Estes Park Winter Festival 2016

Time for the maiden voyage of our new Phoenix Pop Up Campers Fuso Camper (PHX-FG) to Estes Park, Colorado!

When we first realized that this new adventure rig was a real possibility for us, the trips and locations to travel became endless.  The real difficulty with having such a great platform to hit the road in now became choosing WHERE to go and try out the new rig.

Estes Park 164

After some brief research, we learned that the town of Estes Park, Colorado was hosting a Winter Festival with snowshoeing, craft beer and a chili cook-off.  What’s even better is that Estes Park is gate-way into Rocky Mountain National Park, leaving endless possibilities for outdoor activities.

Estes Park 172

For day one we loaded up the snowshoes and headed to the demo days in Rocky Mountain National Park.  This snowshoe demo session was setup perfectly to allow for a little snow hiking before we rolled into town for the beer tasting and chili feast.  Our toddler is getting pretty sure footed in her Tubbs snowshoes.

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The Fuso Camper proved to be an AWESOME place to hide out from the blowing wind and frigid temps, both before and after our hike.  It was pretty awesome to sit inside the camper and have a nice warm cup of coffee after a family hike in the snow.

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Honestly, this trip was more about the beer and testing out the new adventure platform. Given the extreme cold and windy conditions, it didn’t take much persuading to get the crew to pack up shop and head for Estes Park.  Once we got inside the Winter Festival, we realized just how awesome this event was going to be.  The smell of chili cooking, the site of folks walking around with tasters of beer and the separate kids area with extensive crafts and games, made this festival the perfect place for us.

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The Winter Festival had some great beer and even better chili.  We bounced back and forth between the two for quite a while before our three year old decided it was her turn to have some fun.  The organizers of the Winter Festival did a great job making a family friendly environment and had an entire kids area with bouncy castles, crafts, faceprinting, smores, and a train for the kids entertainment.  It was really well put together family friendly festival.

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After the festival, we decided we didn’t really need to go far to camp of the night and chose to park the PHX-FG at the Estes Park fair grounds with the other vendors from the festival.  When attempting to “stealth” camp in a Mitsubishi Fuso you must attempt to blend in with the locals.  So we parked the camper next to a few older trailers and battened down the hatches for a windy night.  While it was an incredibly windy, the camper kept us nice and warm all night.

One of our favorite parts about this new camper is the ability to cook a legitimate meal and take our time getting ready.  So for our first morning in the camper, we had some great coffee and whipped up some eggs and bacon.  It really does make a trip nice when there is no real rush to be anywhere.

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2016-01-17 07.52.42 2016-01-17 16.18.10Estes Park 202For the rest of the day, we headed up into the Rocky Mountain National Park for some additional family hikes and photography.  We spent a snowy day driving around the park and taking in the amazing scenery.  At one point we came upon a gigantic bull elk laying down off the side of the road.  We stopped for some amazing photos and enjoyed a nice quite moment watching him lay in the snow.

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After a long day of hiking and driving around the park, we decided to stay another night at the Moraine campground.  For dinner we enjoyed making another delicious meal in the kitchen of the Fuso, while reading and listening to music.  The space the new camper provides us and the amenities within such a compact platform are amazing.

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What a great first weekend, in what we are confident is going to be an awesome new adventure platform.  If you’ve not attended one of the Estes Park Winter Festivals, I would put it on your list of things to do next winter.  The event was well orchestrated and the access to Rocky Mountain National Park provides an enormous amount of great adventures to be had.

Awesome Non-Traditinals Traditions

We are a family of awesome non-traditional traditions. We love traditions but not in the sense that most people think of tradition.


For example, we had two weddings. The first one was just the two of us, our two dogs and an officiant at a cabin on the hillside at sunrise.  Our little ones first birthday was a big “todo”, but instead of pony rides and marry-go-rounds, we opted for an open tab at our favorite local brewery and celebrated with all our closest friends.


This Thanksgiving we decided since we are currently living in the south and only a few hours from the coast, we would ride our bikes along the Gulf of Mexico over the holiday.


Nearly every Thanksgiving, that we have been in the states, has been celebrated with family and friends. Lots of food, overstuffed bellies, naps and games. This year the Adventure Van was calling our name! We spent 2 nights and 3 days on the road in Florida.


Our first stop was Pensacola, FL. With no agenda but to ride our bikes and enjoy the weather, we didn’t make any reservations. Upon arriving at camp after dark, we set up shop and had the van ready for sleeping in no time.


The morning came a little early. We woke to the sound of waves and a bright sun shining on the van. While the hubby took the little one to the beach, I organized the van and had a glorious morning coffee out of my favorite silipint. (NOTE: we love these glasses. Its great for cold beer and does NOT get hot with hot coffee! Stay tuned for Adventure Family In Motion Sili-Pints coming soon!)
Sili-Pint Florida


We strolled the beach and collected seashells, enjoyed the morning breeze and then set out for a quick ride around camp. Come to find out that Thanksgiving is a big camping holiday in the south.  We thought a round of disc golf was in order but we don’t own discs so we were going to rent them…but the place was closed.  The next option, pack up and head east!


We explored historic Pensacola on bike! Neat area with a quaint main street that offered a overabundance of restaurants, bars, and shops. The street ends at the water where many marinas house huge yachts. We let the toddler do her thing while we enjoyed the beautiful day. The pigeons were out in masses and would crowd around all the kids looking for a handout.


We had lunch at an awesome build-your-own burger joint that features spiked milkshakes and craft beer called the Tin Cow! (Just what the mommy needed!)


After lunch it was time to head to Pensacola Beach (over a mile long bridge). It was time for some beach roaming. The little princess LOVES the beach and would spend all day there if she could. The weather was in the low 60s with a brisk wind, but that didn’t stop her! She was elbows deep in the Gulf of Mexico! We spent an hour running in the water, collecting seashells and burying her feet in the sand. When she finally walked back to the van she was a little sugar cookie.


On the west end of the island is Fort Pickens Gulf Island National Seashore. Fort Pickens is the largest of four forts built to defend Pensacola Bay, Florida. Ten concrete gun batteries were built between 1890 and 1940s, each in a response to a particular threat. Now open to the public, visitors can explore the fort at their leisure. Most areas in the fort are open to wander.


We drove around the camp ground at Fort Pickens and found a great spot near the restrooms & bike path with plenty of shade! It was also essential not to have a clear view of the beach, since I am certain we would have lost the little one to her own beach roaming.


With the evenings coming quicker and quicker lately, we had a campfire up and going in no time. Hotdogs and smores’ while curled up next to a fire pit is ideal camping and a perfect Thanksgiving eve!


The next morning was good ol’ Thanksgiving Day! The weather was great and we all slept till 8! First thing was first…a bike ride! We took the bike path to the Fort and explored the old bunkers.


By the time we retired to camp it was time to clean up and move out. A few laps around running camp with the toddler is always essential; one parent preps the van for departure the other runs laps around the camp ground wearing out the toddler.


Our Thanksgiving feast was a beautiful brunch at Jimmy Buffets hotel Margaritaville. A beautiful buffet spread of two types of cooked turkey, lamb and roast beef along with 2 types of dressing and a plethora of desserts!


With full bellies and grateful hearts we loaded up in the Adventure Van and headed home.

On the Road in an Hour!

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.

Adventure Family in Motion
On the road in 1 hour, Can you do it?


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!




Last minute Camping!


Our weekend started early on Saturday morning! We packed the Sprinter with a weekend full of gear and headed out to the Blue Ridge Mountains for some last minute camping. First stop, Crossfit Charlottesville to watch a few fellow athletes and coaches compete in the Super Fit Games Charlottesville

We arrived at the crossfit box at noon and under a hot direct sun! Our team had an easy-up which provided ample shade. The Husband and I rotated between taking photos of the our teammates in the competition and watching the little one. She did a good job of sitting in her stroller for all of about 30 minutes.


Daddy and his little girl on the YBike

Ardent Crossfit at Superfit Charlottesville


By this time, the three of us were ready to move. Donald let he ride her the YBIKE  around the area and play ball with the other kids. They even ‘raced’ each other up and down the drive-way!



After about 2 hours of this we called it quits. We said our good-byes and headed to South Street Brewery in downtown Charlottesville for a flight of beer and lunch!


When we had our fill of food, we pointed the Sprinter to the west and headed out! Skyline Drive, in the Shenandoah Mountains was our destination.  We jumped on at the southern entrance. There are only 4 places of entry on the 105 mile road.


Loft Mountain campgrounds was our point of interest. Located at mile marker 74.5 on Skyline Drive we were approximately 30 miles away. A nice campground with plenty of space between each site.


Loft Mountain camp ground
Loft Mountain camp ground


We decided to take a nice “easy” 20 mile bike ride at the request of daddy.  We didn’t exactly pay attention to the HUGE 2 mile accent we took to the TOP of Loft Mountain to the camp ground. But quickly realized it when we sped to the bottom.




We rode up skyline drive and stopped at a few beautiful overlooks.


Overlook on Skyline Drive


When we decided to head back to the campground we took a deep breath and went for it. We both dropped down to our triples and peddled hard. What took us 5 minutes to descend, it took us 25 minutes to ascend.


20 mile ride


When we got back to camp it took a while to catch our breath and we realized we didn’t stop for fire wood on the way back up. The camp store was 3/4 a mile down the hill…OOPS. Time to climb again. We rode the big dummy down to the camp store and arrived at exactly 8:02. The camp store closed at 8pm. While we wallowed in irritation, we chatted with another camper. He had a dog with him and was waiting for his wife. As we talked, the camp store manager showed up and said he could give us a bundle of wood. But we needed cash. Of course we didn’t bring cash (another oops).


To our surprise the nice man we chatted with offered to buy the bundle of wood for us! We couldn’t allow him to do that of course, and the camp store manager said we could come back in the morning and pay for it. This encounter reminded us you should always be nice to people. You never know who you will run into!


We hauled the bundle of wood up the hill … slowly.


Bundle of Wood in Big Dummy


We made some dinner and helped the little one catch “tinker bells” (fireflies). I then opened a few glow sticks for her and she LOVED IT! She ran around the camp circle until well past her bed time.


To our surprise we all slept until well past 8am! We never sleep that late in the Sprinter! We cleaned up and headed to the bottom of the hill to the camp store! A nice breakfast of eggs and toast with some BAD coffee. I love my coffee and this place had HORRIBLE coffee. Cream and sugar couldn’t even make it better.


We headed North on Skyline Drive to the next entrance/exit point at Swift Run Gap. We took the ‘back way’ home avoiding ALL 95 traffic. This is the way we normally go. Virginia is great except for the horrid humidity and the ridiculous traffic!


Do you want to spend some time on Skyline Drive? Just follow these few simple steps!

1. Download the map of Skyline Drive  HERE.

2. The camp ground will reserve a camp sites if you call ahead, but they leave a handful for walk-ins.

3. Make sure to bring some cold beer, smores and good camp stories!

And don’t forget to share your trip with us! We would love to hear all about it!

Aquapac Daysack GIVEAWAY!

 Aquapac Daysack Giveaway

(giveaway has ended)!!

A few weeks ago Aquapac asked us to review one of their new backpack duffle bags the 28L Toccoa Daysack. We jumped at the chance since it is a product we would love to use!

Aquapac 28L Toccoa Daysack
Aquapac 28L Toccoa Daysack


Here are the specs of the bag from the Aquapac website:


Tough 500D Vinyl will resist scrapes and abrasion on the trail.


Aquapac 28L Toccoa Daysack
Aquapac 28L Toccoa Daysack


All-welded construction seals out any water.


Aquapac 28L Toccoa Daysack
Aquapac 28L Toccoa Daysack
Aquapac 28L Toccoa Daysack
Aquapac 28L Toccoa Daysack


Roll-down seal with side (compression) or top (maximum volume) closure.


Aquapac 28L Toccoa Daysack
Aquapac 28L Toccoa Daysack
Aquapac 28L Toccoa Daysack
Aquapac 28L Toccoa Daysack


Mesh side pockets for drinks or quick-access items.


Aquapac 28L Toccoa Daysack
Aquapac 28L Toccoa Daysack


Breathable mesh straps and padding.


Aquapac 28L Toccoa Daysack
Aquapac 28L Toccoa Daysack


Lash points for lights.


Aquapac 28L Toccoa Daysack
Aquapac 28L Toccoa Daysack


Daisy-chain webbing to secure carabineers to the side of the bag.


Aquapac 28L Toccoa Daysack
Aquapac 28L Toccoa Daysack


Grab handle, for grabbing.


Aquapac 28L Toccoa Daysack
Aquapac 28L Toccoa Daysack



Waterproof Rating: Stormproof

Volume: 1709 cu in / 28 Liters

Color: Green & Grey

Materials: PVC

Weight: TOTAL 31.39 oz

Removable waist belt: 2.58 oz

Bag: 28.81 Oz

Dimensions: W 11.96in x H 16.02in



This is a great all around bag! We use a lot of camera gear and I am always nervous to accidentally expose it to the elements. This bag is great to quickly protect your gear from a flash rainstorm!

Aquapac 28L Toccoa Daysack
Aquapac 28L Toccoa Daysack

The versatility of the bag is essential. The ability to carry it on your back or by the top handle is a great addition.

Aquapac 28L Toccoa Daysack
Aquapac 28L Toccoa Daysack

The lash points are nice to quickly loop additional items, such as headlamps, bandanas, or even a dog leash.

Aquapac 28L Toccoa Daysack
Aquapac 28L Toccoa Daysack

The mesh padding makes a slightly heavy load more manageable. And the side mesh pockets are easy access to small items such as keys and phones.

Aquapac 28L Toccoa Daysack
Aquapac 28L Toccoa Daysack

We really enjoy this pack and hope you will too since Aqcupac sent us TWO of these great bags! One for us and ONE to give to our readers!! Who wants one??  Fill out the Rafflecopter below for multiple chances to win! Giveaway ends at midnight Monday April 7th!!

(U.S. shipping only)

The WINNER:  Wes Hovorka

Wes, Please check your email! You have 48 HOURS to contact us with your address!


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