family travel

The time between me writing about how sick I got on the drive northbound on the 1 to Pfeiffer Big Sur and this blog post is about how long that car ride felt! It took me a long time to put this together because every time I sat down to finish it up I had to fight a huge urge to pack up and head back. Silly, I know.

Now I am looking at making a weekend getaway with the kids during the fall. The fall colors in Big Sur are beautiful and I want to see them first hand!

When I was a kid I loved imaginary play and anything involving the woods, fairies, unicorns and all things mythical. Entering Big Sur was like stepping back into my childhood where I would pretend the trees in my front yard were big, beautiful storybook trees… except the trees were real and no imagination required.

Big Sur is breathtaking with the amazing coastlines, massive trees, freezing cold clear water and something right out of a story. It is clean everywhere you go and beauty in every step. I just felt peaceful there. It made me wonder why I have ever lived anywhere else other than there? Why I would want to look at any other scenery? I’m not this damn sentimental and weird but this place was just that damn amazing. Can you tell I really liked it!?

We camped in Pfeiffer Big Sur for six days and it was not long enough. Our trip was interesting because we arrived with friends who were there for half of the trip and had other friends staying at the second half and then some family staying in the middle. It was really cool though because (bluntly) after awhile you can get really sick of people you are camping with if you stay too long and the kids can start turning on each other. Unless you happen to know some people you just mesh that well with.

The campground hosts were extremely friendly, the camp store staff were informative and the lodge employees were like old friends always happy to see you. Basically, no one pissed me off! That is unheard of!!!

Except bluejays. They can all piss off.

The bluejays are extremely aggressive and will hunt your food down when you aren’t looking. Some were so bold they flew into the back of my truck when I left the cab and shell doors open. This made me think horrible things about nature. I no longer like bluejays and would have cooked one up had they been meatier. I learned to tolerate these damn birds.

My favorite part of the trip was when my friend Annie got chased down by a Wild Turkey. Seriously. It chased her, she screamed her head off while running and I was bummed I didn’t record the whole damn thing! I love Annie and our rad friendship… and I love even more that we have this collection of amazing memories of ridiculous things happening to her that I mock her endlessly for them and her husband joins in on the fun.

And she is still my friend despite this. One day I am going to write about the coffee bean incident or when Annie almost blew her eyebrows off and herself up over mushroom burgers.

So yeah, avoid this turkey if you have a camera in your hand, are blonde and goddessy and are named Annie:

Wild Turkey - Annie Are You Okay?

We visited Pfeiffer State Beach and it was beautiful. It reminded me of the beach out of Goonies “Heeey, yoooou guuuuys!” but I was way off. My son, of course, found the most phallic thing on the beach and dragged it around the whole time. This is very typical of him.

Taaa Daaaa BEACH!

We loved everything about this camping trip! The walks around the campground, hiking to Pfeiffer Falls where the Redwoods made my thighs look fat, Vlogging about Carmageddon, enjoying the scenery, avoiding poison oak, running from skunks (Annie decided to run from one and then chase it up a hill), swimming in freezing cold water, having lunch on a rock cliff watching for otters, drinking… a lot… and creating lifelong memories. There is so much to do in Big Sur that we didn’t even scratch the surface!

Hiking with his baby Joshua

Coastline in Big Sur

Diving for Dumpster Pastries!? Well, there is a story here for another time

Do you see the otter? Well, me either!

My friend Charla and her family joined us on this trip. She is an amazing photographer and has a blog full of photo eyecandy. Here are a couple shots she took and blogged about. You should hop on over to the Charla Blue Blog and see the rest of her pictures from our trip!

I'm a big kid... taken by Charla Blue www.charlablueblog.com

My Son is Hilarious... my mouth is huge... taken by Charla Blue www.charlablueblog.com

 

I uploaded more pictures on Flickr.

I’m genuinely considering moving up the coast to that area. I love Southern California but there is something about the Big Sur and Monterey area that makes me feel like I should be there. Next year I plan on staying up there a lot and exploring… I’ve even looked into being a camp host over the summer! I sound kind of crazy so I should probably stop writing and obsess over planning my next adventure up there.

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How often do you have those “I’m going to lose my damn mind” moments when you are traveling with your kids? Do you dread taking road trips with them? Do you just avoid it? Oh the smiles on their faces can quickly turn to tears, screaming, whining and you want to pound your face on your steering wheel… But, does it have to be that way?


We all know that traveling with kids is really hard but there are some ways you can make it easier on you, and them, and not want to cry yourself silly in a rest stop bathroom stall.

Tip 1: Avoid the day before traveling stress by preparing early!! That seems so simple but it is true. I am a work well under pressure type of person but I also don’t want to make my head pop off from stress! I pack up clothes, toiletries and essentials days in advance just so I don’t have to worry about it the day before. Gas up and load up your vehicle the night before you head out so you can get to sleep early and rest knowing that everything is taken care of!

Tip 2: Leave at the booty buttcrack of dawn and let the kids sleep in the car as much as possible! If you are driving five hours and they sleep for three of those then you are pretty much gold after that! I wake up anywhere between 3am and 4am the morning of a road trip. I load up the kids in their pajamas, get them all cozy with their travel pillows and we take off. When they wake up we stop, have breakfast (that I pack ahead of time), change clothes and we are off again.

Tip 3: Pack them their own travel bag filled with favorite toys, new books and fun on the go games and crafts.  Disconnect as much as possible and give them fun things to do! I make little travel scavenger hunt pages of landmarks and things they will see along the way. Things like: A Blue Car, A Y Shaped Tree, Someone Picking Their Nose (The kids LOVE this one and it ALWAYS happens! We can see you people!!).  They work together and get a sticker or small prize. I also play along to keep their competitive drive going… they love beating me in any games we play. It rarely happens.

Tip 4: Snacks, snacks and more snacks. Just bring them. Screw the crumbs!

Tip 5: Bring music your kids like even if it makes you want to poke your own eyes out. Why? It’s not always about us. Road trips can suck and kid’s music can be mind-numbing… but if it makes your kids happy to listen to Mary Had a Little Lamb or Wheels on The Bus then give them their time for their music. Sing along with them… don’t be shy… no one can hear you. Well, unless you have the windows down and/or you sing like a loud banshee.

Tip 6: Audio Books are rad for road trips! If you can get your kids their own listening devices (Don’t judge… I burn books onto CDs and give them old portable CD players… my kids don’t have ipods!) so they can listen at their level. Don’t want to spend the money on them? Okay, record yourself reading your child’s favorite book. Seriously, they will love it… again, unless you talk like a banshee.

Tip 7: Play a story game. One person starts the story, the next adds to it, and then the next person and so on. We love doing this. My son usually turns it into something about peeing or pooping… because he is a 4 year old boy but hearing him say “And then the Princess went on a boat and she farted so loud she scared aaaaall the fish out of the water!”

Tip 8: Don’t lose your shit. Just enjoy it as much as you can. The more positive and upbeat you are the more your kids will be. They feed off of us! You don’t want to be that crazy parent screaming in the car… because though you think no one can hear you everyone can see your crazy yelling mad face.
And that face isn’t pretty.


My outlook on traveling with kids is simple… the best thing I can do for them is not complain, make it fun, keep them entertained and make the most of it. Road trips are the moments that become the memories we treasure or they can be the trips that sucked. Either way… happy and safe travels!

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If you are looking for a free place to take the kids and watch them squee over the cuteness of miniature horses be sure to stop by Quicksilver’s Mini Horse Ranch outside Solvang, CA. We spent less than an hour at Quicksilver’s Mini Horse Ranch but the kids really enjoyed this stop! If we had another day in the area we would have gone again. The mini horses are adorable and there are tons of them. If you have a large group that wants to do a guided tour they offer this as well. They are open to visitors every day from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

The scenery in Solvang is gorgeous and it adds to the enjoyment of this stop. The kids walked around giving the miniature horses names and picked which one they liked best. This is not a petting zoo but that doesn’t take away from anything! This is a place to stroll around with your kids, talk about life on a ranch and enjoy the landscape and uber little horsey cuteness.

Off in the distance a neighbor had a standard size horse which really put into perspective how tiny these guys are!

I love simple outings like this with my kids because it goes to show that you can have lots of fun without having to break the bank.

I also love the moments when my son yells out things to me like, “Mommy, is that a boy?! His penis is HUGE! It’s like my size!” Oh my very shy and modest 4 year old son… you wish. Ha! I swear I didn’t react or make a big deal out of that moment but I was dying of laughter on the inside. The kids named this colt, Bob…
But in my head I named him Kickstand.

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this blog post. I reviewed it because we genuinely had a great time visiting the ranch. The colts name is neither Bob nor Kickstand… I actually have no idea what his name is but he impressed me more than most men ever could so I had to give him credit.

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