mt. stirling


Adam told me he has a new goal: summit all 50 Las Vegas area peaks with the kids. I slightly chortled and said, “Does Las Vegas even have 50 peaks worth hiking?” He says, “you get what you get, lady.” (what I always say to my kids) I’m thinking, go for it buddy…I’ll be at the spa. Although this time I somehow ended up staying home with a newborn, a two year old, and a seven year old. Hmm, no spa for me. :)


Don’t get me wrong. I love hiking. But I do not love walking-in-the-desert-through-a-wash-and-up-a-hill-to-say-I-hiked kind of hiking.  *northwest snobbery at its finest*



I’ve been dragged on worse desert excursions than these pictures portray. This doesn’t look half bad, trust me! Maybe I’ll try the next one.


We may not have soaring mountains and rushing streams, but we do have dirt piles and a lot of fun!




deadman canyon


Since all of Adam’s buddies ditched their “boys-day-out-canyoneering-date,” I was roped into a family hike. This week’s hike was supposed to be in a forest. In fact, the name of the dirt road we turned off on was “Hidden Forest Road.” And yet, the picture shows something completely different–especially the name of the canyon. Does anyone else see the disparity between the two. I was promised trees, and I got shrubs. I was promised cooler air, and I got three miles of completely exposed desert heat. I was promised a short distance on a nice dirt road, and I got thirty miles of bumpiness driving through the Desert Wildlife Refuge. And my calves, although needed the workout, were not happy Sunday morning.

Oh well, we had a great time hiking with the Dodds family. The kids were troopers as usual. And we experienced a new hike. I was in the car with Danny the other day and out of the blue he said, “Mom, I love camping. I love climbing. I love hiking. I love scouts.” It was so cute, and completely genuine. I said, “I guess it doesn’t take blood to make you so much like your daddy.” :)

Now that Adam is Scoutmaster, I get out of some of the crazy trips he wants to go on. I’ll let him take the scouts. YES!


do those hiking poles come in pink?


The juxtaposition of the Barbie cake, tea set, and hiking poles is a crack up. But look how happy our little seven year old is! We had a low-key, at-home celebration. What was on the menu, you ask? Awww, yes. Pasta con queso con chachichas, sin ketchup. Yeah, mac-n-cheese and hotdogs!!!!!!!!!! Gross, right? At least, it was the cheapest birthday dinner ever requested. :) We spent the evening playing the Wii and eating yummy chocolate cake. Nikki’s best friend, Erica, also joined us. That is who gave Nikki the tea set. It is currently the favorite toy in the house. Thank you Stewart family. The kids absolutely adore Erica…she is a wonderful friend.

On a serious note, Nikki’s birthday brought tears to my eyes. It is the first birthday party she has ever had. It is the first time anyone has sung “happy birthday” just to her. It is the first birthday cake ever made in her honor. It is the first time, that she remembers, getting any birthday gifts. Pretty amazing. And we get to do it three more times this year!


Since Nikki’s bday was on a Friday, we took her new hiking poles out for a spin on Saturday. We had a blast finding the Anniversary Narrows out at Lake Mead. It was a pretty easy hike, and the kids had a great time. After walking down a wash for awhile, we entered a slot canyon that was really cool to traverse with the ninos. They did well. You’ll notice the backpacks loaded down–we are still training them for this spring. We can’t wait to do some overnighters.



After that, Aunt Marisa picked Nikki up to take her to Build-A-Bear for her gift from her tios. She hasn’t let go of the bear yet! We ended the weekend of celebration with a February Birthday Party at the McCracken’s home. Zoe and grandpa both had birthdays this month too. I think that Nikki was sufficiently spoiled, and the other children were sufficiently jealous. :) Isn’t that the way it is supposed to be?

planning meeting 2009


One of our favorite friend traditions is our annual planning meeting. Aside from our monthly family night rotation, we have monthly car camping trips on the books. Our other excursions include:

April–four days in the Grand Gulch area, UT. This is the backpacking trip Adam and I did last March, but were unable to finish. This year we will be more prepared, and we will finish! 

May–5th annual Zion Nat’l Park Adventure, UT. We are camping this year to save money. Bye bye, Spa. Hello, kids. :)

August–Baker Lake/Johnson Lake Loop, Great Basin Nat’l Park, NV.This is a four day backpacking trip up in Northern Nevada. We will actually be hiking in trees and near a creek, yipee!

2009 will be a great year!!!

mouse’s tank and more

Adam was lucky enough to have MLK Day off. It was gorgeous here in the desert so we went on another hike–of course. The Brummett Family joined us with their newest addition, Sammy (their dog). There are only three places close enough to do any sort of hiking here in Las Vegas–Mt. Charleston, Red Rock, and Valley of Fire–which was our choice yesterday.


Valley of Fire has many short easy hikes for families. And it is beautiful. We only had time to do Mouse’s Tank yesterday because of our late start. It is pretty wimpy, only a 1/2 mile round trip…but the kids had a blast. Look at Wompy and Carter–their first slot canyon!!!!!!!!!!! :)


The funniest part of the excursion happened on the drive there. From the freeway turn off, you must drive 11 miles of flat desert to get to the Park entrance. Adam and I pulled off in the open desert to try and trick the kids. The best part about the video is that the kids thought we were totally serious, and they didn’t care where we were. They just wanted their packs on.

And what you don’t see on the video is Danny standing in the desert with his pack on staring at us as we tried taking off. He thought we were really going to leave him there–stranded. I guess I should have more sympathy for my adopted kids–maybe be more sensitive. But really, it was just hilarious! And Danny tried to get back at us later. :)


la madre springs


Welcome to McCracken Hiking 2009. We are very serious about whipping our little band into hiking shape (including us ring-leaders) so that we can have some serious adventures this summer. They LOVE the “mountains” aka desert rocks. And they are getting less and less wimpy as time goes on. So we ventured up the desert trail and found a fountain of freshness in the middle of oblivion.
Dave and Jena came along, but had to cut their trip short due to a prior engagement. The rest of us put in four miles and about 700 feet in elevation. For the small 40 pounders, that is quite a lot, and we are very proud of their attitudes. I must say that the six year old little princess can out-hike the rest of them when she decides to.
We had a great afternoon. It was 65 degrees and sunny with a little breeze–perfect January weather for a hike. And how adorable is my husband with our kids….


I can’t wait to scrapbook these pics…is it wrong for me to title the upper pics “mother goose?” :)


calico tanks on ice


Adam and Grandpa Penning took the kids out on a hike over Christmas Weekend. The ninos had a total blast. It was icy and cold and glorious. The round trip mileage was about three miles….and they all made. This was their first trip with packs on. In fact, it was their first “real” hike. We took them on a little one-miler when we first came home, but it had no elevation gain.


Calico tanks is one of our favorite little hikes out at Red Rock. We don’t have much to choose from around here. And it is one of the prettiest. The video below shows the kids “skating” on the ice, but the funniest part is Ezzy biffing it hard without trying. Our little klutzo.