See, he and I love road trips and driving. LOVE THEM. We once put most of our stuff in storage and lived mostly out of our van for about 5 months. We drove all over about half the country. It was awesome.
So this is something we've been dying to share with our kids, but, well, we weren't sure we were actually up for doing such a thing with our kids.
Our kids are awesome, but they can also be a bit much. Our son, Jago, age 6, is without a doubt a Spirited Child and has super high energy. His sister Miela, almost 3, is not as spirited as her brother but still pretty darn spunky.
But we finally felt like we were at a place with both kids where they could be ok in the car for longer distances. And they do well enough most of the time with following directions about behavior in public. And most of all, we felt like we could do these things and have more fun times than stressful times.
So we planned out a trip around Central and West Texas, which never took us terribly far from our home in Austin, but gave us a wide variety of stuff to see and do, as well as took us into the desert a little bit, something Jago had been expressing interest in.
We intended to do mostly camping with a couple nights at a hotel, but last minute circumstances caused us to change that slightly, as tends to happen on a road trip.
We planned to never drive more than about 4 hours in a day, and most days were less, and never more than about an hour and a half at a stretch. There are so many good places to stop and do things, even in spacious West Texas, and it's good to remember with young kids that even simple things can become fun and interesting.
Ahead of time I searched online for some music and stories I could download, and I'd like to share my two favorites I found. Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child is a great radio program I found. It bills itself as "indie music for indie kids" and "for kids and their grownups." Their theme song is by They Might Be Giants. You can download the show as podcasts on iTunes for free!
I found a great site for stories at StoryNory. They have a lovely assortment of stories, but we've mostly listened to fairy tales and myths from around the world. Jago positively loves these stories. He wanted to listen to them almost constantly! And they can all be downloaded for free from their website!
So we set out a week ago for a 6-night road trip, the four of us in our mini-van, to do some exploring and see some new stuff and get out of our regular space. And it was truly a wonderful trip. Completely successful, really. Certainly we learned a couple things, and there were plenty of times I thought the kids were going to drive me nuts (what's new, right?), but mostly it was just lots of fun.
The main thing we learned is that we want to do more! We'll probably do some weekend camping trips to local state parks, but we're also hoping to do more road trips, venturing out farther, perhaps. We did decide we think we'd like to get some kind of camper trailer, so that we don't have to set up and take down our whole deal every single day. That was a bit tiring.
I enjoyed the trip so much, got so much out of it, and took so many pictures (over 700!), I've decided I want to write up every day of our trip with the places we visited. Also I want to encourage other people to go visit and support those awesome places we went. And, I think the Grandmas will love it, too.
So more coming soon!