Homolovi State Park and Petrified Forest National Park, AZ

It is so incredible that the archeologists that work at the Homolovi State Park research center allow visitors to wander through the site and find artefacts (it is obviously illegal to take anything).

It is so incredible that the archeologists that work at the Homolovi State Park research center allow visitors to wander through the site and find artefacts (it is obviously illegal to take anything).

It is quite the feeling to find all sorts of pottery pieces created by the Hopis that are over 800 years old.

It is quite the feeling to find all sorts of pottery pieces created by the Hopis that are over 800 years old.

As we exclaimed at every find we did, we could picture the women who cooked in these pottery containers…

As we exclaimed at every find we did, we could picture the women who cooked in these pottery containers…

Between the 1200s to the late 1300s, there was over 1,200 rooms on this land. Standing on these grounds, you can still feel the village buzzing with life. What a privilege to be there.

Between the 1200s to the late 1300s, there was over 1,200 rooms on this land. Standing on these grounds, you can still feel the village buzzing with life. What a privilege to be there.

Petrified wood is pretty cool the first time you see it, but a bit less exciting on the third or fourth time… We went to Petrified Forest National Park mostly to see the Painted desert, those colorful layered hills you see in the background. It’s too bad there are not longer hikes in the park. I would have loved to get lost in that unique landscape.

The next day, we went to visit the Petrified Forest National Park. This is the painted desert part. Just gorgeous.

The next day, we went to visit the Petrified Forest National Park. This is the painted desert part. Just gorgeous.

Blue Hill Mesa.

Blue Hill Mesa.

At the bottom of Blue Hill Mesa (short hike).

At the bottom of Blue Hill Mesa (short hike).

Petrified wood.

Petrified wood.


I've spent many hours in nature lately, in silence, on my bike, meditating on the part of me that is afraid of not offering my girls a more normal teenage life full of activities and peers on a daily basis. What if we stick to the fact that our family culture is to live on the road, away from a busy calendar? How do I know what is best for them at this stage of their lives? I can listen to their desires (which ebb and flow and change with their hormonal cycle...) or I can simply hold the bar, as I did all those previous years and say: this is our family, this is what we do. I will make sure you get a great online education and a high school diploma while living on the road. I wonder if we have become a generation of parents who cater too much to their children's desires. If I struggle with this transition, if living in a house for 4 years, needing a second income and vehicle, yearning to be out in nature in my bus, to have more quality time with them does not feel right... is it still the right thing to do for them? I don't know. I truly don't know.
My friend @reneetougas wrote a beautiful series on her blog on homeschooling the high school years. She asks an important question:
"Perhaps in the same way that schooling parents ask homeschoolers - how do you manage to be with your kids all day? Which for me is incomprehensible to answer since my reverse question is how can you stand to not be?" I still cringe when I hear parents cheer because school is about to finally resume after spring break. I mean, I get it, being surrounded by young children all day is hard work and wanting some alone time is totally human. But I feel like we don’t know how to be together anymore. We find it intimidating. Here, take my phone. And draining. Yes, you can go on Netflix. 
Why is that? Can’t we just have a good time together? Have meaningful conversations? Have we become so busy that we need to schedule fun times and laughter fits?

You know, we did not wake up one morning and saw that all the stars had aligned, that all the conditions had come together and decided not to send our girls to school. It is rather the opposite. We decided to not send them to school, then we invented the circumstances that made that possible.

Into the woods

When we turned off the engine of the Westy, the girls jumped off and ran into the forest. They immediately started climbing on logs and building a shelter… My little wildflowers… We were all so eager to leave the city behind…

After months in the desert, the smell of a lake in the middle of the forest was decadent. Mountain biking straight from our campsite on pine-laden single tracks, being visited a few times a day by a family of deer wondering what the heck we were doing in their living room and losing myself in thoughts by a waterfall while the girls nibbled their first dandelions of the year were just a bonus.

We read The Animal Dialogues by the bonfire in the dark (the best place to read that amazing book), drank our morning coffee in a patch of sunlight filtering through the tall cedar trees and read on the dock under the stoic gaze of a great blue heron.

There’s nothing like spitting your toothpaste in the fire, eating parsley-lemon pasta in lexan plates with a spork, walking with a headlamp to the outhouse and going to bed smelling of citronella and wood smoke to bring you back to center after an intense week.

Was it all as awesome as it sound? Hell, yeah. Maybe even a little better.

This campground is called Round Lake State Park, in Idaho. Sites 12 and 14 are huge! 

Gooseneck State Park, the Russian Invasion and Monument Valley

When we left Kanab where we hiked Wire Pass and part of Buckskin Gulch, we drove through Page, AZ, and Monument Valley, up to one of our favorite spot in Utah to spend the night, called Gooseneck State Park. There are about 15 sites there (no reservation possible) along a giant cliff overlooking a U-shape canyon filled with water. We were camped right by the ridge (photos do not do justice to the immensity of that place). 

We were sitting outside looking at the wonderful sunset with our friends and  had started a fire to cook our sweet potatoes while the kids were painting their clay creations (from the clay they had collected at the bottom of Bucksking Gulch), as a bus full of Russian tourists arrived. All of a sudden they were walking all over our campsite (asking our friend to move because she was in the way), looking inside the bus, taking pictures of our kids (our friend had to ask them not to do that!). The kids were so intimidated, they went hiding in the bus. None of them realized they were totally in our space. They did not even really acknowledged us. We felt like real tourist attractions... It was the weirdest thing! We remained in shock for a while after they left. The kids built a rock wall all around the perimeter of our campsite. The Gooseneck Invasion, as we will now refer to it, led to the creation of a new word: goosenecker, as in: don't be such a goosenecker!

As night fell, the kids got the lambskins out and laid on them with pillows and blanket to look at the incredible sky. We could even see that someone had lit a fire down by the river in the canyon. We will remember that night for a long time.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Utah

Rippling arcs of rust-colored sand welcome you as you enter Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. Contrasted by blue skies, juniper and pinion pines, and steep red cliffs, the sand from the dunes is really grains of quartz with a hematite coating providing the orange color. The dunes are estimated to be between 10,000 and 15,000 years old. 

We boogie boarded down this shifting sea of orange sand and felt like a younger version of ourselves as we walked barefoot in that giant sand box.

Sand Hollow State Park, Utah

We chose Sand Hollow State Park because it was close to everything: the amazing network of mountain bike trails in Hurricane, the many rock climbling routes in St. George, Snow Canyon State Park and Zion National Park. Little did we know how beautiful this place was with it's turquoise reservoir water and orange cliffs located a mere 5 minute walk from our campsite.

Little did we know too that the "jumping rock" was a favorite spot of the college kids on Spring Break. As we were quietly exploring the cliffs one morning, they arrived en masse,  with cheap beer, tiny bikinis and selfie sticks. They were loud as only self-rightous college kids can be and left piles of trash in their wake... We came back a few days later and filled 3 big black bags of water bottles, broken beer bottles, candy wrappers, sunblock bottles and fast food containers... I can only hope my girls feel a greater connexion to the land when they grow up and treat it with respect. 

Hiking in Snow Canyon State Park

After 4 days of intense desert heat, Snow Canyon sounded like a great idea... until I found out that its name did not come from being in high altitude and receiving snow... That it was in fact named after Erastus Snow, one of the Mormon settler that discovered it...

Its geologic formations are simply stunning, a combination of black lava flow and burnt orange to creamy white sandstone cliffs. We hiked on petrified sand dunes under the glorious sun and went to explore the rock climbing routes for an upcoming rock climbing outing.

When we returned to the bus, our friends had decorated the bus and prepared a delicious vegetarian lasagna and salad, as well as a yummy chocolate cake that we ate outside as the sun set. It sure was a memorable birthday! 

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

The Valley of Fire derives its name from red sandstone formations, formed by petrifaction of ancient sand dunes during the Jurassic era, 160 million years ago. The exposed rock responsible for the dramatic colors and formations is Aztec sandstone. Complex uplifting and faulting of the region, followed by extensive erosion, have created the present landscape.

Valley of Fire is Nevada’s oldest and largest state park, dedicated in 1935. Ancient trees and early man are represented throughout the park by areas of petrified wood and 3,000 year-old Indian petroglyphs.

We hiked the White Domes and Fire Wave trails; both were simply breathtaking. Valley of Fire is up there among my favorite State/National Parks, not very far behind Arches NP and Bryce NP.

I simply cannot imagine how hot this place must be in the summer. It is only mid-March and some of us were seriously overheating. On the Fire Wave hike, JF and our friend helped an elderly man down a slippery sandstone path. He was hiking in this rough terrain by himself with his cane and no water, and we left him a bit concerned. On our way back, we stopped at the Visitor Center and JF let the rangers know about him. They took notes and said they would be there in about 30 minutes. I am always amazed at how sensitive JF is to others… He also made the girls and I drink a full bottle of water before heading back on the road to make sure we would not be dehydrated.

As we drove back to Vegas (there is no cell connexion in the Valley of Fire campground, by the way…), I put my sandy feet up on the dash of the Westy, rolled down the window so the wind would cool me down, and let all that beauty sink into my soul. What an amazing day we had!

Hiking to the Romero Pools

I don’t travel because it’s easy, I travel because it’s challenging and humbling. I travel because it allows me to connect more deeply with myself and the world, because it brings me outside of my comfort zone, and everytime it does, I am reminded I am capable of more.

Catalina State Park, Tucson, AZ

On Christmas Eve, we watched the sun rise over Mt Lemmon from our bedroom window, went for a hike among huge saguaro cacti with friends and ate popsicles in the sun. It amazes me how the shifting of our traditions comes as a relief. Like one less thing to carry with us. 

The sense of purpose

I used to be so busy. I was, like many, sucked by the glorification of busy. It never was a 9-t-o-5-at-the-office-breaking-a-sweat-at-the-gym-before-soccer-practice kind of busy, but a make-everything-from-scratch-and-tell-wonderful-stories-by-memories-to-the-kids-with-homemade-needle-felted-puppets-while-they-wear-handnits-from-wool-I-dyed-with-plants-I-grew kind of busy. It was the good kind of busy, right? The one that is full of satisfaction. The one that gave me a sense of purpose.

But it still was busy. I still derived my sense of contentment from everything I made happened every day.

So, I aimed for less busy. And the less busy I became, the more bored I became. It’s like I didn’t know how to be happy without being productive. Like my sense of purpose was directly related to my level of busyness, to the end product of that busyness…

As I wrote when we lived in Costa Rica, I realize how much boredom is a luxury in our society and that many people haven’t experienced boredom since they were 12 or 13 yo. But boredom is uncomfortable and unpleasant…

“If boredom is simply a lack of stimulation and the unpleasant feelings that go with it, then the antidote is not finding a source of entertainment – it’s finding motivation to brush away those unpleasant feelings.”– Tsh Oxenreider, Notes from a Blue Bike

When I told my dad I wanted to travel full-time so we could live an epic, exciting life, his answer was baffling. He said: “Your life on the road will become your new ordinary and it won’t be as exciting all the time. Life cannot be exciting all the time. 90 % of life is made of ordinary little things. One has to learn to live the ordinary.”

I thought he didn’t understand. Of course, life could be amazing and fascinating most of the time!

The more we travel, the more I understand what he meant. Our days are filled with beautiful moments together discovering new places, but a big chunk of it is still everyday life stuff. Life cannot be (and probably should not be) exciting all the time. But to accept that, I need to learn to live with moments of boredom, of non-entertainment, of ordinary little events. I am not used to be idle, to not be stimulated by conversations or activities, to not feel productive and useful most of the time. 

I know I am blessed to have the space to wonder what to do with parts of my days. I have no more to-do lists to check, no agenda or calendar to fill, no appointments or classes to drive to. I wanted a low-stress life and I truly created it, but I realize that there is a fine line between too little and too much. I know I have to learn to live with less full days and still find this exciting. To learn to not be productive and feel worthy and good about it.

If entertainment isn’t our right, does this mean our days have to be drudgery? Well, sometimes, yes. Life has never promised us non-stop parties and parades. But our everyday rituals can also become our entertainment, if we let them. (…) As an adult, my struggle isn’t recognizing the value behind the little things – it’s intentionally setting aside time, energy, and focus to breathe them in, deeply. Sucking the marrow out of life requires that I sit down in the silence, un-entertained.

And then, remarkably, the marrow-sucking becomes the entertainment I crave.” – Tsh Oxenreider, Notes from a Blue Bike

**The pictures have been taken at Lost Creek State Park, OR

The beautiful wild sea at Ecola State Park, OR

"People say that what we’re seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. What we seek is an experience of being alive." –Joseph Campbell


We had been dreaming of the sea for months and were all looking forward to hitting the Oregon coast.  Ecola State Park was our first stop and it didn't disapoint! The view from the cliffs is totally breathtaking and the beach (Indian Point) is nothing short of amazing, reminding us of our favorite secluded Costa Rican beach. The girls played for more than a half hour in the freezing cold water, among fully suited surfers!

*Note that this park is a day use area only (no camping) and the beautiful drive that leads to it is not suitable for an RV or larger trailer.

Mountain biking at L.L. Stub Stewart State Park, OR


We finally got our bus back on Friday night at 7 pm and we were more than ready to leave Portland. We took the road towards the coast not knowing where we would camp that night. When we arrived at L.L. Stub Stewart State Park, we were lucky enough to score one of the two last campsites available and we soon discovered that we had stumbled across an amazing playground. The mountain bike trails have been created by mountain bikers for mountain bikers and it shows! The single track was so much fun!