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R&R on the Road

May 25, 2008

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We just love this life on the road! You would think we would get tired of our little movable home, but we were all excited to be back on the road again. There is a real thrill to nomad living and nobody was more excited than Mozart to be back in our camper and playing in campsites. The idea of mixing time on the road with time in one place, truly is the perfect combination for extended family travel and we are so glad that we planned it like this. It was just a made up plan, so we had no idea that it would work so well. Now I
can highly recommend it, or even suggest that other families  might want to consider spending a winter in Southern Spain. Going to school in Spain is one of the best ways to immerse in another language and it is very inexpensive with lots of monthly rentals available for less than half the price one would pay for a week in summer.

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The hardest part though, is our transition from living in a rental home to back on the road in the motorhome. It is like moving, so we have to pack everything up and sort out what goes and what stays and deep clean the rental to perfect condition, added to our normal family life duties. I am not sure how this will work in the future as we have quite a few things, mostly books and ski clothes, that we store at our friends in Malaga. We found that we could get rid of a lot of things already, mainly clothes that we haven't worn (like a perfectly fine pair of jeans for DaVinci and polo shirts that are not compatible with travel life due to their long dry time) or clothes that Mozart has finally outgrown.

We were so tired from website work, packing and cleaning that we were tempted to let go of the Jerez trip again. DaVinci said as he went to bed that night exhausted, "I really do not want to go" and I felt the same way. We were too tired to think about having fun, but things looked better in the morning and it turned out to be just what the doctor ordered!

Part of the excitement of a road trip is not knowing what is ahead around each bend. We have traveled these roads some in Southern Spain, but do not know them well and with a five hour drive, ended up taking plenty of new ones. The rock of Gibraltar is not that much to see in person, but somehow it is impressive to drive by and much of this trip is near the coast and gorgeous great mountains. Andalusia is very large and becomes quite different looking than our area as one goes further west, toward Cadiz and Jerez which are much flatter. Perhaps it is corny, but we love the big Spanish bull symbols that are perched in various spots around the countryside. They always make me smile.

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We sometimes like to play games our vehicle as we drive and our latest one is a musical one that Mozart's piano teacher taught her and she loves it. Probably because she is very good at it, but mainly because she loves challenges. It is a diatonic chord drill quiz. DaVinci asks her things like, "what is the 4th chord in G major scale"  or "what is 7th chord in the B major scale" and quickly Mozart figures it our and answers it, then tries to think of a similar question that will stump him. I get a kick out of it, but am totally clueless when it comes to the answers, thus my main job is to hoot and clap. Her teacher says she has been doing college level in music theory and he has never had a child her age with her ability, so we are glad that we have persevered in maintaining her music education as we roam.

I had heard lots of good things about Vejer de la Frontera as it is another famous beautiful and charming white village (pueblos blancos) in Andalusia, so I was happy that we got a chance to stop there on our way.  We actually ended up staying at a campground not too far from there, although that was not the original plan. On the way, we saw signs for one called " Fuente Del Gallo" , which looked nice and was near a beach, so we decided it would be the perfect spot for us.

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It is really the simple pleasures that we missed and it took us no time to let go of our stress and adapt to the easy going outdoor living of motorhome life. Most of our trip we have had some pretty funky chairs, so we really adore our new chairs and lounger that we had picked up in Verona, Italy. You can't imagine what a difference this luxury makes. It is wonderful to eat meals outside and read or just relax in the lounge chair watching the leaves on the trees above one blow in the breeze with a bright blue sky in the background.

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Mozart gets a little nature study where ever we go, since we are close to nature in campsites and we journal our experiences. Here we found a gigantic grasshopper about four inches long. He was easy to see on the brick hardscape, but when he went by a tree we learned how his camouflage keeps him safe. As we wandered about we saw lots of wild flowers and sometimes even interesting bugs in them. Mozart picked me some heavenly scented lavender flowers and we put them in a can on the table... such an appropriate reminder of this good life of simple beauty everywhere.

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Even though we live right by the countryside in our winter abode in Spain, Mozart does not get the same kind of chance to play outside in nature when we are there. At campsites she can ride her bike, dig in dirt,collect stones and sticks, climb trees, play badminton, soccer, baseball, frisbee and such. We did a little hiking too and the beach was very beautiful. There is usually a restaurant and playground at every campsite and we ate one meal at the one here that was decent while Mozart dashed off to the playground as we leisurely finished.

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This very relaxing week end was the perfect set up for our day at the Jerez horse fair and a wonderful jump start for our family travel this year. We are so looking forward to our European Odyssey 2008!

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Dana

Hi. Thanks for dropping by my blog and leaving a comment about "From the Top at Carnegie Hall." I was really surprised to hear you are traveling the world... and dragging a piano with you! I checked out the link to her piano teacher and that sounds really neat! I was a "good" piano player (played for school choirs, church choirs, etc), but I couldn't answer the questions your daughter is answering. That is really amazing! I think it shows both your daugther's natural musical talent and the teacher's very different teaaching method that seems to really work! And, how do you drag the piano around? :-)

What an incredible adventure your family is on. I really wish we could do something like this. Maybe someday...

I'm off to read more of your adventures.

Soultravelers3

Hi Dana,

I loved discovering your blog and that great music source...thanks! We are not that musical so it is more challenging helping a musical child, so I really appreciate your feedback.

It IS crazy carrying a piano around the world & some think we are nuts, but we are glad we do and have to improvise a bit as we go.

We travel by RV, so carry our top of the line Yamaha digital piano with us and put it on our table when it is practice time. In Spain we make a table for it out of bricks and found the step ladder made a perfect chair. lol.

Sometimes we run into pianos in hotels and pensions as we go like we did in Turkey and Seville too. The violin is certainly much easier to carry as she has just moved up to 1/4 size ( her 4th violin). ;)

Staying in one place would probably be better for her music, but we figured the compromise was worth it and hope she can still get a good musical education as we roam. So far so good, despite the challenges and a bit of improv.

Have you seen Leonard Bernstein - Young People's Concerts? We brought them with us and enjoy them.

The hardest thing about this trip was making the decision and prep can be some work, but once you go it is really easy. It truly is a great experience and I wish everyone could do it!

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