Our girls are 7 and 10 (as of a week ago). They are great kids and are learning to enjoy car rides without getting too bored and without fighting. Over the past couple of years, they have endured longer and longer road trips. I love to travel and partake in loose destination road trips. This is something that I have recently been able to experience and I truly love. I find it very freeing and soul cleansing. I hope to share many experiences with my family on the road, and hopefully some by other routes of transportation. In order to accomplish this, my children must be able to tolerate sharing the 4 ft wide space behind the pilot and copilot for more than 30 minutes. We live in an amazing location and while there are many experiences to be had in a 30 minute radius, this world offers so much more.
Our first road trip was close to three and a half hours. I learned the hard way… It was… Way. Too. Long. Carsickness, “she’s touching me,” “are we there yet?”
Ok… we needed to back it off a bit. Over the next year and a half we made multiple trips to see family and take mini vacations ranging from two to four hours with the length of the trip getting progressively longer. Of course the girls were also getting older and able to self regulate a little better too. They learned what games, toys and books to keep in the front to stay occupied and which pillows and blankets kept them comfortable and which were too bulky to manage in such confined quarters.
Last week we took our longest family vacation yet… 7 hour car ride. I was so proud of these girls. They had gone from not being able to manage 30 minutes to actually being great road trip companions.
Because of this massive accomplishment, the girls were able to see the ocean for the first time (that they remember. My oldest did once before at a year old.) We got to run from the waves, dig in the sand, feed the seals, fly kites and make memories to last a lifetime.
Our first day was a lot of driving. We checked into our hotel and walked around a bit taking in the sights, smells and sounds of Seaside, Oregon and, of course, the ocean.
We walked the promenade and stepped into the aquarium to feed the seals and learn about some amazing creatures. The monkey face prickleback was a favorite. My youngest is in first grade and learning about whales, it was great to hear her teach us everything she had learned.
The next day was absolutely gorgeous. It was sunny and 68 degrees at the ocean. We meandered south to Indian Beach at low tide. We played in the sand, saw starfish, and enjoyed our time.
On our way back toward Seaside, we stopped at Captain Kid to race gocarts. It was such a great time. My oldest daughter rode with me and we passed every other driver, most of which were family. We love to have fun no matter what, but passing everyone else was a great feeling, especially for her following a not-so-great bumper car experiece.
Since it was such a nice day, we packed so much into it. Our next stop was Sunset Beach just a few miles north of Seaside. This was easily the best beach we visited. We were able to drive onto the beach and picnic out of our tailgates. The kids, both big and little, ran into and away from the waves as they were crashing in. We dug in the sand and got a couple of kites to stay in the air. This was a highlight of the trip.
Day two continued further north to Astoria where we climbed to the top of the Astoria Column. The kids flew gliders and blew bubbles from the top of the column which is a landing atop a 125 ft column with a spiral staircase of 164 stairs that looks over the mouth of the Columbia River. My 81 year old grandmother made the trek to the top. It was her first time despite having lived in and visited Astoria many times. This is where my fourth grader got to teach us about exploration with Robert Gray and Lewis and Clark. I was so proud of both of my girls for being so excited about seeing what they had learned in school.
It doesn’t end there. We were able to meet up with more family that lives near Astoria and take a short trip to Young’s River Falls where my daughter learned how to skip rocks with the guidance of Mr. Jones and her favorite uncle.
The next day was quite rainy. We were so glad to have accomplished so much when it was nice out. Luckily there is a lot of opportunity for indoor fun. We hopped around the shops, rode the carousel and bumper cars, inverted ourselves and of course enjoyed gelato.
As our family vacation came to an end, we reflected on all that we were able to do, to learn and the memories we made. We are truly blessed to have these opportunities and to have each other.
The car ride back was extremely enjoyable and I believe the girls have learned an appreciation for patience in the journey.