Family Adventures

#OutdoorFamilies Enjoying Summer Time One Picture at a Time

Summer is the time when kids are free from school and parents try to be "free" from work!  Summer time reminds me of my childhood road trips to beaches, mountains and deserts.  Sadly, Summer is coming to an end (and for many it has ended already) but Hiking Along and I wanted to celebrate the great moments #OutdoorFamilies had this Summer 2014, just like the previous year summer adventures!  From Cananda to East and West Coast of the USA, outdoor families know how to have fun.

Jumping into Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire.
Photo by Jennifer Chambers of Hiking Along

The Moser Family heading up to Summit Lake in the Hoover Wilderness at 11,100 ft in the sky!
Photo by Jeff Moser of The Path Less Beaten

Enjoying the waves at Patrick Point State Park in Trinada, CA
Photo by Lindsey Stewart

Having a good time at hiking at Wilcox Pass Banff National Park

Too much sweetness in this family backpacking trip in Uintas, Utah
Photo by Alyssa Erickson of The Kid Project 

Sometimes mamas need a trip without the tots, Susan enjoying Exit Glacier at Kenai Fjord National Park in Alaska!
Photo by Susan Strayer of Mountain Mom and Tots

Splashing around in Bear Lake, Utah
Photo by Kathy Dalton of Go Adventure Mom

Crabbing while SUPing! Double the fun at Nantucket, Massachusetts
Photo by Christina McGuire of Skirting Season and Teton Family

Sister and brother enjoying the views at Moraine Lake in the Alberta Canadian Rockies!
Photo by Amber Johnson of Mile High Mama.

Which pictures above is your favorite of #OutdoorFamilies enjoying nature?

Do you have a favorite family summer snapshot of your own you would like to share? Share your picture on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and tag @HikingAlongKids, @ChasquiMom and hashtag #OutdoorFamilies on your photo.

Enjoy the few days left of Summer (if you have any left) and start planning outdoor family Fall adventures!  Head on over to Hiking Along to see some more great summer snapshots!

Related Posts and Links:
  1. Outdoor Summer Round Up

The Amazing Crystal Cave at Sequoia National Park

One of my childhood dreams was to visit the, Crystal Cave in Sequoia National Park. Unfortunately the one time my parents tried to take us to the Crystal Caves the trail was covered with ice (during summer time!), so the National Park Service wasn't allowing visitors due to the slippery trail.

Years had past and I never visited, so we when we were planning our Sequoia trip this past June I made sure we were going to visit the beautiful stalactites and stalagmites!  There are really no words to describe the wonderful underground world but here are some tips and information about the Crystal Cave.

There is a little bit of hiking to get to the cave 1/2 mile for a total of a 1 mile hike roundtrip, this does not include the walking inside the cave. Very easy hike down to the cave but that means a steep hike up to the parking lot.

Tips for Families with Children

  • Soft Kid Carrier ~ A full blown kid carrier is probably over doing it for this 1-mile hike since ANY type of kid carrier is not allowed into the caves.  All bags, backpacks, kid carrier (fabric too) has to be left at the cave entrance.
  • Water ~ Bottled water is not allowed inside the cave but you can take the water and leave at the entrance of the cave.  We didn't bring any water which wasn't a big deal on the way down but we all got a little thirsty on the hike up.  Bring water down and leave it at the entrance before entering the cave.
  • Extra Layer ~ The cave is ALWAYS 50 degrees Fahrenheit, no matter what the weather is outside the cave.  It was in the 80's when we visited in late June, at first it felt great to be in this "natural air conditioned" cave but the change it temperature does make it chilly after a sweaty hike.  Take sweaters for the whole family especially for little ones who cool off quicker.
  • Darkness ~ Caves are dark, but they do have lighted areas or else we could not see all the great rock formations.  My toddlers enjoyed the semi-darkness but at one point of the tour, the guide turned off all the lights and it was completely dark.  Make sure you are holding your child, especially if they are scared of the dark.  No flashlights or flash photography is allowed.
  • Pricing and Ticket Location ~ Adults were $15/ticket, 5-12 years $8/ticket and under 5 years $5 ticket.  Tickets are not sold at the actual Crystal Cave bookstore.   Purchase tickets at one of the visitor centers.

The Crystal Cave Tour

The tour actually starts half an hour BEFORE the schedule ticket, i.e. 3:30 pm ticket time, meetup with guide at the book store at 3:00 pm to have enough time to hike down to the cave entrance.  If you get down early there is a beautiful waterfall and creek to relax by. Traffic to the Crystal Cave can be quite a hassle due to all of Sequoia's road construction, so we left 2 hours before our schedule time per the docents suggestion.  Photography is allowed but with NO FLASH, fortunately my camera had a nifty nighttime feature that allowed my pictures to come out.  I can describe the caves to you but I'd rather show pictures!

Walking through the first level....

My kids thought these were icicles and everything was snow to them...

The cave family...

Fairyland, those little stalactites were 100 years old....

Stalagmite (coming from the ground) aka Jabba the Hutt...

 Chasqui Mom Last Thoughts.....

I truly was beyond amazed by Crystal Cave, I couldn't even pay attention to the guide explaining how this beautiful place was created because I was so mesmerized by this place.  Something about the water flowing above and through the cave created it, over thousands and thousands of years. It was a family favorite during our week-long vacation at Sequoia National Park and my kids definitely have a fascination with caves now!

It might be a little touristy location for an outdoor enthusiast but I highly recommend visiting this Crystal Cave.  I'm glad that many years ago some National Park Rangers slid down this mountain on their butts and found the beautiful California treasure by accident.  Now thousands of people can experience this amazing place in addition to everything else Sequoia National Park has to offer.

Have you visited Crystal Cave or a similar marble cave? What did you love?

Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment here! You can also join in on the conversations on Chasqui Mom's FacebookInstagram and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!

Related Posts and Links:

  1. Crystal Cave ~ Sequoia Natural History Association
  2. Pinnacles National Park ~ Bear Gulch Caves

It's Not All Sunshine and Roses When Traveling with Kids

I had a rough week. Granted this might be a whiny post, "get it off my chest" type writing but that is how I like to express myself.  Feel free to scour the rest of my blog and ignore this post.

My family loves the outdoors and sometimes we like extend my husband's business trips to mini outdoor vacations. I am fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home mom to our two toddlers so we occasionally tag along on business trips.  My kids love traveling and if they are home for more than a week they ask to "go to their new house" aka hotel or "go build a tent."  This week we decided to extend a business trip and explore Orange County, Southern California - aka The OC.  My kids are normally champs when it comes to traveling but this trip was a little rough on everyone.  More details on our actual outdoor adventures later but first I need to get stuff off my chest about my traveling debacles this week.

  • Transitions:  Transitions were a constant battle during our Orange County  trip. When we had to say goodbye to daddy so he could work, getting our car rental and checking in at the hotel was just awful. I was alone with two cranky toddlers, a large suitcase, a backpack, two car seats and had to walk all over the airport and hotel.  A stranger at the airport saw how much I was struggling and felt so bad he helped me carry all my gear.  Why didn't I get a cart? Well I just didn't think about it until after I had lugged all my stuff into our rental.
  • Meltdowns: Constant meltdowns.  I think my daughter had the worst meltdown ever this week. Why you may ask? Because she fell down on the grass and got her pants slightly wet.  This is the girl who loves to rub dirt and mud ALL OVER herself whenever she can...45 minutes of blood curling screaming because I would not pick her up.  Hotel employees were looking at my all crazy, I didn't care.  My son is growing out of meltdowns but he cried more than normal for any little reason like an dropped item, a stick that broke, etc.  Someone was always crying even me... 

  • Sickness/Migraine: My kids had a little cold, I mean really weak cold but throw in travel and probably not sleeping enough exasperates everything which probably perpetuated meltdowns.  I'm prone to migraines and the perfect migraine storm occurred, so I spent a portion of a day in "migraine mode."  If you are a parent and have migraines screaming little ones don't really help alleviate your migraine pain.  Thankfully, my doctor has prescribed me a migraine medication that 99% of the time helps my migraines disappear.
  • Theft: Someone in a coffee shop stole my Nexus 10 tablet. Seriously. I doctored my coffee, sat my kids down outside with 10 things in my arms, realized I had left my tablet inside, ran in and it was gone. There was only one person gone after I ran outside so I'm assuming it was him.  I tried to keep my tears in but ended up crying like a baby when I got to my car.  My kids haven't really seen me cry and were very worried that I had injured myself.  I explained that Mommy was sad and they showered me with hugs and "I love you."  I just needed to vent and get over the fact that it was just a thing.
  • Hotels:  I love hotels but they stress me out as a mother.  It resembles too much like a home where my kids know they can watch whatever show they want. Unlike our home, hotels have regular TVs with a weird thing my kids don't understand: commercials, that don't always show their favorite shows... Also so many sharp edges and shiny things for my kids to break. I share many of the same views on Camping vs. Hotels that Mae of Mommy Loves Trees talks about!
O'Neill Regional Park, Trabuco Canyon, California
I love traveling and fancy hotels but by the time we left Newport Beach I was ready to be outdoors, on the foothills of  Saddleback (Orange County).  It's not always sunshine and roses when traveling with kids, but we do it because we always like to have our family together.  My husband has been told on many occasions by his co-workers that they are jealous that we are able to join him on business trips.  We love traveling but that doesn't mean it is easy because the matter of fact its not, even for an "experienced family travelers."

What do you dislike the most about family travel? Especially traveling to get outdoors with the family?

Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment here! You can also join in on the conversations on Chasqui Mom's FacebookInstagram and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!

Related Posts and Links:
  1. Confessions of an Outdoor Mom
  2. "Camping vs. Hotels: Why you should camp for your next family vacation!" by Mommy Loves Trees

Celebrating Children's Birthdays Outdoors

As you probably figured out the outdoors is a large part of our lives, so when milestones come around like celebrating our little ones birthday's we like to indulge our children in the outdoors.  This last year we tried something new, we asked our little ones where they wanted to go for their birthdays.  I already knew the answers before they even said where they wanted to go:  the beach and the snow!

Sandy Venice Beach ~ My Daughter's Wonderland

During the last days of summer, my little girl turned two years old and even though we celebrated my little "Tinkerbell" with pizza and family we wanted to give my daughter want she loves the most, the beach.  We headed over to a special beach (the one my husband proposed to me), Venice Beach one of four beaches at Half Moon State Beach.  I was happy to celebrate my special girl at a place that I have fond memories of.

My daughter loves the outdoors and in particular the sand at the beach, so why not let her enjoy her favorite place on the day she entered into this world.  We packed a little picnic, played in the sand, ran away from the waves but it didn't last too long because it was one of those cold summer Northern California beach day.

Snowy Yosemite Valley ~ My Son's Birthday Wish

Ever since our road trip to Rocky Mountain National Park over the summer, my son had been dying to go play in the snow.  When he saw white glaciers on the tops of the Colorado mountains, he yelled with glee "Mommy!! That is SNOW!! Let's go get our snowboards and go down the mountain!".  Almost every day since he had been asking to go to the snow, so a few days before his birthday California had one of the very few storms that turned Yosemite Valley into a white winter park.  After a few days after his bowling birthday party, my son's birthday wish came true!

The excitement was almost unbearable for him, we sang Happy Birthday all day long and he kept on saying that it was "Christmas time now".  He had a lot of firsts on his 4th birthday like building a snowman, snowshoeing, sledding, and snowball fight.  Yosemite National Park was a magical snowy birthday for our little mountain man.

An Outdoor Tradition We Will Continue

I love loud birthday parties with all my extended family but at the same time I love the quietness of celebrating my kids birthdays outdoors, just the four of us.  Watching my kids enjoy and explore the outdoors with wonder is one of the great aspects of parenthood.  Thank you God for entrusting me with my beautiful babies!

Love you my children.

Do you have any outdoor family traditions? For birthdays, anniversaries, etc?

Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment here! You can also join in on the conversations on Chasqui Mom's FacebookInstagram and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!