I think that most family travel bloggers have a bucket list. Vacations that they dream of taking with their kids, but haven’t yet attempted. Perhaps the trip is too expensive or their kids are too young for such adventures. My bucket list is long and varied. I like to dream big, but our family has precious little vacation time, and ironically at least some of my kids aren’t great travelers. The long and/or multiple destination road trip is pretty much unattainable.
When I heard last summer that many of the California State Parks would be closing, my heart fell. One of my big dreams is spending a few weeks exploring state parks and camping along the way. Here in California we are blessed with a breathtaking assortment of ecosystems and our parks reflect that. Kids can see wild flowers bloom in the Anzo Borrego State Park desert, collect shells at State Beaches like Ponto, and hike up in the high Sierras at Donner Memorial State Park. I want my kids to experience it all, but at the moment we are not up for such an ambitious adventure. (Something which was driven home as we all sat sobbing in a tent at Henry Cowell State park this summer) Well, for the record, Justin my oldest wasn’t sobbing .
Frankly ,our state park adventures need to happen in the form of shorter manageable outings. These may need to involve a pop up trailer that gives us a home base to return to after we venture out so my youngest has the routine he craves.
In any case, in order for my Monday dream of more California State Park adventures to come true, those parks need to stay open! Please spread the word about California State Proposition 21 which would keep the parks open and give all Californians access to one of the most precious treasures our state has to offer.
One thing that the Smith Family is lacking is a big fat chunk of time for travel. We have about one week a year that we can dedicate to going wherever we want. Other vacations are either Mom and the kids traveling solo or in whatever city Daddy is teaching in. That’s why this Monday I am dreaming of a multi week roadtrip, perhaps up to the Pacific Northwest or to several National Parks. Maybe we would even head out to Montana to visit my friend Joanne, Something that would give our family a chance to explore new parts of the country and give our California born and bred kids a new perspective on what life is like in the other 49 states.
A few of my favorite travel bloggers have attempted such trips. If you are also road trip dreaming on this Monday morning stop by and visit:
Last year On The Go With Amy took a spectacular road trip along the Mississipi. It was a family adventure a la Travels With Charley or Jack Kerouac. If you didn’t catch this trip on the first run. Check out Amy’s archives of her Mississipi Road Trip.
My friend Sharlene Trekaroo Editor and blogger at Double the Adventure had an amazing road trip last year. She headed up into Canada then across the American west. Most of the trip she traveled on her own with two toddlers…amazing! I loved following her journey and suggest that you do as well. Sharlene is very focused on helping her kids explore the natural world so she has great tips for hiking with kids. Her photos are also spectacular. Here are the archives for Sharlene’s 2009 Canadian and US roadtrip.
Mara at Mother of All Trips also had some great roadtrip posts last summer. I couldn’t find a link to the archive of her trip, but here is a post that gives you an idea plus some links to great road trip tips.
I will confess yesterday was the classic terrible, horrible, no good ,very bad day. I decided to take the tests for both my classes on the same night. So I spent most of the day studying and reading, only to find when I got to class, that the key points I thought I knew so well had just flown from my brain and the 20 point question was on something that I didn’t quite understand from last semester.
I didn’t feel like I was a stellar mom either. My littest guy had multiple tantrums, I made the mistake of asking his preschool director for parenting advice. She gave me an answer that made sense for any ordinary kid, but my gut tells me that it won’t make sense for this particular kid, so I ended up still confused and angry that I had revealed my parental incompetence.
When I got home I turned to Netflix to find something to escape my troubles, usually a fruitless endeavor. Then I came upon it…Julie and Julia. I had heard a little bit about the movie, starred Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, directed by Nora Ephron, what did I have to lose? What hadn’t clicked for me is this is a movie about blogging and travel.
A few minutes into the movie the Ah Ha moments started coming fast and furious. Both characters spoke to me. I appreciated Julie’s vunerability, her attempt to learn how to focus (also my quest), and her insecurity as she wondered if anyone was listening to what she was writing…well are you?
Like Julia Child, I am learning more about where my passion lies and how I can pursue it. I was inspired by the fearlessness with which Julia Child approached her life and her career. I think that my approach is characterized by timidness and that’s something I need to try harder to overcome. I’m heading to a blogger Mom’s Night Out on Thursday, and I’ve been desperately trying to find a friend or neighbor to go with some so I don’t have to approach that crowd alone. Hopefully Julia’s spirit will embolden me to just march in, start introducing myself, and passing out business cards.
Jared, my littlest guy told me this morning, “Mom, I’m so glad you’re a blogger so you don’t have to go to work.” Funny how the little person in my life can remind me of my ultimate goal, carve a place for myself as a writer and a business person so I can be there at 2:30 when the kids come home from school and spend the summer days at the beach or at LEGOLAND.
The other thing that was wonderful about this movie is that it reveals to us how Julia Child fell in love with France. This woman’s passion for the food and people of France has inspired me to dream of dining in Paris and taking in the Louvre. A few years ago I read an article about a bicycling tour through Provence. Well, I would need to learn how to ride a bicycle…but wouldn’t the adventure be worth it?
It was a very powerful experience watching a movie about a person falling in love with a country, and it reminded me of how my visits to Latin America have transformed me as well. Perhaps in my journey of self exploration it’s time to get back to that. I’m wondering if food would be a way to reconnect. Perhaps its time to learn how to make crispy Venezuelan arepas and Argentinan empanadas de choclo. I would love to learn to make those gorgeous pastas a la Roquefort. Don’t get me started on the ice cream…we may be in Buenos Aires this December and the ice cream store is the first place I will be heading with my kids. I have never tasted ice cream like that anywhere else in the world.
I may go on to read the book or I may not. I did a little online research and the real Julie Powell is very different from her idealized movie counterpart. Just as Julie enjoys the myth of Julia Child, but is challenged by the real life person, I prefer to hang out with the idealized blogger and chef for a while before exploring the grittier side of her rise to fame. I do, however think I’ll pick up a copy of My Life in France and enjoy Julia Child’s french adventures.
If you are interested in joining me on this armchair adventure here are some suggestions:
Life has been busy/crazy/stressful lately. Although I love being a mom, sometimes it’s travels WITHOUT children that can be the most fun and relaxing. Lucky for me I have a husband who spirits me away from time to time to have some kid free adventures. He even offered to take me to Las Vegas this week, but alas Radiation Protection Technology and kid doctors appointments were calling to me with their siren song.
Every time I go to post, I pass by this picture of Butchart Gardens that sits in my Family Adventure Guidebooks folder. Ken suprised me with a trip to Victoria last spring, and the garden was an explosion of color. I envy Mrs. Buchart’s little cabin at the edge of her amazing sunken garden. I can just imagine taking a cup of tea up there while my little ones frolicked among the daffodils down below. Even one year later this picture brings me back to the soft golden light of that spring day with a new surprise around every turn. I can feel the soft touch of Ken’s hand and smell the sweet fragrance of all those flowers.
No, I won’t be catching the ferry to Victoria any time soon. When I do it will probably be with three rambunctious kids in tow who will be disturbing the peace of Butchart. Still, on Wednesday when the kids are in school I can brew myself a cup of tea, sit down on the little wall in front of my house and watch the hummingbirds sip from the emerging blossoms of our pineapple guava. I will close my eyes and take myself back to the moment I first walked into that magnficient garden.
Thanks for the memories, Ken. Looking forward to many more just the two of us adventures.
P.S. This post was inspired by Mondays Are For Dreaming at Mother of All Trips. This week Maura is sharing a romantic adventure in Rome while traveling with a child. Who knew such a thing was possible?
My husband had the chance to stay at Holiday Inns this summer for a number of nights for work. This summer they are running a fabulous promotion, for every two night stay you and get a third night free before December 26th. The beauty of this promotion is that you can stay at any IC Hotel Group Hotel for free, not just a Holiday Inn or Holiday Inn Express. You can even stay internationally! As a consequence we have spent too much time thinking about travel at our house.
Should we take a local road trip to Tahoe or San Francisco? Should we get away somewhere warm and exotic? Should we take the leap into international travel with our three young children? The possiblilities are endless as are the opportunities to spend money. We need to be careful, that our “free hotel rooms” don’t lead to a trip that breaks the budget.
We toyed with the idea of Costa Rica (definately my first choice!) or perhaps a fun island like, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, or Puerto Rico. So far it looks like we may be settling on Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. They have a Presidente Resort there. We won’t be spending to0 much time in a plane, and I’ll get to practice my Spanish . Now comes the hard part: finding affordable plane tickets, researching fun things to do, not going too crazy with expensive activities, and of course making sure that our trip doesn’t trigger any hotel black out dates.
If all goes well, we may be swimming with the dolphins and boogie boarding at the beach on Turkey Day. Funny, my kids have told me that they would rather be skiing. Still, I have no doubt they will enjoy our Mexican adventure.
Has anyone been to Puerto Vallarta with kids? I would love to hear about it!
-My Brother-in-law and his family are heading off on a cross country road trip to Montana, and I must confess that I’m a little jealous. First, because Ken’s grandmother was born there and spent her childhood in an orphanage in Missoula. It would be great to see and touch the building where Grandma Jane grew up. My big fantasy is to write a novel about her life. It was an absolutely fascinating one.
Second, one of my favorite virtual friends, Jo Smith now lives in Montana and is posting tantalizing updates about her acres of land on Facebook. It is funny. I have only spent time with this person face to face about twice, but sometimes I miss her so much it hurts. It would be great to give her a hug and explore the beautiful land that she always writes about.
Still, I don’t think my clan is ready for such an ambitious road trip. We will confine ourselves to locations within a days drive of our home this summer. I know they will be packed with fun.
Joanne’s family are all wonderful photographers, and I asked her to share some of her photographic bounty. The picture above sings to me of spring. Hopefully I will be able to head east to see Montana for myself one of these years. In the mean time, enjoy Jo’s tantalizing description of springtime in Montana:
From the Cedar Creek Gardens (that’s our place!LOL) Bill captured this bee taking pollen from the shoots on the chives. I created a beautiful bouquet of flowers from them just a few days later. Spring in Montana starts a bit later than other states. We finally got the garden in Mid-May under a “green house” and just this past weekend were able to bring everything to full light without the threat of frost; although we keep an eye on temps and have plastic at the ready all summer. I really hope all you gardeners out there are enjoying your fresh veggies and the sunshine.
Happy trails to all of you. Jo, enjoy your Montana Summer. Wish I could share it my friend!
My husband may be heading to San Antonio business at the end of the month, and suggested we bring the family. Well, to be precise he suggested that I bring the family…to San Antonio by car and meet him there. He would travel by plane due to work constraints.
Being an adventurous sort of person I almost went for it. My kids love to explore new places and stay in hotel rooms. We miss Ken when he travels, and it would be fun to spend the evenings with him exploring San Antonio. Then I checked the length of the trip from San Diego, California. The journey would be 1,8304 miles and 18 hours of driving!!! This would be two days of nine-10 hours drives with minimal stops and no time to explore wherever we crashed for the night. With three kids ages 4, 5, and 10 that promised to be a driving purgatory. I don’t think that make enough DVD’s and CD’s and Starbucks Frappuccinos to help me survive such a drive.
So today, instead of planning a San Antonio roadtrip, I’m dreaming of one. The following are some of the fun family adventures that would await us.
We would be exploring the Natural Bridge Caverns by taking a cavern tour or doing some gem mining. Justin has just finished up a study of California History and my great grandfather was a gold miner so this would be a particularly exciting activity. (Photos courtesy of the Natural Bridge Caverns Media Packet)
We would pay a visit to the Alamo. (Admission is free.) Justin would love learning more about this historic battle. and the colorful characters who participated in it. It would also be fun to compare this Texas mission to the Calfornia Missions we have already explored.
The Smith family are suckers for good old fashioned amusement parks so a visit to Kiddie Park would also be on our list. Billed as “America’s Oldest Children’s Amusement Park” (Since the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk was founded in 1907, I don’t know if that’s exactly accurate) this park promises plenty of vintage fun. A sucker for a good bargain, I would be sure to visit on Wednesday when the offer unlimited rides for $7.50.
The San Antonio Zoo also caught my eye. Apparently parent’s magazine thinks it’s one of the best in America.
There you have it, the roadtrip that I wish I was brave enough to take this summer. If you want to see someother dreams or share one of your own, visit my friend Mara at The Mother of All Trips . Her Mondays are for Dreaming feature is a delightful way to share your dreams of travel adventure.
Ok, I screwed up. I was trying to post a comment on the Mother of All Trip’s blog and ended up entering the “Mondays are For Dreaming” blog round up instead. Oh well, it gives me a chance to show off my cute kid pictures from this weekend.
I am dreaming of the perfect camping trip. Somewhere far away and wooded. It should include a lake for canoeing and fishing, flush toilets and showers, a campsite and trails that allow dogs, lots of trails to explore, and plenty of boulders to climb on.
On this perfect trip I would cook healthy gourmet meals and the whole family would eat them cheerfully. The kids would entertain themselves effortlessly with twigs and dirt. Someone would watch the other kids so I could go on stress free jaunts with each one individually. Perhaps I would be able to squeeze in a solo sunrise hike. I would have remembered everything including socks for each member of the family and tent poles! Oh, and every kid would eagerly pose for pictures with a perfect smile.
OK, that’s my dream camping experience. Now on to what happened this weekend:
Here’s what we ate:
Destiny's Healthy Dinner-S'mores Followed by Pizza
Destiny's Other Dinner Courtesy of a Mom Who Brought Healthy Food
Here’s where we slept:
One Small Tent for Five People
(I forgot the tent poles so four of us squeezed into one small 3 man tent. Daddy slept under the stars.)
Here’s how much my son liked posing for pictures:
Justin's Grumpy Face
Seriously, we enjoyed our Mataguay adventure, and I look forward to sharing it’s beauty with you in a future Photo Friday Post.
If you are planning to visit the Legoland theme park in Carlsbad, California, this book contains all the information you need to make the most of your family adventure. The book also includes information about other area attractions, local restaurants and hotels.
Bridget Smith, mom of three, loves to blog about everyday adventures. Her mission is to change the world; one kid, one destination, one effortless trip, one overworked mom, one frazzled dad... one day at a time! Come and join her.