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Everglades, Dry Tortuga & Biscayne National Parks

Our first stop on the National Park check-list was Everglades National Park.  Due to destruction from hurricane Irma more than half the park was closed, we visited the Earnest F. Coe Visitor Center to find an easy walk for the day.  We did an interpretive trail that went along the water where we got close with a great egret and we even saw an alligator!  There were massive grasshoppers all over and Waves found out that drinking water from a puddle is easier and more fulfilling than drinking from a cup of water like the rest of us; silly girl!

 

Our next National Park wasn’t an easy one to get to.  Again, with hurricane Irma destruction the ferry system just started taking visitors back to the Tortuga Islands.   Before we got on the boat the Captain came up to discuss his concerns about our family being on the ferry today.  They predicted 6-8 foot chop and he suggested we come back another day.  We politely declined and reassured him we felt comfortable proceeding with the ride.   It was a rough 2.5 hour cruise out to Fort Jefferson, people were getting sick left and right on the boat and barf bags were handed out like candy.  Our family soldiered the ride even throwing a nap in the mix.  I can’t say this enough but our kids are simply badass.  We had an awesome day exploring the island, playing in the fort and swimming in the beautiful blue (but milky) ocean.  The ride was rougher on the way in but we managed and had a blast.

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Our final visit was to Biscayne National Park outside of Miami.  95% of this park is under water so it leaves a very limited amount of things to do on land.  We saw manatees as we walked in the visitor center.  They have a great area designated for kids to “please touch” items from the ocean.  There are a few areas to walk outside by the ocean otherwise we met with Eric’s best friend from college, Rene; his girlfriend, Kristin and his sister, Michelle and her son Mauro.  Rene and Kristin just got back from Costa Rica while Michelle & Mauro are here staying with their family as they were displaced from hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.  Wave and Mauro are about 2 months apart and they had the best time playing and laughing with each other!

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We’re getting close to crossing off all 59 U.S. National Parks, here’s our official National Park Count: Brooke- 46, Eric- 45, Waves- 40, Reef- 23.

 

A Tip From The Travelin’ Tribe Archive:

We were totally prepared for the ferry ride weather prior to our arrival and discussion with the Captain.  We’re always checking the weather for land and sea depending on our activity.  Download the application for you phone “Buoy Weather” to check seas and wind; you can get a free 2 day forecast or purchase for an annual fee to get the long range forecast.  You can also download “Wind Finder” which gives you good predictions of seas for free.  As for land weather we usually use “Weather Channel” application and rely more on the radars than the daily overview.

 

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

 

 

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 

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

 

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​

Glacier Bay National Park

There’s something about Alaska that ignites our souls which makes us extra grateful to be back in The Last Frontier!  We flew from NC yesterday and landed in Juneau with our heads on the pillow around midnight. The alarm at 0330 came entire too early this morning, but a nice reminder our adventure is about to officially begin.
Back to the airport for a 0530 flight as we hopped a small plane from Juneau to the bush village of Gustavus. From Gustavus we boarded a boat for our all day excursion of Glacier Bay!

Immediately we were greeted by several sea otters and a humpback whale showing off his tail. We saw tufted puffins, sea lions, mountain goats and a massive coastal grizzly bear with her cub fishing. By the end of the day a total of 7 brown bears, 2 bald eagles, sea otters floating on icebergs and a moose swimming across the gorgeous bay.
It’s beautiful watching all of these animals in their natural habitat but hard to imagine life here 250 years ago. There were no trees and no animals, just a huge glacier in a broad valley that was moving down. That huge glacier (Grand Pacific Glacier) was and is still the quickest glacial retreat ever recorded.

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It’s been bittersweet visiting this National Park. The healthiest glacier in the park, Margerie Glacier, lost a tremendous amount of ice just in the past year due to warmer temperatures (you know, that thing called GLOBAL WARMING). This is the glacier that everyone comes to witness, and to think that it will eventually disappear not because of natural causes but because of humans is saddening.

It’s also powerful because we CAN make a difference- each and every one of us can help protect this incredibly gorgeous and resilient Earth.

We will finally make it back to our room for the night around 2030. Traveling all day yesterday and then 17 hours of adventuring today, needless to say we’re exhausted.

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A tip from Travelin’ Tribe Archive:

(1) Get outside with your family daily. Whether you’re on vacation or just on your normal routine. For us, we call it sanity!!

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

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