Day 3: Welcome to California!

Sailing the seas with huge smiles

Day 3: Medford, OR to San Jose, CA | Total Time: 8 hours | Total Distance: 400 miles

Welcome to California….we only have 7 more hours until Grandma’s house.

Today’s 8 hour leg of our trip is our 2nd longest travel day on this trip. Keeping our kids occupied and engaged is no easy task but we’ve done our best and, so far, it works well. We’ve done the following to keep them entertained while in the car:

  • Ethan’s Activity Binder: As we mentioned in our post yesterday, Laura put together a great binder full of coloring, dot to dot, puzzles and other activities
  • AudiobooksA: We’ve brought along a number of children’s audiobooks. These include Winnie The Pooh, Clifford, Officer Buckel and Gloria, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and more. Ethan is a big fan of these.
  • Books: We have a lot of books for the kids to enjoy. Generally, they read/look at the books on their own but we do read to them in the car on occasion. Honestly, it kind of makes of sick to turn around from the front seat and read.
  • Music: Lots of favorites for us and the kids. We all get a choice in music. When one album is over the next person chooses. Autumn always chooses Caspar Babypants. Always.
  • Toys: Both kids packed their own backpacks. Ethan brought a number of trucks, airplanes, action figures, and more. Autumn chose a couple baby dolls and accessories for the dolls.
  • Frequent Stops: Autumn is already in potty training so we need to stop often. We’ve stuck to this schedule to ensure the kids get adequate stretching time and frequent potty breaks.
With all of these tools at our disposable, as well as sleeping in the car, the road trips are great. We did break for an early lunch at In-N-Out Burger in Redding. This stop has always been a favorite of ours when passing through over the years.
We arrived at my Mom’s house around 4pm. The kids were super excited to see their Grandma Lynda. Immediately they wanted to swim but we told them they had to wait until after we saw their cousins. Instead, Ethan ran upstairs to the attic where my childhood toys are stored. He looked the G.I. Joe and Star Wars (my brother Mike’s) toys in their boxes. We chose the box of legos to occupy his time. Their cousins, Uncle Mike and Aunt Olivia stopped by for an hour. After not seeing each other for 1.5 years they easily got use to each other and were running all over the house. My borther Mark joined us for a bit too.
After dinner outside, the kids were in the pool in no time. They enjoyed an evening swim which included rides on the pirate raft and rope swinging into the pool. They will be back in the pool tomorrow when their cousins are back.
It’s nice to arrive at my childhood home. I say childhood but I lived here well into my 20’s. There are lots of good memories that I look forward to my children creating their own in the same house. Tomorrow, we go nowhere but here.
Welcome to California!
The finer tastes of In-N-Out Burger (Redding)
Staying cool
Enjoying a favorite activity
Ethan poses in front of my childhood home.
Autumn and her cousin Caitlynn
Ethan and his cousin Ryan
Uncle Mark with Ethan and Caitlynn
Enjoying dinner in the backyard.
Sailing the seas with huge smiles
Ethan takes a swing into the pool.
Autumn decides to hang on for a good 5 seconds before dropping in.
Grandma reads to Ethan outside before bed.

Day 2: Road Trips Aren’t Trips Without Visiting Friends

Ethan works on activities from his activity binder.

Day 2: McMinnville to Medford with a stop in Eugene | Total Time: 7 hours | Total Distance: 273 miles

It was a leisure day and we like it that way.

We enjoyed our early morning at Laura’s parent’s house today. I slept in a bit, Sam cooked up a mean breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and bacon, and the kids gobbled up Grandma and Grandpa’s attention, as they should. After our goodbyes to the grandparents and Skylee, who we’ll miss a lot, we were on the road at 9am. First stop: coffee at Starbuck’s. Brett needed a jolt.

Medford is only a 5 hour drive from McMinnville and not usually a place we would stop, even with kids. It’s a short distance. We easily could’ve made it to Redding and everyone would’ve been happy. But, we wanted to stop in Eugene, our stomping grounds from 2006-2008, where Ethan was born and Brett graduated from the University of Oregon. Specifically, we stopped to visit our friends and former neighbors Pete and Becky.

Last December we planned to meet them in Eugene on December 26. On our drive to see them our ‘ol Subaru with 206K miles died on us  in Salem. Pete and Becky were nice enough to drive up to Salem so we could enjoy a great lunch at Denny’s. Today, with our new car holding steady, we arrived in Eugene around 11am with smiles and no auto issues, just as we planned. Pete and Becky have been great friends of ours ever since we first moved to Eugene. They were our landlords and we lived next door to each other. The yellow house in the photos below is where we lived. Since we moved out, Pete remodeled the entire house and it looks terrific. We were very excited to see all the work he’s done to the place. Those two always have a project going on that we’re excited to hear about.

We visited our street and then picked up some Yumm Bowls from Cafe Yumm before heading to Skinner Butte Park. The kids stretched their legs and enjoyed the playground. Eugene really has some of the best parks that we’ve visited (and we’ve visited a lot of parks in our time). We laid out a picnic lunch and enjoyed each other’s company before continuing south in the early afternoon. It was great to see Pete and Becky and we’re thankful for their generosity and friendship.

The drive to Medford was quiet. The kids slept most of the time (we actually planned this since they just ate, played at the park, and it was early afternoon). When Ethan was awake he was working on an activity from his binder. Laura put together an excellent binder of different activities for him. He has pencils, cayons, pens, markers, glue, scissors, construction paper, road trip map, connect the dots, puzzles, and so much more. He loves his binder.

We made it to Medford around 4pm and checked into our Marriott hotel. I was able to pay for the night using points I earned from all my business travels. That’s a nice perk to all the travel I do with work. First stop was for the kids to check out the beds. Second stop was the swimming pool. If you have kids, you know that you never stay at a hotel without a pool. It’s just wrong. After our swim, we hung out in the hotel room, ate dinner, watched a couple shows. Before bed we grabbed a DQ dessert and visited a nearby park.

It’s been another beautiful day on our trip. Everyone is holding up great. The weather is fantastic. Tomorrow we push through to San Jose where we’ll visit my family. Our highlight tomorrow will be lunch in Redding at In-N-Out Burger. It’s been way too long.

Day 2 and we’re still all smiles
Ethan works on activities from his activity binder.
“Hey…we’re still not there yet!”
Ethan checks out the chicken at Pete and Becky’s house.
Ethan inspects the garden with Pete.
Our old house when I was in grad school. It’s been severly remodeled and looks great (not a lot of similarities to the old house).
Enjoying Skinner Butte Park in Eugene, OR
Yumm Bowls from the Yumm Cafe
Tickle time
Ethan enjoying the playground
Good looking kid right there!
Pumping water at the park
Ethan, Becky, Pete and Autumn
First things first when the kids get to the hotel room.
Enjoying a bite to eat in the hotel room after our evening swim.
Laura reads to Autumn
Ethan and Brett play hangman
Brett and Ethan look through his activity binder for some drawing paper.
Last minute energy burning at the playground before bed time.
Yes, it was a DQ night.


Day 1: “Mom! Dad! Do you know what today is?”

Happy 4th of July!

Day 1: Seattle to McMinnville | Total Time: 4 hours | Total Distance: 226 miles

“Mom! Dad! Do you know what today is?” Ethan blurted out excitedly as he came into our room at 6am today.

“No, what’s today?” we teased him.

“Summer Vacation Day!” he exclaimed with his classic smile!

What a great kick off to our trip. Our kids have been ready to go on this vacation for weeks. They been talking all about the many wonderful places and people we’re going to visit on vacation. It was nice to see the high energy level continue when the actual trip started. Of course, I think Laura and I could’ve used another hour of sleep as we were up a bit late last night packing our bags and car.

After a couple hours of additional packing and closing down the house, we hit the road at 8am. First stop: coffee, then we made it to the I-5 and headed south.

Our trip from Seattle to McMinnville was uneventful. We stopped once for a potty break and to let Skylee stretch her legs, but otherwise we cruised along the I-5 to Laura’s parent’s house in good time. Our poor dog was a bit squished in the back of the car, but it was only to get her to McMinnville where she’ll stay while we’re in California. I hope we don’t bring back too many souvenirs, otherwise she’ll be competing for space with Mickey Mouse and Cars memorabilia when we bring her back to Seattle.

We spent the day in McMinnville relaxing. The kids rode Norm the horse, played in the garden and ate snap peas and rasberries, swung on the tree swing, and ran around. The weather was perfect to allow all of us to wear shorts and open-toed shoes, bare shoulders, and get a little red. After the kids went to sleep, we finished the evening with a card game of Hand and Foot, a Zemke favorite.

With no agenda today, it was a perfect way to start our road trip to California! Tomorrow, we’re in southern Oregon.

Skylee squeezes into the back. This was only for our trip to McMinnville where she’ll stay while we’re in California.
Kids are packed.
Plenty of room for equipment, food, and family!
Sibling love.
Autumn and her Grandma Karen
Checking up on how the turkeys doing.
Lunch on the back patio.
Ethan explores the garden.
The kids look for snap peas.
One of Ethan’s favorite activities in life.
Best buds! Porter and Skylee.
Happy kid with his Pa Pa!
Autumn and her Pa Pa!
We’re going to have a lot of toes showing on this trip.
Playing a mean game of Hand and Foot!