When my daughter was born on Independence Day I had always dreamed of taking her to see the fireworks at Disneyland for her birthday. So by the time we made the trip from New Zealand for her 12th birthday, it had been years in the planning.
But we weren’t going to go all that way without making the most of it! We made a bucket list, starting at Yellowstone in the North and finishing at Disneyland on Independence Day. But how to get to Yellowstone? Well, why not through Canada?
So we flew into Vancouver and took the train up to Jasper NP. We saw a bear and her cubs in Jasper, swam in hot pools and visited the amazing blue lakes on the Icefield Parkway. We drunk glacier water and ate Poutine, got snowed on in Banff, drove the Bear Tooth Highway into Yellowstone NP – froze – thawed out and ate toasted Brussell Sprouts on a terrace overlooking the Grand Tetons, stood in the middle of the road to take our ‘Forest Gump’ photo, camped in 40 degree heat at Monument Valley, hiked at Arches NP, ate all you can eat pancakes for Father’s Day (my husband got two Father’s Days!) and climbed to the Cliff Houses at Messe Verde. The girls did their homework perched on a rock inside the Grand Canyon. I cried on Route 66 remembering my father’s unfulfilled dream to visit the iconic stretch of Highway. We melted in the searing heat at Las Vegas! And shared a few swear words as we tried to traverse the Strip in a 10′ wide RV on a Friday night. We camped and hiked and fell in love with Yosemite NP and collected wines from Napa Valley. We explored the cute historical Cole Valley in San Francisco and watched Whales (and Trump supporters) from the Golden Gate Bridge. We spent a fortune at the American Girl Doll store, met the amazing and generous locals at Cambria, ate King Crab on Santa Barbara Pier and breakfast burritos at Flows Cafe at Disney California.
By the time we checked in at LAX for the long trip home – we had travelled 4000 miles by car, train, helicopter, plane and RV. We had cooked on BBQs and open fires and toasted marshmallows. We’d eaten shrimp nachos and champagne ice cream sundaes. We’d become self-proclaimed Walmart experts and had our favourite Starbucks orders. We’d met Micky and Mini and spent Miss T’s birthday at Disneyland on the 4th July.
And the best part of all of it? Spending five uninterrupted weeks with my children.
I’m going to share our journey on my blog Accounting4chaos, as well as my tips for travelling with children, saving money, self-catering in hotel rooms, surviving Disneyland (you shouldn’t have to wait in ques) and, of course, our itinerary.