15-day Family Road Trip Itinerary: Utah, Arizona, California, and Nevada


Thank you for taking the time to look over our itinerary. We believe that this will be the best trip you ever take, and we are so thankful that we can provide for you some insight and assistance along the way. Our hope is that by planning ahead, you can fully immerse yourself in the unforgettable experiences you will have without having to worry or stress your next move. We took this trip with 3 children: 12, 9, & 6. Please let us know if you have any questions or would like further clarification. Also, be sure to give us feedback on the itinerary and let us know how your trip went.



  1. Book all your hotels in advance and print your confirmations. Keep a folder with your itinerary, hotels and flight confirmations and park passes.
  2. Buy national park passes for your family in advance. If you are visiting multiple parks, it will save you money. It will also save you time when you are entering parks. You won’t have to wait in lines if you have a park pass.
  3. We recommend downloading the following apps prior to travel: All Trails, Uber, your airline app and Google Maps
  4. VERY IMPORTANT: Bring a traditional dash GPS. Most of the areas we were in did not have cell service. Had we relied on our phone GPS, we would have been in big trouble!
  5. Get gas before you leave your hotels in the mornings. Some of the drives can be long and the roads are desolate. The most expensive gas was near national parks so avoid that if possible. Many of the parks required long drives in and out with no option to get gas.
  6. Choose hotels with a complimentary breakfast whenever possible! This saves a lot of money for large families! It’s also nice to have a sit down meal when you are eating a lot packed lunches.

Day 1

  • Reserve this day for flights & van rental (We flew from Atlanta, GA to Las Vegas, NV. We like to use Southwest. We a family of five it is much more affordable to flew with them since they don’t charge extra for luggage to be checked.)
  • Hotel: Circus Circus
  • VAN: Budget Van Rental (Most affordable & great service! Call for better deal! If you end up with a 15-passenger van and can give up a row of seats, request the back seat to be removed before you arrive. This will give you space for luggage. Otherwise, the seats go all the way to the back door. In a 12-passenger, there is plenty space in the back for luggage. We had requested a 12-passenger but received a 15-passenger when we arrived. Once the van is on site, the seats cannot be removed.)
  • Notes: Make sure you stay in a hotel that is known to be kid friendly, especially if you plan to stay on the LV strip. We stayed at Paris and had an encounter we weren’t expecting. Also, you may choose to stay off the strip for easier transportation in and out of the city. It’s stressful to drive on the strip in a big van, so be prepared if you tackle this! TIP: Stay at the end of the strip instead of driving the van through all the traffic. 2. In any city you visit, make sure your hotel has high clearance parking in parking garages. 3. Plan to bring breakfast with you or grab fast food on the way out of town. Breakfast in hotels are VERY pricey. 2. There is a free shuttle that runs from the airport to the car rental location.

Day 2

  • Drive to Zion National Park (2 hours and 45 minutes from Las Vegas)
  • Stop at a grocery store to grab lunches to pack into the park
  • Spend the day at Zion
  • Must take shuttle in and out of the park unless your lodging is on site
  • Hotel: (30 minutes outside Zion) Zion / Best Western Plus Zion West
  • Tails: River Walk – 1 mile and leads to The Narrows (This one is must-do! The River Walk is paved and very easy. At the end of the River Walk you jump in the water at The Narrows. Walk as far as you would like then turn around and head back.) 2. Canyon Overlook Trail – 1 mile (This is an easy hike and is a great overlook with stunning views of the entire park.)
  • Notes: Parking inside Zion is limited to one parking lot at the visitor center. I would not attempt to park inside the park unless your lodging is on site. Plan to park outside the park in the city of Springdale and use their shuttle system to get to the visitor center inside the park. You can find the Springdale shuttle map online. Once you are in the park, you will need to board a second shuttle to be transported around the park. It does take a lot of work to get in and out of this park. You will spend about an hour “entering” the park. 2. Look at the map before you arrive and know which trails you want to do before you arrive. 3. Prepare for waits. This is a very busy park. There will be lines to board the shuttle at each stop. The park is very large. The only way for a family to get from trail to trail is to use the shuttle system. The shuttle is not air conditioned. They open all the windows and let the air blow through. The views on the shuttle are stunning! 4. Take a reusable WATER BOTTLE in the park. There are re-fill stations everywhere. 5. Check the weather before you go and know whether or not it is safe to walk The Narrows. Be aware of flash floods.

Day 3

  • Drive from Zion to Bryce Canyon National Park (1-hour 45min)
  • Spend the day at Bryce Canyon
  • Trails: Navajo Loop (1.4 miles), Queen’s Castle (1.8)
  • Hotel: Bryce Canyon (Best Western Plus Ruby’s Inn) I highly recommend this hotel! It is located in an adorable little town. There is a laundry mat, grocery store and restaurant on site. Across the street, there is a little western town that is fun to visit!
  • Notes: This park is very easy to enter and navigate. 2. Navajo Loop is NOT a loop most of the time. Part of the trail is often closed, so you will go so far then turn around and head back the same way. Queen’s Castle connects to Navajo Loop, so if you want to make your trail longer, add Queen’s Castle to the Navajo Loop Trail. We had planned to do this but decided not to once we were there. 2. Keep in mind that Navajo Loop is all downhill on the way in and UPHILL on the way out. It is a pretty steep climb on the way out. We had to stop for a lot of breaks on the way out. 3. Take something to cover your face. My daughter used a bandana. Along the trail, there will be several wind gusts that blow red dust up into your face. 4. Bring WATER! 5. Sunscreen is a must. There is not a lot of shade.

Day 4

  • Drive towards Grand Canyon South Rim (5 1/2 hours from Zion Nation Park)
  • Spend the day enjoying destinations along the way to Grand Canyon. This day is all about the stops along the way!
  • 1st Stop: Kanab, Utah / Moqui Caverns (The trail is located in-between the Moqui Caves and the Best Friend Animal Sanctuary exit on HWY 89. The caves are on the east side of the road, the same side as Moqui Caves (Moqui Caves and Moqui Caverns are two very different things). You can look up and see the caves from the road. They look like three holes in the hill. You will park in a little pullout area on the west side of the road right across from the caves.)
  • 2nd Stop: Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park (This place is amazing! If you have time, rent a dune buggy outside of the park and bring it in the park with you to drive over the dunes!) Sunscreen and water are a must.
  • 3rd Stop: Horseshoe Bend: Page, Arizona (This is an easy 1 mile in and out trail. It is usually a very busy spot with a lot of tourist. But, it is worth it. The view is remarkable!)
  • 4th Stop: Antelope Canyon– Get your permit ($12) from tribal parks office in Page, AZ, then pay for the tour once you arrive at the location or pay ahead online. (You need the permit to enter the tribal land. The tours are led by residents of the land.)
  • Hotel: Stay on the north side of Grand Canyon’s South Rim near Page, AZ

Day 5

  • Spend the Day at Grand Canyon National Park. Drive through the park and make stops at lookouts along the way! If you’re lucky you will see elk!
  • Stop on the way in the park and buy lunches to pack in.
  • Trails: Rim Trail (Jump on the Rim Trail at visitor center. It is a very easy, paved trail. The total length of the trail is 8 miles with multiple stops to jump on and off a shuttle bus. You can walk the entire way or stop and turn around whenever you’d like. We walked as far as we wanted then rode the shuttle back to the visitor center.) There were several park benches and shaded rest areas.
  • Drive to Kingman, AZ (2 hours 40 minutes from Grand Canyon South Rim)
  • Hotel: Kingman, AZ – Best Western Plus A Wayfarer’s Inn and Suites
  • LIVING GHOST TOWN: Drive to Oatman, AZ after you check in your hotel in Kingman. (This about 40 minutes from Kingman. It is a living Ghost town with wild burros roaming the streets. Trust me, the drive to and from Oatman is SO worth the time it takes to drive there. Stop and enjoy the views! We laughed so much feeding and petting the burros! My kids thought it was super fun. There are several local shops, an old coal mine you can walk through and restaurants to visit.
  • Notes: Grand Canyon is a very beautifully manicured park. It is very easy to navigate and is absolutely stunning! But, don’t expect a lot of “getting off the beaten path and exploring” type of activities. 2. There are areas along the Rim Trail to walk out onto the cliffs and get a view without the obstruction of rails. However, if you have small children, be very careful, watch them closely! 3. We spent about a half day in the park and felt it was sufficient for our family. After a few hours, the sites start looking similar and the kids were ready to move on. That seems crazy to say about such an amazing place, but that is just the reality of having children!

Day 6

  • Drive to Joshua Tree National Park (3 hours 40 minutes from Grand Canyon) via I-62 to Twentynine Psalms Joshua Tree Visitor center
  • Stop and grab lunches to pack inside the park
  • Hotel: Stay outside Joshua Tree (Fairfield Inn & Suites in Twentynine Psalms)
  • Trails: White Tank Campground trail to Arch Rock. (This short trail is easy and full of gigantic rocks. My kids absolutely loved this part!) 2. Barker Dam (This trail is a good overview of what this park has to offer, especially if you don’t have a lot of time to explore. It is the only area in the park with water. It is full of cacti and Joshua trees. Many small animals like jackrabbits and lizards can be seen along the trail. Also, this is where you might see those famous bighorn sheep!
  • Notes: This park is very easy to navigate! It is a big park and one of our favorites. So, if you have more time. Stay and enjoy more of the hiking trails! There is very little shade, so sunscreen and water are a must.

Day 7 

  • Drive to LA (3 hours from Joshua Tree National Park)
  • Spend the day sightseeing in LA
  • Things to do and see: (1) Griffith Observatory, (2) Hollywood sign @ Lake Hollywood Park, (3) Visit Beverly Hills on Rodeo Drive, (4) Santa Monica Pier
  • Hotel: Stay in Santa Monica near the pier
  • Notes: Allow ample time for traffic and parking. Navigating major cities can be tricky depending on the vehicle you rent. 2. Pay more and stay in chain hotel in Santa Monica. We learned this lesson the hard way. We thought we could get by with staying in a cute little motel. However, I recommend staying in a chain hotel with good reviews because of cleanliness and safety. 3. If you have been to the city before or aren’t interested in seeing the city, move along and skip it. Stay along the coast in Malibu or Santa Barbara instead.

Day 8

  • Final destination this day will be Morro Bay. However, this day is about the stops along the way! Slow down and enjoy the day! Make sure to get on Hwy 1 and drive along the seaside. It will not be the fastest way, but the most beautiful!
  • 1st Stop: El Matador State Beach in Malibu / 25 minutes to see the Sea Caves!
  • 2nd Stop: Drive to Santa Barbara (1-hour 45min from Malibu) Visit Santa Barbara Beach, Stearns Wharf Pier & State Street shopping. This is a beautiful, luxurious town. We spent a couple hours walking around the State Street area and drifting along the Stearns Wharf Pier.
  • 3rd Stop: Drive to Morro Bay (2 hours from Santa Barbara) This is an adorable little town. We loved the vibe. There are a lot of shops to visit, awesome local restaurants and Morro Bay Rock. Don’t’ forget to walk out to the big rock!
  • Hotel: Fireside Inn (This was a fine hotel but nothing to write home about. We saved money by staying here and it was sufficient for what we needed.)

Day 9

  • Drive to Monterey Bay (3 hours from Morro Bay) – With the current road construction, you must drive 3-hours to Monterey Bay, then back track to Big Sur area on Hwy 1. There is a road block on Hwy 1 at this time. For this part of the trip, you must drive on Hwy 101 to Monterey Bay. Once the road construction is finished, you will be able to drive straight up the coast and avoid back tracking. Don’t forget to check the status of the road construction before your trip!
  • Spend the day at Point Lobos State Park (This park is amazing! Enjoy all the trails along coastline!) Take a lunch in the park and have a picnic!
  • Hotel: Carmel River Inn in Carmel-by-the-Sea (Another hotel that was just “okay.” It accomplished what we needed at a bargain price, but there are nicer places to stay.)
  • Notes: If you have time, drive in to Monterey Bay which is just a few minutes away! There are many things to do in this beautiful city! Those may include Cannery Row, Lovers Point, Coast Guard Pier with seals, McAbee Beach Tidal pools and watching for Humpback Whales! (Check to see if it is whale season!)

Day 10

  • Drive south towards the “17-mile Drive” on Hwy 1. This is considered the Big Sur area. You will be heading south or “backtracking.”
  • Big Sur Area Destinations: Bixby Bridge, McWay Falls, Julia Pfeiffer State Park Beach (This entire drive may be the most beautiful thing you see in your lifetime. Try to get all the way to Julia Pfeiffer State Park Beach. Then, you will turn around and drive back toward Monterey Bay.)
  • Drive to Santa Cruz (50 minutes from Monterey Bay)
  • Hotel: Stay in Santa Cruz
  • Things to do at Santa Cruz: Natural Bridges State Beach, Santa Cruz Boardwalk and Beach, Santa Cruz Wharf, Ano Nuevo Park (on the way out of Santa Cruz)
  • Notes: Santa Cruz was our favorite beach towns of the trip! We absolutely loved the Wharf. We spent half a day watching the sea lions. You get very close up views of them from the pier! We ended up spending our entire day on the wharf & enjoying The Boardwalk. We did not do the other things on the “Things to do” list. Parking was fairly easy but metered.

Day 11

  • Drive to San Francisco (1 ½ hours from Santa Cruz)
  • Spend the morning sightseeing in San Francisco
  • Things to do in San Francisco: Golden Gate Bridge, Pier 39 at Fisherman’s Wharf, Ride Cable Cars, Painted Ladies at Alamo Square, Chinatown
  • Drive to Merced (2 hours – This is half way to Yosemite National Park)
  • Hotel: Stay in Merced, CA
  • Notes: We chose to stay in Merced because it was the halfway point between San Francisco and Yosemite National Park. 2. A 15-passenger van is VERY hard to drive around SF! The traffic is really out-of-this-world and parking is virtually nonexistent. Just be prepared to handle the traffic and drive those outrageous hills in the city! We did it but, in hindsight, I would have probably just driven across the Golden Gate Bridge and skipped the sight-seeing in SF. 3. Fisherman’s Wharf is fun but SO, SO busy!! We drove past it and decided to keep on driving! We did find a great view of the bridge at Crissy Field and the parking was fairly easy as people would come and go quickly.

Day 12

  • Drive to Yosemite (2 hours from SF)
  • Spend the day at Yosemite National Park
  • Trails: Yosemite Valley Tunnel View, Bridalveil Fall, Glacier Point, Lower Yosemite falls
  • Hotel: 5th Street Inn in Mariposa, CA (We highly recommend this inn. Book well in advance and grab the family suite if you need it! The inn is so quaint, and the room is huge!
  • Notes: We loved staying in the city of Mariposa! This little town is amazing. There are a lot local places to shop and eat. When we were there, the city was hosting an outdoor festival with live music. There is also a doughnut place within walking distance of our hotel. 2. Yosemite was our favorite destination of all. You could easily spend more than one day at this park. 3. The drive in and out of Yosemite is long. (This is one reason we only spent one day here.) Be prepared for it to take an hour or so to enter the park depending on the time of year you visit. If you can, arrive prior to the park opening, this will help with the lines. 4. It is hard to find parking in this park. We had to park along the side of a road inside the park and walk about a mile just to get to our first hiking trail. It is a very busy park! It would be worth it to drive to the visitor center to park, then take the shuttle to the varies trails. 5. There are some affordable and quick dining options inside the park near the visitor center. 6. There are several trails you can take simply by walking from the visitor center parking lot. This parking lot is huge and has plenty of free parking.)

Day 13

  • Drive to Sequoia (3 ½ hours from Mariposa)
  • Things to do at Sequoia: General Sherman Tree Trail, take some time to tour one of the many caves found at the park, General Grant Loop Trail
  • Hotel: Sequoia Comfort Suites Visalia Convention Center
  • Notes: THIS PARK IS VERY HARD TO GET INTO! It seriously takes about 1 ½ hours to drive up a mountain and enter this park. If anyone in your vehicle get motion sickness, prepare accordingly. We were tired before we got there! The views along the road are beautiful but it is a steep and curvy drive. Not for the faint of heart. Once you are there, the trees are simply breathtaking. I do not regret going to this park; However, be prepared for an exhausting drive up the mountain! 2. This is a very large park with a lot to offer. Even Mount Whitney and the granite done Moro Rock are found here! But, many of the trails are strenuous so know what you want to do before you get there!

Day 14

  • Drive to Las Vegas (5 hours from Sequoia National Park)
  • Hotel: Excalibur Hotel (This one is great for kids!)
  • Return the rental car
  • Things to do in Vegas: Visit all the hotels (Avoid all casino areas with kids when possible. There will be half-dressed dancers on tables! Use main entrances instead), Bellagio fountains, free circus acts in Circus Circus, gondola ride at The Venetian, visit the M&M World, Adventuredome theme park, free “Fall of Atlantis” show at Caesar’s Palace. Simply walking the strip was a blast but avoid doing so after dark.

Day 15

  • Use hotel shuttles or Uber to get to the airport
  • Save this day for flights & traveling home.





Peace of Mind When your Thoughts are a Jumbled Mess

Everyday I think of things I’d like to write, to ponder, then I sit at my computer and watch the cursor blink repetitively. The page is blank and the expectations are high. My thoughts escape me as fast as they arrived. It’s myself that holds me back and demands more than can be accomplished. My mind suddenly revolts and my fingers won’t move. So, I’m starting with this, an admission that I can’t necessarily do this, but I’m going to do it anyway.

I will write SOMETHING. I’m going to think this through, reflect and figure something out. It’s a start and a step in the direction I would like to go.

Life truly has so many hardships, so many disappointments. The longer we live, the more they build. Everyone knows this once they’ve lived a while. We carry it all like a weight upon our shoulders. We have so much to do, so much to decide. We trudge through it all and collapse into bed at night as our minds race through the tasks for the following days. We cruelly remind ourselves over and over that we should be free and that our days should represent peace, kindness and love. We know it doesn’t have to be this way, but how do we dig out of the mess in our minds? Our hopes and dreams seem like they should be given up, because they don’t seem attainable any longer. Our souls long for quiet, thoughtful moments, but our minds relinquish those things. Demands, clutter and confusion completely devour us, and we let them.

Today, all I need to know is that is doesn’t have to be this way. This is my beginning. I breathe deeply, taking in the prospect of a new way of living, a new way of feeling.

We find in the Bible that Habakkuk was very overcome on all sides. Discouraging situations were building up around him. When I read his words, I can relate to my own disgruntlement, my own frustrations. However, he looks at these problems in a different way than I do most days.

Habakkuk says, “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.” Habakkuk 2:1

Habakkuk is looking and listening. He has hope in the fact that this isn’t the way it will always be. This is where I so often go wrong. Habakkuk sees a problem and he goes to God. I do that. I go to God over and over, but I often don’t listen and watch for the reply. I don’t feel for the subtle movements in my soul. Habakkuk is so sure that God has an answer that he doesn’t even consider it hopeless. God tells him to write it down, so it will be a testimony for the future.

Write down the vision (or revelation), clearly write it down so one may easily read it. For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it testifies about the end and it will not lie. Though it delays, wait for it, since it will certainly come and not be late.” Habakkuk 2: 2-3

So, this is me writing it down today, here for the world to see. My “vision” from the Lord is simply a picture what a life of peace would look and feel like. It’s my desire for it. Its hard to imagine getting there, but I know it would be a very good thing. I know that I would feel closer to God and that I would feel better. I know that life would slow down and my mind would settle. I would see God in more things. Because this vision of my life lines up with the Bible, and because it is a righteous desire, I know that it is from God. We often think revelations or visions must be big things, but mostly they aren’t. Mostly, they regard the small, everyday happenings.

The Lord gives peace to his people, the Lord blesses his people with peace.” Psalm 29:11

It’s out there, this peace Psalm 29 talks discusses. But, where do we find it? It’s attainability is absolutely not impossible, or else the Bible would be untrue. We each have our own pathway though. My intuition tells me that all of us should watch and listen like Habakkuk once did. “I will look to see what He will say to me…” Start slowly. Just listen. Listen to your heart & soul and discover what God may be asking of you, what revelation he may be trying to give you. Write it down and try to clearly decipher one thought from another, your own selfish thoughts from those directed by God.

Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the whole picture. Even Martin Luther King Jr. knew this concept well as he tackled some of the greatest challenges in history.

California Coast: Family Road Trip 2018

The California coast….. Oh man, its beauty just can’t be put into words! Of all the places we visited on our 15-day family road trip, this is the one place I dream of returning. We sat in awe at each stop, starring into the glory of it all, almost stunned. There is just so much to explore along this long stretch of windy roads and steep cliffs. You could stop a million times and never grow tired of seeing its sites. God definitely had his good times designing this place!

We began this part of our trip sightseeing in LA, visited the Santa Monica Pier, then began heading north on Hwy 1. Our 1st Stop was El Matador State Beach in Malibu. There are sea caves here! It’s only about about 25 minutes from Santa Monica. Next, we drove to Santa Barbara, 1-hour 45min from Malibu. This is a beautiful, luxurious town. We spent a couple hours walking around the State Street area and drifting along the Stearns Wharf Pier. Our 3rd Stop was Morro Bay, about 2 hours from Santa Barbara. This is an adorable little town. We loved the vibe of this town. There are a lot of shops to visit, awesome local restaurants and the famous Morro Bay Rock. Don’t’ forget to walk out to the big rock! We spent the night here and enjoyed a little down time in this lovely, low key destination.

The next morning, we Drove to Monterey Bay, 3 hours from Morro Bay. With the road construction during the time of our trip, you must drive 3-hours to Monterey Bay on the 101, then back track to the Big Sur area on Hwy 1, instead of driving the entire Hwy 1. There was mud slide causing a section of the road to be completely closed. Once the road construction is finished, you will be able to drive straight up the coast and avoid back tracking. Don’t forget to check the status of the road construction before your trip.

We spent the day at Point Lobos State Park. This park is amazing! If you ask my kids, they say this was their favorite place. They LOVED the tide pools. They could have spent all day climbing the roads and discovering all the amazing creatures hiding among them. Take a lunch in the park and have a picnic! I would suggest not missing this place if you have a few hours to enjoy it. We stayed in Carmel-by-the-Sea that evening which is a beautiful small town between Monterey Bay and Big Sur.

After visiting Point Lobos, we drove south towards the “17-mile Drive” on Hwy 1. Bring a picnic with you. There aren’t many places to stop and eat. This is considered the Big Sur area. You will be heading south or “back-tracking” if there is still road closures on Hwy 1. This is the part of your trip where things get intense and completely breathtaking. The roads are narrow and windy, but we handled it fine with a 15 passenger van. You will want to stop A LOT. Do it! Slow down and enjoy the gorgeous sites. Also, prepare ahead by taking some motion sickness medication if you are prone to it! Some Big Sur destinations that you don’t wont to miss are the Bixby Bridge, McWay Falls, and Julia Pfeiffer State Park Beach. This entire drive may be the most beautiful thing you see in your lifetime. Try to get all the way to Julia Pfeiffer State Park Beach if you can! Then, you will turn around and drive back toward Monterey Bay.

Next, we drove to Santa Cruz  which is about 50 minutes from Monterey Bay. Santa Cruz was our favorite beach town of the trip! Its a very nice, chill town without all the luxury found in Santa Barbara. It was great for kids. We never felt anyone had to behave a certain way. We absolutely loved the Wharf. You get a very close up views of the sea lions! They are so cute and fun to watch! We ended up spending our entire day on the wharf, watching the sea lions & enjoying the Boardwalk. Some other things you may be interested in doing at Santa Cruz are the Natural Bridges State Beach or Ano Nuevo Park. We stayed in Santa Cruz that night before heading off to San Fransisco the next day.

If you are interested in our detailed, day-by-day itinerary from our entire 15-day Road Trip, go here. We visited Nevada, Utah, Arizona and California!

Santa Barbara, CA


Point Lobos State Natural Reserve


Carmel-by-the-Sea/Big Sur, CA


Santa Cruz, CA


Coral Pink Sand Dunes: Family Road Trip 2018


Our family of five visited the Pink Coral Sand Dunes State Park in Kanab, UT on our 15-day Family Road Trip through Nevada, Utah, Arizona and California! It was pretty spectacular! We only spent a few hours here because this was only a stop on our way from Zion National Park to Grand Canyon; however, you could totally plan to stay longer! Immediately upon arrival, my kids took off running and screaming over the sand dunes! The sand really looks more orange than pink, but it is still remarkable. We had never seen anything like this before. It felt as though we were in an Arabian desert!

While we were there, others were driving dune buggies all over the sand. We wished so badly we had known to do this. You cannot rent the inside the park, but you can bring them in and drive them all over the dunes. Let me tell you, they were having a GOOD time and my kids were very envious! If we would have planned to do this, it would have definitely been one of the highlights of the trip. If you can’t rent a dune buggy, at least bring in a board for sand boarding down all the amazing hills!

The park is very easy to from Kanab. You just take a little detour off a main road. You travel down a desolate road for bit and come straight up on the park. There are very nice bathrooms in several locations at the park with water fountains located right outside the bathrooms.

You won’t regret visiting these sand dunes! When you drive into the park, your kids will be dying to jump out and run all over the dunes!



  1. Bring water and sunblock.
  2. Rent a dune buggy & trailer for a few hours to bring into the park with you.
  3. Bring a board for sand-boarding.
  4. Bring a dry towel to dust off all the sand after playing in the park.

Joshua Tree National Park : Family Road Trip 2018

Joshua Tree was definitely one of the most memorable places out of all the places we visited on our 2018 15-day family road trip! If you ask any of my three kids what their favorite parts of the trip were, Joshua Tree is always on the top of the list.

The park is very easy to enter and navigate. There was almost no one else in the park while we were there in June. We had stayed in Kingman, AZ the night prior; therefore, we had a 3 hour and 40 minute drive to the park that morning. We woke up early, stopped at a grocery store for a lunch to pack with us, and arrived at the park before noon.

Being from Tennessee, the landscape was drastically different than anything else we had ever seen. The contrast of the deep blue sky against the shapes and formations of rocks and trees as you look out over the horizon were unbelievable. Interesting little creatures hopped and crawled out of every shrub as we walked through the park. My boys loved finding all sorts of lizards, kangaroo rats, ground squirrels and jackrabbits. My daughter and I let out a couple squeals as lizards ran past our feet! We had hoped to see the bighorn sheep but they were no where to be found during our trip. There were several signs posted that many of them were being treated for a sickness that had spread among them.

First, we found the White Tank Campground and began the hike to Arch Rock. It was a very easy 10 minute hike. This trail is filled with jumbo rocks that my kids enjoyed climbing all over! Their excitement at this point of our trip was over the top! What kid doesn’t love climbing rocks!? But, these rocks are something from another world. It’s the goldmine of rocks for kids!

Next, we headed towards Barker Dam hiking trail. This is an easy, flat trail and is the only area with water in the park. The bighorn sheep are often found here. This is where we saw that amazing landscape I was describing earlier! If you don’t have a lot of time in the park, this trail is a good overview of what the park has to offer. You will find thousands of Joshua trees and cacti, animals of every kind and rocks of every shape and size!

This is a huge park with so much to offer. There are even 9 campgrounds and I’m pretty sure they are all amazing. We definitely wished we had a little longer than one afternoon at Joshua Tree. We only saw a tiny glimpse into its greatness!

That evening, we stayed in Twenty-nine Psalms at Fairfield Inn and Suites. We highly recommend this hotel. They upgraded our room for free and it was a wonderful experience! It is a very nice, new hotel.

We LOVED Joshua Tree National Park. It is definitely one you don’t want to leave off your itinerary if you are going to be anywhere near the park!

For more information on our 15-day family road trip, you can find the information here.


Bryce Canyon National Park: Family Road Trip 2018


Bryce Canyon is truly remarkable. It was the second destination on our 2018 family road trip. Bryce was one of the first places I’ve visited that was so incredibly unique that my eyes couldn’t believe what they were seeing. I heard so many “ooh” and “awes” as my family of five hiked along the trails!

One great thing about the park is that it is easy to get in and out. This is a huge plus considering we spent hours just trying to drive into some of the other parks we visited!

We had visited Zion National Park the day prior and stayed right outside Zion. We woke up early and had a 1 hour and 45minute drive to Bryce. We stopped while traveling to pick up some lunches to pack in the park with us.

I have three kids who were 12, 9 and 6 during the time of our hike. They had no problem hiking the trails at Bryce. Keep in mind that the entire first half of the hike is downhill. You know what that means? The entire hike out is uphill! My husband and I are in our 30s, in good shape, and we admit that it was quite tiring. We stopped several times along the path on the way out, but it is totally doable.

We hiked the Navajo Loop trail. However, the Wall Street portion of the trail is often closed. Therefore, it’s not really a loop. Basically, you hike down into the beautiful amphitheater and back out the same trail. You can combine this trail with the Queen Garden Loop to see more of the park. We had planned to do this but decided not to once we were there. By the time we got to the bottom of Navajo Loop, the kids were a little worn out and the sites begin to look the same. If my kids weren’t with us, we totally would have stayed longer to enjoy the park. But, with three kids, a half day felt appropriate. There is nothing quite like the hoodoos and natural bridges at Bryce Canyon!

We stayed right outside the park at Best Western Ruby’s Inn and I highly recommend this place! It is a very quaint little area which includes a general store and restaurant on site. There is also a little set of stores right across the street that resembles an old western town. We had a lot of fun walking around the area and enjoying all the amenities.

My family really enjoyed the “Bryce Day” of our 15-day trip. Because it is easy to get in and out of Bryce, it wasn’t a whole day’s event. We were able to spend half the day at the park, then go back and enjoy our hotel that evening.



1. Bring something to cover your head and use sunscreen. It’s hot in the summer and there isn’t much shade anywhere in the park.

2. Bring something to shield your face. When the wind blows, the orange sand can blow up into your face. My daughter used a bandana to tie over her nose and mouth. Sunglasses would also be helpful to cover your eyes.

3. Bring in water and snacks. There isn’t anywhere in the park to eat. However, you can drive outside the park within 30 minutes to find food.

Zion National Park : Family Road Trip 2018



Zion National Park was the first stop on our 2018 road trip! Our family of five is from TN and this was our first trip out west. We flew into Vegas, picked up our rental and checked in to our hotel. We stayed on the strip to get a little glimpse of the city. However, if you stay there with children, I highly recommend staying in a known-to-be kid friendly hotel. We did have a couple bad experiences trying to guard the eyes of our little ones. However, we loved Excalibur and have also heard great things about Circus Circus.

We woke up early and got on the road the next morning to head straight to Zion. It was about a 2 1/2 drive from Vegas. We stopped midway to pick up a cooler and some lunches to pack into the park. We went during a very busy time but parking wasn’t too bad in the the city of Springdale. You are required to park outside the national park and take a bus in. If you are coming from Springdale, there are several clearly marked stops that will take you into the park and back to your vehicle from the visitor center. Just remember where you parked!

Once the Springdale shuttle drops you off at the visitor center, you must take the park shuttle to get around the park. (Trust me, this is a huge park. It’s the only way!) There are often long lines to get on the park shuttle even though several shuttles are running continuously. Once you are on, there are nine clearly marked stops along the road inside the park. The drive itself is incredible. The park shuttle is not air conditioned, but lots of air flows through as you drive. My biggest suggestion would be to study the map before you arrive to the park. Don’t wait until you get there to figure out what trails you want to do. There isn’t enough time for that! To be honest, the process of getting in and out of the park is quite lengthy. We felt like we were back at Disney World! Don’t be surprised by that. It is completely worth all the work!

You will want plenty of snacks, drinks and a meal if you plan to spend the day there. There are not many places to eat inside the park and it stays quite crowded. Being that we had only one day in the park, we just packed our food with us and had a picnic when we were ready to eat! There are fill stations for water bottles and bathrooms at many of the shuttle stops.

We chose two trails because we only had one day in the park. The first was the famous Narrows! (Make sure you check the weather before doing this one. Flash floods can be dangerous.) You head all the way to the last stop on the park shuttle, stop 9, and begin your hike there. You must get there by taking the easy one-mile Riverwalk trail. (It does not feel like a mile.) At the end of the Riverside Walk, you will dead end into the Narrows! At that point you must get in and begin walking along the river. It was so much fun! You are far down in a canyon with rock as far up as you can see on each side of you. There are several areas where water trickles down the road to form small waterfalls. Sometimes the path is wide and other times it narrows. There will be several areas along the side of the river where you can sit on rock and take a break. Every single turn is breathtaking! The Narrows run for miles and miles. With a family, we just walked as far as we felt like we could, about another mile, then turned around and walked it all back. My kids are 12, 9 and 6 and they all handled the water just fine. We needed to hold the 6-year-old’s hand many times throughout the hike. But, the older ones were dependent the whole time.

Next, we chose to walk the Canyon Overlook Trail. Wow! It was completely different than the Riverside Walk and the Narrows. Canyon Overlook gave us the first wide open views of the gigantic cliffs and canyons. For most of our shuttle ride, Riverwalk and Narrows, we were hidden inside the canyons, looking up to it surrounding us. But, the Canyon Overlook Trail is a completely different perspective! It was a very easy 1-mile trail. It shows you what Zion looks like when the space opens up and gives you a full view of its glory. We all were stunned with every view on this trail.

Once we got back to our vehicle, we choose an amazing Mexican place for dinner right there in the city of Springdale. It is a beautiful small city with many local food choices. Also, there is a glorious view of the Zion’s mountains from every angle in Springdale. Then, we drove about 30 minutes outside Springdale to La Verkin, UT and stayed at a very nice Best Western. My kids love a continental breakfast! You will save a little money on the cost of lodging if you drive outside the park a little ways, and free breakfast is always a plus!

One day in the park wasn’t enough for most people. I’m sure there were so many more beautiful things to uncover and someday we will return! However, having young children, the one day trip felt appropriate. The plan for this road trip was to keep things moving and travel to a new destination each day. The kids were always excited about what exciting adventure the next day would bring!


1. Look at a map and plan your route before you get there.

2. Park in Springdale and ride the shuttle to Zion’s visitor center.

3. Bring a backpack with a drink, snack and a meal.



Frosty Grass


The best things about Christmas aren’t presents at all.

They are times we see God’s Earth

through love & life & adventure.

Our steps crunch the frosty grass.

The sun cuts the cold air.

Our blood warms with each movement.

Nothing holds us down.

We are free & forgiven.

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Happy 2 Estella







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The favorite present: this baby (she hasn’t put it down since the party) We’ve given it baths, changed it’s clothes 1000 times, fed it, and taken it for a walk in her stroller.




I have to admit that my heart is broken, just a little, because she is no longer 1. I have loved every second of 1.

And 2 sounds SO much bigger!!

Have you ever loved anything so much that you didn’t want one part of it to pass by???

That is her in our family…

We all, including her brothers, ooh and awe over her so many times a day.

She melts our hearts with her batting eyes and little twirls.

My favorite part of ALL is her tiny mommy heart.

She keeps her eyes on everyone and everything, making sure things are running smoothly and everyone is obeying.

She doesn’t mind to tell her big brothers to watch for cars or to slow down when things seem dangerous.

What a precious little gift she has been since God brought her into our family!

We love you forever Miss Estella!

Mommy, Daddy, Roman & Jude

Brain Injury Adventure Camp




BIAC serves those with brain injury, special needs and other disabilities.The camp is on 42 acres in Henderson County, KY and is an outdoor site created to provide adventure activities for those with and without disabilities.

The facility is also used for team building and outdoor education.

The camp has low ropes course, fishing ponds, one mile trails, zip lines, therapeutic horseback riding, adaptive trikes, gardening and arts.

BIAC began after David’s cousin, T.K., suffered a traumatic brain injury while snowboarding in Colorado in 2003 at the age of 25. T.K. was in a coma for three months. David’s uncle, Tim, T.K.’s father, never left his side and when therapy ended, Tim continued to encourage and work with his son. Although doctors did not give much hope for life beyond bedridden, T.K. continued to improve. Tim explored opportunities for T.K. to grow physically and mentally and discovered an adventure camp in Colorado. After volunteering at this camp several times, Tim was convinced that such a camp was much needed and would be utilized in the western part of the US.

That began the long road of prayer, work, donations, research and so much more. Today, this is an amazing nonprofit organization that serves people in an awesome way.

We were amazed at the passion and love found within this organization. Most of all, we loved spending time with family we hadn’t seen in a very long time.

You can find more information about BIAC here:



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I love summer mornings on my mom’s farm.

The air is hollow. We rock on the porch and feel the breeze. We talk and watch them run and play.

Beads of dew on the grass and my pulse slows.

Clouds puff up early and the sun melts them away.

Deer prance in the pasture and God finds His way into my daydreams.


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Loving Embraces



Life is moving faster than ever but this time I slow down to see.

Freezing moments of baby smooth skin and loving embraces.

Carefree laughter and a heart full of this very moment.




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We embrace what God gives.

Today, it feels like a gift, tomorrow it may not.

What ever the day holds, it is a day given by God, with all things considered.

We believe, hold strong and breathe deep.

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We found a small wonderland behind our fence Monday.

A whole world of mystery right there behind us!

There are umbrellaed trees and a flowing stream.

What a little gift this is!

I believe there will be many more tea parties and expeditions happening there.


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This is our Place



Ooltewah, TN


A year ago, I had NO idea I would be here or that I would be anywhere different than where I was for that matter.

So, for all our family and friends, near and far, here you go!

This is where we landed.

It’s our place.





Looking out & Looking in.

Baby Bear wanted a picture.




My favorite room.


This is where we learn & play.

This is where it is just “us” and books and art!





Little parts of the dining room.


Peeking in the half bath downstairs.



I am in love with this print my mom and I found antiquing last weekend.

“The Shepherd” 1909

Also, you can see my funky curtains from World Market on the right.




Left: Looking into the kitchen

Right: Looking over our dining room table into the living room.

(Notice how convenient it MIGHT be to put your kids at this table for lunch and turn on a cartoon for them to watch. I mean – only if you were that sort of mom 😉




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I finally found something to do with all those old clay jars I had laying around…


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I can’t believe I didn’t photograph my pantry.

You can see the first door to the right in this photo. That is it!

It very big and amazing. This is my first actual pantry can you tell?

I love it!

The second door is the laundry room which leads to the two-car garage.




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Corner of living room.

Just found this old bookshelf mostly for kids novels and a few of my favorites.

Now that Roman is really reading, I love collecting all the classics for him.


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Did I mention how appreciative I am of this laundry room?

It’s right off the kitchen and when I do laundry, (which is much more often now that my washer & dryer are indoors) it smells like warm fluffy lavender all over the house.


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Upstairs hallway.

It may be the widest, longest hallway I’ve seen.

Apparently, this is good for nightly kickball tournaments.



I’ll pause here and mention how incredibly blessed my kids are at this moment in time.

This playroom is amazing.

Upstairs Hall again on the right.


A gigantic walk-in closet in the playroom full of toys.



Plenty of space inside for sleeper sofas, huge outdoor playhouses and wrestling matches.

(Don’t ask me why Roman is wearing Estella’s bib in this photo. I’m pretty sure Jude is feeding Roman pretend baby food.)


Guest bathroom/Kids brush my teeth space.

(This would be the kids bathroom altogether but it seems that everyone would rather bath in my large jacuzzi tube.)


Our bedroom.

(I’m reminded of the “Master of the House” song from Les Miserables right now.)

It really is wonderful.

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David made this headboard for me. Isn’t it beautiful?


Master bath.

Oh why didn’t I remember to pick up candles to fit in those lovely vintage candles stands?


Do I dare show you our closet?

Well, just a peak… I cleaned it up just for you!

It is truly the size of a small bedroom.


Roman and Jude’s room.




Could these boys fit any more stuffed animals in their beds?

By the way, my husband made these headboards too.

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Estella’s room.

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“The Stolen Kiss”


“Sitting Pretty”

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God is Stronger… by Roman Huff



God is stronger.
God is stronger than anyone else in the universe – like the Hulk or Superman or anyone else you know. God is loving and kind and he is great. I love my God. He died for our sins. I pray all the time. Sometimes I cry because I love Him more than anyone else in the world. Actually, I’m crying right now and praying right now.
The end. From Roman.
Made April Tuesday 9, 2013

You can imagine how my heart melted just now when I found these printed words.

Roman, my 6 year old son, typed and printed this with no prompting or assistance.

It isn’t the spelling or grammar that is so stunning.

It is the heartfelt words of my sweet boy who knows the love of Jesus.

He said that these are the lyrics to a song he wrote and wants to sing on the microphone.

I asked him if he really cried and he said “I had one little tear.”

Of all my days as a mommy, today is one of my most happy and thankful so far.


photo copy 8Wide open skies and warm country air.

Very uncharacteristic of late December in Kentucky but very appreciated.

We ran and played on grandmother’s farm for Christmas this year.

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We finally got our hands on growing baby Violet who is almost 6 months old.

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photo copyCozy & familiar things are good.

They help us to settle down.


Recent changes have been a little more difficult on me than anticipated.

Cozy & familiar are nothing of the sorts.

As a mother, a sense of security in my children is important.

I want them to feel at home and peaceful within.

I place a lot of value on this because it is important to me.

With our move, as expected, things were turned up-side-down.

They still are and will probably be for a while.

Why have I been struggling so much with that?


Isaiah 26:3-4 

You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Trust in the Lord always,
for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.


I have to re-evaluate.

Is my security found in myself?

Does my peace come from control and perfection?

Are my eyes really fixed on the Lord?

I have to ask myself these questions and be transparent with myself.

Did you know we can lie to ourselves?

It’s called denial.

The answers are not what I wanted to hear.


So, here we go Jesus.

Lesson 500,988,321,764.

I’m having trouble trusting You.

For some crazy reason, I’m finding myself more capable than You, my creator.

This mindset looks like a lot of disappointment and heartbreak for my future.

So, let’s talk about changing it.

Show me how to let go.

I don’t want these frustrating feelings in my heart and now I know why they are there.

I am Yours.

My heart is Yours.

My mind is Yours.

My life is Yours.

My family is Yours.

My days are Yours.

I do not know what is best, You do.

I’m setting my mind on You.

Every moment & every second.

Thanks you Jesus that you love me so much that you show me how to feel better.


This week at my mom’s house in the country has been a gift.

Did I earn such a gift? Probably not.

But God loves me despite whether or not I’m deserving.

My Heart


Good things are happening in Chattanooga…






























Things are currently a bit of a whirlwind

and I’m just along for the ride.

You never know what a day may bring.

But, God is so completely faithful.

This is the beginning of something I can’t see

but feel in my heart.

God is up to something fantastic!

This House


Today, we say goodbye to this house.

It’s only a house.

But, it has held us for six years.

Roman was less than a year old when we first moved in.

We celebrated his first birthday party down the road at a local park with family and friends.

Two years later, our Jude was born.

We brought our little red head home and watched him grow.

Two more years went bye.

Lovely Miss Estella won us over as she became a part of our family last year.

It has been are such a warm cozy place.

I know it was the love & family within that made it what it was all along.

And that will be with us wherever we go.