6 Tips for Whale Watching with Families : A Whale of Good Time for All


I can’t say that I am sea life crazy, but my daughters love maritime creatures. My younger daughter, Tigerlily, has a particular love for sharks. Her great dream is to see the whale sharks make their passage through the Gulf of Mexico. My older daughter, perhaps an echo of her more thoughtful nature, prefers the Ocean’s great mammals–whales. And, as such, I, a mother with such severe motion sickness that I feel nauseous typing this, have found myself on animal watching adventures in two oceans and one sea. Here are some tips that I have gleaned over many a boating safari, as it were.
Whale Boat
Know your Boats and You Kids:
My daughters might love the sea more than me, but they have also gained my serious motion-sickness. (Everyone turns into their mom in the end ;>)  Whale watching can be done from a variety of boats. A variety of small boats, like Zodiacs, are fabulous to get close up to the whale. We have seen families that come spilling off the Zodiacs with smiles as big as Jacques Cousteau.  But, truth be told, can’t say that I have experienced them.  I once got close but then I chickened out. For me, the goal is that the boat is big enough that I only feel queasy enough to take 1/2 a Dramamine. I want to be sentient enough to remember the whales; and any more Dramamine, I would be snoring. That said, there is an upper limit to the size of boat. A very large boat and you will be acres away from your quarry. The ideal boat has one deck and holds about 50 people. This boat will rock less than a Zodiac but still be able to approach the whales.
Know your whales and their season:
Whale watching can be pricey if you take a boating excursion. And, even if you just watch from the shore, there is nothing worse for kids than being disappointed. I am obsessive in my research before even mentioning the possibility of whale watching.  First, understand the region that you are visiting. For example, in Saguenay in Quebec, August is THE season. If you go with your kids in December, who knows, you might see a whale. But, if it were me, I would rather be pretty darn sure that we would see a whale. As such, we went in August.
A good whale watching outfit will post sightings. Go back and check their postings for the year before your planned visit. Then check one year and one week before and after your visit, because, well, whales don’t have Google Calendar. Do these journals seem to indicate a good number of sightings? Are they surprised at the number of sightings (so something that might not happen in subsequent years)? Do they mention the frequency […]

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6 Best Audiobook Series for Family Travel Roads Trips

Over the last two years, our family has driven more than 10,000 miles. I should really say that my daughters and I have ridden 10,000 miles, because my husband does all the driving. Many people roil at the thought of driving long distance with their children. But, for our girls, you have spent countless hours driving to see their out of town grandparents, this is their normal. We have definitely had our driving melt-downs. But, audiobooks are the one thing that has most prevented a historic melee. We turn a good book series on, and like music soothes the savage beast, everyone settles in to listen. And, when you go really long haul, like Highway 1 or Highway 101, a series is particularly fun. So, here is our rundown of our favorite audiobooks.
So, here is our rundown of our favorite audiobooks, with strong stories and evocative readers.  These books will keep kids enthralled but also draw in grown-ups.

1. Ramona Quimby
Beverly Cleary’s age-old series follows Ramona and her older sister, Beezus, through their exploits in elementary school. The reader does an exceptional job making you feel like you are right there in 2nd grade. The eight-book series also catches up with the girls over the years, so for this is great for families with multiple children.
2. Harry Potter
Jim Dale is probably the premier reader, turning the Harry Potter series into a one-man radio play. These seven books are the kind of audiobooks that you can hear over and over. We particularly enjoy them on wintery drives.

3. Chasing Vermeer
The Blue Balliet series of four books are age-appropriate mysteries. The solid reader will keep you interested in this tale of child-detectives investigating art crimes.
4. The Alchemyst
This six-book series draws on some of the same mythological themes as Harry Potter, but for older children. There are some serious themes and violence. It takes place largely in the Bay Area, so this was an ideal series to enjoy while we drove Highway 1.

5.Spy School
Stuart Gibbs writes a number of different middle aged children’s series. But, we love the three-part Spy School for its light tone and strong friendships.
6. The Sixty-Eight Rooms
This four-part series features mystery, time-traveling, and dollhouses.  We loved this series, particularly due to the strong female lead. The reader does a good job playing the various roles.

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Camp Packing List

Packing List   Car Camping Packing List Shelter Tent Tent mat Heavy Duty Garbage Bags Sleeping bags (1 per person/ or…