From Arizona to California
Next on our Southwest USA itinerary was tackling the 4 hour drive from Tempe, Arizona to Palm Springs, CA. But this part of the trip had a little twist; Cameron had to fly back to Vancouver to get back to work, so the remainder of the trip would be without him.
Fortunately for me, women in Canada get up to a full year of maternity leave, so I’ve had a lot of flexibility with my schedule over the past few months. It’s nice having the freedom to choose my location, but I’d be lying if I said that taking care of an infant and toddler by myself was easy.
Why Palm Springs, you ask?
While the thought of sunshine and swimming pools certainly played a big role in my decision, the main reason we chose Palm Springs was because my parents had rented an apartment in Palm Springs for the winter and invited us to spend a few weeks with them. So, although Cameron was not with us, the boys had their grandparents around to keep them entertained.
The decision to continue the trip without Cameron meant that I would need to fly home by myself, with two little boys and far too many pieces of luggage. Needless to say, I was not looking forward to that flight experience.
The AZ-to-CA Road Trip
This was my first time traveling with our two boys without Cameron.
It was a strange feeling, but I was excited for this new challenge and looked forward to quality with my boys. Braydon is a daddy’s boy, so he didn’t understand where daddy went and wasn’t happy about the situation, but I think it was good for everyone to have a different routine for a few weeks.
When we mapped out the distance between Tempe and Palm Springs, it made the most sense to drive instead of flying. I love a good road trip, so it was also an excuse to see Arizona’s desert landscapes and move at our own pace.
We decided it would be best for my parents to drive from Palm Springs to Tempe to meet us, then drive our trio back to Palm Springs the following day. It was a lot of driving for everyone, but they also love road trips and had not visited that part of the country before.
It goes without saying that a 4-hour drive with young kids is not as easy as driving with adults. We had to make several stops along the way, allowing me to breastfeed Connor and let Braydon stretch his legs and blow off some steam.
Palm Springs, California
We spent a few weeks in Palm Springs, the perfect amount of time to relax and explore at a slow pace. This was my second visit to Palm Springs in the past three years. It’s actually the first trip we took with Braydon when he was three months old (read about that trip here) and it’s where we captured one of our favourite photos of baby Braydon (take a look here).
We swam in the pool everyday, so Braydon took big steps forward with his comfort level in water. He even started jumping into the pool with me catching him.
We did the typical tourist sightseeing in downtown Palm Springs and captured a photo with the infamous Marilyn Monroe statue (pictured above).
One morning we got up early and headed to the Living Desert Zoo in Palm Desert. It’s a desert botanical garden and a zoo with hundreds of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Braydon is going through an owl phase, so he was ecstatic to see so many different types of owls at the park.
Travel tip – if you plan to visit the Living Desert Zoo, go in the morning because it gets hot and there’s very little shade in the park.
Our time went by fast, as is the case with most vacations. After weeks of daily Skype calls, Braydon was very ready to see his dad again and Cameron was ready to have us home.
And with that, the dreaded solo flight home with two little ones.
I booked a window and middle seat on the flight home, allowing me to contain Braydon. He’s become very shy over the past few months, so a window seat gave him space and comfort. Connor sat on my lap.
I learned very quickly to ask for help. It’s not something I’m comfortable doing, but there’s just no way to carry two boys, carry on bags, luggage, stroller and two car seats.
Fortunately, I rarely had to ask. People were eager to help with my bags while passing through security checks. When I arrived at the gate, I approached the airline representative and let them know that I would need help packing our stroller and boarding the plane (this was my first time requiring assistance after over 100 flights).
I put Connor in his Onya baby carrier when we boarded the plane, allowing my hands to be free. The Westjet staff were very helpful throughout the process.
During the flight, the boys were extremely well behaved (unlike the flight from hell). I brought our tablet loaded with Braydon’s favorite cartoons and games, which bought me some time. We played games, read books, and, of course, both boys decided to fall asleep just as the plane began its final descent. Doh!
After clearing border security, we had one of those special airport moments. Braydon saw Cameron waiting at the entrance and began running at top speed, yelling “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!”
It was a fun trip, but it’s always nice coming home.
**Note to other parents traveling solo, I was required to present a letter of permission that Cameron had signed prior to the trip. Some border security agents don’t ask for the letter, but it’s always best to be prepared.