As I was gearing up for summer with the kids, I started thinking about what sorts of activities I could be doing with them. A road trip sounded like such a fun idea, even though I knew it would be a big undertaking.
My kids are no strangers to traveling, and I knew that setting specific travel distances for each day would be key. The big thing, though, was the destination. A good friend of mine lives in Ashland, Oregon which is an 800 mile trip from our home in Los Angeles. That was the perfect mileage for a roadtrip with my kids!
As the plans progressed, I invited my sister-in-law and her son, who is 12. The more the merrier I say! She was unable to join us, but her son was.
With the crowd, a minivan sounded like the perfect travel vessle; we would need to rent one. The kids would have enough space between them so they wouldn’t bug each other, and at the end of the trip, I didn’t have to be a “mini van mom.”
We picked up the ‘Adventure Van’ the night before our trip and loaded up. I went to the grocery and bought tons of healthy snacks, fruits, veggies, nuts, hummus, etc. One of the most important things to remember when taking a road trip is that, when people get hungry, it’s best to have something healthy to snack on in the car. This helps prevent the constant stops at whatever fast food place you drive past.
My first goal was a little under 200 miles away in San Luis Obispo. This was our beach break to swim, run, climb, and let loose. I chose a beach that allowed dogs and was family friendly. It turned out to be a GREAT choice. The kids ran, swam, threw balls with dogs and ate from my prepacked cooler! We stayed at the beach for an hour and a half and then loaded back up.
My next goal was another 200 mile drive to Santa Cruz, but the kids were really enjoying the drive. I decided to keep going and made it to Half Moon Bay. Since I didn’t have a hotel room reserved, and it was late, I had to go with what I could find. I was hoping for a pool so the kids could burn off some energy but that didn’t happen. Instead, we ended up jumping on beds and having pillow fights. Whatever works, right? The next morning, we enjoyed the continental breakfast that was provided. We had hard boiled eggs for protein and waffles. Not too shabby!
We then loaded up and headed for Shasta Lake. We were all excited for some outdoor hiking and adventures. While the kids were sleeping at the hotel, I had spent some time on the computer looking up hikes. I knew that 2 miles round trip would probably be our max. At the lake, we set out for our hiking adventure day full of energy and excitment. It was beautiful!
We then drove through San Francisco which was thrilling (and nerve racking for myself as the driver). It was so nice to see the scenery change from big city to rural in just a matter of miles. Entering the Mount Shasta area was breathtaking. The views were more than we could handle, and we were all anxious to get out and explore. Unfortunately, the visitor center was closed, and we were unable to locate the hike I had found.
We decided to stop at the next turn off. We had no plan, but that was okay. I strapped my 2 year-old to my back and helped the others as we explored through the woods, crossed a stream and some railroad tracks, and then came to a flowing river. The kids wanted to get in and I was all for it, until we realized the current was fairly strong. After jumping in with my jeans on to pull my 7-year-old out, I decided this might be a bit much for a mom plus four, so we went back to the stream.
At the stream, the kids played for nearly two hours, wading, swimming, getting muddy, and playing with sticks. I didn’t have a camera with me, but it was one of the most beautiful moments of the trip! There was no fighting, screaming, or complaining. Just enjoying nature and all it has to offer.
After exerting so much energy, the kids were ready for food and the final leg of the drive. We had just under 200 miles to go, and we made it to our desitination by 6 p.m. It was time to relax and explore Ashland!
We had so much fun together exploring the west coast and spending time as a family.
The moral of the story is that you can teach your children so much about the world when you get them out from behind the computer or TV and show them the real thing. Raising active and healthy kids is easier when you choose to explore with them. You’ll build amazing memories together to look back on when they’re all grown.