Camping · family

Backpacking in the Sawtooth National Forest

We did it! We drove 6 hours each way to Ketchum, Idaho, backpacked 18 miles in 44 hours and I still can’t believe Connor, Moonshine and I survived (Jerry is a very seasoned backpacker – having done the same hike last year in 13 hours, so I knew it would be easy for him)! Anyone who has ever done any hike or backpacking trip knows it’s mostly mental and not all physical. We were excited to be there for our first big backpacking trip together and we were determined to make it happen!

We started later in the day at Pettit Lake and the next day headed towards Alice Lake, Twin Lakes, Toxaway Lake and then on our final day hiked 8 miles out. We had packed for and planned to stay another night but the mosquitoes were really bad deep in the forest (and were driving all of us nuts) so we did all we could to enjoy our time there while simultaneously trying to get out!

Backpacking with a 5 year old is difficult to say the least but it’s always worth it. He understands the journey isn’t always easy but the end result is worth the work you put into it; and that’s what why we do what we do. He says repeatedly he loves camping and hiking with us when we’re on the trails and that means everything to us.

As always, we continue to look forward to our next adventures. We’ve spent one night at home as we finish up this post and we’re already planning to hit up another overnight tomorrow; sitting at home is just no fun! When the weather is nice and dada is off work, it’s time to hit the trails and camp!

Moonshine cooling off at Pettit Lake

Momma at Alice Lake

Hiking up to Twin Lakes

Twin Lakes from the top

The boys at Toxaway Lake

Resting for a few before we had to retreat to the tent for supper because the mosquitoes were so bad!

This tree reminded Connor of the Redwoods he climbed inside of in Yosemite earlier this summer!

One of the many streams/rivers we had to help one or both of the boys across! Moonshine was thankful for dada’s help!

Before we set up camp next to Toxaway Lake 😍 does it get any better than this?!

The view we saw when we were finishing the 18 mile loop 😍 we were so close but still too far! The last few miles were tough (especially the final one)!

Thank you for the memories, Sawtooth National forest!

Travel

Our dog friendly family trip to San Diego

We’re getting pretty good at traveling over night so we decided to take off 12 hours south to San Diego for 5 nights (3 in the city and 2 traveling). Moonshine came with us again, so it was essential that we find the dog friendly beaches we could all enjoy.

During our time in San Diego, we spent the most time in Ocean Beach (at dog beach – at lifeguard station 5). We loved the old school hippie vibe in the area. We arrived early in the morning and Connor got to wake up on his 5th birthday on the beach 😊

It was also easy to find outdoor dog friendly restaurants everywhere in Ocean Beach which was awesome since we don’t leave Moonshine behind. We loved everywhere we ate; the list is as follows:

Ocean beach people’s organic market (a wonderful local organic market to grab anything you’re looking for; we grabbed snacks and breakfast items for our Airbnb here).

Raglan Public House (great burgers, fries, speciality drinks and an amazing cookie and ice cream skillet).

Wahoo’s fish tacos (it was rated very well on google reviews and it was decent; we wouldn’t go back the next time we visit though).

Pizza port ocean beach (amazing pizza – the sauce was tangy and sweet) and they had a wonderful cider on tap.

The baked bear (custom ice cream sandwiches to die for)!

Little Lion Cafe (an adorable breakfast spot with a large assortment of breakfast drinks and speciality meals). There were only two outdoor tables offered but we arrived right when they opened and got lucky to get a seat.

We also visited Coronado beach. It was not quite as large or as busy as dog beach. The vibe in Coronado was a little too affluent for our taste but it was a great place to visit nonetheless!

The last beach we briefly visited (only one time) was on fiesta island. While it’s dog friendly everywhere (no restrictions to this) there wasn’t a lot of real sand, no shells for Connor to find and the ground was pretty dirty overall. It was ok to visit but it was our least favorite and we wouldn’t return when we go again.

For our last night in San Diego, we left our Airbnb and went to downtown to stay one night at the Hotel Z (stay pineapple – a hip and very dog friendly establishment). It was in the Gaslamp Quarter which was a great central location that had a lot of great restaurants that were….you guessed it – dog friendly!

Barleymash had a large patio and great salads!

Rustic root was an upscale farm to table restaurant that was really good. Connor enjoyed his crab cake (and Mac and cheese with bacon)!

We’re suckers for ice cream so Cali Cream was a must try! The cookies and cream with cookie dough was amazing!

For our last breakfast in San Diego, we hit up Richard Walker’s pancake house and tried a Bavarian pancake (we had other items, too but who wants to see those over this)?!

And last but not least, on our last day, Jerry and Connor did a tour at the USS Midway Museum. It was a similar sized ship Jerry had been deployed on twice when he was in the Marines and Connor wanted to see it.

While I finish up this blog post, we’ve had one refreshing night of sleep at home again, are back to our normal cooking and eating at home and the boys are planning to camp tonight and give me a much needed break 😊there’s never any true downtime with Connor around unless he’s sleeping or gone with one of us; so until next time, you’ll find us encouraging Connor’s mission to wake, explore, repeat!

Camping · Day hikes

Upper and Lower Calf Creek Falls in Escalante

We have wanted to camp in the Escalante National Monument area for some time and finally made it happen. It’s about 4 1/2 hours from our house and we left a little later than we hoped we would (such is road tripping life with Connor and Moonshine….and momma – I’m a little slow sometimes but I try to hurry)!

When we arrived at the Upper calf creek falls area around 5pm, it was thundering and raining pretty hard so we decided to go find a place to set up our tent and wait it out a bit.

That was a really good choice because it gave us something to do and luckily the rain didn’t hang around for long. We set up our tent and then made s’mores at Connor’s request. I think we’ve finally figured out the secret to success for Jerry getting a fire going; if we eat one s’more without the marshmallow heated (thinking he won’t get it going) and then he does, we have one…or two more! I love that he never gives up; he says no one in this family is allowed to give up (we’re all pretty strong willed)!

After our snack, we headed back to the hike and got going following the cairns and Moonshine; he is such a great leader for us on trails and we are very lucky he is so obedient off leash!

If you had no idea what you were doing on this hike, it may be easy to get lost. The terrain is a mix of rock and sandy trails. The evening hike was a perfect time of day to go – perfect temperatures as one would expect on a hike in the desert in the evening. Moonshine loved the pool at the end (and we loved watching him cool off as always)!

We made it back to the car as the sun was starting to set and then back to our tent right at sunset. There was a full moon that lit up the whole sky and we all slept as well as you do with 2 adults, 1 little kid and 1 dog crammed in a 3 person backpacking tent 😊

At 6am, Connor sat straight up in the tent and was ready to go. If we were home he would have slept a couple more hours but when camping, he’s always up when the sun is up! Jerry packed up the tent while the rest of us warmed up in the car. We made a quick breakfast and drove to Lower Calf Creek Falls .

We were so thankful to start at 8am when there were still some chilly shaded spots. By the time we finished up the 5.5 miles nearing 1pm, it was getting pretty hot out (even though it was only in the 70’s)! There were lots of deer and lizards to see on the trail and plenty of breaks in the trail where Moonshine could access the water to cool down. And of course, the Falls were breathtaking and worth the entire trip.

Once again on this trip, we were reminded about the importance of lowering our expectations as traveling, hiking and camping with a 4 year old and dog is totally different than doing all of that alone as adults. We’re pretty realistic at this point but it always helps to remind ourselves to chill, just go with the flow and most importantly, to be proud of ourselves for even trying at all! We didn’t see a kiddo Connor’s age on either of the hikes we did on this trip!

To us, there is nothing better for him to have these experiences in nature. He always makes time to enjoy all the little things like climbing a tree, looking for treasures and insects, burning his marshmallows extra crisp, sitting in the sand to rest and looking for fish while Moonshine takes a dip. I never loved adventures quite like I do now seeing his excitement for all these little things (which are big things to him) and that is why we continue to make family outdoor adventures our top priority!

Travel

We survived our first family road trip to the Sierra Nevada!

Connor always hated the car seat as an infant and young toddler. Jerry and I would always joke that when we could take a true road trip (longer than our usual 4 hours to the desert to camp) we would have “made it” as far as thriving and not just surviving (insert our humor for our once high needs infant, now strong willed little kid).

We decided we would drive overnight for 12 hours to the Sierra Nevada and stay near the Sequoia National Forest one night, then drive a couple hours and stay just outside of Yosemite National Park. It was too cold to overnight camp comfortably in either place in early May, so we stayed in a hotel one night and then in a lodge outside of the park for three nights. While this was more expensive than our fairly inexpensive camping trips, it was definitely worth it for the experiences we had together that week on our first official road trip as a full family (Moonshine included of course)!

Our favorite spot to see giant redwoods up close and personal was on the Trail of 100 Giants in the Sequoia National Forest. This was our first stop after 12 hours of driving and what Connor got to wake up to; what a lucky kiddo!!! *photos below

We also visited the largest tree in the world, General Sherman which is protected in Sequoia National Park. While it is quite impressive and a must see if you’re in the area, we enjoyed being able to climb in and out of the redwoods on the trail of 100 Giants. *Photo below

After we saw all the redwoods, the next day we headed to Yosemite National Park. *Even if you’re staying right outside the park in a lodge (we stayed at Tenaya Lodge), it will take a good hour plus to drive in to the most popular hikes. So that’s two plus hours of driving just to get in and out of the hike plus the time you’ll be in the park. A few trails were dog friendly so we brought Moonshine when we could; otherwise he had to stay behind at the lodge. This is something to always be mindful of when traveling with a dog anyways but especially to national parks.

In Yosemite, we started with the Bridalveil fall trail while it was a little touristy, it was a short nice walk to experience the mist off the fall. *photos below

The next trail we did was lower Yosemite falls trail

And then we had a picnic with our jetboil cooker and our favorite dehydrated food from Outdoor herbivore the cooker and these meals have been a lifesaver for us because they’re convenient and wholesome for people who need to eat a lot and often (insert momma who is a foodie and Connor who is 4) πŸ˜‚

The next day we began with our favorite hike in Yosemite, Vernal falls via the mist trail the bridalviel fall trail mist was like a weak spray bottle compared to the mist we got at vernal! And the terrain could be difficult for many but Connor absolutely rocked it! The “steps” were steep rocks and they were soaking wet from the mist. The waterfall was absolutely gorgeous and relaxing at the top was icing on the cake. This was our favorite day in Yosemite. *we originally hoped to do the second waterfall but doing 3-4 miles total to the first and back was plenty with a 4 year old. The next time we visit when Connor is a little older, we hope to do the full 7 miles.

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On our last day going into Yosemite, we did half of the Upper Yosemite falls . This was the ultimate stairmaster and was very hot and dry. Jerry carried Connor and we powered through!

The drive home was long and difficult (we left at 10am and got home at 4am – in hindsight, maybe we should have hung around most of the day and driven back overnight while he slept but we were exhausted and wanted to get going….plus we got to sleep 6 hours this way once we got in)! πŸ™Œ

The best thing about taking this trip is other than our lodging being booked and having a rough itinerary of what we wanted to do in the forest and park, we totally played everything else by ear. If we saw food we wanted to eat, we stopped and ate. If we needed to make a pit stop, we found a place and stopped. We really lived in the moment together that week and that was worth its weight in gold! We know we can road trip with Connor and Moonshine now and we are planning more fun upcoming trips!

Travel

An epic xphiles fangirl trip to Vancouver, B.C.Β 

Cate’s Park

I have been a long time fan of the famous long running show, The X-Files, since I was a little girl. I didn’t understand much at 7 when it came out (but I still enjoyed it and watched it religiously with my family and best friend’s family) and then I rewatched the earlier shows again when I was an early teen on VHS (anyone remember those days)?! The X-Files has been a lifelong constant love (and sometimes a much needed outlet). 

Could I be any happier sitting on that same log as Mulder and Scully?!

I have been fortunate to meet many other long time fans through social media and in the last 2 years have made many trips to various comic con events and concerts (David Duchovny aka Mulder – whom in the last few years has added singer/songwriter to his long list of creative accomplishments).

My Airbnb friends and I wearing the same shirt David wore at his concert in Vancouver – we were pretty proud of this souvenir shop find!

I’ve seen David Duchovny in concert 3 times and I’ve seen him at 1 comic con and 1 wizard world convention. I didn’t start fangirl traveling until way late (since I’ve been a fan since a child) but honestly that makes me appreciate the experiences that much more!

When David Duchovny announced he would perform an acoustic show in Vancouver, B.C. and a group of us decided to plan a trip to sightsee some famous filming locations while we were in the area.  There were about 15 of us who traveled from all over the world to sightsee together. I stayed in an Airbnb with 6 other women in a little neighborhood called Kitsalano. I loved that the area was walkable, had a Whole Foods close by and the beach was beautiful (even on a typical dreary Vancouver day). 

X marks the spot! Back to where it all began 24 years ago! Episode reenactments from the pilot. 


          Scully and Mulder’s Apartments 

The house Mulder and Scully shared for some time ❀️😒

What I look like when I am so excited to see Mulder and Scully’s house up close – while running and breaking the law πŸ™ˆ I’ll say no more!

Grouse Mountain aka “skyland mountain” from the series ie: Scully’s abduction episodes, “Duane Barry” and “Ascension.” 


Reenactment from the Season 10 premiere “My Struggle” 


                         Riverview Hospital 

Capilano Suspension Bridge (not show related but a great local tourist spot)




My favorite spot on the entire trip, hands down, was Buntzen Lake aka “Lake Okobogee” from the episode “Quagmire.” 





“Amazing laughter” at Stanley Park in English Bay



And because I’m such a foodie, here are a few recommendations of my favorite places to eat in Vancouver πŸ‘Œ


I returned from my trip so excited about taking Jerry and Connor back to Vancouver this coming fall for a long weekend. I want Connor to experience Grouse Mountain, Buntzen Lake and the Capilano Suspension Bridge. I know without a doubt those are three places he would love to explore. The weather was perfect in early October; not too cold and definitely not too hot. Luckily, Vancouver is only a 2 hour direct flight from Salt Lake City! We have been looking at our budget and really trying to make changes in our grocery bill (which is the bulk of where our money goes besides regular bills). We have already made positive changes in the last week and we are excited to save for our family trip to Vancouver this time next year! 

So there is my short summary with photos of my amazing fangirl trip in the beautiful city of Vancouver, B.C. I will continue searching for the truth no matter where I go…. 

I want to believe….the truth is out there πŸ‘½