We had beautiful weather Thanksgiving weekend and after eating ourselves silly on Thursday, it was time to spend some time outside. Over the course of the long weekend we visited some of our favorite haunts.
And that’s it, I’m all caught up! Perfect timing for relaxing with the family on Christmas Eve.
Woohoo! Fall Break!
The UC Botanical Gardens:
And Sam and the boys discovered a new favorite spot! Castle Rock:
The boys (and dogs) had a great time climbing the rocks and exploring all the caves. It looks a little scary, I’m kind of glad I couldn’t go with them!
Going to Ardenwood for their Harvest Festival is something we have been doing since I started writing this blog. Each year I wonder if this will be the last year that we go and the boys were definitely on the older side of the crowd this year, but we still had fun.
We have gotten it down to a science really, going straight to our favorite parts and activities and not worrying about the rest. This year we went straight for the corn fields:
Uh…it may have been a little hot and dusty…
But we also took the short little train ride…
And got our pumpkins!
After a busy and exciting summer, we were ready to get back to the routine of school and work. The boys started school without the obligatory back-to-school photo, but here are some of the ways we have been keeping busy…
Keeping busy while your brother is at soccer:
Or not so busy…
Homework and coloring:
Just a week after our Westy trip, after we had cleaned out the van, done a ton of laundry, taken an extra shower or two, we were ready to head off on our next adventure. We went back east to see our families! First to Cape May, New Jersey for a week on the beach, laying in the sand, playing in the waves, going to the water park, and puzzles and games with the cousins! In fact we were so busy relaxing I only really got photos of our kayak trip in the sound.
Then a quick stop in Massachusetts…
…and a week in Maine for more fun paddle boarding on the lake, kayaking in the bay, hiking and picking blueberries, exploring the beach, and spending quality time with family.
The last leg of our trip, heading home…
Day 23: Packed up, said goodbye, drove back into the U.S. and went to Glacier National Park (the American one). The drive up to Logan’s Pass is amazing and we saw a little bear on the side of the road!
Oliver and I went on a magical hike to the Hidden Lake overlook. We saw mountain goats, marmots, and lots of little chipmunks. We had a great time!
Lesson Learned: Having huckleberry pie for lunch and dessert might be too much of a good thing.
Day 24: After a delicious breakfast (thank goodness for restaurants) and a long drive through beautiful Montana we arrived in a rain storm in the Custer Gallatin National Forest. We were heading for Yellowstone, but it was getting late and it was raining, so we stopped at the closest campground. The Beaver Creek Campground was a pleasant surprise and we were awarded with a rainbow.
Lesson Learned: The dogs get worked up when they haven’t had enough running around time, wait, I thought we had already learned that.
Day 25: Yellowstone!
What a beautiful and stunning place, but also touristy and crowded. We were stuck in more traffic jams in one day than the entire rest of our trip. Although we had hoped to see more of the park, we got to see many of the hot spots. Thermal pools, a bison, Mammoth Hot Springs, a bear, a petrified tree, and some friends from school! We camped at the Canyon Campground.
Lesson Learned: You never know when you will run into someone that you know!
Day 26: Old Faithful!
…and a cool walk around to see other geysers and hot springs.
Left Yellowstone but were blown away by the views in the Grand Tetons National Park, each view was better than the next.
Watch out! There’s a moose!
Lesson Learned: Camping next to a moose is exciting but also terrifying.
Day 27: Crazy day. Mouse in our shoe box, moose in the campsite, cracked windshield, and a rainbow exactly as we crossed 4000 miles on our trip. We went to Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, so cool!
Uh, it was really windy…
The brave among us also explored some caves!
Lesson Learned: Driving through Idaho is no joke.
Day 28: We woke up on what ended up being the last day of our Westy Trip! We drove through Nevada, no longer looking so beautiful, then back to California where we blew a tire only about an hour and a half from home. After our longest day on the road yet, we made it back home in our filthy Westy with a cracked windshield, on a spare tire. We were a mess! The blown tire was on the floor in front of the boys, scattered with In n Out fries interspersed with coloring pencils, little toys, and rocks collected along the way. Even knowing that we had a day of unpacking, laundry, and washing out the Westy ahead of us, I don’t think we have ever been so excited about being back at home!
Lesson Learned: What a fun trip. Looking over the photos and remembering all that we did only helps to remind me what amazing opportunities we have had to take our kids on long road trips, visiting so many new places, seeing friends, and camping the whole time. It wasn’t always easy, we weren’t always happy, we certainly weren’t always clean. But I’m so thankful to have had this opportunity to take our two kids and our two dogs, load up the Westy and get on the road. We had fun, we had adventures, we had yummy food, we saw friends, and made memories.
What more can you ask for?