Collecting Grease

While we have been back in Minnesota, Matt has slowly been collecting grease for us to use when we come back through in the fall. He found a few sources who had 5-10 gallons each time their grease was full, so he’s been bringing it in small containers back to the garage and putting it into the 55 gallon drum he found on Craigslist (for free!). The grease will have plenty of time to warm up and “settle” throughout the summer months. When we return, we’ll have our own little “grease station” on site. Yay!

Extended Stay

After we flew back to the Midwest, we found out that Matt’s dad would be having some unexpected back surgery and would not be able to run his business for 6 weeks (he is self-employed and is the only employee! :) ). The timing worked out perfectly for Matt to take over his business for that time. He had the surgery just before Christmas…so instead of coming back to resume the tour now, we will be coming back mid-to-late February.

The tour route will remain the same…we will just be moving a bit faster when we come back. I will let you know when we have the new schedule in place…I am hoping to get it set within a week or so. Stay tuned!

In the Shop

In the Shop

In our daily dealings with the RV, we have come to expect surprises, annoyances, and a little engine trouble. So we weren’t alarmed when our alternator and radiator hose went out on our way back from the iRenew Expo. We pulled into a truck stop to assess the problem at about 8:00 p.m. and were able to talk with a mechanic and make an appointment for the next morning (which was nothing short of a miracle late on a Sunday night!). We closed the curtains, had a bedtime snack and headed to bed…this still amazes us every time. It’s so fun to drive your house around and just park when you want to sleep!

In the morning, we got up and I made coffee and played with Bella while they worked on the repairs. You can see the view of our “front yard” in the above photo. It was rainy and cool…a nice day to be inside!

I’m sure we will have many more days in the shop on this tour…especially with a 1994 motorhome, but it’s a natural way to slow down the pace. It’s not fun on the budget, but it makes for fun stories.

Pre-Tour Stop: Springfield, MO

We will be in Springfield, MO on Monday and part of Tuesday…if you are in that area and would like to come tour the RV and see the veggie system, let us know! If there is enough response, we’ll meet on Monday evening at a park in town.  Email us directly by clicking here.

Iowa State Fair

The Big Swings at The Fair

It’s huge. It’s hot. It’s crowded. It’s fun. It’s the Iowa State Fair. Over 1,000,000 people attended the fair last year during it’s 11-day span and it was recently named by author Patricia Schultz as one of the “1000 Places to See Before You Die”. Clearly, if you’re in town, you don’t want to miss the excitement.

This year, our family went to the fair on opening day, and it actually was quite enjoyable. It wasn’t nearly as busy as when we went last year…we could actually walk on the sidewalk without touching someone at all times. We strolled around and saw the sights…and we ate more food than any normal person should eat. If I was there by myself, I think I would have enjoyed checking out more things…but with a 3 year old who hasn’t taken a nap, our time was limited :)

I always torture myself thinking about all of the trash produced by the fair and how much advertising and consumption happens there. This year, I tried to focus all of my energy on the ONE THING at the fair that I get super excited about. I wait all year for it…


Oh yes. I love them. A veggie hot dog fried in deliciously unhealthy batter and grease. What could be better? Maybe TWO veggie corndogs :) I had to laugh when the Des Moines Register called the Veggie Corn Dog a “healthier” option at the fair. Healthier than the 1,100 calorie turkey leg, yes. But c’mon :)

You can find anything on a stick at the Fair. Pickles on a Stick, Eggs on a stick, Cheese on a Stick, Meat on a stick, Caramel Apples on a stick. And the winner for weirdest food at the fair: Deep Fried Twinkies, Deep Fried Candy Bars, and Deep Fried Oreos. With all that deep frying going on (there are over 200 food stands!) , we could get fuel for the entire year! :) Matt actually did talk to the veggie corn dog stand about getting their grease. They said we could have it if we wanted…although it would be a little hard to get our RV in there to get it! :)

Other fun things at the fair:

  • The Sky Ride
  • The music
  • The fountains
  • Did I mention the veggie corn dog?
  • The people haulers/tractor running on biodiesel.
  • The new wind turbine (provides enough energy for nearly the entire 11-day fair)
  • The butter cow, as usual. Yes, an life-size cow made out of butter.
  • People watching…there are some interesting folks in Iowa.

For more photos of these crazy things and more, click here.

Farmer’s Market Fun


One of my favorite things in Des Moines is the Downtown Farmer’s Market. It’s a family tradition to go every week…so I definitely missed it when we moved! We met our friends, John Henry and Denise there…along with their kids, Isaiah and Annora. We actually met them 3 years ago AT the Farmer’s Market, so it was the perfect place to reunite. We had fun hitting our normal stops and some new ones as well. One of our favorites is Blue Gate Farm. Jill and Sean are fabulous people and we got to know them a little better last year when we purchased a CSA share from their farm. They are so genuine and kind…and it’s really encouraging to see people so committed to sustainability. We devoured their delicious organic veggies every week of the summer.

This week, we were heading there to buy a jar of their amazing herb syrup. It’s the best stuff I’ve ever tasted. It’s the base to their lemonade…and it’s spiked with rosemary and other herbs from their farm. It can also be used to sweeten tea or fruit. As Jill and I greeted each other, she handed me a jar of the syrup and said it was on the house…Blue Gate Farms little addition to the Live Lightly Tour. You can imagine my excitement :) John Henry captured a photo of me accepting this wonderful gift (see photo above). I still haven’t made it yet…I’m saving it for a special occasion!

For photos of last week and also all of the photos I’ve taken of the Farmer’s Market, click here.

The Lakes of Minnesota


When Matt drove across the border into Minnesota on July 22 around 6:00 a.m., I was sound asleep with Bella on the bed in the back of the RV. It had been a long road getting there! We left Bozeman at 6:00 a.m. the previous morning, and had traveled off and on throughout the day. We stopped in Miles City to look for grease, but the rendering services must have just cleaned everyone out. There was none to be found! So we headed East and stopped in the little town of Terry, MT. After scoping out the town of about 500 people, we stopped at the Dizzy Diner. As Matt approached the grease barrels to check them out, the owner came out to chat. It turns out that they are only open seasonally, and they had two 55 gallon drums sitting there FULL of oil. One of them had been sitting for an entire year! This is really good for us, because it means that the sediment and gunk had already settled to the bottom, leaving beautiful, clean grease on top. They were happy to get rid of it and we were happy to fill up our entire tank! We had a great time chatting about green living and about the veggie oil system. We bought some root beer floats and chatted some more. The owners’ granddaughter came into the RV to watch a movie with Bella while Matt filled up. It was a fun stop.

The temperatures were over 100 degrees all the way through Montana and we ended up stopping in Glendive, MT to give the RV a much needed cool down. Because the RV was overheating, we couldn’t run the air, which meant we were sweltering! Luckily, we located the public pool in town and promptly changed into our suits. We had a leisurely afternoon at the pool and had a picnic after that. We hit the road again after it had cooled down a bit. We pulled into Bismarck, N.D. around 1:30 a.m…and parked at the Wal-Mart overnight. Matt got up at 4:00 a.m. to hit the road again. And like I said…I stayed in bed!

We spent the next 2 weeks in the Baxter/Brainerd Lakes area. Matt lead worship and helped teach campers how to wakeboard at the three wakeboard camps at Camp Shamineau. It was wonderful to be reunited with old friends! Matt worked at Shamineau for 5 years on their high-ropes course and has fond memories there. Jeremy, the Marketing Director, and his wife are good friends of ours. We had a great time hanging out at the beach and on the boats. Be sure to check out the photo albums for some amazing wakeboard shots! There were some really talented riders there teaching…including Bart Copeland, pro trainer (and brother) of Emily Copeland (she has won tons of awards, including the title of Pro Women’s Wakeboard Champion). We met Bart and his wife Brooke when we worked for SportReach Ministries. They have a 4 year old and a 2 year old…and along with Jeremy and Melissa’s 2 year old and 1 year old, there was an abundance of fun. There was even more excitement when one of the campers broke his femur while wakeboarding…and had to be picked up by the Life Flight helicopter. It landed and took off within feet of our campsite…Bella is still talking about that!

While we were at camp, my brother, Dan, came up from Denver, CO (he had some business meetings in Minneapolis) and spent a few days with us (that’s his car in the above photo). He was our first overnight guest in the RV! We hooked him up with a comfy bed and some s’mores and he was happy. He turned our table into his mobile office and was good to go. It was great to see him…the RV was so quiet and lonely when he left! :)

When we weren’t at camp, we were in town spending time with Matt’s parents. They also live on a lake, so we had lots of water and sun time! Matt’s aunt and uncle were there with their 4 children (3 girls and 1 boy) for one of the weekends. They are all around Bella’s age, so endless hours were spent in the playhouse and with the dolls. We also had a seafood boil party with all of our camp friends and another couple, Andy and Jen, that Matt knows from high school. There was an abundance of food…an abundance of children, and noise…and an abundance of good fellowship. It was great catching up!

It was hard for Bella to leave Grandpa and Grandma’s house…she LOVES being there! After Brainerd, we headed down to Minneapolis and stayed with Matt’s aunt and uncle for a couple of days. We were able to see even more of Matt’s cousins the night we arrived and had fun chatting around their pool. It was really nice having poolside accommodations! :) Thanks Dan and Brenda! We also caught up with my sister Laura while we were there and went out for some Thai food and coffee. Yum yum! On our last night there, we had our first official tour of the RV with a blog reader! Leah and her son, Rex came over from St. Paul and we had a great time talking and sitting outside.

We headed for Des Moines on August 8, and have reunited with my family once more. We’ll be staying in Des Moines and working for my Dad to make some extra money before heading out on the “official” tour around Sept. 17.

For photos and explanations of our time in Minnesota, click HERE.

Our Last Days in Bozeman

Leaving Bozeman at Sunrise

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.
Proverbs 16:9

We will miss Bozeman, and everything about it. We spent nearly 7 months there…renewing our minds and our bodies and taking a much needed rest. Even as I write this and look back through the photos, I feel a twinge of homesickness. We felt very much at home there and fell in love with the culture of the city. People have asked us if we will go back there to live after the tour, but it’s hard to say at this point. Our road is yet unknown…but it’s a possibility!

There are so many things that we loved about Bozeman. Our friends, the amazing local coffee shops, our church, downtown, the coop, but especially our family. Matt’s sister, Mindy, and her husband, Ryan, live there and run Lions Ridge, a retreat center just outside of town. Their camp is located way up in the mountains…with gorgeous views from every direction. We enjoyed taking long walks, picking wildflowers, and playing in the cold mountain stream that ran right behind our RV. The wildlife was abundant. On one occasion, I looked out the front of the RV and saw a deer grazing in the grass about 10 feet away. On another day, I was just about to come out of the main cabin, and was startled to see five large black cows staring back at me. Apparently it was free range season and they come up every year. I couldn’t get my camera out fast enough…and as soon as I moved they stampeded up the mountain pretty quickly! Matt and Bella saw marmot and other deer when they went out exploring, and when we were leaving in the early morning to head out, we saw a baby moose on the side of the road.

We were constantly in awe of God’s creation while we were there. Every day we would wake up to perfect stillness…and a sun that was just peeking above the pines. As we would walk up to the lodge at night to see the sunset, we would touch the wildflowers and recall their names (homeschooling on the road!). When you stand in the shadow of the mountains, you can’t help but feel the awesome power of God. And the same power that is at work in those mountains is at work in our lives at all times. When things get rough…I always know that if God can create all of this, He has the power to handle my everyday life!

It was also a great reminder of why I feel so strongly about being a good steward of God’s creation. I worship a Saviour who entrusted this earth to us… to take care of and to be wise with it’s resources. Being wasteful and using harmful chemicals does not being honor to Him…being wise in using what He has given us does. Christians should be the most RADICAL environmentalists out there as we care for HIS creation. And although you may not share my faith, we do share a common bond. Our children and grandchildren will suffer the effects of our laziness and careless attitudes about where the earth is headed. Let’s all take our own little steps towards a more hopeful future for them.

Lions Ridge will always hold special meaning for us. Several years ago, we were visiting there during a very challenging time in our life. We felt that God was prompting us to move to Bozeman…away from the busy life that we were leading. Moving there eventually became a reality…one that was wonderful and unexpected. As we left Bozeman last week, we stayed at Lions Ridge again while we closed that short chapter in our life…moving on to our next adventure. It was bittersweet driving down the mountain that last time…leaving dear friends and family behind. But so much lies ahead of us right now. And who knows…maybe we WILL head back to the West after the tour. It’s amazing there! But even more amazing is staying right in the center of God’s will, and that is where we are right now.

For more photos and explanations of our last days in Bozeman, click here.
For more photos of Lions Ridge in the winter, click here.