An Ode to our National Parks

Hiking Sentinel Dome in Yosemite National Park

From an early age my family would spend two weeks each August traveling out west visiting a number of U.S. National Parks. I have the fondest memories of hiking, camping, and exploring all the beauty these national treasures have to offer.

A wedding in California this summer called us out West and we decided to plan a trip with our kids around visiting a Yosemite, a National Park we had never been to. Inspired in part by recently watching Free Solo we booked 5 nights at a kid friendly lodge nearby the southwest entrance of Yosemite. We used it as a base to explore the park by day. Filled with endless trails to hike, breathtaking backdrops, valleys and waterfalls we were not disappointed. We started with Mist Trail, the kids had so much fun they insisted on completing the entire loop up to Vernal Falls clocking in at 7.5 miles. We also did a shorter hike up Sentinel Dome which offered incredible panoramic views of the Valley, Half Dome and El Capitan. A stop to walk through the giant sequoias in the Mariposa Grove was another highlight. In addition to spending time in the park we got to explore nearby Bass Lake, taking the kids fishing and tubing for the first time.

After five days in Yosemite, we made our way to Sonoma for the wedding. I had booked an Airbnb in Healdsburg which also surpassed our expectations. On the plane ride out to California, I had stumbled upon the documentary The Biggest Little Farm, it’s the true story about one couples’ journey bringing to life a biodynamic farm in California. It totally shocked me, it’s gripping, inspiring and emotional and made me want to pick up and move straight to California. I couldn’t stop thinking about it throughout our trip and was delighted to learn that in addition to being set on acres of vineyards the house we rented in Healdsburg was surrounding by orchards offering various fruits and vegetables. I would start my morning on a run through the vineyards as the kids ran out every morning picking fresh fruits and vegetables for breakfast. Our own taste of a livable farm for now I guess!

Raising a family in the big city, there was something so wonderful about traveling out West and watching my kids awe in exploring Yosemite and the surrounding areas. Their bodies seemed to totally relax upon being in nature, nothing could beat their excitement in feeling the spray from a waterfall, toasting marshmallows on a campfire for the first time, a run-in with a bear, picking tomatoes that tasted like candy and finding the most perfect climbing trees. Having visited most of our national parks as a child, I have a newfound appreciation for what these treasures right in our own backyard have to offer after experiencing them this summer through my owns kids eyes.

We even saw a Bear!!!

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