By Ashley Iyer
I just returned from traveling to Zion National Park, Bryce National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Monument Valley Navajo Travel Park, Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. My travel companions were my husband and two-year-old daughter. I have always loved road trips, specifically West of the Mississippi. There is something cozy about being packed in a small SUV together with half eaten snacks on the ground and luggage and coolers packed to the brim of the trunk. We explored the pink and red sandstone cliffs in Zion, outlandish hoodoos in Bryce, the majestic Mittens Buttes in Monument Valley and endless curves and warm hues of Antelope Canyon.
Traveling allows me to see my husband and daughter in a different light. I enjoy my daughter’s unexpected leg hugs and the faint smell of marinara from last night’s dinner in her hair. I love nestling my daughter’s little Disney toothpaste and toothbrush next to my big toothpaste and toothbrush in my toiletry bag. I am always impressed with my husband’s ability to problem solve and the amount of Dad jokes he can spew out when traveling. We were surprised at her insistence on saying hi to literally every person that passed us as on day hikes. She was insistent on being outside and loudly shouted “doggy doggy” every time a dog passed. Nothing beats the simple joy of a child.
I have included some travel tips for traveling with toddlers our family has found helpful below:
- If you can honor your toddler’s sleep and meal routine or make slight modifications everyone will be happier for it. For example, when we were in Arches National Park we decided to get up very very early to avoid the heat and complete the hike to Delicate Arch and come back to our Airbnb in Moab Utah and take a nap. Later in the evening we returned to the Arches National Park to look at the rock features during the sunset. Also, we tried to do most of the driving between parks during her nap time.
- Our favorite baby carrier brand was Deuter. It provided a visor that we could temporarily put up during sunny hikes, there was also a place to put a water bladder. She even learned to drink from a Camelback during the trip! My husband and I took turns carrying.
- Book an Airbnb with a wash machine every 4 days or so to be able to pack less clothes.
- I let my Mommy guilt go about increasing my daughter’s screen time during long car and plane rides. It was important that we downloaded her favorite shows before going on the trip because we were in many areas without service.
- During the plane ride I packed 6 new books and toys from the dollar store and a couple old ones to keep my daughter occupied. I also made sure to have lots of grab and go snacks. If kids cry on the plane and you are making an effort to entertain your kid people can get over it.
- Of course, the best toys I brought were not meant to be toys at all. She loved collecting zip lock bags full of rocks and sand.
- We packed two big suitcases. One stayed in the car during all those hotel changes, we brought one up with us.
- We bought a couple of disposable coolers first things when we landed. We bought grab and go lunch and breakfast food for everyone. Mostly we just ate out for dinner.
- Call ahead to see if the hotel will provide a pack and play, so you do not have to pack one.
- Some things My husband and I decided we would do the next trip include: Getting a portable highchair, bring small almost Bento like boxes to separate her food. We decided we would stop to eat meals more often rather than in the car. Happy trails!
Turns out being pregnant is an adventure all of it’s own, check out what adventures I was able to withstand during my pregnancy.
Baby Nolan is coming in less than a month and I wanted to take time to reflect and share my experience being pregnant while continuing to guide trips, run a business and live adventurously!
This is our first child so everything is new as Kate and I start to grow our family, and that starts from the very beginning. We chose to get our donor from a sperm bank and worked with the Midwest Fertility Specialists in Carmel, IN. I think I learned more about sperm, my vagina, and the women’s body in general more in those months than I ever have, it was a bit overwhelming but also so fascinating! The fact that we can grow a human in our bodies is something so incredibly amazing and Kate and I are so grateful to be able to experience this process together.
I broke down my pregnancy experience based on some of the adventures and trips I guided below. I hope if you’re a mom or want to start a family it can give you some insight on how to start or continue to live adventurously while pregnant. Of course every woman, every pregnancy, every day is different, I would love to know your thoughts in the comments about your pregnancy journey!
Recreating in the First Trimester
Looking back I think mine was pretty typical compared to other stories I’ve read. My energy levels were pretty low, I had nausea, I had to wake up to pee EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. During this time though I was teaching about 6 yoga classes a week, one was heated at 6am, luckily I never hurled during that class but it was close… I continued to ride my mountain bike, lead rides, coached clinics and led some backpacking trips as well.
One day Kate was driving and I thought I was going to throw up, she pulled into a CVS and got me these wrist bands for people who are traveling and have motion sickness. It looked like I was ready to do an 80’s work out video but it DID work! I felt better! This was probably around end of July or beginning of August so I probably looked a little ridiculous with my sweat wrist bands but totally worth it!
I led a private backpack trip for a group of friends that wanted to try it out. I was also training a new guide on this trip, it was August and the weather was hot and humid. It was still early in the pregnancy so we weren’t telling anyone yet even though I really wanted to tell these women, they were all high achieving ladies in the Indianapolis area, and most were moms.
We set up camp in the backcountry area, hiked to a beautiful lake, took a wonderful swim and made our way back. Two of the women were about to go on big adventures of their own and it was awesome to be together with them before the next big transition in their life, and little did they know I was embarking on one of my own.
I remember on this trip I knew I was dehydrated because I didn’t have to wake up and pee in the night. You have to drink way more water while your pregnant and since we hiked all day, it was hot, etc. I didn’t have enough, so I do remember thinking when recreating to make sure I’m drinking plenty of water, and of course it’s always good to drink plenty of water in general.
More Adventures in the Second Trimester
For me this started in September and went into December. Probably about week 15 for me I noticed I felt better, I didn’t have to eat saltine crackers and preggie pop drops to soothe my stomach. I did get some energy back but this was also a big transition time for Kate and I so I feel like I was still a little tired. We sold our house in Broad Ripple, moved into a rental in Brown County and had most of our stuff in a storage unit there. We also had a sold-out women’s mountain bike camp with our sister company Campside Sessions in Brown County in September and another in October in Virginia so we did not slow down to say the least.
I felt good but I was definitely being more cautious as a rider, Kate many times thought I was not being cautious enough! I listened to my body and when I felt good and confident I went for it.
One event we did was at the Brown County EPIC, a huge mountain bike festival at Brown County State Park, Kate and I teach a free mini clinic for those wanting to ride Hobbs Hollow, the first downhill flow trail in the park. The next day we did a long ride out to Crooked Creek and back. It’s a long ride in general and they open up more trails in the park and in Hoosier National Forest during this event and I remember being so tired, I had to drink SO much water again. I finished but I could tell that the baby was taking up some of my energy for sure!
We had another sold-out Campside Sessions mountain bike camp at the middle/end of October. I was definitely more cautious on my rides at this time, getting to coach while pregnant was super fun though. This camp was in Stokesville, VA which was so beautiful, it has some great rocky, rooty terrain with some steep inclines and really awesome descents. I did get tired more quickly on the ride with the coaches but still had some fun and even let myself get a little bit of air when I was super comfortable. We had a great time and I think it was inspiring for the women to see me out there getting after it too!
Right after this was about the time I needed to start unbuttoning my bike shorts as my rides would go longer! Since I mountain bike I almost always wear a shammy with baggy mountain bike shorts on top. I heard that bibs would be more comfortable for me but I ended up buying some cheap bigger padded shorts that were on sale and was able to ride through with most of my regular shorts through trimester two.
After October I then got to lead with my wife and another one of our guides, Candice Baggett an amazing women’s backpacking trip in the Big South Fork National Recreation Area in November. It was pretty cool since over the summer the last time Candice and I did the trip to scope it out I had just gotten inseminated, but it was too early to know if it had worked. Here I was now 20 weeks into pregnancy on the same trail with a bunch of rad women, it was awesome! I felt great and at that time if you didn’t know me it might have just looked like I had too much ice cream LOL! Although I was starting to realize the extreme lack of pregnancy or maternity clothes for hiking, backpacking, or outdoor adventurous women in general! I could have worn my other pants with snaps but over time the belly bands would get annoying to me and almost all my pants I really liked had snaps so I couldn’t use the maternity waste bands that go into buttons.
Over all the second trimester was great, I can see why it’s usually considered the “favorite”. After feeling nauseous, tired, waking up to pee in the night, and extremely painful breasts and nipples, the second trimester was a breath of fresh air!
Living Adventurously throughout the Third Trimester
For me this started at the end of December, what a ride it had been so far! Kate and I closed on our new home in Nashville, IN the weekend before Christmas. We were officially Brown County residents, the same place we had gotten married just 3 ½ years ago and about to expect our newest addition to the family. After our last big trip of 2018 backpacking it was nice to have some family time for Thanksgiving and Christmas, this also gave us some time to move in and get settled. Although I think we’ll be settling in for a while, seems like there is always something to work on with a new house!
Our Indiana winter was not that forgiving this year. We as well as most of the rest of the country experienced the polar vortex with the extreme negative temps. The one thing I had going for me was that my body temperature was higher so that was been nice to be able to walk outside and feel good even with the colder temperatures!
I definitely started taking it a little easier in the winter months, naturally as our bodies should. DNK Presents always lead free monthly hikes and bike rides in and around Central Indiana, this program is also growing with our Ambassadors expanding throughout the U.S. and Canada. Kate led a New Year’s bike ride in Brown County State Park and it was great. We had the perfect snow weather for riding, we did the ride over the weekend so it was during the day and we all loved it. I was unsure how I would feel about riding in the snow – it can be very slippery but when I got out there I felt confident and comfortable so I just kept going.
We led our first Wild Women’s Hike of the year at the Stone Head Conservancy, and we had an awesome turn out. We focused the hike on new goals and aspirations for the year and many people had really inspiring goals to share, one woman had been diagnosed with cancer 6 months prior and opted to get outdoors instead of taking treatment and was doing great, another woman had lost 80 lbs. after suddenly losing her brother the year before, the exercise she started doing was hiking. I shared that my goal was to have a healthy, happy baby.
As far as my body since the weather was colder I was not doing as much longer outdoor activities so I still felt really good as my belly was growing and growing. The peeing in the night started up again and my breasts we sore again but it seemed not as bad as the first trimester maybe because I was used to it more now?
Usually this time of year Kate and I get to play out West or like last year I was in Guatemala leading a yoga retreat so this year I knew I wasn’t going to get a taste of any warm weather since I was in the “no fly” zone now. With our move it also didn’t work that we take a trip before I went into my third trimester too. Kate did head out West to Sedona, AZ for our annual women’s mountain bike camp and then stayed the following weekend to coach for Ryan Leech at the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival. Since I had had a healthy pregnancy and after discussing it with our Midwife we were all comfortable with her leaving for almost 2 weeks as I was in the 35-37 weeks of pregnancy!
The weekend she got back we had our baby shower which was super fun. At 37 weeks and 5 days I went on Kate’s women’s bike ride in Brown County State Park, I wasn’t sure again how I would feel but again I started riding and felt really good with my knees hitting my basketball sized belly as we went up and down the hills of Brown! We rode the North Gate Connector and North Tower, most of the other trails were closed due to rain and mud. We went on about a 6.5 miles and had an absolute blast, we were all tired but felt good taking a nice ride after a long winter! Now I will say during the ride I felt good, the next day I was teaching a yoga class and giving a Thai massage and I was sore! My sacroiliac (SI Joint) was really sore but after a day of stretching it and exercises I felt much better. I may have slightly over done it but it was worth it, you can’t beat getting out early spring when the weather was nearly 70!
During the third trimester of bike riding I will say at this point I had to move on to my GORE WEAR bike shorts, they were the only pair I had with an elastic waste with build in shorts that I loved! I wore a belly band on this ride because the shirt I wore wasn’t quite long enough for the the big baby belly. It also kept me warmer but I will say half way through the ride I took it off!
I’m officially over 38 weeks now so I have a full term baby inside me, we had a final ultrasound to confirm head was down, fluids, placenta, etc. and yes all systems are go! The ultra sound tech said she estimated about 7 lbs. 4oz. this could be off by 7 oz. either way but yes that’s a nice sized baby in there!
We had another 70 degree day and Kate and I got out to hike a beautiful trail where our March Wild Women’s Hike is located, Browning Mountain, it’s at 928 ft. which is pretty mountainous for Indiana! It’s a steep incline, you go up about 400 ft. of elevation in less than a mile but the view and scenery is totally worth it.
The Next Big Adventure – Preparing to Meet Our Baby!
These final weeks we’ve been preparing for our home birth! We’ve got packets of birth kits for our Midwife and her assistance, the Aqua Doula is set up close to our laundry room, we’ve got just about everything we need for our new baby bundle to arrive so soon!
You can tell from reading this that I mention my wife Kate a lot. I can’t imagine going through this without her or having someone to help with the hard days. I am SO lucky to have such a great partner in my life, we are so excited and ready for this next big adventure in our lives.
This week I’ll be at 39 weeks so I’m wrapping up my adventures for this blog now in case baby arrives, but I will update afterwards for sure. I wanted to wait as long as possible so I could share my entire adventure experience while being pregnant. I really have enjoyed carrying a child, I’m so grateful Kate and I get to bring in a new wonderful life into this world and share our love of adventure and the outdoors with them.
Just a few ways to maximize space!
By Anne McCarty
Packing before a trip is probably the most crucial thing to do before setting out. It is a chance to check and recheck that you have everything you need and take out the things you don’t need. The phrase many stand by is “Bring what you think you’ll need, then take out half of it.” So to help you out a little bit, this time on camping hacks we’ll give you a few ways to make sure your pack doesn’t weigh you down!
The Great Towel Debate
One thing people debate about bringing is a towel and the primary con is that it takes up too much space. The solution? Pack a shammy towel! It’s a thin towel used primarily by swimmers and divers. It is lightweight and super absorbent!
Don’t Tear Up About Tears
What happens if you have an unexpected tear or leak mid way through your trip? Say hello to Duct Tape, your new best friend. We get it, a new package is pretty big and clunky and bringing it all seems daunting. Well, you don’t have to! Wrap some around your water bottle or cup so it’s on hand and ready for anything!
Backpackers and campers alike usually pack dehydrated food because it’s lightweight and can turn into a full meal with just water. One of the not as famous choices are the dehydrated eggs. If you are one of the people looking for an alternative we have something for you! Try putting cracked eggs into a water bottle. One bottle can hold eight eggs!
Don’t let the Metal Weigh you Down
If you’re worried about space and weight of metal cups or cutlery? Look into using compatible/unbreakable one because they work well and as it turns out are easier to clean!
If you have the space and you’re celebrating anything from a birthday to just a great day outdoors, try this dessert treat!: Marshmallows toasted then dipped in Bailey’s* (<3)
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