So because I don't need to do anything for this trip besides get to the airport early and hope Cora maintains her super relaxed attitude towards travel (she's been on eight 10+ hour car rides, 4 hours in a plane can't be a problem, right? RIGHT? I'm honestly more concerned about James), I'm going google crazy researching our next year of trips.
It all started when a friend posted a picture of Arches National Park in Utah a few months ago. Bam, that was clearly where we needed to go for Spring Break 2016. Super long drive? Inexpensive rentable condos nearby? Hours of hiking and crazy cool rock formations we can climb on/around? That's a Lag Liv family vacation right there. And then I started looking at the map and realized Canyonland was only another 30 minutes away from Arches. And then Capital Reef is only a few hours further west. Then Bryce Canyon is a few hours past that. And in between them is this amazing stretch of highway. And a state park. Next thing I knew I had a 9 day car trip with 2,000 miles and 41 hours of driving, plus lodging picked out for each stop and a list of hikes we need to take and it is going to be AMAZING. And I love how when I randomly turned to James one night last week and said "do you want to hear about Spring Break?!!" he turned away from his computer with his hours and hours of work, gave me his full attention, and said, "yep, where are we going?", and didn't once mention that we are still closer to 2015's spring break than we are to 2016.
So while we may have 7 months before we embark on this odyssey, I would love to hear from anyone who has done the Utah Mighty Five (or Four, in our case) road trip and has thoughts on how long to spend at each park. My current itinerary is below.
Day 1: Fort Worth to Denver (12 hours driving; stay with Tia)
Day 2: Denver to Moab (5.5 hours; visit Arches at sunset)
Day 3: Arches NP
Day 4: Canyonland NP
Day 5: Moab to Bryce (all day driving, with stop at Capitol Reef NP and beautiful highway look outs along the way; expecting to get to Bryce rental in time for late dinner)
Day 6: Bryce Canyon NP
Day 7: Bryce Canyon NP (planning to see nearby National Monuments, like Grand Stairway Escalante)
Day 8: Bryce to Amarillo (all day driving)
Day 9: Amarillo to Fort Worth (5.5 hrs.)
Gorgeous, right? (pic borrowed from here)
I already have a countdown.
Then, in new and very exciting travel news, my parents have offered to watch the kids for a couple of days after Christmas! Our kids, being watched by someone else who is not us, OVERNIGHT, without us. I can't even... James and my last vacation alone without children was before we ever had children. It was Spring Break 2007. I was pregnant and we went to San Francisco. That was a lifetime ago. Specifically, Landon's lifetime.
But, we've thoroughly blown this year's vacation budget on our upcoming beach trip so even with the novelty and excitement of the vacation-without-children situation, it can't be expensive because then I won't enjoy it. But I want it to be somewhere worth whatever money we do spend (i.e., driving into Houston for a night isn't going to cut it). It needs to be somewhere we aren't already planning on taking the kids or that we don't immediately wish they could do when we arrive. We really do love traveling with them- it's always way more fun than hassle and each trip always contains my brightest happiest memories of the year, so I want our December destination to be more adult-oriented. Like Napa. Except James doesn't drink wine. Or Vegas. Except that's the James-centric version of what Napa would be for me. Or Chicago or New York. Except that's really more for me again. Not that we wouldn't both end up having a great time in any of those places, but we've waited a really long time to get away together, I'd like us both to be equally captured in this destination. And flights to major cities between Christmas and New Year's are crazy expensive. And I don't want to blow too much of our 3 day getaway on travel time, particularly when the airport is already 1.5 hours from my parents lake house.
So I'm thinking of heading to New Orleans. James has never been. The last time I went I was in college and James and I were broken up and I made out with some random guy on a balcony on Bourbon and I didn't remember it until I got my disposable camera developed a few weeks later, so it would be great to make some memories I actually remember, and maybe don't take pictures of. It's less than a 5 hour drive, so we wouldn't have to fly (James is immediately on board), and while I don't mind flying, it would be great to go on a car ride where I'm not turned around backwards 65% of the time. We could stay in a fancy hotel in the Quarter, eat awesome food (we didn't eat in a single restaurant on my college trip to NOLA; priorities), drink all the drinks, sight-see and walk around during the day, and still not spend very much. I think it would be super fun.
But, before I start booking things, I would love to hear other suggestions. Destinations that are romantic, great to visit in December, not totally geared towards wine (boo), and perfect for a 2-night getaway. We like eating food and exploring, whether it's the outdoors or a city, and minimizing travel time is a plus. Or suggestions of places to eat and things to do in New Orleans, I've really never been there as an adult.
And in the meantime I will not write packing lists and plan out Spring Break 2017.