Tag Archives: Hiking

Exploring the Florida Coast: Barrier Island Sanctuary

Hiking trail we followed from the deck of the sanctuary center.

Hiking trail we followed from the deck of the sanctuary center.

If you’ve ever been in the presence of a toddler, you know they like to touch things. All things: Sticky things, gross things. pretty things, breakable things, it doesn’t matter. If it exists, they’re reaching for it. That’s why learning centers like the Barrier Island Sanctuary Center off A1A on the east coast of Florida are so spectacular. Every single thing in the center is meant to be explored with both your eyes AND your hands.

These types of learning centers are a benefit of state or county funds and foundation partner grants, and can be utilized by local residents and tourists alike. Many are located near or in state parks and have hiking trails attached to them. They are absolutely worth the trip.

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By the Belly of the Baby

Our hiking family

Our hiking family.

Have you ever asked yourself where the phrase “a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” comes from? I hadn’t given it much thought until recently when I discovered the answer.

It comes from when those men are 10-month old babies eating you out of house and home and wearing 2T size clothing.

Despite this information, we knowingly ventured out into the wild for a family hike. We packed the little guy’s belly full of breakfast, loaded the car up with all of the essentials — including the fabulous Aunt C who was visiting — and headed out to explore the Potomac Heritage Trail on a chilled fall morning.

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Our Summer of Neighborhood Hikes

Heading out!

Heading out! See below for the complete set of summer neighborhood hikes.

As you may have noticed, our hiking routine has slowed way down over the last two months. It’s not for lack of trying, or a desire to be inside that we found ourselves limiting hikes to closer to the house (although with some 100+ degree days, our motivation did wane for the sake of AC), it’s an ever-changing lifestyle called being a family with a six-to-nine month old.

Shocking as it may seem, babies apparently change quite often during their first year. They take you from – “Look honey he’s sitting up on his own!” to “He’s so advanced he’s already crawling!” to “Why can’t we go back to when he stayed still and was fascinated by his own hand?”

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Acadia, Maine – The Adult-Only Trip That Revived Us!

Our first morning hike - Joshua Pond.

Our first morning hike: Joshua Pond. See more pics below!

I know what you’re thinking – on a blog about hiking with a baby, why is she highlighting the greatness about hiking without one? Well, I’ll tell you why, because it’s just as hard.

Growing up, when I’d roll my eyes at my mom about some ‘dripping with love’ statement she’d make, she’d say, “Just wait, you’ll understand how much I love you when you have children of your own.”

Never was that more true, than when my husband and I said good-bye to our son for our first nights away from him to hike the outrageously beautiful mountains of northern Maine.

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Hiking with Fido: 7 things to remember

Take the whole family along. Even the four-legged members!

Take the whole family along. Even the four-legged members!

Bringing a dog hiking with you? Dogs need a date with nature as much as you do so next time you’re headed out to trail, consider bringing man’s best friend along. Never done it before? Here are a few quick ideas to keep in mind:

  1. Know your limits. Many parks allow dogs on a leash, but not all parks follow this protocol. In fact, quite a few U.S. National Parks don’t permit dogs on the trail – with or without a leash. So be sure to do your research before heading out to a new trail. A simple Google search should tell you whether dogs are permitted in the park.
  2. Do a fitness test. Yes, just like humans, dogs need to be in a certain physical fitness to go the distance. Ease your four-legged friend into hiking by starting out with shorter, easier distances and then work your way up to the 10-miler.
  3. Find a Fido. Don’t have a dog of your own? Borrow a neighbor’s for the day and take them with you. The neighbor will love the extra attention their pup gets and you’ll have a trail companion to keep up your pace.
  4. Hydrate. Be sure to bring lots of water for them to drink. Dogs are resilient beings, but because they can regulate their body temperature so well through panting, they often will push themselves beyond their capabilities. So you must be the one to remind them to slow down and drink when hiking. We hike with a camping bowl for her – it folds up flat and small when in the bag, and then works great as a water bowl when the dog becomes parched.
  5. Watch what they drink. Not all water is good water. Just like you probably wouldn’t drink from a puddle or pond without purifying, don’t let your pet. Water in lakes and rivers can be ridden with parasites that could make your dog very sick. And if you’re lucky enough to hike near the ocean, salt water will certainly turn their stomach. To prevent too much unwanted water consumption, put out fresh water in a bowl before the near water sources and keep offering fresh, clean water throughout the hike.
  6. Do you need to scoop the poop? Yes! If your pet poops, you don’t necessarily need to bag it and trash it, but you do need to scoop it up and bury it at least 200 feet from the trail. Some parks post restrictions and will ask that you bag and trash so be on the look out for those policies upon entrance to the park.
  7. Have fun! There are plenty of new smells to follow and squirrels to hunt so let them do their thing. Keep your dog on a leash, but why not give that longer leash a go? And, if you’re dog is a never-ending ball of energy like ours, bring their favorite squeaky toy or ball and throw, throw, throw.
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