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California’s a Big State (final post):: The Redwoods

North we go and once again find the coast.  At first site of the ocean (around Eureka, CA), the kids were so excited (and it was so beautiful) that we pulled the whole rig over for an ocean play break.  Chilly but awesome!
Hello again, Pacific!!!

Klamath, CA – right smack dab in the middle of Redwood State and National Parks.  State and National?  We’d never heard of this kind of park collaboration before so I was concerned our National Parks Pass wouldn’t get us in to the park or that there would be extra day use fees.  Turns out that we were not charged a fee (and I didn’t even need to present the pass) though there were fees posted.  The Junior Ranger Program was quite similar to the others the kids have done at other national parks except the lack of a present ranger at the visitors’ center prompted the gift shop attendant to leave me in charge of swearing in my rangers when their work was complete.  OK.  I guess this would have been a bother for the kids had they not done so many previously but they liked completing their activities at home and having the badge to add to their collection right away.  I did a little research after the fact to look into this ‘state and national parks’ thing.
Jurassic Elijah

The Redwoods comprises such a big area of the coast that the Highway 101 runs right through it.  The scenic highway (parallel) takes the traveler west just a bit to drive among the towering redwood trees.  It’s really a breathtaking drive all the way up to Crescent City.  There are hiking trails at turnouts all along the scenic highway poriton so there really is no need to hit the visitor center unless additional information is required.  The park host at the RV park where we stayed gave us a great regional map and a finger-walking map-tour of the highpoints of the area so we were ready!  While Chris worked one day, the kids and I went off a'The Farm'nd found The Farm – Radar Station B-71 tucked in and overgrown overlooking the Pacific.  It is two buildings that were built in 1942 to look like an operating farm post-Pearl Harbor and equipped to monitor for Japanese coastal threats.  We felt like explorers and detectives and the like as we waded through tall grass to get down to the buildings and peered in the barred windows.  It sparked an in-depth conversation and some Google research (on the phone in the car) about WWII, Pearl Harbor, and the bombing of Hiroshima.  The historical perspective our kids have is so objective and impartial.  It is not based on some agenda-laden history text or a particular teacher’s biases or…. fear.  The discussions we have about human behavior and historical happenings are fascinating.  When we brought Chris back to check it out, it had been mowed.  So it did not seem as laden with ghosts and mystery but it was still cool.

We took a couple of hikes during our week in the Redwoods.  The kids immediately commented oGnome kidsn how they felt like gnomes in a giant world.  (We have a GREAT and heavily read book on gnomes so we’re up on our gnome knowledge.)  I couldn’t stop an internal giggle after that.  I did, too!  Then I read that the woodsy portions of The Lost World: Jurassic Park were filmed there and we imagine dinosaurs ambling, scurrying, and rumbling through the humongous ferns and collossal plants.  Then Chris remembered that the Endor scenes of Return of the Jedi were filmed among the redwoods and we were giddy with talk of ewoks.  Yes, these trees (and, for that matter, all of the giant plants and thick greenery) evoke a feeling of being small, childlike, vulnerable, inquistive, wild, and adventurous. 

We also spent a cloudy day at the beach before being warned by a passerby about sleeper waves.  Eek!  With all of the signs about being in a ‘tsunami hazard zone’, we didn’t know about these rogue waves.  Apparently it’s a pretty regular hazard.  Glad we had a lovely rogue-wave-free day before scurrying back to the car and home for dinner!
Kids in the distance

There are several Roosevelt elk viewing hotspots in the Redwoods as well.  Once nearly extinct, presElk at Prairie Creek Visitor Centerervation practices have helped increase their numbers to over 1,000.  We got a great roadside view of a small herd grazing across from the Prairie Creek Visitor Center. 

The night we arrived at our RV park in Klamath was the first Celtics NBA playoff game.  And we arrived to find that in my web surfing of the various local RV parks, I had inadvertently chosen one without cable hookup.  Chris was freaking out quietly when we got there (I had prepaid over the phone) but the host hooked us up immediately with a satellite box he had on hand.  Sweet.  We noticed chickens roaming the park near the office and were given 2 dozen free-range chicken eggs during our week-long stay!  I’m really glad we chose Kamp Klamath RV Park after driving around the area.  It was convenient to the highway but not right on it like most of the other parks.  They were a bit overgrown on the other side and sprucing up for the true beginning of their season (as fulltimers, we’re noticing we’re not always in parks in their on-season).  The cafe had burned down last year.  The playground was a small backyard type and grown up with grass.  But there was plenty to do in the redwoods.  The park host was on par with the sweetest, most helpful people we’ve met on the road.  That makes all the difference.  Sadie and I made him a flourless chocolate cake with some of the eggs.  🙂

Lots more photos of our time in northern California on Flickr!

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2012 in California, RV, Travel log

 

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In Awe of Utah

We were moving so quickly and have been so busy adjusting to the new complexities of life on the road that I remain a smidge behind on the blogging aspect of our journey.  The adventures continue.  It’s documenting them that becomes the challenge.  It’s also been a while since I’ve podcasted over at Humans Being but the topics are building in my mind and just about ready to burst forth once again.  I’m currently sitting in the San Jose Airport in California waiting for the big, metal bird that will return me to my small, metal home on the road in Las Vegas. I miss my cozy bed and my warm husband.  I miss the buzz of activity that my two children create all around them.  I miss little hugs and big cuddles.  It’s time to go home and I am glad of that.  I’m returning from a symposium based on the discussion of self and global evolution with Bruce Lipton and Joseph Chilton Pearce.  I have learned much about myself from experiences in and outside of the conference room and I am glad of that.
And now it’s time to blog about Utah which holds a special place in our hearts and…yes…I am glad of that.

Picking up where Albuquerque left off
Realizing that we were headed in the same general direction, we decided to caravan with the Wagners on to Las Vegas by way of Utah.  We had heard brilliant reviews of the Utah landscape and of Zion National Park and were eager to see if it lived up to its fame.  We’d already been so blown away in our travels.  It’s not that we’re easily impressed… but the combination of approaching life with new eyes this past year and immediately seeing in our travels the vastly different landscapes and natural beauty right in our own ‘backyard’ has been wondrous.  Maybe we are easily impressed… and maybe you should be too.  Expansive appreciation feels really great.
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(pardon our bug-splattered windshield…)

Utah is wild!
With a couple of boondock overnights sharing parking lot picnics with the Wagners between, Chris and I traversed the roads with our eyes wide.  Travelling in an RV is not like any other method I’ve experienced.  The high vantage point combined with the almost 180 degree visibility feels more like an experience than a drive.  ‘They’ were right.  Utah is gorgeous.  Gorgeous.  Awe-inspiring.  Gorgeous. 

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We stayed at Red Ledge RV Park in Kanarraville, Utah- a quaint little town where the town hall (which contains the library open only two days per week for two-three hours), fire department (volunteer and desolate), post office (open a few hours each day- one woman weighs packages on a giant scale with a numbered circular dial and then checks the weight against a chart on the wall to calculate postage) with a dog who sits outside on the stoop and a resident elderly gentleman stationed on a wooden stool who chats with customers, and church are all on the same block (right next to our RV park).  The spaces were tight in our little haven but the hospitality was first rate.  We had dinners on the patio with the Wagners and even partook in the hot tub one evening.  I walked the dogs every morning in one of the most serene communities I’ve ever experienced with a backdrop of mighty Utah mountains.

Zion National Park
The highlight of our peaceful and inspiring stay in Utah were the two days spent hiking and exploring in Zion National Park. It was really wild to watch the kids hiking surrounded by sheer rock faces that touched the sky. It really put in perspective how small and fragile we are as individuals while at the same time emboldening a great desire to meet and create new challenges.
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We took a pretty easy-going trail the first day, wandering alongside- and sometimes in- the river as the kids tried to avoid the concrete path at all costs. The second day we looked at the map and read the trail descriptions. The kids decided (much to Chris’ and my delight) that they only wanted to consider trails that had the falling hiker warning symbol in their key. We decided on the Emerald Pools trails and saw the lower, middle, and upper pools in our travels. Extraordinary hiking. The upper pools trail fulfilled the kids’ (and our) desire for a climbing challenge and the calm, pristine pool at the top was certainly worth every step (except for the fact that swimming was prohibited…). We followed the kids on a side adventure off from the middle pool- lots of climbing and exploring.

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We really got a kick out of refilling our thermos from the ice cold water running down off of the canyon wall. What a refreshing and delicious drink! The water is naturally filtered as it passes through the sandstone on its way down.
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After leaving Zion on the second day, we had dinner in town and stopped to pick some apples at a local farm.  We haven’t picked apples since living in New Hampshire- a little nostalgia for us.  🙂

We were sad to leave Utah so soon and having seen relatively little of the vast state but have vowed to return on our travels.  Our stay here really punctuated the magnitude of our decision to leave suburbia.

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2010 in Travel log

 

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Canyon, Texas- We’re creating our dreams


We stayed two full days in Canyon, Texas- just south of Amarillo in the Texas panhandle- on our way northwest out of Texas.  The draw for this stop was a picture in our state parks guide of the lighthouse rock formation at Palo Duro Canyon.  Yes, it’s that kind of life.  Where there’s intention, there we are!  This was our first experience in the creation of our dreams and it was WILD.

We’ve never seen anything so magnificent!  I know, I know- I’m originally from the Berkshires in Massachusetts and Chris from southern New Hampshire.  New England is gorgeous.  We know that… now.  The places we don’t know, haven’t seen, or have only seen in movies hold this mystique- almost as if they aren’t real.  We’ve travelled a bit- all over New England, Aruba, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, San Diego, Santa Barbara, DFW, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, New York City.  There may be a few others that I’m missing.  Maybe we’ve travelled more than the average, working family.  The big difference- we have found- is that those were destinations, visits, stops on a round trip back to ‘real’ life.  This time it IS life.  OUR life.  The one we’re creating and it’s absolutely magical. 

In accordance with our repetitively stated need for internet, we stayed at Palo Duro RV Park just outside the state park/canyon.  Once in the park, there is no mobile phone signal at all.  The RV park had good WiFi and, because the musical Texas! was off-season, so was the park.  We had lots of space.  The park wasn’t lovely but very functional and friendly for the three nights that we stayed.  Chris and I had our hearts set on seeing the Lighthouse rock formation and then read in the information that it was a 6-mile roundtrip hike.  Could we make it? We psyched up the kids, packed lots of food and not enough water, headed out on a Saturday morning, and (tried) to resign ourselves to the journey rather than the destination.  It was awesome.  We were in this spectacular canyon, jumping off rocks, touching the walls, exploring trails.

I won’t lie.  There was some grumbling around the 1.5 mile mark.  At 2 miles, we could see it- the Lighthouse looming in the distance.  It was a little anti-climactic.  We thought it would be bigger.  We almost turned around then but met a couple coming from there who gave us instructions on how to get up to the Lighthouse which included rigorous rock climbing.  The kids were sold!  We forged ahead.  The trail became rocky and the incline steep.  We paired off- one adult behind each child- thrilled with this new aspect of the adventure.

As we got closer, the Lighthouse lived up to its fame.  It was enormous and multicolored and beautiful and…. and….!  We scaled steep rock ledges and wound up directly at the base of the Lighthouse and its sister formation, the Castle.  I gave the remainder of the water bottle I was sharing with Chris to a teenager suffering from heat exhaustion.  We headed back with a spring in our step.  Chris alternated putting the kids on his shoulders between the trail markers as the kids counted them down for each tenth of a mile to the trail head.  It was so hot but we all felt like we had done something so BIG. 

Our feet were sore and we were seeking a cool drink.  But a cool dip in the water at the water crossing certainly helped!

Canyon is a supremely quaint little town- the epitomy of ‘sleepy, little bedroom town’.  There’s only one restaurant that serves alcohol (you have to fill out a form- it’s a dry town) and almost nothing open after dusk.  We drove the desolate brick main street after our hike looking for potential restaurants to ask for waste vegetable oil and ended up eating some delicious Thai at the only place with cars out front- Sayakomarn’s Thai & Lao Cuisine.  Yes, the kids hiked 6 arduous miles AND ate Thai.  How I love this journey!

Canyon was so pivotal for us.  It really marked the beginning of the journey out of our comfort zone and into our dreams.  Will you share something in the comments section that has been a dream come true for you or a step in the direction of your dreams?  Let’s inspire each other!

Nature gives me so much inspiration.  In addition to the amazing terrain we encountered in Canyon, meet some of our new friends!

Yes, that is a real tarantula- live and in person!  He wandered across the trail as we were hiking.  I think a ‘tarantula crossing’ sign is probably warranted.

Hello, fine sir!  He stood so tall.  It felt only right to address him as the regal creature that he is.

An iridescent green guy!  Supercute.

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2010 in Texas, Travel log

 

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Spring is upon us!

Yes, it’s spring.  The weather is absolutely gorgeous.  We’ve been spending tremendous amounts of time outside doing all sorts of exciting things with all sorts of wonderful people.  Here’s a catch-up:

Rollerskating around the neighborhood- our wheels were not acceptable for the local indoor rink so we are just as happy to enjoy the weather and play together outside at home.

We’re making the rounds of the playgrounds on foot, bike, rollerskates, and wiggle cars.  This run-down jungle gym was an unexpected find on a bike ride one afternoon.  The kids thought it was pretty funny to climb on the window of the school bus.

Several people have asked me, when discussing unschooling, how my kids get PE (aka- gym).  I have to laugh because we’re always on the move! 

FINALLY- winter chill and wetness are gone and we’re getting together every two weeks for our DFW Whole-Life Unschooling Meet-Ups!  Discussions so far this spring have ranged from supporting health and wellness by listening to our children listening to their own bodies to talking to people about unschooling.  These are long days full of thoughtful, supportive, open-minded discussion and children frolicking happily on the playground, in the wooded areas, and in the creek!

We’ve hung out with old friends (Sadie and Rachel eat lunch together at the park).

And new friends!  The kids (after another fabulous children’s theatre production at Casa Manana) explore a 200 year-old pecan tree at the Ft. Worth Botanic Gardens with Milford and Crewe (of New Zealand). 

Creeks are a big fascination this spring.  We’ve spent a LOT of time exploring water!

We’ve got Miss Skooter with us almost everywhere we go.  She’s the kids’ baby and best friend.  She’s gotten quite big (for a small dog, mind you) but is dwarfed by Lulu.  We’ve found some great wild areas to explore near the house and are learning all the time about and because of our sweet pups.  Here Lulu looks longingly at what we presume to be an animal den.  It’s cleverly protected by cacti which keeps her at bay.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Wildnerness Puppy!

Since Skooter’s arrival, we’re inspired to hike.  Elijah calls her, ‘my little wildnerness girl.’  All of 8 lbs, Skoots is following us over hill and dale.  We sought out some local trails and, after hunting down a letterbox, we ventured off to explore.  Elijah doesn’t like to stay on paths and is always traipsing off into streambeds, up trees, and through dense brush.  He’s quite a navigator as his keen attention to detail and memory always get us back on track.  Sadie follows closely behind him and is helped along by his encouragement, words of wisdom, and physical assistance.

There are breaks at every possible point to peak in holes, poke with sticks, climb, slide, and discuss.  These are no plow-through-to-your-destination hikes.  Patience and presence are the only ingredients that I need to bring on these outings (in addition to the snacks and water…). 

On this particular hike, Elijah discovered a tree that had been struck by lightning and its trunk severed causing it to fall across a dry(ish) creek bed.  Of course this needed to be climbed from trunk to branch tip.  He took off his shoes and got to work.  There were many attempts that ended with him falling down through the branches to the creek bed bottom, hitting every branch on the way.  He would get up with a sputter, squeal, give a hearty laugh, and another go!  I watched from a nearby hill with pup in my lap and neighborhood cat acting as our chaperone at my side; my eyes all squinty as he continued with the pursuit of conquering this task.  Halfway through his attempts, he also had to rescue Sadie who had suffered a similar fate as most of his tries- only she landed upside down with her boot caught up in the branches. 

Days don’t get much more peaceful, fun, adventuresome, and connected as these….

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Giving Thanks

I wracked my brain trying to think of a way for our family to spend Thanksgiving in a way that would be meaningful and fun for everyone.  We settled on a family hike- something we hadn’t done since the previous spring but all really enjoy.  It felt so special to spend a day meant for gratitude out in Mother Nature- enjoying the peace, fun, and beauty of our surroundings.

We found some trails around Grapevine Lake and set off- no trail map; just flying by the seat of our pants.  It was a gorgeous day and the recent rain made for a plethora of animal tracks to analyze along the way.

Being conservation land maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers for hiking and horse back riding, there was also plenty of horse manure to investigate along the way.  This led to discussions of the contents of the fecal matter of herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores; how they degrade and are broken down by insects, impact water cleanliness, etc.; why some can be used directly for enhancing the soil for gardens and farms and some should not. 

Elijah saw this huge branch and decided we should bring it with us on our hike. “You never know.  We might need this!” he said.

Ah yes.  And, of course, he was right.  A mile or so down the path (yes, he and Chris carried it that far), the branch was used along with other found materials to create a bridge across a flooded area of the path.  We are both adventurous and industrious.

We love to have fun with signage.  What does this mean?  No biking.  Hiking and horse back riding allowed.  There is a castle this way?  We got incredibly lost and walked for hours but, alas, found no castle.

This was a tremendously fun and muddy morning.  I can’t think of a better way to spend a beautiful Thanksgiving day.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2010 in Family

 

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More State Park Adventures

We are excited about Texas State Parks! We purchased a state park pass in the fall and it’s not going to waste. So far we have been thrilled with our adventures and plan to continue to explore the state’s offerings by way of its parks.

On this day we met our friends the Ritchies at Cedar Hill State Park in Dallas for some hiking and a picnic!

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Here (from left) Dylan, Sadie, Faith, Nikki, Elijah, and Tony examine some raccoon tracks that were spotted in some drying mud. There was lots of inspection, natural treasure hunting, hiking, pretend play, and general fun. It was a great time!

And I think we gave the Ritchies a touch of our State Parkitis. We went camping with them the following weekend in this same park. It’s right in our backyard and was novel to camp so close to home. It made the weekend feel so long to be able to have so much fun with friends and still have all afternoon on Sunday to do the random outdoor upkeep of the house that spring brings.

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2009 in Parks

 

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