Isaac, Neo and Kai

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Will Jimmy ever remember that he played with Isaac, preparing their favorite foods in the sand at Eau Claire, Wisconsin and that when it was time to leave, he wanted to send Isaac a thank you card? The next day, he still talked about Isaac and coincidentally, met another Isaac while climbing a boulder in a playground in Huntley, Illinois.  Will Joshua remember Jade and Neo who roasted mashmallows with him in Lapeer, Michigan?  Will Jimmy remember talking endlessly with Kai’s mom while swinging?  They may or may not but this blog will.

People have asked me why are we choosing to travel with our kids at this age (7 and 4) when they probably won’t remember any of it.  I posted this question in our Worldschoolers group page on Facebook and got tons of answers that if anybody asked me that query again, I’d have plenty to fish from or I’ll just share them this link for convenience.

Hi Guys. I was wondering if some of you encountered this comment — “Your kids are too young to remember any of these travels. Why don’t you wait until your kids are older?” How do you reply? Just wondering. : )

Comments

Karen King I have. And I know it’s true because my daughter doesn’t remember things we did when we first started travelling in 14 months. But traveling for us is not just about seeing the world, but loving our lives, experiencing new things and being happy. She will remember all the time she got with us when she was little. And she will remember growing up in a happy family where we have time for each other.

Sein-yat Chew My son was 4 when we went on a long trip, we were surprised how much he knew and remember from the trip after more than a year, I guess involving him during planning stage helps.

Bob Mahan So why do anything with your kids?

Marca Wesen Bondurant Yes, perhaps we should just lock them in a room until someone decides they are old enough to remember. lol

Marca Wesen Bondurant They may not remember the specifics, but the things they do will help shape them and how they see the world and others as they grow and develop.

Fiona Fernweh I read an article once and it said you say “then why read them bedtime stories or build sand castles with them because they don’t remember that either?”

Tamilla Cordeiro I have the same thoughts! But I always think back to my own childhood. I was born and raised in Russian until I was 7, when we immigrated to the States. People always ask, what do you remember about living in Russia? Well there was the cool trip we took to visit the Ukraine, and there were the summer vacations to Azerbaijan, and that time we went up on some mountains in who knows what country. My memories of my actual home in Moscow? The goodbye party in our apartment, right before the ride to the airport to fly out to the States. The point is, kids remember travel! More than “regular, routine life.” At least this kid did. 🙂

Alicia Urrea I always say “maybe they will, maybe they won’t, but I will remember this as one of the best times of my life”.

Karen M. Ricks For us, world travel isn’t about creating a singular memorable experience like a once-a-year vacation. It is a new way of life, an entirely different framework through which we view the world and our place in it. As such, it is truly a process that began at birth, and continues as a daily education for us all. I fear that anyone who is suggesting that you should “wait until your kids are older” does not understand the foundation you are building in your child, for your child, and with your child. My response would be to say that we travel for more than just happy memories.

Lori DiPippa DesRochers I let my 4 yo tell them about all the stuff we did on last summers road trip. But really, who cares if they remember the details. They will remember the culture and that there are different people around the world. It will help them grow into more tolerant and understanding adults.

Carrie Blunden A quote I once read about teaching comes to mind – ‘They won’t remember the words you say or what you taught, but they’ll remember how you made them feel’. My girls are 5 and 3 and it blows me away to think they’ll very likely remember nothing of their lives up until this point when they’re older. But the adventures and sense of wonder we have, the love we show them and the connection we develop as a family in these formative years shapes them and stays with them forever. Hopefully! Haha

Barbara Ber I actually travel because I love travelling. Doesn’t matter if they remember anything. But they will remember values, open mindedness, different food and the lifestyle itself. Therefore we choose destinations that we like plus are child friendly, but it’s not the focus to go to places only kids like.

Melanie Mather Normally I say something like ‘I see this as a foundation just like taking the to the park to learn about interacting with other and learning motor skills.’

Janna Fesolai No but you’ll remember it. The smiles/laughs/experiences/new sights/sounds. Your kids eating weird food/playing with foreign children etc etc. Plus photos and videos are amazing. I still look back at photos when we lived in the pacific islands as a child. I feel grateful. We have those memories. It’s amazing how pictures and videos can trigger memories too.

 

Monique Maree Isn’t it about so much more than creating tangible memories? What about intrinsic wonder? Sense of adventure? Spontaneity and flexibility?

Cassandra Artemissa I remind them that it isn’t simply about memories, but how it shapes their forming minds.

Denise Ankersen Yup. I hear this a lot. They may not ‘remember’ but it has shaped their view of reality.

First Christmas in Phnom Penh ALL four of our children did not have ONE single thing on their ‘wish list’. (5-14 years old at the time.)

Penny Smith This. This is a fabulous reason. Clearly their needs are met and they are happy without need to focus on material things 🙂

Christie Ogden So does that mean that you shouldn’t do Christmas or other holidays or take little ones anywhere because they won’t get anything from it?

Everyone gets SOMETHING out of travel. Just because a little one doesn’t get what you got out of it, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth taking them. We went to a tourist attraction with a friend the other day. My two year old is thrilled he got to play in water! Not what I got out of it, but not any less valuable of an experience!

Danielle Gallart Herter Knowing they have been somewhere creates interest in kids, Even if they don’t remember it. Look back at pictures and telling stories. My kids love hearing about the places they’ve been.

Vicky Scarth I say “well this isn’t going to be the only trip we ever go on” and then that it gives my son a sense of worldliness

Natalie Chen I tell them then it’s the same as taking them to the park, or reading them bedtime stories. What they see is the expense and not the experiences and family time that shapes them into the global citizens we hope they become

Denise Ankersen I LOVE so many of the answers here. <3. This is such an amazing group of people.

Sigrid Regina Sturm I always find that a weird argument… I have heard it before.. we will travel when the kids are older, so they will remember. Yes, but in the early years, I think it has an even bigger impact. It shapes how they see and discover the world. Their approach to people, new enviroment, different smells, tastes and so on…

Fay Andrews-Buckley I say in that case there’s no need to tell them you love them, give them birthday parties/ presents, send them to preschool or play with them or bother doing anything with them is there? they may not remember EVERYTHING but the experiences help shape them and they remember aspects and things that are important to them. when my son was 3 we took him to NCY (one place he seems to have loved) at 6 now he can still remember the huge buildings, the room number of our apartment, the subway trains, a specific toy and the giant ferris wheel in toys R us etc, and all that without having talked about it or looked at any photos (we never print them ect) so that’s pure memory…

Amanda Real Kids don’t have to remember something to be influenced by it. Our experiences shape who we are, whether we remember them or not.

Amanda Cardwell Carones A) because i love traveling and hope to instill this love of adventure in my kids  B) these experiences help to shape their view of the world and the people they will become  C) they may not remember the places they traveled, but they will remember doing things together. Plus I will have the memories of doing these things with them.

Crystal Anderson I say the first 5 years help set foundations for the rest of their life’s

Dezirea Noker Just remember how enriching and nourishing experiences are for little brains and bodies. They won’t remember the experiences but those experiences ARE shaping their brains, their personalities, their whole lives ♡

Carolina Day Why don’t we wait till the kids are older to teach them anything?!? Seriously. If they’re not going to remember, why bother doing ANYTHING with them ever. Just shove them in a room and feed them bread and water 🙂

Imogen Moore I never quite understand this comment but yes I’ve heard it a lot. My kids probably wouldn’t remember if I beat them every day until their 2nd birthday either but I bet it would have an effect on who they are!

Marie Red My husband remembers things from when he was very young and so do i

I actually remeber (more a feeling memory ) being fed milk while my mum sang a certain song to me when i was under a year old . I asked her why I got a taste of warm milk when I heard a specific hymn at church and she was shocked and told me she used to feed me warm milk and sing that song to me as a baby .

My kids have all remembered travels from when they were 2.5-5 years old . They remember

Keri Lewis Wellman We thought about it, but the kids won’t fit in the storage unit 🙂

Gràcia FD That’s why I never hug or kiss my kids or play with them. They won’t remember anyway.

Harmeet Kaur Sidhu So good to hear, what I so often have to say! Some of you might enjoy this… http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/…/travelling-with-young…

Travelling With Young Children: It’s Not to Make Marvellous Memories‏

HUFFINGTONPOST.CO.UK

Christie Cho I use to think this way. Then I asked my mom of an incident to find out I was only 3 when it happened. It was to a friend, I was just there. It effected me in a way I remember it.

Profound experiences might get tucked away for a while, but they eventually come back

Katharina Nickoleit I told them that we can see how open minded our son was, how easily he made new contacts and how quickly he settled into new situations. Teachers snd caretakers very well noticed all of that and still do so.

Debora Oliveira Goodness if that was the case I wouldn’t go anywhere. I have a horrible memory… I recall very little of my childhood, the only little facts I remember were about adventures…

Laura Roberts I have one who can recount trips and details that were not documented when she was 1.5-2 yrs old! My other can’t remember what we did last weekend though until he’s reminded by someone else. 😂 But that is maybe one of the most ignorant questions I’ve heard, right along with homeschoolers being isolated and unsocialized. Quite the opposite!

Damaris Crespo-Ramos I would say to the person “you might be right but what if you’re not? I wouldn’t want to risk denying my child that great experience just because a what if. After all it’s MY responsibility to educate he/she how I see fit and either way it won’t hurt to try.”

Stephanie Solowiej Every experience is based on the previous experiences. It’s not about remembering the experience, rather its one long moment. If the world ends tomorrow will we have lived our life to the fullest. When I can say yes then I have no fear. Life is valuable and worth living. When we aren’t living we are afraid. Afraid to miss out. Because we are not living. But when we are living we are not afraid. 🌷

Kelly Susan Kumar Same reason they go to museums, art shows, libraries, concerts, field trips, and travel since babies….not only do they enjoy it they are also cultivated to these things! Plus it’s our family culture and memory making…they love the stories as they get older and share them when they meet someone from a place they visited which creates social ties, like…learning to swim and ice skate in the Philippines…losing a first tooth in Singapore…it’s fun to remember!!!

Teresa Hardy He won’t remember everything, no. But that is no reason not to do it. I get asked this a lot and I just tell them that all our experiences shape who we are, even the ones we don’t remember. Do you remember your mother holding you as a baby? No, but you know she did, you have that bond with her because of it.

Shelley Brewer Semple I think one of the biggest mistakes is believing kids are too young to remember. I face it constantly parenting my child who experienced childhood trauma. I’m a big advocate at promoting the fact that kids are never too young to remember. They may not have conscious memories, but their brains are forever altered by all experiences. For the good with amazing, positive experiences, or for the bad with abuse, neglect, trauma… children are NEVER too young to remember. Travel has been amazing for my children. And to be honest, I barely remember all the details of trips I took even as an adult. That’s why I take pictures.

Kristen Mosteller Say…so what am I supposed to do just sit in a room with them doing nothing until they remember things?

All experiences are shaping them into the people they will become and also as a parent you deserve these memories with them.

Lisha Fitz Well… I agree with that statement. And there are some trips we are choosing to postpone for the reason that I’d like them to be able to remember it (africa, europe). I also think that the experience molds them into the person they are- but while they are young (2&4) we tend to choose more beach destinations as it is more ‘fun’ and requires less maturity.

Jessica Headlee Helps shape them into well rounded, (hopefully) grateful human beings.

Rosemary Javier Yanez So much of who your children are is formed in the youngest years. Why not make sure that they are the best they can be?

Katherine Mulvaney They’ll remember their parents being joyous and excited about life.

Casandra Anthony Response 1: “They’ll be too young to remember according to whom? Who said that? Show me at least 3 credible research studies that says they don’t remember childhood experiences. I’ll wait.”

Response 2 (for those people that just won’t let it go): “So with that logic you’re saying a child that was molested or assaulted at an early age doesn’t remember or internalize those experiences?”

Maggie Alexander “So should we lock our kids in the closet and not do anything fun until they can remember?” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/7-reasons-why-travel-is…

7 Reasons Why Travel Is Never ‘Wasted’ On Young Kids

HUFFINGTONPOST.COM

Sarah Yothers photos and great storytelling. My kids still sing japanese songs to themselves at night though we’ve been gone for 3 years. They were raised there and were 2 and 4 at the time. But they remember. They will catch a smell of a woven rug or something that smells like tatami in a store and their olefactory will remind them instantly of a memory in Okinawa (because smell is so powerful and bypasses the amygdala in memory storage). The beats of drums in Uganda or the bird songs in Brazil. These things will be deposited in their brains even if they don’t really recall it until later.

Mariana Page Learning starts at a young age. You are not also traveling for memories, but for learning and experiences.

Nicole Kingsleigh you’ll remember! You could argue that kids won’t remember the toys they had so why buy them any! It’s about living in the moment and enjoying life.

Tara West So your baby is too young to remember your love and affection so just prop it in a self containing pod until it is old enough to remember. Uh…no.

Stacy Holt Yes, most kids don’t remember things when they are that young. But then who would want to remember the daily life in preschool? It’s kinda boring and monotonous. But when they can see, smell, and touch another place, believe me, it’s worth remembering to them. And if they don’t remember after a while, they will still keep those memories long enough to shape who they become.

Allison Pregon Kinahan I think traveling and exposure to different things like plays, ballets, operas makes the child. It instills a love of life a love of learning. Traveling with children has so many wonderful benefits. It teaches them how to transition from one situation to another, how to problem solve, how to be patient, occupy time, try new foods, respect new cultures and arts, how to make new friends and interact with people, it teaches them to navigate the world. It’s an amazing gift to be able to give this life to a child.

Deany Goode It’s true. My son doesn’t remember trips taken before age five. Why argue.

Angela Ressa Because life is happening now.

Melissa Arnold I would just laugh and say I don’t think that will be an issue we will probably be onto Mars trips by then, besides if the kids really feel they want to travel when they are older (assuming we stop for some reason) they could always just…travel lol + theres all the benefits that have probably already been mentioned above 🙂

Merei Milbee They don’t have to remember the trip to get the lifelong benefits of having learned what you learn when you travel or of having the quality time together that’s made possible by travel.

Colleen Jepsen They remember the feelings of being with family. Also an understanding that being with family is fun, learning is fun, and the world is not scary.

Maree Chase-Laukka My children are aged 23 and 12 years we have traveled abroad to many countries since they were both around the age of 3 months old and we continue to travel together as well as independently they’re not scared of new destinations, my children love traveling. My eldest has a career in the aviation industry and my youngest is aspiring to be a pilot he is due to start flying lessons when he turns 13 yo.

My children don’t remember every holiday but when they do recall memories they are filled with happiness and laughter

Travel is such a gift of freedom

And adventure it’s bound with priceless experiences.

It’s your life, do want you want with it you don’t have to answer to anyone but yourself.

Kathrine Howard Miller I grew up going on weekend “field trips” since I was born with my dad. I remember most of them but beside that I think the most important thing I learned was the love of experiences. If kids grow up with experiences I think they crave more. Not having fear of new places and people but know it is a learning experience and is exciting. Kids pick up on that at very young ages.

Belinda Carreras Smile and say, “That’s interesting.”  Proceed to take my children on another trip.

Shella Zelenz First of all, why do they care? What’s it to them? I didn’t realize I was having to do things in order to please anyone else. My kids and I are very happy, so I’m not sure what their point is. Well, I do know. It’s their own stuff and they are projecting it all over you.

Rob Tullis My wife wrote about this about 3 years ago before we left, I have to say it all rings true after almost 1100 days of traveling. There are a few links at the bottom to others who also wrote about this topic http://expatexperiment.com/why-travel-when-mak-wont…/

Why Travel When Mak Won’t Remember? – The Expat Experiment

EXPATEXPERIMENT.COM

Aria-Jayde Shady I understand both sides of this argument.

Cissy Sanders From my own experience, I remember very much of our travels in Mexico and Central America when I was between the ages of 5-8 yrs old. My single mom would take my sister and I out of school in May and drive from south Texas through Mexico to El Salvador and Guatemala in the 70s. I was between the ages of 5-8. We lived in a house in El Salvador during the summer and then would drive back to Texas. Those early travels along with my mom’s love for travel is who I’m doing Worldschooling now. Kids absorb more than you think – the smells, the noise, the light levels, the food, the language. It’s all very vivid as a child.

Melinda Saunders I was ‘world schooled between the ages of 5-7. I remember a lot of it. In fact people used to comment on my vivid memory. We toured the world, from Australia round the Pacific Islands through America down to the Med then through Europe!!

Lauren Arikan They’ll always have the passport and the pictures. We took my daughter to Paris at 2… she remembers things in detail at 10. The city had such an impact on her. As did the bakeries. 😂

Amy McDonald Our earliest years are our most formative years. Experiences are not always about making sure we remember them. They are about making sure they mold us into who we want to be.

Lnk Witz Not even I will remember much 😀 But everything leaves some kind of mark, impression, feeling… Or you can make friends, talk to people who have something to say, find new and interesting hobby… I think it is very close minded to look at it from the point of “remembering”. Every single thing in life has an influence and impact on future. Things won’t be the same. Neither we will.

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Handholding Across the World

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Most women merely want to vent and have a sounding board for their rants and issues.  Victoria wrote about her doubts and challenges about homeschooling, posted them on the Worldschoolers Facebook page and got a number of encouraging advice.  Her story resonated with many others who were either going through or went through the similar situation of not knowing whether what you’re doing is right or best for your children.  Mothers wrack their brains, sometimes unnecessarily so, needing to chill out more like the dads who seem too together, too relaxed, too not overwrought.  No pressure because one half of the partnership in stress is already one too many.  Of course, that may be an oversimplification or an unfair generalization but you know what I mean.

I’ve been feeling so many doubts myself about this whole homeschooling/ unschooling/ worldschooling thing that I appreciate truly the kind, listening ear.  I set up a Skype date with our teacher-advisor at the Global Homeschool, our provider in the Philippines and poured out the worries bugging my brain and in the end, it was a relief to be talked out of panic mode, to remember to laugh and enjoy, to let go of what doesn’t work in favor of something lighter.

Today I took Joshua and Jimmy to the big indoor playground in the supermarket.  I’d like to imagine it’s my weird version of the Sudbury School here in China.  The kids are free to run around and choose what they want to do amidst an age-varied group.   It’s frustrating doing all this research work on alternative education and I don’t have access to any — except what we can create on our own.  If we lived in the United States, imagine the wealth of choices!  Sigh.  Wishful thinking.  Envy.

Sudbury school is a type of school, usually for the K-12 age range, where students have complete responsibility for their own education, and the school is run by direct democracy in which students and staff are equals.[1] Students individually decide what to do with their time, and tend to learn as a by-product of ordinary experience rather than through coursework. There is no predetermined educational syllabus, prescriptive curriculum or standardized instruction. This is a form of democratic educationDaniel Greenberg, one of the founders of the original Sudbury Model school, writes that the two things that distinguish a Sudbury Model school are that everyone – adults and children – are treated equally and that there is no authority other than that granted by the consent of the governed.[2]

While each Sudbury Model school operates independently and determines their own policies and procedures, they share a common culture.[3] The intended culture within a Sudbury school has been described with such words as freedom, trust, respect, responsibility and democracy.

— from Wikipedia

Tonight, Joshua spilled out a revelation quite surprising to me that it’s not his dream to travel around the world.  My husband went inside the room and said it was Daddy and Mommy’s dream.  I told him, maybe after our trip to America he’ll think differently.  And even if he felt the same, that I’d still be here to listen to his dreams and we’ll work out a way and support each other through those dreams as a family even if others in the family had different dreams.  I, too am rethinking this dream drive around the world.  Like my son, Joshua, I also want to be more settled in one place, but I also want to travel.  Perhaps this American road trip will be the longest stretch (four months) we will do and then after that we’ll settle in one place and travel only for a month or so max at a time.  So it’s still going around the world but in segments.  There’s also way of worldschooling that can be done locally by doing mini discovery trips, welcoming travelers, opening eyes to culture and pushing the creativity envelope.

There was a worldschooling Mom who railed about her child who just wanted to play on the computer the whole day and wasn’t interested in traveling and there she was planning trips left and right with aplomb.  The advice she got from others gently reassured her to get on the road with her child and gradually, there would be changes.

Dreams are tricky when you’re in a family and they don’t match up or they are in conflict.  But there’s also a way of threshing out differences so conflicts turn into something that complement each other.  How?  Sheer perseverance and by being sensitive to all members of the family – the parents and the children, the adult and the young, according equal respect to each and every one.

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Gremlin Routes

slide11You start with one route and it multiplies like gremlins as the possibilities and permutations branch off.  My husband is terrified of the gremlins being produced at a pace faster than imagination.  He doesn’t even look at the critters even if he is the designated driver.  He reasons, plans keep changing anyway so I look for other people to bounce off ideas with and get feedback.  When a planner hooks up with a planning-averse, the planner has to do what the planner’s got to do — find fellow research aficionados who have as much fun in the preparation stage as in the journey itself.

Along the way, we hope to stay with families and friends, find couchsurfers who welcome families with kids, meet up with worldschoolers, homeschoolers, unschoolers.  I’m also hoping we could stop over some democratic schools, self-directed learning centers and check out other alternative forms of education.

Following is the evolution of options thus far that I’ve been tweaking and toying around with for the past nights.  I’d wake up earlier than usual itching to edit the power point but it backfires, making me an ill-assembled combination of tired and cranky. The Mexico part of the trip still needs more investigative work but since it comes at the tail end, we have time to gather more information.

In case we pass near your area and you have suggestions or would like to set playdates for our kids (ours are age 7 and 4) or if we could stay at your place, please do drop me a line:

entirelyofpossibility@yahoo.com.ph

I posted the first three original routes on the Worldschoolers Facebook page and received a number of useful suggestions.

Shannon Jones I vote NOT 3 as it skips Omaha lol.

I am partial, but our city is amazing, has beautiful green spaces and downtown, the best zoo in the country…I could go on and on. 😉

Lynn Perriera Honestly I think it would be a huge shame to do a route like this and skip South Dakota. Mt Rushmore, Crazy Horse, the bandlands, Blackhills gold, corn palace, so many amazing things to do in South Dakota that are highly overlooked.

Carma Wallace My two kids (8 and 6) and I are taking a 6 month road trip next year. But we are starting later trying to avoid winter. I second the suggestion to go through South Dakota. On such a long trip, you are driving through a lot of the fly-over states

Tricia Denning McGhee I know this isn’t helpful, but I really liked Albuquerque! And you are skipping Kansas City too (ok. It’s my hometown but there are some fun things to see). Also Nashville or Louisville would be gorgeous in the fall, that part of the country is breathtakingly beautiful in those months.

Barbara Nebenfuhr Hoffer We did a three week cross country trip last April. We started in South Carolina then went to Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, and Kentucky.

If this route interests you, pm me with questions!

Barbara Nebenfuhr Hoffer Also, if you are hitting some of the northern states before May, some state park roads may be closed due to snow. This is the reason we went a more southern route.

Rebekah Brinner Don’t do any of them. They all skip Yellowstone

Mary Gordon Fonde Berman It all depends on what you are wanting out of the road trip. I am a southern girl and love all the southern states. Food, culture, music and scenery are great.

Kelley Myhre My only comment is that you’re driving through tornado alley during the beginning of tornado season (April-June). The timing also means you’ll miss out on several parks and need to double check whether roads are statistically open due to snow and winds (WY, MT, ND, SD).

Jessi E Hubbard Doula I would adjust your route to go through Michigan if you’ve never been. Our upper peninsula is pretty great.

Kayla Mac Looks like you’d have the possibility to do colonial Williamsburg at the end. Don’t miss that! If I had to pick D.C. as a kid vs Williamsburg, I’d pick Williamsburg a hundred times (we saw all the monuments and toured the White House, but seeing history alive was cooler than architecture as a kid).

Starr Gajdosova Ack, this is so hard! You’re missing out on many amazing things in the South! (Texas gal talking here.) Atlanta, Georgia! New Orleans! Austin/hill country/Marfa/Big Bend. Not sure if you’re looking to do the big cities or travel more off the beaten path.

Melissa Brander I agree that it all depends on what you want out of the city. But looking at the last map with the dots, it seems as if you are just driving through Milwaukee, which is a shame because we have many wonderful things here depending on what you are looking for.

Nicole Ratliff In Colorado go to Estes Park, it’s about 2 hours from Denver. You could spend a whole day doing the Trail Ridge Road in the mountains from Grand Lake to Estes Park. And then you will end up in either a Longmont or Loveland depending on how you exit the park. Either way you can take the highway back to Denver, about an hours drive from either city. I live in Loveland.

Esther Brumme Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, obvs! And Estes Park if you can time it to view the Elks. If you are sporty, you can climb one of the 53 fourteeners.. (mountain tops of 14000ft). Might also be worth coming in from Moab and Arches national park.. spectacular. Have so much fun!

Denise McKelvie Gonyea I would really consider going north from Moab to Salt Lake City instead of going east to Denver. So, north from Moab to SLC, then north through eastern Idaho to get to Yellowstone in Wyoming, then east to South Dakota to stop at Mt Rushmore and Keystone…

Denise McKelvie Gonyea I’d also suggest getting a National Parks passport which is a little book with all the parks in it that you stamp and put sticker in for each National Park you stop at. It’s just makes it more fun. http://www.eparks.com/store/home/9221/Theme-Passport/

Melissa Music If you decide on Route 1 or 2, keep Northwest Indiana in mind. We are 50 minutes east of Chicago and have the most beautiful lakeshore. It’s actually a National Park called Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Michelle Marie VanGurp If you school a kiddo in the general fourth grade age range, get the FREE Fourth grader National Park pass. Go to everykidinapark.org

 

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People were also generous with their advice regarding the choice between a 4×4 or a gas saving VW van.

Robin McKee save the gas money and buy the most space for best gas mileage.

Robin McKee honda oddyssey is pretty good.

Valerie Jean Toyota previa. Great travel van… so much better than vw. If you can find an all Trac it’s awd…best of all worlds and 18 to 20 mpg

Joy Bell We have a Toyota Sienna. It’s reliable with great gas mileage and plenty of room. We get about 28 mpg, or close.

Robin McKee Toyota Sienna and Honda Oddyssey are both great (similar gas mileage).

Joy Bell Yes, I think the Sienna was a little cheaper. That’s how we ended up with one of those. I would have been fine with either. It drives through anything.

Caleb D. Nelson 4×4. It might not be as fuel efficient but it will get you into a whole lot more interesting places than a mini-van will!

Heather Todd I would get a class b or small class c motor home.

Ashley Severson Gilman 4×4 diesel! And like Caleb said, you’ll get through a lot more places than a minivan would.

Tim Lemons You might opt for an awd.. we have an AWD Rogue.. we enjoy the AWD at certain times.. but still have great gas mileage

Robin McKee My brother and I traveled across the country in a Honda Odyssey. We slept in it at night (saved money on accommodation), and visited nearly every place we needed. Rarely are you going to be going off-roading to need a 4×4, and if so, u’ll need more gear etc. We went down some pretty sketchy roads with our minivan and just had to be careful, but were fine there too 🙂 We did not miss-out by having a mini van.

Michelle Elizabeth Depends on what roads you want to explore. My husband likes at least one off road experience a week. Totally worth it because it makes us all happy!

Michelle Elizabeth We did the old wagon trail across the Mojave desert and in Death Valley. We love exploring old roads (need a 4×4 for that).

 

Ashley Swierczek Have you priced up the vw vans? We got a 4×4 diesel truck with camper for half the price of the underpowered but agreeably adorable vw vans.

 

Somebody suggested a website or an app that chooses the most scenic driving routes. I can’t find the particular thread that mentions it, but googling yields enough answers.

New GPS app lets you find the most scenic route

When I asked about the pros and cons of renting a camper vs. buying and selling at the end, somebody shared that they couldn’t sell the camper right away so they had to leave it with a friend to sell it for them.

If interested, get connected to Worldschoolers on Facebook.  It’s unbelievably amazing to see how many certified bat crazy families are out there engaged in this sort of thing.  And that’s just one site.  It dominoes, leading you to many more.   Just tonight, it pointed me to the Inions — a family of eleven (yes, 11!) going around the world and who have been awarded Travelers of the Year by National Geographic in 2014.  You have to click and read it to believe it!

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Meet the Inions

X-Files (X for Xishuangbanna)

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While we were in the Philippines, Jason had time to go around Xishuangbanna for a month by himself, meet people and study tea right at the source.  The other day, he took us to the village of his newfound friend who graciously welcomed us to their home.  Mr. Luo and his family have been producing tea for decades in the Bei Yin mountain.  The tea trees there are so tall you have to climb way up high to pick the leaves, far from the rows of low bushes we usually see.

While sitting on the two-seater garden swing, blogging this morning, I was suddenly invited by Mr. Luo to hop on his motorcycle and get breakfast.  His wife who usually prepares the food left earlier to help pick up the wedding guests.  We rode up and up winding roads till we reached the house where the whole village was having breakfast and women were chopping up chili and other ingredients for lunch enough to feed hundreds.

We returned with take-away bags for the late-risers after which, Joshua and I borrowed mountain bikes.  I half-rode, half-pushed the bike while Joshua led most of the way with little fear and without the mental baggage I had.

Ten years ago, I biked every weekend with the MOB – the Mountain Bikers of Beijing.  My brother and I drove three hours from TEDA to hook up with a mostly foreign group who explored the mountains surrounding Beijing.  Although I was already the worst and slowest rider back then, I was never as hesitant downhill as I was today, perhaps due to the safety-conscious, maternal, survival instinct that kicks in after having children.  I tried to recall the power and care-free confidence of singlehood but I was content to lag way behind my seven-year old son.  The torch of courage has been passed on.  Well, I also put on a lot of weight.

Joshua and Jimmy have the time of their life catching fish with nets and their bare hands.  Two ponds were nearly drained of water so catching the slippery critters was easy except some still darted away too quickly.  With their clothes covered in mud the way childhood ought to be enjoyed to the max, the kids get cleaned up in the stream where the workers proceeded to wash the fish and remove the guts.

Mr. Luo explained that every family in the village contributes manpower to the wedding which last three days.  We join them for one lunch and one dinner.  I doubt if I could last more than that as I escaped the smoke and toasts.  All the wine was homemade, served in recycle mineral water bottles that we mistook as real water containers until I tried washing my hands with it and the women behind our table shouted, jiu, jiu! (alcohol, alcohol!)

On our third morning in the mountain village, Mr. Luo kills a pig in our honor.  I wish I could have convinced my husband that there was no need for this.  The spectacle of killing a pig was almost unbearable and I’m ashamed I still managed to take some pictures with my phone.  I saw her eyes pleading as the pig was tied up and brought to the table.  Now, bacon is up there in my list of favorites with chocolate and cheese but I don’t know how I’m going to eat the next meal.  Although this won’t make me into a vegan like Clement and Fanny because I love meat too much, it’s enough to temporarily stop me in my omnivorous tracks.

It’s good homeschooling/worldschooling biology material for Joshua and Jimmy, but I do have to request Jason that the next time anyone offers this sort of “honor” to please respectfully decline.  It’s one those experiences that once is definitely enough.  I don’t mind buying a rasher of bacon or ground pork from the grocery but this takes it to a different level.  Shall I be a complicit murderer all my life?  I just don’t need to see the eyes of what I eat before they’re killed.  What a ghastly sentence!  To make me feel better or worse or more confused, I research about slaughterhouses.

Then it dawned on me that a day before, I saw the eyes of the fish right before they were cooked over fire minutes after they were caught and I didn’t flinch or grimace.  It seemed a more natural progression — the idyllic scene of camp fire next to a burbling brook.   Does the life of a fish matter less than a pig?  What about dog meat which was served up in one of the dinners we went to in urban China.  I didn’t see it alive but people react with disgust when I tell them I tasted it.  At the end of the day, we will consume what we consume and glimpses of death will flit in and out of our consciousness, unrecognizable, unacknowledged unless a compelling detail disturbs us for a moment or two.

The freshly grilled pork is divine reminding me of my favorite Philippine liempo, only the sauce is spicy. We say goodbye to Mr. Luo and his family, amazed and warmed by their generosity while we have a hard time convincing Joshua and Jimmy to leave.

Visiting a Local Slaughterhouse Wasn’t That Bad

My visit to the slaughterhouse: crossing the line between life and meat

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