Large Family Road Trip

We just returned from a ten day road trip with all seven of our children. We have gone on long road trips like this before, to Tennessee while we were missionaries in Mexico, and even earlier, we took our then four children to Canada for a two week long driving trip. This trip was different. Now, instead of taking four or five young children, we were taking seven children, and most of them are hardly children. We were taking a van full of big people, with big opinions. When everyone was small, it was easy to say where we were going and to make the decisions about what we would do. Now we would have to take the interests of a wide range of people into consideration as we planned our stops.

The idea for the trip had started when a magazine that I contribute to called Wild and Free, planned a conference in Portland, Oregon. We had talked for several years about taking our children to see the Pacific Northwest, but with our yearly trips to Mexico to visit the orphanage, it had been hard to find the time. However, with the opportunity to speak at this conference before me, the choice to take our children along became an easy one.

It was also an easy destination to want to visit because Scott and I both have special memories from the Pacific Northwest. I spent many summer days walking around Lake Marie as a child and Scott had gone up and down the I-5 to Oregon on his way to visit his aunties several times throughout his childhood. 

We started the trip with a day long drive to our first destination, where we camped beside pretty little Lake Marie. We walked the one mile pathway around the lake, smiling inwardly as I remembered walking around that same lake as a child, and groaning about the awful distance, much as my own young daughter resorted to. The ferns and mosses were awe inspiring, as were the tiny creeks. We had come from dry California, after all, and the rushing water everywhere filled us with joy.

After a sweet visit there with some of my dear relatives, and an amazing tour of my childhood home, we headed up the coast to our next destination, LaConner, Washington. When we pulled in, it was a bit discouraging. We were camping in a hybrid travel trailer and I wasn't at all excited about close neighbors hearing our every mutter through the thin walls. The last campground had been relatively deserted which is exactly how I like it. This one was teeming with people. We finally found a little campsite, which although cramped, was at least surrounded by shrubs, and set up our trailer. 

The next day we headed out early to see my aunt in Canada, and spent the day exploring the outskirts of Vancouver. We got separated without phone service in Lynn Canyon Park when the six and eight year olds who were with Scott decided they didn't want to go over the suspension bridge, and the rest of us were too hemmed in by people to turn around. I kept going, trusting that my husband and I and the younger children would find each other eventually.  We did find each other, and enjoyed the rest of our day with my favorite B.C. relatives.

The next day we visited Seattle, the place of my birth. One of the top places to go on the tourist information was Pikes Place, and since we all were wanting a good cup of coffee, a pastry and some books, we decided to go there. I don't recommend it with small children. My six year old thinks it is okay for him to run ahead like his brothers, and so I spent the entire time in terror that I would lose him among the crowds. After seven children and a Mexico move, I am not the most easily rattled person, but by the time I reached the car I was in tears. 

We headed out of the city to the beautiful Japanese Gardens, which was much more my pace. The whole Washington Park Arboretum was incredibly beautiful, with its lush rhododendrons blooming on every hillside. Someday I will go back to Pikes Place, but definitely not with a crowd of my own people to try and keep track of.

Our Washington campground was situated on the pretty Skagit Bay, and was a natural wonder for my children. The two youngest reveled in turning over rocks and counting crabs, of which there were plenty. The three boys built a raft out of driftwood and set out to sea, abandoning ship and swimming to shore when the currents gave them the impression that they might indeed be carried away.

One of our favorite parts of our time in Washington, was visiting the San Juan Islands. We were hoping to see whales while we were on the ferry, making it the cheapest whale watching trip with nine people ever, and although we didn't eventually see whales, we did eat a gorgeous tart at the San Juan Bakery, find some amazing books at the local thrift store, and finally get a great americano. Being more of a country girl, than an urban dweller, I found the slower pace on the island very refreshing.

We ended our trip in Eugene, Oregon, visiting another sweet relative, after spending two nights in Portland. The waterfalls surrounding the city were awe inspiring, and although I didn't do as much exploring as the rest of my family, because of the extraordinary conference I was attending, I did get to listen to one of our family's favorite musicians and meet his beautiful family, as well as meeting many other amazing women.

Because our time with our children is ultimately limited, Scott and I were so very thankful to explore some incredible places with them. The small trailer got crowded and smelly with all of us staying there, the car rides were long and tiring, but the sights we saw, the people that we met, and the sweeter bonds that we formed with each other, made all the little inconveniences insignificant. 

We only have one chance to raise our children, and intense time together is one of the best ways to connect and to stay connected. What will you do this summer to renew love and connection in your family?


  1. This looks awesome. I wish we could take a trip this summer, but that's probably not going to happen so I guess we'll just be doing little activities here and there to connect.

    1. I really appreciate day trips, I don't have to pack a bunch of stuff, and I get to sleep in my own bed. We did love this opportunity though, to see an area of our country that my children had never experienced.
      I hope you have a wonderful summer, Natalie.