Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Tiny Tourists Add Us to Their Itinerary

During our undergraduate days in university, Susan and I became friends with Linda, who was one of several friends we made through the church that we attended at the time, and who also was a fellow English education major (and, like Susan, a librarian). We attended her wedding to Pete and have enjoyed watching their family grow, joining them and their kids through the years for occasional get-togethers, usually hosted by our mutual friends Kari and A.J.

In recent years, Linda has made a name for herself as a blogger. She takes her four children to museums, zoos, exhibits, and other artistic and cultural events and maintains a blog (called Travels with Children) about those adventures, offering advice for other parents on how to, well, travel with children without breaking the bank or losing one's sanity. Each blog post also shares highlights from whatever place they have visited, so in the process of chronicling her travels and offering advice to parents, Linda is also serving as free publicity for the attractions themselves.

Linda's family often chooses "the road less travelled," so her blog is not so much about Disney World or Six Flags as it is about small-town museums, historic sites, zoos located off the beaten path, undiscovered treasures in out-of-the-way towns, or even places that readers might have heard about but have just not gotten around to visiting yet due to the busy-ness of daily life. Linda is a proponent of offering children enlightening experiences and turning them into well-rounded human beings by taking advantage of what there is to see and do in whatever community her family happens to be exploring. And as a parent of four kids, she knows how to sniff out discounts, specials, reduced admission rates, and even free events to keep travelling as affordable as possible.

Her current adventure is taking three of her kids across the state of North Dakota. (Her husband stayed behind for his job, and their youngest child is spending the week with grandparents.) Linda contacted the North Dakota Tourism Division and, with their help, determined an itinerary that will take them through the southern, western, and central parts of the state (she's originally from the eastern part of the state, so no need to re-explore that during this particular trip). The Tourism Division was happy to provide her with some excellent deals, too, in exchange for her agreeing to blog about her travels through the state . . . so keep an eye on her blog in the months to come for posts about ND's attractions. (In particular, I am looking forward to what she has to write about their upcoming stop at Lund's Landing on the north shore of Lake Sakakawea, where the restaurant serves juneberry pie daily . . . oh, how I lo-o-o-o-o-ove ND juneberries!) In the meantime, you can follow her daily route by starting here.

Yesterday Linda and the kids were in Dickinson to visit the Dakota Dinosaur Museum and the Ukrainian Cultural Institute, the latter of which featured a guide who was awesome with the children, according to Linda. Then they came to our house to spend the night! Her kids and ours hit it off immediately and spent every available minute playing, so Linda, Susan, and I visited, catching up as well as reminiscing. We barbecued hamburgers for supper, and Susan served a delicious pasta salad and a refreshing fruit salad to round out the meal, followed by two kinds of frozen whipped pies for dessert: raspberry in a chocolate crust or lime in a graham crust.

Before they left this morning for Medora, they posed for photos on the veranda (see below). Then they loaded up the van to head out. While standing with them at the curb during load-up, I noticed that Linda has a good system of organization for packing clothes and snacks, storing souvenirs, and tracking where to go and how to get there. Each of her kids has a digital camera, too, to snap his/her very own photos at each stop, so we got to see some of their favorite pics. Her kids can speak very intelligently about the sites that they've seen; it's clear that they're well-travelled and well-read because they're well-spoken and smart. It was fun to have them around, even if it was briefly. I hope they have a terrific remainder of their vacation in beautiful North Dakota!

Ben (8), Suzanna (11), Hillary (7), Emma Grace (5), and Abigail (9)

Jonah (6) missed out on the group pic, but here he is getting his shoes on for a full day of trekking around. 70 degrees should make for a pleasant day in Medora.

P.S. Check out this other blog by Linda: I Love Famous Dave's!


  1. I love this! I've added content to my blog from hers. It's great and I love her layout! Congrats!

  2. It was so much fun to see Linda & her kids -- and she has inspired us to do a little more exploring right where we live, and to try to plan a few more activities when we travel this summer!

  3. Thanks for your hospitality; hope we can return the favor soon. It was so nice to see you again!