A Beginners Guide to Hiking: The Otts Take the Rockies

Our family has been taking trips to hike in national parks for the past three years. Over that time, we have loved getting to understand hiking culture. We started hiking like you start anything—unprepared, innocent, ready and able to make mistakes. Mistakes like starting a hike at the wrong end, so what is meant to be an easy descent from a peak becomes a brutal climb with no views. (No, we do…


To All the Animals Who Adventured with Us

We were in the parking lot of the Logan Pass visitor center in Glacier National Park on Going to the Sun Road, the most beautiful scenic drive in America according to everyone who ranks these things. It was 6:30am, and we weren’t the only visitors there. And I don’t just mean the 30 or so other humans who had woken up at 5am or some God-awful dark and peaceful hour to drive and secure a parking…


Come With Me on a Little Walk in Bryce Canyon

Our trip had been fun, but started with a few disappointments. Our flight the first day was delayed, which meant we landed in Vegas at 2AM—excellent for a bachelorette party, but not so great with an 11 and 9 year old. Our planned time at the pool the next morning was delayed a few hours because another family who braved Sin City with children had let said children leave a deposit in the…


The Lion of Palms: That Time We Made a Life-Sized Lion out of Sand

It was hot at the beach that week. Hot and windy. And we were enjoying every moment of it—lugging a wagonload of stuff to the perfect spot we’d staked out early in the morning, digging holes that we hoped would hold the heavy umbrellas in place for some respite from the heat, and slathering on gobs of sandy sunscreen over our burns from the previous days. It was just like any other summer…


The Otts Take Boston: A Family Adventure in Beantown

This summer we decided to get going on our list of places our family wants to vacation before the kids are grown and gone. Because we have a puppy this year, we knew we couldn’t tackle any of the bigger, longer trips on the list, which left some of the cities that felt manageable in 5 days. Because neither of us had ever been, and it was starting to feel stupid that it was so easy to get to and…


Inspired to Travel: How Babies Ruin All the Fun

Our kids had an extra long summer this year because of construction at their school. The summer previous had been a disaster of togetherness—we had just moved and the boxes and lack of neighborhood friends or area activities combined to make me practically shove them on the bus on the first day at their new school. “Have fun, make friends, and don’t come back for at least 7 hours!” we yelled as…


Let Me Take You on a Magical Vacation to Disney

We just spent 5 magical days in the most magical place on earth. I had last visited Disney in high school with my band. When I was there, Animal Kingdom was a brand new park, and my girlfriends and I got in massive trouble for taking 2 extra rides on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (the newest ride at Magic Kingdom at the time) instead of heading to the bus after the fireworks. (Whoops! Was it…


Do You Sense Me?: On going to Italy, and coming home.

I am sitting on the hardwood floor in my daughter’s room and we are doing one of the things I am least likely to say “yes” to most of the time: playing pretend. We are holding 3-inch high figures of animals in wild colors that wear hats. I am the cat, running the restaurant and she is bringing various customers in. It takes me a while to realize that she is recreating the same story we played the…


My Quest for My New Best Friend

A testimonial as read at the First Presbyterian Church of Glen Ellyn's Women's Day Apart, on Friendship. Last Sunday afternoon I found myself staring out the window of a very slow moving car full of 4 other women, racing slowly, so slowly toward the Denver International Airport for flights home that at least one of us was certainly going to miss. We had left with plenty of time to get to the…


Yosemite: A Complete Ottventure

“Everybody needs beauty...places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul alike.” ― John Muir “Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” ― John Muir On our last vacation away from the kids we decided to check out the Grand Canyon. Neither of us had ever visited a National Park, so we weren't sure what to expect. My…