The idea of road tripping with the girls was a little intimidating at first. For a short two minutes. In that time a whack load of questions about my sanity jumped into my head. “Would I still be sane after a week and a half in the car with my kids? Would they feel trapped? Is it cost and time effective?”
After those quick minutes of questioning, we were all about it. We weren’t up to anything better, so why not hit the road and create more cool experiences. From Canada we could drive to the West coast and head down, but I was more intrigued by the mountains that were straight south of us. I’ve seen a lot of ocean, but I had never seen the red rock and mountains of Utah. And we wanted to cross the US/Mexico border in Calexico (just heard that was a good spot).
We created a “general” route, bought an SUV worthy of the Baja roads, and set off. Alberta (Canada), Montana, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, California, and the Baja.
Instead of writing about every minute of the trip how about some funny anecdotes or the highlights instead. No one wants to read about the hours of bum numbing that happens during 9 days of driving!
And yes! That’s what it took us, 9 days, from Rosebud, Alberta, to Todos Santos, B.C.S.
You may have read this in my last post, but the memory that we will always have of driving through Montana is how gassy our whole family was. When I accidentally let one slip and we rolled down every window, the car broke down. I broke the car!
We were on the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere. There was no cell reception. We were screwed. But we were in good spirits. The weather was good. The mountains were beautiful. And we had plenty of snacks to keep the kids happy. Eben spoke to a huge amount of strangers, found some locals that knew of a mechanic in a neighbouring town, and managed to get cell service to call him. In under 3 hours our car was fixed up and we were back to driving. We lost $425 and some drive time. But it was not the end of the world.
I didn’t fart for the rest of the trip. I swear!
Did you know that tumbleweeds are a real thing? And they are not just in the Wild West? Driving through Idaho we found ourselves cracking up several times when the highway was getting pummelled by tumbleweed! It was windy as heck and these weeds were flying and hitting almost every car. It was hilarious to watch (and dodge!) When we pulled into our hotel that night we had one of those suckers stuck in the SUV’s grill! Better tumbleweed than roadkill I guess.
As we were eating breakfast the next morning it started to snow! It was time to get out of dodge. The snow literally chased us out of the state. Our only goal that day was to make tracks and get away from the snow.
Fun road side stop: lunch with some random horses on the side of the road in Scipio.
Thank you to all your recommendations. We chose with our timelines, our desires, and having our kids in tow, that we would see Zion National Park and skip the Grand Canyon (this time). Zion had better options for short day trips without straying several hours away from our road route.
We hiked the Zion Canyon Overlook which is an “easy” hike, has a slightly sketchy bridge, and epic canyon vistas. All of these were a great “taster” for the kids, and left them wanting more, and tougher. We crossed a group of other hikers and asked them about the two next hikes we were considering, which they had done both the previous day, and they recommended we try The Narrows. We didn’t have “watertight” shoes, but we figured what the heck.
The Narrows were beautiful. Each time we made it through another foot numbing river crossing we wanted to see what was around the next one. It was painfully cold. The first crossing we thought “oh it’s not so bad”. But by crossing number too my toes were throbbing, Ellia was being carried by Eben, and Arias was toughing it out by my side.
We watched in quiet envy as these swarms of “tourists” crossed paths with us wearing their waterproof pants and shoes!
But not being able to feel my feet was completely worth what we got to see. And I got to see those mountains I had been craving.
Eben and I have done Las Vegas before. We go because it is pure chaos. It’s bright and busy. It’s overwhelming and extremely different from our lives and it’s a fun shock to the system.
The girls had heard of us talking about Vegas before. Eben explained it to them as “Disneyland for adults”. You should’ve seen their faces when we told them we were bringing them there. They were screaming in excitement and didn’t really know why!!!
I gambled and used hotwire to book our rooms “blind”, hoping that we would get Circus Circus. All we knew was that the last person that booked that price range got that hotel, and that’s the one we wanted. While Eben stepped out of the room, I held my breath, and clicked, book.
We got it!!!
We wanted it because it caters well to kids. They have free circus shows every 45 minutes. They have a midway full of arcade games (kid gambling), and they have a water park that you get free access to if you are a guest.
What is Vegas known for, drinking, gambling, and being wild. So we did that, kid version. Virgin Pina Coladas with way too much whipped cream, midway fair games, and not following any of our regular routines.
On our first night we got “drinks for the road” from the convenience store, and walked down The Strip with the girls. We brought them to the free volcano show at the Mirage, and the free water show at the Bellagio. At that point the girls were tired, had sore legs and we head back. Day two we went to the water park, met some fellow Albertans at the kids midway and repeated The Strip again, this time adding “Kids Eat For Free At Denny’s”!
Las Vegas was a success. We left after two nights, tired, happy, and ready for the next adventure.
Fun roadside stop: We unexpectedly landed on the Imperial Sand Dunes. We were driving and all of a sudden we were surrounded by sand. I had never seen anything like it. Although it was scorching hot it was worth a stop and go check them out. First we “illegally” pulled over and told to go “touch” them and come back since the road signs said no stopping.
But half a mile later we found a road pull out which had open access to them. They were AMAZING!
Arias learned the hard way that sand can get real hot when she wandered don’t the sunny side of a dune (after we told her not to), lost her shoe in the sand and freaked out that it was hot and she was stuck. Eben went to rescue her as we both shook our heads passively aggressively saying “I TOLD YOU SO”.
The Mexican Border
We heard that crossing the Calexico/Mexicali border was a good spot. But as we drove through and weren’t stopped by anyone we thought “wait, that was too easy!” Where do you get stamps? Where do you get tourist visas so that we don’t get in trouble when we try to leave Mexico one day?
We rolled down our window and asked an official what exactly we are supposed to do. Luckily he was friendly, because when he asked how many kids we had and how old they are, we turned around to find Arias’ completely hidden under a blanket!!! She was doing it so she could see her iPad without the sunlight bothering her. We looked like we were trying to smuggle small kids into the country!!!
Down The Baja
Once across the border we were excited to make some distance and get to our new home. We didn’t quite know where we wanted to sleep our first night, we just wanted to drive as far as we could each day. On day 1 that put us in Bufeo. Let me tell you. There is not a lot in Bufeo. It has a handful of homes, one posada, and one restaurant.
The restaurant, where we hoped to eat, was closed that day. The owners went to the neighbouring town. The “hotel” had minimal solar power, (meaning one flickering light), no fans, two shotty beds, and it was expensive…but it was a roof over our heads and the next town was far.
That was night one.
Day two started great, and then the highway disappeared and turned into an extremely rutted dirt road. It was so sad it was funny. It was slow, long, frustrating, but we got through it.
Day 3 the only highlight was Ellia getting carsick! Not much of a highlight, but it was a change from “road trip routine”.
By the end of that day we arrived in Todos Santos!
Now we are trying to find a rental house for ourselves, and get into a new routine. Getting the girls into school, figuring out this town, and finding the quaint little spots. A whole new adventure.