Over the past few weeks we have been busy traveling abroad, treasure hunting and volunteering. We spent 6 days vacationing in Nicaragua with a toddler. She was such trooper.
We left on Christmas Day so she handed out chocolates to all the workers, flight attendants, and bus drivers we ran into. We wanted to make sure they knew we appreciated them being there for us on Christmas. She brought a smile to everyones face that she gave candy to!
She endured an extremely early wake-up call and 2 rather short flights. We found out very quickly she no longer likes to sleep on the airplane. This made it a little trying but nothing we were not expecting.
Upon arriving in Nicaragua, our little princess immediately met a few little ones her age while we waited to clear customs. The line was long and the wait was longer; she was just as entertaining for them as they were for her.
Once we cleared customs we walked through the international arrival door looking for the little sign with our names on it. Nothing. We waited and waited. Still no one arrived. I had arranged a ride for us a week earlier. We waited nearly 2 hours at which point the little one fell asleep in the Kelty backpack. The delay was frustrating, but in the time we waited we met some expats who asked if WE were the living in Nicaragua! A great couple with 3 kids who run an ice cream shop in Matagalpa!
Since the driver didn’t show, or we all failed to see each other, we took a taxi. The address I had for the villa we were staying at seemed easy enough to find … if there were street signs and house numbers in Nicaragua. Since the roads are not marked, our very limited english speaking driver couldn’t find our rental. We stopped 3 times to ask for directions. It finally took a phone call to the property to find our way.
After a few turns we were there … we had arrived to an absolutely beautiful guest house. We were completely blown away by the tropical oasis.
Stay tuned for multiple posts about our week in Nicaragua!
When you have a long road trip ahead of you and you have a kiddo or 3, try these 5 Essentials to Traveling with Kiddos to make the ride a little smoother.
Travel Organizer from Tip Junkie! Take a canvas shoe bag and let the kiddo’s stuff it with their favorite items: small toys, books, snacks, glow sticks and a new toys is always a fun surprise, make sure to wrap it! Who doesn’t love to unwrap a new present!
These are the BEST items to keep little ones busy. The kiddos can practice their fine motor skills by taking the backing off and sticking them on themselves and removing them. The best part is that they stick to the surface and can be removed without the gummy residue stickers leave behind. We use these on airplane rides as well! I have BOXES of fun kid BandAids. *Do not hold me to this. (we have OLD cars … 1971 VW Bug and a 1978 FJ40 Landcruiser) we DO NOT drive expensive vehicles with full leather interior. So, please test this theory before you hand over a box of BandAids to your kids and they get stuck on your nice BMW SUV leather seats.
Music Unlimited by Amazon is your go to! As Prime members we just added this to our account. We get 250 Downloads a month… and they do NOT disappear after a month so they are YOURS!
Fun Cheap Or Free has an AWESOME idea for a book tote! Fill a tote with your child’s favorite books, and put them within arms length so they can reach them.
When all else fails….hand over the electronics. Check out this list of awesome Apps for Traveling Toddler from Media Macaroni.
What are your favorite road trip activities for the kiddos?
So following a few days in the Outerbanks with friends, we cruised back through the Bike Virginia tour for a long weekend of cycling. This year’s event was titled East Bound and focused on cycling in the Chesterfield and Williamsburg areas of VA with the first few nights of camping starting at the Pocahontas State Park. We registered for the weekend event starting on Friday and ending Sunday, however there was a full week option with a second camping area available for those individuals looking for some additional miles.
We rolled into camp around 2pm on Friday, just late enough to not get a group ride in, but with plenty of time to get signed in and find our campsite. With the Sprinter, life is good… We popped out the awning, opened up our REI camp chairs, and unloaded our bikes so we could go checkout the festivities.
HQ, as the Bike Virginia hosts call the main meeting site, was a virtual tent city packed full of cyclist claiming real-estate and finding a parking spot for their bikes. There were a few venders on site, a beer truck and a swag tent selling all kinds of Bike Virginia jerseys at a great deal. We snagged up a couple of silicone pint glasses for use in the Sprinter. The dinner served on site was a catered in Lasagna meal and boy did it hit the spot.
After dinner we biked back to the Sprinter and focused on chasing fireflies with our 2 year old. I really enjoy how having a toddler in your life puts the excitement back into things we’ve long forgotten were fun.
Once we got our little one down for the night, Sarah and I focused on drinking some red wine, watching the fire and talking about life. The next day we would have 65 miles of pure cycling bliss in front of us, so we hit the sack early.
An early morning start was in order for Saturday based on the 65 miles of cycling ahead of us. We don’t exactly set any land speed records on our Salsa Vaya and Surly Big Dummy (with toddler attachment), although we do average about 12-13 mph over the day.
The morning went well with cyclists everywhere! People were excited to be starting the day and everybody was enamored with our little 2 year old who was ringing her bell over and over. The route was an awesome rolling country atmosphere with no significant hills for the first part of the morning.
The first aid station came up around the 13 mile mark at a local horse stable. There were plenty of snacks and liquids available for a quick replenishment. Our little girl ran around and said hello to EVERYONE to include the horses. This was just the beginning of her making friends on the trip.
By the second aid station, people would cycle past us and know our daughters name! She was constantly receiving compliments and greetings from fellow cyclists.
The day was filled with nice rolling hills all day through the Virginia countryside with minimal traffic. At about the 50-mile point a couple of things happened…. We started getting tired and the hills started getting steeper. None of the hills were very long, but some of them got pretty serious for short durations.
At about mile 62 we were on the home stretch, when we noticed an ice cream shop! As a habit, we try not to pass up on a tasty treat during a hot humid ride and today was no different. We stopped for an ice cream and lemonade, making the last few miles to camp very easy.
Once we had taken advantage of the showers at our awesome campground, we decided an evening on the town in our favorite neighborhood, Carytown Virginia would make for a perfect ending to an awesome day of biking.
Carytown has a bunch of cool restaurants and shops on the main street for hours of walking around, but because we are routinely in the area, we went direct to one of our favorites called the Burger Bach.
The Burger Bach is a “New Zealand inspired gastro pub” and serves some AWESOME burgers only to be rivaled by the beer selection. Sarah and I both decided to do the noble thing and each had a burger and a beer to cap off the day.
A short 25 mile day was on the agenda for Sunday. There were longer options, but after our 65 miles the day before and a need to get home, we decided a short day was the best option.
Many of our acquaintances from the day before cycled by and said hello to us and mentioned how awesome if was we were introducing our daughter to cycling so early. The ride was pretty easy compared to Saturday ending with just a few sprinkles of rain as we entered the campground.
The Bike Virginia event was a fun tour, with tons of awesome people. There were bikes of all types, from crazy fast folks on tri-bikes to recumbents, tandems and even a family on a Surly Big Dummy with a toddler seat (Adventure Family in Motion). We had the opportunity to speak with a TON of people about our family cycling history and how we came to utilize the Big Dummy with a Yepp seat installed. I hope we inspired at least one other cyclist to consider bringing their family on the next ride vs leaving them at home!
Did you get to enjoy Bike Virginia this year? Share your stories or a link to your writ sup with us! We would love to hear about it!
The other weekend we had NO PLANS for the two precious days we get a week to spend as a family doing what WE want.
So over our first morning cup of coffee we started throwing out a few ideas. We settled on heading for the ocean. The critical piece to being able to pull off this trip on such short notice was our ability to quickly get on the road in an hour.
In an effort to see you get out more often on family adventures we’ve compiled a quick list of tips that have allowed us the luxury of just picking up and hitting the road at a moments notice!
1. You don’t need all of the things you think you do…
If it’s a weekend trip, take it easy on the clothing, food, books, beer, computers, and games. Try to stick with just what you need, this will save time packing (and unpacking), not to mention space in your car.
a. Ladies: Think light… Do you really need your hair dryer, straightener, full-size shampoo and conditioner, nail polish, and cosmetic bag the size of a suitcase? Have a small (size of a “clutch”) travel toiletries bag always packed.
2. Have you gear organized.
We keep all our camera gear ready to go and have the van stocked with regularly needed items (baby wipes, trash bags, water bottles, phone chargers and camp chairs).
a. If camping, have your stuff all prepped in a large Tupperware, insuring you don’t forget things.
b. For cycling, keep all your helmets, shoes and bike accessories in the same place. Have your bikes already prepped with tire repair kits and water bottles.
3. Plan while on the road.
We rarely have the full trip planned before we depart. The majority of lodging, restaurant, or local attractions can all be researched WHILE you are driving (by the passenger of course) via a smart phone and adds an element of excitement to your voyage. Don’t be paralyzed at home planning the trip.
We hope these few simple tips lead to more adventures on the road for you and your family.
Please share with us your tips and recent adventures!
We have ARRIVED! We are now two southern bells and a cowboy (at least for a year)! We have been absent from the blog for a short while due to moving to a new state. That’s right, we packed up and moved from Virginia to Alabama in a quick 20 days! Its been a whirlwind of boxes, brown paper and goodwill donations.
Donald’s work gave us a VERY short notice to pack up and move to a new location. So we complied. Isn’t that what everyone would do? (LOL). We sent him down here 2 weeks after we received notice. I stayed behind with the little lady and waited for the movers.
Last Friday I started the 12-hour trek south on hwy 95. We made a quick stop in Raleigh, NC to visit a long time friend I hadn’t seen in nearly 10 years! It was a night of laughs, wine, and kids playing “batman cave” till way past their bedtime!
Day two of the drive was the part that made me nervous. 9 hours in the car with a 2 year old and no one to help me. But to my surprise she did AMAZING! We had no wet pants, no breakdowns and no fights getting back in her car seat! It was so AWESOME!
We drove to the new, yet temporary, home we will be in for a mere 9 months. Then where…who knows! But we love the adventures!
With only another small mile ride ahead of us to Kitty Hawk we decided to jump on our bikes for the 12 mile ride. Before we left Nags Head we backtracked a mile to Sam & Omies for breakfast! Our first real breakfast fuel on the trip!
We figured out a great way to get the little one in her Yepp Seat as easy as possible. She loves the seat but she loves to play more! So when its time to load her up we tell her we are going to look for School Buses. She eagerly runs to her seat and says “Hurry Daddy Hurry!” … works every time!
Once she is in her seat she asks each of us if we are “ready”.
“Are you READY daddy?” — “Are you READY mama?” — “READY! Lets go!
Our ride to Kitty Hawk was slow. We had a western wind so it slowed us up a little. We were on sleepy old Hwy 12 with limited traffic but a lot of vacation rentals. We were planning on stopping at a brewery in Kitty Hawk near mile marker 8 (everyone uses mile markers there). But somehow we over shot it and missed it all together.
We stopped into a bike shop and then spent a little more time at the beach. We saw the National Park for the Wright Brothers and road in! We have a National Parks pass and were able to get in for free. We only stopped for the restrooms and didn’t do much sight seeing. The monument sits on top of a tall grassy noel with a hike to the top. Working on a few pair of tired legs we chose not to make the hike.
After the exploration of the museum, we headed back down Hwy 12 in search of a cute place to stay for our last night. We found one that said vacant and rode in. But no one was there. I called the number left on the door and no one answered. So we rode on. We got to the end of the road where hwy 12 meets hwy 158. We found a very nice and very expensive Hilton Garden Hotel. They had a room for us with 1 king size bed. up until this point we had been able to put the little angel in her own room or bed or crib of some sort. So a 1 room arrangement wasn’t really up our alley. At the same time the motel we stopped at earlier returned my call! They had a few rooms we could choose from. So we made the 2 mile ride back into the wind.
The Beach Haven Motel is a very cute and quiet place! Completely remodeled, they accommodations were excellent! It was close to nap time for the toddler so we tried to put her down in the second room for a short nap. FAIL. She was too excited to play on the beach!
So we walked on the beach! We took her sand tools and walked about a mile up and turned around. We ran across a star fish, lots of shells, and she spend a lot of time watching a group of kids boogey boarding.
We opted for dinner at a sports bar and grille across hwy 158. A simple dinner of seafood and steak rounded the day out nicely!
Our last day of our Outer Banks by Bike tour was here. A 53 mile ride from Kitty Hawk to Elizabeth city on the following day and we had finished the trip. We started around 8am and were ready to hit the road. We stopped at Duck Donuts which was across from the Hilton Garden Hotel we stopped at the day before. This was the neatest donut place we had ever seen. They literally make the donuts in front of you and then you pick how you wanted it frosted! We got half a dozen, a coffee and a small milk for the little lady. We downed ALL OF THEM with no help from the 2 year old.
Once back on our bikes about 5 miles into the ride we encountered some road construction which resulted in 1 of the 2 bridges being closed. We were expecting to have a large shoulder on a 2 lane, one direction bridge. We road as far down the closed bridge as we could until we met up with some construction workers who told us that they were paving large sections of the bridge and we couldn’t cross.
Then we road the .5 mile back to the entrance and proceeded to jump into traffic on the slim shoulder, 2 lane bridge. I had Donald ride in front and I took up the rear. That way the little angel was between us incase something happened. We waited for a nice break in traffic to start the 2 mile ride across the bridge, although the break didn’t last long. Most of the drivers were courteous and waited to pass us until the oncoming traffic was minimal. But we had a few who were in a hurry and didn’t care about our 3′ biker bubble. Needless to say we took a break on the other side and let our white knuckles return to their normal color before we proceeded.
Farmland again. We stopped at a farmers market and purchased a cantaloupe, a banana and some Gatorade. We let the little one run in the freshly mowed grass and she played with her dinosaur in the rock beds.
For lunch we stopped at Weeping Radish Butcher and Brewery. A very German feel to the place complete with goats in the front of the building! We got a flight of beers and some schnitzel for lunch.
Back on the road to Elizabeth City, we passed the site of the Grave Diggers “birth place” (for lack of better words). For approximately a 1/2 mile we passed museums, an off road track, a mini golf course, and a campsite.
With 15 miles left of our trip we stopped a park for the little one. It was brand new and she loved every bit of it!
Once we were back on the road we spotted a crop duster. It swooped back and forth across the road ahead of us. The little one LOVED it and would call for the “airplane” every time is crossed the road!
The last stretch of the ride was tiring. We were sore and ready to be done. We had some headwind. A few hills and a little rain. We were ready for it to end.
Looking back we had an amazing time. Every bit was great and our little girl had a wonderful time!
Day 1 of cycling started in Elizabeth City, NC. Our Outer Banks by Bike Tour was underway!
We headed out of the parking lot and onto the sidewalk! When I had asked Siri for “walking” directions to Plymouth, NC she took us down HWY 17. This is a fairly busy road with 2 lanes of traffic each way and an center lane turning. It did not, however, have a shoulder. So we began our trip on the sidewalk!
With a few navigational turns through Elizabeth city, one dropped dinosaur and sunday traffic, we ran out of shoulder and the road slowed down. Two days before we departed for our trip, the city was hit with a storm causing significant damage to the city, homes and the road.
After about an hour into our trip Abigail fell asleep. In a Yepp seat, just like a typical car seat, kids sleep in the most awkward positions. So we stopped at an abandoned farmers market and parked our bikes next to a silo and propped her head up on it to help ease some of the stress on her. Crazy that she slept through the entire process!
After nap time we ventured back on to why 17. Nearly 5 miles up the road we ran into the Adventure Cycling Group as they were finishing their lunch. We exchanged greetings and told them we were on the same route. Abigail gave out high-5’s and we waved our good-byes. Little did we know this was the last place to have a good lunch before arriving in Plymouth.
Only a few short miles the lead tandem of the ACA was on our heels. They passed us right before the turn onto hwy 32. This is a nice, slow country road that had minimal traffic but a LOT of cross wide. We leap frogged the tandem and pulled off for a snack. Abigail played in the mud and we took in some Honey Stingers and a good amount of water. This also let the ACA group completely pass us so we weren’t holding them up.
Good thing we stopped to refuel our energy because little did we know we were in for a crazy bridge crossing. A 3 mile long bridge connects the north and south banks of the Albemarle Sound. We have been riding in a lush forested area and then all of a sudden the bridge was right in front of us. It was 2 lanes but had a HUGE shoulder. What slowed us down the most was the crosswind! The white caps on the water were huge. We never thought we were going to get across it. But we took our time and the minimal traffic was slow.
On the other side we were hoping for a good restaurant for lunch. Being on the sound you would think there would be a good seafood joint, no such luck. So we pass the ACA who had just crossed the bridge as well, and pulled over for a good rest and a snack. Abigail ran around wit her helmet on and played in the sand.
Once on our bikes we discovered we were now in farm country. We passed several fields with lush yellow flowers. They were beautiful and we still don’t know what they are! At the “T” in our route we stopped at a local convenience store and grabbed a sandwich, some water and salty chips! We talked to a few locals and took a photo of their Civic Center.
We weren’t far from Plymouth now! Abigail took another nap on the bike, and we listened to Cross Canadian Ragweed on the _________ speaker Donald has attached to his bike. He played tunes for us via his bluetooth when the trip was getting long, or tiring or just plan boring!
As soon as we turned onto Hwy 64 we were within 5 miles of “town”. What that consisted of we did not know. As soon as we turned onto 64 Abigail flung her Pacifier (she calls it a NaNA or Noy Noy). We couldn’t stop with the limited shoulder, and I had 2 more with us, so we kept on going.
The town was performing civil war reenactments that day so the place we busier then we expected. We saw a billboard for a Holiday Inn Express and decided to stay there. Good thing because there was NOTHING else in town! After we unpacked we thought we would go into the Historic Downtown and grab a bite to eat and enjoy a nice beer. But the town was dismal at best. Nothing was open, there were no watering holes or restaurants to grab dinner at. We headed back to the hotel and stopped at the local playground so Abigail could play!
When we got to our room we decided to order a pizza. We had noticed a Pizza Hut and a Mama’s Pizza on the way in. Surely they would bring us a hot pizza pie. No such luck. Pizza Hut didn’t deliver and Mama’s was CLOSED. Next best thing… BoJangles! It was in the parking lot of the hotel and within walking distance. Donald took the hike over and grabbed us a massive family size dinner, complete with souther sweet tea!
We put Abigail to bed in the crib provided by the hotel. When we stay in hotels, I set her crib up in the bathroom. That way we don’t have to go to bed at 7pm. We finished the night out with some Forensic Files.
Our last post we gave a you Simple List of Family Adventures that you can do any day of the week. Last night we decided to take our own advice and have a weeknight adventure!
If you can’t tell we LOVE our bikes … we have 9 total in our basement (not counting the baby’s Strider). Our friends call it the “Bike Shop.” Needless to say we don’t get to ride ALL variations of our bikes too often.
We are part of a Mountain Bike Club near our house and they have a weekly Wednesday Night Ride. Normally we are elbows deep in a CrossFit workout during this time, but the stars aligned yesterday and we were able to do BOTH!
The trailhead is a huge open area where everyone parks and is still off the main road by at least 400 yards, so there is no traffic or a busy parking lot with lots of moving vehicles to be concerned about. We always attend these events as a family, including CrossFit (check out Abigail’s evening Crossfit Set-up here). The baby is not a burden to either of us, and we became parents knowing this. So we have changed our lives ever so slightly to accommodate her. When we mountain bike, we take turns. This is the only biking we do that we can’t all do together; at least not yet. Last time we were out on the mountain bikes, I got to ride and Donald stayed at the trail head and watched the Abigail. This time I stayed with her and he rode.
The ride was only about an hour long, so Abigail and I explored. These trails are part of the trail system we played in the mud at last week, although there was no mud this time.
We took our time and explored the trail. She wanted to find Daddy so we headed in the same direction the bikers went.
We picked up rocks and looked at flowers!
Her Dinosaur goes everywhere with her now.
She found a rock for him to hold during our walk!
We poked along at no fast pace, playing with our shadows and touching nature. I have found lately that if I let her choose the pace, and the direction on the path we are going, she feels like she is making decisions and I am supporting her. This has helped with our Tenacious Twos. We struggle at somethings, but if she has a chance to make decisions and be independent the day can go much smoother.
When it was time to head back, I carrier the little adventurer for a bit. We had walked into the trail system about a mile. When we got back we had a drink and chilled at the Sprinter.
A great after work adventure was had by all! Have you been out on an after work adventure this week? Tell us about it! Send photos too and you could be featured you on our next post!
If you are anything like me, in between your planned and un-planned adventures, you are dreaming of future trips. It’s a blessing and a curse. We don’t have the ability to sit still and let the world pass us by. It’s ok! So in between those crazy outings, consider reading some of the below books I’ve found inspirational.
Very good book about how a vacation can turn into a life-changing event and how we should all look for opportunities to make the world a better place. Conor helps us realize the enormous possibilities in front of us, if we are just willing to try something different.
Great read about a family who jumped on a triplet bike and spent a year biking 9300 miles! I like books like these; it helps to put “crazy” ideas like this in perspective. Maybe my family will take off on a yearlong bike adventure and write a book someday.
This is a CLASSIC cycling story. Originally written in 1983, this book set the stage for many cycling stories to follow. The pictures of the gear they used are entertaining compared to current high-tech bags, bikes and shoes available now. Lesson learned from this book; you don’t need new fancy gear to do something awe inspiring.
Family cycling books are some of my favorite stories to read. It helps to read about how other families overcame difficulties and prevailed on trips nobody thought they could do. Mud, Sweat and Gears is written by Joe Kurmaski (author of Metal Cowboy and Riding Outside the Lines) and takes the same funny and well written stories he is known to produce and includes his family in the mix.
This book was one of the first books my wife and I read together as a couple. Gentlemen, you will enjoy the excitement of this mountaineering based story and your wife will appreciate the love story angle…. Everybody wins. Good read about a motivated couple.
I’ve shared a few of my favorite reads, please provide additional books for all of us to consider during future armchair traveling sessions.