A family on the road living fulltime in an RV.

Tag: Biking

Adventures on Antelope Island

So we thought we were going to say goodbye to our village friends Sunday morning in Provo. The RVs were packed so we took our goodbye group picture and gathered…

So we thought we were going to say goodbye to our village friends Sunday morning in Provo.

The RVs were packed so we took our goodbye group picture and gathered for hugs.

Then…

In an attempt to deal with my sadness and to throw out one last effort to put off having to say goodbye, I half jokingly said something about coming to Antelope Island with us.

Pause…

After some discussion the village decided to head to Antelope Island State Park for five more days together!!!!!!

YES!!!!!!!!!

The sun smiled and a bluebird came out to sit on my shoulder

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah-zip-a-dee-ay! My, oh my, what a wonderful day!!!!

Sunrise Antelope Island UT

Antelope Island is the largest island in the Great Salt Lake. While Antelope Island is only a hop, skip, and a jump from Salt Lake City, it feels like a world apart with its nearly untouched beauty. Mountains surrounded by golden rolling plains overlook the glassy water of the lake.

Visiting Antelope Island State Park UT

An abundance of wildlife, most notably bison, call Antelope Island home. The bison were everywhere: dotting the hills, on the roads, cruising through the campground, and even on the beach.

Three in a Row Bridger Bay Campground Antelope Island UT

Bridger Bay Campground, while primitive, was a beautiful spot to call home for five days.

Morning Coffee Antelope Island UT

We sat on a hill overlooking the lake, a perfect place for morning coffee.

It was a relaxing week filled with bike rides, walks, and being with friends.

Swimming in Great Salt Lake Antelope Island UT

We even braved the cold and wind to take a quick dip in the Great Salt Lake.

Burrrr Antelope Island Great Salt Lake UT

Burrrrrrrr!

Buddies Antelope Island UT

Buddies!

Don't look behind you

I finally got to spend time with a blogging friend and her family who I met online over 5 years ago. Some bison cruised by at dinner.

Brent Biking Bison Antelope Island UT

Brent and I slipped away for some hiking and a bike ride.

Bison on the Beach Antelope Island State Park UT

I have this habit of calling beautiful places “magical” but right now, even with the bugs and the bison poop on the beach, I can’t think of a better word for Antelope Island.

Magical.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Arches and Adventures in Moab, Utah

When we hit the road in 2011, we each had the places we most wanted to see. Brent was excited about Maine. Thing One couldn’t wait for New York City….

When we hit the road in 2011, we each had the places we most wanted to see. Brent was excited about Maine. Thing One couldn’t wait for New York City. And Thing Two insisted we go to Egypt. Maybe someday, Thing Two.

Utah was my promised land. No, we aren’t Mormon but I had seen enough pictures of red rock arches and sheer cut canyons to know I would love it. And I did.

Moab was crazy beautiful.

BLM land moab UT

Our home for the week was a desolate spot on BLM land. This may be my favorite “backyard” yet.

Arches National Park Moab Utah

We spent a few days exploring Arches National Park. Arches National Park is known…well…for its arches. There are more than 2000 in the park.

Double Arch Moab Utah

Thing One wasn’t that into standing under arches after seeing the movie at the visitor’s center. He kept saying matter of factly, “You saw how that thing was formed. That (pieces of rock falling) could still happen.” It was just an excuse to not have to walk so much. Nice try, buddy.

Shoving me into a puddle!

He was, however, into trying to shove me into a mud puddle. Anything to avoid hiking I suppose.

Delicate Arch

State Symbol of Utah Delicate Arch

We did hike to Delicate Arch, the most famous arch in the park. We couldn’t let the Utah license plate be our only view of the arch.

Canyonlands National Park with friends

While in Moab, we also spend a day in Canyonlands National Park with full time RVing friends, Rachel and Spencer, who we met in Breckenridge.  Canyonlands is divided into four districts most of which are not easily accessible by car. Just another reason to come back, next time with a 4-wheel drive.

Arch in Canyonlands National Park

It was nice to not have to ask strangers for family photos.

Slick Rock Moab

Jeeps in Moab

Jeeps Slick Rock Moab

We tried mountain biking on Slick Rock Trail but decided it was out of our league after about…100 feet.

It was fun to watch the jeeps though. And another reason to come back.

IMG_7975

We did find some easier trails to bike.

Family Mountain Bike Ride Moab

Mountain Biking Moab Sunset

Nothing beats a red desert sunset.

Mothers Day

Except for maybe a red desert Mother’s Day followed by lunch at an authentic Mexican dive with my two favorite kids.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Swept Away on Sanibel Island

As you can imagine living in an RV with 4 people can feel a little tight and there isn’t a lot of space for “grown up” time. It’s okay because…

As you can imagine living in an RV with 4 people can feel a little tight and there isn’t a lot of space for “grown up” time. It’s okay because we know it won’t be long before “are we there yet?” coming from the backseat is only a memory.

Still, sometimes when Brent and get the rare opportunity to be alone, we get so overwhelmed by the prospect of being able to do whatever we want – What? No whining from the backseat! – that we we find ourselves frozen in the face of options. We can stop for coffee without spending a small fortune for four people? We can take a long bike ride without worrying about someone riding out into traffic? We can wait for the sunset without being reminded that someone is “hungry”?

We can and we did at Sanibel Island.

When my mom and dad offered to watch the boys and Brent and I loaded up our bikes and headed to Sanibel Island, an island (you figured as much) off of Fort Myers. We parked in the chamber of commerce parking lot and took off down the miles of bike path that stretch over Sanibel.

Joy. Pure joy.

We rode in the warm breeze our hearts carefree and as light as the wind. We shared the best blended ice coffee ever at Sanibel Bean. We found a nearly deserted beach and watched the sunset. We talked. We laughed. We held hands. We hugged. We kissed.

Sanibel swept us off our feet and we enjoyed every minute.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Chickmauga and Trouble in Tannehill

We’ve been busy and a little bit lazy. I think it’s the Florida sun. It’s hard to stay indoors and write when there so much beauty outdoors. Except I miss…

We’ve been busy and a little bit lazy. I think it’s the Florida sun. It’s hard to stay indoors and write when there so much beauty outdoors.

Except I miss you.

I miss sharing our adventures with our little circle of friends.

So here we go. Catch up time. This week. For sure.

After we left Tennessee, we headed to Alabama but not without a stop at Chickamauga National Military Park. We are in hot pursuit of the special Junior Civil War Historian Badges which requires completing 3 Jr. Ranger programs at participating parks or 2 Jr. Ranger programs plus an online activity. Chickamauga is a participating park and we were ready.

Except we weren’t.

The time change. We drove as fast as we safely could to the park thinking we had an hour to browse the visitor center. As it turned out we had about 2.5 minutes before it closed.

Awesome.

Still we drove around and read the brochures I begged the ranger to give us before he locked the door to the visitor center.

The next day was better despite waking up in a Walmart parking lot.

We rolled out of Wally World and 20 minutes later arrived Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park. It was early, leaving us with a whole day for school and exploration. Tennehill Ironworks Historical State Park is a home roadschoolers dream. It’s hands on history complete with a museum and numerous old buildings in a beautiful setting. We took off on our bikes for the Iron and Steel museum of Alabama. Afterwards we checked out the cotton gin and made our way to the old furnace. I watched as the boys explored with excitement.

Yes, these are the days I dream of.

Almost.

Feeling overly ambitious, I suggested we take another route back to our trailer.

We headed over the bridge to what looked, on the map, like a short trail back to our campsite.

All was well and lovely until I looked back and saw this…

Somehow Thing 1’s back wheel had gotten out of alignment and it was sticking on the break making it extremely difficult to peddle.

And extremely difficult to stay calm. Notice the distance between Thing 1 (in the top right corner) and his bike? I’ll let you guess how it got there.

We carried on because “according to the map” the campground must be right around the corner. Wrong.

We rode and rode.

And I had some very unhappy, hungry, thirsty, tired, little boys.

What felt like miles later, we came to the end of the trail except there was no campground in sight. Uh-oh. Thankfully, there was a maintenance man and he explained to us that we had missed the short loop and had ended up on a different trail. He also offered to take us back to our campsite.

What started off like this.

Ended up like this. Thing 2 won’t even look at me.

Sigh.

At least there were deer right out our window. That always makes for smiles.

I think Meow Cow agrees.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Overcoming Fear at Point Sal

I heard the sound of a harp digitally strumming from a distant land of the awake.  I felt Brent’s warm body shuffle next to me.  It was 6:15 am. Realizing…

I heard the sound of a harp digitally strumming from a distant land of the awake.  I felt Brent’s warm body shuffle next to me.  It was 6:15 am.

Realizing that it was the alarm, I asked  just to be certain,  if it was indeed the alarm.  One can hope. I told Brent I was going to stay in bed and he could go alone with Matt.   He insisted I come.

Fifteen minutes later, I was wedged in the crevice between the bed and the closet nervously searching for my clothes.  Getting to your things isn’t always easy in an rv but digging through plastic drawers of black pants for a particular pair of black pants when your nerves are on edge is a test of character.  I got dressed and shuffled across the cold sidewalk to the house where Brent had prepared scrambled eggs and black coffee.

At 6:50 I headed upstair to wash my face thinking I have 10, probably 20, minutes to get ready.  Not so.  Matt showed up 10 minutes early.  We piled into his van and  headed off to Point Sal.  I settled into the front seat excited and nervous for my first ever mountain bike ride.

Bikes scare me.

This explains why I haven’t owned once since I was 10 years old.  Once when I was riding along a country road in Indiana a car drove by and the side view mirror hit my forearm leaving a long red cut from my elbow to my wrist.  They didn’t even stop.

But the real fear comes from when I was in elementary and my little brother fell on his bike in the back yard.  The details are now  fuzzy in my mind but I remember it like this. My brother was riding around in the backyard when he fell going down a slope behind the garage.  The handle bar hit his stomach.  There was a red mark but the skin wasn’t broken. Thousands of little boys fall on their bikes every day so there didn’t seem to be reason for much concern.  However, my parents watched him for a few hours and noticed he was getting more lethargic. They took him to the emergency room.  He ended up being in the county hospital for a week getting sicker and sicker.  Why they didn’t do a ct scan right away or whatever it is they do to see what was wrong I don’t know.  Maybe because it was a small hospital and they didn’t have the right equipment.  Maybe the ct scans didn’t exist back then.  I dunno.   I remember visiting him and his little pale body lay motionless in the hospital bed with tubes coming out of his nose, mouth, and stomach.  All from a simple bike crash that didn’t even break the skin. After a week, he was transferred to a children’s hospital where they discovered he had a punctured pancreas. They removed a part of the damaged organ and he came home almost a month after the accident.  Just a little bike ride down a slope in our backyard.

Today, I was going to face my fear of bike riding and hit the trail.  I was nervous to be sure but I was also excited.  Brent used to love riding his mountain bike in the hills of Santa Barbara and for years I’ve dreamed of finding the courage to join him.

We parked the van and unloaded the bikes.

It was still cold from the night but the morning couldn’t have been more beautiful.  The sun was still barely above the mountains casting golden rays over the hills.  Matt and Brent gave me a few instructions and we headed up the old fire road.  Soon after we started, I realized that they were right and my seat was too low.  I wanted to be able to touch the ground with my feet.  However, my legs were getting thrashed and we hadn’t gone very far.  Raising my seat gave my legs an immediate relief and we continued upward.  Every turn surprised us with a new view seemingly more magical than the last.

We reached the top and started our descent toward the beach.  They adjusted my seat and told me to put my weight back and ride my breaks if I needed it.

The road narrowed and tall reeds lined the sides of the path creating “a tunnel”.  Broken reeds poked up through the old asphalt like spears. They boys rode up ahead of me and I “sat back in the saddle” lost in the exhilaration overcoming a fear and of the ride itself.

The road narrowed again to a “single track” and I took a deep breath determined to continue on my bike. I went as slowly and as carefully as possible trying to avoid  deep grooves where the earth had been washed away.  At one point, I got off my bike and walk down the loose rock.  No shame in using my head.

We parked and continued by foot down the hill to the remote beach.

The sun had warmed the day and we walked along the sand each in our separate thoughts.

I found a dancing starfish.  (Yes, I know they are technically called sea stars.)

And I decided to dance with it.

We saw dolphins.  There was an abandoned dirt bike under a cliff.   One can only imagine how it got down there.

The day was perfect yet there was work to be done so we headed back up the trail toward our bikes and began our ascent.  Back on the rough single track I fell.  I slipped off the back of my bike pulling it onto me and landing in the tall reeds.  Ouch.  But I lived and continued by foot to our meeting place.

I headed up the next part of the trail  ahead of the boys because I knew within minutes they would catch and pass me.  They did.

Halfway up I realized I was going to half to walk and half ride.  It was quite a blow to my ego but a relief to my legs. What goes down must go up when mountain biking.  I continued walking and riding until we reached the peak.

After a short rest we started down the last phase of the trail.   We adjusted my seat and took off.  The boys again quickly disappeared ahead of me checking in every so often to make sure they hadn’t lost me off the side of the mountain.

Exhilaration.

The wind, bumps, curves…all of it, but especially the thrill of overcoming fear, made my cells buzz with the thrill of living.

Love and laughter,
Jenn

 

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Avila and an Old Friend

Today, the boys went with their grandma Noni to Avila Valley Barn.  Yep, we are still at Brent’s parents.  I’m thinking we should just stay here for the year and…

Today, the boys went with their grandma Noni to Avila Valley Barn.  Yep, we are still at Brent’s parents.  I’m thinking we should just stay here for the year and I’ll make up stories and find pictures on the internet to post instead.

Thing 1 took a bunch of pictures at Avila Valley Barn with his new camera.  This kid is a go-go gadget just like his dad.  He saved up to buy his first Mac at 10 years old and he doesn’t use it for video games.  He uses it to research whatever it is he is “interested” in at the time.  Be it rvs or Kirby vacuums.

I was bummed Brent and I didn’t make it to Avila.  Goats are my favorite animals.  (Don’t tell my cat.)

Instead, Brent worked and his oldest friend, Matt,  (they went to preschool together) came over to tune up our new from Craiglist bikes.  (THANK YOU Matt!!!) Matt also gave me a mini-lesson on bike maintenance.  My last bike was a white Schwinn with a banana seat and basket. I was 10 so I’m a liiiittle rusty.  I’m also a little crazy because my first long ride since I can remember (maybe ever) is going to be up and over a mountain!  Tomorrow morning, Brent, Matt and I are going to Point Sal.  😉  I can’t wait!!!!!!!!  I think.

Do keeping tools warm count as help?

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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