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Diamond Caverns Resort and Golf Club, KY


Mammoth Caves

When staying in Kentucky you find that you are staying in the land of the caves! Our campground was even in Mammoth National Park and rumor is this is one of the most underrated national parks, so we had to see it. 412 miles have been discovered thus far making this the largest known cave system in the world. Goodness has this cave been around the block too. Used over 4000 years ago by prehistoric humans, in the civil war as a source of salt petre and more, now a stunning national park. They are not doing guided tours right now but are hoping to start up again soon. The three we are most interested are the lantern, river Styx and domes and dripstones tours.


Lost River Cave Tour

Lost River boat tour was such a unique way to see a cave. The property is full of hikes, ziplines, a butterfly habitat and of course the Lost River cave. Once a mill and even unapproved city dump has been renewed and now available for a once in a lifetime experience of a boat tour in a cave. Another must stop when in Bowling Green.


Kentucky Downunder

Kangaroos in Kentucky? There sure are! One of the most fun zoos I have been to in a long time, Kentucky Downunder! Peacocks, giant tortoise, lemurs, dingoes, wallabies, and a kangaroo petting zoo. This is the best place to experience Australia’s adorable wildlife without all the nasty creepy crawlies the land down under has to offer.


Abraham Lincoln’s Birthplace NHP

Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president was born on a farm called Sinking Springs in Kentucky in 1909. The first Lincoln Memorial sits on the grounds of Abraham Lincoln’s Birthplace NHP, with some hiking trails and a small museum.  There really isn’t much to this park but knowing that you are visiting one of the most historically important presidents’ birthplace surely has a majestic feeling about it.


Restaurant’s worth eating at:

Mister B’s Pizza and Wings – seriously there wasn’t much I didn’t like about this place. The pizza was perfect, the wings were on point, the beer selection was pretty good and the service was great too. We almost left without any leftovers because we couldn’t stop enjoying all the amazing food. Definitely a must stop while in Bowling Green.

Nine20live BBQ after a long day walking the grounds of the Lost River Cave this couldn’t have hit the spot better. The ribs and pulled pork were cooked to perfection but the meatloaf was out of this world. Really enjoyed the staff as well another must stop while in Bowling Green.

Natchez Trace, Tennessee

Amish Heritage Welcome Center and Museum

A must visit is the Amish Heritage Welcome Center and Museum where you get a glimpse into the life of the Amish. More specifically the Gingerich family who arrived in Lawrence County in 1944.

Make sure you take the Ultimate tour, where you walk through a schoolhouse, a workshop and the Gingerich’s house to really get an idea of this amazing simplistic way of life.

After the enlightening tour, it’s time to hop on a wagon to tour a local Amish neighborhood. No streetlights, electricity, plumbing or modern amenities but you do get an opportunity to purchase food and other handmade goods on a couple stops along the way. Remember NO pictures during the wagon tour to respect the Amish lifestyle. We saw some spring colts playing in the fields, a house being rebuilt by a family and had a wonderful driver sharing all the knowledge he could fit in during the ride.


Adventure Science Center

            Nashville was only about an hour away and we knew we wanted to take a drive to check it out and explore something there. We settled on kid friendly, the Adventure Science Center. With exhibits on space (with a planetarium), sound and music, medical and body, forces and matter you can easily spend a day here. The planetarium was easily the superstar of the museum. By far the best 30-minute presentation on the Nashville night sky (for that day even) with a drizzle of galaxy and universe info as well.


David Crockett State Park

            Ol’ Davy Crockett isn’t just a character of American folklore he was a congressman from Tennessee and huge proponent for the Native Americans. He was strongly against the “Indian Removal Act” of the 1830’s costing him his re-election. This act caused tens of thousands of Natives to be moved from their homes in the southeast to present day Oklahoma via the Trail of Tears. You can hike some of this trail for about 2.5 miles in the park taking in some knowledge on the interpretive trail. There are also a few other hikes on the property, look out for the one that says WATER CROSSING they aren’t kidding. At the end is a beautiful waterfall with the exit route across at the bottom and not a friendly looking crossing either. We chose to turn back and walk 4+ mikes vs attempting a crossing with the kiddos. There is also a restaurant on the property that we did not get an opportunity to try and RV and tent camping as well.


Restaurant’s worth eating at:

Strikers Steakhouse we thought was going to be a run of the mill steakhouse, but they had a twist for us, Salmon and Sirloin Orleans that were scrumdiddlyumptious.

Legends Express was exactly what we needed after a hike that went about 4 miles past what we were expecting. BBQ pork, brisket, chicken are all delish and don’t forget the chess pie and banana pudding!

Tuzigoot National Monument

Kelly’s leg was feeling used but not abused after the Jail trail so we decided to push it a little and head to Tuzigoot National Monument. Driving up to this prehistoric Native American ruin that sits on atop a ridge overlooking a flood plain of the Verde River was super impressive to say the least. The kids even asked if it was a castle. We stopped in the visitor center first to get our National Park Book stamp and look for survey magnet first, then off to the ancient Native pueblo.  

Tuzigoot sign

After climbing quite a hill, the first set of rooms you come across are some of the newest additions to the site – added somewhere between 1350 and 1380. One of the rooms in this section has the only exterior doorway and you can enter and check it out.  The rest of the rooms entrances are all by ladder through a hatch located on the ceilings.  

Construction on the main structure began somewhere around 1050 and the dwelling continued to grow. Unlike the pueblos to the north on the Colorado Plateau, not many of the rooms in Tuzigoot were used solely for storage. Almost all of the room floors were living spaces here. We know this because of the fire hearths found in them.

As we walked around the front side of the monument you could see the nearby town of Clarkdale and also in the distance, the town of Jerome that was about 22 miles away up on the hillside.

The surrounding valley is loaded with rare minerals supplying the Sinagua people with plenty of goods to trade far and wide. Some of these important minerals included salt, blue azurite and green malachite for pigments, also red argillite- a soft red sandstone that was commonly used for beads and carvings. Copper ore was even used by the prehistoric people but metal was never extracted.

In order to display this masterpiece to the public, tons of material had to be excavated. That material had become a protective barrier and once removed the ruins were exposed to the elements. The pueblos were built with soil-based mortar that requires constant maintenance to keep it preserved.

Another way Tuzigoot has been preserved is by adding drains. Can you spot them?

Tuzigoot drains

The rest of the walk around the ancient ruins was spectacular with breathtaking views of the surrounding area. The Sinagua people know how to pick a spot.

We did skip the lower section, which only gives us a reason to come back, we were pretty spent after the previous hike and trying to keep the kids from touching and climbing on the monument  was a monumental task to say the least.

Jail Trail Late Dec 2020

Back to Hiking


Our first hike since Kelly broke her leg and the boys were excited, to say the least. As Lyndon was bouncing down the path, we stopped to remind everyone of trail etiquette. Once we got that out of the way the fun and learning could begin.

Verde River Greenway State Natural Area

Enter the Verde River Greenway State Natural Area, this site became a preserve in 1986 to help protect many species on one of the last free flowing rivers in Arizona.  The endangered and threatened species that call this area home are the southwestern bald eagle, southwestern willow flycatcher and the lowland leopard frog all a stone’s throw from old town Cottonwood.

At the beginning of the Jail trail was a bunch of numbered signs, we would have loved to know what they were for but next time hopefully. Let us know if you know though.

Grant fastening Lyndons shoe

All of Lyndon’s bouncing made his shoe come undone and big brother Grant had to make sure his little brother was squared away.

Lyndon always has to be like big brother Grant

Then Lyndon had to be just like his big brother. It was slightly chilly, but we warmed up FAST!

Verde River flood area Late Dec 2020

As you entered the flood area you really felt how large the river swells here.

Smiling Tree Jail Trail Late Dec 2020

We made it to the smiling tree and then the bridge to hit our first interpretive sign for a little education and had to turn back. Lyndon had to go potty, #2! Daddy and Lyndon hightailed it back to the truck for the travel potty. Phew… we made it. To the bridge we go again.

The Verde River is home to one of Arizona’s Giants, the Freemont Cottonwood trees are some of the largest. Ponderosa Pines can grow up to 200 feet – more than doubling the height of the cottonwood, but the trunk of the Freemont can hit 5 feet in diameter, edging out the pine.

The Verde Valley is an important stop for some migrating species as well. The tiny 4-gram Rufous Hummingbirds are residents in Alaska in the spring and migrate all the way down to Central America for the winter. The common black hawk is another winter visitor where 90% of the remaining 250 breeding pair can be found along Arizona waterways.

Lyndon is flying Jail trail late Dec 2020

Did I mention how bad Lyndon needed to get out and bounce around?

The Kids found a dino in the rock

The boys found a rock, they say it has something in it. Can you see it! They say it’s a dino!

Jail trail sign 5

Another animal that calls this area home is the yellow billed cuckoo which are becoming an increasingly rare sight in Arizona, especially due to approximately 90% of the Arizona riparian habitats having been lost over that last 100 years. The northern Mexican Garter Snake has quite a problem, the invasive Bull Frog has acquired a taste for Garter Snake helping put them on the federally “threatened” list in 2014. The Southwestern Willow Flycatcher has an invasion problem with Cowbirds, who lay their eggs in the nests of Flycatchers. The Cowbird chicks are bigger and nosier thus getting most the attention and food, obviously a big problem for the Flycatcher offspring.

The remnants of all the nests and debris from the last flood keep reminding us how active this area really gets.

Arizona used to have its own river otter that was hunted to extinction in the early 1900’s. In an attempt to repair the riparian ecosystem, a Louisiana species was introduced in 1981 and continues to thrive!

The trail kept going but it was time to get back to food and a trip to Tuzigoot!

Grilled Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken Wraps

Grilled Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken Wraps

Grilled Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken Wraps

Recipe by Kelly Raber
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

15

minutes
Cooking time

15

minutes
Calories

kcal
Total time

30

minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2 inch thickness

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 small chopped red onion

  • 8 sliced pineapple rings (or 1 cup chopped pineapple)

  • 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce

  • 4 wheat pita wraps

  • Optional Garnishes
  • Seasame seeds

  • Lettuce

  • Mayo

  • Tomatoes

  • Homemade Teriyaki Sauce
  • 1/2 cup coconut aminos

  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon honey

  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

  • Optional: Splash of Sriracha depending on how spicy you like it.

Directions

  • Saute onions in a small pan until almost carmelized. Set aside.
  • Preheat grill to medium heat. Season chicken breasts with garlic powder, chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Grill for 5-8 minutes on each side until chicken is cooked through. (Also super delicious with smoked chicken if you have the time!)
  • Assemble wraps by placing a grilled chicken breast, onions, pineapple, and any other desired toppings on each pita. Top with teriyaki sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds and cilantro if desired. Serve immediately.
  • For the homemade teriyaki sauce whisk all ingredients together in a small sauce pan. Stir constantly while bringing to a boil. Boil for 1-2 minutes. Reduce heat and transfer to a heat-safe bowl to serve.

Sausage Pizza Pasta

Sausage Pizza Pasta

Sausage Pizza Pasta

Recipe by Kelly Raber
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

15

minutes
Cooking time

15

minutes
Calories

kcal
Total time

30

minutes

Ingredients

  • 1lb ground pork

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 4 cloves garlic

  • 1/2 medium onion (chopped)

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes (halved)

  • 1/2 cup basil leaves (chopped)

  • 1 cup spinach (chopped)

  • 1/2 can black olives sliced

  • 24 oz marinara

  • 8 oz pasta

  • Parmesan and mozzarella to taste

Directions

  • Add olive oil to the pan and heat over medium high heat. Then add garlic, onion and ground pork. Saute until pork is fully cooked.
  • Add in cherry tomatoes and cook for about 4 min before adding in marinara, basil and olives.
  • Bring marinara to a boil then turn to low and summer for 5-10 min.
  • While pasta sauce is simmering, follow directions for your pasta and cook 8 oz to Al dente. Drain and add to sauce.
  • Toss pasta and add cheese to your liking!

Notes

  • * Could totally make this with any of your favorite pizza toppings!

30 Minute Beef Stroganoff

30 Minute Beef Stroganoff

30 Minute Beef Stroganoff

Recipe by Kelly Raber
Servings

6

servings
Prep time

5

minutes
Cooking time

25

minutes
Calories

kcal
Total time

30

minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound uncooked wide egg noodles

  • 1/4 cup butter, divided

  • 1 1/2 pounds thinly-sliced steak

  • 1 small white onion, thinly sliced

  • 1 pound chopped mushrooms

  • 6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (or additional beef stock)

  • 1 1/2 cups beef stock

  • 1 tsp Sriracha

  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

  • Cook the noodles: Cook egg noodles in a large stockpot of generously-salted water until they are al dente, according to package instructions, then drain. (For optimal timing, I recommend adding the egg noodles to the boiling water at the same time that you begin Step 4, listed below.)
  • Sauté the steak: Meanwhile, as your pasta water is coming to a boil, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the steak in a single layer, seasoned with a few generous pinches of salt and pepper, and let it cook undisturbed for about 3 minutes to get a good sear. Flip the steak, and cook on the other side until browned, another 2-3 minutes. Then remove steak from pan with a slotted spoon, transfer to a clean plate, and set aside. (If your pan is not big enough to fit all of the steak in a single layer, cook half of the steak in 1 tablespoon of butter. Then repeat with a second batch.)
  • Sauté the veggies: Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter to the sauté pan. Once it has melted, add the onions and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and sauté for an additional 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the mushrooms are cooked and the onions are soft. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Then add the white wine and deglaze the pan by using your cooking spoon to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Let the mixture cook down for an additional 3 minutes.
  • Finish the sauce: While the wine cooks down, whisk together the beef stock, Worcestershire sauce and flour until smooth in a separate bowl. Pour the beef stock mixture into the sauté pan, stir to combine, then let the mixture simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the Greek yogurt (or sour cream) and cooked steak in until combined. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
  • Serve: Serve warm over egg noodles, garnished with a sprinkle of parsley and an extra twist of black pepper, if desired.

Notes

Easy Homemade Tomato Soup

Easy Homemade Tomato Soup

Easy Homemade Tomato Soup

Recipe by Kelly Raber
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

40

minutes
Calories

300

kcal
Total time

1

hour 

10

minutes

A quick and easy to throw together tomato soup! Less than 30 min from start to finish.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp Avocado Oil

  • 1 medium onion (about 1 cup), coarsely chopped

  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced or pressed

  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth

  • 1 14.5 oz can fire roasted tomatoes, crushed or diced and undrained

  • 1 4 oz can of tomato paste

  • 1/2 tsp oregano

  • 1 bay leaf

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • optional: fresh parmesan for topping

Directions

  • In a soup pot, heat avocado oil over medium high heat. Add chopped onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until frangrant, usually about 30 seconds stirring constantly.
  • Stir in chicken broth, tomatoes with juice, tomato paste, oregano and bay leaf. Bring to a gentle boil and reduce heat to a simmer.
  • Cover and simmer for 15 minutes then remove and discard bay leaf. Puree with an immersion blender to desired consistency (can also use a blender or food processor in smaller batches, be careful!)
  • Serve with desired toppings or a side of grilled cheese, enjoy!

Notes

Chicken Pesto Pasta

Chicken Pesto Pasta

Chicken Pesto Pasta

Recipe by Kelly Raber
Servings

6

servings
Prep time

15

minutes
Cooking time

20

minutes
Calories

kcal
Total time

35

minutes

You can’t go wrong with a bowl of pesto chicken pasta for dinner! This pesto chicken pasta is ready in under 30 minutes and packed with delicious, fresh flavors! Plus it does tricks and disappears!

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. whole wheat penne pasta

  • 1/8–1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 1.5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast (cut into 1-inch chunks)

  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • 1/2 cup chicken broth

  • 10 oz. cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

  • 3 tablespoons starchy water

  • 6 tablespoons pesto, divided

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper

  • Garnish
  • Fresh basil

  • Parmesan cheese

Directions

  • First, fill a large pot about 3/4 of the way full of water and add about 1/8-1/4 teaspoon of salt to the water. Bring to a boil.
  • Add pasta and let the pasta cook for about 7-9 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Remove about a 1/4 cup of starchy pasta water and set it aside for later. Strain the water from the pasta and set it aside for later.
  • Strain the water from the pasta and set it aside for later.
  • Next, heat a large skillet pan over medium/high heat. Add two tablespoons of olive oil to the pan once it’s hot.
  • When olive oil is fragrant, add chicken and Italian seasoning. Cook the chicken for about 4-6 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked. Remove from the pan.
  • Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the same pan and then add the onions. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Next, add the garlic to the onions. When garlic is fragrant add the chicken broth to the pan.
  • Cook mixture for 3-4 minutes until the broth reduces to half and then addd cherry tomatoes and let them cook for 2 minutes.
  • Finally, add starchy water and pesto to the pan and bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Lastly, add cooked chicken and pasta to the pan. Mix until all ingredients are covered with pesto sauce.
  • Season with ground pepper and top with fresh basil and parmesan cheese.

Raber family Elderberry – supercharged!

Raber family Elderberry – supercharged!

Recipe by Kelly Raber
Servings

120ish

servings
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

40

minutes
Calories

300

kcal
Total time

1

hour 

10

minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dried elderberry

  • 4 cinnamon sticks

  • 1 inch of fresh ginger (cut into pieces)

  • 1 tbsp of whole cloves

  • 4 cups boiling hot water

  • After Cooling
  • 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar (the raw kind with the mother)

  • juice of 2 lemons

  • 1 cup of raw local honey

  • Supercharge!
  • 1/2 Cup Chamomile

  • 1/2 Cup Astralgus root

  • 1/2 Cup Hibiscus

  • 1/2 Cup Rosehips

Directions

  • You can make this 2 ways, on the stovetop or in a crock pot. Either way, add all ingredients into the container and pour boiling hot water on top, stir and let soak overnight.
  • In the morning, bring ingredients to a boil and then let simmer until reduced by half. If using a crockpot, set to low all day. ( If you leave too long just add more water and let sit for a while)
  • Let mixture cool completely before moving onto next step.
  • Once cool, strain mixture with cheesecloth.
  • For every 2 cups of liquid, add 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar (the raw kind with the mother), juice of 2 lemons and 1 cup of raw local honey. Mix thoroughly.
  • Supercharge!
  • To supercharge it, add 1/2 cup of any or all of the supersharge ingredients during the 1st step. For every 1/2 cup added, add 1 more cup of boiling water:

Notes

  • How much to take?
  • This is really a question for an herbalist or naturopath, but I personally take 1 teaspoon a day as an adult and give half of this to my kids. During illness, I double or triple this amount.