This road trip will be one that I look back on for years as such a good idea. And I'll give 100% credit to my husband because while I did want to go somewhere, I was totally scared to do it with the kids. But being the awesome guy he is, he basically planned it out in the time it took me to get two kids through their bedtime routines. I was skeptical at first, but 90 minutes post bedtime we had planes tickets purchased, a car rental lined up, and reservations made for 6 hotels. Honestly, traveling with a 2 and 5 year old isn't much fun, but I had to make the realization that traveling with young kids is as much for you as it is for them. If we wait until they're old enough to fully remember a trip, they'll be limited by school schedules. We also forfeit giving ourselves adventurous vacations in the meantime. So we pushed through it and gave it a go. And I'm so glad we did.
To start out our trip, we flew from Houston to San Francisco. Amazingly we scored these plane tickets for a really good price. I'm not sure if it was the time of year or that we booked them only a month early, but it definitely helped keep the trip affordable.
We woke up the kids at 3:30 to head to the airport and arrived in San Fran at about 9am local time. Foolishly, we thought we'd take a "quick" look at the Golden Gate bridge, but it ended up taking us most of the morning to get there and drive back out of the city. Gorgeous place, but the traffic was not fun.
Ephram had a tummy bug the night before we left and was in an awful mood that first day. So in order to get at least one smile out of him, Beau tickle attacked him.
Once we were out of the main city, we made a pit stop for food at In-N-Out Burger. I'm not even a burger person and these were amazing. Keeping my fingers they open up one in Houston soon.
Then off to Yosemite we went!
So beautiful and the perfect time for the kids to take a nap and rest up for the rest of our day.
The waterfalls, bridges, and large trees were a hit with the kids.
By the time the sun was setting and we were heading to our hotel, it was 7pm (9pm @ home). Alwyn had a meltdown as we left the park but recomposed himself on the 20 minute drive to the hotel. Lucky for me because I couldn't pass up these mountain lupine (bluebonnets) during sunset without forcing them into a few photos.
The next morning we left very early (thanks to Alwyn waking up, hitting me in the eye, and then crying when I told him that it really hurt...) but made a stop at a cute coffee shop in Groveland, CA and I caught a quick snap of my absolute favorite flower: lilacs.
Day 2: Sequoia National Park!
The trees were breathtaking. I don't think a photo can truly do it justice.
Vertical panoramas with the iPhone were about as good as you could get at capturing them.
On our way out of the park a storm blew up over the mountains. Seriously, this place is gorgeous!
We drove the rest of the day down to San Diego, arriving just as the sun set.
Beau has purchased several rare palm trees from a nursery in San Diego, so the next morning he made a stop to check it out in person while the kids and I enjoyed a park with a view of the ocean.
And then we headed to the beach! Alwyn was actually quite scared of the waves, so we didn't spend much time there. Instead we walked along the pier and ate a the Ocean Beach Pier Cafe. So good. Definitely try the Lobster Tacos if you go.
We took a nap break after lunch, took a dip in the hotel pool, and then headed to Sunset Cliffs. Though, there was no way the kids would have lasted until sunset, so we just enjoyed what we could.
They loved finding barnacles and sea anemones in the rocks. And I about had a heart attack every 10 seconds worrying they'd slip on those cliffs.
Day 4 we headed east to Arizona. We made a pit stop in Dateland, AZ before making a slight detour up to Phoenix. I still can't believe I did a hand stand with THE Becky Higgins (creator of Project Life). But it did in fact happen and it was great to meet them in person and see their new office space.
Afterwards we drove to Tucson, the place I was born. Totally unplanned, we booked a hotel right near the house my parents and I lived and the building my dad had worked. So of course we needed to stop and visit.
I grew up sort of infatuated with the desert since I had been born there (meaning it must have been awesome!) and after visiting at age 16, the infatuation sort of diminished. I'm really not sure why though since it is quite amazing to see those saguaro cactuses.
The desert is gorgeous.
Day 5: White Sands!
I wish we'd had more time here, but it just means that I *know* I'll be back here again someday. In fact, it's one place the boys have mentioned over and over since we've been back home. And Ephram still confuses it with snow - clearly my Minnesota born son hasn't had much experience with snow.
Alwyn wasn't too thrilled with using the sleds after this happened. I just had to take a quick picture before consoling him.
I could have played here all day long. But we had a hotel reservation in El Paso to get to, so off we went.
On our last day, we drove to Big Bend National Park. And once again, I was in awe of all the bluebonnets.
The water level of the Rio Grande was so low, we technically stepped into Mexico!
The dried up mud in the river was so fantastic.
This is another spot I'd love to come back to. It was a cloudy day and the kids were getting a little cranky, so we didn't get out and look around much except at the river.
Overall, it was a great trip. Driving so much meant that the kids had plenty of time to rest and catch a nap, but Beau and I could still see a lot. We discovered new areas that we've never seen before and would love to visit again when the kids are older. And though they likely won't have a ton of memories of this trip, giving them this experience and sharing the photos with them in the coming years will help grow their appreciation for travel.
Or so I hope, at least. :)