How We Leave It All Behind - Vacation Style

Welcome to the July 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family Vacation This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared their family-travel tips, challenges, and delights. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants. ***

For us, family vacations are really just forest adventures. I'm honestly not even sure if, as a family, we know how to have a more traditional vacation. We find so much joy, pleasure, and fun in simply going to a state or national park that to go on a more traditional vacation would likely be un-fulfilling for us.

So, how might we plan a forest adventure vacation, you might ask. Here's one way we've done it before, which mayn't always be possible or (frankly) the smartest way to go about it (we've gotten better, read on).

  • 1. Pack a change of clothes or two. If you like water, have a "water bag" with items needed to get wet - towels, bathing suit/shorts, waterproof camera, etc. (This step not necessary and we've done without once or twice) 2. Grab some snacks. 3. Put it all in the car and head to a green spot on the map!

Our water bag is packed all year round! Our water bag is packed all year round!

Truthfully, this is pretty exactly how we've "planned" more than one of our 'vacations'! It work out alright, but when you don't really have a destination in mind and you don't really pack food (I mean more than sunflower seeds, almonds, and a jug of water), you're likely going to spend way more money than you need in actually eating food and possibly even gas. Yes, we've had a blast taking trips this way, but eventually I came to my sense and said to Hun, "Hey, we need to do this better in order to maximize our fun." Which, of course, he agreed. Besides, if Mama Bear says this isn't so smart and there's a better way, usually Mama Bear's listened to. At least in our family!

A better way to have a forest adventure consists of the above, though it's slightly more thoughtful. For our most recent forest adventure, we decided we wanted to go somewhere. What this means for us, no matter how vaguely it's said, is that we want to go forest adventuring. After discussing how we'd get away, we decided that it'd be best to pick a place, get the car packed, take a nap, and leave early in the morning headed to our not destination-destination (more on this in a moment). Next, we looked for a state or national forest park not too far away (a few hours) that had water and water activities. (We love getting wet in a river!)

river walker 5 mths Baby Boy was only 5 months old here!

After a starting point was chosen (that's the beauty of a not destination-destination in a state or national forest), I got busy in the kitchen. I chose what meats we'd take (see, we were going to grill this time, instead of eating fast food or spending money at a restaurant - it's all about planning), gathered some other ingredients, made a couple PB&J sandwiches for the road/snack, cut some vegetables, and filled many bottles with water and juice.

2014-05-25 11.12.51

Since our car is usually tremendously cluttered and (frankly) filthy (Hun would very much disagree with the filthy part), we cleaned it out and trashed the random papers that were strewn about. There were a few things we needed to gather at the store, so that was next. We picked up swim floaties for Baby Boy, ice, and some charcoal. After all this, it was straighten up the house and go to sleep time.

Setting a couple of alarms to leave around 6am, off to bed we went. The alarms went off, we packed the car with the last of the items needed (food cooler), and headed off into the sunrise!

There was so much beauty on the drive up to Sliding Rock. The day seemed as if it would stay sunny and mild. When we arrived, we read that the water's temperature was around 50F! We decided to continue and brave it out. Sliding Rock is wonderful in that there are actually lifeguards on duty during the day starting the weekend of Memorial Day. This means that there is a $2/person entry to the park, but we thought it was well worth it.

After about 30 minutes of playing with Baby Boy on the water's edge (he couldn't go down the slide, as he can't yet swim), it started to drizzle. Hun went first down into the bitter cold water, I went next. Despite the frigid temperature and the beginnings of a rain shower, we had a blast! Since it was only around 11 or so, we had plenty of day left to explore the surrounding Pisgah National Forest.


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