Tagged with "trails"
29 Dec
2016
Posted in: travel
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Take a Trip: Great Lakes Love

For someone who has spent almost 40 years living near mountains, I sure do love the beach. I love the sound of the waves crashing. I love the feel of sand in my toes. I love the pure joy my kids have in the water. However, I don’t love what the salt does to skin or hair. I don’t love the smell of the saltwater-soaked towels or swimsuits. This summer I learned the perfect substitute for the ocean is the lake, more specifically the Great Lakes.

children walking toward Lake Michigan

girl running in waves of Lake Michigan

Our first experience with the Great Lakes was seven years ago in Chicago. The kids were little and couldn’t be convinced that the water they stood on the edge of was a lake and not the ocean. Nothing we said could convince them that we were, in fact, landlocked. We were able to experience three of the Great Lakes this summer, Michigan, Huron and Superior, and the memories of kids playing in crashing waves, collecting shells and walks on sandy and rocky shores will remain as some of my fondest. Bonus, no salt and no sharks.

Dune climb at Sleeping Bear Michigan

We’ve had the opportunity to trek over sand dunes in various locations on our travels, Great Sands Dunes in Colorado, Death Valley, Mojave National Preserve, and the Killpecker Sand Dunes of Wyoming, to name a few. In Michigan, we visited Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The kids spent hours in warm, fresh water splashing and jumping waves with few people to crowd our area of the beach.

family climbing dunes at Sleeping Bear Michigan

We ended the day with an overlook hike and dune climbing. One forgets how difficult dunes are to climb until you’re huffing and puffing and your shoes are filled with piles of sand. The kids, young and foolish as they are, sprinted up the giant dunes before rushing down to meet us. We climbed up and over several large dunes in an attempt to reach Lake Michigan, only to realize we were lacking the energy required after a day spent on the beach. Watching sunset over the tree-lined hills perched atop a massive sand dune with my giggling children is one of my all-time favorite sappy magical vacation moments.

overlook view at Sleeping Bear Michigan

While Sleeping Bear Dunes with it’s expansive vista overlooks and mega-sized sand dunes mesmerized me, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Indiana Dunes State Park ran-away with the hearts of my adventurous children. Our day at the state park began with conquering the 3 Dune Challenge, a program requiring climbing 1.7 miles and 552 vertical feet to three sand “mountain tops.”  The trail is deep sand requiring a lot of effort to climb, but it didn’t take long. We were sweaty and sandy after the trek, but the kids were motivated by taking photos at each “mountain” sign as proof to earn our completion stickers at the visitor center.

Dune Climb at Indiana State Park

children swimming in Lake Michigan

We treated the challenge conquerors to an afternoon on Lake Michigan at the state park. We visited in July, and the beach was packed with water revelers. We were able to claim a spot near the water’s edge. The waves were beating the sand and rocks all afternoon, but the kids never tired of jumping the waves and running from up and down the waterfront. The beach was a wonderful mix of sand and water-worn rocks and stones. I enjoyed searching for the most unique rocks with bright colors and unique designs to show the kids when we finally pulled them from the intense waves.

I’m not one to turn down a beach vacation, whether salt or fresh water. I do hope to experience more of the Great Lakes in years to come after getting a taste of fresh-water beach life.


 
Take a Trip: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
By     |    Nov 10, 2016
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Take a Trip: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

All outdoor enthusiasts or lovers of beautiful landscapes should place Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan on a must-see list of places to visit. The foliage-covered sandstone cliffs of Pictured Rocks rise above the aquamarine water of Lake Superior lending itself to picturesque views around every bend. I couldn’t get enough of the landscape. While the view was truly mesmerizing, our nemesis on the trip, stable flies, were in full-force. Stable flies are quite possibly the worst insect we’ve encountered... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Mississippi Headwaters, Voyageurs National Park
By     |    Nov 8, 2016
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Take a Trip: Mississippi Headwaters, Voyageurs National Park

We’re in the middle of a crazy warm November in Wyoming. The temperature has been hovering in the mid-60s with sunny skies for weeks now. I’m not going to complain about beautiful, fall weather, but it makes me itch to travel. By this time most years, we’re settled into shorter days and cold, blustery weather. Dry, snow-free ground makes me want to plan a trip and hit the highways again. School schedules and extracurricular activities have us staying at home.... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Canyon de Chelly
By     |    May 5, 2016
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Take a Trip: Canyon de Chelly

This year is the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. There are over 400 entities run by the NPS. I’ll share tips from different National Park Service sites we’ve visited throughout 2016. If there’s a theme to our vacations, besides national parks, it’s canyons. There’s not a canyon rim hike we haven’t enjoyed, from the Grand Canyon to Canyonlands to Yellowstone. We love the views across a canyon and peering into the depths below. We’ve watched videos and viewed... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Grand Canyon National Park
By     |    Apr 18, 2016
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Take a Trip: Grand Canyon National Park

This year is the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. There are over 400 entities run by the NPS. I’ll share tips from different National Park Service sites we’ve visited throughout 2016. We spent years talking about visiting Grand Canyon National Park. We couldn’t ever peg down a good time of year to visit. There were other national parks ranked higher on our wish list. Excuses piled for why we never chose the iconic American spot. This year was the... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Rocky Mountain National Park
By     |    Mar 14, 2016
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Take a Trip: Rocky Mountain National Park

This year is the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. There are over 400 entities run by the NPS. I’ll share tips from different National Park Service sites we’ve visited throughout 2016. My husband and I spent 44 hours this weekend without children enjoying the tail-end of winter in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. The start of 2016 has been rough, and we needed to regroup. Snowshoeing in the park was the most peaceful I’ve felt in months.... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Devils Tower National Monument
By     |    Mar 11, 2016
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Take a Trip: Devils Tower National Monument

This year is the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. There are over 400 entities run by the NPS. I’ll share tips from different National Park Service sites we’ve visited throughout 2016. Devils Tower National Monument, the first designated national monument in the United States, is located in northeast Wyoming. It’s a geological beacon sprouting from the prairie of the Cowboy state. There are nothing but rolling hills on all sides of the 867-foot tower which overlooks the Bell Fourche... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
By     |    Feb 26, 2016
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Take a Trip: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This year is the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. There are over 400 entities run by the NPS. I’ll share tips from different National Park Service sites we’ve visited throughout 2016. Across the United States there are over 400 National Park Service entities. That’s a lot of places deemed worthy to be protected for historical reasons or the natural beauty of an area. I let go of any dream of visiting all of the entities a few years... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Arches National Park
By     |    Feb 5, 2016
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Take a Trip: Arches National Park

This year is the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. There are over 400 entities run by the NPS. I’ll share tips from different National Park Service sites we’ve visited throughout 2016. This winter is relentless. There’s been snow on the ground for months, and it’s part of the permanent forecast these days. You know there’s a lot of snow when your son’s Nordic ski team can’t practice because they aren’t able to get up the mountain. It’s that... [Read More]

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Adding to Our List of Unique Camping Experiences
By     |    Sep 9, 2015
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Adding to Our List of Unique Camping Experiences

We’re tent campers, so when we have the chance to camp with an actual roof over our heads, it’s a luxury. We actively search for ways to avoid bringing a tent, cots, and air mattresses while still enjoying the camping experience. Six sleeping bags require quite a bit of packing space. This summer we’ve slept in a yurt, a tipi and now a U.S. Forest Service guard station. The Forest Service has cabins of varying degrees of size, amenities and cost... [Read More]

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Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park
By     |    Aug 22, 2015
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Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park

Stand at any number of overlooks in Bryce Canyon National Park gazing at the colorful landscape of hoodoos and you’ll understand the definition of breathtaking. The shades of red, orange, white and gray layered on each other seem unreal. We stood at Sunset Point watching shadows shift and change among the hoodoos as the sun neared the horizon and knew we had to be down in the canyon. Our first hike in the park was down the switchbacks of Wall Street. You... [Read More]

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Loneliest Road Leads to Great Basin National Park
By     |    Aug 20, 2015
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Loneliest Road Leads to Great Basin National Park

There were no other travelers on the “The Loneliest Road in America,” US-50 in Nevada. We drove miles and miles without seeing other vehicles. There were no dilapidated buildings hinting at past habitation. It was just us on an adventure to Great Basin National Park with rolling hills and sagebrush as our companions. I’ve lived in Wyoming for almost four decades. I’m a sucker for the open road. I like roads rural with few people and quaint Norman Rockwell towns... [Read More]

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