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Mud Season

"Mud Season" – is between April and June when the ground doesn’t have enough snow on it to ski but is still too muddy to hike, camp, fish, or get out and enjoy nature. The Mother Lode is thankfully saturated enough to prevent a drought but the rain, unpredictable cold temperatures and storms are keeping me at home. Sure you adventurers out there have the gear to brave it all but for the rest of us perhaps it is vacation time!

Road Trip

A great opportunity to make memories with your friends and family if you:

Plan Ahead. It is fun to be spontaneous but make sure everyone agrees on the destination/s. If you’re looking to see places off the beaten path, try one of the scenic byways listed on or if you like to visit more oddball attractions, try myMotherLode’s destination guide has a great list of local places to see. See my Destination and Rectration blogs to learn more about it.

Make Reservations. Tell friends and family along your route when to expect you and make hotel or campground reservations in advance. Research what each company’s policy is for late check-ins or canceled reservations in case you get delayed by weather or road construction.

Maintain your vehicle. Before you leave check fluid levels, belts, fans, hoses, filters, tires and brakes. Make sure your spare tire is usable and consider taking along more than one spare tire if you’ll be traveling over a lot of rough roads.

Pack the vehicle for safety and fun. To ensure everyone stays in good spirits, pack a few items for entertainment and travel-friendly snacks like pretzels, animal crackers, raisins, cereal, fruit, granola bars and trail mix. Stop at grocery stores along the way and stock up on bottled drinks, sandwich supplies and ice.

Track expenses. Everything adds up! myMotherLode features a gas watch map that can zoom out from here to show prices around the country. Go to our Traffic section, check it out and report local the local gas prices you see.

Travel by Plane

According to the U.S. Office of Travel and Tourism Industries (OTTI), air traffic from the U.S. to the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico cools in April after spring break before climbing to a peak in August. In some regions, the shoulder season brings travel deals and room rates 45 percent lower than the holiday high seasons.

Bring the Kids?

It may not be an option for high school kids or those struggling with their workloads, but for some children a vacation can help reinforce their education through hands-on experience.

"Without question, the kind of life experiences that kids gain from traveling – from experiencing new places to meeting new people to spending more time with your own family – can be as enriching as a week in the classroom," says Alistair Wearmouth, family travel specialist for travel guide Web site "Talk to your kids’ teachers and make the case that it’ll be educational as well as fun."

To make the most of family travel, try to pick a location that overlaps with one of your child’s classes, and ask the teacher for an assignment packet ahead of time, setting aside a few hours each day for homework.

Avoid Crowds

Anyone who’s ever hiked in Yosemite or visited Calaveras’ Vineyard in August can tell you that Mother Nature and the madding crowds can make these prime destinations too hot or crowded to handle. Not so in April and May.

Mud season is also the best time to visit Mexico and the Caribbean, since the holiday crowds are largely gone but hurricane season (June through November) hasn’t started yet. Oregon, Washington and Utah do have very nice spring days, prepare for rain but don’t let it keep your inner tourist at home!

Can’t get away?

Be a tourist in your backyard! Check out my "staycationing" blog here.