Van Dwelling with Children

Van Dwelling with Children

When I was a kid, I always thought it was so fun to watch Married with Children. It revolves around Al Bundy and his never ending attempts to better his life which leads him right back to where he started.  In front of the T.V, with his hand down his pants. Van dwelling with children was a similar to this.


Before we left, Ike and I had plans to do some awesome hiking, even a muli day trek or two.  We decided to go into Canada for that reason,  we figured the weather would be cooler and more hospitable for hiking (versus Colodo, Utah, California in the middle of summer)

Van Dwelling in Banf

Gavin in Banff National Park



This is the point in the story where I introduce you to my son Gavin.  He is a 85 lb, blue eyed blond haired hell on wheels.  Urban dictionary describes the term hell on wheels as a someone or something that is tough, aggressive and hard to handle. If there could be a picture to go along with this term, it would be my 9 year old son. Gavin loves anything physical.  He loves building forts, jumping off high things, swimming ect.  We thought he would love being outside with us.


Day 1

Here is a scenario from day 1 hour 2.  About 2 hours into our journey, we made the inevitable pit stop.  At this rest stop, there was a short hike to the top of a look out.  Ike and I looked at eachother, and said ‘hey, why not?’


Gavin looked at us and said “I’m not going.”


Of course, we kind of shrugged it off.  We were going on this adventure.  We were going to the Canadian Rockies! Banff and Jasper, the most beautiful places in the whole world! Gavin would adjust! We just knew it!

Every Day After That

Here is when I explain the Married with Children analogy.  No matter the circumstances, we always ended up right back in the same spot. Gavin refusing to hike.  We go through this every day.  He would either start to hike, then 5 minutes in complain that he couldn’t go a step further, or he would refuse to hike.


One time,  we were hiking up a trail and he was complaining.  Another family walked up behind us and passed us.  Gavin promptly stopped being upset and started talking to this other family.  Before we knew it, he was gone- happily hiking with his new befriended family.  We knew then that it wasn’ t the hiking that he did not like , he didn’t like it because we liked it.

Ike and Gavin enjoying hot chocolate


 Hands in Our Pants

We really had no idea what to do with our hell on wheels.  To everyone else, we must have looked like the worst parents ever.  Or maybe not, maybe I just felt like the worst parent ever.  Leaving him sitting on a rock, crying on the side of a trail.  See, it sounds bad- right?  Poor little guy.  This is what would happen once we left him: He would stop crying after we were out of sight and figure out a way to shimmy up the side of a mountain and get to the top before we did.  The kid is completely capable, it was just the fact that we wanted to do something. So, he automatically did not.

van dwelling gavin style

Gavin has more physical capability then I ever will

Van Dwelling with Children – What Worked

At some point in our journey, we gave up our souls to Gavin.  Just kidding, but not really.  Our daily living was complicated, it took a lot of time.  Even the simplest tasks were difficult- and that was o.k, but it just wore down on us after awhile.  So, we gave up trying to hike with Gavin.  We stayed closer to roads, and enjoyed the mountains from a distance. We ate more ice cream and went swimming as much as possible.


Mom and Kid walking dog

Exploring at our own pace




Maybe settling for more ice cream and more swimming wasn’t so bad.  Maybe we weren’t on the journey to climb mountains, some mountains are internal- and those ones are just as difficult as any.  We decided that singing silly songs and dancing silly dances was o.k.  Taking time – making forts, those things are just as important as anything else.

I wasn’t going to get the awesome photographs I wanted – but I got to experience something totally unique and justifiably  crazy with my family- and that is  o.k too!



For Making at Cape Dissapointment



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7 Days in Iceland (In Winter)

furry iceland pony

 7 Days In Icelandic Winter

This is about my trip to Iceland. I traveled solo in December.  My journey took me all the way to an eastern fishing village called Neskaupstadur.  Along the way I saw some really amazing waterfalls, beautiful mountains and reindeer!  Because I spent a fair amount of time reading blogs of traveling in Iceland, I decided to write mine about my experience.

Iceland Car Rental

I decided to go with a vehicle.   I highly recommend getting a vehicle.  The weather in Iceland is constantly changing, its a very rugged climate –  hitchhiking or camping  (in winter at least) would have not made my trip very enjoyable.There are plenty of blogs out there that recommend this, as well as camper vans , hitch hiking, biking ect.  I picked because of their great customer reviews on tripadvisor.  I also liked that they had free airport transport/shuttle.  Picking out a vehicle was difficult for me.  I am a mother, photographer, wife- which translates into travelling a shoestring budget. I wanted 4 wheel drive and insurance, but was unable to find anything ‘cheap.’  I was able to save a little bit of money and rented a vehicle with manual transmission and deisel fuel.  The first place you get to after you rent a car is Reykavik, so if you haven’t driven ‘stick’ before, just spend the extra and go automatic.

On a side note:I never had to use my 4 wheel drive, nor did I ever have a need for the insurance (thankfully!) But, I was glad to have it.


My 4 wheel drive suzuki jimni


Where to stay in Iceland

I was traveling solo, so my recommendations are based on that.  I booked all my rooms 24 hours in advance.  Using services like and worked really well for me.  Because I had no where I really had to be except for 1 day, I was able to have the most flexibility this way.  It was also nice to be able to read the reviews and see photos of the places.  I paid between $50-$65 per night for a room.  I could have done hostels and more dorm like settings to save money, but I wanted my own room every night.  Icelanders are really nice people, and I loved staying in the airbnb’s the most.




What to Eat in Iceland

When I purchased my ticket to Iceland, I was unaware of how expensive everything in Iceland is. One way I was able to save money was to bring my own food with.  Because my flight ticket included 2 checked bags, I was able to bring most of the camera gear I needed, cold weather gear and food for my trip.  My food consisted of oatmeal ( I added protein powder to it in hopes of not getting hungry fast), beef jerky, almonds and a lot of cliff bars.  I did purchase some canned spaghetti, bread and peanut butter once I got to Iceland.  Also, coffee was relatively cheap.  Water is free. Icelandic people love their hotdogs, I did have one- but forgot to take a picture of it.  Bringing my food was probably the only way that I successfully saved money on the trip.


How I saved money on food in Iceland


Ice Cave Tour

Because I in December, I was able to book an ice cave tour, this was by far the highlight of my trip.  It also got me outside of the Reykavik tour bus area, which I highly suggest.  Most tour buses stopped in Vik, although I did see a few at the Ice Lagoon.  I booked my tour at  Again, I chose them not because they were the cheapest, but because they had such great reviews online.  The weather was mild and rainy while I was in Iceland, and my original tour was cancelled, but I was given the opportunity to go on a longer excursion to a different ice cave. I am so glad I did.  Our tour guide was local (hence the name), and was super nice. There were just two other girls with me on our trip. It felt like we had the whole glacier to ourselves!


What to Wear in Iceland in Winter

I think the biggest thing that you need to think about when it comes to clothing in Iceland, it depends mostly on where you are headed.  My intention was to hike and get out and take a lot of pictures.  My clothing consisted of REI weather proof pants, REI waterproof jacket, water proof gloves (see there is a pattern here!), my favorite Keen hiking boots (also waterproof), multiple layers of active wear clothing and wool socks.  Most likely, if you are an adventurer like myself, you probably already have this stuff.  I did bring a winter coat and snow pants, but never used them because of the mild weather.  My backpack was what I would call ‘semi’ waterproof, so my camera gear got wet.


Had I been staying in and around Reykavik, I would have definitely brought nicer clothing, as Rekavik is very sheek and modern.  Lots of beautiful people in beautiful clothing. I only spent one afternoon in downtown, and that was enough for me.  I am much more in my element when I’m hiking and taking pictures.


What to See in Iceland in Winter For Free

Small Viking Horses (they are not ponies).  They are lovely and very sociable.  There are a lot of them, just be safe when you are crossing the road to see them.


Churches.  Oh gosh, they are so beautiful and some of them are set in these beautiful, majestic valleys.


Waterfalls. I was able to pull off and hike up to most waterfalls, for free.  The further you get from Reykavik the more beautiful Iceland really becomes.


National Parks. I visited Skaftafell.



Go visit Iceland! It’s a short 6 hour plane ride from Chicago International Airport. Flights are relitvely inexpensive, the people are wonderful and so is the land.  Everything does cost more, just keep it in mind when you are planning.  I recommend focusing on whats really important to you – Are you a foodie, then plan on staying in and around Reykavik. Are you an adventurer? Then go out and explore.  Photographer? Plan an excursion to the glaciers! See more images from my trip here: