National Parks

National parks are country’s treasure. They preserve nature, history and cultural heritage and invite us into it, to experience these riches for ourselves. From Jazz National Historical Park in downtown New Orleans to the majestic expanses of Yellowstone, national parks are among our favorite ways of learning and teaching our kids about the world… engaging all five senses and our imaginations!

The Wright Place at the Right Time

every kid in a park

If mention of the Wright brothers makes you think of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, you’re not alone. In the excitement about their first successful flight taking place there, I seemed to have missed that the Wrights were actually from Dayton, Ohio. Orville and Wilbur’s bike shop and newspaper offices remain in downtown Dayton, and the National Park Service operates them as Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park.   About the Park We stayed at a Continue Reading →

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Gettysburg Farm

Gettysburg

When you think of a farm, lots of images come to mind… barns and tractors, rows of corn swaying in the breeze, grassy pastures full of animals. You can almost hear the mooing of cows, the bleating of goats or the crow of a rooster. You can almost smell the… well, never mind the smells. It is rare that one imagines a bunch of RVs and other campers into this idyllic scene, but so it Continue Reading →

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Mammoth Cave: Caves, Camping, Community

domes and dripstones tour

After our misadventures in Tennessee, we were really looking forward to a good week visiting Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. And we got it! The Caves Visiting the caves can only be done as part of a tour. There are a large variety of different tours available, with varying lengths, levels of difficulty and costs. We were lucky enough to arrive on a national park weekend which meant that tickets to tour the Rotunda Continue Reading →

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Hot Springs National Park

Bathhouse Row

Our kids have a couple of those laminated map placemats. One is a world map and one is a map of the United States. They fight over who gets to eat with which one (siblings!) and most recently the world map has been the coveted mat. We love them. They inspire spontaneous learning, memories of places we’ve traveled, and imagining new trips and adventures. They’re placemats, so they’re not super detailed. The US map has Continue Reading →

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Gulf Islands National Seashore

giant cannon

Our next two stops were both at Gulf Islands National Seashore. This beautiful area of protected coastline along the Gulf of Mexico is found in both Florida and Mississippi. The two sections of the park are very different in character from one another, but both well worth visiting. Gulf Islands Florida Across from Pensacola is a long strip of island that is so narrow that at times you can see the water on both sides Continue Reading →

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Exploring the Everglades

Coopertown airboat

  The Everglades region in southern Florida is a place we’ve always wanted to visit. The nature and ecosystem of the southern tip of the Florida peninsula is so unique and important that most of the land area down there is protected by two national parks and a national preserve. We spent four nights in the area and were able to explore all three. Everglades National Park Campground Our home during our stay was at Continue Reading →

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Making the Most of the Space Coast

Canaveral National Seashore

Spoiler Alert: We didn’t do anything related to NASA or space at all. The area around Titusville, Florida is often referred to as the Space Coast. It’s the home of Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center. We saw both of these places from a distance, and at some point we’d really like to visit Kennedy Space Center (I imagine it’s changed quite a bit since I was there in 1991), but it wasn’t in Continue Reading →

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A Day in DC

Natural history museum

Just outside of Washington DC, in Greenbelt, Maryland is a small national park that many people have never heard of. We hadn’t until recently. Greenbelt National Park doesn’t boast thousands of acres, dramatic vistas, or unique natural phenomena like some of the better known parks. This pretty wooded area, just 12 miles from the White House, is little more than its campground. And its stated mission is to help people access and enjoy our nation’s Continue Reading →

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The Nation’s Capital

On the road again to our last destination: northern Virginia and Washington DC. I have a cousin* in the Virginia suburbs of Washington DC that I hadn’t seen for years, so it was time for a visit. We arrived at their house on a Friday evening and spent the evening catching up. We met her husband for the first time, and helped him explore his Swedish heritage. He learned to say “Ge hit en öl Continue Reading →

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Son of a gun, gonna have big fun (on the bayou)

Full confession: the title of this post comes from a line of a song in the movie Steel Magnolias. It’s been a number of years since I’ve seen it, but I think they dance to it in the wedding reception scene. For some reason, this song I barely know pops into my head every time I hear the word bayou. So now you know. It seems that every time we spend time checking out a Continue Reading →

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N’awlins

New Orleans is a city unlike any other we’ve been to, with a culture all its own. Since you could argue that this culture is built around alcohol and music, then for our purposes the music was in focus.   We took a walking tour of the French Quarter and enjoyed beautiful architecture and waterfront views. We walked through an outdoor market and went to the Jazz National Historic Park (and stamped our national park Continue Reading →

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Alamogordo NM/White Sands National Monument

I had never heard of White Sands National Monument before we started planning our trip through New Mexico. Maybe it’s because I’m from the East Coast and I had never heard anyone talking about going there, but this gem of a park was not on our radar until we started looking for a stop-over to break up the trip between Albuquerque and El Paso, TX. Our visit to the park began at the visitor’s center Continue Reading →

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Petrified Forest National Park and the Holbrook/Petrified Forest KOA

Petrified Forest National Park was another of those stops that was never on our original itinerary. Our next planned stop was Albuquerque, but the drive there was longer than we wanted to do in a single day. As I sat in the little room at the Grand Canyon Community Library and searched the web for a good place to stop between Grand Canyon and Albuquerque, I stumbled upon Petrified Forest National Park. Only about 20 Continue Reading →

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Camping in Grand Canyon National Park

There are a number of campgrounds and RV parks along the road as you approach Grand Canyon National Park. I’m sure they all have their advantages, but we loved the idea of being able to just park the car for a few days and get around on foot and using the shuttle bus system. There are several campground options within the national park itself, but only Trailer Village has hook-ups. So we chose Trailer Village Continue Reading →

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Grand Canyon part 2: The Adventures of the Rest of Us

Please forgive the long break with no new posts. I still have every intention of sharing the remainder of the trip on this blog. I even have a bunch of follow-up posts planned. The pace and intensity of our everyday, not-on-the-road-anymore lives has picked up a bit recently, and often when I find the time to write, I’m just too tired to write it the way I want it to be. But it’s important to Continue Reading →

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Grand Canyon part 1: The adventures of Lukas

Meet Lukas. Lukas joined our family on Emelie’s first birthday and has more or less been a part of everything we’ve done since then. Although for over 2 years, Lukas didn’t have a name. Whenever anyone asked Emelie what her baby’s name was, she looked at them like they were crazy and said, “It’s a baby” or some variation of that. Lukas got her name (yes, her. Don’t let the name fool you. She is Continue Reading →

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Pinnacles National Monument

We worked our way slowly south through California for many reasons. The weather was amazing and there was so much to see and do. We also felt like California is so far away from where we usually are when we’re in the US that we’re unlikely to get back there again any time soon. And at this particular point in our trip through California, we were trying to time it right to see our friends Continue Reading →

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Walking Among Giants: Redwood National and State Parks

What is it about majestic, ancient trees that they seem to embody wisdom? There are abundant examples in literature and film where aged trees become characters in the plot in some way. They are almost always mature, wise, and deeply respected. Walking through a redwood forest, where the tall canopy obliterates any view of sky or sun, gave me a deeper appreciation for the origins of these literary references. There is a sense that these Continue Reading →

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Crater Lake

Sparkling and radiant blue and surrounded by rugged cliffs, Crater Lake is instantly captivating and breathtakingly beautiful. We visited Crater Lake National Park on a sunny Saturday and spent the day exploring the park and once again marveling at God’s amazing handiwork. We drove the loop around the lake, which seems to be very popular with cyclists, and stopped at various overlooks and view points. The lake appears so different from different perspectives, including an Continue Reading →

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Mt. Rainier

As we headed south from Seattle toward Portland, we realized that Mt. Rainier wasn’t far off of our route. Since we needed a stop somewhere to break up the drive anyway, we decided to make Mt. Rainier that stop. We found a campground online called Mineral Lake Resort, and from the website it looked like a great place. And that just proves how easy it is to misrepresent yourself on the internet. It wasn’t terrible, Continue Reading →

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