Road Trip of a Lifetime!

PICTURES: Road Trip book

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Sometimes, when life gets busy and we’re all going different directions…I actually MISS being in close quarters with my little family of four the way we were for a month this summer – in Dustin’s Toyota Camry, sharing a motel room, sharing every meal together, sharing every mood swing and every laugh, every mile and every new experience, every song and inside joke, every frustration and every joy along the 5,000-mile journey. It was kinda like a “tiny house” experience on the road: LOTS of togetherness. It was certainly not without squabbles and tears, whines, complaints, and arguments. There was even a low moment early on when we considered cutting the trip short because of bad behavior and constant conflict. But limiting technology privileges for the remainder of the trip really improved cooperation and attitudes in the backseat!

AND (pat on back) we made it through our 25-day family road trip without losing any children, without pushing each other out of the car or off a cliff (a little too real and close for comfort*). In the end, we were (mostly) still eating at the same table in restaurants, and staying in the same hotel rooms, though we tended to rotate bed partners. We learned A LOT about the places we visited, collected more memories than souvenirs, took a lot of pictures, met a lot of great people, and ate a lot of great food. It seemed like a massive undertaking to us until we met a family of 5 from Seattle who was just finishing a 5-year jaunt living and traveling on a boat around the world together! Maybe next time…

*We were at the North Rim on a trail when a tourist told us about how they had seen the poor woman fall into the South Rim the previous day, so from that point on we were all VERY cautious on all our hikes!

OTHER Lessons Learned:

  1. VISIT YOUR NATIONAL PARKS!! Meet your Park Rangers!
  2. Allow “down-time” to happen! I truly scheduled a FULL and busy trip, so we really needed those  days that we took to just relax in beautiful settings instead of trying to do too much…Instead of hiking in the heat of the day at the Grand Canyon, we napped in our cabin while Daddy did the laundry! Instead of driving to Bryce Canyon from Zion, we stuck around for a relaxing morning, and some reading and rest-time later in the day. Instead of trying to see sights in LA, we just let the kids play at the beach.
  3. Try out some new podcasts! We discovered Brains On, a great science show for kids that we ALL enjoy. Story Nory, Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd. We also tried learning some Spanish together with Pimsleur…
  4. Meet people – other people can be SO refreshing when you’ve been stuck with the same 3 folks in a car for 60 hours! Some of our favorite memories are of the friends we met along the way – the brother and sister on the train in Colorado that turned the journey up the mountain into a much-needed play-date for Ellie and MJ, our “next-door” neighbors from Switzerland at Yosemite that taught us a great new card game…
  5. Use sound-canceling headphones. (Actually, I used ear plugs in the car to tune out and sleep or at least pretend I was sleeping. But the kids put on the fancy headphones to nap or watch their own movies. Then Dustin and I could chat or listen to our own podcast.)
  6. Share some read-aloud books together. We found a great series about some of the parks we visited called Adventures with the Parkers by Mike Graf.
  7. Give everyone some freedom and space along the way…look for those free-range opportunities for the kids – to meet you down in the lobby, to get a head start on a hike, to read or play cards at the lodge, to go listen to an evening park ranger talk without you, etc.
  8. Plan a couple of stops to meet good friends or family along the way! We book-ended our trip this way, and it made it so special.
  9. Double-check your Air B n’ B reservations to make sure you’re not just “sharing” an apartment with some random guy!
  10. Don’t let your car get TOO dirty, or you might get pulled over and questioned separately for 10 minutes by the police in New Mexico because they think you are smuggling in illegal immigrants. (Especially if your trunk is overloaded and dragging.)

Wanna see LOTS of pics and read about the places we went? Get ideas for your someday vacation? Take a quick look at this book I made upon our return:  Road Trip book

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