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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 

 

 

Solo Road Trippin’ With 2 Babies

We hit the road at 0430 from the Outer Banks of NC for the last time in the unforeseen future.  My husband’s project is wrapping up so I decided to take my first road trip with a 4 month old and 17 month old by myself.  From the OBX to Hendersonville, NC (where my parents live) I was looking at a 7 hour drive not including stops.

Our first stop was about 3 hours in and I found a nice grassy area for the kids to play and eat and I had to haul the whole crew in for me to use the bathroom (damn you tea at the crack of dawn).  Waves decided to open the sanitation trash can in the bathroom, I nearly gagged.

Besides leaving early in the morning I find it super helpful to listen to children’s music and sing loudly in the car when the kids are awake; my daughter is watching my every move and dancing along while my son is listening and cooing along to my less than beautiful singing voice.  Let me be honest- nursery rhymes are annoying at times.  I’ve found a station on Pandora that not only the kids like but my husband and I also semi tolerate/enjoy as well.  There’s a lot of Reggae, Caribbean,  Latino/Hispanic inspired music and endless songs about being outside, enjoying nature and being respectful to all humans and the environment.  How can you not be happy after listening to this station?? Check it out, it’s called “The Kinkajous (Children’s) Radio.”

When I’m traveling with my husband when the children become fussy it’s easy for the passenger to do a quick google search to see where a nearby playground or park is.  But when traveling solo and everyone is in meltdown the last thing I want do to is pull off the road in hopes we find a park.  Although by no means am I a huge proponent of the Fast Food Industry, I do find it very easy and convenient to find an indoor playground.  We found an awesome McDonalds right off the highway that was new and overall pretty clean.  I purchased a small fry even though no one would have noticed if we didn’t purchase anything.  My 17 month old, Waves ran around for 45 minutes with her new friends while I fed and entertained my 4 month old, Reef.  Another great place I’ve learned that continuously has designated play areas are Food Courts at the mall.  When we fly we always find the play areas in the airports.  All these resources give the parents a much needed break, your children run out all that pent up energy and they get to new experiences with different children.  I hope these few tips can help traveling with children more manageable.  The biggest tip I can give is to NOT BE IN A RUSH.  Be patient; traveling with kids is challenging and as long as you remain calm, cool and collective it will carry on to the children and everyone will have a much more pleasant experience.

After 9 hours on the road and an unfortunate accident that we sat in traffic (only being 18 miles from my parents house), we finally pulled in at 1330!  Waves ran around outside for the afternoon while Reef observed her every move.  Man it feels good to be back in these mountains.  We rested up for the evening for our first adventure beginning tomorrow.

The local news emphasized if you’re interested in seeing some Fall foilage that Graveyard Field’s off the Blue Ridge Parkway had the best color.  So up to the Blue Ridge Parkway we go, Graveyard Field’s is around MileMarker 418.  There are several short hikes that all conjoin; and the waterfall is gorgeous.  We hiked around the fields enjoying the beautiful colors as Waves pointed out “yellyow” & “geen” leaves.  My sweet baby boy Reef turned 5 months old today!  As we hiked and snapped his monthly picture it was ironically taken at the exact moment he was born 5 months ago.  It’s amazing how quick time goes- I swear he can say “hi”, he can sit up at times by himself for nearly 30 seconds and if you lay him on the bed he will crawl to the other side!  We’re always so proud of you little Reefie!

On Tuesday my cousin, Lexy came in from Hickory for a visit.  We went to DuPont State Forest and did a short hike to the middle section of Triple Falls.  We sat by the waterfall talking away, doing yoga and enjoying the warm sun and the cool mist from the waterfall.  It was truly the perfect afternoon, especially since we left all 5 of our children behind for the day!  Waves & Reef went and got pumpkins with MomMom & PopPop and enjoyed the afternoon playing outside with Mama and my friend Christine and her sweet girl, Finley.

Wednesday I finally had my appointment with my OB/GYN to discuss the Post Partum Depression I’ve been battling.  It’s reassuring to hear that I’m doing all that I can and I happily declined the Zoloft that was offered to me.  I explained to her how I’ve been self treating/medicating and she agreed to say what I was doing was working.  It was such a relief to finally talk about all my struggles, and not just with a professional but a Doctor that I grew up talking to as a teenager.  When Autumn rolled around last week I decided from that day forward I will “DO ME” at least once a day.  Whether that involves yoga, taking a bath, putting lotion on or simply taking a nap; it’s time for me to start making myself a priority, even if it’s only 30 minutes a day.   Now back to our adventures..

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I picked up my nephew, Hunter (12 years old) and niece, Hayley (6 years old) and I bravely took all 4 kids to Pisgah Forest for the afternoon.  We went to the drive to waterfall, Looking Glass Falls and every time I see this waterfall I’m just amazed; it’s gorgeous.  From there I took them down to the Davidson River Campground and walked the trail down to a river, where Hayley found the perfect spot for us to splash in the water and have one heck of a rock skipping game!  The kids repeatedly said over and over how much fun they were having; it warmed my heart.  We grabbed ice cream at Dolly’s which is at the foot of Pisgah Forest and has been there since I was a child.  That was one of my favorite afternoon’s in a long time, everyone just got a long and had the best time outside.

On Thursday we had the 2nd encounter of the week with the black bear coming to visit at my parent’s house.  I’m a little on edge at times knowing that Waves is running all over the place, but I’m also aware that someone is always watching her so it’s okay.  He got into our neighbors trash and frankly is becoming a nuisance.  These are the black bears that you need to be careful around, otherwise for all my years and encounters with black bears during my trail runs and mountain biking have virtually eliminated any fear of them.

When I come home to visit my family, even though I was born and raised in WNC I always find myself doing the same few hikes every time I visit.  So when I was pregnant with Waves I decided that each visit I’m going to explore something brand new- so a quick google search led me to Catawba Falls in Pisgah Forest’ it’s off 40, exit 73 in Old Fort.  It was easily accessible and the trail was a moderate climb up to the 100 foot waterfall.  There was an awesome swimming hole at the bottom that the kids played in while my Mom and I marveled the beauty of this new waterfall.

For the evening time I met up with my oldest friend on this planet, Blair and we had a beautiful picnic at my favorite spot close to my parent’s house.  Jump Off Rock in Laurel Park gives you nearly 360 views of mountains and is my favorite place in town to watch the sunset.  Waves ran around like crazy for the evening while we (as in Blair) patiently chased her and as we caught up on life.  Reefie just chilled in his bouncy chair enjoying the great outdoors.

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On Friday after trying to get things packed for our departure tomorrow my Mom and I took the kiddos to my old stompin’ grounds- Sky Top Orchard.  Growing up one of my closest friend’s parents owned the orchard and I eventually took my first job there in the 8th grade.  I’m happy to see how successful their business is, but the vibe that I was looking for- a local, small farm has apparently dissipated over the years.  Next time I will try and find a smaller farm that’s not so touristy for our new tradition for apple picking.  Waves was elated to pick apples, every tree she saw she pointed and said apple! But when it came to her time to pick she would go to grab it off the tree and then just loudly yell “NOOOOOOOOO” and proceed to pick up the rotten apples from the ground.  I joke that her attitude at times matched those rotten apples just perfectly, haha.  As long as she wasn’t picking from the tree she ran around like a wild child the entire time.  She even went to their petting farm area and fed a sheep from her hand!  As usual, Reefie had a huge smile on his face as he watches in awe over his big sister.  He’s beginning to get frustrated when Waves runs off or leaves him because he so desperately wants to go with her, soon enough my baby boy.

We wrapped up our afternoon with a visit from my parent’s friends, Debbie & Mitch.  The kiddos slept terrible our last night in town but they managed to keep a happy face on Saturday while we visited the goats and Carl Sandburg with our friends Brittany, Nick and baby Kennedy.  We had a lovely picnic under the tree near the garden aftermath and then this nomadic family hit the road.

My car is jam packed (but safely with no blind spots) and off we go to Florence, SC.  This was the perfect spot to meet Eric, right off 95.  There were no playgrounds in the area so I went to the food court at the mall and Reefie and I played while Waves played with more new friends.  We ate a piece of veggie pizza and salad for dinner as Reef cried- which another perk of food courts: it’s so freakin’ loud in there no one heard the crying baby, score!  Eric snuck in around 2230… yay, we’re finally all back together!

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I can’t believe it’s October 1st?! We left my car in Florence at the hotel (they graciously allowed me to leave it there with no charge) and on the road as we head to The Florida Keys.  Our first quick stop is on the outskirts of Jacksonville to pick up our boat, and then we make our way to down to Palm Beach Gardens where I have family.

Just when things seem to be going smoothly I crawl in the back to visit with the kiddos and I smell a strong odor of shit.  All the sudden I noticed shit everywhere- on Reef’s leg, feet, hand, carseat, clothes, teething toys and his blankie; so of course being an urgent matter the next place we could stop was nearly 10 minutes away.  The scene of the crime was too explicit for a picture.  Although this smile says it all- Reef certainly seems as guilty as the “In the Slammer” people he’s sitting on.

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We had a wonderful time visiting with the family and now we’re back on the road heading to The Everglades National Park and then eventually making down to Marathon in The Florida Keys this evening!

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A Tip From The Travelin’ Tribe Archive:
I will consolidate the tips I provided in this blog post: (1) Upbeat kids music such as the Pandora Station “Kinkajous (Children’s) Radio.” (2) Anytime you need a break from the car find a park, playground, indoor play area (in a Fast Food Restaurant, Food Court at the mall, etc.), (3) Most importantly be patient; traveling with kids is challenging and as long as you remain calm, cool and collective it will carry on to the children and everyone will have a much more pleasant experience.

 

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 

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

On The Road Again

It’s been 2 weeks since we’ve been back from Alaska and describing our time as busy is simply an understatement.  Eric has been working continuously with a few breaks in-between to surf and enjoy some quality family time.  The kids and I have been busy little bees too!  It’s different getting back on the grind of a semi-normal life for 2 weeks just to pack everything up and hit the road again.

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We’ve had fun at the aquarium, a nice visit from Scott and Evan from Jax Beach, a halibut cookout with friends and a visit to Virginia to see grandparents and great-grandparents.  Beach days are a constant in our life along with a lot of time spent on our beautiful front porch that overlooks the Roanoke Sound.  We are so fortunate to be able to witness the sunrise and the sunset over the water from our front and back porch.  You can feel the summer warmth and long days slowly slipping away.  I’m elated for Autumn apporaching!

I’ve tried to work more on the blog as much as I can.  I have so much knowledge, tips, strategies, and information on about 15 past family trips I would like to post in detail about at some point (from Hawai’i all the way to Ireland and in-between).  We’re currently in the car in route to Maryland for my husband’s business meeting tomorrow.  This is the first family of 4 road trip we’ve taken that hasn’t included a flight.  It’s a nice change up and a little less stressful being that there is no limit on things I can pack.  I was even able to stock up at the grocery store before hand, ahhh the little things that can make life easier!

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We have camping, spearfishing, hiking, surfing and fishing planned for this upcoming trip from the OBX all the way up to Acadia National Park in Maine.  I look forward to sharing our journey, stay tuned.

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OVERPACKED?

A Tip From the Travelin’ Tribe Archive:

One of my favorite pieces of luggage is the LL Bean Rolling Adventure Duffle, XL.  This bag is awesome and is perfect for all of our flying and driving adventures- and it has a lifetime warranty!

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

 

Until Next Time, Alaska 

We finally approached our last day in Alaska, neither of us were ready to leave.  We finished getting everything packed for our flight and then headed to Tongass National Forest, which happens to be the largest National Forest in the US.  We walked around on the bear viewing platform and saw several salmon, dead and alive but no bears.

We then did a few mile hike on the Mendenhall Glacier Trail.  The plan was to make it to the ice caves but we didn’t have enough time.   There’s so much to do and explore at this Glacier, we will definitely be back.

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After the hike we headed to the airport to catch our 1815 flight.  We lucked out, 2 out of the 3 flights Waves and I had our own row and Dada and Reef had their own.  We flew from Juneau to Seattle to Chicago to Charlotte.  We still have a 6 hour drive back to the Outer Banks.

Time and time again Eric and I were mistaken for locals in Alaska. It’s one of those places that we just fit in; we feel at home and our souls are satisfied.  In the last 6 weeks we’ve nearly spent 3 weeks in Alaska. There’s been a lot of discussion about moving here or at least purchasing a parcel of land.  We envision our family living a simple life on our homestead that we built with our own two hands.  Taking them hunting for caribou and fishing for salmon to stock our freezer for the winter months.  Having a childhood totally unplugged.  Being one with nature and being authentic to this world and to ourselves.  Ahh dreams!

WILDTRIBE

MY WILD TRIBE

We should be to the Outer Banks around 2000.  Eric will be up bright and Eric to start his 14 day work rotation tomorrow.  The kids and I will spend tomorrow at the beach and unpacking/laundry.  We are heading to Virginia this weekend to visit family so I’m looking forward to our 2 days of downtime before we hit the road again.

In the next two weeks I’m going to work on this blog site and have it up and running the way I anticipated.  Posts might be far and few between but we’re already counting down for our next epic adventure in 15 days!!  We still have no idea where we will end up, stay tuned.

SUNSETBC

SUNSET BRITISH COLUMBIA

A tip from the Travelin’ Tribe Archive:

(1) If possible, take evening flights when traveling with children!  I don’t know what our family would do without a red-eye flight; especially when traveling cross-country.  It makes our lives pleasantly easier and a lot less stressful. Who doesn’t like a sleeping baby on a plane!

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

 

JUNEAULAKE

A RANDOM LAKE IN JUNEAU

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