For any Jeep owner, mud is an obstacle of conquering. We see mud and immediately we are fearless children who know no limits. Mud is just wet dirt calling our names to sling about everywhere. Mud is a wanton desire to cover our tires and every inch of aluminum and steel. A good mud hole is also disguised as a treacherous foe to any overly fearless seemingly arrogant and skilled off-road driver. Jeeping 101 tells us to always survey any obstacle, including mud. Continue reading “Jeeping 101: Mud”
Whether you are a new parent, or you have been raising a family for years, planning a family vacation is never easy. From planning to staying on budget and keeping everyone happy, it might seem that a vacation is more trouble than it is worth. Rather than continue down this path of stress, follow these three easy tips to ensure that your next family vacation is hassle-free. Continue reading “Three Tips for Planning Your Next Family Vacation”
Arizona has always been known for their five C’s: cotton, citrus, copper, cattle and climate. While Arizona boasts the dry,warm climate of the summer months, cooler temperatures in the northern climates are a wonderful escape. The other “C” that Arizona offers is the corn, as in sweet corn! In the town of Dewey, Arizona right outside of Prescott this welcoming community hosts the annual Arizona Sweet Corn Festival at Mortimer Farms every summer. Continue reading “Arizona Sweet Corn Festival”
He was 24 and I was 19. We took early morning drives in the rich mountainous air of the Albuquerque valley. Warm and chilly all the same. Adventure took hold and we took the hardtop off and installed a bikini top. Chasing a bit more adventure were the splashes and rooster tails from the tires that soaked us in the biting cold of the summer rain. Off highway excursions led us into green pastures ventured only by cattle ranchers and indigenous wildlife. Explorations of God’s beautiful country that you could never have seen on the paved roads. Such is a Jeep life. Even though we were kids, we knew this life was in our blood. Continue reading “For the love of Jeep”
Owning a Jeep truly is about a lifestyle. If you own a Jeep and do not wave to other Jeep owners, you aren’t a real Jeeper. If you own a Jeep, keep it pristine, has more chrome than a luxury vehicle, you aren’t a real Jeeper. Having a Jeep means that you can get off the road and into dirt on your four wheels, whenever and just because. As a Jeep owner, we also know how to Jeep responsibly by keeping our friends on four wheels in mind and the legacy of our environment.
Most people are not aware that driving and enjoying off-road, off-highway activities is serious business. Yes, you see lifted trucks, Jeeps and other four-wheel drive renditions, romping through the countryside. As legitimate outdoor, off-road enthusiasts we ensure we are doing so properly. In order to enjoy and continue to enjoy the vast wilderness in all her natural beauty, that most of us only view from an airplane, we obtain proper permits and licensing.
Now you might think….great, another fee to pay big brother.
The wonderful fact about off-highway vehicle use and proper Federal, State, and private land permits is the conservation of our natural resources. Fees paid for OHV decals, State Land and Trust Permits, private use permits and Federal Land permits are used for the maintenance, upkeep, and generation of new and existing trails for biking, hiking, off-road driving (four wheel drive), equestrian riding and other outdoor modes of transportation. What would life outdoors be like if we could not enjoy these simple pleasures.
More over if you are out on land and you come across a gate, leave it as you found it.Â Obey signs, stay on specified trails, and if you haul it in, haul it out. The resplendence of Mother Nature and all her glory as she welcomes you in her home, so be a respectful guest. Do not disturb nature in her perpetuity. Stop, take that photo and recall how deeply your voiceless moment effected you, your thoughts, the immense joy and calm washing over the divine moment. Now think about the inability to experience that godly moment ever again. Empty.
Proper permits and licensing allow for these gorgeous views through carefully carved trails by enthusiasts for adventurers. Stewardship of these trails means to take care of your surroundings by maintaining your belongings. In short, Mother Nature is not your mother, do not litter. Feel free to take the opportunity to use your off-road experience as a classroom with the various species of vegetation, land formations, layers of sediment in the mountainside sometimes only experienced by mountain climbers, excavators or archaeologists.
Before you head out on your next run, Jeep responsibly by having the proper licensing and permits. The fees instituted support the love of the outdoors, for those who wish to continue to further their affair exploring these vast, open, or not so open, spaces. Above all else these fees ensure that you are not fined or removed from the trails. Nothing says embarrassment and hazing from your fellow Jeepers with a ticket from an enforcement official. You can find out more information by checking out your local bureau of land management office or website and or the US Forest Service and Department of Agriculture.
Last November we made the decision to make an update to our lifestyle. You see, The Chad and I have always been outdoors people; camping, hiking, the open road and the wind at our feet describes our nonconformist hearts. Our life prior to children was filled with impulsive joy rides and haphazard escapades. The main aspect of our willy nilly adventures came in owning a Jeep. If you have never owned a Jeep you miss the mystique of breathing in the fresh air on this off-road convertible. As I mentioned we updated our parental lifestyle; we went out and bought a four door Jeep Wrangler, because life is better in a Jeep.
Sans kids, The Chad and I went everywhere in our Jeep. One most memorable trip together was when we lived in New Mexico, we made an impromptu decision to load up camping gear and head north. Exploring the open wilderness we set out for the Jemez Mountains. Natural hot springs, preserves littered with Ponderosa pines, volcanoes and elegant rock formations color the landscapeÂ of this region outside of Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
We set out to the local grocery story and loaded up on supplies and off we went. As we wound around the abandoned railroad track areas and deep into a wonderful clearing outside of the Gilman Tunnels. A breathtaking pasture of green, a flowing brook and cows.
I can digress on the cows, but lets face it, this is about life in a Jeep.
Only one of the many adventures The Chad and I tripped along while together with our Jeep. So when we purchased our first family Jeep we took our first family camping trip this past June. We came across a four wheel drive-Jeep club on Facebook, joined and set out on our first adventure.
What better locale to take a Jeep Adventure: Sedona!
This was no pink Jeep expedition either. We were blessed to have met an excellent group of people that had previously started out as sheer strangers. An entire day of roaming around the red rock wilderness of Sedona. All of our families and our children forging friendships, building relationships, life of a Jeep owner.
Views were breathtaking. Submarine rock. Chicken rock. Covered in red dust, bull nosed rock edges, smooth from years of weather and age and our Jeeps crawled over these high desert spectacles. A full day was spent out and about and we returned for a mid-afternoon break before heading back out for a night run with some other new found friends.
Our evening adventure was not as pretty as the mountainous red rocks that decorate the surrounding area of Sedona but nonetheless beautiful. Creeping along in the evening hours our group was a literal parade of Jeeps, a band of brothers and sisters sharing the same passion and love for life, the great outdoors, and doing it all in a Jeep. We all watched out for one another. Validating no one was losing fluids, making sure everyone was whole. Being a community.
That weekend was a day after I lost my job at the bank. A weekend I truly was dreading because of the unfortunate circumstances, but it turned into a life changing weekend for The Chad, I and our family. We met some amazing people, these same folks today we call friends and try to get together with as often as we can despite the miles in between us all.
If you have ever heard that it’s a “Jeep thing” or “Jeep life” it is an unspoken way of life. Hard to believe that experiencing life could be different, but there is something to be said about having the top off on your Jeep, experiencing the sights and smells that accompany a life of unbridled adventure where roads are optional. Above all, the relationships and friends you make along the way who share the same values and love for life as you do, those friendships are priceless and cherished. Let’s face it, life is just better in a Jeep.
Book lovers abound, Ontario, Canada is enticing all fellow book lovers to run away with a writer. You and five of your closest book-loving friends jetting off to Ontario, Canada is just the first chapter of an exceptional three-night getaway. The story unfolds in five-star luxury in vibrant Toronto where youâ€™ll get up close and personalÂ with the cityâ€™s iconic sights and with celebrated author, Joseph Boyden. The plot thickens in picturesque Muskoka; scene of fine wine and dining, galleries, outdoor adventures, an exclusive event with fellow book lovers and a resort and spa stay overlooking the fall colors of Lake Rosseau. As with every great story, the memories will last long after the final page has been read. For the readers of The Five Fish this awesome sweepstakes appeals to everyone!
Booklovers getaway combines literature with a unique, all expenses paid travel prize (and Mom’s guess what, this is some adult time away to enjoy with friends…heck bring your hubby too!)
â€¢ 2 great opportunities to spend some time with award winning author Joseph Boyden.
â€¢ Meet and Greet at the historic Fairmont Royal York hotel in downtown Toronto
â€¢ â€œAn evening with Joseph Boyden â€“ reading and book discussionâ€™â€™ in scenic Muskoka, Ontario
No matter which way the story turns everyone is a winner for this sweepstakes! So what are you waiting for, turn the page and enter to win now and here is what you and five friends could enjoy:
â€¢Â Return air travel via Porter Airlines to Toronto
â€¢ Accommodations at the regal Fairmont Royal York in Toronto and The Rosseau, Canadaâ€™s first JW Marriott Resort & Spa in Muskoka
â€¢ Shuttle from Toronto to Muskoka in quintessentially Ontario fashion via a short yet exhilarating float plane ride, admiring scenic landscapes and vibrant fall colours en route before landing on Lake Rosseau
â€¢ All meals, including a culinary tour of Toronto and dinner high atop the CN Tower with an exclusive tour of the worldâ€™s tallest wine cellar
â€¢ Two memorable literary events with Joseph Boyden, celebrated author of Three Day Road and Through Black Spruce. You and your guests will enjoy a private reception with Boyden in Toronto and attend an event in Muskoka where heâ€™ll talk about the books he has written, the one he is currently writing and how his native Ontario inspires his work
â€¢ Guided tours in Muskoka will give you a flavor of the regionâ€™s marine and aboriginal heritage; youâ€™ll experience its natural beauty while hiking and mushroom foraging; youâ€™ll enjoy its local arts scene on a fall studio tour; and of course, there will be time to visit the quaint shops of Ontarioâ€™s â€˜cottage countryâ€™.
Summer is here, and so are the groans of boredom, heat, and nothing to do at all. As parents we look to beat the heat, boredom, and provide a family friendly form of entertainment and education with our kids so we often have done what our parents have done. Road trip! The open road has been the ultimate adventure for children and adults of all ages. But let’s face it with the rising cost of fuel who can afford to take a road trip. Well now you can with Purolator and the BreatheEasy Family Road Trip Sweepstakes.
Purolator is the maker of the Breathe Easy cabin filter. So you too can breathe easy on a road trip where all the fixings are supplied for a fun filled family road trip anywhere you want to go!
Enter this sweepstakes and FIVE (5) winners will have the opportunity ti win $200 gas card, $25 gift card for snacks and $75 worth of books and toys from Scholastic! You have to hurry! Time is limited as the sweepstakes ends June 30th!
For over eight years The Chad and I have been deprived of a REAL vacation. You know the kind where you request paid time off with your employer with that hard earned vacation time that generally get’s paid out on your check. The kind where you actually leave home and relax. Yes, this is the vacation we have been seeking. While we took a small “vacation” to San Diego a few years ago where we treated the kids to a full day at the beach and Legoland, the vacation could be classified more so as a trip. We managed to squeeze in a “mini-vacation” for the kids while The Chad was working in the Southern California area at the time.
This year we vowed to actually take the kids on an adventure vacation in the states. Visiting the beach was definitely on the list and we wanted to do something out of the ordinary. We also wanted to avoid theme parks and canned vacations s at ALL costs. So my Google search began to find unique places to stay and keep within our earthy, love of the outdoors, family style vacation without going too granola. I had found it too, and wish I could recall how I came upon the idea of sleeping in a tee pee. Yes, I said tee pee. As in Native American, triangular, authentic, tee pee. A KOA located in the midst of an agricultural mecca (Ojai) between Santa Barbara and Santa Paula had these fantastic six to eight man tee pee’s to sleep in. “BINGO!” I told myself. Now pitching to The Chad was another task, I knew the kids would buy in, but would The Chad.
My master powers of persuasion were of superior quality in selling this family vacation, out-of-state and pseudo camping. Now we would gain the popular vote of the kids to see if they really wanted to trudge through crowds of cattle at the theme parks, or go camping in a tee pee. Thankfully my kids shared in my granola spirit to enjoy the great outdoors and spend time as a family sans modern technology and instantly gratifying, cartoon infested parks. Now to plan the drive as the camp area was at least an eight hour drive from home and not a journey either of us wanted to take in one shot. So we mapped the half way point which landed us in Palm Springs. Then we had to decide on our stay since it was literally just a midway for us during the vacation and did not have to be anything spectacular. But when I say it did not have to be spectacular it also did not have to mean it lacked ANY and ALL redeeming qualities.
I booked our stay at the Days Inn through Hotels.com and considering our past visits with the Days Inn we “assumed” these accomodations would be as convenient and agreeable. Oh how wrong I was! I booked a Deluxe with each stay and the deluxe afforded me the second story, which I specifically requested NOT to be booked. Small children and lugging bags is not deluxe if YOU are the concierge. The room lacked ANY form of caffeine for the early risers. A lot of good the microwave and fridge does me when I need caffeine for my morning beast. The sheets were…clean…if you could call them that. A mascara smear stained on the sheets in the fashion that the previous user received a good ol’ snogging doggy style, presumably. If you wanted to clean up and take a shower, I hope you are at least knee high to a grasshopper, because resting on your knees would afford you the chance to wet and rinse your hair and body, and if you got lucky a scalding, high heat rinse would complete your washing experience as to remove any form of germs on your body followed by an ice showering to close and tighten those aging pores. Finally the “heating and cooling” system, which was similar to a window AC unit a fraternity brother installed. We had to shim the venting with an empty bottle of shampoo in order to circulate any air in the room. Needless to say I was anxious to go camping than I was to be in this shady ass excuse for hotel accommodations. But look at that happy Photoshop family picture and the site boasts the boutique hotel? HOGWASH!!
On the road again and we were KOA bound to roast marshmallows and camp out in a tee pee. We could not be more excited.
We arrived at a reasonable time in the afternoon to enjoy the warmth of the sun and the cool of the shade in this little gem outside of Santa Paula and Ojai. Our tee pee was the largest on the property and we plotted out where everything would go, such as our camp stove, sleeping arrangements and we immediately began prepping dinner with cooking filet mignon over the open fire. I ran up to the check in area and wrangled some firewood for the evening in addition to what we scrounged around the camp area. Too busy dealing with the twins who were eager to inspect the public restrooms, which did not exist at the check in, I completely spaced reminding the camp head that we needed our heater for our tee pee which was provided as part of our package. Instead, I became distracted and attempting to distract S & S while waiting for the camp head by shopping the little general store area. Of which I found a cork screw for my bottle of chardonnay. Yes, I digressed, but sought relief in the impending alcohol indulgence. I also bought the firewood, wrangled gnomes, and immediately forgot the propane heater. BANNER!
By this time I had returned to our tee pee and was greeted by the hubs and half throwing the little people out of the car so they could scurry to the bathroom for the urgency to pee that didn’t exist, because they promptly returned to playing. Grrrr. His greeting was, “Forgot the heater huh? Isn’t that the reason you went up to the check in office?” Wanting to cry and kick his ass all at once for 1 – planning this God forsaken trip by myself with little input, 2 – doing ALL the packing for the trip within an hours time before loading humans into the car to depart, and 3 – for not making sure that the gnome sized humans stayed with him so I could focus on getting the goddamned heater. Sighs. After we went around about the cluster fuck situation I just had to deal with, he finally headed up to get the heater, and then returned empty handed. Great. I am sure this will be my fault. At this point I have pretty much said “fuck it” to the remainder of this trip, nothing else could be redeeming, and it pretty much wasn’t.
Freezing our asses off that night ,shortly after the front loaders and earth movers kicked off for the night, which was right around the ripe hour of 7pm we agreed we would not stay another night. The plan to camp in a tee pee was great in theory, but the cascade of events was not worth our trip continuing to take a shit.
The next morning we packed and headed off toVentura, where we stayed in the lovely Marriott Hotel. Which clearly was made for anorexic, petite people because they don’t believe in queen size beds. I won’t bore you further with these details, but the price was stupid for the discomfort, the only redeeming quality, COFFEE. IN. ROOM. Joy and rapture folks, joy.and.rapture. The day we arrived we spent basking in the sun on the beach. Which is exactly what we wanted to do, and did, and loved. The kids loved it. They even rode a zip line which is the other reason we chose the camp site we did, for the kids adventure activities. Which were nil and no longer offered during the “week.” LAME. Of course we did not find this out until the evening before checking out where the groundskeeper (who shared in our disdain for the construction on site at our campground) that the kids activities were only on the weekends. But the website said the activities are “always going on.” Details Karie…don’t get stuck on the details.
Our final day we trekked back to Palm Springs and the hell of the Days Inn, where check in is supposedly at 2pm…negative Goose. The check in is at 3pm and we were luck to get a room when we did, since housekeeping was still making rounds. But the next morning they were sure prompt to clean our room at 9am, I mean we didn’t even work up a morning deuce after breakfast before they were dressing the “linens” on the bed. Not to mention the “free continental breakfast” meant waiting in line at the diner on site to obtain coffee and a danish. Classy.
At last the trip came to an end and I could not have been more freaking grateful to be going HOME! That is when you know the vacation is over, when you are ready to be home, go home, and go back to work. Granted, I am excited our family was able to spend some quality time together, I just wish the trip hadn’t felt so royally fucked over. What did I learn for this vacation? Quit doing the cool shit. Talk to your friends. Get outside feedback. Just today I was told about Jalama Beach outside Santa Barbara, where you camp on the beach. We are there for the next trip. Just beach, just family. But overall the kids had fun, and that was ultimately what mattered is that they had a blast. Seeing the muster of peacocks in our campground, roasting marshmallows, playing on the beach and riding the zip line on the beach. Their enjoyment made the hellish event all worth it!
Admittedly the Southwest Airlines commercials speak to me. You know the slogan right? “Wanna get away?”
My rhetorical question in return is “Does the sun rise in the East?”
As a mother, adult, and former traveler extraordinaire, I love to get away. But who says you have to reach the far ends of the Earth, comb the beaches of the Caribbean or peruse the boutiques of Europe to consider being on a retreat or to enjoy a vacation. Let’s revisit the first word of this paragraph which will segue into my explanation for a retreat. Mother. Yes, I have child or children in my case, which can often cause a serious reduction in travel. Why? You ask. Well my main reason for a reduction in travel is due to the birth of my twins. You see traveling with two infants and the entourage of gear required for their care could be equivalent to a domestic safari of sorts. However, now that they have evolved into walking, talking, and may I add talking again, little people travel has become less cumbersome. Nonetheless difficult though when you are now the minority and children are the majority.
Additionally, taking trips sans kids can also be difficult. Finding adequate care takers and or family willing to assume your children for a day, week, or even a few hours can be a rather disheartening to the couple wishing to have adult relations outside of the home where they can once again enjoy the company of their date. I know the hubs and I daydream of what life was like without children when we traveled and literally those memories are now daydreams for us.
But we are not letting the days of whine and runny noses get us down! In fact, my mother was so kind to gift us for Christmas gift cards for a weekend or night away from home. When we opened the gift and read the note, the feeling was much like letting the crazies out of the asylum to run the streets for the night. We could taste sweet freedom once again. In fact we got so caught up in getting away we couldn’t decide where the hell to go!
Have no fear though, the hubs is a resourceful geek of sorts. Bless him for having a Hotels.com account where he has been booking almost all of his travels for business, since he travels every other week he has become a domestic expert of travelÂ accommodations. When the time came for us to book our retreat away from the kids, we looked at all the local resorts and spas within the Phoenix metro and downtown area. Finally we found a resort, spa, and casino close to home and even better, the price was right! So the hubs booked us a night at the Radisson Ft. McDowell Resort and Casino.
I was leery to say the least since the resort’s casino was known for being less than favorable. However, after reviewing the beauty shots of the resort on Hotels.com I was put more at ease and looking forward to our night and almost half day away from the kids to reconnect. I was put at even more ease when I saw the total cost of our sans kids retreat. $89 a night! With a sleep number bed, hot meal where I wasn’t required to cut anyone’s food but my own, no fighting kids for my own bed and pillows, and no worries of who would drive home due to the fact we both had some juicy alcoholic beverages. We just walked from the resort’s restaurant to the elevator and then to our room, a most pleasant evening, to which we retreated to enjoy additional quiet time as adults, reconnecting. Furthermore, we got up early enough the next morning to drive home but detoured for some breakfast at a local cafe.
Needless to say I was stoked we were able to get away and even better, Hotels.com helped us to stay on and within our budget, but were able to stay in a five star resort all Â the more. Have you ever thought about a stay-cation when you cannot always get away for an extended vacation? Do you have the same struggles of child care when wanting to go on a date night?