40 Places to Take Your Kids (But Also Yourself)!

I don’t want to write about.. all the places I HAVEN’T been..

Are you planning a family vacation? Are you dreaming of #travel? I love this article of these 40 must-see destinations. I want to see them all with my kids.

..for too many years anyway. I’m as much of a bucket list maker as someone can be! I believe in photography bucket lists, and spring bucket lists, and fall bucket lists, and definitely summer bucket lists. I believe in food bucket lists and more specifically – ice cream bucket lists. I believe in literary bucket lists, and somewhat related – career-as-a-whole bucket lists.

I believe in believing in bucket lists.

places

I read this awesome post based on this awesome article and it all fit together. I want to write about all the places I’ve been and will go, and I don’t want to write about all the places I haven’t been and will never go – unless to say it here, loud and clear, that I WILL go there. Put it on my list. Your kiss is on my list too, but that’s not listed in the article. (why??)

Thanks, Dara! So here are the 40 places from Today.com:

1 – Grand Canyon. I’ve never been, but I will go! I have zero fear of heights, although when I’m nervous, I get unbalanced. You know that song, “Unsteady”? That’s me! Not in front of grand and great things, though. This is on my list with your kiss.

2 – Yellowstone National Park. I’ve been twice, and once with Cassidy. I dream about taking the kids all the time.

3 – Freedom Trail in Boston. How have we not?? We live in Massachusetts! This seems remedy-able.

4 – The French Quarter. I have been! Do I want to take my kids? Umm.. maybe when they’re older. It was such a wild and untamed place – the stuff of all kinds of dreams and nightmares. Uncle Sam lives there so I think/hope it will happen.

5 – Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard of this place, but count me in!

6 – Dinosaur Valley State Park. See above!

7 – Stingray City. That’s a “yes” for me – in terms of wanting to go.

8 – Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Another miss and we have been to Cleveland! (once) My mom and sister went and got Scarlet an excellent Yellow Submarine shirt that Des now wears. Maybe that takes us a little closer..

9 – Bioluminescent Bay. This is on my photography bucket list!

10 – An Alaska Cruise. hmm.. none of us are cruise people. It’s sort of our worst nightmares. I’d rather be in an elevator for 7 days. Alaskan cruises, though? That’s different. Sign me up for smooth seas, with lots of whales, and moose at ports.

11 – National Civil Rights Museum. I would love all of us to go one day.

12 – Sanibel & Captiva Islands. Never been, but I’d love to take the family to escape our winter.

13 – Monterey Bay Aquarium. I LOVE this place. Cassidy and I went. I remember reading that they briefly had a Great White Shark in captivity? Anyway, I saw otters there. Not even IN there. Just hanging around it. Free otters wanting to hang!

14 – Niagara Falls. I’ve been there.. three times or so. Cassidy and I went and it was VERY eventful. Maybe one day we’ll take Scarlet and tell her she was conceived there and she’ll be all, “ewwwwwwww!”

15 – Petrified Forest I once plotted out a cross country road trip and this was a stop on it. The road trip didn’t happen because my boyfriend cheated on me and that’s not even why I didn’t go on this trip. There was another man. Ah, youth.

16 – Statue of Liberty. This was our big 5th grade field trip, and also the only field trip I can remember in which my mom was chaperone. I almost chickened out but she talked me into going to the crown with her. It was worth it.

17 – Disney World. Four years and counting as a family of four!

Are you planning a family vacation? Are you dreaming of #travel? I love this article of these 40 must-see destinations. I want to see them all with my kids.

18 – Climb Mt. Rainier. Ohh.. climb it? I mean, visit it is one thing, but CLIMB it? Des complains when he gets a rain drop on his foot. I can just imagine his old man venting? But hey, I would never dream of ruling it out.

19 – Galapagos Islands. Doesn’t it make your heart skip a beat? I’d love for us all to see it one day.

20 – Sesame Place. It’s not far from my parent’s house! It’s nearly too late for us, though.

21 – Pacific Coast Highway Drive. Two of us have done this and I can’t wait to do this with the kids. I dream about it often. I remember making a mix CD for my first drive on it, when mix CDs were still cool.

22 – Ground Zero. Cassidy and I have both been there, but not at the same time. I haven’t told my kids that story yet. It’s a bit much. One day, I will, and one day they’ll read what I wrote about it here.

23 – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Yes, times four!

24 – Wisconsin Dells. I mean, sure, if we all happen to ever be in Wisconsin?

25 – Redwood National & State Parks. PLEASE. One day.

26 – Swim with Manatees. Please, please can we do this?

27 – San Diego Zoo. I think I’m the only one who’s been there but since San Diego has my dream weather, maybe we’ll all move there one day and live in the zoo. Although I wouldn’t be able to NOT free this guy:

Are you planning a family vacation? Are you dreaming of #travel? I love this article of these 40 must-see destinations. I want to see them all with my kids.

28 – Plimouth Plantation. With our annual treks to Cape Cod and back, one should think we will go one day.

29 – Buckingham Palace. Please sign all four of us up for a trip to London.

30 – The Colorado Rockies. Cassidy alone has been to Colorado. It’s always been on my bucket list. I got SO close when we were visiting parks in Utah. Why didn’t I go??? There are so many gems to visit in Colorado, and I’m mountain-obsessed.

31 – Cedar Point. Wait, what? 17 roller coasters? And to think, I just went on the FIRST TWO OF MY LIFE!

32 – Kennedy Space Center. You know, I hope it happens. Scarlet thinks space is cool. I have a slight outer space phobia, but all the more reason. I tend to beat (or at least meet) phobias in Florida. (see above)

33 – Fort De Soto Park. I’ve never even heard of this, but sounds AMAZING! By the way, the article gives age levels, which is cool.

34 – Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Sign us all up! Only Cassidy has been to Hawaii.

35 – Mesa Verde. 0 for 4. Sign me up, though.

36 – Ride Cable Cars in San Francisco. I lived there for two years and didn’t do this until about a month before we moved back. My mom was visiting us for one last time there, and she treated me to a ride. We have to go back!

37 – Waikiki Beach. Maybe Cassidy has gone? We all four would go in a heartbeat (or a long flight)!

38 – National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Another 0 for 4, but we’ve been to the Basketball Hall of Fame!

39 – Yosemite. Ok, so I’ve been there once with Cassidy and we were there for a few days. We had a cabin in the middle of nowhere with a hot tub under shooting stars. We stayed in and made bacon and watched a ton of movies, so one day I want to go back and see more of it. I remember the smoky smell and the crisp air, and oh god, take me back.

Wait just a minute. I have photos from our cabin’s porch.

Well, if THAT doesn’t sum it up. What does? Oh yeah! I forgot one:

40 – Millenium Park. It’s never been all four of us there, but it will happen. On the sooner side.

I’m linking up with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week’s topic is “I don’t want to write about..” You can link up HERE.

What do you NOT want to write about? How many of these places have you visited?

How I Honeymooned Your Father, Part XVII: Last Song

If you’re just tuning in to our Alaska adventures, here are the links to Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, Part VIII, Part IX, Part X Part XI, Part XII, Part XIII, Part XIV, Part XV, and Part XVI. Where did we leave off last? Oh, boy! Talkeetna! We spent 24 hours there, making lemonade out of lemons, by ziplining after our Denali Flight Tour dreams were all squashed by the weather. We had a locals’ dinner, a tourists’ dessert, and then went looking fruitlessly for moose, but fruitfully for adventure – like abandoned earth stations and tales of severed moose heads. Sometimes I have something so deep-rooted and burrowed that I want to say, but I don’t know how to say it. I’ll let Eddie Money say it, but pretend it’s me.

I may not have his obvious charisma, but this is about more than Talkeetna. It’s the whole thing. It’s the whole life. It’s dreams and magic and little girl wishes. There’s nothing I can say to make you understand, but it’s ok. I imagine you get it anyway. It’s about that hollowed out feeling from things beginning and ending. And how every ending is a beginning, and every beginning is an ending. It’s about how nothing is ever as it seems, or how you imagined it when you wanted it for SO LONG. That’s ok, too. Sometimes the reality is even better. Achier. Breakier. Heartier. It has grooves & heights. Peaks & dips.

It can knock you off your feet, and make you lightheaded and dizzy.

Now bear with me, because this post could easily be two posts, as it is two or more stories, and I’m even adding two songs for you. We woke up on our last day at Grace and Bill’s Freedom Hills B&B and went to the main house for breakfast. It was awesome to sit with other guests and talk about Alaska land, Denali, and bull moose. There was spotty WiFi but I remember taking a shower and then making a video for work out there in the wilderness. I was even wearing a lumberjack shirt. During checkout, Bill suggested we go back to Anchorage through Hatcher Pass, therefore bypassing Wasilla – easily the ONE place in Alaska I wasn’t completely captivated by – but we were only on the main road once. I’m certain there’s beauty there.

Hatcher Pass wasn’t shabby, though! It was an old road for the gold miners! So cool! #TheMoreYouKnow

It was foggy and drizzly, with cold wind gusts. We went to check out a lodge on a mountain out there – boasting warm soup and awesome views – but it was closed! I didn’t take a lot of photos, other than the ones above. It was hard conditions for it and I was tired and overwhelmed. Sometimes the world is almost too beautiful? Magical and barely touched – like a watercolor. It was like that, but also cold, rainy, and windy. I was numbed over because of all the beauty and emotions.

I wouldn’t kick this view out of bed:

Our flight was a red-eye, so we had the whole day to explore. We headed to Anchorage – and had dinner plans later with Erika and Steve. Remember them from the beginning of the story? They’re our family and they had given us our first moose, first soup, and first warm bed in Alaska nine days previously. It was probably around late afternoon now, and I had to tackle Anchorage’s WiFi for a blog post first. Yes, even on vacation, but it was only one or two! So I went to a McDonald’s while Cassidy decided to go back to Eagle River to explore the visitors center. Well, while I smelled french fries I didn’t ever intend to eat, he was seeing what he thought might be his last moose of Alaska. We all know smartphones don’t zoom in so well:

Holy cow, though! Not cow. Holy bull! He did a solo hike and saw his second bull moose of all time on a secluded bog. In Alaska. MAN. And it was his favorite moose encounter of the whole trip, and maybe of forever, although we saw our first moose in the wild together in 2004. She might have favorites rights for all time? I don’t know, though. What makes me happy is that Cassidy’s favorite moose encounter actually became his SECOND favorite. That’s right. With only a few hours to spare left before our flight, we somehow topped that together. He picked me up from the dreadfully WiFi-ed McDonald’s and we went back to Powerline Pass. We weren’t there long, because of dinner reservations, but can we say worth it?

Worth it.

Then we rounded a bend, with minutes to spare, and Cassidy said, “Oh, hello!” There was our last bull moose of the trip!

That looks close, right? It was. I was balking a bit, and I went to warn two incoming runners about the moose so they’d change their course. They saw the look on my face and said, “Don’t worry! Anchorage moose are different from the ones outside the city. They have more tolerance for people coming close to them.” That does NOT mean I recommend getting close.

He looked at us curiously, but mostly minded his own business. I had the luxury of distance, although this is NOT my zoom lens. This is just a 50mm. My rented zoom was already packed in my suitcase, and ready to be checked at the airport.

I had to go black and white for at least one!

Oh my. Well that’s it for moose! We made it to our dinner reservation just on time, and guess what I ordered? That’s right. Salmon. We showed Erika and Steve all of Cassidy’s pictures and told our stories in chronological order. Then, the airport:

I took that same photo on our first day there – after landing at night – and I felt like I had grown so much in nine days. The things I had seen, and not seen. The things I had done, and not done. I felt like something inside me had been sleeping.

We boarded the plane and had someone sitting in between us, which seemed fitting. It was dark and I leaned my head on the cold window, thinking of everything I wish. I wish I had taken more photos. I wish I could break through a shutdown. I wish I could do it all over. I wish I could feel it all over. I wish I could feel.. in general.. when sometimes I can’t touch that raw part of myself. It’s frozen over. Our plane’s satellite radio kept playing one song, and these days, I can’t listen to the song much.

Whenever I take a deep, altering trip, there’s always one song that makes me think of it the most. It’s almost a treat to revisit it in small doses, and reopen the heart and sound waves – to let it all come back rushing towards and through me.

I’m back there now. I’m forever there, in the middle of dreams dying and coming alive. Ending and beginning. They all meet in the middle. I’ll never forget that silent and endless night in the sky – and the brightness I found on the other side.

It was always leading me here:

*Endnote – my mother-in-law took that picture, bringing our kids to meet us in the middle of a parking lot in Sturbridge, MA, after ten days apart. The photo is 100% candid – showing our sleeplessness, sweat, tears, and LOVE. Thank you for reading.