Some of my favorite vacations..National Parks Week

I’ve been thinking about some of my favorite trips since we have been in lockdown, and so many of them have been our trips to National Parks. We have not yet had the opportunity to take Wyatt, but I am hoping that maybe next year we will be able to start visiting with him, although I am not sure which to start at. An old favorite? One that is new to both Billy and I? We will see!

For now, I can look back with smiles on the memories I have made visiting the parks before he was with us and it was just Billy and I off adventuring, many times with my brother Devin and his wife Chrissy, before my niece was born as well.

I think my favorite of all that I have been to (which is not very many sadly!) is Shenandoah. To me there is just something so beautiful about the Blue Ridge Mountains, and Shenandoah in particular was so peaceful and lovely. We have stayed there more than once, and we always stayed in Big Meadows Lodge. Big Meadows Lodge was built by the CCC and is rustic and sturdy, with its stone and log walls. We stayed in a room that did not have television or phones, and I loved the quiet of it. The deer are so plentiful and numerous there that they are as common as the squirrels here, just frittering about in front of your room or on the trails. And so are other animals, including bears! We never saw one on the trail, but I am sure they knew we were there… we did see a mom and her cubs from our room though, all the way across a field. I was a bit nervous being from an area that does not have bears! But the best part was the horse back riding on the trail – I have always loved horses and never had the opportunity to ride them until Shenandoah and it was such a great experience. One of my favorite lifetime memories was here at this National Park too – and my brother told me the other day it was one of his as well. There is a little pub bar in the lodge where you can go and get drinks and snacks, and at night they have a sing-a-long. We all sat there drinking our wine and beer, singing along to songs like Country Roads by John Denver and then when we headed back to the room we stepped outside and saw the bright stars just blanketing the dark skies overhead, the mountains stretched out in front of us, the cool air and felt so alive and happy and in the moment. Just perfection, one of those moments you never forget.

Our trip to Sequoia was equally memorable – it was my first (and only so far) time in California and wow, so beautiful!! We stayed on Coronado Island to start, at the Hotel Del Coronado then ventured north to Sequoia, which was like something out of a movie set. If I ever move to California, that is where I want to go. I am a forests and lakes and mountains kinda girl, and I am not one for beaches, although they have their own beauty and charm. It is impossible to walk in the shade of the giant Sequoias and not feel in awe of nature’s wonder. We stayed in the lodge here too, because I am not a tent camper. I like bathrooms that are in my room and a bed and walls. Especially in bear country! Plus there is something to be said for hiking all day then going back to your room at night, at least in my opinion. The best of both worlds!

Unfortunately, my photos from our other trips have been lost when my old computer died. Our trips to Gettysburg (a place I have visited at least five times!), and to Mammoth Cave National Park, so different but both so amazing to visit. Then there is our trips to Chincoteague National Seashore when I was a kid, one of my favorite places ever and is on the top of my list to take Wyatt when we can travel safely again, and of course Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore! I do have photos from that trip though! And of course, I saw that pancakes picture and had to include it since I have a pancake problem… lol.

I have some parks that are on top of my list to visit one day! Acadia is definitely one, and of course the big ones like Yellowstone and Yosemite. Smoky Mountain too, because I can’t believe I have never been there, with my love of the mountains. Billy can’t wait to head west, although I’m not sure how I will feel about the desert but Carlsbad Caverns looks pretty cool. And of course we both want to go to Isle Royale in our own home state!

Have you been? What is your favorite?

National Parks Week!

Our family loves to hike and be outside, and before we had Wyatt, Billy and I had made plans to visit as many National Parks as we could. Notice the key word there, plans. We have visited a couple so far, but we were waiting until well, this year, to start visiting again, a plan that might be on hold for a little bit.

While we can’t visit this year, there are ways we can “visit” virtually if you need an escape for a bit. I love Instagram and always find different events and information through following different accounts, which is how I found out that Yosemite was hosting a virtual campfire program Saturday night. We set up Wyatt’s tent in the living room, lit a virtual fire on my laptop, gathered blankets and pillows and snacks, and tuned in. My brother and his family did the same, and we video chatted each other before the event. It was the closest we could get to hanging out right now, but it was nice to see my little niece having such a fun time doing the same thing we were.

It’s not the same as visiting in person, but there are ways to visit virtually! I am adding some here, and I might add to this list as the week goes along, so keep checking back!

The complete list of National Park Week events from the NPS. If you scroll down there is a list of all these different parks and if you click on a park listed, it takes you to their pages of events! So many to choose from and look through! https://www.nps.gov/subjects/npscelebrates/national-park-week.htm#CP_JUMP_6139956

Take a virtual visit to a park! https://www.nationalparks.org/connect/blog/take-virtual-visit-national-park

The NPS has a checklist of a great ways to celebrate the National Parks virutally https://www.nps.gov/articles/national-park-week-inspired-20-virtual-ideas.htm

Or if you have kids, here is a complete list of how to earn Junior Ranger Badges at home from the blog Craft Knife http://craftknife.blogspot.com/2018/06/heres-every-national-park-junior-ranger.html

A few free coloring sheets from The Landmark Project.. https://thelandmarkproject.com/blogs/news/nps-coloring-pages

Billy and I spent some time coloring on Saturday…

Follow Parks Project on Instagram for a different challenge everyday, like trivia, playlists, and challenges!

And of course, there are always books! We may not be able to go to the library in person, but these books are available digitally or if not, for purchase. These are a few that I have read, but there are obviously tons out there – I even picked up a few more to read while grabbing these cover images! This list is a mixed bag of fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books but I have enjoyed them all!

Later this week I will be sharing some of our previous adventures at National Parks. What is your favorite park?

My Almost Last Minute Outdoor Inspired Gift Idea Guide!

So I posted my kid oriented gift idea post the other day, and here is my outdoor inspired one for adults! These are all things I would buy my husband, have bought my husband, and/or want a version of for myself. I love everything on this list! Again, check shipping this close to Christmas before ordering.

Under $25

Field Notes National Parks Journals: So I am in love with blank books. And the National Parks. In fact you will see a lot of National Park stuff on this list, so I apologize in advance. Lol. These are so cool and you get a set of three of $12.95! (and the paper is from Michigan, my home state so bonus!)

National Park Beanie: Buying this hat helps support the National Parks, plus it looks super warm and utilitarian, something my husband loves in a hat.

Opinel Knife: Great little knife to have, according to my husband. I got him one last Christmas and he loves it. Good to work with, and feels good in your hand, according to him.

Duke Cannon Bourbon Beard Balm: My husband is a big fan of all things Duke Cannon – he has the soap, shampoo bar, and is probably getting this for Christmas….

Retro Classic Flashlight: Let me preface this by saying all the men in my family are fascinated by flashlights – my dad, my husband, my son. Not sure what that is about but whatever floats your boat! I love this one and it is a great price for a great looking flashlight.

Pendleton National Park Socks: I have been in love with this company forever and will one day own a blanket. But for now, socks for my husband work! (and for me, I am not opposed to stealing them and wearing them. Or buying some for me too)

Under $50

Printworks Night Puzzle: A puzzle worthy of your time – doesn’t this look challenging? I love it. Perfect for long dark winter nights and tea! (or something stronger)

Yeti Tumbler: This is such a great gift, and great for our environment too! We use ours everyday!

Smokey the Bear shirt: I love Smokey the Bear everything – so does my husband. A throwback to my youth, with such a great message. And, some of the proceeds from this shirt do go towards wildfire prevention education.

Zero Waste Shave Kit: So I posted beard balm above – this one is for our clean faced crew. We are trying to go as plastic free and zero waste as we can, slowly bit by bit, and I am loving this item for men who are sans the beard.

Glacier National Park Beanie: Ok, so I know I am repeating myself – two hats, two different journal sets. But I love them and they are different so…. here they are. These beanies are National Park themed by park, and there are 10 different choices, including a Smokey the Bear version!

Wilco Field Notes – A set of 6 instead of 3, and totally different in theme. I couldn’t decide which I liked better so I am listing them both!

Under $100

Oil Cloth Backpack: I like things that are going to last and take a beating – and this backpack looks like it can withstand whatever is thrown at it, including a spill from your morning coffee. Duluth also has a lifetime guarantee on all of their products as well, which is awesome!

Lagavulin Scotch: My husband’s favorite. And I don’t mind this one either! Our friend introduced us to scotch over a really good vanilla ice cream with some ground pepper on top as a dessert – and it may sound weird but it is delicious! You can get this bottle engraved too.

Pima Cotton Crew Sweater: Another Pendleton item! On sale right now but it is only for a short time! Still under $100 even when not on sale which seems like a deal!

National Park Foundation Travel Telescope: I am a stargazer. My husband is as well. And we are already teaching Wyatt about the night sky. I think this is a great idea for families to learn and explore our world more together!

Big Time Splurge:

Shinola Watch Runwell 47mm: I love that these are made in Detroit! I toured the factory and was so impressed with all of it. These are beautiful timepieces. Not super outdoorsy but beautiful.

So I realize that these items will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I wanted to throw some of our loves and ideas out there, even to just get the ball rolling if anyone was looking for ideas! Even if these are not the item you are looking for, you may find the perfect thing on one of these websites!

Happy Shopping!!

Two Mini-Reviews: Where the Fire Falls and Dear Bob and Sue

It’s a rainy, dreamy, dreary morning here, but I’ve got my coffee and I am ready to review!

where the fire falls Where the Fire Falls is a book I picked up because I loved the first in this Vintage National Park series so much. I am a huge fan of National Parks, the wilderness, and throw in the vintage aspect and I am there. This book did not disappoint either. Olivia looks and acts the part of the oh so glamorous flapper, a good time girl and artist trying to make it big. She gets the offer of a lifetime when she is sent to Yosemite to paint for a travel magazine – an offer she can’t really refuse, located in the one place she said she would never set foot. Practicality wins, and her trip to Yosemite turns out to be a life changer, especially after meeting rugged, handsome outdoorsman Clark – who also happens to be a former minister. If you are apprehensive about reading a book with a little bit of religion, this book is a good one for you. The religious aspects are very well done, not super in your face, and fit the book and the scenery, settled into the beauty and majesty that is Yosemite. I thoroughly enjoyed this book! And seriously, isn’t this cover awesome?

dear bob and sue

Since we are talking National Parks, let’s talk about Dear Bob and Sue. Can I just fangirl a second? I totally loved this book!  It was chock full of real life moments, a real life relationship, adventure, laughter, and I learned lots of things along the way. Parts of the book made me laugh out loud, others made me think, and all of the time sparked my own wanderlust and desire to visit all of these parks as well! I learned so much, it inspired me to learn more about the places I read, and it certainly expanded my own to-do list. I highly recommend this book to anyone else who loves the outdoors and hiking and travel.