National Parks

Yellowstone National Park

In my last post about Grand Teton National Park, I mentioned that it snowed the last day we were there. As we drove to Yellowstone the next day we noticed a lot more snow on the drive and saw that Yellowstone got even more snow than we did the day before. It’s amazing that this was June!

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Driving to Yellowstone from Grand Teton

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Amazing snow in June!

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Okay, so I guess I went overboard on taking pictures of the snow on our drive, but it was so beautiful, and after our winter in Breckenridge I just can’t get enough of snow.

Anyway, enough about that, let’s talk about Yellowstone. This is another park that we are repeating this year because it’s just so awesome and definitely worth repeating.

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Old Faithful

This time of the year it’s so nice that it stays light so late at night because we can easily go for a hike in the evenings after work. The night we went to Old Faithful we hiked the trail from there to see several other geysers.

One of my favorites is Artemesia Geyser. We saw this one erupting last time we were there, which was good timing since it doesn’t erupt as regularly as Old Faithful. We didn’t see it erupting this time, but it was still beautiful.

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Artemesia Geyser

Another favorite is Morning Glory. Even though the colors in this one are beautiful, sadly the colors are the result of visitors throwing items into the geyser. That’s just not a good thing to do.

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Morning Glory

The river walk was beautiful with little spots of steam coming up everywhere.

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I forget what this one was called, but it started erupting just as we walked by. That was pretty cool!

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Another view of Old Faithful erupting again as we finished up our hike.

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I couldn’t believe how many bison we saw this time. It was weird when we were there 3 years ago with my parents, we hardly saw any bison. This time they were everywhere! Several times blocking traffic.

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Another night we went to Grand Prismatic Spring, another one of my favorites. On the hike to the overlook we saw this aggressive bison. We know he was aggressive because we saw him chase 2 ladies that had just walked by. We stood back and waited until he was well off the path before we continued on.

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Grumpy bison

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Grand Prismatic Spring from the overlook

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Grand Prismatic Spring up close

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Hiking along the boardwalk next to Grand Prismatic Spring

A few more pictures from the Grand Prismatic area.

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Another evening we went to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. This area is so beautiful and the hike along the canyon offers some amazing views.

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Artist Point

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I see that Jake is now taller than me ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River

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Lower Falls

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I was disappointed to find that Uncle Tom’s trail that takes you down over 300 steps to get a closer view of Lower Falls was closed. That turned out to be a blessing though because we went around to the other side and went down a trail to see it from the other side. This is something we didn’t do last time so it was cool to see it from a different perspective.

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Top of Lower Falls

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Another view of the canyon

Lastly we went to see the Artist’s Paint Pots. This is something we did not get a chance to see last time.

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We stayed at the Yellowstone Grizzly RV Park in West Yellowstone, MT again. We love that park and the little town of West Yellowstone is so much fun. We also got to spend some time with 2 other Fulltime Families that were there.

Now that we’ve been to Yellowstone twice, would I go there again? Most definitely! This is one of those places I could visit over and over again.

Categories: Montana, National Parks, Wyoming | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Grand Teton National Park

After traveling for over 4 years, it was inevitable that we would eventually start repeating some favorites. Grand Teton National Park is one of those favorites we repeated this year, and it was just as awesome as the first time. If you’d like to read my post from our first time at Grand Teton you can see it here:ย Grand Teton National Park.

We tried a new hike this time to Taggart and Bradley Lakes. The views along the hike and the picturesque lakes were incredible.

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Starting our hike to Taggart Lake

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Waterfall along the way to Taggart Lake

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Gorgeous Taggart Lake

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Enjoying a snack break at Taggart Lake

Then we continued on to Bradley Lake which was a lot of uphill hiking making for a very good workout.

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Another snack break at Bradley Lake

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Bradley Lake

We also repeated some favorites like visiting the Chapel of the Transfiguration which is stunning!

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Chapel of the Transfiguration

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View from inside the Chapel of the Transfiguration

Another repeat was the hike halfway around Jenny Lake to Hidden Falls, but it was a little different this time. Last time the hiking trail was down by the lake, but this time that part of the trail was being repaired so we ended up hiking a different trail that was up much higher over the lake.

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Jenny Lake

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Hiking to Hidden Falls

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Hiking along Jenny Lake

Seeing Hidden Falls was also new because the last time we were there the trail to the Falls was closed. I’m so glad we got to see it this time! It was a beautiful and powerful waterfall, we could hear it long before it came into view.

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Hidden Falls

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Hidden Falls

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It started to look like stormy skies on the way back

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Another view of Jenny Lake

One evening we hiked along Jackson Lake from the campground and saw a beaver come out of the water, then he chewed down a little tree and started to swim away with the tree. It was so cool to watch this!

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Beaver getting back in the water with the little tree he just chewed down

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Beaver swimming away

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Hiking along Jackson Lake

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Jackson Lake

We stayed at Colter Bay RV Park which is inside of the national park. We stayed there last time and had Verizon access from our campsite so we could work, but this time Verizon didn’t work from our site at all except in the middle of the night. Yikes! How are we supposed to work like this? We had to get creative that week, that’s for sure. Sometimes we got up in the middle of the night to get some work done while Verizon worked, sometimes we worked at the campground laundry room or the Jackson Lake Lodge where the internet worked great, and other times we worked at the Colter Bay marina and enjoyed this view.

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Not a bad office view, right?

It’s not often we get to a place where we have no cell coverage at our site. Usually I know about it ahead of time and we plan our vacations around lack of cell coverage areas. This time we were surprised to have no coverage especially since it worked last time we stayed there. Another surprise was waking up to snow one day while we were there, in June!

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A snowy day at Grand Teton in June

Grand Teton National Park is such an incredibly beautiful place, and my pictures definitely do not do it justice. You just have to come and see it for yourself.

 

Categories: National Parks, Wyoming | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Acadia National Park

If you missed my last post about how our travels came to an end after Acadia, you can view that here:ย The Day our Heartland RV Left us Homeless. That happened 2 months ago and we’re still going back and forth between Heartland and insurance, trying to get some resolution. Anyway, I thought it was about time I get my blog caught up on the travels we did in Maine prior to our disaster.

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Acadia National Park was incredible! It was so nice to get back to hiking in a national park. Our east coast travels have been fun, but we sure are missing the abundance of national parks out west. Acadia was a little like being back out west, but with a New England vibe if that makes any sense.

The Mount Desert Island/Bar Harbor side of Acadia is the busiest so we tried to plan our sightseeing on weekdays and early mornings. One day we drove the main park loop road and stopped off at several viewpoints.

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This would have been impossible on a weekend since there is very limited parking. On the weekend you can ride a free shuttle around the park, but those are also very crowded.

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Thunder Hole

Thunder Hole is supposed to be really cool during high tide. Unfortunately it was low tide when we were there, but still pretty.

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We loved walking and climbing on all the rocks and checking out the little tide pools.

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On the weekend we drove to one of the quieter sides of Acadia to see the Bass Harbor Lighthouse and do a couple of hikes.

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Bass Harbor Lighthouse

After visiting the lighthouse we parked at the Ship Harbor Trail Head and began a short hike to the ocean where we walked on the rocky coast for most of the day. We hiked back on the Wonderland Trail that ends back at the road just about a quarter mile from where we parked making it a loop.

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Jake put together a pile of seaweed on a rock and then made a home for some snails. He carried that around for a good part of the afternoon and named it “Fly, Poop and Eat”. He came up with that because he flew the “snail home” around with his hands, watched them eat seaweed, and later noticed their poop on the seaweed. ๐Ÿ™‚

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I loved these colorful rocks!

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The next day we rode the shuttle from the campground to Bar Harbor. From there we took the shuttle to Sand Beach and hiked one of our favorite hikes ever, the Beehive Trail. This trail is a challenging uphill hike, with lots of climbing up ladders and steps. It is not recommended for small children or anyone afraid of heights as it can be very steep and some narrow pathways with steep drop-offs. If you like that sort of thing though, you will love this hike!

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Climbing the side of a cliff

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I was a little nervous about crossing this thing!

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How about a family picture on the side of a cliff?

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More climbing

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The climb was worth this view!

After that hike we took the shuttle over to Jordan Pond for a hike around the pond.

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A long stretch of this hike had a wooden walkway that the kids thought was fun to walk on.

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Lots of people told us that we must have popovers at Jordan Pond House while we were there. I know it must be popular because you have to have a reservation to have tea and popovers. We didn’t have a reservation so we didn’t get to try the famous popovers — maybe next time!

In Maine there are lobster pounds everywhere and if you buy them live they are pretty cheap. Chris got a couple of lobsters for Jake and me (Chris and Jesse don’t like them). He brought home these 2 live lobsters and set them on the floor to see what Fat Cat would do. She walked in the room and walked right by them, not even noticing them at first. Suddenly she looked down and then jumped in the air as she realized they were alive. It was so funny to see her reaction, I wish I had a video.

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So, the hard part about buying live lobster is you have to cook them. I know, that seems pretty obvious, right? Well I’m not a fan of killing animals. I’m not a vegetarian or anything, but if I’m going to eat meat, I guess I prefer not having to see the animal alive first. I felt so bad having to put these things in the boiling pot of water. I did what my aunt said she does, I pet each one on the nose and thanked them for sacrificing their lives so Jake and I could eat. I know, I’m weird, but I think from now on I’ll let someone else do the cooking. That was a little traumatic for me, not to mention what it was like for the poor lobsters. At least they tasted good!

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After a couple of weeks in the Bar Harbor area, we moved to another quieter side of Acadia, Schoodic Peninsula and stayed at the Schoodic Woods Campground (the campground that will be forever etched in my memory as the last place we stayed in our beautiful home on wheels before it fell apart on us).

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Schoodic Peninsula is so beautiful and it definitely is quieter. I rode my bike along the bike trails and the park loop road. I don’t usually like riding on main roads, but this road was not busy at all. I think only about 5 cars passed me the whole time.

Hanging out at Schoodic Point in the evenings was lots of fun.

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I loved watching the waves crash against the rocks!

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We loved our time in Acadia, and had planned to return after Canada. There were a few other things we wanted to do there including watching the sunrise at Cadillac Mountain (the first to see the sunrise in the U.S.), and hiking the Bar Island Trail at Bar Harbor at low tide. Unfortunately the rest of our northeast plans had to be canceled so we will just have to put all of those things on the itinerary for another time.

Next I will write about all the things we did in Canada after we left the RV in storage.

Categories: Maine, National Parks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

North Cascades National Park

After we left Port Angeles we headed over to the little town of Concrete, Washington to visit North Cascades National Park.

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This park is known for mountains, glaciers and lakes. The glaciers are a beautiful turquoise green color like in this iconic view of Diablo Lake.

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Diablo Lake

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A park ranger explained to us that the glaciers moving against the rocks over time result in the stunning green color in the water. I was curious why the glacial melt in Glacier National Park results in blue water while this park’s glacial melt results in green. The ranger showed us how rubbing 2 rocks together from this area creates a fine green dust, while the rocks in Glacier must be somewhat different in the color resulting in a blue dust.

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We started the day at the Gorge Powerhouse, walking across the suspension bridge and then a short hike up to Ladder Creek Falls.

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Ladder Creek Falls

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Then we hiked the Thunder Knob Trail to see Diablo Lake. This hike was 3.6 miles round trip and to be honest it wasn’t really that interesting except for the end. There was not much to look at for the hike up, but once we got to the top we were rewarded with this view. This was an out and back hike so the hike back down was just as uninteresting, but easier of course as it was all downhill.

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If you’re short on time I wouldn’t bother with this hike. You can get a much better view of Diablo Lake from the Diablo Lake Overlook (the pictures from the beginning of this post were taken at the overlook). I don’t mean to sound negative about this hike, but my personal preference is to hike trails where you have amazing views throughout the hike, not just at the end.

Next we drove further down the scenic North Cascades Highway to hike the Rainy Lake Trail. This was a short 2 mile out and back hike to a beautiful lake. Again, the hike wasn’t all that interesting, but it was short and paved, and ended at this awesome view.

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Rainy Lake

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A few more miles down the road we stopped at the Washington Pass Overlook for some spectacular mountain views.

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Lastly, on the way out of the park we stopped at Cascadian Farms for some organic ice cream. I thought the blueberry ice cream was delicious!

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We stayed at the Grandy Creek Thousand Trails while we were in this area, and also celebrated Jesse’s 11th birthday that week. We had been so busy sightseeing and exploring while Gramma and Grampa visited, and I think everyone felt the need for a break. Jesse requested that we stay home for his birthday and not go anywhere. So that’s what we did. We spent the day at the campground, playing games and mini golf. I made his favorite ice cream cake and one of his favorite dinners — lasagna, meatballs and homemade bread. I bet you didn’t think we could bake all that in an RV, did you? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Last Christmas my dad and Chris switched out our microwave oven with a combination convection/microwave and I love it! The standard oven that comes with an RV is pretty useless since hardly any pans even fit in it. The convection oven fits my lasagna pan and bread pan perfectly. And I cook meatballs in our Instant Pot, one of the best kitchen appliances for an RV.

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I wasn’t sure how we could possibly top his 10th birthday that was celebrated at Mall of America, but he said this birthday was just as fun. Sometimes it’s the simple things in life I guess. ๐Ÿ™‚

Categories: National Parks, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Olympic National Park

After 10 wonderful weeks in Oregon we moved on to Washington where my parents would be joining us for a couple of weeks. Our first stop in WA was Port Angeles in the Olympic Peninsula. My parents flew into Seattle which was about 3 hours away but the closest airport for them to fly into. We had a fun day of planes, trains & automobiles (and ferries too!) when we went to pick them up. I will write a separate post about Seattle later.

While we were in Port Angeles we visited Olympic National Park. This park is huge and takes up most of the northwestern part of the state. It includes mountains, lakes, the ocean and even a rain forest!

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Port Angeles is near the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center so our first adventure at Olympic was hiking up to Hurricane Ridge. The views were spectacular! We were blessed with a beautiful, clear day and could see Victoria, British Columbia across the water where we went the next day. Stay tuned for a post about that amazing city.

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After the strenuous climb it was time for a snack break!

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Later that week we went to visit some other areas of Olympic that were close to Port Angeles including Marymere Falls and Lake Crescent.

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Marymere Falls

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Lake Crescent

It was quite smoky in the area that day due to wildfires in the northwest so it’s hard to get a good idea of just how clear this lake is. Standing over the edge of the dock the water was so clear you could see straight down to the bottom which was probably over 8 feet deep at that point, but it was really hard to tell.

We took an overnight trip over to the town of Forks, WA where the Twilight novels were based. This is the western side of Olympic but quite a drive from Port Angeles which is why we decided to spend the night instead of driving back and forth 2 days in a row.

Our first stop on this side of the park was the amazing Hoh Rain Forest. Near constant fog and mist in addition to 12 to 14 feet of rain each year result in this lush rain forest which has been designated one of the 7 wonders of Washington state.

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Hall of Mosses

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The boys earned their Junior Ranger badges at the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center.

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Next we headed over to Ruby Beach which was beautiful and so much fun!

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I love looking for colorful sea creatures in the tide pools, but I didn’t find any here, probably because the tide was coming back in.

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Jake decided to build a raft out of driftwood and float down the waterways. Jesse decided to join him. I nicknamed them Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Grampa liked skipping rocks.

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The next morning we woke up to a rainy day. I know that is not uncommon for the Pacific Northwest, but we had been very blessed with mostly beautiful days for the entire summer. Anyway, we weren’t going to let a little rain keep us from searching the early morning low tide pools at Rialto Beach.

At first it was just a little drizzle and fog, not too bad as we hiked to Hole-in-the-Wall and Split Rock.

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Split Rock

The rain picked up and we all got soaked, not to mention we were freezing! I don’t know about the rest of my people, but for me it was worth it. I saw the most beautiful and colorful starfish there. These were the best tide pools I saw in all of our time in the PNW!

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I had been searching for a purple sea urchin for weeks and never did find one, but I did see this beautiful purple starfish which was good enough for me.

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We saw lots of these green sea anemones everywhere!

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Chris and Jesse hung in there with me for a while longer after Gramma, Grampa and Jake decided they had enough of the cold and rain and headed back to the truck.

Jesse collected lots of rocks.

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We made it to Hole-in-the-Wall, looking just a little bit like drowned rats and feeling just a little bit cold!

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Hole-in-the-Wall

It was worth it to me at least. Look at this wonderland of tide pools just waiting to be explored! I could have stayed here all day if we weren’t wet and freezing.

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After this we walked/ran as quickly as we could back to some dry clothes and a warm truck. We had planned to go up to Cape Flattery next, the northwestern most point in the lower 48 states, but since the weather wasn’t cooperating we headed back to our cozy little home back in Port Angeles.

Up next… 2 beautiful days in Victoria, Canada.

Categories: National Parks, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Two Forts in Astoria, Oregon

We spent a total of 10 amazing weeks in my new favorite state of Oregon this summer, and we saved the best state park for last. Fort Stevens State Park is in the northwest corner of Oregon near the beautiful city of Astoria. This was my favorite state park we stayed at in Oregon. It was huge and so many of the sites have some trees and privacy. But the best part of the park was the miles of paved bike trails and historical places to visit.

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Awesome paved bike trails!

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Roadschooling one day consisted of touring the fort and a shipwreck on the beach. Fort Stevens was in service from the Civil War to World War II and guarded the mouth of the Columbia River.

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The Peter Iredale ship ran ashore in 1906 and the wreckage is now a tourist attraction on the beach at Fort Stevens. The boys loved climbing on this shipwreck.

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Peter Iredale shipwreck

The northern tip of the state park has beautiful views of the Pacific and the mouth of the Columbia River. You can also see the state of Washington across the river as well as the city of Astoria.

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One of the lookout points at Fort Stevens

Early in our Oregon travels we met a family back in Chiloquin that we have met up with at a couple of different places since then, one of them was Fort Stevens. We had a great time with them touring another fort (Fort Clatsop) and Astoria.

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The Lewis and Clark Expedition camped at Fort Clatsop during the winter of 1805-1806.

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The boys earned new Junior Ranger badges with their friends.

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After touring Fort Clatsop we explored the beautiful city of Astoria and had lunch at Mo’s. How is it we did not eat at Mo’s until the day before we left Oregon? There are several of them along the Oregon coast and they have the best clam chowder. Next time we’re in Oregon we’ll have to go there again.

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We climbed the 164 steps to the top of the Astoria Column where we were rewarded with gorgeous view of the Columbia River and the Astoria-Megler Bridge that goes to Washington.

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Astoria Column

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The kids enjoyed running and rolling down the hill outside of the column.

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It was a bittersweet day knowing it was our last day on the Oregon Coast. I thoroughly enjoyed our time exploring that part of this amazing country. I really hope to return again someday.

Categories: National Parks, Oregon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Bend, Oregon

We absolutely loved Bend, Oregon! We spent 2 weeks there at the Bend/Sunriver Thousand Trails and it wasn’t long enough. I was amazed at how many awesome recreational opportunities there are in that area. The Deschutes River is really popular for summertime water activities like kayaking, tubing and river rafting. There are so many parks and bike trails, as well as many places to go hiking. It’s also very dog-friendly; we saw people with dogs just about everywhere, including restaurants. There are even ski resorts nearby for all the wintertime fun you could want. Crater Lake is less than 2 hours away. The weather while we were there in July was very pleasant, although I’ve heard that since we left that area it has gotten quite hot.

During the 2 weeks we were there, we got to spend time with several other Fulltime Families (FtFs). We joined some other families for a field trip to Newberry National Volcanic Monument where we visited Pauline Falls which was gorgeous!

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Pauline Falls

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We also hiked the Obsidian Flow Trail which is a lava flow covered in obsidian and pumice stone. The pumice stone was so light while the obsidian was like black glass and very sharp and slippery. I slipped and fell on it and a couple of others cut their hands on it. You have to be really careful with this stuff!

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Obsidian Rock

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Roadschoolers Rock!

These 3 were inseparable at the campground, playing Minecraft all the time.

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Jake and the 2 Jesse’s

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After the Obsidian Flow we relaxed at one of the lakes where the kids enjoyed playing in the water and kayaking.

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Jake out in the kayak

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Jesse is always up for a game of ball (any kind of ball)

Later that weekend we went back to Newberry to explore some more with Chris. We hiked through a Lava Cave which was really cool, but too dark for pictures. We also hiked the Trail of the Molten Land and the Lava Butte Trail.

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Lava Butte

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Lava Butte

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Trail of the Molten Land

 

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The boys earned Junior Ranger badges here and part of their activities was to interview some of the park rangers.

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The last trail we hiked that day was to Benham Falls.

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There are other areas to explore at this park but we ran out of time. Such a wide variety of places to visit like waterfalls, caves, lava lands, lakes, etc. We really enjoyed this park!

I saved the best for last. Our absolute favorite thing we did while in Bend was tubing down the Deschutes River. We liked it so much we went twice, and also a third time at the Little Deschutes River at our campground. We went with some other FtFs which made it even more fun! On our second trip we had 16 people, and we all made a train by hanging on to each other to go down the rapids together. That was a blast and so funny when some of the group wiped out and fell in, including poor little Jesse. He took it like a champ though!

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We all really liked this house and decided if we wanted to live in Bend we’d like to live there. Just kidding, we couldn’t afford that house, and besides it doesn’t have wheels. I’m not ready to stop traveling and I still want a house on wheels. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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During the week we enjoyed the float down the Little Deschutes at the campground.

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We really enjoyed the time we spent in Bend, and hope to return again someday and stay for much longer!

 

Categories: National Parks, Oregon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Crater Lake National Park

There are just not words to adequately describe the beauty of Crater Lake; it must be one of the most beautiful places on earth! The water is the bluest blue you ever did see. That moment when I looked over the rim trail and saw it for the first time is something I will never forget. It literally takes your breath away, and these pictures definitely do not do it justice!

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Crater Lake with Wizard Island in the middle

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The rim trail is really fun to stroll along and see the lake from many different angles. After we had our fill of seeing the lake from the rim, we headed out for a hike up the Garfield Peak trail. The trail is 3.4 miles roundtrip, but most of it was still closed due to snow so we were only able to hike about a mile up and back. The views along the hike were stunning!

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Cute little marmot we saw on the trail

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Crater Lake Lodge

The trail to one of the viewpoints looks to have been recently cleared of snow. The snowbanks were so high here and in the parking lot. It’s incredible how much snow falls at Crater Lake every year. We were there in July and some of the roads and trails were still closed! Also, it was surprisingly warm in spite of the snow. It might look funny to see us in shorts with all that snow surrounding us, but it wasn’t cold outside at all.

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Jesse writing in the snow

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Snowball fight in July!

After we hiked and walked around the viewpoints we attempted to go to another area of the park to do another hike, but the traffic and crowds were crazy by this point. We decided to head back to the campground and come back another day.

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We came back in the evening later that week and it was not crowded at all. The first thing we did was stop at the Visitor Center to watch the park movie and let the kids earn their Junior Ranger badges.

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The most popular hike at Crater Lake is the Cleetwood Cove Trail which is the only trail where you can hike down to the lake. It is 2.2 miles roundtrip and includes a strenuous climb back up.

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It was really fun to go down to the lake! We learned in the park movie that the water is some of the purest water, so of course we had to try it.

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Tasting the crystal clear water of Crater Lake

On our way back out of the park we stopped and played in some of the mounds of snow. I still can’t believe how much snow there was in July. I can’t even imagine what it looks like in the winter.

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Crater Lake is so incredible! I really hope I inspired you to go see it, because like I said at the beginning of this post, my pictures do not do it justice. You just have to see it in person.

Categories: National Parks, Oregon | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Redwood National and State Parks

Northern California and the Redwoods are incredible! It seems the further north we went in the state of CA the more we liked it. Sorry SoCal folks, don’t hate us but we’re just not fans of traffic and crowds. Once we got up near the Redwoods it was like we arrived in a different state. It was so much less crowded and busy, and people on the roads no longer seemed like they were in such a hurry. Suddenly life slowed down and became more peaceful and relaxed, just the way we like it.

I wasn’t sure if we would like going to the Redwoods so soon after visiting Sequoia, but we really loved it! Even though they are both about big trees, they are so different.

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We spent 2 days exploring this park and the surrounding area. On day 1 we hiked the Big Tree and Lady Bird Johnson Grove trails. When we were in Texas we visited the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park. We learned a little bit about his wife Lady Bird Johnson, and it was fun to see a trail named after her at this park. She loved the Redwoods and was at the dedication of the national park in 1968.

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Hiking among ancient giants

It’s humbling to see how small we are compared to these giant trees.

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Can you see Jesse in this picture?

The next day we drove up to Crescent City to visit the Battery Point Lighthouse. I loved all the purple flowers in bloom… so pretty!

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Next we did another Redwoods hike called Damnation Creek Trail. I’m not sure where they got that name, but it was our favorite hike that we did at this park.

Most of the hike was among the enormous trees. The sun shining down through the trees looked so majestic!

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Banana slug we found along the trail.

After what seemed like a long time of hiking through the woods, we suddenly came to a clearing with this breathtaking view!

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It was so beautiful here! I took way too many pictures and we stayed for a long time. It was very hard to leave this spot!

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Jake loves looking at all the sea life in the tide pools.

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Jake’s collection of snails and mussels.

As much as I hated to leave this place it was time to head back. I still had one more hike for us to do before the end of the day. The hike out of here was tough! The entire hike getting to this point was downhill which means the hike back out was a very hard climb. I wasn’t sure I could convince my people to go on just one more hike after this one, but thankfully they went along with me. ๐Ÿ™‚

This was the Yurok Loop Trail which was a short trail with stunning Pacific views.

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By the time we finished all of our fun that day it was too late to get back to the Visitor Center in time to get the kids’ Junior Ranger badges. We went the next morning just before we left the campground to head to Oregon.

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32nd Junior Ranger badges

While visiting the Redwoods we stayed at the Klamath River RV Park. This was a very pretty park right on the river. I loved this view right in front of our camper with the mysterious looking fog.

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I think of all the places we have visited in California, Yosemite and the Redwoods have been my favorite. I can’t say I was sad to leave the state though; I sure don’t miss that traffic! We moved on and headed up to Oregon which is quickly becoming my new favorite state. More on that later.

Categories: California, National Parks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Yosemite National Park

When people ask me what is my favorite place we have been, I find that is a very difficult question to answer. This country has so many beautiful national parks to explore and it’s hard to pick just one. Some of my favorites are Bryce Canyon, Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Now I can add Yosemiteย to my ever-growing list of favorites because I just loved it!

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We had to take a few days off work to visit Yosemite because we stayed at Yosemite Lakes RV Park where there is no cellular coverage at all. That’s okay though, sometimes it’s nice to go somewhere and disconnect and really focus on enjoying our time at the park.

On our first day driving into the park we were lucky enough to spot a bear grazing in the grass beside the road. We pulled over to get a few pictures.

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Our first hike was to Lower Yosemite Falls. I have to say that when we were there in early May the rivers and waterfalls were raging and so powerful! The large amounts of rain and snow that California received over the winter have resulted in amazing falls to see in Yosemite.

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Lower Yosemite Falls

We hiked a portion of the trail up to Upper Yosemite Falls but did not make it the whole way. It’s a long way up there, but the views along the way are beautiful even if you don’t make it all the way to the top.

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Next we went to Bridalveil Fall which was overflowing onto the trail. As soon as we got close to the falls it seemed like it started pouring rain even though it was a sunny day. The spray from the falls was like a drenching downpour. And our feet were freezing walking through the ice cold water.

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Bridalveil Fall

There were some ponchos to borrow on our way up to view the falls; Chris was the only one smart enough to grab one. The rest of us got soaked!

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Ooh, that’s cold!!

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Raging river below the falls

After this we went to Tunnel View to see one of the best views in all of Yosemite. You can see El Capitan on the left, Half Dome in the distance in the middle and Bridalveil Fall to the right.

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The next day was a cold and drizzly day in Yosemite so we just took care of getting the kids’ Junior Ranger books done and watched the park movie which was very interesting.

On day 3 (our last day in the park) we did a really long hike to Vernal and Nevada Falls. We hiked a total of 9 miles which included a mile each way from the parking lot to the trailhead. We had hoped to also hike the 2 miles to see Mirror Lake after this but we were all way too tired after this hike to do it. Next time!

The hike up to Vernal Fall is very crowded, but starts to thin out once you get past this waterfall and continue on up to Nevada Fall.

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Vernal Fall

There is so much spray from this waterfall that you get soaked on the way up. It felt like we were getting rained on in the picture below.

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With the spray comes beautiful rainbows!

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Once you get to the top of Vernal Fall, there is a large flat area to rest, let your clothes dry and have a snack before continuing on up to Nevada Fall.

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Top of Vernal Fall

Continuing on up to Nevada Fall was strenuous but so worth it!

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Nevada Fall

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Top of Nevada Fall

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There was a nice, large flat area at the top of this waterfall also which was a great place to rest and have lunch.

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Starting our hike back down the other side of Nevada Fall

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We really enjoyed our stay at the RV park because we got to park next to the Travaglino family. They are the ones that started the Fulltime Families group. Fulltime Families runs all of the rallies we attend and it is through that group that we have met so many other like-minded traveling families. We are so thankful for FtF. We had met the Travaglinos before, but never had the chance to get to know them very well. We enjoyed hanging out by the campfire each night and getting to know their family better.

Unfortunately one night while we were sitting around the campfire someone ran into our truck. An RV was pulling into the campground at night and took a turn too wide and the back end of his RV hit the back of our truck. With us always traveling we wondered how in the world we’re ever going to get that taken care of. I prayed that God would help us work out all the details and that something good would come out of the inconvenience. Well it did! First of all, the other guy’s insurance took care of everything and they did it quickly. They got it fixed at our next stop in Santa Cruz within a week, and meanwhile we had a nice fuel-efficient rental car to use to sight-see around Santa Cruz and Monterey. If you are at all familiar with Highway 1 (also known as the scenic Pacific Coast Highway), you would understand that having a smaller vehicle for that was a true blessing. The timing could not have been better to have something besides our big truck to drive around in for a few days. Romans 8:28 says that all things work together for the good of those who love God. I find that promise to prove true in our lives all the time, and this was one of those times. ๐Ÿ™‚

Categories: California, National Parks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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