Heater, Mother of Lance

Fall Break 2013

This post is brought to you by Carnival Cruise Lines.


I remember returning from a fall break spent at my mother’s cabin during Leta’s kindergarten year when another mother at school asked where we had gone on vacation. Leta gleefully blurted out that we had been to Grandmommy’s cabin, and that mother instantly perked up.

“Oh, wow! Where is her cabin?” she asked.

“It’s out in the high desert,” I answered. “Out in Duchesne.”

She acted like I had just spoken a foreign language.


“It’s in the Uinta Basin, near Roosevelt.” I explained. “Out toward Vernal.”

“Oh…” she said and paused for several seconds. “Well… I guess a cabin is a cabin anywhere, right?”

I suppose she thought maybe my mother had a cabin at Sundance? In Aspen? Vail? The Swiss Alps? Ha ha! NOPE! It’s out in the middle of NOWHERE! And last month before we drove out there again for Leta’s fall break she said to me, “We’re only headed to the best place in the world, MOM.”

And I think she really believes that. Because that kid was so amped to go there I thought her glasses might crack from either the velocity of her pulse or the pitch of her voice. Someone had to have been feeding her a constant stream of helium. Or just mentioned to her that her twin cousins Joshua and Noah would be there, too.


The high desert is a quiet, solemn landscape that is perfect for escaping the din of modern life. My mom takes the kids out there for quick overnight visits with her whenever she gets a chance, but because she removed the Internet connection it’s been hard for me to make the trip. And that’s unfortunate because this is exactly the kind of traveling I’m comfortable doing with my kids, I’ve figured out. I’ve created a convenient list of reasons why:

1. It’s only a two-hour drive.
2. No security line.
3. No baggage carousel.
4. No one is standing to the left where there is a sign that says “STAND TO THE RIGHT.”
5. Bottles of water don’t cost $7.
6. Everyone has their own bed.
7. They don’t have to sleep in mine.
8. They sleep far away over there.
9. WAY over there.
10. Keep going. There. THERE. That far.
11. There’s a kitchen!
12. With a refrigerator!
13. So I don’t have to leave the building to get Marlo some apple juice!
14. A tiny carton of apple juice doesn’t cost $7.
15. I don’t have to board the dogs or pay someone to watch them.
16. If Chuck has flatulence I can stick him outside with the coyotes.
18. I can take long walks with the dogs off leash.
19. And hope that neither of them disappear while chasing a rabbit.
20. Okay, maybe I hope Coco disappears.
21. Did I say that out loud?
22. Gluten.
23. Checkers.
24. Bacon.
25. Four wheelers.
26. Sausages.
27. You’d be surprised how delicious four wheelers are.
28. Yes, I’m putting a period behind single words. And sentence fragments. What? Sure.
29. My English degree is WORKING.
30. The scenery.
31. That one should be higher on the list but 29 other things came to mind first.
32. What did I forget?
33. It’s cheap!
34. Like, really cheap.
35. Like, the cost of gas and a trip to the grocery store.
36. Who makes a list of 36 things?
































I’ve written here before that traveling with young kids is not my favorite pastime. Traveling by myself is laborious enough, and when you add in all their gear and potential public meltdowns it’s a recipe for sweaty armpits. Leta is really easy to travel with now that she’s nine-years-old and can take care of her most basic needs. Marlo? Marlo is getting there. She can schlepp her own backpack and lunchbox into school which bodes well for air travel, but last week she was eating a bowl of cereal and found one flake that had baked into another flake forming AN ALIEN FLAKE and not only did she refuse to continue eating but she also slipped out of her chair, fell dramatically onto the floor like she had been shot, and blamed it on the cereal.

But when she does get there, oh the places I WANT to go. A whole new world will open up, a world of foreign languages and warm beaches. A world of longer car rides, hotel rooms, help with pumping the gas (if I’m being honest that’s really why I had kids: built-in gas pumpers). It means planes, trains, and very recently I even considered BOATS. WHAT.

Over the summer my friend Kristen from Rage Against the Minivan told me she was headed on a cruise with her family OF FOUR CHILDREN THAT’S ONE TWO THREE I LOST COUNT. That’s seven more than I have? Something like that. And her youngest is Marlo’s age. And I just fell dramatically onto the floor and it’s all her fault. I was like, woman, you are far braver than I am. But then I saw the Instagram photos she was posting while there, heard about how easy it was when she got back, and I thought to myself MIGHT YOU RECONSIDER, HEATHER?

And the answer to that is YES I MIGHT.

The top ten places I’d love to take my kids once cereal ceases to hold the same scientific properties as Kryptonite:

1. Back to Destin, Florida where I vacationed as a kid.
2. Boston
3. Washington, DC
4. Edina, Minnesota to see our friends Chris and Carol
5. Somewhere in the Caribbean
6. San Francisco
7. Palm Springs
8. Memphis, Tennessee to show them where I grew up.
9. London
10. Vancouver

I know many of you travel often with your kids and don’t consider it a hassle, and some of you like me waited until they were old enough to be able to dress themselves without reenacting a certain traumatic scene involving water from the Wizard of Oz. What have been some of your favorite family trips?


This post is brought to you by Carnival Cruise Lines. Click here to learn more.

  • Deminimis

    2013/11/23 at 9:13 pm

    I think I will agree with Leta, that looks like the best place in the world.

  • Loving it

    2013/11/24 at 2:29 am

    Great Post. I don’t know why people whinge about that word ‘sponsored’. It’s actually the first post in weeks where I have felt you are back to your old self. I’ve really thought you were giving this all away or lost the passion. Glad it’s not true!

    Hope you do make some longer family trips soon, event the disastrous memories are still well worth having 🙂

  • quan luong

    2013/11/24 at 2:32 am

    Indochina (Vietnam, LAOs, Cambodia), why not?!

  • mathilde

    2013/11/24 at 8:04 am

    You can’t travel with two kids? I have been traveling and moving around the world with my five children from the time they were new born. Your girls seems so spoiled and weak, kind of like you, they cannot handle anything. done reading your constant whine and stress over nothing.

  • Val

    2013/11/24 at 11:10 am

    Thanks for the love….I live out in the Basin near Jensen and the world famous Dinosaur National Monument. It is a place where you can really explore and be alone in nature. So glad you are able to experience it with your lovely family.

  • Tracy

    2013/11/24 at 1:05 pm

    We just did Europe on the Carnival Sunshine with our kids over the summer (aged 10, 9, 7) – it was the best vacation EVER!!!!!

  • MazMonroe

    2013/11/24 at 4:27 pm

    peek! (not peak)

  • SpellCheckNazi

    2013/11/24 at 8:55 pm

    for crying out loud; did you spell check everyone?

  • desolationangela

    2013/11/24 at 10:43 pm

    Since before my now husband and I were romantically inclined towards each other we have visited Hornby Island (Off the coast of Vancouver Island) every summer for between 7 and 10 days a pop. In my late teens the allure of Hornby was the gorgeous pristine scenery (sandstone formations, forests, silky white sandy beaches) and the hippy attitude, acquired honestly due to a large population of vietnam war draft dodgers. One time we met another teen on the beach who declared that he lived there, so we asked him what he did. In between drags on his locally grown joint he squinted and answered, “I meditate a lot.” Anyways, now that we have a two and four year old I love it there that much more! We’ve taken the kids elsewhere to music festivals, cabin ski trips, camping, and even Europe, but so far the quiet, healthy, friendly lifestyle of Hornby is our favourite. Just watching my children picking blackberries as they walk down quiet roads to the ocean to somehow become even sandier than they already are, watching them discover teeming life in tidepools and dancing to local musicians at island gatherings, watching outdoor movies and star gazing at the same time…it’s magic. And even better, we bring friends with kids so that they aren’t yelling, “mommy play with me! Who is going to play with me? I NEED someone to PLAY with me NOW!” The whoooole time. Also, no bears! However, I would love to expose them to world travel. One day, in the wealthier future, maybe we’ll be able to afford the privilege of teaching them about the world by showing it to them in person.

  • Shalini

    2013/11/24 at 11:56 pm

    My two older kids have been in and around the USA. But the biggie is that we moved to the middle of Australia with all 3 of our kids when they were 7,3, and not even 1. We are going to take all 3 of them to Samoa for their summer/Christmas break! Not excited about the flying, but so excited about the exploration.

    Also the girls need to get on that fixing you a hot dog out at the cabin!

    Happy traveling!

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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