Category Archives: Hiking

Easter and Sara’s Birthday in Taos, 2017

We had a wonderful, quick trip to Taos to celebrate Easter and Sara’s birthday.   The weekend was spent: playing games, reading, hiking, visiting Twirl for a craft,  exploring and overall just relaxing together.
John and I both enjoyed watching the kids play by the river for well over an hour.

We decided to make Rice Krispie treats for the first time ever.  Of course the kids liked them but they will not be making an appearance at our house anytime soon! 
We enjoy visiting St. James Episcopal church when we are in town and were thrilled to be here on Easter!  We like the simplicity of their services, however, we were all a bit homesick for our own church.  We have formed 14 years of family traditions that was hard to break.  I did like that their egg hunt was super simple and the eggs were not candy filled!

 

 

 

Outside Challenge

We have taken the no TV rule from October one step further for November and declared an “outside challenge”.  The rules are simple, as a family we have to get outside once a day together for a month… We have been hiking, playing soccer/basketball and even out to feed the ducks at a nearby park.
This Thanksgiving weekend we will go on our first camping adventure since our big trip!  It feels good getting outside, even if only for a little bit.  (John, Max and I are lucky enough to get at least 1 – 1.5 hours a day outside while we are at the school, and Ethan shoots hoops for hours before dark.  It is our girl who needs a push to get out and explore!)

img_5695 img_5701 img_5706 img_5716

We enjoyed  a night walk outside of town to watch the super moon rise.  What an amazing sight.  Max and I ended with yoga and we all left howling at the moon!img_5754

We enjoyed playing at an empty park on a cold day.   img_5871 img_5869
I am such a kid at heart! img_5867 img_5859 img_5856

Early morning soccer game, before school.  img_5782

We have missed a few days where we were all together doing something outside.  However, it is super easy to pick back up the next day.  We have enjoyed this challenge so much that we are striving to continue this challenge as long as we can!

Our First Epic Trip – Taos Part 2

Most of the first half of our Taos adventure was leisurely and restful.  The rest of our stay was quite an adventure.

It has always been a dream of John’s to hike Wheeler Peak.  We didn’t think it would be possible, on this trip, with the younger two being so little. But, Sara found an awesome summer camp to take the younger kids.  Sara, Ethan, and John dropped them off in the morning and headed for the peak via William’s Lake.  It was a challenging hike to the top and a mentally draining hike to the finish.  It was great to get past the tree line and see that the green on the mountain side is nothing but flowers.  We enjoyed seeing lots of marmots and mountain sheep.  It was also interesting to see how windy and cold it is at 13,000 ft.  Even though this hike was extremely challenging, we all agreed we would love to do this again.
img_3425 img_3411 img_3406 img_3405 img_3401

We always enjoy rafting as a family.  Sara, Ethan, and Maddie love adventurous rapids, while Max and John like the slow float.  Since we all wanted to stay together on the river, we took the slow float.  This year the water was so low that the slow float was just a little too slow for us.  Regardless of that, we enjoyed our time together.
img_3439 img_3441 img_3469 img_3470 img_3472
We got to visit our church home away from home, St James’ Episcopal, a couple of times during the trip.  During one of the visits, we had the privilege to help the needy and volunteer with the food pantry crew.  There were hundreds of people (in this tiny little town) that needed assistance from the food pantry.  Many of the volunteers needed assistance themselves.  It was devastating to witness such poverty.  We met at 9 a.m. and put in a grueling day of work until 4:00 p.m.  All three kids said that this was one of the highlights of the trip.

The food pantry operation is currently looking for donations to buy a walk-in freezer to store even more food if anyone out there wants to give.  This church gives so much to the community including: weekly food pantry, utility assistance, fire wood, Habitat for Humanity organizing, and much more.
img_1523
We really had a chance to bond as a family during quiet moments.img_7519
We had lots of outside time.img_7489
We agreed that since we would be gone for a month we were going to eat as healthy as possible.  Plus, we had a tight budget so we saved our restaurant money and our waistlines for Taos.  We enjoyed some of our favorite places to eat: Taos Pizza Outback (for the cool outside environment), Taos Cow (for the great ice cream and coffee), and The Coffee Spot (Our favorite of all).
img_7546
Sadly, our trip ended three days shorter than planned.  In the middle of the night, on our last night, Sara was awoken by headlights near our camper and saw a man get out of the car.  She immediately panicked, but figure that he was stopping to use the restroom.  Without warning, he started firing a gun.  In all the confusion, we didn’t know if he was shooting at us or not.  Quickly, he ran to his car cheering to his buddy and took off.  After thinking about it, we assumed that the kids were just out pranking.  But, Sara, who has always been afraid of guns, just couldn’t get settled.  So, after a sleepless night, we decided that this adventure was over and we headed home.img_7558
We were crushed to leave this beautiful place and the freedom that this trip brought to our family.  Everything we experienced was more amazing than we ever could have planned for.  It was really hard for the parents to get home and adjust to life after the fact.  We missed our immersion into simple living, pure nature, and complete family time.  We were also more tired than expected and it took weeks to recover and for life to seem normal.  The kids, however, didn’t miss a beat!  We can’t wait for our next Epic trip…. There are talks of Disneyland, the Pacific Northwest, New England, or Asheville, NC.  We could be driving in any direction.  We are extremely thankful for this trip and our time together.

Our First Epic Trip – Taos Part 1

After we had driven about 3,300 miles we had finally made it to Taos, NM!  This was the stop that we had been looking forward to.  After seeing so many beautiful places on our trip, we were worried that Taos might have lost it’s majesty.  Although it took Sara an hour or so to get the feel, Taos was as inviting as ever.  We pulled into town and cranked up the KTAOS.img_7487img_3392
We found a cozy spot to camp in the Taos Ski Valley and started our 9 day camp out.  Once again, we didn’t have water or electricity.
img_7566
Each of us picked our favorite thing to do in town.  The John Dunn Bridge is always a must see.  Usually we all love swimming in the Rio Grande.  But, sadly, after seeing such clear, beautiful water on the other legs of the trip, the water just didn’t seem inviting.  Maddie barely even stepped foot in the water.  We did get a couple of good pictures of the kids before they were begging to leave.
img_7500 img_7498 img_7496 img_7501
We all loved taking afternoon naps.
img_7556

The kids always enjoy a trip to one of the coolest toy stores around, Twirl.  I like loading up on “stocking stuffers” here while the kids play.  We actually visited here twice this trip.
img_7531 img_7524 img_7522 img_7505

Next up, Taos Part 2

Our First Epic Trip – Telluride

Telluride is one of those places that you can’t get out of your head once you have experienced it.  We keep thinking back on how breathtaking this area of Colorado is.  Too bad it is so far away.

After a short but scary drive (2 lane, windy road with massive drops) from Moab to Western Colorado, we were surprised by everything Telluride had to offer.  And, it was 70 degrees during the day….much better than Moab.
Telluride Colorado
After searching for a bit, we set up camp at one of the many free campgrounds outside of town.  We found a spot near a big lake.  This is the first time on our trip that we camped so deep in nature and away from light pollution.  This was also the first time that we did not have electricity and running water.  Being here made our souls feel alive.
img_1486img_7396
The kids enjoyed exploring the area.
img_3350 img_7398 img_7402 img_1491
The town had a free Gondola that ran from the edge of town to Mountain Village (the ski mountain).  This was very helpful to us since Maddie isn’t so much into hiking.  We were able to ride up the mountain and hike down 3 miles.img_3358
img_3364img_7427 img_7437
Telluride also has a frigid river running through town.  If you are crazy enough, you can get in and freeze.
img_3369 img_7460
This is the first place we visited where a camp fire was actually needed to stay warm.  We spent many hours by the fire.  After the first night, we learned that when the sun goes down, you go to bed.  Otherwise, it is so cold that it takes forever to warm your bones.  But, if you brave the cold, you will have an excellent view of the stars.
img_7413 img_7415 img_7418 img_7470
Sara decided that she wanted to live here until we got a good look at the non-summer weather.  Telluride looks to have 2 seasons, cool and frozen. Besides, it is too far away from family.

Next Up, Pagosa Springs, Colorado.

Our First Epic Vacation – Grand Teton National Park

After leaving Yellowstone, we got to see one of the most beautiful places on the planet: the Grand Teton National Park.  The kids were so tired that they missed most of the drive (including a huge herd of bison crossing the road).  Due to the magnificence of these mountains, we couldn’t quit gaping at them.
IMG_7110IMG_7184 IMG_7116 IMG_7119 IMG_7120
Then, we drove through Jackson and Alpine, WY and stayed in Star Valley, just outside of Afton.  We were mesmerized watching a farmer bail hay behind the RV park we were staying at.
IMG_7149
Near Afton, we got to visit the Intermittent Spring.  It was a one mile round trip hike to the spring.  Although, we didn’t visit during the right season, the spring flows for a while then stops periodically. IMG_7164 IMG_7169
Next up, Salt Lake City and Moab, UT.

Our First Epic Vacation – Yellowstone National Park

We were fortunate enough to spend three days in Yellowstone National Park.  We weren’t quite sure what to expect of this place.  We have heard stories from previous visitors about how amazing it is.  Our first few hours in park were unimpressive, but as we pressed on, we started seeing the magic is this place.IMG_6837 IMG_6852 IMG_6841

Dragon’s Mouth Spring – This cave continually rumbles and breathes and was fascinating to hear.IMG_6870
A bison stopped by the mud pots to warm up.IMG_6877

Old Faithful – Luckily, after a long walk, the geyser erupted after about 15 minutes.  Although, the gift shop took a lot longer to see.IMG_6898

We got to see a herd of elk in the distance.IMG_6910 IMG_6920

Artists’ Paint Pots – The water in these hot springs reaches up to 143 degrees.IMG_6929 IMG_6932

We stood for about 20 minutes watching the mud pots splatter and pop.  It is funny how entertaining this was.IMG_6938 IMG_6944

Mammoth Hot Springs – It was so beautiful to see how the mineral deposits formed.IMG_6947 IMG_6951 IMG_6952 IMG_6956 IMG_6959

Mount Washburn and the surrounding area – Simply beautiful!IMG_6984 IMG_6986 IMG_6987 IMG_6989

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone – We all felt that this was the most impressive site in the whole park.IMG_7002 IMG_7007

The water is so incredibly clear.  It felt too sacred to even step in.IMG_7068 IMG_7072 IMG_7073
Grand Prismatic Spring – This place was beautiful.  This is the place the Sara was most wanting to see, but it fell short of expectations due to the fact that you can’t see the colors in the same way as you can from an aerial view.  IMG_7091

We all worked together to help Max become a junior ranger and got to learn so much about the park in the process. IMG_7059 IMG_7057
We tried to book camping in the park about 2 months out from taking the trip.  Well, that didn’t work out.  So, we stayed at the KOA outside of West Yellowstone, MT.  We all enjoyed this camp spot and the mini-golf.   And, on the last night in town, we got to have s’mores. IMG_7052IMG_7010 IMG_6906 IMG_7013 IMG_7035
Poor Maddie came down with pink eye within the first few days of our trip.  Her eyes starting getting worse and we had to take her to the doctor only to find out that she was allergic to the medication eye drops another doctor had prescribed.  Her eyes continued to bother her for most of the trip.  She was a trooper though.IMG_7042
We couldn’t get over the fact that we were standing in the caldera of an active volcano.  There are so many places in the park that were magical.  Even the kids agreed that they would want to return here one day.

Next up, Grand Teton National Park and Star Valley Wyoming.

Our First Camper Adventure

The Epic Family has been very busy lately between life and self employment, but we have also squeezed a few adventures in the middle of the rush.

We are gearing up for a long journey, in July, and decided to buy a camper to for our trip.  We are taking a month-long trip and were planning on staying in a tent half of the time and hotels for the rest.  We figured that the cost of our modest camper would equal the cost of lodging.  So, it was basically a wash.

We took our camper for its first trip a few weeks ago.  We had an awesome time and can not wait for our trip.  We slept so much better than tent camping.  Sara is now dreaming of tiny home living once again…pdc_camping_denver 017
It took way too long to figure out how to mount the support poles! pdc_camping_denver 055pdc_camping_denver 019
We went on a short hike and played in the river.pdc_camping_denver 025 pdc_camping_denver 027 pdc_camping_denver 028pdc_camping_denver 034
We need a healthy alternative to s’mores.  Any ideas?pdc_camping_denver 041
Sara got us out of bed to do some water color painting as the sun was setting.  We all really got into this activity.pdc_camping_denver 045 pdc_camping_denver 046 pdc_camping_denver 052
Overall, the weekend went well and we are definitely looking forward to the next time we get to venture out.

February Happenings

This winter we chose to stay inside quite a bit more than last year.  Well, the weather is finally warming up and we are coming out of hibernation.  My, it feels lovely getting outside more.

We are spending our days making volcanoes, shooting off bottle rockets, playing soccer, hiking, making mud pies and mud villages and just being outside.

Maddie went to a Rubix Cube workshop and mastered it!100 days of school 052 endoffeb 009 endoffeb 016 endoffeb 059 endoffeb 084 endoffeb 092 endoffeb 104 endoffeb 108 endoffeb 116 endoffeb 118 endoffeb 164
Ethan started taking piano lessons in January and knows a few songs already! endoffeb 167
Valentine’s Day was low key.  We exchanged simple cards and mostly ate fruit. We did get out to make art with the seniors where our Gigi once lived.  They were so grateful to have company.  It would be worth your time to adopt seniors in your area. Valentinesday 025 Valentinesday 104Valentinesday 112Valentinesday 122 Valentinesday 124

Outside Is Best

In the month of November,  we were able to squeeze in two campouts and a day trip to mountain bike.  One camping trip was in our backyard and the  other  was at Palo Duro Canyon.  Both were equally fun filled with lots of reading, games, exploring, hiking and of course s’mores.

We love having a fire pit in our backyard on cold nights.
midnovember 037 midnovember 039 midnovember 041
While there are no pictures to show,  Maddie  went mountain biking for the first time.  She did amazing and never fell!  We went again on our camping trip and she went much faster.   John and Ethan enjoyed taking a more challenging trail and had a great time together.
midnovember 093 midnovember 097
We also enjoyed a park sponsored night hike and a Mom led art session.
midnovember 088 midnovember 092 midnovember 104
We all feel better when we are outside exploring.  I love the calmness that seems to happen within minutes of being outside.  Being in nature is where we all belong.  As the days get colder we  will have to remember to get outside even if only for a moment!  It is so easy to stay inside where it is cozy.
midnovember 061 midnovember 153 midnovember 169
Until next time…