Traveling to and through High Altitude Destinations with Babies

When we road tripped from Seattle to Oregon and California, we traveled through more mountain passes than I could count or keep track of.  One of our longer stays was also in the small mountain town of Truckee, California where the elevation is about 6,000 feet, a far cry from our usual comfortable and damp sea-level living.

We took a couple of things into consideration (and preparation) knowing we were traveling with our newest (now 4-month old) adventurer, and we also picked up a few tips and ideas along the way to make high altitude travel most comfortable for babies.

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Day Tripping: Tacoma’s Point Defiance Park

Travel with a brand-new baby, unless absolutely necessary, isn’t something we planned to do right away.  We planned to take it easy, one day at a time, and gauge the new addition’s temperament and needs.  We thought we might venture out, but nothing got written down on the calendar, if you know what I mean.

The thing is though, we’re still those same people who love to explore and stay active even when a tiny bundle is around.  Once the family visits had died down, and we had a free weekend, we thought we might as well try out a day trip.

Tacoma isn’t too far, under an hour’s drive from our home in Seattle, and we had on our bucket list to visit the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium.  We’re members of our own Woodland Park Zoo, but we were curious as to what was happening “down south” and knew it was an outing the whole family could handle.

Day Tripping: Tacoma’s Point Defiance Park | WildTalesof.com Continue reading

All are Welcome: The Palace Hotel in Port Townsend, WA

Beautiful end-of-summer weather in the forecast paired with an entirely open schedule for the weekend meant that a quick and spur of the moment getaway needed to happen.  Last September we got to be spontaneous for one of the first times in our young parenting lives, and decided to take an overnight trip with little to no advance planning.  When my husband Slaed saw the two factors come together (the weather and the schedule), he left it to me to choose a destination relatively close to Seattle, and book a hotel.

It didn’t take long for Port Townsend, Washington to come to mind as a perfect place for our quick trip.  I’d been meaning the explore the town with it’s old Victorian-style homes, numerous parks, and beautiful views since only getting a quick glimpse years ago.  And since the town is located on the northeast tip of the Olympic Peninsula, it’s just over a 2-hour car ride from Seattle.  To make the trip even sweeter, part of those 2 hours includes a 30-minute ferry crossing from downtown Seattle to Bainbridge Island: Perfect for a little guy (about 13 months then) who likes to get out and move.

Palace Hotel: Port Townsend, WA | WildTalesof.com

A few factors were necessary for our perfect Port Townsend hotel stay.  First we had our hearts set on a suite-style room.  We’ve grow accustomed to and been spoiled by hotel spaces that have a bedroom along with a living area.  This way, Bergen gets his own sleep space, and we can have our own sleep space, and since Bergen goes to bed much earlier than us, we like the option of taking it easy, chatting, or watching a movie without having to tiptoe around with the lights off.  In addition, given the last minute planning we also needed a hotel that was pet-friendly.  It was too late to arrange for pet boarding, we didn’t want the extra expense of someone else taking care of him, and plus it’s about time our dog,  Norman joined us on one of our out of town adventures! Our last necessary factor was location.  The hotel needed to be in the middle of it all.  We wanted to be able to park the car, and not use it for the duration of the weekend.

Palace Hotel: Port Townsend, WA | WildTalesof.com

The Palace Hotel met all of our needs.  Room #9: Miss Lily’s Suite was available, the place welcomes dogs, and with it’s location on Water Street in downtown Port Townsend, we could walk to restaurants, shops, parks, and other local attractions.

The Welcome

As soon as we arrived, we were welcomed.  After a quick lunch next door at the Public House, we inquired about an early check-in.  Bergen desperately needed to get down to the business of napping, and knowing he has his best sleep in the crib, it was a huge relief when the staff didn’t think twice in allowing us up to our room.  And while they were welcoming Bergen and his baby needs, they had nothing but love and affection for Norman.  The staff was ready for his arrival with treats in hand, and a bag of other goodies to make his stay more comfortable.

Palace Hotel: Port Townsend, WA | WildTalesof.com

The Suite

The space (#9: Miss Lily) provided more than enough room for our little family to spread out.  All rooms were clean, bright, and nicely laid out.  In keeping with the Victorian style of the hotel (and town), the furnishings are antiques and collectibles.   The door opens up to the living room, which has a comfortable wooden-based couch (which actually folds out to a futon), large chair, and several tables.  The TV was located here and allowed us to keep up with our local soccer team while Bergen napped, and was great for sneaking in a movie at the end of the day when he was down for the night.

Palace Hotel: Port Townsend, WA | WildTalesof.com

I absolutely adored the bedroom.  From the exposed brick walls, to the beautifully quilted bedding, to the wrought iron bed frame, I was sorry that we were spending just one night.  The charm of the space made up for the fact that the bed was a little creaky when we first climbed in; it made for a more authentic experience really! By the way, in order for us to hang out in the living area while Bergen slept for the night, he started off here in the bedroom.  When we were ready to go to bed a few hours later, we switched him (& his crib) to the living room. He was none the wiser. 

Palace Hotel: Port Townsend, WA | WildTalesof.com

The bathroom in the room was standard and had everything we needed, but for those interested in more “amenities”, #9A (Miss Rose) has a 6-foot whirlpool tub, and #7 (Miss Alice) & #10B (Miss Mona) both have claw-foot tubs.  Not all rooms have their own private bathroom, and some bathrooms, though private are separately located.

Though we did not do any cooking during our hotel stay, we did appreciate the full kitchen that is part of the suite.  The refrigerator (full size) allowed us to keep cold drinks on hand, and was great for all of Bergen’s extra snacks, bottles, and meals.  I liked too being able to wash Bergen’s cups and other little dishes in a real sink with a drying rack!  The extra space the kitchen provides also allowed us to stretch out more, and gave us more of a feeling of being at home.  Since Bergen eats frequently, we definitely utilized the table even though we dined out for all of our “adult” meals.

Palace Hotel: Port Townsend, WA | WildTalesof.com

More to Love:

  • As I mentioned above, the staff is very welcoming.  In addition to the warm atmosphere they create, the staff is also very easy to work with in terms of making sure individual needs are met.  Should questions come up about possible discounts or upgrades, I wouldn’t hesitate to ask, especially on the off-season.
  • We loved learning all about the history of the space, originally built in 1889.  From 1925 to 1933, the “hotel” was operated as a brothel, which is where all of the names for the rooms come from!  Beware…there is also talk of the building being haunted.

Info to Know:

  • The Palace Hotel is located in downtown Port Townsend, Washington on the northeast tip of the Olympic Peninsula:
    • 1004 Water Street
    • (360) 385-0773
      (800) 962-0741
  • A total of 15 rooms are available with rates starting at $59 for their continental/standard rooms, from $99 for their deluxe rooms, and from $109 for their superior rooms (#9: Miss Lily is a superior room).
  • Hotel is equipped with Wireless Internet with a business center computer and printer available.
  • Pets are welcome with a $20 fee
  • All rooms have a refrigerator and microwave.
  • All rooms are non-smoking
  • Off-street parking is available in the back at no extra charge.
  • Port Townsend Food Recommendations 
  • Port Townsend Parks:

Come join the conversation! We’d love to have you join us on all of our adventures by “liking” our facebook page and following us on twitter! You can also keep up to date with each and every post by subscribing to the blog via email.

Port Townsend, Washington | WildTalesof.com

Our Go-to Travel Crib: The GoCrib Adventure Crib

Way back when we were pregnant with Bergen (now nearly 2 years old) one of the few big items that we actually purchased ourselves (rather than receive as a shower or pre-baby gift) was a travel crib.  We knew from the beginning that we were not going to let a little one stop us from continuing to explore the world, visit family and friends, and just generally get out and about, so a good place for the baby to sleep on the go was a must.

Wandering around REI one weekend, as we love to do, we stumbled upon the GoCrib by Guava Family.  The crib was set-up and on display, and we were intrigued.  So many features caught our eyes:

  • Lightweight: The crib together with it’s accessories weighs only 11 pounds.
  • Easy Assembly: Simply pump-up to assemble, and deflate and fold-up to breakdown.
  • Easy to Transport and Store: Everything fits nicely into it’s own small GoCrib backpack.
  • Other Uses: We liked that it could be used both indoors & outdoors.  Camping, beach shelter, and play yard were just a few of the ideas that popped into our minds.

Needless to say, we ordered our own in preparation for the arrival of our mini adventurer, and now that we’ve put it to use for nearly 2 years, we couldn’t be more pleased with it’s performance in fulfilling our travel crib needs.

Our Go-To Travel Crib: Go-Crib by Guava Family | WildTalesof.com

How the GoCrib Works

The crib has just a few parts and accessories:

  • Backpack that houses all pieces
  • Blow-up sleeping mat (27″ x 39″)
  • Hand Pump
  • Crib (43” x 54” x 25.5” when inflated)

To Set-up:

1. Blow-up sleeping mat with a few breaths and set aside.  Note: If keeping the crib out for multiple days, it’s a good idea to check the mattress each night for possible reflating.
2. Layout crib, insert pump into the legs of the crib in two locations (opposite each other) and pump until the indicator reads green. Carefully close valves and pump slots to prevent unwanted deflation.
3. Lay sleeping mat into the bottom of crib making sure to press each of the corners for a secure fit.  Optional: Specially fitted sheets can be purchased separately for added comfort. 

To Breakdown:

1. Open pump slots and push in flaps to let the air out.
2. Fold crib in half twice while pressing down to push all of the air out.
3. Unscrew valve of  the sleeping mat, fold and press down with knees to let all of the air out.
4. Repack the bag: Mat first, then crib.  Pump is stored in it’s own zipper pouch on the side of the backpack.

What’s to Love?

Since taking our first big trip across the country to visit family on the east coast when Bergen was about 3 months old, we’ve found the GoCrib extremely easy and convenient for travel.  Back when we brought along his infant carseat, we also were able to squeeze the GoCrib into the carseat bag to streamline our luggage even more.  Now when we travel with his much larger convertible carseat, the GoCrib even fits into that carseat bag. It doesn’t take up a lot of space, and since it doesn’t have hard parts, it can be added to other bags or parts of the car (when road tripping) without a lot of hassle.

When we finally get to our destination, the last thing we want is to have to take a lot of time to put Bergen’s sleeping area together.  I can assemble the GoCrib in less than 5 minutes, and breaking it down is just as easy.  Even on vacations where we’ve incorporated multiple mini-destinations into the trip, it’s never been an issue to setup and re-setup the crib.

Slaed and I have trekked around the country with Bergen for almost 2 years now, and the GoCrib has held up well.  And we don’t just use the crib when traveling.  Bergen has a playmate who naps at our house twice a week, and he too finds the crib suitable for his sleeping needs.  The fabric is highly durable and it’s made to withstand the elements of sun, sand, and other outdoor factors.  The sides of the crib are made of mesh, creating good airflow throughout the space.  The mesh sides also provide an unobstructed view for us to see Bergen, and for Bergen to look out.  We’ve also found the crib to be very sturdy, and never worry about the boys falling out or tipping it over on it’s side, even when used as a play fort!

I am extremely impressed with the company as a whole, particularly the customer service.  I panicked when the pump suddenly broke on me a few months ago.  We had a trip coming up in just a few days and I needed a working crib! I immediately called Guava Family, and was surprised when a real, live person actually answered the phone. I explained the problem, and the gentlemen took my information, and rushed a replacement pump to our house free of charge. The pump (new and updated) arrived in time for our departure and we all breathed a huge sigh of relief.

What’s to be desired?

Other than the pump issue that I explained above, we’ve really had no complaints about the product.  Bergen has used the GoCrib as his sleep-home-away-from-home on more trips than we can count now, and he’s always managed a good night’s (or nap’s) rest.  We did find that with Bergen just sleeping on the bare mat, it could get a little cold because the mat lays all the way on the ground.  We quickly remedied that though by purchasing a sheet from Guava Family that fits the mat perfectly. Both a regular cotton and a quilted sheet are available to buy separately from the crib.

Come join the conversation! We’d love to have you join us on all of our adventures by “liking” our facebook page and following us on twitter! You can also keep up to date with each and every post by subscribing to the blog via email.

Family Getaway in Kauai: Moanakai Beach Cottage in Kapa’a

We agonized over where we would stay for our week-long Kauai getaway back in November 2012.  The north end of the island was calling our name with it’s lushness and proximity to amazing beaches, hikes, and other natural wonders.  At the same time, we knew the south end was perfect for families with several beaches suitable for swimming, and kid-friendly restaurants.

We ultimately decided to meet in the middle, and we couldn’t be happier with our decision.  On the east side of Kauai is the town of Kapa’a.  It’s the islands largest town by population, and even though it’s busier than the other areas, we knew it would provide us with the best base for our adventures.  From here we could easily enjoy the sites of the east side, and could then do day trips to the north and south sides without too much driving. The west side of the island is only accessible by hiking, helicopter, or boat.

When we travel, we seek out the experience of finding a “home away from home”.  We love getting to know new towns, and calling them our own for the duration of our stay even if it’s only for a day or a weekend.  When looking for lodging, we want to be close to the action.  I love getting up in the morning and walking to the coffee shop or breakfast spot.  I also love being able to walk off the dinner, and take the time to enjoy the ins and outs and uniqueness of the locale in which we are staying.  When we decided that Kapa’a would become our “home away from home”, deciding where to rest our tired selves after long days of exploring was easy once we discovered the Moankai Beach Cottage.

Moanakai Beach Cottage: Kapa'a, Kauai | WildTalesof.com

The Home

We found the cottage easily accessible from the main area of town, but situated on a quiet street on the back side of the property.  The owner and all-around great guy, Larry,  lives on the property in the front house.  He was there when we needed him, always up for a chat if he was around, but he never bothered us unnecessarily, and he was full of great suggestions and insights on the island.

The house is small, but perfect for our family of three.  The master bedroom in the back of the cottage has a queen-size bed, ample closet space, and a dresser with plenty of drawers for storing our clothes to make us feel at home.  Inside this bedroom there is an air-conditioning unit mounted on the wall.  This kept us cool and comfortable throughout the night, and also did a great job of drowning out the crows of the roosters who haven’t yet learned the concept of sleeping in.

The second bedroom located just down the hall in the front of the house is also outfitted with a queen-size bed, another closet, and dresser to organize all of Bergen’s (our son, 15-months at the time) beach attire.  There was enough space in front of the bed to set up the travel crib.  Bergen was a champion sleeper in this room.  In fact, on more than one morning, we were waiting for him to get up so that we could get going on an adventure!  The two windows facing the east and south allowed for good airflow throughout the space, and with the help of a sound machine, he too was able to sleep through our noisy rooster friends.

Between the two bedrooms is a small bathroom with a nice-sized shower.  It was also stocked with extras like beach towels, ear plugs, and other toiletries, even sunscreen.

The kitchen and living area are situated together creating one large space.  While we didn’t cook meals at home other than macaroni and cheese, and warming up our leftovers in the microwave, we found the kitchen to be supplied with everything you might need to do so.  We also found lots of kid/baby friendly items like spoons, plates, and cups suitable for children, even a portable high chair for Bergen that we could attach to any chair.  The living room was a comfortable place for Slaed and I to hang out while Bergen was asleep for the night, and had plenty of room for Bergen to play on the off-chance we might be lingering around the house.  Books (including great guidebooks on the area), DVDs, and CDs were provided.

Moanakai Beach Cottage: Kapa'a, Kauai | WildTalesof.com

View of the kitchen from the living room as Slaed signs the guest book.

The Beach

One of the greatest amenities of the Moanakai Beach Cottage is it’s proximity to one of our favorite beaches on the island.  Just a few hundred feet away (really just down the driveway) and across the quiet road is Kapa’a’s “Baby Beach”.  A natural rock wall keeps the surf at bay providing a safe, quiet, and peaceful swimming space for babies, toddlers, kids, nervous adult swimmers, and their families.  Even though we explored the entire island, we always found time during each of our days to spend here whether it was just a sunrise or sunset, a quick dip of the toes, or a full-on beach day set-up complete with umbrellas, chairs, and toys galore (all provided at the house by the way).

Slaed and I even got to spend time here without Bergen.  Our baby monitor was in range of the beach so while Bergen was napping or asleep for the night, we enjoyed some alone time.  We came here in the morning before he woke up to watch the sunrise (tough life being morning people when clearly our kid is not), had takeout from Bubba’s Burgers at the picnic table, and celebrated our own happy hour all while the little guy was snoozing away.  And with our trusty monitor in hand, we were always just a few steps away from getting to Bergen if he needed us.

Sunrise Moanakai Beach Cottage: Kapa'a, Kauai | WildTalesof.com

Sunrise at Kapa’a’s Baby Beach

Baby Beach at Moanakai Beach Cottage: Kapa'a, Kauai | WildTalesof.com

Endless Beach Fun

More to Love:

  • As a runner training for an upcoming half marathon, I loved that the house was also just steps away from the start of the phase 2 Ke Ala Hele Makalae, an amazing shared-use path that runs along the coastline.  I was able to keep up with my training and didn’t have to venture far or on a busy highway to do it.
  • Since the house is situated near town, we weren’t far from restaurants, grocery stores, coffee shops, and other local shopping spots.  On a couple of occasions, Slaed was able to go off on foot to find lunch to bring back while I manned the monitor or enjoyed some beach play with Bergen.  Some of our favorite spots:
    • Bubba’s Burgers
    • Kountry Kitchen
    • Mermaids
    • Small Town Coffee

Info to Know:

  • Moanakai Beach Cottage on Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO.com): http://www.vrbo.com/66571
  • Located in the town of Kapa’a, Kauai on the east side of the island
  • 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, outside shower great for cleaning up after fun at the beach
  • Washer/dryer on the property
  • Equipped with air conditioning units and ceiling fans
  • Wireless Internet access
  • Linens and beach towels provided
  • Plenty of beach supplies provided including beach toys, umbrellas, and chairs
  • Owner lives on property in a separate home
  • No pets

Come join the conversation! We’d love to have you join us on all of our adventures by “liking” our facebook page and following us on twitter! You can also keep up to date with each and every post by subscribing to the blog via email.

Looking for more information on our Kauai Adventure? Check out our Hawaii page.  It’s full of posts about the fun we got into exploring the island.

Baby B’Air Flight Vest for Toddlers

Bergen (22 months) has reached a milestone in his traveling life.  Unless we get a wild hair and need to fly before our August trip to Wisconsin, the little guy has seen the last of his “lap baby” days.  The  next time he flies, he’ll have his very own ticket, followed by his own mileage plan, and all of the other “privileges” that go along with a legitimate seat on the plane.

Toward the end of his journey as a lap baby, we gave the Baby B’Aire Flight Vest a try to see if it might help to keep him wrangled a bit better, and therefore safer while in flight.

Baby B'Air Flight Vest |WildTalesof.com

About the Vest

The overall and most important purpose of the vest is to provide better security in the event of turbulence.  In addition to this increased safety, the vest also provides a more comfortable flying situation for parents and their lap baby. With the child secured to your seatbelt, your hands are then more free to entertain instead of worry about the little one getting away from you.

The rules clearly state that while the vest can be worn during take-off, landing, and taxi, it can only be attached to the adult’s seatbelt during flight.  We utilized the flight vest for two trips (4 flights total) with Bergen, and never had any flight attendants question us about the vest.

The Baby B’Aire Flight Vest comes in two sizes:

  • Small (newborn/infant)
    • Fits most children up to 6 months
    • 16″ neck opening
    • up to 40 pounds
  • Large (older baby/toddler)
    • Fits most children from 6 months to 2 years
    • 19″ neck opening
    • up to 40 pounds

How the Vest Works

  • The vest goes over the child’s head with two adjustable straps with buckles on either side of the waist.
  • A strap also slides through the legs and is then attached with a buckle.
  • A loop strap on the bottom-back side of the vest allows the adult to then secure the vest to their seatbelt by feeding the seatbelt through the loop.

Baby B'Air Flight Vest | WildTalesof.com

What’s to Love?

  • Because the act of strapping Bergen into the vest was similar to buckling him into his carseat, it almost gave him the illusion that he was in a seat, and therefore needed to stay put.  At the same time, wearing the vest didn’t bother him one bit.  He never tried to take it off, and certainly didn’t pay attention enough to realize there were buckles and straps to mess around with.
  • My husband and I felt more secure with him on our lap, especially sharing a row with another non-related passenger.  The flight vest helped to keep him on our lap without a lot of fuss, and gave us peace of mind that he wouldn’t end up crawling over to an unsuspecting neighbor’s lap.
  • The vest provides the perfect place for showing off Bergen’s Alaska Airlines “wings” that he worked so hard to earn.
  • We could breathe easier knowing that in the event of extreme turbulence, Bergen had an added safety net of sorts to protect him.

What’s to be desired?

We really can’t complain about the product except to say that at times it felt unnecessary.  It provided us with exactly when it claims: comfort, peace of mind, and protection against the almost inevitable turbulence that comes with flying.  The best place for small children flying on an airplane is strapped into their carseat, but for frequent travelers who want to utilize the “children under 2 fly free” policy, the flight vest is the next best thing to providing a safer flying situation.

Please note: The folks at Baby B’Air provided us with a free Flight Vest for review on the blog.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Come join the conversation! We’d love to have you join us on all of our adventures by “liking” our facebook page and following us on twitter! You can also keep up to date with each and every post by subscribing to the blog via email.

Memorial Day on the Road: Bergen Park, Colorado

Today we honor and remember those who have died while serving our country.  I’m also thinking back to our Memorial Day last year when we traveled to Colorado to visit family and friends.  On our way up to Evergreen for a night away from the hustle and bustle of the city and suburbs of Denver,  we made a mandatory stop at Bergen Park as Bergen (9 months old at the time) wanted to take advantage of the photo opportunity in the park bearing his name.

Bergen Park, Colorado | WildTalesof.com

During our short visit to the park, we actually stumbled upon a small ceremony.  We stopped for a while and listened as taps was played on the bugle.

Memorial Day Ceremony: Bergen Park, Colorado | WildTalesof.com

Memorial Day Ceremony: Bergen Park, Colorado | WildTalesof.com

I’m grateful for this experience.  We unfortunately tend to the take advantage of the “day-off”, and forget the true meaning of the holiday, and here we were reminded of the importance of taking the time to respect and honor the men and women who have been so brave in the name of our freedom.

What are your Memorial Day traditions?