Monthly Archives: January 2010

In Other News

We have a new address. Earlier this month, I finally mapped my WordPress site to my own domain name. We are now kidsgowest (dot) com. The old, less glamorous still lead you to the same place though. But to help Google deal with any identity crisis, I’m kindly asking my loyal readers to use my new fancy address in links and bookmarks. Many appreciations.

We have a new Facebook fan page. Because I need just one more account to update, and because I want to give my three biggest fans more of me to enjoy, I have created our new Kids Go West page. Check out the new badge on the sidebar. Don’t make me beg; click on over to become our fan. I promise to not clog up your feed with all of my witty insights (just the good ones).

We have subscriptions. If you haven’t subscribed to our feed, then there’s no day like today. Go ahead, click on over to that little feeds button at the top of the page. We also have a You Tube video channel, if you’re into moving pictures go on over there and hook up with Kids Go West there.

Video Zen: Spouting Horn Blowhole

I don’t know about you, but I need to take a bit of a breather every once in a while. I like to take a moment from my hectic days to laugh or dream or both. I’ll take my zen however I can get it.

To help myself and my fellow readers take a break from the mundane monotony of their days, I’m starting a new recurring feature here at Kids Go West. I’m calling it video zen. You’re welcome.

I have a lot of video footage from our travels. Some of the footage captures some peaceful, beautiful moments, while some of it captures a bit of the funny underside of traveling with a kid. I’m going to put together those little moments in a moving picture form so that you get to feel as if you were almost there with us. I mean, it’s as if I bring ya’ll into my living room or suitcase every week, so the videos will make us even cozier.

This week I’m taking you to the island of Kauai to see the Spouting Horn Blowhole. This is one of nature’s marvels, or freaky occurrences, it depends on how you see it. The waves rush in under a shelf of lava rocks and up through an opening. The plumes of water that shoot out can reach heights of fifty feet. They also create a low, blowing sound as the water shoots up. So sit back, turn up the volume on your computer, and check out the almost hypnotic sprays of water.

The Spouting Horn Blowhole can be found in the Poipu resort area of Kauai. It is only a few miles away from Poipu Beach and a very easy walk from the road. You will find plenty of parking, a bathroom, and some stalls selling souvenirs.

We’re linking up our video zen to Mother of All Trip’s Monday Dreaming. Extend your little zen break and go check out the cool posts.

Poipu Family Travel Tips

Less January, More Paradise

It pitters. It patters. It’s hard to see past the gray, hazy skies of January, and remember a warmer time. My feet are cold, my tissue box has become my dearest friend, and I’m stuck inside a classroom full of second-graders all day long. I’m not complaining or anything. But I am turning to my photo library for some inspiration on this dreary Friday.

San Francisco, CA

Capitola, CA

Waikiki, HI

My visions of paradise are linking up to Delicious Baby Photo Friday. Click on over.

Waimea Canyon With a Side of Chip

We never embark on a day trip without our munchies. So before we headed out on the road to Waimea Canyon and Kokee State Park in Kauai, we made a stop in the town of Hanapepe first. We were looking specifically for the Taro Ko Chips Factory, but we still almost zoomed right past the little green building. It looks more like a house, not like a factory, nor a store. So as you drive along Hanapepe Road, just past the main drag with the galleries and stores, keep your eyes peeled for the sign.
We bought a bag of taro and purple sweet potato chips that were still warm from the frier. I thought they were the perfect combination of salty, sweet, and crunchy. They also kept that kid (pictured above) from getting too whiny in the back seat. I’m not sure if he was more interested in the views of Waimea Canyon or the chips. What I do know, is that we all enjoyed the views more because we were crunching away on those oily little chips.

We’re linking up our chips for our first Wanderfood Wednesday at Wanderlust and Lipstick. Go on over to check out all the delicious posts.

View Larger Map

Poipu Family Travel Tips

We’re Raveable

Time to toot our own horn: we’re the featured blogger on the Raveable website this week. You may have seen some little Raveable buttons around these parts lately, and if you click on them, you’ll find yourself at a very useful website. I’m always looking for help in picking out hotels, so this site is right up my alley. I especially love the categories of kid-friendly hotels listed by city. I’m already browsing the site for our trip to New York. I can fine tune my hotel search with such filters as: free parking, hotels with kitchenettes, hotels with rooftop pools. The hotels reviews are compiled, summarized, and make it easier to sift through the many choices. I love it. Go check out Raveable for your trip-planning needs, and this week you’ll get the added bonus of seeing our cute picture on the home page.

Featured Family Travel Blog on Raveable

Rating by Raveable

Today’s Tip: Ask the Expert

I have been reading the We Just Got Back deals blog for a while now, and think that the site is a great resource for anyone planning a family vacation. They recently did a whole site redesign and added a new feature called: Ask the Family Travel Expert. I’m always planning the next great trip, so I have many burning family travel questions. We’re heading to Washington D.C. next summer, and I have been trying to figure out which tours-among the dozens offered-are worth taking an eight-year-old to. I threw the question out at Twitter, but got no answers (cue crickets). So when I saw this new column at We Just Got Back, I figured this might just give me the answers I needed.
It sure did. Family travel expert, Suzanne Rowan Kelleher, provided me with a very helpful and thorough answer to my question. Read all about it here. I’m sharing my experience because I know that many of you could use a little help in planning your family vacations. Go ahead and ask the expert; you won’t be disappointed. Besides, that way I won’t be tempted to hog all the questions.

Photo Courtesy of / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Trains at Griffith Park

What: Griffith Park Southern Railroad and Travel Town

Where: Griffith Park in Los Angeles

Why: We needed a to make a pit stop while on an eight-hour drive from San Diego to the Bay Area and stopping at the In-N-Out just wouldn’t do. Griffith Park is conveniently located right off of the parking lot/freeway I-5. So to prevent any road trip melt downs (from me) we took the freeway exit to check out some trains and burn off some steam. Choo-choo.

My Kid’s Picks: What’s not to love? There are trains. My little conductor dude enjoyed the miniature train ride on the Griffith Park Southern Railroad. Then he really got his train geek on, when we headed over to Travel Town and got a close up view of some really big engines. The locomotives, cabooses, and passenger cars are on display outside and there are some smaller vehicles on display in a building. There was also a small corner of the building geared for smaller kids with some hands-on activities. Because he was older, he wasn’t as intrigued by the trains as he would have been as a preschooler. He also wished he could have gotten to go inside some of the trains. But it was still a fun stroll through the train yards.

Mom’s Verdict: Both of these places where blissfully uncrowded on a Monday afternoon, and inexpensive. Travel Town is a great place for either really big train fanatics, or the under-5 crowd.

Useful Tidbits: Tickets for the train rides are $2.50 and trains operate year-round (except Christmas day). You can hop on the train at Griffith Park Southern Railroad or at Travel Town. Although the day we went, the train ride at Travel Town wasn’t operating. Parking and admission to the museum in Travel Town is free and also open year-round (except Christmas day).

Los Angeles Family Travel Tips

Today’s Tip: Keeping ‘Em Kids Busy

I was being such a good little organizer recently, that I even organized all of my son’s travel busy bags for the next few trips. This is what I usually procrastinate packing the most, so I’m glad I got ahead of the game this year. Like it or not, traveling with a kid means that I’ll be lugging some sort of busy bag for years to come.

From age 4 to 8, we still have this card game.

His busy bags have changed throughout the years and I have to constantly update them; hence my organizing and purging exercise this weekend. But as I cleaned this weekend, I noticed that there were some items in the busy bag that have seen us through many trips and will continue to serve us well through many more.

Here are some of the tried and true items in my son’s busy bag:

  • Sketch pads, crayons, pencils, and markers. An artist never rests.
  • Books. The books get wordier, but they are always there to entertain.
  • Card Games. We switch from UNO, to Old Maid, to Go Fish. They’re small, light, and versatile.

The best part about these items is how relatively inexpensive they all are. Now that’s something I can truly appreciate.

As I thought about our busy bags, I remembered all the other travel blogging moms who shared their expertise on the matter. Putting together a great busy bag, takes some thought, creativity, and planning.

I really enjoyed reading how Lorraine puts together the Busy Kits for her two daughters and for her business as well. She has this formula: color, play, create, discover. Read about the process here. Make sure to click over to all her posts for all four of the components.

I also enjoyed reading Debbie’s take on things to consider when packing an airplane busy bag. She gives you a whole list of things to consider, and offers tips on where and how to go about making one. Read about them here.

Do you have any  of your own favorite busy bag items? Or have you written about it? Please share, I’m always looking for a few good tips.

San Francisco Family Travel Tips

The Good Traveler

There are moments when I wonder if I’m good enough of a traveler. I never worried about this before. But now that I’ve ventured out into the world of travel blogging, it has become a real concern for me. I am now, more than ever, immersed in a world of traveling experts. I’m always reading about all the great trips other writers take and I wonder if I’ve got what it takes.

Do I have enough traveling experience under my belt to speak with any authority on the subject? Maybe, I shouldn’t claim to be an authority. Have I visited enough countries, cities or states?  Maybe, I’m not worldly enough. Will I be laughed off the stage for admitting that I’ve never actually been to New York? Well, I’ve been to the airport, but that doesn’t really count.

I’ve been hit with some serious travel blogging insecurities this year. I could seek some good Dr. Phil advice to help me get past it. Or maybe, I can stop travel blogging altogether. Avoidance works wonders, you know. Then I wouldn’t have to care about whether my traveler status was worthy enough. I could just take up a new hobby, say gardening, and blog my little heart out about that. (I’m not making fun of gardening, I really do want to pick it up as a hobby someday.)

I could blog about anything really, so why even bother with blogging about something I may not even be doing all that well. I will not be hiking in Nepal, jet-setting my way through Europe, or dropping my job to travel the world this year. There are both monetary and legal reasons I won’t even be leaving the country with my son anytime soon. My prospects for being a good travel writer seem dim.

But only when I’m talking all that nonsense. Because that’s all that is. And I don’t even need Dr. Phil to tell me that. There are many things that stand in the way of me being a good travel writer, but the quantity of my travel experiences is not one of them. I just have to remember this when I start to feel insecure: I am worthy of travel blogging.

Now on the first Monday of the year, I’m dreaming of loving travel blogging again. I want to stop worrying about whether my trips will be exotic or exciting enough. I don’t want spend hours trying to make a trip happen, when I know very well, that it just can’t happen for me this year.

I want to be in love with travel again. Now that’s a dream that I can turn into reality.

I’m linking up to Mother of All Trips’ Monday Dreaming post. She won’t judge me for whining so much this week, she’s just that cool.