This Land Was Made For You and Me! Part 2

Sequoia National Park

With so many gorgeous State and National Parks to be seen in California, our travel agenda over Easter was simple. Park Hop. First destination was the wondrous Sequoia National Park, but before I share our journey, I need to have a Mommy moment.

As I sat posting pics of our trip, the song "Come Away with Me" by Norah Jones was playing in the background. How perfect, and of course, I cried. Our everyday lives are so busy filled with all of the things that we enjoy doing (and some that we do not), but it's so important to have this time as a family to just be one. To share these visions of God's beauty while walking beside one another is a blessing in itself and I am so thankful! Just know, my angels, that I'll forever be asking you to Come Away With Me!  

you will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. isaiah 55:12

hiking Moro Rock

We took turns hiking Moro Rock because we did not want to bring our three year old on this excursion. While it is only a 1/4 mile in distance round trip, the climb is very steep. My eight year old daughter accompanied me on this exquisite hike and did very well! Should you have a need to rest, though, just tuck to the side and offer to take pics for the other hikers as you take a breather...that's always most appreciated! 

the Parker group

We must be visiting the right places because I find myself saying the same thing over and over, but it's true. We were in TOTAL AWE of the enormity of these trees. Like something out of a fairytale, we walked carefully with our heads tilted backwards and our mouths wide open. The magnitude of these trees is something I never imagined, and we knew we were mere visitors among these towering giants!

Meet me in the giant Forest: Visiting General Sherman

Tunnel Log 

The kids loved driving through and exploring the area around the Tunnel Log before dark. We had planned for two days at SNP, but the first day there was a fire and the entrance that we were at was temporarily closed, so we had to do as much as we could in one day. We were due to arrive in Big Sur the next day.

Reimer's Candies & Gifts was the perfect ending to our fabulous day in the park!

Our stay at club royal oak

While there are a couple of RV Resorts closer to Sequoia National Park, we decided to stay in Kingsburg, California, at Club Royal Oak which is about 45 minutes outside of SNP. We are Catholic and wanted to stay near a church, so that we could attend Easter services. The Holy Saturday Vigil at Holy Family Catholic Church was a beautiful, reverent, candle lit service that was standing room only. Arrive early if you want to sit in a pew and be able to fully participate in this beautiful Mass. 

Off the beaten path and away from road noice and traffic, the grounds at Club Royal Oak provided a nice little setting for our Easter Egg Festivities. Our neighbors even bought the kids bubbles which was a sweet gesture. I was able to get in a run around the grounds and that always makes me a happy camper! The kids also played down by the water for a bit each day and they enjoyed that. Two night stay here and then we were off to Big Sur!! (Be sure to read Part 1 of this entry because Big Sur has been my favorite RV trip so far, just being honest!)

easter Festivities on the road

bringing the real world back to the classroom! 

Look at Tripp in the pic on the left. He is the tiny image in the red shirt on the bottom right. So amazing! Appreciate that his teacher allowed him to share his experience with the class.

in his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.

Job 12:10

This Land Was Made For You and Me! Part 1

We planned another "two in one" trip over Easter choosing Sequoia National Park and Big Sur as our destinations. Both are California must-sees filling you with marvel, but because I am a beach girl, let's talk Big Sur first!

Sequoia National Park: The Parker Group

Big Sur, California

That moment when your eyes and heart see the same thing and it takes your breath away. That's Big Sur. Over and over.

Driving down the Pacific Coast Highway is a vacation in itself. I slid open my window, camera in hand and snapped away not wanting to miss a second of its beauty. The sun glistening on the most gorgeous, variant blue waters, the feel of the cool air on my face, the smell of the salty ocean air, and the faces of wonderment and excitement all around me...already, this is the place I want to come back to year after year!

Growing up in Waveland, Mississippi, the beach was at my front door. I can still recall the feeling of yearning, even anxiousness to get to her waters edge. That excitement and contentment still lives within, especially when she is in my sight.

Big Sur Campground & Cabins

I loved Big Sur Campground & Cabins, our home away from home for this trip. Woods and water (not rain water) are the perfect combination, in my opinion for a camping trip. From the moment you arrive, the staff acts as if they have been on pins and needles waiting for your safe arrival. After the friendliest of greetings, it was time to set up camp among the redwoods. With the smell of burning fire in the air and the fantastic energy of everyone around us, we explored our surroundings which included the greatest playground at a campground to date, according to my little campers, and the coolest tent cabins that I have ever seen! And just so you know, don't waste any time trying to post one of the fabulous pics you just took as you drove down Highway 1...there is no reception! (Tip: if you walk towards the entry of the campsite, go across the cool bridge, veer left towards the mailboxes which are down the little hill near the retreat center, you will get a few bars! What can I say? I went exploring this option for my readers, of course!) Be sure to bring your coffee cup as you make your way down there--FREE delicious coffee at the camping store awaits you!

And now, Riding with Rien Rose:

Rien Rose, Queen of the Redwoods

This time, we went to Big Sur. It's a fun, beautiful, charming place. When we got there, I was very excited. Seeing all the trees is a gift if you live in Arizona. That's one reason I liked it a lot. Once you park the RV, you can do many things like go to the park. Their park is very, very fun. It's like you are in a park, but it has all of YOUR favorite things. There is a lot more of Big Sur, but that's what I wanted to tell you for now.

-Rien Rose, 8

Julia Pfeiffer burns state park

Our first stop was Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park where we completed a few short, easy hikes, one which lead to the famous, protected McWay Falls, an absolute stunning view. The contrasting colors of the trees, rocks, and water were enamoring and tempting...if only we could get down to that beach!

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is known to be one of the best camping locations on the West Coast, with two hike-in only sites (sorry, RVers). It's obviously no surprise why this location is most coveted.

It is life, I think, to watch the water. A man can learn so many things.

Let's Eat!

Finding a place to eat that will have something appealing to everyone can be tricky, but not if you go to the Big Sur Lodge Restaurant at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. I sat sipping a refreshing Arnold Palmer just admiring the trees through the amazing windows of the Lodge while the kids played Tic-Tac-Toe on their menus--can you say relaxing? Families were riding by on their bikes, hiking across the shaded bridge, or birdwatching in the distance. With it's lovely setting, excellent service ("someone" thought it took too long...maybe he was just starving!), and affordable food that my children raved about ($10 for children's meal with beverage), this was just the perfect place for us to reenergize before spending the afternoon at Pfeiffer Beach.

We did stop at a few other places along the way to check out their menus, but it was too fancy for their liking. Here's my picky-eater son, Tripp's, take on his dining experience:

"I like the food at Big Sur Lodge. It is a really long wait, but it is worth it. I like the Chicken Tenders. The Big Sur Lodge is a good place." Tripp - 7

We tried to get a dinner reservation at the highly recommended Nepenthe Restaurant, but unfortunately, the times did not work for us. My only regret of this trip was not making a reservation in advance, as I would have loved for us to be there at sunset...oh, well, NEXT TIME! Joseph salvaged my disappointment by grilling a "melt-in-your-mouth" tenderloin (leftovers for the rest of the trip) that we paired with a salad. Breakfast when we are camping is our very favorite to prepare, surely giving any of the surrounding restaurants a run for their money. Plus, my décor is cuter, right?

Easter Monday Breakfast Buffett

Pfeiffer beach...purple beaches off the beaten path

Pfeiffer Beach is NOT located at the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park as the name suggests, but just a few miles away down an unmarked road. Ask any of the park rangers or locals and they will send you in the right direction. As you can tell from the first picture below, the unpaved road to this beautiful, secluded beach is only one lane, so you might want to leave the RV at the campground. Parking is available, but scarce. Some people chose to park on the highway and hike down to the beach, but it's a few miles, so we took the jeep. Kids placed bets on the ride down whether purple sand even existed and then scrutinized it once they discovered it was indeed a reality. The rock formations are magnificent and discovering all these new sights, sounds, and textures together is the best...I love watching them take it all in. 

play is the greatest form of research.

Point lobos state Reserve 

I see and I remember. I do and I understand.

Surrounded by the most astounding views, Point Lobos State Reserve was much like a nesting toy with each trail revealing another beautiful surprise. Providing many unique opportunities for family learning, it was definitely our favorite! The kids loved exploring the tide pools and observing the seals and other animals in their natural habitats, but simply playing at, what seemed like their own hidden shore, Gibson Beach was their highlight! Even though the water was freezing and the waves kept crashing through their sand constructions, their enthusiasm for this new experience never wavered!

Gibson Beach

you, me, & the sea

How we love you, Big Sur! Thank you for all the lasting memories that you provided our family. Until next time...

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me), It's always ourselves that we find in the sea.

This entry is dedicated in loving memory of our friend and vet, kerman dubash, and our loyal companion,  texie boy.

Bring Back Wildhood!

Let's give them what they are truly missing...

I absolutely LOVE this video on RVing! When making plans for the summer, consider RVing. We rented several times from Cruise America before deciding to purchase our Thor Ace Motorhome. #gamechanger

Check it out at http://gorving.ca/bringbackwildhood/

 

Let's give them back their wildhood!

Do your children have a favorite camping destination? Would love to hear what's on their "must see/do list"!

 

Disney Fort Wilderness Bound

Plane tickets for six plus rental car, plus hotel, plus baggage, plus dog boarding, plus all the things I'm not listing, too expensive! So, here is the way we choose to roll these days. Meet the 2014 Thor Motor Coach Ace 30.2 

RV travel: Thor Motor Coach 30.2

RV travel: Thor Motor Coach 30.2

After what seemed like an eternity of packing (it's hard to decide what shoes you are going to hide from your husband--packing tip #1 below in gallery!), it was finally time to begin our destination to the happiest place on Earth, Disney World! In addition to going to Disney World, we were so excited about our stay at The Campsites at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and when it comes to campgrounds that place is amazing!

First up, a twelve hour drive to beautiful Kerrville, Texas, the heart of Texas Hill Country, where we set up camp for the night at Buckhorn Lake Resort. When I say "set up camp", I mean Joseph connected our RV to the campsite hook-ups, leveled the RV, opened the slide out, etc., while I typically tidy up the RV and get the kids ready for bed (no black water dealings for me--divide and conquer, my friends!) We settled in for a good night's sleep and thankfully, no one fell off the top bunk...excellent netting idea (see pic below), Babe!

We always try to get some exercise in before we hit the road in the morning and that's also the time that we really get to check out the site/amenities that the resort has to offer. And in case you are wondering, the one piece of equipment that I would NEVER leave home without when it comes to exercise and children is the B.O.B Sport Utility Stroller...oh, the places it's been! 

Buckhorn Lake Resort was the perfect stay for us--convenient location, beautiful grounds, excellent customer service, CLEAN comfort stations (I don't really like that term, though), and more! And guess where we stayed on the way back to Tucson? Yep, Buckhorn! 

And now, Boo's View

Lee Kids -1

HI! I'm Mary Rillens (the one in the middle) and I am 11 years old. My family and closest friends sometimes call me, "Boo".  I'm the oldest of four and typically Dad's co-pilot when Mom needs a break. Here is what I noticed about Buckhorn Lake Resort

  • It is cool how you can leave your trash out and the staff take it for you. Also, there are no stinky smells! 
  • The showers were great, clean, and by the pool.
  • They have two pools, one for adults and one for families with kids. I think they are heated, too!
  • The cabins look nice for a larger family and were away from the rest of the RV's and trailers, so it was quiet.
  • The grounds were clean, open, and pretty!
  • They also had a playground for the kids, plus you can go fishing right by the playground.
  • They had a mini mart and gift shop with great prices and desserts. Guess what we had? (For a hint, see Rien Rose's shirt in the top picture.) 
  • The only bad thing was that the restaurant was not open when we were there, so be sure to bring lots of food! 

Talk to you later! It's time to roll! 

Mary Rillens

we have arrived!

An Experience in Itself...The Campsites at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort

What made our trip to Disney so memorable was having two totally different experiences in one! We stayed at a campsite at the beautiful Disney Fort Wilderness Resort. My husband had a conference to attend for a few days prior to us going to the Parks, so the kids and I were able to just explore and enjoy the beautiful grounds of this campground. Some of the outdoor activities include fishing, swimming, tennis, archery, horseback riding, arcade play, boat rentals, movies, sing-a-longs, and fireworks to name a few. It was just the relaxed, manageable, and beautiful setting that I desired for our family with the convenience of traveling to the Parks by bus or boat throughout the day. The Hubby and I were also able to get some training in which is always high on our priority list. We set the bikes up on trainers outside of the RV and also ran the gorgeous trails--a must!!  Humidity was crazy in July, but you adjust.  For a fee, you can pay to use the Health Club at Disney's Wilderness Lodge which is great, too!. We ate a few times at Trail's End Restaurant, but for the most part brought all the foods that we would need prior to arrival. One last thing, we chose a Preferred Campsite #929 and our loop location was very close to the Settlement Trading Post which I found to be very helpful for this fantastic "glamping' (glamorous camping) experience! 

Happy Trails to you! 

Magic Kingdom at Disney World

Making magical memories, Annie Pierce and her Daddy

Making magical memories, Annie Pierce and her Daddy

Aside from our time at The Wilderness Campgrounds, we visited the amazing Magic Kingdom where everything is a must see, Animal Kingdom--Festival of the Lion King is beyond fabulous, and then spent our last day at Typhoon Lagoon which was a blast! (Be sure to get there before the gates open, so that you can secure a shaded area around the awesome wave pool.) Our family's top favorites from this Park were The Surf PoolCrush N' Gusher, and the Shark Reef. There were tons of activities for the baby to do, as well, and even some that we all could enjoy together. It was just a great way to wrap up our trip!

Had a fantastic Disney vacation and we can't wait to go, again...just when everyone passes the height requirements!