Lewis and Clark Caverns

Let’s play three truths and a lie.

  1. After reaching the Pacific Ocean and starting back home, Meriwether Lewis was shot in the leg by one of his men on a hunting expedition.
  2. Lewis and Clark visited the Lewis and Clark Caverns during there trip to the Pacific Ocean.
  3. The only death during the Lewis and Clark expedition was from appendicitis.

The lie is that Lewis and Clark never went to the Lewis and Clark Caverns. They passed near them but never had the opportunity to see or explore them.

Our family really enjoyed them and our guide was great. For those keeping score, my kids still liked Carlsbad Caverns better. Fortunately for those I was with, I was able to ignore the fact that while spelunking through the mountain millions of tons of earth were pressed against the ceiling of the cave waiting to crush me which would have sent me into a panic attack of hyperventilating and tears. There might have been screams of anguish mixed in too. Anyway, enjoy the video.

Winner of “Where in the U.S. are the Johnson’s?”

Drum roll please……………….we, the Johnson family have been in Mt. Shasta California the last 5 days. Beth Dill is the winner as she guessed Northern California which was more specific than some of you that guessed California. She will receive a Mt. Shasta candy bar made of the finest (or at a very minimum sub par) chocolate. The proceeds of the purchase did go to the upkeep of California Hiking trails so there is that. Beth, we will be sending your life changing prize!Mt. Shasta Chocolate Bar

Music Machine/Torture Device in Nevada Cty

Have you wondered what it sounds like when gargoyles try to perform music by scratching their claws on chalkboards made from the souls of the most vilest of sinners? This music machine in Nevada City, Montana, probably comes pretty close to replicating that sound. While it is impressive to make a machine with that many moving parts working together, you would think that whoever made it would at least try to make it so it didn’t terrify innocent children and make the strongest of men to wish they had been born without ears rather than have to hear it again. Listen if you dare.

Where in the U.S. are the Johnsons?

where are the johnsonsIt’s time to play, Where in the U.S. are the Johnsons! Leave a comment as to where you think we are. The person who guesses closest will be sent a prize worth up to multiple dollars from the location we are at.

Disclaimer Only one prize per household. Not responsible for any loss of time or hardship caused by game participation. No animals were harmed by the creation of this game. Game participation may cause headache, nausea, redness, itching, and embarrassment if your guess is completely wrong and we point out your ineptitude. Please allow 26 weeks for delivery of prize. Prize can not be substituted for other things of actual value. We are not responsible for you getting your hopes up and thinking the contest will make your life better. Do not play game will drinking or on drugs. Please consult your physician before participating.

New Friends in Nevada City, Montana

Matthew acting like an old west person would.


We have been on the road for almost 6 weeks. We have seen a lot of beautiful and fascinating places. It has been interesting to us that one of the best parts about traveling is all of the wonderful people that we get to meet. We made some great friends in Nevada City, Montana.

Nevada City is the location (along with it’s neighbor Virginia City) of one of the richest gold strikes in the Rocky Mountains. Over $2.5 billion of gold were found in the area.

Nevada City has a few buildings and a restaurant but the main part of the town is a living museum. There are over 108 buildings that make the museum. 14 of them are original to the town and the rest are historical buildings that were moved from other parts of Montana.

The museum is set up outdoors. It is basically an old west town full of artifacts and buildings. There are many people who work there and they dress like the town folk dressed in the 1860’s. As we were going through we started to hear stories from the workers about some of the haunted buildings in the park. This peaked Maya’s interest as she has a fascination with ghosts. She got her paranormal interest from her father.homecoming06sepia

We asked one of the men named Matthew about a specific building and he told us that there are a lot of haunted building in Virginia City as well. He told us that if we wanted to come back later that night, his daughters would love to give us a tour of the haunted parts of Virginia City. We asked where to meet him and he said to come back in the park through the back way after it closed and he would meet us. He then explained that he and his family live in the living museum during the summer and work there.

I wondered if he was pulling our leg but we decided to go back to the museum later that night. We snuck in the back way and I thought the whole time that we were going to get arrested. We wandered through the buildings and after a while one of his daughters poked her head out of a building and asked if she could help us. We told her that her Dad said that we could come back for a ghost tour. She was nice but I think she thought that we were weird, which was correct.

Matthew and his family in front of the cabin they live in for the summer.
Matthew and his family in front of the cabin they live in for the summer.

Their whole family showed up and we had a great night together. We got to see where they lived in the museum, tour some of the buildings that had been closed that day, and feed their horses. Then we drove to Virginia City and walked through the town as they regaled us about some of the haunted locations and the stories behind them. Our kids took a bunch of video and pictures and they are pretty sure that they got some ghosts and orbs in their shots. It was a great day thanks to Matthew and his family. We are so grateful that we could make new friends that were so generous with their time. It was a day we will never forget!

Panning For Gold in Big Sky Country

homecoming04After we left Idaho we traveled to the metropolis of Ennis Montana. It’s a quaint, tiny, old west type town that had an RV park (the most crowded we had been to yet), and it is centrally located to some cool places to visit. Montana is a beautiful state and I had many chances to travel through it when I used to commute from Idaho to North Dakota during my college years. I swear my blood pressure goes down ten points when I see the beautiful vistas and flowing rivers in western Montana. One of the first things we did was visit Virginia City and Nevada City and panned for gold.homecoming16Speaking of  gold did you know that gold miners in the old west used to call bacon “sow’s bosom?” There isn’t a lot to improve on with bacon but I think I am going to start adding this slang into my daily conversations about bacon……..yes, I have discussions about bacon daily. Don’t you?

homecoming17Any how, I was going to try to write an article written entirely in gold miner talk but there was a problem. Here is an excerpt of my original article. “Avast ye scurvy dogs, there be gold in them thar hills. Me scallywags and I panned for that there gold. Arghhh! Do you see the problem. I don’t know how gold miners talk, I only know how pirates talked. That being the case, the rest of this article will be written in my normal 5th grade level vocabulary.homecoming12Virginia City and Nevada city were awesome and we had a lot of fun there. Mainly because of some new friends we made and the uniqueness of our day. We took a train ride from Virginia City to Nevada City and part of the fare was the opportunity to pan for gold. I thought my kids would think it was cheesy but it actually kept us enthralled for 2 hours. We found quite a few small pieces of garnet and some amethyst as well. Marisa was the only one to find a tiny speck of gold which was verified as genuine by the lady that taught us how to pan. To our horror, Marisa put it in a vial, I then looked at the vial and set it back down in a different spot, and then Marisa knocked the vial over into the dirt. Here is a picture of her trying to find our fortune. Alas, we were unable to recover our lost treasure. Our future generations will certainly rue the day that our infinite wealth disappeared into the dirt like a sow bosom, lettuce, and tomato sandwich disappears into my gullet.



Michael Tests Out the Shock Collar

Our dog Lily has been overprotective since we started our trip. She barks at anyone that passes by our fifth wheel and we have had a few people complain about her to the camp hosts. We feel terrible that we have disturbed others and we were even warned by one camp host that we would have to leave if we didn’t get her to be quieter.

We have tried a lot of different things and we thought we might have to give her away or take her to the animal shelter. Our last act of desperation was to buy a shock collar that gives her a little jolt if she barks. I felt like it was kind of cruel, but my hope was that if she learns not to bark, she wouldn’t get shocked, and we could keep her. The collar seemed to be working fine but then she started barking again. I decided to test the collar to see if it is working. Maybe I need to find a better way to test the collar. Ouch.


1 While we were in Idaho we celebrated Mason’s birthday. We invited all of our family to come celebrate with us. It was a fun night and Mason had a great time as so many people came to support him. It got me thinking about family.

Marisa and I have a great extended family that is extremely close. We always feel so supported and accepted by them. It is a wonderful thing to be able to feel unconditional love from so many people at once. We are doing a crazy thing by living in an RV and it could have provided many opportunities for people to openly question and critique us. I have felt nothing but love and support from both of our families and I really appreciate it. Sometimes it’s hard to do what you feel like you are inspired to do when it doesn’t fit social norms. It makes it a lot easier when you are supported by those that you deeply  love and respect.

One of the greatest blessings we have is our immediate and extended families. We know that we will be with them forever and we feel so fortunate to have them in our lives.

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Craters of the Moon

We spent some time visiting my parents in Southeast Idaho a few weeks ago. There are a myriad of opportunities for butt trips in that region, and Marisa and I thought that Craters of the Moons would be a great opportunity for another one. It had all the potential. A long drive across a barren desert landscape, ancient geological events, dust, dirt, boring talks about geological events that happened thousands of years ago. Craters of the Moon wasn’t a butt trip however. Our kids weren’t bored and they loved it.

Located near Arco, Idaho, Craters of the Moon National Park was well worth the trip. As you approach the park, the landscape changes almost instantly from a high desert plain full of sand and sagebrush, to a desolate land covered with sharp black lava rock. Think of what the world will look like after it has been razed by sentient machines and you have a good idea of what to expect.

There was a nice visitor center with a movie about the volcanic activity that formed the barren landscape 2000 years ago. We were able to go on a few hikes to view spatter cones and ancient lava flow sites. Our favorite thing to see were the lava tubes. Most of the video below shows us in Indian Tunnel which was 20 to 30 feet high, up to 50 feet wide, and 800 feet long. Our kids loved it. Madelyn earned her Junior Ranger patch which made her think she was in charge the rest of the day.

Enjoy the video that Marisa put together.