Estes Park, Colorado

Estes Park is the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, one of the most spectacular national parks in the United States. We were here for four days, camping at the Jellystone camp.

It was here that I officially started my sabbatical, and signed off from work for three months. On days one and two, we explored some of the non-national-park trails after work.

On day three, we were able to secure a reservation into Rocky Mountain National Park, where we hiked the duration of the Emerald Lake trail. This was a beautiful hike that I highly recommend. It’s moderately difficult for the kids, but most relatively fit adults should have no problem at all. Watch out for ice and snow on steep parts of the trail, even at the height of the summer.

Cripple Creek, Colorado

We left Texas on a rainy Saturday, bound for the high mountains West of Colorado Springs, in the small mining town known as Cripple Creek. We didn’t do the whole trip in one day though, and we found a KOA in Amarillo, TX, to spend the night at.

On the next day, we adventured up for the first time on our trip to over 10,000 feet in elevation. The truck and camper made it without a hiccup. The family, however, was feeling the altitude. But the campground was beautiful and had a few nice hiking trails and a playground on site.

After a few days of acclimatization, we set out to see the town’s (few) attractions, including an old mining history train tour.

Next on the list was our first NPS destination of the trip, the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. This is a beautiful little place with some very impressive natural history features. Tina and I took some photos and the boys completed the Junior Ranger program books as we explored the park.

Florida to Texas

11,000 miles in 49 days. It sounds pretty enormous in retrospect, and it’s not what we set out to do. But that’s how it happened.

It all started with an opportunity – perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime – that Automattic offers. A sabbatical. A silly word describing a huge offering. Three months to do whatever I choose, like a summer vacation for adults.

In late 2020, I proposed the idea of a countrywide camping trip. Tina, Rylan, and Roman didn’t take much convincing.

In March, we spent some money. A brand new Ford truck. A few-year-old tow-behind camper with room for the family (and don’t forget Kai, our beloved family dog).

And then in June, we left Florida, bound for Texas, not to return for nearly two months.

This is the first post in a series documenting our adventures.

Perry, Florida

Our first stop was a quick overnight in Perry, Florida, at the Perry KOA Holiday. This was a lovely campground and I think the kids enjoyed the playground, fire pits, and gazebo. I personally spent the entire stop working out the “day 1” issues with the camper and truck, and thus have no photos and few memories of this place.

Pelahatchie, Mississippi

Day two took us out of Florida, through Alabama, and into Mississippi (the state that kids love to spell). This was another one-night stop on the road to Texas, but I booked a neat campground with some amenities to break up the monotony of the road for the kids.

We stayed at Yogi On The Lake in Pelahatchie, MS. This was a really neat campground with a waterpark, evening festivities, and of course a lake. This would have been a neat place to spend more time.

Dallas, Texas

Dallas is a place our Family has spent some time in the past. But on this trip, while visiting with family and friends, we also made time to have some adventures. Among other things, we visited the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. The kids really enjoyed it and I think they all learned a few things.

Tina and the kids visited the Fort Worth Stockyard for some up-close-and-personal time with some animals.

But some of the best times in Dallas were spent at the camper, surrounded by family and friends, tossing around a volleyball and having a few drinks.

Starting 2021 with a photo walk with the family

Today, Tina and I grabbed our cameras, equipped the kids with a GoPro each, and hit the trail at Savannah Preserve State Park. This was a fun way to bring in the new year!

It’s really blowing my mind how grown the kids are becoming. They shot some great photos on the walk, and figured out those cameras all on their own.

Below are some of my favorite shots from my EOS RP, some shot on 50mm f1.8, others on the standard RF 24-105mm. I’m still learning the ins-and-outs of full frame mirrorless Canon, but some of these shots came out pretty alright IMO.