Browsing Category "travel"
29 Jun
2015
Posted in: travel
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Beaches vs. Mountains

sunset Opal Beach Gilf Islands Seashore, Florida
I’ve always lived within an hour drive of mountains with their curvy roads and sweeping vista overlooks. Our outdoor adventures tend to include elevation climbs, trails through woods, rock outcroppings  and running water flowing over rounded stones. When we have the opportunity to travel to a beach I look forward to spending an evening in the sand believing we’ll be satisfied with a quick dip in the ocean.

mom and children at Canaveral Seashore
I become salt-water drunk after those first few minutes on the shore. I can’t get enough of the jewel-toned skies as the the sun bids goodnight. The salty air invigorates me. It’s intoxicating.

four kids running at Cocoa Beach Florida
Our mountain-loving children look forward to beach days on vacation. They hurl themselves from the vehicle rushing to the water as they kick sandals off their feet. They’re drawn to the sand and sea. They have a healthy fear of the water and do well to stay close to the shore. The boys allow themselves to be hit by wave after wave while their sister squeals with delight running away from the incoming water.

boys rolling in sand Sanibel Island, Florida
I drink in the sounds of the surf mixed with my joyful family. The beach is an all-encompassing five-senses experience. I begin vacation believing the one afternoon will be enough. I think a few hours will fill the needed beach quota until the next time we venture from the middle of the country to an outlying shore. I crave the beach after those first few minutes. We’ll sneak in stops at beaches while we travel, not always bothering to change into swimsuits. Dinner followed by an hour in the sand becomes what we do on summer evenings for that brief window of summer vacation bliss.

Opal beach Gulf Islands Seashore Florida
Florida offered us beaches galore. Opal Beach on the Gulf Islands Seashore is run by the National Park Service. There were no crowds on the sand even though less than five miles away the same shoreline was crowded with swimsuit wearing revelers. Opal Beach has several amenities including covered picnic tables, water rinse stations and restrooms. The sand was white and fine, just begging for toes to dig into the warm topcoat in search of the cooler sand beneath. It was my favorite beach on vacation.

shell-covered beach Sanibel Island, Florida
shell hunting at Sanibel Island Florida
We also enjoyed seashell hunting on Sanibel Island’s Bowman Beach. Crowds take away from my beach enjoyment, and this beach was another one with people few and far between. The shoreline is littered with seashells. The kids could have collected buckets of shells. They searched a few feet only to come back with hands full of shells to add to our pile on the beach. Eventually the boys answered the call of the waves and were lost to the water while I walked the sand listening to sounds of summer and searching for a new find to share with my family.

small crab Canaveral Seashore Florida
As much as we loved the beach, we missed the mountains. We longed for landscape that included rocks while we drove through the South or a parting in the trees to give us the open vistas the West offers. While I could get used to evenings filled with short bursts of time at the beach, I couldn’t spend days simply sitting in the sand. It’s not in my makeup. Distance makes beaches magical for us. I’m already planning our next seashore adventure.

Follow our 6,025-mile adventure.
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Arkansas: Crater of Diamonds State Park
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Arkansas: Crater of Diamonds State Park
By     |    Jun 27, 2015
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Arkansas: Crater of Diamonds State Park

Years ago I read about Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas and was intrigued by the idea of digging through 37 ½ acres of plowed dirt in the hopes of finding treasure. I tucked the idea away not thinking we’d ever find ourselves in Arkansas. Eventually the traveling bug bit us, and we decided to start taking long road trips, young kids and all. Fast forward to planning for this summer’s epic road trip. We planned our route, in... [Read More]

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Arkansas: Hot Springs National Park
By     |    Jun 26, 2015
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Arkansas: Hot Springs National Park

Honestly, I didn’t have high expectations for Hot Springs National Park located in Hot Springs, Arkansas. I thought the kids wouldn’t find the bathhouses interesting enough and that the water you can collect wouldn’t taste good enough to warrant bringing home with us. Wrong and wrong. Wisely-named Hot Springs National Park revolves around the local hot springs, which have a history of people flocking to the area for therapeutic purposes. Bathhouse Row sprang up in the 1800s as wood and... [Read More]

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Great American Road Trip
By     |    Jun 25, 2015
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Great American Road Trip

6,025 miles + three weeks + 18 states = epic road trip More than a few people questioned our sanity leading up to our trip from Wyoming to Key West, Florida and back covering thousands of miles of territory. I had moments where I questioned it myself, but that trip is one of the best decisions we’ve made for our family. In the chaos of raising four children while juggling full-time work, part-time work, multiple volunteer roles and everything that... [Read More]

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100,000 Miles of Adventure
By     |    May 29, 2015
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100,000 Miles of Adventure

I watched the mileage on our vehicle slowly move toward 100,000 miles over the last month. I didn’t want to miss the moment we reached the 100,000 milestone. In less than five years, we’ve driven 100,000 miles of this country. A lot of those miles aren’t interesting. There’s running to school and practices and errands and school and practices. But, if a great portion of those miles could tell their story, it’s one of adventure, new destinations and roads less... [Read More]

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Camping Yurt Style
By     |    May 26, 2015
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Camping Yurt Style

Two years ago we tent camped in Guernsey State Park in southeastern Wyoming. We were on a drive through the park when we noticed a group of yurts at the top of a point overlooking the reservoir. We’ve been wanting to try them since then but didn’t get around to it until this last weekend. The final nudge for me to make yurt camping happen was our oldest son’s experience camping with his Boy Scout troop in December in the... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Theodore Roosevelt National Park
By     |    Apr 22, 2015
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Take a Trip: Theodore Roosevelt National Park

In honor of National Parks week and because I have a crazy passion for the National Park Service, here’s another flashback vacation memory. Most vacation destination lists don’t have North Dakota on them. I’m a collector of states. I want to visit as many as possible. We hadn’t visited North Dakota and were looking for a vacation destination there. The answer was Theodore Roosevelt National Park. We could add another state and a national park. Honestly, I didn’t have high... [Read More]

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Time Away from Parenting
By     |    Apr 20, 2015
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Time Away from Parenting

A date night for my husband and I consists of eating takeout in the living room while we watch a movie after putting kids to bed. We rarely spend time together without one or more of our children. I enjoy the kids, most of the time. We do have a tween who tests my annoyance levels (on purpose). Still, they’re good people. The kids are at ages where we can all go do just about everything I want to do... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Craters of the Moon
By     |    Apr 16, 2015
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Take a Trip: Craters of the Moon

I’ve been sorting through the thousands of photos I’ve taken over the past few years for a photo project and have become nostalgic for past road trips. I’m asked quite often for travel ideas by people who want to add to their adventure list or start down the road of family road trips. We’re heavy users of National Park Service entities and most travel inquiries I receive have to do with whether or not we’ve been to a certain national... [Read More]

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Essentials for Family Road Trips
By     |    Apr 2, 2015
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Essentials for Family Road Trips

It’s spring break, and we’re staying home for the first time in years. We have an epic road trip planned this summer and vacation days are being stockpiled for the adventure. I’m antsy to hit the highways, Interstates and (sometimes) unpaved county roads to discover new places in the USA. Even though we’re months away from our next major family road trip, I’ve already started packing in my head. I have lists tucked away in notebooks for items to pack.... [Read More]

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Free Family Activities in Denver Area
By     |    Feb 18, 2015
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Free Family Activities in Denver Area

It was evident for weeks that my family needed to regroup. Three basketball teams and one cheer team with practices and games had the drivers in this house worn down. I was tired of an hour here or there of time with all six of us. I’m greedy about family time. We knew our school district had a four-day weekend in February, and we decided to leave the to-do list at home for a mini-retreat. We spent a few days... [Read More]

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Planning an Epic Road Trip
By     |    Jan 29, 2015
Posted in: projects, travel     |    3 Comments

Planning an Epic Road Trip

Traveling is my favorite thing to do, followed closely by planning for trips, and I’m in full travel-planning mode these days. Summer 2015 has been talked about for years in our family. It’s finally the summer of our epic 5,400-mile round-trip adventure, which will land us as far away as Key West, Florida. We’re taking 20 days for the Great American Road Trip, our longest family vacation, both in days gone and miles covered. We’ll cross up to 18 states,... [Read More]

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