When we get done at Crater Lake, we'll go on to Lassen Volcanic National Park, then Yosemite, Then Kings Canyon, Sequoia, Zion, Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde. By the time we sleep in our beds again, we will have visited all 12 national parks that existed in the west back when the National Park Service was founded 100 years ago.
Why are we doing this? Well, it all started when some good friends planned a month-long trip that would follow the old Park-to-Park Highway and invited us to come along and celebrate the centennial of the National Parks System with them. My first thought was, "That would be really cool but there's no way my husband could get that much time off work or that I could leave Power of Moms for that long and the kids would have to miss the first couple days of school and camping for a full month would be a lot more camping than I'd really enjoy."
But as Jared and I talked through this idea, it just started to feel right - and doable. We've had so many of these national parks on our bucket list and we only have one more summer after this summer with our oldest before he heads off to college. We've been craving some solid family time as all the kids have been busy with their own separate things - sports, jobs, friends, etc. Being out in nature and hiking with our kids is a major part of our family culture and some of our best memories come from time we've spent together outdoors.
So Jared talked to his work and figured out a plan for how he could take some vacation days and then work in the car on the days we'd be travelling from park to park. I realized I could use this trip to do something I've been wanting to do forever - write a National Parks Guide for Families for Power of Moms - and decided I could keep up on my other Power of Moms work during our car time (good thing Ashton is such a great driver so he can drive while we work!). And I decided that if it's right for our family, I can make anything work - even a solid month of sleeping in a tent and cooking on a camp stove and dealing with all the little discomforts involved in camping!
So here we are on the road to Crater Lake (amazing that this internet hotspot we picked up at Walmart is working in the middle of nowhere!).
This trip has been all that we hoped for so far - and more. We've experienced some amazingly gorgeous places together and created some wonderful memories (see lots of it on Instagram @sarenloosli if you like). Sure, there have been plenty of squabbles and some complaining and some grumpiness from lack of sleep or hunger here and there. Of course, some things haven't gone as planned - like yesterday when I insisted we do this supposedly-amazing hike that was supposed to go to a fabulous viewpoint of Mount Rainier and the kids complained that it was sort of rainy and they didn't want to go on another long hike so I got all huffy and told them they were being so ungrateful and they simmered down and we got going on the hike only to find ourselves hiking through a crazy hail storm on Mount Rainier. Then once we got to the top of this hard hike, we couldn't see a thing from the vista point due to all the clouds! Then when we were almost back to the beginning of the trail, Mount Rainier popped out of the clouds in all it's glacial glory and we were all so excited!
As we leave each park, I've been posting some highlight photos ON INSTAGRAM HERE and typing up detailed information about what we did and what advice I'd give to other families wanting to visit that park. I've taken tons of photos and my son Ashton has taken lots of video footage that he's making into short films showing what we did and offering suggestions for others (he's so good at video editing and makes great use of his Go-Pro).
Why am I telling you all this? Because I'm hoping you'll be excited about this new National Parks Guide for Families that will result from all this and hopefully help your family experience some of the great stuff we're experiencing some day. And because I'd love your help!
Please click on the link below to learn more about this trip and the guide I'm writing and add your comments about YOUR favorite things to do and see at the 12 parks included in our itinerary. You can add comments on this blog post or on the post linked below.
So much of what we've done so far has been thanks to recommendations from commenters on the post linked above and comments from those who follow me on Instagram. And I'm sure there are many things I should be including in the guide for each park that I won't have a chance to experience myself but that I can include in the guide thanks to the information you provide to me.
Wish me luck as we continue this crazy trip! I'll keep you updated on how things go on Instagram @sarenloosli or follow our group's official Instagram feed @parktopark.us
Have a wonderful week (and enjoy your shower and kitchen and bed for me, will you?)