Resolve To Be Bold

I want to do something bold and exciting for our family camping trip this summer

Have you taken your family into the backcountry and camped in the wild, away from any established campsite? How about camping in one of the great national parks? I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, but as we head into another week of sporadic rain, here in NorCal, I’m left with little else to do – other than plan an exciting family adventure for this summer!

The kids would love to see a geyser

I am pretty sure that my kid’s first choice of places to see, this summer, would be Yellowstone. Somewhere, either at school or on TV, they saw or read something about bison and they have been bugging us ever since to “go see real bison.”

I am sure the geothermal features would be a big hit, too. The kids got a taste of that last summer, when we spent a few days in Lassen Volcanic National Park. At 9 and 10 years old, science is beginning to pique our girl’s interest and I would like to encourage that – and I think a trip to Yellowstone would.

The downside, of course, is that Yellowstone is 1,000 miles away. That is one week of just driving (there and back) or a big cash outlay for airline tickets and a rental car. I could ship our gear to a hotel. I am not sure that we are up for that, but it would be the bold thing to do and being bold is never easy, right?

Wherever we end up, this summer, we will take a cue from last year’s vacation and make it a full two weeks. Historically, we have taken a few days here-and-there, but last year we did a full two weeks in one shot, traveling up the California coast and crossing into central Oregon. We got to camp in a lot of really cool places, from redwood forests to wild riverfront campsites on California’s Smith River and Oregon’s Metolius River and then there was Lassen, on the way home.

With two full weeks, we had a lot more freedom to spend an extra day somewhere, or see something new that was a bit out of the way. Whatever we decide to do this year, I want to make sure it is something bold and exciting – something the kids will remember.

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14 thoughts on “Resolve To Be Bold

  1. Pingback: Lots of Camping | Dad vs Wild

  2. Hey Roy- As I think you know, we live a little less than an hour from the north entrance to YNP. If you do decided to come, let me know if there is any way I can help. I used to guide natural history tours in the park, taught e.e. to kids there and go at least once a month with my own family. I’d love to give you the “insider’s scoop” on campgrounds, trails etc. Maybe even come down for a hike, if you’re up for it. And if you need a place to crash for a night or two (and don’t mind a futon in the basement and kids on the livingroom floor…) you are more than welcome to stay with us.

    I have a lot of enthusiasm for Yellowstone 😉

  3. I really liked this post as it reminded me of a similar notion that we lived out when we camped near the Appalachian Trail in North Georgia. I had visions of then taking the family can camping on the trail. All I can say that with all of the gear and experience nothing can prepare you for camping with children. As a parent you start to think crazy thought like what if someone gets hurt and your cell phone does not work, what if the kids are too loud for the nearby campers, what if we are attacked by wild bears, and the what ifs go on! The two things that actually made it quite difficult the two times we tried was the extreme cold and the rain. There just was no way around it and that just leaves you in your tent for quite a long time. Looking back what we ended up doing was more reasonable which was to choose a campground very close to the Appalachian Trail that afforded us the comfort of a campground and we could go out for the day for hikes with the family onto the trail.

    I recall another time when we visited the Smokies and I remember when we were hiking on the trails and thinking how small we were in the scheme of things. Our cell phones did not work due to loss of reception and there were no people to be seen the entire time. The one person I remember meeting was an older gentleman that told us how he had fallen and hurt his knee pretty bad up there. He recalls getting surgery shortly afterwards and when he was well enough he returned to hiking the same mountain. It just reminds me of how we really become part of nature when we are out there really away from it all. I loved reading the comment above about the bison sleeping next to the tent. That must have been something! I guess in that moment you might be thinking what do I do with a bison sleeping next to me? It really is a moment by moment scenario in which you might have to call upon your most primitive survivor skills even when you are in “national park”. The moral of the story is that the creatures have no boundaries or limitations and as families we have to educate ourselves on all sorts of etiquette! I could never even imagine what it would be like to meet face to face with a grizzly. Can you imagine? I may be challenged to think of these things a little bit more because I am a nurse so predicting and trying to avoid danger is the name of the game.

    As newbie campers I remember a time when we arrived to our camping site in the mountains and we got all tucked in for the night. Who knew that there would be raccoons there to pop open our cooler and help themselves to left over pizza! Lesson learned! Camping and hiking is a great time to spend with your family! Resolving to be bold this year could be the best ever!

    • Ugh, Michelle, raccoons! Oh, I’ve got some raccoon stories… 🙂 It’s true, though, we’re always thinking about bears and cougars, but I’ve seen people leave stuff on their picnic table and go for a hike, and the next thing you know, their campsite looks like a scene out of Hichcock’s movie “The Birds” – who proceed to scatter everything on the picnic table all over the campsite.

  4. My mom took me and my best friend when we were sixteen. It was one of the best trips of my life. We drive from our home in Baton Rouge, La, and stopped at all kinds of great places along the way. You could easily do 1000 miles in a day or two. It sound like they are at the perfect age to both learn a lot from the trip and still be blown away by seeing a bison 4 feet from your car. I say drive for sure. It’s so much more awe-inspiring when you’ve driven for a long time and seen the scenery change before your eyes. I can’t wait til my fiance and I have kids and we can take them to these amazing and wild places. Even Yellowstone in the summer when it’s full of tourists still feels so big and unsettled. It’s a once in a lifetime trip to take your kids before they become more worried about boys (like I was when I went!).

    • I am pretty sure we would drive, Christine. I have not looked too closely at the route, but I am guessing that there would be some cool things to see along the way – maybe a ghost town or two, in Nevada or Utah.

  5. I have been to Yellowstone. Parts of it were awesome and some not so much. When you arrive at the park they give you flyers about not interacting with the bison because they can be aggressive. That being said… the campsite we were assigned to had a bison trail running through it. We didn’t know it was a bison trail until the bison (singular) came ambling down it and plopped down in his/her sleeping area next to our tent. Bison love to roll in the dirt and actually make circles much like a cat might make in your garden for rolling in. This huge animal actually rolled on his/her back and rolled around for a bit before curling up to sleep. To have a bison sleeping beside your tent is a little intimidating. One of the boys (9 at that time) just didn’t think this was such a great adventure and went to sleep in the car. I figured if I was going to die it might as well be that night so took my chances with the tent. When we got up in the morning the bison was gone. We did the same and packed up and left also. We did see the geo-thermals which were very amazing, and the drive through the park was beautiful. We headed for Montana and Canada after that stop.

    I wouldn’t tell you not to go, but I would advise that you really research campgrounds and sites within the park. Our campground was just a big open field and not attractive. Actually, I would probably advise to hold off a year for the Yellowstone trip and let your littlest one get just a little older.

    My hope for the summer is to pack up my car and head off across the US and visit a lot of National Parks and some state parks and forests that I have wanted to visit for a long time. So that’s my resolution to be BOLD.

    • I don’t think I would like having a bison sleeping next to our tent either, Jenn! You are right about the campgrounds, too – Yosemite has some lousy ones, too.

  6. Regarding backcountry camping with the family – definitely. We camped out last weekend in a state forest near the Twin Cities. Hiking in with kids (5 and 3 yrs old) was rough, especially in the snow, but we made it happen.

    We’ve been through Yellowstone a few times, coming both from Sacramento and Minneapolis. The geothermals are fantastic and the wildlife is in your face, like no other park I’ve seen. It’s a substantial drive but worth the trip.

  7. Yellowstone is on my list of places to see too. I’d love to hit a national park every year actually! Now the kids will be a wee older this summer, maybe we’ll hit The Smokies or somewhere close like that!

    • I don’t know if we could do it every year, Melissa, but I sure want to tick a few more off of our list, before the kids are teenagers 🙂