Mix Sweet Shop
16oz Soy Chai
I feel like a bit of a jerk. I'm a bit sick and sitting in the middle of a crowded coffee shop. But I absolutely needed to be out of the house for a while today. We just got back from our first family-of-four trip late last night and I'll be spending the rest of the day decompressing/putting the apartment back in order. That's also why this will be a bit brief.
First, when going on your first long trip with your two small children - overpack. As long as there's still room in the trunk, and you keep the diapers and snacks and a couple basic soothers in immediate reach, just take everything you might remotely need or imagine somebody might want. Only by going will you learn what can be culled and what must be taken on future trips. Be prepared to go to Fred Meyer at 10:30 at night for more supplies. (Also, bring your own baby-proofing supplies if you want to avoid going to Fred Meyer at 10:30 at night).
Plan what you want to do in advance. Then cut it in half. Then cut that in half and add an hour to each stop. Then be prepared to do something else entirely.
Take lots of pictures, but take more pictures in your head. You're going to have an experience, so experience it.
Give yourself at least a day to recover from your trip before you have to go back to being responsible for stuff.
Make sure you empty the trash before leaving, even if it isn't full. Especially if it contains dirty diapers. Seriously. It's okay to be a bad hippy sometimes.
As per Hitchhiker's Guide, bring a towel. You will want something to lie on when you have to stretch out on the gross sidewalk outside the McDonalds because your back hurts from driving for-freakin-ever.
Take the speed limit seriously. There are places we were driving in SoOr and NorCal - especially on the 101 - where the speed limit should have been even less than what was posted. Also, pay attention to the signs because the limits change frequently and many drivers act like, well... California drivers, who specialize in Making Good Time.
Don't make good time. Have a good time.
And... Go. Even though Oliver is not even two and Henry is only three and they may remember little of the feel of the gritty wet sand or the smell of the salty ocean, go anyway. Oliver fell asleep before making it to the Trees of Mystery, and Henry was more interested in creaky gates and rickety bridges and the ice cream in the gift shop. Still, the stillness of the forest, the towering redwood canopy, the vast trunk of the fallen 3,000 year old tree, the beauty of a green untamed wilderness will seep into their consciousness and linger on in their dreams. And when we go again someday - years from now - they will connect to the experience and understand without understanding why, and their memories will be stronger for having gone this time.
Oh, yeah, and... never pass up a chance to pee.