Slow Travel with Children

slow travel with children

Many people are hesitant to travel with children at all, much less undertake slow travel with children. I confess that with my grown children I attempted to undertake a slow travel lifestyle, but chickened out after 6 months. It wasn’t the cost, which was far less than what it was costing us to live in California. Nor was it the stress. I think we all enjoyed the adventure and the closeness. It was simply ignorance. It made my parents uncomfortable and I worried that my ex, the children’s father, would object. In typical me fashion, I let my fears override my feelings and decided we had to put down roots. But I always look back on that time fondly. Great memories.

With my youngest, now 14, we began a full-time rving lifestyle when my mom was dying of leukemia in 2012. We packed up and moved in with my mom and dad for 6 months as she went through the dying process. I helped Dad with the funeral and all the stuff that came after, then we went back to our home base for about a year.

Next, the boy’s dad had to move in with his parents, to provide end-of-life care.  The next three years saw the boy and me traveling between grandparents and our home base in 3 states. In the mean time, my older children married and one moved to Colorado. We averaged about 4-6 weeks each stop in California or Colorado, with varying stays at points in between, including our home-base in Arizona and even the odd vacation to Texas, Oregon, Florida, or elsewhere. As homeschoolers (road-schoolers now) this worked for us. As a location independent crafter and writer, it also worked for me.

Although organized sports was out for us (praise be!), the boy had played ice hockey for a year, non-stop, before we started out and decided that kind of rigor was not for him. Nor for me, as it turns out. Not to mention the expense. That has not prevented us from trying new things. In Colorado, we did Tae-Kwon-Do for 6 weeks. We go shooting (guns) when we visit my daughter and her hubby. We also ride horses with them. We love fishing and hiking. We have a pool in my dad’s backyard (above ground). The boy has a new interest in archery and we have found a couple of great places for drop-in lessons, one for $15, the other $5. Wow. There are several archery ranges we can go to, to practice for free. I have decided to love this sport. And it is another one we can take with us wherever we go. I have transitioned from downhill to cross-country skiing. I much prefer the pace and the cost – free in most areas, if you have your equipment. We also keep our bikes handy, for exercise and transportation.

The boy and I have taken trains since he was an infant. He can probably navigate the Metro better than I can. He keeps in touch with friends online and we try to meet up with friends in whatever area we find ourselves.

Although taking short trips with children can get expensive and tedious, I have to say slow travel is fantastic and no more expensive than staying “home”. Whether you take your home with you, as in rving or living on a boat, or get long-term rentals, as in several weeks at a time, slow travel with children is a great life!

 

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Traveling With Monster Cat

 

Cat on the computer
Mr. Cuddles poses on the computer
Mr. Cuddles was irresistable. Of all the kittens available for adoption from Petsmart in Flagstaff, Arizona that day, he was the calmest and most responsive. His gray coat, with white socks and tuxedo shirt, was gorgeous and soft. He had already been adopted once, but regretfully returned due to severe allergies. I sometimes wonder about that one.
cat in tiny trailer
Mr. C’s favorite spot in the tiny trailer
Thankfully, all the cats at Petsmart had to be fixed, litter box trained and current with vaccinations. He even came with coupons for free cat food and treats. We took Mr. Cuddles home and let him explore the house at the Homestead. He inspected the wood pile next to the woodstove. He sat in every windowsill. He growled and hissed at Mrs. Susie. He found his favorite spot, on top of the futon bunk in the living room. Our next destination was California. It was with regret that we locked Mr. Cuddles in his cat carrier, but with his tenuous relationship with Mrs. Susie at this point, we didn’t have a choice. Every couple of hours we stopped to stretch our legs and theirs. Mr. Cuddles proved himself adept at slipping out of his harness, but the boy easily caught him every time. Finally, in California, we were able to let him out to roam around my dad’s house.
dog and cat on leash
Cuddles and Susie going for a walk
Here, he found a new sort of mischief to undertake. We would bring dog and cat into the guest room overnight, so that we wouldn’t have to worry about them throwing wild animal parties with my son’s pit bull and his wife’s cat. The problem being, that when he wanted out, he would jump up on the door and claw his way down. This made my dad none too happy. Since he performed this mischief early in the morning, we would let him out. He soon discovered Simba, who would sleep with my son and his wife. Now he would jump and claw their door to get Simba to come out and play. This would result in him getting tossed back into the guest room and the whole pattern would repeat itself until everyone was up and about. Thankfully, this was just a phase.
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Tiny trailer and Susie at Goose Island SP, Texas
We moved on to Texas, where Mr. Cuddles made himself at home in our tiny trailer. He led us on some merry chases in our campsite, before we got a recommendation on a harness which might better contain him. We found one at Petco and it worked like a charm. It is much more pleasant to travel with animals (and children), when you are not constantly having to chase them.
new tiny home
The new digs – feels like a mansion!
As much as we loved our tiny 14 foot trailer, with a dog, a cat, a full sized adult and a tween boy, life became much more bearable when we upgraded to our 26 foot home. Mr. Cuddles now had plenty of room to roam and no one was sleeping on top of the cat litter box, never mind that the pine pellet litter controls the odor much better than clay cat litter. He and Susie had finally become bosom buddies and he is now able to travel without being locked in the carrier. He still doesn’t like walking on the harness, but at least it gets him outside once in awhile. He still tries to use the walls for scratching posts, but we are working on that. No, he hasn’t caused any noticeable damage to our walls.
cat and boy
the boy and his cat
He likes to pounce on our feet when we are in bed. In winter, the blankets are thick enough that this is an amusing game. In summer, it is a grievous annoyance. Even with a folded up blanket over my feet, he sometimes gets me with a claw. Game over! Mr. Cuddles’ newest trick is opening the screen door. We like to leave the door open for extra light and fresh air. Mr. Cuddles loves to sit and look out the screen. He soon discovered that he can jump up and hang on the lever to get it open. Now we are looking for a lock, but in the meantime, no more leaving the door open.
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Thunder Burgerz and Pizza, Huntington Beach, California

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Went to lunch with dad and my aunties at my cousin’s new burger joint in Huntington Beach. About 2 blocks up from Pacific Coast Highway (aka Hwy 1), right next to Gallagher’s and the 2nd floor, Thunder Burgerz and Pizza is set to rival In-n-Out in my humble opinion.
Using high quality kobe beef and all fresh ingredients, the simple burgerz and fries are affordably priced and scrumptious. I had to try the cheeseburger, but I stole a piece of Yak’s pizza. I love the ultra thin crust and the simple, 2 price options – cheese for $5 and the works for $7.99. The perfect pile of meat, cheese and veggies without all that bread in the way.

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The weather was perfect for sidewalk dining and we enjoyed soaking up the warm weather in the shade. People watching at the beach is always an interesting occupation.
To my chagrin, I realized after we got home that I did not try the deep fried oreos!

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After lunch, we got a private tour of my cousin’s other new eatery, the totally upscale and gorgeous BLK’s Earth Sea Spirits. They took this old building and gutted it, completely redesigning the interior and most of the exterior to take full advantage of the abundance of natural SoCal light and unobstructed ocean views. Nearly all the décor is handmade by local artisans, including the light fixtures, tables, chairs and tchatchkes.

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The menu is sophisticated and pricey, a bit out of my comfort zone, but I can confidently recommend it, based on the fact that the beef is kobe, the fish is fresh, and the ambiance is impeccable. I do think on my next visit I will try their Sunday brunch.

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If you must park in the structure, make sure to bring your ticket, BLK’s validates for 2 hours, and you will want to soak up all the ocean view you can get. My aunt recommends the free parking up the street, and a leisurely stroll to work up the appetite and enjoy your dinner.
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Surviving Slow Travel

Bluebird sitting atop beloved pet’s grave marker

I believe I have endured enough road hazards to my work in my slow-travel, full-time-rv life during the last six weeks. I am ready for some smooth sailing for awhile. My son’s other grandma died (my mom died 2 years ago) just before Easter. I posted on Facebook that I would be taking 2 weeks off to help the family with funeral arrangements and such. 

Quirky quail now populate the old homestead

As I geared up to get hard back to work, my computer crashed. So did my son’s. Then, for 2 weeks at the Northern Arizona homestead, we had no internet or cell phone service. Luckily, the local library (7 miles away from the house, 20 minute drive each way) had their internet up and their computers working. This was good for quick email and Facebook checks, ordering new (used) computers from ebay, and having them sent to our next stop – my dad’s. Not so good for keeping up with writing or posting blogs. Without a computer to get everything ready to post, it takes far longer than the librarians want a single patron to stay on the shared computers. Not to mention, I don’t want my son playing computer games all that time…

Ginormous jack-rabbits forage in front of the old chicken coop

Out here in sunny, warm California (did I mention it is sooo nice to be out of the cold?) we spent our first week getting ready for my son John’s wedding to his long-time sweetheart. Such a beautiful, wonderful time.


Now, having finished setting up, installing programs and testing our new computers, I can get back to work. I can’t wait to tell all about the Alligator Farm in Colorado, finding community on the road, and our visit to some shrines in Chimayo, New Mexico. But first, some much needed California relaxation at the beach


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Salvage The Day – What To Do When A Trip Does Not Go As Planned


It began with warm, Southern California sunshine, smoothly moving freeways and hopes of a day spent soaking up healing rays, listening to the soothing sounds of waves lapping the beach and strolling through a little bit of Old Scandinavia just a few hours up the coast. That’s not quite the way it played out.


First, we got started a bit later than planned. Normally, I try not to let this worry me, but I also misjudged the amount of time it would take to drive from Long Beach to Solvang. All was good, though, as the freeways were moving and we didn’t have to sit in traffic. Still, by the time we got to Ventura, we were starving. Promenade Park looked like a nice place to stop for lunch on the beach. With the lunch-hour surfers competing for parking space, it became a matter of ‘wait for someone to pull out and grab their spot quick’. This accomplished, I made sandwiches for the boy and his grandpa (and his mom) and we proceeded to enjoy watching the waves and sunning ourselves. A seagull, perched on a nearby rock, sensed an audience and spread his wings to demonstrate his take-off. Duly appreciated.


Refreshed, we turned inland for Solvang. Second mistake. The once quaint Danish Village of Solvang, is now just another shopping mall. At least in the winter. The worst part was that I had a nagging suspicion that I should have remembered this from another, similar trip two years ago, with my daughter. Note to self: begin a small trip log, noting places not to revisit, and destinations to return to. I probably would have done better to update my pictures and info on Santa Ines and La Purissima Missions instead, but the day was fading. After stretching our legs from one end of Solvang to the other and back again, we decided there was enough time left to visit the Ostrich Farm on the way back to the coast road.


Save! Our misadventures in Solvang were soon forgotten in the quirkiness of feeding the ostriches and emus at the Ostrich Farm. Watching their comical bird faces and gangly legs running around their pens provided us with some much needed belly laughs, though our stop there was less than an hour.


Our final destination before heading home had to be Anderson’s Split Pea Soup Restaurant in Buellton. Not disappointing. Sure I could make a vat of split pea soup with ham bones and carrots and potatoes at home for about a buck, but the satisfaction of hearing my oldest son, when he called in the middle of our dinner, gasping “Anderson’s Split Pea Soup in the bread bowl?! That is sooooo aaawesooome!!” was priceless. Day salvaged.

So what happens when you’re in Brazil and life throws you lemons? Read what Trent did Wander, Seek Find


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