Vacation 2016

We have just returned from our family vacation. Every year we get together with my husbands side of the family and spend a week together. This year we all met up in Arizona. We (my little tribe) had a week before the meet up to travel up there. So we made a huuuge trip of it We went to lots of National Parks, several state parks, and some fun local places. Taking my kids hiking in the beautiful, rocky, mountanious parks was incredible. We took them to Carlsbad Caverns, and walked the great room and got to do what I have waited for…we saw the bat flight. It was incredible. Such a neat thing to stop. I’ve never seen so many bats before!  Sorry, no pictures, so recording or photography of the bats allowed!

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We stopped in Roswell, NM…because, it’s what you do when you travel through NM. Then we drove through the Petrified Forest. We were able to do some hiking, but the weather was crappy. So we did find a spot where touching was allowed and took some pictures with the kids.

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Then Kaibab National forest, and too the Grand Canyon! It was sooo crowded! But we did walk the kids down to the edge and let them look into the canyon. It was something I’d always wanted to do. When we first got there, it was raining and we watched the fog raise from the canyon while we ate.  The only thing I didn’t enjoy was at the North Rim, there is ONE bathroom. Y’all….five people hiking and a huuuuuuge crowd of other people really require more than one potty. Just saying. We drove through the forest twice and never saw the buffalo they said were there..sigh. It was amazing and beautiful. 13872896_10154506904154756_334726694258987757_n13901344_10154506399964756_5845092899338813893_n13907159_10154506399959756_1267147954446600254_n

We headed off to Valley of Fire after this. This park is GORGEOUS! If you have never been…make a trip. Seriously. You won’t regret it. We took the kids way up on the rocks. They enjoy climbing. There was no rain, so the rocks were good to scramble on. They did really well and had so much fun. I love watching them be brave and go up there and feel like they can touch the sky. We spent an entire day there…hiking, climbing, finding the same visitors from our Grand Canyon trip. It was a blast. 13880404_10154509419184756_2982796328024694990_n13892065_10154509418234756_1364179991460202485_n13895354_10154509417624756_8908482893227434929_n13925080_10154509419274756_9029578526643724297_n

( a note on the pic below, I posted it on my IG. We found this in the park, however the Valley of Fire Park service request that people do NOT do this in the park!)

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The next stop is actually my favorite place on the entire planet. We went back to Red Rock Canyon. My husband took me here a little over a year ago. I love it here. My soul just feels at rest here. I took the kids to stand on my favorite place in the park. It was incredible. I took a moment to just reflect and be there. It was really hot. Which makes for really hot rocks, which are hard to scramble on. But we got a fair amount in. My oldest saw a desert fox…lucky. We hiked until we just couldn’t, then we went through the rest of the scenic drive.  I loved it. And to share it with my kids was incredible. 13892090_10154512333039756_1464041062462689689_n

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We also went to the Shelby museum, the boys LOOOVED it. My son was over the moon to see all those fancy cars. We finally headed to the house where we were staying with our family. It was super to see everyone again. We went hiking at some of the local parks, Pinnacle Peak, and Camelback Mountain. That was a tough hike, rated extremely difficult. We took six kids, three adults up. Made it just shy of the top when a few kids ran out of water. Still worth it. We went to a Ghost town ( GoldField) , rode the train and had ice cream. It was a really neat stop. We got to see a working gold mine shaft.  Went to a local train museum, twice, and rode the train twice. WHOOHOO. And then…Out of Africa. The whole family got together and caravaned down there.  We got to hold a GIANT snake. Reticulated python. She was so pretty! All of my kiddos got to hold or pet her. We saw tigers play in the water, lions hanging out on top of their houses, a bear (my son is a bear cub, so that was a big deal for him) .

So that is the bulk of our trip…. It was a great time.  The kids took all the Jr. Rangers programs at the parks. They enjoyed that very much. I am so proud of them for getting it done.  I hope that you enjoyed reading about our trip. I seriously encourage you to plan a trip to your local parks on your next trip.

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First vertical experience.

We took our kiddos on their first rock climbing adventure this week. It was a blast. Hubby and I have climbed several times, enough to have bought our own gear. Cause I hate sharing shoes. It’s gross, and some people climb with no socks…no thanks! Any way, we had some free passes to Stone Moves in Cypress, Texas so we packed up the kids and made a day of it. We spent a fair amount of time at REI first..getting our kids acquainted with various hiking and climbing gear, trying shoes and harnesses on them.  It was fun, they loved it. When the gym finally opened, we were ready to go. The kids took the auto belay class and were ready to go. We started them with some boldering, and unclipped climbing. They had a line across the gym that they could climb under with no belay devices.

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Getting used to the wall. This actually became one of their favorite parts of the day.

After doing that, we practiced clipping in and falling off the wall. Auto belay is a little unnerving if you aren’t used to it. Some gyms you fall really fast and it’s scary. This gym had a nice descent pace. 🙂 Then we let them climb. And did they ever! We couldn’t keep them down! When they didn’t go up in the rope, they boldered and free climbed. They were really quite natural at it. Like they were made to go up.

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My oldest going up! She is very tall, and it was really helpful. She also is very logical and learned how to read the walls pretty well. 

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Little man was a beast! He climbed every auto belay wall! Most of them more than 3 times!

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My middle child is a gymnast, and heights don’t really bother her and she is quite strong. She climbed several of the hard walls more than once.

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Just hanging out….

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My two best guys, hanging out at the top of a wall..

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They did surprisingly well, especially for first timers. I was so impressed. And they loved it! It was so amazing, and a little scary, to see my kids just go up those walls, almost unafraid. I was so blessed to see that they had so embraced an activity that my husband and I love, and that can open so much of the world up to them. We are planning to climb in one of the parks in Nevada soon, and I am so excited to share that with my kids. There is just nothing like going up in the rocks and how you see the world from there.  The end goal of this trip was to teach them basic skills for part of our family vacation. To get them comfortable with climbing and how to work the gear. How to put on a harness and clip in properly, to not be afraid to fall when on a rope. We are now searching for the best safety gear and shoes we can afford for them. And teaching them about ropes, and knots, and going beyond just basic hiking and into some survival skills. This trip was a preparation step.  It’s such an incredible thing for me. I love sharing this with my kids, and for them to finally be old enough to really get it, and be ready to go and do these things with us.

Here’s to the outdoors, and teaching our kids to love it, and survive it!

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Meet our 2016 travel buddy! He goes on trips and outting with us and we take pictures of him. He also tends to photobomb our family pictures…keep an eye out!