Happy April and happy Earth Month! The signs of spring are unavoidable now. We’re trying to plan out manageable gardening schedules and daydreaming about what adventures the outdoors hold for us in the coming months...hiking, camping, road tripping? To kick things off, we paused to remember some amazing moments the outdoors have brought us.
When I think about my favorite outdoor adventure, it's not so much a specific moment but more of a place that holds a lot of great memories. That place is Deep Creek, NC. It's a quiet group campsite tucked against a slow moving creek in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I grew up returning to this same place every summer on family camping trips, and now my heart is filled with joy as I get to see my own kids enjoy the same camping experience every year and as a bonus share it with their grandparents as the tradition is passed on.
While visiting family in Seattle, we decided to make a quick visit to the Washington coast. After a lackluster first day at a "rustic" beach town, we decided to spend day two diverting our trip to Olympic National Park. It was incredible. First, we visited the Quinault Rain Forest where we stopped for breakfast at the Roosevelt Lodge and saw the world's largest Spruce tree (pictured above)! Next, we drove up the coast to Ruby Beach and enjoyed all the rocks! No seriously, rocks are really cool. Finally, we drove to the north side of the park and hiked Hurricane Ridge Trail. We did this epic hike with my youngest, Ezra, on my back and snow still on the trail! Ha! To top is all off, we took the kids on a ferry ride home. What a day!
We love camping in state parks all around New Jersey, lower New York, and Pennsylvania, because we get to bring our dog, Glenn, with us. Before we started camping, Glenn wasn't what you'd call a water dog. She doesn’t enjoy being outside in the rain and walk her next to a puddle…she’ll take the extra time to walk around it. Grabbing a drink of water by a river bank is also an exercise in precision for her to avoid getting wet as much as possible. We just assumed swimming was a no go. Then, on a trip with friends, Glenn, and their dog, Finn, to Tobyhanna, PA Glenn had an epic water experience. Finn loves the water and is always keen to jump right in. In a moment of passion playing catch with the ball, Glenn completely forgot herself and lept into the water, no holds barred to get that ball back. Seeing her so happy and fearless is a powerful memory for us and a reminder why we love being outdoors. The opportunities for new experiences are infinite.
Last summer, we road-tripped up to Maine with our girls to explore the wilds of Acadia and fill our bodies with delicious lobster. Being from Georgia, we were excited to get out of the heat and into a more temperate environment, but it turned out Maine was having its hottest week in 10 years! We went out on one of the trails and the bugs and mosquitos were in full force. I had never seen so many in my life. The girls were getting bit left and right and crying, so I threw Sara on my back and we upped the pace to avoid the swarm. There was lots of complaining but it all stopped when we hit the wonder of the rocky coasts. Its beauty stilled us in that moment as the cool ocean breeze soothed our bites. I’ll never forget the crying, laughter, and wonder of that day.
Have a favorite outdoor memory of your own coming to mind? Join the Parks Facebook Group and share your tale with us and fellow hikers.