Happy Halloween – Now Get Outside!

Do you know what I love about Halloween? It’s a holiday primarily celebrated outside. Whether you plan an Halloween costume hike, do some of these great outdoor activities or just walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating, the invitation is always to get outdoors. Here are ten ways we’ll celebrate Halloween Outdoors. How will you celebrate today?

 

Jump in Fall Leaves? Thumbs Up.

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Ten Things to Do With Kids at Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is big. A million acres of wilderness on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington means there’s a lot to see and do. However there are no roads bisecting the park, meaning to get from one area to another requires driving. We are already used to driving on this National Park to Park Highway tour, but even so, it was surprising how far apart the different areas in Olympic are.
Don’t expect to see Olympic National Park in one day. Because of the diverse ecosystems within Olympic the different areas almost feel like completely different parks. 
Plan your trip based on location first. Here were our favorite places to visit in Olympic.

Hike the Hall of Mosses – This short hike was the perfect introduction the Hoh rain forest  region of Olympic. 
Watch for Wildlife –  A herd of Roosevelt Elk live within the Hoh rainforest and unbeknownst to me a black bear was seen on the Hall of Mosses trail the day before I hiked it with my baby. In addition to big mammels, Olympic is known for its diversity of animal and plant life including marine animals, birds, insects and forest creatures.
Boat on Lake Crescent. 
Explore the CoastKalaloch and Ruby beach are located in the south western corner of the park. Kalaloch campground has 175 reservable spaces, assuming you reserve them six months in advance. 
Stack Rocks on the Beach – We loved exploring Rialto Beach a bit further north on the Pacific. The waves were so fierce it wasn’t safe to swim, but we enjoyed watching the water and stacking rocks on the beach.
Explore the Quinault Ranger Station area – The Quinault rain forest has some great short hikes to enjoy with kids.
Learn about spawning salmon and dam removal in the Elwha area.
Splash in the Water – Whether it’s the Hoh River, the Pacific Ocean, Lake Crescent or  Lake Sutherland, Olympic National Park has lots of water to play in. 
Backpack in the Olympic Wilderness – While we sat at Rialto Beach a mother and her two sons started on a backpacking journey along the north coast of Washington. I watched her enviously. To have children old enough to carry their own packs and not have to be carried! And what a cool trail, hiking the wild coastline, always aware of tides and water safety. Much of Olympic is preserved as wilderness area, so the backpacking options are seemingly endless.

Have you ever been to Olympic National Park? What’s your favorite area to explore?

Baby Safety: Hiking and Biking

Thanks for following the Owlet Baby Care Baby Safety Month Blog Hop! Every day in September a new blogger will post on a baby safety topic and give you a chance to enter Owlet Baby Care’s Baby Safety Giveaway with BIG PRIZES (see below)! Did you catch Amy’s crafting baby safety tips from TheHappyScraps.com from yesterday?

Alright. Let’s talk baby safety in the outdoors. Baby L has hiked, biked and swam with us through our entire National Park to Park Highway tour. It’s only been possible thanks to being prepared. Here’s what we do to keep our baby safe while hiking and biking.


Hiking

The American Hiking Society recommends taking these ten essentials on every hike. Bringing baby along means you’ll need these essentials as well.

Baby Carrier

  • For kids under six months – Use a wrap or front carrier designed for young babies. Newborns lack muscle coordination in their head and neck so it’s important to provide support. Babies this age should not face forward as the jostling involved with walking can be dangerous for their developing necks and spines, and if the baby falls asleep there’s a danger of airway obstruction. Also, a baby carrier with leg support is recommended since legs dangling for too long can affect spinal development and circulation. Some brands include Baby Bjorn, Moby Wrap, Tula, or Boba.
  • For kids over six months – If baby can hold their head up on their own you can carry them on your back with either a soft sided carrier like Ergobaby, LILLEbaby or Onya Baby or a framed hiking pack like the Kelty Pathfinder, Osprey Poco or Deuter Kid Comfort. Those little ones get heavy so a pack is important. Our favorite baby carrier reviews can be found here as part of the great baby wearing project from TalesofaMountainMama.com.
Other Baby Hiking tips
  • Bring drinks and food for everyone in your group. A bottle or breast milk for baby and food for you give you both energy for the hike.
  • Keep it short, keep it happy. It’s physically demanding to carry a baby while hiking so start by doing hikes of three miles or less. 
  • Know where you’re at and where you’re going and always tell someone where you’ll be and when you’ll be back.
  • Here are more tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics A Minute for Kids.

Biking

Although it may be tempting, the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend biking with kids under the age of 12 months. Younger babies don’t have the neck strength to support their head wearing a helmet, and as tempting as it might be to bike with a baby in one of the carriers listed above, it is not safe for you or the baby. Maneuvering a bicycle with a baby strapped to you is awkward, not to mention the added weight increases braking time.

Baby Bike Seats

  • Child Bicycle Trailers – The American Academy of Pediatrics states that it’s preferable for children to ride in a bicycle-towed child trailer. Trailers are lower to the ground so in the case of a crash the child would not fall as far. We’re a fan of our Burley D’Lite, but whatever bike trailer you choose, make sure it meets ASTM standards for safety. Enter the giveaway below for a chance to win a Burley Solstice Jogger!
  • Rear Mounted Bike Seats – If you prefer a rear mounted bike seat make sure it attaches securely, has spoke guards to protect hands and feet and a high back and sturdy shoulder harness that will support a sleeping child. 
  • Cargo Bikes are not recommended for carrying children.

Helmets

  • Babies should be at least 12 months old and able to hold their head up well. Always put a helmet on baby when biking.
  • Get your child a well fitting helmet that meats CSPC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) guidelines. Follow these recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • Never buy a used bike helmet. Do not use bike helmets that were involved in a serious bike crash.
Other Baby Biking Tips
  • Plan a safe route. Riding on the road with baby on board may not be the best idea. Look for bike paths and smooth pavement for traffic free biking.
  • If you must ride on the road ride with the flow of traffic, stay to the side and wear bright colors for visibility.  
  • Don’t ride with kids at night. Reflective clothing and bike lights may not be enough for cars to see you.

    Now that you know how to keep baby safe hiking and biking get out there and have some fun! But before you do enter the giveaway below and don’t forget to visit TastefullyFrugal.org for tomorrow’s baby safety tips.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    This post is sponsored by Owlet Baby Care makers of the Smart Sock which is designed to alert parents if their baby lacks oxygen. Other items mentioned in this post were given to me to review. This post also includes affiliate links. Burley Design is a sponsor of our National Park to Park Highway tour. 

    Three Must Do Activities at Mesa Verde National Park

    In 1917 Horace Albright described the road to Mesa Verde as “…one of the most disrreputable, dangerous, fearsome bits of slippery, rutted miseries I ever had the misfortune to travel.” Thankfully the quality of the road has improved since that time.
    On this update of our National Park toPark Highway tour I will focus on my top three activities to do with kids. Other National Park posts list our top ten picks, but I really wanted to focus on these three things because they were so awesome. They require a bit more time and effort, but are totally worth it.
    First some information – Mesa Verde is a World Heritage Site, meaning it’s so cool, interesting and important to human history that people have banded together to protect it. Part of that protection is that no food or drinks other than water are allowed in any cliff dwelling.

    Also, most of the Native American cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde require a ranger guide to explore close up. You can purchase tickets for a ranger led tour a day or so in advance at the Visitor Center when you first enter the park or online through the Mesa Verde website. Tickets are $4 per person. The tours require some physical ability – you must be able to climb a ladder and fit through some tight spaces for a few tours such as Balcony House. Baby carriers are not recommended.

    Balcony House – Touring this cliff dwelling was like exploring an ancient jungle gym. Before the tour started our ranger described the thirty-two foot tall ladder, eighteen by twenty four inch wide tunnel and steps carved in the rock by the Ancestral Puebloan people that we would be expected to climb.

    I was nervous that Big E and Little G would have trouble on the route but I should’ve been worried about myself. Some of the spaces were so tight, I had to take Baby L out of her carrier and squeeze us through. I would not suggest taking a baby carrier on this tour. Seeing the ancient Puebloan homes was really cool, not to mention a great lesson in history. The shade in the cliff dwelling felt great on a hot summer day.

    Cliff Palace – The overlook to Cliff Palace does not require a tour ticket, but to really experience it you should take a ranger tour here. This tour had fewer physical demands than Balcony House (no tiny tunnels thank you). If you bring young children here be sure they stay away from the edge – there are a few sections where the trail got close. Cliff Palace is a huge ancient site with kivas, towers and rock walls built from meticulously shaped rocks. It was fascinating to see up close.

    Whetherill Mesa – My favorite part of our Mesa Verde visit was the bike ride on Whetherill Mesa. More remote than the other areas of the park, this adventure required an hour and fifteen minute drive from the campground just to get there, but once we were there we had the place almost totally to ourselves. We rode our bikes on the five mile, paved, multi-use trail, stopping at various places to see some of the ancient architecture close up.

    Little G rode her Woom 3 with the pedals removed so she could use it like a balance bike. She loved the downhill sections, but without pedals she was by far the slowest one on the trail, requiring bucket loads of patience as Mountain Dad and I helped keep her moving. Despite protests before hand, she biked a full mile on her own before we locked her bike and put her in the Burley trailer.
    Big E rode amazingly well. I’m still shocked that just this spring he transitioned off of training wheels. He can ride like a beast and I credit that to the Woom 4. It’s the perfect size for him and the easy gear change lets him be in control.
    We finished our visit to Whetherill Mesa with a self guided tour of Step House. This cliff dwelling is near the parking lot and does not require a ticket, although a ranger is on site to answer questions. After a morning bike ride I was especially surprised that none of our kids complained on the one mile round trip hike, even with the sun bright on our backs.

    Mountain Dad’s Corner – As I was writing this post, Mountain Dad said he wanted to share his Pros and Cons of visiting Mesa Verde. Here’s his takeaway.
    Pros:
    • Ridiculously cool native american ruins.
    • Huge laundromat, free showers and a general store within walking distance of our campsite.
    • Balcony House Tour was a cool historic jungle gym.
    Cons:
    • There was a lot of driving to just get to the Native American sites.
    • Weird camping reservation system – you can reserve a spot but you have to choose it once you get there.
    • Long line for tour tickets at the Visitors Center. Why was there only one ranger for all those people?
    • Hot, Hot, Hot Even though the temperatures never went over 85 degrees the combination of high elevation and direct sunlight made it feel hot.