I spend a lot of time talking about tips in planning our National Park adventures but far less time talking about the impact this has on my family. I am a planner. An obsessive planner. And that is both good and bad. It’s great because I think ahead about most scenarios. It’s not so good when unexpected things thwart my careful planning and I am forced to adapt. This happened to us last summer in our California National Park adventure when we were delayed unexpectantly for 2 hours trying to get our rental minivan at LAX and then later that week when that same rental van had a malfunction on it’s sliding door forcing us to scrap an entire day of hiking at Lassen Volcano National Park. But that’s spilled milk, I’m not holding a grudge about it or anything…
My obsessive planning isn’t for everyone but it works for our family. We wake up super early and stay out super late and we squeeze every last drip of juice out of our vacation! Some families define vacation by relaxing on the beach. Our family has a different idea. Read for yourself….
What is your favorite National Park unit we’ve visited and why?
Evelyn: Definitely Mt Rainier National Park! We hiked the Skyline Trail on a beautiful day and it was a challenging hike that started in sun, then went through fog, then ended up in snow!
Gavin: My favorite is Mt Rainier National Park because everything was very open and very pretty and clean! We also got to see marmots on the trail!
Sebastian: My favorite is Independence Hall in Philadelphia because we can see where all the delegates actually sat when they signed the Declaration of Independence! I really like history and it was cool to see something in person that I had only read in books.
Heather: Glacier Bay. I was mesmerized by the surreal colors of the water, scanning the land for wildlife, and watching the glaciers calve. Mount Rainier is a close second with it’s marmots and snow covered pathways in July. Arches would probably be third on that list. Too many!!
What is your favorite moment from one of our National Park adventure trips?
Gavin: My favorite moment from one of our National Park adventure trips was when we went to Mesa Verde National Park on our Grand Canyon trip and it started pouring rain but we had rain coats and were on an overlook that had a panoramic view of the caves while lightning flashed in the distance multiple times a minute.
Evelyn: My favorite moment from our National Park trips was the Emerald Pools hike in Zion National Park. This hike had 3 main pools to hike to. The trail led us under a cliff with a waterfall into a pool. The second was a beautiful reflection pool that overlooked the canyon. Then the final pool was a huge pool of water where people were swimming in.
Heather: Coming across bears! East Coast and West Coast, we’ve seen them and they are incredible! I don’t think I’ll ever forget coming around a corner to have Gavin suddenly backing up into me and pointing out the bear. We saw bears at Shenandoah National Park, Sequoia National Park, and Lassen Volcano National Park!
Sebastian: Definitely when we hiked up to see Delicate Arch at Arches National Park because the trail was very long and in some parts dangerous and when we turned around the corner we finally saw it. When I first saw it I felt excitement and relief at the same time because we were finally there. That was cool.
What is your favorite thing to do when you go to any National Park unit?
Evelyn: My favorite thing to do is hiking! My favorites were at Redwoods National Park, Mt Rainier National Park, Zion National Park, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park!
Gavin: My favorite thing to do at National Parks is to go on very long hikes preferably through a forest or with panoramic views and just get to experience nature with my family.
Sebastian: My favorite thing to do at National Parks is to go on long hikes. I also like to see exhibits at the historical places because usually they have old artifacts that played a role in history.
Heather: My favorite thing to do when I get to any National Park unit would probably be locating the closest bathrooms, as we’ve typically been driving for many hours at that point. 😃After that, it’s the hiking. The hikes in National Parks are designed for their views throughout the trail. They are leading you somewhere new and it’s taking you to see the best that park has to offer. Most hikes aren’t just point A to B, it’s all the little and big stuff you see in between. While on the hikes we are all talking, not interrupted by daily life chaos, schedules, screens, and other life demands. It’s usually just us processing this new gorgeous place all together. I love hearing and seeing my family’s reactions all along the pathways. It’s the journey, not the destination.
The National Park unit that I most want to go back to is:
Evelyn: I would like to go back to Zion National Park to hike The Narrows! And also I want to go back to Alaska. We saw some amazing things the first time but I want to go further North to see some of the other National Parks in Alaska.
Gavin: The National Park Unit that I most want to go back to is Mt. Rainier to hike the Skyline Trail loop in its totality and also explore some of the other trails at Mt.Rainier.
Sebastian: That’s a tough call. I’m debating between two: I really want to go back to Mt Rainier National Park because we didn’t have a chance to hike the complete Skyline Trail loop because we didn’t have the proper gear but I definitely want to try to do it next time. Also I want to re-visit Arches National Park because I want to do the other arch hikes that we didn’t have a chance to do the first time.
Heather: Either Zion to make it to Angels Landing or Mount Rainier in order to go beyond where the snow prevented us.
What is your favorite souvenir from a National Park Unit?
Evelyn: When we were in Arches National Park I bought a bag with the Arches National Park logo embroidered across it. I like it a lot because I put all my Junior Ranger badges on it and also fit the stuff I need for my trips inside: my National Park passport, my water bottle, and my camera. I can’t fit all of my Junior Ranger badges on it anymore but that was a great souvenir!
Gavin: At Redwoods National Park I got a magnet with a cartoon banana slug on top that said Banana Slug Crossing on a yellow background like a road sign. I really liked it because I have always been fascinated with banana slugs and I liked how someone thought that they were important enough to make a fake road sign of them.
Sebastian: I don’t have a particular one that is my favorite but every time I visit a National Park unit (or anyplace else) I purchase a lapel pin. I have over 200 in my collection!
Heather: My green hat from Capitol Reef.
What types of skills does it take to vacation like a Ng?
Heather: Patience and a really good sense of humor. It would also help if you are an are early riser.
Gavin: Being able to adapt to any wake-up time and car ride distance at any time is key along with being able to adjust to sudden changes of plans. Having an incredible sense of humor is also great because you never know when someone is going to drop a pun.
Evelyn: you have to be willing to wake up at 5 every morning and not expect to go to sleep until near 10 so you need to sleep in the car and you need to be able to adjust your eating schedule quickly.
Sebastian: You need patience. Especially when on long car rides and waiting to use the one bathroom in our hotel room.
What’s a fun fact about Ng family vacations that no one knows?
Gavin: Every trip we try to go to Red Lobster. It’s not that it’s the best food it’s just tradition. But there’s no denying the biscuits from the Cheddar Bay National Park!
Heather: When we see something cool sometimes the whole family fights over who gets to instagram it first! Even though pictures never do it justice, we love sharing pictures from our adventures. I even made up our own hashtag #HikeNg
Evelyn: A fun fact about our vacations is that we wake up VERYYY early and somehow manage to all function the whole trip. We maybe have 1 or 2 “sleep in” days but that may only be until 7 so basically we are hiking and traveling with not a ton of sleep so we can visit everywhere we want to. So, if you can’t wake up early, our itinerary is not for you.
Sebastian: So much ice cream! At home we can’t have ice cream every day but sometimes on vacation we have ice cream twice a day! It doesn’t matter if it’s close to dinner either!
Follow us as we complete our goal to visit 100 National Park units this summer!
This summer we are heading to Hawaii to complete our goal of visiting 100 National park units as a family by 2020.
It looks like after we finish we need to head back to Mt Rainier National Park! Thanks for following us on our adventures! I hope you enjoyed “getting to know us”!