Some of you may remember that Skyler and I have been doing “Amazing Race” themed dates for the past year and a half – and last May we took our kids on a “Family Edition” after much questioning from our eldest of when he would get the chance to race. We all had SO much fun on that family road trip and were eager to go again. Ezekiel had asked me over and over again when the 2nd race might be. Skyler and I knew we wanted to go again hopefully in May this year but between taking time off for Alder’s birth and 2 weeks this summer at Washington Family Ranch, we knew taking time off for such a trip wasn’t going to be very feasible. And then God smiled down on us and somehow on Skyler’s schedule, he had a naturally aligned 8 days off which just happened to coincide with his 2 week break in between spring and summer terms of school. So we jumped on it.
We had one week to plan, figure out where we were going, book hotels, and pack pack pack. But we did it. And we can officially say it was our most successful and fun family vacation we’ve had yet.
If you didn’t follow along with our travels on Instagram, here’s the whole shebang! And by “whole shebang”, I mean that I will be breaking this out into each day having it’s own post because this mama just doesn’t know how to stop clicking photos and this would be insane otherwise! 😅
We started the morning of Day 1 at 4:30 am when Skyler and I awoke, showered, made eggs and threw the last bit of items in the van before waking the kids. at 5:00 am, we sauntered into the boys’ room with The Amazing Race theme song blasting on my phone as a wake up call to the boys. They had no notion or idea that we were headed anywhere on any trip beforehand. They were sleeping and groggy but as soon as they recognized the song, they leapt out of bed and we carried them down to the van to load them up. When we were all in and ready to go, we read them the first clue:
To say they were excited is an understatement.
And so excited, that they didn’t fall back asleep. Womp womp. The first driving stretch was just shy of 4 hours but I had anticipated they would fall back asleep and we’d arrive at the park at 9 am to enjoy our picnic breakfast for a bit. They never slept but they kept themselves quiet and occupied as they are used to long rides and enjoy looking out the window, watching where we’re going. I also packed each of their backpacks with activities and had plenty of things for them to do, as well as some new cameras that we had purchased for the boys. The cameras had a few simple games like Frogger on them, fun special effects and well, we ended up viewing about 150 photos of the inside of the van when we uploaded their photos a few weeks ago. Alder did SO great (he was only 6 weeks old!) but we didn’t quite make it all the way to the park. He woke up about 20 minutes before the park and let us know he was hungry, so we made a quick pit stop just off of I-5 to feed the baby and dole out everyone’s picnic boxes before driving off again.
We drove another hour and made it to Yreka, CA for our next stop for a real potty break and to grab some coffee. Then we hit the road again for another 2 hours till we reached the city of Anderson, CA.
Kiddieland is a park in Anderson but it was already incredibly hot (90’s) and we just wanted to eat quickly and move along since the kids were doing so great. So we opted to eat at Burrito Bandito (amazing and totally worth the stop!) before hopping in and making the long stretch of the drive (theoretically over nap time) past Mt. Shasta and on our way to Fairfield.
All except for Zeek took naps in the van and for that last stretch before Fairfield, we busted out the iPad which was ready and loaded with Finding Dory. Praise you Jesus for iPads and movies for long car rides! The kids keep begging for us to get a van with a movie player installed when we upgrade our van eventually. I’m not so sure I want it there all the time but it definitely is handy in a time like this!
We eventually made it to Fairfield and were greeted with a sweaty 97 degrees. But we made it to our destination:
We hopped out and ran into the Jelly Belly Factory to get in line for a tour.
These little cameras (VTech Kidizoom Duo) were an awesome purchase! They really take pretty great pictures and are so simple for the kids to figure out and use on their own. Asher is a little budding photographer and looooved taking his in when we stopped places and snapping several photos.
The tour was really pretty fun and fascinating. The kids loved watching how the Jelly Belly’s were made and seeing the tubs full of colorful beans and how they were tumbled to get their shine.
Even more, they loved their full sized Jelly Belly bag they got at the end of the tour. Even Alder got a bag which *ahem* really meant that mom got two. #winning
This was fun and definitely worth a stop if you’re in the area! We stayed for about an hour before loading up again and opening up our next clue:
We arrived to the John Muir historic site in Martinez (where he lived with his wife and two daughters) at about 4 pm that day after 11 hours of travel and site-seeing. It was hot hot hot for these weak-sauce Oregonians (97 degrees, remember? yikes.) but the house was so cool!
I drooled over their basic farmhouse kitchen and pantry. I LOVED the sink/counter set up.
John’s writing room:
This was their attic space but all I could dream of was how awesome this would be as playroom space! I told Skyler to take note because this would be my dream house if we were to ever build. 😉
At the top in the bell tower – it was INSANELY hot up in here:
And finally, what should’ve been our last adventure of the day:
We were supposed to grab some food for a picnic up top of Mt Wanda (a short mile walk up the hill where John walked with his daughters often and named it Mt Wanda after his oldest daughter). BUT. 97 degrees. Amiright?! So we opted for the much less adventurous option and went with the a/c’ed Chick-fil-A with the indoor playground. I do not regret this decision.
Finally, (can’t find the clue) but we headed to the John Muir Inn to get bathed and tuck in for an early bedtime. First day was a success and so fun! Stay tuned for Day 2…