Max is 11, and he already acts like a teenager. Gone is the little boy who would eagerly go anywhere with me: a museum, the beach, hell, even the grocery store. Replacing him is a digital device-playing troll who would rather stay in his room than, well, do anything.

But sometimes I force him to do things, much to his chagrin. During Thanksgiving week, the three of us took a road trip to Desert Hot Springs and Orange County.  I learned long ago that I can never successfully force my husband, Tirrell, to do things he doesn’t want to do, but I still have some sway over Max. Because the “I said so” rule still applies.

Such Great Heights

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There were two things I wanted to do on our overnight in Desert Hot Springs:

  1. Soak in the mineral water at our hotel
  2. Take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to the top of Mount San Jacinto

My first goal fell flat when I felt the blustery winds that tossed pool towels across the courtyard and cooled the hot pools down significantly. Max and I did pop into one of the hotel’s 7 hot pools, but after 10 minutes we were over it. So that left Plan 2.

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The drive was 20 minutes from the hotel, and the temperature rapidly dropped from the 57 degrees it was in the valley to probably around 35 degrees. After buying our tickets (not cheap) and browsing the gift shop, we mounted what’s touted as The World’s Largest Rotating Tramcar with about 30 other people. The ascent took about 10 minutes, and covered 2.5 miles. We were rewarded with breathtaking views of Palm Springs and the mountain we were climbing. Because the tramcars rotate, we were able to see everything. Max was actually digging the scenery, which made me feel pretty gratified.

Bundled Up and Ready to Go

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Really cold weather is a novelty for us in Southern California, so it was kind of fun to have two layers of pants, ski coats, gloves, and hats on. I promised him a short hike, so we chose the 1.5 mile loop that enticed us with views of the desert. Turns out, that’s only if clouds aren’t brushing the mountaintop, which they were. But Max had always wanted to “taste” a cloud, so he fulfilled that lifelong mission.

He also enjoyed climbing some of the many lightning-struck trees laying around Mount San Jacinto State Park (remind me not to visit during a thunderstorm!). And when he spotted tiny pockets of iced over snow, he was over the moon. Too bad they didn’t make for good snowballs.

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The 1.5 mile hike sounded like it would take no time, but with the altitude being 8,516 feet above sea level, and with a few hills, it took longer than expected. By the end, our noses were cold, and we were ready for warm beverages and the heated seats of our car. We took the tramcar back down the mountain, bought our drinks, then headed back to the hotel. Max was quiet on the ride home, but when we returned to the hotel, he had a lot to tell Tirrell about our trip.

Sometimes Mama knows best. I told him that sometimes we make him do things he doesn’t want to because one day he’ll look back at all the travel adventures he had as a kid and be glad he took them. Even if he was forced.