Family takes a mystery trip that’s full of adventure

By Jennifer Bardsley

It was July 5 and my daughter and I had our packed suitcases loaded in the car. We were minutes away from leaving on a road trip, but there was a catch — we had no idea where we were going. The answer was in the envelope from our travel agent, Pack Up + Go. I ripped open the envelope and saw our destination. We were headed to Spokane!

Pack Up + Go gave us a folder full of driving directions, suggested activities and information about our preplanned events. They had booked us at the Davenport Tower and made dinner reservations at Anthony’s for later that evening. A sky ride over Spokane Falls and a kayaking excursion were also on the docket. The rest of the adventure was up to us.

I first heard of Pack Up + Go when a friend booked a surprise road trip from the Bay Area and was sent to San Luis Obispo. Ever since I saw her pictures, I wanted to try it out, too. My husband and son had to work, but a mother-daughter trip was doable.

Our trip cost $400 a day, which included a disclosed 20 percent markup for using the agency, but for me it was worth it. I’ve lived in Washington for 16 years and this was my first trip to Spokane. For some reason, it wasn’t on my radar as a fun vacation spot, but boy did the city deliver.

Our hotel was a two-minute walk away from Spokane Falls, Riverfront Park, playgrounds, shops and restaurants. As big cities go, it felt safe to walk around, even late into the night. There were dog walkers, retirees and young families everywhere. My daughter and I had fun exploring the area on electric Lime scooters.

We spent one day of our trip at Silverwood Theme Park in Athol, Idaho. Visiting midweek meant crowds were small and my daughter could ride the brand new roller coaster, Stunt Pilot, five times in a row.

The next day was educational. The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture had a wonderful exhibit about Dreamworks Animation. My favorite museum artifact was the Campbell House mansion next door. I love historic homes, and this one did not disappoint. We also stopped by the Jundt Art Museum at Gonzaga University where my daughter saw her first Andy Warhol.

Would I travel to Spokane again for a vacation? Yes; in a heartbeat. The Davenport Tower was lovely but next time I want to try the Davenport Historic instead.

What about booking another mystery trip? That’s a yes for me as well. It’s true that it cost a bit extra, but it ministered to my decision fatigue. Instead of me being the person who planned everything, someone else made critical arrangements for me. That’s the closest thing I’ll get to being a kid on vacation again.

Unless of course I became brave enough to ride Stunt Pilot five times in a row. Which, frankly, is never going to happen.

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram, on Twitter and Facebook.


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