Family Spring Break Trip


So I started my search on the internet.  I happened to find a very cool site that had to do with hiking at the American Hiking Society,  There was so much information about hiking and trails.  They offer information on National Trails Day and Volunteer Vacations.  They do have something for everyone at this website, so it might be handy for those of you campers and/or hikers!

 Volunteer Vacation

The Volunteer Vacations seemed very interesting.  It combines caring for a trail and camping at the same time.  There are 6-15 volunteers in a group and 1 crew leader. The vacation includes backpacking or day hiking with accommodations from primitive campsites to bunkhouses or cabins depending on the places.  Tools and provisions are provided by the agency or organization.   The day is 6-8 hours long with the rest of the time yours.  Most trips include one whole free day to site see the area.  Each Volunteer Vacation is rated regarding physical ability.  The age groups are 15 and up but there are ones for younger people if accompanied by an adult.


  • On site Food during the week
  • Entrance to park/forest, permits, lodging fees
  • Use of tools and safety equipment
  • Group supervision with leadership
  • Exclusive American Hiking Society Volunteer Vacations t-shirt
  • If you are a non-member signing up for the first time, you also get the full benefits of membership.

Here is the price for all this great outdoor fun!

 2015 Registration

  • $260:American Hiking Society Members, First Trip per Calendar Year
  • ($235Early-Bird Rate in effect until 1/31)
  • $295:Non-Member, First Trip per Calendar Year
  • ($270Early-Bird Rate in effect until 1/31)
  • $190:Youth Registration, Under 18 Years of Age (Must be accompanied by legal guardian on trip)
  • $190:Additional Trips per Calendar Year

*Registration fee is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law

Well, this sounds like it might be a viable option.  I will have to have a family meeting and get some feed back from the family.  At least I have a place to start.  I will keep you updated.


Frankie S’Mores Pops

Here is a simple and fun way for the kids to make S’mores when there just is not enough time for that killer bonfire.  We did this while camping, after adapting the recipe from Craftberry Bush’s awesome post.  I am always adapting recipes because I need to suit my 3 very different personality girls!! lol. I encourage you to do the same for your family. It was assembly line style outside on the picnic table to keep the mess down. The girls loved it so much they have asked to do it 2 more times in the last week.

The photo was taken while camping because, well, that’s where we were.  I am a down-to-earth type of gal, who loves to share her trial and error ways! lol. So sometimes, my posts are not going to be perfect, just down-home style.

What we did was set up on a picnic table with stations of flavor, keeping familiar flavors together.  So we made some that were Oreo Cookie inspired, plain s’more flavor and some that were just heaven on a stick, oops, I mean Pumpkin S’mores.  I was trying to get the kids started in one direction, but knew once they got a little confidence in making a few, they would start creating their own little frankie-pops!  Here is a list of ingredients we had on our paper plates:

  • chocolate crumb pre-made pie shell broken up and left in the pan
  • melted white chocolate chips with 1/2 & 1/2
  • Hershey’s Triple Chocolate dessert topping
  • caramel syrup in a squirt bottle
  • toasted almonds broken up
  • melted chocolate with a little half & half to make it a little more dip-able
  • graham crackers broken up
  • pumpkin pie spice mixed with brown sugar and sugar

I would like to remind you to keep a wet wash cloth handy.  Glasses of milk go great with these too.  Mix and match your families’ favs together using this as a starting point.  Your kids will love these so much, so have fun with them!! This would also be great for a scrapbook page.

South Dakota or Bust!

Planning a family vacation is rough.  Everyone’s needs and wants are trying to be met, and those needs and wants change daily.  I have been busy planning our South Dakota trip and then actually going on that same trip.  We live approximately 12 1/2 hours from the Black Hills area.

We planned on taking our dog and three children, which causes problems with hotels in two regards.  One, three kids puts you in two rooms or a suite; secondly, a dog significantly limits your places to stay and increases your amount.  Seems like either way they get you.  So, I felt that since we have a camper and we could bring our home along with us, why not?  It would save on a hotel and keep our dog comfortable while we went to places he could not accompany us.  Not to mention having the crock pot cooking our dinners!

After much investigating, here is the price break down.  Hotel for all of us was approximately $125 and up.  The lowest being ok places (smells like smoke and kinda not-so-nice-anymore looks).  I am not one to stay in ok places.  Sorry.  Full hookup at a campground with heated pool and playground with wooded sites for keeping the camper cool started at $41 per night.  Since we would be staying for a week, we also received a discount camping rate. Oh, did I mention that we would sleep in our own bedding and use our own towels and shower?  Some things are truly – priceless.  🙂

Our stay was at Beaver Lake Campground, Custer, SD, in the heart of the Black Hills area for $36.00 per night.  We did have to pay $5 extra a night for our third child, which I do not agree on, but it was still cleaner and more affordable than staying at a hotel.

Ok, so now planning the trip out there.  We all know that the map says 12 1/2 hours but when you add in children (3 girls) and a dog, you can easily add 2 hours to that.  We decided not to push it with kids, a dog and a camper, so we would stay half way in Sioux Falls at a state park.  We didn’t feel sleeping somewhere and leaving early morning warranted $40+ for a camp site.  So we chose pretty and affordable. You can rarely go wrong with a state park ($30 State Park sticker but we would be using that many times over the course of our vacation).  We stayed at Big Sioux Recreation area (awesome clean showers and toilets).  It was on the east side of Sioux Falls and close to Falls Park, which was also on our check list to see.

 photo fallsparksd2_zps3cd74b7c.jpg

If an easy and beautiful walk with some very cool falls or some old architecture is enjoyable to you, then this is your place! Stunning red rocks with multiple waterfalls and a few old buildings to explore.  People and dogs are allowed to climb all over the rocks and boulders along with fishing.  Imagine a pretty town park where you can just hang out and picnic, and this is it.  Very enjoyable, but also something you can accompalish in a couple of hours, if need be.

So we were off in the morning after visiting the park and onward to Black Hills.  It was about another 7 hours with bathroom stops and some small picture taking stops.  I have to say that the Black Hills area is faith inspiring.  Some of the scenery is breathtaking and you just could stare at it all day and still not see everything.  Lots of history to soak up also.

I think our gas with our 2004 Yukon (which gets less gas mileage due to being able to tow more than the newer Yukons) was around $700.00 round trip.  This did not include the sightseeing we did with the truck, but the mileage was better due to not towing the camper.  I priced a rental, but again, we could find a low cost rental for touring but it always included some ridiculous security deposit which was held captive until “up to 7 days after returning the vehicle.”  Sorry, we are a family of five who is trying to save money, not lock it up and not earn interest!

Our return drive included staying at an ok hotel at the last minute because my husband was convinced he could drive the whole trip back in a day.  Um, ok.  We ended up staying in a hotel because it was so late we could not find a campground open, nor did my husband want to unpack the camper that late.  This change of plans at the last minute cost us $125.00 plus tax.

The total for the vacation was $1150.00 for 9 nights and 10 days.  Of course, this did not include our sightseeing because that is pretty individualized but I will cover that later anyway.  We all loved the trip and are talking about where else we can go with our camper.  My husband on the other hand, is curious to see pricing on a house rental.  So if anyone has some awesome rates on renting houses, we would love to hear it!