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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Sometimes I wish we could flash forward and talk to our grown children asking them about their favorite family vacation memories. Then go back into real time and do more of that.

It’s not always the big things that are the most memorable. Sometimes we create the most awesome memories when we allow ourselves to leave an event early that is not working for us and just head back to the pool or to give ourselves more time when the planets have aligned and everyone is relaxed, laughing and having a good time.

One of our favorite family memories was a day spent in a tropical rainforest. On that vacation we spent a lot of time body surfing in the ocean and swimming in the pool. We played ping-pong, ate great food, and had a lot of laughs. One day we rented a car and went out to explore waterfalls and botanical gardens. This was the day that I thought the kids would have to just endure because it was something that my husband and I wanted to do. But we didn’t want to make it too painful for them so we figured we would just stop by, check these places out and then we could get back to the water.

It turns out we had picked a less frequented garden on the off season. We got to the entrance, paid our fee and the person at the gate quietly gave us a map. My daughter took the map and immediately went into tour guide mode. The kids pretended they were the experts and explained every plant we passed. Most of the information was either on the map or on a plaque located near the plant. If there was no information about something we were looking at, then the kids would just make it up.

They followed the map as it guided us up a steep hillside to what was supposed to be the ruins of the Old Fort. When we finally reached the top of the hill I looked around and saw what looked like some old volcanic rock that sort of ( sort of ) formed the outline of what could have been a house. The rocks didn’t go up any higher than 6 inches at any one place. In my mind I was thinking “Ugh! We have just walked all this way and there is really nothing here. The kids are going to hate this”. All of a sudden my son says in an enthusiastic voice “This is Great! Look at this! They had to carry everything by hand all the way up that hill. This must have been their lookout point. Wow! No one could get past anyone here.”

We spent hours that day at the Botanical Garden. It was completely unexpected. It was beautiful. It was educational. It was a ton of laughs. It was everything a parent could want out of a day on vacation. And there was ice cream.

Our favorite travel memories have been the most unexpected. Our happiest travel memories have been on those adventures when the kids imaginations were our tour guides.

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Join the fun on Monday November 28 for another amazing TravelingMom.com Twitter Party.

Want another chance to win big? Enter the Holiday Travel Double Take Giveaway courtesy of Venture on TravelingMom for a chance to repeat that perfect vacation. Tell us your great holiday vacation story there to be entered to win. Starts 11/28 on #TMOM so be on the lookout!

Party Details:

WHEN:  Nov. 28, 9-10 pm ET (8-9 pm CT; 7-8 pm MT; 6-7 pm PT) #TMOM on Twitter  Be sure and visit TravelingMom.com for all of the details and be sure to RSVP for a chance to win some amazing prizes.

Tweet with you Later!

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Yes, Thanksgiving is just days away and then we’re full on into the holidays.  So, why am I even talking about New Years?

Two reasons:

1. I just re-watched While You Were Sleeping.

Great chick flick where Sandra Bullocks character saves someone’s life and then is mistaken for his fiance and the hilarity ensues.  But the point is that she has a passport that has never been stamped.

2. I was just reading a news article online about how people are already lining up for Black Friday.

While I love supporting our local retailers and I am all for a great deal, the thought of camping out through Thanksgiving and missing out on family time to save a few dollars on a gift to give to a family member seems a little out of alignment to me.

The time to get your passport is when you don’t need it.  If you have the opportunity to travel somewhere you don’t want the added stress of wondering if your passport will arrive in time before you are scheduled to leave on your grand adventure.  While you are out and about these next couple of weeks pop into a photo center and get a handful of 2 x 2 pictures of yourself and your family members.  They can come in handy for alot of things not just passports.  Then go online and fill out the passport form and print it off.

Even if you have no plans right now for any grand adventure in 2012 it is a good thing to have and you save money by giving yourself the money to go through the standard Passport processing time.  It will take about six weeks to process.  If you find you need a passport faster than that they are happy to help you for additional charges.  Save that money for yourself and get your passport now while you don’t need it.

Then on New Year’s Eve you can dream big and think about that vacation to Paris.

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Great Family Travel Ideas

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On a recent trip across the country we made a couple of stops that were essentially going to be bathroom breaks. First a quick visit to Old Faithful and then on to Cody Wyoming. The next day we worked our way over to Rapid City South Dakota where we had planned to make a quick stop at Mt. Rushmore.

We picked up a Jr. Ranger handbook at the rangers station and the kids set off in search of the the clues to complete the tasks outlined in the book. They spent hours in the museum and walking along the pathways under the faces. They loved every second of their search. It cooled down pretty quickly as it began to get dark. Fortunately we were ready for that. We bundled up and continued exploring the park. Not long after sunset there was a flag ceremony in the main amphitheater to retire the colors. For several hours it had seemed like it was just us and a dozen or so other people at the park but all of a sudden the seating area was packed with what must have been over 1000 people. I’m not sure where they had all come from but apparently the park is more spread out than I had thought. We sat there and watched as members of the military that were visiting that day walked onto the stage and a troop of Boy Scouts from Minnesota filed in to provide the manpower for the actual lowering and folding of the flag for the evening. A slide show played above the stage and the lights on the faces came began to glow. As the flag was lowered the entire audience joined together in singing the national anthem. There were people there from all over the country and possibly even the world. We had never met. We had never sung together. But on this evening it was one of the most beautiful choruses I had ever heard. I could feel tears start to well up and I almost wasn’t able to sing the whole song because it was so moving.

Later that fall, when my kids, who were 11 and 13 at the time, would tell people about their summer they would talk about their favorite day at Mt. Rushmore. There were no roller coasters, there were no video games, and this was their favorite stop on the trip.

Sometimes we have to remember that one of the best gifts we can give to our kids is the time for us to be together in a place where their imaginations can run wild.

Join the team at TravelingMom.com on Monday October 24 for a twitter party all about meaningful travel. I’ll be there! You can Win an iPad2 and talk meaningful travel on #TMOM Twitter party RSVP HERE http://bit.ly/nwVFbm #TAUCK

I’m looking forward to talking with the folks at Tauck travel and other moms about the Cowboy Country Northbound adventure which covers Yellowstone to Mt. Rushmore. CLICK HERE  for more details.

For more information on Mt. Rushmore visit the National Park Service Page

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October 4th is one of my favorite days of the year.  And here’s why:  My formative years (high school) were in the late 70’s – the big movie series back in the day was Smokey and the Bandit with Burt Reynolds and they always talked back and forth with the truckers.  They would always sign off ” 10-4 Good Buddy! ” –

Then in the early 80’s my mom and I drove across the US and took a CB radio with us and talked with truckers along the way – it was dangerous because we would get laughing so hard we almost had to pull over several times.

THEN in the later 80’s my sweetheart gave me his Beta Theta Pi pin on October 4.

THEN just after the millenium I passed the Outdoor Emergency Care exam and became a certified ski instructor and had to go back to my CB call numbers all over again 10 – 4 means YES affirmative everythings OK.

So actually over the past 30+ years 10-4 has always had a special place in my heart.

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Today we celebrated.

This morning started out exactly as it had 10 years ago. On a bright sunny day I sat on my couch watching television. And I cried. Just like I had 10 years ago. It is amazing seeing pure evil in action. We must never forget or become complacent and let our children forget that there is evil in the world and on occasion evil does have a face. I cried for the children who had to grow up without parents. I cried for mothers who outlived their children.

But this morning was different. My four children are 10 years older. They are wonderful kids. It was a busy day. We set out the American flag on the front porch and then started in on a series of chores that needed to be done today so that we could just focus on school this next week. At some point in the day I realized that we were all moving around the house doing these things but I wasn’t asking the kids to do anything. They knew the routine and were just doing their part. My oldest pulled out the vaccuum and took care of the main floor. My youngest pulled out his homework assignment due on Wednesday and asked his other brother for some help pulling together the necessary supplies to complete his collage. The theme of the collage “My American Dream”.

I took a step back for a minute and looked at the sunshine beaming into our living room and listened to the sounds of laughter and debate (which actor played the best Dr. Who) and I realized that if I had to turn in my son’s homework assignment today, and make a collage of My American Dream, I would only have to take a snapshot of my kids today.

Right then it seemed like we had to celebrate. We had to celebrate the memory of all the people who died 10 years ago and their families who have carried on – we had to celebrate our President at the time who carried us through this particular day with Grace and Courage – we had to celebrate what it means to be an American. So, we dialed up our favorite Chinese restaurant, ordered take-out, and sat in our living room watching Dr. Who and celebrated a quiet afternoon of no real significance.

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