Epic American Road Trip (with kids)

So, my blog has been quiet for a few weeks… and that’s because I’ve been on an amazing holiday of a lifetime with my family. Well…not quite the holiday of a lifetime because my parents took me on that when I was 11 and that’s exactly what we’ve just done again. I have so many vivid memories of that holiday to the USA where we did a 3 week road trip taking in Disney Land, San Diego, Painted Desert & Petrified Forest, Great Meteor Crater, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, Calico Ghost Town, Sequoia, Yosemite and finishing in San Francisco. We have a few family photo’s from that trip but I remember so much. I could picture some of our visits vividly and I wanted to give this opportunity to my girls too who are aged 6, 11 and 14. So last year after we lost my mother-in-law to cancer, we decided we had to take life by the horns and go for it. My eldest daughter’s school was brilliant and willingly gave their blessing to take her out of school for a week so we could go at Easter. Summer would have been too hot to do much of what we did and walking anywhere in heat of 30+ degrees with children would probably be quite unpleasant, let alone the amount of driving involved in that heat. So, we booked our tickets and planned our route, taking in National Parks & places of interest. The only accommodation we booked in advance were the obviously busy ones; Los Angeles for when we arrived, Grand Canyon, Sequoia, Yosemite and our last couple of nights on the coast at Carpenteria.

My middle daughter suffers from travel sickness quite a lot and started vomiting on the plane an hour before we landed and continued through Los Angeles airport. This actually proved a blessing in disguise when we were standing in a huge queue for security/passport control that was shuffling along with very few desks open and was looking to take a good 2-3 hours when she threw up again, getting us moved out of the big queue and into the smaller ‘Special Access’ queue and thus getting us out of the airport in a much quicker time. Another long delay at Alamo Car Rentals due to their computers going down (which someone told us happens a lot – we won’t be booking through them again, although you couldn’t fault them in any other way and they gave us a free tank of petrol for the delay). We stayed in Los Angeles for a couple of days and did Disney Land for one day, Hollywood Walk of Fame and lounged by the pool recovering from the flight. Then it was off, in our 7 seater Chrysler Pacifica which was roomy and comfortable and heading off towards the Arizona desert and our first stop at Palm Springs where we were visiting the Joshua Tree National Park.
Our first National Park experience was great. A good visitors centre with rangers offering advice on where to go, what to see in a short time, what trails you could easily do with kids etc and off we went for our first taste of proper desert. We all loved it! Even my 14 year old was climbing on rocks, willingly following the trails and taking photos at every opportunity. We did the short family trails looking at skull rock and face rock (guess which is which from the photo’s) and that then took you off a little way into the desert, around rocky outcrops, past numerous joshua trees and flowering yuccas so you could really get a feel for the park. Joshua Tree NP was a major hit for us all and a great first natural American experience together.
Next week, I’ll be recounting our drive further into the desert, through Lake Havasu City and on to Flagstaff…
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