3 Lakes Trip - Saranac Lake - Part 3

We woke up to our second morning at Saranac Lake to sunshine again! Our friends made a delicious breakfast of pancakes and sausages. We sat around the table for some time and talked before making sandwiches for lunch again. Today we would kayak across Middle Saranac Lake and hike (climb) Ampersand Mountain!

From Alltrails.com: "Ampersand Mountain Trail is a 4.9 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Saranac Lake, New York that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until March. Dogs are also able to use this trail."


4.9 miles                      1811 feet

"Only recommended for very experienced adventurers" never mind that we had a 4, 6 and 7 year old with us, but they had great practice playing adventurers at the campsite all day!

No photos from the paddle across the lake because of strong headwinds but I do have this short go pro video!

The hike started out very easy, nothing more than a walk through the woods, and a little buggy but turned into a serious hike soon after and all the way up the mountain. It was a tough hike for myself and the only reason I made it, was watching 4 year old Isaac climbing up the mountain!

Let me tell you about a huge misconception about my kids... someone recently asked me "can you give me a list of your kids favorite hiking trails in Cincinnati" the truth is, there are non! My kids don't have favorite hiking trails because they don't like hiking! They do love an adventure though and that usually gets them through the hike! The first mile on the hike, I had one kid actually in tears crying "I hate hiking". He soon came to me and apologized because he realized how cool of an hike this was AND he beat us up and down the mountain. If I would give my kids the option of staying comfortable in our living room, campsite etc or go on a hike... they would always choose to be comfortable at home BUT I give them an extra push and they are always (seriously ALWAYS) glad they came a long!   well an extra push and a big bag of Swedish Fish in my pocket got them through!

On top of the mountain we were greeted with amazing views of the Adirondacks and some astronaut ice cream from our friend Matt! We explored the summit for a little bit, took a lot of photographs, and made sure kids didn't tumble down the mountain.

The pictures below you can see how far we paddled/ hiked that day! The first picture is from the summit of Ampersand Mountain (3,353 ft) and you can see our campsite (arrow) below! The second picture is of Jake at our campsite pointing up to Ampersand Mountain.

The way back down was tough!!! Apparently not for the big boys and Finn, all 3 of them just ran down the mountain and met us at the trail head! Isaac had a tough time and eventually fell asleep being carried by his Dad... Fireman's Carry Style! The paddle across the lake was not to bad but we did fight some headwind again!

We spent the evening around the campfire. The big boys, Ian and Jake, made dinner for us. Kielbasa & Jambalaya, I posted the quick recipe HERE! This was probably our favorite dinner of the trip. And we finished our Family Olympic Day events! You ask what Family Olympic Day is?

Scroll up, the second picture of our post you can see our home made trophy! We played about 10 games throughout the trip. The Roberts Family against the McGill Gamily. The winner gets to keep the trophy BUT needs to display it on their mantle at home for the year! Some of the games were (and we had funny names for them), who sets up their tent the fastest, who gathers the most firewood, who tells the spookiest camp fire story, who has the most mosquito bites, who catches the first fish etc. The other rule was that next year we are battling for the trophy again and the winning family has to come up with the games. The Robert's won but the McGill's are going to fight hard next summer and win it back!!!

The big boys (and Dad's) also played who can pull out the biggest rock out of the lake. Jake won and since no one caught a fish we counted the rock as the "catch of the day". Jake won us that game! Finn had such a bad allergic reaction to mosquito bites and required Benedryl that we decided we don't even need to count bug bites that he would win that game as well!

The next morning was sadly our last... we cooked breakfast and started packing up the campsite. It was a little bittersweet. We all would have loved to stay longer but we (the Mom's more than anyone) were really looking forward to a hot shower and a real bed! We will be back though Saranac Lake! 

Next stop was Lake Placid (hotel) and introducing the Robert's to our favorite pizza and swimming hole before we went on separate ways again! It was hard to say good bye but all good things have to come to an end... and next stop for us was VERMONT!!!

You can click here to read about PART 1, PART 2, and PART 4 of our trip!



UPDATE! and about 7 months later I finally put together a small video from our go pro footage. Enjoy!

Ohio Road Trip - Part 1 - Travel Photography

WARNING lots and lots of pictures!!!

I used to say things like "Ohio is flat like a board" or "I wouldn't want to live anywhere in Ohio except for Cincinnati". Looking at a map though, I realized that I really haven't seen much of Ohio except for I-75. We decided that we needed to change that and so we left on our Ohio road trip.

I really didn't plan this trip like I plan other trips. I only had two nights/ three days for this trip and not much time to plan anything. Checking Pinterest brought a ton of ideas but what we really wanted to see where these three main things: Hocking Hills, Cuyahoga Valley and Put-In-Bay. We have been to Put-in-Bay but that was 13 years ago and without kids. Or other main goal was for the kids to collect more National Park Passports. See more about that HERE

Checking our National Park map we decided we would also add Hopewell Culture and First Ladies in Canton to our trip.

We left in the morning and our first stop was Hopewell Culture Historical Site in Chillicothe.  

As soon as we arrived we were invited to join a Atlatl demonstration. We never even heard of an atlatl (Have you?) and to hear about it's history and get to use one was an amazing start to this trip!

Afterwards we checked out the Indian mounds, learned about the history and Finn finished up his first Junior Ranger Program of the trip!

These pictures below crack me up... very typical if I try to take a picture and Finn is not the center of the universe (or the picture!)

From the Hopewell Culture we headed out towards Hocking Hills. Like on many trips (SEE HERE) we had to make a U-turn and save a turtle from it's looming death. We decided on Old Mans Cave for our first stop in Hocking Hills. But not before a quick lunch break with Spam sadwiches in the parking lot. Haha

It rained that morning and all the colors were so vibrant plus the waterfall was really strong!

We loved the stone bridges and all the little tunnels and caves so much we spent quiet a bit of time there.

We left Hocking Hills to head towards our tee pee we booked for the night near Logan, Ohio. It's only a short drive (maybe 25 minutes) and we checked out Logan Lake on the way. Another tip for road trips is that whenever you see a fruit stand.... STOP! We always buy something for a snack and talk to the locals about events or other things happening in the area!

We arrived at our tee pee mid afternoon. Set up camp and relaxed for a little bit. Our tee pee was next to this pond and as cute and entertaining it was for the kids during the day... at night it was LOUD! At some points during the night, I seriously thought there was a donkey in our tee pee. It was that LOUD! haha

After we settled in and relaxed we decided to head over to Rockhouse and take a (very) small hike there.

Rockhouse was really amazing and except for the million steps going up and down it was a relatively easy hike.

Back at the tee pee we fixed dinner... a family favorite and such an easy meal to make on a camping trip. Only three ingredients: Jambalaya Rice Mix, Crushed Tomatoes and Kielbasa.

We ended the night with a serious talk about behavior and expectations we have from the kids and settled in our tee pee.

My highlight of the day: driving down the winding roads towards Hocking Hills and realizing how stunning Ohio really is!

The kids highlight of the day: Throwing the Atlatl.

Scot's highlight of the day: learning about the Indian mounds.


Have you been to Hocking Hills? We can't wait to go back as there is so much more to do and see!