back to Camp Chinqueka in June, we are forced to extend here until the end of May.  I suppose we can suck it up and spend another couple of months here.  🙂

Our exploring has actually slowed down quite a bit the past couple of weeks.  We haven’t done everything there is to do on Maui, but we have hit pretty much all of the highlights.  This is where the island aspect is a bit of a negative for me.  Normally, I like to plan weekend trips and drive a few hours away.  But here we are confined on how far we can go.  At 727 square miles, Maui is actually fairly big.  But the majority of that space is taken up by the mountains and volcano and is not accessible.

The most popular thing to on Maui is go to the beach.  There are tons of beaches here and that is where we have been spending a lot of our weekends.  We bought a hammock and swing chair at a swap meet, so we try to find beaches that have trees to hang them.

Proudly displaying my medal after my first 5k road race.

Proudly displaying my medal after my first 5k road race.

On a different note, today I completed my first 5k race.  I’ve actually gotten into running quite a bit since we got here.  Normally my exercise of choice is an exercise bike, but for the past couple of months I’ve taken to running.  My normal path is a 1-mile city block right next to our apartment and I try to run 2-3 miles every other day.

I ran my first 5k length a while back, but today was my first actual race.  I got 127th place overall, but 5th in the male 30-34 division.  My time was 26:01, which is a personal best for me.  Running in an actual race was interesting.  Dodging the people who sprint past you and then quickly decide to walk was the most challenging part.  It wasn’t too bad though.

I’m not sure how long this running kick I am currently on will last.  It’s a great form of exercise, so hopefully it will stick for a while!

2013 Year in Review slideshow

Yes, I know it is late March.  But I finally got around to doing something I’ve been meaning to do for a while – make my annual “year in review” slideshow.

Maybe it’s the Journalism side of me showing, but I’ve always been a fan of documenting my life and the life of my kids.  I’ve been making an annual photobook and slideshow for about five years.  My philosophy is I don’t want all of these pictures I take to get buried in my computer and never get used.  Years down the road it will be fun to go back and look at everything we did and what the kids looked like when they were younger.

I started doing the slideshows because I tend to take a lot of small videos.  You can put pictures in a photobook, but I didn’t have a way to use the videos.  With a slideshow I can use the best of both.  I already enjoy going back and seeing what life was like when Sophie was still a baby.

Be warned – this year’s video is about 15 minutes.  There are a lot of friends and family who are in it, so I figured I’d post a link so those who have time to kill and want to watch it.

Click here to see the video on Youtube:

Happy birthday Beth!

We were rocking our homemade birthday hats while we sang Happy Birthday to Beth and enjoyed the cake.

We were rocking our homemade birthday hats while we sang Happy Birthday to Beth and enjoyed the cake.

After working a long work week at the hospital, you would think one thing Beth wanted for her birthday was to sleep in.  But she traded that opportunity, for the chance to get up at 4:45am and see some whales!

We are in the middle of whale season here in Maui, so naturally the whale watch boat cruises are on top of the tourist lists.  Its estimated between 12-14 thousand humpback whales come to the waters of Hawaii every winter.  They travel thousands of miles from the waters near Alaska to take advantage of the warm and shallow water in Hawaii.  Most of the baby whales, or calves, are born here.

A momma and her baby calf whale swim near the coast of Maui.

A momma and her baby calf whale swim near the coast of Maui.

I read the best time to see the whales is the 6:30am boat.  The whales are always active, but the water is generally calmer first thing in the morning so they are easier to see.  Luckily we picked a great day!  We manged to see about 12 whales and a small pod of dolphins.

We didn’t get super close to any of the whales.  The laws say you have to stop moving within 100 yards of seeing a whale.  They can approach you if they want, but you can’t get any closer to them.  Sometimes their curiosity brings them over, but our boat was probably too big because none of them got very close.

whale taleEven though we didn’t get super close, we still manged to see a lot.  We got close enough it was easy to see the size of them – and they are huge!  There were a lot of times when we came upon a mother whale and her baby.  The baby would often stay right along the surface of the water while the mother stayed deeper.

Seeing a whale jump out of the water or come right next to us would have been awesome!  But just being close to them was still a great experience.

Family picture in front of the Iao Needle.

Family picture in front of the Iao Needle.

Since we started the whale watch so early, we were done about 8:30am.  That meant Beth still had a lot of birthday left.  We headed home to relax for a bit, got some lunch, and then headed to the beach.  With a winter birthday, Beth doesn’t usually get a chance to go to a beach on her birthday!

Although we did it a day after her birthday, one other cool thing we did this weekend was visited the Iao Valley State Park.  It is a small state park near the middle of the island, inside the valley of the West Maui Mountains.  Iao Valley is home to the 1,200 ft. Iao Needle.  It is a rock formation that basically sticks straight up out of the ground, and it was used as a lookout by the native Hawaiians.

Next stop Maui! (Well…not quite)

Today we are headed to Maui!

The only problem is we have quite the journey to get there.  We leave Grandma and Grandpa’s house and drive two hours to Nashville.  Then we fly about two hours to Denver, have a 40 minute layover, followed by a 2 hour flight to San Diego.  From there we take a shuttle to a hotel, spend the night, wake up at about 4:30am, take a shuttle back to the airport, and have a six hour flight to Kahului.  Then we will be in Maui!

Kahului is the biggest town in Maui.  That’s the town that has the only hospital on the island.  We are going to be living in a town called Kihei, which is about 20 minutes away.  It is considered to be “south Maui.”

The good news is we are going to be living within a 15 minute walk to the beach.  In fact, our housing looks like it is in a really nice place with lots of shops and restaurants around us.  The bad news is Beth will be about 20 minutes away from her work, so she will be taking our one and only car.  This whole time I’ve been a stay at home dad, I’ve had the freedom to pack the kids in the car and do what I want.  I’m not looking forward to losing that.

We might end up renting a second car.  Perhaps, the Maui bus system will be good enough for the kids and I to get around.  We are going to play it by ear when we get there.  Hopefully since we have a lot of stuff around us, we will be able to keep ourselves busy.

It was quite a task packing our suitcases with what we are going to live with over the next four months.  It helps that our apartment will already have the furniture and normal household things – cups, plates, pots, linens, etc.  But there are still lots of things to bring and not much space.  We tried to bring a decent amount of toys for the kids, but unfortunately some cuts had to be made.  Hopefully we spend enough time outside doing fun things so they won’t miss the toys we weren’t able to bring.

Ever since we picked Maui as our next stop, I’ve been reading a guidebook that talks about all the things to do.  Going in, I didn’t know very much about the island.  I just knew it was Hawaii and that was good enough for me.  Now that I know a bit more, it sounds like it should be beautiful and I can’t wait to start exploring the island!

The Kelleys are headed to the Aloha State!

mauiAfter a long job search, I’m excited to say we just accepted a position in Maui, Hawaii.  Since this is likely our last travel assignment, we decided to go out with a bang and go with a cool experience over saving money.

Going to Hawaii has always been on our mind since we started travel nursing.  The expense of getting there plus the cost of living has been enough to keep us away, but the job salary ended up being better than we expected.  We might not save much money, but hopefully we won’t spend more than we make!

Taking a job in Maui brings a unique set of challenges.  Mainly, we won’t be able to bring the majority of our stuff.  In the past couple of years we have gone from our two bedroom house, to stuffing our two cars, and now to what we can fit into four suitcases.

We are taking the company housing, so that should alleviate a lot of our chaos.  Even with the company housing, there are a lot of logistics to work out.  Beth’s first day is one week from today, so we don’t have much time.  But by this time next week, we should be in the Aloha State!