It was a driving day with our final destination a mere 4 hours away. However 4 turned into 12 because… You can’t pass up climbing a tree that looks like…
It was a driving day with our final destination a mere 4 hours away.
However 4 turned into 12 because…
You can’t pass up climbing a tree that looks like it’s from Endor.
Nor could we pass up a quick stop at the Hoh Rain Forest, a part of Olympic National Park and one of the largest temperate rainforests in North America. To tell you the truth, I didn’t even know there were any rain forests North America.
Or a stop at Ruby Beach where we stacked rocks and had dinner.
Finally around 10 pm the real adventure began when we arrived at our campground. We try really hard to not get into places after dark because once the sun sets there seems to be holes, poles, fences, guard rails, zombies, you name it, appearing out of nowhere.
We took a turn too tight and the wheels of the trailer got stuck in a ditch that appeared out of nowhere. Thankfully there wasn’t any major damage to the trailer, just a small crack, and a dent on the bed of the truck. However, to prevent further damage we decided to call a tow truck to pull us out backwards. It was 2 am before the trailer was out and we got to bed.
As if that wasn’t adventure enough. The next day we needed to decide if we were going to buy our season passes to go back to Breckenridge for the upcoming winter. We had mixed feelings. On one hand we really wanted to go but on the other we weren’t sure if we should spend the money.
As it turned out the decision was made for us when I decided to take a pregnancy test that afternoon “just in case” because I was a few days late.
Two pink lines.
Guess we wouldn’t going back to Breck. I’m adventurous but snowboarding while pregnant? No thanks.
To say we were surprised would be an understatement but as the news soaked in we got excited. We weren’t the only ones excited. My dad sent me this super sweet text.
And here I am 9 months later on his due date and still waiting for this little guy to arrive!
After a few days of exploring Seattle we were ready for a change of pace. Olympic National Park, located in the Olympic Peninsula, was a perfect place to slow down…
After a few days of exploring Seattle we were ready for a change of pace. Olympic National Park, located in the Olympic Peninsula, was a perfect place to slow down and take in the beauty of God’s creation. The highlight of our visit was hiking the Hurricane Hill Trail. I’m not sure which was more beautiful the views of the ocean and mountains or the fact that our boys hardly complained the entire hike. Perhaps the abundance of wildlife kept them smiling. It’s hard to have a bad attitude when a curious marmot is following you from a distance or when you stumble upon a heard of mountain goats.
Reservations for the Flamingo campground at Everglades National Park are “strongly recommended“. Do you think we make reservations?
Of course not.
We just drove up to the gate hoping there would be a spot for us. Just like we hoped we would pass a grocery along the way. Luckily for us, we did pass a grocery. Sort of. We passed a produce stand called Robert is Here. Thankfully Robert had eggs and heavenly milkshakes. (The canistel milkshake is ecstasy.) I could live off of eggs and milkshakes.
What were we talking about? Certainly not about our lack of planning or milkshakes.
Oh yes, the Everglades National Park. As it turned out there was a space for us in the Flamingo Campground. Our spot didn’t have electricity, water, or sewer but that along with mosquitoes —holy moly do not forget bug spray— just makes it feel all the more adventurous. I guess.
The everglades can be as adventerous as you want them to be. The really insane adventurous types can go camping in the backcountry with bears, panthers, and very large exotic reptiles. You’ve heard about the Burmese pythons that are showing up in the park? Less adventurous types can stick to the visitor centers and Anhinga trail. Both which are awesome and shouldn’t be missed no matter where you fall on the adventure scale.
As for us, we are somewhere in the middle on the adventure scale. To up our adventure factor, we rented a canoe and went on the Nine Mile Pond Canoe Trail. It’s a sort of marked trail that winds through mangrove tunnels and sprawling swamps where the clouds seem to rest on the water. We also saw the real star of the Everglades, the American alligator. In fact, we saw eight of them. Most of them would sink to the bottom or lay very still, their leathery black skin peaking through the surface like an old tire as we paddled slowly past. However, there was one “friendly” gator who began to swim toward us as we drifted many yards from him. Her? I’m certain I saw it opening and closing its mouth underneath the water. Needless to say, we didn’t stick around.
Back at Flamingo I described the “curious” gator’s behavior to a ranger. The ranger replied, as matter of fact-ly as if he was an appliance repairman, “Yep that sounds like aggressive behavior. It is mating season.” Might have been good to know. It’s also possible that some stupid people are feeding the gators and he was just looking for a hand out.
Not only did we see alligators but we also saw an American crocodile, (South Florida is the only place in the world where both alligators and crocodiles live together.), manatees, turtles, and birds. Oh so many birds. Anhinga trail is the place to go to view wildlife from the comfort of a paved and railed path. We saw so many alligators we lost count. If it’s crocodiles and manatees you’re looking for head down to the marina at Flamingo.
And don’t forget your bug spray.
Our Everglades Experience at a glance.
Where We Stayed
Flamingo Campground – They do have a limited number of sites with electrical. There is a wonderful paved bike path that runs from the campground to the Flamingo Visitor Center. We didn’t get any internet service here. We expected this and since Brent works from the road we visited over a weekend.
There are a number of ranger guided programs and tours. We wanted to go on the ranger led canoe tour but it was full. However, I think we ended up having more fun renting our own canoe and going at our own pace. I was concerned about not learning from the ranger but she assured me that she doesn’t do that much talking due to the logistics of a “canoe train”.
Anhinga Trail – A paved half of mile trail at Royal Palm. We stopped on our way out. The boys were complaining about another stop but ended up enjoying it. We said it would only be a few minutes and ended up staying a few hours. Typical. Recommend the ranger alligator talk if it’s available.
Ernest Coe Visitor Center – We should have stopped here on our way in as opposed to out. There are great exhibits, air conditioning, and a movie. (There are also 2 more visitor centers in the park that we missed.)
The Great Smokey Mountains National Park is the first national park I can remember visiting. Although I think my first national park visit was really to the Grand Canyon when…
The Great Smokey Mountains National Park is the first national park I can remember visiting. Although I think my first national park visit was really to the Grand Canyon when my parents looked like hipsters and drove a van. A real van with a moon shaped window and an airbrushed mural. I probably rode on my mom’s lap while she warmed my baby food in the dashboard window.
We aren’t as cool as my parents were. We drive a big white diesel Chevy that hasn’t been washed since October. But at least we use seat belts.
The Great Smokey Mountains is the first park I can remember visiting. I remember the river churning with rapids as white as doves but as unpredictable as cats. I remember the mountains poking out of the clouds like giant tombstones in a foggy cemetery. I remember my teenage self getting ticked about something and pouting on the Appalachian trail. I probably didn’t get to curl my bangs that morning.
I didn’t remember John Ownby’s cabin. Or the history. I didn’t remember the land was originally home to the Cherokee Indians who were driven out. I didn’t remember settlers were evicted from their homes and lives to make create the park we now visit.
So many old and new memories being pulled or created and stashed in this already challenged brain of mine.