High Falls

I've been feeling a little in need for some adventure and watching Steele run around like a mad man (his normal MO if he's not playing outside), I knew he would love seeing a new place. 

High Falls in the Talladega National Forest is a pretty popular spot in the summer from what I understand, but the now two times I've been it's been pretty perfect. Steele and I were the only people there and took full advantage of that!

 

The hike in is super short (around .3 miles in to the first fall) but does involve a creek crossing. Just be aware of that and slick rock if you're thinking about visiting after rains. I have a feeling that people underestimate how slippery the sandstone is after crossing the creek. (also side note: I was dying in my long sleeve! We quickly delayered at the falls!)

The hike in is super short (around .3 miles in to the first fall) but does involve a creek crossing. Just be aware of that and slick rock if you're thinking about visiting after rains. I have a feeling that people underestimate how slippery the sandstone is after crossing the creek. (also side note: I was dying in my long sleeve! We quickly delayered at the falls!)

The second falls! I ended up carrying Steele around the right shallow side of the pool to go touch the waterfall. No documentation of this endeavor because even though my phone is suppose to be waterproof, I'm going to make an educated guess and say the cracks it suffered in Joshua Tree negate that!

The second falls! I ended up carrying Steele around the right shallow side of the pool to go touch the waterfall. No documentation of this endeavor because even though my phone is suppose to be waterproof, I'm going to make an educated guess and say the cracks it suffered in Joshua Tree negate that!

I love his look in this photo! He kept pointing and saying "Mama! See! A waterfall!"

I love his look in this photo! He kept pointing and saying "Mama! See! A waterfall!"

We spent the next couple of hours scrambling around the base of the falls, chasing anoles, sitting and watching, racing boat leaves, and splashing in the water (because Alabama thinks it's early summer). It was awesome! Next time we visit here, we will definitely come earlier, bring the hammock and a lunch, and stay for the entire day!

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What other areas of Talladega National Forest or the general area should we visit while we are home? 

Weekend to #optoutside

On Black Friday, we followed suit with REI & the thousands of other adventurers and opted outside. 

I had seen there was going to be a Wild South ranger-led hike at Ruffner Mountain. I knew my way around Ruffner but always enjoy learning more information that comes with led hikes. Especially since said ranger is a personal friend! It was awesome hearing her talk about Wild South's projects at Ruffner, along with her teaching about native and non-native plant species. 

His hiking pace for the first few miles!

His hiking pace for the first few miles!

Thanks to Kim for some photos of Steele and I together!

Thanks to Kim for some photos of Steele and I together!

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He hiked over 3 miles and finally gave into taking a ride in the pack. 

He hiked over 3 miles and finally gave into taking a ride in the pack. 

On the way to our Ruffner hike, Steele had asked to go camping that night. I had *just* taken out all of our gear that morning in the attempt to clean and organize it. I figured if he brought it up again, we could just swing by the house after the hike, grab gear, and go. However after our hike, he fell asleep less than a mile down the road and stayed asleep even with me moving him to his bed at home. So, I settled in and figured we would camp another day. 

Steele, however, hadn't given up on the adventure plans! When he woke up, he came running into the living room with the exclamation, "Why aren't we camping?! We camp after we hike!" I debated to just set up the tent in the backyard and call it a night. Then we got to talking about climbing the next day and I realized that he would probably be awake at least four more hours because of his long nap. So, mama rallied and packed while Steele yelled, "Campinnnnggggg! Abenchures!" 

We made it to Sand Rock around 8pm & I got camp set up quickly  (ps- I love my tent, so easy to set up. Now to find a 4 season tent that is just as awesome). We settled, read books, and played with our Luci light

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The next morning was a slow morning of eating pancakes, sitting fireside, playing in the sand, and making a s'more from Hipcamp

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After Steele eating twice as much as I did, we headed to boulder and hike around. It was a short bouldering session since we were both tired from getting back in the hiking gaming the day prior. This kiddo is definitely getting better at figuring out how to put together moves by himself. 

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Once I packed us up to leave & driven down the road that leads up to Sand Rock, Steele had fallen asleep - meaning he would be waking up around 5pm. My feelings about that! (also yes, that is Bigfoot riding a unicorn on my hat)

Our #optoutside weekend was awesome & got us back into the groove of exploring and adventures! Did you get outside on Black Friday?  

Toddler Tips: Car Travel

Traveling in the car with little ones can be overwhelming to think about, but after living on the road for 4 months straight with a two year old - I feel like I'm becoming an expert on how to keep sanity intact for everyone! So I've put together a few tips below:

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Some of our favorite items to use in the car:
*Melissa and Doug Reusable Sticker Pads - the vinyl stickers are also great to use in the bath!
*Fishing tackle box - repurposed into "Steele's Car Kit" thanks to the creativity of one of my besties - perfect for him to open and play with what I put inside by himself.
*Triangle crayons - yay for crayons that don't roll! now if they had the power to not be thrown across the car...
*DVD player & toddler headphones - I've had my Coby travel DVD player for over 5 years, and Steele has been using it for close to a year when we travel. He has put it through A LOT and it has been in extreme temperature changes in the car - and it's still working! The headphones have mixed reviews on Amazon, but I love them (and Steele does too)! I like that they have an extra cable and extra ear foam pieces in case either get lost or damaged, plus the storage bag is made of thick, wipeable material. I bought the headphones in an airport (maybe Atlanta) and they've made it through a lot of traveling with us. 

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We spend a lot of time running energy out before embarking on long chunks of driving. Playgrounds are great for that - plus usually picnic tables for snack time and clean restrooms. Finding nice playgrounds is always one of the first priorities for me, and the easiest way to see photos and reviews is the use Kaboom's Map of Play. It also lets you update map with photos, reviews, and new playgrounds. Also, it looks like there is an iPhone app, but I have a different brand of phone so no knowledge on how well the app works.  If you use the app, feel free to comment on how it performs! 

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Sometimes just taking time to walk through a cute area of a city/town. I get in "go-mode" at times and just. want. to. get. there! But, taking the time to take a stroll after a meal or coffee stop definitely helps with Steele handling long stretches of driving even better. 

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Along with taking a walk-about, finding cool stops along the way is always fun! Two of my favorite websites/apps to use to find unique places and parks: Roadtrippers and Oh, Ranger!. Both are easy to use and have apps for both iPhone and Samsung. You can also sign up for the Roadtrippers newsletter, and it is one of the only newsletters I get in my email I actually read! So many random places I have found through it - like this place to stay outside of Joshua Tree.   

Hope this helps with planning roadtrips with the little(s) in tow! If you normally take kids on the road, what are your favorite tips?

 

Disclosure: The links to products in this post are affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase, I receive a tiny bit of compensation with no added cost to you. I only write about products that we love and use, and any purchases you make through the links help keep this blog (and our adventures) going. Thanks for your support!

local love: Bham edition

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Over the weekend, I saw lots of posts about our local farmers' market, Pepper Place, on social media. Made me really miss this gem of a market! I'm excited that I'll get to visit once I'm back in the south because it runs into December, rain or shine. The former shown here from my last visit in May! 

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One of my favorite vendors from my last visit to Pepper Place was Freedom Soaps. This charcoal soap was a-mazing (insert ok and salsa dancing emojis here!). I'm almost finished with my bar soap - just in time to buy some more soon. I was searching through their online store & this soap end bundle looks awesome. 

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Their booth was beautiful and I wanted to buy all the things! We definitely tried almost everything before picking out soaps to buy: cleansing oil, solid scents and lip balm in the background, and scrubs! 

Needless to say now, I'm excited about a "girl-day" (what our group of lady friends calls our female-only adventures, from climbing to market getaways) to Pepper Place!

#flashbackfriday: Grand Canyon

Steele, Sahara, and I went to the Grand Canyon on our way back to the South in late April, and I'm finally sharing it about! High fives! 

We were leaving Zion and splitting out from the guys that had become our traveling pack over the few weeks prior. I was having a bit of a hard time with the transition, especially because my seasonal job had not come to complete fruition at that time. Luckily, my guy was incredibly thoughtful and booked the S tribe a couple days at a South Rim Cabin. We really enjoyed our stay and was the perfect transition back to the South!

   The drive from Zion to the Grand Canyon on HWY 89A in Arizona past the  Vermilion Cliffs National Monument . I hadn't realized we would be driving by this area (when we left Zion it was early afternoon, and I wanted to get most of the drive in before dark), but wish that I had so we could have explored! 

 

The drive from Zion to the Grand Canyon on HWY 89A in Arizona past the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. I hadn't realized we would be driving by this area (when we left Zion it was early afternoon, and I wanted to get most of the drive in before dark), but wish that I had so we could have explored! 

   Steele with his pinecone he found while I made dinner. This was one of my favorite "hey-lets-drive-down-this-road-and-see-what-we-find" campsite. We stayed in the  Coconino National Forest , which is on my to explore more list. The next morning before we headed to the Canyon (we had a few hours before check-in), we headed into Flagstaff (also one of my favorite towns). Taking a step back from that paragraph, I think we really like that area haha!   I didn't get any photos of Flagstaff because well walking through streets trying to get us each  feed , me  caffeinated , and Sahara walked was about the max of my ability that morning!  Biff's Bagels  where we had breakfast was amazing & only takes cash (there is an ATM there, but just a heads up!).

 

Steele with his pinecone he found while I made dinner. This was one of my favorite "hey-lets-drive-down-this-road-and-see-what-we-find" campsite. We stayed in the Coconino National Forest, which is on my to explore more list. The next morning before we headed to the Canyon (we had a few hours before check-in), we headed into Flagstaff (also one of my favorite towns). Taking a step back from that paragraph, I think we really like that area haha! 

I didn't get any photos of Flagstaff because well walking through streets trying to get us each feed, me caffeinated, and Sahara walked was about the max of my ability that morning! Biff's Bagels where we had breakfast was amazing & only takes cash (there is an ATM there, but just a heads up!).

   Our cabin was the best! One main room with cable tv, wifi, desk, bed, and closest & then the bathoom with tub (great for toddler baths). The door was a Dutch door, so you can have the top open with the screen door shut to have some fresh area. The parking for the cabins is really hard to snag as the cabins are in the main part of the visitor traffic at the canyon's south rim, and anyone can use the parking area. I luckily saw a couple backing out right across from our cabin, swooped Steele up from playing on the floor, and ran to the parked Jeep -annnnd made it to the spot before anyone else could. It definitely made our lives a bit easier for the next couple of days. Sahara stayed the  kennel  & seemed to really enjoy it! Two items to remember to take to the kennel if you ever board there: bedding/blanket and shot records. I know sometimes when I travel with her I forget the latter but had them on hand because I had also boarded her for a few days in  Las Vegas  (which was definitely a doggy deluxe experience). 

 

Our cabin was the best! One main room with cable tv, wifi, desk, bed, and closest & then the bathoom with tub (great for toddler baths). The door was a Dutch door, so you can have the top open with the screen door shut to have some fresh area. The parking for the cabins is really hard to snag as the cabins are in the main part of the visitor traffic at the canyon's south rim, and anyone can use the parking area. I luckily saw a couple backing out right across from our cabin, swooped Steele up from playing on the floor, and ran to the parked Jeep -annnnd made it to the spot before anyone else could. It definitely made our lives a bit easier for the next couple of days. Sahara stayed the kennel & seemed to really enjoy it! Two items to remember to take to the kennel if you ever board there: bedding/blanket and shot records. I know sometimes when I travel with her I forget the latter but had them on hand because I had also boarded her for a few days in Las Vegas (which was definitely a doggy deluxe experience). 

   First time the little dude stopped me and said, "Mama, take my picture right here!" Um, yes!

 

First time the little dude stopped me and said, "Mama, take my picture right here!" Um, yes!

   Outside of the main  Visitor Center  - he loved this mountain lion! 

 

Outside of the main Visitor Center - he loved this mountain lion! 

   We started a hike down the  South Kaibab  trail, which ended in tears (his from not getting to hike any farther because he wasn't quite following our hiking rules) and helpful strangers assisting me getting him in the pack back on my back (say that 3 times fast!). We still got in a few miles roundtrip, and I would love to do an inner canyon backpack with Steele before he gets too much heavier.

 

We started a hike down the South Kaibab trail, which ended in tears (his from not getting to hike any farther because he wasn't quite following our hiking rules) and helpful strangers assisting me getting him in the pack back on my back (say that 3 times fast!). We still got in a few miles roundtrip, and I would love to do an inner canyon backpack with Steele before he gets too much heavier.

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   We decided that a do-over was needed after our hiking experience - so ice cream (which the long line was so worth & Steele was great during) and shuttle rides for the win. The great thing about our cabin being right in the center was that we could swing by and get our rain gear and regroup before our do-over!

 

We decided that a do-over was needed after our hiking experience - so ice cream (which the long line was so worth & Steele was great during) and shuttle rides for the win. The great thing about our cabin being right in the center was that we could swing by and get our rain gear and regroup before our do-over!

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We decided to ride the shuttle to Hermit's Rest and walk along the rim in that area. This photo makes my heart so happy - this past winter a bunch of us worked on teaching Steele about the desert and how fragile it can be (along with Rick our botanist friend teaching him the scientific names to flowers!). So along our stroll, Steele saw a flower and asked to look at it. He put his hands behind his back so he wouldn't pick it (without any prior prompting) and looked at it for quite a while.   

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   After our walk, we stopped at the concession stand at Hermit's Rest and bought Grand Canyon animal animal crackers and hot chocolate because it was getting a little chilly. While we were snacking and waiting on the bus, a sweet lady offered to take our photo! One of the few I have of both of us on our adventures and I love it. (and thanks to Google, just found the  animal cracker company  on the internets!)

 

After our walk, we stopped at the concession stand at Hermit's Rest and bought Grand Canyon animal animal crackers and hot chocolate because it was getting a little chilly. While we were snacking and waiting on the bus, a sweet lady offered to take our photo! One of the few I have of both of us on our adventures and I love it. (and thanks to Google, just found the animal cracker company on the internets!)

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   Sunday we spent timing taking our  Adopt-a-Lion  all around on the shuttle and meeting the horseback rangers (wish I had a photo of Steele petting the horse)! I just have to say the all of the rangers and staff we encountered were lovely and so helpful. Please notice the stickers Steele is wearing the photos - we got a stack of them because he was telling the gift shop staff about the canyon and they were so nice to go get him stickers.

 

Sunday we spent timing taking our Adopt-a-Lion all around on the shuttle and meeting the horseback rangers (wish I had a photo of Steele petting the horse)! I just have to say the all of the rangers and staff we encountered were lovely and so helpful. Please notice the stickers Steele is wearing the photos - we got a stack of them because he was telling the gift shop staff about the canyon and they were so nice to go get him stickers.

   Rain rolling in at the  Yavapai Geology Museum  & that was our cue to head back to the Jeep, go pick up Sahara and head out! 

 

Rain rolling in at the Yavapai Geology Museum & that was our cue to head back to the Jeep, go pick up Sahara and head out! 

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On the way out Steele fell asleep and I drove along Desert View Drive to stop and watch the rain and fog come over the canyon. Perfect ending to our four months on the road!

Larch Season

Clara Lake

Clara Lake

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If you're from an area that doesn't have larches (also called tamarack), please stop reading and go look up beautiful photos of them! Larches are conifers that lose their needles each fall, and before that the needles turn a bright yellow. They have quickly become one of my favorite trees.  

On my days off this week after a long drive back from Idaho, a few of us hit a short, dog-friendly trail outside of Wenatchee. It was a mediumly steep trail with more switchbacks than I expected. More info on the Clara Lake trail can be found on the Washington Trail Association website

It was a great way to spend a late afternoon! 

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Holi Fest

It's getting the time to plan our adventures again for the off season, & that's got me looking through all of our photos from this past winter. I'm planning a few short, photo heavy (because yay photos!) posts to document our past adventures.

Steele & I took a quick trip up to Spanish Fork, UT for the Holi Fest in March. We were living in Joshua Tree at the time, and I decided to drive up Friday. We camped a couple hours south in the Fishlake National Forest & spent some time in Beaver, UT also.

I had gone to Holi Fest a few years ago on a roadtrip with one of my best friends & had been looking forward to taking Steele. He was a bit hesitate at first at the sheer number of people; but after he figured out he got to dance & throw powder at people, he was loving it!

The Festival of Colors has expanded to multiple venues across the country & finds it's origin in India. The festival is also the general basis of the throwing of colors during color runs.

Some tips for bringing littles (or even yourself) to a Holi Fest:
*Your bag will get a quick search, but feel free to bring water & snacks. The lines move pretty if you forget an item and need to purchase something, but it's always nice to not spend time in line while fun is going on elsewhere.
*Noise cancelling headphones for little ears if you're getting close to the stage. There was plenty of area to spread out where Steele didn't need them, but it was nice to have them when we walked closer.
*Look up the specific venue & what they offer - Utah offered a kids' area that included open space to run around, a bounce house/slide, and was close to the water source (which ended up making a pond which was pretty cool for some free play). The temple also had free yoga, which you can see happening behind Steele in the "pond" photo.
*Bandana, sunglasses, Ergo, and wipes are great items to pack!
*Know that at some point you'll just be brown when the colors mix on you.
*Bring cash. The tables I visited to buy things were cash only, but there was an ATM available.
*Along the cash line, just pay for parking. We got there about 45 minutes early & the field we parked in was only $5 & right across the street. Perfect for us!
*Dirty clothes & dirty people: I wiped us both down with wipes (these Action Wipes = the best) and brushed our clothes off. We kept our clothes on this time since we heading straight to shower & cleaning the car was on the next day's agenda - any powder that got on the seats vacuumed right off. My hair is thick enough it takes a couple good washings to get all of the color out. Last time, we also changed clothes & placed them into bags back at the Jeep.


Anything else you want to know? Just leave questions in the comments! Can't wait to go back!

PS- The music is awesome