“In the end we will only conserve what we love; we will only love what we understand; and we will only understand what we have been taught.”
~Baba Dioum, Senegalese Environmentalist and Poet

Welcome and Happy Mothers Day!

One of my New Year Resolutions for the year was to figure out what to do with all my vacation itineraries.  The obvious answer is to write a travel book, publish it, make a million dollars, retire early, travel more.  Unfortunately, since I haven’t yet reached the status of nationally syndicated radio talk show host or famous daytime pop psychologist,  getting the attention of a literary agent is basically impossible.  So, I’ve decided to launch this blog instead.  Thank you for taking the time stop by.

Parents have many ambitions when it comes to raising children.   Personally, I want my kids to be self-reliant, to have a solid understanding of why the world looks the way it does, to be responsible with money, to live an active and healthy life, to be passionate about protecting our environment, to be proud citizens of these United States, to laugh easily, and to love spending time with their family.   I mean I’m not asking for much.  In light of these parenting goals, I made the decision four years ago to change the way we do family vacations.  My long term project is to explore all 59 U.S. National Parks before the kids graduate from high school.   Maybe this strategy isn’t going to guarantee that they’ll possess all these traits by the time they’re grown, but I figure it might help, and so every summer we head out into the world to experience real eye-opening, strength-testing, character building, Took-loving adventures! (Yes, I often look for ways to reference Tolkein.)

Dreams and high expectations are as much a part of motherhood as are guilt, diapers and chauffeuring.  So I’m pretty sure that most of you share many of these same dreams for your own kids.  For the sake of introducing what is to come here, let me just say that this project is centered around the following three child-rearing priorities:

  1. Nothing is more important than finding the time and money to explore the world with your kids.
  2. The best way to improve our country is to teach our children to understand it and care about it.
  3. Adventure is necessary food for the soul.

Every day I read articles relating to how anxiety-ridden, secluded, dependent, overweight, fussy, and/or depressed so many of our children are becoming.  I realize the problem is complex and the solutions will have to be daring and multi-faceted, but in the meantime I wage my own battle here in my little claim on the world.  I will show my children that we work hard to play hard and that the beauty of life can only be discovered through the guts of experience.   I will teach them that they are stronger than they think they are, and that happiness has nothing to do with a mattress and a flat-screen TV.

“Mountains and Valleys” is a phrase we coined at some point along one of our trips.  Now we use it to describe all of our high and low points.  Your Mountain is the best part of your day, trip, school year, year, whatever.  The Valley is the worst.  I hope most of what I share with you are mountains, but I think its also good to remind ourselves that valleys are just that – a low point that we’ll hike out of before we climb our next mountain.

I have a very messy collection of plans, tidbits, advice, lessons, photos, parenting commentary, and travel writing currently scattered all over my notebooks and desktop.  I aim to use this blog as a vehicle to get my own writing organized, but also as a method of sharing my ideas with others that may find it useful.  As a former teacher, I very strongly believe in the idea of building off the work that we “borrow” from others.   Please share or borrow anything here that you like!

I still have a day job and three kids and five ball team schedules to work around, so my posting probably won’t be as consistent as I wish, but I think there’s enough here to start with.  The categories listed on the right are fairly empty at the moment, but keep checking back in because I will be adding posts!  Our first trip itinerary is available for download on the Itineraries page, so stop by and take a look if you’re interested.

Again, thank you for visiting.   I hope that in these pages you find a little inspiration and a lot of help in planning your family’s next Great Adventure, and I always look forward to any feedback, comments, or ideas of your own that you want to share.

Happy Trails!


Glacier National Park, 2012 – Clemans Clan at the disappearing Grinnell Glacier

2 thoughts on “Welcome!”

  1. This is such great stuff! Thank you so much for sharing! We are planning to do a whole lot more travel as soon as our little guy is better in the car, so I am stockpiling info 🙂 I am a list maker too, and your itinerary is right up my alley! Looking forward to all you have to share 🙂


  2. It means so much to hear that there is already someone out there that finds this useful! Thank you Dana. It’s definitely important to wait until your little ones are “car ready,” but keep in touch and let us know about your future travels!


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