In April we decided to hit the open road before the wild summer season and before heading back into the teaching world. I knew I wanted to spend some uncontrolled quality time with the family. We have a camper, so I thought lets hit the wide open road and head to California. When planning route and locations for a 2.5 week road trip I knew we had to hit some must see spots, but also keep a steady schedule.
Before planning the big trip it was important to update Ethel and I wanted to do an interior face lift so we would have a little glamping lifestyle on the road. Here are some simple iphone photos of the reno which took about 3 days with breaks of chasing a 2 & 4 year old around.
Next Phase: Packing: OMG packing, we were on a strict budget for our trip so we wanted to bring as much as we could in the camper and truck and get what we needed in route.
The first big order which we use every day was a Tonneau Cover for our truck. I feel like this was one of the most important purchases because we did lots of tail gating and we packed our clothes for all season types in the back of the truck. Not only was is great for added weather protection but also security of your goods.
Up next we needed a foldable table set that was compact enough for our truck, I guess we really didn’t need it due to the fact we ate inside the camper a lot, on the tail gate and also most camp grounds have picnic tables, but I really wanted one, we went for this one, simple and affordable and we did use it a lot but looking back not a necessity.
Here is my crazy list we packed, some have links for products and some were in the house. Just note we went in April and the whole country so we had to pack for rain, snow and hot Cali sun.
1.) Rain Gear, we love our LL Bean rain gear which we thankfully have found at second hand thrift stores.
2.) Each person 3 pairs of shorts, 14 pairs of socks, 7 t shirts, 5 pairs of pants, 5 long sleeve shirts 2 sweatshirts, thermal layers, snow pants, 1 winter coat, one wool sweater, 1 winter hat, 1 sun hat, 1 pair of gloves, (Oni had a cute romper and I packed a dress and a jean coat for fun options.) 1 pair of boots, 1 pair of sneakers/hiking shoes, 1 pair of sandals and I brought my favorite clogs. 8 towels 1 bathing suit. 4 pairs of cozy pajamas and 2 pairs of light weight pajamas.
3.) We packed all of our normal sized toiletries. A good thing about having a camper was we put those all in a storage tub and we were ready to go, no need for travel size stuff.
4.) Each kid was given a shoe size box to put their favorite toys in to bring. My son loaded his with legos and cars, and my daughter had random stuff from play dough, to rocks to a baby doll.
5.) Books: This was hard for me, we read a lot and a lot on the road and in the camper, but books are heavy!!! So we packed 15 books, and I got sick of re reading them, but to me it was worth it, but my husband thought it was over board.
6.) I still had to work on the trip, edit, email, phone calls etc. We changed our plan to unlimited data and I had my camera, laptop, phone and dare I say it, my ipad preloaded with 14 episodes of pawpatrol and 4 movies. Geoff brought his beloved old school ipod and his phone. (Yes we watched movies on the trip some days zero some days all of them, it was a godsend in the car, but it was not allowed outside of the car because we wanted to connect with America’s iconic spots and nature.
Next was mapping it out, which we did very little of, we used and LOVED the app Roadtrippers, mainly we hit the road with a general destination and start driving. We only had a few must do items. 1.) Visit as many National Parks as possible and 2.) Rt. 66 for our love of everything vintage, and my sons love for the movie Cars. 3.)Make it to Palm Springs for Easter with my cousin.
I found this facebook post in April right after our trip which is a great summary of traveling with toddlers.
“Hauling our butts back home, it is bitter sweet. I loved this family time. We have been in close quarters and haven’t killed each other yet, in fact we have had a blast, and are even a closer family. I mean 85% of this trip we are literally an arms reach away from each other.
Every time I travel I learn something new about me. I’m one of those people who is never content and want to aspire to be a better person & or do something different/ more. We decided to do this trip to show our children the country and to connect with the earth while focusing on simplifying our lives for a bit before the wild photo season starts again.I needed to feel that spark of creativity and connection again. Additional and personally I needed to reconnect with America. I want to be proud to be an American, and I needed this so bad for my soul. America really is beautiful “America the Beautiful” is no joke, this country is insane. One day we were in the desert and the next day driving through a snow storm (no joke) .
Things I now know about me… I want to be a cowgirl in Utah and or Montana, I need horses, but Geoff is afraid of them, so I may get a goat or two. I am working hard on becoming a hiker with kids, I have so much pride in watching Rourke scale a mountain side with pride and confidence while Onora is kicking my back and pulling my hair . I love hats, to cover greasy hair, and not to mention they are a perfect fashionable accessory, along with an added layer between my daughters sticky fingers and my scalp. I’m a pretty bad ass mom who learned to let go of a lot of her anxiety with kids on this trip and let them guide me on how to get their needs met to be successful in the car for long trips. Boys have it way easier on road trips since they can pee anywhere, including cups. New respect for big rig drivers. Ladies gets lots of waves from truckers when you are towing a camper. We love music. We love fresh fruits and veggies and miss the days we were eating crackers. I love moving my body, sitting for long periods is a pain in the back and ass. X country with a vintage camper is not all fun and games, if you want to do it.. get a new rig, you’ll thank me for this advice. I always thought America was over developed, in fact there is so much beautiful land, wide open spaces, beautiful fields, farms and mountains. I miss my family and girl clan. I love national parks for so many reasons; for their beauty, the connection I feel with the land, the emotions I feel there, the park rangers, the preservation of animals AND the fact no cell service or wifi. We all can go a few days with out shower and still have fun. Time zones changes are the devil, and you can hit two in one day. We let go of sleep patterns for kids they slept when they did and if they were asleep and something cool was there we woke them up.
There really is no day off with self employment I was answering emails and calls / dropped calls every day. So if I have been slow at getting back to you it is due to limited cell service, I usually can find WIFI and will try to email.
America is huge 2 weeks is tough to do what we did, next time a month so we can stay in places longer. But now I want to drive to Canada and Mexico ( I don’t know if Geoff will haha)
When I get back I cant wait to mow the lawn, hug olive, check on the chickens and make a new goal for me as a woman, mother, daughter, friend, educator and small business owner.”