Family Adventures

Becoming a National Park Service Junior Ranger

One of the great programs that the National Park Service provides is the Junior Ranger Program.
The Junior Ranger motto is...

"Explore, Learn and Protect!"

The NPS Junior Ranger Program is:
"An activity based program conducted in almost all parks, and some Junior Ranger programs are national.  Many national parks offer young visitors the opportunity to join the National Park Service "family" as Junior Rangers.  Interested youth complete a serious of activities during a park visit, share their answers with a park ranger, and receive an official Junior Ranger patch and Junior Ranger certificate.  Junior Rangers are between the ages of 5 to 13, although people of all ages can participate." 
[United States. National Park Service. "Junior Rangers | National Park Service." National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior, n.d. Web. 19 Jan. 2015. <>.]
We had the opportunity to visit John Muir National Historic Site, which was John Muir's home in Martinez, California in the San Francisco Bay Area during the early 1900's.  We had a lovely family picnic on the grounds just as I imagined John Muir and his family did many times!

While visiting the Visitor Center, we were pleased to find out that our son was finally old enough to participate in the Junior Ranger program so we acquired the Junior Ranger booklet and began the program.

After completing a serious of booklet activities which included:
  • Answering questions
  • Scavenger Hunt in John Muir's home
  • Detective Time
  • Drawings
  • Observing a Tree
  • Investigating Reporting

We were able to proceed with our son's "Junior Ranger Pledge" with NPS Ranger Jim! [Video]

My son was so happy he was finally a Junior Ranger that after he got his badge, we headed for a hike on Mount Wanda, which was named after one of John Muir's daughter!

Chasqui Mom, Junior Ranger David and NPS Ranger Jim

Hiking on Nature Trail on Mount Wanda, John Muir National Historic Site
It's very special to my husband and I, that my son was able to become a Junior Ranger at John Muir's home and then we were able to hike on the same trails that John Muir hiked with his children.  It was a very fitting for the occasion!

Thank you National Park Service and Ranger Jim, from the bottom of our hearts!

Related Post and Links:

  1. Backpacker Magazine: Oakland, CA: Mt. Wanda, John Muir National Historic Site

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

A Little Bit of the Outdoors Indoors: Christmas Tree Chopping

It's been somewhat of a tradition since I was a teenager for my family and I to head out to the "mountains" to chop down our Christmas Tree.  We started this tradition when my family moved up to the San Francisco Bay Area from Southern California and it's a tradition that my husband and I have continued with our children!

Now it's a multi-generational extended family event that usually ends up being a great day roaming around the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains with my family, and when I say 'my family,' I mean my WHOLE FAMILIA!!  Grandparents, parents, aunts, cousins, brothers, sisters all join in on the fun.

This year adventure included only 13 people of my family....we were still missing about half!

Christmas Tradition

Generally, those who celebrate Christmas have a Christmas Tree, whether they chop it down themselves, go to a neighborhood Christmas tree lot, buy an artificial tree or buy a planted tree.  My family doesn't have too many "set in stone" traditions but this is one that we have kept for a long time.  Why?

  • We all love the adventure of going and cutting our own Christmas Tree down.
  • The house smells like pine for a long time and the trees last a long time.
  • The children in my family take more "ownership" of the Christmas Tree.
  • It's a great chance to build long lasting family memories in the outdoors and an opportunity for my family to gather all together which is quite a task in itself!

I love watching all my nephews, cousins and my own children run around the farm looking for the PERFECT Christmas Tree, playing hide seek and in particular watching them slide down the muddy hills!

Watching the kids chop down their own tree is always a great treat especially when they can yell "Timber!!"

Even though the San Francisco Bay Area doesn't get "real winter" a.k.a. snow, we still have signs of winter....

Bay Area Christmas Tree Farms

There are many Christmas tree farms around the Bay Area, but I've only seen farms in primarily heading out to Half Moon Bay and towards the Santa Cruz Mountains.  We love going to Jim & Vicky's Christmas Tree at the end of  Black Road Christmas Tree Farms in Los Gatos, California.

Christmas Tree Price: $50 any size (Price as of 2014)
Equipment Provided: Saw, twine and instructions to cut the tree
Location: 20381 Black Road, Los Gatos, CA 95033 
Opening: Friday after Thanksgiving from 8 a.m. to dark

They are a small "Mom & Pop" friendly farm, very friendly and they always give out cookies and candy canes to everyone!  The farm has "Manly/Womanly" hilly side and the "Sissy" flat side as Jim says jokingly, but there are lots of Douglas Fir trees and a smaller section of Blue Spruce trees.  Jim also explains that cutting the tree will NOT kill the tree if directions are followed, and a new tree will grow!

There are MANY Christmas Tree farms on Black Road but we have always gone to  Jim and Vicky's Christmas Trees because we love supporting "Mom & Pop" operations!

I highly suggest adventuring out to chop down your own Christmas Tree.  There are even some regional parks and national forest areas where you can cut your own tree with a permit for free.  But a little research must be made in your area to find locations like those!  Christmas tree farms might be a little more expense that Christmas Tree lots but I think it's worth the investment.

Lots of family memories can be made by bringing a little bit of the outdoors indoors for Christmas!

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

#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!

The Joy of Riding, Outdoors, Mud and a Little Boy

Ride on little Axel! #Axelove
Riding a bike, how much is there to riding a bike? One might think that riding a bike is just that, but it is not, it is so much more.  It's something that I stopped doing for a few years but recently started riding again and it reminded me of the freedom, terror, joy, anger, energizing feelings I once had of riding a bike.

I've met a lot of people through social media and one amazing outdoor blogger I have met is Jennifer Charrette of Velo Mom.  A little over a year ago, her family went through a horrible tragedy and lost their youngest son Axel while on a trip in Mexico.  There are no words, but no family should go through anything like that.  Even though Axel was only on this Earth for a little over two years, he lived life to the fullest on his balance bike.

Over the last year, I have seen how the outdoors, and in particular riding, has helped the Charrette family grieve the loss of a family member and through all the pain this wonderful family has started a great non-profit organization, The Axel Project, in memory of their little boy who LOVED his balance bike. The Axel Project mission is "To introduce and nurture a lifelong passion for cycling to children and their families."  One of their main ways of completing their mission is to providing balance bikes and instruction to children in need.

The most recent effort of The Axel Project is Zoom! a picture book about "A little boy rides his balance bike to discover the desert, mountains, mud puddles and more."  This story follows the adventures of a little boy, his balance bike, and his dog, which was written by Axel's mother, Jennifer Charrette, and Marcia Kenne and illustrated by Kellie Day.  The Zoom! project is being funded through Kickstarter and I have also kicked in to support Zoom!

Let's keep spreading Axel's joy of riding to all families! Will you please join me in supporting Zoom!? Click here to Zoom! Kickstarter page.

The #OutdoorFamilies bloggers have come together to support Zoom! and the Charrette Family in their new endeavor.

  1. It’s a Delightful, Dazzling, Dream-Filled, Dirty World by Rocks and Sun
  2. Zoom! The Healing Power of Two Wheels by Expect Adventure
  3. Making Lemonade Out of Life's Lemons by Mommy Loves Trees
  4. Zoom! The Story of a Boy and his Balance Bike by Tales of a Mountain Mama 
  5. Today is Zoom! Day: The Story of a Boy and His Balance Bike by On The Beaten Path
  6. An Amazing Kickstarter campaign for Zoom & The Axel Project by Active Kids Active Family
  7. Let's Give a Kick Start to ZOOM! The Story of a Boy and His Balance Bike by Mommy Hiker
  8. Zoom! Remembering Axel’s Love of Biking by Colorado Mountain Mom
  9. Zoom Day - Let's Get The First Balance Bike Book Published! by Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies
  10. Bloggies, Bikes and Books by Velo Mom

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!

Outdoor Families! This #OutFam Twitter Chat is for You!

Announcing the newest addition to Twitter chats....#OutFam

One of my main purposes of starting Chasqui Mom blog was that I wanted to help other families whether new or experienced outdoor families, enjoy the outdoors.  Low and behold, a year and a half later and thousands of tweets later I have made so many connections with other outdoor family bloggers!

An amazing group of outdoor family bloggers has come together to share their expertise in a new Twitter chat focusing on outdoor family adventures.  We've been sharing our stories and insight through the #OutdoorFamilies hashtag for awhile but now we're taking the next step and opening up the conversation through the chat-friendly hashtag #OutFam.  Not only am I thrilled to be a part of this group, but to be able to connect these inspiring adventurers from all over North America is a true testament to the power of Social Media.

I hope you'll join us on Twitter to share your ideas and experience as well as learn from this collection of adventuring families who really know their stuff.  Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out, there will be something for everyone.

Each week we will be having a different topic related to the families being in the outdoors but for our inaugural #OutFam Twitter chat, I'm happy to announce that I have teamed up with the great outdoor family blogger, Val in Real Life to talk about "Love of the Outdoors".

How do you participate in #OutFam Twitter chat?
  1. You must have a Twitter account.  If you do not have an account, sign up here:
  2. Follow the Co-Hosts: @valinreallife and @melissabravery
  3. Join in on the conversation! Every Wednesday at 4:30 pm EST/1:30 pm PST (30 minutes) starting February 12th.

Until then, please share with other families about this great new chat, #OutFam.

If you have any questions please leave 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!

Wave Crashing Family Camping & Mavericks at Half Moon Bay

What a way to start the new year! Family camping by the beach and a phenomenal California surf competition, all before January even finished.  It all started a few weeks ago when we decided to take advantage of our unseasonably warm weather and camp for a night near the coast.  I tried a few other California State Parks but Half Moon Bay State Beach reservations were half empty and it was as close as camping on the beach as one can get.

The Stars (more like the waves) Aligned....

A few days before our quick camping trip, I scanned through my Twitter feed and saw "Mavericks [Surfing] Competition might be held this Friday!"  I literally start going into hyper sonic mode and try to tell my husband what I just read.  I stalked news media for the next two days until it was confirmed that the Mavericks Invitational 2013-2014 was going to be held a few miles from our campsite.  Joy!

Green means, Go! Surfs up!
I'm not a surfer, nor will I probably ever surf but that doesn't mean I'm not fascinated with it.  I'm a California girl, born, raised and I'll probably die here.  I LOVE the beach, it's my happy place and it's a world of wonder especially the once a year 40-60 foot waves where they hold the Mavericks Invitational.  Ever since I found out about this competition I've wanted to attend but it just never happened, so I was beyond thrilled that it happened during our camping trip.

Mavericks Festival: Oceano Hotel & Spa Grounds

A few years ago the Mavericks audience was able to see the competition from the Pillar Point Beach/Cliffs near the area marked as "Mavericks" on the map.  Unfortunately in 2010, a HUGE wave came onto the shore and took down bystanders and media personnel, so now it it prohibited to watch from the shore.  Sadness.  I understand why it is prohibited now but it would still be really cool to see with my own eyes.

The Oceano Hotel & Spa now hosts the Mavericks Festival, here's a quick review on it:
  • Jumbo Tron Viewing ~ There are two huge Jumbo Trons on the opposite ends of the festival, lots of room for everyone to view.  The general audience brought chairs, blankets and set up for the day but there was a VIP area which was more expensive of course.  The viewing was a live feed that occasionally would lose signal but the announcer would jump in to fill the gaps.
  • Mavericks Competition ~ The competition it self was really fantastic to see, each "round" was called a heat and we quickly learned some surfing terminology, like "Air Drop" and of course "Wipe Out".  I didn't know any of the surfers but Grant "Twiggy" Baker from South Africa became our favorite real quick, who eventually won the competition.  I know...there were many Bay Area local surfers in the competition but Twiggy was awesome and no one could deny it.  I loved how the audience would go into a lull but  the energy would pick up along with the waves.  There was a local band playing "beach music" from Pacifica which was entertaining to listen too, GoPro was doing a giveaway which we signed up for but left before they announced the winner.
  • Logistics/Cost/Parking ~ The festival is located in the Oceano Hotel & Spa Parking Lot, no real view of the ocean but it's walking distance away. There were FOUR levels of tickets ranging from $15-1,000/ticket, we purchased the $15 tickets online the night before.  I had read in other reviews that the festival had sold out online in the past years so I didn't want to risk it and purchased it online.  I was able to download all our tickets on Eventbrite App and the ticket hostess just scanned my phone at the entrance.  Parking is available at the Half Moon Bay Airport but we parked for free about a mile away on Pacific Coast Highway 1 and walked along the Coastal Trail to the festival.  There is a bike valet if one decided to ride your bike to the festival.
  • Family Friendly Activities ~ There was only one real family friendly activity, the Skate Park, which is geared more towards older children who can skateboard.  My toddlers were a little bored because they wanted to go to the beach and there weren't toddler friendly activities.  They were only partially interested in watching the surfing competition on the Jumbo Tron.  Hint, hint....maybe more kid-friendly activities (rock climbing, a portable playground or inflatable slides, etc)!  I saw lots of families with younger children, so family friendly activities might be a great addition.
  • Food/Beverages ~ There were food trucks galore!  In particular, The Sanguchon a Peruvian food truck that I've been dying to check out.  It was was DELICIOUS by the way!  I was so fixated on The Sanguchon truck I can hardly remember the other food trucks but other foods included paella, garlic fries, burritos, grilled sandwiches.  Cliff Bar and Red Bull were also there giving out free samples as well.  There was a free water station as well as a a Sierra Nevada station on every corner.

Overall, we had lots of fun at the Mavericks Festival watching the competition and eating delicious food.  We left in the middle of the festival to walk around Pillar Point Harbor and found a little beach and creek for the kids to run around before returning to watch another heat.  News media was all around Pillar Point Harbor, from CNN to NBC with helicopters flying all around Half Moon Bay.  I am definitely going to return someday to the Mavericks Invitational/Festival but maybe when I have enough money to charter a boat out to the waves so I can see them myself!!  Truly amazed by the surfers physical strength, expertise and courage to go out in those enormous waves.

Wave Crashing Camping at Half Moon Bay State Beach ~ Francis Beach

We left the Mavericks Festival before the Final heat and walked along Coastal Trail to our car on Pacific Coast Highway 1.  We couldn't check into our campsite until 2 p.m., so the Mavericks Festival was a good way to spend the day.  My original plan was to hike around Pillar Point but all roads were blocked off due to the competition.

Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail

The First of Many Camping Trips
As I mentioned earlier, we just wanted to get away for a quick camping trip and not spend time driving far away for a one-night camping trip, so Half Moon Bay State Beach was the perfect place to start our camping adventures for 2014.  Half Moon State Beach is actually comprised of four beaches, Francis Beach being one of them, 52 campsites and it feels far away from the city even though it a few blocks away from downtown Half Moon Bay.  We are not RV campers and probably will never be, but I must mention that this was primarily a RV campground, yet with a few tent campers interspersed around.

Mi Casa - ALPS Mountaineering: Three Room Camping Tent
We had reserved Campsite #40, which was an RV/tent site with partial shade, a picnic table, fire pit with a grill and the road ran behind it.  Not my ideal location but cars hardly drove by and in the morning we were able to see all the horseback beach tours ride by, which added the "California Factor" to the campsite.  NOTE: There are Tent-Only sites which are almost on the beach (near the bathrooms), which I'm assuming must be reserved way in advance.

The campground was pretty quite overall, there was close to no RV noise which was hardly noticeable over the crashing waves.  Once darkness rolled around, all the RV campers went into their homes and it seemed like we were the only ones there.  Nice.  I think we were the only ones in our area with a fire going, which we cooked Chicken Shish Kabobs.  After dinner, our toddlers fell asleep (Yay!) and we waited for my friends' husband to arrive.  Once he arrived we all proceeded to have second dinner, one of the many reasons we like camping.  It was a chilly night and we all ended up smelling like smoke because we huddled so close to the fire for the rest of the evening.  Fun times.

Crashing Waves at Francis Beach
Francis Beach is just down a few steps from the campgrounds but be warned it isn't a swimming beach due to its strong currents.  Plus nobody really "swims" in the Northern California beaches because they are too cold.  My toddlers concept of the "beach" is playing in the sand vs. swimming in the ocean.  They like to roll down a sandy beach dune [Cue Video]....

We spent a little while at the beach before setting up camp so the kids could burn off some energy!  I loved being able to still see the waves at Mavericks/Pillar Point from Francis Beach but the waves right in front of me were strong and large as well.  All night we heard the waves from our campsite, but at some point in the middle of the night the waves sounded like mini-explosions which was really neat to hear.  While the night brought crashing waves and a strong wind, they disappeared with the sunrise.  Everyone slept well, except when the winds became so strong that my son woke up to ask what was all that noise, it's just wind little buddy.....

The morning came, breakfast and packing commenced before we went down to Francis Beach. Our camp neighbors had children similar age to ours and they played together in the trees.  Camp friends are nice because we could easily clean and pack up without major disruption.  We spent the rest of the morning playing in the sand and splashing in the water until the kids got tired of the waves knocking them down.

Thus ends our great first camping adventure at Half Moon Bay.  Surfing competition, giant waves, camping at a great California State Park, family, friends and being in the outdoors.  I love California.

What's your favorite California outdoor adventure?

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. The Excellent Año Nuevo State Park
  2. Half Moon State Beach - California State Parks
  3. California State Parks Website
  4. Mavericks Invitational 2013-2014

Confessions of an Outdoor Mom

Bonbon Break
This is a little bit of a rant, joke and plain honesty about my life of an outdoor mom.  Just like any first time mom I read all the books, tried my best to do everything in the "correct" way with my kids but let's face it, I just do what I can to survive with two toddlers.  A lot of people think I have always been outdoorsy, but as a matter of fact most of my life I've been a "Mall Rat".  My toddlers have actually molded me to be an outdoor mom because of their personalities.

Hiking Mama on the Pacific Crest Trail - Vasquez Rocks
I have been blessed with one SUPER energetic child and another child that LOVES getting dirty and being outdoors.  Over the last four years of my new life of motherhood, my children have pushed me into embracing the outdoors even more (for my sanity) and with that here are my confessions of an outdoor mom.

Confession #1: "Mall Rat" converted to "Gear Junkie"

I used to spend hours and hours on end at the mall (prior to marriage/kids) shopping for clothing, shoes (stilettos in particular) whatever I could find on sale.  I still have that shopping tendency but now at our local outdoor gear store.  I mean the employees ask about our kids all the time.  From backpacking, camping, hiking and our recently added family outdoor activities of rock climbing, snowshoeing and biking means more gear for the family.  My mall rat persona was more selfish in nature but my gear junkie habits are for the family.  I'm always on the search for outdoor kid clothing and gear that I love getting on Super Sale.  I'm a sucker for sales.

Confession #2: Playgrounds are Not My Favorite Place

Don't get me wrong I love playgrounds, a good portion of my childhood memories are at playground parks but my kids always end up leaving in tears because they don't want to leave or they have some other playground drama.  I prefer to take them to the trail where nature is their playground, we sit by a creek or lake and they can entertain themselves.

Nature's Sand box and Monkey Gym
At playgrounds, I constantly need to watch where they escape to and my children want me to be interacting with both at the same time and frankly it tires me out more than my kids.  Which defeats the point of taking them to the playground, I want them tired not me! When I do go to playgrounds with my kids, I choose:
  • Smaller less popular and visited playgrounds, where I can keep my eye on both.
  • Make playground dates with my children's friends to avoid less playground drama.
  • Go during "school hours" to avoid the after-school playground rush.
  • Visit on chilly days because it tires my children quicker and there are less people.

Confession #3: Coffee is our Family Fuel on the Trail

It's sounds awful but in my Latino culture kids drink coffee....well more like "Cafe con Leche" with sugar.  I remember my parents giving me some growing up and I wasn't addicted as a child but now I am...  It's more difficult to prepare coffee than chocolate when backpacking with only a restrictive amount of cups, so I just pass my "Cafe con Leche" along to my little one.

Cafe con Leche on the beach
My daughter is a huge fan of coffee, my son is not since he's just "naturally caffeinated!" I confess I have given them caffeinated soda, chocolate covered coffee beans as well as tiny dregs of my energy shots so they could finish hiking.  Mother of the Year award, thank you very much.  Please don't call CPS on me.

Confession #4: Not So Perfect Trail Etiquette...

As an outdoor loving family we try our hardest to follow all the trail rules and etiquette, especially "Leave No Trace".  Try hiking with a toddler going through potty training, a screaming child wanting wild blackberries along the trail or wild flower.  Here it goes, I confess...

  • Small bladders = no wait time, my kids pee almost anywhere on the trail.  I try to make them hold it to the bathroom but it sometimes doesn't work.  Now I have to train them that it's not ok to do it in front of a store or in a line in Disneyland....
  • I have a picky toddler that sometimes doesn't eat for days, so when he asks to give him food to eat, I do!  He loves blackberries and when blackberries are plentiful along the trail, we pick and eat them.  He's actually learned to identify blackberries and looks for them every time we hike! The land's original inhabitants are no longer eating them....that's how I justify it.
  • I pick wildflowers for my daughter.  She loves flowers, absolutely loves flowers and sometimes it's the only way to stop her from crying on the trail.  One time while backpacking she yelled half asleep "STOP!!! I see flowers!!" as we walked through a wildflower field.  I just make sure she leaves the flower back on the trail so the seeds can be re-planted in the same general area.
  • Gross Factor Confession: I clean up after my kids messes all the time and when I see other people trail trash I will pick it up 99.9% of the time, except on one occasion.  While hiking at a National Park, I saw a wet, dirty men's underwear on the side of the trail, I'm sorry but that's where I draw the line.  Why would ANYONE do that?!?! Someone else can clean that up.  Gross. Period.
Confession #5: Escape from the House to Not Clean

I confess, I escape from my house to the outdoors because I don't want to clean up sometimes.  I could tell you why, but Alyssa from The Kid Project beautifully explains my feelings exactly in her post "I am a Half Dirtbag Mommy".  I'm not the only one but it is still my personal goal to try my best to clean up!

Check out other great Outdoor Parents Confessions!
  1. Jen of Adventurous Moms confesses how she's a little bit squeamish of creepy crawlers.
  2. Sometimes little trail meltdowns happens as Jennifer of Mommy Hiker experienced.  It's ok!
  3. I love Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies brutally honest confessions of being a "far from perfect mountain mama".  Tanya's confessions are some that I've experience first hand too.
  4. "On occasion I've failed to notice the clothes my boys had picked out for a day in the mountains.  When we went to Chester Lake in the fall, I didn't notice that they were in shorts on grey [rocks] close to zero temps until we started hiking.  One of the other dads said something about my sons being true Canadians or something..." confesses Ken of Big Grey Rocks.  No one lost any digits to frost bite!
  5. Amelia of Tales of a Mountain Mama confesses "I get outside for ME first.  I am a terrible mom if I am stuck inside all day and therefore I see it for their benefit too.  Oh and everyone drives me CRAZY inside - it's all just a sanity thing!"
  6. "I'm a stay at home mom but that doesn't mean I stay at home" says Alyssa from The Kid Project.
  7. Gayle of Sometimes Eventful confesses that she likes to think outside but also likes "chocolate mixed with reality TV every now and then".  Chasqui Mom is also a fan of the certain reality shows!
  8. In The Adventures of Parenthood Project, Meghan talks about "The Transition to Parenthood: 5 Things I Didn't Consider."
I have many more confessions that will come in some other future posts but until then these confessions are why I love being an outdoor mom.  No one is perfect, we are all "work in process", what I'm learning is to follow my instincts to keep my household happy both on and off the trail.

Confessions are good for the soul! Leave a comment below with your outdoor confession.

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

This Hiking Mama is Thankful For...

Thanksgiving is the season of reflecting on what we are thankful for and I'm endlessly thankful for ALL the aspects of my life but here's a little list of what this hiking mama is thankful for!

An Outdoor Loving Family

My crazy energetic son and my dirt loving daughter, truly push me to go enjoy the outdoors with them on a daily basis.  You might think many of our crazy adventures are my ideas but in reality the majority of the ideas are from the great guy I married!  I might be "Chasqui Mom" but he's truly a mountain man that loves the outdoors!

Local Parks: East Bay Regional Park District

The East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) is this family's hiking ground!  With 65 parks, 98,000+ Acres, 1,150 park trail miles, 3,789 picnic tables, 13 water features, and 277 camping sites, who says you can't enjoy the outdoors in the urban area of the East Bay-San Francisco Bay Area!!

Hard Adventures

Every outdoor adventure with toddlers is hard but this year has brought a ridiculous level of "Hard" on our outdoor adventures.  From extreme heat, below freezing temperatures, howling winds AND coyotes, sickness and wildlife encounters, you would think I would want to give up. I'm not going to lie there have been moments when I cried and lost it on the trail but all those moments have passed and I have been left with a stronger love and motivation to continue going to the outdoors.


Nature can be found everywhere, you just have to learn to find it all around you.  I love open fields surrounded by mountains but Nature is all around us from a little lady bug flying around in your backyard to the mountainous Rocky Mountain National Park.  We just have to learn to see it and I thank God for creating such a magnificent place for my family and I to enjoy forever!

Want to see what other Outdoor Families are thankful for.....

What are you thankful for this season?

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

#OutdoorFamilies Photo Contest on Instagram

UPDATED!! 11/21/2013 ~ See Below for the additional GIVEAWAY by Strider Bikes!

Enter to win the #OutdoorFamilies Giveaways! Simply share a picture of you and your family doing an outdoor activity on Instagram and use the hashtags:

#OutdoorFamilies and #ThankfulForFamilies

Contest runs from November 19-26.  You can share a photo daily (up to 7 total photos) and winners will be chosen at random and announced on Instagram by each participating blogger on their blogs.

Giveaway Entry Rules:
What You Can Win:

**All prizes with the exception of one (noted) will be open to both US and Canadian residents**

Participating Bloggers:

Who worked hard to round up these great prizes! ~  Make sure you check out all of these great blogs!
  1. Adventure Tykes ~
  2. Adventurous Moms ~
  3. The Adventures in Parenthood Project ~
  4. Chasqui Mom ~
  5. Go Adventure Mom ~
  6. Mommy Hiker ~
  7. The Kid Project ~
  8. Tales of a Mountain Mama ~
  9. Velo Mom ~
  10. Wild Tales Of ~

Remember this contest will be on Instagram only.  Feel free to share on other social media but the only photos that count will be on Instagram.


Winners are as follows:
  • @cdnrockiesgirl - Hi-Tec USA: On pair of Shoes
  • @rurris - Travel Chair & Easy Rider Chair
  • @mountainmomyc - DucKsday USA  Rain suit
  • @myhikingadventures - A Children's Outdoors Book: "Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle" by Jennifer Chambers
  • @sheilaras - Honey Stinger - 2 boxes (choc and van) of the new kid's waffle
  • @alocalwander - Education Outdoors board game
  • @twokidsandamap - In Hero Kit - First Aid or bike repair kit
  • @anngagnier - HABA sand toys
  • @mountainmatron - Bani Bands $50 prize pack
  • @claireem13 - Grasshaven Outdoor - donating an Outdoor Wine Glass Set and pair of snack trays
  • @mommylovestree - Kowalli -  winner's choice of color
  • @singlebestidea - - $150 Gift Certificate to spend at any retailer on their site.
  • @outdoorkidsplay - Mountain Baby - donating pair of Bob Skates
  • @expectadventure - Spyder Mini Cubby Long Ski Mitten
  • @suzismartphoto - Oakiwear (Waders)
  • @lscheutz - Ambler Hats
  • @garagegrown - Nixwax Sandal Wash, Freshbase and Polar Proof
  • @victoria_obseussed - Snowstoppers
  • @alittlenaturalist - Strider Bike
  • @hipmeesha - Outdoor Alphabet

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

Family Fun at Keller Beach - Point Richmond

Keller Beach is a small beach within the boundaries of Miller Knox Regional Shoreline in Point Richmond.  Over the summer, we headed over to Keller Beach so our kids could splash around in the Bay, after we finished hiking in the hills of Miller Knox as part of one of our 2013 Trails Challenge hikes.

I wasn't expecting TOO much from a a San Francisco Bay beach but I was pleasantly surprised with Keller Beach.  It was a small beach which reminded me a "White Sands" beach that we visited on the Big Island, Hawaii so immediately it brought back memories of our family trip to Hawaii.

I read some reviews on Keller Beach prior to going and visited the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) website to read about swimming in this section of the San Francisco Bay.  Certain sections of the SF Bay are not safe to swim in because of the high levels of bacteria.  Keller Beach is close to the ocean inlet so its more "ocean" water than "bay" water like in the south bay but the EBRPD regularly tests water at Keller Beach.

During our visit the water was safe to swim and when we arrived  people were splashing and swimming in the calm cold bay.  Our children are not really "water babies" but the love the idea of  "swimming" near the water.  They just really like to play in the mud, wet sand, sand dunes etc.  So they spent the rest of the afternoon running away from the waves, getting their feet wet and through mud into the air!

We arrived on a gorgeous, perfect Bay Area weather day....not too hot, not too cold but I can imagine how chilly it would get there when the infamous San Francisco Bay fog rolls in.  The beach must get also very stormy when we get a bad weather storm comes in.

Mount Tamalpais and the San Rafael Bridge

Keller Beach has restrooms, showers and picnic tables, no-fee beach and has FANTASTIC views of Mount Tamalpais, San Rafael Bridge and the rest of the Bay.  Some reviews I read had complaints of "too much" seaweed and how the neighboring residents should clean up the seaweed....apparently these people have never gone to a beach.

Keller Beach is a great place to dip you toes or swim (if you want) on the Bay, especially after a hiking at Miller Knox Regional Park.  Once again an urban EBRPD park has changed my point of view of the urban outdoors.

Do you know of any urban outdoor areas that have surprised you?

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

Related Posts and Links:

  1. Family Urban Hiking at Miller Knox Regional Shoreline
  2. Keller Beach | Miller Knox Regional Shoreline - East Bay Regional Park District

The Alpine Tundra at Rocky Mountain National Park

Never Summer Mountains - View from Fairview Curve
Do you know how it is to go somewhere so beautiful that each corner you turn just takes your breath away? Driving from the West to East on Trail Ridge Road through the Alpine Tundra in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) did this for me, it was one of the most beautiful things I have seen.

Fairview Curve: Never Summer Mountains

Our first stop on Trail Ridge Road was at Fairview Curve (10,120 ft) that had phenomenal views of the Never Summer Mountains, the only volcanic range in RMNP.  I thought "Never Summer Mountains" was a funny name for a mountain range but Summer probably never reaches that mountain range.  The day before we hiked at the Colorado River Trailhead in the valley bellow called, "Kawuneeche Valley".

Continental Divide: Milner Pass

What is the Continental Divide? It is the line that divides the flow of water and snow melt.  On the East Side of the Continental Divide all the water flows to the Gulf of Mexico, part of the Atlantic Ocean and on the West side of the Continental Divde flows to the Pacific Ocean.  To be able to stand at Continental Divide - Milner Pass (10,759 ft), a section of natural occurrence was pretty exciting!

Podre Lake flows to the Missouri then to the Mississippi and ends up in the Gulf of Mexico!

Beaver Creek which is down Ute Trail flows into the Colorado River all the way down to the Gulf of California.

The Alpine Tundra and Visitor Center

The RMNP Alpine Tundra will always hold a special place in my heart.  I felt like I was in another country, I felt like I was back in the place I long to return to, the Peruvian Andes.  The cold, thin air brought me right back to my memories of hiking the Inca Trail.  I instantly fell in love with the Alpine Tundra.

We stopped at the Alpine Visitor Center at 11,796 ft., so we could get our "Passport To Your National Parks" book stamped and let the kids run around.  Amazingly my kids had no issues with adjusting to the elevation change, we live at sea level!  This was also a very memorable moment for me as a mother when my son saw "snow" near the Visitor Center.  He turned to me and with a giant smile and eyes as wide open and says, "Mommy!! That is SNOW!! Let's go get our our snowboards and go down the mountain!".  Soon little buddy...

As we left the Visitor Center, I saw a stairway on Alpine Ridge Trail to Huffer Hill.  I wanted to go to the top but we were headed to hike at Glacier Gorge Trailhead. We had already made too many pit stops so we jumped back into the car and headed down to Glacier Gorge Trailhead.  The beauty of the Alpine Tundra didn't stop with the mountains, we also saw many wildlife in particular the North American Elk all over the tundra.

Many elk roamed the tundra in the far distance when we were going to Glacier Gorge, but on the return trip to Grand Lake after our hike, the Elk were so close to the road that we actually had to stop so the cars would let them pass.  The kids were ecstatic to see them from the safety of the car, we had a very close encounter on the trail, story to come!

Chasqui Run: Alpine Tundra Huffer Hill

After a full day of hiking near Glacier Gorge, on our drive back on Trail Ridge Road to our cabin we stopped at the Alpine Visitor Center.  I wanted to go up Huffer Hill but not walk ...RUN up the hill.  My husband told me I was crazy but I wanted to do it so of course he indulged me,he stopped and waited in the car with our sleeping kids.

I took off running the second I closed the car door, I hit the stairs and ran as much as I could and walked until I caught my breath and ran again until I reached the top.  It was mostly dark, terribly cold, the air was thin but I had such a HUGE adrenaline rush.  I made it to what I thought was the top then end of the stairs and I may have done a "Rocky" victory dance....

The end stairs was not the actual top but there was still another 20-30 feet of paved trail to reach the very top so I finished running it.  I'm not going to lie, I was dizzy, my chest was rattling, coughing but it was the most beautiful thing in the world.


On top of a gorgeous mountain, with the sun barely peaking from behind the mountains. 360 degrees of me and pure mountains.  It was a moment that I will never forget.  I felt so connected to God, so alive, I was on top of the world at 11,938 ft in the sky.  I enjoyed my alone time for a few more minutes and started running down Alpine Ridge Trail.

I was still on my adrenaline high and ran all the way down back to the car.  I got back to the car and my husband turned to me and said, "I saw you running and thought you were going to tumble down!".  I told him, I have now had a "Chasqui Run" in the Alpine Tundra in the Colorado Rocky Mountains an ode to my ancestors.

To my surprise once back in cell phone service territory, I checked my Strava stats on my "Chasqui Run" and I had earned my first Current Record - Queen of the Mountain (QOM) on Old Fall River Road Climb. 

The Alpine Tundra took my breath away....Have you ever experience a place so beautiful that it took your breath away?

Related Post and Links:
  1. The Colorful Colorado River Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park
  2. Dinosaur National Monument, Oh My!!
  3. Summer Road Trip 2013
  4. Rocky Mountain National Park - National Park Service

Outdoor Summer Round Up!

From North to South, East to West, Summer came and is still here for another month but children are going back to school and vacations are ending. So let's celebrate these wonderful outdoors adventures that Summer brought this year!

Author Jennifer Chambers of "Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle" and Hiking Along, recently had a family hike up to the Nubble on Giant Mountain in the Adirondack Mountains, New York.  What a view!
Also visit "Summer's Snapshots Through a Personal Lens" for more Summer Adventures photographs.

Lesly had a Summer internship in Cordova, Alaska through Environment for the Americas, who hired Latino interns to conduct shorebird monitoring and bilingual environmental education.  Lesly kayaked to a Nest Island in the Copper River Delta to monitor Dusky Canadian Geese  Great work for the environment!

Amelia of Tales of a Mountain Mama, and her family have Yellowstone National Park as their backyard.
How fantastic is that!

Jennifer of Mommy Hiker went on a fantastic family camping trip to Sequoia National Park, California.  One of my personal favorite National Parks! 

Michael Byrd and his family enjoyed a beautiful hike at Standing Indian in the Nantahala Naitonal Forest, North Carolina.  Michael is the organizer of the Google+ Thru-Hiking Community and also blogs about his hiking adventures at ATatDusk.

Sharon from Active Kids Active Family and her family took a trip to The Great Sandhills of Saskatchewan, kids of all ages enjoy sand hills! 

Ken of Big Grey Rocks and his family, explored Banff, C-Level Cirque in the Canadian Rockies.  Those are some big grey rocks out there!

Melissa of Adventure Tykes and family enjoyed the fantastic views of Taggert Lake at Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

John of Moosefish and his children explored and camped at Crab Creek in Washington.

As youth leaders, we took our graduating seniors on a their first backpacking trip at Yosemite National Park/Hetch Hetchy.

A big "Thank You" to all my contributing outdoor partners in sharing their Summer adventures and pictures:

Visit "Summer's Snapshots a Through Personal Lens" by Hiking Along, for more great pictures!  Here's to a great Summer from all over North America and hoping everyone can squeeze a few more Summer outdoor adventures before Fall and Winter arrive, because we are certainly trying to.   

One Year of Outdoor Adventures...

It has been one year since I started "Chasqui Mom" and it's been quite fun.  Last August, I entered into the world of blogging because I wanted to share about our love of the outdoors with others.  Many times our friends and other hikers would ask us, "Well, how do you hike with a toddler and a baby?" and I'd thought having a blog would be a great way to share with friends and others how to enjoy the outdoors as a family.

Believe me, its been a great growing relationship between myself, the outdoors and parenthood.  Chasqui Mom hasn't always been Chasqui Mom!  Like many new mothers I was very timid about introducing my babies into the outdoors but with the help of my super energetic son and my dirt-loving daughter, my children turned me into Chasqui Mom.

Over the last year, Chasqui Mom and family have spent many days and nights camping, backpacking, hiking as well as starting an outdoor wilderness program with the church youth group we lead .  We have visited six national parks, four California State Parks, two National Forrest, eleven local parks and one international country!

Another great aspect of blogging is that I have found many great outdoor enthusiasts and communities in all social media outlets such as:

One year has brought on 79 posts, lots of outdoor adventures, new friends and great family time.  Here's to the next year of blogging and who knows what other fantastic adventures Chasqui Mom and family will have!

Related Posts:

Dinosaur National Monument, Oh My!!

What fun we had at Dinosaur National Monument, in Utah!  Our first intention was to camp at Green River Campground at Dinosaur NM on our second night of our road trip, but due to a bad storm and cranky toddlers we opted out to stay in a hotel in Heber City about 2.5 hours east of Dinosaur NM.  It worked out for the best since the kids (and parents) got to take a swim in a pool!

Sorry National Park Service, about my son climbing your sign....I guess that is what happens when you put a three year old in climbing gym, that has been sitting in the car for a few hours.  We had calculated our break correctly and stopped to see DINOSAURS!  My kids were ecstatic, especially since my husband recently gave our son a dinosaur book and he's been memorizing all the names.  Our boy was ready to see the Allosaurus!

I was terribly fascinated with this mountain rock formations, apparently that how rocks are in Utah.  I love California but Utah has some pretty cool locations that I definitely want to go back to.  My only complaint is the lack of available coffee locations that stay up past 7 p.m.

How cool is a ANY visitor center with a dinosaur in front of it?! I wish I would have recorded my kids faces with the saw the "real" dinosaur.  My daughter was terrified and my son screamed, "I WANT TO RIDE IT!!!" Sorry buddy....

We did a little shopping at the Visitor Center and purchased our new National Parks Passport, an Apatosaurus which my son named him "T-Rex" (ironic) and a stuffed Stegasaurus for our little girl.  Then we took the "Roller Coaster" (the Tram, but it's cooler if you call it a roller coaster to toddlers) up to the Quarry Hall Exhibit Center.  I wish I could have read all the signs, learned more about the history and taken better pictures but we had a little boy that saw a giant wall with Dinosaur bones in it that looked very here are a few.

It was truly fantastic to see how perfectly the dinosaurs fossils were preserved.  I think we know there were dinosaurs that roamed the Earth because we learn about them in school, read about them in books, see them in movies but seeing these fossils with my own eyes made me really understand that these creatures were truly alive.  They roamed the same land I was roaming with my own children thousands and thousands of years after these creatures died.

Well since the dinosaurs roamed the earth so must we! Of course we decided to hike back down from Quarry Hall Exhibit Center to the Visitor Center on the Fossil Discovery Trail!  It was quite warm high 80's maybe even low 90's so we hiked a very short distance.  Just enough so we could all stretch our legs before the next couple of hours in the car.

The beginning of our 1.3 mile hike!

The only shade we found!  Loving all the rock formations.

Below is our little jaunt on the trail at Dinosaur National Monument on Strava.

Everyone got a little exercise and most importantly the kids got to run around and burn some energy before getting back into the car for the next few hours!  I really wish we had more time to spend at Dinosaur NM but with a time crunch to get to Colorado, we had to say goodbye to the land where dinosaurs once roamed. Apparently there are nice auto tours, hiking, camping and river rafting at Dinosaur NM.  Hopefully we will have a chance to come back some day and enjoy it more.  Until then I leave you with a desert flower....

Related Posts:
  1. Summer Road Trip 2013
  2. The Colorful Colorado River Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park

Summer Road Trip 2013

Just getting back from our whirlwind family road trip to Colorado!  Have too much to write about but here's a little glimpse of our trip all around the west!

The Loch at Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Visiting the Allosaurus at Dinosaur National Monument, Utah.

Elk at the Alpine Tundra at Rock Mountain National Park, Colorado

A quick stop at Arches National Park, Utah

A little camping at Castle Rock Campground, Fishlake National Forest, Utah

A jaunt on The Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada!

A desert stop on the Pacific Crest Trail, in California.

Three National Parks, one national forest campground, two hotels, a cabin and a SUV were our homes for the last week.  So many stories, lessons learned and best of all lots of fun!

Related Posts:

  1. Dinosaur National Monument, Oh My!!
  2. The Colorful Colorado River Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park

Toddler Nap Time During a Hike

Nap time is always a struggle in my household when it comes to my son, so when we hike I really don't care if he naps or not.  Some parents are more rigid when it comes to napping but I am a little more "go with the flow" when it comes nap time for our toddlers.  Here's my son trying not to nap at Pinnacles National Park.

I grew up as "Pastor's Kid" so I was taken everywhere and anywhere growing up, falling asleep at restaurant booths, park benches, church with loud music playing etc.  Our current family lifestyle is almost the same, we are a family that can never sit still so my kids sleep anywhere, church benches, the floor, especially their carriers while hiking.

Every parent has different parenting styles, but some great motherly advice from my mother was that children should adapt to their parents lifestyles not the other way around.  Happy Hiking!

Where Did We Go in 2012?

Two thousand twelve has been great! The only thing I wish that was different as many parents of little ones wish they could have was more sleep!! Praying that in 2013 my prayer is answered.  Here's a recap of what 2012 brought us.

January 2012 - Still trying to get the hang of being parents of two little ones, this was my daughters FIRST hike at Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont. She was barely three months old.

February 2012 - We headed out to one of the 60 Bay Area Hikes on our list. San Bruno Mountain State Park.  It was a gorgeous day, first time I was able to see the Pacific Ocean and the entire Bay Area.

March 2012 - Oh March, took us to one of God's most beautiful places in the world, Hawaii. I still haven't had a chance to blog about our Hawaii trip.  This is Beach 69 on the Big Island.  I fell in love with snorkeling.

April 2012 - My husband and I are Youth Leaders at our church, and we took our youth group an awesome youth conference called Planet Wisdom.

May 2012 - This year I turned 30 and loving it!!

June 2012 - We led a youth missionary trip to Ensenada, Mexico, where we served our fellow Mexican brothers and sisters.  We camped at at Rancho el Refugio for one week.

July 2012 - We enjoyed camping at Sunset State Beach over the weekend with our church family.

August 2012 - Brought us to Highland Lakes, where we camped and hardly hiked due to being so sick.  We later made up for no hiking at Highland Lakes with a hike at Jack London State Historic Park.

September 2012 - My first half marathon,  San Francisco Giants Half Marathon.  I don't even know my exact statistics but I think I finished in 2 hours and 25 minutes or something like that.  I was just glad to be finished.  It was really awesome.  We also celebrated my little girl's First Birthday!!

October 2012 - Hiking at my favorite hike of this year, Portola Redwoods State Park.  My kids LOVED this hike!

November 2012 - We found a little gem east bay park, Dublin Hills Regional Park.  It was amazing to see how many people loved this picture on Facebook and Instagram.  People thought I went out of the country, haha.

December 2012 - We went on a mini mission trip, where my husband did his Engineering work at Rancho El Refugio and we visited our local pastors.  We also had the joy of celebrating my little boy's 3rd Birthday!!  I also haven't had a chance to blog about our Disneyland adventure.

I always tell my husband that we need to travel more but as I write this posting I notice that we do travel a lot.  I guess we like to travel and have family adventures.  The one thing I can say is that God is very good to us by allowing us to see the world He created and I can't wait to see what He will have in store for us in 2013.  Happy New Year!!