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 Take the Grandchildren Along
If you have spent any time at all on our web site, read our book Movin' On, or attended one of our seminars you know that we have enjoyed some very special times with our grandchildren. Between us we have 17 grandchildren and we love to have them spend a little time with us on the road---providing they are between nine to twelve years of age.  As each one reached that age we flew them somewhere and took them traveling with us. So far we have treated nine and this summer three more will get their trip. I thought you might like to know how we go about arranging the trips and where we go.

We usually know what part of the country we will be in each summer and we begin to scour the maps looking for national parks which the kids might enjoy. Liisa, from Florida, was the first to visit us. She was 12  in 1991 when she flew to Fresno, California, to spend two weeks with us while we were volunteers at Yosemite's Pioneer History Center. Liisa was put to work too and loved it. Follow this link to get her story

In 1995 Mary from Kansas and Erkia from Michigan (cousins) turned nine and we couldn't wait to have them join us. We knew we were going to be spending the month of July in Washington so we mapped out our trip from that corner of the U.S. We decided that we would plan their trip to include Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park and we would fly them in and out of Spokane's small airport. Their story is detailed in one of our old newsletter stories. 

Three years later Mary and Erika's brothers joined us. We choose to take Ryan and Richard (9 and 10) to the five national parks in southern Utah after flying them in and out of Salt Lake City. 

Next to be eligible to travel with us were brothers, Kristopher and James (11 and 9) from Missouri in the summer of 2001. By then we were teaching at the Life on Wheels conference in Idaho in July so it just worked out that the best trip to take these boys on would be the Glacier/Yellowstone route. We flew them into Spokane but drove them back to their home since we were heading east anyway. Pictures of their trip are on this old What's New page

Last summer after the Life on Wheels conference we flew Robyn (11) and Jon (10) to Spokane but only had time to take them to Glacier National Park. Their school started early and it was the best we could do for them. 

For this summer we have two trips planned. First we will fly Erkki from Florida (brother to our first grandchild, Liisa) to Phoenix and we are heading north to the Grand Canyon then Zion National park.  Later (after the Life on Wheels conference) we have cousins from Michigan flying into Spokane. Taylor and Kailee are 12 and long over due for their trip. We have chosen to do the Glacier/Yellowstone trip again as it is such fun for the kids. We know that airport and the trip well.

The first thing we do when planning one of these special visits is check with their parents. They all know the trip is coming well in advance. They are waiting in line. But, of course we check with the parents and give them a date or two to choose from. Next we call the airlines and try to reserve a direct flight; that is almost impossible so we take the next best thing---one stop. The airlines are terrific in taking care of the children but we try to find a flight with just enough lay over time. We don't want them to miss their plane or become restless if they have to wait too long. We usually get the airline tickets several months in advance and wait until only a month or so before the trip to make the campground reservations. Yes, we reserve. When Ron and I travel alone, we don't bother with reservations, but when planning something special like these trips with grandchildren, we want to make sure we won't be left out. It is a vacation unlike our normal full-timing travel. 

We only have so much room for luggage especially when we are entertaining two children so we caution their parents to please follow our instructions on what to pack. We send a letter (click here to see our most recent example) to the kids and their parents. 

While the kids are with us, we refrain from "junk fun" and concentrate on the national parks we are visiting. I make a video of their trip for their keepsake and for their parents and take lots of photographs. They have to earn their Junior Ranger Badges in each park (we help a little) and write in a journal every night. When we aren't exploring, we play games such as Mexican train dominoes which they all love. Most of all we get to know them like we would never know them if we were visiting at their house. They would be busy with friends and we would be visiting with their parents. We really look forward to each child's visit and hope you can do some of the same. You will tailor it to your likes and make it special for your grandchildren and they will never ever forget the experience.

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