Tagged with "adventure"
29 Jan
2015
Posted in: projects, travel
By    3 Comments

Planning an Epic Road Trip

Traveling is my favorite thing to do, followed closely by planning for trips, and I’m in full travel-planning mode these days. Summer 2015 has been talked about for years in our family. It’s finally the summer of our epic 5,400-mile round-trip adventure, which will land us as far away as Key West, Florida. We’re taking 20 days for the Great American Road Trip, our longest family vacation, both in days gone and miles covered. We’ll cross up to 18 states, numerous National Park Service-operated destinations, beaches, theme parks and several superlative places. We may need time away from each other after this trip.

Disney World travel information box

Countless well-meaning friends have attempted to convince us to fly to Orlando, visit Walt Disney World and call it good for summer vacation 2015. It won’t happen. The idea of the places we’ll visit that we’d never see if we chose to fly makes me giddy with excitement. I guarantee I won’t be sleeping the night before we leave. I’ll be wound far too tight. When I set my sight on something, I rarely change course. It’s an annoying or endearing trait, depending on who you ask.

Gathering information was one aspect of being a journalist I enjoyed. I like taking a question and finding an answer. I like the act of gaining knowledge about everything, really: products to purchase, restaurants, schools, food, sports programs, books, vacation destinations, etc. Our first priority was making a list of destinations we couldn’t miss on this vacation and solidifying our driving route around those places.

I find it thrilling to open our trusty driving atlas and see all the possible ways we could get to where we want to go. I see the words “scenic byway” and excitement builds. While driving the Interstate Highway System, generally, makes for fewer hours on the road, highways and byways are my preference. Middle of nowhere and small town USA make me happy.

Stack of three travel books for Florida

I have four primary sources for travel planning: the public library, Bing maps, travel blogs and websites. Travel books are expensive to purchase, so I choose to borrow books from our local public library. Most of the resources are for specific states or regions in the USA. Places like Walt Disney World have hundreds of pages in several books to sort through. My preferred Walt Disney World book is The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World by Bob Sehlinger and Len Testa. It’s comprehensive and includes information on Universal Studios Florida as well. We used the Disneyland version for our two trips to the California theme park. For state information, I prefer the DK Eyewitness Travel books. Disney scored high marks with the personalized travel planning package we received. I have opened that package more times than I care to admit just to flip through the pages. The kids don’t need a countdown calendar for the trip, but I might.

I don’t follow any specific travel blogs. I do a lot of searching for specific information as I research. Pinterest helps to narrow down the field. I’m drawn to other traveler’s photos. I like to have a visual of what to expect at places we’ll be traveling to or through. I start family dinner conversations with, “Did you know?” I’ll share a fact and then show a photo to tease everyone.

I keep a notebook of pages filled with tips, possible destinations, distances from A to B, questions, facts, etc. It’s hours of work over months leading up to a big trip. This epic vacation is the most consuming of our vacations to date. I find the researching relaxing. I thrive on projects and deadlines. Vacation planning is my favorite project. I’ll stay up late into the night or forgo housekeeping duties to look up one more thing. The house may slide into complete disarray the closer we get to vacation, but it will be worth it.

Any suggestions from fellow travelers to the Southeast United States are appreciated.

 


 
Take a Trip: Brown v. Board of Education
By     |    Jan 19, 2015
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Take a Trip: Brown v. Board of Education

I knew when we walked in the door and were greeted by two signs: white and colored, this historical site wouldn’t be like any we’d taken our children to before. We were on our way home from vacation in Illinois in July and stopped in Topeka, Kansas at the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. We try not to shy away from tough conversations with our kids, but our conversation about segregation while at that place is one... [Read More]

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Really, We’re Not City Folk
By     |    Aug 22, 2014
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Really, We’re Not City Folk

I overheard one of my boys refer to himself as a “city boy” and couldn’t help but giggle. Living in the heart of Wyoming makes it almost impossible to be a legitimate “city boy,” even if you do live in the state’s second largest town. At 50,ooo people, give or take, our town is larger by far than all but the Wyoming capital. We have ample shopping and restaurant options compared to most of our state and even a public... [Read More]

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Harney Peak: Highest Spot East of the Rockies
By     |    Aug 19, 2014
Posted in: travel     |    1 Comment

Harney Peak: Highest Spot East of the Rockies

I’ve talked for years about a specific hike on my bucket list: Harney Peak in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The Hills aren’t far from where we live and a stone’s throw from where my husband grew up. Each summer for almost a decade, we’ve driven roads through the Hills with me proclaiming how someday I’ll hike Harney Peak. Time with just Craig and I has to be planned and thought out. There’s not much “free time” to work... [Read More]

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Preparing to Host a Stranger
By     |    Jul 27, 2014
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Preparing to Host a Stranger

Today is the cleanest my bathrooms will be all year. Every nook and cranny has been scrubbed and disinfected. The rest of the house will follow suit in the next few hours. We have a house guest to pick up this evening. We’ll welcome a stranger into our home for a week-long visit. It’s the sixth year at least one of our kiddos has participated in a Challenger Sports British soccer camp. The coaches for the program are college-aged people... [Read More]

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Gateway Arch: Overcoming Fears
By     |    Jul 26, 2014
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Gateway Arch: Overcoming Fears

I don’t like heights, large crowds or tight spaces. A visit to the Gateway Arch in Saint Louis, Missouri was sure to be pure torture. Our two oldest boys really wanted to see the Gateway Arch, part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, AND take the 630 feet trip to the top for a look over Saint Louis. I started researching the arch and quickly realized I was going to need a lot of prayers and possibly medication to keep me... [Read More]

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Going to the Beach: Seminoe State Park
By     |    Jul 15, 2014
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Going to the Beach: Seminoe State Park

Growing up landlocked in Wyoming with parents who weren’t travelers meant the only thing I knew about beaches came from books and movies. We were mountain people. I traveled to Mexico in high school and realized I couldn’t be pigeonholed into loving one geographical feature. The beach had a magical hold of me. Unfortunately, the hold isn’t so strong that I find myself living anywhere near a coast. A beach with ocean views is at least a 16 hour drive... [Read More]

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Night Owl Learning to Like Mornings…Maybe
By     |    Jul 3, 2014
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Night Owl Learning to Like Mornings…Maybe

I was pulling on running shoes at 5 a.m. today and well into an over 4-mile hike by 5:30…in the morning. I am a night owl, more accustomed to moon watching than sunrises. My second wind, more like third wind, for the day hits around 10 p.m. I take care of little things I didn’t get to during the day, open a book I don’t have to read out loud or enjoy the quiet of the house with my husband. Most... [Read More]

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Checking Fossil Butte National Monument off the List
By     |    Jul 1, 2014
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Checking Fossil Butte National Monument off the List

If there’s one thing I like more than the act of making a list, it’s crossing items off the list. We’ve purchased an annual U.S. National Park Service pass for several years in a row now and have steadily crossed places off the list by collecting “passport” stamps at places visited. This weekend we visited our sixth and final location in Wyoming and our 46th place overall in the National Park Service system. Our final Wyoming destination was Fossil Butte National... [Read More]

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Museum Over Arcade
By     |    Jun 25, 2014
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Museum Over Arcade

We found ourselves at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science Sunday morning, and it was completely our children’s choice. We were in the Denver area for the weekend with no plans for Sunday before heading back to Wyoming. Sitting in the hotel room after breakfast, we let the kiddos decide what we would do that day. They’ve been to Denver multiple times and know what the metro area contains. After throwing around various arcade-type options, they collectively decided on... [Read More]

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Mama Summer Camp Blues
By     |    Jun 10, 2014
Posted in: parenting     |    1 Comment

Mama Summer Camp Blues

We entered the world of summer camp this week. We dropped off our 11-year-old at a week-long summer camp on Sunday afternoon. B was more than ready to stretch his proverbial wings, while I was a bucket of nerves. Earlier in the week my stomach knotted each time he mentioned the number of days until he left. By Saturday, he was giving me an hourly countdown, and I was contemplating ways to convince him to stay home, including payment, if... [Read More]

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Our Morning With a Bee Swarm
By     |    May 27, 2014
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Our Morning With a Bee Swarm

I was making breakfast and heard our third grader yell from our front room, “There’s a giant nest in our tree.” I dismissed the comment. Each morning there’s talk about some nest in some tree in our yard. Not until two boys came running into the kitchen proclaiming the “nest” was moving did I pay attention. My husband went to check out the moving nest and found thousands of bees crawling over each other in our ash tree. We had... [Read More]

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