Friday, August 22, 2014

Family Vacation 2014


This summer our family decided to take a (two day) road trip to California for my brother's wedding.  He lives in San Jose which is only about 45 minutes from San Fransisco, so we decided to spend a few extra days sight seeing.


Of course, traveling with food allergies can be a challenge if you're not prepared.  So I planned and packed ahead.  Not only did I pack for my two kiddos with food allergies, but I packed for the whole family.  This made meal stops so much easier and cheaper.

It is a two day drive from our house to San Fransisco.  Since we were going that direction anyway, we thought it would be worth the extra hours out of the way to see the Grand Canyon.  Mother Nature had another idea.  The morning we got there, it was cold, rainy, and foggy.  All we could see was white!  Fortunately, we did see bits and pieces of the canyon on the way into the National Park.  We just didn't get out of the car to take pictures because it was cold and raining, and we figured we'd just get pictures once we got into the Park.  Ha!  Joke's on us!

Our view of the Grand Canyon

Even though we didn't get to experience the Grand Canyon in all its glory, we did get to see many neat things along the way.  We stopped in Moab, Utah for dinner the first night on the road and got to see beautiful rock formations.  Had we taken a direct route to San Fran, we never would have seen all the beautiful scenery.

Near Denver
Moab, Utah

I prepped all our food ahead of time since our hotel room only had a mini fridge and small microwave.  I planned the first two day's meals for the road trip with each meal divided into large Ziploc bags to make it easy at each stop.  Each large bag was filled with a fruit, veggie, and sandwich/rollups, each in separate smaller sandwich baggies with each child's name written on it to make serving a breeze.

One of our roadside picnics

Rather than buying bottles of water at every stop or carrying several bottle with us, I simply washed out bottles I had drank from before we left on vacation.  Those Vitamin Water bottles are quite sturdy, and I knew they would hold up for the duration of our trip.  After giving them a through wash, I used some decorative duct tape (from my kids' new craft obsession) to identify each bottle for each kid. We could just refill as needed along the way.  It worked out great!

Our first day in San Francisco was spent sight seeing the city.  We took a bus tour and got to ride on the top of one of those double decker buses.  We had some pretty neat views of the city.  Our biggest disappointment was not being able to visit Alcatraz.  Apparently this is something that needs to be booked ahead of time.  When Bubs was a baby, we visited Alcatraz, and we were hoping to go again this trip.  Since that didn't work out, we ate lunch in Golden Gate Park, hung out at Pier 39, and visited the Aquarium by the Bay where the kids got to touch a sting ray and even a shark!  It was lots of fun.

We ate our only restaurant meal at a restaurant on Pier 39 (we carried in food for Bubs and GirlyGirl) called Wipeout where there was only one bathroom to be shared by males and females.  It was quite different, I must say!  After dinner we took a drive down the crookedest street, Lombard Street.  There were lots cars lined up to drive down this cool street, and it was worth the wait.

The next day we explored the redwood forest at Muir Woods followed by a quick stop for a picnic lunch at a kid-friendly winery in Sonoma Valley.  Such a beautiful area!

Benziger Winery in Sonoma Valley

That evening we went down by Fisherman's Wharf to eat dinner by the bay and do a little shopping.  There are several local vendors/artists selling their products where I got a beautiful handmade Christmas ornament and the kids got a caricature with the Golden Gate Bridge at the bottom.  They had a blast watching it being drawn, and they love the final product as well.  It was 20 bucks well spent.

We planned on getting some ice cream at Ghiradelli, but it was too windy and cold to enjoy ice cream.  We decided to just get a little bit of chocolate and head back to the hotel instead.  Of course I had treats for Bubs and GirlyGirl to enjoy, thanks to Surf Sweets!

The next day we went to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk in hopes of warmer beach water, but our hopes were dashed when we discovered the water was still quite cold.  The big kids braved the cold water and swam a bit, but the younger two preferred to just play in the sand.  I brought Go Picnic lunch boxes for the kids to eat for lunch this day, which worked out really well.  No refrigeration necessary, and all completely disposable.  If you haven't tried these yet, you really should!

Go Picnic lunches were perfect for our day on the Boardwalk

That evening we got to spend some wonderful time with family that had joined together from all over the country (and Malaysia, where the bride is originally from) to celebrate the eve of my brother's wedding.  Of course, there was a delicious display of food for all to enjoy, but, once again, we brought our own.  Luckily the kids know that this is our way of life, and they expect to eat what is brought for them.  They also know that if I expect there to be treats, I will provide treats for them as well. 

Finally the wedding day arrived.  We spent the morning hanging out in the hotel room (and the kids in the pool) while I prepped the meals for the two day drive home beginning the next day.  When the time came, we got our pretty wedding clothes on and headed to the ceremony.

The hubs and me

My brother and his (now) wife are both very involved in musical theater.  After a short ceremony, many of their very talented friends performed a number of songs from favorite musicals while we enjoyed dinner and a show.   The finale song and dance number even starred the bride herself!

Once they opened the dance floor to all, little Curls tore that floor up!  She was the "drunk girl" at this wedding.  She was running all over the place, falling down, being super hyper, followed by crashing in the corner of the dance floor from pure exhaustion.  She was a hit, if I do say so myself.  :)
Curls dancing with daddy

While all the guests enjoyed some yummy wedding cake, Surf Sweets candy saved the day once again.  I figured traveling across the country with homemade cupcakes topped with buttercream frosting would be difficult (not only to keep it pretty, but to keep it fresh as well), so I threw in a couple of bags of jelly beans for Bubs and GirlyGirl to enjoy at the wedding instead of cake.

GirlyGirl enjoying her jelly beans in place of wedding cake

All in all, it was a great trip.  The food I packed was not anything amazing....mostly tortilla rollups and sandwiches.....but it was safe, and it got us through a week long trip without a kitchen.  Rollups were usually made with meat and dairy-free cheese, and sandwiches included Wowbutter or dedicated peanut-free almond butter and jelly, Daiya cream cheese and shredded carrots, and Van's waffles (Top 8 Free) with apple butter.  Some of the items I made ahead of time were blueberry bread, pineapple bread, plain cake donuts with frosting and sprinkles, chocolate chip donuts, snickerdoodle donuts, blueberry muffins (using King Arthur's muffin mix), bacon pancakes (strips of pancakes with bacon cooked in the middle), pizzadillas (tortillas with pizza sauce and dairy-free cheese heated in the microwave...idea thanks to my friend Keeley McGuire), mini corn dogs (also thanks to Keeley McGuire), pizza puffs, mini pancake muffins, and power balls.

I also packed a whole tub full of snacks such as Craisins, fruit ropes, fruit chips, popcorn, Enjoy Life chocolate chunks with mini marshmallows and Rice Chex as a trail mix, Enjoy Life cookies, Van's (Top 8 Free) crackers, Annie's fruit snacks, and many other yummy, safe treats.

Trail mix snack, one of our favorites

While any vacation, long or short, requires planning and prepping lots food for my kiddos, I truly enjoy this labor of love.  The biggest benefits are saving money on food and faster, easier meals while on the go.  We had a great vacation and created many new family memories.  I can't wait for our next trip together!


  1. Yay! I'm glad you had a successful trip! :)

    1. Yes, successful indeed! Another trip without a reaction is a good one.