Here in this outpost on the web we hope to share our appreciation for travel and food. Most, but not all, will focus on family travel.
Who we are:
We're a family of four based in Southeastern Louisiana, who have had the opportunity to travel across the USA and Canada as a family going back to 2002. On occasion, some individual travels that predate 2002 will be referenced as those adventures inform and influence more recent travels. The intended purpose of this blog is to highlight the destinations – not the family.
Though we’re building a presence on Instagram and other social media (links found elsewhere on this page) to share our travels, we have no intention of planning trip itineraries around capturing those perfect ‘instagrammable’ photographs. We (or at least the kids) have photographed our travels going back to at least 2007. However, it is only the most recent travels starting in 2016 that the quality exceeds the family scrapbook mostly due to the youngest’s interest in outdoor photography. Our photographs are a visual travelogue of our experiences – not a series of staged shoots projecting unrealistic perfection.
Clearly, the family’s interests and opinions will come through since we travel for leisure and thus drives our destinations and activities. Our goal is that we’re sharing those experiences with those who read our blog or follow our social media to inform them on what those destinations have to offer. If our content starts to come across as bragging or more about us and some ‘reality life’, please let us know. In our effort to focus on the travels here on the blog, the family will often be referenced using the following pseudonyms:
Elders: Mater and Pater had their formative years in the 80's and 90's - hair bands, Ronald Reagan, alternative rock and Bill Clinton.
Pater: The Patriarch of the family works in the computer/IT field. He enjoys sports and science fiction. He also enjoys history so historical sites and museums are of strong interest to him. He is also much less interested by far in music than everyone else in the family. When he was growing up, his Elders took him on road trips to Atlantic Canada, New England, Niagara Falls, the Southwest and the Upper Midwest. It was his memories of travel that brought about the family travels.
Mater: The Matriarch of the family enjoys working with special needs children. Her love of historical fiction such as Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie draws her to historic homes of the 19th and early 20th century as well as living history sites that demonstrate home life from those period. Her travels were to the Gulf Coast and a ski trip to Colorado.
The Millennials: The older Frater and younger Soror. They both love animals, although Soror draws the line with snakes and other creepy-crawlies.
Frater: He's not afraid of working hard and has a burgeoning interest in craftsmanship such as blacksmithing. He's gone country with his preference for traditional country music and has dabbled with playing the guitar. One of his goals is to convince the family to get out of the SUV and into an RV for the road trips.
Soror: She's the youngest of the family and grown up taking road trips since she was a toddler. She likes both the beach and the mountains. She enjoys taking outdoor photos - especially rainbows, sunsets and snow-capped mountains. She's the musician in the family as she plays piano and trumpet. 2019 will be a milestone year for her as she'll reach adulthood and start college.
Mascots: The family is also joined by their trip mascots, Mike the Tiger and Papa Smurf, who sometimes make appearances in trip photos.
We look forward to the family road trips continuing to evolve (because we have no choice since this isn't Neverland and the Millennials aren't going to stop growing up like Peter Pan) once Soror reaches adulthood in early 2019.
Where we stay:
We tend to stay in mid-tier hotels such as Hampton Inn that have interior rooms and comfortable beds. Free continental breakfast and free wi-fi are the required amenities for our family. An indoor pool is also frequently a criteria. Suites or rooms with kitchens and rooms with a view are sought after less frequently. We've also sampled beach vacation homes, bed and breakfasts, cottages, full service hotels, mountain cabins and national parks lodging. Last but not least, we've stayed with relatives as well. We've even skipped stopping and driven all night (aside from a rest area nap) on a few rare occasions.
Where we travel:
We've spent years mostly concentrating our travels east of the Mississippi River usually along the Appalachian Mountains to and from the Great Smoky Mountains, the Gulf Coast and New England. In more recent years we've headed west as well. Our travels culminated in 2017 when we drove through all forty-eight contiguous states along with the provinces of Atlantic Canada. Now we expect to integrate more slow travel as we mix new destinations with return visits to favored spots that we can further explore.
Our destinations are varied, but tend toward historical points of interest, national parks and scenic drives, so we've been to the Alamo, the National Mall, the 'Mighty 5' national parks of Utah, Yellowstone, a number of national battlefields and historic sites as well as driven parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway and Natchez Trace. Music is also of particular interest to most of the family so visits to Nashville and other less well-known destinations have revolved around or included that interest. Amusements parks, day spas, sprawling malls such as the Mall of America and water parks have popped up here and there. We've also deliberately chosen to visit tourist traps and kitschy attractions, so our family could have those experiences as well.
How we travel:
We basically started out road-tripping because it was more economical and flexible than flying - especially with two children under eight years old. At that time, gas prices were still low enough that the basic cost difference was significant. We also regularly traveled to visit relatives around Christmastime, so we wanted to avoid the seasonal risks of flight delays with such a young family. Hanging out for hours at an airport for hours with small children was not a family adventure we wanted to have. We eventually experienced it once and that was enough.
Because our road trips started out as trips to visit relatives, fast travel has long been our style. We first drove almost straight through with few stops except for food, gas, rest area stops and overnight hotel stays. Then, we began to stop earlier so the kids could enjoy the hotel amenities (usually the indoor pool). Once our youngest was old enough, we started the break up the drive with side trips to nearby attractions. Our goal was to expose our children to as many different sights to stimulate their imagination and their interests. Couple that with the usual attention span of young children and that's how fast travel became our preferred style.
Though we have occasionally flown commercial when only part of the family is traveling, our preferred mode of travel has been in a Honda. First was an Odyssey, which was selected for its roominess and safety. We are proud to have been a young minivan family. Once our kids had grown a bit, we moved on to a practical Accord sedan mostly to improve gas mileage as gas prices had risen to new norms in the time since we first bought our minivan. Currently, we travel in a Pilot and its comfort compared to the previous two vehicles has spoiled us. Also, after spending a few years traveling in the sedan often being worn out by other drivers frequently showing little respect, it's amazing how much more respect other drivers show to our SUV.
Why we're here:
We had regularly created content for a website for over a decade, but had stopped over five years ago when the website had become a grind. Coming from a technology background, we wanted to get back into it, but wanted to choose a subject that we'd enjoy and one that the whole family could be involved in. After spending roughly nine months researching and planning the summer 2017 East and West road trips and then executing them, we found we had accumulated quite a bit of knowledge and experience that we wanted to share. This led us to consider a travel blog.
As we had done our trip research, we found that there were a vast number of travel blogs and podcasts, so to have any relevance, we'd have to bring something unique. We found digital nomads, camper & RV travelers, and frequent fliers. We also found road trippers who maximized savings through budget car camping or baby boomers retracing the Great Road (Route 66) or other nostalgic drives. We tended to find the audiences were either baby boomers who wanted to retrace the Great Road (Route 66) or other nostalgic drives or millennials that either did luxurious food and hotel experiences or frugal budget car camping.
What we didn't find was content that perfectly fit our niche, which is probably middle of the road (pun intended). We aren't on the road all the time and yet we have logged enough miles that a good bit of the travel experience is routine. We do take family road trips, but do so using fast travel style. We don't settle in any one destination for more than three days. As a result, we found that we had to cobble together information from varied resources.
The RV and camping sites would give information on the best routes to take for scenery or weather considerations and sometimes had recommendations on unique stops along the way. We'd cherry pick destination suggestions from the millennials and baby boomers, excluding the distilleries, micro-breweries, wine-tastings, day spas, resorts and fine dining that dotted their itineraries and would have blown out our budget in no time. The digital nomads and budget travelers contributed tips and shortcuts that fell in line with our been-there, done-that mentality of regularly traveling.
So, yes, yet another travel blog. We'll probably repeat some information can be found almost everywhere else, because some travel information is universal. Hopefully, our family travel experiences will also presents something unique.