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Missing? No… One look at my Instagram account and rest assured you will see that the Barry’s are definitely not missing. In fact we are still adventuring. I have just learned that I am not a blogger. Big surprise here, right? I am a documenter. Enter Instagram. I can take a photo and post it in less than 60 seconds. It can sometimes be downright torture for me to sit down and blog. Perhaps it’s because I want to post all the photos…and well, that takes a lot of time. Either way…I still love the idea of a blog. I’ve just come to terms with the fact that I’m not that great at it! However, I recently watched the movie Julie & Julia again and am somewhat inspired to try yet again. The husband has been very encouraging as well. The idea of a lasting record as well as the ability to inspire others to step out with their families and try something different…really touches his heart.

I cannot possibly go back and cover all that was done in five months. However it was awesome, wild and sweet. In October we moved through Colorado, down into New Mexico and into Arizona. I would be remiss if I did not say that Santa Fe, New Mexico was hands down one of my favorites. I think this was because I expected so little. The food, the Plaza and the beautiful mountains still call my name and we will return. Bandelier National Monument was a highlight for the kids and I.

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Bandelier National Monument
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Bandelier National Monument

I also really liked northern Arizona. Both of these are shockers as I never thought this girl from Cali would ever say such things. Looking back, I am certain this is because of the routes we took. The drive makes all the difference in my opinion…as well as the first impression. Sadly, my first impression of Colorado was in Denver…and honestly it left a bad taste in my mouth. Sorry Denver. However, once we left Colorado Springs and drove to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, we went south into New Mexico and camped on the bluffs of the Rio Grande. This was stunning. It was wild and uninhibited…and challenging as we hiked about 900 feet down to the river and up again!

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Great Sand Dunes National Park

From here we drove through Taos and into Santa Fe. This was a fabulous drive and I recommend it to all! Arizona was the same situation. A stunning starter to the state was visiting the Petrified Forest National Park and then going south on the 87 through the Coconino National Forest. This coupled with Cave Creek State Park campground and hiking in Sedona wove into a wonderful experience. November came and we settled into Camp Verde, Arizona for the month. This was our first time at staying put for a full month. It went great, proved to be very affordable and we had fun camping next to my sister-in-law and her family for a full month. We even hosted Thanksgiving dinner for the Barry side of the family, complete with 3 fried turkeys. The turkey was fabulous and so was my husband for handling the birds this year!

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Thanksgiving dinner with the Barry’s
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Hike to Bell Rock, Sedona, Arizona
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Grand Canyon, Arizona
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Lexi and Chris ‘falling’ into the Grand Canyon

December was bittersweet. We returned back to Ventura to celebrate Lexi’s 13th birthday and we also said goodbye to my grandma. Lexi’s party was at the beach and it truly captured her personality. A beautiful day, filled with all the people she loves and having fun on the sand. This is my girl. She is wise, adventurous, fun, sweet and simple. I’m learning that she really is a no-fuss girl. She can see things as they are, yet she finds the best in it. It was such a joy to see her celebrate her special day…just the way she had dreamed she would.

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Fifteen days later, my grandmother went to be with the Lord. Her fight with cancer was over and she was ready to have peace. I was blessed to be by her side at the end. Christmas was simple and emotional and I’m thankful for that. My grandma and I had a relationship that can not be described by words and to say that we were close, does not even scratch the surface.

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Thankfully we were able to end the year with our annual New Years vacation with our best friends. Sweet time with our dear friends is always the perfect way to close a year. And there you have it. 2015 is a wrap.

Two full months into 2016 and the excitement is mounting. We have roamed Cali for three months and have handled family business, visited with as many family and friends as possible, mourned, purged, met other full0time families and celebrated two birthdays. We are ready to get out of Cali! I am in planning mode and can not wait to discover more. It is so wild to see the transformation, in me, on this journey…I am literally craving exploration and adventure with my family. For those that know me, It’s downright shocking isn’t it? The girl who wanted the house with the picket fence…who likes to work in her garden and craft and decorate…and throw parties…she now doesn’t want to sit still and has this crazy passion to see God work in her family…in the most out0-of-the box ways. I can see how the Lord used this first year of adventure to shape and mold us in some extreme ways. It is my prayer that this next year, we will be able to serve God more as a family on the road, now that we have gotten our feet wet a bit.

I must mention the highlights of 2016 in Cali. First, we started the year in San Diego. We attended our first rally with Full-time Families. This was a real treat to meet over 30 other families that are doing the same thing we are. It truly was an incredible time and I am eagerly awaiting the next rally. It was also sweet for my kids to see how other families are doing the same sort of thing. Not only was it encouraging for them, but they also realized how blessed they are…not everyone who full-times has all the amenities that we do. It was nice for them to see that although we have simplified so much…we can also simplify further.

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Field Trip with Rally Families

From San Diego, we shot straight up to the bay area. We were beyond blessed to discover the Olema Campground and Point Reyes National Seashore, just one hour north of San Francisco. It must be stated…that this is now my favorite place in California. Perhaps it was the rain…the warm weather and rain combination….the green lush landscape of the seashore….the small-town vibe of this northern coastal area….all the animals….the trees….the beautiful red fox…the birds…take your pick. I just loved it. The campground was awesome….although I would probably never stay there in the summer, as I read reviews about the crowd. It is wonderful in the winter…especially when it’s raining and empty. The campground is rustic and old…and I love the big trees.

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Point Reyes National Seashore

From here we worked our way down the coast and visited family in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. I just love the coast from Ventura and north…there is really no bad place to stop. And this brings us to Angie’s 11th birthday. Like her big sis, she also dreamed of a birthday back in Ventura. We were blessed that we were able to accommodate such birthday wishes. She had sweet time with her best friend, family time at the beach and a very special mother-daughter night away with her bestie in a hotel! The perks of this adventure….crazy fun! In this journey I have learned much about my center child. She is actually a morning person, despite my genes. She has a servant heart and she loves to bless others with helpful hands. She is smart. Witty. Funny, even wacky. She is passionate. This is my girl and I love getting to know her on a deeper level.

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And now…as I write this. I am sitting in a cozy hotel in Seattle, while my hubby is out working. I sit here…reflecting on 11 months of this full-time life…enjoying our first get-away (with no kiddos) since this journey began. It is sweet. Romantic. Much needed. Restful. The perfect way to reflect.

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