NC Transportation Museum

If you don’t want to read my rant of disappointment then please feel free to skip to the last paragraph!  Fair warning! 😀

Way back in December I purchased tickets from Living Social to visit a local transportation museum that included a train ride.  Since Scout’s obsession with trains is still going strong and the price was right: $24 for 5 people, I thought I couldn’t go wrong with this trip.  I mislead myself.  First, this place is in the boonies.  To get there, it took an hour and a half because you have to drive down every back road known to man.  The town itself is a rink-a-dink place with the dump site located just at the end of main street.  Secondly, they only allowed you to use the tickets right smack in the middle of January.  Not the worst scenario, but jeez, I should have read the fine print.  Then, on the only day Bubba was free before school started, we drove all the way out there to find it is closed.  Why?  Because their hours changed and we can only ride the train on Saturday.  So we triple checked the schedule, Bubba used a vacation day for work, and we made the long drive there for a second time.  Next up on my list of complaints was that the ride lasted a mere 15 minutes.  (Although you could technically ride 30 mins  by riding it back to the station.  Only if you wanted to skip the museum though.)  We had to walk the mile back to our car, while going through many closed, sectioned off, and uncompleted “museums”. 

This is getting ugly.  I need to switch gears before this post becomes a downer.  All that really matters is that the little kids loved the train ride and were thankful for the opportunity.  The kids equally enjoyed being able to chose a toy from their souvenir shop.  🙂  Our time wasn’t a total waste, but I don’t think we will ever go back.  Oh!  And another plus was being able to grab lunch at the local Cracker Barrel.  It was sooo good and it was pretty easy to eat vegetarian there.  (This was before going vegan.) 

The kids are easier to take out to restaurants now, making the lunch a pleasant experience.  No meltdowns! Woo hoo!

So Close We Can Taste It.

Today Bubba met with his engineering adviser to set up a tentative class schedule for his remaining semesters.  It was during this meeting that reality set in that we are finally in the last stages of his school.   Bubba started with 10 semesters and has a mere 3 left.  Time is about to move really fast for us and we’re both excited while simultaneously trying not to stress ourselves out.  In some ways I am panicking a little bit.  There are many thoughts racing around our heads, mainly pondering about things in the short term and future. 

We know we need to save a heaping amount of money for moving costs.  We don’t know where we will move, but it is nearly one hundred percent likely that we will be moving shortly after he graduates—as in probably weeks.  That’s another thing.  It is no easy feat to move a family of 5.  There is a lot to consider and a lot of planning involved.  Where do we want to live?  Which state? Big city or small city?  And there are a lot of factors to consider within those questions, such as, can he build a career in this or that area?  What about schools?  Affordability?  Safety? Salary?  Can he one day build his own business within that area?

You get the idea. 

Although many of those questions seem like you can think about later down the line; I cannot.  I’m a thinker.  A planner.  I must have an idea of where I’m heading at all times. 

But anyway…

He has 3 semesters left: Fall, Spring, and Fall.  Even though we have a few long talks around the table in our near future, right now, we are mostly thrilled that his school is coming to a close on time.  There is always potential for change, but right now, this is where we sit.  THREE semesters!!!!  That’s nothing!  We can finally see the light shining in this hellish tunnel.  Finally.

Here is what Bubba has left to take.  Each semester is broken into 16 hours. 

Fall 2015  Aug-Dec

  • intro to Environmental Engineering

  • IEE Lab

  • Hydrology

  • Geotechnical Engineering

  • Structural Analysis

Spring 2016 Jan-April

  • Design Lab

  • Transportation I

  • Transportation Lab

  • Construction Engineering

  • CEGR elective

Fall 2016 Aug-Dec

  • Design Elective
  • Professional Development
  • Senior Design
  • Elective
  • Elective
  • Elective

All Summer classes

  • Differential Equations
  • Solid Mechanics
  • Geotechnical Lab
  • Probability and Stats for Engineering
  • Elective
  • Elective
  • 40 hr. internship

 

 

 

 

 

What!

I turned 33 last Sunday.  Let me repeat.  I turned 33.  3-3. What!?  I’m approaching my mid-thirties and I think it’s time I simply write thirty-something in my about me page. 

I have a lot to say about my age but I don’t feel like spilling my wisdom today. 

Celebrating my birthday was about as low-key as it gets.  The only for sure things I wanted to get out of my birthday was to drive somewhere to witness the changing fall colors and a slice of coconut cake.  And that’s what I did. 

Since fall has failed to grace Charlotte, Bubba and I loaded the car with the toddlers and drove to Gastonia, NC.  We hiked upwards on Crowders Mountain for 1.5 miles before it became tricky to march forward with two little kids.  But we all LOVED it.  Especially Bubba and I.  (We’ve missed our Utah mountains!

// To sum it up, everyone treated me like a queen.  Even the little ones.  All day they wished me a happy birthday.  Constant hugs and kisses.  Can’t argue with that. 😉

// Scout managed to fall 8 times.  He basically ran the entire way up the mt., then ran down the mt., and crashed as soon as we made it home.  He was also very proud of himself for the rock he found.  To him it was a fossilized footprint.  (that’s the pic of him with his foot on the rock)  He felt like an explorer.

// Why do husbands have to make their wives nervous by holding their offspring in crazy ways?  It’s such a guy thing to do: toss kids in the air, hang them upside down, push kids high on the swing.  Gives me anxiety!

// Rori found out how slippery moss can be.

// I’m terrified of heights and I nearly shat my pants while standing on a large boulder to get that first picture up above.  My knees were knocking! 

// And I think that is all of my notes for the photos. Oh, and if you’re wondering where Nathan is, he stayed home to clean the house as his birthday gift to me.  One last thing: All but one of my pictures were taken by my phone camera.  Bad idea.  It really failed to capture the beauty. 

 

 

 

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden | Charlotte, North Carolina

A few months ago, April I think, we drove to the very edge of Charlotte–basically South Carolina–to visit the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden.  It is the smallest botanical garden I’ve visited, but I am comparing it to the Ft. Worth botanical garden, which isn’t fair since everything seems to be bigger in Texas. 

Evidently, the owners must share the same thought as myself because they are already posting signs with new maps boasting a garden expansion.  In fact, they have already broken ground on it!  I’m excited to see what they add to the place.  

They also offer an amateur photo contest every year and I’ve thought about entering it this year.  The rules are simple: just a photo taken somewhere on the grounds.  The winner receives a year membership.  I’ve thought about making my way back up there in the fall to snap a few photos to submit.  We’ll see.

Anyway, if you’re a local, I definitely suggest putting this place on your list of places to visit with the kiddos or if you just want to take a stroll & have a picnic.

Mayberry

The Andy Griffith show is before my time, but like most people my age, we had parents that subjected us to reruns.  The show made a small town in North Carolina famous.  The fictional town of Mayberry is the actual town of, Mt. Airey.   “Mayberry” is often romanticized by people who daydream of living in that picturesque town where residents know your life story, everyone is friendly and traffic doesn’t exist.  The air is clean and the crime is low and people reside in cute farmhouses.  

Guess what?  Mt. Airey really is like that.  I didn’t think it would be, but it is.  

Visiting this little town that sits on the hills in NC has been resting on our bucket list since we came here.  In May, we decided to cross it off our list by making the 2 hour cruise heading north. 

Of course–in true Bubba and Liz fashion– we picked one of the hottest days in May (93*F) to walk around.  With two recovering sick kids to boot.  We were ready to leave after a couple of hours. 

What were we thinking?

I also had certain expectations of this town that were not met.  I assumed the museum would be large and fancy.  I thought the streets would be buzzing with vibrant shops reminiscent of the show and that the town would be large with a lot to do.

The town was pretty much opposite of that.  The museum was as big as the bottom floor of my house, and they didn’t allow any pictures to be taken inside.  They charged way too much money to see a couple of old uniforms, autographed pictures and a bunch of news articles.  That’s it.  Everyone there was complaining about the museum’s audacity to charge such a fee to view a bunch of nonsense.

Main street  was not filled with vibrant shops either.  Instead, it was filled with a bunch of junky gift stores.  We managed to find an okay pie shop to buy a few goodies for thirsty and hungry kids and took home a couple of souvenirs. And that my friends; sums it up.      

However, the town itself is very pretty and friendly; just like the show depicted.  It’s an isolated town in a very rural setting.  If you like that sort of thing, then this is probably a perfect town to call home.  Or visit.

Click through gallery for more pictures.

All photos were taken by me unless otherwise stated.

 

What it Costs to Live in North Carolina | Monthly Expenses

I’m what people nowadays call a wanderlust-er.  If I meet you for the first time my question to you will more than likely be, “Where are you from?”  I am such a curious person and the idea of living in different places dotted around the world appeals to me like no other.  But since I can’t, I love to look around the Internet and see other people sharing their journey as they trek and live around the globe.  One of the things I’m always curious about is how they afford to live where they do because to me, living in a country such as, Ireland, seems impossible because the cost of living– at least in my mind– is too expensive.

Since I find that learning what the average rent costs for someone living in Canada is, then I figured someone might be interested in learning what it costs to live in the Southeast of the United States. 

 Front Yard during the autumn season.  These trees surround the pond.
Front Yard during the autumn season.  These trees surround the pond.

In fact, the cost-of-living in North Carolina played a huge role in us even moving here.  When Bubba was looking at schools to attend, he had to look at the affordability of the area and if he could find work close by.  Obviously we live here so the Charlotte area met those requirements.  However, what you can afford around here will vary and our rent is not the typical price tag for house rentals.  Usually it costs more; God just laid this rental in our lap and luckily I fought for it and won!  Seriously, if I told you the story, you would say ‘yep…you definitely had someone on your side up there.’  No joke.  But without further adieu.

Our Monthly Expenses

Rent: $875 per/month 

What we get:  3 bedroom, 2 bath, 2 story house, on 1 acre of land.  It has a tree lined driveway and a pond in the neighboring land.  (So we get a nice view)  Typical rentals are an average of $1200+

Obviously this is our biggest expense.  We chose to live Southeast of Charlotte to help lower our rental cost while still living in a good neighborhood with plenty of elbow room from neighbors.  However, the trade-off is a rundown school district which most of the state itself is trying to deal with.  This is why we have chosen to homeschool Nathan. 

Electricity: Average $160 (Winter) $240 (Summer) 

The entire house runs off of electricity.

Water: $20 average

Rental Insurance: $14

Internet: $40

Wireless phone: $45

Health Insurance: $170

Transportation: $240 (Gas) avg per gallon $3.35ish

Trash: $25

Groceries: $800

We rarely eat out because it is expensive when you are buying for 5 people each time so I cook the majority of our meals. Groceries are definitely more expensive in the east vs. the west.  Most food is shipped from states such as California so it will cost you a bit more living here.  The cost of a pound of ground hamburger meat is $4.19-$4.48ish at Wal-Mart.  Go to another store and it will cost somewhere over $5 per pound.  Those are just a couple of examples.

We are able to scrape by on one income by making adjustments to our lifestyle and sticking as closely as we can to a budget.  It’s not always easy but we manage!  And trust me, we are really looking forward to Bubba finishing school so we can have a little breathing room once and a while. ; )

If you’re interested to see the cost of living in NYC, then check out this post from Our Freaking Budget.  And if you’re interested in what it costs to live in Germany, then check out this post from Denglish.

Cape Fear

For some people in this world, the daily grind of life, a monotonous routine, endless responsibility, and life problems will often become a few reasons they pack their bags, hop in their car and say au revoir!  

Bubba and I fall somewhere between one of those.  Normally, I am the spontaneous one in our marriage, but this time Bubba is the one that broached the subject for a day trip.  I’m thankful he did, too.  I have been ready for a break from the lack luster summer days and Bubba has felt bored being home from school. 

So, that’s what we did.  That next morning we left with our packed bags in hand and drove to Wilmington, NC.  It is a three hour drive from our house, making it a pretty straight shot.

We tried to jam in as much as we could for the day.  We hit the beach first, ate dinner, and then went to the river boardwalk in Cape Fear.

The boardwalk is the type of place that you catch yourself lingering for hours.  The views, stores, and restaurants make the perfect backdrop to simply take your time.  It’s part of the magic of the South.  There is no rush.


in an effort to keep any fingers from falling off while scrolling, I am showing photos in my handy slider option. hopefully it works okay!