You see, my family had a unique opportunity to spend 3 1/2 weeks in Northern California this June while my husband worked there. Given that we haven't spent much time or money on travel over the years, this was a big deal for us.
The five of us drove all the way from Texas to San Francisco over the span of about three days. We did stop off in Anaheim to hit Disneyland (which was totally worth it.) But, we pretty much drove straight through.
Over the span of those three weeks I learned some things. Such as:
- When five people share a car/hotel room/bathroom, you learn a lot about each other. For instance, I learned that just because you taught your children how to brush their teeth or shower without flooding the bathroom when they were little does NOT mean they remember how to do those things as teenagers!
- One of my children steals the covers. One of them is a cuddler in bed and the third one just wants to sleep without someone cuddling up next to him or stealing his covers!
- My 13 year-old is great with maps. I didn't know this before the trip because we rarely go anywhere new when we're home. He was an amazing navigator and was solely responsible for getting us around San Francisco on most days.
- Internet directions do NOT replace the need for a map. On a whim, I bought a $7 Rand-McNally US Atlas before our trip thinking "it might come in handy." That atlas more than paid for itself in usefulness. Several of us really enjoyed following our route on the map and seeing what sights there were nearby. Because of that atlas, we stopped and had a small (hot) hike in the Painted Desert on the way to California. Thank you Atlas!
- Evidently, now that two of my children are teenagers, they no longer share my definition of fun. My boys told me more than once, "Mom, it's summer! We don't want to learn anything!" Enter the Rocket Boat tour of San Francisco Bay. For thirty minutes we zoomed around the Bay to a Rock-n-Roll soundtrack getting sprayed with salt water. I haven't seen my children smile that wide in a long time. Totally worth it.
- There's a special bond that family has even when time and space have separated you. We had a lovely time with my husband's aunt who we got to know much better on the trip AND I got to catch up with a cousin of mine that I probably hadn't seen in twenty years or more. Both visits were very enjoyable filled with interesting and easy conversation. Good times.
- Spending money on stuff isn't worth it but spending money on experiences IS. The souvenirs we bought on the trip have been put on a shelf but the memories of the fun we had together are still sweet.
- Spending money on experiences isn't the only way to make memories. Some of my husband and my favorite moments on the trip came when we were all crammed into a single hotel room or all bundled into the van on our way somewhere. The giggle fits and funny stories we told were the best! You can 't buy that stuff in a store people!