Posts Tagged With: rv travel with kids

Pacific Coast Highway – Day II

If you missed my post about Day 1 you can see it here: Pacific Coast Highway – Day I.  The next day we headed north of Santa Cruz. Everything we did this day was thanks to the advice of my blogger friend at Weekend Campervanning, and it turned out to be such a fun day!

Our first stop was at Ano Nuevo State Park to see the elephant seals. Wow! So many seals and they make such interesting sounds. Check out my YouTube video below to hear them yourself.

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Beginning of hike to go see the elephant seals; beautiful views along the way!

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So many elephant seals all in one place!

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These seals migrate to this beach twice a year to breed and to molt. At this time of the year they are there to molt or shed their first layer of skin. I found it so interesting that they migrate thousands of miles each year. How do they know to keep coming back to this exact location? Fascinating! I could have literally sat there and watched these animals all day long, but after about an hour or so my people were getting anxious to move on to something else.

Our next stop was at Bean Hollow State Beach to check out the tide pools which were very cool!

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On the way back down towards Santa Cruz we stopped at a couple of beautiful view points. Notice how some pictures have clear, blue skies while others are foggy? It’s very strange how we can drive just a few miles down the road and the skies go from completely foggy to clear!

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Our last stop was at Swanton Berry Farm to pick fresh, organic strawberries. Yummy!

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While we were in this area we stayed at the Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA campground. This was a very expensive campground and not what we normally spend, but it seems everything in this part of California is expensive so we had to splurge. This KOA though is one of the nicest we have ever been to. Our campsite had a deck/patio in back, a great place to relax! The activities for kids at this place were awesome! The kids loved the bounce pad the best.

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The pool was under construction, but it was too cold when we were there anyway so we didn’t mind that it wasn’t open yet. They had a very nice playground, mini golf, a climbing wall and scheduled activities each day including bingo which we loved.

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One of the scheduled activities included a hole-in-one contest at mini golf that Jesse won. His prize was a free bike rental so we tried out the four-seater bike to ride around the park.

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We enjoyed our stay at that KOA so much and really enjoyed visiting the nearby areas along the Pacific Coast. After we left there we went to stay at a Thousand Trails park for free for 2 weeks to offset the cost. 😉 I know, it’s not technically free since we had to buy the membership to Thousand Trails, but if we stay at enough of those parks throughout the year it really makes camping cheap, and helps to offset the more expensive places we go.

 

Categories: Fun and Interesting Places | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Pacific Coast Highway – Day I

If you read my last post about Yosemite, you might remember I mentioned our unfortunate truck incident that turned out to be a blessing because of the rental car we were able to use to drive the scenic Pacific Coast Highway. After Yosemite we headed to the coast to visit the areas of Monterey Bay and Santa Cruz. These areas are pretty congested with lots of traffic and tight parking spaces so we were pretty happy to have a smaller car for this!

On day 1 we explored from Monterey south on Highway 1 until we couldn’t go any further due to road closures.

Our first stop was at the Dennis the Menace park in Monterey. The boys loved this! What a unique and fun playground!

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Then we headed on down to the 17-mile drive through Pebble Beach. It costs $10 to drive this scenic drive, but if you stop and eat at a restaurant along the way you will get that back. We didn’t stop though because as you can imagine restaurants in this area are quite pricey. $10 off wouldn’t have made much difference.

The first part of the drive was very foggy! It was hard to see much of the ocean. There are several viewpoints along the drive to stop and take pictures.

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One area had some nice tide pools to explore.

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Once we got to the Lone Cypress tree viewpoint, the fog cleared a little bit so we could see the beautiful blue water of the Pacific. This was definitely the prettiest stop along the drive.

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Our next stop was at Carmel-by-the-Sea, a cute little town with lots of shops and restaurants. We had planned to find a place to eat lunch there. We walked around for over an hour checking out restaurants and could not find a single place with reasonable prices for lunch so we ended up just getting some sandwiches at a market/deli and continuing on our way.

Then we drove down Hwy 1 and stopped at many vista points to admire the view and take pictures. The fog would come and go along the way, and in some ways the fog made things look more mysterious.

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Looking down over the ocean covered in a thick layer of fog was a really cool site to see. It was kind of like being in an airplane looking down at the clouds below you. The fog just hovered over the water.

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Our last stop was Point Lobos State Park. The fog cover was so thick there we weren’t able to see much.

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Pretty eerie look with all the fog, don’t you think?

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The next day we drove north to Santa Cruz and beyond to see elephant seals and more. Stay tuned…

Categories: Fun and Interesting Places | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 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 Yosemite 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. 🙂

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

Sequoia National Park

After leaving Las Vegas it was time to head into California. First stop was Sequoia National Park located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We had planned to also visit Kings Canyon while we were there, but the only day we had available to do that ended up being a rainy and cold day so we didn’t make it.

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Anyway, Sequoia was beautiful of course but we only spent one day there. We stayed in Lemon Cove about 30 miles from the entrance. I had assumed we could make a few trips into the park in the evenings during the week, but on our first visit on Sunday we quickly realized that was not feasible. The hard part about visiting Sequoia is that you have to drive a very long twisty & windy road up a mountain before you get to most of what you would want to see and do in the park. So even though we were only 30 minutes from the entrance, it was probably another hour drive before we got to any hiking trails and things to see. And that hour drive was the source of some complaining of car-sickness because of the windy road. So we decided in order to more full experience this and Kings Canyon (which is connected to Sequoia), we will come back again someday and stay at a cabin or lodge inside the park. That way we will only need to do the carsick-inducing drive once and then spend a couple of days exploring once we’re in there.

Of course the main attraction at Sequoia are the enormous sequoia trees.

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General Sherman is the biggest tree on earth. Not the tallest nor the widest, but biggest by volume. Interestingly, the top of the tree is dead but the volume keeps increasing. The trunk grows wider every year, adding enough wood to equal another tree.

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A tree’s trunk tells its history. The rings in the tree below show that the tree lived about 2,210 years and marks within some of the rings show scars from at least 80 different fires

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Can you spot the boys and me in the picture below? We are so small compared to these giants!

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The area of the park where you go to see these trees is at a pretty high elevation, so there was still lots of snow left in May.

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After admiring the giant sequoias, we went to hike up Moro Rock. You get beautiful panoramic views of the entire park from up there.

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Lastly we went to the Tunnel Log to see if we could fit our big truck through it.

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We fit!

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We stayed at Lemon Cove RV Park which was a nice little park with a pool. Even though it was very cold up in the higher elevations of Sequoia, down where we stayed it got quite hot that week. An added bonus to staying there is we met another Fulltime Family staying at the park. We really enjoyed getting to know them during the week at our nightly “happy hours” and hope to meet up with them again soon.

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The drive into Sequoia from Lemon Cove is very pretty, passing by Kaweah Lake…

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…and the cute town of Three Rivers and the currently raging Kaweah River. Please be careful if you visit any areas with raging rivers like this. Two people died falling into this river during the time we were in the area. The water is so rough right now due to all the heavy rain and snow CA experienced over the winter, and the rocks are so slippery. I believe the people that died fell in when they slipped on the rocks.

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One day was certainly not enough to fully experience Sequoia, there is much more to see so we will hopefully go back again someday and visit Kings Canyon while we’re at it. Next we moved on to Yosemite, one of my new favorite parks!

 

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Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon was one of my favorite places we visited in our first year of travels, and it is definitely worth a return visit. This is one of those places that I could return to again and again. I could never tire of hiking through the beautiful hoodoos.

If you’ve been following along you might remember that we got to enjoy some snow at Grand Canyon just a couple of weeks before coming here. We were so excited to get even more snow while we were at Bryce Canyon.

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The boys got to enjoy sledding down a little hill at the campground. When we bought these sleds for the sand dunes in Texas we had no idea we would get to use them again so soon, or that we would be able to use them for snow this time!

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We had one good day of snow, but most of it melted the next day. The rest of the week we were able to go for several hikes in the evenings after work. I love daylight savings time since it gets dark later in the day now so we have time to hike in the evenings.

Our first hike of the week was a repeat of one of our favorite hikes at this park: Queens Garden. This hike can be combined with the Navajo Loop trail, but since we wanted to do shorter hikes each evening, we did not combine them this time. The views on this hike are so incredible which means I took way too many pictures.

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The next day we did the Navajo Loop trail, but it ended up not being a loop because the Wall Street section was closed. So we hiked out and back. This hike includes going down a bunch of switchbacks which you later have to hike back up. Hiking back up is exhausting! On the way down most people passing me on the way back up were out of breath. I knew that would be me on our way back up, and sure enough it was!

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The last hike we did that week was the Peek-a-Boo Loop trail starting from Bryce Point. This hike was new to us this time and we all loved it! That has become our new favorite hike at Bryce. The hike down from Bryce Point was a little tricky with all the ice and snow still on the trail. It was wet, muddy and slippery in some sections, but so worth the effort to get to the bottom for the Peek-a-Boo Loop. This hike is a total of 5 miles: 1 mile down from Bryce Point, a 3 mile loop and then a mile climb back up.

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We stayed at Ruby’s Inn RV Park. We really like to stay there while visiting Bryce because it’s right outside the entrance to the park. There is also a shuttle bus to take you into the park from the campground, but it wasn’t running yet when we were there in April. The shuttle bus service runs from May through September.

This last picture was taken on scenic highway 12 on the way to Bryce as you go past Red Canyon. When we came here 2 years ago we weren’t sure if we could fit under this tunnel so we pulled over to measure before going under. This time I wanted to get a picture of Chris driving the rig under the tunnel and I can see we had plenty of room!

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