Hi, I’m Cassie! A thirty-something wife and mother of three. While working as a high school science teacher in the Spring of 2009, I was trying to brainstorm something fun, adventurous, and cheap to do with my kids over the summer. We were living in Arizona at the time and I desperately needed to escape the heat for a while. The TV commercials kept informing me that my five year olds were depressed because they hadn’t been to the Happiest Place on Earth yet, but I was having trouble justifying the expense of a three-day park hopper ticket for five people. Plus hotel. In other words… I was feeling a little rebellious. Then while scanning that map of California the light bulb suddenly popped on. Yosemite! We’d never been there! The entrance fee was only $20! Per vehicle.
Right then and there, my traveling ideas were born. For those of you that don’t know me too well yet, I tend to overdo things, a lot. Soon our little road trip to Yosemite snowballed into a ten day trip through four different California National Parks. By the end of the summer I was already planning a thirty day trip for next year, and before long I’d decide on the Big Plan: to take my kids to every National Park in the country.
I should tell you that I possess the potentially dangerous combination of pseudo-Type A personality, a list-making obsession, and the ability to stay up as late as I want, but it has allowed me to produce some very detailed itineraries, in list format of course. The purpose of this site is to share with you my growing collection of plans, tips, tidbits, and other things we’ve learned throughout this journey.
I also wanted to use this page to introduce you to the rest of my family since they are such a big part of this story.
My husband Andy and I have been married for almost 15 years. He is an amazing support, an incredible father, and my best friend, most days. He hasn’t been able to join us on every trip, but we are so grateful to him for making the sacrifice to work and still encourage us on our travels. When he does come though, I am SO happy to have him there to help split firewood, unpack and repack the car over and over, and drive the long miles. Also, he’s practically a human GPS unit, so we do a lot less U-turns and back tracking when he’s with us.
Lassen Volcanic National Park, 2010 – Andy and Cassie on Chaos Crags Trail
My eldest daughter, Aubrey, is fourteen and about to finish 9th grade. She’s loves math, playing softball, and is an incredible big sister to the twins. Her excitement for our daily hikes and explorations has fluctuated over the last few years, but last summer she told me something that I will never forget. She said “Mom, I don’t know why, but I feel the most like myself on these trips. They are just so fun and I get to be silly. It’s different than when I’m at school.” From that moment on, I never worried that she would “outgrow” our summer vacations. Aubrey’s happiness during our travels fills me with joy, and since we’re in that precious final stretch of time before she leaves us, it makes me feel a little calmer to know that I’m giving her some happy memories to take with her when she’s gone.
Yellowstone National Park, 2012 – Aubrey at Upper Yellowstone Falls
My youngest two are nine year old twins and finishing 3rd grade. They are strong and full of more energy than the monkey cages at the San Diego Zoo. Our trips would not be half so much fun without their indelible enthusiasm and excitement. They climb trees, track animals, build rafts in the rivers, bridges in the forests, and play made-up games with their babies in the car. They can always find something to be excited about. On our 2009 trip, I remember arriving at our first hotel late at night after driving for four hours, hiking five miles that morning, and spending the previous five nights in a tent in the California parks. It was around 11pm, and I was exhausted and we were all stinky and carrying our cooler and filthy bags up the elevator to our room, simply looking forward to a hot shower and a mattress to sleep on for the night. My son Jack suddenly looks up to me all bright eyed and excited and says “This is going to be so awesome!” 🙂 Yes Jack, it was awesome.
Jack is ultra competitive and has an endless energy that we try to siphon off through baseball and Tae Kwon Do. On our trips he is the ultimate dare-devil and will try anything once. He loves to lead us on our hikes and is probably my best and most enthusiastic helper.
Glacier National Park, 2012 – Jack getting ready to jump off a giant boulder into a freezing glacial pool.
My daughter Arwen loves to read, draw, and ride horses. At the parks, she makes wildflower bouquets as she giggles her way through the wilderness. She especially enjoys discovering butterflies and insects, finding secret pathways at our campsites, and wandering about in “Arwenland” during our hikes until we all realize we haven’t seen her in a while and come tearing through the woods screaming her name only to find her crying and alone a quarter mile down the trail. Yes, its happened. Twice. But without a little spacing out, she wouldn’t be Arwen, and we love her for it.
Redwood National Park, 2010 – Arwen making a new friend.
Thanks for taking the time to get to know a little bit about the Clemans Clan! I truly hope that in these pages you find a little inspiration and a lot of help in planning your own next great adventure. Happy Trails!