Tag Archives: Reflection

My Last Blog Post

In this blog post (my last) I will be reflecting on the trip that we have just finished. Right now it is weird to think that this trip that we have spent so much time planning and then doing is finally over. I think I will miss some parts of the trip, like seeing all the cool places, but I am definitely happy to be going back to school and being around other kids.

Give three words that best describes your trip. Explain why you picked them.

Long (and Short)
The trip seemed to last a long time but looking back now, it seems like it went by quickly.

Before this trip I didn’t know much American history, but now understanding the history can help to understand the country now.

The RV was a fairly large RV but nothing compared to a real house and sometimes it felt very small.

What are some important things you learned about America?

One important thing that I have learned on this trip is how the government works and what the different branches can and can’t do. For example the President can’t make laws but he or she can veto them and stop them from being made.

I learned from this trip that America is always changing. I think that one of the reasons for this is that people are coming from all over the world with different ideas and beliefs and sharing them with others.

Another thing that I learned from this trip was that the ideas that America was founded on are ideas that had never been tried in the modern world. I think that America had a lot of things that they tried that no one else had done before.

In what ways do you think you grew this year?

I think that I have a much better understanding of American history and people from this trip, and also the process  of writing blog posts. I think that over the course of this year my writing improved and I think I got better by writing a lot.

If you did the trip for another year, what would you do differently?

If we had another year to travel then I would spend more time in places, especially California, so we could see more of what there and also to have days where we only did work and days where we relaxed.

What was the hardest part about living/schooling on the road?

The hardest parts about living in the RV were not having other kids around to do things with,  being within 35 feet of the same four people for most of the time, and having a bed that deflated every night.

Twenty years from now, what do you think you’ll remember about this year?

Twenty years from now I will remember the national parks most I think because they are very unique and stand out apart from the rest of the trip. Also the ranger books, because we spent a lot of time arguing about doing them. I think I will remember it being hard to always be moving and packing up the RV. But I also had a lot of fun with my family that was memorable

Would you ever do a trip like this with your kids? Why or why not?

This trip had many fun things in it but I wouldn’t want to do it again because I have already done it. I also think that if my kids lived in America there wouldn’t be a need for a trip like this because they would already learn American history in school and we could see places in America because we would live here.

Three Favorite Photos

These are three of my favorite photos that I took using my iPod.

Painted Desert, NM

Painted Desert, NM

Wild flowers in a state park in CA. Edited with Color Splash

Wild flowers in a state park in CA. Edited with Color Splash

Trees in Yosemite NP, CA

Trees in Yosemite NP, CA

Reflecting on the trip

This blog post is about me looking back on our trip and noticing what was good and not so good. We did amazing things and I also got to learn so much about US history and see some of the important and fascinating places in this country.

How did the trip compare with what you hoped it would be?

The trip was pretty much what I hoped for because we explored national parks,  we learned a lot about history, and we had lots of fun doing these things( except for the Ranger books). I also learned how to wood carve.

Give three words that best describes your trip? Explain why you picked them.

Close, because it was like being in a large box where everyone is almost always touching each other.

History, because we learned so much about people and places and we also went to places were they reenact what it was like to live in other times.

Fun, because we got to learn about different cultures and do fun activities.

What are some important things you learned about America? 

I learned that America is not perfect, because there were problems like racial inequality and women were not treated the same as men and these problems have not completely gone away. I also learned that America is humongous and has so many incredible national parks that are there for people to visit. And I learned that Americans think that freedom is very important and they are willing to fight for it.

In what ways do you think you grew this year?

I think that I grew by learning about carving and improving my knowledge of the history of America.

If you did the trip for another year, what would you do differently?

If I could do something differently another year I would like a bigger RV. I would like to know more about World War 1 and the Vietnam War. I would also like to see the national parks that we missed.

What did you miss the most this year?

What I missed most this year was not having my friends to talk with and play with. I also missed, Jenny Lou’s, cheap movies, and Lili our ayi.

What was the hardest part about living/schooling on the road?

The hardest part about living on the road was not having enough time to carve and not having my friends to play with.

Twenty years from now, what do you think you’ll remember about this year?

In the future I think I’ll remember the amazing national parks and the not so amazing Junior Ranger books. I’ll also remember the cool places like Dave and Busters, but also historical places like Plymouth and Sturbridge.

Would you ever do a trip like this with your kids? Why or why not?

I think I might because the history was really cool and the national parks are beautiful. Also because there are places to stop where we could bike or ski. But I would not want to drive a giant RV because it would be very tiring and stressful.

Pick three favorite photos from this trip. 


Wild horses in the Outer Banks

DSC_0728 (1)

A amazing valley at Yosemite


Yellowstone canyon in Yellowstone.

Looking in the rear-view mirror…

For this blog post, since we are a little more than half-way through our trip, I thought it would be interesting to ask my fellow road-trippers (and myself) to reflect on the trip thus far. Our responses to the questions below are based on the time we’ve spent in the following states:

Maine (Acadia NP and Bar Harbor), New Hampshire, Massachusetts (Boston area and Cape Cod), Connecticut, Pennsylvania (Philadelphia area and Gettysburg), Washington DC (Maryland), Virginia, North Carolina (Outer Banks), South Carolina (Charleston area),
Georgia (Atlanta and Okefenokee), Florida (Titusville, Orlando, Tampa area), Tennessee (Nashville), Louisiana (New Orleans), Texas (Dallas, Austin)

The states we've spent time in so far

The states we’ve spent time in so far

What is one place we’ve visited that you’d like to go back to?

Miles: Washington DC - one of my favorite cities and so much to see there.

Miles: Washington DC – one of my favorite cities and there is so much to see there.

Owen: Disneyworld - cause we didn’t do all the rides.

Owen: Disneyworld – cause we didn’t do all the rides.

Rob: Tennessee - I would like to see more live music in Nashville and go to Memphis too.

Rob: Tennessee – I would like to see more live music in Nashville and go to Memphis next time.

Jen: Florida - I really wanted to get to the St. Augustine, the Keys, the Everglades, and Miami but we just didn’t have time to fit it all in before heading back up north for our ‘winter break’.

Jen: Florida – I really wanted to get to the St. Augustine, the Keys, the Everglades, and Miami but we just didn’t have time to fit it all in before heading back up north for our ‘winter break’.


Something that made us laugh along the way…

Miles: I got locked in a bathroom in an RV park in Maine and some lady finally heard me banging on the door and had to get her husband (who worked there) to let me out.

Owen: watching Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – “May I go to the bathroom please?”

buceesRob: Road/store signs seen along the way like “Stop at Buc-ee’s – clean bathrooms – we gauranpee it!” “Go to church or the devil will get you!” “King Tut’s Wiener Hut”

Jen: …the thought of all of us being filmed while living together in a submarine for an extended period of time. Believe it or not, we were contacted by a tv production company to see if we’d be interested in being part of a new submarine reality show that they are considering making.


What do you like to do on long car rides?

Miles: Read, think, listen to music (although not always the music that my parents choose to put on the radio).

IMG_7764Owen: Read and sleep.

Rob: Drive! and listen to NPR and country music.

Jen: I used to love to read and sleep but now I usually try to get photos posted on FB, respond to emails, check out the upcoming destinations in Lonely Planet to get an idea of what might be good to see/do, and read to the boys from A History of US (a great series that we are using to teach US history).


Best new food you’ve tried…

Muffaletta Sandwich

Muffaletta Sandwich

Miles: fajitas (Dallas, TX)

Owen: alligator sausage (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Rob: muffaletta sandwich (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Jen: Shrimp and Grits (Charleston, South Carolina)


Person in US history that has interested you and how did s/he influence/impact our country…




Miles: Ben Franklin because he did an incredible amount of things without very much education.  He helped create the Declaration of Independence, he invented many things, and he created the library system.





Owen: Abraham Lincoln because he was a farmboy who became the President. He was kind and a strong leader and he tried to end slavery.






Rob: I have a new appreciation for John F. Kennedy. I was impressed by his big thinking and the articulation of his vision to regular citizens. His goals and values for the country transcended ordinary politics.




Jen: I know he’s already been “taken” but I have to go with Ben Franklin also. I was truly amazed at all that he accomplished in his 84 years. He is described as a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. His impact on our new nation was immeasurable. And to top it all off, he’s given us some great quotes like “Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out.” and “Fish and visitors smell in three days.” (true? I hope not for the family that have housed us for more than three days!)


An experience that inspired you in some way…

Miles: Kennedy Space Center – I liked listening to the astronauts who talked there. Their experiences were very interesting and they were very courageous to go into space. And I think it would be very cool to see earth from outer space.

Owen: Plimoth Plantation – It was inspiring that they could get through the dangers and sicknesses and stuff that they weren’t familiar with and still survive.

Rob: Spending a day in Washington DC touring the Capitol Building, Supreme Court, and White House – because of their historical significance and influence.

Jen: National Center for Civil and Human Rights – I was struck by the courage of the many, many people all over the world who have taken action in the past, who do so today, and who will likely still be needed in the future in order to ensure that all people on this planet are treated with dignity and basic human rights.


Educational place(s) that you would recommend to a friend:

Miles: The Franklin Institute (science museum) in PA, Perot Museum of Nature and Science in TX, Kennedy Space Center in FL

Owen: Plimouth Plantation in MA, Kennedy Space Center in FL, The Franklin Institute in PA

Rob: National Center for Civil and Human Rights in GA, Kennedy Space Center in FL, a revolutionary war re-enactment (various locations)

Jen: Pequot Museum in CT, Plimouth Plantation in MA, Freedom Trail guided by a National Park Ranger in MA, National Center for Civil and Human Rights in GA, Kennedy Space Center in FL, The National World War II Museum in LA


Recreational place(s) that you would recommend to a friend:

Miles: Disney World in FL, Flight (indoor trampoline place) in CT, Cape Cod National Seashore in MA

Owen: Disney World in FL, Skyzone (indoor tramp place) in DC, Sandy Beach in Acadia National Park in Maine

Rob: Cape Cod National Seashore in MA, visit a honkytonk in Nashville, TN, biking in Acadia National Park

Jen: Acadia National Park in ME, Ziplining The Gorge in NC, listening to the Brass Bands at Jackson Square in New Orleans, Disney World


For the boys only…favorite books you were assigned to read:

Miles:to kill a mockingbirdjohnny tremain

Owen:keeping roombud not buddymighty miss malone


What topic/time period so far has been most interesting to you and why?

us history 2

Miles: Revolutionary War – I think it’s very interesting to see how America rebelled against Britain, even though Britain was incredibly powerful, and won their independence.

Owen: Fight for civil rights – starting from the time before the Civil War, people were willing to die for freedom and to be treated equally.

Rob: Texas history – because this is something that I didn’t know much about.

Jen: I’m having trouble picking one but I will say that having never been all that “into” history before, I’m surprised at how much I’ve enjoyed the whole historical side of this trip. I’ve learned a lot!


What words would you use to capture your impressions of America and its people (from the past into today)? Note: the image below captures our combined choices.

taxedo 6


Choose 3-5 Highs and Lows of the trip so far…

Highs Lows
Miles Seeing people along the wayRevolutionary War re-enactment

Hiking in Acadia National Park

Dave and Busters

Orion Space Launch

Doing schoolwork in the RVLong, long drives

Doing so many ranger booklets

Owen DisneyworldSouth Carolina Aquarium

Plimouth Plantation

Kennedy Space Center

Ziplining in NC (the Gorge)

Our teeny, tiny shower and toiletToo much cold weather

I can hear Mom/Dad talking in the morning before we wake up

Rob Fall in New EnglandTime with family and friends

Awesome local foods

Incredible museums

Exploring new places

Low gas prices

RV/car troublesToo much to see and do in the time we have

Constant planning

Jen Spending time with family and friendsExperiencing so many new and different places

Live music experiences

First day at Disney

Those warm afternoons that we got to spend at the beaches

Really low water pressure in the showerThose moments when the boys push each others’ buttons, which pushes my buttons

Can’t really have routines – always deciding on a new plan for each day

And that just about sums up the past six months of road trippin’ for the Gold family! Hope we gave you some ideas for future trips you might take yourself, though we’ve only just scratched the surface so far of what this vast and varied country has to offer. And let us know any questions you’d add to the list and we’ll try to answer them!

A New Chapter Begins

Escher HandsIt’s been a while since I’ve attempted to write about my life. I’ve done this off and on at various times in the past, most notably upon first arriving in a new location: letters home from camp, college and summer jobs out West; newsletter updates to my family from my Peace Corps days in the Comoros; lengthy e-mails to family, in-laws, and friends from our first international posting in Delhi; photos and descriptions on our first family website from our earliest days in Beijing.

So much has changed over these many years… the situation, the audience, the means of communication… and it’s with great interest that I take this next step into the blogosphere. Now, I’m not writing alone, but also with my family. Now, I’m not just writing for family and friends, but also sharing my life and experiences with a larger public audience. Now, I’m not just capturing my thoughts in the form of written words, but also including digital communication to share the sights and sounds of our year of travel, adventure, reflection, and learning.

I’ve always found it easiest to write about things that are freshly new and exciting. Even though we live in “exotic” China, it’s been seven years now, and life has become quite normal and predictable. In this next chapter of our lives, there is so much that’s unfamiliar and uncertain. I’m excited to find places in America that broaden, enhance, and challenge my own understanding of our great country. I also look forward to exploring these new frontiers with my family and learning more about myself as a student and a teacher, as a parent and a spouse.

This trip will be, like all the rest, one of personal discovery and re-creation. Thank you for joining in on this incredible journey.