New Big Trip: Anniversary Lodging

At the end of this year, The Miles Dad and I will have been married 20 years. TWENTY YEARS. Obviously, we want to celebrate that by going to Hawaii.

Actually, this trip was our kids’ idea, three whole years ago. Our oldest daughter Nutmeg gave us a card informing us that we’d be headed to Hawaii, and that she and her sister were socking away money to make it happen. They had even approached my parents to hatch a plan for my parents to fly to California to babysit them while we were gone. Continue reading

EclipseTrip Day 4: More Shakespeare and a Spooky Forest

Smoky sunset over Diamond Lake, near Crater Lake.

The less fun thing about staying in home exchanges on a trip is that when you leave, you have to clean. We could tell that the owners of this house, who had no children, were pretty stringent about cleanliness, and in fact they had mentioned in their instructions that they had had the place professionally cleaned for us (which I also do before sharing my home).  Continue reading

Miles Nerd: Planning another big trip

Last year, I pulled off a miles miracle by getting six people to Australia and back in coach using miles. In 2018, I was planning a much easier trip: from the San Francisco Bay Area to Hawaii and back for my husband and I to celebrate our 20th anniversary, plus lodging.

Then, my mom and I started talking about going back to Australia. We have close relatives there, and besides, we didn’t get to see the Great Barrier Reef when we went last year. So I started studying. Continue reading

Eclipsetrip Day 2: Ashland

When we woke up Sunday morning on the second day of our trip, we had to pack the Highlander right back up, because we had tickets to King Henry IV Part 2 at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival at 1:30 p.m. Ashland is a 2.5-hour drive from Burney, just across the Oregon border.

We enjoyed views of Mt. Shasta from the road, although the closer we got to the Oregon border, the more hazy the view got due to smoke from a number of forest fires in the area. We began to worry that we were driving into a smoky mess and that the solar eclipse the next week would be hidden from view. Continue reading

EclipseTrip Day 1: Lassen Volcanic National Park and Burney

The kids and I have gotten around this summer, but it has all been without The Miles Dad or within range of The Miles Dad’s work. For the first time all year, The Miles Dad is on vacation. And we are making hay with that vacation, road trip style! Over the course of 10 days, our plan was to drive nearly 1,500 miles, to Portland and back with a lot of stops on the way. During that time, we hoped to see a meteor shower, two national parks, a world-class Shakespeare performance and some good friends. Also, drink beer and coffee and eat ice cream.

Continue reading

Family Campground Review: Caspar Beach RV Park and Camground, Mendocino

The Miles Family has been traveling most of the time since school got out in mid-June, and we’re off again in just six days. I have all kinds of wonderful stories to share about that travel, but tonight, just back from the campground and fresh from the bathtub, I want to tell you about the campground we just stayed at: Caspar Beach RV Park and Campground in Mendocino, near Fort Bragg.

If you live in California, you probably know that state park campgrounds book up super early. I tend to be wary of private campgrounds and anything with the word “RV” in the name, but we stayed in this one because the friends we were joining picked it, and it exceeded my expectations. Continue reading

Getting Ready for a Home Exchange


The downside to exchanging your home or renting it on Airbnb is that it greatly increases the work involved in going out of town. The upside, besides the compensation you get either in the form of free stays or money, is that you come home to all the nice things you did to get your house ready for the exchange.

My preparation to have strangers stay in our house generally has two phases: maintenance/improvements and staging. We have a family scheduled to arrive in our home in two weeks. So although what we really wanted to do was head to Tahoe to check out Memorial Day Weekend skiing, what we actually did is spend the weekend taking care of our home. We’ve been really busy all spring, so believe me, it needed it. Here are the projects we hoped to tackle in between taking the kids to sports and birthday parties and stuff, and what we actually accomplished: Continue reading