Family Vacation to Maui

Snorkeling in Maui

On our recent family vacation to Maui, I knew there was one thing I had to do for the very first time: Snorkel.

I had promised my kids, and myself, that this would be the year I finally get over my irrational fear of the ocean (thanks to repeated viewings of “Jaws”) by donning a mask, fins and a snorkel, and swimming right out into that deep blue water.

First thing I had to do, however, was find a good place for beginner snorkelers, where the water would be calm, clear and filled with ocean life.

====> Continue reading my article at TripAdvisor’s Family Vacation Critic blog.

Family Vacation to the Moon

craters of the moon

Inspired by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, one of my dreams of childhood was to walk on the moon. I didn’t want to be an astronaut. Rather, I wanted to romp around in low gravity as a tourist.

It wasn’t an unreasonable fantasy. I mean, not if you were a regular viewer of “The Jetsons.” We all thought there would be flying cars and robot maids in our future.

Vacations on the moon aren’t about to happen anytime soon, so I’ll just have to settle for a little imagination, and a road trip to Craters of the Moon National Monument, in southern Idaho.

====> Continue reading my article at TripAdvisor’s Family Vacation Critic blog

Family Vacation to the Olympic Beaches

kalaloch2

Washington’s Olympic National Park is an amazingly diverse place, with snowcapped mountain peaks, sandy ocean beaches, and a temperate rain forest all within easy driving distance of each other. One particular part of the park has twice been our base of operations for the ideal family vacation.

The Olympic Beaches stretch along the Pacific Coast for 73 miles. They range from the wide and sandy Kalaloch Beach to the rugged and rocky Rialto Beach. They all have their own unique characteristics, some with awesome tide pools and others with weird rock formations, and they are all close enough to each other to be explored in just a day or two.

====> Continue reading my article at TripAdvisor’s Family Vacation Critic blog

The Ghostliest Ghost Town in the West

bannack3

Teaching your kids about history when you travel doesn’t have to mean a long, boring day of museums and statues. If done right, history can be more than just artifacts behind a glass case, or a plaque that points out where something used to be.

When my kids were studying the old west, with its wagon trains, gold miners and outlaws, I knew there was no better place for it to all come to life than in a real western ghost town.

My new article about Bannack State Park, the ghostliest ghost town in all the west, is now appearing on Family Vacation Critic, a subsidiary of TripAdvisor. You can expect to see several articles from me each month on this essential family travel site. I hope they give you inspiration for a memorable family adventure!

==> Continue reading about Montana’s awesome Bannack State Park

bannack

Somewhere In My Memory

Alnwick Castle Memories

Try to remember what you had for dinner on the 16th of July this past summer.

Now try to remember what you were doing on the afternoon of June 5, 2012.

Anything?

If you can recall the details of those days, you must keep a daily diary, or you have a photographic memory. Or, maybe you looked it up on Facebook just now.

Most likely, you were traveling. Continue reading

10 Cool Things For Kids in Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is the crown jewel of our National Park System. It was the first of its kind, and remains the most unique and diverse wilderness experience that you will find in this country.

It’s also an extremely cool place for kids.

But with almost 3500 square miles of lakes, geysers, canyons, and hot springs, there’s too much to see in one short stay. So, after four visits to Yellowstone, and consultation with my own children, I have compiled the following list of park sights and activities that will make your family trip an especially memorable one.

Ten Cool Things For Kids (and Grown-Ups) in Yellowstone National Park:

1. Dragon’s Mouth Spring

Dragon's Mouth Spring

How can you resist telling your kids that a dragon lives in a cave near a mud volcano? It doesn’t take much imagination to think that this cavern, with its growls and thumps, and spitting steam, might just hold a real dragon.

2. Fishing Cone

Yellowstone Fishing Cone

It’s probably just a tall tale, but the story goes that the early trappers and explorers would catch fish in Yellowstone Lake, swing them directly into the Fishing Cone geyser just off shore, and have a meal of boiled fish in just minutes. “Hook and cook,” they called it. Like the dragon cave, another cool sight that will fire up the imagination.

3. Old Faithful Inn

Old Faithful Inn lobby as seen from Bat's Alley; Jim Peaco; October 2003

What kid won’t love the largest log hotel in the world? Just walk inside the 100-year-old Inn’s lobby, with its four stories of lodgepole pine balconies and 500-ton stone fireplace, and your kids might just want to sit for awhile. Preferably in one of the many handmade wood rocking chairs. Better yet, stay in one of the Inn’s rooms. Prices are reasonable, and the food in the dining room is first-class.
Continue reading

Sleeping in the Trees

Treehouse

I had a treehouse when I was a kid. And I’m pretty sure I slept in it once or twice.

As a grown-up, the idea of sleeping in the trees, on the bare wood floor of a drafty, spider-infested, rickety old treehouse, doesn’t sound so appealing.

Ah, but what if you could find some relative luxury up in those trees?

That’s what you’ll get at the Out ‘n’ About Treehouse Treesort, in Takilma, Oregon. Continue reading

Photo Friday: Old Schooling

Old School

Last week we traded our home school for an old school.

On spring break in Montana, we stopped in at Bannack State Park, a well-preserved ghost town, for a little old-fashioned book learnin’.

It wasn’t quite the same. Too many desks, not enough cats.

And both kids defied my orders to stand in the corner with a dunce cap on their head.

Where’s Willie Oleson when you need him?