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A Family Adventure in Moab

 

 

 

If I had to sum up our trip to Moab, Utah in one word it would be exhilarating! The sense of adventure infused in every activity, the striking natural beauty and the wild west genuineness, make Moab an adventure-seeker’s dream-come-true. It’s also extraordinarily family-friendly.

With the wind as her brush and water as her paint, Mother Nature has created a masterpiece. Delicate yet rigid, intricate yet massive formations abound from the rubicund earth. It’s the type of natural beauty that lifts your heart and your mind into perfect alignment, if even for a moment. When your consciousness sinks back down, it takes a moment for your television-ridden psyche to accept the scenery as real, not just a digitally-enhanced setting. Although, if you’ve ever watched West World, then know that it’s even more breathtaking in person.

This trip was a first for us. And, I have to admit, we were a little bit like City Slickers (if you’ve never seen that movie, it’s a good one). My sister, Gabrielle, picked Moab for us to meet and celebrate her 30th birthday, she wanted us all to do something that we’ve never done before.

 

 

 

 

Our headquarters for the weekend was the Sorrel River Ranch Resort and Spa. The hotel is perched on the Colorado River. With individual cabins and small groupings of rooms, the hotel has a distinctly wild-west vibe amid plenty of luxury. Swings on the porch of each room. Beautiful views. The property has horses, pigs, chickens and more as well as a small working farm. Rumors of a coyote on property or a recently sighted bear, often rumbled through the morning breakfast creating small waves of excitement.

Truth be told, we didn’t spend much time at the Sorrel River Ranch. Our trip was just a long weekend and we wanted to cram as much adventure in as possible. The hotel was about 40 minutes outside of Moab, but one of the most scenic drives in the country.

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In the two full days that we had in Moab, we crammed in four amazing adventures.

Arches National Park

 

 

 

With more than 2,000 natural arches, this national park is incredibly beautiful. There’s breathtaking vista after breathtaking vista, but what’s so amazing about this park is that you are witnessing nature at work. The landscape is in a constant state of change with arches forming and collapsing. The elements are unrelenting and this national park is a true testament to the force of nature.

We packed lots of water and a few snacks, then drove through the park stopping at different hikes. There are plenty of family-friendly hikes that can accommodate even the littlest hikers.

Sunset UTV Ride with Cowboy Country

 

 

 

 

This was one of the most fun (and possibly scariest) things I’ve ever done. We started the tour on Hell’s Revenge (the video above is just the trail head in). And, well, we ended the tour of Hell’s Revenge there… some in our group didn’t enjoy the extreme heights and close proximity to cliff edges. Sooooo, we ended up heading to Fins and Things trail, which was also super fun. It felt like a rollercoaster that you drive yourself. There were lots of times we felt like our UTV was going to roll or flip, but they push ahead like the beasts that they are.

An unexpected highlight of the UTV tour, was a quick stop at some dinosaur tracks. We were able to see a Theropod, a carnivorous dinosaur similar to a T-Rex, track that was around 200 million years old.

 

 

Driving the UTV’s was really fun, and we quickly learned just how amazing and sturdy these vehicles are. This was fun for the whole family!

 

Canyoneering with Red River Adventures

 

 

 

We went on the Morning Glory canyoneering trip with Red River Adventures. It was a little more than a 3-mile hike, two rappels (95′ and 120′) and a bit of scrambling. The minimum age for this adventure is 8, so Zac and Ellie couldn’t go.

Our guides, Patrick and Mikaela, were awesome. They made the trip fun, but also kept everyone safe (particularly Jake). Before the first rappel, Jake started crying. One peak over the edge of a 95′ cliff and he wanted to turn around, especially when he learned that he would be controlling his decent. However, the guides attach a secondary rope to everyone just in case someone was to freak out and drop their ropes or completely freeze.

With Jake in tears, Patrick was able to convince him that he would be fine. Jake and I watched a few people go, then we went. Sitting back over the edge of a cliff is freeing. Trusting the ropes and your guides, requires you to let go of everything else. This truly forces you into the moment and opens you to the beauty around.

After the first rappel, Jake was a pro and he loved it. At 9 years old, he got a taste of adrenaline and he got to learn how much fun it is to overcome your fears.

Moab Jet Boat Tour of the Colorado River

 

 

 

The Colorado River can be treacherous. Boulders sit just below the surface, there’s areas of rapids and drastic changes in depth. But it’s also beautiful. If you go to Moab, I highly recommend a trip on the Colorado river. We opted for the jet boat tour, because it could accommodate children two and older so we were all able to go. It was also, really fun. Everyone on our boat loved doing doughnuts,  last-minute close turns and running the rapids.

What really made this adventure so amazing was our driver and guide, Jason. Reading and accommodating a group of 11 with wildly different likes is not an easy task, Jason was an expert at this. He was able to deliver a ride that pleased everyone. He had a welcoming and entertaining personality. If you have him as a guide, ask him to tell you about the Hispanic Panic. This was an awesome way to see the Colorado River!

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Overcoming something that scares you is an amazing feeling. Moab was filled with moments like this and it was so wonderful for our entire family. Pushing through fear as a family was exhilarating!

 

 

 

Why travel with kids?

 

Between the long car ride, even longer flights, packing, unpacking, upsetting a child’s routine, missing school, potential dangers and so on… the list of reasons not to travel is long. We’ve also been criticized for not taking kid-friendly trips (read – Disney… but we are working on that). And, what’s the point of going through all of this when the kids will forget most of it?

For me, the answer is simple… I want the foundation of their thinking to be rooted in the notion that the world is so much bigger than their town in their state in their country. I want the connections in their developing minds to form on whispers in different languages and footsteps on ancient relics.

 

I want them to hear the music of different nations, to see art and to experience the culture of worlds near and far.

 

I want them to experience the wonder of nature. To feel snow and dessert. To splash in waves and to climb. I want them to explore.

 

I want them to know that our town in our state in our country in our world are amazing and filled with places to play and people to meet…

 

Trips Included in this Post:

Scotland – August 2016

Lake Placid and Montreal – December 2016

Florida – February 2017

Vermont – February 2017

France, Switzerland – March 2017

Las Vegas, Iowa, Chicago – April 2017

Sleepy Hollow, Upstate NY – May 2017

Greece – June 2017

Contact for more information or suggested itineraries.

 

 

Road Trip to Niagara Falls

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We love road trips and we take them as often as possible. On a recent long weekend getaway, we headed to Niagara Falls. We drove from Southern New Jersey through New York and into Canada.

On the way, we stopped at Skaneateles Lake. A quaint, manicured town in the Finger Lakes, Skaneateles exudes classic Americana charm. Beautiful mansions straddle the shores, crystal clear water, lush landscapes and plenty of ice cream shops make this town a nice stop for the whole family. There are also some great restaurants with lots Finger Lake’s wines. Blue Water Grill, overlooking the picturesque lake is a great option for the whole family.

We spent the night at the Del Lago Resort and Casino near Rochester. While kids are not allowed in the casino, the hotel is beautiful, brand new, clean and centrally located. From here is took us about two hours to get to Niagara Falls.

Our first stop was the Niagara Falls State Park in New York. The town surrounding the park is not the nicest, but the park is beautiful. There are lots of trails to hike, an observation tower that overlooks the falls and the Maid of the Mist Boat Ride – you definitely should do this! Nature’s sheer power and force literally moves mountains and to see it actually happening is awesome!!

After you get your fill of the falls, cross the border to the Canadian side. We stayed at the Marriot which overlooks the falls. This was the view from our room…

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Be prepared the whole Niagara region, is very touristy! The Canadian side is clean, filled with family entertainment, and lots to do. Monday through Friday there are fireworks over the falls at 10 p.m. This kids will also love the unending assortment of arcades, haunted houses, mini golf, mirror mazes and more.

However, knowing what I know now, I would probably have stopped for one night in Niagara Falls (for the little ones and make sure that it’s a Monday through Friday for the fireworks) then kept going to Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Niagara-on-the-Lake is a small town on Lake Ontario. It’s filled with seemingly perfect historical buildings, flowers for days, great boutiques, galleries, ice cream shops, toy stores and cafes. Jake bought his first piece of art and met the artist too at the Edward Spera Gallery.

Niagara-on-the-Lake is also in the heart of Canada’s Niagara wine region. We stopped at two great wineries. The very touristy Peller Estate where you can take tours and do a tasting.

But our favorite winery was Frog’s Pond Farm, an organic, family-run winery. We sat at a picnic table surrounded by farm life, drank delicious wine, ate cheese and just talked.

True to any great road trip on the way home through Buffalo, New York we sought out the best buffalo wings we could and found ourselves at Duff’s Famous Wings – definitely worth it.

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Island Hopping in Greece

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If there is a perfect place, the Greek Islands may just be it! From the crystal clear, turquoise-hued water to the utterly unblemished, white plaster architecture everything is so beautiful and so perfect that it barely seems real. However, beyond the idyllic surface, Greece is incredibly rich with history, culture, art, dining, shopping and more.

 

 

We started and finished our trip in Athens. As a big city Athens is not as picturesque as the islands, but it more than makes up for it with history. It is amazing to see a modern city that has built up around some of antiquity’s masterpieces.

A highlight for us was seeing a traditional Greek music and dance show in the ancient theater, Odeon of Herodes, at The Acropolis.

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From Athens we boarded the M/Y O’ceanos and were swept away.

 

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The first stop in our weeklong dream was the Temple of Poseidon  in Sounion. Built in the 5th century B.C. this ancient sacred structure overlooks the azure sea on three sides. Poseidon’s Temple is one of those places that makes your heart skip a beat. It’s incredible to stand on the stones that were put in place by the hands of man thousands of years ago while gazing into the same sea that the great leader, Pericles, looked upon.

 

That night we docked at the island of Poros, with streets of marble.

 

Each morning we would set sail early, dock at a swimming spot and then head to an island…

Swimming in the Aegean…

Swimming off of a yacht may have been one of the most fun things I’ve ever done. We jumped off the top deck and dropped about 30 feet into the crystal clear water. We flew down the inflatable water slide. We swam through caves in Melos. We snorkeled. We ate fresh sea urchins. And we PLAYED!

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That water though…

 

Caves…

 

Playing…

 

FRESH Sea Urchins…

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The Islands…

Mykonos: hip, beautiful, great restaurants, great shopping and lots of parties…

 

 

Paros: Beautiful fishing village, picturesque, and great shopping. This might have been my favorite island. It was so quaint and lovely…

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Santorini: beautiful, crowded, well-known and a great place to  watch a sunset. In Santorini you can’t help but feel like you may have stumbled upon the lost city of Atlantis (but it seems like 1/2 of the world might’ve too). We opted to drive up to Fira rather than take a donkey or fight the cruise ship crowds for the cable car…

 

 

 

Milos: The port area is lovely, but you will definitely want grab a taxi and head up to the city center. Small windy streets give way to lovely churches and breathtaking vistas. We spent most of our time in Milos swimming in caves, which you should definitely do if you’re there (there are plenty of day trips from the surrounding islands). Swimming through these caves is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done, it was eerie and amazing. Part of me expected Cyclops or the Sirens to appear at any minute…

 

 

Hydrea: There are no cars or bikes allowed in Hydrea. Transportation is either by donkey or walking.

 

 

Sailing back to Athens…

 

Thanks to the amazing crew this trip was perfection…

 

Stay tuned for the video.

 

The Paris Opera House

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There are some places in the world that are so beautiful that it almost defies logic. We always speak of the places in nature where God’s hand or Mother Nature’s work simply takes your breath away, but then there are places where the talent of another human seems nearly impossible.

The Paris Opera House is one of those places, a place that has collected the incredible talent of so many for more than a century.

The gilded walls of the Opera House are filled with the ghosts of passion, art and creativity. Like an electric current that uses your heart as a conduit, the history here is palpable.

We toured the Opera House on a whim while we were spending a couple hours in Paris, before heading out to the French countryside. We were able to peek in on the performers rehearsing that evening’s show, then take in the beauty and history of the building.

Even though Jake and Zac are so young, I welcome the opportunity to show them such beauty. The passion, creativity and talent of others has always sparked connections between my mind, my soul and my heart and I hope it does the same for my little guys.

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The Berghaus Bort in Grindelwald, Switzerland

The Berghaus Bort in Grindelwald, Switzerland is a rustic alpine retreat nestled just off the Bort station of the First Gondola. It’s only reachable by gondola in the winter. So be prepared to dodge skiers, snowboarders and sledgers while you are lugging your kids and bags onto the moving car. It’s not easy to get to, but the charm and views are worth it. The Berghaus Bort offers majestic views of the glorious Swiss Alps in nearly every direction. It’s simple accommodations and mountain-filled fun will make this a memorable stay for you and yours! Berghaus Bort