Vacation planning!

How I love to plan family trips.  I love finding just the right spot to accommodate our family’s desires and needs, and I can instantly imagine how greatly everyone will love our time there.  I love all the preparation that goes into making a memorable trip.

One thing, though, that I DON’T like, is feeling pressured because of time.  Ugh.  I hate doing things last-minute.  I wish I could say that I delighted in being a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of gal, but I’m not.  Especially now, as we have five children, and a multitude of various health and/or dietary needs and restrictions, we can’t just hit the road on a wing and a prayer.  Well, we do hit the road with a prayer.


My husband, though, is not such the planner.  It stresses him out thinking too far out in advance, because then he has all these future plans in his head, jostling for attention and priority.  He’d rather have a one-thing-at-a-time kind of pace to life.  I appreciate that most of the time;  I love having a low-pressure kind of life.  However, when most of our trips involve camping or low-cost US Forest Service cabins, and most everyone does their planning for the summer in January or February (if not before), when we get to the spot in time where my hubby feels comfortable making plans and committing to them, the places where we’d like to go and/or the dates that we’d prefer to travel, are consistently all taken.  Ugh.

This year, I approached him with my top two locales:

  1. Yellowstone
  2. The California coast — the Big Sur area or further north

His preference was:

  1. Colorado

Now, I have absolutely nothing against Colorado.  I love it there.  However, we went in ’06 and ’07, and I like going to new places.  It seems to me like it’s not Colorado’s turn.

However, he really didn’t want to go to Yellowstone — too far.  He politely listened to my descriptions of various central-to-northern California locations, and it looked like that would be our likely destination.  However, we were stuck with mid-September, if we wanted to go anywhere and be able to have a reservation.  There are a number of campgrounds in the Big Sur area, and one MIGHT be able to arrive on a Sunday or Monday and have a fair shot at a place to stay.  However, it makes me nervous to think about having to FIND a spot after a long day’s travel with five kids in the back of the vehicle, and either not finding a camping spot, or having it be really not ideal, but then being stuck there, because who wants to set up camp in one location, then change locations the next day?  Not my hubby, and I don’t blame him;  it’s quite a fiasco.

Plus, my REAL desire is to go to Limekiln State Park, which I fell in love with four or five years ago (via online information — not real life;  I’ve never been there).  You camp right alongside a creek, surrounded by redwoods.  The trailhead to a family-friendly hike is on site.  It’s smaller and more “primitive” than many campgrounds in the area, which suits us just fine.  And, it is just a few hundred feet (UNDER the Pacific Coast Hwy) from its own private cove.  PERFECT.

The camping spots are "behind" the trees, out of view in this shot.

To a desert-dweller, all the shade looks positively juicy

I can see MY family on this bridge!!

However, a portion of the campground burnt in late 2008, and the park was closed.  It’s still not re-opened.

In a way, I feel like any place we stay in lieu of Limekiln State Park is second-best, even though there are quite a number of fabulous alternate locations.  Know what I mean?  My heart is set.

So, when it looked like the California idea was not going to pan out, I decided to look into Colorado.  I had the idea that, if we go to Colorado this year, perhaps my hubby may agree to go to California next year, and agree to me reserving a spot in January or February (as most places will accept reservations up to six months in advance).  That way, we could get the location and the dates that we really want.  And, I hope Limekiln is open by then;  I’ve left a message on the number provided by the state’s official Limekiln State Park page, asking about re-opening dates.

My husband’s brother, Adam, (who has, in two separate stints, lived with us for a total of about a year and a half) lives in Pagosa Springs.  His half-brother lives in Denver.  My uncle and his family live in Colorado Springs.  So, I figured if I could find a spot to the northeast of Pagosa, we could easily spend time with Adam, and take day trips (or perhaps overnight trips) to see our other family members, as well.


I’m not telling you yet where it is — both for privacy purposes, and because we’ve not yet booked our dates, but… drink in this little cottage:

For $50/night (the same price as a creekside camping spot in Pfeiffer Big Sur State park), this sweet cabin sleeps seven, was built in 1910, recently updated bathroom and kitchen, has hot and cold running water, electricity (with a fridge in the kitchen, no less!), beautiful hardwood floors, a wood-burning stove, it’s at 8400′ elevation, has a fishable creek on the property, and is off the beaten path, in the National Forest.

I sent pics to my hubby, and told him about it, and he said, “NOW you’re speaking my language!!”  Precious man.  I really want to go to the ocean, but I want him to greatly enjoy our trip, too!!  And, I think that going to Colorado this year, but planning for California next year, is a good compromise.  And, actually, having such an ideal spot doesn’t feel like a compromise, though, since I haven’t been there in eight years, I do still hear the ocean calling…


About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on May 19, 2010, in Colorado, Summer Plans, The Dear Hubby, Travelling. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Isn’t the camping reservation stuff in CA ridiculous
    ? Our extended family tried to plan a family camp-out in Big Sur in early August, but we waited until mid-march to reserve a spot… too late! Yikes. Next year.

  2. Limekiln State Park looks like a dream!

  3. newbeginnings09

    Very cute! We have to plan very carefully for trips too, since my middle child has SPD and is therefore a hazard to himself and, pretty much, everyone else. (Monday, he tried to burn the house down with a crock pot he plugged in himself and didn’t feel the heat). This year, we’re all going to the beach to stay in a house (single story only, thank you) with my parents. Snicker. I nearly feel sorry for them, since they have NO idea what they’re getting into for this week.
    I hope you guys have fun! I enjoyed your pics in previous vacations.

  4. Looks like a great compromise! I’m doing Yellowstone this year but it’s just a quick drive thru. Someday I’d love to take the fam.

  5. We may hit Yellowstone at the end of July – I’ve never been! Tom is the super planner in our house. Is this a Visel trait? Anyway, if you end up ‘doing’ California, consider Idyllwild. We have a sweet little County Park down the road, a state park up the road and a few USFS sites around. Plus, since we once worked for USFS, we have lots of No.Cal suggestions for good camping. Good luck!

    • It still weirds me out, Karen, to see your married name, which was my maiden name.

      I think I get my planning from my mom. She’s similar… loves maps like I do, too.

      We have been to Idyllwild!! I’m pretty sure we stayed at the state park. What did you do for the USFS? I have romantic thoughts about working for the USFS, but maybe it wouldn’t be quite so dreamy IRL!!

  6. I think I should call your husband and beg and plead and bribe for you all to choose California next time.


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