“When I count my blessings, I count you twice.”
~Irish Proverb READ MORE
|Sara running alongside the lazy river while William and Dad float along|
|Single or double inner tubes for floating around the lazy river (there is also a water slide at one end)|
We also loved that the Marriott was so close to the Saguaro National Park West so we could get an early start to do some exploring before the sun chased us indoors. William was especially eager to earn a Saguaro National Park Junior Ranger badge to add to his growing collection (he has ones from Olympic and North Cascades National Parks already).
Before having kids, I had never heard of this Junior Ranger program and I’m actually the child of a National Park Service Chief Ranger (darn it, Dad, I would have liked one of those badges myself)! Anyhow, if you aren’t familiar with it already, this fun, educational program is absolutely one of the best things around. Kids are given a workbook and asked to complete several nature activities (possibly identifying tracks, going on a scavenger hunt, or writing a haiku). William took his tasks very seriously and stuck with it even after bumping his leg right into a prickly pear! When they’re done, a park ranger reviews their work then asks them to raise their right hand and repeat this pledge:
“I, (fill in name), am proud to be a National Park Service Junior Ranger. I promise to appreciate, respect, and protect all national parks. I also promise to continue learning about the landscape, plants, animals and history of these special places. I will share what I learn with my friends and family.”
How cool is that?! Here is a list of participating parks.
|William getting a little help from Bob Cat. Busy Sara helping some birds take flight|
|Reciting their pledge with Ranger Donna. When they finished, she made an announcement over the intercom to introduce their newest Junior Rangers. The kids were delighted.|
- Travel early; most kids are at their best in the morning
- Be extra nice to the flight attendants and ask if there are any kid “perks”
- If you’re a family of four, sit two by two, in seats in front of one another–this way the only seat your long-legged kid is kicking is your own
- Bring small surprises to keep the kids delighted and busy (sticky mosaic crowns worked for us on this trip)
- Don’t feel guilty about letting them enjoy more screen time than normal–it’s a treat for them (and your fellow passengers if it helps keep them occupied and quiet)
Hauling car seats, babies and luggage across the airport only to head toward tiny seats at the back of a cramped airplane is hardly an upbeat start to a vacation. That said, we just returned from a trip to Arizona and it seemed like many of those usual obstacles didn’t exist this time around. Sure, it still took a lot to get organized and nobody likes to transport those awkward car seats anywhere BUT, now that the kids are old enough (3 and 5) to really communicate, understand the steps along the way, and even help a bit, air travel has gotten much easier. In fact, their curiosity and sense of wonderment made many of those typically mundane steps entertaining and, dare I say, fun!