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The next part of our journey, up the coast on the 101. We had stayed at the “Thillton,” the name that my Uncle Mike gave my grandparents house so we could feel “fancy.” It was super creative and made the already awesome stay, a little bit more entertaining…he got us a pool to splash in and everything!
There were more adventures that needed to take place, which meant we had to say our farewells and continue on our journey. We headed up the coast. After driving all day, collecting glass pieces from Glass Beach and driving through the Drive Through Tree, we stayed at a tiny Airbnb that night, just to sleep. The next day we came to the town of Klamath, CA and saw a shop with a fire going outside that said, “Salmon Jerky”. What, um, yes we stopped to try some of that! Sadly, they were out of jerky, so we had some delicious candied and smoked salmon instead. Worth it! I had heard of this place called Trees of Mystery when I was planning this trip and we almost didn’t stop, but I am thrilled that we did. Wow…let me tell you, a beautiful, almost majestic hike up to an aerial tramway that takes you through the trees and up the mountain. The story of Paul Bunyan was scattered throughout the exit of the hike after the ride. It was fascinating to see all the sculptures that were created in the wood. All of us felt so at peace here. I am so glad we took the time to stop when we almost kept driving through.
I know that this moment is so perfect. we made it to this incredible Airbnb. The one I was most excited about the entire trip. We are staying in a cabin made into a tree house in the forest that overlooks the ocean called the Bluebird House. The only thing that becomes a distraction are the cars that drive by on the 101 not far behind me. Somehow though, even then it doesn’t bother me too much. The breathtaking beauty is enough to overwhelm that sound. It almost becomes soothing. I said at one point yesterday when we arrived, “I could live here.” My daughter said, “No you couldn’t, Mom, you’d get bored.” Ha! She was right. I wouldn’t get bored of the ocean or even of the trees, but I would get bored of the small town life. I just need to make sure I continue to do things like this, so I stay connected to nature, which connects me to myself. I am truly grateful that Dave came along. It is helping with the stress of the kids. I still would be doing all of it and it would be fine. It would just be different. I know I’d be more worn out. There were already parts of me that was a little anxious about having another week with him here, I’m sure I’d feel that even more if he wasn’t.
I think being here at the Bluebird House, at the halfway point of our two-week road trip was the best decision I made. It is perfect. The kids can play, and the adults can breathe. There is a dog, named Ratatouille, whom we were greeted by upon arrival and a donkey, named Dora, that the host, Cynthia introduced us to. The kids were thrilled they could play with them. It was so awesome being able to sit up on the deck that overlooked the trees straight to the ocean, sip on my wine and watch the kids explore and play. It is definitely a memory they won’t forget.
We were here for two days. The first night we built a fire in the fire pit and roasted marshmallows and ate smores…my favorite! Yum! The second day we took a hike with Cynthia and her “crew” on a trek to a waterfall that dropped down into the ocean. It was a beautiful place to have a picnic on the rocks with that beautiful view. It was quite the hike though and we were all completely exhausted when we got back. Luckily, I had taken some Ibuprofen when we first started that Dave decided to bring because my back started hurting right away, but I was bound and determined to do this. We knew going down was going to be the easy part! It took us just over three hours round trip. That included our time on the cliff eating the delicious sandwich lunch we packed.
Getting back we were exhausted, so we had some drinks on the balcony while the kids played with the dog and donkey again and made delicious burgers for dinner. This place was magical. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for an experience to remember.
Monday came and we left the tree house to head up the coast some more, through the Redwoods. The next spot was a condo overlooking the beach in Lincoln City, OR. As much as I loved the other spots, this one called to my soul. The ocean is my sanctuary and being that close was sensational. Lincoln City was great. They have a fabulous restaurant called Dory’s Cove that we ate at twice. Our favorite dish was their mouthwatering crab cake benedict and of course we had to go back for the clam chowder. The two days we were there was filled with water fun. We were able to not only play at the beach, but also found Devil’s Lake and were able to swim for a couple hours until the fog cleared from the ocean and went down to splash in the waves.
What I love so much about this trip is that we were able to experience every kind of water fun. From pools, to lakes, to oceans, and even rivers. I am so grateful that my kids’ dad, my ex, came along. Most people can’t say that. I am grateful that even though there were moments of tension, we were able to work through them and have this incredible experience for our kids, and for us. Without him there, I never would have been able to help my dear friend with her fundraiser for as many hours as I did, and we never would have gone boating the next day with their family. It was not what was planned, but ended up even better. It was a perfect way to end our trip. The last day home was just driving. Twelve hours in the car went by quickly. The kids were awesome and we were all excited to get home to get ready and start school that next week.
Thank you all for following our trip. See you again on our next adventure!
If anyone is interested in experiencing an Airbnb, please feel free to use my link by clicking HERE!
. I love the idea of taking trips with my kids. I love being able to do the daily routine up getting them up and ready for school. I love the idea of being able to be home when they get out. A huge part of me not wanting to have a “normal” job is so I can do these things with them. I don’t even need all the lavish adventures all I need is something new. I want to experience the world in ways that are unique. That is one reason why, as expensive as it was, I love the part of this trip where my ex husband, Dave, my eleven year old, Dani, my seven year old son, and I were driving through the desert, if there wasn’t a gas station where it was we would have ran out of gas, and then our air conditioning suddenly stopped working. It was 116 degrees and it was right before we hit the town of Indio, CA.
“Whew! That was a close one for gas. High five!”
Dave laughed, “Yeah, that would have been bad.” Suddenly the air that was blasting through the car turned from cold, to warm. I stuck my hand in front of it.
“Do you feel that?” I asked, it was getting hard to breath because of the heat that was starting to suffocate the car.
“Yeah…um…maybe it’s just because it was working too hard. Let’s pull over at our next stop and I’ll check the freon. Everyone, roll your windows down.” Dave turned off the ac and we all rolled down our windows. I hoped it was only the freon. I checked for the nearest Walmart and it was in Palm Desert about 45 minutes away.
“Kids, this is all part of the adventure. It’s going to get hot.” Luckily Dave had bought two gallons of water because a couple in their 20’s were leaking water pretty bad and he wanted to have it on hand encase we passed them broken down so we could help. Little did we know, we would need it for us. I wet down a bandanna for Dani and DeeJ’s shirt. In the process I spilled water all over my lap, not complaining! I was wearing lacy cream colored shorts and a light tank top. I had put on one of those front stick on bras for the day so I would be more comfortable, but in this kind of heat, it was starting to unstick and slide becoming very uncomfortable. I ended up just taking it off. At this point, comfort was the only thing that mattered.
We eventually made it to the Walmart and since I didn’t have a bra and it was too hard to unpack, I took the kids inside to cool off. “I’ll just buy a cheap sports bra here so I can be a little more respectable.”
“Chalese?” Dave grabbed the bottom of my cream colored shorts, “What’s that?” I looked back at my bottom and it was covered in a brown substance.
“Mommy! It looks like you pooped your pants!” Apparently, there had been coffee spilled and dried to my seat when the water covered my lap, it triggered the dried coffee and got onto my butt!
“Well, looks like I’ll be getting shorts too!” Wind blown hair, dried on sweat, no bra, coffee stained shorts in the perfect spot for the assumption of explosive diarrhea…yep, a picture perfect Walmart meme…wow. I put my purse behind my butt and quickly went into the clothing section. Dave told Dani to walk behind me to keep me from being embarrassed and she helped me find shorts and a bra on clearance, (yes!) We quickly went through the self-checkout and bought my new outfit and I shot into the bathroom to change. Whew! Now I could at least relax a little. I got the kids a McFlurry and McDonalds while Dave stood out in the heat to see what was wrong with the ac. It, unfortunately, was not the freon. It was the compressor. Great. We had two and a half hours left until we made it to Wrightwood and by the time we got back into the car to brave the heat, within minutes it was 118 and rising. I took a picture of the temperature gauge at that point and then my phone overheated. We had to put our electronics in the cooler. It hit 120! The heat was intense and the sun blaring in was not only going to fry DeeJ and Dave, but it was making the car even hotter. We quickly pulled over and got blankets to cover the windows on that side and kept the window rolled down on Dani and my side. I got everything wet, again, and made a water bottle into a sprinkler for us…why I didn’t by I spray bottle, I don’t know, because that’s how we used to do it back in the day when we didn’t have air conditioning. We told the kids that this was all part of the adventure. Which it was. They were awesome through it all. No one complained. No one got upset. Everyone worked together and had great attitudes.
At one point DeeJ said, “It doesn’t feel as hot now. It actually is feeling nicer.” We looked at the temperature, it went down to 104, and he was right. It WAS nicer, as long as we kept moving. We were so close and got caught in a little bit of LA traffic, and that was a little rough, but we eventually made the turn off for Wrightwood and the temperature dropped more and more as we made our way into to mountains. We were able to get an appointment with our friend’s trusted mechanic for first thing in the morning. This meant that we had to change around some plans, and actually we ended up having to change around a good amount of plans because our car was not going to be done until the next day. I had a hotel that was too late to be cancelled, a friend we were supposed to meet and Spiderman who was going to surprise my kids and sign a poster that I was taking to a new heart warrior for Rainy Days Foundation. I was starting to get discouraged, but we took the kids to the Wrightwood Country Club so they could swim in the lake and then, our dear friend let us borrow her car, since she had another one and wasn’t going to use it for the day which allowed us to head down to Los Angeles and still make some of our plans happen.
That was such a blessing and when we got to our Holiday Inn Express Walk of Fame hotel, it helps to be a platinum member because we got an upgrade to a beautiful two story room with a view of the Hollywood sign, which is what Dani really wanted to see while we were there!
Dave and I took the kids on the Walk of Fame and experienced the chaos of Hollywood, get a hot dog from a street vendor, take fun pictures, by souvenirs, go back to our lovely room, let the kids swim and ordered pizza. My friend wasn’t able to meet up with me anyway that afternoon, so that worked out, Spiderman got pushed to the next morning, so that worked out and I still got to go to another friend’s comedy show and laugh my butt off, so that worked out as well.
The next morning, we found out our car was going to be done early afternoon, so the surprise of Spiderman was pulled of successfully. (Click here for the video of that moment.) The kids even had a chance to go swim, yet again, and we made it to our car which meant we would make it to our next stop, Merced, to see Grandma and Grandpa only 9 hours late and $900 less than planned. (The car problem ended up being the compressor and if we didn’t get it fixed it could have froze the serpentine belt and seized the engine. Didn’t want to risk that!) Even though I really wanted that time with my grandparents, and was discouraged about that for a bit, we all realized the blessings that took place and how this now became one of the best stories of our adventure and an experience to remember for a lifetime!
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Traveling with children. What it is not…a vacation. What it is…an opportunity to make memories and create experiences. So, since we are keeping it real, I am going to let you know how this mom makes it tolerable and as fun as possible. I am not going to say it will make it stress free. I am not going to lie and say it’s a piece of cake…nope. What I am going to say, is that I do things to keep my kids entertained and distracted from the “are we there yet,” “I’m bored,” and “there’s nothing to do’s.” The first thing I do is make sure we have plenty of movies and a couple of games downloaded on our Kindle Fire so we don’t need to worry about WIFI connection through the desert. Then I make sure that they have plenty activities. I always make sure that there is a travel pack they have. This year, since we are gone until three days before school starts, their travel packs were also their school backpacks for the year. They also both got an outfit. The backpacks and outfits were ordered through The Children’s Place. They also each got a mad libs book, (Avengers and Star Wars addition,) a cd with different raps on it to learn the presidents, a map, crayons, origami papers and a beginner’s book, a travel bingo and scavenger hunt game, as well as travel journals. To make my life easier I ordered all these products online from Amazon. The hope is that these items will keep my kids entertained for the next 15 days.
Last night I filled and set out their backpacks and eventually got to bed. I slept okay but was excited about the trip and woke up at 4:42AM, unable to get back to sleep. I knew this was going to make things harder for me today, because even though I was running on adrenaline now, eventually it was going to wear off. And boy, was I right.
We got the car packed up and away we went. First stop was to get a gift we are going to be delivering to a new heart warrior for Rainy Days Foundation. (That will be talked about in a later post.) Then we were southbound to our next stop to pick plums at a friend’s house. We picked a few bags of lemon plums, which, (fun fact,) according to some research are rare in America due to import laws! Back in the car we went with our little “balls of sunshine” that we now will get to deliver to loved ones on our trip and share the wealth. We looked it up on Google maps and found that by taking a different route and making a couple of unplanned visits, we would only add on seven minutes, (plus visiting time,) to our trip and make a lot more people smile. Sure enough, we did. Little balls of sunshine were left in Gunnison and Salina, Utah. The hugs and the smiles were worth the extra time. The experience my children were able to have in giving was priceless.
Next stop, ice cream in Beaver, UT. Let me pause right here to talk about the stress and tension that had been building up in my car. As I stated before, traveling with children, mostly referring to my seven-year-old son, is not the easiest, stress free, situation I could have put myself in. My son, DeeJ, has a way of getting under my skin so easily, especially when I am tired and cranky. I can’t even tell you what it was that pushed me over the edge, which, as a mom, is very frustrating. I’m trying to make memories with my kids. I don’t want them to remember me irritated and snapping at them the whole time. I get annoyed with myself when I lose patience with them, this happens more with my son. The whining is like nails on a chalkboard and it gets under my skin so fast. Going to get ice cream now became more of a chore, but they were excited about it and it was something that, at this point, was going to be a stress relief. I realized that my son was tired, like me. He was also probably getting hungry. So, The Creamery was the place we stopped, not just for ice cream, but for squeaky cheese and beef jerky too. (The jerky was a recommendation and did not fail to meet our expectations.) DeeJ ordered a scoop of Smores Brownie ice cream, my eleven-year-old daughter, Dani, had Cotton Candy and I got the Coconut ice cream. We got in the car and after my GPS finally decided it wanted to work again, we were on our way. I had to breathe for a bit by listening to music and finishing my ice cream. When I am like that, I don’t want to do any of the games that I got for the trip. I just need no talking and music to decompress. After finishing their ice cream, DeeJ finally fell asleep in the car. I knew that he was tired, I was drained, and just wanted to get to the hotel in Springdale and eat dinner and go to bed.
I am fueled by the energy of the land. The rocks, the beauty of the atmosphere automatically gave me a sense of peace. The Holiday Inn Express Springdale hotel was beautiful. The room that we got upgraded to a suite was amazing. The pool was refreshing and the view was incredible. If it wasn’t for that annoying kid that even DeeJ had to ask to stop spraying him with water, it would have been exactly what the doctor ordered. (Literally, he wants me to make sure that I get in the pool and do some exercises for my back as often as possible.) We didn’t stay as long as we normally would have, so we got out, dried off and went across the parking lot to eat some dinner. The food at Jack’s Sports Grill hit the spot. The night ended with a much-needed bath in the jetted tub. The bed was comfortable and the pillows were soft and it didn’t take long to drift off to dreamland. Sleeping would be good, because tomorrow was a long day on the road and I was bound and determined to make it better than today. Sometimes, even when things aren’t exactly going how it is planned, it doesn’t mean you give up. It means you keep reaching, you keep pushing through, you learn to go with the flow and find the rhythm, making the best of a situation. And maybe, the kids will remember their mom being able to find a way to keep going and not only the frustration that she endured to get there.