Posts Tagged With: family

May the Forest be with You

“So does that mean I can keep my chapstick in my tent?” Evan asks hopefully.

It’s the start to our happy adventure in Redwood Forest. We had just stopped in the visitor center to find out interesting places to see over the next few days, and while Evan bought a “May the Forest be with You” shirt, we found out that they did not have many bears in these woods (no need for a bear locker).

Spirits high, we headed to Stout Grove, which is near where parts of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi were filmed. We got out of our van and hiked a short one-mile loop, and every moment was special. No one complained about the hike; in fact, everyone enjoyed it, and it wasn’t strenuous at all. The only small elevation change was at the very beginning; everything else was super flat. “Everyone is having fun,” as Evan put it.

Evan, who loves Star Wars almost as much as I did when I was his age, immediately began role-playing. He jumped off fallen trees (they don’t rot!), snuck through the brush, and pretended to wave a lightsaber or a blaster in his hands. The rest of us joined in too, and he didn’t have to pretend to have weapons after he stole the small wooden spear that Abby found and “attacked” him with. The video camera clicked on and off as we repeated our “scenes” many times in order to properly capture them.

Walking through the huge trees, it was easy to imagine scenes from Star Wars. The huge trees towered three hundred feet above us, and the small plants looked exactly the same as they do in the movie. The forest is beautiful, the weather was perfect, and we could have easily spent more hours climbing on the trees, quoting movies, and posing for pictures.

So day one of the Redwoods has been very successful and might overtake Lake Tahoe as the favorite place of the trip, at least according to some members of the family. Hopefully, we will maintain this energy and excitement level as we spend the next two nights camping in the majestic forest.

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The Space in Between

“I wonder if this is insulated,” Abby questions.


“Because I might consider sleeping in here!”

These past two nights we have been camping as we journey north from Yosemite to the Redwoods–first at Lassen Volcanic National Park and then Castle Crags California State Park. So I guess our nights have been a little rougher than our stay at the Chalet View Lodge in Maybe, California where I last posted.

Lassen wasn’t a terrible campground. After we hiked around some bubbling steam pools, we stayed close to a pretty lake, and they had nice bathrooms. They even had a small closet area with a large sink for washing dishes, where Abby made the opening comment. The problem was the tiny bugs. They stuck to our clothes, arms and legs the whole afternoon and while we were eating dinner. They were very annoying, and no matter how much we brushed them off, they kept coming back. However, we found refuge in the dish washing closet, thus prompting Abby to consider sleeping indoors. Thankfully the bugs disappeared as it got dark and we went to bed without any further incident.

We have our camping routine down. We pull up to our camping space in the late afternoon. While some of us quickly put up the two tents (the bigger one for the girls and the smaller one for the boys), others work on dinner preparation. We slowly move all of our food and scented items into the bear locker, which have all had a different kind of locking mechanism. Not difficult to open, but you have to be “smarter than your average bear,” as Caroline put it. Sometimes I help; sometimes I go for a run. There are more than enough hands to go around.

After dinner and dishes (I wash and Caroline and Abby dry), we usually pause and hang out for a bit. At Lassen we sat by the lake and skipped rocks, and at Castle Crags we drove up to Vista Point where we could look out at the scenery around us. The Crags were pretty cool, but the dormant volcano Mt. Shasta was very impressive. At over 14,000 feet, it towers in the distance.

Sometimes we get to shower (state parks!), but other times we go straight to roasting marshmallows for s’mores. We recently bought Hershey’s special dark chocolate for the s’mores, and we’re wondering why we never got it to begin with. It makes them taste much better, especially with peanut butter. And yes, we do have s’mores every night. Evan would be quite upset if we didn’t.

He was also thankful that the only hiking we did Wednesday was a short quarter-mile walk to the scenic overlook in Castle Crags. Since it was rather hot, we decided to take a break from hiking and ended up visiting with one of our friends who is volunteering at a nearby camp in California for the summer. For a trip all the way out in California, we have seen quite a few familiar faces.

It’s hard to believe our journey is more than halfway over. It has been quite an adventure, exciting and interesting, yet also a little tiring. The forest moon of Endor here we come!

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Community. Alive.

“I would eat Chick-fil-a every day,” Evan declares. “But what would you do on Sunday?” comes the response, paired with laughter.

We’re sitting at the dinner table with two other families from our church back home. Once our family found out that they would be in Yosemite during the same week we were, we made plans to get together. As part of the conversation during our delicious steak dinner (undoubtedly the best meal of the trip), we all took turns discussing what one meal we would eat every day for a year, if we were stuck on an island. 

Seeing friends from home was a wonderful connection to our usual community. It’s weird being in a place where we don’t know anyone else. Especially if you’re from a place where everyone seems to have at least one mutual friend. I think we’ve all had instances where we’ve seen people who look a lot like our friends back home, but of course, they turn out to be strangers. 

Many of the people visiting Yosemite are internationals. It’s really neat to walk around and hear various languages spoken around us, knowing that we are probably all talking about the gorgeous views that we can see. We met one family on our hike to Lembert Dome whom we saw the next day as we hiked up to Vernal Falls, another beautiful view but shorter than our last hiking adventure.

However, even though we are away from many of our friends (I thought of many of my friends from school as I wore my green Cru shirt today), my family provides a great source of community. We keep each other laughing most of the day, mostly through inside jokes.

For example, “Yozemight be a nut” has become the phrase of the past few days after Abby said that to Evan while he was chattering. That and our many movie references keep us very entertained while we raft down the Merced River, sit on the riverbank, view the enormous sequoias, and gaze at the valley from up high.

Yosemite is a huge national park, with many natural wonders. I felt very small while walking past and even through the sequoia trees. It’s hard to believe that many of them are about 2,000 years old. And just an hour away from Mariposa Grove was Glacier Point, where we looked down at the valley where we had spent the day before. From 3,000 feet above, the cars and rafts looked like they were part of a model set. And a sign said that we were only observing about a quarter of the park! 

Whether it’s trying to guess the Steven Curtis Chapman song that’s playing through my iPod linked to the stereo (we put several of his CDs on shuffle) or simply gazing at the beauty that God has created, this will be a trip that we won’t soon forget. And I’m glad to be sharing it with the best community of all, my family.


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The Glorious Unfolding

“Look girls, I can point out the water treatment plant in just a minute.” We all laugh, knowing that none of us care much about water treatment plants, except my dad. But then, it’s his job, so I guess he has the right to care. Anyway, it’s more interesting than cornfields in Kansas, which he found very exciting on our last adventure out west.

And so we’re off on our adventure. After getting up at 3:15 this morning (with less than four hours of sleep), we packed the car, drove to the airport, and boarded our first flight. We even took our first series of pictures while sitting on the shuttle to the terminal.

Getting ready for a trip is usually a tedious and slightly stressful process. Since we were only checking two bags, we had to make sure most of our items fit in our carry-ons, and the liquids did not exceed the maximum ounce requirement. “What did you bring, Evan?” “The green bag of games, clothes…and mom’s purse. It wouldn’t fit in her bag.” (I think her bag is the smallest of all of ours). Then there was the usual turning off the water, bumping up the air-conditioning a few degrees, and emptying milk that we didn’t drink. However, packing the van was easier than usual due to the smaller number of bags.

Since it was four in the morning, we were all in various moods. My brother and I were filled with adrenaline, but others were more tired. Tensions were a little a high, but that was to be expected until we were en route.

Checking in at the airport went fairly smoothly. It was Evan’s first flight ever and Caroline’s first since she was four. So we could have explained a little better about putting the electronics, shoes and liquids in the bins (it’s just a little confusing if you don’t know what’s going on), but we made it through without incident.

Watching Evan getting excited for take off was probably the highlight of my morning. He brought a notebook to record what we do and when we do it. Seeing the world through the eyes of a ten year old is often more exciting because many things are new experiences. So as we head out west and see some really big trees, I’m gonna keep my eyes open for the little things too. Because it’s often the little memories that matter most.

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Don’t Try This……Alone

“So what exactly can you eat again?”

This weekend, I went back up to school with several of my friends for my small group leader’s (from freshman year) wedding.  As we were hanging out, I had to explain my strange eating habits to them, so they wouldn’t think I was starving myself.  In case you’re wondering, here’s what we’re not eating for the detox: no dairy, no sugar/preservatives and no gluten.  The only grains I have eaten so far are quinoa, rice and oats.  The rest of my family tried gluten-free pancakes this morning.

Needless to say, most of this weekend I subsisted on fruits, vegetables and nuts.  I did also bring a little leftover beef stew and turkey burgers, as well as some salmon, so it really wasn’t that bad. 

The hardest part was following the detox by myself.  I couldn’t try the tomato basil string cheese, the raspberry cheesecake ice cream or the exquisite wedding cupcakes.  I realized that it was a lot easier to stick to the plan when I was with my family and we were all eating the same thing.  (Well most of us anyway.  However, Evan’s Kraft mac and cheese looked a whole lot less appetizing today than it did on Tuesday, so maybe the detox is working after all).

The fact that my family was doing the detox also kept me going this weekend.  I was determined to keep it up because I knew that they were at home doing it as well.  They are my support system.

Support systems are very useful, and I would argue that they are necessary.  Maybe not in every situation, but I have found that they are very helpful and motivating.  Whether it’s my small group, church or cross country team, they keep me going when I feel like quitting.  As so many wise people have said before me, we were meant to live in community.  We can be as stubborn and determined as we want (and trust me, I am both), but by ourselves we will eventually run out of will power.  However, if we surround ourselves with people who will encourage us when it’s tough, then we will probably last longer.

So who’s helping you?

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Life Lessons from Bowl of Mash

If I were doing the detox by myself, writing a blog would be pretty boring—I ate blank; I liked this; I hated that; this one was okay. Yada yada yada.  Same old stuff.  But fortunately I’m doing it with my family.  This is good for two reasons.  One, they provide motivation and accountability to keep going (halfway done by the way!).  Two, they make it a whole lot more entertaining.

I will treasure the moments cleaning the kitchen with my mom and dad (we use so many dishes for this) laughing about how sick we are of quinoa (it feels like we’ve eaten it for every meal).  Seriously, try eating this bland grain every day for five days and then see how keen you are about it.  Anyway, during our dishwashing, my dad points out that these days have felt long.  And not because the food is bad—some of it is actually really good—but because every meal is a big deal.

And he’s right.  We’re supposed to eat five times a day.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two snacks.  A lot goes into preparing them.  My mom has spent so much time in the kitchen these past few days, trying new recipes and becoming familiar with new ingredients.  And since we haven’t repeated many of recipes, most are new and interesting.  Sure we’ve had quinoa each day, but it’s been cooked in different ways, and each one we’re a little uncertain about at first.  And so we discuss them all.  How we liked this one, what could be better about that one, should we make this again, etc.

Usually my family members will eat their eggs or cereal for breakfast; I’ll have my yogurt and leftovers; we’ll fix our own lunches, and then we’ll come home to a delicious meal that my mom has made, but probably one that we’ve had several times over the course of our lives.  Nothing really “noteworthy.” 

The detox has made food a clear focal point in our lives these past five days.  And it’s slowed time down.  Maybe it’s because we’re hungry and anticipating the next time that we eat, or it could be the amount of work that it takes to actually eat.  Nonetheless, we’re thinking a lot more than usual about a daily ritual.

How many times do we go through our days always anticipating the next big thing?  What if we took the time to appreciate the simple things, too, such as eating.  We do so many things mindlessly that we blink and suddenly a week has passed.  I’m so guilty of ignoring the little things, but I’m going to try to live more in the moment, especially in the smaller ones.  And if we added them all up, they probably outnumber the big moments, but we pass over them so easily.

So let’s treasure this life.  It’s the only one we’ve got, and it will be over before we know it.

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Kwinoah and Yozemight

So my family is a taking a vacation out west this summer and my mom told me I should blog about it. I guess that’s what you get when you’re a writing major. Anyway, I decided to start it a little bit early, because we’re about to begin a 10-day detox, and I figured that could be rather interesting as well.

Which brings me to the name of this blog. They’re both mispronounced words. As my mom and I were reading through the recipes for our cleanse, I came across quinoa (pronounced “KEEN-wah”). I’ve eaten quinoa (KEEN-wah) before, but I’d always envisioned that it was spelled Kiemwa or something like that. I’d always assumed that quinoa (kwi-NO-ah) was something different. But they’re not. So that was the first lesson learned of these adventures.

We’re going to Yosemite National Park this summer, and my younger sister Abby thought that it was pronounced “Yoze-might.” (Clearly we need to get out a little more). She’s usually our comic relief. She and Evan (the youngest) will probably make this blog a lot.

My family’s a little crazy, but I think they’re great.  We get along really well and spend a lot of time laughing.  In this blog, I hope to share our experiences (hopefully some of the fun translates through the written word) and also what we have learned throughout the way.  So welcome and thanks for reading!

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