Palo Duro Canyon

A year ago today we started our week long road trip from Texas to Colorado! Our first stop was Amarillo, Texas which is home to Palo Duro Canyon, the second largest canyon in the United States. IMG_0957

This was one of our first hiking trips in Texas and we learned quickly that we were ill prepared for walking around a canyon in 100+ degree weather with 4 kids! We had no water, no snacks and as soon as started hiking we knew this hike won’t be lasting very long. It was a beautiful place though and I wish we had been a bit more prepared to spend more time in the park! Next time 😉

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Dallas Heritage Village – Blue Star Museum

This weekend we visited the Dallas Heritage Museum!

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I grew up in Dallas and had never even heard of this museum but it was one of the museums that military families can visit for free thanks to the Blue Star Museums program, so we figured we’d check it out. It shows what life would have been like here in Dallas back in the late 1800’s. Pretty cool really!

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I just love this little girls spirit!

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We were able to go into many of the buildings and see how they would have lived and man does it make you grateful to be born during a time when A/C is widely available!

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I’m pretty sure the kids favorite part was this old school building!

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We went on probably the hottest day we’ve had so far this summer. And the humidity was out of control! We could have spent a bit longer here but I was a sweaty mess and ready to get out of the heat. But I’m glad we checked it out!

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Check out the other Blue Star Museums we’ve visited here – Bush Presidential Library and here – Cavanaugh Flight Museum!

 

Cavanaugh Flight Museum

IMG_0178-EditWe visited another Blue Star Museum today! Today I took my mom and the kids to the Cavanaugh Flight Museum down in Addison. I’ve heard of this museum but had never been before. I was excited to see it on the list of free museums that we could visit this summer!

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It’s filled with so many cool old airplanes and helicopters! The kids absolutely loved it. Quinn read as many of the displays as Cal would allow and let us know all the cool facts about each plane.

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Many of the planes are still able to fly and you can even carter a flight! How cool would that be?!

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A fun way to spend our morning hanging out with Mimi! We hope to hit a few more of the Blue Star Museums while we can. With 4 kids and being a military family, we’ll take all the FREE we can get!

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Great Sand Dune National Park

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Does it take anyone else a really long time to edit personal photos?! Just me… oh ok lol. Years ago when I was a portrait photographer, I was editing all the time and stayed pretty up to date editing our personal photos. But as more kids added into the mix, it just was one of those things that I let slip. That’s actually a huge reason why I started this blog, so that I’d get back into the habit of taking photos! Anyways, long story short we went on an – absolutely amazing, I wish I could go back instantly – road trip last year up to Colorado and I haven’t even edited half of the photos. So today I tackled a few from our first stop in Colorado, Great Sand Dune National Park!

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This place was so amazing to see in person. It is the tallest dunes in North America! Funny story, when we arrived we passed a sign that I breifly read mentioning how hot the sand can get and that they recommend closed toed shoes. Being the smart person that I am, I totally blew the sign off and thought – Ehh, I’m sure it’s not that bad. Boy was I wrong lol. The sand was incredibly, incredibly hot and we absolutely should have had better shoes on! We started to climb up the sand dunes, after already torching our feet to get there and I had to turn around! So don’t be like us when you visit, read the signs and adhere to them 😉

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Colorado completely stole our hearts and is probably one of my absolute favorite places that we’ve visited so far!

5 Kid Friendly Hikes in Big Bend

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Hiking with kids can be challenging! Going into our Big Bend trip I knew there were some awesome longer hikes that we’d love to do but they just weren’t a reality for our 11, 9 and 6 year old children. Whenever we plan a trip I like to head to pinterest/the internet and find different areas that we’d like to see and visit but when searching “Big Bend” and “children” I didn’t find much! So here is a quick post of the 5 best hikes that I’d recommend when visiting with children!

Rio Grande Village Nature Trail – .75 mile loop

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This was one of my favorite sunset views! This is an easy hike with a bit of climbing upwards but on an easy path and the views are well worth it!

Hot Springs Historic Trail – 1 mile round trip

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Bring a swimsuit and take this easy flat walk to the hot springs! The kids loved it and enjoyed swimming in the river. We went here twice during our trip and highly recommend it!

Santa Elena Canyon Trail – 1.7 miles round trip

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Come here and expect to get a little wet! The kids loved skipping rocks and playing in the water. We then hiked along the edge of the canyon. It’s a bit of a climb up but nothing too tiring. You don’t have to do the whole thing even, you can hike up and walk along the trail a bit and still get a great view!

Grapevine Hills Trail – 2.2 miles round trip

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This is the trail you take to see the balanced rock! This trail is 3/4 easy and then the last 1/4 is hiking/climbing UP. My 6 year old needed Daddy’s help a good bit while climbing the rocks so I would imagine this one would have been tough had we come years ago when the kids were smaller. The end is well worth it!! But walking this trail with the kids definitely felt MUCH longer than 2.2 miles lol. But it’s one of the shorter long trails, so if you only pick one long hike I recommend this one!

Fossil Discovery Exhibit

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And last but not least go visit the Fossil Discovery Exhibit!! This isn’t a hike, though you can walk around a bit around the building, but this is definitely worth visiting if you have children with you. You’ll learn about what Big Bend used to look like years and years ago and see some pretty cool dinosaur bones!

(And one more thing I think you should do while in Big Bend!)

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If you’re able, definitely plan a river trip! This was the highlight of the trip for all of us and definitely something I’d recommend you do if you can 🙂 There are a few different places that offer river tours, we used Far Flung and highly recommend them!

We loved our trip to Big Bend! Taking the kids to beautiful places and letting them explore is one of my favorite things to do. One of the best parts about my husband being a Marine is that we get to move all over the country and explore places we probably never would have seen otherwise. Can’t wait to take the kids somewhere again!

Big Bend National Park – Day 3

Our last day in Big Bend we went to Santa Elena Canyon! This was really cool to see, again it’s right on the border of the United States and Mexico. IMG_3856-Edit-Edit

The kids loved playing in the river and skipping rocks! The weather also happened to be perfect this day! While playing in the river I saw something move out of the corner on my eye and realized it was a SNAKE. IMG_3863-Edit-Edit

That thing was pretty big and was probably right next to me and I didn’t even notice it haha. Thankfully it just slithered away across the river. IMG_3857-Edit-Edit

There’s a trail that follows along the edge of the canyon here too. You’ll get a bit wet so it’s a good place to bring river shoes if you have any.

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That’s a couple pictures from the walk back, the views were awesome!

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The kids played a bit more in the water and I took a ton of photos of the same view apparently lol. Afterwards we drove to a near by rangers station and ate lunch on their picnic table and then the kids turned in their Jr. Rangers packets and got a badge a patch! Definitely stop by one of the stations and pick up an activity book if you have kids along with you! Later in the evening we went back to the Rio Grande Hot Springs Trail and swim in the hot springs and river. It was a nice relaxing way to end our trip! We had such a great time on our first camping trip and can’t wait to do it again some time. If you have any questions about visiting Big Bend comment below!!

Big Bend National Park – Day 2

We started off day two with an early wake up and drive to Far Flung Adventures to canoe down the Rio Grande! This was one of the top things we wanted to do during our trip and it didn’t disappoint! We did a half day trip through Far Flung and it was so much fun. The kids LOVED it and they all said it was their favorite part of the trip as well. It’s a bit pricey, honestly everything is pricey when you have a lot of kids lol, but is definitely worth it if you can swing it.

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Getting pictures while canoeing by myself with an 11 year old was not the easiest task lol. As soon as I’d pull out my camera from the dry bag, inevitably we’d be heading right towards the banks! But I’m glad I grabbed a couple, the scenery was awesome. The United States is on the left and Mexico is on the right, we canoed right down the border!

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We stopped about half way through and took a quick snack break. We stopped on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande, so the kids can officially say they’ve been to Mexico!

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Loved, loved it! Even got someone to take a picture of all of us…

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We ate lunch in Terlingua which is a tiny tiny town outside Big Bend and then headed to the Balanced Rock trail. We read that it was only 1.2 miles (meaning 2.4 there and back) and we figured it’d be a nice and easy hike with the kids.

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These little guys were everywhere during this hike!

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3/4 of the hike is flat and then the last 1/4 mile you’re hiking up the mountain to get to the balanced rock. I’m not sure if we’re just super out of shape but this hike for sure felt longer than 1.2 miles lol. I figured it’d take us about an hour total there and back. Not so much…. It took us around 2 1/2 hours! We of course had little kids with us and stopped for a snack at the top plus a couple water breaks but after this hike I knew we probably didn’t have a 3/4 miler in our future this trip haha. Maybe next time 😉

Later that evening we drove over to the Rio Grande Village Nature Trail. This was a great easy hike to do with the kids and ended up being one of my favorite views from the whole trip! I didn’t get many photos this evening but here’s the sunset view!! All the heart eyes on this one!

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