Homeschool Road Trip 2: Grand Canyon, California, etc.

Rough Map of Trip (4500+ miles)
Rough Map of Trip (4500+ miles)

We took our first homeschool road trip in the Fall (East US). The second one was in April and we went west this time. Our main stops were San Diego for a week and then up to San Francisco for a week.

Homeschool Road Trip 2

Just over 4500 miles – the map above is approx and doesn’t show side/day trips. The van did great, the kids did awesome in the van (parents did ok). Like 75 hours driving or something.

One summary I make of it is that I don’t think we could have expected it to go better: no one was injured, nothing was lost/broken, the van did great, etc. Nothing negative really. 🙂

To get there, we stopped to pick some cotton on the side of the highway, went through Winslow, AZ (stood on the corner and there was a girl by a flat-bed For), Flagstaff and up to the Grand Canyon. Then on to Hoover Dam and then Vegas for the night (Paris buffet in the morning) and on to San Diego on the third day. In Vegas we went by the chapel where we got married and recreated a pose we did almost 20 years ago. 🙂

San Diego had a lot to do including their zoo which is great, Seaport Village (“Unconditional Surrender“), the beach, Torrey Pines (probably my favorite of San Diego including going around the rock/cliff to the other beach) and areas like Del Mar and La Jolla.

We stayed in the Pacific Beach area by the Crystal Pier. It was a decent area, but across from a bar which was loud at night and tons of homeless people. I don’t want to judge homeless people but let’s just say it’s not what they put on the postcards.

We worked and homeschooled some too.

From there we went up to LA/Anaheim and went to Disney/California Adventure for the day. The rides were cool, but probably 90% of the 12 hours we were there were standing/waiting in line. As Jim Gaffigan described it. “Imagine you go to the DMV and standing line… that’s it.”

T and I rode the Hollywood Tower of Terror (he’s hunkered down so you can’t see him). He said “my belly was screaming the whole time!” I agree.

The Cars ride was great – rode that twice. The Tarzan treehouse and Wilderness Explorer were very cool surprises – not rides, but kind of like hiking and such. PSA: The beignets in the New Orleans aren’t good. (shock)

It was a great experience, but pretty rough. While we were watching the parade at the end Mo was feeling rough. I had T on my shoulders and just kept psyching myself into standing longer w/o throwing up. We were both sweating from… 12 hours of it all.

We almost pulled a trick on the kids the next day. We were going to video telling them we were going back for another day to video them crying… too cruel.

The pain fades and the memory is good, but I don’t think we’re “Disney” tough.

We drove up the PCH to San Francisco and that was another highlight for me. Windy cliff roads with amazing views around each corner and waves literally crashing on the road in some places – made my day. We went by Hearst Castle but the tours were sold out. We saw it at a distance. It was for the best b/c we got to SF late. We still saw the exhibit and a video later.

We stayed in the Mission District in SF – near the Balmy Mural Alley. We had a few meals around there that were great including Tortas Los Picudos and the Pig and Pie restaurant. So good.

The first full day there we went to Sterling Winery in Napa Valley (drove by Alamo Square on the way), Muir woods and ate at Sausalito. Sterling and Muir might have been the highlights for me on that leg.

There was a chalkboard at Sterling and apparently before he dies, T wants to Poop.

Other days we took Uber (easier and cheaper than driving and parking) to Ghirardelli Square, Lombard street, Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz, etc. We didn’t do a lot of things – you can’t do it all.

Alcatraz is great – such an amazing story and such. I didn’t realize/remember it was so old. It started as a military detention area and there were quotes about it from various inmates and others including Abraham Lincoln. That’s old.

We homeschooled and worked some. We stayed across from a park which had a lot of people playing soccer during the day and evenings and homeless people all hours. Similarly we were warned not to leave anything in the car.

The parking was somewhat of a pain. It was 72-hour parking (who could know how long you were there?) and certain days you had to move for street cleaning. It was a bit of a game. People seemed to know when the cleaner was coming, move their car (double-parked) across the street and then right back. So hard to find spots.

The drive home was a double marathon. 14 hours the first day to Tucson and 15 the next. It was a bit of a beating, but better than 3 days.

Great trip, great memories, probably won’t do something like that again. I think non-city trips are better for homeschooling. Trying to see sights (getting tickets, timed events/plans, etc.) is rough. Just “being in a cool area” (beach, mountains, etc.) seems to be better… to me.

During the whole trip, as we drove, we kept saying to the kids “Look at all the America around here! We’re surrounded by America! Just look at all this America!” We made great memories as a family and we hope the time invested in them is something they carry forward and pass on to their kids.


  • Grand Canyon
  • Driving to CA
  • Vegas Buffet
  • Torrey Pines hiking
  • Poseidon dinners
  • Disney?
  • PCH driving
  • Sterling Winery
  • Muir Woods
  • Alcatraz
  • Tons of time together and memories made

Inspired by “Vacation”…

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