Traveling Dreams

November is to me what February is to many. It's gray, cold, and a wee bit depressing. November arrives in a "woosh" of falling leaves before I've adjusted to the seasonal shift, and I tend to resent it and all of its cloudy-drizzly grayness.

This basic fact is compounded twice because:

1. November is normally one of our two busiest months of the year in our business, which equates to very little free time/family time while one of us works around the clock in LuSa (normally Pete) and the other tends to all family needs (normally me); and

2. Pete hunts and fishes so between weekends away at shows and long days in the soap studio he slips away to bow hunt, gun hunt, and steelhead fish. This leaves me on a purely domestic solo tract for most of the month, slowly going bonkers.

So this year I decided to do something radical.

Most of the work I do for LuSa can go on the road with me if I bring a laptop and a telephone. I have a new (to me) fuel efficient car, and two homeschoolers who aren't tied to a school schedule. What if we just… go?

I'm entertaining the idea of spending all or part of November on a road trip with my kids. And I need your help. We don' know where to go. I'm looking for your ideas. Before you begin, let me share some basics with you about our family and our needs:

1. My children do not enjoy hiking. We can go a mile but a proper hike leaves them both fussy and disagreeable (and therefore me as well).

2. Neither of my kids have ever seen the ocean. They are interested.

3. Neither of my kids have ever been in the mountains. Also interested.

4. They enjoy museums and the city. I enjoy the museums.

5. We live in western Wisconsin.

So bring it on. Where do you recommend we go for November? Give me the best-of-the-best suggestions for places you live or places you've been and we'll see where this takes us. The three of us can't wait for your ideas!



40 thoughts on “Traveling Dreams

  1. renee @ FIMBY says:

    Oh my goodness. You are brave. I hate traveling by myself with children I think I’d rather go bonkers at home and go on day trips (& hikes – but those are no-go in your case). Maine is lovely in November (I think). It’s on the ocean but it’s a bit far for you to drive. I can be grey but it usually not too rainy. But maybe you should go somewhere warm like Florida or something…

  2. Alyssa says:

    having done a lot of driving, (and living in WI) it is much (much) closer to NC beaches than CA. the asheville, NC area is beautiful in fall, where you can get well worn mountains, then drive east to ocean!

  3. Kate says:

    Nova Scotia. Hands-down my favorite place, although I have not done the trip in November. Quite a drive, but a scenic adventure (especially if you go north first, through the UP and across Canada).

    Or, perhaps you drive that direction but stop at Niagara Falls…they have a lights festival that begins in November (but I haven’t seen it). Or a Yellowstone trip? I did that once when I was young and will never forget the herds of buffalo blocking the roads.

  4. Kelly says:

    Wow, Rachel, this is incredibly brave! I think it will be a wild ride and you’ll never regret it. 🙂 Suggestions…we live in NC and it’s beautiful from coast to coast, with not too much distance to cover from mountains to ocean. Asheville and Raleigh/Durham are wonderful cities to visit. They have great attractions but are small so not too overwhelming. On the other hand (I mean, coast), we have done a couple road trips in Oregon and Oh my….The mountains and the beaches are breathtaking, the wildness and the variety of landscapes….Part of my heart will always be in Oregon. We were there in Oct. and the leaves were stunning, but I don’t know what it’s like in Nov.

  5. mindy bell says:

    Seattle (very kid friendly with lots of parks kids museums, aquarium, waterfront, streetcars) and Washington (and Oregon) are lovely, the forests are amazing-you’ve seen “twilight”?? ! It’s a long haul from Wisconsin but with lots of wonderful stops along the way…

  6. Abby says:

    The Four Corners area is so cool and you can swing by the Grand Canyon and then come visit us in Tucson! The desert is so cool and different from anything in the midwest. As a result, the culture, food, feel, etc are all different. We have some really cool museums and good company, too!

    P.S. The weather is awesome here in Nov–warm days and cool nights. And it’s always sunny : )

  7. Nicole W. says:

    I’ve heard Spokane, WA has beautiful nature areas…I did quite a bit of research when I was considering going to get my mfa there 🙂

  8. Stephanie says:

    Mountains definitely. Montana has my heart, but only because I haven’t been to Idaho yet. Pick up US 2 in Superior and head west my friend, til it ends in Seattle-ish. If it wasn’t winter, a detour on Going to the Sun Road would be a MUST do. The Wash/Oregon coast is amazing, even in December. Bellingham WA is a groovy little city too, with great ice cream.

  9. Joey R says:

    Asheville, North Carolina. Pure heaven, and you could make it by car in a really long day. We rented a house for 3 weeks (found it on asheville’s craigslist) in Swannanoa on 10 acres up a mountain, played in the river, listened to live bluegrass and old time music, walked around downtown, and generally soaked in the beauty.

  10. Kim Miller says:

    Took the kids to Yellowstone last summer and it was an amazing trip but I wouldn’t have wanted to do it with just me and the kids and the weather might be rather iffy in Nov.

    South Dakota is a surprisingly fun place to visit, especially in the Mount Rushmore, Custer St park area. Lots in the vicinity to see and do incl, museums, National Parks and monuments, nature and dinosaurs and the Mammoth Dig site. I don’t know what the weather’s like in Nov. Personally I’d head somewhere warm and postpone winter as long as I could. Happy travels!

  11. cindy m says:

    For an antidote to November dreary dull? NC beaches… warmish, beautiful, and hospitable. Find a home rental on vrbo and daytrip. Contact other homeschoolers for fun ideas. A music fest perhaps? Go warm, go drivable, and go water. There’s nothing like little toes wriggling in sand w/ a salty mist about.

  12. Susan says:

    I always love the Northwest (Oregon, Washington), but I can’t remember what it’s like in November. And the Redwood forests of Northern California are so amazingly magical (e.g., Avenue of the Giants).

    The first time I went to Arches National Park in Southern Utah I was amazed beyond words. Probably polar opposite to Wisconsin – red rocks and desert and vast quiet openness. The campground there rocks (no pun intended), although it would be getting pretty chilly at night in November. But nearby Moab has some relatively inexpensive lodging.

    Also loved Yellowstone and Grand Tetons, but again, couldn’t comment on what the weather’s like in November.

    I lived in Northern Utah for several years and the mountains are beautiful.

    But if you’re looking for a Vitamin D fix in November, come visit us in Mesa, AZ. It’ll be in the 80s and sunny blue skies. The desert is lovely, but I must warn that there is lots of suburban sprawl…

    I have traveled to all but 3 states (all by car) so I think road trips are awesome. I do realize, though, that all my suggestions are quite a ways away from Wisconsin. My mom would take us kids on road trips when we were young and she just tried to plan stops so that we were in the car no more than 4 hours each day. But you’ll know best what your kids can handle.

    Good luck!

  13. sherrieg says:

    Brave indeed! I’m pretty sure it’s waaaay farther than you plan to go, but you’re always welcome here in Nova Scotia! We’re essentially surrounded by the ocean, and it’s just a gorgeous place to visit. I especially love the ocean in November. 🙂

  14. Kate says:

    I did a road trip with my two boys last fall out to PA and the jersey shore. I stopped at friends places along the way and in cities with children’s museums (I have a family pass that gets us in to loads all over), PA is gorgeous this time of year, there are tons of great places to hike and it can lead you right to the jersey shore, where island beach state park is a great stop. You are probably 6 hours from where I am but taking HWY 80 south of Chicago and across Indiana and Ohio and PA is not a terribly long drive to the ocean. And you could cut south through the driftless areas of Iowa and then cut over at the quad cities. Have fun, such a great thing to do with a month that isn’t your favorite- you are always welcome for a meal in Central IL if your travels take you south- for a quicker trip, southern IL has some fun to offer- though it may involve more hiking than you would like.

  15. Kim B. says:

    St. Louis MI gets my vote as everything is free! Art museum, science museum, history museum, zoo, entrance to the gateway arch, you name it, it’s free. The only exception to that rule it the city museum. Which is $$ but worth it as climbing, swinging, playing, art, and more which are all included the price. The best part is everything in there is salvaged thus being very eco friendly. 🙂

    We went last Feb. as we were getting restless. We stayed at the Moonrise Hotel, which was very swanky, yet very cheap related to being off season..

    Good luck and happy travels!

  16. Emmy says:

    We enjoyed the beach in SC in late Sept two years ago. Not sure how it would be in Nov. New Orleans is great. Much more family oriented than people think. Lots of history, museums, close to the Gulf. We’ve been there in June (too hot!) and Jan. I’d think the weather would be a nice retreat from what we have in WI in Nov. I’d guess if you drive, there are plenty of neat spots to stop while going to and fro. We drove once – its not a horribly long drive – but we had a boat to catch so there was no stopping for fun on our way. I hope you have a wonderful trip – where ever you end up going! I’m looking forward to the days when my kids are old enough to enjoy a road trip.

  17. Lori says:

    St. Louis does have a lot of free, cool, kid-friendly stuff, and I have to second the City Museum endorsement – very cool place. You could spend some time in St. Louis on your way to Washington state…. mountains AND ocean! Stay with us, on an island in Puget Sound. Great aquarium in Seattle, as well as a zoo, children’s theater, and great geo-caching (maybe a good way to trick Sage & Lupine into hiking?). Warning: rainy and gray in November in Seattle. No way around it, generally. We’d love to see you, though!

  18. Kim Miller says:

    If you go down to St Louis you could keep on going over to Elephant Rocks state park which is a really cool place with gigantic boulders among the trees. Faeries or gnomes live there I think. If you’re still up for adventure you can go a little farther to one of my daughter’s favorite places- Silver Dollar City in Branson.

  19. Renee says:

    I second (third? fourth?) all the posts about North Carolina. I live outside Chicago now, but oh, how I miss living there! Asheville is where I dream to relocate one day, and the Outer Banks beaches are gorgeous. A wee bit closer is also Charlottesville, VA and Shenandoah National Park. The mountains arent as big as those in NC, but it’s beautiful country!

  20. Sarah says:

    Head on down south…stop at the Smokies – TN and NC sides, head down I-40 to Asheville – lots to do on the Blue Ridge Parkway – many gorgeous waterfalls, then drive across NC to Durham, where you have a free place to stay at our house and can experience the great local food, good people from the Piedmont and the wonderful Eno River. Then continue on to the beach. If you’ve come this far, you must go through Beaufort, then over on the ferry to Ocracoke, and up the Outer Banks. And so much to see and do on the way to and from NC!

  21. Rachel Wolf says:

    Oh, Abby! That sounds dreamy. Weve decided to head to NC this round, but I could see this being an annual adventure (as long as it goes well). Lupine was voting with your idea…

    Hopefully see you soon,

  22. Rachel Wolf says:

    Four hours per day sounds about right for us too. It is a lot of driving, but managable. Im filing your ideas away for future journeys. They all were so resonant (just not for the first trip).


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