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Shenandoah National Park

We were delayed by a day making it to Shenandoah due to our unruly little travelers.   We stopped driving for the day in Pennsylvania and found a playground for them to play at, and then we found some delicious Mexican food & some much needed margaritas.   After a nice evening sleep in a hotel we hit the road to Shenandoah!

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It was a gorgeous day in the mountains- we hiked to the highest peak in the National Park on the Lower Hawksbill Trail.  Both the kids were awake the entire hike just taking in all the beauty and nature surrounding us.  We had one more hike we planned on doing but decided to go relax at our campsite.  We camped in Lewis Mountain Campground which is around mile marker 55 on Skyline Road.

Got the hammock and tent set up while enjoying a local apple beer.  We were hopeful that no one would set up camp right next to us, especially with two babes I would imagine the average person would want to stay as far away from our family as possible!  And then there was a huge CruiseAmerica RV that ended up pulling in right next to us; I saw this family earlier running around the park so I was stoked that they had kids so everyone could play!  They kindly came over to ask if we mind if they ran their generator- and that’s where it all began.

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They are Danish nomads that live in Spain but travel the world for work; they just were in Iceland and they’ve been in the US for over a month.  It’s not everyday we meet a family that has a similar lifestyle to us.  We sat around the fire storytelling about our lives, adventures and children.  Oh and lots of wine, wine wine! We look forward to our paths crossing again at some point in life, they were simply a badass family.

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Needless to say we slept amazing last night and now we’re currently in route to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  Eric has to work tomorrow and I’ve got to start unpacking from this trip and packing up again, the kids and I are going to on a roadtrip to Western North Carolina this weekend!

A Tip From The Travelin’ Tribe Archive:

Looking for the best backpack carrier for kids?  After a lot of research and trying several brands on we easily made the decision to purchase the Osprey Poco AG Plus.  It’s SO comfortable, plenty of room for storage and overall lightweight and compact.  We’re about to purchase another one for Reefie!

Until Next Time,
Stay Wanderous & Wild
-The Mitchell Tribe 

Catskill Forest Preserve

We overnighted in Salem, New Hampshire and then started our drive down to New York.  I’ve been to all the NorthEast states except Vermont so we made a detour to check out Green Mountain National Forest.  Wow, Vermont’s fall foliage is already gorgeous; I love Autumn (even though it’s not technically here, but boy do I see it)!

We finished up our drive and finally made it to Catskill Forest Preserve.  The leaves are just beginning to change colors, the peak will be in a few weeks.  We set up our campsite at the North-South Lake Campground and then hurried to the lake to chill for the evening and sunset.

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The kids actually slept good last night and the temperatures cooled off quite a bit during the early morning; it was delightful.  We had some breakfast and then went for a hike to the Kaaterskill Falls!  We had it all to ourselves, Eric even took a “shower.”

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Now we’re on the road currently in route to Shenandoah National Park for some camping tonight and hiking tomorrow.  Fingers crossed it will be an easy traveling day with the little ones.

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A Tip From The Travelin’ Tribe Archive: 

If you plan on doing a good amount of traveling I would highly recommend purchasing a GPS.  We love Garmin; you can even buy a baby cam and set it up in the back and watch the kiddos from the GPS.  A GPS eliminates any issues of not knowing where to go in the event you lose cellphone service (which no one ever has service in National Forests/Parks) and it’s also been very beneficial on our International travels.  Renting a GPS can be costly, so if you want to buy one make sure it’s a GPS that can be used worldwide.  Whenever we go out of the country we simply buy the country’s map through Garmin and bam just saved $14 a day on renting one!

Until Next Time,
Stay Wanderous & Wild
-The Mitchell Tribe 

 

 

Acadia National Park

We drove all the way from Narragansett, Rhode Island to Seawall, Maine which made for a long day in the truck with the babies.  Majority of the time they seem to do well with the traveling but everyone was a mess today.  Waves has figured out if she tells us she has poop in her diaper that we will pull over, smart girl.  It’s never easy traveling with little ones but the reminder of the “jackpot” at the end of the rainbow keeps us going.

We made it to Acadia National Park and grabbed one of the last tent sites available at the Seawall Campground.  Eric cooked up some of the fluke for dinner he spearfished the day before while the kids and I went for a walk in the forest to look for bugs under rocks and logs.  It was a beautiful, foggy, mysterious kind of evening.  I was stoked to go to sleep knowing this was the first time camping with our babies were no concerns of brown bear, black bear or mountain lions in the area.   Unfortunately around midnight we awoke to Waves screaming.  She was burning up so I immediately took her clothes off and attempted to take her temp orally for the first time and although it wasn’t completely accurate, the reading of 104 put me in panic mode.  I took her outside of the tent to let her cool off and gave her a round of Ibuprofen and then Tylenol.  After about an hour she started to feel a little cooler and by 3 hours she was sweating so that was a good sign the fever broke.  She finally went back to sleep around 0300; our alarm was set for 0400.

I didn’t fall asleep for that last hour because my mind was all over the place.  Alarm went off, we loaded the kids in the car and drove the 40 minute drive up to Cadillac Mountain. The entire drive up the mountain was totally foggy, you could barely see ahead.  We saw several deer frolicking around and even had a deer get caught in our headlights.  Once we made it to the parking area for Cadillac Mountain the fog suddenly cleared, whoohoo!  There were only 5 other cars up there- early bird catches the worm, or in the case the sunrise!  We had 75 minutes to kill before the sun rose so we grabbed our JetBoil and Eric made some coffee and warmed up some milk for Waves.

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We scrambled around the rocks trying to get as close to the spot where Eric proposed to me on 6/15/15.  We sat and watched as the colors of the sky were changing as it was getting closer to the sunrise.  It was so foggy below the mountain that we couldn’t see the ocean, it seemed as though we were floating in the clouds.  As the sun began to rise my mind was flooded with memories from our last visit.  It’s amazing how far we’ve come as a family in just a few short years.  My heart couldn’t be happier sharing this amazing view with our family.

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A quick background about our family- after Eric proposed at Acadia NP we eloped 2 weeks later to Niagara Falls State Park and got married (and soaking wet) on the Maid of the Mist Boat!  We had The Reverend wear our GoPro which went for a viral video online and a debut on syndicated TV show, Inside Edition and Right This Minute did 2 segments on us!  Click here to watch Inside Edition segment.

 

After the sunrise we headed back to camp and cooked up some eggs and packed up and decided to go for a short hike on Ship Harbor Trail.  Immediately at the trailhead I spotted a crabapple tree where Waves picked her first apple.  She munched on it for half of the hike!  There were a lot of firsts for Waverly today besides the apple.  She almost completed the 1.3 mile hike of the rugged trail by herself and picking up any trash she found along with way.  She also had her first tick bite, it was a nymph; I don’t even know how Eric found it on her- it looked like a spec of dirt.  Acadia National Park is one of the few NP’s that carries lyme & deer tick disease.  I just learned that the nymph tick is the one that transfers the disease; one more thing to worry about, I really hope she will be OK.

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We hopped in the truck and had a 6 hour drive to Salem, New Hampshire where we stayed the night in a hotel and it was oh so nice!  We’re currently in route to Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont and then we will slowly start making our way south to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

 

A Tip From the Travelin’ Tribe Archive:

I ALWAYS carry baby Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Benadryl, a thermometer and vaseline with me.    When I say always, I mean it (even for a quick beach run).  So make sure when you are traveling with littles one that you are always ready for anything, especially when hiking or camping.  I also have images on my phone for all the dosages for each mediation for each child in the event the bottle paper gets destructed and I can no longer read the appropriate dosing.  I can’t emphasize this enough on how important it is when traveling with children to be prepared for ANYTHING.

Until Next Time,
Stay Wanderous & Wild
-The Mitchell Tribe

 

Camp, Surf, Spearfish

Eric had his business meeting in Ocean City, MD (we will be in OC on and off for the next couple months for work) and then we hit the road to head north.  We made it to this awesome campground right outside of NYC in Harriman State Park at Beaver Pond Campground.  *DISCLOSURE- apparently this campground can be dirty and loud.  It has 130 sites that’s usually totally booked throughout the summer and then weekends until the cooler weather comes.  There were terrible reviews online but we decided to try it out anyway.  Luckily,  there were only 12 sites taken during our stay which made it for a quiet, peaceful evening.  So if you plan on camping here, don’t do it during the summer and if it’s after Labor Day shoot for a weekday to avoid the crowds.

Waves had the best time at this campground, she ran naked all evening and again the next morning- even chasing some deer while saying “deer deer bye bye.”  Her fascination and love for animals is something else.

We made it to Narragansett, Rhode Island and set up shop on the beach.  The beaches are beautiful, clean and whoowee this town has some $$$; HUGE mansions on the ocean.  I got in a little surf, Waves got in a little session too (and her first wipeout) and then Eric left me with the kiddos for the afternoon to spearfish with a friend.  This is where my living hell began- I love my kids but damn they drive me absolutely crazy… Reef wanted to be held the whole time and Waves was as always running around everywhere.  After a couple hours of chasing her and having Reef in the baby carrier everyone collectively decided to have meltdowns.  I’m trying to get all the shit packed up (mind you when I take the kids by myself I generally bring a water and the baby carrier and thats IT), all the toys, the tent and Reef’s Baby Bjorn Bouncer.  I finally got it all packed up even though the screaming from Waves never stopped.  She refused to walk to the car so here I am trying to juggle both kids, 2 bags and a tent.  My lips started trembling and I knew the tears were coming… and then out of nowhere this gentleman Waves said hi to earlier came and grabbed everything and helped me to the vehicle.  I literally cried as I thanked him for his kindness.

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We had zero intentions of staying in Ganset for the evening but with no idea when Eric would be back from spearfishing I decided to find a hotel quickly and get the kids down for a nap.  20 minutes later we’re at the hotel (Atlantic House) and I’m showering all of us to get the sand off- and yes, everyone is still screaming.  The kids had their milk and I laid them in bed in hopes of some downtime; HA, wishful thinking.  No one napped, Reef wouldn’t stop whining and Waves needed every ounce of my attention.  I’ve been battling Post Partum Depression (when I get a little more courage I will blog about that) and some days are better than others.  I’ve finally set up an appointment with a professional when I get visit WNC to discuss what I’ve been going through the last few months.

I gave up on Eric ever coming back so I got a pizza delivered for dinner.  Eric showed up shortly after and showed off his successful day of spearfishing! He speared 2 Tautog and in the last few minutes of his dive he saw a fluke (what us southerners call flounder) and speared the bottom dweller!  He was stoked as our family sat around and watched him fillet his bounty.  My sea boss never disappoints, each of those fish were about 5lbs!  As for Waves, she loved the dead fish so much that she shared her bunny blanket with one of the Tautogs; by sharing I mean she rubbed her blankie on the TauTog’s face.

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We rested up last night and now we’re on the road heading up to Maine to Acadia National Park.  Who knows where we will end up tonight?!

 

A Tip from the Travelin’ Tribe Archive:

When camping or with our travels and never knowing when I will be around a charge for my phone, I now can’t travel without bringing our Compact Portable Charger.  Awesome price, small and a beast when it comes to charging!  I generally can fully recharge my phone 3 times off the portable charger before it needs to be charged again.

Until Next Time,
Stay Wanderous & Wild
-The Mitchell Tribe

Wrangell & Yukon Camping

We were so indecisive as to what we wanted to do.  Initially we planned on an awesome glacier hike in Wrangell St. Elias National Park.  Things kept changing and we were getting more behind our schedule to make it to the airport on time in a few days.

Since we came to Alaska to visit all the National Parks we had to stop at Wrangell St-Elias, the last of the 8 National Parks in Alaska for our family to visit.  We went to a backcountry primitive campground within the park and Chef Eric cooked up some more halibut for round two of fish tacos for a late lunch/early dinner.  We got the vehicle organized and then back on the road we go.  As we were on our way out of the park and Eric spotted a moose, I ended up spotting the calf.   We also saw an illusive lynx on a hunt for a large hare- it was out of this world!  Another wildlife encounter so close from the comfort of our vehicle was unbelievable.  How are we getting so lucky to see all of this wildlife?? Or maybe that’s just how much wildlife is wild in The Last Frontier.

One of the different but nice things about traveling in such a remote area is the likelihood of us finding a hotel out here is slim to none.. which means camping!  There are campgrounds about every 45 mins that are super convenient and beautiful for anyone traveling the Alaska Highway.

After a full day of driving we ended up making it to the Congdon Creek Campground in The Yukon at 2200.  The kids were full of energy and ready to play while Eric and I were on the opposite side of the spectrum.  Play away babes, play away.

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This is such a highly trafficked brown bear area that if you’re tent camping you’re required to sleep in the designated, enclosed electric fence.  We’ve been in grizzly country throughout the trip with no issues so we played it safe and slept in our very roomy Suburban SUV.  Plus, who wants to mess with setting up a tent in the dark anyway; not me!  It’s one of those things you just go with your guy instinct; mine was telling us not to camp here, even though we know the chances of something happening is relatively small- it wasn’t worth the risk for us.  At the end of the day, animals are wild and unpredictable.

We’ve ran into only a couple difficulties while camping in brown bear country with babies. Trying to keep them quiet is the first- Reef is the happiest and loudest baby; Waves copies Reef’s noises like she’s communicating back with him. It can get REALLY loud, especially before bedtime and when we wake up.  I sometimes wonder if them being loud is a deterrent; you’d think so, right?! The other difficulty is trying to keep everyone clean. Waves always had food all over herself (she’s ate fish for nearly every meal and hello she’s a toddler) and Reef loves to spit up; basically they both continuously smelled of food. We’ve managed and are stoked it all worked out!  My biggest tip- make sure to always follow the guidelines for camping in bear country and be prepared; just had to put that it there.

We all slept good,  breakfast is made, car organized and Waves had a blast on the campground playground this morning.  We drove the 4 hour trip to Haines, AK and had a nice afternoon here.  We went to the local playground where Waves made a new friend.  It was so sweet- the girl invited Waves to her birthday party next week!! Too bad we won’t be here.  Along the drive we saw more beautiful brown bears, this time a mama bear and her two cubs.

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The ferry was awesome yet again- this time we got on the high speed one this time, whoohoo!  Waves met some girls from Seattle and this mama has befriended another old, hippie grandma that proposed a sweet deal for our family.  They live on a small island in a beautiful 3 story house with a sauna (whattt?!?).  I told her we are considering making a move to Alaska and she kindly offered a plan.  Her and her husband have lived in Alaska for quite some time living off the land.  They have several health issues and offered for us to stay at their house for free and take care of it while they travel and visit family.. now I just need to convince Eric that this is what we need to do!!

We arrived in Juneau around 2130; just in time to rest up and get ready for our last epic adventure in Alaska!

 

A tip from the Travelin’ Tribe Archive:

(1) If you don’t have a global cellphone plan make sure to put your phone on airplane mode when you’re in a different country.  If you don’t put your phone in airplane mode you will get charged out of the wazoo for roaming in another country.  You can still access wifi if your phone is on airplane mode!

Until Next Time,
Stay Wanderous & Wild
-The Mitchell Tribe​

Change of Plans

Surprise!  What we planned yesterday morning for the day changed- that’s the story of our travelin’ life.  We were suppose to camp in Wrangell St Elias but a detour to Anchorage for some essentials and finally filleting the halibut from the night before delayed us quite a bit.

We finally left Anchorage and ended up camping for the night along the way at some random tent site in King Mountain State Recreation Area.

Eric cooked up the halibut on the fire while I took care of the kids and got the tent set up.  Believe it or not when dinner was ready both kids were asleep- yes, Eric and I actually had a nice dinner, just the two of us!! We had awesome halibut tacos and sipping some Pinot from the bottle (classy).

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Waves woke up and I was feeding her dinner and got startled by something big, brown and muscular walking behind the brush near our site.  I calmly told Eric to grab Reef immediately and go to the car because I saw a brown bear.  I will say it was dusk at the time and I didn’t have my glasses on, haha.  Once the kids and I were in the car Eric went to check the scene out.  It wasn’t a grizzly but a female moose heading down to the stream for a drink.  Whoowee, that was a little frightening but overall a cool sighting.  The moose was within 30 feet of us, pretty wild.

Once I told Waves I saw a moose and pointed to the location she couldn’t stop saying moose and wanting to go back over there! Silly girl.

We slept so cuddly and sound last night.  It got pretty cool in the early morning but everyone stayed warm with no issues. We prefer to camp in cooler temperatures, it’s certainly more comfortable!

We’re on the road to Wrangell right now (4 hour drive) and should be pulling up around 1430.  It’s been a gorgeous drive.  We plan on a quick hike and then camping somewhere tonight!  Stay turned for our next crazy adventure!

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A tip from the Travelin’ Tribe Archive:

(1) If you plan on renting a car and bouncing around daily during your adventure, treat your car like your house.  Utilize any and all space, keep it tidy and know where everything is at all times.  We’ve been living out of our vehicle since we’ve been in Alaska and it’s worth the extra effort and less stressful if you keep the car organized!

 

Until Next Time,
Stay Wanderous & Wild
-The Mitchell Tribe

Basic Family Camping Gear- What To Buy

img_0839-8Now listen, I’ve done all this research extensively.  I was on a mission to find the perfect, lightweight family gear.  Days and hours of research led me to these essentials.  I’m not going to get into every detail or specs of the items because I’ve convienently provided a link to all the info you need.  Let me know if you have any questions.  I’m working on cooking and hiking gear essential list, keep an eye out!

  • Sleeping Bag– The North Face Homestead Twin 40 is perfect for our family! It comfortably fits 1 kid and 1 parent in each sleeping bag.  It comes with a compression sack and overall is fairly light in weight when you consider it’s for 2 people.  The best part about the sleeping bag is that we can zip our 2 bags together and have one large sleeping bag to fit all 4 of us! My husband likes to call it the “burrito!”
  • Sleeping PadThermarest Trail Scout Sleeping Pad is something my husband teases me for having but who doesn’t want to be comfy when you’re camping? Perfect, compact, comfortable pad that is worth the little space it takes up in your pack! My husband and I both have the size Large, and the children have the size Small! We love these pads.  Always make sure to buy a repair kit and have it handy just in case.
  • Tent– The North Face Talus 4 gives plenty of room along with a peace of mind knowing your tent is quality made.  We’ve camped in deserts, beaches and rainy cold weather and couldn’t be more pleased with the tent.  It’s lightweight and easy to set up, and it has only one large pole.  Spacious yet a compact 4 person tent.  Convienent storage and pocket spaces too, I can go on all day about his tent!
  • Backpack– Osprey Xenith 105 Pack is where it’s at! You can’t go wrong with an Osprey Pack.  Even though designed for long distance backcountry hiking, it’s also a great bag for Papa Bear to hike in short distances to our camp spots.  I generally carry the children and he carries the gear, teamwork baby! The bag is super spacious, durable, and down right huge.  Don’t forget to purchase a rain cover separately!

*All of the gear we buy we see many years of use out of, not just while the kids are young.

Camping & Hailbut Fishing 

Wow, it’s been crazy busy since our last entry! We ended up camping for the night on the Homer Spit in a consistent amount of rain.  Luckily we had the right gear so no issues there.

It was a beautiful evening with the waves crashing on the shore and the rain hitting in tent.  The cooler weather and our awesome sleeping bag that we turn into one big “burrito” was perfect for the family.  The rain continued throughout the morning and stopped right before we hopped the 1300 departure from the boat dock.

It was rough waters and a strong, unforgiving tide.  I initially went to fish with both kids strapped to me (Waves on the back and Reef on the front) but that didn’t work.  We were fishing in depths of nearly 200 feet with 2 pound weights and a ripping current, it was difficult!  Poor Reef ended up getting whacked with the reel on his head when I was reeling in, I felt terrible.  Still on a mission to fish I decided to strap Reef to Eric’s back so we both have one and we can continue to do our thing- but he clearly wasn’t ready for that so inside I went.

The water was rough- people were getting sick on the boat and not fishing because it was too difficult.  I watched the kids while my husband fished because I so desperately wanted him to land a halibut! Inside the galley the kids slept during the back and forth rocking of the boat and sliding on the benches in their slippery rain gear.  It wasn’t an easy day on the water managing 2 by myself on a rough day.  I kept focusing on the big picture- Eric catching a fish!

The tide got just right and the Captain put us on the right spot and bam just like that the few badass fishermen who never wussed out started reeling them in!  Of course one of those men being my husband.  Just like that he limited out on his 2 halibut and now it’s mama’s turn to fish!  I get the bait and weight to the bottom of the floor and immediately feel a bite and do a little tug, Whoohoo I got one! 200 feet later I got him to the boat and dang my arms were on fire, what a workout.  The Captain told us to reel ’em in for the night since we were already almost an hour late back to the dock.  We went out with Rainbow Tours in Homer, check them out they were awesome!

We started our 4 hour drive last night up to the outskirts of Anchorage at 2000.  With one stop we ended up to our little motel in Indian right around 0030.  Holy moly we are spent.  The entire family slept in until 0830 which was such a treat.  As always we took our time getting ready for the next stretch of the trip.  Now we are in Anchorage getting the fish on dry ice and some last minute supplies for camping the next 2 nights.

Soon we will be on our way to Wrangell St Elias National Park for camping tonight and hiking.  Also a very Happy 4 Months old to our sweet baby, Reef!  Thanks for being so adventurous :).  Keep an eye out for a post and pictures tomorrow about our adventures from today!
A Tip from the Travelin’ Tribe Archive:

(1) Our Yeti Tundra 50 cooler is something we literally always travel with.  We call it our fridge during our road trips.  It allows us to have fresh produce, foods and cheeses which in return helps us save money.  Even more convenient when you need to use it to fly back halibut filets to the East Coast!

 

Until Next Time,
Stay Wanderous & Wild
-The Mitchell Tribe

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Homer-Bound 

Our kids ended up making the entire trek from Haines Junction, Canada to Anchorage, AK! Super impressive, they are such great travelers.

We took our time this morning and started making our way to Homer (4.5 hour drive) on the Kenai Peninsula. We set up our tent on the beach for the night and just had an incredible dinner at Captain Pattie’s Fish House- we had local prawns, scallops, halibut and salmon.. oh my gosh we’re so full and satisfied!!

We’re taking a charter to go halibut fishing tomorrow with the babes, so early to bed in hopes of some major success and limiting out (fingers crossed.) It’s currently raining, windy and we have the sound of the waves crashing on the shore- I think we will all sleep so tight tonight!

 

A tip from the Travelin Tribe Archive:

(1) Camp with your kids as much as you can when traveling.  Trying to control a toddler in a hotel room is a pain in the ass, which is about as nicely as I can put it! Camping allows the kids to get lots of fresh air, running around, playing with new toys from nature and sleeping peacefully outside.  Plus it saves money!!

Until Next Time,
Stay Wanderous & Wild
– The Mitchell Tribe