Consider for your next vacation: A Modern Family Road Trip!

The Grand Canyon is amazing but it was nerve wracking! I was so afraid somebody was going over the edge!

The Grand Canyon is amazing but it was nerve wracking! I was so afraid somebody was going over the edge!

Heading west into Arkansas for the night. I wish we had more time in Memphis. I would have like to have seen the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorriane Motel.

Heading west into Arkansas for the night. I wish we had more time in Memphis. I would have like to have seen the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel. Also I demand that all farmers post what they are growing. Can't tell you how many conversations we had about "what do you think he's growing?"

With the new year upon us, I know many families will start thinking about their next summer vacation. I wanted to take this opportunity to encourage families to consider exploring America on an old-fashioned family road trip with a few modern twists!

Last summer we decide to drive across the country instead of taking our regular beach trip. It is one of the best, most memorable trips we ever made — or will make I am sure! At ages 9, 7, and 3 the kids were perfect ages to drive across the country. The 3-year-old was potty trained and fairly patient because we stopped a lot to see things.  The older kids were very interested to see other states and other cities. They loved watching the landscape change from green lush forests to arid deserts. They saw in person steppes, mesas, and canyons they had only viewed in Road Runner and Coyote cartoons. They saw natural wonders like the Mississippi River and historically significant sites that changed our country’s future.

Our smartphones impacted greatly the way our family traveled cross country. We were nimble able to switch destinations on the fly. We didn’t have to wonder if there was a gas station coming up (out West they are really spread apart) or a bathroom for the 3-year-old. We found sightseeing info, researched places to visit and were able to take “phone tours” at several National Park sites.

Twice this year in school Rose has been able to share with the class photos and her experiences from our trip as her class studied places she visited in person. She was very proud to be the class “expert” on these sites.

Recently we printed out maps of the United States and the kids colored in every state they had been to and each state they had just been through. The older kids have visited (sight-saw, ate, spend the night or walked around in) 20 states!

I wanted to share some photos and tips from our techno family road trip to help you plan one of your own.

First some tips by category:

Smartphones and electronics

  • We didn’t plan very much before our trip. We had a basic sense of the states we wanted to hit but other than that we were playing it fast and loose. Do be spontaneous and use your smartphones to look up info as you drive. You can look for restaurants, hotel reviews, gas station, rest stops as well as sightseeing info. It was amazing to be hurtling down the highway able to look up whatever info you needed right then.  (Make sure you bring your car charger for your phone. It used up a lot of energy and I was having to charge mid-day.)
  • Use your Smart phones to prep your kids for what they are about to see. I read them the history of Little Rock’s Central High School and details about the Little Rock Nine who first integrated the school. I read them the history to the Oklahoma City bombing and showed them photos of what the building looked like before the explosion.  We discussed what petrified the logs in the Petrified Forest and why the Painted Desert was called just that.
  • As you pass places you may want to visit another time, look them up and bookmark them in your phone that way you always have the list and basic info on the site.
  • Walsh brought his Nintendo DSL on the trip. I thought he would while away the miles on it but instead he used the camera in it to document the trip across America from his viewpoint – the back of the minivan. He often got better shots of things than I did because he had a few seconds warning. He has created an amazing slide show of his trip across America.
  • Bring an old-fashion map just in case.  In Texas, New Mexico and Arizona we couldn’t get cell signals sometimes and were grateful to have the paper Rand McNally in the car.

Food and Hotels

  • To cut down on food costs we brought a lot of fruit, nuts, chips and sweets with us. We also stopped along the way to pick up supplies.
  • We found that Subway was great for an inexpensive and somewhat healthy meal that could be catered to the what each family member wanted. We would buy two giant sandwiches. Split one sandwich three ways for the kids and then the other was halved between us. You could get veggies put on it and change out the breads, meats, cheeses and sauces so you didn’t get bored. Plus you didn’t feel tired after eating it.
  • Look for hotels that accept pets. You can save a lot of boarding. Most of the national parks let you bring your dog in. So it just depends on where you are visiting.
  • Look for hotels that include a free breakfast. This saved us a lot of money and time. It’s expensive for a family of five to eat breakfast anywhere.
  • Try to use hotels with which you have accrued business points. Michael always tries to book in the same hotel chain so we can take advantage of his points for free nights later.

Sight-seeing

  • Stop frequently. The trip didn’t seem long because we stopped frequently for sight-seeing . Give yourself enough time in each town. I wish we had spent an extra day in Memphis and an extra day in Arkansas (can’t believe I am saying that, but it’s true!). There was more in each town I would have like to have seen.
  • Don’t be afraid to share with the kids historically significant places. My cousin called it my “Addams Family” Tour because we were seeing so many places where people died or were threatened. But the kids handled really well seeing the Oklahoma City bombing site and were fascinated by the integration protests in Arkansas.
  • Do make them see museums. We visited four different museums in Santa Fe, New  Mexico and those kids are smarter for it! Although they protested a little bit at the time. Now they recall facts and artifacts they saw!
  • Don’t do the Grand Canyon in the summer if at all possible. Aim for Fall and Spring breaks. Because of year-round school, July is particularly crowded according to one park ranger. (Many kids in year-round school have July off but not June or August.) The roads into the Grand Canyon are narrow and canyon rims are narrow. This is not a place you want to experience packed with tourists.
  • Don’t do the Grand Canyon with little kids or if you have impulsive or adventurous kids. I was stressed out the entire time that one of them was going to head straight off the edge – the baby because she doesn’t know any better and the boy because he’s crazy. I called ahead and talked to a park ranger about where were the safest spots to take kids. She told me different areas that were fenced but in the end we just ended up traveling up and down the length of the rim and some had fences and some did not. I didn’t enjoy the view until mid-afternoon when the kids were tired and stopped getting out of the car. Then you could stand and really be awed without worry that someone was going over the cliff.
  • Meteor Crater was also stressful with the kids. The Painted Desert didn’t feel so death-defying. We still saw canyons but I didn’t feel like they were going over the edge. Also it was much less crowded and actually had better examples of ancient pueblos than the Grand Canyon had.  The Grand Canyon park ranger agreed the Painted Desert was a nice “starter” canyon for families.
  • Book almost a year ahead if you want to stay in the Grand Canyon. They are not fooling around. You really can’t get a room even at off times. In a pinch, Flagstaff is less than two hours drive to the Canyon and you can usually find a room there. We stayed in Flagstaff.

Here are some of the places we stopped along the way:

Memphis

Little Rock’s Central High School

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Route 66 in Texas

Grants, New Mexico

Petrified Forest and Painted Desert, Arizona

Meteor Crater, Arizona — (This web site is really loud. Do not pull up if your boss is near by!  Not a National Park so you can’t use your National Park pass here.)

Grand Canyon, Arizona – Download the park newspaper and trip planner on this homepage. I didn’t before our visit and wish I had. The park newspaper has tons of really useful info and maps.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Las Vegas, New Mexico

(For photos from the trip click here!)

60 comments Add your comment

[...] is a wonderful traveling companion. These are photos from our cross-country trip this summer. For road-trip tips click here! Graceland was actually closed when we arrived. This was one time I wished we had done a little bit [...]

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

motherjanegoose

December 30th, 2010
1:54 am

Loved the photos! I think it is marvelous for children to experience America and seeing it’s sights is something they will always remember. Mine too were able to place history into perspective, as they have been to so many places and not just read about it. My daughter made a power point of Ellis Island for her HS history teacher…he had never been himself. She jokes that she wants to do a
DD and D road trip like Guy Feiri. My sister says she is “in” too!

That being said, we are not road trip people…nor campers either. That is just us…really more me.
I like a real bed with clean sheets and a hot shower. My husband once camped with our son in a tent pop up camper. That was a humorous trip. It rained all night and was noisy!
I do not take a trip with this phrase: “We didn’t plan very much before our trip”
but admire those who can do it. I have never been a ” wing it ” kind of person. I have been lost on too many back roads with no GPS nor cell service and that is a nightmare to me!

I am lucky to travel for business and then take mine back to neat places when we can go. We have not been to the Grand Canyon but do love Sedona, AZ. We also loved Colorado Springs in the summer!

TWG, yes …it absolutely makes sense to stay at hotels that serve breakfast. With a family, it will save you sometimes $30 per night! I think Clark Howard mentions taking a stop at Sam’s or Costco for lunch as you can get pizza or hot dogs and a drink for less than $3 per person. Grab some fruit at the grocery store or road side stand….LOL. Don’t forget coupons! I bought a paper in LA and read it on the way to Hawaii. It had Baskin Robbins coupons. We used them for ice cream BOGO in Hawaii. They said they were good at any location but the clerk was a bit confused and studied them carefully. The ice cream sundaes were $6 each there.

I am ALL about using points for hotels! I have almost 1 million with the Hilton chain now and cash them in all the time to use them for family trips. We stayed at the Embassy Suites in Boston last summer for FREE. The room rate was $200 per night and included a cooked to order breakfast and evening reception plus it was a short walk to the T….train ride to down town. If you like to travel, get a credit card with hotel points. The Marriott is trying to lure me with promos now but I am already sold on the Hilton American Express. For me, it is the best card to accrue hotel points and the Hilton chain has several varieties including the Hampton Inn. Other hotel chains also have points.

We do not take our dog with us unless we are going to the beach but I have met some darling dogs along the way, on business trips. PLEASE do not sneak your dog into a hotel that does not allow dogs..this really bugs me as your children are watching your behavior and how you handle obviously breaking the rules. This will be stored in their memory and used at the leisure on a later date.

motherjanegoose

December 30th, 2010
1:59 am

OOPS…FREE breakfast…sorry for the previous travelogue. Insomnia now!

[...] Consider for your next vacation: A Modern Family Road Trip … [...]

FCM

December 30th, 2010
6:55 am

Mine are finally (at 11 & 8) where I think they will listen to what I would like to share with them. The 8yo seems to enjoy watching things about history or politics (Charlie Brown’s America and School House Rock are good for this)…and then she will often apply what she knows from those when she sees the “real thing”. She walked in the home office the other morning and said “Momma, in that frame is that the D of I?” Yes. “Is it the real one–like CB was telling about?” No. It is a copy, the real one is in Washington DC and is well protected. Would you like to go see it? “That’s where the President lives.” Yes, and the Supreme Court, Congress, the Smithsonian Museum. “Night at the Musemum place!!!!!!!!!!!” Yes same place. “Yes we should go but we better take a few days–we have lots to see.”

I am reading her other books with historical significance. I mentioned before that my 11 yo was studying the Civil War so I had her read Across 5 Aprils. The 8yo actually got more out of the book and still talks about it. When Spring comes I plan to take them around Ksaw and so forth to see some of the Campaign for Atlanta. (Also cannot wait to take them to Charleston!).

Eventually I would like to take them out West and doing at least some of it by car (unless MJG wants to share her frequent flier miles-just kidding!) sounds like a good idea.

FCM

December 30th, 2010
6:55 am

@ MJG–Triple D trip? Yeah I am in too!

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ajcparenting. ajcparenting said: AJC's Momania blog: Consider for your next vacation: A Modern Family Road Trip! http://bit.ly/f4Ht7K [...]

pws

December 30th, 2010
7:50 am

T: You missed the best part of New Mexico if you didn’t make it to Carlsbad Caverns. Watching the bats fly out for their nightly feeding was the most impressive thing I think I have ever seen when it comes to nature! Our girls were 10 and 14 when we did a week out west, and they both enjoyed seeing the differences in the terrain from where they live everyday. The oldest had a scholarship offer from USC, so we made a vacation in early June to California, they were 18 and 14 then. They both still talk about all the places we visited on that vacation, and the places they want to go back to when they have a chance. We spent two days in Disneyland, and they also laugh about how their mom turned into a kid during those two days! It was just a place as a kid that I always wanted to go and never had the chance. We had been to Disneyworld many times, but I enjoyed Disneyland because it was the “original” and being built first, is not so spread out. Warner Brothers studio tour was also an interesting tour, it takes about 4 hours to do, and the kids have to be 8 years old to go on it. If you go during the spring or fall, you will actually get to see shows in production, I loved how Walton’s Mountain was just a hill they filmed!

T, I am heading to Memphis on Monday with my youngest, she has an interview for UT medical school, the only reason she is allowing me to go with her is that she isn’t old enough to rent a car for a decent price, so she agreed to let me go, rent the car and drop her off! We are going on Monday and seeing the sites, before her interview on Tuesday. Any suggestions where we should go?

motherjanegoose

December 30th, 2010
8:14 am

@pws…I love Disneyland too…over Disneyworld. I know it is older but the weather in CA is So much better than FL. I have never been to Carlsbad but have been to Roswell…kinda cool.

GOOD LUCK FOR THE INTERVIEW…that is awesome. Once, I was in Memphis and there was this couple from NJ. They were kinda snooty and asking where to eat breakfast. The hotel had a nice buffet, which I had just eaten. I was checking out and they were asking the front desk clerk where to get a good breakfast. She mentioned the buffet and they were hem hawing and finally said, “we really need a decent bagel.” I laughed and said, “oh, sorry…this is the SOUTH and they have excellent grits and biscuits/gravy.” HELLO….eat your silly bagels in New Jersey…what is the point of traveling if you do not try new things? Oh yes, I do love an authentic bagel too.

FCM…my frequent flier miles are another account from my hotel points and neither are shared. I work hard for them LOL. Washington DC is great too…not in the summer! It is actually and affordable place, since most of the museums etc. are free. The hotels are pricey but you can take the Metro. Parking is RIDICULOUS! I think we need to WALK for the triple D trip…;)

motherjanegoose

December 30th, 2010
8:17 am

LOL…guess I overstayed my welcome with my last post…I just posted and it is gone…reply to FCM and pws. TWG…can you find it?

cofthenight

December 30th, 2010
8:31 am

What a neat topic, thanks! I am really itching to go out West. I think we’ll need to wait a little longer… 4 yr old and 19 month old!! We really want to fly out there… at least half-way, then rent a car to see the deserts, etc. Yes, I would also be scared to DEATH about mine falling off the edge of the canyon! Because I know they would do it! :)

FCM

December 30th, 2010
8:49 am

pws—Disneyland is not as spreadout because the property around it got developed before Disney could option it. He made sure to buy lots of land in Orlando so he would not have the same issue. You say much about Uncle Walt–but facts are he rarely repeated an error.

JATL

December 30th, 2010
8:56 am

Awesome suggestion TWG! I think this is one of the best and most important things parents can do with their children. I used to tell my students that, while school was very important, they would learn more from traveling and reading than anything else. That’s been my experience, and I can’t wait to share it with my kids. We’ve already taken them several places, but at their ages (4 and 2) we’re saving the road trips, western experiences and DC until they’re a little bit older. We also can’t wait to take them to Hawaii, but want to wait until they’re old enough to enjoy surfing lessons. My husband used to work as a chef on an expedition ship that sailed from the San Juan Islands down to the Sea of Cortez, and there are a number of places between those two he wants to take us. I’m excited about that, because most of them are places I haven’t been able to visit. I have seen a good bit of California, but I haven’t done the British Columbia area, Pacific Northwest or Baja.

My parents were great about taking me all over this country. We went to DC twice and out west to Yellowstone, the Black Hills, Montana and numerous other places several times. One trip I’ve always wanted to take, but “saved” it for when I had kids was a road trip up to Pennsylvania. I’ve actually never been! Interesting since 4 of my close friends are from that state, but I would love to go to Gettysburg, Hershey, Amish Country and Philadelphia to see the historical sites there and to go to the Mummer’s Museum. I also can’t wait for the Grand Canyon. We’re going to take the boys on one of the rafting trips. We may do Colorado this March. We haven’t done that in a few years, and the youngest has never been or seen “real” snow and mountains. LOVE to travel!

ATLien

December 30th, 2010
8:56 am

I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico (in fact, I’m here now for the holidays) and I’m thrilled to see people from the South coming out West to see how beautiful this part of the country is and explore the SW states. I can’t wait to do that with my 4 year old.

pws

December 30th, 2010
8:58 am

I remember reading about how when Uncle Walt built Disneyland, a lot of people thought he was crazy, they called it “A fool’d folly”. He couldn’t even get enough investors to join him, the reason he created the tv show was because he used the money from the show to build his dream park. I just liked the compactness because as an old lady, I didn’t have as far to walk to get from one ride to another! LOL I just hope we continue to see our young people today having those same kind of dreams and creativity and willing to take those risks to see those dreams come to life. I hope that video games have not taken their toil on our youth. My mom, who is now almost 80, says that video games are this generation’s alcohol. I certainly hope she is wrong…..

motherjanegoose

December 30th, 2010
8:58 am

TWG…if your kids get a kick out of seeing the crops being grown ….drive north to south in CA or down in the valley of Texas. Amazing! Perhaps they do not post signs because most native folks are smart enough to recognize things. Kinda like us seeing Kudzu here in GA. We stayed at a house in Oregon that had a garden with artichoke plants. I did not know what the plant was and asked the neighbor. I was also amazed at the native ferns growing wild in the Oregon forest…as big as a sofa!

The lesson of how much food needs to be grown to feed folks is awesome. During one election, the New England area folks were bemoaning the ignorance of the midwesterners. Well, they are smart enough to grow lots of food that cannot be grown in an apartment garden…we do need food. I appreciate farmers and their hard work!

JATL

December 30th, 2010
8:59 am

@cofthenight -yes, wait until they’re a bit older but definitely go out West as often as possible. My first trip where we flew and rented a car was great as a child. We flew into Jackson Hole, WY (which is incredibly beautiful), rented a car and drove around to Yellowstone, then further into Montana and through the Dakota Black Hills and back through Cheyenne where they have the Frontier Days Rodeo and Festival in the summer. That was amazing! I love the cross country road trip idea if there are things you want to visit along the way, but you can also save a lot of time and see a lot more of one certain area by flying and renting a car.

motherjanegoose

December 30th, 2010
9:02 am

@ JATL…they would learn more from traveling and reading than anything else.
I could not agree more!

FCM

December 30th, 2010
9:02 am

JATL–I keep wishing mine would get into the Little House series–oldest has no itnerest…that way I have a good excuse to go to Rocky Ridge and the Black Hills.

Mine have seen Azmish Country but doubt they recall it. They were so little at the time. My grandmother lived in Western PA.

If you are into Antebellum era homes Columbia, TN (about an hour west of Nashville) is home to the largest group of them still standing in a single area. I recommend late spring – early fall to see it. In may Murray County (also Columbia, TN) has the largest Mule festival in the US…President Polk was also from here. It is not as rural any longer (though by Atlanta standards it is) but retained the charm of a real backwoods appalachian community.

deidre_NC

December 30th, 2010
9:04 am

i would love to take a trip like this. i would plan some and play the rest by ear. one of the best things about a trip like this is to be flexible, you never know what you will chance upon that you didnt even know anything about. looks like yall had a blast theresa and honestly i see very little of your worrying attitude here. way to go lol…!! i think most parents would be a tad worried about their kids falling off the edge of the grand canyon :)….we have a place here we go for picnics etc (wayah bald–beautiful place)…we used to ride the horses up on pack trips and camp…but there is an ‘over the edge’ place that was a tad worrisome to me when the kids were small.

JATL

December 30th, 2010
9:05 am

@TWG and MJG – I was lucky enough to grow up with a dad who was raised on a farm and has remained heavily involved in agriculture his whole life. He also has a Master’s Degree in Forestry, so he always knows what crops are growing, and when we were in wooded areas, he could always tell us exactly what types of trees and vegetation were around us. Because of that I never thought of posting what the crops are, but it’s not a bad idea! I love for my kids to go on drives with him and walks on some of his land to hear him go on about the crops and the trees. It’s amazing how much I learned from him! I’ve surprised myself on hikes with friends and my husband as well as drives when we’re passing big crops by knowing exactly what the trees or plants were. Those things you tell your kids when traveling really do stick!

motherjanegoose

December 30th, 2010
9:11 am

@ JATL…my kids get a kick out of their mom being able to tell what breed of cattle is on the side of the road. I lived on the farm in HS and even castrated bull calves. This is foreign to them, a part of my life they did not know. To me, it is kind of like knowing a brand of car…which I also know since I log so many miles :).

ssidawg

December 30th, 2010
9:16 am

Sounds like you and your family had a great trip. Your kids will never forget the memories they made.

I truly believe Arkansas is the best-kept secret in our country. My best friend lives in Little Rock and everytime I visit her I’m reminded of what a beautiful area it is.

JATL

December 30th, 2010
9:17 am

@FCM -thanks for that info! I would love to see the Antebellum homes. That could be a fun long weekend combined with Nashville in the near future! While I usually do NOT suggest subbing tv or movies for the books, the Little House series was pretty fantastic. Have you tried getting them interested in the DVDs of the tv show? It was on when I was a kid, so the show and the books kind of went hand in hand for me. It was definitely very cool to go visit some places from the series and pretend to be Laura Ingalls!

I’m loving the fact that my 4 year old is really starting to pick up on historical tidbits. I also endeavor to teach them and show them the history they’re surrounded by on a daily basis. We live almost exactly where the Battle of Atlanta happened, and the MLK National Park is down the street. We drive through it constantly. When we go see my father or take trips up to the mountains or the beach, we go through so many areas full of Civil War, slave, Native American and colonial history that I try to point things out, and he’s really starting to get into it! The Antebellum homes would serve as a good piece of the puzzle for him because he’s been learning a good bit lately about slavery and the road to the civil rights movement.

catlady

December 30th, 2010
9:18 am

Made a trip like this when i was 11. My dad worked for the government and always flew to LA and Salt Lake City, but instead we turned it into a two week trip –part of it on Route 66–and it was wonderful. Of course, no electronic–or interstates– back then–we played a game where you find different states’ car tags, and cow poker–but a great time of adventure. Car overheated outside of Needles, CA, and that was part of the adventure. Stayed several days in LA while my dad did his thing, then on to SLC for a few days, up through the Badlands of SD, then down through MO to IL to see my Yankee relatives. I think we hit 22 states, but I don’t remember. It was a very pleasant memory I still cherish.

JATL

December 30th, 2010
9:20 am

@MJG -not sure how old they were when they first learned that you castrated bull calves, but I’m sure they thought that was pretty cool!

catlady

December 30th, 2010
9:20 am

As to plants, it was cotton or corn or this new thing called—soybeans!

Theresa, in the picture, why is Michael holding Rose so tightly but Walsh is allowed to pose in a more daredevil, free kind of way?

DB

December 30th, 2010
9:37 am

Don’t forget your passport! By passport, I mean a little blue U.S. National Park Passport book — my kids got one when they were 5 and 7, and they have thoroughly enjoyed filling it up over the years with stamps from all the U.S. National Park Service sites. You can buy colorful stamps to glue into the book, but really, my kids most enjoyed going into the visitors station and finding the stamp stand and making sure the date was correct and getting that stamp in their book. 15 years later, they each have a somewhat worn around the corners book that has memories of all their travels — everywhere from Acadia in Maine to Crater Lake in Oregon, and sooooo many places in between. In fact, I realized this year that I have enough Christmas ornament souveniers from all our National Park visits to have it’s own tree — next year! (What we still think is so funny is that it took us 10 years to finally get the stamp for the Chattahoochee National Forest, seeing as how we spent so much time walking along the river!)

We went to the Grand Canyon spring break this past year, and in March (college spring break), they had had six inches of snow the day before!!! The Grand Canyon in the snow is quite beautiful, and I suspect my pictures are a little different from most people’s summer shots! We went skiing the day before at the Arizona Snow Bowl near Flagstaff (thus fulfilling the spring break wishes of part of our family), We also hit Las Vegas, Death Valley and the Hoover Dam on the same trip, so it was a very eclectic trip that week.

I think my husband is a frustrated travel agent — he loves planning trips like this. I usually finalize the hotel arrangements, and I carry a 1/2″ notebook with me tabbed by each day, with all our hotel confirmations printed out, airline confirmations, on-line coupons for various things we might be interested in, etc. When the kids were younger, I’d also print out guides like “____ For Kids” to have a backup in case of rain, etc. (children’s museums, etc.)

The United States has such an amazing variety across it’s breadth, it’s a shame more people don’t take advantage of it!

motherjanegoose

December 30th, 2010
9:37 am

@ JATL my daughter’s new friend is pre-vet and I mentioned castrating a few weeks ago…eeew.
Actually, no one thinks it is cool here…eye roll!

Cammi317

December 30th, 2010
9:42 am

That’s the way my family did it when I was a child, and that is the way I travel with my daughter. We only fly when we need to get somewhere quickly. Otherwise we drive or take a leisurely ride on Amtrak using a rail pass so that we can stop along the way and jump back on when we are ready to leave. Like myself, my daughter has become an avid history buff.

motherjanegoose

December 30th, 2010
9:56 am

@Cammi317 I want to take the train ride across Canada. That is on my bucket list! I have never ridden on Amtrak.

DB…I sat next to someone on the plane once who told me:

America has 50 states but it is actually more like 50 different countries…all unique. I love that comment.

Every election, I think it is something that we are all voting for one president when our lives from NYC to Alaska are so different! Some folks have never seen a skyscraper and some have never seen livestock on the farm. Teachers tell me of kids who have never been in an elevator or ridden an escalator.

I met a NYC family, on the shuttle to Disneyworld from the airport, who had never seen cattle in the fields…they were fascinated. Some folks have never owned a car and always taken public transportation. My kids are fascinated with taxis. Some places in Alaska do not even have cars
( no roads to get there) …you take a small plane to get there! Lots of Alaskans own their own planes.

Techmom

December 30th, 2010
10:17 am

We’ve been talking about taking a trip out west with our son this year since he’ll be 16 in the spring and I feel like this may be our last chance for a summer vacation with him. I actually want to fly into Washington state and then head south through Oregon and Northern CA including Yosemite, Death Valley, Hoover Dam & Las Vegas- places I visited as a kid since I grew up in Las Vegas.

We did fly out to LA when the boy was 9 and took him to Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm & the San Diego Zoo so I feel like we can skip southern CA and head west. Another National Park where we used to go camping when I was a kid is called Zion National Park in Utah. Absolutely gorgeous- would love to spend a night there as well.

One day I’d love to hit the northern parks as well but there is something fun about revisiting places you went to as a kid with your own.

By the way, we’ve taken our son to D.C. twice. He was about 10 the first time and it was a great age since he’d been studying US history in school. As it happened we actually pulled him out of school a few days before Christmas break (it was the only time my husband could get vacation before the end of the year) and while it was cold outside, it was the perfect time to go. It was not crowded with tourists or school trips since it was so close to the end of the semester & we got on every tour we wanted.

motherjanegoose

December 30th, 2010
10:34 am

BTW…I absolutely recommend the Old Town Trolley Tours for DC and Boston. We typically ride the entire route once and then on the next loop get on and off at the places where we are interested.
Even my husband likes it and he previously never liked history…he does now!

Plus you do not have to navigate in traffic with your car. I almost lost my mind driving through Cambridge to take my daughter to see the Harvard Campus. We went down in the BIG DIG tunnel and my GPS went out…I did not know where I was going!

You may want to skip the Savannah run…we were disappointed compared to the others we have taken. You can usually get some sort of coupon on line to save a bit of $$$.

redhousecat

December 30th, 2010
10:52 am

I made the same trip this past March. Although I don’t enjoy Las vegas, I do enjoy the heck out of Hoover Dam and Lake Meade. We stayed in Flagstaff and it snowed every day we were there. We also stayed in Amarillo en route. We ate at the Big Texan. You can call them and they will pick you up in this cheesy limo with horns on the hood. It was awesome. Loved the Petrified forest and painted desert. I hope to go back again.

JATL

December 30th, 2010
10:58 am

@Techmom -Zion is right at the top of my list! I’ve never been, but always wanted to go and the scenery is mouthwatering! I think the next “big” trip of this nature we take will either be there or to the Oregon coast. I think, even though my children are very young, that they would really enjoy the Oregon coast.

DB

December 30th, 2010
11:37 am

@MJG: Re: 50 countries — I absolutely agree! Except I think we could combine Alabama and Mississippi into one country, and Nebraska and Kansas into another. :-)

DB

December 30th, 2010
11:38 am

@FCM: I have to confess — I have been to Walnut Creek aka “Little House” territory. I bought a complete set of “Little House” books there as a souvenier. It’s not much bigger than it was in Laura’s time!

DB

December 30th, 2010
11:39 am

@FCM: Excuse me — Walnut GROVE.

motherjanegoose

December 30th, 2010
12:17 pm

TWG…where is my missing post? Are you buried in gift bags or bows…LOL.

Hoover Dam and lake Meade are awesome.

JATL…we loved the Oregon coast last June and may go again this summer…70 during the day and 45 at night!

jarvis

December 30th, 2010
12:57 pm

Santa Fe is a great town. An all-time fav.

If you have time, I reccomend driving the Turquiose Trail between Santa Fe and Albuquerque. It’s only about an hours drive, and the desert/mountain views are spectabular.

Valstake

December 30th, 2010
2:15 pm

I don’t want to rain on the parade, but y’all better take that trip in the near future, since it’s predicted gasoline prices will rise to $5.00 + per gallon in 2012 or later.

Happy New Year and Peace to all.

JJ

December 30th, 2010
2:34 pm

I grew up in the Southwest. Colorado, Utah, Nevada. I’ve seen all the hot spots everyone is mentioning. This blog really takes me back.

Family vacations in the old station wagon. NO seatbelts, no video games, no MP3 players, no portable DVD players. We got a pack of paper, pens, pencils, crayons, etc. We had a portable Cassette player, weighed about 20 pounds…LOL. We used to pay Car Bingo, with the little square boards, with little green sliders that covered whatever you saw……

And we always played “Count the cars”. My dad always counted Winnebagos (and they were pretty popular back then), Mom counted VW bugs, I counted Foreign cars, and my brother counted pick up trucks.

I think the Southwest is stunningly beautiful and full of history.

motherjanegoose

December 30th, 2010
3:40 pm

@ JJ…did your station wagon have that last seat in the back that faced to the rear? We had an Buick that did. I also remember when we put all the seats down and slept in our sleeping bags…sans seatbelts.

I am hoping to get invited back to Maine. That part of the country is GORGEOUS in the fall:
Vermont and Rhode Island too! Anyone else? I was also invited to UP Michigan in October and it was stunning!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

December 30th, 2010
4:39 pm

MJG — I finally rescued it — I was out all day with the kids — can’t rescue things with my phone — sorry.

JATL

December 30th, 2010
4:42 pm

@MJG -one of my mom’s best friends had 5 kids and the station wagon with the back-facing last seat! One of her sons was my age, so we always sat together back there. No seat belts and making a game of watching how close the cars behind us came to rear-ending us whenever his mom stopped! In my parent’s Oldsmobile, I sat perched on the arm rest in the front seat, perfectly poised to catapult through the windshield in the event of a wreck. Now my 4 year old is strapped in the back like he’s manning a rocket.

FCM. on my cell

December 30th, 2010
8:39 pm

Mjg. Yeah wr better wal ddd route. I was kidding about the miles. My dad went Million Miler back in late 80s….u definately earn it! Actually Mom would suggest they take a trip & he would say i spend my life on an airplane…can i just stay in bed in my town? They did travel though. Vancouver, germany, portugal, france, england…plus much of the us. Most of it without kids.

Db…that is cool. I have LIW cookbook with photos of Rocky Ridge. She got pas fiddle when he died.

JATL. I was into the show as a kid too. I guess i was about 6 when i stayed up at night to watch. Cannot recall if the girls saw those. Disney did a remake & oldest liked that….Btw my family is from Columbia, TN & that is how i know about it. Lots of civil war history there too i am learning.

Pws. My mom liked disney when she & dad went a few years ago.

Nobody mentioned San Francisco….am i the only one who loved it? I was 18 & brother was 15 when our parents took us. We did Napa Valley that trip too. Seattle in June had snow! I was 21, almost 22 when I went to visit my cousin & his family (he is 9 years older than me).

I love civil war stuff so I found Vicksburg interesting. I think i was 20.

We did travel when we were kids, but mostly to see family…Ky, Tn, pa, mi, & wv. With a stop in ohio. 28 i went to Boston. 25 to Charleston. I will not likey be with dad or mjg jet setting & racking up miles. But i still have places to go & fun when i get there :)

motherjanegoose

December 30th, 2010
9:01 pm

FCM…love San Fran!

[...] Consider for your next vacation: A Modern Family Road Trip! – Atlanta Journal Constitution (bl… The 3-year-old was potty trained and fairly patient because we stopped a lot to see things.  The older kids were very interested … a gas station coming up (out West they are really spread apart) or a bathroom for the 3-year-old. We found sightseeing … Yahoo! News Dec 31, 2010 5:09am [...]

JATL

December 31st, 2010
9:04 am

@FCM -We LOVE San Francisco! Both of my sister-in-laws and their families live there -one in Mill Valley and one in the Mission. We use any excuse to visit! I love the city and the surrounding area. We keep fantasizing about going to visit and leaving the boys for several days while we go up to Napa ;-) We definitely plan on a big family camping trip to Yosemite in a few years.