It’s strange to be sitting here at home finally rather than in a hotel room. Everything seems to have survived here apart from a musty basement and a yard that has been infested with crabgrass which I spent the day happily attacking.

Having spent the last seven weeks on the road with my family, here are a few of the things I would and wouldn’t recommend or do again:

GPS – Definitely a good thing

Not worth hitting a deer, but a great tool! In the car we picked up after trashing the first one on a Montana Deer we had the Hertz NeverLost GPS by Magellan. It was great! Once in a while it would send us to a restaurant or mall that didn’t exist any more or on an exit that was closed, most of the time it got us door to door with no problems and found us somewhere to eat when we needed it. It’s such a pain finding a printer when you’re on the road and finding the right piece of paper to read as your driving, this is most definitely the way to do it, especially when you are changing routes as you go.

7 weeks with your family – another good thing…and we all survived!

With the way schedules and activities are these days just spending time together as a family is a thing to be treasured! Major kudos needs to go to Michele, Iona, and Calum for putting up with me and my schedule and adapting to it as we went. I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful family.

Hotels and Holiday homes

Being able to stay in a holiday home while we were in Oregon was great and gave much more space and independance for the kids. We also had the benefit of being able to cook for ourselves there. Eventually you long for home cooking, even mine! It’s hard to say that one particular brand of hotel was the best as it all varied by location. We also stayed in a couple of nice local hotels, they are just harder to research and change at the last minute.
National Parks – very impressive

We bought an annual pass at Lassen Volcanic National Park in northern California and ended up using it eight times: Lassen, Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, Devils Tower, Lake Powell, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion. Each was very well run with good access to what you wanted to see and yet kept rustic and simple enough to help you feel that the countryside was still being maintained. They were all remarkably clean and litter free with wonderful, helpful staff. Based on this experience, I am looking forward to visiting more. A perfect example of government at its best.

Driving v Flying

For this kind of vacation driving wins hands down. Many of the things that we will remember most are things we came across while driving. You also don’t really get a sense of the size of the country or what a particular state really looks like just by flying over it. There are certainly places it would have been nice to have bicycles too in order to have an even more intimate look at the landscape – Oregon, Missoula, and Bryce Canyon were all very bicycle friendly with paths and routes mapped out.

How did anyone ever drive with kids without a DVD player?

We (and especially Iona and Calum) watched A LOT of movies as we drove (particularly on those drives of more that 4 or 5 hours). The ones that seemed to work best were the series that had lots of extras. We got through Lord of the Rings, X-Men, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, and Back to the Future as well as a bunch of one off movies.

Church hopping

Visitng he variety of churches that we did as we travelled was great. We not only got to sample the local community and culture, we also picked up nice tips about what to do in the area and saw a bunch of things that well be able to suggest (or not!) when we ge back to St. Pauls in Southington, Connecticut.

Blogging

My father is an avid journal keeper. It’s the first thing that children and grandchildren have to do when arriving, is catch up from last time they were there (maybe I should suggest that he use T-Logs!). My blog, and more especially Iona’s will be wonderful keepsakes of this trip and we grow old! I’ve also come across some people who do coffee table type books based on your flickr photos so I am going to give that a try (I’ll let you know how it comes out).

Working for Therap

There aren’t too many job that will allow and enable you to take a 7 week trip with your family where you get to meet so many wonderful people. I am extremely grateful to all the customers I met on the way who made em feel so welcome and included. Even more so I am grateful to Therap for giving my family and me this opportunity.

Thanks!

:: Justin ::