When my kids were 7 and 9 years old I packed up my Honda Odyssey and hit the road for a 2-week road trip. We were heading up to Canada to visit some friends.
My kid’s father stayed behind so it was just the 3 of us. We had one of those drop-down movie screens in the car so I felt confident they would be entertained on the long drive up. We made it to Shasta on our first night. It was summer time and the heat was exhausting. I was ready for rest before we crossed the border into Oregon. The next day we were aiming to reach Ashland, just a few hours away where we had a dear friend who had moved from Santa Cruz.
These friends had two kids that were similar in age to my own kids. Thankfully, they lived across the street from a waterpark so we could all cool off from the southern Oregon heat. We stayed a few days to eat, play and catch up with our friends. I love that little town with 3 theatres, one of them an Elizabethan Shakespeare theatre, a beautiful park in the town center, and a plethora of unique restaurants and stores to accommodate the stage fans.
From there we drove to Eugene where we got ice cream to cool down then up to Bellingham where we stayed with another friend I had met the first year I lived in Santa Cruz. She welcomed me and my kids into her small apartment, fed us, and we went to a nearby park.
Touring around was opening the world of travel and curiosity for my kids. Dipping in rivers, eating in strange places we’d never been to before, meeting people my kids weren’t familiar with, and having them welcome us into their homes. Playing at parks and having meals on the road in our minivan became the new routine.
When we reached the border between the US and Canada we stayed at my dad’s cousin’s house. She and her husband lived on the coastline of Washington with a view of the San Juan Islands. We had a fantastic view with lots of space. We ended up getting the flu while we were there, and my family took great care of us. I never had the chance to know her as well as I did after that visit. Their home was beautiful and they sold it a few years later.
When it came time to cross the water into Canada we drove our little home on wheels onto the ferry that would find its way to Victoria. What a wild experience for my kids! We unloaded and found ourselves coasting over the sea with snacks and a window seat with our minivan below us in the cargo of cars. You can imagine how cool this was for my kids!
We continued on for a long drive up Vancouver Island. It felt more and more like the land of fairies and sprites as the trees grew thicker and lusher. Everything was clean and tidy. People carried kayaks and canoes on top of their cars to explore the islands and channels by water, a wish I still envision today as something I’d like to return to that area to do.
We parked our car at the next ferry and left it while we took our bags aboard to travel to the small island where our friends lived. I could tell it was mostly locals and those who used this ferry regularly. There were a few tourists who got off at the first island which lay between the mainland and where our friends were. I spoke with a woman about where we were going and she said there were very few cars so people mostly walked and biked around the island.
We were meeting a friend that used to live in Santa Cruz. I would babysit her daughter when she was around 5 years old. I was so sad when they moved away from us because I had grown so close to them all, but I was very excited to visit. Her daughter was now 13.
My friend arranged to pick us up in her tiny car and she was there to greet us when we arrived. It was so good to see her as it had been over 5 years. As an artist, I’ve always loved how she has managed to give herself permission to follow her creative impulses and passionate Visions. She had been painting refurbished furniture back in Santa Cruz and now she was making tiles using her own kiln and selling them to other creative contractors and tilers. I’ll never forget her shower with a wall open to the elements of the forest with a beautiful mosaic on another wall that she had done herself. There were sitting spots throughout the property where one could find peace and quiet… heavenly after being on the road for a week with my kids! We got to chat and catch up and my kids had a trampoline to play on with her 13-year-old, the one I used to babysit when she was younger.
In the morning, we went to a yoga class and her daughter babysat for ME!
When we returned, we walked to a rocky beach to share a picnic, dip our toes in the water, and collect clam shells. The clams were huge and the empty hulls were abundant so we brought many of them home as our treasure trove of memorabilia. We couldn’t stay long because we still had the drive back so after about 3 days we boarded the ferry once more and floated away from the sacred island in the Vancouver sea and our friends who held a piece of our grateful hearts.
On our way back we briefly stopped in Seattle and Portland, though the kids were tired of being on the road and had already watched all the videos I’d brought at least twice so we were pushing the entertainment value.
When we reached our final stretch I felt proud of myself. I had driven the whole way and taken care of my kids all on my own. It was a great trip, though challenging at times. I felt newly connected to my kids and it had been a rare time for us to be together.
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