Capturing Another Side of Vegas

It’s been almost year since our kid-free trip to Las Vegas . . . and I’m wishing that we had another trip planned for this year. But, we don’t. We’re holding off until next year to celebrate our ten year anniversary, likely somewhere on a beach.

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We love visiting Vegas. We love hanging on the strip, but the best thing we did on our last visit was rented a corvette and drove out to Lake Mead, across the Hoover Dam and through the Valley of Fire.  The scenery was breathtaking, so much so that we decided when the kids get a bit older, we are going to plan a camping trip to Lake Mead. I can’t wait to show the kids how beautiful the desert is . . .

Vegas.com is looking to #CaptureVegas, so I thought I would share with you guys a different side of Vegas. There are so many Las Vegas deals when it comes to attractions outside of Las Vegas. A couple of those attractions we drove through.

 

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Annual {INDEPENDENCE} Weekend

This is the second year that we’ve gotten invited to our friend’s property in the country for the Forth of July weekend . . . and every year it is spectacular! The weather is wonderful, the fireworks are fantastic, the hosts are more than welcoming and the food is delicious. The kids have so much fun because there is so many of them, like seriously, so many! There are always other kids to play with and loads of toys. The kids do a lot of running around, driving power wheels, exploring the creek, swimming in the lake and asking the adults to take them on Ranger rides. We can’t wait to go back next year!

Day One - July 3rd Forth of July - FamilyFireworks

Happy Camping Y’all!

Moon-Man-in-Pines

{MOJAVE} Desert Stingray

We were invited to a wedding in Las Vegas. It was our first kid-free vacation! We’ve separately traveled without the children, but this is the first time that we’ve left them simultaneously. I was nervous and excited at the same time! We’ve both been to Vegas several times. We actually got engaged there in 2006, at the top of the Stratosphere. My husband has a love for Vegas, something just draws him there . . . no, it’s not the gambling & the fast life, it’s more than that, it’s a nostalgia thing for him. And all of the times that we’ve been to Vegas we’ve never actually ventured out-of-town, even though we always talk about it. We knew, as soon as we got the invite to this wedding, that we were going to spend one day just wandering through the desert. I love wandering! My husband literally only had one thing on his entire bucket list; Rent a Corvette in Vegas and drive to the Grand Canyon. Well, we didn’t make it to the Grand Canyon . . . we got a little lost somewhere in Arizona, but we did rent the Corvette and drove to the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, through the Valley of Fire, and up into Southern Utah.

I had been thinking about updating mine and my husband’s photos, sans kids, for a while and initially planned to wait until our 10 year anniversary, but because I was absolutely obsessed with the idea of us having our photos taken in the middle of the desert, I knew that we needed to do it now, this trip! So, one day, actually on our eleven hour car ride to The Smoky Mountains, I popped on Instagram and began looking for a photographer near Las Vegas using hashtags. That’s when I found Brittney of Haizel Creations. She had hashtagged some dreamy desert photos that made me swoon so hard that I immediately e-mailed her to check her availability for our only “free” day of our Vegas vacation. She was available, yay! So, we chatted about what I was looking for and {BAM} she produces this beautiful location in the middle of the desert with Joshua Trees . . . can you say obsessed? Because I was!

Stingray Corvette in Mojave Desert by Haizel CreationsIMG_2883Joshua Trees in Mojave Desert by Haizel CreationsIMG_2734_1Black & White in Mojave Desert by Haizel Creations IMG_2793Anniversary shoot in Mojave Desert by Haizel CreationsIMG_2861

All photos taken by Haizel Creations.

 

Camping With Kids {WITHOUT} Other Kids

Last summer we went to visit our friends that travel for a living, since they were a mere six hours away instead of 10-12 hours like normal. You can read about that trip here: Have Camper {WILL} Travel. Well, this summer they moved back to the same campground in IL after spending the winter in TX. The first weekend that we both had available, we packed up our things and made the trip again!

Camping with kids - Chan to Mars Blog Camping with kids - Chan to Mars Blog

Last year, we actually visited on my birthday weekend. This year we happened to visit on mother’s day weekend.  Now, I’m not going to lie . . . this is a hard trip for the boys because there are no other kids to play with. What 4-year-old wants to go camping only to be “stuck” to play with his little brother, who he plays with all the time? Definitely, not my 4-year-old! We only had one day of good weather this trip. Compound bad weather, limited outdoor play, no escaping your baby brother & you have a recipe for a disaster. There is nowhere for the boys to have their own “space” in our camper, so if they’re not playing outside then it seems like they are fighting inside.

Here’s some things we did wrong on this trip:

  1. Forgot multiple toys. Meaning two of a certain type of toy. We {ALWAYS} over-pack in the toy department & the kids barely play with any of it. Well, the time that we probably should have over-packed, the time when we are going without the entertainment of other children, we severely under-packed on toys. We forgot our sports balls, which keep the kids entertained around the campsite while we’re cooking meals. We forgot one of the bikes and we forgot to pack the little brother his own separate toy cars to avoid fights over his big brother’s toy cars.
  2. Didn’t pack rain gear. It rained the entire way there, while we were setting up, and while we were packing up. We forgot rain gear!! Rain coats, boots . . . we didn’t have any of it. We had two options; let the kids get soaked and cold or contain them in the camper. We let them do a little bit of both by alternating them in and out of the camper while we were setting up and packing up.
  3. Did not stick to the kid’s meal schedule. The only nice day we had, we were so excited to get out and about that we totally neglected the kid’s eating schedule, which is breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner. Luckily, Mars snacked so much throughout the day that he didn’t even notice that he missed a meal. But, Chan was hanging with dad and frankly dad’s just do not think about those things. It did not end well.

Even though we made mistakes this trip and there were a few meltdowns, myself included. Our drive home was wonderful. It was a splendid Mother’s Day drive. We stopped at a lovely rest area in IL that had a little walking trail, picnic tables & a playground for the kids to run around and burn off some energy. It was my husband’s idea and it was a wonderful one. If you’re traveling with kids, definitely take advantage of rest stops for potty breaks and meal breaks . . . and eat the food you have packed! Way less stressful, healthier and free entertainment.

Rest Stop Trail

Happy Camping Y’all!
Moon-Man-in-Pines

Introducing {THE WHITE BEAR}

We’ve owned our camper, also referred to as a travel trailer, for almost a year. This year, after two camping trips, we finally named our travel trailer. I’d like to introduce you to {The White Bear}

Last year I did a few quick updates to the linens to make it a bit more homie. This year, I added a little temporary vinyl wallpaper, new chalkboard knobs, and some light blocking curtains to the boy’s “bedroom”. I have much bigger plans for this little camper, but they’ll have to wait until next year.

Master Suite - Travel Trailer Camper Update

Our “bedroom” is a cozy queen size bed that is surprisingly comfortable. There is a closet on each side of the bed and cabinets above which allow for plenty of storage . . . more than we’ve ever needed. There is also a privacy screen to close off the master “bedroom”. Last year, Mars slept with us in our bed. This year, we knew that wasn’t going to work, so we struggled to come up with a sleeping situation for the boys. They are too young to sleep together in the same bed, but too old to sleep with us. My husband came up with an idea to separate their bed, which is the dinette set folded down, into 2 separate beds by using mesh bed-rails. Somehow, the bed-rails just fit perfectly and it’s working great. But, this sleeping situation isn’t going to work next year, because their toes are almost touching the ends of their beds. So, the plan is to build bunk beds, which scares the crap out of my husband, but I have confidence that he can do it!

Kids Bed - Travel Trailer Camper Update

The kitchen area has a stove top, an oven, a hood, a refrigerator, a pantry, overhead cabinets, and a sink with two cabinets underneath. It’s just enough for us. So far, our longest trip has been four days & most of the time we do not even began to use all of the storage that this little trailer has available. We do generally fill the kitchen though and kept it stocked throughout the camping season with non-perishable items. For easy to access storage, we have some hooks in the “foyer” to hold the boys jackets & hats and a basket to hold our trail maps. I also added a picture of our family with the words “The Wander Years” on it! Almost everything is hung with command hooks, including the moose head & dreamcatcher in the boy’s area. I drew a different image on each chalkboard knob in the camper. Lastly, the vinyl map of the United States is for us to keep track of where {The White Bear} has been. Three states so far, hoping to add many more throughout the years!

Kitchen & BathDetails

Happy Camping Y’all!
Moon-Man-in-Pines

An {ELEVEN} Hour Drive

We took our first camping trip of the year on Easter weekend. We made the eleven hour drive, our furthest camping trip to date, to the Smoky Mountain National Park. We went five years ago with my in-laws and decided to make the same trip with them again, only we added {THREE} children this time! If you have not been to Smoky Mountain National Park, I highly recommend it. It’s absolutely beautiful. Streams & waterfalls everywhere! At every campground you just hear constant water flowing in multiple directions. It so relaxing. Now, the national park has no electric or water hook-ups, which wasn’t a problem for us five years ago sans kids, but I’ll have to admit that we were a little nervous this go round. Luckily, our fridge & furnace can run off of our propane tanks. That was all we needed, besides the occasional light here & there.

day 1morning - day 2Day 2 - waterfallIt was pretty chilly one of the days that we were there & of course that was the day that we decided to climb to the top of Clingmans Dome . . . not wise, it was about seventeen degrees cooler up there, which meant that it was 30 degrees, complete with ice on all the trees. The boys were exhausted (as you can see in the photo of Chan trying to sleep on the bench) when we finished our hike up there, so they both took naps in the warm car while we drove to the next adventure.

Day 2The Easter bunny left baskets for the kids and dropped eggs all over our campsite for an Easter egg hunt. They were allowed to endulge in some treats and then we went out hiking & exploring so more.

EasterLast dayThis was our first camping trip with Mars as a walker. We spent a lot of time chasing him back to our campsite. The natural beauty of this world is astounding! I was taken back by the most simple things, the trees, the streams, and the sheer size of the boulders. The boys just enjoyed their time outside and all of the “treats” they get while camping that they would never be able to eat at home. When we finally got home, made dinner and we told the boys that it was time to eat & Marshall headed to the door and tried to go outside. He was totally confused as to why were we spending so much time indoors.

Happy Camping Y’all!
Moon-Man-in-Pines

9 Reasons Why We {LOVE} to Camp!

Reason #1 – Great sensory play . . . which is an ostentatious way of saying that we let the kids get dirty!

Reason #2 – Time together.

Reason #3 – Fresh air.

Reason #4 – The kids sleep {GREAT} when we’re camping.

Reason #5 – Very little screen time, another pretentious way of saying that we don’t watch TV or play with electronic devices. We generally watch one movie a night & that is solely to encourage Chan to come into the camper and {STOP} playing outside . . . occasionally, he’ll need two movies if he needs some time to cool down (mentally & physically) during the day.

Reason #5 – S’mores. Need I say more?

Reason #6 – Seeing beautiful places fairly cheaply.

Reason #7 – Limited cell service. The e-mails, phone calls & text messages can all wait!

Reason #8 – Campfire pizzas, aaaaannnnddd . . . {BACON}

Reason #9 – Getting away.

Chan-at-CampsiteMars-at-CampsiteRay-Behren's-Campsite-FunChan-&-Mars-at-Mark-Twain-Beach-Chan,-Mars-&-Daddy-at-the-Beach

Happy Camping Y’all!
Moon-Man-in-Pines

Happy {INDEPENDENCE} Day

Guess what we did for the 4th of July holiday . . . we went camping . . . yep, again! We got invited to spend the weekend at a wonderful farm in the middle of nowhere, which was positively {PERFECT}.

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Chan-to-Mars-Blog---Happy-Kids

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There were so many kids to play with; they spent most of their time getting Gator & 4-wheeler rides from adults and driving themselves around in Power Wheel Jeeps . . . they were literally on-the-go the whole weekend. The dads had a blast putting on a firework show for all of us & it was really {MAGNIFICENT}. Our hosts could not have been anymore hospitable! It was just a nice, quiet . . . with the exception of the fireworks . . . weekend.

Although, I should mention that on Saturday night, Chan Man crashed and burned a little bit after jumping on a bed, he feel off & hit his head . . . yes, just like the little monkeys. He hit his forehead on the corner of the coffee table & it is the 1st time that I’ve ever seen my baby boy bleed . . . urgghh, I was a hot mess! Luckily, everyone besides me was calm & we ended up not having to make a trip to the hospital. Less than 20 minutes after the incident, Chandler was back to his normal self.

Have Camper {WILL} Travel

We have some friends, best friends, that travel for a living . . . cool, right?!? They’ve lived in {NUMEROUS} states in the midwest and east coast over the past 4 years. They only times that we’ve seen them in these 4 years is when they come home & have a break away from their families long enough to visit us. Well, since we bought a camper, we decided, why wait on them to come home? We’ll go to them! We coordinated, loaded everything up in our truck and camper and made the 6 hour trip . . . Oh, did I forget to mention we bought a {CAMPER} . . .  we are so excited to be traveling and making family memories! I did a little sprucing up in our camper with some linens I had around the house, stole from my mom’s house & bought at estate sales, but plan to do more . . . I’ll write a blog post all about it when it’s done!

Chan-to-Mars-Blog---In-Camper-FunChan-to-Mars-Blog---Marshall-Chan-to-Mars---Geese-on-Rock-Cut-Lake Chan-to-Mars-Blog---Chandler-at-Rock-Cut-LakeMy boys are definitely made for the traveling, camping lifestyle. They love our camper and they love the fresh air and adventures even more! The weekend that worked best to meet up with our friends just so happened to be my {BIRTHDAY} weekend. We had a lot of indulgences; s’mores, brownies, chocolate cake, cinnamon rolls and doughnuts around the campfire. . . hey, you only turn 29 once!

Happy Camping Y’all!
Moon-Man-in-Pines