Orcas Island’s Turtleback Mountain: Thankful for the Second Chance

When planning a return trip to Orcas Island (one of Washington State’s San Juan Islands north of Seattle), Slaed and I both made short lists.  Short lists of places on the island we didn’t want to miss.  Restaurants, hikes, shops, and other destinations that we loved so much the first time or didn’t get to visit because time or closure.

Neither of those lists included a visit back to the Turtleback Mountain Preserve, located west of the main town of East Sound.  All Slaed could remember was the long uneventful climb along a gravel trail.  Yes, if we veered off, there were a few spectacular views of the water and surrounding islands, but there were other hikes, other parks that we thought were better worth our time.  We were content just visiting once.

Then I heard from one of the best local hiking experts in the state, Craig Romano.  His latest book, Day Hikes in the San Juan and Gulf Islands was just released, and he was interested in having some Pacific Northwest area bloggers review it.  Unfortunately the book wouldn’t arrive before we hit the road for Orcas, but I jumped at the chance to consult with him on his favorite picks, especially with a little hiker in tow.

His top recommendation and in his opinion the very best hike on the island? The Turtleback Mountain Preserve hike

With a little more research I realized that yes, the first bit of the hike was a boring uphill climb, there was just no way around that, but if we remained patient and put in the work, we’d be rewarded.

Orcas Island's Turtleback Mountain: Thankful for the Second Chance | WildTalesof.com

Thankfully I was able to convince Slaed to give the hike another try and as luck (?) would have it, the best opportunity to go during our stay was on Father’s Day.  Such a trooper.

With a hearty breakfast in our bellies, and more rewarding treats in our packs for our halfway point, we set off on that same torturous path.  This time though, we had more of a plan (something I highly recommend).   We’d skip stopovers at the earlier overlooks, and hike 1.5 miles on the North Trail to reach the Turtlehead Trail.  Then we’d hike another 1.2 miles to the top of Turtlehead (1005 feet), and head back.

In order to “get a move-on” and get the first stretch behind us quickly, we opted to stick Bergen in the backpack carrier almost right away.  When we arrived at the trail junction marking the end of our dreaded climb, our prize was waiting for us.  We had the pleasure of meandering through a luscious green forest that began as a relaxing downhill journey.  Bergen promptly got out of the pack, and we took our time getting to the lookout.

Orcas Island's Turtleback Mountain: Thankful for the Second Chance | WildTalesof.com

Orcas Island's Turtleback Mountain: Thankful for the Second Chance | WildTalesof.com

Eventually we all had to do more climbing, but the snippets of surrounding water and island scenery and winding pathways made for a more enjoyable experience.  This also fueled our excitement for the ultimate view at the top.  I started to realize (as did Slaed): Ahh…this is what Craig is talking about!

Orcas Island's Turtleback Mountain: Thankful for the Second Chance | WildTalesof.com

Orcas Island's Turtleback Mountain: Thankful for the Second Chance | WildTalesof.com

Orcas Island's Turtleback Mountain: Thankful for the Second Chance | WildTalesof.com

Orcas Island's Turtleback Mountain: Thankful for the Second Chance | WildTalesof.com

Not always the case, but sometimes the second time around is so much sweeter. Have you experienced this in your travels?

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**Thanks to Craig Romano and Mountaineers Books for providing us with a copy of Day Hiking: The San Juans and Gulf Islands.  We look forward to checking out many more of your recommendations and sharing our experience on the blog. This post also contains affiliate links to our online travel and adventure store.**

Potty Training for Active Families: Resources to Prepare, Survive and Reinforce+Giveaway!

{Fifth and final post in a series on potty training for active families}

We’re active.  Even when we’re not traveling somewhere, we’re off exploring our local area whether that’s just getting exercise through walking, hiking, and biking, getting things done around town, rooting for our favorite home teams, or participating in community events.  We like to get out.  

Because of this lively lifestyle that we love, visions of serious potty training terrified us.  Yes, we wanted so badly to be rid of the diapers.  However, the thought of being homebound for a even a few days or a weekend was paralyzing.  We dreaded it.  Those 3-day potty boot camps (as much as we wanted to be over with quick) just wouldn’t work for us. 

So we took our time and figured out an approach that worked for us and allowed us to continue our adventurous lifestyle with just a few changes.

For this last post in the series, I’m sharing resources galore, plus I’m giving away one of these great resources, so look for that at the end of the post!  From books, to games, to informative posts from my fellow outdoor and traveling bloggers, I hope to equip families with plenty information prepare, survive, and reinforce their potty training efforts.

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Holiday Reset: Golden, CO’s Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Holidays are filled with fun and excitement.  They can also be overwhelming.  At least for me.  Even the ones that are all about celebrating–no crazy obligations, no gifts to buy, no ceremonies to attend, just a lot of gathering with family and friends.  It was a 4th of July frenzy for me this year.  By late morning on the the 5th of July, I was cooked, and wait, we were actually on vacation! Yes as the cliche goes, I needed a vacation from my vacation.

Lucky for me, a quick respite in the mountains was just a short drive away.  I located a state park, and we were off headed for not only a quiet hike (yes, you can have those with a toddler), but a peaceful mini road trip through a canyon inviting us to take in some of the Colorado culture as we passed ranches, trailheads, and distant peaks.

Unfortunately when we arrived at Golden Gate Canyon Park (about 30 minutes from downtown Golden), we knew we didn’t have a whole lot of time. It was already later in the morning, and we needed to get back for Bergen’s nap, and more fun that evening.  We asked the ranger at the window for a short, but sweet hike recommendation, and she was more than happy to steer us in the right direction.

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Potty Training for Active Families: What to Pack for Travel

{Fourth post in a series on potty training for active families}

We’re active.  Even when we’re not traveling somewhere, we’re off exploring our local area whether that’s just getting exercise through walking, hiking, and biking, getting things done around town, rooting for our favorite home teams, or participating in community events.  We like to get out.  

Because of this lively lifestyle that we love, visions of serious potty training terrified us.  Yes, we wanted so badly to be rid of the diapers.  However, the thought of being homebound for a even a few days or a weekend was paralyzing.  We dreaded it.  Those 3-day potty boot camps (as much as we wanted to be over with quick) just wouldn’t work for us. 

So we took our time and figured out an approach that worked for us and allowed us to continue our adventurous lifestyle with just a few changes.

For this fourth post in the series, I’m sharing what we pack when we truly hit the road, and travel away from home overnight, plus just a few quick tips and insights to keep in mind when at the airport and on the plane. Since our potty training journey began almost 3 months ago, we’ve logged 2 road trips to destinations about 3 hours away from home, and one plane trip of about 2 1/2 hours in duration.  We are off to enjoy a weekend at the lake (6 hours on the road) in just a couple days, so I’ve got packing on the brain!

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Yepp Maxi Child Seat: Family Bicycling Fun

The addition of the Yepp Maxi child seat into our outdoor adventure arsenal couldn’t have come at better time and season.  This year’s late spring and early summer in Seattle has been one of the best yet.  To be honest, I was worried that we wouldn’t have enough of an opportunity to properly test the seat out during this transitional time.  Historically our Junes are gloomy; nicknamed Junuary due to the frequent rain, continued lower temperatures, and overcast skies.  Not so in 2014, and we’ve got the outside memories to prove it.

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Potty Training for Active Families: 11 Quick Tips

{Third post in a series on potty training for active families}

We’re active.  Even when we’re not traveling somewhere, we’re off exploring our local area whether that’s just getting exercise through walking, hiking, and biking, getting things done around town, rooting for our favorite home teams, or participating in community events.  We like to get out.  

Because of this lively lifestyle that we love, visions of serious potty training terrified us.  Yes, we wanted so badly to be rid of the diapers.  However, the thought of being homebound for a even a few days or a weekend was paralyzing.  We dreaded it.  Those 3-day potty boot camps (as much as we wanted to be over with quick) just wouldn’t work for us. 

So we took our time and figured out an approach that worked for us and allowed us to continue our adventurous lifestyle with just a few changes.

For this third post in the series, I’m sharing 11 quick tips for those families who may be taking the potty training plunge soon.  Now that Bergen (2.5 years old) is without diapers during the day, we took some time to reflect on what worked and what may have made a difference in his success (and what didn’t) in order to gain some perspective, and pass along a few good tidbits of help.

To learn more about the potty training necessities we bring along in our backpack when leaving the house for training on-the-go, check out the first post of the series.  To learn more about the basic potty training steps we took, check out the second post in the series!

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Trying New Things: Stand-up Paddleboarding in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Watching friends and those I admire for years now try this new(ish) way of enjoying the outdoors got me super curious.  Okay.  And maybe a little jealous.

When see others gliding along the water on stand-up paddleboards, the best word that I can think of is cool.  The sport just seemed like such a neat way to explore a natural area, have downtime, and get a little exercise all at the same time.

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