Summer Vacation Reality Check

Yellowstone National Park Sign One thing you should know about my daughter is that she loves planning our summer vacations. And she does a great job doing it too!  Her best effort so far was our trip out west in 2008. We refer to this trip as the National Park trip, since we visited a dozen national parks and/or monuments including Rocky Mountains National Park,  Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, Canyonlands and Arches National Parks in Utah.

Here are some of the photos we took on the trip:
Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park

Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park

Grand Tetons
Grand Tetons

What was impressive about this vacation is that every day, we reached our final destination by about 6 pm, after having visited the stops we intended. During the whole trip, we only eliminated one park from the itinerary. It was an amazing vacation.

I looked forward to getting Alison’s itinerary for this summer’s trip, and when she finally emailed it to me, I was in awe yet again. An impressive lineup of sights to see. However, I realized that my daughter had fallen into the same trap that had occurred during her plans for our 2008 trip. I had to tweak that itinerary because it was so crammed full of attractions that we barely had any time to stop for meals. I had to explain to my daughter that you can’t cram too many things in one day because stuff happens! We might run into traffic, or we might want to stay longer at a certain place. A vacation shouldn’t be all about sticking too closely to a time schedule.

Here is the first week from this summer’s first draft itinerary, so you can see what I mean:

Day 1 

8:00 a.m.              Depart MCO for San Francisco Area

1:05 p.m.             Get rental car

1:30 p.m.             Drive to Vallejo, CA   –   25 mi     30 mins

2:00 p.m.             Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (b/c all other things are closed J)

8:00 p.m.             Motel

Day 2 

7:00 a.m.              Mount Davidson

7:30 a.m.              Drive to Bus Stop & Park Car

Mission Dolores

Painted Ladies

Fisherman’s Wharf

Pier 39 (Sea lions)

Golden Gate Bridge

Lombard Street

Transamerica Pyramid

Painted Ladies

City Hall


Cable Cars

4:20 p.m.             Alcatraz Night Tour

7:30 p.m.             Free Time

Day 3 

7:00 a.m.              Drive to Sequoia National Park -  285 mi   5 hrs 30 min

1:00 p.m.             See Park

2:00 p.m.             Drive to Kings Canyon – 100 mi   3 hrs

5:00 p.m.             See Park

5:30 p.m.             Drive to Fresno, CA –  75 mi     1 hr 45 min

7:15 p.m.             Dinner & motel

Day 4 

7:00 a.m.              Drive to Yosemite National Park  –  108 mi   2 hrs 45 min

9:45 a.m.              See Park

12:00 p.m.           Drive to Reno, NV  -  215 mi   4 hrs 30 min

4:30 p.m.             See Reno

5:15 p.m.             Drive to Susanville, CA   – 87 mi     1 hr 30 min

7:00 p.m.             Dinner & motel

 Day 5 

8:00 a.m.              Church

10:00 a.m.           Drive to Redwoods National Park   –  285 mi   5 hrs 30 min

3:30 p.m.             Drive to Grants Pass, OR   – 125 mi   2 hrs 45 min

6:30 p.m.             Dinner & motel

Day 6 

7:00 a.m.              Drive to Crater Lake National Park  -  93 mi     2 hrs

9:00 a.m.              See Park

9:30 a.m.              Drive to Sea Lion Caves, Florence, OR –  200 mi   4 hrs 15 min

1:45 p.m.             See Caves

2:30 p.m.             Drive to Haystack Rock (along Pacific Coast) –   150 mi   4 hrs

6:30 p.m.             See Rock

6:45 p.m.             Drive to Portland, OR   –  80 mi     1 hr 30 min

9:00 p.m.             Motel

Day 7

7:00 a.m.              Voodoo Donut

7:30 a.m.              Drive to Beacon Rock   –  44mi      1 hr

8:30 a.m.              See Rock

8:45 a.m.              Drive to La Grande, OR    -  230 mi   4 hrs

1:15 p.m.             Drive to Enterprise, OR  -  65 mi     1 hr 45 min

3:00 p.m.             Drive to Halfway, OR  - 75 mi     3 hrs

6:00 p.m.             Drive to Baker City, OR  -  55 mi     1 hr

7:00 p.m.             Dinner and motel

The other problem with this itinerary is that she had given us only 12 days for this trip, and only ONE DAY in San Francisco! Did you catch all the sights she wanted us to consider visiting? No way… not going to happen!  Needless to say, we had a heart-to-heart talk about the trip, and I reassured her that we could take a longer vacation. One of the advantages of being an SEO copywriter and social media consultant is that I can work anywhere! As long as I have my laptop and an internet connection, I can write blog articles, review emails, and post on Facebook. :-)

Over the next couple of weeks, the itinerary began to change – especially as Ali started looking at air fares. More on that next time..

Faulty Memories… Delta or American Airlines?

My very first plane trip took place when I was 7 years old. I flew by myself from Detroit to Miami to visit my grandmother. For years, I was convinced that I flew a Delta Airlines 707 jet. In fact, I had no hesitation about putting that information in the About section of this blog. However, it seems as if my memory is a bit faulty after 42 years. If you do the math, you will have an idea of how old I am now. ;-)

My daughter just called to let me know that Delta did not have any 707s in their fleet at that time. Naturally, I did what any self-respecting adult would do when confronted by a teenager –  I jumped on Google to see if she was right. And of course, she was. Sigh… I now I think it might have been American Airlines after all. Or as my husband points out, it could have been a Delta 727! Arghh!  I vaguely recall getting a little pin from the stewardess (as the flight attendants were called in those days!), but of course, it’s long gone now – and I don’t remember which airline logo was on it.

Image courtesy: Salvatore Vuono /

The Last Family Trip

My 19-year-old daughter went away to college last fall, and upon returning home for Christmas break, shared a powerpoint presentation with us that she had made entitled, “Last Family Trip.”   The grand vacation plan: fly to San Francisco, drive to Seattle and up into Canada to see the glaciers before they melt.

Here is her presentation:

My daughter knew this trip would be hard to swallow, so she prepared a list of reasons why we needed to do it:

  • Last trip before she has to work and do internships over the summer, and her brother (a junior in high school) gets busy in college.
  • Did not go on a family vacation last year, so we are due.
  • Airfare is very cheap, considering a flight to ATL can also be $200, and this is cross country.
  • If we want her and her brother to live in a less dangerous part of the country, we need to see it.
  • Undeniably, the Out West trip (our 2008 vacation with stops in Denver, Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, & Utah) was the best because of the beauty and change of scenery. This will follow in its footsteps and yield lasting memories.
  • If nothing else, then you have an excuse to go to Tony Roma’s by the airport for dinner after we return.

She also listed separate reasons why the trip would be good for me, her dad and brother.

For her brother, she noted that his favorite vacation was the one we took out west, which featured natural scenery and amazing wonders and this trip would do that. Plus, he would actually look out the window instead of at his iPod.

For me, she noted that I had never been to these places (which is true) and wanted to go there, and the trip did  not include any theme parks. (Every single vacation has included at least one theme park because my daughter LOVES roller coasters and is trying to ride every single one of them that she can!)

For her dad, she noted that he would have visited 49 of the 50 states, and the mountains in Canada are not as high as the ones he drove in Colorado and Montana during our previous trip. Plus, he would grant her 7 YEAR DREAM of seeing Moraine Lake.

After much discussion, my husband and I decided that we would take our son and daughter on this trip. This blog will chronicle our preparation for the vacation, and the actual trip itself. I’ll share with you tidbits of our past trips and why travel has become an important part of my life and my family’s life. So, buckle up … it may be a bumpy ride! :-)


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