Give a warm welcome to my husband Daniel, known on the internets as Daniel Bearman. I don’t even know why anymore. But folks call him that. He’s spilling the beans on what we’re up to after we move out of our house in Florida but before we arrive in TX. And it’s either one of the best ideas we’ve ever had or a nightmare of epic proportions. – Haley
By now, most of you have heard the news that we will be moving to a farm in Texas in September. And you may have heard that we’ll be moving out of our house in a few weeks. What will we be doing in between? Well we’re going to say goodbye to the Sunshine State towards the end of July and start making our way to Texas. But we’re going to take the long way around. The really long way.
We’re going to take over six weeks and drive around the country in our van with our three kids. We’ll visit friends, explore new cities, and discover national parks. We’ll go up through the midwest and then head through the great plains, over the rockies and to the west coast. Then we’ll head down California and turn back towards the southwest and finally arrive in Texas from the other side.
By the end of the trip, we’ll have visited 20 states and about a dozen national parks and monuments.
Admittedly, this is a pretty crazy thing to do with three kids six and under. But all three are doing pretty well in the car these days. And it’s impossible to imagine some other time when we won’t have a house or anywhere to be for a month. The stars have aligned and we’re going for it.
We’ve been planning a long time to try to make the trip as kid friendly as possible. There are very few long driving days (most days have less than 5 hours) and there are no back-to-back driving days. We’ll camp some of the time and spend other nights at hotels and with friends. Hopefully everyone (including us) will get more than enough time to run around and enjoy our stops.
We’ll do plenty of homeschooling on the road including history, science, geography, and math (are we there yet?). Benjamin is already incredibly excited about the junior ranger program at the national parks. But we’ve also already decided the most important thing will be enjoying each other. So if that means playing in a creek somewhere instead of seeing something on our list, that’s fine.
Here’s the possibly insane itinerary:
July 19-25 North Carolina
July 26-27 Mammoth Caves National Park
July 28 Louisville, Kentucky
July 29-30 Indianapolis, Indiana
July 31- August 1 Chicago, Illinois
August 2-3 Twin Cities, Minnesota
August 4 -5 Badlands National Park
August 6 Mount Rushmore National Monument
August 7-10 Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks
August 11-12 Boise, Idaho
August 13 Bend, Oregon
August 14-15 Crater Lake National Park
August 16-17 Redwood National Park
August 18-19 Central California
August 20-22 Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks
August 22-24 Los Angeles, CA
August 25-26 Zion National Park
August 27-28 Grand Canyon National Park
August 29-30 Albuquerque, New Mexico
August 31 The Republic of Texas
September 1 Waco!
We’re excited to be visiting so many places where we’ve never been before. After this trip, Gwen will have seen more of the U.S. at age 2 than we had at 29! We’re partnering with a few sponsors and have some speaking engagements lined up during the trip, but we have room for a few more. So if you’re interested in sponsoring a post or scheduling a speaking event when we’ll be in your area, just email Haley at firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ll be sharing our adventures on social media with the hashtag #crosscountrycarrots and we hope you follow along!
I hope you’re taking the kids to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum while visiting Indy! One of the best museums in the county–for kids AND adults!
We’re planning on it! It’s a little pricey but we’re gonna try to make it work!
I’m an hour north of there and have a membership that lets me take in two guests for free. Want to connect? I’d love to take you guys to the Children’s Museum!! 🙂 My family did this kind of trip when I was 19 (I’m the oldest). It’s crazy, but we made some great memories! If we can get together maybe I can show you some of my family’s pictures from our crazy trip. Lots of fun stories, too.
Twin Cities Aug 2-3!!!! Let us know where you are going to be! Would love to meet you!
Emily B says
Yes, me too!!!
Emily B says
Yes, me to!!
I’m only a little sad you won’t be anywhere near the northeast haha, but I’m super excited for you guys and I’ll be following along. This trip sounds like something my husband and I would do in a couple years since he HATES flying and will do anything but.
We’ve been watching TURN on Netflix and now I’m all dying to take an American History trip to the north east! Maybe someday!
Oh if you are driving by Madison wi it would be great to say hi if you need a drive break!
Second the motion for Madison! Remember Wisconsin Dells is the water park capitol of the world.
And we love kids at the 7:30 AM Latin Mass at St. Mary of Pine Bluff. Aug. 2 is Sunday; you would be on your way early! Lots of us converts are inspired by your family., and your books. Thanks Haley and Daniel!
Other Madison people! We’re having a Blessed is She meet up in New Glarus on August 15. Email me if you’d like to be added to the Facebook group.
This is insanely cool!! The kids are going to have so much fun. I’m immensely jealous. 😉
Chicago: If you hit the suburb Evanston on your way out, Dave’s Italian Kitchen is the place to go. They do have gf pizza and other gf foods (brown rice risotto is really good).
You guys are either nuts, or you have angelic children 🙂 I’m not sure we’d get very far with my littlest. Carseat straps (or restraints of any kind) are the enemy!
All the best, and I’m planning to totally stalk your posts. Spare no details!
I hope this is as awesome as it sounds! I’d love to do a trip like this someday!
My family spent a month on the road, when I was 7! I am now told that the adults fought and had a miserable time, but I have only happy memories… LOL! We saw and I remember seeing Taos, NM, the Grand Canyon, Disneyland, San Francisco, Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, and the Badlands. You may want to peek at the most recent issue of Parents magazine–they have things for kids to do in the top National Parks. But I’m so excited for you! Your family is highly functional, especially compared to my 1990 family, and I am quite sure that this will be an awesome experience.
If you need to break up the Chicago to Minneapolis stretch stop by New Glarus. We have good beer and a home big enough to accommodate you! This sounds like such a fun adventure!
Sarah C. says
Sounds like you guys will have SO MUCH FUN on your road trip! If you would like a tour guide or need a break (or even a place to stay!) while driving through the Sacramento region, please let me know! I have a 2 year old who is just a few weeks older than Gwen and we live fairly to the downtown area where the Capitol, Sutter’s Fort, and a variety of other fun/historic sites are located.
If you go anywhere near a Laura Ingalls Wilder site, I hope you’ll stop. I see The Baldlands NP on your list. I’m not sure how far that is from De Smet, SD, but that is one of the LIW homestead locations where Laura grew up, married Almanzo and had their daughter, Rose. The Little House books on audio are fantastic family friendly listening on the road. Have a great time on your adventure!
Consider it added to the itinerary, Mary!!!!!!
Awesome! We went to Niagra Falls (about 12 hours away) two years ago with 7 kids, 10 and under, it was a blast! There were a couple of things that made it a success. 1. We always drove about 3 hours and had some kind of stop for the kids to run around or just stretch their legs for at least an hour. 2. We made naps and bedtime a priority, which stunk sometimes because it meant we adults were basically done for the night too. 3. We had low expectations for the day, maybe the only thing we did was drive and play at a playground, instead of packing in as many sites as the day would allow . One day was devoted to just hanging out at the beach, so perfect for littles! 4. We laughed! We knew things would go wrong and we chose to laugh!
I’m looking forward to hearing about your adventures!!
In Chicagoland try to stop by Starved Rock. http://www.starvedrockstatepark.org/
This is amazing and if we had the chance I would love to do a road trip with my kiddos:) you will love Albuquerque and you must check out Explora with the littles.
Oooo! What’s Explora?!
Kathy Biallas says
If you decide to hit Phoenix to- or from- the Grand Canyon, let us know! Your kids would love the railroad park in Scottsdale (free) and the Children’s Museum of Phoenix.
Definitely will let you know, Kathy!
If it’s not too weird, y’all are welcome to bivouac with us in Charlotte, NC!
Kelli Podraza says
I grew up in Tampa, FL and it would take a day to get to another state. So you’re kids are going to love crossing multiple borders in a day! We have a house for you to crash in near Charlotte, NC if you want or need! And I was thrilled to see you have the Grand Tetons on your list. There’s an ancient Catholic chapel along the route from Yellowstone, you should check it out! Big thumbs up over here, you guys are going to crush the license plate game!
We are in Raleigh, NC and have tons of cool stuff for kiddos! Guest room too!
You are so sweet! We’ll be staying with family in NC for a little family reunion but SO appreciate the offer! <3
Ally | A Home Called Shalom says
If you need a place to stay between the Badlands and the Twin Cities, let us know. We live at a Bible Camp in Iowa… nuff said. =)
You’ll love the Redwoods- just awe inspiring!!
What an adventure! Wishing you all the best on your trip:)
Just to warn you. There are no guard rails at the Grand Canyon. You can literally take one step over the edge and well…. The time my parents went a four year old had been unleashed from their car and ran out. Before they caught her she went over the edge. 🙁 Parking in some places is very close. If you have a runner or runners, you may want to use a leash/tether thingy or a stroller.
I don’t feel comfortable enough with my two (who are runners or goofy climbers or dare devils depending on the day) so I’ve never taken them to the Grand Canyon. They are 5 and 3. Maybe when they are comfortably in elementary school when you explain how people die there from being silly. Grown people. Usually 20 something men who act silly at the edge pretending to jump off and really do fall. When they get that, then maybe.
And now I’m completely terrified!
Caitlin Mallery says
That is one packed schedule! Having traveled cross-country with three children under 4, I can say it is totally insane and totally amazing. My best advice is to avoid traveling in the evening, make the dinner time stop as close to the end of travel as possible. Everyone is ready to be done by that point. A bummer you can’t swing up to Glacier National Park after Yellowstone. It is my neck of the woods after all. I’d be happy to host if you could ’cause I think we would have an awesome time hanging out. But Yellowstone is gorgeous as are all the parks in California and Oregon! Have an awesome trip!
Tsh Oxenreider says
Totally worth it, completely do-able, and an absolutely great way to transition to your next life stage. The Oxen heartily endorse the Carrots on this one. 😉
Thanks, Tsh! 🙂
This sounds like such a wonderful idea! As long as you pace yourselves well, the kids will do just fine. It will be a grand family adventure. And, you’re right, seize the opportunity because you never know when it will come your way again! 🙂 Enjoy your trip!
I made this trip (in pieces) when I was growing up as a military brat (Massachusettes to Hawaii!!) and it was awesome!! Your kids will love it and always have these memories.
Right now my husband and I live in central Cali near Sequoia National Park – so awesome! (Just don’t go hiking in the middle of the day in August… We literally just learned that lesson.)
Looks like good times. We did Detroit to Pensacola in 2009, Pensacola to Washington state in 2010 and Washington state to Detroit in 2011. All winding and drawn out routes, so several of the same places you hit. (only one and then 2 kids at the time though)
Too bad you can’t scope out Michigan or Washington. But who knows, maybe once you’ve completed your Waco adventure there’ll be some farm in Canada begging for Daniel’s expertise.
And then I would die from winter, haha!
Sarah Isinger says
We just drove from Los Angeles to Dallas in two days. Both being about 10-12 hour days with three kids under 6 and they did great! You will have a blast.
Oh my goodness! What an incredible experience for you guys! Even if it is stressful for you and Daniel I am sure your kids will always look back on it as one of the most amazing summers of their lives. It’s going to be a great way to kick off your new life adventure in Texas!
Haley, I am sure you will get plenty of advice and suggestions so take our levee these as you see fit…just some ideas for you. 🙂
You will most likely pass through Madison WI on your way from Chicago to MN. It is an awesome little city and I am sure the list of things to do is endless, but two of our favorites with little ones are Ella’s Deli, a little kosher deli with ridiculously kid friendly decor (including superheroes and cartoon characters flying overhead), and the Henry Vilas Zoo (it is FREE)!
I just wanted to throw those out there. If you do decide to stop and want any other ideas feel free to reach out to me (we are about two hours north of Madison, but my brothers both live there).
Have an amazing adventure!!
Other Madison people! We’re having a Blessed is She meet up in New Glarus on August 15. Email me if you’d like to be added to the Facebook group.
Please excuse the tips on my previous comment…nursing my baby love while i type on my phone. 😉
This is on my list of someday things to do with my husband and kids! Waiting for the oldest to get to an age where she’ll remember and enjoy it though. A perfect time to read The Moon by Night by Madeleine L’Engle…
It sounds amazing! I’ll be curious to hear how the kids do. My children are 4 1/2, 3, and 1, and we recently went through Shenandoah and tried to do a hike. The 3 year-old wanted to be carried after .25 mile, and the 4 year-old started whining about that point. I was a little discouraged because something that seemed like it would have been fun (a family hike in a great park) just wasn’t once the kids were factored in.
Tracy Bua Smith says
Wow! How exciting! I’m in NC on the coast! 🙂
I’m one of 5 kids and taking a road trip to the Grand Tetons has been our favorite family vacation ever. So much so that we are planning the fourth visit out there now! Beautiful place.
Haley! You’re going to have so much fun. We drove from Ottawa, ON to Kelowna, BC through the States last summer with our three kids (then 7, 5 and 2). They were champs. We listened to a lot of audiobooks. To keep the cost down, we stayed with Mennonite Your Way – which is basically a network of people that want to practice the Mennonite tradition of hospitality. Check out their website: http://www.mennoniteyourway.com/Myw/
It cost us $10 and a can of maple syrup per night 🙂 A little more if they fed us. Might be worth checking out for your epic road trip. Enjoy!
I think you might like to check out Catholic Land Movement and look up the Callens Family when you are near MN/SD.
And if not, you will love her blog.
Happy Trails. 🙂
Oh cool! I’ll check it out Lisa! Thanks 🙂
What?? No Rocky Mountain National Park? It’s even the 100 year celebration this summer! 🙂
Estes Park is a beautiful little town to visit – just sayin’. Plus there is a huge slide for the kids – and parents, too! – that is a really fun memory to make. We take my oldest for his birthday each year, since he’s our July boy.
My family stayed a couple nights in Estes Park when I was a kid. I remember it very fondly. There was very pretty scenery with a creek in the woods where we took some family photos and there was this amusement park-type area with bumper boats, a carousal, etc.
Make a stop in Kansas City! Lots of kid friendly stuff and awesome BBQ!
If you go to KC, you have to go to Jack Stacks. My mom grew up here, so I spent a lot of time in KC visiting relatives. You have to go to Union Station. They have a great kids zone that I remember being super fun. I also had good times at the Toy and Miniature Museum and the Steamboat Arabia Museum.
Definitely find someone with gues memberships to the Indy Children’s museum. We went there in the fall and it really is the best out there.
We did Mammoth Caves a couple of years ago and just loved it! Have so much fun on your trip!
Debbie Leal says
From Albuquerque you should stay on I40 and stop in Amarillo and eat the best Mexican food ever. I’ll buy your meals and if we are in town will pop in for a visit.
Palo Duro Canyon is 20 miles south of here and it’s the second largest canyon in the U.S. And has a great show that teaches Texas history called of course, Texas. There are campsites and cabins if you’re lucky enough to get one.
Shoot me an email and I’ll get you hooked up.
Enjoy these days because as they say, they will not last forever.
You are so sweet, Debbie! It looks like we’ll be speaking in Lubbock, so no stop in Amarillo 🙁
AnneMarie Miller says
That sounds like an amazing trip! I think it is awesome that you two are taking your kids all across the country; I personally appreciate all of the times that my family drove on cross-country trips when I was growing up–you get to really appreciate the people and places of the U.S. more!
Also, being a good Kansan (though I don’t live there anymore), I feel that I should put in a plug for any future road-trips: every year, in the first full weekend of August, there is a Midwest Catholic Family Conference in Wichita, KS. It is packed with tons of talks and activities for each age group, lots of Catholic vendors, and it is a really fun time. Plus, it takes place in the heart of Wichita, which is booming with perpetual Adoration chapels, seminarians, and Catholic events. Just in case y’all ever want to see Kansas 🙂
Have a wonderful summer, trip, and move! I will be praying for your family!
If “Central California” means anything close to San Francisco/Monterey/Carmel, I’d love to meet up! The Carmel Mission is beautiful, and there’s tons of natural beauty around. Good luck and Godspeed!
Lauren B says
You are not crazy, you are lucky!! When we PCSed (Navy move) from Charleston, SC to Seattle, WA we practically raced across the country in a week. It was beautiful but we didn’t really get to enjoy all of those states we drove through because it was so exhausting. We promised ourselves that when we switch coasts in a few years again that we will be much gentler on ourselves and enjoy it. You’ll love the Montana/Idaho/Wyoming area though – it was my fav. 🙂 Best of luck and pack a lot of snacks and coffee!
Ahh! I saw you two are scheduled to speak at Theology on Tap in Indy — so excited! 🙂
Yay! We’re so excited, too!
Aww sad you aren’t making it to San Diego you could have camped out on our 5 acres! Sounds like a great trip though. You are brave!
This is so crazy that it’s brilliant… maybe even scathingly brilliant! My husband would love to do this, but my brother and sil live about 5 hours from us and on the way home our youngest (turns 4 this mo.) Decided to shriek like she was dying for the first half hour straight. When we FINALLY found something other than a field full of cows or corn or both, my husband frantically whipped it into the parking lot and whispered, “Take her and buy her whatever it takes to get her to stop that!” Lol. After that, the trip was smoother, I think she just wasn’t ready to start out yet. Crazy threenager. So, we will wait at least another year, but I can’t wait to steal all of the best parts of your trip for future inspiration. So excited for you! Glad that you’ve got kid friendly stops mapped out. That was key to our survival even for our 5 hour trip.
How exciting! We took a 6-week x-country trip/pilgrimage with our 6 children (ages 5-18 at the time) 2 summers ago & it was such a wonderful family adventure…I am sure yours will be the same! 🙂 We visited several of the National Parks on your list… Badlands, Rushmore, Yellowstone, Crater Lake, Redwoods, Zion, Grand Canyon — FYI, the North Rim of the Canyon is less crowded. Be sure to save some extra time for hiking around Zion & the Badlands…these were 2 of our favorite places…the landscape is so otherworldly! Also, be prepared for some chilly summertime temps…we saw snow at Crater Lake in July! If possible, I highly recommend making a side trip to Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Redwood Valley, CA if you can. Attending services with the monks was heavenly & they were so hospitable: http://www.monksofmttabor.com/.
Making our x-country trip in the spirit of a pilgrimage was an added blessing! We all want to go again! Praying for safe travels for you all! God bless!
This sounds like so much fun! I wish I could convince my hubs to take a long road trip–he’s sick of it after 2 hours! http://email@example.com
If you find time for a pit stop in western Ohio, you’re more than welcome to tour my family’s dairy farm (we milk 700 cows). Not sure what kind of farm you are moving to but it might be a nice prelude! There’s also a really neat relic shrine 15 minutes from here…in the Land of the Cross Tipped Churches! Safe travels!
oh, come on, you know you want to go a little further south from LA down to Encinitas for a little beach day… 😉
Seriously though, this sounds ah-mazing!! So excited to follow along with you. We long to do something like this with our crew someday. 🙂
That would be awesome, Nicole! I’ll see what I can do 😉
I live in Fresno, CA, so I just want to throw my hat in the ring with offering activity/restaurant suggestions for when you are in the Central Valley. Yosemite and Sequoia are beautiful.
Chelsea Clarkson says
Alas, if only I could invent a reason for you guys to come to Sarasota! I realize the goal is to escape Florida, not go deeper South 🙂 I am so excited for your family, it sounds super inspiring! Maybe I will spend the next few years forcing you to be my internet friend from afar so that whenever yall decide you need a vacation, you can come visit us and we can teach you how to like the beach! Best of look to your beautiful family! xo
Chelsea Clarkson says
Whoooops, best of LUCK but yes, also “best of Look”, that sounds excellent as well.
Sounds like a blast! But I totally think you should skip Chicago, drive a couple more hours north and see some of the best beaches in the country…in Michigan of course!
We love road trips!! Even with the littles 🙂 We’ve been everywhere on your list, except Crater, but mostly before we were married.
However, we did take a toddler and infant on a road trip last summer that includes your first couple of destinations. The toddler LOVED Mammoth Cave — we did the 2 hr historical tour of the cave, with the plan that I would wear the baby — and my husband would take care of the toddler, although it turns out they both wanted me in the dark. But it went really well: I definitely recommend it. We also loved the baseball bat factory tour and Churchill Downs in Louisville (toddler loves baseball and horses).
You’re going to have the best 6 weeks ever!! So excited for you and to follow along on your adventures.
I grew up in KY–the caves are so wonderful to see. I hope you enjoy your trip! There is also a zoo with Australian animals (Kentucky Down Under), if you need another activity nearby, but honestly, if the weather is good, the grounds are quite lovely and you can fill your time walking there.
Wow, that’s sound awesome. Good luck with your incredible trip!
Don’t know if you’ll have the time, but Craters of the Moon is awesome if you’re heading from Yellowstone to Boise via the interstate. It’s a bit off the road, but it’s old lava fields and cinder volcanos and strangely awesome in its desolate landscape. Apollo astronauts trained there too. So, history and geology! http://www.nps.gov/crmo/index.htm
The Junior Ranger programs are really fun! We did one for the Smokies this year and are planning a trip to another national park next year. Your trip sounds like fun, we love road-tripping with our kids.
Kirsten Butler says
Bummer!! You are going to be in Louisville while we are going to be in FL. My oldest daughter (16) thinks you are the coolest! (I do also) We go to St. Martin of Tours Downtown. Beautiful church where the remains of St Magnus and St. Bonosa are laid to rest in glass coffins. I think worth a visit if you have time. Also, The Falls of the Ohio right across the river is very cool. You can walk the fossil beds and it’s free!
Have a wonderful trip!!
Well, hello, fellow parishioner. Haha! Falls of the Ohio is excellent. If it is hot that day and you are looking to relax, Iroquois park has a great playground and small splash park (free). The walking paths there are also great. Surrounding food is also top notch and not too pricy – Vietnam Kitchen, Little Jerusalem. Also, St. Martin’s is open 24 hours for perpetual adoration and kids are VERY welcome 🙂
Goodness, I feel like I could go on for days about all the fun you can have in Louisville. I think I am really missing it these days (currently living in China). It’s a wonderful place, and there is fun stuff to do in every neighborhood. Enjoy your journey!
We’ll definitely have to check out St. Martin of Tours! Share all your Louisville recommendations, ladies! I’m all ears!
Louisville has the largest collection of Victorian era homes in the US. St. James court is basically the center of that area. Central park is right next door. From there, head east across oak st. to bardstown rd/baxter ave and pick just about any restaurant. Lots of local independent places. For dessert, try comfy cow or dairy kastle (or both).
Downtown – w main st. is full of cool museums (Louisville slugger, science center, frazier history). Those do charge entrance fees. Nearby is waterfront park (we have a lot of parks). Cherokee park is our most famous. It’s lovely.
PS my family tells me they have been avoiding the interstates lately, lots of construction. but there are plenty of main roads around it.
Have a great time in Boise (my hometown)! Lots of god hikes in the area, or fun to be had at Lucky Peak Reservoir. Go to Cobby’s for the best sandwiches in town!
Hey we are in ABQ and would love to meet you!
Our family did month+ long cross country driving trips twice when I was a kid. The first one was so much fun we immediately started planning the second. We LOVED them.
LOVE that graphic! So cute! Did one of you draw it?!? (Hunted for an artist credit but didn’t see one. Just curious 🙂 It really is adorable.)
Carolyn of http://www.svellerella.com drew it! She’s an awesome artist 🙂
Claire Rebecca says
I don’t know about Biltmore’s pricing for kids (though I do know that 16 and under get in free at Christmas), but if you’re going to North Carolina I highly recommend it. In addition to being generally awesome, the audio tours are really well done, there are lots of gardens to run around in, and the docents are absolutely amazing and accommodating for families. When we went my sisters were younger and not able to go a long tour without a snack, so a docent escorted them down a back staircase and told them that when they were done, they could just come right back in and they’d take them back to where they had left.
OH you are going to have so much FUN!!! Mammoth is amazingly awesome. …..but you guys are missing the opportunity to visit Glacier National Park! It’s the best park I’ve ever been to (and no, I’m no biased! – living in the Panhandle of Idaho has nothing to do with it). I love road trips, and have to say I’m kinda jealous, but traveling with our 14 month old wouldn’t be my dream right now! Gimme 2 years and I’m gonna plan my own!
Oh my gosh, you’re coming to Central California? I live in San Luis Obispo, and would love to meet you if the stars align!
Crater Lake is one of my favorites of all time 🙂 Looks like a great trip, although I feel like the Pacific Northwest is a little underrepresented, I think you guys would really like Portland and Seattle!