Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Day Tripping...

By Robin Kaye

Being a writer is hard for me because I find myself housebound, more often than not. I can’t wait to go out, explore the world, and fill my creative well. I love to travel to foreign lands, soak up different cultures, and take in the architecture, art, music, and most especially, the food. However, exploring with a family of five is a little cost prohibitive.

Since my children have definitely inherited my travel gene, my husband and I have taken to doing low-cost day trips. We pack a lunch and sometimes a dinner too, throw a game in the back of the Sequoia, grab the kids, and head out on adventures.

When we lived in Boise, Idaho, it was as simple as packing a picnic basket and hiking just outside of town to find evidence of the nearby Oregon Trail, taking a tour of the haunted Old Idaho Penitentiary, or driving to the nearby ghost town of Silver City to pretend we were miners. We always kept a few mining pans in the car, so if we caught valley fever, or needed to escape the summer heat, we’d drive to the mountains and spend the day at the river’s edge, hunting for the elusive hot springs and nuggets of gold. We were good at finding hot springs, gold, not so much. But hey, we always had fun.

Living in the Washington D.C. area is the perfect place for taking day trips. We’ve explored Colonial Williamsburg, and Washington’s Birthplace. We’ve visited Monticello and Mount Vernon several times. My kids have turned into little—or not so little, anymore—historians. We love to go to Gettysburg, Valley Forge, and Antietam.

We’ve gone to Philadelphia and walked the cobblestone streets of our founding fathers. We visit Longwood Gardens once every few months, and we’ve been known to run down to DC at a moment’s notice to go to the Smithsonian.

Sometimes we pack up art supplies and hit the National Art Museum for an hour of sketching one of the many masterpieces. Part of the fun is requiring everyone to sketch—no matter that we have absolutely no artistic aptitude when it comes to drawing, with the exception of my youngest and my husband.

We’ll go from there to the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage for the free show they have every night at 6:00. They have a schedule on line, but we’re not much in the way of planning so most times, we just show up and see what’s playing. We’ve never been disappointed. The last time we went, we saw an amazing steal drum band, and the time before that, a performance of Cyrano de Bergerac. My children were spellbound and have been repeatedly since they were three, five, and seven. Now at twelve, fourteen and sixteen, that hasn’t changed.

A couple of weekends ago, my husband took the girls and their best friends to the National Building Museum.

It was the one day of the year you can make your own rubber-band powered airplanes and fly them in the three story Great Hall. There were contests for the highest flier, the longest flight, etc. Unfortunately, for my youngest’s best friend, there was no contest for best water landing. He flew his plane out of bounds and into the fountain. After their avionic adventures, my brave husband took them to the Air & Space Museum, and then to the History Museum. Of course, when they arrived back home, I found out that the highlight for our own little Sully Sullenberger was riding the metro. Well, you can’t win them all.

Where do you go to feed your spirit, fill your creative well, or just escape? Where are your favorite places to go when you want to travel to far off lands but have to stick closer to home?


  1. Great post. I'm with you, day trips are sometimes the best of all.
    Back in the day, my husband and I used to watch for twofer airlines specials and take commuter flights to NYC for the day. There by 8 AM, home by 9 PM. With none of the usual travel logistics to worry about, we were freer to be in the moment and just let the experience happen to us.
    I've not enjoyed any other trips to the Big Apple so much.

  2. Loved the post, Robin, and the pictures! My mom and I loved to go to Salado. It's an old stagecoach town in Texas not very far from where we live and several important figures: General George Armstrong Custer and Robert E. Lee, Sam Houston, and outlaws such as the James Brothers and Sam Bass actually stayed at the Stagecoach Inn. Plus they have a big Celtic festival annually in Salado. And ghosts too. :)

  3. Mary Margaret~

    I love trips to NY. My friend and I took the kids a few years ago, but it was a bit much for one day. Still, it was a great time.


    Salado sounds amazing! I think the hotel in Silver City is reopened now and I don't think the Catholic Church there ever really closed (well, at least not in spring, summer, and fall). People go up for church there because it a beautiful little chapel. As for ghosts, there are plenty. I'd love to stay in the Stagecoach Inn.

  4. I love the idea of your day trips, Robin. What a great way to have an adventure on a budget! I'll definitely be giving it a try. :}

  5. God, I haven't been on a day trip that wasn't writing related in longer than I can remember. Hubs takes the kids all the time on bike rides on the Perkiomen Trail (in my defense, I have this 2 year old back problem that has me very leery of getting on a bike for that long). But we do go the beach every year and this year we're doing the trip out to CO/WY/SD. We were just watching Anthony Bourdain last night - his trip to Venice. I think I might have convinced Hubs that we need to go there on our 25th...

  6. Really enjoyed your post and the pictures.

    We love to go to DC, to the National Gallery, and will be headed there soon, in fact.

    We also love Gettysburg. Such a peaceful place, ironically. It feeds the soul.

  7. Enjoy, Kathryn! I love getting the kids away from the house and the TV and spend time together. It's all good. Even our disasters are fodder for dinner table discussions.

  8. Judi~

    I was at a critique meeting while Stephen took the kids to the National Building Museum. I'm sorry I missed it. Sometimes you just have to put the writing stuff aside and go.

  9. Libby~ The National Gallery is one of my favorites. I also love the textile museum (it's up around Dupont Circle.) Beautiful weaving, quilting and everything in between.

  10. Robin, I loved reading about your day trips. My children are older now, but I always enjoyed family days.

    I enjoy sitting under an umbrella on the beack or on the balcony of a condo and watch the ocean. Its so soothing and peaceful and it renews me.


  11. I enjoyed your post, Robin. Day trips are a great way to get away and also support your local economy. I really appreciate the fact that your day trips are also educational. I have three children of my own and the happy memories we create as a family only solidify our relationships with our children. They also afford me the opportunity to get great ideas for characters and settings for my own stories.

  12. Great photos, Robin. I especially loved the story about flying airplanes across the building museum. Sounds like a lot of fun.

    I guess I'm a nester. I go to my backyard and my perennial border to find my biggest inspirations. And I can tell you that trimming the Wisteria year in and year out is like zen. It clears the mind.

    When my kids were little, we had a camper, and we explored state parks from Maine to Florida in that thing. You know that's my idea of traveling. Low rent, American as Apple Pie and it's like never really leaving home at all.

  13. Amelia~

    I don't know which I love more, the mountains or the ocean. It's a real toss-up. Right now, I think I'd take the least for a week or two. I love sleeping with the sound of the surf coming through open windows.

    Laura~ I love it when the we take the kids out and we all learn a lot without feeling as if it's a lesson. That's one of the things I love about Williamsburg. You end up learning so much and it brings history to life.

    Campers are great for trips. My husband and I have always talked about getting a pop-up but the initial investment was always too much. Now my kids are off on their own so much, between Boy Scouts and dance--we only get a day or so to do something together so day trips are the only thing we can fit in.

  14. Fun blog post! I can only imagine that traveling with a family of five takes a lot of patience!

    I have such a lust for foreign travel that I'd forgotten how much I can enjoy exploring my own backyard. Just got back from a three-day tour around Oregon wine country (research for the third book in my contract -- honest!) We had a fabulous time, and it was only a few hours of driving each way. Best of all, I had a legitimate reason to drink wine. I do so love Sourcebooks!


  15. I like to go visit my parents'. They live about 3 hours away, not a day trip but not too far. They live by the ocean and have a pool, so it can be very relaxing!

  16. It is so easy to forget those wonderful places right in our backyards. We lived at the coast for years and hardly ever went to the beach unless people were visiting! Now we are near the mountains and we do jump in the car for day trips.

    Thanks for the fun post, Robin. I am jealous just a tad as I would love to visit the historic places on the east coast. Some day!

  17. I love day trips with the family. It really shows how you can do fun stuff without paying tons of $$$. Some of our best times have been going down to the beach or to a park for a little hike. As long as ice cream is somewhere in the picture, my kids are happy!

  18. Enjoyed reading about the day trips. It made me wish we lived near DC. Also reminded me to finish my book and get it out there so I can take a little breather and enjoy summer with my family!

    When people visit us in Ohio, we head toward Amish country. Many believe that the Amish live only in PA but the largest group of them actually live in Holmes County, Ohio and many live in my county as well (Medina).

    Until I can make it back to DC, that will have to do!

    This summer, I look forward to taking my English in-laws to the Amish produce auction in the booming metropolis (not) of Homerville.

    Thanks for a nice post!

  19. Hey, there's a place I've actually been! We went to Williamsburg several years ago while we were staying in Virginia Beach. Cool place, isn't it?