Into Nature Blog

Picnic, Family Style

posted Feb 19, 2016, 7:37 PM

Winter doesn’t seem so bad when it is 60 degrees! Today I grabbed leftovers out of the refrigerator, plates, napkins, fruit, and water for an impromptu picnic at the lake near our home. It took me all of five minutes to grab what we needed for dinner. Of course having leftovers made it easier, but even sandwiches and salad don’t take too long to make.

After a quick dinner we joined the crowd of people running, biking, and walking on the trails. We took the path a little less traveled and ended up closer to the water walking along the gravel path. Snow is still on the ground in parts but the boys enjoyed the puddles most! Lots of splashing took place as we walked the trail. Conor of course grabs a couple walking sticks and heads out just slightly ahead of us. Aaron enjoys the fresh air and the feel of the grass in his hands. His smile and laughter as he made his way down the slope of the hill was wonderful to see and hear. My nature seekers at heart! Splashing and walking along the water for our 20 minute walk helped clear the stress of the day away and allowed us a little more time outside with the boys.

Quick Picnic Tips

1) We usually have items in the kitchen pantry and refrigerator that will help us make a quick meal such as peanut butter and jelly, hummus, fruit, and crackers. We also have a good supply of reusable water bottles that we fill before we go which is good for the picnic and the hike after.

We have also been known to pick up a pizza along the way and eat that outside before we play at the park or hike. It changes up the typical picnic meal and makes prep and clean up pretty easy.

2) We also have an outdoor cloth/blanket we use but for this particular trip we left it behind since we were eating at a picnic table.

3) We ate at the lake tonight but will also grab our dinner and eat outside in our backyard. If you don’t feel like going to the lake or other park nearby, think about eating in the yard for a nice change of scenery.

Dan and I used to picnic at the lake when we were dating. It is a sweet and relaxing date night. He would surprise me with a picnic already packed when he picked me up; I loved it! Now that we have a family we just have a family night and include the boys. Try a picnic this week at the park or in your yard and go seek your own nature. Tag us in a photo of your own picnic or visit to the park with @GoSeekNature #seeknature

A National Forest in our Backyard

posted Feb 28, 2016, 8:26 PM

Conor has taken it upon himself to create a National Forest in our backyard. We have several branches in our yard that have been home to a family of rabbits as well as the perfect set up for Conor to become our very own backyard Arborist. His new found interest in trees started with his first attempt at planting one of the branches in our yard. He placed the branch in the ground, piled dirt around it, and watered it with some fresh rain water from a bucket. I watched as he worked hard, explaining to me what he was doing. I called him my little Arborist and that was it! He was off with this new idea (and new for him word) to single handily plant a National Forest in our backyard. Right now we have four new "trees" planted in our yard with many more to come. He is out every day watching his trees.

We now have personal guided hikes to all the trees so he can tell us about every one. We have a maple, evergreen, and even sadly some "trees" that didn't make it because of the bugs (he learned about the Emerald Ash Borer and now our trees have been impacted too - not literally). Thankfully though with our personal Arborist most of the trees have survived and are doing great. :)

Included on our nature hikes are visits to our other trees in the yard; both evergreen and deciduous (I am so happy he knows this)! Our guide walks us through the yard, hiking stick in hand, and makes sure we know to stay on the trail. Black bears have been known to frequent the area I've been told. I love our National Forest and our personal Arborist so much! My love for trees has been inherited!

Going on nature hikes in our backyard, visiting our trees, and watching more be planted is turning out to be my favorite kind of nature seeking with a bonus of it being very close to home. Do you have a young Arborist in your life? Encourage them and step back to watch them change the world! Thank you for stopping by to visit us, now go seek your own nature!

Crane Migration 2016

posted Mar 14, 2016, 9:02 PM

The Sandhill Crane migration that takes place in Nebraska has been described as one of the natural wonders to some. It sure is for our boys and for us. This past weekend we took our family to Kearney, NE to see this natural wonder for ourselves. The cranes did not disappoint! There are thousands of Sandhill Cranes flying above or resting below along the Platte River and in area farms. We had a great time driving the back roads to see these wonderful cranes.

This is our second year that our family has driven out to see the Sandhill Cranes. The first year was a day trip, so this year we decided to make it an overnight trip. We packed our A Frame camper and off we went down the road. Early morning at our campsite you could hear the cranes in the neighboring farm fields. We were able to see them right as we woke up and got ready for our second day of viewing. Both boys (really all of us) by the end of the trip were looking up every time we heard one of their beautiful calls as they flew through the air or landed in the fields nearby.

The Rowe Sanctuary was my favorite stop of the weekend. We didn't see as many cranes but the trails were wonderful and we were able to learn much more about the Sandhill Cranes themselves and their migration. Nebraska is a big stop for them, they typically stay around three weeks and can gain up to 20% of their body weight while staying here. They are typically around 10 pounds. The Platte River and surrounding area offers a lot of food option for them which is why this area is so vital to keep healthy and preserve for many more years to come. The trails at the Rowe Sanctuary lead to the river and to duck blinds (photo blinds) where crane viewing along the river is an option in the early morning or evening. Our next trip I'm planning to reserve my spot!

Our first year watching the crane migration, the boys were only three years old; it was so fun to watch their enthusiasm this year as they heard the cranes calling to each other and flying high above. We love watching the boys experience nature in all of its glory. The look of wonder on their faces, their questions, and the fun they experience is worth all the packing and the driving. Their excitement only adds value to our adventures!

We can "check" the great Sandhill Crane migration off our list!


posted Mar 24, 2016, 6:53 PM

This month I was honored to listen to not one but two beautiful women speak; one on the different types of minds and one on the environment. Both events were full, open to the public, and free. Although I would have paid to hear either speak, the opportunity it gave our community to open it up to the public and offer the event at no charge was a blessing.

Dr. Temple Grandin, famous author and speaker, spoke to her audience on celebrating the different types of minds and how each play an important role in our community. The visual thinker and analytical thinker have varying perspectives but both together can accomplish great things. I really enjoyed her talk; I learned so much about her. I am honored to have met her, spoken to her, and now have a booked signed by Temple Grandin! She made so many good points to include giving opportunity to those that may not fit in or those that learn differently from what is deemed normal; thank you Temple Grandin!

"If you do not introduce children to interesting things, they will not be interested in interesting things" - Temple Grandin, 2016 Omaha, NE.

Dr. Jane Goodall, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute (and so much more) spoke on the environment, inspiring individual (and group) action to protect the world we all live in and share. Her speech, let alone her life has been an inspiration to do something! What a fitting time for my husband and I to hear Dr. Jane Goodall speak. Her program Roots and Shoots has grown and inspired many children and adults to do something to protect our world; to include raising awareness of and being in nature. I think back to Temple Grandin and the quote above regarding interesting things, nature in my book is very interesting and something we can learn so much from.

Thank you to both Dr. Temple Grandin and Dr. Jane Goodall for sharing your time and experience with your audience. I enjoyed it so much and treasure the advice and inspiration you both provide.

Like Father Like Sons

posted Apr 1, 2016, 10:10 PM

Last week Conor suggested we take his bicycle to the lake so he can practice bike riding. What a good idea! I think Dan may have been more excited than the boys. I absolutely loved watching all of them together; Dan coaching Conor, Aaron running along side the bike and checking out all the moving parts, and me cheering them all along (and taking photo and video of course). Conor is more confident and much to his delight- faster on his bicycle compared to last year. He went up and down the sidewalk several times; we were jogging beside him at one point to keep up.

We also want Aaron to be comfortable on a bike and he really enjoys the movement so next up was Aaron on the bike. It was Conor's turn to cheer on his brother and race the bike. What a proud papa as he has definitely shown the boys how enjoyable it can be to ride a bike; now let's hope that joy continues for Dan on his bike ride! I know he will have plenty of encouragement from us!

Trial Camping Run

posted Apr 16, 2016, 8:38 PM

Last weekend we took the opportunity to do a trial run with our camper. We have only had our Rockwood A Frame camper for about six months so we are still pretty new to the camper world. We are still in awe at sleeping on a mattress and having a stove (this coming from a family of tent campers). We are also trying to get as comfortable as we can with all the equipment; hence another trial run camping trip.

I wanted to be sure I was more comfortable with the camper, hooking it up, cooking on the stove, making sure our fridge was on; the basics really. :) This past weekend was the first time I cooked a meal on the stove. So much fun! Granted, not really different than cooking on a stove at home, but I am still quite excited about this. My first meal prepared on the stove was Macaroni and Cheese. Yes, it really was and it was really good. Rave reviews from my fans (the boys). With all the rave reviews I had to up my game for the next meal so sticking with my pasta theme I made pasta with kale, cherry tomatoes, and water chestnuts with olive oil... delicious! I'm definitely ready for meals on the road and will try to keep my 2-0 winning record going.

Outside of my kitchen triumph, we also did quite a bit of walking. I found an awesome tree that I immediately had to climb. As my family walked on, I stopped and stepped up into the tree, calling to Dan, Grandma, and the boys. Conor was so excited, I could hear him yelling "I want to climb the tree"! He ran back to me and the tree, ready to climb. Have I mentioned that I love trees? Proud Mama moment when Conor came running back to climb the tree with me.

There were quite a few trees in our area and as we walked I saw a few trees that a portion of the ground had potentially eroded away exposing the roots. Both boys thought this was really cool to be able to see the roots of the tree and how far they are into the ground. It was fun to see all of this from their perspective.

Top 5 Camping Highlights:

  1. Spending time with family
  2. Slowing the pace down
  3. Climbing trees
  4. New recipes
  5. The stars - finally saw the Big Dipper and Orion (I am looking forward to showing the boys the stars this summer; they were already asleep this camping trip)

We are only around a month away from the start of our next adventure! Go Seek Nature!

Inclement Weather

posted Apr 29, 2016, 12:47 PM

Sometimes Nature finds you. Luckily she was kind and left minimal damage. This week the boys saw their first tornado. Conor was with Dan at work and Aaron and I were driving on the interstate from downtown. Cue tornado sirens, my phone alert, and radio alert. That makes for a lot of noise. Aaron did not seem to be bothered by it all; traffic slowed and I questioned whether we should get off the interstate or proceed to our destination.

I chose to continue to our destination. If I would have felt we were in immediate danger I would have chosen another path. My main concern were the other cars on the road at that point. In the distance off to the west I did see the funnel forming of the tornado. The tornado touched down west of us and was on the ground for five minutes. It was rated an EF1, path 2/3mile, and width 50 yards (according to NWS Omaha).

Inclement weather is something both Dan and I will have to consider as we travel this summer. We know basic safety information and will be looking at shelter information as we travel. Dan and I do need to discuss an inclement weather/emergency plan. Adding our discussion to the list of things to prepare for before we leave.

Thank you Nature for showing us what is possible and for reminding us that being prepared is important. Photo credit to my cousin. Thank you for letting me share.

Thank You Daniel Boone

posted May 16, 2016, 5:35 AM

We are officially on our way! We traveled for three days to get to the East coast, visiting family along the way and trying our new way of life. Our first night was spent in the Daniel Boone Conservation Area in Missouri. True to our tradition, we arrived late at night making it a bit more difficult to find our dispersed camping area; however, we found a great spot and immediately set to work getting ready for the night. It only takes a few minutes to get the A Frame camper set up. So much easier than a tent! Dan and I are also sticking to tradition by doing things the hard way first (in this instance - tent camping) so when we do it again (camping in an RV) it will be much easier! We both were commenting about pitching a tent in the middle of the night with the headlights as our guide. Fond memories but it is so good to have this camper.

Best thing about getting to the campsite in the dark: waking up to the best views.

After some time with Daniel Boone in MO we couldn't pass up even more time with him so we decided to camp at the Daniel Boone National Forest in KY the second night. There are quite a few stories about Daniel Boone, but we like the one we tell about how hospitable and beautiful his land is the best :)

We tried our hand again at dispersed camping (free camping); however, we ran into a roadblock - literally. Well we did not run into it but there was a road blocked that led to our dispersed camping area so rather than attempt another area we chose the campground in the NF instead. True to our tradition (I'm sensing a continuation of this tradition) we arrived in the dark. Another great place to stay with free showers, friendly people, and another beautiful view in the morning.

Stay tuned and follow our adventure on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at Go Seek Nature. Now get outside and find your own nature!

In case you want to know:

Learn more about Daniel Boone

Learn more about dispersed camping

Follow our Go Seek Nature YouTube channel for video updates

Shenandoah National Park

posted May 20, 2016, 10:35 AM

I found my park. (#findyourpark) Shenandoah National Park is spectacular. Right from the start there are beautiful views, winding roads, and wildlife. The boys and I drove the southern route of Shenandoah to the Big Meadows

Visitor Center. This is a 50+ mile drive with scenic overlooks every couple of miles. The scenic overlooks are so nice; trees and mountain tops galore.

Aaron, Conor, and I traveled the Appalachian Trail for a short while, which was a lot of fun. I imagined walking the entire 2,000+ plus trail, but for now I enjoyed the short hike with the boys. At one scenic overlook the boys and I met Aaron who was walking the entire AT this summer. He started in March in Georgia and has walked over 800 miles so far. I appreciate what he is doing and offered him food or water if he needed; like most hikers and nature lovers he had what he needed and politely declined. Conor thought it was very cool he walked 800 miles since March. Good luck and safety to Aaron (our AT friend). This inspired our short hike on the AT and was a great way to see more of Shenandoah NP.

The big news with Shenandoah NP is the wildlife. Deer, turkey, and bears; yes bears!! Be still my heart as I am still thrilled at our bear cub sighting. Four bears walked along the roadside by the tree line while we drove on the well named Skyline Drive. Eating and happily viewing us humans they gladly posed for a few photos but stayed away. I excitingly took a few photos and video. The boys were so happy to see the bear cubs; Conor asked where the mama bear was - probably okay we did not see her :) Now this was our first bear sighting in the wild, but for Gabriel this was old news. He has seen a bear in the wild in Colorado which I have been slightly jealous about since. With Gabriel being a pro at interacting with bears, he calmly glanced out the window but then went back to his nap. Such a good boy! I knew we called him our black bear for a reason, he just blended right in.

Aside from bears and the AT we also had a nice view of Big Meadows from the Visitor Center where we saw deer in the meadow below. Like any good nature seekers Aaron and Conor became Junior Rangers at Shenandoah NP. I absolutely love this program and plan to help the boys become Junior Rangers at every NP we visit this trip. The NP Centennial year is 2016. Along with the Junior Ranger program children can receive wilderness badges once they turn in the booklet to any NP. The boys picked up this program as well. I explained to the Rangers about our trip and they were impressed with our mission. I definitely found my park with Shenandoah NP #findyourpark #seeknature

In Case You Want to Know:

Junior Ranger Program

Find Your Park

Shenandoah National Park

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter; Subscribe to our blog

Rainy Day Blues

posted May 23, 2016, 8:55 AM

Initially the rain didn’t bother me. We have plenty of rainy days in Nebraska and I naively thought it would not be much different on the road. I did pack toys and books for the boys, but I also planned for library visits and other places that would be indoor activities if necessary. We also have rain gear so a park is not completely out of the question.

I didn’t take into account our camper and it seems that some parking and city planning didn’t take it into account either. Parallel parking with a camper? HA! Parking garages? No Thanks! Our first rainy day resulted in a trip to Walmart and many failed attempts at library visits and a children’s museum. The first library had on street parking only and the second had a very small (and full) parking lot. In my defense I did call the second library to make sure they had parking for a tow behind camper but I was misinformed.

After a day of driving and sitting in the car the boys were restless! Finally at our camping spot for the night we pulled out some games and settled in. The first rainy day was a bust but it got better the next couple of days of rain.

I found a city park to play at in between the rain and conveniently it was located near a public library. This library was wonderful. Not only books but some toys and a nice play area for children. An hour and a half at the library flew by and the visit to the park was fantastic; who cares if the clothes were a little wet? It was so much better than a day of driving and trying to find a place to go.

Rain seems to be a reoccurring theme for Virginia this week mixed in with a few hours of beautiful weather. Thankfully our rainy day blues are behind us and we have been lucky to find some great places to visit despite the rain.

You Learn When You Visit

posted May 23, 2016, 8:57 AM

Visiting other places can be a benefit in so many ways. You meet a lot of different people and can learn so much about an area just by listening and asking questions.

This has been the case for us in Virginia. I have loved spending time with Aaron, Conor, and Gabriel as Dan rides his bicycle. My favorite parts have been finding the beautiful park among the trees and watching the boys play or being pulled into a game of tag as we run around the slides and park benches.

Christiansburg Virginia has a great park and library separated by a short walking path. The path is deemed a story walk and has posts of a short children’s story that can be read while you walk the path up the library or down to the park. Our story was Where Is The Green Sheep?

Conor read most of the story along the path with only some slight assistance from me. Aaron stood at each post and listened while Conor read the pages. This is the first story walk I have seen and I loved it! As Conor read the pages I thought this is why you visit other places, there are so many good ideas! Conor is outside, playing, and reading while Aaron is outside, playing, and listening to his brother read a story. Some of my favorite pastimes wrapped into a neat little package.

The people we have met along the way have been kind and so very helpful. We had breakfast made for us at one church, attended Sunday school at the same church, and have received places to stay along the way from people that just want to show kindness to the cyclists passing through. I have also spoken with other parents at the parks and have learned so much about the areas we are in just by saying hello and asking a question or two. I never would have known much about Redford VA if Dan didn’t stop at in the city and start talking to two locals. I also would have not known about Damascus or the beautiful views and wild horses if I didn’t attend Sunday School with the boys in Troutdale.

I spoke with an AT hiker in Shenandoah NP and have met quite a few more throughout our route. This entire area has been full of people seeking nature, whether it is out camping, on the trail, on the bike, or out on the water. I have enjoyed seeing so many people outside.

Mammoth Cave NP- Every Child in a Park

posted Jun 2, 2016, 1:55 PM

Ohtahara Syndrome Family Gathering, Mammoth Cave NP

Five families joined together at the largest cave in the world; Mammoth Cave. We explored the park, taking an exclusive tour of Mammoth Cave 287 feet underground.

What makes our group special is our children. Five children sharing a rare diagnosis and a rare opportunity to view the inside of the cave; walking where tour guides have walked since the 1800s. This is possible because Mammo

th Cave National Park Rangers not only opened their elevator for our group but also their hearts as they greeted our children and shared in the joy and excitement. The elevator has not been operational for several years; having this opportunity was a blessing and sharing it with these four other families made our hearts sing!

Speaking of singing, Dan even did a little singing of his own as he joined our Park Ranger tour guide in a duet revealing the wonderful cave acoustics. Our tour was complete with a lighted path, cave crickets, crystal, and a moment in the dark and silence where we could experience the true side of the cave.

Our children, all 11 of them (Ohtahara babies and siblings alike) completed the Junior Ranger program and became Junior Rangers promising to protect and preserve the park for generations to come.

Go Seek Nature Logo

posted Jun 9, 2016, 1:55 PM

Perhaps a little late as we have already begun our summer travels but just in case you were curious we thought we would share how we came up with the Go Seek Nature logo. For those that know us, the sweet little boys in the image may look a lot like Aaron and Conor. It's true, because it is them!

I created the image based off a photo from a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. The boys were running along a trail excited to be out of the car and on the path. We love watching the boys explore our world and taking them to National Parks is something we have always wanted to do with them. Getting them into nature has been a blessing for our family. They both have grown and have seen more of the U.S. this way; anywhere from back country roads, farms, mountains, rivers, and National Parks and historic sites.

It took days for me to complete this image. It could be cleaned up but overall we love that the boys are included and that it signifies the adventure that awaits. I used a combination of hand drawing, a program called GIMP, and photos.

In Case You Want to Know:

View our album and see the images used to create the Go Seek Nature logo.

Lincoln Homestead State Park

posted Jun 23, 2016, 10:05 PM

While in Kentucky we were fortunate enough to visit the Lincoln Homestead State Park. One thing that Dan and I wanted to do on this trip was visit as many National Parks, historic places, or state parks as we could. We actually camped near the state park so it was easy for us to visit the park and learn more about some of our US history that has been preserved for us.

Thomas Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln's father, lived and worked on this land for 25 years. He was married not far from where we were and we walked the path he must have walked to his home and to the spring well. I loved thinking about their life back then; how different it is and how lucky I feel to have it preserved for us to learn from.

After talking to a state park employee and reading the information I learned that Thomas Lincoln was a blacksmith/carpenter and one of his cabinets is actually in the small cabin where he lived. It is a beautiful corner cabinet, one any of us would be proud to have in our home. Imagine how long it took him to build that, but his craftsmanship is still standing today over 100 years later.

The boys liked walking the path to the small spring well on the site. We learned that with the trees that used to be on the property back in the 1800s, this spring well probably had water in it most of the time and is where the family would come to draw the water. Now if it rains there is a small stream.

I created a short video of our tour of the Lincoln Homestead State Park. I really enjoy taking my family to these places and sharing what information we find. We also love to talk to the park employees as they know so much about the area and are generally very happy to share.

In Case You Want to Know:

Lincoln Homestead State Park

Go Seek Nature YouTube channel

Nature Stings

posted Jun 23, 2016, 11:52 PM

We spend the majority of our days outside, whether this be walking, seeking places to play, eating, or waiting for Dan. We have adapted well to our small quarters and to finding things to do in small towns. We have lots of firsts on this trip like our first illness, our first state complete, first ferry ride, etc. Our second day into Kansas I had a first of what I hope to be the last for any of us.

Outside as always, the boys and I stopped at a park before we went on to meet Dan at our overnight camping location. The boys love trains and this park happened to have a train with steps leading up to the engine. I did notice some wasps around the train but no more than we have already encountered on the trip so although I am not a fan at all, I usually stay clear and hope they move on quickly if they are near me.

After the boys saw the inside of the train, naturally they wanted to see the outside of the train so we walked by the wheels. Aaron was looking at the wheels, behind the wheels, and generally very interested in the train. Enter the wasp.

Aaron had his head near a small tube by the wheel and before I knew it a wasp was next to him and near his face. I tried to grab him and move him from the location but it was too late. Aaron cried out and laid down on the ground. I picked him up and told Conor we needed to get away from the train. My fear was realized as Aaron had been stung by the wasp. I can only guess that perhaps a wasp nest was nearby or within the tube that Aaron was near.

After reaching the car and accessing the damage, Aaron had been stung once on the cheek by the wasp. It was slightly red at the sting but I could see no other stings and there was no stinger in the wound. I grabbed some ice out of our cooler and placed it on his cheek. Aaron was understandably upset and crying. I know he understands more than he can express so I tried to explain about the wasp sting but he was so upset my priority was getting him to calm down and let me look at his face. The ice helped as what swelling that did begin was diminishing after only a minute or two.

I am so thankful he did not have a bad reaction. This is his first sting which I hope is the last. After calming him down I checked "doctor" Google to make sure there wasn't anything else that needed to be done. Google approved and I calmed down a bit too.

In good Aaron fashion he perked up after the pain subsided and he responded to my question of if he wanted to play or get into the car with his sign for play. It took me longer to calm down than it did him and he had the sting!

I don't think we can avoid bees or wasps or other stings completely on this trip but I sure hope to! There is much more good in nature that we have found on this trip compared to these stings (and don't get me started on ticks) but sometimes nature does sting a little or a lot.

We do have first aid kits located in our camper and our car so thankfully if more than some ice is needed we have access to our first aid kits. When packing the first aid kits we thought of scraped knees and elbows, not stings. Now let's hope that no other first aid is needed! Nature can sting but we still love her.

In Case You Want to Know:

Wasp Sting First Aid

To Port and Starboard

posted Jun 27, 2016, 3:31 PM

We happily entered Breckenridge Colorado where Dan was greeted by one of the very few bike paths leading from Breckenridge to Silverthorne. Prior to our trip we planned a couple of rest days in Colorado to meet up with family in Frisco.

Frisco is an awesome mountain town, one of our favorites. It has every convenience and our favorite is Main Street. Our rest days in Frisco consisted of ice cream and a visit to the historic museum where Conor was put into the old jail but let out for good behavior and Uncle Don was placed in jail by Sheriff Conor because he robbed the train. Sheriff Conor had a great time keeping Frisco's Main Street safe.

One of the memorable moments in Frisco was on Lake Dillon. Our family rented a pontoon boat as a surprise for the boys. We were all looking forward to being on the water. Lake Dillon is huge and is a popular rec area for locals and visitors. Conor was the first to be at the helm when we got into open water. He learned all about port, starboard, and water safety. He loved calling out full throttle as he brought the speed of the boat up faster. We had a good wake going behind us but Conor was also very cautious and slowed down when he noticed paddle boats and people fishing.

Aaron was next at the helm and he did a great job steering the boat. He had such a big smile on his face! Uncle Don showed him the horn and Aaron was all set to steer and make sure people heard us coming. Aaron loved being on the boat whether he was driving or sitting under the awning enjoying the breeze and shade. He also loved looking at the motor and the wake behind us.

We spent two hours on the water and the boys loved it all. We all had such a great day. Dan and I also had a chance to drive the boat and we loved it too. Conor was at the helm the most and has committed to memory port and starboard sides. For the rest of the day it was port and starboard rather than left and right. We really enjoy giving the boys these opportunities; sharing it with our family was a wonderful experience.

From Coast to Coast - Final Day Along the Trans Am

posted Jul 29, 2016, 11:11 PM

The day finally arrived where we reached the west coast. The beautiful Pacific Ocean waited for us for 66 days and greeted us warmly, with beautiful weather, clear skies, and the sound of waves rushing to the beach. What initially was planned for 90 days took only 66 days. Dan rocked out the Trans America Bicycle Trail!

Seeing Dan in Seaside, Oregon where he dipped his front tire in the Pacific Ocean is such a proud moment for me. We actually did it, he actually did it. Not that there was any question of it in our minds, but just being there made it all seem that much more real. We traveled across the United States, from Yorktown, VA to Astoria OR along the Trans America Bicycle Route; Dan on his bicycle pedaling up every major mountain range and the boys and I along with Dan's mom driving the route up every mountain range, along every river, and among every terrain even lava fields. It doesn't seem crazy anymore.

The boys and I began our first day in Yorktown, VA on the beach and we ended our trip playing at the beach in Seaside, OR (we officially ended the Trans Am route in Astoria, OR). It seemed so appropriate to begin and end playing at each beach which we found to be one of the boys' favorite places to be. Aaron and Conor love the waves, they love being in the water with the waves rushing at their ankles and helping me build sandcastles.

Dan pushed his bike across the beach (not an easy task) and dipped his tire in the ocean; a symbolic gesture to the Trans America Route. The boys and I (to include Gabriel our dog) put our feet (or paws) in the water in Virginia and ended by doing the same in Oregon. Here is a quick look at our final day on the Trans America Bicycle Route.

Among The Redwoods

posted Aug 22, 2016, 7:00 AM

A favorite moment for me was visiting the Redwood National Park. I am a fan of trees, I love them! The Redwoods have been on my list to see for years so finally with us ending on the west coast we were extending our summer by visiting the Redwoods.

Redwoods are the tallest trees on Earth and have whole ecosystems living in their branches which are still being discovered and studied. I am fascinated with what we know about trees but the more I read and learn, the more I find that there is so much more that is being discovered from the top to the roots below.

As we took the boys on hikes and walked with our heads pointed to the sky I knew this was the place for me! The boys were in awe with how tall and wide the Redwoods are. They had a blast running among the trees - and in the trees. We were all thrilled when we found a few trees that we could all fit inside.

I read that trees give off pheromones to help prevent attack and to warn fellow trees of an invasive presence; trees also help people to relax and have positive health benefits. A walk among trees was just what our family discovered as a great way to spend time together, learn something new, relax, and enjoy the fresh air. I now have my own photos of the Redwoods too!

All summer we sought nature, adventure, and wonderful places. I think it was so appropriate to end our trip with the Redwoods but I sure miss them and think I need to start planning another trip.

Click Here: Redwood NP photo album