Thursday, July 28, 2016

Vacation Recap, part 1

 I blame my mother for my love of traveling.  The summer, she packed us into our little car with a bag of "prizes" in the back trunk and moved us half across the country to sunny, HOT California is a summer I will never forget.  We took that trip almost every summer and occasionally during Christmas vacation.  She made lots of stops, she made us learn and explore, and truly enjoy those long trips back to Grandma and Grandpa's house.  I want to do the same thing with our kids. 

My husband, whom I met on an airplane, also has a amazing desire to travel (God knew what he was doing when he put us together!).  For for our first anniversary, we flew to Chicago for a week of wandering and exploring downtown.  One of our fondest memories was walking back to our hotel from Navy Pier and watching the family in front of us.  A mom and dad walking with a stroller, baby, and 2 small children.  It was late and raining, they were probably tired after a full day of fun (we were!), but they were happy and loving the moment.   My husband and I have burried that memory deep within our hearts.  We want to be the kind of parents who take our kids on big trips and small adventures.  We want to give them that travel bug.  We want them to grow up appreciating God's creation and understanding that we are just a small part of His creation.  There is so much more to the world than our little neighborhood, school, church, and city.  We want them to see the diversity of His creation, the beauty and splendor of it all.  We hope and pray that they feel the joy that we do when we see amazing places with our own eyes. 

We have traveled every year since the kids were born.  Some trips were small and only a few hours away.  Others, have been long road trips with a 9 month old and thousands of miles.  Traveling with kids is fun, it gets easier as they get older, and is very different from traveling as childless adults.  We pack backpacks full of activities and stock up on lots of snacks to have on hand at all times (snacks can cure all sorts of crankiness!).  Then we just go.  We go and we go until we come and home and it's a blast.  Our kids grow so much during these adventures and that might just  be my most favorite part. 
 This year, our trip was the biggest trip we've ever taken as a family.  We drove to San Francisco for an evening of exploring before catching our flight to Denver the next morning. Our hotel had a free shuttle to the airport, so we took advantage of that and caught the bart from the airport into the city.  San Francisco is one of my happy places.  My husband and I have been going there since we met.  We've taken the boys on a few adventures here, but non that require lots of walking (which is what we love to do!).  This year, after a day of driving (with a quick stop at some outlets and a BMW dealership to see some of our favorite soccer players), we bravely walked hiked our boys from Market Street and Powell to Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39.  We saw the sea lions, Bertha, a beautiful bay sunset, rode the cable car part way back, and I even got to go to my favorite shops.  We had a blast! The kids did great!  I mean, San Francisco is all Hills and they were phenomenal!  I can't wait to take them more!

 The next morning, we got up.  We didn't have to rush, so we ate breakfast and went ahead and left for the airport a little early.  This was our first time flying Virgin Airlines and I was so impressed.  They were the nicest, most helpful people from the moment we checked in til we landed in Denver.  While Jon and I checked our luggage and got our tickets, one of the guys actually did a magic trick for the boys. Seriously, we flew Delta home and it was such the opposite experience, I told Jon I only want to fly virgin!  The kids were able to play video games, watch Disney channel shows, and Jon ordered some brownie bites from his seat.  We loved it!  When we landed, Weston had a temperature, so our plans for the evening were a little bit more relaxed.  Thankfully, Weston only had some sort 12 hour bug.  Part of me wonders if it was an allergic reaction to something he ate.  We will never know.  But, he was all smiles, and fever and throw-up free the next morning so we continued on our adventure to Cheyenne.  We stayed with my sister and her family and they showed us the sites of the town that has changed so much since I was a kid and lived there.  It was fun sharing memories of my childhood with the boys.  There is so much history in Cheyenne.  Someday, I want to take them during Frontier Days (which is actually this week), and spend the whole week exploring.  For a capital city, it is not very big, but it is beautiful.  My sister has a cute little yarn shop in downtown Cheyenne and there is the neatest coffee shop around the corner from it.  We even found a delicious donut shop that was half chinese food half donut shop. 
 Our stay in Cheyenne was short, but we fit as much as we could in this trip.  We had a long driving day up to the Black Hills.  Thank goodness for small towns with cute fabric shops to stop in and stretch my legs.  Sadly, a lot of fabric stores are closing or had already gone out of business, so I was only able to make it into 2 stores on this trip (sigh of relief from my husband. . . ha ha!). 

We stayed in Custer for 2 nights and it was probably one of our favorite parts of the whole trip.  Mt. Rushmore at night is my absolute favorite and it did not disappoint.  Ethan was able to get his first Jr. Ranger badge and he was hooked.  We had bought some really neat leveled readers about Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone before we left, and Ethan had learned a little about Jefferson and Washington at school.  He was so proud that he knew some of the answers to the questions all ready!

The next day we did Wind Cave and it was amazing.  Weston wasn't too sure about being that far underground, but he hasn't been able to stop talking about it!  The kids thought it was so cool to see prairie dogs in their natural habitat and not at the zoo (along with elk and antelope)  We spent the afternoon vegging out and doing laundry.  The kids watched lots of tv and played roblocks. . . after going non stop for several days, we just needed to take some time and rest . . . and clean our clothes.  That night we ate this delicious restaurant.  We knew it was going to be delicious because we had tried to eat there the night before, but it was a really long wait.  This time, we got there before they opened so we could get in right away! It was worth it.  We also had to try some of the local dessert shops. Ethan had the biggest ice cream in a waffle cone at the Purple Pie place.  I found a place that sold macarons with the nicest owners that just talk to you like you are old friends. 

 The next day, was another long driving day that included a stop at Devil's Tower.  There was lots of talk about aliens (ha ha ha).  Ethan was able to earn another Jr. Ranger badge.  It was really hot and so we only stayed a little bit, but it was well worth it.  We even went into one of the tiniest post offices to mail post cards.  One of the things Ethan did on this trip was send post cards to his BFF as we traveled and now his BFF is doing the same thing. 

This was a whirlwind trip and only a tid bit of what we did.  If you have any questions about traveling with kids feel free to comment and I will try to answer them in my next post.  Happy Traveling! 

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