Category Archives: Travel

8 Reasons to Take Your Kids Camping This Summer

I like a nice hotel as much as the next gal. You know . . . jacuzzi, swimming pool, soft king-sized bed, fluffy pillows, crisp white sheets, and cushy slippers. What’s not to love? But every summer from the time our first child was 6 months old, we have taken our kids camping. We’ve been to dozens of beautiful places filled with natural wonders that you just can’t experience the same way unless you are sleeping right there in it. With the stars above, songs around the campfire, and sleeping with now 6 of us in one tent, it’s a tradition that I now treasure. Here are five reasons you might want to consider pitching your own tent this summer too:

  1. It fosters a break from technology. Technology is running rampant in our fast-paced, plugged-in, high-tech world and it is stealing the attention of our little ones. Don’t get me wrong–I like a good movie and I appreciate my iPhone with all it’s cool gizmos and gadgets. It’s how I listen to podcasts on my morning jog or audio books while I’m folding laundry. And it is a perfect tool for capturing photos and videos of our life. BUT recent research says that kids ages 8-18 are spending an average of SEVEN HOURS a day in front of screens. That’s a lot of time that kids aren’t having experiences in the real world–spending time with family, exploring, playing with friends, and problem solving. Which brings me to my next reason:
  2. Being in nature makes you better at problem solving. According to cognitive psychologist Dr. David Strayer at the University of Utah, being in nature (away from technology) for three days actually made people 50 percent better at solving problems! I read about this research in National Geographic and called Dr. Strayer to ask for more details. What is it about getting away that makes our brains function better? As he said, “The technology actually makes us pretty distracted. Our brains can only process so much.”
  3. Being in nature makes you healthier physically. I don’t know about you, but when we go camping, we are not sitting around our tent all day drawing in the dirt with sticks. Yes, we do that for some of the day, but mostly we are out and about. We have picked a place to explore for some reason or another (maybe because of its beauty or its history or its cool hiking challenges) and we spend our days exploring. The childhood obesity epidemic is real enough, and the problem is linked to inactivity. It is impossible to be stationary when you are hiking to see beautiful waterfalls in Yosemite or biking a path with dozens of geysers on either side of you in Yellowstone or swimming in the luke warm waters of Lake Powell (all things I highly recommend).
  4. Being in nature makes you healthier mentally. Think about it–how do you feel when you are sitting in a park, green and blue surrounding you? Or lying down in the grass, watching the clouds go by? Or walking a trail surrounded by the brilliant colors of flowers? Stress goes down, relaxation goes up. Researchers who study this have found that people who simply live near parks are less likely to have 15 diseases, including depression, anxiety, ADHD, and asthma. In one study, even being able to see trees through a window helped people perform better in school, recover faster in hospitals, and get along better with others! What surrounds you when you are camping? Usually–trees. Lots, and lots, of trees.
  5. You connect more as a family. Our kids LOVE playing with their friends. Our oldest son especially is asking almost constantly to have friends over to our house or to go hang out at his friends’ houses. I thought this phase wouldn’t happen until he was a teenager. He’s eleven! Still, friends are healthy and good, so I support it (within limits). BUT I love getting so much of his attention when we steal away together as a family. You know who else loves it? His sisters! They don’t get a lot of his time when we’re at home. But when we are hanging out together camping–with no screens or friends to be seen–our three older kids can’t seem to get enough of each other. (I mean, we go through the normal family spats too, but overall, they discover how much they like each other). Yay for family time!
  6. You get to see beautiful places. Truly–some of the most incredible places I have ever seen I experienced camping. Some of my favorites are Yosemite National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, and the Grand Canyon. Over spring break we took our kids on a beach trip to San Diego and stayed at an amazing campground called Campland By the Bay, complete with hot tubs and swimming pools (seriously, if you like California, you should check it out). This summer we are taking our kids to explore the San Juan Islands and two other national parks in Washington. And for my husband’s 40th birthday, we are backpacking in Kauai. These are adventures of a lifetime, and they are doable!
  7. You get to work together as a family. I don’t know about you, but our regular life doesn’t consist of a whole lot of working all together as a family (especially when Dad works all day at an office). Sure, everyone has their individual chores–but it’s not like living on a farm where EVERYONE was involved in working hard toward the same end goal. Camping gives us that opportunity. There is a tent to set up and sleeping bags to unroll and mats to lay out and food to cook and dishes to clean and we are all right there doing the work together. It’s a very bonding experience.
  8. It’s cheap. Think you can’t afford to travel? Think again. Once you have your tent, sleeping bags, and maybe a little camping stove, you’re set. It only typically costs around $15-$20 for a campsite through the National Parks Service at www.recreation.gov.

So, yes, I like hotels. And I like the creature comforts of home. But camping has so many awesome benefits that it’s hard to find an excuse not to go. If you think you aren’t a camping sort of person, I dare you to try it. I bet you’ll be surprised.

 

Summer in Yosemite

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Vernal Falls, Yosemite National Park

After experiencing gorgeous waterfalls, blue skies, granite cliffs, and colorful meadows, Yosemite is now one of my favorite places on the planet. Our family visited at the end of July, and I just couldn’t get enough of the cool hiking experiences and breath-taking views. I think I said “Wow” more times in one day than ever in my life. If you haven’t been here, please go.

My favorite hike was on Mist Trail, where we hiked the few miles and hundreds of stone steps to this incredible waterfall. You could actually see a rainbow in the sunshine and mist at the bottom of the falls. This was a great hike for our kids–challenging but doable, with a great reward at the end. We thought the end of our journey would be the falls, but to our surprise, just past the falls was a giant pool of water, complete with natural rock waterslide!

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Natural waterslide at Emerald Pools.

Despite none of us having swimsuits, most of us somehow ended up in the water. My son was the first to throw his shirt and shoes to the side and jump in. Then my daughter joined. My husband and his brother got in and swam over to the waterslide. Then my sister-in-law (more adventurous than I ever realized) said she was going for it, fully clothed. I started to realize this was not an opportunity to miss, so I counted down (my perennial weakness) and jumped in the frigid water alongside her. We swam over to the waterslide, hiked up the smooth rock surface where it was dry, then slid down into the water. Super fun!

If that wasn’t enough of a surprise, we also saw a bear (the only bear I’ve ever seen in the wild) traipse across the rock surface not 50 yards from where we had just slid down the rock. A bunch of teenagers who were on the same side of the pool started screaming and running toward the water. Luckily, the bear took no interest in them and just kept walking along until it disappeared back into the brush.

At night we camped just outside the park’s south entrance at Summerdale Campground. As we were setting up our camp, our camp neighbor shouted, “Scott, look!!” We looked up in the sky and there was a huge orange and pink meteor streaming across the sky, with tiny pieces breaking off so it looked like a dozen blazing shooting stars all together. It was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen in the night sky. Our kids were enthralled. Amazing! Come to find out, it was apparently some kind of Chinese satellite junk. Not quite as cool, but still.

The other neat and unexpected experience at camp was crawdad fishing. I haven’t done this since I was a kid, but our camp host said we had to try it. So we put a hotdog on a string and literally, within minutes, we could see the crawdads in the water creeping toward it and climbing on. It took us a few tries to get the things out of the water and into a bucket, but eventually we caught 8 or so. We kept 6 to cook because, well, why not? We are all about new experiences. We boiled them and cracked them open. They tasted fine. A lot of work for the two bites out of each one, but it was fun.

Our little family miracle of the trip happened to our 10-year-old son Zach. He had just picked out a souvenir from the trip that day, a neat wooden pocketknife with his name etched in. While we were fishing (pretty much in the dark) his pocket knife fell out of his pocket. We all looked around but couldn’t find it anywhere. After all, it was wood colored. We said we’d try again in the morning. We suggested to Zach that he say a prayer, and went to bed. The next morning, Zach and Scott went for a walk and I said a quick prayer that, if it be God’s will for him to find this little treasure, he would find it. I understood that God may want Zach to have the lesson about taking care of his things, and I was open to that result. But that lesson is of course much less fun. The other lesson would be that prayer works, and sometimes you even get the answer you are hoping for. Well, right after I said my prayer, Zach and Scott came back with big smiles. Zach said he remembered walking by a particular poky bush that made him jump the night before, so they went there. Lo and behold, they looked down, in the wood and grass and dirt, and there was his pocket knife. Yay for little miracles!

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Playing at the bottom of Lower Yosemite Falls.

Another adventure was, when we went for a hike to Lower Yosemite Falls, which had another little surprise waiting for us: fun pools of water and lots of rocks for the kids the play in. We hadn’t learned our lesson about wearing swimsuits in this water haven, but we got in, again, in our clothes. The kids climbed and swam and splashed for hours. Too much fun.

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Granite Point

For a view of the valley, we drove out to Glacier Point, where we did a short walk to a lookout point. From there, we could see two waterfalls and 360 degrees of rocks, trees, meadows, and mountains. Beautiful.

On our way out of California, we decided to stop at Kings Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Park, mostly because we wanted more stamps for our National Parks passport books. OK, not really. Well, partly. We of course were excited to see what made those places so special, especially as we considered the 100-year anniversary of the National Parks system. Both parks were incredible. I especially loved the Congress trail with the huge groups of sequoia trees–the biggest trees in the world. It was incredible to be so dwarfed by nature.IMG_1308

Overall–an amazing, wonderful incredible trip with some of my favorite people. We will definitely do this again.

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Happy kids, enjoying the outdoors at Sequoia National Park.

Camping in Beautiful Sedona

For spring break last month we took our kids to the beautiful Arizona city of Sedona. I wasn’t sure how camping was going to go with Sam, being still so small, but we figured we’d give it a shot. When looking for our destination this year, we had three important criteria: 1) warm enough at night to camp without being miserable and 2) close to cool National parks or monuments that would give us a stamp or two in our kids’ passport books. 3) Close enough to drive to from our home in Sandy, UT. Sedona fit the bill.

IMG_1569Well, mostly. The temperature was great during the day and was supposed to only get to the 40s at night, but with a few nights stretching into the 30s it was less comfortable than I would have liked. Everyone was fine in their mummy bags except for Sam, who didn’t have one. I bundled him as much as I could but he would still wake up in the middle of the night crying (unheard of for this angel baby). That at least gave me my co-sleeping opportunity, something I’ve never really taken advantage of with any of my kids, with good reason. I mean, I just don’t sleep very well with a little person next to me. But I have to admit I did love snuggling this sweet little boy every night.

What I love about camping is getting so close to nature and so far from the typical distractions of our modern-day world. No cell phones to use, no televisions to watch, no Kindles to fight over. We literally were just IMG_1552outside all day, enjoying peace. (Until it came time to doing all the work that camping requires–then there was a little less peace. But the kids got the hang of it fairly quickly.)

I loved seeing the National monuments near Sedona. First we went to explore Montezuma Castle, an ancient cliff dwelling thousands of years old. It was fun to watch my kids think through what it might have been like to live so close to the earth (and even in the earth) every day. We also checked out a similar nearby monument that let us get a little closer to the ruins of an ancient people. Our last experience with ancient life was on the way home when we stopped at Canyon de Chelly, another site from the lives of ancient Pueblo people. First things first: we got our passport books stamped. Check! Then we did a hike down into the canyon, saw the ruins in the cliffside along with some cool wall art, and then hiked back out. This was our IMG_1556first hiking experience where all three of our older kids beat us to the finish line by a long shot. Scott and I were impressed.

Other favorites from this trip included a beautiful hike in Sedona, playing in the river by our campsite, visiting Slide Rock state park (with it’s 80-foot super cold natural waterslide) and my perennial campfire favorite: s’mores! After five nights of camping, luckily we were smart enough to check the weather and realize it was going to rain right at the time we needed to pack up our campsite. So we got on Priceline and booked a hotel in Chinle. Everyone was beyond excited to see actual beds. The kids slept for 13 hours straight, and I slept for most of that too. There’s nothing like appreciating simple pleasures after ruffing it for a few days!IMG_1625

All in all, a successful, beautiful, super fun adventure! I highly recommend this area as a wonderful trip for families.

Cruisin’ around the Caribbean!

OK, so I haven’t been in the habit of writing lately–something about having four little kids maybe? Well, I’m recommitted to jumping on here more regularly simply to share what is happening in my life. I’ve been inspired by the minimalists, who used a great phrase: “Sit in the chair.” As a writer, sometimes I feel like I need to wait to be inspired before I actually sit down (oh, and when I actually have free time, which is . . . let’s say rarely). I suppose you need to make your own time if you want to fit something in. So, here goes. I’m sitting in the chair.

The first thing I wanted to write about was Scott’s and my 15-year anniversary cruise. We snuck off for a whole week just the two of us to go explore the Caribbean. Wow. Can I just say, wow? I’m a big fan of getting away as a couple occasionally. It’s a wonderful way to reconnect with your spouse as husband and wife again, leaving Mom and Dad roles behind for just a bit (while kiddos are in good hands and loving their own adventures at home with Grandma and Grandpa and Grams and Papa in our case!).

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Yummy breakfast on the ship in the Solarium.

Let’s start with the ship. We sailed on the Oasis of the Seas, the biggest ship on the ocean. We stepped on board and set off to explore (no simple task). This ship had 17 floors. 17! That is a lot of floors. Swimming pools, hot tubs, restaurants, rock climbing walls, theater, ice rink . . . you name it, this ship had it. I still don’t understand how it even stayed afloat. My favorite moments were sitting in the hot tub at the top of the ship, watching the ocean or the towns as we pulled in to port, reading a book next to Scott on the top deck in the sunshine, and eating at the top floor restaurant for breakfast, where every morning greeted us with a beautiful, colorful buffet.  Anyone who knows me well knows I love breakfast food and am quite happy enjoying breakfast for any meal of the day (and snacks too!).

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Does this look like the Caribbean? Yeah, I didn’t think so either!

We stopped at three ports–Nassau (Bahamas), St. Thomas, and St. Martin. When we pulled in the the Bahamas, it was pouring rain with 25 mph winds. It was February, remember, and I had just left months of cold, gray, and snow. I was so distraught over this unpleasant welcome that I literally broke into tears when I realized we couldn’t go on our little beach outing in the sun like we had planned. I know that sounds pretty pathetic, but we only had three days to get off the ship and enjoy the beach (my favorite part of vacation) and now Day One was a gonner. Sigh.

But I pulled it together and determined to enjoy. We decided to go explore Atlantis, the resort I had heard so much about. Trying to get a cab was a bit comical. One of the locals would put us in the cab and then we sat there for five minutes wondering what happened. Then we got out and asked for another cab, and they stuck us in a different cab and left. This happened three times. We realized that the locals were trying to fill their cabs so they could earn more on the 10 minute drive over to Atlantis. Crazy! We finally made it over there after a woman promised to leave “Right now” and spent the rainy afterIMG_0248noon wandering around inside Atlantis, checking out their aquariums and grounds. I imagine it’s beautiful when it is sunny and warm. Windy and gray made it less than magical.

One thing that made me smile was this funny sign at Atlantis, their best attempt at asking people not to leave cigarette butts on the ground!

We made it back to the ship and crossed our fingers that the sun would come out for the rest of our journey.

Luckily, it did! On St. Thomas we wanted to see Magen’s Bay, dubbed one of the world’s most beautiful beaches by National Geographic and the book 1000 Places to See Before You Die (my regular go-to resource).

By the time we got there, sadly, we only had 30 minutes before it was time for us to head back for our kayak tour. We only had a few hours on the island, so we had to make it count. I’m glad we went to see the Bay, because it really was beautiful and peaceful. It would have been more so without all the people, but I guess that’s the price you pay for seeing the most beautiful places in the world. Everyone else wants to see them too!

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Magen’s Bay

After our brief jaunt at Magen’s Bay, we took a cab back over the top of the island to our kayak spot. This was a fun way to mix things up. We got to kayak through a lagoon, then pull over and walk on a pebbly path to a blowhole on the island. (Basically where the waves crash into a rock that has a hole at the top and water sprays out of the hole.) Pretty cool. Then we snorkeled for a bit in the lagoon. That was fun, but a little chillier than I expected and frankly not as much variety of fish and things to see as I was hoping for. (I think I got spoiled in Maui by Black Rock where there are so many colorful fish!). Still, it was fun, good exercise, and beautiful. Scott and I had a great time.

Our last port was my favorite. We went to St. Martin, where we went with a IMG_1278snorkel company on a boat tour around the island. The sun was out all day, thankfully, and the water was a beautiful blue. We enjoyed a yummy barbecue lunch on a pretty secluded beach and then stopped at a couple different places to snorkel. Again, the snorkeling wasn’t as spectacular as I would have hoped, but the water and island were lovely and fun to circumnavigate. One of our stops was to the island of Pinel, which I think you can only access by boat. There was a little restaurant and a few shops and it just felt really quaint and relaxing. My favorite moment was sitting by Scott on the dock and dipping our toes in the water, while we did some people watching.IMG_0287 We also watched a woman pull up a big crate of lobsters, fresh caught that day, and let a customer pick his meal!

I wish we could have stayed longer, but I guess that’s the nature of these port stops. You’ve got to keep moving or you’re going to get left behind!

Back at the ship, we enjoyed ourselves completely with more food and rest and reading time. And some more food. Wow, there was a lot of yummy food. I couldn’t get over the fact that if I couldn’t decide what I wanted for dinner, I could order two things! How fun is that? I even asked if I could have a tiny bit of two different desserts one night (since, again, I couldn’t decide) and our awesome waiter brought me this:

IMG_0323That made me laugh! Then he brought me out another plate with some decent portions. I can’t remember what it was, but it was tasty. After all this food, it’s a good thing the ship had a pretty amazing gym (where Scott spent a good portion of each ship day) and a running track that went around the outside of the ship. I had so much fun running around the track, looking out at the sea and listening to the soundtrack of the new musical “Hamilton.” Way cool. I also spent my time while Scott finished his workout for the day on our balcony, with more deliciousness and a good book. The ocean, the sun, some chocolate, some reading, and then a short nap to energize me before the evening festivities. Wow–I’m looking back at how extravagant that was. Taking care of four little kids every day is a wonderful, amazing blessing, but it is hard! I look back at this and think “Did I really get to do that for a whole week?” Alas, real life is not sunshine and chocolate. If it were, then this wouldn’t have been a dream vacation and it wouldn’t have tickled me every time our room attendant left us a towel monkey or grabbed a cup of fresh fruit at the Park Cafe for no charge. Oh, it was fun.  At least now I have these amazing memories and pictures of the time we had. I’ll look back every now and again and remind myself of the beautiful adventure. Some days, that’s just what I need to pick me before getting back to the daily grind. Luckily, I have a pretty blessed life, and four little people who made it happy coming home. Still, I don’t think it will be long before I start planning another sunny escape…IMG_1306

15 years together!

On August 18th Scott and I celebrated our 15 year anniversary (yes, I’m a little behind!). I can’t believe how fast, and how wonderful, the time has been. I can’t believe how much I didn’t know then about life and marriage and parenting and careers and bills and compromise . . . and I can’t believe it has been as rich and rewarding as it has been. I am so grateful for the man I married and all the potential that was in him that I didn’t even know. I didn’t know what a wonderful husband he would be–how he would take care of me, and make me laugh, and listen to me, and bring me flowers, and tell me jokes, and rub my shoulders when they are sore, and take me out on date night every single weekend, and change baby’s diapers, and be my biggest fan, and bring me Ben and Jerry’s for no reason at all. I didn’t know that he would be the kind of Dad who studies scriptures with his kids, and wrestles with them, and takes them out on dates, and coaches their soccer teams, and snuggles them on the couch during movies, and laughs and plays and takes them on adventures. I didn’t know he would be more than just a good student but that he would be great at his career–and love it too. I didn’t know he would be a devoted church member and Priesthood holder and home teacher and spiritual leader in our family.  I hoped all these things. But 15 years later, I can look back and say I didn’t know for sure then, but I know now. What a blessing it is to have chosen the right guy–to have found the best friend to spend all my days with–the first time around. My kids sometimes ask me about my parents and how they got divorced, and why. I just say to them, “Sometimes two people get it right the first try, and sometimes they get it right the second try, and sometimes they don’t even get it right then. Mommy and daddy nailed it the first try.” IMG_0301

To celebrate, Scott planned a backpacking trip to the Tetons. I had never been backpacking, but I’m all about new experiences and I like being out in nature. So I figured, why not? Lucky for me, it was beautiful and sunny the whole time. We hiked up Paintbrush Canyon and came down Cascade Canyon. It was an incredible experience to be in such a beautiful place in our country, away from modern distractions, for three days. We slept in a tiny backpackers tent, and with the top flap open, we woke up to a pink sky the first morning (well, I woke up to it briefly and went back to sleep. Scott stayed up to enjoy.). We discovered it was freezing to sleep like that, so we woke up to the closed tent flap the second morning. Besides the beautiful scenery of trees, lakes, waterfalls, streams, and wildlife, I also loved simply spending time with my husband to talk about our experiences, thoughts, dreams, things we’ve read, things we hope for, or just to be quiet together. It was an experience I will never forget. Thank you Scott for being who you are, for planning this adventure, and for being my best friend for 15 years and counting.  IMG_1625

House on wheels!

Last week our family did something we’ve wanted to do for a long time–we rented a motorhome! I was too scared to drive this 38-foot mammoth other than for one hour on the freeway, but Scott was amazing at maneuvering the thing. The kids absolutely loved having the space to play, and I loved getting to enjoy my favorite parts about camping–being outside in beautiful places–along with the comforts of home. Yay for beds, electricity, toilets, showers, and an easy place to cook! We took the kids around to Zion National Park, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, and Bryce Canyon National Park. We picked up a cool Passport book for each of the kids that they get to fill up with stamps from every National Park or Monument we visit (they are so excited, I think this will be a lifelong quest to fill up the book!).

The motorhome was so fun to hang out in. For a few of the mornings, we got out of bed slowly and hung around the table, just playing Life, Monopoly, Uno, and Go Fish. Sometimes we sat for hours doing it. When in real life does anyone have time to do that? IMG_0102

The national parks were beautiful. In Zion we did the Emerald Pools hike, which I just loved for how many cool crooks and crevices the kids got to explore, including a path that went under a waterfall. IMG_0188

The Grand Canyon is jaw-dropping. I loved seeing the kids see something so, literally, grand. It’s huge! After spending a couple of days hiking around, we packed up the RV (easy!) and headed to our next adventure. A favorite day for everyone was spent just floating in our life jackets at Lake Powell (the downside of this day was getting our RV stuck in the sand at Lone Rock beach–but luckily an angel named Alan had the gear to tow us out and point us in the right direction). IMG_0151The kids loved the water and came up with a challenge for us all to swim out to the buoys and back (Sam came too in his little life jacket!). They all loved playing in the sand, building sand castles, and playing a good old fashioned game of keep away. Sam thought he might enjoy eating the sand–as he does everything–but I think soon realized this delicacy is not for him. Good learning experience.

IMG_0153We wrapped up at Bryce where hoodoos and cool rock walls juiced up our kids’ imaginations. We spent the hike out of the canyon keeping the their minds off the hard stuff. They spent the hot, hard part of the hike creating elaborate stories about any random set of objects we gave them. My little five year old probably went on for 20 minutes creating a story about a pirate, a mermaid, and an octopus, all while hiking uphill in the heat. I don’t think she even noticed. Another favorite moment was lying outside one night on a picnic table by our RV, looking up at the stars together. We pointed out the Milky Way and used an app to find cooIMG_0167l constellations. There is nothing quite like the night sky in southern Utah. All in all, an awesome and memorable trip!

Unplugged

It happens to be Earth Day today, so I thought I’d write a little something about what a beautiful planet we have. That was especially easy to notice on our spring break trip this year, which we spent camping in Malibu, California.

For five nights, our family of five slept together in a tent. I was a little concerned about how everyone would sleep, and whether the sand and dirt would be bothersome. It turned out that the sand and dirt were most entertaining, and we all slept like logs after big days at the beach. And there’s something special about being so close together.

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Leo Carrillo State Beach is the most unique beach I’ve ever seen. Because of how the rock walls curve in and out, several small beaches are accessible for anyone who takes the time to find them. We preferred one that was a ways down from the main beach. For much of the time, we were the only people there. The scenery and animal life was spectacular. I’ve never before seen sea caves and rock tunnels that actually take you from one beach to another. I think I was just as enthralled (or more) than our kids. Once we got through the rock wall, we came to an area of tide pools where literally thousands of sea anemones and mussels were thriving.

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In addition to the tide pool life, we saw whales and dolphins off the coast, and one morning when I was out alone for a walk along the beach, I came across what I thought at first was a dog sitting on the rocks scratching it’s ear. As I got closer to the golden, furry creature, I realized it was a seal! So I sat down about five feet from it, just me and the seal. I watched him for ten minutes or so, thinking he might hop off his rock and head back to the sea. He was content just soaking in the morning rays. There’s nothing quite like hanging out on the beach alone with a seal. I could have reached out and touched it. But I didn’t. Do seals bite?

I wish I could have taken a picture of that seal, but my phone (with its camera) had run out of batteries, and we had no way of charging it.  Though that was disappointing, there’s something to be said for the screen-free life. No music, no podcasts, no calendar, no schedule.  My morning walks offered blissful escape from the commotion of regular life. For about an hour every morning, while everyone else slept, I walked up and down the coast. I looked for shells, discovered starfish and sea slugs, watched the ocean, and had some time with my thoughts. How rarely that seems to happen in life. I’m committed to making it happen more often.

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Perhaps my favorite part of the trip was the fact that we had each other’s undivided attention for five days out in nature. No video games or television shows for the kids. No phone calls or meetings. Just time together. Scott and I much of the time just sat next to each other on the beach and watched our kids laugh together, run from the waves, and dig holes in the sand for hours. We are, after all, each other’s best friends. With so much time together, that was easier to remember than when we are all running around in the “real world” of work, school, sports, and the stuff of life. I guess it takes these moments where we unplug from everything where we can finally focus on what matters most.

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