When we were planning our summer camping trip with friends – a two-week road trip with two pretty-much-seven-year-olds – we got it in our heads that it would be fun to give the kids merit badges as they accomplish cool stuff over the course of the trip.
Which sparked the question of what the kids would do with their merit badges. Um, also I ordered a lot of them.
Their school backpacks have too many pockets and zippers to make them a good canvas for sewing badges onto, and anyway we suspect that once it’s time to go back to school they might not want their school bag to be covered in badges for things like playing frisbee golf or cooking with pie irons.
The obvious solution was to make them messenger bags for the trip. The flap would be the perfect canvas for sewing badges onto, and the bag would be great for beach-combing and finding all kinds of other treasures while we explore the world.
I’m not exactly an expert bag sewer, and my friend hadn’t sewn since she was in school, but we decided to go for it.
I picked up some olive-coloured cotton canvas fabric for the outside of the bag, and lightweight quilting cotton for the pockets and linings. My kid is bananas for baseball and my friend’s is similarly in love with soccer, so there you go.
Downsized the bag to make it more appropriate for young kids:
Finished size 9″w x 11″h x 3″d (it looks quite a bit narrower because the depth of the bag)
Body and lining cut to 11″ x 23″ (sized for 1/2″ seam allowances instead of 1/4″)
Flap and lining cut to 9″ x 12.5″
No applique or other decoration on the flaps
Slightly rounded flap corners for my kid’s bag (baseball); pointed corners for my friend’s kid’s (soccer)
No inside pockets
Outside pocket under the flap rather than on the back side of the bag that rests against your body when you wear it (this was as much due to not understanding from the instructions that the pocket wasn’t actually intended to go under the flap in the first place)
Made an adjustable strap using these instructions instead of making the one-size strap in the bag instructions
This project took us way longer than we thought it would, but in the process she remembered how to use a sewing machine and I remembered why I don’t make more bags. In the end, though, we’re really happy with how they came out, and we hope the kids take to them, too.
This summer has been bananas! My to-do list is so long and varied that I have no idea where to start, so I’m kind of just shooting blindly in all directions, hoping random bits of progress allow me to get things under control.
One huge category of to-dos: blog posts. I have so much to write about! So I’m gonna bootstrap into it by sharing a bunch of panoramic photos I took on our two-week camping trip last month. That’s a start, right?
We started out at French Beach, on Vancouver Island, with a bunch of families we camp with every summer. Then we continued on with two other families to explore the Olympic Peninsula for ten days. It was the perfect combination of exploration, adventure, and relaxation. So very much fun!
Hood Canal, near Dosewallips State Park
View from Mt. Walker
View from Mt. Walker
Port Townsend, Washington
Soon I’ll share more about the trip, including the new obsession I developed with learning how to carve spoons!
Lots of people have asked me to share some details about the itinerary of our trip, and I’m happy to oblige. If this sort of thing excites and delights you, don’t hesitate to get in touch with more detailed questions.
I planned our overall route to optimize the distance we could travel in the time we had. In order to do this – without having long drives every day – we decided to sacrifice some places we really wanted to visit. We chose those places based on how easy it would be to get there another time. For example, my favourite canyon in all the land is Bryce, but we didn’t go there (nor to Zion National Park). To go to those parks and also go to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon (where we wanted to go instead of the North Rim because of the vintage train you can take there from Williams, AZ, and we have a vintage-transportation-obsessed four-year-old) requires about a week, on account of having to drive around that giant hole in the ground. But you can easily get to Zion and Bryce from Las Vegas, and you can always get a cheap flight to Las Vegas. So one day, we’ll take a much shorter, week-long holiday and do just that. And we didn’t go to Yosemite, because we had to get to Southern California in time to meet my parents there for Legoland and Disneyland, which was a part of the trip that was booked long in advance of our more detailed route planning.
Originally, we intended to leave on May 3rd and return no later than June 12th (we ended up getting back home on the 10th). We booked campsites in state parks or RV campgrounds in the places I anticipated would be hardest to book on the fly due to popularity, etc. (Turns out I was wrong in most cases – in most places, at this time of year, we could have just driven up and gotten a site. This does not hold true for national park campgrounds that do not accept reservations – in most cases, we would have been out of luck if we’d tried to show up for a site at any of those, especially because, due to the distance we were covering, it was impossible for us to show up early enough in the day to snag one.) We held off on booking places to camp (both at a high-level in terms of the locale, and more granularly in terms of the exact campground) for other stops (Big Sur; Grants, NM, and everything after Yellowstone, for example).
In the end, we all wish we’d had more time for this trip. It was an ambitious itinerary for just thirty-eight days. At the same time, we managed to set aside thirty-eight days! That’s the time we had, and we milked it for all it was worth. And that involved throwing touristy stuff to the wind in favour of just chilling out sometimes. Because, especially with a young kid, you just need to do that occasionally.
We’re already discussing where we’ll go next, and how we’ll manage to carve out another big chunk of time. Ok, the details:
Here’s an interactive map of our driving itinerary. You can click on any of the numbered stops for more info about where we went, and for some photos. (If you’re reading this in a feed reader, you may need to click through to the post to see these embedded features.)
And here’s the itinerary in list form (scroll down within the embedded list to get to the bottom). Obviously, we went to more places than are listed here; these are mostly the places where we slept. If you have questions about what we did or saw in any particular place(s), don’t be shy.
Do you have a favourite of any of the places we went? (I’ll write more soon about our favourites!)
We returned home last Wednesday evening, a day earlier than planned on account of a barfing kid. He wasn’t terribly ill, but barfing while sharing sixty square feet in the desert heat is no fun for anyone, so instead of moving on from Spokane to spend a final night in the mountains east of Seattle, we just sucked it up and drove all the way home. It was the right decision, and considering that this was the only barfing incident in nearly six weeks on the road, we’re considering it a trip end that simply had a little more drama and a little less celebration than we’d intended.
So now we’ve been home for five days, and it still feels really weird. Pretty much, it feels like we never left. But so much happened on the trip, and we saw so many mind-bending, amazing things, that it just doesn’t feel like it should be possible to feel like we never left. It should feel like we’ve mildly changed. Home should feel kind of different in some way.
But no. Home is exactly as we left it (major thanks and love to my brother- and sister-in-law for leaving it that way for us). We’ve slipped back into habits as if we’d never left. Some of the habits are good, some are ones I was hoping would be easier to change after a long time away; alas, no.
We were away for nearly six weeks, you guys! I hadn’t been away from home for that long in a single stretch since I staffed a teen bus tour when I was twenty-three (coincidentally, that tour was my first time visiting many of the places we visited on this trip).
In a fully predictable and predicted way, my biggest challenge of the trip is not having enough (or any, really) time by myself. Today, finally, I’ve had eight straight hours of silence at home, and I finally feel like my brain is getting back into working order. I’ll have photos to share soon. And thoughts. And ideas. And work.
For now, here’s part of what I did today. I finally watched and worked through the second loose lesson in the painting class I’d intended to work through over the winter. Apparently, I had a sad king that needed to come out. A terrible, awful sad king. Perhaps 2015 will be the year of awful painting, and I’ll start to figure out what I’m doing come 2016…
I can’t believe we’re already over two weeks into our trip. This past week has been a whirlwind of theme parks and family visits (and also having to replace the brakes on our truck and the door handle on the trailer), and now the whirlwind is over and we’re heading back on the road, camping in our wee trailer for the next few weeks. National Parks, here we come!
Before we left San Francisco, my ten- and thirteen-year-old cousins taught us how to make duct tape wallets. I can’t wait to make more!
On our meanderinf drive down the California coast, we loved stopping to see the elephant seals.
This display at Legolamd was thematically appropriate, don’t you think?
I was so excited to take this photo with my Instax camera that i didn’t even think to take a digital one.
We went to Disneyland California Adventure in epic rain. YOWZA.
And we went to Disneyland in gorgeous weather. Phew.
We’ve discovered that Owen is a total thrill-seeker! This is what four rollercoaster rides and three times on Splash Mountain looks like.
I don’t know when I’ll have reliable wifi again, so I have no idea when I’ll be able to post my next dispatch. Follow along on Instagram for quicker updates when I have cell service!