A note from Maman on the Trail:
Meet Susan, a human of the outdoors. Susan lives at Sundance Mountain Resort in Utah, USA and gets outdoors with her husband and their three young kids. Here is her story…
On her time outdoors…
I’m a mountain mom with three young kids. My son, Big E, is 8. My daughter, Little G, is 5 and my daughter, Baby L, is 2. We live at Sundance Mountain Resort in Utah, USA so I get outdoors with them almost every day. We love skiing, especially. Last summer we went on a 7-week road trip along the National Park to Park Highway, visiting 23 National Parks and Monuments.
In the winter, a typical family outing is skiing with Big E and Little G while Baby L naps at home with Dad. In summer, my new favorite family outing is biking with the kids. Little G learned to ride on her own last year and I’m looking forward to trying longer rides with the whole crew this summer.
On learning to love the outdoors…
My husband started me on the outdoors habit. When we were dating he’d suggest going on hikes or campouts. He’s still my favorite person to explore the outdoors with.
I grew up in the Midwestern US as the middle child of nine. My childhood was full of siblings, chaotic family meals, and an annual cross-country road trip to visit my Grandmas in Utah. We were not an outdoorsy family, although we did camp once in a while, using blankets from home and hand-me-down gear.
Whereas my husband grew up in Northern California in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. He was a boy scout and a river guide in college so the outdoors ran in his blood. When we started dating he introduced me to the world of hiking and camping with sleeping bags that actually kept you warm at night.
On becoming a “Mountain Mom”…
I started my blog, MountainMomandTots.com , five years ago, a few months after Little G came into the world. At the time I felt disillusioned by my stay-at-home life, even though it was what I had always wanted growing up. Never-ending cleaning and the lack of intellectual stimulation motivated me to take my tots outdoors because being in nature improved my mood and helped me share something I love with the people I love most. Plus it let my kids play and make messes that I didn’t have to clean up.
As you can imagine, adventuring with a toddler and baby didn’t always go smoothly. Many of our early expeditions flopped terribly, but I still tried to get outdoors with my kids because we all needed it. Now that I have three kids, with the oldest in elementary school, the adventures have changed somewhat. My Motherhood Moments series on Mountain Mom and Tots are posts that share my thoughts on being a Mountain Mom, and on the work and joy involved with getting outdoors with young kids.
On camping the National Park to Park Highway…
I’m proud to share one major outdoor adventure my family experienced. In honor of the 100th anniversary of the US National Park Service in 2016, my husband and I packed up our family of five and travelled over 7,000 miles along the National Park to Park Highway. In 1920 National Park Service Director Stephen Mather and good roads advocates championed a Grand Scenic Route to connect the 12 National Parks of the western US. This became the National Park to Park Highway.
Nearly 100 years later, my family followed their route, camping out of our truck the whole time. For seven weeks we travelled from one grand scenic destination to the next – Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Sequioa, Yosemite, Rainier, Glacier and more. We hiked, biked, camped and enjoyed twenty-three National Parks and monuments along the way and I blogged about the whole experience.
A little Q & A…
Q: What is your go-to adventure snack?
A: Candy is our favorite. I like any candy with chocolate, preferably good chocolate like Ghiradelli’s, but I’ll take anything really. Big E has food allergies, so we avoid wheat, eggs and nuts. Our family favorites are plain M&Ms, Rolos, Starburst and Skittles.
Q: What piece of gear do you never leave the house without?
Q: What one piece of advice would you share with someone who is wary of or new to the outdoors?
A: There is beauty all around. Start small with an experience near your comfort zone – a walk in the park, stargazing, building a snowman. You can grow from there.