Category Archives: Family Travel

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How to enjoy Calgary when any other normal person might just stay inside

When I Googled “One Day in Calgary,” I found a website or two with helpful tips for the person whose aim is to cram a whole lot of stuff into a teensy time frame.

It’s become our modus operandi to do what we can to experience an entire city in one day. We’re busy people. Sometimes a day is all we’ve got.

We had exactly that to ourselves this week before our conference started, and were prepared to make the most of it. My early research was promising. With a great transit system, a citywide cycling path, and a cute downtown area, Calgary looks like the perfect place for one of our everything-in-one-day visits.

…. And then we got up that morning to this: (more…)

Three days in Music City: Eating my way through Nashville

Manic Mumbling | Three days in Nashville: Eating my way through music cityI’m not much into the country music scene, and by not much, I mean not the teensiest bit. So when told my trip to Nashville would be on the eve of the 50th Annual Country Music Awards, with a lot of celebrity sighting potential, I had to confess I wouldn’t know a country star unless he bit me right in the face.

This statement did not get the laughs I expected in Tennessee, so I’m wondering if people there were just (a) too aghast at my ignorance to respond as expected, or (b) there’s actually more face biting going on than I realize.

It can’t possibly be (c) that I’m not as funny as I think. (more…)

If you think traveling with young kids is a waste, you’re doing it wrong

Manic Mumbling - Family travel is never a waste of money or timeLast month, Grant Feller of The Telegraph published an article admonishing parents to wait to travel with their children until they’re teens. To do otherwise, he says, is a waste of money, and the only reason anyone would do so is to assuage guilt about expensive vacations, and rack up bragging chits about their little ones’ ability to tick countries off lists before any of their friends.

Feller points his own childhood travels as “supreme indulgences” on the part of his parents, who dragged him along when he was too young to appreciate or remember anything of significance.

If all that wasn’t enough, he says, traveling with kids is distinctly no fun.

“Children are always inconveniently tired, have very little interest in culture, can’t walk longer than 45 minutes without needing sustenance and moan if burgers aren’t on the menu.”

As part of a parenting team that has brought one or more young children along on a number of regional and international trips, I have a different perspective.

No, more than that. I completely disagree. (more…)

Turns out you CAN go home again, but they’ll probably make you sing

http://www.manicmumbling.com Challis Rodeo Grounds

“You know, JaNean used to play Delta Dawn on the piano. She was good. You could harmonize with her.” It was more a statement than a request from JaNean’s cute, bespectacled mom.

All I heard was Delta Dawn. I did what any rational person would do and belted out a refrain.

Del-ta-a Dawn, what’s that flower you have on
could it be a faded rose from DAYS GONE BYYY?

I took a long drink. Singing is thirsty work.

“That’s right,” JaNean’s mom patted me on the shoulder. She wrote on a slip of paper and she walked away. Realizing she was turning in a karaoke request, I looked at JaNean for help.

“Those are the only words I know.”

JaNean shrugged. (more…)

A last day in Seoul, and a few weird and awesome things

FullSizeRender (22)This is Anne. Anne is an English teacher who was sitting next to Mike on the train last night and asked if he would be willing to proofread an assignment from one of her students. Mike obliged and thumbed through the work on her iPad, and the two struck up a conversation. She found out we’d be leaving Seoul soon, and wanted to give him a gift. The two made arrangements to meet at the Kintex conference center today, so she could bring it to him.

She’d told Mike about her desire to be a missionary, so we wondered if we were going to get a bible or something. Later Mike and I had a conversation about what we would do if she brought us a packet to smuggle on the plane. Or, like, a baby or something really weird – with a couple of tough guys to rough Mike up and “make him an offer he couldn’t refuse.”

This is where our conversations go, because we are marginally kind of awful people with weird senses of humor. And because no one in the US would go out of their way to bring a thank you present in return for editing someone’s homework, so we know better than to accept the simple fact we could be on the receiving end of a straight-up thank you. (more…)

Day … whatever … in Seoul: a little about the kindness of strangers

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Police officers in what Colin calls their “field-trip” grouping, watching a protest group of disabled vets across the street

Today on the way home from our conference, Mike and I stopped to watch a little drama unfold. There were several young police officers making clucking noises and beating bushes along the side of the road. A little crowd gathered with us. A mallard swooped overhead and landed in some tall grass beyond the sidewalk. One of the officers showed her a cardboard bucket, his fingers pinching the top closed. I could hear the noises from inside the bucket and hopefully the mother duck could as well.

Earlier, Colin had remarked how groups of police officers walking together in double lines on the sidewalks reminded him of first graders on field trips. I thought it was a little strange, too. Why is it that we see so many groups of what look like kids not much older than my sons, grouped together with fluorescent “police” vests, being led around as if in training, and not a lot of individual officers walking or cycling or driving around patrolling? (more…)

Seoul Day 7: Birthday Gangnam Style

IMG_6135If you’re looking for Days Five and Six to our Seoul Saga, you can stop. I didn’t do them. Our conference has started and those posts would have been about over air conditioned meeting rooms and trying to remember to exchange business cards with two hands.

Actually, the last two days were dedicated to a pre-conference. Today the bonafide conference started, and the opening ceremonies were more elaborate than I expected. Like, by a long shot. I guess when forty-some-thousand Rotarians get together in a room, it causes a stir. We heard from the UN Secretary General, and the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka (home country of our international president, K.R. Ravindran), and that of the Republic of Korea.IMG_6163

Today is also Jack’s birthday, and with an afternoon light on actual conference activities, we let him set the afternoon’s agenda. (more…)

Day four in Seoul: Adventure and its drawbacks

IMG_3440There have been times on trips like these when I remember the word “adventure” is actually a rather loaded term. Sometimes, it means more than a rip-roaring good time. Sometimes “adventure” means “what the hell just happened and how can we avoid it in the future?”

I’m going to tell you what just happened, but first you have to hear about the rest of our day. It was fabulous.

On Monday, when we’d visited Gyeongbokgun Palace and the Bukchon Hanok Village, we’d taken the short walk to see the Changdeokgung Palace, to find that it was closed on Mondays. Then yesterday, when we’d made it to the Seoul Tower, we’d planned to stop at the nearby Korean War Memorial, but it was a long day, and I actually forgot. So we decided we’d tick both those things off our list today. Neither is especially close to the other, so it would be a haul. (more…)

Day three in South Korea: Seoul scenery, skyline and shopping

IMG_5796It really doesn’t matter that we didn’t have to be anywhere this morning first thing. I was up at 5 am again anyway. This lack of sleep is going to catch up with me, I’m sure.

Today we took a really long ride on the subway to the center of of the city to visit Seoul Tower, the forested Namsan Park, and the surrounding neighborhood.

We disembarked from the train at Myeong-dong, which is worth mentioning only because I’m traveling with teenage boys as well as someone pretending to be. I really should have prepared myself for the onslaught of jokes pertaining to whether or not one can find Myeong-dong or the relative size of Myeong-dong compared to any other dong.

These people are a laugh-riot, I tell you. (more…)

Day two in South Korea: The DMZ and the Cheong-gye-cheon

IMG_5715Were it not for the unparalleled kindness of strangers here, we’d have missed out on our scheduled tour of Panmunjom and the DMZ I’d scheduled weeks ago, which would have been a huge shame. Jack wrote a blog yesterday alluding to that kindness (and has since said something about Koreans being the Canadians of Asia, which was as accurate as it was clever), and I’ll expand upon this morning’s adventures in a later blog. Otherwise, this entry would be way longer than necessary.

As far as the tour goes, I have to offer a shout out to Jen and Ted of Thrifty Nomads, who were a great resource, and whose advice I took in booking the same company, the Panmunjom Travel Center. There is no other way to visit the DMZ except through such a company. Those wanting to participate need to plan in advance. The tours do sell out, and even if they didn’t, all of those wanting to join the tour need to go through a multi-day vetting process beforehand. (more…)