Why National Parks?

Rob grew up in Port Angeles, WA, the gateway to Olympic National Park, and I (Kristin) have always been drawn to wild places. When we met and started dating, some of our most memorable adventures were in National Parks, from Glacier, Yosemite, and Acadia, to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons once we had Hudson. We love adventuring in the parks and wanted our kids to experience those same wild places while they’re young.

Don’t get me wrong, we love a good theme park and our kids have been to Disneyland, but the funny thing… even when we took them to Disneyland, they just wanted to play at the Redwood Creek area, sliding down rocks, climbing ropes, and exploring caves. I’ve observed that when kids are exposed to wild places and have a positive experience, they continue to seek them out.

How much does a trip like this cost?

In all honesty, we don’t know yet. We’ve been saving up for the past few years and have focused on getting creative with income-generation strategies to help us earn and save more both now and while we’re traveling: renting out our home, renting our car (yep, this is possible) and continuing part-time remote work since both of us have our own businesses.

Why take your kids at such a young age? What if they won’t remember it?

We love this question, because there are many reasons. We’ll start off with this:

Travel Quote

Why not? This isn’t our first family adventure, and won’t be the last. We want to show our kids what’s possible at a young age and remind them the limitations in front of us aren’t always real. With hard work, optimism and the right support network, anything is possible.

Is this your first big family adventure?

In 2017, we hiked the 500-mile Camino de Santiago with our then 1-year old son, Hudson. We returned two years later with both of our kids, Hudson (age 3) and Kalea (1) and hiked the 150-mile Camino Portuguese route. We share our experiences at www.tinyshellcamino.com to inspire other families to consider taking their kids on this journey, make it a family adventure, to at least try! It’s been one of the most defining experiences for our family.

Rob has also completed several of the “World’s Toughest” races and the kids and I have been present, cheering him on, at each event:

Do you know of anyone else who has visited all of the parks?

Yes! We continue to learn of more people currently on a mission to visit all 63 and some who have visited all of the parks when there were only 59 or 61.

Here are some of the travelers who continue to be an inspiration to us! Look them up and you’ll see they have incredible stories, photos and memories to share:

Are you only traveling in the summertime? What about the off-season?

Rob started a new teaching job where he has summers off. Thankfully, this gives us the freedom (and health insurance) to road trip for 8-10 weeks in June, July, and August in 2022 and 2023. We are saving Alaska for June 2024. We also plan on taking shorter 1-2 week trips during holiday breaks and long-weekend excursions to parks within the Pacific Northwest during the off-season.

Is there a cause you’re promoting?

We believe kids need time in nature. They need to be outside. This trip is an embodiment of that. We want to take our kids to wild places outside their comfort zone (and sometimes, ours). We want our kids to discover how strong and resilient they are. We want them to feel at home in nature, safe and secure, yet willing to take risks. We want them to know they can do hard things, that the world is open to them.

We are always learning of organizations committed to getting kids outdoors, so if you know of others, please send them our way! These are a few of our favorites:

How did you select the parks you’ll visit in 2023?

We are saving the 8 parks in Alaska because they are expensive to get to (we need to save up for it). Those parks also require lots of detailed advance planning & logistics. For instance, several parks in Alaska have no roads and can only be accessed by sea plane.

The Virgin Islands and Florida-based parks are best visited in January/ February, so we’re saving these for early 2023. Our plan is to visit Hawaii-based parks and American Samoa in the Spring of 2023.

If your family had a motto to live by, what would it be?

“Go where you feel the most alive”