Tuesday, August 10, 2010

10 Things I Learned on our Family Trip to California

We bravely ventured out on our first big time family adventure this year. My parents took us on lots of family trips to see America when I was growing up, and I plan to do the same for my kids now that they are finally old enough.

We decided to go to California to see the big trees I've been telling the kids about for so long.

Due to Jason's business, we only had 5 days to cram in as much as we could and 2 of those days were travel days. We were so excited and then right before we left I got really nervous, suddenly doubting whether we would ever survive to make it back home. After a VERY rocky start at the airport, I am happy to say we did survive and had a great time!

Here was our plan: Day 1-San Francisco, Day 2- Yosemite National Park, Day 3- Kings Canyon/Sequoia National Park, Day 4- LA/Hollywood.

Here are 10 things we learned on our trip:

1. People in California and a hillbilly cannot communicate without a translator. As we were all sitting in the airport after our flight was cancelled having a pity party, Jason called the rental car company to reschedule our car. They asked him to spell his name, in his usual accent he said "H" - "I" but as he says it it sounds more like "ahhh". The lady on the phone said "R?". He said no "ahhh". R? no "ahhh" R? He looks desperately at me for help. I said "say EYE" pointing to my eye. He said "ahh?" She said R? No "I-YA" I said, trying the phonics approach. "ahh?" Then I gave up on that and said tell her Igloo! she said "R?" Finally he said "ice!" and she got it. We were all rolling on the floor by that point.

2. No matter how many times you tell your southern raised son that there is no sweet tea in California, when the wait staff asks for drinks, he will say "Sweet Tea". Then have your credibility as a parent destroyed completely when you go to a national BBQ chain in Fresno, where they actually have sweet tea. Oh and while we're talking southern, don't order biscuits in a restaurant in a National park in California, yikes.

3. Parking. Resist the urge to grab the first parking space you see when you get close to where you need to be. This will result in LOTS and LOTS of walking, of which 6 & 7 & 35 year olds are not fond of. Go to the place you need to be and then work your way out to find parking. We made this mistake twice and paid for it. As soon as we saw the first star on the walk of fame, we parked. Little did we know that the walk of fame is very, very long and we were at the very end of it. We ended up aborting our mission to make it to see John Wayne's star.

4. No matter how cool the historic hotels or cabins are that you find to stay, the Fairfield Inn with the pool will be the kid's favorite place to stay.

5. When using pay showers in a National Park, take more coins than needed for 1 shower in case the power goes out and your shower turns off and does not come back on.

6. A hike to a waterfall or giant tree in a National Park does not count if the path is paved. There has to be rocks and fallen trees for it to count as an official hike for 6&7 year olds. Heavy breathing and panting on hikes is due to the altitude and NOT because mommy is out of shape.

7. Bribery is a miracle cure for whining kids and will add a couple miles to your hikes.

8. Picky eaters will not eat their favorite food unless it looks EXACTLY like it does at home. 95% of all menus are reduced to one suitable kid item: chicken tenders. It is very difficult to eat healthy on the road. Actual fruit and vegetables are scarcer than hen's teeth, even in California!

9. A GPS has no idea what to do on a winding road down a mountain or in the middle of LA for that matter. I still hear "Recalculating!" and "Lost Satellite reception!" in my sleep. A GPS should be used as a back up for an already planned route. In no way should a GPS be the sole source of guidance, they cannot be trusted and will lead you astray. Resist the urge to yell at the person inside your GPS and/or throw it out the window. If the Exit sign says Airport, take it, regardless of what the GPS says! Use your common sense people!

10. Take your family on a vacation to see America, it is definitely worth it and is great family experience that you just can't have at home.

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