RV Life

Living through the 2021 Texas Freeze in an RV

As part of my first full timing trip, I decided to drive down to Texas. When people asked, “Why Texas?” I’d say it was because it was warmer, there were no mountains between me and Texas, and I’ve never been there. Since I’m from the Midwest, we were in below freezing temperatures for the long term. I didn’t want to try living in an RV in freezing temperatures, especially since I don’t have a 4 seasons unit.  As it turns out, Texas had another idea. Only 2 of my 3 reasons ended up being accurate. This is the story about what it was like to live through freak winter storm Uri, and what I learned.

I am not the best at paying attention to the weather. I’ve known for a while, and I’ve tried to get better. The way this started for me was finding out Texas was calling for snow. I befriended the lady who owns a food truck that comes to our campground on Tuesdays. She told me she had only had 1 customer the whole time she’d been here. That’s how I found out the temperature was around freezing. I had been working inside all day and just didn’t realize how cold it was. She then said she wasn’t coming the next week because they were calling for snow. I came to Texas to get away from snow! Luckily, I had already read up on all the ways to protect the RV from the freezing weather.

Lesson: Always check the forecast so you aren’t caught off guard.

Expecting to hit some cold weather in the Midwest, I bought supplies to try to protect my trailer back in September. I purchased 60 ft. heat tape – which is just a weird name for an electric cord you wrap around pipes and hoses to keep them from freezing, silver insulation, and a grommet kit to make my own RV skirt. Skirting an RV allows you to keep some heat under the RV and keep the wind from blowing under the rig. You can purchase RV skirting. You can even have it custom fitted and installed, but it’s expensive. I thought the silver insulation would be much more cost effective and easier to install than lots of other DIY solutions. I wanted to fit it before the cold weather came around, but my RV was in the shop for 3 months. When I got it back, it was below freezing and I didn’t want to try to do it in the cold. Since I was still winterized, it wasn’t essential at that time to have it skirted. When I got to Texas, I was planning to use the warmer weather to start working on the skirt. I had the materials, but they would need to be put together and attached to create the skirt. I’ll make another post about how I made my skirt. When I arrived, however, the staff I was talking to said I wouldn’t need a skirt around here. I noticed no one else in my park was skirted so I thought maybe I shouldn’t. I wish I had. When the cold weather rolled around, I wasn’t ready to skirt. I had to quickly punch all the grommets into the material (my hands were getting so tired), figure out how to attach the skirt, and hang it in the cold like I had intended to avoid.

Lesson: Never let anyone talk you out of your plans.

I used some heavy duty magnets that I already had on hand to attach the skirt to the metal frame under the trailer. They worked ok, but I definitely had to stay on top of any that came unattached. It is so windy here. I hadn’t got a chance to weigh the skirt down. I would have used some stakes, but I was parked on concrete so that wasn’t an option. I also needed to add a heat source for the skirt to keep inside. I got a work light from Walmart that puts off some heat and is made for outdoor use. I also put the light on a couple leveler blocks to keep it away from any potential water that might find its way under the trailer.

Day 1 of Winter Storm Uri – Valentines Day

First thing I did when the weather changed was open all of my cabinets. There’s even these openings you have to unscrew to get to the plumbing and other functional parts of the RV. These areas aren’t well insulated so removing the barrier between them and the warmth of the RV is just one more way to try to protect them. Once the furnace was running, I put a space heater in the bathroom to help focus on the plumbing there. Last thing to do when the weather turns, let your faucet drip or run slightly. The moving water will help slow down the pipes freezing.

Lesson: Education & preparation ahead of time is invaluable.

I let the pipes drip, but they were driving me crazy. I had been tracking down some loose pipe connections the weeks before so the sound of dripping water was the last thing I wanted to hear. I had turned it down as low as I could without turning it off. However, the temperature was so low it wasn’t enough. That evening I realized my water had frozen. First thing I did when the water froze was take some of my empty pitchers outside and scooped up snow. Then I set them in the shower so they could melt. I wouldn’t recommend drinking this, but I could use it for flushing the toilet and washing my hands. I was so stressed it was somewhere under the rig where there could be damage. Lucky for me, it was just the water filter that was frozen. I brought it inside to work on thawing it. I used hot water from my electric kettle to run through the filter to melt the ice inside. I kept a cup under the filter to catch water as it came out and poured it back through. That was the only way there would be enough to keep going. All the water I had were the two ice pitchers, and some water that was still in my Brita. I managed to get the filter thawed, then I had to get the small bit of ice out of the end of my hose. I chipped away at it with my Leatherman. I managed to get enough of a hole that water could come through. When I hooked everything back up, water sprayed everywhere. Not ideal for freezing weather. No matter how much I tightened, it still sprayed. About that time one of my neighbors stopped by to check on me. I didn’t think I needed help, but he gave me a rubber seal to help with the leaking. When that didn’t work, we realized the hose on the filter had busted a ring. Without the filter, it worked fine. For now, I decided to forgo the filter and just attached the hose directly to the RV.

Lesson: Accept help, even if you don’t think you need it.

Day 2 of Winter Storm Uri

I woke up around 2:30 a.m. because the power went off. I could hear it turn off because the heater turned off. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I think the campground’s streetlights suddenly going dark also contributed to waking me up. The spot I was in had a light directly outside the front door and windows so it lit up the camper a little bit. At first, I thought I blew a fuse. My fuses inside weren’t tripped so I went outside to check the electric pole for my spot. That wasn’t tripped either so I realized that the campground was dark, and it wasn’t just my lights off. I’m really glad I had my winter coat with me or I would have been in big trouble. I always carry some winter gear in my car just in case. I crawl back in bed because there’s nothing I can do. The lights come on, and then go back off a few minutes later. By this point, I’m getting really cold. My space heaters aren’t working since the power is off, and it seems that my furnace isn’t working either. Turns out, I had run out of propane. I finished my first tank a few days earlier and switched to the second. The first one lasted since September, so I never thought the second would run out in just a couple days. It couldn’t have run out at a worst time either. I keep my coat on, and pile as many blankets on as I could on myself in bed. I check our campground Facebook page to see if anyone has posted what’s going on. This leads to messaging another camper who was also up. Neither of us could go back to sleep so we end up messaging most of the night. He offered to let me tag along with him and his wife in the morning to get propane. I was quite thankful since I hadn’t changed my propane since buying the unit. I’m really wary of gas so I wanted to be sure I was doing it correctly. We went first thing in the morning, and we still had to try several locations before we found someone who had propane. We stopped at a couple hardware stores as well to pick up supplies. This is how I first met Jeff & Amanda from We Live Free RV. They are really great people, and have lots of cool videos on their YouTube. Be sure to check them out and subscribe!

Lesson: Always help out fellow campers when you can. & Never be afraid to ask for the help you need.

Day 3 of Winter Storm Uri

The next challenge was regarding my battery. While the propane runs the heater, the blower is run by the battery. We had been without power for over an entire day, and my battery was getting really low. I saw a lot of my neighbors using their cars to charge their trailers, but I didn’t really like that. I did give it a go a couple times, but I didn’t want to get stuck without gas. I chilled in the car for about an hour and it barely helped that battery at all. I then decided to go out and pick up a solar panel from Harbor Freight. When I arrived, they had just lost power and closed. No where else around me had solar panels. I tried to get food too, but everything was closed. I’m so thankful the electricity came on while I was out. It was off and on a couple times that evening, but at least that meant my battery was getting re-juiced right when it needed it. It’s bad to let your battery get too low so it was a relief that it wasn’t getting ruined. Not to mention, I got my heaters and appliances back. Lots of people around me had generators so they didn’t have to deal with the loss of power in the same way I did, but they were constantly running out for more gas. I decided a while back I don’t want a generator, I don’t have room anyway, and I would go with solar. I just hadn’t decided which panels to buy, and wasn’t in a rush.

Lesson: Be prepared to boondock even at a full hookup site.

Once I had my propane situation handled, I needed to deal with my water. With how crazy low the temperature was, and my heat tape not working because the electricity was off, my water froze again. I picked up a different hose while we were out. Jeff recommended a Zero-G hose instead of the normal RV hoses. I do really like the new hose. It’s much more pliable which made wrapping the heat tape around it easier. The hose was frozen in the same place as last time, where it connect to the trailer. That section was the section I couldn’t get the heat tape or the insulation around to protect it. The heat tape wasn’t working with the electricity out, but the insulation would help too. So there’s ice going into the water line at the connection point, and into the hose at the same connection point. Our electricity was still off and not coming back on so I couldn’t use hot water or any electric source of heat to thaw the hose. This is where I decided I was a mad genius. I keep some vodka water around as a cleaning product in a spray bottle. From what I understand, vodka has a lower freezing temperature than water. So I took it outside, set it to the direct spray, and sprayed it into the water inlet. It worked!! The ice melted right where the vodka-water hit. I was able to clear the whole inlet from ice. I did the same thing to the hose, but it had a longer chunk of ice so it took longer. I managed to get a tunnel through the center of the ice for water to flow through. I then took it inside to melt the rest of the way, and switch the heat tape to the new hose. I wanted to make sure it was done right this time. I lined the tape along the whole hose taping it with electrical tape every so often. Then I went back up the hose wrapping it around the hose. Then I took my pipe insulation and wrapped it as far as I could on each end of the hose being sure to cover the connection points. I didn’t have enough to do the whole hose because the stores ran out, but I could leave the center parts of the hose under the skirt. I had enough to cover each exposed end of the hose. The water took a little while to get through the pipes. There may have been some additional freezing that needed to be melted. Once the water came back to the faucets, I turned them both on high.

Day 4 of Winter Storm Uri

Everyone was saying this day was supposed to be the worst of it weather-wise. However, the temperature was supposed to be warmer than the previous days, but still below freezing. Of course, with my background with winter, I thought a bad snowstorm would be like 6-9”. However, when I looked at the forecast, it was calling for 1-2”. Let’s just say that made me chuckle. Frankly, in the morning I could hardly tell a difference from the day before. I was able to get the water on in the evening before, but the toilet water hadn’t returned for flushing yet. This morning, I found water shooting out the back of the toilet! It seemed to be coming from the hinge or a water connection. When I flushed the toilet, it stopped coming out the back. I also hand tightened a connection on the back for good measure. What seemed to happen in my opinion, was that there was pent up pressure, and when I flushed, it released the pressure. Then I just had to mop up the water from the floor and make sure there was no residual moisture. Thank goodness that it was the clean, incoming water and not the *ahem* outgoing water. As I flushed to release pressure, I noticed the black tank was so full there was no where for new materials to go. This didn’t really make sense to me because I had just dumped recently and this was too fast for it to have filled, I thought. I dumped and there seemed to be no problem, then a couple hours later the black tank was full again! Turns out, I was misinformed about my plumbing system. My understanding was that the toilet goes to the black tank, and both sinks and the shower go to the grey tank. What I discovered was that in many rigs with 2 sinks, the bathroom sink will also go to the black tank. I had been letting both my sinks run very strong to avoid any more freezes. I thought this was safe because I left the grey tank open to drain directly and not retain any water. Once I turned off the bathroom sink, the black tank stopped filling at this crazy fast rate. I would have maybe never figured out this misunderstanding on my part without this strange incident.

Lesson: Keep an eye on your plumbing for leaks and anomalies, but don’t drive yourself crazy like me.

Day 5 of Winter Storm Uri

By today you could feel this adventure slowly coming to a close, but only cautiously optimistic that the worst was behind us. The power and water stayed on consistently through the previous night, and ended up staying on all day. It was actually my birthday so I decided to go into town and get all those Birthday rewards restaurants and stores send. I thought it would be fun, and I had some errands I wanted to run to get some supplies. Honestly, it turned out to be a bummer of a day. The errand locations didn’t have anything I was looking to pick up, and all the places with rewards were still closed due to the weather and electrical situation. I was quite disappointed by the time I returned home. But my new friends Jeff & Amanda stopped by to surprise me with some cupcakes and a card. It was exactly what I needed at just the right moment. I’m again so thankful I met them. They are great people.

I have to talk about going to Walmart on this day. First of all, I don’t know why I thought they’d be restocked and back to normal by now. My mistake. They were crazy picked over. People were still in that apocalyptic mindset even though we were supposed to be above freezing the next day. At one point, there was an announcement that a shipment of milk had come in. They were requiring everyone who wanted milk to stand in line to get it, and there was a limit of 4 per family (which I was surprised as it seemed like a lot). The frozen pizzas were almost completely obliterated. I got a couple of the last ones. I only stopped by because there was a couple things I wanted, but by no means did I need to go grocery shopping, good thing. The things I wanted were weird. I was going to grab some real parmesan, microwave popcorn, and some random supplies. I couldn’t get hardly anything. Apparently, real parmesan and popcorn are priorities to more people than I thought. You should have seen this milk situation though. Herd mentality is strong. They were lined up along the whole side of the store and getting longer. The milk section itself was completely empty with 1 employee standing at one of the fridge doors being passed single gallons at a time from the back. I can’t really understand why everyone was so anxious to get milk. Especially, 4 gallons per family. That’s so much. Even my family of 7 never bought more than 2 gallons of milk at a time. We would never go through 4 in just a couple days (until weather was to return to normal). I don’t actually remember seeing anyone with 4 gallons, but I’m still shocked that’s what they decided to set the limit at. I still had milk at home, I don’t go through it very fast. Even so, I still felt that urge to join the herd. If they are all so desperate that it has to be tightly controlled, then certainly I should need it to, right? In the end, my logic won out and I waited. That was the correct choice for me. Like I thought, I didn’t run out of milk and picked some up the next time I went out.

The popcorn thing is what I really want to talk about. When I walked into the popcorn aisle, I couldn’t find it for a moment. It took me a second to realized that I couldn’t find it because they were all gone. Literally every single bag of microwave popcorn was picked clean off the shelf. There were still some packages of kernels for machines, and jiffy pop. I still don’t understand this. Microwave popcorn was completely useless during this emergency because we had been without power so the microwaves weren’t working. I was not picking it up in response to the emergency, but because I had run out before and had wanted some. I grabbed the jiffy pop because I could use that when the power was out over the stove or later at a campfire. Now this is what really baffles my mind. That same aisle was split into 3 parts: popcorn, nuts, and beef jerky. THE NUTS AND BEEF JERKY WERE UNTOUCHED!! Seriously, they looked just like they do every normal day of the week. The whole store is picked over, but these two items. Does no one in this area know the staples of survivalist food? There’s a reason trail mix/nuts and jerky are thought of as hiking snacks, because they are go-to for good nutrient, low prep, and shelf stable foods. Seriously, if you think you need to react to an emergency and stock up on food, these should be the first things to go. Now you might be saying, “well, you did the same thing. Bought popcorn and not nuts/jerky.” You’re right, but the only reason I didn’t is because I already have a lot of nuts, trailmix, and jerky in my trailer. Even so, I still thought about whether I should grab some because I know the value of them!

Lesson: Don’t get drawn into the panic frenzy. Know what you have, what you need, and don’t let your emotions get the best of you.

The next day was above freezing, and the snow melted so fast. You couldn’t even tell there had been snow there at all. The way the weather bounced back was about as crazy as how it came in. That weekend I was invited to bonfires, worked outside on my skirt, and was wearing shorts. 4 days later, it was 80 degrees and I was visiting a local park with waterfalls. People were wading in the streams, and I even walked through in my sandals. I’ll post about that later.

I know this was a long post. Thank you for reading. My biggest advice would be to research and prepare for freezing weather ahead of any inclement weather. Once the forecast predicts trouble, it becomes difficult to secure the supplies you need. Having them already in your possession is the first step to outlasting the storm. There are a lot of so-called rules floating around for freezing weather, but remember they’re more like guidelines.


Fort Worth Zoo 2021 Visit

              I’ve set off on my first true RV trip. Since it’s January, I wanted to find someplace warmer so I headed to Texas. I’ve never been to the southwest before. I’m currently in Fort Worth so I visited the Fort Worth Zoo. Apparently, it is the #1 zoo in the country.

              First of all, who visits a zoo in January, right? I had the same thought, but I hoped it’d still be warm enough to see the animals. Second, the zoo is going through a major renovation. What better time to do that than with so many public places being closed or reduced, but I think they had this in the works already. Unfortunately, this means most of the savannah animals were off display. So sad because that included some of my favorites included tigers, lions, and the elephants. Technically, you could still see the elephants, but not clearly since they were in their smaller enclosures without good sightlines.

              When I first arrived, it was nearly half an hour before I saw any animals. I walked around the World of Primates and didn’t see anything. It was cold so it makes sense they weren’t in the outdoor enclosures, but they didn’t seem to be in the indoor enclosures either.  It was pretty disappointing because they had some very large and intricate enclosures. I heard some other patrons express their disappointment throughout the day too.  Luckily, I circled back at the end of the day before I left, and saw a couple apes, but it didn’t seem like nearly enough for the enclosures available. Plus, they were all in the same small area that seemed to connect to a back room that they all eventually retreated into. Obviously, they need a place to take care of the animals, but keeping them there the whole time seems a bit fruitless. If I had been with my mom, she would have been extremely disappointed because the monkeys and apes are her favorites.

              There was a small part of the savannah still open, the giraffe enclosure. I walked around the whole thing, but couldn’t find anything besides birds. Like I said, it was a cold 50 degrees so I can’t say I  was too surprised. There was a funny ostrich poppin’ his head around. And then I ran into a large vulture just chillin on one of the walkway fences. He definitely was not supposed to be there. It was kind of funny. Luckily, vultures are carrion birds and don’t attack live prey so we weren’t in danger and walked past without an issue, However, this one guy, I thought he was part of the construction crew but he may have been a visitor, walked up to him and was like talking to him. The bird didn’t like that since he got much closer than anyone else. The vulture did kind of hissed at him and raised his feathers at that, but the guy just wanted to get between the bird and the walkway so the parents with small kids could feel safe passing.

              I did get to see the hippos pretty close. They have an aquatic enclosure and spent most of their time pretty close to the glass. In the morning, they were cuddled up sleeping. Hippos normally freak me out a bit since they are one of the most dangerous land animals on the planet, but these were so cute. The one was snuggled up on the other and looked like he was smiling. I saw these guys again later when I circled back, and they were trotting about the bottom of the pool. Definitely, a well set up area since the areas kept the animals wanting to be very visible.

              I had to circle back at the end of the day to see the other animals in this area. I saw a black rhino, and he also was fairly close to the pathway. I was also happy to see the giraffes were out when I came back. The tallest ones were on the far end of the enclosure away from the guests, but two of them came right up to the gate even so far as to duck under the wire to keep them back. They had to so people could feed them! I really like how the Fort Worth Zoo does their giraffe feeding. Other zoos I’ve been to have an area where only people who have paid for the feeding experience get to enter. This results in the giraffes only coming close to that area so everyone who didn’t pay doesn’t really get to see them. But not so at the Fort Worth Zoo. People buy the bundles of leaves and then line up wherever they can to feed the giraffes. This resulted in those who didn’t pay (like me) to still get to see the giraffes up close. I was next to several people who fed the giraffes, without taking away from their experience since it wasn’t crowded, and got to see the giraffes with them. I even helped out a mom by taking pictures of her kids while they fed the giraffes. The two smaller giraffes who came up to the fence even came up to me to check me out and see if I had anything for them. I really liked this set up because I’ve never been able to see them so close before. There was a staff member monitoring to yell at people not to touch the giraffes. They really were that close, and it was so difficult to keep myself from petting them. I wanted to so bad, but yeah don’t get any ideas. If you want to feed the giraffes, it is $6 for a bundle. “A bundle” is three leaves. They look like romaine lettuce leaves. $2 per leaf seems like kind of a rip off to me, but if you have your heart set on feeding the giraffes, go at it! I’ll stand by and watch.

              Walking through the rest of the zoo, I found myself constantly feeling like I had missed something or having to backtrack. There are so many little break always that lead to other animals. So pay attention so you don’t miss anything. When I walked into the Texas area, I got all the way through and back to the beginning before realizing I had totally missed the wolves, otters, and crocodiles. I had to go back and do the whole thing again. What happened was there was a fork and I needed to go right to see those animals, some of my favorites, but I went left thinking that right was the main path and I didn’t want to miss anything. Turned out, going right was actually a dead end and where the animals were. I couldn’t see the crocodile anywhere, I’m not sure it was there. I did get to see the cougar and jaguar. They were pretty active and easy to see. If I didn’t get to see the tiger, which I knew was off exhibit when I bought my tickets, then I’m glad I got to see these other large cats.

              This zoo has a lot of birds. There was the vulture I mentioned earlier, many different flamingos, parrots, and lots of other birds. The ostrich I mentioned earlier was funny to watch again later when I saw the giraffes. He was messing with them. I literally saw this bird sneak up behind the smallest giraffe and then hiss at him to scare him into running away. I saw no purpose to this except just to mess with the giraffe. It was funny. I also saw an enclosure with hummingbirds and a red tail hawk together. The smallest bird with such a large bird of prey. The hawk actually started tracking me as I walked around the glass, and then it came at me! It didn’t come off its perch and hit the glass, but it lunged and got to the end of the branch coming at me. Glad there was glass in between and he wasn’t just chillin on the side like that vulture.

              They also a had a pretty nice looking petting zoo in this area. There’s actually a branch off children’s area that includes the petting zoo. I didn’t go in there, but it looked like a lot of fun for little kids. There’s also a train that goes through the center of the zoo. There’s a station near the World of Primates, and another by the Texas Country area. You can also buy tickets to ride the carousel at the Texas station. The Hall of Wonders and Texas Nature Traders were closed when I visited so I’m not sure what those are all about. I bet they’re worth visiting if they are open when you visit.

              They also have a small Australian Outback section with sharks, kangaroos, and penguins. There were no kangaroos out when I went by, and I didn’t see any sharks either. Kangaroos obviously need warm climates, but I don’t think that should have affected the sharks. Honestly, I don’t even remember seeing a place that sharks could have been so I’m not sure what happened or if I missed it. It’s a pretty small section with a simple path so I’m not sure how I could have skipped by the shark enclosure.

              Overall, it is a nice zoo. I would very much like to come back in the spring or fall when it’s a little bit warmer, but not super hot. My visit would have been perfect for large cats I think. The new area they are building looks really cool!  I’ll have to come back sometime after 2023 when it is finished and all those cool animals go into their new habitats.

              A couple small tips from my brief visit. There are several places to get food. Many of them were closed because of covid and reduced admission, but the main ones were open. The Crocodile Café’s prices were slightly better than the prices at The Bluebonnet Café. Plus, at the Crocodile, if you get a good seat you can sit and watch the crocodiles outside the reptile exhibit while you eat. When I was there, they were on land sunning themselves right close up by the windows to the café. I didn’t end up eating at the zoo, but this is where I would have. The Bluebonnet has a western styling, but the setup seemed crowded to me (even though it was completely empty). It just had that feeling that it’d be a bit less relaxed when people are actually there. But it is really convenient to the Texas area of the zoo (it’s right inside the faux main street), plus it has Pizza Hut and Barbecue if that’s what you’re in the mood for. There are also a lot of smaller places and snack stops that weren’t open when I visited, but I bet more will be open in the height of their season.

              My other tip would be to download the app. They had a sign at the entrance with a QR code to a map, but I didn’t realize they had an app until halfway through. The map in the app is a little outdated, but they’ll have to update when the expansion is finished. It didn’t seem to have anything incorrect though, just a “coming in 2019” over the petting farm.

              They have half-priced Wednesdays. I took advantage of this, and it made the admission very reasonable. If you can go during the weekday, I’d definitely recommend considering this. It wasn’t busy at all while I was there, but I can’t speak for warmer days. I’d expect a lot more moms with young children on a Wednesday than on the weekend.

              Finally, currently (Jan. 2021) you MUST make reservations to enter the zoo. They have staggered entry times, and not many people were in the zoo while I was there. It is off season, and the virus is still on the mind so I’m not entirely surprised. I didn’t make my reservations until the night before with no problem. I wouldn’t count on that though, and definitely make sure you have your reservations made before you leave home. You can keep it on your phone and scan at the entrance.

But hey there are no real rules to visiting a zoo, these are more like guidelines. Have fun!

RV Life Travel

Coast to Coast Tour & Sales Pitch Review

              As I mentioned in another post, I recently purchased a new travel trailer.  When I came by to pick it up and do my walk through, the dealer had a folder with a voucher for free camping from Outdoor Adventures. Free camping??!!! Right? Um yes, please! He told me that the rep who gave it to him said it’s just a 90 minute tour the first time you come and then they validate your certificate for 21 days of free camping. Kind of like a timeshare meeting, but he promised it wasn’t super pushySounds pretty good to me! So I thought I’d write out what my experience was like.

              First of all, the folder says to call in order to to activate your 21 day voucher. Lies! Well, not completely. It’s the first step, but it won’t activate your voucher. They will then try to schedule a time for you to come take your tour. They won’t validate without the tour, even though the paperwork and indicate it just takes a call. I’m not mad though, I suspected as much. They want you to take the tour so they can make the pitch for their membership. That’s fine.  She said when you confirm a tour reservation, they will send you the voucher for 21 days of free camping, your parking pass, activity wristbands, and a $50 Walmart gift card! Sweet. She also said if you were just coming for tour and not staying to camp, they’ll give your lunch and ice cream.

It just wasn’t convenient to me because most of their resorts are in Michigan with 2 in New York and 2 in Ohio. I don’t live in any of those states so popping over for a tour isn’t exactly easy. I hoped to do it when I was ready to use my first campsite, but my camper was stuck in the shop for awhile. Then it was winter so I wanted to make use of my passes when it’s warmer, and I can use all the amenities. However, while I can use the passes 21 times anytime for up to a year, they said I needed to activate the pass as soon as possible. I was in the area around Thanksgiving so I just did the tour then with no overnight stay.

I visited the Arrowhead Lake campground for my tour. Ok so I’m going to clarify something now that was a little confusing to me. So I was given information, and was in contact with someone from Outdoor Adventure Resorts, but when I arrived the company name everywhere was Venture Out Resorts, and then they started talking about Coast to Coast which I’ll talk about later. So basically these are all their own individual companies that like partnered up as one thing? I know that Venture Out is an affiliate of Outdoor Adventures and you can get all the same benefits. Coast to Coast isn’t a name I heard until I met the sales guy. Yeah so that came out of nowhere. Here’s what I learned.

Apparently, Coast to Coast is a travel company owned by Good Sam. They have campgrounds all over the country, hence the name. They also have some in Canada and Mexico. So with the membership you can camp at the campgrounds in your home network for free, in this case Outdoor Adventures and their affiliates. Then you can use all those other campgrounds for $10/night.

              The tour was mostly just a sales spiel. We did take a drive around the campground. The one I visited was a new addition and had a lot of upgrades planned to make it as fancy as the others. You can see a couple pictures I took below. The cabin-trailer was really cute. It was more like a tiny home. After the long explanation of everything they do and then breaking it down to show me “how it would work for me” they offered me lunch. It was just a cold turkey sandwich with a store bought cookie, chips, and string cheese so don’t get too excited. They didn’t offer me any ice cream, but it was a bit cold out. They did give me the $50 Walmart gift card first thing when I arrived, and at the end they gave me the 21 day punch card for the free days of camping.

All of the highlights they push are as follows:

  • Camping & Cabins Free or $10/night
  • Discounts on vacations including condos around the world as low as $100/wk
  • Bring friends/family to use with you. 3 campsites or a campsite and cabin. Up to 10 people per spot.
  • RV Storage – I never heard a price. They implied free.
    • They’ll move it to a spot for you the night before you arrive.
  • 24 hour security
  • Open yearly (not all campgrounds)

Ok not gonna lie. That sounds pretty good. Of course, the sales guy starts doing the math. The national average (according to him) is $45/night. That seems to be about what I’ve found. So it sounds like you’d be saving money, but of course this all cost money. They have 3 plan tiers. They’ll only tell you about the top one at first, then they’ll bring the other ones out to hook you on. You’ll think that sounds great, but too expensive. Then they’ll say you can have it all for this much cheaper and it suddenly seems like a no brainer, but it’s still a lot of money. The tiers they showed me were as follows:

  • Top tier: $17,000 You get all the things I mentioned before and it’s a lifetime membership and it’s transferrable to your children if you so choose along the line.
  • Middle tier: $13,000 You get all the benefits except it’s a lifetime membership that is not transferrable.
  • Bottom tier: $8,000 All the benefits for 10 years and it’s not transferrable.

You do have the option to upgrade one of the lower tiers to a higher tier and the money you’ve already paid will count towards that higher tier.

              They only broke down the lowest tier for me because they acknowledged that the others didn’t make sense (and that I wasn’t going to even consider spending almost $20,000!) so those are the numbers I’m going to use now.

              The way it broke down according to the sales guy, it would break down to $96/mth. Assuming $50/night, you’d only have to stay 2 nights to save money. Well, he conveniently forgot to factor in that extra $10/night because I won’t be staying exclusively in Michigan. Still seems like a good deal, maybe.

So….what’s the kicker. That’s what I’m trying to figure out the whole time. The first thing that is a red flag is that they want you to buy right there and then. They told me that the offer is only good that day. I asked multiple times if I could think about it, maybe wait and try out after I use those free camping days they’re giving me (why give it to me if I don’t have a chance to try it out, right??) They said that they couldn’t because they tell everyone they have to buy that day so if they didn’t make me, other people would get mad. I don’t see why they wouldn’t let everyone think about it if there isn’t some kind of catch I’m not seeing right then and there.

              Then you have to notice that the $94/mth is only the first year. Why? Because there’s a yearly maintenance fee of $492 at the time of writing. That’s on top of the $8,000+ and it doesn’t go away even after you pay off the membership fee. There was no guarantee that price would stay consistent either. He said that in the past current members haven’t been required to pay the additional fee when the prices increase. He said there are current members who signed up the first year who are still paying under $200 for their yearly fees. But like I said, there’s not guarantee that’ll be true for you.

              Finally, they really bury the lead on this one. It’s not so much a yearly membership subscription as it’s a purchase. Meaning those numbers are financing numbers! It’s a loan. I only figured this out because I asked what the cancellation policy was. He told me you cancel up to 3 days after. When I pushed for the long term cancellation, then he said that the bank isn’t going to just forgive the note. So it’s a loan. So all those numbers aren’t taking the interest price into consideration. They kept talking about the numbers for good vs bad credit ($94/mth is the good credit price). They told me that for bad credit the interest is 15%. 15%!!! That’s a really high interest rate. Of course, I asked what the lowest rate for good credit was because I do have good credit, and it was 14%! That’s basically no difference! That’s it, that’s the catch. My uncle said “so they’re loan sharks” when I told him about it. He’s not wrong. They are definitely making money off the poor financial decision to open a loan at that rate. The salesman said if it were him, he’d take the 6 months of no interest and then refinance with a personal loan from his credit union. While that sounds like a smart plan, certainly smarter than sticking with 15% interest, I don’t feel comfortable with all the uncertainties in that plan. I’d want to do my research and I’d probably just open a loan from the get go to get a rate I’m comfortable with, but honestly I’m not comfortable with any interest rate for this kind of purchase.

              As you can guess, I walked out without making a purchase. I’m not upset that I went. They were really nice, and I got a gift card and free camping out of it. They never did send me the package in the mail with the passes and everything.

              I tried to look up reviews online. They are definitely mixed. I saw one lady comment that she was excited to mostly use the international condos and vacation discounts, but later comment that after a year they never were able to use it because Coast to Coast’s prices were always higher than the other local options. I’ve also read reviews that said when they booked campsites in network that were supposed to be $10/night, the campgrounds blindsided them with additional fees that ended up costing them more than if they had just booked it normally without going through Coast to Coast. I find these quite concerning on top of everything else I already felt uncomfortable with. Makes me happy I didn’t get pulled into their sales pitch.

              This was just my experience with one sales staff and your experience and pricing may vary. If anyone has used Coast to Coast, I’d love to hear your feedback!

RV Life

I Bought a Travel Trailer!

              I’ve finally taken the first BIG step towards the RV life! I signed for my trailer!!! I’m picking it up on Friday, so it doesn’t feel quite real yet, but also I feel like there’s a lot to do to be ready.

              I’ve actually been thinking about moving to a semi-full time RVing life for about 2 years. I can’t believe that much time has passed; it may even have been a little longer. It all started because I was in a terrible job situation that was always meant to be temporary trying to find a career that I would love in my field. There were a few different paths I could take, but I finally decided I wanted to pursue a career as a Cruise Director. That’s when the idea of full-timing was born for me. As a CD, you don’t have the usual work schedule. You live at work and work full time for weeks in a row, and then you are sent home for breaks for a few weeks or even months at a time. You can think of instead of getting a weekend every week, you skip your weekends and cash them in all at once every couple months. This allows for a lot of opportunity to travel, and it didn’t really make sense to pay for an apartment or house I’d never be in. So why not just drag around my apartment with me?

              I say first big step because there were a lot of little steps that got me to this point where I was ready to commit. Over those 2 + years, I did constant research. I probably exhausted the Pinterest search engine for RV tips, hacks, and got-to-knows. Thank goodness so many full-timers make a living blogging about being full time!  I went from only having camped in a tent or once in my aunt’s pop-out, to having a good working knowledge of all the terms and differences in RVs. I still don’t feel ready to actually start using the trailer on my own, but I’m confident at this point I know as much as I could without having done it myself. At this point, it is time for some hands-on learning. Having all this research in the back of my mind really helped me know what I was looking for, and to see the things that made this camper the right choice for me.

              Once I had researched as much as I could online, I started visiting dealerships to confirm what I thought was my limits and preferences. One nice thing about this pandemic is I ended up having a really free summer. I dragged my mom to a couple different RV dealers to explore units with no intention of buying. Never buy an rv on the first visit. Even if you end up falling in love.

I went thinking I wanted:

  • 25’ or less trailer
  • It’s GVWR must be lower than my Jeep’s limits
  • with a full fridge – I wanted plenty of freezer space which meant looking for 2 door fridges
  • a real bed – none of this “fold-down dinette is the only bed” nonsense
  • I didn’t care about a dinette, I’d prefer a sofa
  • Murphy bed was a plus as it combined the last 2 into a smaller unit
  • I preferred a shower with a tub. I thought it’d be good for washing feet or doing laundry by hand
    • I ended up deciding a folding bucket would do this just as well
  • I wanted an oven. I bake and cook pizzas myself, among other things, frequently.
  • I want solar eventually. If I could find that included, it’d be ideal.
  • I wanted a dry bath (In a truck camper I was ok with wet, but not in a trailer)
  • Needed plenty of storage – I’m living in it full time!
  • I didn’t want slides – I worried about maintenance, limited use, and it blocking functionality when closed

The trailer I ended up signing for is 22’ 6”. Light enough for my Jeep to pull safely. It has a full fridge although not the biggest we saw, the freezer space is enough. The shower doesn’t have a tub, but it has a little bit of a lip mostly so water doesn’t get out. The bathroom is dry and with some of the best storage I’ve seen in a unit of this size. It has a proper queen bed, not a camper size, with cabinets all around and it lifts up for storage under it! It has an oven included and a nice size sink. I sacrificed counterspace, but I didn’t at the same time. I ended up buying one with the shortest slide I’ve ever seen. In the slide there is a sofa instead of a dinette located in the slide. Since there’s no dinette, it comes with a folding table that can be put in front of the sofa. If I use that table as a counter, I actually ended up with way more workspace than any other 22 foot or maybe even 25 foot. Of course, it won’t store things permanently, but the kitchen has some nice sized cabinets in it to make up for that. It also has pass thru storage. I thought pass thru was standard, but a trailer I almost bought didn’t have it. That lack of storage along with a lack of storage throughout the whole unit ended up being why I moved on.

As you can see, really knowing what I wanted and understanding the reasons for or against different things helped me make an informed decision. I could explain exactly why this was the right unit (and I did explain as I talked it out with my parents over the phone). I wanted to make sure I wasn’t making an impulse buy because it was a little higher than the price range I originally was putting myself in. However, really understanding my finances and taking a good hard look at the numbers helped me know I wasn’t putting myself in a hole I couldn’t climb out of.

You also have to keep in mind basic things you may overlook especially if you’re full-timing. It’s easy to not realize that a unit has no place for clothes, linens, or pantry because they’re such a given in sticks and bricks homes that you don’t notice they’re missing, until you go to put things in them. A lovely woman I met gave me such good advice, when you look at a trailer, imagine where you will put your clothes. It’s the quickest way to notice if it’s missing a wardrobe and adequate storage.

If you want to see what a loan will cost you over the life of the loan, check out my post here.

As I mentioned before, don’t buy a unit on your first visit. The unit I ended up getting, we looked at and were really impressed. I didn’t even bother to sit down and discuss price. We talked about it next to the unit, and he offered to give me his “best price”. That’s it. We thanked him and walked away. Turns out, he ended up emailing me in the next couple days. Since it was the end of the month, he emailed me ready to make a deal. Luckily, I read up on tips for negotiating for a RV with a dealer. He wasn’t able to come down as much as I’d have liked, but he threw in a distribution, sway control hitch – something I was going to have to buy before picking up the trailer that comes with a hefty price tag. He wanted a confirmation that I would buy it if he could get me that deal before he’d check with his boss. Don’t worry too much about these kinds of tactics. You haven’t signed a contract, and he’s just doing the old song and dance to try to make you feel like you’re getting a better deal. I also had researched this make, model, and year around the country to see the average price. This helps you see if you’re getting a good deal, and gives an idea and support for you to negotiate the price lower. If you can find it, you also want to know what the MSRP is. If the asking price is above the MSRP, then you’re looking at an inflated price. In my case, I discovered this specific model was rather unique. I only found a couple units over the entire country! In most other models, I found dozens of listings. With that information, I can feel better about the deal I as negotiating.

All in all, I’m very excited. Now I have to decide where I’m going first! Remember, these are more like guidelines.


A Pro’s Guide to The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

I’ve been there a many times as a child with my family, as a teenager, and as an adult with my friends. I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve visited, and I interned there for a summer. I consider myself an unofficial expert, no big deal.

My recommendation is to let go of some of your parental urge for control. Always keep your kids safe, but most of the exhibits are setup so that there is only 1 entrance and exit. I recommend loosening the reigns a little and let the kids explore of their own volition. Of course, you know your kids best and wait until they are old enough to understand the rules – no one leaves this exhibit alone. You can explore with them or sit at the entrance to keep an eye on them.

Where to start…

I guess, like all things, at the beginning. The museum operates its own, private parking garage right next to the museum. Best part, its totally free!

The best place to park in the parking garage is the 3rd floor on the side closest to the museum. 3000 North Meridian Street, Indianapolis, IN 46208

Seems odd, but there’s a very good reason. The museum has a sky walk from the parking garage to the interior of the museum. You never have to go outside. There is a crosswalk on the street level, but the museum highly discourages – to the point of not allowing – people to use the crosswalk. This is because people drive pretty recklessly in that area, and they frequently run the stop light directly above the crosswalk. Especially if you’re visiting with small children, the skywalk is the safest option to getting to the museum.

The entrance to the skywalk can be found on the 3rd floor of the parking garage.

Beginning Your Visit – Inside the Museum

After entering the museum, you’ll be in a large atrium (Floor 1). The entrance to Dinosphere is on the right toward the front and easily accessible. When I visited as a child, this is where we would always start. It is the proper entrance to Dinosphere, but not the only one. The designers at the museum do an amazing job of designing the entrances to each exhibit so that they set the atmosphere and mood. That has caused a duality in my opinion of where to start. Now I would say the best place to start is Treasures of the Earth for a first visit.

Sunburst Atrium has always been the entrance to TCM, even with the modern additions.

Be sure to stop and get a map and list of presentations throughout the day. They have actors performing reenactments, presentations, and fun activities all day. Use this to find any presentations you want to be sure to hit and adjust your schedule to be in the exhibit during the presentations you want to see.

The Structure of the Museum

There are 5 Floors all connected by a winding ramp system. I love this system. It makes it so easy to go from floor to floor without using stairs or elevators. Elevators are still an option. There are 2 sets of elevators: a set on the side closest to the atrium, and a set on the right side (when facing the ramps with your back to the atrium). The ramps are so friendly to an environment with lots of strollers and little feet that wouldn’t enjoy using stairs. Plus, there’s no waiting for elevators.

Ramps seen circling their way up and down the museum with Fireworks of Glass in the center.

We loved running up and down these ramps (as long as there was no one else around us) when we were kids. It was an easy way to let the kids have fun and be free while keeping them still in sight. The ramps have clear platform entrances on each floor, so it’s easy and clear when to stop.


Most adults don’t need to plan this ahead of time, but if you are going with children it can’t hurt to know ahead of time where the bathrooms are. They aren’t hard to find, if you know where they are, but they’re a little hidden. Expand section to read more.
Lower Level

There are Family Restrooms outside of Dinosphere on the way to All Aboard!.

There are men’s and women’s restrooms next to the Lilly Theater in the main area. These are the closest restrooms to The Lilly Theater, Beyond Spaceship Earth, and Treasures of the Earth.

First Level

As you exit the atrium towards the main museum and information desk, the restrooms are on either side of the entrance; women’s on the left and men’s on the right. These are the closest to The Food Court and The Museum Store.

Second Level

There are family bathrooms outside of Take Me There.

Third Level

There are family restrooms and nursing areas inside PlayEscape.

Fourth Level

Men’s and Women’s are on the right side just on the other side of the elevators opposite from Carousel Wishes and Dreams. This is the closest restroom to Carousel and Scienceworks.

There’s no right or wrong way to do the museum. All of the exhibits stand on their own and can be done in any order. This is how I would do it.

National Geographic’s Treasures of the Earth

Location: Lower Level Main Entrance: Level 1 Theme: Archaeology

Terra Cotta Warrior section of Treasures of the Earth.

If you go straight into the museum from the atrium and turn right, there is an entrance to Treasures of the Earth. It’s really easy to miss because it’s very small and unassuming. That’s because it’s a ride!

Before getting onto the ride/entrance, be sure to check out the small exhibit just to the right of the entrance. There you can see some information about the exhibit and actual props used in the Indiana Jones movies!

To properly start this exhibit, there is an elevator ride to simulate the experience of being lowered into an Egyptian tomb dig site. There’s a little video presentation talking about what you’re about to see. The ambiance is really fun too.

Upon exiting the ride, you’ll see the entrance to the exhibit. It’s split into 3 parts. From left to right: Seti’s Egyptian Tomb, Captain Kidd’s Shipwreck, and Terra Cotta Warriors – all based on actual archaeological digs.

These are fun, interactive exhibits. There are tunnels to climb in, etchings on the walls to touch, and even some terra cotta warriors to rebuild. The exhibits do a great job of catering to all ages. There’s plenty to do, but there’s also plenty to learn. Through placards and hands-on activities. There is even an active lab with real archaeologists working on active specimens! You can interact and ask them questions or watch presentations.

One of the actors from The Lilly Theatre during my internship playing in Treasures of the Earth after hours.

For us this has always been one of the quicker exhibits. Take it at your own pace, and enjoy everything. You never know what cool tidbits you’ll find in a corner somewhere.

For those who visited the museum in the past, this exhibit took the place of What If? (1992-2010).

As you exit and head back to Floor 1, make sure to grab some free tickets to the Lilly Theater show at the ticket booth at the base of the ramp.


Locations: Lower Level Entrance: Level 1 Theme: Dinosaurs

The dome changes constantly into gorgeous scenes.

The next thing to do would be the other optional first thing to do. If you’re not riding the elevator to Treasures of the Earth, then start at Dinosphere.

The best entrance to Dinosphere, especially if you’ve never been before, is on Floor 1 in the Sunburst Atrium. It may seem silly to go all the way back up to Floor 1 when you’re just going to go back to Lower Level, but the walk to Dinosphere is made to slowly “transport you into another world”. There are flying fossils of pterodactyls and information placards as you descend. Honestly, it just doesn’t feel right entering Dinosphere from any other entrance. It feels like you’re coming in from the back door, because you kind of are. If you don’t want to break your flow, I might suggest waiting on Dinosphere until after lunch. If you go back to the food court or the pack lunch spot, you’ll be back at the the Level 1 entrance and could then use the Level 1 (Main) entrance to Dinosphere.

Dinosphere is an amazing exhibit. As you enter you are thrust into the world of the dinosaurs. The dome creates a full affected atmosphere, and it changes constantly. Every half hour there’s a storm. There’s also gorgeous sunsets, and day scenes. You can feel the atmosphere shift during all of these.

There are several fossils on display. Unlike most other museums, they display the actual fossils in the exhibit and not only replicas. There’s actually a placard that shows which of the bones are fossils and which are replicas. Some are replicas simply for the sake of completing the structure because those pieces weren’t recovered.

There are lots of fun activities alongside the educational ones. Dinosphere hosts fun, short tunnels to crawl into and become part of the exhibit. There’s also a costume section where you can pretend to be a dinosaur building it’s nest and taking care of eggs. One of the highlights is the excavation site. Kids can don some safety goggles and become an archaeologist themselves as they try to uncover fossils.

Dinosphere also features an active paleo lab with some real paleontologists who you can talk to and ask questions. You can even get the change to touch a real fossil they’re currently working on.

A frequently overlooked part of Dinosphere is that it actually spans 3 floors. The main floor is on LL, but it expands upwards. It even has it’s own private elevator and staircase that stays within Dinosphere. On the second floor of Dinosphere, there is an overlook. It’s actually almost hidden when you’re on the main level, but it’s a cool way to see the exhibit from above.

One more level up and there’s an entire exhibit about paleo-art. Did you know there were artists that specialize in adding life to the fossils that are discovered? This exhibit is on the older side, as in, little kids might not be super interested. Since I was pre-adolescent when Dinosphere was installed, my friend and I would go up there by ourselves and play with the clay modeling and tracing stations. It also has a second, higher overlook, but the second floor is better in my opinion.

You can spend a lot of time in Dinosphere. It is always one of our longest. Keep that in mind, and make sure you leave enough time to not feel rushed. Another reason we frequently do it first.

All Aboard!

Location: Lower Level Entrance: Lower Level Theme: Trains

The natural exit to Dinosphere leads directly into All Aboard! one of the oldest exhibits at the museum. It has been a part of the collection since 1968. This exhibit features a real life locomotive, the Reuben Wells, from around 1868. The current building was built around the train in 1976. The train runs a light and sounds show every 15 min.

You can go inside the car behind the engine, and sit in it. There’s video presentations you can watch, and the windows have videos that make it seem as if you are riding.

There’s a section where you can dress up, and pretend to be a ticket master handing out tickets. There are usually toy trains to play with in this section as well.

You can also see models of trains in their hay-day and even crawl through to a peek-out inside the train display. Make sure to look up as there is a train running around up above.

The exit to All Aboard! brings you back to the main section of the Lower Lever outside of Treasures of the Earth.

Fireworks of Glass

Location: Lower Level Entrance: Lower Level Theme: Blown Glass

Fireworks of Glass Exhibit base.

You may have noticed the 43 foot tower of colorful spirals the ramps surround. Fireworks of Glass was installed in 2006, and is the work of renown artist Dale Chihuly. It’s a gorgeous centerpiece to enjoy all day.

On the lower level, there’s an exhibit dedicated to this art piece. It’s a great chance to slow down and enjoy the art, and learn about glass blowing. There’s a fun video game where kids can “design and blow” their own piece of glass. It’s actually a really fun way to learn about all the steps to glass blowing.

This is a really relaxing exhibit and totally engaging even though there’s so little to it. The black circular bench in the center of the exhibit actually slowly turns. This lets you lean back and really take in the base of the glass ceiling. The ceiling is see-through so you can take in the whole base of the piece. It makes a gorgeous ceiling to the exhibit, and there’s so much that you can sit and look for a lot longer than you would think. There’s even a hidden object game you can play, looking for specific pieces in the ceiling.

We frequently hold off on this exhibit until later. Toward the end of the day, there’s usually less people there. You do not want to bother with this exhibit if there’s a crowd. Plus, it gives us a chance to get off our feet and relax for a little while after being on them all day.

Outside this exhibit, you can find the ticket booth to the Lilly Theater. They run 2 shows daily except Mondays. The tickets are free, but you need to pick them up before hand to get a seat.

Beyond Spaceship Earth & ISS

Location: Lower Level Entrance: Lower Level Theme: Space

Beyond Spaceship Earth simulates what it’s like to be in the International Space Station

This exhibit opened while I was interning in 2016. I was so pumped about this exhibit, and it did not let me down. I adore Beyond Spaceship Earth.

The exhibit is a replica of the interior of the International Space Station (ISS). It lets you explore what it’s like to live and work in space. There are games that focus on themes about space travel, along with information to learn more about living in space.

At the entrance near The Lilly Theater, you can put on some space packs with various countries flags. You can wear the proper gear as you pretend to run space walk missions and explore.

At the end of the ISS, you can continue into a planetarium dome that now houses the actual Liberty Bell 7, the 2nd U.S. capsule ever flown in space! It tells the story of Gus Grissom’s flight into space and return. Outside the theater you can find props and memorabilia related to space and various space related shows, such as Star Trek. Even if you don’t sit for a show, look for an opportunity to visit the exhibits inside the planetarium between shows.

The Lilly Theater

Location: Lower Level Entrance: Lower Level Theme: Live Theatre

One of the hidden gems of The Children’s Museum is The Lilly Theater. This frequently overlooked exhibit can be loads of fun, and a great opportunity to get off your feet for a bit.

They run 45 min. shows that are geared for children, but fun for adults too. The show I worked on in 2016 cracked me up – and I saw it twice a day for a whole summer! Their shows change regularly. There’s usually a Christmas show, a spring show, and a summer show. So you can see a different production every time you visit.

The theater is very child friendly, I mean that makes sense, they will let you in and out if you need to handle an upset child. Most theaters you can’t enter and exit, but please! the actors and staff would greatly appreciate it if you excuse yourself with a crying baby and return when all is well again. You can even choose not return to if necessary. It is not a babysitting service though, so don’t plan on leaving your kids or napping for 45 min.

If your kids adore the show, they can even get the opportunity to meet them after the second show. The actors frequently do a meet and greet after their last show. They are such fun people.

The theater requires tickets, but luckily they are free! You can obtain them in the morning ahead of time at the booth outside Fireworks of Glass, at the bottom of the ramp.

Take Me There

Location: Level 2 Entrance: Level 2 Theme: Cultural

This is another exhibit I adore. I remember the first time I visited and I was blown away with how well done and engaging it was.

Take Me There is a permanent exhibit with a rotating theme. Every 4 years or so they change which country the exhibit features. The first time I visited it was Take Me There Egypt, then it rotated to Take Me There China. Currently, it is Take Me There Greece. One of the reasons my siblings and I went back as adults was to see the updated country.

This exhibit begins by you entering a plane. There’s plane seats and a short video to pretend that you’ve flown to another country. You exit in Greece!

You can then explore apartments designed from two different families living in that country to give an idea of how people live all around the world. You can visit stores and markets modeled just like the ones you can find in those countries.

All along the way there are hands on activities to experience things unique to that culture. For example when it was China, you could write with a brush and copy Chinese script. There were crafts you could make and take home as well.

They frequently have live performances and gallery interpreters throughout this section. Check the information sheet you grabbed at the information booth for exact times and descriptions.

This is a must see exhibit and is friendly for all ages.

If you visited in the past, this replaced Passport to the World (1986 – 2008)

Rotating Exhibits

Location: Level 2 Entrance: Level 2 Theme: Rotating

Rotating exhibits at the museum are always changing. These are a great way to always keep TCM fresh, and they’re so fun.

There are 3 galleries that house temporary exhibits. They are all on Level 2. There’s one on either side of the Sunburst Atrium, and another just inside the museum on the right (above Treasures of the Earth.)

Some of my favourite exhibits have come through these galleries. I remember a circus exhibit when I was younger, and appears to have had a reappearance recently. I also remember a Spies exhibit. That exhibit was epic! We visited so many times while that was set up (thank goodness for a membership). It was all about espionage, codes, the art of disguise, and spy gear. It was awesome, and so hands on. I think you can tell I still miss that exhibit.

Usually one of the rotating exhibits will be tuned toward younger children while another may be older. While I was interning, we opened a Doc McStuffins exhibit in coordination with Disney Junior. While at other times, there has been a Titanic and King Tut exhibit. I remember in the Titanic exhibit you were given a name at the beginning of the exhibit, and then at the end you looked up your name to see if you survived or not. Fun idea, but a little morbid. I remember the exhibit was more like a typical museum with less fun hands on things than most of the others. Recently, we returned to check out the Minecraft exhibit. There were little kids and adults having fun seeing and interacting all their favourite elements from Minecraft.

There are a couple reoccurring rotating exhibits such as Jolly Days and the haunted house. I’ve never been to the haunted house because I think it costs extra, or it did. Jolly Days is fun though.

Jolly Days

Jolly Days is part of the Christmas theming the museum does. It’s set up as Santa’s village with “ice skating”, “snowball fights”, and “ice-fishing”. You can also visit Santa and Mrs. Clause and get a picture with him. It’s a busy exhibit, but still quite fun.

The yule slide is a blast for all ages
The Sunburst Atrium decorated for Jolly Days

Be sure to check out the rotating exhibits while you’re there, it may be your only chance to see them!


Location: Level 3 Entrance: Level 3 Theme: Young Child Enrichment

Playscape looks so fun. I wish I was 5!

Speaking of exhibits catered to young children, Playscape is a no-big-kids-allowed gallery. Only children 5 and under are allowed in this gallery.

When I was young, one of my favourite exhibits was Playscape. Of course, I was able to enjoy it longer than most since I could accompany all of my younger siblings into the exhibit when they were the right age. I was so sad when we all finally aged out.

The exhibit is completely different than when I was a kid, but it is still so cool. I haven’t been able to explore it since I’m not 5 yo, but I was given a tour once. It’s so cool. Those 5 year olds are lucky ducks.

There’s a whole crawl and climbing space that looks like leaves stacked, and a gentle stream for the kids to play in. They also do music enrichment sessions led by a gallery interpreter that gives little kids their first experience with instruments.

This gallery also features nursing rooms, and quiet rooms to give moms and kids some needed space.

Seriously, try to catch a peak if you can, but you won’t be allowed inside. There’s an actual guard at the door who will stop you if you’re not 5.

The Power of Children: Making a Difference

Location: Level 3 Entrance: Level 3 Theme: Children who changed the world despite bias of their time

This is a powerful exhibit.

In a complete 180 on Floor 3, opposite of Playscape you find The Power of Children.

This exhibit can be mature for some kids, but the museum does a great job of allowing the adult to decide what their kid is and isn’t ready to learn.

The exhibit follows the lives of 4 children who faced discrimination and stood up against bias. Like Treasures of the Earth, there are 4 different places you can start. Each section has a road, modeled to look like the road each child would have walked in their life, that leads to a building dedicated to each of the children.

The children highlighted in the gallery are Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges, and Ryan White, and Malala Yousafzai. They discuss how these children stood up against racial discrimination, and bias against disease.

As the parent, you can decide how much you tell your kids about the exhibit and the details of what it discusses. This is an extremely powerful exhibit, and I’ve seen many young kids having a good time in it without knowing what’s written around them. The museum does give suggestions on how to approach these difficult topics with children, and encourages adults to have appropriate conversations with them to help them understand.

Each of the 4 buildings has a presentation that runs on a set time loop. There is an announcement before one starts so you can be sure to enjoy it. They also bring in actors who do performances as the people from these real life stories. Actors do interpretations as Anne Frank, her father, Ryan’s friend, and Ruby’s teacher. Fun fact: Ruby Bridges won’t allow any interpretations of herself while she is still alive.

Elton John performed at Clowes Hall in Indianapolis benefiting The Children’s Museum in 2010 to mark the 25th anniversary of his friend, Ryan White, passing. Ryan’s room at the exhibit perfectly replicates his room in Muncie, IN.

Ryan’s mom moved to FL, but she still visits the exhibit once a month to continue to raise awareness just like Ryan did during his life. If you visit and see a woman passing out bracelets at a table in Ryan’s section, talk to her. She’s probably his mom.

If you visited in the past, this exhibit replaced Mysteries in History (1985 – 2006).

Carousel Wishes & Dreams

Location: Level 4 Entrance: Level 4 Theme: Whimsy

This is another exhibit that can be a long visit. One of the classic exhibits which features a restored 1917 Carousel which used to be in Broad Ripple Village on the bank of the White River. The carousel costs $1 per ride, but is included with a membership. The carousel has 3 different kinds of seats. There are sleighs with bench seats – great for those with small kids and babies who need to hold them during the ride.  There are stationary animals – these have all 4 feet on the ground and do not “jump” during the ride. There are also several “jumping” horses – these move up and down during the ride. If I remember correctly, children 9 years and younger are not allowed to ride the jumping animals. Museum staff should direct you.

There are also playhouses hosted in the exhibit, including one that used to belong to Eli Lilly’s daughter.

At the entrance you’ll find the entrance to a maze filled crawl spaces, toys from decades past, and whimsical things to see and do. Even a small room with mirrors on every side. This is a really fun exhibit with lots of tunnels and elements to explore.


Location: Level 4   Entrance: Level 4   Theme: STEM

Science works has always been a favourite exhibit. This exhibit has always been a high-activity, hands on exhibit filled with tons of fun. When I visited after the reopening, I was a little disappointed to see some of the more active elements had been removed during the exhibit revamp , but I’m happy to see that some of those elements are still there now. Looks like a revisit is definitely due for me!
This exhibit features sections with lessons on environmental sciences like weather and farming. There are also exhibits about cave systems, and chemistry behind water systems. They have always done a great job of making all of these topics extremely interesting and fun. They also tend to focus locally so everyone is learning about the plants, animals, and water systems that affect their community and how science works to make them work for all of us.

If you visited in the past, this exhibit will looked markedly different despite maintaining its name. The mining activities and crane have been replaced, the boat building and the underground tunnels have been removed.

Other Things to Look for

While there are so many cool exhibits in the museum, be sure not to miss any of the mini exhibits spread out through the halls.
You can find lots of fun exhibits like a woolly mammoth, Indy car you can get inside, and a collection of doll houses. These don’t take up much time, but are really fun to discover as you make your way around the levels. You can find the exhibit “Stories from Our Community” along the halls, and they’ve even featured items from a Star Wars collection throughout the halls in the past.

Outside the Museum

Just outside the Sunburst Atrium, is a small garden with miniature replicas of famous structures. Its a commonly overlooked area so it’s usually not crowded at all. It’s a nice area to get away and just have a calm walk. Keep a lookout for a chestnut tree. The museum has a sapling from the actual tree that was outside of Anne Frank’s window that she wrote about in her diary. TCM is the first place in America to be given a sapling from that tree.

Sports Legends Experience

 Location: Outdoors   Entrance: Level 1   Theme: Sports

Ok full disclosure, I know I called myself a pro and I’ve always considered myself one given my extensive experience with the museum, but they went and installed an awesome new outdoor section that I haven’t been able to visit yet. This area was announced and under construction while I was interning at the museum and to my chagrin I have not been able to visit yet. It’s definitely on my list to do and I will update after I do. For now, here’s a great peak at what this area has to offer.

I finally got to go back and check this out. It’s pretty cool and could definitely take up a good chunk of the day. We climbed to the top of the tree and got a good look. It really is a cool facility. It could be one of the coolest playgrounds your family hits this summer, but its all sports. My only concern would be playing here to your hearts content and running out of time in the museum!

This area features elements from sports and activities to encourage kids to get outside and be active! It’s also a great place to learn and improve some sports skills in a safe place with coaches who know the game. Sports Legends Experience is included with the price of admission to the museum. All outdoor areas are weather dependent. Always check the forecast and the museums website for closures. It is also seasonal. Trust me, you don’t want to go out there during those Midwest winters anyway. There is an indoor portion of the exhibit that features hockey and basketball that is open year round.


Indiana is home to many sports legends throughout history. The “Avenue of Champions” features 16 statues and histories of people with ties to Indy. It’s a fun way to see prominent members of the sports community and perhaps inspire a budding young athlete. We learned about some athletes and sports teams we had never even heard of before.


Learn about one of America’s oldest games, hang out in a dugout like the big leagues, practice your homerun, and perfect your curve ball with a pitching tudor. You can also learn about the Indianapolis Clowns baseball team, and pretend your batting in an Indianapolis Indians game with the photo-op section! These guys looked like they were having a blast with a mini-game going.


In the land of Hoosiers, basketball is a must! Play as a member of the Pacers or Fever and learn some fundamental moves to take yourself up to the big leagues. Perfect your shots, passes, and beat the clock – or outpace your family members – at the shot clock. There were several hoops in all different heights so anyone can play at their level.


This features a 2/5 mile track with stations to work out some various muscles. Learn about runner Wilma Rudoph. You can go through the 5 stations of the section starting with a warm up, and wrapping it up with a cool down. Plus, learn exercise tips from representatives from Riley Children’s Health to help you get the most from your exercises. My sister and I had fun messing around on their outdoor fitness equipment, and getting a better look at the mini-golf course.


Pulling inspiration from the Indianapolis Colts experience first hand what it’s like to defend your end zone by learning how to grip a football properly and avoid opponents. Learn about local legend Reggie Wayne, and try out your chops as a kicker with either of the 2 goal posts. As always, they have a size for the little kickers and the big so everyone can try. Finally, pass the ball to family members as they dodge around cutouts of opponents. There was even a station where you could pass the ball to a family member and try to dive over a wall of defenders. I saw a dad and his kids try it, and it looked like so much fun.


Featuring a 9-hole course with difficulties for beginners to pros. Learn about Pete and Alice Dye while perfecting your putting skills. There are even 2 holes designed by Pete & Alice with replicas of some of those most notable designs from all over the world. This area has scheduled programming you can participate in. Don’t worry if you or your loved ones are new to golf. There is an introductory course to bring you up to speed so you can get the most out of all the skills you’ll learn. There’s even a toddler course for the budding golf pro! They were putting with tennis balls when we visited. I imagine that’s for the best as the course is close to many of the others. I do wish we would have had enough time to check this out because the course was really pretty.


Play on the street rink and shoot or guard during some street ball. You can learn how to pass and shoot properly with your family. Perhaps this will even inspire some new games for your backyard.


Indy is of course the home to some major races. Experience your own Indy 500 with the pedal cars at the racing section. There’s a pagoda to learn the history of the famous local race, and a safety video so everyone has a great time with no injuries. After you win your race, you can get a photo in the Winner’s Circle. These seems to be the most weather dependent, and all parts of it weren’t being run when we visited at the end of the day. I would definitely check the daily schedule if you have your heart set on this one.


Take the offensive or defensive position during some shooting practice. There are large and small goals to practice different fundamentals of shooting a soccer goal, and work on your dribbling and passing skills as you go down the field.


Following the guidelines for USTA’s 10 and under tennis, kids can get their first introduction to the racket game. You can pass the balls back and forth, stretch your forehands and backhand hits, and learn about Barbara Wynne and her passion to teach tennis.


This 25 foot climbing tree lets you climb in and out of the sports featured in the exhibit, explore with talk-tubes, slide down the slide, and get a bird’s eye view of the “Sports Legends Experience”. This looks like a blast to explore, and I’m sure it’ll be one of the highlights of the trip. See if you can spot the broom branch and find out what it means by exploring inside the tree.

The tree does have a lift for accessibility options. Be sure to ask a staff member for more information.

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has always been one of my favourite places to visit in the city. Don’t worry about rushing to get to everything. There’s always something new to discover every time you visit. Have fun, relax, take it at your own pace. You can follow my suggested order or jump around however you like. Either way, I do recommend grabbing a list of daily live events and performances from the info booth at the start of the day. It is easy to miss these and they really do add a lot to the experience. Whatever you decide to do, let loose and have fun. Remember, these are more like guidelines anyway.


Funny Story: Driving to Florida

The summer after I graduated from college and waiting for job applications to bear some fruit, I decided to drive to Florida and do some auditions at Disney World. My great-aunt and uncle were so generous to let me stay with them for a month so I wouldn’t have to pay for lodging, and at short notice at that. I was and am so grateful for their generosity. On the way there, however, I may have driven myself right into a crazy situation.

From where I lived in the Midwest, Orlando is about a 16 hr. drive with good traffic. Of course, that doesn’t factor in rest stops, food, and running out of gas. Yup, that’s right. I was that girl. So a little background. At the time I was driving my 2003 Mercury Mountaineer. While I loved that car, he was a bit unreliable in the gas tank department aka I didn’t really trust my gas gauge, and therefore I didn’t keep a good eye on it. Instead I had a decent idea of my typical mileage on a single tank and when I’d get close to that I’d compare with the gauge to get an idea of where I was. When I drove my dad’s car before I bought mine, it would tell you how many miles you had left on a tank which got me in the habit of running the tank as low as possible to get maximum output from each fillup.

So combine that with being on the road for 14+ hours, and the monotony of highway driving, and we set the scene. It’s about 9ish pm and I’m on the phone (handsfree) with my cousin talking to keep myself awake and focused. I’m in no-wheres-vill Georgia a little from the border of FL. Suddenly, I look down at my gauge and see the needle on E, it may have even been a little below.

“Oh NO! I need gas. I NEED GAS NOW!”

Luckily the highway at that moment was fairly free of other cars so I could change across to the right-most lane as fast as possible.

My cousin, of course, starts asking me the details of what’s happening. There’s 2 gas stations at the next exit whose sign I pass at that moment so it’s about 1 mile away.

She says to me, “Has your gas light come on?”

“No! There was no warning!”

“So you should have enough in the tank to take you that far if the light hasn’t come on yet.”

“Ok right, that makes sense. It’s a mile away so hopefully I can make it.”

Then the light comes on, and the engine shuts off. Thanks for nothing, buddy.

I coast as far as I can, which isn’t as far as I’d like, and the car stops moving.

I’m now about .7 mile from the exit, my car is down, I’m alone, it is getting dark, and there is nothing around me except swampland and highway. So my only option is to walk to the gas station, buy a gas can, and carry it back.

My cousin who is still on the phone tells me that she doesn’t want me to walk alone, and I’m like what other choice do I have??? She suggests calling the police on the non-emergency line and seeing if an officer could follow me to make sure nothing happens. We know they won’t drive me or get the gas for me.

I call them and describe where I am, the dispatcher says it’s actually highway patrol’s area and transfers me. I then talk to a grumpy officer who clearly doesn’t want to help me. He says that he’ll see if he has anyone to send my way, but I should check with my insurance, credit cards, etc. to see if I have any roadside assistance. I already did check all these, but now I have to bite the bullet and call my parents to make sure we don’t have anything, and tell them what happened. As I suspected, nothing I had had any reasonable roadside assistance that could help me at the moment. It’s been a long time so I call the non-emergency back, and get transferred again. When I ask the officer if he was still coming, he says no I was never sending anyone. No one is available.

By this time about an hour has passed. The evening light has turned to darkness, and the empty highway has become backed up to a crawl because of a crash just ahead of where I am, and another just behind. I have no choice, but to walk. So an hour wasted and I’m no closer to getting back on the road, and my aunt and uncle are expecting me, it’s already late, and I have at least 2 more hours to go. Plus, I’ve had to go to the bathroom since the car stopped. Great!

I grab this awesome bright flashlight I had with me, my leatherman (everyone should have a pocket knife), my wallet, and my passport (I had this with me incase I succeeded in getting a job). I wanted to have valuable and essential items on my person in case someone breaks into my stranded car. Now I did not turn the flashlight on to walk the shoulder of the road. It was a clear night, and the lights from the traffice was adequate. Mostly, I didn’t want to draw more attention to myself being a single, young, stranded, girl. I took it mostly incase someone did mess with me, then I could flip it on and blind them. Luckily none of these things happened.

I can’t remember if it was on the way there or on the way back, I think on the way there, I called my parents to calm them that I was ok, and as another little insurance against foul play. So about 3,700 ft. later and I get to the off ramp.

As I make my down the ramp, a fire engine is pulling off the same ramp beside me and passes me. When I get to the street I see the closest gas station, which looks super run down and sketchy, is closed. Almost everything on the exit (which is hardly anything) is dark and closed. Definitely not an ideal place to get stuck. So now my brain starts flooding, do gas stations close? what happens if the other one is closed too! I’m going to be stuck here.

Luckily I see the BP is open. Now I think this is a good thing because I usually think of BP’s adjacent stores to be nicer of the gas station options. Not this one. It’s the sketchiest and smallest BP I’ve ever seen. As I walk up, there’s a whole bunch of bikers. Like the classic leather vest – long white beard – kinda scary looking – bikers. This does little to comfort me. I walk into the store and see the bathroom is behind the counter in the middle of the store. It looks awful and there’s a rope tied across it blocking the entrance with a paper that says “CLOSED”. Remember, I’ve really needed a restroom going on 2 hrs.

I wait for the cashier to finish helping the biker, and before he can even fully turn away, she looks at me and goes, “No.”

Of course, this threw me off and confused me. So I say, “What?”

“You looked like you were going to ask for the bathroom. The answer is no.”

“Well, I do need it, but clearly it’s closed. Actually, I need to know if you have gas cans.”

“No. We fill them (obviously, I think, you’re a gas station.), but we don’t sell them.”

I hadn’t considered a gas station wouldn’t sell gas cans!

That seems so basic, gas station = where you buy gas cans.

Like I said before there is NOTHING around so there’s no where else I can go get a can. I don’t know what to do. I just walk back outside. Outside, I see the fire truck that passed me earlier at one of the stations. Firefighters, you’re supposed to be able to trust firefighters and ask them for help, right? Right? I mean, as a woman, you’re not inclined to open yourself up to any strange man, but of all the men I’m supposed to be able to trust a firefighter to be good and help me. I decide I don’t have a choice, well it’s the best option of the choices.

I walk up to one of the firefighters. He’s a young guy, probably around my age, and I explain my situation. I ask him if he has a gas can I could borrow. I’ll be coming right back to this gas station to fill my car’s tank, so I’ll be able to return it. He tells me that the only thing they have is gas cans filled with mixed fuel, which will do nothing except blow out my engine. That won’t help me. Then he suggests buying a 2 liter, emptying it, and filling it with gas to take to my car. Now, I’m no mechanic, but I know enough for there to be an iching at the back of brain that that’s a bad idea. 1. Because if any of the leftover pop gets into my engine, it could also ruin it. and 2. I’m like 95% positive you can only carry gas in containers made for that purpose. Now I can’t speak to the details of either of these concerns so I can’t do much in terms of negating besides hesitation, and brainstorming other options. Eventually, his partner comes up and asks what’s going on. We explain, and firefighter #1 explains his idea, and #2 confirms both of my worries. The gas would melt through the 2 liter before I get to my car, and anything left over that mixes with the gas into my engine would be very bad.

There is a decent flow of people coming into the gas station so we keep asking them if they have a gas can I could borrow. No one carries one.

Finally, the firefighter says, “You probably won’t like this option, but there’s a bunch of truckers next door, and at least one of them should have a can you could borrow.”

“That sounds perfect! Why wouldn’t I like that idea?”

“Well, it’s a gentleman’s club. I thought you might not feel comfortable going over there.”

“Oh, well, it doesn’t seem I have a choice.” At that moment another car pulls up so I check one last time to see if he has a can I could borrow, with no luck. So again I come to do I trust this firefighter. So far he seems nice and helpful, and him versus a club full of truckers, I’m thinking I’m supposed to trust firefighters. So I ask him if he’ll go with me, and he agrees.

So we walk over to the club. I go inside the front door which leads to a enclosed booth with a big, heavy, wooden door to the right. Basically, so you can’t see anything without paying. I talk to the clerk behind the counter, who is really nice, and ask him if he can check and see if anyone has a can I could borrow, I’ll bring it right back.

Finally! I catch a break. Their cook had a gas can in his car, and it’s already mostly full. Thank goodness, I can finally start moving forward again. As the firefighter and I are walking back to the gas station, he gets a call on the radio that there’s a crash at such and such mile marker. I’m pretty sure that’s the mile marker my car is at! NO! Please don’t let that be my car. I can recover from empty gas tank, but if someone has hit my car going at highway speeds, I’m sunk. I’ll be stuck in the middle of no where with nothing to do and no where to go. I try to tell the firefighter and ask if I could maybe get a ride, but he holds a hand up so he can hear the radio again.

Then he turns to me and tells me to get in. I do with the full gas can. They then say that it was the same accident they had been called to before arriving at the gas station so the call was cancelled. Since they weren’t going onto the highway, they couldn’t take me to my car. They dropped me off at the exit I came down before, which was only a couple feet away, but nice thought at least. I’m very thankful for their assistance, especially firefighter #1.

Now I have to make the trek back to my car. The crazy traffic has died down at least so it’s just me and the night. Only thing I really have to worry about is a stray alligator lol. Luckily no trouble on the way back. I get to the car, which is fine, and I open my tank to fill it with gas. This particular gas can seemed to have a crack where the spout neck connects to the screw-cap. So as I begin to try to pour the gas into my tank, it’s spilling out of that crack all over my arms, the side of the car, and the ground. Moving it around I get the chugging sound so I’m pretty sure, for the moment, it was at least getting some gas into the tank. That eventually stops so I stop trying thinking that I’ll just try to get there on what I’ve managed to get into the tank, and hopefully that will get me to the gas station. If not, I’ll just try again. As I’m putting the can in my trunk, red and blue lights pull up.

At this point, I’m completely exasperated and the officer comes out to ask if I was the break down who called for help earlier. I didn’t think he was coming, and honestly he barely even made it in time to find me at all. Due to my exhaustion, I start rambling. I don’t remember everything I said, but it ended with “this gas can is broken, and the gas got everywhere – on the ground, my arms oh and it’s starting to burn – but I’m not sure that I got enough in the tank to make it there so will you follow me to the gas station to make sure I make it there?”

He agrees and then puts both his hands out, looks me directly in the eye – very serious now-, and says, “Do you need rescue?”


“Do you need rescue? For the gas, do you need rescue?”

“Oh no. I have baby wipes in the car I should be fine. I just need you to follow me.”

So I finally get to the same gas station with the cop in tow, and fill my tank. I should have refilled the gas can before returning it, but my brain was flustered and otherwise occupied with the cop waiting on me. I still feel bad I didn’t think to do that. When I’m all filled up, I explain where I got the gas can from, and that a fireman accompanied me the first time. I ask him if he would go over with me to return it. He says yes, I’ll follow you. That confused me until I realized I had a functioning car again. Lol.

I drive over, and he follows me. I arrive just intime to see the cook getting ready to leave so I can return his can and thank him in person. The cop drove away basically right after I parked so a lot of good he did.

Now I’m stuck with a delemma. If you remember, I still.haven’t.used.the.restroom! I could get back on the highway, and find an exit with a restroom, but that’s going to take all the more time. My aunt and uncle are still waiting for me 2 hours away and it’s about 11 pm now. On the other hand, I could see if this club will let me use their restroom so I can save time.

I walk inside to thank the clerk for his help, and I ask him if I could use the restroom. He agrees, then he realizes he has to check my ID to let me past the big, heavy, wooden door. My ID is in the car so I promise I’m 22, but that’s not good enough. I then realize I still have my passport on me so I get that out. I definitely threw him for a loop with that because he had clearly never had anyone use that form of ID because he didn’t know where to look. With that settled, he let me in, and pointed me towards the restroom.

This is where I find out/confirm myself that strip clubs in real life are a lot different than you see in movies. I make my way through and I see restrooms. The sign for the men’s restroom pointed down a long all and indicated there were showers there too. Yuck.

The women’s restroom was flush with the wall, no hallway. I open the door and right infront of me is a wall and to my left is an opening with a bunch of lockers. Suddenly, I think I’m now where I should be so I check the sign again, and confirm it says Women’s Restroom.

I go inside to discover that they use this small restroom as a changing room for the girls as well. Makes sense since they probably don’t have many women as patrons. There are 2 girls inside. One is changing into sweats to go home, and the other must have been on break because she’s just hanging out in her work clothes, or lack thereof.

I say excuse me and I just need to use the restroom. They’re like come on in honey it’s yours to use. The 2 toilets were through another doorway separate from the mirror and sink where they were changing. To my discomfort, I discover the toilet stalls had their doors removed! I ask if I should close the door, and again they tell me it’s my bathroom do whatever I want. I, of course, say that it’s their bathroom and I’ll close it, but obviously it’s theirs so if they need to come in…. I chose the stall farthest away from the door so no one would have any need to pass me if they did come in. Good thing too because not 2 seconds later one of them apologizes and tells me she needs to use the restroom as well.

Finally, my needs are taken care of and I can get back on the road. As I wash my hands, the girls kind of questioned me about what I was doing, and I told them how I was heading towards Orlando and my car broke down, and this was the only place I could find help and a bathroom. They were really nice girls.

I arrived at my great aunt and uncles house after 1 am with a crazy story now. I bought a gas can before I drove home. Actually, I think this story is the biggest reason I went kind of overboard with what I keep in my car as I detail in this post. Better safe than sorry, right? Check your gas levels regularly on a long road trip, more like a rule rather than a guideline in this case.