Is anyone else itching to get out and explore nature, to soak up the sunshine, drink some ice tea, and maybe paddle down a clear river counting fish as they jump? Oooo, sounds nice! Can I go now?
For as long as I can remember, and even before that, I have been going to the river. My parents tell me that my first trip to Yosemite happened when I was three weeks old. Holy smokes, a major shout out to my folks for camping with a three week old! Loving rivers is in my blood; and when life gets crazy, I long to be sitting on a rock by a river listening to the tranquil sound of the flow.
Thankfully, I don’t have to wait for long: It’s spring, and my family has planned a road trip jam packed with lazy river sitting, trout fishing, eating too many hush puppies, and more river sitting. Whew, exhausting . . . in the best way possible.
My family likes to drive six hours north on I-30 to a place just outside of Searcy, Arkansas on the Little Red River where the rainbow trout is top notch and the river cabins are fairly inexpensive to rent (and just too cute).
After many-a-trip complete with meltdowns, 14,000 stops, and enough tears to bring the Grapevine Lake levels back to normal, I made a few rules for the road that I stick to no matter what:
There is nothing worse than getting to your destination and finding cheese smeared across the car seat, an open bag of half-eaten fruit snacks now hard because the bag could not reseal, and a plethora of scents, from cheerios to . . . is that milk? Bleh. I have since decided that this will no longer be an issue; I use snack-size Ziploc bags that can be filled with non-sticky and non-smelly snacks. Under my daughters feet, you will find a small cooler filled with juice and water bottles as well as small baggies filled with trail mix (pretzels & raisins), apple slices (soak them in orange juice the night before so they don’t turn brown), and animal crackers. Easy, fairly healthy snacks that the whole family will enjoy. Ta-dah.
At four and five years old, a road trip of more than an hour can seem like a trip across the Mojave with no water, SO the goal is to provide them tools to have some fun along the way! I tried something at the beginning of last year after taking a trip with every toy imaginable and swearing never to do that again. For my experiment trip, I let the kids pick a few of their favorite books to bring. For a toy, I filled a basket of blocks and placed it between them. To my surprise, they played for at least an hour (together!) creatively, laughing, talking, and loving the car time. I decided that blocks were the way to go for all future car trips. Easy to pick up, easy to manage for little fingers on a bumpy road, and so much fun!
You will get there when you get there. Remember that you are dealing with little bladders that might need to stop here and there and there and there. Use this time to stretch legs and maybe even enjoy some of the jungle gyms at the rest stops. This makes everyone happier and more willing to hop back in the car for the next leg of the journey.
BE PREPARED!!!!! Oh boy, we found out the hard way that Rhett gets car sick. The hard way being that we were driving down the highway in the middle of nowhere when we hear the dreaded, “Moooommm, I don’t feel very . . . bleh.” The next thing you know the car is covered, and you are frantically trying to comfort your son while trying to find the nearest Super Wal-Mart. Never again, I tell you! Now, in the backseat of my car for any long-ish trip, you will find grocery bags, disinfectant wipes, paper towels, bottles of water, and motion sickness medicine. If you are prepared, it becomes no big thing, and you can focus on taking care of your sweet one.
Enjoy yourself. Remember, most of all, that before you know it you will be back doing endless loads of laundry, presenting in this month’s sales meeting, making dinner, and sending a press release or three. Take in each moment of your vacation. Play with your kiddos, enjoy the scenery, and eat to your heart’s content of vacation-y cuisine.
If your family is not as inclined to drive as mine, here are a few road trip destinations around DFW that are a little more odometer friendly:
- Ray Roberts State Park, 30 minutes outside of Denton. Great camping at the Isle Du Bois with parks, trails, lake access, and clean bathrooms–a necessity for midnight toddler potty runs.
- Dinosaur Valley State Park, 40 minutes outside of Fort Worth. Hiking trails that will make your five year old squeal with delight as you walk in the footprints of long extinct dinosaurs.
- Grapevine Lake, uber close . . . like right in our backyard. Rent paddle boards with your sweetie for a moonlit paddle, fish for some bass off McPherson Slough, or just pack a picnic lunch, grab your favorite kite, and head out to one of Grapevine’s many picnic tables to just enjoy the local scenery.
Get out, enjoy spring and know that whether you’re going on a short or long road trip . . . girl, you got this!