Mysteries in Our National Parks Books

I just saw these mysteries mentioned on one of my Facebook groups and I thought they looked great for young adult readers. Heck, I might read some of them! If you are going on a national park road trip or vacation with kids, it would be fun to get them a few of these. Here are some descriptions from Amazon:

“In this fast-paced adventure, the Landons trail a wounded wolf in Yellowstone National Park. The park is abuzz with rumors of a wolf attack. Meanwhile, a killer stalks the woods. Unaware of the danger, Jack and Ashley are more concerned about rebellious teenage foster child, Troy Haverson. From the opening moments at Old Faithful through 48 action-packed hours, the tension builds: What is lodged in the wolf’s radio collar? And what is the meaning of the Native American story of Sin-a-Wavi? A heady mix of suspense, adventure, and moments of tenderness lure readers into this story of kids discovering the natural world. The book’s afterword, by Yellowstone’s Michael K. Phillips, explores the park’s Wolf Restoration Program.”

“The Landon family is Southbound—headed for Florida to investigate a mysterious illness plaguing endangered manatees in Everglades National Park. Jack, Ashley, and their friend Bridger soon find themselves in deadly waters with a seven-foot shark, an injured manatee—and a mystery to solve. Who was the stranger in the speedboat who snatched Jack’s camera? And what does he have to do with the manatees? Join the heart-stopping chase through a maze of mangrove islands to find out!”

“Life-threatening accidents keep plaguing the Landon family as they investigate the mysterious deaths of white mustangs at Zion National Park in Utah. Even before they get to the park, Jack Landon knows that Ethan Ingawanup spells trouble. Things start to go awry after Ethan and his sister—two Shoshone kids—are placed in the Landons’ care. The questions begin to mount after Ethan teaches Jack and Ashley the ancient Ghost Dance: Are all the hair-raising events just coincidental? Or is there some strange magic in the dance ritual? The answers await in the raging waters of a slick-rock canyon called The Narrows. The afterword by Lyman Hafen of the Zion Natural History Association discusses white mustangs and public lands in Utah.”

Enjoy and let me know how they are!


We Bought an RV!

Our RV shopping trip to Florida was a success! We went to look at several RV parks and a few RV dealers. We also went back and forth by email with some other dealers to make sure we were getting the best price we could. In the end we decided to order a new 2018 Grand Design Reflection 297RSTS from the factory. It will be ready for us to pick up in September. Grand Design seems to have a good reputation in the RV world.

The first RV dealer we looked at was Lazydays in Tampa, Florida. This is a large dealer with an RV resort, big store, restaurants and even training classes. I had heard they did not deal much, but we knew they had a lot of stock to look at and we were interested in seeing everything they offered. We wound up buying our Reflection from Lazydays. They offered us a nice percentage off of MSRP, we liked our sales person and we loved the ability to stay overnight (or several nights) and test everything out. They will give us a full walk through of our travel trailer and even have classes we can attend since we are new to all of this. They are also a close drive to Orlando where we will be for several months in case we need any warranty work done.           

Lazydays is so large we were driven around in a golf cart. Our sales person dropped us off near all of the Grand Design Reflection and Imagine travel trailers. He asked if we wanted him to look with us or come back. Since we wanted to take our time in the trailers and not rush, we looked for a while without him hanging over us. He had other customers waiting around too so this worked out well for all of us. Many of the trailers were hooked up to electric and the AC’s were running. This helped us to get an idea of how cool they stay in 95 degree Florida heat!

The floor plan we chose was one we had been eyeing online for a while. It is just shy of 34 feet and has a nice layout for full time living. There is a small fridge and grill outside as well as a television. Not sure how much we will use that, but it is a nice option. The loveseat folds out to a bed and the recliners are heated and face the TV and a small fireplace.  

We decided to go with a free standing table and chairs even though we thought we would like the dinette better. The dinette was not comfortable and Craig was really cramped at 6’4. We also opted for a second AC since we will be staying in some hot areas (like Florida in September and October.) There is a lot of cabinet space, so hopefully we can fit the small amount of items we are taking with us. It looks like a small cat litter box can fit in the bathroom and a crate can fit near the center kitchen island. Their water and food also can fit in the kitchen area. There is a combo washer/dryer hookup in the bedroom, but we will see if it is worth loosing some closet space after we move in.

We also looked at Orlando RV in Winter Park, Florida. They were very nice to us, but did not have any Grand Design Travel Trailers there. We got to look at several floor plans that were really nice, but the RV companies (Forest River, Jayco, etc.) do not have great reputations from my research. I feel like we have been researching for years, so it is so exciting to finally have a decision made! Now for the truck shopping… And job applying…

When we got home our new campsite sign that we custom ordered was waiting. We love it and can not wait to get on the road! 3 more months!

 

 

       

National Park Week

 

 

Remember it is National Park Week and entrance is FREE to your parks! Here are the other free dates for 2017:

  • January 16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • February 20: Presidents’ Day
  • April 15-16 and 22-23: Weekends of National Park Week
  • August 25: National Park Service Birthday
  • September 30: National Public Lands Day
  • November 11-12: Veterans Day Weekend

 

I love these great images for you cell phone background, desktop background and Facebook cover photo too! Download for free from the National Park Foundation here. 

 

Helicopter Tours - Las Vegas & Grand Canyon

September Trip Planning 


The past few weeks we have been busy getting rid of furniture on local groups and selling things on Ebay. We are trying to get rid of as much stuff as we can before our September launch date. 

In between work projects, I have been planning our September route down to Florida and our Florida to Wyoming route for March/April 2018. 

We hope to travel down to Florida with just the truck and pick up the travel trailer there. I was able to book our rooms for Shenandoah, Great Smoky Mountains, Congaree, Charleston and Savannah. I still need to look at Florida and see where we may want to stay for two or three nights before we pick up the RV.  A few of the RV dealers there have parks that you can stay in overnight while you load your RV up. 

Lazydays even has a huge RV store where you can purchase a lot of RV items. It would be great if we can make a deal with them for a travel trailer we like. Then we can stay for a few nights and take some RV classes and shop. Also, we want to make sure everything with the RV is OK. 

I have also started booking RV sites for our Florida to Wyoming trip in March/April 2018. We want to give ourselves around 5 weeks to get there and stop along the way. We hope to see some beautiful beaches, New Orleans, Austin, San Antonio, Big Bend National Park, the Rio Grande, Guadalupe Mountain National Park, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Roswell, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Rocky Mountain National Park (hoping for no snow) on our road trip! Whew! The Florida state park sites go up for booking next week, so I hope I get the ones we really want. I heard the Florida beach parks can be tough to get.

The first three months of our Florida fall/winter season are booked at Fort Wilderness. That should work out great if we work seasonally at Walt Disney World. We will look at some other parks for January 2018 to the end of March 2018 while we are visiting Florida in May. 

We are both super excited to start our travels and work in the national parks! 

 

Top 10 National Park Hikes


This is a list of my favorite national park hikes we have done. We have only visited 18 parks out of 59 so far, so I am sure these may change over time. Thanks to Adventures of a Day Hiker for the inspiration. For now here they are!

10. Bright Angel Trail-Grand Canyon National Park

I am sure the Bright Angel Trail will move higher up on my list when we finally get to stay at Phantom Ranch on the floor of the Grand Canyon. We only hiked part of the Bright Angel while we were at the Grand Canyon because we had limited time and a lot to see. Many hikers do a day hike to one of the rest houses or Indian Garden since this can be a tough one to climb back up from. We visited in October and it was still 80 when the sun was out.  The summer can be deadly. Listen to all the warnings and remember you have to go back up! This website and book are great for hikers and visitors. We also loved the South Kaibab Trail, but only got to see a little of it.

9.  The Zion Narrows-Zion National Park

The Narrows is more of a wade through the North Fork of the Zion River than a hike with elevation, but it can be hard on your legs and balance. Most day hikers do the bottom up day hike. You can also camp and get a permit to do the top down to see more of the scenery and canyon. You can rent water shoes, hiking sticks and even waders from shops at the entrance to Zion national Park if the water is cold. The shoes really help with the rocky bottom and give support to your ankles so you do not turn them. The hike is beautiful and unique. There are usually lots of people having fun towards the beginning, but it gets quiet the further you go. The Narrows can be closed from March-May, so check before you plan to go. 

8. Yellowstone Picnic Area Trail-Yellowstone National Park

There are a lot of amazing hikes in Yellowstone National Park, but we have only done a few of them so far. I hope we get to do many more next summer since we hope to work seasonally in Yellowstone or Grand Teton National Park! People raved about the Picnic Area hike in Lamar Valley near Roosevelt so we gave it a try. We only saw two or three other hikers the whole time, so I would definitely bring bear spray. It is an easy hike once you make the first initial climb from the parking lot/picnic area. There are lots of sheer drop offs so watch the kids. The views are beautiful and sweeping. We also love Trout Lake, Mystic Falls, Observation Point and the whole Upper Geyser Basin to Biscuit Basin for easy hikes in Yellowstone.  

7. Uncle Tom’s Trail-Yellowstone National Park

While short, Uncle Tom’s Trail packs a punch. It is steep going back up, and many people rush and forget water. Remember, you are already at a high elevation. The views of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone on this metal staircase trail are great. You are right next to the Lower Falls. Try to get the rainbow in your pictures. Take your time and enjoy!

6. The Queens Garden Trail-Bryce Canyon National Park

I really felt like I was walking around in a fairy tale when we hiked the Queens Garden Trail in Bryce Canyon. You feel so tiny next to the hoodoos when you actually start walking around next to them. The floor of Bryce Canyon is lush and peaceful. Wall Street is amazing to hike through. We only stayed a night in Bryce Canyon and I can not wait to go back.

5. The Precipice Trail and The Beehive Trail-Acadia National Park

I lumped the Beehive and the Precipice Trails together even though the Beehive is shorter. I loved them both and both have amazing views. The Beehive is easier since it is about half the length of the Precipice. The Precipice is really more of a climbing/bouldering course than a hike. I wore biking/climbing gloves on the Precipice and they really helped with the iron rungs. Some parts were changeling for a short person like me, but several brave kids were doing the hikes. Not for those with a fear of heights! 

4. The Mist Trail-Yosemite National Park

I love Yosemite National Park so much. The valley is amazing. We can not wait to go back and do lots of hiking and exploring. I am hoping we can work a summer/fall season there in 2019. The Mist Trail hike was one of the highlights when we visited in 2015. Craig was wearing sneakers and it was very wet, so we did not get to Nevada Falls. My hiking boots did a great job. I would love to hike to Half Dome while we are working there, but it does scare me a bit! 

3. The Highline Trail-Glacier National  Park

Glacier National Park is a hikers dream. The Highline Trail is a great hike from the Logan Pass area. You must get there early to find a parking spot, or take a shuttle from where you are staying. There are sheer drop offs, but the hike itself is a pretty steady elevation change. We saw waterfalls, mountains, mountain goats and breathtaking views. One of my favorite national park hikes so far.

2. Angels Landing-Zion National Park

I would rank Angels Landing #1 except it was SO CROWDED when we went in October 2015. The temperature was perfect-in the 80’s. You will probably want to get on the West Rim Trail to Angels Landing early so it is still in the shade. The switchbacks are killer. It is even a great hike if you stop at Scout Lookout. The views are incredible. If you are brave try the chain portion. It is short, but if it is crowded be prepared to wait. You may want to check on when the sun will be hitting the canyon for the best light and pictures.

1. Grinnell Glacier-Glacier National Park

Grinnell Glacier is my number one national park hike we have done so far. It is amazing to see the effects of climate change and how the glaciers have shrunk. It was also so nice to hike with a ranger and group of national park fans.The whole hike has stunning views. I can not wait to do this hike again. We hope to work a summer season in Glacier. Maybe in 2020!

Thanks for reading and happy hiking! Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more pictures.

 

Shop The North Face at Moosejaw.com

The Award Winning LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

Treasured Lands


We just got this beautiful book from the library and have been looking through it. If you love our national parks you should try to find it! 



The title is Treasured Lands: A Photographic Odyssey Through America’s National Parks. It is hardcover and quite heavy. There are 456 pages of amazing photos. QT Luong worked on Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan’s documentary The National Parks America’s Best Idea. 




I love this part of the description: “In an odyssey that spanned more than 20 years and 300 visits, Luong focused his lenses on iconic landscapes and rarely seen remote views, presenting his journey in this sumptuous array of more than 500 breathtaking images.

Accompanying the collection of scenic masterpieces is a guide that includes maps of each park, as well as extended captions that detail where and how the photographs were made. Designed to inspire visitors to connect with the parks and invite photographers to re-create these landscapes, the guide also provides anecdotal observations that give context to the pictures and convey the sheer scope of Luong’s extraordinary odyssey.”

RV Shopping 

Last Saturday Craig and went to look at some RVs with two of our friends. The only RVs we had looked at recently were Airstreams, so we were pleasantly surprised. 

Many of the floor plans would work great for full time living. There is much more storage space and room in the RVs we toured than the Airstreams we looked at. I expected them to be cheap looking, but the flooring, kitchens, wood and design were very nice. 

Some had large showers in the bathrooms and nice closets in the bedrooms. Several even had outdoor kitchens with a sink, grill and small fridge. One brand, the Mesa Ridge, had nice insulation and heat around the tanks. There were small fireplaces and heated seats!

We are pretty sure about the floor plan we want and several brands have that style. We are going to check some more out in person. It was cold, and many had the slides in so we could not get a great idea on true space. The dealer we visited has a spring open house where many will be fully open for touring. Hopefully we can see more of the floor plans we like ASAP.