Long Time Gone! – Olympic National Park – August 2014

It’s been too long, and many things have happened. First, my old implementation of Gallery2 is no longer supported in WordPress, so I’m going to try use a new photo/media manager. If you can’t see the pics, please let me know. I’ll probably try a few until I find the right one.

We went to Kalaloch in August. We had a great time camping, visiting Ruby Beach, the Hoh rain forest, and a few other sites.The campground is very tight quarters, but a really pretty place. It was my first time there, and a revisit for the Penning crew. We hiked the Hoh River trail and explored some great places. We even saw a monster elk, munching away at grass near the trail.

Hoh Rain Forest, Ruby Beach, lots of fun!

service project…ensign ranch


A little bit of work.


Then a little bit of play.


Equals another McCracken Camping Adventure!! We headed up Snoqualmie Pass to camp and work at one of our church’s camps a couple of weeks ago. We picked up debris on the trails, prepared tee pees and tents for upcoming girls camps, and had a lot of fun with new acquaintances. We are loving camping near rivers and trees. It’s pretty amazing up here. I grew up camping and exploring in the Northwest. And, yet, the beauty and grandeur of this area of the country still blows me away now that I am back…experiencing it through my children’s eyes.

As we speak, the kids are in the backyard playing in a rainstorm. Even though we still get 300 glorious days of sunshine a year, here in Central Washington, we also get plenty of moisture and lovely spring rain, summer thunderstorms, and rain and snow in the winter. A perfect four seasons of balance, if you ask me.  Ezzy and Nikki just came to me and said, “mom, it smells SO good outside. Like real rain.” :) They are loving exploring every bit of their new version of the outdoors.

*And can I get a shout out for camping two weekends in a row while pregnant. Thank you!!

memorial day lives on…geocaching 2013

We have celebrated Memorial Day in Zion National Park, UT with friends since 2005. Although we no longer live near Zion, we hope to carry on the camping tradition with our children and friends…new and old…for a long time to come. This year we celebrated near Mt. Rainier. It was wet and green and completely different than what we have grown used to over the years. I missed the warmth of Zion and all of the familiar surroundings. But I also loved being “home” and showing my kids what it was like to camp near real trees. Rob and Jaime joined us, which was awesome.

Instead of hiking on Saturday, the guys took the kids geocaching. They have explored many geocaches all over Las Vegas and its surrounding desert.


They love looking for “treasure.” Adam loves using his GPS. And I love sitting in my camping recliner. So it’s win-win for EVERYONE! :)


We had several cousins join the fun. Everyone had a great time!! Despite being homesick for familiar faces in Las Vegas, I love being home.



good little backpackers


Labor Day Weekend 2010 found us at Zion National Park on our very first backpacking trip–with the ninos. We have waited two years to be able to go, and the two littles are finally big enough to fit into backpacking packs. Each nino carried his or her own water, clothes, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad. Each of them also helped to carry parts of the two tents, food, and cooking items. Actually, my pack was the lightest it has ever been due to this help. I am thinking this is totally the way to go! :)

Adam and I slipped out of our tent the next morning for a quiet sunrise together:

So we only went a whopping four miles round trip. But for the kids’ first time out, it was a huge success. We have The Grand Canyon’s North Rim on our October docket. We are going to try for five miles this time.

zionfest 2010



1st annual talent show

complete with video crew, spotlight guy, and MC


Yummy Food

 Lots of Cool Messes

And good all around fun

We love our tradition we have created for our family. We look forward to many more Zion trips in our future. Here are more pics!


12 April 2010
Hiking/Camping Safety, by the J. DeMarco Family

Our annual Memorial Zionfest is quickly approaching so we were presented with a lesson this week on safety procedures for the kiddos. We also received Child Safety Kits to have on hand in the unlikely (or very likely) case of a missing/lost child while we are there. Loved our group FHE this month. Thanks DeMarco Family!

I Am a Child of God
Book of Mormon Stories

Strawberry Shortcake……again (YES)!

Nightly Funnies:
Jena to Dave, “everyone knows you’re picky…that’s what got us put in charge of the camping potluck!”

Jaime Lynne, “Alright, we’ll be in charge of the t-shirts, but you have 48 hours to respond people and that’s it. ”

Juan……..well pretty much everything he said tonight was funny! :)


things change


Never a truer title for our Memorial Day tradition this year. Year five, and our group has grown by five–and a half (Jena is due anytime). Okay four of those were my kiddos, but still!!! This Memorial Day was interesting to say the least. Let’s see: camping instead of hoteling, cooking instead of eating out, and braving inclement weather instead of basking at the spa. Kids mess everything up! :)

Here we are hiking:
And building/racing boats:
And traversing rivers:
And other fun stuff–a.k.a. canyons:

The kids had a blast, of course. We love love love car camping, but we already have our rooms reserved for next year. Adam promised me after this trip that if a canyon is involved we won’t have to camp. Thanks, honey. Only true canyon wives understand the sentiment, and that’s okay with me. :) The guys only did one canyon this year so they could spend more time with the kids. Next year, the kids will also be canyon-ready. They still have to learn to swim, and have a little more experience on the ropes. See here for Jaime’s trip report. She snapped the most adorable pics of the kids trying to catch rain in their mouths. And she also explained this year’s canyoning fiasco (there’s always at least one *wink, nod*). And here are the rest of our pics. Until next year, Beautiful Zion.