4th of July Family Caravan

The Blumreich family, our first community caravaner’s, joined us over the 4th of July weekend.

blumreichbus.jpgWe picked up Eric, Jodie, Emma and Clara on a Thursday in front of their house and began our trek south towards the beautiful town of Galena, IL. Our first stop Beloit, WI for the Blumreich annual family gathering. We enjoyed a potluck style meal, played yard games, sang songs and enjoyed fireworks.

The next morning we packed up and drove about three hours before pulling into the Palace Campground, which sits just outside of Galena. We discovered this little gem last summer and knew the Blumreich’s would appreciate the vintage aspect of the facility, including an old school pool with diving board and mini-golf course. Everything about the campground reminds us of camping back in the 1970’s and in a world that is constantly upgrading there is something nostalgic about that. It would be the ideal setting for most of the Chevy Chase ‘Vacation’ movies.

PalaceCampground.jpgWhen we arrived at the campground and set up three tents, one for Jodie, Eric and Clara, one for Graciana and Emma and one for John and Les (Eric’s parents). Then we all settled in for a fantastic weekend.

We enjoyed swimming, mini-golf, a trip to the city center to see all of the historical artifacts and shops. We shared meals, bon fire’s and song. We observed each other families, with the most encouraging conversations revolving around the joys and woes of parenting teen’s and pre-teens.

It’s no easy task to be a parent to any age group and it’s affirming to share our journey with other parents in order that we might know that our struggles are perfectly normal, that we aren’t the only ones going through it, and that we are not alone. Likewise, it was good for our children, specially our 16 year old’s, who sometimes believes that the grass is greener on the other side. They were both able to work through drama, share dreams and desires, and hopefully gain perspective by being in such close quarters.

thehollandsgalena.jpgOur ultimate purpose for going to Galena was to perform for the Galena Performing Arts Festival, which rounded out the weekend nicely. The concert was held in the historic Grace Episcopal church and was a fantastic setting. Seating about 80, we packed the house to over 150.

We were a little leery about how our children would transition from enjoying the lazy weekend with friends to performing, but they did a fantastic job. Funny enough, that day, I had spent quite a bit of time myself in the pool and personally couldn’t hear much during our performance with all of the water in my ears. However, everyone else picked up the slack and this one will go down as one of our favorite settings and behind the scenes moments. Including, Eric’s helpful hand in set up/tear down, Emma’s thoughtful prayer for us before our show, a tender moment when Craig introduced Graciana as our “beautiful” daughter, Banjo’s fun antics on stage, and the Malik family driving in from Mt. Vernon, IA to see us and say hello.

On our drive home, I asked Eric for constructive feedback on what it was like to travel with our family. He responded, “your future guests will have to be pretty laid back.” Ha! I know we beat to a different drum and we are thankful that the Blumreich family took the plunge to be our first caravan guests. We are thankful for their willingness to swim upstream with us merrymaking nomads. We love you Eric, Jodie, Emma and Clara.

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Sentrock

SentrockJoseph “Sentrock” Perez is from “Bird City” a.k.a Phoenix, AZ. His family of origin came from Central America before Arizona was ever a state. Sentrock grew up on the west side of Phoenix and much of that culture has played into his current artistic perspective. He began by working solely with graffiti, but is evolving into a world-class muralist and gallery artist. He now lives in Chicago, IL and is studying art and design at Columbia College.     

This past weekend we had the opportunity to meet and experience his work. He laid down a fantastic mural behind the Geer home in the North Lawndale neighborhood, South Chicago. The theme was “From struggle comes strength” which was an inspiring message to a neighborhood that has seen much struggle. His offering was personal, vibrant, and we were taken with his humble spirit.

Typically we humans tend to clump into scenes, cliques and hang with people who have similar backgrounds or preferences in life. That isn’t a bad thing but it does limit the creative possibilities. To me there is something exciting about the union of differing cultural, creative and philosophical ideals! So, when we heard about Sentrock we were eager to meet him, hear his story and share ours. My hope was that there would be a connection and an opportunity for our creativeness to collide. My hope was that just as we were inspired by Sentrock, that he would be inspired by our family and desire to share his talents by painting a mural on our bus.

Sentrock and The Hollands! We put it out there. Sentrock responded graciously and with enthusiasm that he would be keen to paint a mural on our bus. He came by to visit our space, took home our CD and is using all of it to source inspiration for the design.

We will continue a relationship with our new friend and are excited to see what inspiration comes from the urban, folky connection.

Stay tuned for what may come as we wait with anticipation for the creativity to flow.

Galena, IL

Although we prefer to park and stay with host families, on occasion we pull into an RV park and spend a few days on our own. These are photos from our two night, mini-vacation in Galena, IL.

If you’re ever passing through this part of the country we highly recommend a stop in Galena.

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