Oh my goodness! Believe it or not, we are on the road again. We lost half our sanity prepping for this trip but, we’re here. You might notice that I chose not to write a post the first day we set out on the road. Spirits and moods weren’t especially high for the first couple of days and writings about hard times isn’t very fun to read about. Let’s just say we pushed ourselves a little too hard with projects and our family’s overall well being took a hit. 

Our oldest feeds off our emotions, mine in particular, and by the end of the summer I only had enough energy and brain power to get my never ending To Do list checked off and to keep our family alive and fed. I didn’t feel like a good Mom or a good wife and our oldest reflected these emotions back at us in many challenging ways. And as you might expect, homeschooling was not going well. I was burnt out and our oldest was angry. These emotions set the tone for the couple of weeks leading up to our trip and our first couple of days on the road. 

Working on projects to get ready for our trip

Our first night out of our home was, as is tradition, spent at our friend’s house in SE Portland. It was SO lovely to be able to spend time with their family before departing on our adventures. Plus, we all needed some friend time! We just love them so much! It was a teary goodbye as always. 

Our first stop was in Pendleton, OR. Last year we sadly realized too late that Pendleton Wool gave factory tours. This year, we planned accordingly so we could see how their lovely blankets are made on such a large scale. We stayed at a KOA just a couple miles from the factory for convenience. 

Peeking behind the scenes of Pendleton Wool was SO exciting!!

Really excited for the Pendleton Wool Mill tour

I’ve been going to one of their stores in Milwaukee where I buy their fabric scraps. I’ve outfitted our family with wool blankets, bags, purses and many more items by using these bulk scraps.  It’s like a gold mine!!  However, it did make me curious to some regularities and symbols that kept repeating themselves in the scraps I have bought. I was ready to get my questions answered and see for myself what a 2 story loom looks like!  It was phenomenal!!

2 story loom (upstairs)

We found that they blew steam into the carting and spinning room to decrease wool particles in the air and static.  Also, it takes the workers a whopping 4 hours to rethread the 2 story loom when it runs out as they rethread it by hand!! Eek!!

2 story loom (downstairs)

One of the most amazing things we learned on the tour was that many of the machines they use today, such as the carting machine, is the original from 1909.  Pretty cool that people back then were able to build this so well.  What a process the whole thing is!!

One of the gentleman working there even gave the girls each a handful of thread before it had gone through the final spinning process.  They both are still cherishing their “fur balls” as my youngest calls hers.

Showing off their “fur balls”

Another gem we found to check out while in Pendleton was their aquatic center.  We totally lucked out and caught them on their last day open of the season!  It was basically a community center water park (with great community center prices)!  There were 3 pools outside with a handful of slides for folks to choose from, 2 for little ones, lots of sprayers, dumping buckets and other neat features like a walk-in shallow end.  It was a lot of fun and perfect for a hot day!!

The KOA we stayed at was nice enough.  Though our 8’x8’ patch of grass was situated between 2 of our neighbors’ poop tubes, the girls made the best of it.

Our grass yard at the Pendleton KOA

It had a little playground for the girls to enjoy while we were there and nice staff and guests.  A sweet couple even surprised us by leaving us some painted rocks.  Such a kind gesture that really lifted all of our spirits.  We will be keeping one and passing the rest on to others at Yellowstone when we get there.  

Some colored rocks left by our neighbor along with a note that read “Wicky Wacky Woo!”

Was it worth it I have asked myself? Was it worth it to push our family so hard that it was falling apart to gain 6 months of “freedom” on the road? My answer is, no. Family happiness and sanity is #1.  I think I would have rather spent an extra month in Portland in order to diminish the immediate demand for so many tedious tasks on our never ending lists for the trade off of 5 months on the road. We’ll have a great time on our adventures but next year, if we decide to do this again, we cannot take on so much. 

That being said, we are getting back into the swing of life on the road.  Things are at a much more leisurely pace and we are starting to work as a family team again.