From Silver Falls, we moved south at a fairly rapid pace, through RV Remote Outpost in the middle of nowhere in Oregon (it was actually really nice with great facilities), and onto our first “organized” RV site, the Crescent City KOA.
After a first night at a state park and the flood through the ceiling, and a comfortable second night, we weren’t sure what to expect at a KOA site and were pleasantly surprised by how nice the site was. Even with the now obligatory flooding and muddy land, we were shown to a beautiful site in the middle of a small grove of giant Redwoods which S was ecstatic about and promptly set about building a camp out of the many many sticks around us.
Anything more than 2 hours in a car with two young kids is near impossible
So Crescent City was our first two night stop after blitzing through Oregon to get to California. We’ve visited Oregon a few times before, and it’s our neighboring state and we can visit easily. We wanted to get through quickly and show the kids new stuff.
Big error, this is a decision we’d made for us, and so planning for three to four hours driving is just not workable for multiple days. We expected both kids would fall asleep for a couple of hours on each drive like they always do when we drive. However, even E seemed to sense she should be excited (maybe the trailer out the rear window was a small hint), and refused to nap at all.
For long distances, you really need to plan in a stopover somewhere in the middle that’s exclusively for the kids. Doesn’t really matter what it is, provided there’s something for them to stretch their legs at, and potentially eat.
Our example stopover – Oregon Prehistoric Gardens
We took the kids in this instance to the Prehistoric Gardens just on the Oregon/California border. This place is massively cheesy (and as you’ll see from pictures, wet). There’s a beautiful forest with lots of old growth, and at strategic points on the trail, life-size models of dinosaurs.
S spent the entire way around telling us the facts, well his version of facts since he can’t read yet and has taken to pretending he can by quoting signs at us and refusing to let us talk them through with him!
Followed it up with a sandwich in the back of the trailer before heading off to Crescent City, E slept most of the way and S took a brief (but needed) nap.
An hour or two out of the car lets every recover enough to go at it again
Whether it be listening to kids music for two hours on repeat, S repeating he’s hungry for the millionth time, or simply cramp from driving for two hours in abject fear the trailer’s going to drop off the back of the car on the slightest bump (see https://mattyadventure.com/2019/04/10/the-adventure-nearly-ends-on-day-one/) a break stops everyone from wanting to jump from the car at high speed.
Top tips for a successful kid pitstop
Tip 1 – Do something for the kids, rather than just a coffee stop or lunch, it’ll wear them out and give you a laugh. There’s nothing worse than stepping out of a car, walking into a Starbucks and having to explain patiently that there are no Egg Protein boxes left to a now tantrum stricken three year old who’s not got the one thing they wanted.
Tip 2, tell them it’s a surprise, then when you get there, there’s zero expectations, and if it’s closed, you can pivot onto something else without disappointment.
Tip 3 – Try and get outdoors, and let them run around. Tired kids nap better than bored kids, and seeing life sized dinosaurs definitely tired out E and S. Worst case, find an indoor play area they can go nuts, or like us, cover your kiddo in waterproofs and send them out into a playground.
Finally, if you are on a road trip, and you have a long drive, get everything packed up as much as possible the night before, get the kids up and in the car as soon as they wake up (we give S breakfast in his car seat and we eat on road), and get moving. The more day you have to travel, the longer you can spend on break, and the more fun you’ll have.
If our first trips have taught us anything, it’s that the fun is not driving on a road trip, it’s the things you discover along the way.
Links to places mentioned in this blog
http://www.remoteoutpostrv.com – Our stopover in Oregon if you’re passing through, lovely little camp site with powered outlets, free showers and water.
https://koa.com/campgrounds/crescent-city/ – Crescent City Redwoods KOA, playground, goats and chickens, woodland campsites, powered sites, laundry, showers, wifi.
http://www.prehistoricgardens.com – An awesome place to take younger kids for a short hike amongst beautiful forest with life-size dinosaurs (models of course).