Road Trip Games

Everyone gets board along the way. A couple of family games we play can help pass the time. For instance, have everyone look at the attached photo. How many squares can you find?

Travel ABC’s
This works well driving through a big city. Point to a noun (person, place or thing) that has to do with travel for every letter of the alphabet. A is for airplane, B is for billboard, C is for car, etc. This goes fast, so we usually play twice without repeats.

License Plate Game
This one can take the whole week. One person writes down the plates as people find them. I let the kids count 50 different plates, so they can use out of country plates and not stress when the can’t get RI. The secretary get a trinket I pick-up and both kids can pick out some candy at they next stop when we hit 50.

Billboard BINGO
On our way to Florida a few years ago, I decided this is not for kids. Ya never know what’s going to be advertised on a billboard. Anyway, you find products being advertised in the order of the letters of BINGO. First person to call the billboard gets to use it.

Good luck and have fun!

5+ Trip Planning Apps

I’m a crummy cell phone carrier who LOVES her I-touch. I rely in wifi, and find apps that work offline a digital wonder. So let’s get to it.

Trip It
I use the free version of this program. The reservation import feature keeps me from having to print everything out. It’s a nice way to remember places you’ve read about, complete with addresses and phone numbers. We never follow it like a tour schedule. It’s more like a bag of ideas, and we work in our favorites as time and weather allow.

Coleman Camp Recipes
Need a list of ingredients while you’re standing in the store? This app features all the classic campfire classics, with instructions and photos.  Take a minute to scroll through the app store, as they have several more (like a lantern).

Star Walk
We went to a star party in Glacier National Park. The sky was so dark that we could see millions of stars. Literally. Several telescopes were set-up, and we enjoyed a constellation talk (until our necks hurt). If you don’t have an astronomer handy, Stat Walk is the next best thing for checking out constellations. Try setting it on night mode and enjoy the view.
The trick is to shop for fun stops before you leave and save them as favorites. You can only access your favorite stops offline, great for super long drives that drag on and on. The app also had some fun features like fake phone calls and sunset alerts. Don’t forget to send in tips about quirky stuff in your area!

I love a physical map, but if you’re adapted to paperless, this is a great program. Download maps for the places you’ll be driving, biking and hiking before you leave. They’ll be there in your hand when you need them. While you’re at it, search for podcasts with the same name to listen to on the trail. For instance, Glacier, we found out, has several for their National Park. It was a nice change from Mike’s newest CD, which includes Red Solo Cup. . .

So, what are your favorite travel apps? The photo shows a couple more for you to explore on your own.  Here’s to hoping you get to use them soon!

Camping Cooler Ice Blocks

The photo says it all. I freeze two or three refilled Tropicana containers a few days before we leave. They are usually filled with water, but sometimes I make one with sun tea or gatorade. Remember to leave a few inches of air at the top for expansion.

Commercially bottled water bottles can be tossed into the freezer unopened, as can go-gurts. On day two of your get-away, you’ll have a nice supply of iced cold water from home. They do a nice job keeping picnic supplies cold, but you might want a big bag of ice to cool uncooked meat.

Reusable Water Containers


Our camper has a sink and water tank, but we rarely use it because there isn’t a grey water tank. Instead, we use a spouted water container meant for a refrigerator. It sets outside the camper on a little table, often with a bar of soap in a plastic box next to it.

This is potable water that we also use for cooking. It’s there to put a fire out, mostly before bed. If there is any left in the AM, I do a little happy dance sine I don’t have to go find water. I fill a percolator and heat water for oatmeal and hot chocolate, then my beloved coffee.  Done!

If you are in need of setting up a hand washing station, the Girl Scouts use a large Tide container with a spout. They tie a knee-high nylon filled with a bar if soap to the handle. It works just fine for a group.

Cleaning Camp Cooking Equipment


Everyone has their way of doing camp dishes. We always used to do camp dishes with hot, soapy water. If we have a site with electric, but without a camp kitchen, we use a coffee maker, or an old coffee urn when there is a huge group of us.

“Brown water” ALWAYS gets dumped down the toilet if you are in bears territory.

We have a new system for picnic, moderately soiled dishes. An old-timer we met in the UP last summer gave us his hiking recipe for dishes. 2 cups of water, 1/4 bleach, 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol and drip of dish soap. It’s 10% bleach so it can be used for blood, etc. The rubbing alcohol is a “wetting agent”. We have a spray bottle in the van for daily picnics.


You’ll ride like monkeys

We went to see the opening of a rodeo and they had Kapuchen monkeys riding Border Collies. Out here, rodeos are more like festivals to us. They had all kinds of old rides with new names. I got to scale rock walls and ride a mechanical bull. I don’t know who won the wild horse race, but one horse got free and won the last 2 of 3 laps. I’m having fun eating Saskatoon berries. I wonder why we can’t buy them in MI. – Nathaniel