The Stout Family Utah Trip

Welcome to a different sort of an entry for me.

When my sons were kids, the thing I looked forward to the most each year was our family vacations. They would usually take place right after Comic-Con as a much needed relief from that show and as a chance to spend some quality time with my family after ignoring them for so long (as I was consumed by my Comic-Con prep).

I did all the planning and booking for our trips. I heavily researched each vacation, cross-referencing all the potential hotels, restaurants (we’re all foodies), hiking trails and attractions in the places we would be staying.

Once everything was booked, I made up printed itineraries for each family member (you can click on each of these itinerary pages to make them larger).

The itineraries served a number of purposes. One was eliminating the “What are we going to do today?” questions. Having the schedule of their vacation in their hands gave each son a great, delicious sense of anticipation (“Oh, wow! We’re going to do this today?!”).

I used these itineraries as educational vehicles as well. I included maps to teach them geography. I included historical “factoids” to teach them each region’s unique history.

As you can see I included some photos from the travel brochures I received. I also drew cartoons of my family members (and myself) in comical situations. I included all of our flight and hotel reservation numbers to make them easy to locate. I also noted if I had already pre-paid the hotels and B & Bs, and if they included breakfast.

With each passing year my itineraries got more elaborate with fewer photos and more illustrations. This Utah trip was a fairly early itinerary. The illustrations here were not as dominant yet.

I really began to enjoy the illustration aspect of them. The later itineraries got a little ambitious — but I enjoyed creating them.

I chose our vacation destinations carefully. I wanted my sons to fully experience different parts of our country as well as different countries of the world.

Our trips were always a combination of both high and low culture. I obviously love art museums. But I also love the goofy old Route 66-style roadside attractions that entertained and mystified me as a child. I taught my family a great appreciation for both types of culture.

(Cafe Diablo — see above — is a terrific restaurant, BTW, in a land — Utah — not known for its cuisine) I believe my first itineraries were in black and white. It wasn’t long before I added color.

The restaurants, too, were part of our cultural immersion. I enjoy a great burger joint as much as I do “fine dining”, so we indulged in both. I was always on the lookout for regional specialties and included them on our trips.

I eventually began purchasing elaborate (and appropriate) papers upon which to print the itineraries. The color printing of the special papers added to the look of the itineraries, making them seem more lavish and expensive than they actually were (you aren’t seeing the special papers I chose because I reproduced all of these pages from my original dummy).

I think I always included at least one hand drawn “family photo” with us in garb appropriate to where we were going.

In addition, I would record mix cassettes of the music that emanated from the region we were visiting (I have a vast music library) or from the musicians who originally came from that area. I’d play them while we were driving. My goal was total cultural immersion and education in a way that was fun and entertaining.

After each trip was over I would go back and annotate each itinerary, noting what we did, what we didn’t do (despite the seeming rigidity of these itineraries, I kept our trips fairly flexible. If we were really enjoying something I wasn’t about to stop our fun just to get to the next attraction), what we loved, what we disliked and, sometimes, despite all my guidebook research, what was no longer there. These annotated texts were eventually distributed as an aid to friends later planning to visit the same countries or regions.

The annotated versions also helped me whenever I happened to revisit some of these places as a result of my convention travels.

I thought you might like this glimpse into a bit of my personal life, something that has given my family and me some of our fondest memories and greatest pleasures in life.

5 Responses to “The Stout Family Utah Trip”

  1. Rick catizone says:

    That’s very cool! Nice to see so much attention to your family. And all that time and work to illustrate and plan. Very special.

    Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Best,
    Rick

  2. Rick Conrad says:

    Truly awesome. Thanks for sharing. Imagine they are even better than home movies of your travels for reliving the trips.

  3. Lee Copeland says:

    Bill,

    You are one of a kind. 🙂

    I enjoy all these little side stories as they paint a more complete picture of the man behind the easel.

  4. Rick Tucker says:

    After some recent (two weeks ago) hiking in Zion National Park (and, no, I’m too afraid of heights to attempt Angel’s Landing) I have to say that’s some of the most amazing scenery in all the north Americas! We’ve been to the Grand Canyon (where I discovered my exquisite fear of heights) in AZ and Bryce Canyon in UT as well as Dinosaur Valley and have concluded that if we were fresh 20 year olds with what know now as a bonus we still would not manage to truly see everything the American West has to offer.
    I’m also not the artist you are. No sketches of my trip but now I’m wondering….

    Best,
    RT

  5. Amada Techau says:

    early hotel reservations are really necessary specially during peak seasons. ;

    Our very own online site
    http://www.prettygoddess.com

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