Traveling with an 8-Month Old, All the Essentials!

Hi friends!
It’s been awhile since I last wrote a post…What can I say, life has been busy!
Any who, if we’re friends on instagram then you know that Kwin, Fitz and I just went for our FIRST trip on a plane! We flew to the sunny Florida to visit my grandma for a couple days. It was refreshing to get some sunshine and warm weather to say the least!

Leading up to our travels I was feeling pretty anxious about WHAT TO PACK for my little girl! I watched countless YouTube videos, talked to family and friends and ultimately felt pretty confident with how everything went. So here is a compiled list of everything to make traveling with a little one a little easier!

DISCLAIMER REGARDING TRAVELING DURING COVID both Kwin and I are fully vaccinated as well as my grandma! We flew on Delta airlines which I was VERY impressed with; They were very strict on the “mask wearing” and had the middle seat blocked off still. Once in Florida we we made sure to follow all the “safety protocols” that we do when at home.

Packing Essentials

  • Carseat and Car Attachment- These are FREE to fly with! We checked ours at the baggage check since we had a straight flight to Fort Myers. One thing that I will do next time though is get a carseat bag! If we were going to have layovers I probably would have checked it at the gate to make sure that it gets to our final destination!
  • Stroller- We didn’t end up packing our stroller because my grandma had already gotten us one! However, many people suggest bringing it and checking it at the gate to help with moving around through the airport. These are also FREE to fly with.
  • High Chair– Depending on where you are going…most airbnb’s and hotels don’t have highchairs for your baby! We love this one as it is compact and easy to travel with
  • Pack-N-Play- We love THIS one. It is so compact and easy to travel with. My cousin recommended folding it up and packing it right in Fitz’s suitcase…GENIUS!
  • Buy a Seat vs. Infant on Lap- When flying with a baby that is <2 years old you have two options. You can buy them a seat and place their carseat directly on it to fly, or you can have the infant sit on your lap for the duration of the flight. We chose the second option and I was hoping that Fitz would sleep most of the flight anyway (she did’t, but still did AMAZING) Something you have to do if you chose the “infant on lap option” is call the airline and get them added to your boarding pass! It was very easy to get done, but important because they still need to account for her!
  • Bring baby’s birth certificate- At security check in they may or may not ask for this!
  • Diaper Bag- ALWAYS PACK 1 MORE DIAPER THAN YOU THINK YOU’LL NEED! I also had multiple outfit changes (just incase she had a blowout on the plane,) and lots of toys/distractions! To be honest though, Fitz was more interested in the packaged foods and plastic wrapped fork they gave us that she barely played with anything I brought for her.
  • Take Off and Landing- Just like adults, baby’s can struggle with the pressure changes at take off and landing! To help counter this, make sure to your feed baby! The swallowing can help relieve the pressure changes. Whether it be breastfeeding or bottle feeding, this is KEY!
  • Baby Monitor– Love these so that we weren’t stuck sitting inside during nap time.
  • Baby Carrier- Our ERGO baby carrier goes EVERYWHERE with us! It made walking through the airport, walking the beach, and just around town so easy.
  • Reusable swim diapers– I was debating between the reusable vs. disposable swim diapers and ultimately decided with the reusable ones! Not only are they better for the environment, but they also just seem to “work” better! One main difference between regular diapers and swim diapers is the fact that they don’t absorb pee! The main purpose of these diapers is to contain and poop that baby might have while in the water. PLUS I really liked that the reusable ones don’t swell up when in the water, making it really difficult for baby to move around.
  • Sunscreen– We love Baby Bum for Fitz!
  • Diapers and Wipes- These are something that we didn’t pack in our bags. To save space I just went to the store right upon arrival and stocked up for the week!

Thanks for reading! If you don’t already, make sure to follow along on our adventures on Instagram!

Final Stretch- Bozeman, Glacier National Park, Roosevelt National Park!

Life is meant for spectacular adventures. Let your feet wander, your eyes marvel, and your soul ignite. 

Two weeks down, and one week to go before heading back home! We’ve already seen some pretty amazing things while in Jackson Hole, Grand Tetons and Yellowstone; but knew we still had some great things to look forward too! 

Here is the final week of adventures!

Bozeman, MT 

On our way from Yellowstone National Park to Glacier National Park we decided to stop in Bozeman, MT for a couple days. National Parks are great, but one downfall is that our dogs [aka our children] aren’t allowed to hike with us.  We had also heard so many great things from friends that grew up in the Bozeman area, so we figured that we definitely needed to check it out.

Camping- We stayed at the Langohr Campground, a quaint campground located about 10 minutes south of downtown Bozeman. The location of this campground was PERFECT! 

No phone service + Creekside + Located right near a bunch of biking trails. 

Hiking- Bozeman is located amongst the mountains, so one would only guess that the hiking is unbelievable.

  • The ‘M’ Trail: A 1.2 mile trail, that has two routes (hard or easy route) ending at the famous ‘M,’ which I believe represent Montana State University. We obviously took the hard route [when hiking with Kwin, it’s pretty expected] and let me tell ya, the views are spectacular! 
  • Baldy Peak Summit: A 9.6 mile trail, rated at hard. We did about half of this tail, due to time constraints, but it was awesome! We saw so many active people [mostly locals] and had the best views of Bozeman! Mountain living is crazy … while hiking two storms split us, allowing us to watch as the storms, on-top of a mountain, as they passed through.

Biking- From our camping spot we were able to jump on some of the mountain biking trails, and like the hiking, the trails were pretty awesome! This was the true definition of Mountain Biking! We pretty much started from the bottom of a canyon, and biked about 2500 feet UP HILL before being able to descent again! It was exhausting to say the least.

Dining- When we are traveling and camping mosts of our meals are eaten and cooked at our campsite. Seriously, who doesn’t like cooking over the campfire? But after two weeks of doing this, we were pretty ready for a little “treat.” Bozeman reminds me of Traverse City, Michigan in so many ways [obviously minus the Great Lakes, and add Mountains.] There were a ton of great coffee shops and dinner places too! 

  • Mackenzie River Pizza: Now, I’m not usually a person who would order pizza, but I’d like to report that the pizza here was AMAZING! Plus the atmosphere was really inviting. If it were up to Kwin, we would have eaten here for every meal. 
  • Plonk: A recommendation from James, Kwin’s high school friend who currently lives out in Bozeman! The drinks were phenomenal, the food was phenomenal [and vegan friendly,] and the atmosphere was so fun! 
  • Bozeman Community Co-Op: I LOVE going to Co-Op’s! This place had a wonderful salad bar, as well as hot food bar.
  • Wild Joe’s Coffee: One of the best Matcha Latte’s I had the entire trip! 
  • The Daily Coffee & Eatery- Northside: Quick coffee, with great breakfast food selections [gluten free and vegan options available!] We hit this place bright and early before hitting the road to Glacier National Park. 

Glacier National Park 

Going into our trip, this was one spot I was most excited for! It’s not everyday that you get to see and hike to glaciers. Plus, if you didn’t know, the glaciers found in Glacier National Park are the only ones left in the United States AND they are receding fast! Infact, researchers are estimating that they may be completely melted within the next 50 years! 

So our original plan for this National Park was to go to the western most part of the National Park, drive the famous “Road To The Sun” through the park and then end up in Waterton National Park (the Canadian side) for a couple days. However, plans don’t always go as planned. When we arrived to West Glacier, we found out that YOU CANNOT DRIVE VEHICLES LARGER THAN 21 FEET ON THE ROAD TO THE SUN! Yup that meant we couldn’t drive through the park while pulling our camper [18foot camper + our truck is bigger than 21 feet.] So we decided to forgo Waterton, and instead to two days on the west side of the park, then drive around to the east side and spend a couple days. We were still able to drive part of “The Road To The Sun,” which was crazy beautiful!

Camping- We decided to stay two nights on the west side of the park, then two nights on the east side of the park, that way we could experience a little bit of everything! 

  • Apgar Campground:  Located right at the entrance of “The Road To The Sun” on the west side of the park. Apgar has a campground and a little village too! Not only is it at the entrance of the famous road, it’s also right on Lake MacDonald- a BEAUTIFUL glacier lake! It was our favorite campground of the two we stayed at.
  • Many Glacier Campground: Located on the eastern side of the park. This area was definitely more primitive than the western side. A tip for anyone planning to camp out here is to ALWAYS check how the wildlife is. This campground had a lot of bear activity, so they did not allow soft top campers or tent camping while we were there. 

Hiking- While in Glacier we obviously wanted to hike a glacier, but that wasn’t the only awesome thing we got to see! 

  • Apgar Lookout Trail: a 7mile, rated difficult hike. This was a great hike to warm the legs back up from a day of driving. It was beautiful, however the summit was starting to get a little overgrown by trees and other vegetation; affecting the view of Lake MacDonald at the top.  
  • Highline Trail: a 14.7 mile [one way] trail, rated as moderate. This was probably one of my favorite hikes! Despite it being long, the views were freaking amazing! When reading all the reviews on ‘All Trails’ they recommended that we park at the bottom of the hike, take a shuttle to the top, and then hike down. That’s exactly what we did! Hiking alongside the mountains gave spectacular views, plus there was so much wildlife along the trail too! 
  • Iceberg Lake Trail: a 9.3 mile [out and back] trail, rated as moderate. This one was my favorite hikes on the Eastern side of the park! A family friend of ours recommended that we do this trail, and I’m so glad we did! PS: If you stay in Many Glacier campground, you can start most of the trails right from campsite. It was pretty windy that day, so unfortunately all the icebergs had been pushed to the far side of the lake, but the crystal blue water was still breathtaking. We also saw two bears while hiking! 
  • Grinnell Glacier: A 9.5 mile hike, rated as moderate. Given it was mid July when we were there, most of the snow on the trail was melted. However, there were signs all over the trail advising people to “proceed with caution” because of the ice and snow that commonly covers it! Fun Fact: the trail actually ends at two different glaciers- Grinnell Glacier and Salamander Glacier. 

Paddle Boarding- Have you ever paddled a glacier lake at sunset? Yup, neither had we… Until Lake MacDonald! You guys, this paddle was so spur of the moment, and it was absolutely amazing! Shout out to Tahoe SUP for the amazing inflatable paddle boards that we take EVERYWHERE with us!

The mountains in the background + crystal clear and glassy water + perfect sunset!

Horseback Riding Megan [my sister-in-law] really wanted to do some horseback riding while at Glacier, so we did! This was only my second time horseback riding, and it was a lot of fun. We rode around Lake Josephine, another glacier lake located in Many Glacier. The two leaders were super knowledgeable, funny and made the trip very enjoyable.

Roosevelt National Park 

After parting ways from Megan and Tommy, we started our journey home. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to do a ton of hiking while here, but we did bike around the cute town of Medora and watched the sunset at an overlook in the park! Roosevelt is sometimes known as the “Northern Badlands,” which I can totally see why! It had a lot of the same rock formations as the Badlands in South Dakota, but this definitely had more greenery. 

Another really cool thing about this National Park, was the abundance of wildlife. I’m talking wild horses running around so majestically, buffalo herds of 100+ and prairie dogs popping out of the ground everywhere you look. 

Ballard Lake, Wisconsin 

Our final stop of the trip! Thanks to our good friends, Mark and Janna Goethel, for inviting us to their family cabin! We had so much fun with the whole Tucker family boating, hiking, swimming, paddling, and lots of drinking. Neither Kwin or I had ever been to this part of Wisconsin, but it was so beautiful! It reminded me of Northern Michigan is so many ways. Wanna know something crazy? The cabin is only 1 hour south of our cabin! 

I hope you’ve enjoyed following along on Kwin and I’s road trip! If you haven’t already, check out Kwin’s video he made of the trip HERE. Also make sure to read Part 1 and Part 2 of the blog series for our road trip! 

We sure do love traveling, but there is nothing like being home.

The Great American Road Trip, Part 2. Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks!

And the road trip continues! 

If you missed my last blog, check it out HERE.

July 2, 2019

Start– Gros Ventre Campground-Jackson, Wyoming

Destination– Signal Mountain Campground, Grand Tetons National Park 

The trick to getting a good camp spot in the National Parks is to GET THERE EARLY! Living in Northern Michigan, we are part of the Eastern Time Zone; So one of the perks of traveling out west is the time change. Waking up at 6am is more like 8am at home…so it’s kinda like sleeping in, am I right? Not only does waking up early help with getting a good camp spot, but being able to see the sunrise in the mountains is pretty beautiful too! 

Kwin and I were both very excited to be going into the Tetons! Of all the parks, this was the one that most people told us would be our favorite. 

-We’d heard it was less crowded

-There were mountains everywhere

-And there would be lots of hiking, biking and paddling 

Our morning started out again at the cute coffee shop in Jackson, Cowboy Coffee, and then we hit the road! Pulling into Signal Mountain Campground promptly around 7:30am with a train of other campers having the same intentions as us. Luckily, we were able to snag the BEST spot in the campground [well in our opinion at least] right on Jackson Lake.

After setting up camp we decided to do hike Taggart Lake Trail: a 3-mile, rated easy hike, but with spectacular views! We both agreed that it was one of our favorite hikes in the park. 

In the afternoon we did a nice long paddle across Jackson Lake using our inflatable Tahoe SUP paddle boards, and let me tell you …it felt like we were paddling with a green screen in-front of us! I mean just look at those mountains, plus the crystal clear blue water!

Funny story, Kwin and I set up the tent while cooking dinner because we thought it would be fun to sleep under the stars. We didn’t put the rain fly on, that way we would be able to see the stars while going to sleep. Before bed we both wanted to do some reading, so we sat in the camper …. and well we both fell asleep! Around 12am we woke up to the sound of torrential downpour rain! We were dry …. but our tent, sleeping bags and other camping gear wasn’t.  

July 3, 2019 

Start– Signal Mountain Campground- Grand Tetons National Park

Destination– Signal Mountain Campground- Grand Tetons National Park 

Once the rain stopped, around 8am we got coffee at the Signal Mountain campground store and then hit the road to our first hike of the day. Grand View Point Trail: a 5-mile, moderate ranked trail, that definitely fit its name perfectly! The trail at the beginning was pretty wet, thanks to the rain from the night before, so the mosquitoes were bad! However, once we got up to a higher elevation they seemed to disappear. The top of the trail had a beautiful view of Jackson Lake, along with the Tetons in the background! Again, I felt like I was looking at a green screen! 

Our second hike of the day was definitely more busy than the first, Jenny Lake Trail. Despite there being a lot of people, it was still a really nice hike! About 7 miles in length, and I would rate as Easy. 

July 4, 2019

Start– Signal Mountain Campground- Grand Tetons National Park 

Destination– Norris Campground-Yellowstone National Park 

I mentioned this before about getting to campsites early if you want to get a spot in the National Parks. Another helpful thing is this website here: https://www.nps.gov/index.htm it’s a great source of information regarding camping, or really anything in the National Parks. There is an area that lets you know when the campgrounds in the parks had been filling. 

Our number 1 campground choice was Norris Campground, due to its central location. We saw that Norris Campground was usually full by 9:30am…so we got there at 7:30! After two hours of waiting we finally got a spot, set up camp, and then went for a nice bike/hike to Norris Geyser Basin (about 1 mile from our campground!) FUN FACT: one of the largest Geysers in Yellowstone is found at Norris Geyser Basin- Steamboat Geyser– and it erupts every 4-8 days apparently. While we were standing in line waiting for a campsite, it started steaming and showing an increase in its activity. The ranger pointed it out to us all, and said it was due for an eruption! Unfortunately, it didn’t erupt while we were there…but it was really cool to see the activity of Steamboat! After a quick hike we drove out of the park to Gandier, MT to meet up with Megan and Tommy- Kwin’s sister and our brother-in-law! We got groceries for the next couple of days, then went back to the campground and did the same hike we had already done, that way Megan and Tommy could warm up their legs for the upcoming days! Megan and Tommy were planning to stay with us for the remainder of our trip!

July 5, 2019

Start– Norris Campground- Yellowstone National Park 

Destination– Norris Campground- Yellowstone National Park 

Alright guys, not only do you need to wake up early to get a good campsite….but while in any National Park you’ve also gotta wake up early to get to the most popular hikes! We had heard horror stories before going to Yellowstone, saying there could be thousands of people standing around ONE SINGLE GEYSER! I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a recipe for claustrophobia to me! With this being said, we decided to get to one of the most popular geysers in the park, ‘Old Faithful,’ bright and early! This geyser is the most predictable of all the geysers in Yellowstone, and erupts about every 60-90minutes. I can’t compare the eruption to anything else, because it’s the only geyser we saw actually erupt, but it was pretty cool in my opinion! It shot up about 50-75ft in the air and lasted about 5 minutes. We were very fortunate to be there with only thirty or so people [compared to the thousands that can be there later in the day!]

 After that we went to probably our favorite hike in all of Yellowstone! The Mystic Falls & Geyser Basin: a 3.5-mile, moderately ranked hike WITH AMAZING VIEWS! It’s about two miles away from the ‘Old Faithful Geyser Basin,’ so when we hiked to the overlook point we were actually able to see all the geysers there! If you look closely in the picture below you can see all the steam coming up from the different geysers! As the name says, there was a waterfall as well: Mystic Falls. All of us really enjoyed this hike for the views, the waterfall and also the bring blue/sapphire colors of the geysers were pretty awesome! 

We managed to get in another hike this day and did a highly recommended hike Mt.Washburn. This was a 7-miles, moderately ranked hike that ended on top of a mountain overlooking the entire park! In-fact a functioning firetower was at the top. For those who don’t know what that is, a park ranger lives in this fire-tower, which was built in the early 1900’s, from June through October and is constantly monitoring for forest fires! 

June 6, 2019

Start– Norris Campground- Yellowstone National Park

Destination– Norris Campground-Yellowstone National Park 

Our last day in Yellowstone! Our first stop was the ‘Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.’ Now I’ve never actually been to the Grand Canyon, so I can’t really compare it to anything, but man was this beautiful! There were two waterfalls- The Upper and Lower Falls- and then beautiful rock formations lining the actual canyon. By the time we were leaving the parking lot was nearly full-mind you this was about 8am. So get there early folks! 

Our next hike of the day was a “spur of the moment” hike called Elephant Back Mountain Trail. This hike was about 3.5-miles, most of which was uphill! Kwin and I really enjoyed this because we could “feel the burn,” and once you finally got to the top you had a beautiful view of Yellowstone Lake. 

We ended the day by biking the ‘Osprey Falls’ trail- it’s one of the only bike friendly trails in the park- and then got dinner with Megan and Tommy in Gandier, MT.

If you’re planning to stay in Yellowstone, I would highly recommend going to visit this town. It’s located at the Northern entrance of the park, and has so many unique stores and restaurants! You should definitely make sure to stop in and check out Yellowstone Wildlife Galleries too. The store owner is a phenomenal wildlife photographer and has a store full of beautiful pictures!  

Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park were truly amazing! We loved both parks for different reasons. But if I had to choose, I would definitely say that Grand Tetons was my favorite(: 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog, and I can’t wait to share about our time in Bozeman, MT, Glacier National Park and all the stops we made while traveling home!

The Great American Road Trip, Part 1. Michigan’s UP to Jackson Hole, WY And All The Stops In-Between.

“The Mountains Are Calling”

A quote I’m sure most people have heard of or seen while scrolling through Pinterest. I love this quote, like a lot, and have ever sense visiting the mountains for the first time five years ago. It was a spontaneous trip out to Colorado and The Rocky Mountain National Park with Kwin and my cousin Jenna. I remember falling in love with the mountains; the views, the wildlife, and the sense of freedom that radiates out there.

Kwin and I drive through the mountains almost every year on our trips out to Moab, Utah. We make comments about how cool it would be to explore this land a little more, and experience what the mountain life would be like. That’s when the idea arose… we could totally do it, a month long road trip!

Three years, yes three years of planning. We knew that we wanted to be in the mountains and see the Western United States; Like Wyoming, Montana, Washington and Oregon. We also really want to explore Western Canada, like British Columbia, Jasper, Banff and Waterton. So much to see, yet so little time!

After lots of research and talking to many different people [and maybe stalking strangers instagram accounts] we finally decided that hitting it all in one 4-week long trip probably wasn’t going to work. However, dividing it up into two summer trips would be the best idea [oh yeah we’re already planning next summers trip!]

The Great American road trip.

So what exactly was our route going to be?

Kwin and I decided to stay in the United States this summer and hit up

  1. The Badlands National Park (South Dakota)

  2. The Black Hills (South Dakota)

  3. Jackson, Wyoming

  4. The Grand Tetons National Park (Wyoming)

  5. Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)

  6. Bozeman, Montana

  7. Glacier National Park (Montana)

  8. Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North Dakota)

When planning our trips we like to create a “back bone” of places we want to go and things we want to see. This allows us extra freedom to add or subtract points of interest. Some people might think we’re crazy and get anxiety from not having every second of our trip planned, but we love the “going with the flow mentality.” Going about our trips this way forces us to talk to other travelers and hear about their experiences, as well as diverge into the local communities [because let’s be honest, the locals always know the best trails to hit up, especially if you’re trying to avoid the big crowds.]

Life is crazy, and there always seemed be something holding us back [hence why its taken us three years to plan our trip.] I’ve learned first hand this past year that life is precious and can be taken from you in a second. Neither Kwin nor I wanted to waste anymore time and regret NOT doing the trip we’ve both always wanted to do. Well I’d like to report that the trip was amazing, and I’m so glad that we finally just did it!

I’m going to break up our trip into a couple of blog posts, just because I don’t feel like one blog would do any justice. We had some many great memories that we’ll both forever look back on.

 

June 25,2019

Start: Home Sweet Home

Destination: Porcupine Mountains-Our Cabin

We hit the road, finally! Pulling our A-Liner camper and a truck filled with all the camping goodies. Our first destination was going to be Michigan’s UP! We absolutely love Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and thought what better way to start our trip than with a couple days there.

Marquette

  • We stopped in Marquette, MI and did some great mountain biking at the South Naquemanon Biking trails. If you’ve never been to them I would highly recommend going! I would consider myself an intermediate rider, and I love these trails! We did one of our favorite trails ‘Gorge-Ous’ which rides downhill and along the Carp River, ending right on the Lake Superior shoreline. In true Megan fashion, I started off the trip with a couple cuts and bruises thanks to flipping my bike….in my defense, there is just so much beautiful scenery to look at that I may have gotten side tracked a little bit(:

  • From there we got a delicious dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Iron Bay. Not only do they have great tasting food, but the environment is awesome too! Tables made with parts of the Mackinaw Bridge, menus on old Marquette newspapers, and pictures that tell the history of the town. Such a cool place to eat that’s right across from the Ore Dock on Lake Superior!

Canyon Falls

  • A hidden gem about an hour west of Marquette. We like to stop here anytime we’re heading to the cabin to give the dogs a nice hike PLUS there is a waterfall that kwin enjoys jumping into.

  • The mosquitos were pretty bad, and it stared pouring rain on us…but neither of those stopped us! It was raining so hard that by the time we got back to the car you wouldn’t have been able to tell who jumped into the waterfall and who didn’t.

June 26,2019

Start: Porcupine Mountains-Our Cabin

Destination: Porcupine Mountains-Our Canin

Have you ever been to a place where you wake up and hear nothing but the sound of birds chirping and a creek running by? Well that’s exactly what we get at our favorite little escape, the cabin! We decided that it would be fun to stay here for a day and really be present in what we were about to embark on. Our goals were to do some hiking (getting our legs ready for all the hiking we would be doing) as well as help Kwins’ dad with some chores that needed to be done. I love the cabin, however, I greatly dislike going during late June and July! The bugs are HORRIBLE. Imagine millions of mosquitos plus deer flies constantly buzzing around you; and no matter how much bug spray you apply they still keep coming. Needless to say, a bug suite is 100% necessary. I tell myself every year that I’m not going back up there when the bugs are nasty…and well…kwin always seems to sweet talk me into it. Okay, no more negativity. Despite the bugs, we still had a great time that day. Hiking, swimming in waterfalls, doing chores, and just getting ready for our big adventure!

June 27,2019

Start: Porcupine Mountains-Our Cabin

Destination: Sioux, South Dakota-Big Sioux State Recreation Area

Our FIRST day of new territory! We woke up early and hit the road. Now because our road trip was planned to last 3.5 weeks we didn’t feel rushed about having to be anywhere at any certain time. Man, it felt so good to have a trip like that finally! We didn’t have any set in stone plans, instead we planned to just go with the flow of things. We took the northern route for our trip, because we figured that staying north would be much faster, more scenic, and less traffic!

Superior, Wisconsin

We stopped at a cute coffee shop, The Sandbar, AND a perfect place to paddle. The water was glassy, so why not!

Duluth, Minnesota

Next we both were interested in stopping in Duluth because we’d heard great things about that town. It’s settled in along the western Lake Superior shoreline, and man were we both surprised and how cute this town was!

  • We got breakfast at ‘At Sara’s Table Chester Creek Cafe’ and it was so delicious! Something I try to do when looking for a place to eat is: make sure it’s NOT A CHAIN RESTAURANT, if it’s organic and locally based ingredients that’s a HUGE win, and it’s got to be somewhat healthy.

  • Duluth has this nice paved trail that goes for miles along the Lake Superior shoreline, and we decided to do some roller blading. It was a great way to get some movement in for not only us, but the dogs too. We made it back to the car with seconds to spare before a crazy storm hit!

Sioux, South Dakota

The rest of the day we spent in the car determined to make it to South Dakota…and we did! We set up camp in ‘Big Sioux State Recreation Area,’ and lucky us it had a ton of paved trails for us to bike and roller blade with the dogs again. It was a beautiful place that Kwin and I would love to return to someday.

 

June 28,2019

Start: Sioux, South Dakota- Big Sioux State Recreation Area

Destination: Badlands National Park-KOA

Like most mornings on our trip we got up bright and early and hit the road, because as the saying goes “The early bird gets the worm.”

Badlands National Park

Our first National Park of the trip! Kwin had been through this area before, but it was a first for me. It was breathtaking and like nothing I’d ever seen before. The sandy colored mountains with intense formations all over the place. Honestly, it was completely different than I thought it was going to be (but I really didn’t do too much research on it to begin with either.)

  • We hiked the Castle Trail, Notch Trail and Door trail. Shout out to AllTrails for helping us throughout out our entire trip! I’ve got the app downloaded to my phone, so I can easily find hikes around us at anytime. All of the trailheads are pretty close together because believe it or not, the Badlands is not as big as most other national parks I’ve been to. Besides the handful of backcountry hiking trails, there was only 4-5 shorter hikes in the Park.

  • We did catch an amazing sunset on one of the peaks though! The sunset on the mountains created such a picturesque moment, painting the sky in pink, orange and yellow hues.

While watching the sunset we ran into a really nice family from Indiana and started sharing our plans. They encouraged us to stop at ‘Custer State Park’ on our way through the Badlands because it had some Great Lakes we could paddle in. Given we had already hiked most of the trails in the park we decided to head out a day earlier than originally planned and instead do a whole day in Custer/The Black Hills.

 

June 29,2019

Start: Badlands National Park-KOA

Destination: Casper, Wyoming-KOA

Our morning started off at ‘Dunn Brothers Coffee’ in Rapid City, South Dakota. This town, was alive! Lots of active people all over the place; There was a 5K race going on, lots of people out biking, and it just felt like a fun place to be. We didn’t get to spend much time here besides getting our coffee, but we would love to go back here in the future!

Mount Rushmore

Again, a place that’s Kwin’s been to before, but not me. I’ll be honest here, I wasn’t expecting to be blown away when I saw the carvings in the rocks…but it was so cool! I mean just the history behind this sculpting, and the fact that people were able to chisel such a beautiful and articulate sculpture out of the side of a mountain is pretty unbelievable.

Custer State Park and the Black Hills

We saw our first buffalo! Pretty much right when we got into the park, we saw the monster of an animal just lingering around in its habitat. It’s crazy that he didn’t seemed phased at all that there were multiple cars pulled over taking pictures of him. The winding roads lined by tall pine trees (giving it the black appearance in the distance, hence why the settlers called them the black hills) was such a beautiful ride!

  • Legion Lake and Stockade Lake- Custer State Park is filled with not only rolling hills, mountains, pines and animals…but also a ton of lakes! Honestly, after three days in a row with 90+ degree weather and NO WATER TO JUMP IN (we’re lake people and really need water) swimming and paddling was all we wanted to do.

June 30, 2019 and July 1, 2019

Start: Casper, Wyoming-KOA

Destination: Jackson, Wyoming-Gros Ventre Campground

If you can’t tell by now, Kwin and I have really enjoyed waking up early and starting our day off at a coffee shop then hitting the road to make up some miles. While in Casper we stopped at ‘Java Jitters’ where the barista was super nice and gave us some great tips about Jackson Hole…our next stop! The drive from Casper to Jackson was really pretty in its own way. Most of Wyoming is grass and prairie land, which was not anything like I expected. However the closer you go to the Grand Tetons and Jackson, the more mountainous it got. In fact, just before we got into the National Park we saw our first grizzly bear! Like the buffalo, it was just strutting through the mountains and grasslands, not phased by the cars and numerous people taking pictures of it.

Jackson Hole

I was super excited about this town from the moment we pulled into it! A cute small mountain town with a river flowing through it, plus tons of active people all over the place! To say kwin and I were in heaven is an understatement.

  • We hiked ‘Josie’s Ridge Trail’ which was about 4-miles and a pretty steep incline. After sitting in the car as much as we had, it was tough…but so worth it for the views at the top! Since this trail is in downtown Jackson, it’s dog friendly…huge win in our books.

  • After the hike we decided to mountain bike in the same general area, because there was a nice spider web of trails right in the center of town. Like the hike it was tough! When we were finishing we actually noticed a lot of people taking the ski chair lift to the top and riding down….we tried to ride them from the bottom up, so that tells ya how hard it was! We biked around town a little bit before heading back to camp and fell in love with the town even more.

  • Our second day in Jackson didn’t start out as planned. After getting coffee at ‘Cowboy Coffee‘ we had to take Kanyon to the vet [Thank you to everyone at VCA Spring Creek Animal Hospital!] Unfortunately she got Giardia while in the UP and had been up all night with diarrhea the past couple days. Once everything was all cleared up, we hiked ‘Ski Lake Trail,’ which again was dog friendly and about 4 miles in length. Definitely not as strenuous as our previous hike, but so beautiful!

  • Jackson, like most of the towns we visited outwest, had a great paved trail mostly used for running, biking or roller blading. We definitely did some miles on that!

  • Our last hike in the Jackson, Wyoming area was ‘Blacktail Butte Trail.’ It was a strenuous 7-mile hike, but beautiful at that!

Man, if you think the trip sounds amazing so far..just wait for the rest of the blogs! Grand Tetons and Yellowstone will be up next, followed by Bozeman, Glacier and the pit-stops on the way home! Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

MOAB UTAH, Round Two

One of the perks of being married to a teacher, are the breaks that he gets throughout the year. Anyone who knows my husband, knows that he cannot sit still and is always planning our next trip.

Living in Michigan, where winter seems to run forever (from October 1 through May 1,) we are always itching to get to the heat by the time Spring Break arrives. With this in mind most people (Including the Morris Clan) flock to the south, seeking out the sun and warm temperatures!

So, where to go?

MOAB, UTAH!

If you’ve never been before, let me try and paint a picture of what Moab is like. Red Cliffs. Snow covered mountains in the distance. The Colorado river flowing through town. TWO National Parks just outside of town- Canyonlands and Arches. An Infinite amount of mountain biking and hiking trails….basically an active individual’s dream!

It was a no brainer that Moab was going to be our destination for spring break. Kwin and I went out to Moab two years ago (plus Kwin has been to it three times before that too,) we just love it. The road trip out there is long….but exciting (yes its about 25 hours straight…but road trips are fun with your best friend!) 

Going into any vacation, we try to have a “skeleton plan” of things that we want to do. But it’s also important to us to be spontaneous…because spontaneousity is what makes life fun, am I right? With this being said, I’d like to share some of our favorite things to do while in Moab!

  • Sunrise and Sunset Hiking– With the two hour time difference, it’s pretty easy for us to be awake in-time for a good sunrise!
    • Some of our favorite sunrises are in Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park (beware, that A LOT of people also like to see the sunrise at these parks, so it’s definitely busy…GET THERE EARLY.) My advise would be to see the sunrise at Delicate Arch and Mesa Arch at least once in your life, because the view really is incredible! But after that, there are plenty of other secret spots to watch the sunrise that would be a little more intimate and less crowded too!

Some of our favorite sunsets are Corona Arch, Moab Rim Trail, or really hiking up on of any cliff you can find! You’re in the middle of the desert so the sunsets are pretty epic from anywhere.

Mountain Biking– Moab is one of the best mountain biking places we’ve ever been too! Honestly, while driving through town I don’t think you drive past a car without a bike on it. They have biking for all levels…but mostly moderate-to-advanced trails! I remember when we were there two years ago I was terrified to do any of the trails because of how “technical” they can be; But this year (with the encouragement of Kwin) I went past my fears and just DID IT! I’m glad I did because the trails were HARD but SO MUCH FUN!

    • Slickrock Trail– Yup, I DIDN’T do this…but I did hike this one. Kwin and our friend Joe crushed this trail, and had so much fun! It’s an advanced trail with some pretty crazy descents and climbs all on sandstone rock.
    • Canyonlands– The drive to the national park from the town of Moab (which is about 30 miles) is littered with trails! A combination of sandstone cliffs and desert riding. These trails range from moderate to advanced and were a blast.

Klondike Trails– Something unique about these trails is that you are riding near or on dinosaur tracks! Thats right, I said dinosaur tracks! Something unique about Moab and it’s terrain is that the sandstone is actually petrified sand dunes, so the geographical history behind the land is pretty awesome! Kwin and I really enjoyed these trails-note they are definitely more on the advanced side, but walking part of the trail is not too bad because of the views!

    • Porcupine Rim Trails– Again, a trail that I DIDN’T do…but Kwin and Joe absolutely killed it. The crazy thing about this trail is that you descend DOWN a mountain about 4000ft. I’ve hiked part of this trail, and it blows my mind that people can bike down it…crazy people!
  • Petroglyphs– The Native American’s- believed to be the Pueblo People- who use to live off the land in Moab left behind some pretty cool pieces of artwork (rock carvings made by hammer and chisel.) Petroglyphs are believed to be a way of communicating and/or celebrating achievements. You can’t see them everywhere, but always be on the look out for the cool pieces of artwork while hiking!

Camping– Kwin and I have created a pretty cool rig that we live in while traveling. With our Aliner camper, an EZ-up Canopy, Solar Panel’s to help keep our camper battery charged, Solar heated shower bags, and all the water and food one could need, we are able to be completely unplugged and off the grid! Camping can be so fun when you have a good set up(:

Being with friends– This year we were lucky to have another family join us…the Shorts! Trips are always so much fun when you’re with other people, and able to make memories with them too. Joe, Leah, Simon and Elmer thanks for making this trip a great one!

As much as we love Michigan, it’s always so sad when vacations are coming to an end (yes, the dogs were sad to be returning to snow again too.) The freedom and spontaneousity of life that vacations bring about are the best! Trips like this one are rejuvenating and make getting back into daily routines exciting. It also excites us for all the upcoming trips that we’ve got planned!

So, can anyone guess where we will be going for next years Spring Break?

If you guessed Moab…YOU’RE RIGHT!

East Coast Travels!

This years spring break (Yes, we still get to go on spring break as adults…PERKS of marrying a teacher!) Kwin wanted to show me some new territory, so we took a road trip down the East Side of the country!

Smokey Mountains 

We Started our journey in the Great Smokey Mountains! Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are the two towns located just outside the park where most of the tourists stay. Honestly, I wasn’t a huge fan of either of these towns; mostly because I am not huge into “touristy” things, but GOTTA EXPERIENCE EVERYTHING ONCE. After we got away from all the people and into the Smokey Mountain National Park I loved it!

Unfortunately the weather wasn’t the greatest while we were there…but it didn’t stop us! We hiked the Chimney Tops hike along with the Grotto Falls hike. For those who do not know, the last 0.25miles of the Chimney Tops hike is now closed due to the forest fire in 2016. Apparently the trail experienced some erosion and damage from the fire-I’m a little bummed because Kwin said that was the best part of the trail!

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me waterfall

Asheville 

We have heard that Asheville has some pretty great Mountain Biking, so going there was a must! We stopped for breakfast at City Bakery and it was phenomenal-local and organic whole foods! From there we made our way to DuPont State Park where we did some hiking, mountain biking and found more waterfalls!

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rock carin

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Finally no rain, so we could have a campfire!

Lake James State Park 

FINALLY WE GOT SUNSHINE! After three days of rain and clouds we were very excited to finally see the sun come out. We had full intentions on paddle boarding while here…but the wind was a bit too strong!

 Sunshine+awesome mountain biking trails+beautiful hiking=one of our favorite days. 

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Visiting Family! 

One of the main reasons we went on this trip (bedsides seeing new territory) was to meet up with Kwin’s sister (Megan) and brother-in-law (Tommy). They just moved into their new house-which is beautiful, congrats guys! While there we went to Hanging Rock State Park.
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the hike K&amp;M

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Washington DC

Our last stop on the trip was a day trip to the Nations Capital. At the age of 24, I cannot believe I have NEVER been here before! Along with the day at Lake James, this was another favorite of mine! Kwin and I are both kinda nerdy…but we love learning, especially about history.

Things I loved about Washington DC

  • Dog Friendly-except you couldn’t take your furry friends into the actual memorials
  • Such an active town-there were people walking, running, riding bikes, playing soccer, playing ultimate frisbee…you name it and it was going on!
  • Bike trail from Washington DC to Mt.Vernon
  • SOOO MUCH HISTORY

kwin&amp;dogs at memorial

memorial

Traveling is something that Kwin and I have a huge passion for! We love exploring new things as a family (yes that includes taking our dogs everywhere we can!) and being off the grid as much as we can!

We also have a NO CHAIN RESTAURANTS rule (we cook mostly in our camper, but sometimes it’s nice to go out.) Here are some cafes we went to- City Bakery (Asheville), Grind Cafe (Morganton)

I hope you all enjoyed! For any questions regarding trails or another travel questions feel free to ask!

Also, SHOUTOUT to my amazing husband for getting me the best birthday present I could have asked for! I love my new Sony A6300 Camera, it sure took some amazing pictures this trip! 

Moab Adventures, Part 2

It has been a crazy couple of weeks since I last posted a blog..but jeez wedding planning is a lot of work!

I cannot believe it has almost been a month already since our trip to Moab, Utah. I miss the desert hot days, the scenic red rocks, and the sporadic nature of being on a road trip vacation. In fact, I’m already counting down the days until we are back out there next year for spring break!

Moab is most known for the National Parks that are found in town, but I would have to say that my favorite part of the trip was all the other adventures we did while out there!

SlickRock Mountain Bike Trail 

This bike trail is no joke. The whole terrain is slick rock, which means you grip to it so easily and can ride super fast. However, due to the “grippy” nature of the rocks the trail consists of lots of intense drops and climbs, riding along the mountain edge, sandpits, and other extreme obstacles. Slick rock was hands down one of the hardest trails that I have ever ridden, note I am a mediocre mountain biker. I did absolutely love the scenic views that the trail provided through out the entire 11 mile loop though. If you are a mountain biker I would highly recommend riding this trail!

Stand up Paddle Boarding the Colorado River 

As most of you may know, the Colorado river is not your typical calm and slow river. It is full of class 1-2+ rapids and travels at an average speed of 6mph. So, who in their right mind would want to SUP down that?

Kwin tells me that we need to scare ourselves once a day to feel alive; Well let me tell ya, this day was full of that! We pumped up our Tahoe SUP inflatable paddle boards about 12miles upstream from camp (which are super easy to travel with!) and hit the rapids.

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Other Great things about Moab 

Corona Arch 

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This Arch was probably one of my favorites in Moab. I wish is was a little more sunny for an epic sunset, but the view and hike was still amazing.

Fischer Towers! 

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Fischer Towers is just a little bit outside of Moab, but is beautiful (Especially at sunset). We stayed out and star gazed for awhile before heading back to camp.

Petroglyphs 

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You can find ancient Petroglyphs on almost every trail! Some of them dating back to the 1600’s.

Road Bike Trail 

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In Moab, they have bike trails everywhere. Really, you can bike to almost any destination you want which Kwin and I absolutely loved. Plus, can you beat the view of the La Sal Mountains in the background?

 Our Awesome Campsite, right on the Colorado River!

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Base camp was something hard to beat, especially being right on the colorado river and in the mountains!

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Canyon Lands and Arches National Parks-Moab, Utah!

We just returned home from our week long trip in Moab, Utah…and let me tell you, it was amazing! The Red Rocky mountains, warm desert air, La Sal Mountains in the horizon and just the environment was so awesome. Every day was exhausting and filled with lots of hiking, mountain biking, and just enjoying the beautiful outdoors.

In this blog I want to tell you about two of our days, which we spent in the National Parks in Moab. Theses are called Arches National Park, and Canyon Lands National Park.

Arches National Park 

Arches is known for its more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches; most commonly Delicate Arch and Landscape Arch!

We arrived to Arches just before sunrise and made our way back to Delicate Arch, guided by our headlamps, to catch sunrise. It is rated one of the best sunrise spots due to the way the sun hits the arch and the light glowing off the red rocks. It really was a breathtaking view and great way to start the day.

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We then made our way to Devils Garden! This was my favorite part of Arches because of how beautiful the scenery was. We hiked the Primitive Loop Trail finding multiple Arches and making our way through a maze of red rock mountains (or Fins as they call them).

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Arches was full of great views, easy and extreme hiking and is definitely a place I will visit again in the future.

Canyon Lands National Park

Canyon Lands started out very similar to Arches with a headlamp guided sunrise hike. This time we made our way to Mesa Arch. This is National Geographically rated as one of the best sunrise locations in Moab! It definitely was beautiful, but because of its high ranking everyone seemed to be there.

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From there we went to Grand Overlook Point where we hiked right along the cliffside. This trail is commonly known as “Island in the Sky” because how the cliff extends over a huge canyon, you could seriously see for miles!

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(Yes, Kwin is a bit of a dare devil and likes to hang off ledges that have a 400ft drop!)

Next on our list was a road bike to Dead Horse Point. We parked out car about 7 miles out from the main entrance and then rode in through the desert planes. The views were breath taking. From there we decided to do a trail run the rest of the way to the actual hairpin overlook of Dead Horse Point.

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Spending a day in Canyon Lands is definitely not enough because of how large it is. I hope to be back there next year and can explore even more territory that we weren’t able to see!

Moab is lucky enough to not only have two National Parks within a couple miles from each other, but also some of the top ranked Mountain bike trails in the nation and infinite other hiking trails.  I can easily say that Moab now has a piece of my heart and I cannot wait to go back again!

Next Adventure in the Making, Utah!

Kwin and I are always scheming what our next adventure is going to be. Whether it be a quick weekend trip or something big, we’re always on the go.

“Take every chance you get in life, because somethings only happen once.”

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Our next adventure is going to be a road trip out to Moab, Utah!  There is something about the red rocks, sunny skies, mountainous terrain, and vast open spaces that we are both drawn to. Moab is one of Kwin’s favorite travel locations and I’m so excited to finally be getting out there. Being that Kwin has been to Moab so many times already he’s created a pretty great itinerary of must go places (but always leaving room for additions/new places we find!)

Itinerary

-Slick Rock    -Corona Arch     -Moab Rim Trail    -Canyon Lands     -Arches

-Fischer Towers      -Horse Shoe Rim    -Dinosaur Tracks    -Porcupine Rim

While in Moab we plan on setting up camp in our little camper along the Colorado River. We don’t let a second go to waste while traveling so our days will be filled with hiking, mountain biking, paddling/white water rafting on our Stand Up Paddle boards and eating good food at all the local places!

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Getting Ready

We are two and a half weeks out from leaving and have officially started prepping for the big trip. The adventure will start with a 24 hour road trip in our tightly packed truck, while pulling our camper along behind. It will be exhausting, especially the treacherous flat planes of Nebraska and Iowa, but worth it none the less.13782075_10207287638849001_3749703708066992300_n

 Kwin has been working on the camper all winter, making improvements so that everything runs smoothly.  We absolutely love our pop-up camper, as it is perfect for traveling and quick set up!

As a couple, Kwin and I are able to easily delegate tasks based on each others strengths and weaknesses. While Kwin is in charge of maintenance and itinerary planning, I usually take care of the little detail planning and getting everything else together .

What we will be bringing:

-Tahoe SUP inflatable paddle boards: http://www.tahoesup.com

-Mountain and Road Bikes

-Cooking utensils: portable grill, portable stove, pots, pans, eating utensils,

-Hiking gear

-Tent for backcountry camping under the stars one night

-Lots of other safety equipment: headlamps, bear spray, portable shower

-Dog gear: food, leash and collar, booties

-Electronics: power cords, camera, GoPro, Drone, portable charger, solar panels

-GROCERIES: must have lots of snacks (or usual plan is quick easy breakfast, lots of snacks during the day, BIG dinner)

The emotions that traveling brings about is something hard to describe. The butterfly’s in my stomach, difficulty sleeping, and only being able to focus on what is to come are only a few to list. As the time gets closer to leaving I can’t help but think about all the beautiful things we are going to experience and how lucky I am to be able to travel as often as I do. MOAB, HERE WE COME!