Posts Tagged With: junior ranger

Black Canyon National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is in Montrose, Colorado.

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The Gunnison River winds through the bottom of the canyon.

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This park has many beautiful viewpoints and a few hiking trails.  We only spent a few hours there because it was a very hot day, but we managed to see some awesome views and hiked one trail.

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And the boys earned new Junior Ranger badges.

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We enjoyed our visit in spite of the heat, but I think it would be more fun to explore this park when the weather is a little cooler.

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Categories: Colorado, National Parks | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Colorado National Monument

Colorado National Monument is in Fruita and Grand Junction, CO.  We hiked there for a few days while we were in the area.  It was similar to Utah with all the red rocks, but different because of all the mountains in the background.  It’s like the transition from the red rocks of Utah to the mountains of Colorado and that makes for lots of gorgeous scenery!

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On the way up into the hills we saw lots of big horn sheep.

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And we drove through a couple of cool tunnels.  I don’t know if we could have driven our house through there!

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There are several beautiful viewpoints and hikes to do in this park.  We went there in the evenings a few times after work because we were staying at a campground just 3 miles from the entrance.  We also spent a whole weekend day there.

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There is an entrance to this park in Fruita and also in Grand Junction and you can drive the whole scenic Rimrock Drive through from one side to the other.  Since the Fruita side was near our campground we drove all the way to the Grand Junction side only on the weekend when we had more time.  We did 2 hikes on the Grand Junction side: the Devil’s Kitchen and the Serpent’s Trail.  Who comes up with these names?  I can tell you that the Devil’s Kitchen was a very cool and refreshing rock room at the end of the hike where you could rest and cool off.  Not at all how I would imagine the devil’s kitchen to really feel like!

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Serpent’s Trail was a long hike uphill and then back down with amazing views all around.  And since it’s called Serpent’s Trail I expected to see lots of snakes but we only saw one.

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Later in the week we went back again in the evening so the kid’s could get their Junior Ranger badges.

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And we also did the Coke Ovens hike that night because it was too crowded on the weekend.

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On the way to the Coke Ovens we found this cave that was a little bit off the trail.  My 3 guys thought it would be fun to go in it, but I thought it was just creepy.  We walked in and were surprised at how far back it goes.  I opened up my flashlight app on my phone so we could see where we were going.  We did see light at the end of the tunnel but it got too narrow to crawl through (at least for adults).  All I could think of was what if there is a bear in here, or snakes or who knows what else?  Ah, the adventures of living with boys! 🙂

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The rest of the pictures are of some of the scenic viewpoints you can find along Rimrock Drive.

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They have a Balanced Rock just like Arches National Park!

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While we were in Fruita we stayed at James M. Robb Colorado River State Park.  Now that’s a mouthful of a name for a state park!  We had a really nice site with plenty of space (unlike those crowded RV parks in Moab). 🙂

Fat Cat loved this campground!  She would hide in the bushes and try to hunt birds.  One evening Chris & I were sitting outside enjoying the sunset and the cat was crouched down like she was ready to attack something.  Suddenly a black bird came low enough for her and she leaped into the air and actually touched the bird!  The bird flew safely away, but oh how I wish I could have captured that on video!  The picture below is Fat Cat resting on the picnic table until…

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… just minutes later she hears a bird on the roof of the patio cover!

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We enjoyed beautiful sunsets every evening.

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We loved this state park, but the weather suddenly turned really hot… I mean like 95+ degrees hot.  I didn’t think Colorado got that hot!  Anyway, the nice thing about having a house on wheels is that when the weather gets unpleasant we can move on.  And move on we did to higher elevations.

 

 

Categories: Colorado, National Parks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gulf Islands National Seashore

Our last stop in Florida was in Pensacola Beach.  We stayed at Ft. Pickens Campground on Gulf Islands National Seashore.0305161203e

This place is perfect if you are looking for a peaceful, quiet and uncrowded beach.  Our campsite was just steps from the beach.  It was the most beautiful white sand beach, and we almost had the whole beach to ourselves.  It was rare to even see another person out there.  We spent most evenings on the beach watching the spectacular sunsets.

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Sometimes during the day I took the boys to the beach to play in the sand or I just went by myself to enjoy a good book.  This was the perfect place to relax!

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One day we saw lots of dolphins swimming in the waves and we saw this large group of ducks or birds floating down the current all clustered together.  It was a strange sight!

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Even Fat Cat loved this place.  She wanted to be outside all the time; she even made friends with an armadillo!  I really wish I had a picture of that!

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Gulf Islands National Seashore is part of the National Park system which means they have a Junior Ranger program.  There was a bike path from the campground to Ft. Pickens so the boys and I went over there one day to tour the fort and do some activities towards earning their Junior Ranger badges.

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Touring the fort…

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There was also a museum to tour where we learned about the birds and sea life that is common in this part of Florida and we watched a movie about the history of Ft. Pickens.

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Earning new Junior Ranger badges…

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We enjoyed this park very much!  I would highly recommend it if you are looking for an uncrowded place to go near the Gulf Coast.

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

Petrified Forest National Park

I have not had as much time lately to blog because Arizona kept us very busy.  There is so much to see and do there!  I have a lot of catching up to do on blog posts, and Jake keeps asking me when I’m going to do it.  He and Jesse love to go back and read earlier posts to remember things we have done.  That is one reason why I blog, so we will have a journal to read later about all of our adventures on the road.

One of the places we visited in Arizona was Petrified Forest National Park.  We are loving our nation’s National Parks and this one did not disappoint.  We started at the south entrance of the park and worked our way up.  We spent about 5 or 6 hours hiking and exploring the park.  It’s not a huge park so that was enough time to see everything we wanted to see.  At the beginning we looked at the giant logs near the Rainbow Forest Museum and watched a movie about the history of the park.  Then we looked at some more petrified wood in the Crystal Forest.  The logs have been petrified over many years and look like beautiful, colorful crystals.  The wood is so hard and heavy, it’s hard to believe it was really a tree trunk at one time.

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Hiking through the Crystal Forest.

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A petrified log bridge called Agate Bridge.

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I thought that this park was going to be all about looking at petrified wood, and as beautiful as it is, I didn’t think it would be fun to look at several pieces of wood all day.  But there is so much more to this park.  It is part of the Painted Desert and that is a beautiful sight to see.  It really does look like God painted the hills in this desert, He is the Master Artist.

My favorite part of the park was hiking through the Blue Mesa and Forest.

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Jake holding a heavy piece of petrified wood.

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Next we checked out Puerco Pueblo which highlights ancestral Puebloan ruins and petroglyphs.  This is what they called Newspaper Rock displaying 2000 year old petroglyphs.

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Next we stopped to see a 1932 Studebaker where historic Route 66 once cut through the park.

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Then we hiked along the Painted Desert Rim Trail which had spectacular views of the desert.

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And lastly the boys completed their Junior Ranger books so they could earn a badge from this park.

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Petrified Forest National Park is right off I-40 and Historic Route 66.  There are so many interesting things to see along Route 66 in Arizona that I will write about in another post.  I hope you enjoyed this post about Petrified Forest.

Categories: Arizona, National Parks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sabino Canyon

We had a short visit to Tucson, Arizona — we cut it short because it’s over 100 degrees there right now.  There is so much to see and do in Tucson so we’ll have to plan to go back another time when it’s not so hot.  We did manage one sightseeing day while there despite the heat.  We visited Sabino Canyon in the Coronado National Forest.  Because it’s part of a National Forest we were able to get in with our National Park pass which has turned out to be a great deal.  $80 for a National Park annual pass for the whole family — we are getting lots of use out of it visiting as many National Parks, Monuments, Forests, Seashores and Recreation Areas as possible.

Sabino Canyon was beautiful.  The mountains are covered in Saguaro Cactus plants which I had never seen growing in the wild before.  It was a pretty cool thing to see!

Because it was so hot, we took the tram tour up the mountain which included a narrated educational tour into the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains.  We got off at the last stop back down and hiked the rest of the way which was about a 2 mile hike.  In 100+ degree heat, that was not easy.  At one point we weren’t even sure we were going the right way and we just wanted so badly to get back to some A/C and cold water.  Well obviously we made it back and didn’t melt in the desert.

Below are some pictures from Sabino Canyon.

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Earning another Junior Ranger badge…

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

White Sands National Monument

While visiting Las Cruces, NM we went to visit White Sands National Monument for a day.  It was an amazing thing to see!  I felt like we were back in Florida at the beach with all the sand dunes, but there was no ocean.  Just sand, and lots of it.  The sand is so white that it looks like snow and you can even go sledding on it.  So that’s what we did.  We spent the day sledding in shorts, how strange is that?  And what made it even better was spending the day here with another Fulltime Family.

This is our truck driving through the snow sand.  I even saw tractors that plow these roads.

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Sledding…

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The FtF mascot Rambler got to go for a few sled rides…

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Beautiful white sand for miles and miles…

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The beautiful Reyes family, we love them!

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Chris teaching the roadschool lesson for the day…

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Getting the Junior Ranger badges…

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New vests to display all the Junior Ranger badges they are earning…

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Back at the campsite in Las Cruces wearing their new badges…

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We have been blessed to be able to spend a week with the Reyes family.  We had so much fun with them at Carlsbad Caverns that they joined us for a couple of nights at the RV park in Las Cruces.  And since that wasn’t enough we joined them at City of Rocks State Park for a couple of nights.  We went our separate ways this morning, but we hope to meet up with them again someday soon.  But before leaving Michele gave me a wonderful gift, the picture below that she took of our RV under a sky full of stars…

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Categories: National Parks, New Mexico | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

I am currently blogging at 62 MPH.  Driving days are good days to get caught up on stuff like this.

We visited Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico yesterday and it was awesome!  We hiked the natural trail down into the cave and hiked all the trails underground and then rode up the elevator.  It was really cool to see stores, a restroom and an elevator underground!  The caves are home to a lot of bats, but unfortunately we were there a week too early for the evening show of bat flights out of the cave that I heard was really cool to watch.

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Entrance to the cave:

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It’s hard to get good pictures in a cave, but a few of them came out okay.

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Doing some roadschooling, learning about stalactites and stalagmites:

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Jake and Jesse earning their Junior Ranger badges:

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One of the best parts about our visit was we got to enjoy it with another Fulltime Family (FtF), the Reyes Family.  We love when we get to spend time with other FtFs.  FtF has a traveling mascot named Rambler.  Rambler travels around with a family, going on adventures around the country  until that family meets up with another FtF and passes him off.  So now we are the honored caretakers of Rambler for a little while.  We’ll take him on our adventures with us until we meet another FtF down the road that would like to take him for a while.  Jake and Jesse are so excited to have him for now.

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We really enjoyed visiting this park and I hope we’ll be able to come back someday and see the bat flight.

Categories: National Parks, New Mexico | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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