Travel

Death Valley, CA and NV 

When googling places to camp in CA in the winter, Death Valley came up in my search and I’m SO GLAD we went! The winter is the perfect time to visit! The highs were in the 60’s and the lows were in the 30’s. We stayed at Stovepipe Wells private campground with full hook ups from 12/28/15-12/31/15. There were only 14 sites and they’re all in a row. I really don’t see any advantage from one site to another here. 

    

  
On the way there, about 30 minutes from Death Valley, we pulled over because Houston needed to go to the bathroom. We had no clue how soft the sand was that we pulled over in and we quickly go stuck. We were stuck for 1.5 hours. I flagged down a girl in a jeep hoping she could help pull us out. She didn’t have a tow strap but she drove about 20 minutes to Panaming Springs Campground and got 2 other groups of people to follow her and help us. 2 men in a truck also pulled over and had a rope and were helping us. By then end, we had 4 cars of complete strangers helping us. Everyone gave a cheer when we got out and we went around and shook everyone’s hand who helped. What a blessing they were to us! 

   
Our view while stuck.

We arrived late Monday night and just hooked up the trailer and went to bed. Tuesday morning we got up and first drove to Salt Creek. We didn’t see any pupfish because they are inactive in winter, but the area is awesome! There are huge hills of rocks, tons of this type of desert succulent, the creek flowing below you, and these wooden walkways and bridges for you to walk on. 

      

 
Then we drove into Furnace creek and got the boys the National park passports and then got all of ours stamped. 

James wanted to visit the Devil’s golf course so that is where we went next. It’s called that because with that hard salt/mud clumps that formed, only the devil could play golf there. 

  

  

  

  

  
Then we went a bit further to the lowest point in North America, Badwater Basin, -282 feet elbow sea level. The ground is covered in salt. 

        
It’s hard to see, but behind Kyle there is a sign way up that hill that says Sea level. 

Then we took quite a drive and we went up to Dante’s view, which is over 5,000 ft above the Death Valley floor. The views were breath taking and definitely worth the drive. 

     
Then we started heading back but stopped at Zabriskie Point. There were some more awesome views and landscapes. 

     
We spent the rest of the evening in the trailer and each night we watched a movie in the Back to the Future trilogy. 

One night Kyle got out the telescope and did some star gazing with the boys. Death valley’s night sky is the best view of the stars in the sky I’ve ever seen! 

   
   
We also got out the telescope and did a little star gazing because the night skies are magnificent! 
Wednesday we got up and headed into Nevada. It was the kids’ first time out of state. 

      
Before heading to Nevada, we stopped at the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. They look like sand dunes in Africa. The boys brought their Star Wars toys and did a battle scene like they were on Tatooine. 

    
In Nevada, we first visited the ghost town of Rhyolite. There were cool ruins, a house made of glass bottles, and some weird ghost sculptures. The boys loved it. 

        

      

Then we headed into Beatty, NV. There wasn’t much to do there except to fill up on cheap gas and buy some candy. We went back to the trailer, grabbed some lunch, and then did our favorite activity of the trip. 

That was a hike to Darwin Falls. We missed the dirt road right after Panamint Springs the first time and we drove all the way up the hill to Father Crowley view point. We traveled 2.5 miles on a dirt road and then it’s a mile hike. At first you’re walking on a dry riverbed, and then is some water, and then a full on creek. We had to climb some rocks, and poor Kyle had to help and carry Houston through a lot of that so he didn’t fall in the creek. The waterfalls were breathtaking! 

   
    
 

    

  
Thursday we got up and headed to Mosaic Canyon. It was beautiful there with all the rock formations. Some rocks were so slick the boys slide down them. There are these certain parts of the rock wall where there are tons of little rocks that form these mosaic patterns, hence the name. There is a picture of the boys in front of one. Unfortunately, we didn’t stay too long because James needed to go to the bathroom and got very whiny. 

   
    
    
 We didn’t get to visit Scotty’s Castle because the roads were washed out. We absolutely will return here because this place was way too much fun! 

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Travel

Stallion Springs, CA with Ken and Anna Kuzminski

We just finished an amazing, snow filled weekend in Stallion Springs, CA camping at the home of Ken and Anna Kuzminski, our neighbors of 5 years from Cranbrook. 12/18/15-12/20/15

We got up there Friday afternoon and it was cold but clear and you could see the lights all the way down in the stallion springs valley from their place. 

   
 We had our trailer on a lower piece of their 6 acres. We arrived in the late afternoon, parked the trailer, then went to their house where Anna fed us potato soup and I made apple dump cake and ice cream. Then we went out to a fire pit they built in the protection of some huge rocks and trees and ate smores and enjoyed each others’ company. 

  
Saturday we got up, Ken made breakfast and then we went to Tehachapi park and took the kids sledding. They had a BLAST!!! Kyle and I even went down the hill a few times each. I have a few videos of Wyatt and James wiping out on them. Houston didn’t want to sled for the longest time and then once Kyle held him in his lap then he started going on his own. Ken and Anna came with us and we were laughing so hard at all of the boys. 

  
  
   
   
Then we went home and Kyle cooked burgers on their fire pit. The oak wood gave those burgers a great flavor. He was so proud of those burgers. He took the boys to Ken’s area and they shot the BB gun and bow and arrow. Then we hung out at their fire pit again and it started to snow huge white snowflakes!!! It felt magical. It was hard to capture in photos but the videos turned out well. The boys were trying to catch snowflakes on their tongues. Hilarious! We made s’mores at the fire pit and then went inside once it really started getting wet with all the snow and water. 

   

   
  
Anna made beef stew for dinner and her son and his girlfriend Sam and Courtney came up too. They are into cats and board games just like us so we had a lot to talk about. They boys watched a Christmas movie and I ended up talking to Anna in the garage as she painted these tiny building for us for our “Tiner Town”. Ken made us a sign for our trailer in the shape of a canoe called “Camp Run-a-muk”. It’s so fitting for us and the boys. 

Sunday morning we got up to snow! There wasn’t a ton of it, but a light covering most places. I actually could hear it all night long hitting the trailer. Everything was really wet and muddy as we walked up to the house for breakfast. It was about 28 degrees outside. We ate, then took the boys for a little hike on their property. It was so cold we didn’t last long. We went to our trailer and watched Finding Nemo. 

   
  
Then we went to the United Pegasus Foundation with a giant bag of carrots to feed the horses. That place is a rescue center where old racing horses can go to retire without being killed. Anyone can go out there and feed them carrots. They were very skiddish and loved to run, but they did let us feed them and even James and I got to pet them a bit. 

   
   
We went back to Ken and Anna’s, made sandwiches for lunch, and then hooked up the trailer and left. I got some great photos of Tehachapi and the surrounding area and all the snow that fell Saturday night. It feels like a winter wonderland up there.  They boys want to go sledding again so we might make it a day trip one more time while we are on Christmas break. 

   
 

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Travel

San Simeon State Park

We had a little weekend getaway to the beach at the San Simeon State Park from 12/4/15-12/6/15. I booked us in the main campground, not the Washburn primitive campground. I thought this meant we would have hook-ups but we didn’t. This was our first time completely dry camping. We were in site 101, which is a great site. It was kinda in a secluded corner and it was the longest site closest to the beach. The beach was only a 2 minute walk. 

   
 
We arrive Friday night in the dark. We just set up shop, hopped inside, realized the tv doesn’t have enough power to run off our battery, and went to bed. 

Saturday morning we woke up and immediately headed to the beach. The campground has a path that you walk under the 1 freeway, and then you are there! Also, this beach has no other access to it so we were there alone because there was also no one camping almost at the campground. The boys played and had a lot of fun. There is also a huge hill to climb to get some good views of the beach from higher ground. 

   
    
    
 When we checked in on Friday night, the ranger gave us a junior ranger activity guide and said if the boys did a lot of it then they would get a metal pin. That book was awesome and encouraged us to visit the elephant seals just 4.5 miles up the 1. 

  
I had seen the elephant seals many times before, but never that active. We found out that December-January is when they all come to the beach to have babies, fight for dominance, and breed before heading out to sea again. They boys loved them and James saw this cute baby with big dark eyes and named him Eli the Elephant seal. 

   
    
 We didn’t know this existed, but there is a 1.9 mile hike along the beach that takes you to more view points of beaches with elephant seals, then to the Piedras Blancas lighthouse, and then still much further than that. We walked round trip 2 miles because we made it to the lighthouse and then went back. The walk was easy and BEAUTIFUL! Definitely a great way to spend a couple of hours. 

   
    
    

  

  

  

  

  

   
 A single poppy I found on the trail.   

   
 The ranger adventure guide also took us to the Coastal Discovery Center which was a small but cool place. You can easily miss it because there is no sign from the 1, but it was at the Hearst Castle exit by the pier. There the boys got to see the microscopic plankton in the sea in a microscope. They learned about trout, tide pools, and a boat that is sank about 70 miles off the coast. 

Then we walked out on the pier. We walked all the way to the end of the pier. There was an older couple fishing and she pull up 4 little fish on her line. Her husband took them off the hooks and let the boys hold them and then throw them back in the ocean. They were a little hesitant, but then found it so fun. 

We also saw a cute little otter eating a crab. It was so cute! 

  
  
We got the boys’ metal badges, had them repeat their pledge, and then pinned them. We spent the rest of the evening at our campsite with the boys playing, having a campfire, roasting marshmallows, then we turned on the generator and watched Pirates of the Carribean and went to bed. The only bummer was the heater for some reason stopped working and we were definitely a bit cold! Brr!

 
 Sunday morning we immediately headed to the beach again and enjoyed a walk which even lead to us seeing a group of vultures. That beach is so private and nice. We definitely want to head back in the summer because u could set up there all day, and walk back to the trailer in a minute if you needed anything. It’s definitely our summer to do list!!! 

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Travel

San Simeon State Park

We had a little weekend getaway to the beach at the San Simeon State Park from 12/4/15-12/6/15. I booked us in the main campground, not the Washburn primitive campground. I thought this meant we would have hook-ups but we didn’t. This was our first time completely dry camping. We were in site 101, which is a great site. It was kinda in a secluded corner and it was the longest site closest to the beach. The beach was only a 2 minute walk. 

   
 
We arrive Friday night in the dark. We just set up shop, hopped inside, realized the tv doesn’t have enough power to run off our battery, and went to bed. 

Saturday morning we woke up and immediately headed to the beach. The campground has a path that you walk under the 1 freeway, and then you are there! Also, this beach has no other access to it so we were there alone because there was also no one camping almost at the campground. The boys played and had a lot of fun. There is also a huge hill to climb to get some good views of the beach from higher ground. 

   
    
    
 When we checked in on Friday night, the ranger gave us a junior ranger activity guide and said if the boys did a lot of it then they would get a metal pin. That book was awesome and encouraged us to visit the elephant seals just 4.5 miles up the 1. 

  
I had seen the elephant seals many times before, but never that active. We found out that December-January is when they all come to the beach to have babies, fight for dominance, and breed before heading out to sea again. They boys loved them and James saw this cute baby with big dark eyes and named him Eli the Elephant seal. 

   
    
 We didn’t know this existed, but there is a 1.9 mile hike along the beach that takes you to more view points of beaches with elephant seals, then to the Piedras Blancas lighthouse, and then still much further than that. We walked round trip 2 miles because we made it to the lighthouse and then went back. The walk was easy and BEAUTIFUL! Definitely a great way to spend a couple of hours. 

   
    
    
    
 The ranger adventure guide also took us to the Coastal Discovery Center which was a small but cool place. You can easily miss it because there is no sign from the 1, but it was at the Hearst Castle exit by the pier. There the boys got to see the microscopic plankton in the sea in a microscope. They learned about trout, tide pools, and a boat that is sank about 70 miles off the coast. 

Then we walked out on the pier. We walked all the way to the end of the pier. There was an older couple fishing and she pull up 4 little fish on her line. Her husband took them off the hooks and let the boys hold them and then throw them back in the ocean. They were a little hesitant, but then found it so fun. 

We also saw a cute little otter eating a crab. It was so cute! 

  
We got the boys’ metal badges, had them repeat their pledge, and then pinned them. We spent the rest of the evening at our campsite with the boys playing, having a campfire, roasting marshmallows, then we turned on the generator and watched Pirates of the Carribean and went to bed. The only bummer was the heater for some reason stopped working and we were definitely a bit cold! Brr!

 
 Sunday morning we immediately headed to the beach again and enjoyed a walk which even lead to us seeing a group of vultures. That beach is so private and nice. We definitely want to head back in the summer because u could set up there all day, and walk back to the trailer in a minute if you needed anything. It’s definitely our summer to do list!!! 

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