Category Archives: The Mush Pot

There’s a home for everything

Gratuitous Spring Shot

Spring is right around the corner, and so is my return to the blogging world. In the meantime, enjoy the view.

Got Nothing But Love

Dear Stick-in-the-Sand Poet,

I couldn’t agree more.



P.S. This is San Francisco’s Ocean Beach in January.

Linking up to Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday.

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.

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.

Favorite Summer Vacation Posts

There is still plenty of summer vacation left here in California (trust me, this teacher has counted the days on the calendar), so get out there and enjoy those long, sunny days.
Here are some posts to help you in all of your summer travel endeavors.

If you’re itching to take a road trip…

I wrote a post for the Trekaroo blog on how to tackle a road trip along the central coast of California.

So you’re ready to hit the road along the coast, just don’t forget the beach bag. Read here for some California road trip tips.

Here are my thoughts on packing busy bags and taking technology on the road.

The kids and moms will be hungry as soon as you pull out of the driveway, here are some tips on what me and other mom travel bloggers pack in their snack bag at Cascadia Kids.

It’s not summer without a trip to the beach…

If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in a tropical paradise and would like to take your kids swimming with the fishes, read some of my snorkeling tips.

I loved to snorkel in Maui’s Kapalua Bay. Please send me a photo if you do go, I’ll live vicariously through you this summer.

One of the top searches to the blog this month has been fried artichoke hearts in Santa Cruz. And it often leads readers to this post on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. This is definitely one of my favorite places to eat fried artichoke hearts (they may not be the best you can find, but you just can’t beat the ambiance).

If you’re ready for some s’mores…

Our all-time popular post is about some favorite California campgrounds with kids.

Here are some tips for you newbie campers. Or if you’re a seasoned pro, tell me what else I can add to the list.

A Little Blog Post Can Go a Long Way

Last summer I participated in a little game of blogger tag, where one blogger shared her travel secrets and then tagged some other of her blogging buddies to share hers. The gave began over at the Tripbase blog and just snowballed from there.

Since then Tripbase has collected over 5oo travel secrets from more than 2oo bloggers and put them together in a collection of Travel Secret eBooks. They are free to download, and for every person that downloads a Travel Secrets eBook, Tripbase will make a $1 donation to Charity: Water.

The goal of Tripbase’s Travel Secret eBook campaign is to build four freshwater wells and provide clean water for an entire school for the next 20 years. Sounds like a solid plan.

Here’s what you can do: Go to the Tripbase eBook site and download a free book or two or more. That’s it.

I’ve been browsing through the collection myself and while I’m very fond of the Family Travel Secrets eBook, I can give the whole collection a big thumbs-up.

Dreaming of a Quiet Place

Things have been kind of noisy around here lately. In some sort of weird serendipity, I hear the police helicopter flying through our neighborhood as I type this. I kept the window open today so that I could hear the crickets and feel a bit of that nighttime tranquility. So I hear the crickets, but sometimes the copters drown them out.

And that’s how it goes around here lately.

The past few days, I’ve been muttering: “I need to get away from people for a while.” Then I wonder if I’m going a bit bonkers. Maybe I’ll start wearing flannel, grow a beard, and take up whittling. But that’s not it, so you can just erase that frightful image from your head. I just need to get away from the problems of every day life, from my neighbor’s roaring car and barking dogs, to a quiet place in some lake or mountain somewhere.

One of the reasons I travel is to get away from the noise and find some quiet places. I know that I’m not the only one who needs some tranquility. My son needs it as well. When I was looking through our photo library, I noticed all of the pictures I have of my son overlooking some quiet place. Often he is laying down in that quiet place. It’s so easy to forget that even kids need some time to rest.

When we were in Hawaii last summer, he loved floating out on his Boogie board. My little Huck Finn would still be floating out in the waters off Kauai if I hadn’t dragged his raft in to shore. It must have been nice and quiet out there.

Some of my favorite moments have been spent with my son, in a quiet corner of our world, overlooking a lake, or a meadow, or the waves. So I’m dreaming of those peaceful places, even though I’m not likely to find one today.

Go check out Mara’s Monday Dream at Mother of All Trips.

Pictured above (from top to bottom): Lake Tahoe, CA; Santa Cruz, CA; a nice quiet beach (I won’t tell you where) in Kauai

My Green California

This is what my California looks like this time of year. I love it. With all the rain this winter, we have green, green hillsides this spring. But all this green is a fleeting thing. I thought about that this morning, as I drove by hillsides dotted with orange poppies and yellow mustard flowers. Even the construction crew off the side of the freeway looked prettier with all the wildflowers in the background. I want to pull over and take pictures all the time, it’s just so darn beautiful.

Unfortunately, I’m usually late to some very important date, so I don’t have many photos to share. But when the weekends come, I have managed to get out for some hiking on those green, green hills. So I snapped this photo in Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont. I hope to get out there for some more hikes before all this green goes away.

I’m linking up to Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday. Go check out all the other photos of life’s fleeting moments.

Kids Go West on Facebook

In case you haven’t heard, you can now become an official fan of Kids Go West on Facebook. Just think, this way you can give me a big thumbs-up when I post something. Or you may want to follow some of our adventures before they get published on the site (way before, in most cases). Perhaps, you want to browse through our photo albums, and share some of your sandcastle pictures with me. Whatever the reason, click here if you want to become our biggest fan. Many thanks.

Snow Art

You know, it doesn’t always have to be about making that perfect snowman. And in our family, it rarely ever is. We spend quite a bit of time around snow every winter, and rarely get the perfect snow conditions to make a picture-perfect snowman. But that doesn’t stop us from using snow as our canvas or making other snowy creations. So today I’m sharing the collection of snow art portraits from our family’s photo album. Interpret it as you will.

I Am Here

Don’t Run With That Icicle In Your Hand

Superman’s Lair

Snow Puppy

This last photo selection was inspired by Go Explore Nature’s post on snow animals.

We’re linking up to Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday this week, click on over for your Friday photo break.