October 5, 2015

Mesa Falls - Island Park, ID {take a scenic byway}

Hey friends.  I've got more goods from our Idaho/Montana/Wyoming adventure today.  I was wondering, how many times have you passed a Scenic Byway sign and just flown right by it?  I think most of us do this honestly, in our haste, we tend to want to get where we're going, thus missing some pretty cool stuff.

If you're on vacay, I suggest you might spend sometime to investigate one of these signs....you never know what you might find......

.....like an incredibly beautiful set of waterfalls.

This is Upper Mesa Falls; farther down the river you will find Lower Mesa Falls.  Upper Mesa Falls has a paid entrance (I believe $5 per car) and well maintained paved paths as well as several overlooks.  The views are spectacular.

According to local legend, some kids actually decided it would be a good idea to go over the upper falls in a kayak years ago.....they survived.....and it looks like people still go down the lower falls....

The gift shop/museum used to have a news article posted about the kids on the upper falls, but they took it down as to not encourage any other potential Darwin Award winners.


Speaking of the gift/shop museum, it's worth taking a peek.  Especially the back room which has a ton of different animal hides and skeletons that you can actually touch.  Be careful though, per the sign, certain things are not to be touched - if you do you will be "shot at dawn".  Levi touched one of these untouchable items - after I read him the sign I think he was terrified to get up to early the next morning.

On our way in we met this guy on the path and he quickly attached himself to Levi's shoe.  Those guys are sticky!!  We had trouble getting him off.

So next time you are out and about, don't pass the scenic byway, you are probably missing something good.

Here is how our adventure went for this mini trip:

From Island Park heading South on Hwy 20, we actually passed (I know) the Scenic Byway sign and first headed into St. Anthony to grocery shop at Broulim's.*

We waved to the Teton's...

....and after grocery shopping and eating the best deli sandwich of our lives, we headed back East on Highway 20 and this time did not pass the Scenic Byway sign.

Then we turned off on ID-47 N toward Mesa Falls.

Here is a map of Mesa Falls:


*Side nugget of info, if you are going to stay in the area, Broulim's is a great little store - more selection than Dave's in Ashton and cheaper than the stores in West Yellowstone and they made the best deli sandwich of our lives.

So, enjoy your Scenic Byway adventures, you never know what you might find!


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August 26, 2015

How to Road Trip with Kiddos

So we recently returned from our summertime Idaho, Montana, Wyoming adventure.  Living in Northern California, it is a 14 hour drive for us to reach our destination.

Back when we were only 2 plus a big dog, we made a bed in the back of our Subaru wagon and one of us slept while the other drove.  We drove straight through, leaving at 2 a.m..  Oh the freedom!

Two years ago when we took our then 4 year old, our Subaru wagon still worked for us, though no bed in the back....and we still managed to do it in a straight shot, leaving at 2 a.m....although this did occur at hour 13...

This year, with a baby and a now 6 year old some changes had to be made.  First off, we bought a new vehicle.  I'm obviously not suggesting the way to take a road trip with your kids is to go out and buy a new car, but we knew it was coming....in fact, when we went on our Father's Day adventure with only 1 small bag each, a small cooler and baby's ultra small travel crib* and no dog, we had zero room left over.  Hence, new car, or in our case truck.

So, Tip #1 - Have enough space to be comfortable.
This is real folks.  It is hard enough being crammed in a car with kids and car seats and dogs and stuff for a long, long time.  Comfort is your friend.

Tip #2 - Be healthy.  In our case this means: don't find out your 9 month old is allergic to raspberries the day before you leave so that then you are driving with a 9 month old stuck in a car seat with a head to toe itchy rash.  :(

The only good part about this was the cure was Benadryl, which meant she slept basically the whole time.

Tip #3 - SNACKS!  For real.  Snacks are required for any road trip, no?  But snacks are especially required with kids.  You can avoid multiple stops by having snacks at the ready for when your little one's get hungry - or you do.  We had granola bars, apples, bananas yogurt, sandwich food and more.  For the babe, we used these* and they were a lifesaver!  Way easier to feed a munchkin in a car seat with a squeeze pouch than food in a jar....and way easier than breastfeeding said munchkin in a car seat.  #truth

Tip #4 - Entertainment.  We are pretty TV minimal in our house, especially for the kiddos.  This year, we broke down though and set our 6 year old up so he could watch Wild Kratt's on the drive.  He was in hog heaven.  While Levi watched his show, Nick and I listened to Podcasts.  Some of our favorites are: RadioLab, This American Life, The Moth, Criminal, Love & Radio and Strangers.  (We also loved Serial, but finished it long ago.)  I think we all agree the entertainment breaks made the long trip a little better for everyone.

Tip #5 - Stops.  So, when you decide to drive a long way with kiddos, be prepared to make stops.  Gone are the days of driving straight through with only potty and gas breaks! We suggest planning a couple of long-ish stops to break it up.  With a planned stop you can tell the little ones, "we'll be stopping in 20 minutes to eat lunch and hang out" which seems to settle ants-in-the-pants.  Also, depending on how long your trip is, you might want to make overnight stops.  Our trip was 14 hours, so we stayed the night in the middle both going and coming home.  (I'll share our whole route below.)  On the way out, we stopped for lunch at a park in Battle Mountain, NV.  I think it was Elquist Park, but I'm not positive.

Parks make good stopping places because the kids (and dog) can play and they have picnic tables for lunch making and eating....so a free stop is always a good one.

Tip #6 Enjoy the scenery.  It's a big world out there.  Find the beauty in your surroundings.

And apparently you take less pictures on the way home because you're sad to leave vacation.  :(

Tip #6 Know Your Route.  To be honest I mostly just stare out the window.  The hubs handles the route.  Here was ours:

Sac to Idaho:
Day 1
Sacramento to Reno via I-80 E
Breakfast at Jack's Cafe in Sparks
Reno to Battle Mountain - stop at the park (above)
{Change from I-80 E to US-93 N in Wells}
Battle Mountain to Twin Falls
{Change from US-93 N to I-84 E in Twin Falls}
Stay at Best Western Twin Falls
Dinner at Jaker's Bar & Grill (we got it to go and ate in our hotel room)

Day 2
Twin Falls to Pocatello
{I-84 E to I-86 E}
Costco for groceries
Avoid hailstorm by hanging out under Costco gas canopy.  Thank you Costco.
Pocatello to Island Park
{I-86 E to I-15 N to Hwy 20 E}
Say hi to the Tetons as you pass by.
Arrive at Cabin.

Idaho to Sac:
Day 1
Island Park to Twin Falls via US-20 W
{US-20 W to I-15 S to I-86 W to I-84 W}
Continue to Elko
{I-84 W to US-93 S to I-80 W}
Stay in Elko at Best Western
Eat dinner at Machi's Saloon & Grill
People watch all the biker's headed to Sturgis from your hotel window.

Day 2
Elko to Lovelock via I-80 W
Stop at the Courthouse in Lovelock to eat lunch
Enjoy the LoveLock/Lovelock art display

Lovelock to Truckee via I-80 W
Stop in Truckee and eat at Marg's Taco Bistro
Truckee to Sacramento via I-80 W
Arrive home.
Be sad that vacation is over.

So those are our tips, we hope you enjoy your next road trip!!

Oh guess what, some friends of ours just road-tripped with kiddos too, here are Amber's tips!


*affiliate link

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