We might have hit upon a formula that makes this work. The formula? Don’t kill ourselves trying to live a normal life. This isn’t normal. I’d say it’s better than normal, but it’s not normal.

It’s like we all live in the same room all day and night. Sure we’re separated by curtains, and pocket doors, but if a guy (I won’t mention the 14 year olds name) passes gas in the front of the bus, the people (I won’t mention the married couples name) in the back of the bus know about it- and so does everyone in between! So we’re working on some solutions to everyone having space to do what they need for school and life. With this exceptional weather, school has been happening outside more often. Something like little kids at the picnic table, then recess at the park then back to math then recess, and so on. The big kids take over a part of the bus that suits their lesson- usually math on their own, science together in the back, etc.

High crime has finally struck, it had to right? About 24 gallons of fuel disappeared from the van the other day-  happened either at our current parking locale (a city park) or the rest stop we were at North of San Diego. No matter, a locking fuel cap goes on the van this week. Also had 2 credit cards used fraudulently- one in Paris for $7,400, and the other in New York for $1,800. Of course we weren’t in either place, but our alert credit card companies were on the ball and have been helpful with the reaction to this- but what a hassle! Like life, we’ve learned the hard way that some people are bad… and now have some new techniques to further safeguard our information. Two small bumps on the traveling road…

After the Mormon Battlefield tour, gold panning for everyone! We all walked away with some...

This week, we’ve soaked up more than the San Diego sun: Old Town San Diego is fascinating and we found a jewel that you should check out if you’re in the area. The Mormon Battalion Historic Site, just up the hill from the State park Old Town center, sends you on an audio visual trip that rivals Disney’s best. You know it’s gonna be something different when you start off in the room with 6 portraits of old looking battle weary characters… They are portraits, right? Don’t miss it.

At the zoo, Ethan didn't pass up this chance to touch a ... rattlesnake.

The next day Kelly took in the animals with 5 kids at the San Diego Zoo, while Trevor, Lauren and I checked out the USS Midway aircraft carrier and Maritime Museum along the pier in downtown San Diego. We stepped inside remarkable history (while the other half of the family had the camera) and felt what it was like to be stuffed inside either of 2 submarines, the oldest sail ship still in use or live aboard the immense Midway… All members of this family put on about 20 miles of walking in one day alone- so we took the next day off and visited the La Jolla beach and seals.

Kelly still remembers making candles in Amish country with her Grandma, so we tried our hand at candle making in Old Town San Diego.

Thursday was a great day to be at Sea World. We’re becoming accustomed to small crowds thanks to our visiting schedule (while most others are at work and school).

Seeing these killer whales up close is like being next to a couple of Volkswagons and a station wagon. Wow they're big.

In this tank, everyone could touch the bat rays, and for $6 purchase 4 pieces of squid to feed them. Trevor kept ripping small pieces of his sample off and feeding them a morsel at a time- he liked them sucking his hand inside their mouths trying to get the food, brave boy. You don't get to feed many rays where we come from.

BIG sharks, RIGHT above us! Small crowds let us back up on the moving sidewalk several times to take a better look at all of the sharks.

This weekend we’ll trade off as we school and catch up inside the bus while the rest of San Diego gets out to exercise and play in front of us along the shores of the bay.

Doug, demonstrating his solar oven- which I can imagine becoming a critical piece of the Scout camping experience- but I couldn't find room to tuck it along for this trip.

We continue to meet great folks along this road- a few days ago we met Doug, who has enjoyed the RV life for an extended period of time. He offered valuable reassuring information about the area we’ve now been in for a week. Where to get water, dump the tanks and how to park- as well as reporting on relationships with other full timers and the police that keep a close eye on this area. It’s strange that many people probably see he and his wife living in an RV, in the park, and discount their existence since the visitors have a beautiful home and 2.3 children and a fancy car… but don’t realize that Doug is running a successful business, connecting with and assisting the homeless around him and making a substantial contribution to the community. When I saw Doug’s RV, I thought they were passing through with their clean, modern RV, and was surprised to find out during our discussion that they were full timers. I am continually learning not to judge these books by their covers until I know the whole story - with each person we meet.

That sweet little Weber Q grill cooks great for a family of 9. We can have the table and chairs up and ready for dinner within 5 minutes.

We set up a movie in the park again last night on the lush grass with picture perfect sunset in the background and warm breezes wafting by for the entire show. Maybe we’ll pick out a scary one to watch after the fall party we’ve planned on at a local church this weekend.

The Chinese plastic surgeon and neurosurgeon chatting about the kids and the trip during the pumpkin carving bonanza.

Today, we met some people. First was a pair of Chinese men that casually were taking photos of our family carving pumpkins at the picnic table in the park. Of course we had to say something, so we started with “hi”. Ends up they were visiting SD from LA, where they were enrolled at UCLA in some continuing education for 6 months as physicians. One was a plastic surgeon (that worked in Xian, China around the time that Anya had her Chinese palate surgery there in 2000), and the other was a pediatric neurosurgeon. Weird, but they just looked like regular guys! It was a pleasure to chat with them about our trip, their trip, our kids and Kelly’s involvement with Alliance for Smiles and traveling to China for cleft surgeries a couple of times each year. Met another man that was here in his RV and offered some suggestions for stops as we travel East: Quartzite, North Padre Island- and he wasn’t sure if we’d like Slab City, but I think we’re gonna try it. Finally, a man in a 232ish’ class C RV pulled in next to us last night- turns out he’s here with his wife for 10 months, traveling the country- and the best part? He was from New Zealand- where Kelly went on her Rotary Exchange in high school. New Zealanders have neat accents, and funny sayings that had us scratching our heads more than once. It's nice to run into the good people on the road.

We have invested in a soccer ball. First day: 3 hard played games and tired kids!