Family Fun Adventure: Bryce Canyon National Park

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Ahhh, Bryce Canyon! TOO beautiful to describe and the photos don’t do it justice. Mostly, I run around trailing kids and reach for the camera for a quick shot, barely looking through the view finder ūüôā

Continuing where my last post left off, the next day brings us to Bryce Canyon National Park. Warning: Lots of pictures ahead, not too many tips though due to the weather

Day #3: We booked two nights in the town of Panguitch, Utah and again, woke up early Saturday for breakfast that was included in the room prices. We headed out at around 7 and made it into the park on a very cold and snowy day. All the hiking trails were closed due to the weather, but the viewpoints were being cleared for the day

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We started out parking near Sunrise Point and walked the snowy Rim Trail to Sunset and on to Inspiration Points. The day started nice and sunny. Because of the weather we couldn’t make any trips into the canyons, which I can imagine would be quite incredible. The part of the trail between Sunrise and Sunset Points are a pretty easy walk and the kids had so much fun with the snow

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Cole (age 14) following the trail beside the steep drop offs

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Daddy keeping the tiniest turkey back from the edge. See that pebbly ridge? Yup, a snow covered slope down from there!

 Not gonna Lie, the trail was scary with little kids. The trail itself was mostly wide, but the steep drop offs coupled with the slippery conditions as well as overly excited children, made for nervous parents. We each stuck close to and mostly held the younger kids hands. Of course, being mom, I constantly reminded the older kids to be extra careful. They were sliding, running, throwing snowballs, and I just wanted them to be safe

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 The contrasting colors were vibrant and unbelievably stunning

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Winter wonderland definitely added a extra fun element

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At the first lookout the kids are relatively happy and wow, they are smiling!

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They couldn’t stop themselves the entire time from making snow ‘Angels’

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My older boys are very uncooperative for taking pictures most of the time, so they are pretty rare shots

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I must say I love hiking in the woods and by rivers. It’s so relaxing to be out in this type of nature. Normally, we hike the dry chaparral of California in the roasting heat, so this is a welcomed change

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Proof that there were parents along for the trip. Well a parent and an Eskimo ūüôā

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After about 3 pm the kids were cold and tired. We headed back to the hotel for a some vacation snacking, T.V. watching and just chilling

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After they warmed up and dried off the little boys, Alvin and Daddy made a snowman behind the hotel

Day #4: Woke up early and loaded the van for making our way home today. For some reason (maybe a religious thing as it was Sunday) even though the hotel  (Days Inn booked on priceline) advertised breakfast at 6:30, as we enjoyed the previous day, they did not have anything out on Sunday. In fact no one was in the lobby and it was all locked up, I tried calling the front desk, waiting etc. Finally, we just had to leave our keys in the rooms and go. That was kind of a bummer as I was counting on that being a big meal to keep the kids happy at the start of a long drive. Thank goodness for back up snacks and a couple hours later we arrived in Vegas in time for another buffet lunch to make up for it. So all was not lost. I will say that room service was very kind the day before in helping us charge our dead battery to get us on our way and the breakfast was one of the nicest we have had at simple lodgings

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One final pic of enjoying the view. I can’t wait to visit again and hike down into the canyon trails.

What are your top favorite National Parks?

Family Fun Adventure: Zion National Park

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Hey Lovelies! Hope you are enjoying a wonderful holiday season and making fantastic memories. For once I have pictures a plenty for this post. The scenery was SO stunning and I found myself snapping a photo every couple of steps. Hubbs also took many of the pictures I’ve included in this post on his phone. Everywhere you look is postcard perfect. Come along with us on a picture journey through Zion National Park

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We were kinda of on the fence about taking this trip at Thanksgiving break, because we weren’t sure if the weather would be fun for us Cali natives to hike in. We were extremely lucky in that we lucked out both days with pretty clear weather and views for both days that we visited Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. ¬†Here’s is the itinerary we followed for our 4 day trip to these beautiful Southern Utah parks and a few tips. Enjoy!

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Happy to be outta the van and ready to hike

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Day #1: Woke up early and started the day long drive out to the Zion area. We broke up our journey in Vegas for a Thanksgiving buffet lunch, thankfully we made it in before the huge dinner crowds. The meal ended up being about what we would’ve spent on a home cooked special meal, so even though it was not an inexpensive meal, it still worked out ok. We learned that if you sign up for a players card (you don’t need to play) at the casino that the buffet is attached to, you can receive a couple bucks off each meal. After the lunch pit stop headed on out to the town of Springdale, Utah, which is the last town outside of Zion Canyon. Since we weren’t sure we would make it all the way there and not just stay in Vegas, we hadn’t booked rooms. We arrived only to find rooms were going for $175-$200 per room (of the two places we stopped at. The cheaper one was a locally owned type place and the other was a large chain) NOT fun! Since we need two rooms for our crowd of 7, we hopped on the wifi in the parking lot and booked more reasonable rooms at $126 (for two rooms) back the way we came in the town of Hurricane. Since it was a holiday weekend we were very fortunate to not be stranded, everything was pretty packed out. Needless to say we booked the next nights rooms in the next city as soon as we checked in that night

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Day #2: Got up early, packed up, had free breakfast included at the hotel and were on the road at about 7:30. One really great feature about this park is the bus that takes you to a bunch of scenic views and trail heads. We optioned to buy the inter agency pass, which is an annual pass for all the National Parks at $80, instead of the one day pass for $30. Since we were going to visit Bryce Canyon the next day and usually make it to 1-2 other parks during the year, we just went for it. After entering the park, we parked the van and got some warm clothes on. We then boarded the bus and stayed on for the entire loop, to get a feel for the area and sights. The bus driver and recorded information tells a little history of the park and other interesting facts. We spotted lots of mule deer the entire day which was extra fun for the littles

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Back on the bus we headed to the end of the loop to the Riverside Walk at the Temple of Sinawava bus stop. This easy 2.2 mile walk (the park website says it takes about 1 1/2 hours) takes you to the entrance of the Narrows hike, which takes you through the canyon walking in the river. How awesome is that! Of course that 8 mile hike is just too long for our littles at this age. But we got to watch lots of waterproof clad folks headed up that way. What we loved about this park was the up close feel. Walking between the canyon cliffs were pretty amazing. Hubbs and I agreed we preferred it to viewing, say the Grand Canyon from the rim

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The Riverside Walk Trail¬†is very easy for all ages, no climbing and its a paved, easy to follow path. Very enjoyable to not have to worry about someone falling off the edge. We were among many visitors to the park that weekend, plenty of people around but it was not too overcrowded. We were very happy to see lots of fellow ‘home grown’ tourists out in nature enjoying our beautiful country

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 Azure at the mouth of the Narrows Trail

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Silly fun by the Virgin River on the Riverside Walk Trail

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Check out all those gorgeous cliffs. The colors were stunning!

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After the this hike we stopped off at the van for lunch and boy was the parking situation crowded! At least 10 people asked us if we were leaving, and lots of other people were circling trying to find parking. Good thing there is a shuttle pick up in the town of Springdale too if you don’t manage to snag a spot in the park.¬†After lunch the buses were so crowded (they are taking all park visitors around as no private vehicles are allowed) we decided to walk from the Zion Canyon Visitor Center to the Zion Human History Museum which was a short mostly flat, paved walk which is part of the¬†Pa‚Äôrus Trail

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By the afternoon it was getting a little foggy and we were glad we brought winter jackets. Yeah, I know we are cold sensitive Californians

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We were spoiled by the beautiful fall colors and river views

After checking out a bit of the museum and Azure picking up his Junior Ranger booklet, we divided forces. A couple of less than outdoor enthusiastic big boys took littlest brother for a much needed nap and settled in the van with snacks and books

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The smaller troop of Azure (age 7) and our oldest, Alvin (age 16) were still happy to accompany Mom and Dad for another approximately 2 hour hike that was a little more challenging. ¬†First we made the short walk on the Weeping Rock Trail. Nothing too amazing. The whole park for me was all about the views, rather than the ‘sites’ to arrive at

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The Kayenta Trail has a great view of the Virgin River from a height

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We walked around that huge mountain following the river

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The Lower Emerald Pools Trail leads through a canyon crack. COOL!

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The Kayenta Trail, which starts at The Grotto bus stop is more of a hike. It’s not paved, there are steep drop offs and the trail is a little narrow it places. I was glad that littlest brother (age 4) sat this one out, while he could have made the hike, we would have had to move slower and held his hand to feel comfortable. The trail continues on to the Lower Emerald Pools Trail. Maybe, it was just the time of year (Late November 2015) there wasn’t much water in the pools or coming over the falls, it wasn’t very interesting or too picturesque to me. But the views of the hike were totally amazing and we enjoyed every bit of it

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Azure took part of the Junior Ranger program and was sworn in and given a badge by the ranger after completing a Zion National Park booklet. He was real excited to earn another badge after receiving one at the  Grand Canyon National Park earlier this year

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At Zion we felt like we got to see a good portion of the park and didn’t feel like we were missing out on most of the sites/things to do. Even though there were plenty of longer and more difficult trails we didn’t get to take,I really liked that this park didn’t seem so huge it was overwhelming. Like, say Yellowstone did to me

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I can’t believe we have lived within a day drive of this place and had never been. Get out and explore guys! Our country is SO amazingly beautiful

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One final picture I took while driving out in the evening. TOO much gorgeousness.

What did you do for the holidays this year?

Family Fun Adventure: Muck Fest Mud Run

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Hello Lovelies, I thought I’d do a little write up on this fun outing we took part of the family to this year….Muck Fest 2015. It was held in Prado Regional Park in San Bernardino County. If you are participating in the run you don’t need to pay for the park’s¬†day use fee. For the last couple years the company Hubbs works for sponsors any employees that want to enter the run and they can then sign up friends and family for about $65 dollars per person, depending on when you sign up. If you sign up closer to the date of the race, the price goes up. A free T-shirt, bag check, a drink and snack is included in the ticket price. This year Hubbs took biggest boy to run with him. But, he didn’t take his phone for pictures, so I’ll add some that we took last year when I went with him

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Some of the obstacles

We love that this run is benefiting charity via the MS Foundation and we are delighted to support it while having fun

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The run took place during the month of October which is really the perfect weather to be running this in. It’s quite hot out and the mud/water feels nice and cooling

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There is a small free mucky area for kiddies. A little slide, a tunnel and a inflated pool with a water bucket that dumps on their heads. Simple, but SO fun and my little guys happily played there the entire time Dad and big brother were running. It’s good thinking to bring bathing suits, towels and dry clothes

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It took them a few minutes to not be shocked by being/getting dirty, then they were all in. There are T-shirts for sale and a couple of food trucks or you can bring a picnic to enjoy in the huge park. After cleaning up at the shower truck we headed over to the nice large playground for lunch and play time before heading home

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Yeigh, we made it! Lots of fun. What fun runs have you tried?

Family Fun Adventure: San Diego Zoo

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*Disclaimer: I have not received any compensation for this post, all opinions are my own

Hey there! Today’s Family Fun Adventure comes from the world famous San Diego Zoo. I think most people that live in Cali know during the month October kids admission to the San Diego Zoo is free! (So is the Safari Park. See my post from 2013 on that park here:¬†https://juggling5monkeys.wordpress.com/2013/11/29/san-diego-zoo-safari-park/)

Bring hats, sweaters, water bottles and sunscreen will save you having to fork out for the necessities at a higher price inside the park

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The cost: The kids were free. We bought the least expensive tickets for us parents at $48 a person (12 yrs and older. kids 3-11 years are $38 normally) came out to $96! You can get a small discount if you are a triple A member and you may be able to find other discounts in flyers at hotels or online. Parking is free. Plus a tank of gas and about 6 hours of driving, made this adventure not too cheap, but it is certainly worth making the trip every couple years with littles. The last time we visited here Brecks (little guy pictured above) was a belly bump, so we were definitely due for another visit

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Lots of close up viewing

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We borrowed a buddy for the day, which made the trip extra special for Azure. He and his friend talked Pokemon most of the day and random animal facts. Thank goodness! Mom and Dad needed a break from hearing about each fine Pokemon detail

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One forewarning that’s probably obvious…the zoo will be extremely crowded due to the free day. It was difficult to keep tabs on littlest boy and we lost him in the crowds a couple times. The zoo is pretty large and requires a quick pace to see everything. There were quite a few people jams in choice viewing areas, but if you go with that in mind and try to stay chilled and relaxed you won’t get too bothered. Hehe…hopefully. You can also take the tram that is included in the tickets instead of marching everywhere, though for the kids (on the free days) you will need to pay extra. Since we brought a small light stroller we opted to get some exercise. The older boys (7 & 8 years) while excited troopers (not complaining once) were tired by the end of the day

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I was so impressed with this guy. Normally when we go on an adventure he just runs from place to place, barely interested. On this occasion he stopped and would search for most of the creatures, in every reptile and insect tank! This trip was very worth it from an entertainment stand point of a very active 4 1/2 year old. Of course all kids are different, so a younger child could certainly be just as interested, depending on the child

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The monkeys had nice large habitats. The zoo also has a playground area for kids that was super packed out, but it was a good little break spot

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There are a bunch of these animal sculptures to pose on and the zoo is building a new Africa Rocks area opening in 2017

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Three cuties on a giant tortoise

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A little picnic lunch outside the zoo and a couple of seal wannabes

You can buy everything you could want or need for a visit to the zoo inside at the food/drinks/snack spots and souvenir shops. Since we live in Cali and often visit some of these more expensive touristy places I tend to make the visit on the cheap as much as possible while still being special and fun. For example, I made extra fancy sandwiches and bought some fun snacks/drinks and the kids only made squished pennies as souvenirs. We did grab ice cream at the grocery store on the way home and the kids were perfectly happy with that

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I hope this post gives you a good idea of a place to visit if you are ever out this way. Also, check out the zoo’s website for added extras I didn’t touch on in this post, like ticket upgrades, animal encounters, summer camps, etc. It is a wonderful place and I would certainly have annual passes if we lived closer.

Happy Fall All!