What an adventurous summer!

Monika Spaulding, Digital Editor

Summer vacation fun is quickly coming to a close and I honestly can say it was the fastest summer break I can remember!

I always start summer break at our house with a bucket list. It seems so often we have these grand ideas and then the summer comes and goes and it just gets away from us.

This year, however, we had plans already set in place, so a bucket list was not necessary!

Our family was lucky enough to go on a couple of adventures this year and boy, did we make some amazing memories! It’s funny how when you’re planning out your summer, you are excited for the adventure, but after spending two of the four weeks of July traveling, we are happy to be home, getting ready for the start of a new school year.

We loaded up and took our three daughters out west at the end of June, visiting Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone Park. We hit four new states for all of us on the way out: Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and Montana. They were all beautiful and adventurous!

My husband and I love the outdoors and knew we would make a trip like this some day. When a good friend told us he was getting married in Colorado in July, we knew we had to make the most of the adventure.

We are a tent camping family, so we decided to pack our camping supplies, bikes, etc., and enjoy the national parks on our trip and we have no regrets about that decision!

Being limited on time, I feel like the trip was more of a “get a taste of all these places and choose where to come back later!” We only stayed a day at most places, which wasn’t nearly enough to see everything!

We loved the rock formations of the Badlands and being able to say they “camped in the Badlands” is something the girls think is pretty cool. We loved the wild animals at Yellowstone and even got a cool video as we passed a bison climbing up the mountainside. The girls also can now say they climbed a mountain after climbing to the top of Mount Washburn with their dad.

After leaving Yellowstone, we drove south and got a view of the Grand Tetons, which was breathtaking. It went to the top of our bucket list of places we want to camp. We continued south and landed in Colorado Springs for our friend’s wedding.

We were in the car almost 70 hours and traveled over 4,000 miles and made memories to last a lifetime! It was quite the adventure.

Our second trip was with my parents and my brother and his family. We had never been to Gatlinburg, Tenn., so we rented a cabin for a week and explored that area. Our children quickly learned there is a big difference between the Smokies and the Rockies! Both are aboslutely beautiful in their own right.

We went white water rafting in both and loved the adventure in different ways in each of the states. This was our first summer whitewater rafting and it definitely won’t be our last!

While our trip out west was more about the parks and nature, we took in some awesome touristy sites in Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge. We did Dollywood one day, watched a great show at the Dixie Stampede and enjoyed a little Hillbilly Golf. My kids loved staying in the cabin and swimming every day with their grandma.

We came back home to send our oldest to church camp and welcome my husband’s sister and her family in from Florida. It has been busy, busy, but we have loved every minute with our family!

Summer 2017 is definitely one we will never forget, but I think I’m ready for school to start back!

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