Tag Archives: road trips

I Found Radiator Springs On The Way To The Grand Canyon

5 Aug

Staycations are my jam.

With two kids active in sports throughout the school year, the summer budget for Destination Vacations Extraordinaire often become limited. But this year I decided to find an adventure, either road tripping or checking out the scene from an airplane above, this was the year we took a mini-vacation and explored something awesome that was not in our neighborhood.

I also thought it would be a good present for all of us seeing how July was full of birthdays and we didn’t have a grand celebration, travel and adventure would be our gift.

So … we took on The Grand Canyon. But I decided to make it more than just a driving road trip … we’d take the train too. The Grand Canyon deserved that.

It’s one of the most amazing forces of nature I’ve witnessed and thought it would be a great way to explore the outdoors and appreciate a little corner of our country that the kids had yet to discover. We had a couple of crashers joining us, as my family came into town and decided to see The Canyon too. I had no idea they hadn’t experienced it. Seeing how I’d been there and gone white water rafting before I had kids, I felt like I had a good sense of where we could go. But seeing how it was family and multiple personalities vary at times, we thought it best for everyone’s sanity and comfort that we take two separate vehicles and travel with plenty of leg room in caravan fashion. Best. Decision. Ever.

The road trip began with 80s and 70s songs, as well as the kids’ feel-good songs from current artists. Goodbye Stranger by Supertramp, followed by Funkytown, Earth Wind and Fire, and Duran Duran were some of the highlights that pumped us up while sitting in traffic. I feel that the Car DJ’s biggest responsibility is ensuring the mood in the car remains at a steady I-Woke-Up-Today-and-I-Feel-Good-Like-Saturday-Morning Cartoons-When-I-Was-A-Kid-Good kind of feeling.  You need a good car DJ until the radio gives out on you and all you hear is static. It’s about that time that movies come out on the road trip … Kung Fu Panda and Cars were in the possible in-transit movies for the day, and then an awesome podcast for the adults in my car. I had no idea what type of hangry was going on in the other car, but I imagine everyone had a different road trip routine to keep the journey fun.

But I didn’t think of the heat.

The fact that it was 114 degrees the day we left worried me a little. There was a fire right off the highway and a detour needed to be taken. The Arizona climate will be hotter than this I thought … I was grateful for over packing gallons of water and sunscreen. Adventure awaits in heat or rain, the journey is there.

But I had no idea Arizona, or The Canyon, had something called monsoon season. It was a sweet 86 degrees when we arrived at our first overnight pit stop. Williams, Arizona.

 

 

I felt like a tourist walking around in the evening through town and at peace when I woke up for my early morning run.

 

 

We stayed at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel. The rooms and staff at our hotel were very welcoming and pleasant.

 

 

Everyone in our caravan was satisfied with the place, and that definitely says something. There are a lot of strong opinions in this travel posse, so the fact that everyone enjoyed the hotel after a long drive was a bonus.

Stopping by this little Radiator Springs kind of town made me feel like Huell Howser. I loved Huell Howser and his travel programs. If you don’t know Huell Howser you need to look him up … you probably have someone like that in your neck of the woods. He enjoyed uncovering hidden gems, exploring all parts of California, and inspiring others to get to know the awesomeness of their state. It definitely brought some needed energy, and curiosity zest for the journey.

I was enjoying the vacation me … and this was only the pit stop.

Stay tuned …

Buen Camino my friends.

 

 

 

 

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Windmills, Æbleskiver, and My Uncle Erick

23 Sep

A ride along the coast through windy roads and mountain tops, through heavy clouds and mist, I found the small town that sparked the sunshine and gave us smiles good enough to be sealed in by the Jar of Awesome.

 

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With all the wineries and quaint feel good vibes of this small town, I had a flashback of Miles from the movie Sideways and his wine-tasting montage, without the comedic angry outbursts, of course. I was out and about on a quick getaway to find out what this Danish Days Festival was all about, and in the process I discovered the awesomeness of Æbleskiver.

 

 

Now I couldn’t even pronounce it. But they knew what I wanted when I got there and this was the place to get them. I was lucky to come before the lunch time rush and I only had to wait about ten minutes in line. But after I got my order, the people behind me weren’t so lucky. The line got pretty crazy and they were there at least 30 minutes.

Yeah. They were that good. Flaky, fluffy, sweet, tasty treats sprinkled with powered sugar and hitting the spot.

Now normally I wouldn’t drive about three hours anywhere for food I could probably buy in the melting pot of our culinary city, but this little town was a place my Uncle Erick liked to go to when family visited from out of town. He enjoyed the drive along the coast, the vibe of the place, the peace of a small town, the wineries, pastry and coffee shops on every corner. He enjoyed feeling like a tourist as he walked around admiring the architecture and enjoying the food. He smiled when he was there. It probably reminded him of his trip to Europe, and he liked the quick three-hour getaway down memory lane. I felt it would be a good excuse to go, Danish Days Festival, I mean come on … Viking stuff, Legos, woodcarving, music, dancing, kids jamboree, parades, and tiny wooden shoes.

This spoke of adventure. As soon as I told my kids Legos and food with powered sugar was involved they were on board.

 

 

And so we toured the place and felt the vibe. I could see what my Uncle Erick enjoyed about it, but most of all I remembered my Uncle Erick and his willingness for three-hour road trips just to get the family together, just to try something new. I remembered my uncle as I watched the woodcarver make art from blocks of Redwood, I remembered my Uncle Erick as we watched the parade, I remembered my Uncle Erick as I saw the windmills and the city sign, I remembered my Uncle Erick as I sat to eat the Æbleskiver,  I remembered my Uncle Erick, the dreamer who always wanted something better and never stopped looking for it, the one who loved his daughter above all else, the one I looked up to as a kid, and the one my kids never met because he died before they were born, but I know he would loved to hang out with them.

I remembered my Uncle Erick and told stories about him all day.

Buen Camino my friends.

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Road Trips and Rain Man

1 Jul

Road trips make or break a family, whether it’s an hour escape to the beach, three-hour drive to Legoland, or a longer one across state lines. They often remind me of Chevy Chase’s quest to have a great vacation for his own family.

So when I recently packed the car, filled up the gas tank, and took off, I went with fingers crossed that I wouldn’t have to stop the car and resort to my “mom” voice. Road trip adventure. Definitely a Bucket List item, but one I feared. Road trips. I love them and hate them. I hadn’t taken the kids on a road trip this long, four hours had been the maximum, so when this unexpected trip happened I wondered whether we’d make it up Highway 5 for six hours. I remember taking road trips in the 80s, when my dad would pile us in the brown station wagon, no computers or Game Boys back then, just hangman or sleep.  Three hours back then seemed like forever, but now I was on the verge of a six-hour adventure.

Woo-Hoo!

And whenever anyone goes on a road trip, some memories stand out more than others. I enjoy the pictures, some of them help me remember things that belong in The Jar of Awesome. Everyone has different highlights of their family trips and some end up being spectacular National Geographic photos, while others get sent to the recycling bin. I get lucky and take one awesome shot from time to time. But this was more of my Rain Man adventure.

I love that movie. I’ve seen it hundreds of times, and Dustin Hoffman rocked it. I still have it on VHS and I crack myself up that I still own it this way.

Anyhow during the movie they go on a road trip and Rain Man documents the trip with a camera. He takes pictures of important things and then pretty random things. He’s taking it all in. His pictures come out at the end of the movie when the credits are rolling. Some of the pictures that my kids took reminded me of  that scene. Landscapes. Sunny faded out landscapes. It brought a smile to my face and helped me remember the different points along the road.

The pictures reminded me to keep things slow, that sometimes random moments are good ones, that patience on a road trip is essential, and most of all unplug myself from the world when I can, which in truth comes fairly easy because the Internet and social media aren’t really all that important. Netflix and mobster movies … well that’s something else. And you can’t really blame me either, I mean Rain Man could not even unplug himself from Judge Wapner. Five minutes to Wapner. Five minutes to Wapner.

Buen Camino my friends!

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The Beginning … sort of.

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 … of our long windy road …

 

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running into multiple farms on our way …

 

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… taking our best Rain Man photos …

 

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… on our five-six hour journey up the highway …

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… with a couple of pit stops on our way …

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To our final destination …

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