Saturday, July 2, 2016

Day 27: The Reflection

We really did travel around the US for the last 26 days. About 7,000 miles and we did it with seven people in a Toyota Sienna van. The luggage "well" is a gift. Simply a gift. Here's how we packed it all. 
That there is six carry-on roller bags, a duffle bag, a queen sized Aero-bed, one camp mattress, one backpack (three others were in the seat area along with a travel ice chest). 

It was tight people! No lying there. But the storage capacity is honestly amazing. We rented a Suburban once on vacation and we had less luggage space. This 8 passenger beast is really just that. A Beast!

So after being on the road for nearly a month, you may be wondering how we did it. Like how do you pack for a month, how do you afford a month long trip, etc. so here's a little list of what we learned and some tips for you if you ever venture on an expedition like ours:

1. Bring hot chocolate and oatmeal packets. If you stay at a hotel WITHOUT breakfast, chances are good that you'll have a coffee maker and that's all you need! Hot water makes oatmeal and cocoa. Grab a few liquid creamers to add to your oatmeal and you're golden. 

2. Reusable water bottles. I hate paying for water. Most gas stations with soda fountains have a tab for water. Refill and stay hydrated!

3. Choose hotels wisely. On our trip, the hotels accounted for 50% of our total budget. While a Hampton Inn may be a few extra bucks than the cheapest place in town, the full breakfast that's included is worth it for our family of 5. I figure that the breakfast is worth about $40-$60 easy. Grab an extra yogurt or apple for a snack later. Kids tend to be hungry five minutes after eating right?

4. Try and skip a meal. We tended to eat a late lunch/early dinner and have some snacks throughout the day. This ended up resulting in a grand total of about $70 a day spent in food. That seems pretty good to me for a family of 5. 

5. Pack for a week and do laundry. Many hotels have washers and dryers and you're just gonna have to do it. There's no way you can pack for a month. 

6. Write a blog! Sometimes we were tired and it was a chore from time to time, but it was also fun getting the kids involved in it. This was a really fun part of our trip and afterward we realized that we wished that we had done this for ALL of our trips! What a great way to remember the trip and keep track of how you spent your days. 

Thanks again for reading everyone! Until the next trip!

Day 26: The Long Haul Home

We got on the road early today. Eager to find our beds at home. We had an eight and a half hour drive ahead of us so we grabbed a full breakfast at our Hampton Inn in Twin Falls Idaho and got on our way. Note: if you have NOT stayed at a Hampton Inn, I highly recommend it. Great quality for a fraction of higher prices hotels. 

Yup, that's our map. It was pretty simple. Highway 80 forever. And ever. And ever. We grabbed some lunch in Reno, where the kinds used their phones to find what else - a Panda Express! And us adults grabbed a Subway. We are already beginning to try and eat healthier as we transition back to normal home eating. 

After playing 7 Little Words and yelling "train" every time someone spotted a train...some people in the car may have been delirious with exhaustion, we finally saw an exciting sign. 

Oh my. For the first time in 26 days we were finally seeing our home state. There are a lot of states in this nation, but after seeing a bunch of them on this trip everyone in our car still wants to live in California. 

After emptying the car and stretching out legs, we took one final photo just like the one we took before we took off on day 1. 
We are all still smiling. We all still love each other. We know perhaps a bit more than we did about each and everyone who piled into the car day after day. We are grateful for vacations like this. We loved pretty much every minute, and we also agreed that we probably wouldn't have done it without the company of our multi-generational trip. A win-win for everyone! 

Friday, July 1, 2016

Day 25: Idaho, Niagara Falls and Flowers

As we were packing up the Sienna this morning, we found this bear left unattended at a picnic table near our cabin. 
Definitely one of those wtf moments. 

Before exiting West Yellowstone this morning we hit up a little bakery called Ernie's. It was a perfect stop for something quick to grab and head into the park - but today we we're heading to Idaho! But first, a bacon donut!

As we drove out of Montana and into Idaho, we found a field of potatoes. And they they were flowering. So we stopped. Picture time! 

We have seen fields like this before but we never seem to stop. We lived in the moment today and pulled over, jumped out of the car, and snapped away! 

Making it to Idaho in about 4 hours we went straight for our destination. Shoshone Falls. "This is the Niagara of the west." Shoshone Falls is 212 feet high—45 feet higher than Niagara Falls. Uh huh. And it's right here in the west!
And, in 1974 American daredevil Evel Knievel attempted to jump over Shoshone Falls on a rocket-powered motorcycle. He failed. You can read more here. (
I know you've probably never heard of it (we hadn't either until some friends steered us this way), but if you're ever in Twin Falls Idaho you should really stop by. So beautiful and pleasantly natural. No tourism really to be seen around these falls. 

Pretty cool stuff. We found a theatre and took in a show - The BFG - before dinner. And dinner, our last dinner of this trip. I know the blog is titled "28 Days in the Sienna," but it's gonna be 26. Mama miscounted. The hotel suggested we try out Elevation 486 so we headed over and found amazing views. 

This is just south of the falls and still has the Snake River running through this golf community. The restaurant's view is from above it all. Beautiful. Dinner was great. I started eating before the picture taking so excuse my partially eaten prime rib. 

Wonderful last dinner to wrap up our tour of eating across America. We drank wine and toasted to family and for the adventure that we've all experienced together. Todd and I were just saying yesterday that we wish we had blogged on all of our vacations. This was as much for us as it was for our family and friends following along. 

More tomorrow!