Glacier

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Guy and Gal skipping rocks at Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park

From the moment we got off the Washington State Ferry from Orcas Island and started heading East towards Idaho, we were met with continuous rain. Continuous rain and much colder temperatures. We pulled into Coeur d’Alene, ID, where we were planning on a hotel night before heading to Glacier National Park. We got to the hotel after dark and the temperatures were in the low 40’s with freezing rain. The weather never got any better for us.

The drive towards Glacier through Northern Idaho and Western Montana was beautiful despite the constant downpour. We saw bald eagles perched on trees, beautiful valleys, dense forests and what we could imagine as steep mountain peaks hidden in the clouds.

We were planning on winging it and camping near Glacier somewhere around Hungry Horse Reservoir. Luckily we had an invite to stay with some great friends, Jeremy and Angela in Whitefish, MT. We took them up on their offer rather than camping. We are so grateful for their amazing hospitality! Camping in all if that rain with a few leaks that we were dealing with wouldn’t have been fun.

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Liv singing to the wildlife as we hiked in Whitefish

Whitefish is a really cool small Montana resort town. The lakes and mountains are endless, we only wish we would have gotten to see more as we were socked in the entire time. When we did get a small break in the rain and the clouds lifted a bit, we were treated to peek-a-boo glances of snow dusted mountains and the local ski resort which we’ve been told to call Big Mountain like the locals! Glacier National Park was 90% closed due to wildfires. Even with the rain, when we got up there the fires were only 50% contained. We took in the view from Lake McDonald though there was not much to see aside from a shoreline with piles of burnt pine needles and ash over a foot deep. The lake was still crystal clear and beautiful with a rainbow coloring of rocks showing through the clear water. Our trip to Glacier didn’t last long as Going-to-the-Sun road was closed. We headed towards Polebridge trying to spot bears and took some forest roads back into Whitefish. We were able to get in a great mountain bike ride and a hike on the Whitefish Trail, right behind Jeremy and Angela’s house. We had a blast visiting breweries, taking in some local flavor and enjoyed our time with our friends and their dog, Corona. Corona and Stella really bonded and the big fellow jumped into our truck as we were packing up…he took up the whole back seat! We are bummed we didn’t get to really experience Glacier and camp in the area, but we are excited about the idea of heading back up there in the future and enjoyed the time with our friends.

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Corona and Stella… blockheads unite!

Orcas Island

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At Mount Constitution looking out to Mt. Baker

Hi Blog Followers! This is Liv (aka Girl). This post is about Orcas Island. I hope you like it!

I’m at Orcas Island! We have rented a house. On the way here we got on a ferry (well, two ferries!) and I tried to spot whales but we didn’t see any. It was a short drive to the house after the ferry rides and I got to go with my Grandma Mia, her friend Marla, and my mom’s brother, Mac. My mom and dad road with Stella in the truck. When we got to the house, the view was really pretty. My dad had a good idea. He got out our binoculars and put them on the table outside so we could look for whales in the ocean from our deck.

Biking is hard on this island because this island has a lot of mountains. We even had to walk our bikes down a hill because it was so steep. We road our bikes around town and we took a path to a little, mini airport. We didn’t know we were going there, it was a surprise! We got to see a little plane take off.

Liv at waterfall on Orcas
Hiking is the best!

Hiking is beautiful on this island. We hiked down to a waterfall. It was steep to the waterfall and then we climbed back up and went on with our hike. Then we saw a few more waterfalls that were amazing. There were little swimming holes at the bottom of each waterfall and the pools looked clear with a hint of teal. After the hike we went on a little walk up to a big, tall rock tower. I got to climb stairs to the top of the tower and saw a beautiful view of the ocean. The boats looked so small in the water that surrounds the island. I waved down to my dad, Mia, Marla and Mac. I said “you all look so small”!

img_0891.jpgOn Saturday we went to a Farmer’s Market. I got my face painted like a pink and turquoise beautiful, shimmery butterfly. And then we looked around at some very beautiful jewelry. I heard a girl, her brother and big sister play violin solos. I got to give her a dollar because her solo was amazing.

Orcas Island is awesome because you can see the ocean view and everyone is kind, sweet and nice. I wish everyone could visit Orcas Island. It was a treat to go to the island and visit with my family that came out to spend time with us on our road trip.

Sequim Bay

sunriseHi Guys! It’s Liv (aka Girl). This post is about Sequim Bay. I hope you like it!

Sequim Bay (pronounced Squim) is amazing. There are many opportunities to hike, bike, boat and be outdoors. Our camp site was really close to the bay. So when I got to take Stella on walks I took her down to the bay. I was looking at the ocean with binoculars and saw an otter. One morning I woke up really late and my dad told me that an otter was teasing him. I told him I wasn’t surprised because otters are funny.

I went on a hike and it was so beautiful. When we got back from the hike we went to the river. There was a really good swimming hole. The water was the prettiest color teal and I liked that I could cross all of the river rocks. My mom did something amazing. She built this tall rock pyramid. She put tiny rock stacks on the rock pyramid. It looked like a rock castle!

After the hike we went biking on the Olympic Discovery Trail. There were many different color leaves on the trail and we could peek at the bay through the trees. At one point we got to get off our bikes and pick blackberries. Everyone of them were a different flavor. They were the best blackberries ever! I felt like a black bear grabbing blackberries and stuffing them in my mouth. It was so delicious. When we finally stopped eating blackberries we kept on riding. After a few minutes down the path we saw some people picking blackberries and putting them in a bucket. It was a great idea!

Not everyone can visit Sequim but if you go to Washington go to Sequim Bay!

 

Homeschooling on the Road

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School house in the Redwoods

When Bob and I were considering going on this adventure, one of the first things that stopped us in our tracks was Liv’s education. We knew we wouldn’t be able to leave until September, so we’d have to pull her out of school for an extended period of time. Homeschooling Liv seemed doable for the short period of time we planned on being gone, but would her school allow it? Would they be on board with our plan? After speaking with Liv’s Principal, many of our concerns were alleviated. He advised us that the easiest way to take this two-month absence would be to unenroll Liv from school and then re-enroll her upon our return.

Third grade started mid-August for Liv. She was able to spend a few weeks in the classroom before we took off on September 1st. This time not only gave her a jump start on the academic side of third grade but also helped Liv make friends in her class and get to know the daily routine. Amazingly, Liv’s teacher was totally on board with our plan as well. We really lucked out with such a remarkably thoughtful, kind teacher. Taking Liv out of school for the first part of the year would have been much more challenging had her school not been so supportive and helpful. Before we left, we met with Liv’s teacher and talked about what we would be working on with her while we were away. We were given Liv’s math, cursive and spelling workbooks. Liv also packed many age appropriate reading books and writing notebooks.

Liv’s teacher was enthusiastic about her blog and said she’d try to read it to the class while we were gone. Knowing her class would read her blog was a real incentive for Liv to focus on her writing.  We also promised to have Liv write postcards to the class from the various states we visited. This way, Liv could continue to feel connected to her classmates while she was on the road and her class would have a better idea of what she is up to while away. So far, sending postcards back to the classroom has been a really fun activity on the road. For Bob and me it feels kind of retro (in the best way possible) and Liv loves picking out a card at each of our stops. As an added benefit, it helps rein in the interest in purchasing junk from gift shops, instead was can just focus finding the perfect card.

Before we left I thought we’d have a more regimented schedule for school work. I imagined Liv grabbing her backpack, walking around the campsite and sitting down at her table to begin her school day. The reality of life on the road has been less structured. We work on memorizing state capitals, multiplication tables and spelling as we drive but once we get to our campsite, we’re more focused on enjoying our new surroundings than schoolwork. By the time we get back to the campsite in the late afternoon, Liv is often too tired to focus very long or retain new information well. We’re working on breaking schoolwork up into smaller sections throughout the day. Morning work before our daily outing, shorter afternoon work before dinner and independent reading before bedtime in the tent.

There are some clear benefits to homeschooling Liv on the road. Both parents working one on one with our child has allowed us to better understand the specifics of what she is learning. We can reinforce definitions and new ideas while on a hiking trail or make connections to academic concepts while exploring a new place. While we were both working full time, we would ask Liv questions at dinner about what she learned that day, but rarely would she share mundane specifics. On the road, class time blends into the rest of the day and there are teaching moments in all that we do.

We met a nice man hiking in the Redwoods. He was interested in our travels and as we described our game plan he nodded and smiled. He said “Classroom time is important, but these experiences are priceless. She’ll remember this forever and it will shape her as a human being.” I couldn’t agree more.

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Checking out the lava rocks while on a hike in Lassen

The Redwoods by Liv

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Big Tree, it was a REALLY big tree

The Redwoods are massive and people spend a lot of time looking up. Even my dad ran into a Redwood because he was looking up! So here is my Redwoods post I hope you like it!

Hiking in the Redwoods is the best thing ever! The Redwoods are where I want to live! Like I could live in a Redwood tree, they make me feel like an ant. The 5 days I was there were the best 5 days of my life! All I could say was WOW! Every once in a while there would be benches on the trails made out of Redwood and they had plaques with peoples names, I sat on some of them.

I biked a lot of loops around the campgrounds and campsite 7 was amazing. It had a huge log you could go under. It was the only site that had a log you could go under, but it was a small site. The table and bear bin were really close to each other. Our site 109 was the BEST and 7 might have been the next best.

Everywhere you turn there’s clovers. It’s clover/banana slug heaven. I got to hold banana slugs and they are slimy. I got slime all over hands and wiped it on my shirt and it took a long time to get clean but the slime was still kind of there.

The Redwoods are a place everyone should go. Thanks for reading my post,

Liv

AWE, The Redwoods!

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No words.

The Redwoods have always been awe-inspiring to me. It is truly one of my favorite places on Earth. I always remember some of my first big camping trips when I was kid at Jedediah Smith State Park among the ancient giants. I felt such pure happiness and excitement to be able to share the experience and grandeur of these trees with Gal, Girl and Dog. Hearing Girl tell me “The Redwoods are the coolest things ever” and “this is one of my favorite places” makes me one proud Guy. The time spent in the presence of these trees, hiking with my family down fairy tale like paths, dropping beats with our sporks while free-styling awful lyrics and rhymes around our nightly fires (Girl’s idea and it was a blast), biking loops around our Mill Creek campground and relaxing on massive old growth stumps catching rays of Redwood filtered light into our campsite was a magical time that we will reminisce about for years to come.

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Always hard to capture the scale of these living giants, but we think this kind of shows it!

We camped in Del Norte State Park at the aforementioned Mill Creek campground. Jedediah Smith was totally booked, but I was pleasantly surprised by Mill Creek. The forest was mostly second generation growth, but there were definitely some spectacular old growth trees. The stumps of the ancients around the campground with the giant ferns and Sitka Spruces really made us feel like we were in the land of dinosaurs. The campsites here were awesome, there were many really private sites but we were able to land the best of them all. We got site 109, which is typically used and reserved for research scientists. We had more room than we knew what to do with under a canopy of trees that were as giant as any other ancient grove.

 

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The sweetest of sites
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Fun hike off the beaten path

I’m pretty sure I drove Gal and Girl crazy by constantly pointing and saying “Wow, look at that tree” on our incredible hiking adventures, my neck is still sore from all that looking up. I have Redwood bark stained t-shirts and shorts from hugging as many giants as could. Until next time Redwoods! We have been diverted a bit on our adventure due to some crazy West Coast wildfires. We were planning on a few nights near Ashland, OR and on towards Mt. Hood. We ended up staying an extra night in our special Redwoods spot and went to Portland to visit Gals sister and Girls awesome aunt Moya and some childhood friends of Guys. Thanks for the hospitality Mark and Margarita, so fun to see great old friends and family!

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Rainy day at the beach in Crescent City didn’t stop us from having one of many beach days after hiking!

Mount Lassen and my first fish

Hi Blog followers! Liv here (aka Girl). This post is about Mount Lassen. I hope you like it!

When I first got to Mount Lassen I noticed that the trees were mossy. I loved the sound of the river rushing. It sounded like it was going really fast. I’ve never seen blackish and orange-ish lava rocks before. I learned that these rocks are in the area because a long time ago there was a volcano that erupted. When the lava cooled, the rocks were formed. The lava rocks had lots of holes in them.

We went on a really cool hike and after the hike we went down to the river to cool off and fish. It took a lot of casts, but I caught my first fish! But the truth was, I was really creeped out by the fish once it caught my line. It was massive! You’d be surprised! My fish was one foot long. My dad held it, and I did my best to stay away from him. My heart was beating so fast and I was whimpering to myself. It was cool to catch my first fish, but scary to see the fish flopping around.

The morning we were leaving I peaked out of my tent window. I saw two big animals. At first I thought they were coyotes but they turned out to be jackrabbits. They were big with huge, tall ears. They had a little, fluffy tail.

I loved this place. I wish we could have stayed another day.