Estes Park Aerial Tramway

One of the fun things we did while we were in Colorado was to take the Estes Park Aerial Tramway. It’s an older tram and fairly small, which probably makes more fun.  My older kids had been on a tram several years ago at Sandia Mountain in New Mexico, but not all of them even remember it, so this was a new experience or at least seemed like a new experience for a couple of my kids, and they loved it!

There was a beautiful view from the top and a picture just does not do it justice.

View from the top of the Tram

But the favorite part of the tram experience was that the gift shop at the top sold peanuts that could be fed to the animals that lived right outside their door. You’ve never seen such fat birds and squirrels, or at least I never had.

Feeding Fat Squirrels in Estes Park

Feeding Fat Squirrels in Estes Park
If you wanted to learn the ill effects of feeding wildlife, this was a great place to study it. The animals there were fat, demanding and way to comfortable around people, but I guess as long as they stay in the back yard of that gift shop, all will be okay, other than that they will have heart disease from being obese.

Summer Junior Ranger Badges

Junior Ranger Badges bring mixed reactions in my family. I think they are a fun and educational project. Some of my kids agree with me. Some, well, maybe we won’t go there. So some of my kids had fun getting Junior Ranger Badges this summer, and all got them. We (meaning my kids) earned three badges this summer from the following National Parks: Rocky Mountain National Park, Denali National Park, and Kenai Fjords National Park. They also were able to visit two new states that these parks were in—Colorado and Alaska respectively. A couple pictures of taking the pledge: (Rocky Mountain NP and Kenai Fjords respectively).

Rocking Mountain NP Jr. Ranger Pledge

Kenai Fjords NP Jr. Ranger Pledge

A few pictures of the fun we had on our different trips. (Climbing trees in Colorado, standing by an elevation sign that we hiked up to from the Alpine Visitor Center in Rocky Mountain National Park, and setting up camp in Denali NP respectively.)

Tree Climbing in Colorado

Trail Close to Alpine Visitor Center Rocky Mountain National Park

Camping in Denali NP

Injured Pine Siskin

We had a special visitor to our home–an injured Pine Siskin. He hid under a bushes for several days, and my boys would feed him out of their hands. Then one day he flew away. All is well, that ends well.

Feeding a Pine Siskin

JD Feeding a Pine Siskin

God sees the little sparrow fall,
It meets His tender view;
If God so loves the little birds,
I know He loves me, too.

Crater Lake

Unfortunately, we didn’t leave Lassen National Park until late afternoon. I was mistaken on how long it was going to take us to get to Crater Lake, our next stop. We didn’t pull in to Crater Lake until 9 pm. It was (obviously) dark. It was freezing cold. It had just stopped raining, so everything was wet. And what was worse, my husband had flown home after we left Yosemite, so we had to set up camp without him (for the first time), in the dark and wet and cold. The kids were big helps, but let me tell you that when that tent was up and the sleeping bags were spread, we were a very happy bunch to crawl into our sleeping bags. We also learned to appreciate that we have good sleeping bags, because of the cold. In spite of all of that, or maybe because of all of it, we slept like tops.

The next morning was still cold, but we got up early, tore things down, ate in a hurry, and headed out to see what Crater Lake looked like (and to pick up our Junior Ranger Books at the Ranger Station.) We were not disappointed.

Photography at Crater Lake

Photo Credit: The above picture was taken by Zippy

Zippy (age 13) at Crater Lake

Baby Talking to a Squirrel at Crater Lake

Photo Credit: The above picture was taken by Zippy

G'tums Feeding a Squirrel

Photo Credit: The above picture was taken by Zippy

You should meet the squirrels (Golden-Mantle Squirrel) at Crater Lake. They are the biggest beggars ever. They will eat out of everybody’s hands. They even stand on their hind legs to get your attention. And it works!

Crater Lake

Photo Credit: The above picture was taken by JD Boy.

What a beautiful place! We surely enjoyed ourselves.

And of course, before heading out, we stopped and got the kids’ Junior Ranger Badges and had their National Park Passports stamped. The Ranger there thoroughly embarrassed them.  He hollered for everybody in the gift store to please give him their attention, and then he waited until everybody did and then he introduced the kids as the newest Crater Lake Junior Rangers and everybody applauded and the kids turned red and I grinned.

Crater Lake National Park Passport

Photo Credit: The above picture was taken by Zippy

Lassen National Park

For us, the visit to Lassen took on a life of its own. First off, after spending a few days at Yosemite, my husband needed to fly home to work. So we dropped him off at the Sacramento airport, and a rather brave me started the long drive home that was to include more stops.

We stayed in Redding, California, that night, where we had made sure that we had reserved a hotel that had laundry facilities, because we were a bit desperate for clean clothes at this point. (I had packed lightly for everybody with the calculation that we would do laundry twice during our trip and we had already missed our first chance to do laundry before heading in to Yosemite.)

So fairly late at night, looking like a bunch of, well, of campers, we pulled up to the Red Lion. You should have seen the face of the nicely dressed gentleman at the front desk when I went to check in. He politely (and a bit stiffly) asked me how I was, and I said “I’m just looking forward to a shower. I just came from Yosemite.” I knew exactly what he was thinking.

Then we pulled around, and the older kids and I drug all of our stuff into the room, showered, discovered that they had herb tea packets in the room that we found to be quite tasty and relaxing and then turned out the lights and fell asleep.

Early the next morning, I got up and pulled together all the dirty laundry and then headed out of the room to find the laundry facility. After walking up and down every hall of a hotel that was quite a maze, I returned to the room and phoned the front desk to ask where the laundry facility was. I got the pleasant reply, “I’m sorry we don’t have laundry facilities.” What? We double checked before we reserved the room.

Immediately, I woke the kids up and said, we’ve got to go find a laundromat. Now mind you, you can’t get four kids out of a hotel with a moment’s notice—well, if you can, please send me the directions. Eventually, we had everything together and we were buckled into the car, and I had the address of the nearest laundromat and we were off for the next adventure. But horror of horrors, the laundromat’s wash machines were all broken So we all plugged our noses and grinned at each other and headed out to Lassen.

Okay, none of that had to do with Lassen, but it’s the part that I remember about it. It was going to be nearly four more days before we got home, because we were going to a little camp meeting for the weekend, and I didn’t know when we were going to find laundry facilities. And just so you know, we didn’t. Fortunately, my husband drove down and met us at the camp meeting, so he brought some clean clothes for us.

Lassen National Park was quite pretty. I wished we could have camped there, as all the campgrounds were close to very picturesque little lakes. (And we hadn’t got to do laundry anyway. We did however find a Trader Joes in Redding, so we had restocked our food supplies and we were all happy about that.)

Lassen Peak

However, as you can see Lassen Peak (the peak in the background) is rather lunar looking. We had to do a hike for the kids to get their Junior Ranger Badges, so we chose to hike out to the sulfur pots. I’m just going to say that by the time we were done with that hike, none of us wanted to hear about Junior Ranger Badge requirements. It was only about a two hour hike, but part of it was steep, and Baby decided that she was too tired to walk. Remember, my husband wasn’t with us, so Zippy and I took turns carrying her. Then the camera broke for some reason, so we lugged that heavy ole thing for no reason. Needless to say, Zippy and I were exhausted by what was supposed to be short hike, and just so you know, the sulfur pots stunk. But eventually, much later than we had planned, the kids were awarded their Junior Ranger Badges and we were on our way to our next destination.




Next on our trip, and the main point of our trip, was Yosemite. What an amazing park to visit! We were there during the wildfires, so we were not able to visit Tuolumne Meadows, which, of course, means that we will need to go back. (And I can’t wait!) We were able to visit most of the park though and we saw some beautiful sights. We enjoyed visiting when most kids were back to school, because the park wasn’t as full, however, we hope to make it back sometime when the waterfalls are at their peak.

One thing that impressed me about Yosemite is that it is so big. I don’t mean big, I mean gargantuan. When we drove to Mariposa Grove, it seemed like it took a couple of hours to get there. It kept going and going.  The views though are what are so impressive. I don’t know how else to describe them other than that the views are big. They are so impressive.

Now for some photos.

Mariposa Grove

Big Root Ball - Mariposa Grove


Grizzly Giant is a Sequoia that is between 1900 and 2400 years old and, as is obvious, has survived many forest fires.

Half Dome and other sightings from Glacier Point

A Happy Little Girl

Half Dome at Sunset 1

Half Dome at Sunset 2

Four Mile Loop Trail

A Tree in the Forest

Valley Floor Loop Trail

Taking a Walk in Yosemite Valley

Resting After a Hike

El Capitan

El Capitan

The kids also earned their Junior Ranger Badges at Yosemite. Even Baby got a badge.

Really there aren’t words to describe how beautiful Yosemite is. I think people who live and work there must be better people just for the view that they inhale every day. It just does something for your soul.

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.” ~John Muir

Oregon Coast

To get in the mood for school this year, we took the first week of September and did some amazing sight seeing. I have finally uploaded the pictures to my computer, so this week I will share about the different places that we were able to visit. Enjoy!

Well, the first day we spent driving, and we have no pictures to show for that, I s’pose, we should have taken some tail light pictures, but we just enjoyed (for the most part) each other’s company and the fun of feeding a family of six in the car. (Did I say messy?)

The second day, we spent a bunch of time playing at the beach—playing in the sand, running in the waves, watching the birds (and the other people) and, of course, taking pictures.

Kids Waiting for the Waves at the Oregon Coast

My honey and I walking the Oregon Coast

Most Photographed Lighthouse on the Oregon Coast


We visited the Sea Lion Caves. That’s where the above picture was taken. I’m sad to say that we were a bit disappointed in them. I was bummed, because I had visited them as a child, and had such strong memories of the place, but it turned out to be smaller than when I was kid and not as interesting either.

After that, we spent the rest of the day, driving, driving and driving some more.

We ran into a snag that night. I had packed with the intention that, we would do laundry twice during the trip. That night was supposed to be my first chance, but the wash machine didn’t work at our hotel. Oh, no. Well, a little planning, and I thought we’d make it okay through our next few days of camping, as long as the toddler didn’t have any accidents and  nobody fell into anymore water. (Everybody under the age of 20 had to have a complete change after playing at the beach.) But that was only the beginning of our laundry woes.

Forget the laundry woes, the trip kept getting better from there.

Redwood National Park

Another Junior Ranger Badge for the kids’ collections.

We made a flying trip to Redwoods National and State Park with the cousins to see another national park and earn another junior ranger badge. We got a bunch of pictures so rather than write a bunch, I’ll let you wait for these pictures to all get loaded into your browser. Sorry (only kind of) that there’s so many. Hope you enjoy them at least half as much as I do.

A walk at through the Redwoods

JD Boy at Redwoods National Park

Strong Young Man

It's a long ways down there

G'tums Posing in a tree



Nana & Baby Taken a Walk Caption: Nana & Baby taking a stroll

Baby in a Tree

Lush Forest Caption: Some lush forest

JD Boy at Redwoods National Park

Don't Take My Picture

Cousins in a tree


Cousins and BFF's

Root Ball--RedwoodsCaption: One big rootball

Cousins Around a Tree

Tall Trees--Redwoods

And I would remiss to not show a picture of them getting their Junior Ranger Badge.

Junior Rangers at Redwood National Park

And a picture in front of the park sign.

Cousins in front of Redwood National Park Sign