And so begins my year of travelling and blogging. Travel blogging. And momming. And mommy blogging.
January 1. We were up with the baby and packing for a quick overnighter to the nearby resort town of McCall, Idaho, a 2 hour drive away. The situation: my 16-year old son wanted to visit and ski with his friend, up at her parent’s cabin for a week. He was missing her and had a fairly elaborate day of skiing and adventure planned, if he could just get up there. Being a creative traveller and not wanting my 16 year old to drive the wintery roads of Idaho alone, I decided to pack up baby, my teenage daughter, my son and our snow gear into the AWD, and headed for our first getaway of the year. What better way to start my year of travelling and blogging? And make the most of our remaining vacation days from school.
McCall is a lakeside town, which offers a mountainous respite from the desert hustle and bustle of Boise. As you ascend your way there you come into riverine canyons and begin to see pine trees and a lusher landscape. Being a lover of the verdant Pacific northwest, I appreciate this type of beautiful and find it calming. In the winter, this part of Idaho is quite snowy. Skiing, snowshoeing, sledding and tubing are common seasonal pursuits. With an 8 month-old baby I was not sure if there were any winter activities to pursue, but I welcomed the getaway to the snow and woods.
The drive up was winter-wonderlandy gorgeous. I chatted with my son about things and life and the future. The road conditions weren’t too bad and didn’t slow us down. The baby napped about half the time and was content to play with toys and be fed an on-the-go breakfast by her sister for the rest. I had mixed up a small bowl of rice cereal in a plastic bowl and lid and had it ready for her normal after nap meal.
Without much ado we made it to our hotel, the simple but comfortable Super 8 on the south end of town. The accommodations could not have been better, unless it had been free (still building up my free-travel resources). This hotel is on the less expensive side, but has good reviews in TripAdvisor. We stayed in a 3 queen bed room with port-a-crib. It was a clean and quiet end of the hall room. We each had our own bed. And, note to self: it seems like arriving New Year’s Day rather than New Year’s Eve is a way to avoid the loud crowds. Plus, the very nice front desk person let us check in at 11 a.m. and slide seamlessly into our quick visit. My lack of extensive planning was working out for us.
While my son took the car to go ski, my daughters and I played a bit in the room, and took a stroller walk around the hotel to check it out. When baby Jenas took a nap in the crib, Nicole and I shared earbuds to watch a couple of episodes of Stranger Things on Netflix on the tablet. It was relaxing and a fun way to spend time with my teenage daughter while the baby slept.
When Jenas woke up, we got into our warm gear and caught the free shuttle that goes all over McCall. It happens to stop right at the hotel. And did I mention, completely free? We got off near the Payette Lake and walked around a bit, baby in the front pack. It was beautiful, snowy and cold. It was New Year’s Day so most things were closed, but there were a couple of artsy tourist shops open. We didn’t buy anything, but enjoyed looking. We went and watched the ice skaters at the indoor rink a short while, but I couldn’t get Nicole to try it. And we watched the families sledding near the lake for a short bit, but didn’t have a sled. I enjoyed just walking around and breathing the fresh air and not having any responsibilities. Nicole got bored.
There is one sure fire way to keep a teenage child happy for an hour, and that is take them out to eat. Sometimes they’ll even have a conversation with you. We went to the Toll House near the lake and ate burgers, breadsticks and salad bar, which was great. Baby Jenas fed herself from our meals. And everyone was happy.
After dinner it was starting to get dark. Instead of waiting for the free shuttle, we called my son to drive us back to the hotel, but not before spending $20 on fudge and English toffee at the little local candy shop.
It had been a pretty hectic holiday season, and having a baby can be tiring, so we never made it to the hot tub when we got back. Rather, we put on jammies and each worked on our own projects/entertainment quietly in our room when the baby went to sleep. My son came back a bit later and we all slept the good sleep in our own beds until baby woke up the whole room at 6:30 a.m. After a quick and free simple breakfast together at the hotel, we packed up the car and headed back down the hill.
Was it the most glamorous or adventure-filled escape? No. We really didn’t do too much, and certainly nothing out of the ordinary. Did each of us enjoy it in our own way and get what we needed out of it? Yes. For me it was a little extra downtime and sleep, and some special time with each of my kids. For my son it was skiing and hanging out with his friend. For my daughter it was dinner out and mom not nagging her about her use of electronics. Baby Jenas is learning the art of travel.
Overall I spent:
$35 dinner (my son ate with another family)
$187 plus gas already in the tank
Getaway Take Aways
Here are my straightforward takeaways from this trip.
Everyone is happier when they have their own bed. Don’t try to share with your child. Try to avoid having them share, unless they already sleep together. Maybe at a certain younger age it would be ok, but even then there’s probably going to be some keeping each other up and general spatting. Certainly it won’t work with teenagers. If I had not gotten a room with 3 beds, we would have paid for a rollaway or even brought a sleeping bag and mat for my son to sleep on the floor. It’s better that way. He’s young and can take it. Younger kids might look at it as a fun slumber-party-esque adventure. And you can sleep on the queen bed with your sweetheart if you want, but some of us just need a king sized bed if we’re going to share.
Take advantage of opportunities
My son really wanted to go spend time in McCall. The hotels had lots of rooms available on New Year’s Day. I really wanted to get out of town because an earlier planned trip to Portland had to be scrapped due to weather. And, I’m trying out this blogging thing. It was a great alignment of interest and opportunity. Take advantage of that. Say yes if you can swing it when opportunities arise.
Sign up for the loyalty program
So, Super 8 is not the ritziest place to stay. I may stay there again in McCall this year, but I don’t expect to stay at Super 8s on other travels I take. Still, I signed up for the loyalty program. Another blogger I’ve read in the past highlighted this a must do strategy for the travel lifestyle. Sign up at every hotel and for every airline. You don’t always know when you’ll be back, if you may be able to earn free nights or flights, or possibly get sweet upgrades due to your membership. It’s free to sign up, so why not?. Super 8 falls under the Wyndham Rewards umbrella. Other hotels within the loyalty program are Ramada, Travelodge, Days Inn, and several Wyndham chains (e.g. Wyndham Gardens, etc.). U.S. News has ranked Wyndham the number one hotel rewards program due to their number and diversity of properties and geographic distribution worldwide. Who knows how I might make use of that? Sign up for the rewards. It can’t hurt.
When you travel with teenagers and babies, curb your overplanning tendencies
My daughter just wanted to eat and relax. It was cold and my baby is still a little young for sledding, or any outdoor activities except riding in a carrier. It could have been fun to go in the hot tub, but it just never came together. Babies and teens are similar in that they have their own ways of doing things and can’t always be convinced to do it your way, like kids about 3 to 11 years old can. You need to give a wide berth for making anything happen. They both needed time to sleep and be in their own zone. I wasn’t going to get around that, and didn’t try. We went with that and took it easy and that made it better for everyone. Don’t force fun on babies and teens. If you’re lucky it will happen on it’s own.
So happy new year to you and yours. What are you planning for your first adventure of the year? I hope we all have plenty of it in-store in 2017!