Well, we did it! After 6 months of planning, we took ourselves off on our 6 week family road trip to the West Coast of America and then inland through Canada. The final weeks in Calgary were less road trippin', more hanging out with family. We covered over 3000 miles driving, slept in 11 different beds, clocked up countless fuel-station potty stops, Del Taco stops and generally confirmed to me how much I really love to travel...even if it is travelling with kids. I'm totally in!The places we hit up on our Road Trip are in order below:
Joshua Tree, California
Solvang- (near Santa Barbra,) California
San Fransisco, California
Redwood, Crescent City, California
Oregon Coast, Oregon
Abottsford, BC, Canada
I could write a blog post on each of our stops on the road, but instead, i'm going to keep things really broad. This kinda trip is so totally different to a one-stop holiday destination kind of trip. Road trippin' i now realise is so dynamic. Some days you are driving all day, somedays you are trying to figure out what to do, how not to bleed money or are planning for tomorrow. All the while, the experience is new and exciting and completely different to life back home, while after all, is the bubble bursting aim of the game.
Jon likes messing around with his drone and put together a compilation of some of his footage over the trip. Thought we might share it here for you to. Have peek by clicking on the photo below.
First off. The packing..We packed light. The 3 kiddos had a large cabin/ carry on size bag for their clothing and possessions for the 6 weeks. We checked their luggage on to the flight (even though they were small enough for cabin.) Jon and i took a medium sized luggage as we had some gifts and wanted to have a bit of flexibility to purchase on the go. Keeping our packing light meant 1. our bags all fit in the back of the car. 2. at each stop we could easily grab the things we needed for the overnight without having to fill the floor of our Air bnb or Motel room with 5 large sprawling suitcases.
How to get around? We had originally wanted to rent an RV or trailer van for this trip, but when we totalled up the cost of fuel and the extra expense of dropping off the vehicle in different collection/drop off points, paying for Airbnb's and Hotel rooms won. The big drawback was that at we were travelling though America on the 4th July holiday, which meant we had to pre-book every overnight and couldn't be as spontaneous as we would have liked. In the end, the run up to the trip was so intensely busy that I was actually so glad everything was pre-booked... the thought of making more big decisions once we arrived was too much!
So instead of the romantic, 'following our noses' RV notion, we opted for renting a Ford Explorer SUV. We originally booked a caravan (people carrier), but we got roped into an upgrade by the car rental salesperson, the built-in Sat Nav was the clincher and totally worth it.
Itinerary. It seemed wise to us during the planning stage (or rather, Jon who was our chief researcher and Airbnb maestro.. gosh, it takes such dedication, doesn't it?) to mix up the driving with no-driving days and plot our journey this way. Don't get me wrong, there were a few pretty intense 8-9 hour driving days but mixing some down time days in with this worked well and helped us maintain momentum. We also enjoyed the mix of it just being our 5-some family unit and then travelling with extended family later on the trip. The thought of this, gave the girls incentive on the long drive days and was just a fun way to change it up. I guess, the key is..it's good to really like the people you commit to holiday with and luckily for us, we love our fellow family travellers!!
Eating. As we were on a bit of a budget, if we were at the type of accommodation that had a kitchen, we would cook something easy, like fry up the bags of frozen hashbrowns you can get in Walmart, with veggies, maybe a fried egg, hummus and loads of watermelon for after etc.. We still wanted to eat pretty healthily on our long driving days, so to avoid that gross- sitting-down-all-day feeling, we ate at quite a lot of Mexican joints e.g. Del Taco Drive Thru or Chipotle. As a vegetarian family, this ticked the box and I could also order a side of mexican rice and guac for Espen boy. A&W (a fast food burger joint) has just launched a vegan no-meat 'Beyond Meat' burger which was utterly amazing for the days when a burger was all we craved.
Coping with Jet-lag... with kids. Seriously, let me know when you find the magic answer to this. My advice would definitely be 'don't sweat it.' There was an 11 hour difference for us and as we arrived into LA late at night so for the that first day, it was easy to just go to bed. When we woke up veryyyy early the next morning, we were wrecked and the temptation is to nap during the day. Our advice would be to try and not do this and don't let kids who don't usually nap during the day take one. On your first day try to stay up as late as possible to help let your body regulate. We didn't use any sleeping or relaxation medication at any point. Flip, as soon as Espen got on the flight from London to LA he started to burn up and developed a mild rash all over his body, it later transpired that he was cutting his first molar and was developing mild measles as a result of his MMR vaccination 7 days prior. So to be honest, jet-lag was the least of his worries and ours. The older girls, 8 and 11, bounced quickly into the time zone and we all actually enjoyed feeling sleepy at around 9am for the first week instead of our usual nocturnal sleep patterns.
After our first stop in L.A (where we visited Jon's brother, his wife and baby) we drove inland to the desert. Joshua Tree. It was eerily surreal driving up to our 1954 Airbnb homestead*** Dark all around and the stars to keep us company. The sky looked freckled with stars at night. Truly like nothing I've ever seen. For maybe the first time, this was when i started to think..'yes, it's working.. we're getting out of our normal life, experiencing a completely new environment, having different conversations, making memories we'll never forget."
6am hot tub in the desert.. why? cause we could and we were jet-lagged and even though we were already boiling by this stage of the day, we did it every morning we were there.
As we moved further up the coast from LA near to the Big Sur coast line, everything changed. The vegetation, the types of palm trees and we really needed to wear our hoodies and extra layers. Goodness, the giant Redwoods at Crescent City were just unreal. So tall, we even found a tree trunk at one of our stops that had been hit by lightening last century and was open to take a walk around. The morning we were driving through the redwood trees, Jon and I were actually really annoyed with the girls for not looking out the window more. I guess, you win some, you lose some and in this instance, whatever had grabbed their attention in the back seat won. They were grumpy cause it was morning and honestly, i think they were scared the trees might fall on us! The things you imagine in your head to be a certain way, sometimes aren't like that in reality, but funnily enough, now the girls NOT looking out the window has become the memory.. maybe that's even better?? Another one. Before leaving for our road trip i fantasised about all vegan cafes we would encounter on our journey up the Pacific Coast Highway. We would stop for Spirulina smoothie bowls, Buddah bowls and Kombucha to fuel us on the trot. The reality: burger joints, Taco Bell and Starbucks all the way.. i don't actually know what i was thinking. Do i mind? No, the amazing things about this trip weren't really about the amazing landscapes and sunsets and certainly not how many vegan cafes i could find.. At some point along the way, i realised i was already sitting on all the treasures i would ever need to have a 'bursting out of my bubble' experience and all the treasures came in the form of, the souls i was sitting in the car with and get to live these years beside; the personal freedom i have experienced over the last few years, freedom from infertility, freedom to not be perfect, freedom to just flippin' well 'be happy.' TAKE IT AND RUN PEOPLE. These are the things that count.
So why even bother travelling i hear you say? Why bother putting our kids through jetlag? They, afterall would probably be just as happy at home and if we wanted to push the boat out, bring them to a swimming pool, go ice skating or get a frozen yogurt? Well, for me, the reason why i love travelling so much is because it kind of freezes time. I could of happily got on with work and life at home but if you were to ask me what we did in the summer of 2018, i would most definitely answer in a haze of "well nothing really, I guess i can't remember." If we hadn't of went on our road trip, i wouldn't have had a 6am hot tub in the desert with my kids; Emelia and I wouldn't have got to go hunting for an unlimited amount of 'rest rooms' in fuel stations and pee in disgusting porta loos out the back. Ha. If we hadn't of taken this road trip, i wouldn't have got to see how much fun 'drone Jon' is when he has a new environment to fly that thing over. I wouldn't have got to see how Esmee's quest in life is to try and make Espen giggle, which comes in real handy when our bums are sore from driving all day. We wouldn't have experienced the entire body fatigue of walking the hills in SanFransico City or i wouldn't have realised how much i prefer the 'sour' instead of 'hoppy' beers when visiting all the brewery's with my brother & sister in law in Portland and Canon Beach, Oregon and i definitely wouldn't have got to be in the same room as all my Johanson sisters, had coffee with the family on the deck or seen all the cousins play in the creek together.
Now that we're home, I'm taking all my mental snap shots, sticking them in my back pocket and taking them out when i need to remember that i don't want to live as a slave to the stresses and grind of life (and social media.) You've heard me say it so many times, I'm so grateful for this job and the community and buzz around the Lines & Current business. That's a given, there's really nothing else i could imagine wanting to do more, but that doesn't mean my life is stress-free. It totally isn't. So when the looming shadow of mundane or more likely, the panic and my poor bursting screenhead rises up, i have some new ammo. That summer we flippin' well got out of our bubble, how life didn't stop at home, how the wheels of our business didn't stop turning and how we made memories that can never be taken away from us.
And this is why I love travelling.
P.s. Big love and special thanks to Jo, who continued to post out your Lines & Current orders x3 times a week while we were away and whose reliability and ability to 'just get things sorted', still blows me away. I know you had a rough few weeks while we were gallivanting. Your commitment doesn't go unnoticed. Thank you! x