West Coast road trip

<b>What I expected:</b> We dreaded the road- trip for six months. The thought of 60 hours on the asphalt over a two-week span was enough to make me curse <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="PESPT002331" title="Henry Ford" href="/topic/sports/henry-ford-PESPT002331.topic">Henry Ford</a>. Someone once said, "It's the journey, not the destination." I don't think they were talking about a 3,000-mile road trip with a 2- and 5-year-old, though. Or were they?<br>
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<b>What I found:</b> Our itinerary from Los Angeles: <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="PLGEO100100204141250" title="Portland (Multnomah, Oregon)" href="/topic/us/oregon/multnomah-county/portland-%28multnomah-oregon%29-PLGEO100100204141250.topic">Portland</a>, Ore., <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="PLGEO100101101011245" title="Seattle" href="/topic/us/washington-%28u.s.-state%29/king-county/seattle-PLGEO100101101011245.topic">Seattle</a>, the Washington Coast, <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="PLGEO100101101151182" title="Livermore" href="/topic/us/california/alameda-county-%28california%29/livermore-PLGEO100101101151182.topic">Livermore</a>, Calif., and <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="PLGEO100100608011515" title="Monterey (Monterey, California)" href="/topic/us/california/monterey-county/monterey-%28monterey-california%29-PLGEO100100608011515.topic">Monterey</a>. Did I mention we have two kids under the age of 6?<br>
<br>
Preparation was essential: <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="PECLB002548" title="Michael Jackson" href="/topic/entertainment/music/michael-jackson-PECLB002548.topic">Michael Jackson</a> and <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="ENMV00000267" title="The Nightmare Before Christmas (movie)" href="/topic/entertainment/movies/the-nightmare-before-christmas-%28movie%29-ENMV00000267.topic">"The Nightmare Before Christmas"</a> in the CD player? Check. Travel bingo? Check. DVDs? Check. The dime/nickel bribe jar? Check. It would be the four of us, in our moving bubble, with nothing to do but relate.<br>
<br>
 But much to my surprise, the intense planning worked. The kids were riveted by the passing countryside. The restaurant pit stops were like a trip to Disneyland. Our 5-year-old was so taken with Harris Ranch that she requested we stop there again on Day 2 . We informed her that unless we drove backward for seven hours, it wasn't happening.<br>
<br>
Someday soon, our kids will disappear into Leapsters, iPods and any number of electronics that will shut us out. But we will always have the memory of the American ritual we loathed, even feared. Turns out, it will probably be the vacation we cherish most.<br>
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Sondi Toll Sepenuk, Los Angeles<br>
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<i>Pictured: Seattle's Pike Place Market</i>
lat-hateseattle_jc1fnpnc20100210121546

( Kevin P. Casey / For The Times )

What I expected: We dreaded the road- trip for six months. The thought of 60 hours on the asphalt over a two-week span was enough to make me curse Henry Ford. Someone once said, "It's the journey, not the destination." I don't think they were talking about a 3,000-mile road trip with a 2- and 5-year-old, though. Or were they?

What I found: Our itinerary from Los Angeles: Portland, Ore., Seattle, the Washington Coast, Livermore, Calif., and Monterey. Did I mention we have two kids under the age of 6?

Preparation was essential: Michael Jackson and "The Nightmare Before Christmas" in the CD player? Check. Travel bingo? Check. DVDs? Check. The dime/nickel bribe jar? Check. It would be the four of us, in our moving bubble, with nothing to do but relate.

But much to my surprise, the intense planning worked. The kids were riveted by the passing countryside. The restaurant pit stops were like a trip to Disneyland. Our 5-year-old was so taken with Harris Ranch that she requested we stop there again on Day 2 . We informed her that unless we drove backward for seven hours, it wasn't happening.

Someday soon, our kids will disappear into Leapsters, iPods and any number of electronics that will shut us out. But we will always have the memory of the American ritual we loathed, even feared. Turns out, it will probably be the vacation we cherish most.

Sondi Toll Sepenuk, Los Angeles

Pictured: Seattle's Pike Place Market

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