Because I’m Crazy Like That


It’s been almost a year since our grand Texas vacation and already I’ve got the planning bug for another grand circus family trek.  Remember how I thought we’d just swing by Houston since we’d be in El Paso?  Well, I have similar aspirations for a trip to California in the fall. (I know originally I’d been thinking we’d do a Florida trip, but baby number 4 has changed that aspiration a bit)

Scott’s beloved Nana lives near Sacramento and we sadly don’t get to see her that often.  She is an amazing lady and we want for our kids to have memories of times with her.  We went out when my son was 4 mths old to introduce her and Grandpa to their first great grandchild.  We went again 3 yrs later when our third child was around 3 months old.  With the birth of our fourth child coming early this summer, I’m scheming to try to find a way to get the kids out to see Nana (sadly Grandpa is no longer with us) again.  I’ve found that 3-4 months is a wonderful age to travel with infants and the older 3 should be old enough to make real memories of their time with Nana. 

Here’s where the crazy part comes in…

Remember how Scott and I are trying to visit every U.S. National Park together?  Well, it just so happens that there are 3 National Park in southern California that we’ve never been to.  And since we’re already paying to fly all the way across the country to California, it stands to reason we might as well take full advantage of that fact and visit some National Parks while we are out there.  Don’t ya think? 

Sooooo, I’ve spent some time on google maps and the national park website trying to figure out how I could squeeze it all in.  Since Joshua Tree National Park is only 2 and half hours from Anaheim, I’m trying to find a way to do one day at Disneyland as well.  Ya know because a visit with Nana and 4 National Parks isn’t enough excitement for one vacation… Truth is, the kids have been asking to go to Disney and I know it’s a trip we’ll probably only be able to do once, so I am trying to hold off on a real Disney World vacation until all the kids are older.  But, at the same time I’d love to capitalize on the “magic of Disney” stage of life that the 6, 4, and 3 yr olds will be in come fall.  A day in Disneyland seems like a good way to do that. 

But, do you know how hard it is to find information on tickets for one day in Disneyland?  Disney doesn’t want you to go for one day…they want you to go for 3 days or 4 days.  It is very, very, very hard to find a cost estimate on one day. 

Any California readers out there have some info they can give me on doing Disneyland in one day?  I just want to see Disneyland, not the California Adventure. I would LOVE, LOVE some input and help on this.

So, here is my proposed trip.  It would be for 12 days.  We’d fly into Anaheim on a Thursday and hopefully go and eat dinner by the Pacific Ocean that evening.  Then on Friday we’d spend the day in Disneyland.  Saturday we’d take off for Joshua Tree National Park and thus begin a week long camping adventure including Joshua Tree, Death Valley, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite National Parks. 


According to my calculations we’d have two days of driving 5 hrs, but the rest are simply 3 and 2 hour drives between locations (oh and one 4 hr trip up to Nana’s at the end).    We’d then spend 3 evenings and 2 full days with Nana at the end of our trip, flying back home on a Tuesday.  Originally I thought we’d start with Nana and end with Disneyland, but I think that our trip would end on a much more restful note if we spent the last few days relaxing at Nana’s.    I worked out the budget at the end of last year so we could start saving extra money in 2010 to make this grand vacation possible.  I am currently cautiously optimistic that we can make this happen in late September/early October.  The one good thing about all the business travel Scott has gone on this year is that he’s saved up more than one free flight on Southwest which will help get our crew of 6 across the country. 

Nothing is definite yet and won’t be till after the baby is born, but I am in that fun dreaming, scheming, planning stage of the game right now. 

I am wondering if anyone has any insight on any of these parks, on Disneyland, and on California in the fall, that they can share with me?  I’d greatly appreciate the input as I plan.


  1. Wow! What a fun trip! I wasn't thinking you were crazy at all...until I read the word CAMPING! You are one brave mama!!! But I know you and the circus crew will make wonderful memories on this trip. :)

  2. Ooooh, you'll have to talk to Brian (he's better at that stuff than me...) We did 2 weeks last summer, including Disney, Yosemite (Point Reyes, San Fran, & Muir Woods), and Sacramento. His cousins live in L.A. and they have season passes to Disney. One of his cousins just got married there! I'm sure they would know everything you needed.

  3. One of my favorite trips ever was California in the fall (does early September count as fall?). We did San Francisco, Napa Valley, Yosemite (loved, gorgeous and amazing, definitely need a few days there b/c there is a lot of driving from place to place, plan ahead to rent something, space fills quickly) and then Monterey/Big Sur area. It's not a national park, but the drive along Big Sur is second only to the Swiss Alps as the most beautiful area I've seen. I could totally give you directions to a really cool beach that just happens to be a state park and is very much off the beaten path. I've loved my time in CA, I'm sure you guys will have a blast!!

  4. Wa-hooo! Thats when we are going! Well not in the fall but we are headed there in July! Baby numero 4 will just be 3 months! You go girl! Make it happen! Love that it's insane crazy and wild! I told Matt we should really get another portable DVD player this time! Ha ha ha! Love it girl! You go with that ambition and make it happen!

  5. Would you be coming in September or October for the Fall? September is nice still....October towards the end can be rainy. Not down south (Disney) so much but in the Parks and the roads are really windy and small.

    California is so stretched out, that it is a long drive from each place. But the cool thing is, depending on what route you take...there is always something to stop at. It's beautiful! Beaches, mountains, farm lands, valleys.

  6. Bobbi, my current plan is to leave the end of Sept and return the first week of Oct. We have to use our flight by Oct 7th.

  7. i don't know anything about Disney, but i can tell you that there's a road between Yosemite (spend a few days there!) and Nana's that has a tricky curve with a ditch right next to it. that ditch and i got pretty friendly. just sayin'. drive safe. :)

  8. I believe the one day ticket prices at the gate are $62 for child, $72 for adult (kids under 3 are free). I know for Disney World there are some reputable dealers that sell the tickets at a slight discount. I used one of those for our recent trip to WDW. Disney was running the "give a day, get a day" volunteer program this year, but I think they may have reached their 1 million volunteer goal. You can still check though to be sure.

    I highly recommend the DisBoards ( for all things Disney. There is a special section on Disneyland and I even believe touring CA (national parks, etc.). You'll want to do a little research, so you can really make the most of your one day at Disneyland. For instance, perhaps your children might enjoy a meal with their favorite characters, etc. Those reservations need to be made well in advance.

    Have fun planning your trip! I love to plan our vacations, and no, I don't think your crazy. You sound exactly like me!

  9. That sounds like quite a trip! I hope your hubs has a lot of vacation time!

  10. Wow!! That sounds like it's going to be a great trip!

    I'm from NorCal, so I'm not too familiar with SoCal

    But Disney could be a two day event. It is alot to see in just one day.

  11. Oh, we'd love to see you guys during your Great California Adventure...but we'll actually be in VA for a year, beginning in July. Otherwise, I'd urge you to make it even crazier by swinging down here to San Diego. :) But I hope to make it up to MD to visit the old SPEP family at least once while we're in VA.

  12. yep! The best word to describe you is CRAZY, but that looks like and AWESOME trip. Totally something I would LOVE to do. I hope it all works out!

  13. I've been to Joshua Tree National Park. It was a short little trip though and of course the part I remember most was the restaurant we stopped at to get the infamous "date shakes". Ooo, they were GOOD.

    Does family fun dot com put their vacation articles on their website? I'd check there for some more input. And someone mentioned all disboards. There are loads of sites out there on how to do Disney and do it on a budget! You'll find lots of resources through the boards. We'll get there one day...

    I have family that lives all over that area, so if you want to talk to someone local... I can put you in touch for sure! Also a friend from Grove City grew up in Sacramento- Karen knows her (Zibs), maybe she could help you out!

    oh and a couple of years ago we went out for a family wedding and went to Legoland in Carlsbad- so worth it. That park was/is amazing! May fit your budget more than Disney, but I don't know the comparisons.

    ps. thanks for stopping by and commenting. I really enjoyed the book and know you would, too!

  14. I know nothing about parks or camping. We cooked out at the local playground once and that was as close to camping as my family will ever go. Now driving Brett's Jeep through the woods is a different story. (Don't worry we "tread lightly.") Anyway I do know something about Disney. I highly recommend registering for Disney's Give a Day promo. You, Scott and your 6 year old would be eligible to earn a free day at Disney. You perform a day of volunteerism and in return you get a day at Disneyland. An adult ticket is $72 for the day and a child ticket is $62. You could save $206 and also have a great service learning project. Check out this website for money saving tips. They have a newsletter that comes out once a month with extra savings. As crazy as it sounds it costs less for our family of four to go to WDW then to Ocean City. Happy Planning!


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