Don’t Over-Think Summer!

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Summer is officially here, but if you are like most of us, it’s already in full swing at your house. Graduations are done, the kids are out of school and it’s time to make those summer plans.  OR not.  

Why not this year, instead of planning, shoot for spontaneity?  

Spontaneity rules at our house. Yes, sometimes it does lead to a bit of stress, and a time or two of chaos, but it’s a great ride.

The closest beach to our house in North Carolina is almost 4 hours away. Many Saturday mornings or late Friday evenings we’ve been known to look at each other and say, “Hey! Let’s go to the beach!”

We will race around, throw a few things in a backpack, grab snacks, make arrangements for the dog and get on the road. Sometimes we’ll spend the night; other times we’ll make it a daytrip. Yes, a 4-hour each-way day trip.

Why? Why not? 

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Summertime and the living is easy

 

I was raised in a family that loved the “Sunday Drive”. Mom would make fried chicken, mashed potatoes and other items for an amazing picnic. All seven kids would pile into the station wagon and off we would go. Where? Anywhere. When we got hungry, we’d find the nearest park and have our picnic. Crazy? Yes. But fun, and wonderful memories.

My husband comes from a similar background, so we keep those memories going forward with our own versions of the “Sunday Drive”.

Last summer, it seemed like it rained every weekend, and we were anxious to go camping. One Saturday afternoon the sky cleared and my husband and I looked at each other and said, “Camp On!”

Sure it was already two p.m. but there was a great state park campground only thirty minutes away. This park is well loved so the campsites fill-up quickly. The internet showed only two possible open sites, so we knew we needed to hurry. We grabbed the tent and raced to the campground. Our idea was to establish our spot by putting up the tent, then return home and pack the food and the stove and the rest of the camping supplies. Sure enough, when we arrived, we had the choice of only two sites, and a car was right behind us to take the spot we didn’t.

After we set up the tent, we went back home to get the stove and food. Looking at the less than desirable camping food in our refrigerator, we realized we would have to stop at the grocery store. Unfortunately by now it was after five p.m. By the time we would buy food, drive back to the campsite, and set up the stove, we would be eating very late. No one wanted that, so we bought fried chicken, and side dishes at the grocery store, and ate at the picnic table outside out tent. It wasn’t as nice as cooking on a campstove, but it served it’s purpose. We did have a fire, roasted marshmallows, but the best time was just being together, playing board games late into the night. 

So this summer, when you are sitting around the house worried that you don’t have any plans, think of us. Jump in the car, head to the beach, head to the mountains, grab your tent or just go on a picnic. Be spontaneous! 

 

 

 

 

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Spanish Wells: A New England-Type Fishing Village In Eleuthera, Bahamas

Fishing Boats at Spanish Wells, Eleuthera, Bahamas

Fishing Boats at Spanish Wells, Eleuthera, Bahamas

There’s no laid back, Bahamian feel to the village of Spanish Wells. Located on it’s own small island, St George’s Cay, just off the northwest coast of Eleuthera, the townspeople run a tight ship so to speak. This is the island of prosperous fisherman, renowned lobsterman, and they have no time for the laid-back Caribbean lifestyle.

The village was established in 1647, after a group known as the Eleutheran Adventurers sailing from Bermuda, crashed on the Devil’s Backbone, a series of jagged reefs surrounding the islands. The Adventurers were looking for religious freedom and instead found themselves holed up in a cave after the shipwreck. Eventually they collected themselves and established the village of Spanish Wells. Most of the townspeople are descendants of these early adventurers and their children tend to marry into local families, and with a population of around 1500 people, it makes for a unique group.  

If you aren’t expecting it, you will shocked, and perhaps feel a bit unwelcome. But stay, walk around, rent one of the beautiful homes, fish, enjoy the amazingly beautiful water surrounding the island. If the quiet gets too much for you, take the high speed ferry to Harbour Island. There the laid back feel of the Bahamas is in full force.

 

 

Homes on Spanish Wells

Homes on Spanish Wells

Houses near the docks, Spanish Wells, Eleuthera, Bahamas

Houses near the docks, Spanish Wells, Eleuthera, Bahamas

 

Storm Clouds On The Horizon, Spanish Wells, Eleuthera, Bahamas

Storm Clouds On The Horizon, Spanish Wells, Eleuthera, Bahamas

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5 Reasons You Must Visit Yosemite

From the moment we drove in, we all fell in love with Yosemite National Park. We didn’t know what to look at first, the towering pine trees, the granite faced mountains, the flower filled meadows, or the signs warning of BEARS! 

If you haven’t visited Yosemite yet, here are 5 good reasons to pack up and go!

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1. The Campgrounds Are Incredible

Before we arrived in Yosemite, I looked on their website to reserve a spot. They were full. Full as in booked out months in advance. I am always an optimist, so even though when we pulled into Yosemite and again I saw a sign that read “Full”, I asked the park ranger if there was any space. He gave us some great advice. He told us to put our names on the waiting list. We drove straight to the Upper Pines Campground, found a ranger and put our names on the list. We were number 17. She thought our odds were good. Sure enough, when we checked back at 3 p.m., guess who scored a BEAUTIFUL sight at Upper Pines? Yeah, us!  We did this for 3 days straight and never had a problem getting a campsite.

 

Lower Pines Campground Yosemite

Yosemite Valley

 

2. The Wildlife

There are animals everywhere! The kids were able to get really close to the deer, who had a habit of mingling in the parking lot. If you ate your lunch near a big tree, be prepared to share with the squirrels. If you are a bird lover, you will be in heaven! Over 262 birds have been sighted here. Again, eat your lunch outside, near Curry Village and you will have several species anxious to share your lunch too! Of course there are bears. Signs of bear sightings are all over the campground, and late at night you can hear the rangers scaring bears back into the forest. Oh, and mountain lions love to visit the path to the lake. A sign is posted on a tree there warning hikers to stay together as stragglers have been known to be picked off by mountain lions or pumas. It was a great incentive to our kids to keep up and keep moving on our hikes.

Deer in Yosemite

 

 

3. Education

Nearly every night, the rangers enlightened us with an educational talk. One time we learned about the bear population in the park. We really wanted to see a bear, but after learning how many are hit and killed by cars in the park, and how if a bear keeps coming into the campsites and won’t stay relocated he must be killed, we decided we didn’t need to see a bear afterall. The ranger talks are scary and informative. One night the talk was on Bees and Wasps. We thought, how boring and were going to leave, but we were so glad we stayed. We learned about the tarantula hawk wasp, 6-inches of pure pain. It’s job is to kill the tarantula spiders in the park. WHAT? Later that night, sitting on the boardwalk watching the stars overhead, all I could think about was a possible tarantula scurrying near my feet!

For more learning activities, kids can answer questions in a workbook of learning activities, then be quizzed by a ranger. If they pass, they take an oath and earn a Junior Ranger badge. Our kids loved these and collected them from several national parks.

Bear Warning Sign Yosemite National Park

 

 

4. So Much To Do

The activities are endless. Hiking, biking, ziplining, watersports, rock climbing, you would be hard-pressed to do them all, but it’s great to know there is something for everyone. We biked all over the park and loved it!

Bike Riding In Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

 

 

5. Easy To Get Around

The great thing about being in a park or campground is exploring. Yosemite has a way to get you around this large park and cut down on congestion. The park operates a free shuttle to move you around the park. You get to see everything, and you don’t have to stress about traffic or finding a place to park.

Beautiful Meadows in Yosemite national Park

I hope one day you find yourself surrounded by the beauty of Yosemite National Park.

 

 

 

 

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How Will You Make Summer Memories With Your Family This Year?

How will yourfamily

Summer vacation is almost here. What adventure will you be doing with your kids? How will you create unforgettable family memories? The stuff of legends? Here are some ideas from our own adventures.

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Play with wild pigs on Pig Beach, Big Major Cay, Bahamas  

 

Kissing a dolphin, Ocean World Dominican Republic

Kissing a dolphin, Ocean World, Dominican Republic

 

Honeymoon Beach USVI

The USVI are always a great destination.

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Maybe head out west in an RV

 

Yosemite National Park

To Yosemite National Park

 

Grand Canyon

Or to the Grand Canyon

 

Carnival Breeze

Or a Caribbean cruise?

 

Maybe you won’t be able to do any of those things. Maybe your family will do what we’ve done many times and just put up a tent in the backyard. Yes, we all get out there, watch movies and sleep in the tent, in our backyard. And you know what? We have great memories. 

What are you doing this summer?

 

 

 

 

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