Monthly Archives: December 2010

Letter From the Editor: Still Here

I’ve been the head writer, CEO, dictator, queen and editor of this family travel site for two years now. It’s been nice. Mostly.

The best thing about having my own site is that it’s all mine. I know I tell my son he has to share, but there are advantages to being selfish. I get to publish what I want-no matter how silly-without worrying about what anyone else thinks. I make mistakes sometimes, but I also get to do all the learning from those mistakes.

And I have learned a lot about the great, wide world of the internet in these two short years. There are some things I love about the online community, and there are some things I could do without. I’m not one to rant publicly all that much, so if you want to hear my opinions on blogging and social media, I’ll share those over coffee with you some time.

So as I looked ahead to a third year, I had to ask myself whether or not to keep going. I found myself asking the Google gods: ‘why blog?’. They really didn’t give me any interesting answers. Yes, there are limitations to what the internet can give you. (Although I did read a most entertaining article on pest control the other day.) That’s why it is so difficult to stay motivated when it comes to blogging.

I don’t make any money from my blog. And I decided to keep it that way last year. I got offers for advertisements, but turned those down. I wasn’t ready to turn this blog into a source of income, mostly because I didn’t want to deal with making any changes on my income tax returns. I wish I could say there were loftier reasons, but really I’m just lazy (and a little busy).

So if I’m not in it for the money (I’ve heard how lucrative it can be), then what are my reasons for being here? I enjoy traveling with my son and I like to write about it. That’s it. For now, those are reasons enough to keep on blogging.

But while I still have the motivation to keep at it, I do need some goals to keep me going. Otherwise, I may just turn on my laptop tomorrow and get sidetracked by the latest pest control or celebrity pregnancy article. To keep the blog going for a third year, I’ve got to aim high, baby.

I have been working on cleaning up the site, changing the template, making it prettier and a lot more functional for the readers. When someone is searching for ‘geeky things to do along Highway 101′ or ‘furry socal guys’, then I want them to find what they’re looking for goshdarnit.

So you’ll see some changes with the appearance of the blog this year. I’m awful with the technology, coding, and SEO stuff, so it may take me the whole year. Look around, you may see new categories, new links, and hopefully something about furry socal dudes. That last will be the hardest to come up with, I just know it.

Like last year, you’ll probably see fewer posts than my first year. I have decided that I’d rather have quality over quantity. Again, not because of any lofty ideals, it’s just that I’m less likely to burn out when I have fewer posts to write.

I like the focus of my content so far, and I aim to keep it that way. Though I have found that there are limitations to just writing about one geographical area and how to explore it with kids. So if I’m really inspired, I may branch out to start another blog. Keep your fingers crossed.

I do need a place where I can post more current updates, events, and feverish mutterings. I haven’t figured out the best way to go about that, so for now you can check my social media accounts (look up on the right-hand side of your screen). I especially like the Posterous account as the companion blog, so I’ll probably use that more this year.

Thank you for reading along this year. I’m grateful that anyone takes the time to come back and read my ramblings. I’ll work on making the third year the best one yet.

The Queen of Christmas Merriment

I don’t know if you noticed, but I like to go places with my kid. Come rain, or come shine, or come the holiday season, we go places. In fact, I’m so good at going places, that I have cleverly made that our family tradition. This smart mami gets out of shopping, baking, and making wreaths by getting out of the house. I know, I know, they should make me queen.

Now the holiday season is well underway, and we are going places. Oh, we have plans to see twinkly lights, and dancing Nutcrackers in tights this December. We will head down to the city (San Francisco, to be exact) and stand in awe of the giant gingerbread palace in the fancy lobby of the Westin St. Francis Hotel, the doggies up for adoption in the Macy’s window display and the congregation of weird Santas in Union Square.

Every family does the whole holiday tradition differently, but this is our thing. Years from now, I hope my kid remembers that sometimes I made lame attempts at baking gingerbread men, and that sometimes I made more successful attempts at finding the darn best light display in town. Hopefully, he’ll forget the Santa with the dog collar and fishnet stockings.

I’m not the only one dreaming of Christmas this week, head on over to Mother of All Trips, the original Monday dreamer always has something good to share.

Today’s Tip: On Winter Driving

Those long car trips with kids can be a big fat drag. When you add snow, ice, road closures, chain controls, and that bumper-to-bumper California traffic, then you have a recipe for a meltdown (yours, of course). I am not a safety or driving expert, but I can share some tips for how I have learned to make the long, snowy drives more bearable, and a whole lot safer.

1. Know the weather and road conditions before you get in the car.

If you’re expecting clear skies and roads, then skip ahead to tip number 2. If you’re expecting blizzard conditions, then you have more to consider (while you drink a soothing, calming tea). You may consider postponing the trip for another weekend, or delaying the departure for the next day. Unfortunately, most people make reservations for lodging that can’t be changed at the last minute without a cancellation fee. If you decide (or are forced to) to change your trip plans because of highway closures, call the hotel to see if they will let you change your reservation without penalty.

2. Carry the right equipment and supplies no matter what the weather forecast says.

Weather conditions change quickly, so sunny skies are not an excuse to be unprepared. Carry chains if you need them. Take along food, water, blankets, maps, and flashlights. And always let someone know where you’re going and what road you plan on taking.

3. Make a pit stop before you begin the climb up to the summit.

The traffic may be flowing, the roads may be clear, and you may be ready to get there already, but make a quick pit stop before you continue your journey to family ski nirvana. Fill up the tank with gas, have the kids take a potty break, and get some food. Believe me, I have been stuck up on a mountain highway for hours, waiting for an unexpected accident to clear up. That’s when I see people climbing through 5 feet of snow at the side of the road, looking for a spot for their potty break. I’m not painting a pretty picture, right?

4. Don’t drive at night or while fatigued.

There’s nothing worse than getting in the car on a Friday night, after working all week, and driving through a snow storm. If you’re tired, don’t get behind the wheel.

5. Timing is everything.

Driving up to ski areas in the winter can mean heavy traffic, regardless of the weather conditions. If possible, you’ll want to travel early in the morning, even if this means leaving work or pulling the kids out of school early. If your trip coincides with a school holiday vacation, then use the extra days to your advantage. You can leave early on a Saturday morning instead of a Friday night, or you can avoid the days before major holidays.

So it’s a lot to think about, I know. But it’s all worth it to see your happy skiers race past you down the hill. Well, kinda. 

What do you do if your car starts to spin, or you get stuck in the snow? I may or may not have some experience with that. If you’re looking for driving tips to help you handle snowy, icy road conditions, then this article has some excellent suggestions. No idea, if I’d actually remember what to do if my left rear wheel started to skid though.

 

Linking up to Talking Trekaroo’s Spotlight Thursday for other family travel news.

Passports with Purpose Still Taking Donations

Got $10? Well, then click on over to the Passports With Purpose donation page and help them build a village in India. For the third straight year, a whole bunch of fabulous travel bloggers have gotten together to give back. Last year they built a school in Cambodia, this year they’re aiming to raise $50,000 to support the nonprofit organization LAFTI, an independent, nonprofit organization and build a village in India.

With each ten dollar donation, you can bid on one of many fabulous prizes. How about a 5-night stay at any of the nine Paradise by Marriott resorts? Sounds heavenly. Marriott Resorts generously sponsored this prize through the site Best Family Travel Advice. And there are many more heavenly prizes to choose from.

But the real treat is helping to build that village in India. You have until December 13 to make your donation. Head on over there.