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If the house goes up in flames, I want my people, my scrapbooks and my sand bottles. Forget the jewelry, just grab the sand.

My sand bottle collection represents memories I’ve gathered over the past decade of my life. The 46 unique bottles grace our master bedroom fireplace mantel and represent travels I’ve made near and far with my family, husband, girlfriends or by myself. Each and every bottle is full of earthly treasure attached to stories of travel and exploration.

Our homes are a haven where our family story is told through what graces our walls, shelves and mantels. Everything we choose to display in our house is a reminder of what we deem important.  Our homes are a tangible way to tell the story of who we are and where we’ve been. Look around. This is us.

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1.  Stay Overnight at LaPosada Hotel
LaPosada entrance

The crown jewel of Winslow is the LaPosada hotel! This amazing piece of historic architecture is known as the last of The Santa Fe’s great railway hotels. It has been beautifully restored and I would love to tell you all of the details of this special place, but I don’t want to spoil your visit.  The grounds are gorgeous and it’s so relaxing to just walk around and take in all of it’s beauty.
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Girlfriends escape to Sedona now if you’re in need of relaxation and rejuvenation.

My dear friend, Toni, makes it a tradition to visit me from Minnesota during her birthday month of April every year. I wanted to do something special with her this year, and Sedona was an easy, but special place to take her.

How to spend 24 amazing hours in Sedona, Arizona

From Phoenix, Sedona is an easy 2-hour drive north. Take the I-17 north to
the AZ-179 N exit, EXIT 298, toward Sedona.

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GET YOUR HIKE ON

Buy your Red Rock Hiking Passes at the Visitor Center/Ranger Station

This will be your first stop to pick up maps of the area and to get info on any trails to hike in Sedona. You want to buy your Red Rock daily hiking passes here which cost $5 a day. You need a pass for a lot of the trails and definitely at the ones I tell you about here. Make sure you stop at this location coming into Sedona. *Beware of all the places that pose as visitor centers in town, but are really timeshare sales hubs.

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We couldn’t resist posing with no other than Smokey the Bear!

Park at the Bell Rock Pathway Trail Head

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Our two favorite places we found when visiting Branson, Missouri were the College of the Ozarks and our adventure at Top of the Rock. Ok- neither of them are exactly in Branson, but just on the southern edge.

At Top of the Rock, we took a self-driven tour by golf cart along beautiful paved paths and through Lost Canyon Cave. Not only is there an amazing waterfall inside the four-story cave, but there is a bar where you can toast to your once in a lifetime journey. The last tour does leave an hour or so before sunset and the bar was closed when we got to the cave, so you may want to head out a little earlier if you want to experience that.

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We enjoyed seeing some deer and other little critters along the way. Be sure to bring a sweater or jacket if you head out in the evening as I was freezing, even in the humidity! It didn’t help that we got caught in some rain along our journey.

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You will experience the beauty of waterfalls, natural rock formations and covered bridges along the trail ride.

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The views of Table Rock Lake are incredible from the top! You will have to pay a $10 fee just to drive into Big Cedar Lodge (if you are not staying there) where Top of the Rock is located. You do receive a $10 credit toward anything you spend up top though. We put it toward our tickets for our cart excursion, which run $25 each. Kids under 12 are half price.

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After our tour, we took a shuttle up to Arnie’s Barn for dinner and to enjoy the scenery from up there. The Chapel of the Ozarks is stunning as well as the golf course that it sits on! So happy we found this place and highly recommend you checking it out if you find yourself in the area!

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New Orleans, Louisiana is one place that had been on my bucket list for a while. I was so excited to finally get here to check out the Crescent City. New Orleans isn’t necessarily known as a family spot, but I beg to differ.

Here are 9 ways to enjoy NOLA with kids in tow!

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1. Hang out in Jackson Square

This popular square is a perfect starting point. There is so much to see in just this little area. You can also take a carriage ride tour from here around the French Quarter. Be sure to go into the St. Louis Cathedral. Not only is the architecture gorgeous but this is the oldest cathedral in the United States still in use.

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Musicians, street performers, and other local artists surround this beautiful square. Make sure to have plenty of low bills on hand to tip these fun entertainers!

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2. Beignets at Cafe Du Monde

Grab a table on the busy patio at this iconic spot and indulge in the city’s infamous French donuts. They come in orders of 3 for under $3. Be sure to indulge in a Cafe au lait or Coffee and Chickory as well. Yes, we made our way here a couple of times.

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3. Eat more beignets at Cafe Beignet

We decided to become beignet connoisseurs during our three days here.  Unfortunately, the day we were here was freezing and rainy, so we didn’t get the live music that normally would accompany your experience here but a few of us did rate these beignets higher than Cafe Du Monde. You try them and let us know what you think!

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4. Eat Debris Poboys, Gumbo and Jambalaya at Mother’s on Poydras

 It does seem like all we did while visiting New Orleans was eat! There are so many great restaurants and new dishes to try here that you just can’t help yourself. We loved this local eatery for an authentic Creole lunch.

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5. Enjoy a night at Rock’n’Bowl

This was my favorite thing that we did while visiting New Orleans. We listened to some live Zydeco music as we bowled. Rock’n’Bowl was such a unique place and so much fun! We wanted to find a family friendly spot to listen to some local music and this was just perfect. Admission was $10 per person.

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The fun energy here helped my bowling for sure as I was victorious in our family’s game. It is $24 to rent the lane for up to 6 bowlers for the hour. Shoe rental is just $1.

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6. New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park

Who knew this little National Park was tucked in the French Market? Be sure to visit it and have the kids earn a junior ranger badge while learning about the history of Jazz music in NOLA. Then you can continue to shop at all the booths in the French Market.

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7. Louis Armstrong Park/Congo Square

While on the subject of Jazz music, make sure to take a stroll through this park which is on the edge of the French Quarter in the Tremé neighborhood. The beautiful park is dedicated to one of the City’s most celebrated native sons and to the tradition of jazz in the City. It is also very close to the Basin Street Station Visitor Center, which you will want to hit as well.

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This poor area suffered so much devastation at the hands of Hurricane Katrina that it’s no wonder they celebrate the end of hurricane season with concerts and other festivities. They were just setting up for this one in Armstrong Park as we were getting ready to leave.

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8. Ride a historic streetcar

Riding one of the streetcars here is a unique and inexpensive way to get around certain areas of New Orleans. We took the St. Charles green streetcar out to see the Garden District, Uptown and the Tulane University campus. It is only $3 for an all-day pass to hop on and off the cars.

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9. If you’re brave, stroll Bourbon Street

We had been warned to stay off this famous street with the kids. There isn’t any point in purposely waltzing the children along Bourbon Street to witness insanity. We did have to walk along there to go to Cafe Beignet but it was very tame in the morning rain, so there was no action that day thank goodness.

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BUT, we were walking from Armstrong Park to Jackson Square on our last morning and happened to cross Bourbon Street. This was our view at 9 am. At least it provided us with some last minute laughs. I guess it wouldn’t be New Orleans without a little crazy.

What are your New Orleans family favorites?

Hiking The Narrows in Zion National Park was our family favorite excursion we did on our RV adventure around the USA.

The river hike exceeded all our expectations and I highly recommend everyone put this on their bucket list if you haven’t yet been to Utah’s First National Park. Even if you’ve already got activities such as going whale watching california or going sky diving, adding this hike to your list is another goal to aim towards.
It was absolutely breathtaking and really a unique experience.

The Narrows Family Hike in Zion National Park

What is The Narrows Hike?

The Virgin River has carved an amazing gorge in the upper reaches of Zion Canyon. The Narrows river hike is definitely an unforgettable experience with its soaring walls, sandstone grottos, and hanging gardens. You access the river hike by taking the Zion National Park shuttle from the Visitor Center to the last stop The Temple of Sinawava. From there you follow the signs for the River Walk and hike one mile down on the paved path until it ends at the Narrows and wade on in!

TIP: We had the kids wear their regular tennis shoes to hike the River Walk and then change into their water shoes once they got there. We just left our tennis shoes and socks up on the banks while we were in the river. The kids were very happy to have dry shoes and socks to put on at the end. Keith and I hadn’t brought a change of footwear and wished we would’ve.

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