Cheap & Cheerful road trip never to be forgotten! We chose our destination, the Redwood National Forest, and mixed accommodations, travel, and food, high with low. Nature emerged the winner - stunning, truly breathtaking. Hide and seek amongst five foot ferns with trees towering above, it felt like the land of the dinosaurs. Our imaginations went wild as will every Star Wars fan who finds themself in the middle of Episode 6, better known as the Tall Trees Redwood Grove. This land was made for you and me...
Who says that travel is wasted on the young? I have never met a family that travelled whose children did not note the difference. Meet the Fitzgeralds... raising global citizens every opportunity they get. You can hear the experiences and empathy earned through their words and everyday actions. #TravelOn
Three years later, she swears that they still talk about this trip "literally daily". In June 2014, Melanie's family took the trip of a lifetime to Cape Town, South Africa. Led by the interests of their 11, 14, and 16 year old kids, they dove with sharks, harvested food with locals, and shared the views only seen by South Africans typically. They found it all in one township: wildlife, adventure, beaches, mountains, culture, history, food, and people... #hablalovestravel
The plan was a six-day adventure with my kids (ages 9 and 11) and my girlfriend with her kids (ages 8 and 10). As soon as we chose Iceland as our destination, my researcher-self took center stage. Blogs and other online travel sites were immensely helpful so when we landed on the beautiful and mystical island, I felt pretty darn prepared.
While my research was fruitful, the focus of this post is to share information I didn’t find that would have been helpful so you, too, can leave with no regrets.
EAT WHAT THE LOCALS EAT
STAY INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE CITY
SEE AS MUCH OF THE COUNTRY AS POSSIBLE
THE BLUE LAGOON IS AN ABSOLUTE MUST!
Thanks to PAMM, we took away this novel way to get to know other artists on our own, by researching and discovering the music that inspired them. Then, being brave and taking pencil or pen or pastel or paint to paper to see what comes out of us, could we hear the same tunes? What tunes do you think were Picasso’s fave? Or Warhol’s? What would be mine? What would be yours? And what would art would we make?
As the days rolled along, there was way more to why this vacation was feeling like a vacation….
When was the last time your bathing suit was your uniform?
Or you felt a breeze across your belly and your back every single afternoon?
Or didn’t bathe for days because the ocean washed you?
Or didn’t brush your hair because the wind did?
Or felt the earth beneath your bare feet, between your toes instead of socks and shoes?
I ate a big but ant (salty!).
I nearly drowned myself in a mud volcano.
I dipped my cheese in hot chocolate and loved the savory-sweet juxtaposition.
I felt the graciousness of so many Colombians that it makes me take pause.
There are not a lot of tourists in Bogotá, and I suppose that is due to the prevailing reputation of narco-guerrilla violence leftover. But I tell you, it couldn’t be a nicer surprise. Arriving to Bogotá, we were greeted by the vast and sprawling city surrounded like a jeweled necklace of lush green voluptuous mountains. My girlfriend told me “me llenan”, they fill her, and I get it. They would be overwhelming if they weren’t so nurturing. The only thing that rivals these Andes are the constituents it protects.
“Magic,” my daughter whispered, gazing wistfully at the moonlit sea. “I knew fairy dust was real!”
Her older sister shoved her bare feet deeper into the day’s sand castle, readying to provide the scientific explanation for the sparkling water. With a gentle but quick hand on her shoulder, she caught my look. Don’t interrupt this moment of wonder, my eyes implored. Let her be.
And so that is why the three of us, dressed in breezy linen blouses and sarongs on a warm evening, leaned back on damp towels on the inner curve of a long, palm-tree lined beach in Tamarindo, Costa Rica: to catch the next sighting of fairies scattering twinkling dust across the ocean waves, gently lapping at the shore.
I’ve always been nomadic. As a young adult, the idea of staying in one place for more than a few months, let alone a few years, was a foreign concept. The same can be said for my husband. Both individually and as a couple pre-kids, we’ve travelled to Southeast Asia, Australia, South America, and Europe. We hadn’t been abroad (except to Canada and Mexico) with our two children ever, and they were 8 and 10 years old! The time had finally arrived for our overseas adventure.
Travel makes the ordinary suddenly become extraordinary.
A trip to the grocery store means identifying what such a store is called, learning how to navigate the noisy streets to get there, recognizing products and discovering new ones, and fumbling at the cash register with unfamiliar currency. Such a mundane, ordinary task becomes a pronounced victory, a savored moment of procuring nourishment in an unknown land.
I travel to remember what matters most to me.
I believed the glorious nature of the South could help heal my heart and reconnect all the broken parts. Douglas Tompkins once said, “There is still a need inside of us to see not every square meter of earth has been humanized.” That was always true for me, and Chile offered that promise. I got the feeling that I was in on a secret world. There you were able to glimpse a fleeting moment in time. There you would find a trail between trees on which perhaps no human had ever walked before. That would be the key to my reconnection.
...My daughter did not want to leave Estancia Harberton, Calvin dreams of returning to Estancia Santa Teresita for a month, and Jack might join that crazy adrenaline fueled climbing community one day in El Chalten. The main towns, where we landed, Ushuaia and El Calafate, aren’t my favorites, but they serve a purpose and I am intrigued. I'd love to get to know Ushuaia better – my over-active imagination suspects a darkness lurking in this port town that is drenched in wicked weather for 6 months at a time. Much more going on there than I was privy to, and the mere mention of Malvinas, a.k.a. the Falkan Islands to you Brits, strikes an empassioned chord in the hearts of every local. El Calafate caters to the tourist, but off the beaten track is where it's at. Both are the gateway to my most cherished days...
...The graciousness and abundance that filled the restaurant and our hearts that night is surely a good omen for 2016... but it hasn't all been roses and peaches and this is the face I most identify with, hmmm... pretty scary? funny and, ridiculous, like "Am I really doing this?"
We are back-packing, essentially, with three kids and that in itself is an art. We forgot to prep them and some of us are slightly less than organized... it's really hard to find clean underwear these days, for everybody. I'd be lying to omit that I stepped out on the stoop in the sweltering heat with a glass of cold chardonnay to debate verbally if this vacation was really the best idea in the world - and that was at the end of Day 1. One thing for certain, next time I will definitely ensure us an air-conditioned unit as was recommended when traveling south of the border mid-summer. Duh.
Alas, a good sleep and never mind, I've already come full circle! I may never come home! I am loving the intimacy of such travel with my family and yes, I feel totally blessed.