travelling with kids

Driving through scenic routes, checking out eerie buildings, walking through a lava tube, watching whales of the great pacific, taking an open jeep safari into a wildlife sanctury, trekking more than a couple of miles to see elephant seals at their breeding station, looking down from swooning heights, strolling through crowded markets... the list could go on. We've been there, done that. What's more -- all that with a tot in tow.

Travelling with a kid or two

We've been parents for close to half a dozen years now and the travelling hasn't slowed down one bit. In fact most of it has happened since then. In the 60-odd months of travel we managed to do, we've been checking off all kinds of points on our travel to-do lists. Luckily for us, we have a little one who is fascinated by almost everything he sees. His curiosity for just about anything under the sun makes it easier to try different destinations every time we get 'the itch.'

The Challenges and the Beauty of it

Our now-five year old is quite an enthusiastic little traveller but then again, it's not all been without the 'are-we-there-yets,' turning crimson under harsh sunlight and motion sickness to name a few things. Oh wait -- one other thing -- we now travel with baby number Two who is eleven months old. And we've done all kinds of things since the time she was barely two months old. (Oh! the places she has gone.)

Travelling with kids is not as easy as travelling with just a partner or as as carefree as solo travel. But it has its beauty -- of travelling as a family, strengthening bonds and more than anything else sharing the experience of a new place and learning some lessons together.  A few months back the little big brother asked me when we were going to Hawaii again and I said, "I'm game for it, any time. Ask your dad." Soon I heard daddy ask, "We've been there already, haven't we?" Pat came his explanation, "But my sister hasn't been there."

Just what could you say to that? :)

Apart from that, I've found travelling with kids to be more enriching. The things they notice! The beauty they see in the simple things of life often brings out the hidden child in us. And the questions they ask make us look into things deeper and understand them on another level.

Picking up Black Sand, travelling with kids

Something for everybody and something special for you-know-who

The husband and I do like travelling. Thank Goodness! However there are the differences in interests but we've made them work; sometimes with little effort, sometimes a few arguments later.  Now that we've got little travel companions, their interests too have to be incorporated in the larger scheme of things.

travelling with kids
Sonny boy loves the beach. That tops the list and it is not for waves that chase him out of its waters but for all the sand he can scoop up and shovel and sieve and build castles with. That sand sometimes becomes the food the little chef cooks in his open air kitchen. Believe me he can never get tired of that. Playing with snow is pretty much the same story. As such. we've always tried to fit into our travels some beach or snow, if it can be helped.

Even though the boy is interested in most of the things we agree to do, we try to sprinkle our itineraries with things small kids like to do; like carousel rides, joyrides in toy trains and trams, a happy-meal from time to time, picking up souvenirs just for him, posing with silly cartoon characters or sticking our faces into animal cut outs and all. Even ice cream and cookies go a long way.

travelling with kids

Bringing up a traveller

(some tips and tricks that worked for us)

travelling with kids
  •  I genuinely believe that lots of Travel is one of the best things we can give to our little ones. So much learning happens in the places and people and food that we come across during our family trips. They will always treasure the memories and maybe even grow into sensible travellers.
  • I have the habit of picking up travel guides/brochures and all kinds of travel pamphlets that tell me more about a destination or a particular attraction we will be visiting. I sometimes pick up an extra copy for my little traveller to go through and he feels uber-important. And guess what -- now, browsing through those booklets comes naturally to him. I have to add that he loves to pore over maps. I'm not kidding, there.
  • Looking at pictures together after the trip is a very satisfying experience. There's nothing quite like junior recollecting the little details of the adventure and often saying certain sights were 'so cool.' Or saying that that was a really good holiday. Looks like he is also beginning to get tipsy from the trips.
  • Getting kids their own travel accessories seems to be very rewarding. The eagerness to use them and excitement of pretending to do it all like mommy or daddy is priceless. I love how sunny boy lifts up his sunglasses and places it on his forehead just like daddy does when he poses for a picture or how he 'clicks' away like mommy does. I say photographs are the best souvenirs you can take back from a trip and I swell with pride when the little one gets into photographer mode.  One of the best gifts we have given our little traveller is a V-tech digital camera (for kids) that he can take pictures with and actually transfer them into a computer. I believe it has made him a more conscious traveller.

travelling with kids

I take my sunglasses off to Club Mahindra for coming up with Teddy Travelogues. What a great idea it is to come up with a collection of travelogues by kids for kids. I would love to see my little ones get into travel writing in the future. This looks like a great way to get them started. Thank you Club Mahindra for opening up that avenue for tomorrow's travel writers, travel bloggers and travel enthusiasts.

Ridgefield - WA at Christmas

Last Christmas was a cold foggy day in Ridgefield-WA. But it was not unpleasant for a morning stroll. So we, along with my bestie's family drove to Ridgefield and walked around the downtown area for a while.

The City of Ridgefield lies north of Vancouver-Washington. It is what you might call a sleepy little town but not without the charms of a small town in America. With its post office and police station looking like they are just out of a story book and shops looking like they are part of an old Hollywood movie, this quaint little town is quite a pleasant picture. If it is in Fall or Winter or even Spring that you are visiting here, be prepared for rain and fog. It is the Pacific Northwest, after all.

If you want to see this city in Clarke County at its active best, visit in early October when Ridgefield hosts its annual Bird Fest. 

Ridgefield is also known for being the home of Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge with over 5000 acres of wetland rich in fauna and flora. 

Coming back to the Downtown Ridgefield, this is what it looked like on Christmas day 2013:

Ridgefield - WA at Christmas

Ridgefield - WA at Christmas

Ridgefield - WA at Christmas

Ridgefield - WA at Christmas

Ridgefield - WA at Christmas

Ridgefield - WA at Christmas

Ridgefield - WA at Christmas

Ridgefield - WA at Christmas

Ridgefield - WA at Christmas

Linking to the meme:

Snow, light, shadows, Maroon Bells, Colorado
Catching some light on snow, Maroon Bells, Colorado.

Snow and Shine, Maroon Bells, CO
Also from Maroon Bells, Colorado.
Linking to the NF meme

The Maroon Bells travel story has been one of Tipsy from the TRIP's all time top posts. You can read it here-- Postcarded at Maroon Bells

More Colorado posts HERE

@ The Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in Oregon, USA

A balloon lady at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in Woodburn, Oregon.
Don't miss her hair ornaments. :)
Linking to the meme --

Light at the end of the tunnel
A tunnel on way to Aspen (from Denver), Colorado

A tunnel near Idaho Springs, Colorado.
(The original picture)
Linking to the NF meme

More Colorado posts HERE

You have to dream before your dreams can come true.-- APJ Abdul Kalam
I believe in my dreams, especially my travel dreams. I've known them to come true. So I dream about places, I dream about the fascinating things about these places, I dream about all that I can see there, I dream about all that I can do there. And then I work at making those come true - one trip at a time.   As such I have a long wishlist. And when I tick something off , it doesn't get any shorter because with each tick I tend to add a few more bullets to the list. 
When Airbnb put up a happy-hour campaign on Indiblogger, I was tempted to look up the accommodation listings on the website. And I just had to sign up and take another step closer to making some of those endless travel dreams come true. 
For the next Happy Hour, here's 'an-eighth' of my wishlist. 

1. Hammerfest, Norway- Experiencing the Aurora Borealis has been one of the underlined bullets on my wishlist. I remember studying about Northern Lights way back in school, almost two decades ago. Back then I could only imagine what that looked like and it all seemed surreal. Then later, I saw it on TV and when I got into watching videos on the internet, I've been through several videos that showed me the Northern Lights, making it more believable. With every Aurora Borealis - travel story I read, my wish to see these natural lights only gets stronger. I think it's time to think about making this one come true. I hear that Hammerfest is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights, but honestly, I'll go to any place that promises to show this wonder to me.
2. North Pole, Alaska. A few years, I happened to watch a programme on Travel Channel -- it was about a small town in Alaska. This little town was called North Pole and guess what -- it's said to be a very Christmas-y town. You know, like its Christmas all year through, with decked up streets and ornamented trees and all of that. There's a Santa Claus Lane and a St. Nicholas Lane too. Imagine a place where street lights are on posts that look like Candy Cane! I learnt that the mails addressed to Santa Claus who lives in the North Pole end up here in this town's post office and what's more -- the residents actually take the trouble to write back to all the 'nice children' who write to Santa. It all sounds so dreamy; I have to see it, to believe it.  
 3. Yellowstone National Park - I want to go there too. I want to see all its geological features, see the geysers and actually see everything that earthquakes and volcanic activity have done to the area. I've been to the Volcanoes National Park on Big Island, Lassen Volcanic Park, Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens. I've been to the Old Faithful Geyser in Napa Valley and the Petrified forests near it. That's not enough. I want more. (And I also wouldn't mind seeing the fauna and flaura that is place is famous for. ;)  
4. Talking of fauna, who doesn't want to go on an African Safari? I would love to visit Serengeti or Masai Mara and see the lions and African elephants and the Gazelle and the Wildebeests and every creature in between. And while I'm at that, I'd like to stay in a tent and also learn about some new cultures and have new culinary experiences too. 
5. That's not all. Among other things, I have several wishes close to home too -- like spending a day and a night on Kerala's backwaters, taking a sip of local 'Kallu' and the spicy dishes that are paired with it. No I haven't done all that, yet. But I do hope to cross this one off the list sometime soon. And then, I still haven't done the... Oh! never mind, my list can just go on and on. But Airbnb asked me to stop at five.

Dear Airbnb, here are the links you would like to see, for now:
Cherai Lagoon, Kerala
Cherai Lagoon, Ernakulam District, Kerala

Linking this post to the NF Meme--

You might also like (there are more pictures in this post):

The Historic Columbia River Highway

Fall means rainy season in the Pacific Northwest. However, Thanksgiving Day (last year) promised to be a fairly sunny day albeit a cold one and we took advantage of this respite-from-the-rain and decided to go exploring the region. We were in Vancouver, Washington and our plan for the day was to hit the scenic route along the Columbia River Gorge, which these parts are very proud of.

For those who are not too familiar with the Pacific Northwest, let me tell you that the Columbia River originates in Canada, flows down to Washington State and for a good part, flows in between Washington and Oregon dividing the two states yet bringing them together with an interstate scenic area.

Scenic Route, Oregon I-84
The Historic Columbia River Highway
Another geographical feature that fills the area with pride is the Columbia River Gorge that runs along the aquatic border between these states. This over 80-miles of a gorge owes its existence to the vibrant Columbia River as well as volcanic activity and glacial floods, I hear. A drive along the gorge is nothing but scenic. And better still, it can be done on either side of the gorge - Southern Washington or Northern Oregon. 

Our trip started off on the busier and wider side. We took the bridge on 205 to cross into the state of Oregon and then we merged into I-84 (the interstate highway that goes into Boise, Idaho). Now, if you want to do it on the Washington side, your route would be WA SR - 14. We chose to take I-84 one way and drive back westward taking 14. 

The first point of interest of that day was a glimpse of snow-capped Mount St. Helens and then that of an equally white and snow-covered Mt. Hood. Once Mt. Hood was behind us, we found ourselves driving just beside the mighty Columbia River.

A part of the area along the Historic Columbia River Highway had already been stripped off its Fall colour.  For stretches, trees had gone naked and the rest of them seemed to be on the way to going bare-minimum for the winter months. That did not make the drive less scenic. The skeletal trees had a charm of their own and the mist that had settled on the rugged terrain of the gorge provided quite a scenic landscape. In the middle of all this, the Columbia River that flowed on the left side of the highway seemed to be adamantly holding on it its rightful bright blue.

As if taking inspiration from the flowing water that coloured the area, the wooded area started showing some green. And between that, we spotted some snow and some small frozen waterfalls on the exposed rocky patches. 

We drove on.

Our first stop on the way was Multnomah Falls.

We had came across several hiking trails and state parks on the way but since it was not exactly a good time for long walks for me, we headed straight to US’s second tallest waterfall. 

Columbia River and Columbia River Gorge from the Oregon side

After a wee little hike up the lower half of Multnomah Falls we were back on the road, hoping to cover as much of the scenic route we could on one day. We passed Bonneville and had a glimpse of the dam there (the place seemed closed around that time). We also drove past Bridge of the Gods and stopped to have lunch at a small, sweet-looking town called Cascade Locks. After a very filling Thanksgiving lunch there, we were back on Highway 84 taking in more of what Columbia River Gorge had to show. 

the merge into I-84 near, Cascade Locks

One other stop that was a high point -- literally-- on the scenic drive was Mitchell Point. This viewpoint made us take an exit from the busy highway and watch it from another level. Should I mention that that POI included a panoramic view of the big blue river and its rocky banks? 

While we were at Mitchell, we learnt that there used to be an almost-unique tunnel there. The Mitchell Point Tunnel, also known as the Tunnel Of Many Vistas is said to have been a tunnel with windows on its north wall. And these windows are supposed to have let in air and light and views of the Columbia River. Unfortunately, this spectacular road tunnel had to be blasted off to make way for the new and improved Interstate 84. (Alas! I wish I could have seen that.)

Mitchell Point, Columbia River Highway
A view from Mitchell Point
We made one more stop for the day before we headed back. This was at Hood River, one of the bigger cities along this part of the Historic Columbia River Highway with lots of food and shopping options. A part of the town seemed to be a downtown fit  for a stroll on a warm day. It was lined with attractive little boutiques, jewellery shops and and a picturesque waterfront. It looked like a Hill Station with its own B&Bs.

On the way back, we drove onto Bridge of the Gods, crossed the Columbia River and continued our scenic drive along the state on the other side of the river (WA 14).

The Bridge of the Gods
The Bridge of the Gods

Columbia River Gorge

The Washington side of the gorge also had lovely views to show. To me, the best part was the river itself. The sun had begun its descent, needless to say it seemed like it was in a hurry considering it was late Autumn. The sky was a pretty pink-and-orange and the silhouetted leafless trees in the foreground made pleasant picture . The Columbia River that was now flowing westward -- the same direction that we were going -- was bathed in golden-hour-hues all the way.

When we drove past Camas, WA, we knew our drive was over. 

I wish I could be back on the Historic Columbia River Highway once again. Or may be twice, if I'm not asking for too much -- once in early fall to go fall-colour-peeping along the river, and in the Spring or Summer months when the Evergreen State and its neighbour are at their greenest. 

Bay Lights, Bay Bridge, San Francisco
Bay Lights on the Bay Bridge

Bay Bridge
The Bay Bridge is one of the bridges that runs across the San Francisco Bay in California. This bridge that connects East Bay to West Bay runs between the cities of San Francisco and Oakland.

Since 2013, this busy double decker bridge has had an art installation of a different kind on its western stretch. This is a display of light; of thousands of LED lights making patterns on its suspension and support cables. The artist who conceived this idea for the Bay Bridge is Leo Villareal.

Bay Light Facts (from the official site):
  • The largest light displays in the world
  • It is 18 miles wide and 500 feet hight
  • There are a total of 25,0000 white led lights that make up this piece of art. 
  • The Bay Lights is supposed to be a temporary installation that is to be up till 2015. (If the project gets donations to keep it 'on' longer, it might continue to light up Bay Bridge for a longer period.)

Bokeh, Bay Bridge

Bay lights, San Francisco
Bay Bridge from the San Francisco side

The above pictures were taken without the help of a tripod (and some are from a moving car). They aren't the best pictures of the installation. So here is a link that will show you 'motion pictures' of Bay Lights - Bay Lights video

Linking to:

Tilden Park Carousal
The Tilden Park Merry-Go-Round

Tilden Park
The building that houses the ancient carousel.

This carousel, which was made in 1911, has gotten into US's 'National Register of Historical Places.'

This post is linked to the meme:

An earlier post on this Regional Park - Family Fun at Tilden Park


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