My family’s first road trip started last Friday. Driving north, we spent our first night on the road in Redding. After nine hours on the highway, we were ready for a break.

We checked in to the Holiday Inn, and my two daughters couldn’t wait to jump into the pool. After unpacking the car we suited up and headed out. They were giddy. I was reserved. It’s been 10 years since I’ve looked passable in any aquatic environment.

There is a culture that emerges around pools when traveling with children. It has evolved with clarity and comedic consistency for me over countless soccer weekends and Disneyland jaunts spent parenting. The one common theme is exhaustion.

From there, paths diverge. I have lazily identified three distinct categories. I’m sure there are more.

The first are the overly protective worriers. My wife falls into the conservative end of this category — a woman who has never met a paranoid fantasy she didn’t embrace.

The second group are the painfully indifferent. The vast majority of parents rest here, with rest being the operative word. For this group the pool is a babysitter, and as long as their charges aren’t drowning, they are content. Apprehension and fear do not plague them. I think they understand the worriers have got things covered.

The final group, usually men, are the instigators. They stand in the middle of the pool tossing children like sacks of flour. They encourage their children to risks and ruckus, creating bedlam for the worriers. Such was the makeup of our pool in Redding.

The temperature had exceeded 100 degrees when we arrived, and the pool was packed. The instigators were clearly in charge. As the pool culture descended into violence, my daughters retreated to the spa.

I should note here that, for the duration of this trip, my daughters will both be 12 years old. They are not twins. Born 10½ months apart (and blessedly in the same soccer year), they spend 42 days of each year the same age.

In the spa they encountered a set of real twins who had likewise retreated there. The four connected immediately. For the next three hours they talked and laughed and found their common ground.

Watching this unfold I couldn’t help but be witness to the creation of one those indelible memories of youth, the kind of memories repeatedly recalled of first, innocent flirtations. The boys’ parents recognized this, too.

We introduced ourselves and briefly shared our respective wisdom. The families lingered, not wanting to break the spell, but eventually we said goodnight.

The next morning the kids found one another. Phone numbers and emails were exchanged in what most certainly will be a futile effort to hang on. Regardless, these are important lessons.

Our next stop was Portland, Ore., an uneventful respite but for a crazy doughnut shop. Voodoo Doughnuts was worth a quick diversion from our intended route.

The lines are long, the prices high and the offerings eclectic. After 30 minutes in line, I settled on the bacon maple bar. It was, without question, the best doughnut I have ever eaten, my heart be damned.

We made it to Seattle and have settled in for a weeklong stay. We passed the Fourth of July watching fireworks over Lake Union, an epic display.

For the rest of the night fireworks rained like, well, rain. I have never seen or heard so many fireworks in one place from all corners of the city.

While our stay has just begun, we are impressed thus far. The beauty of this city is matched only by the kindness of its people. I will be looking forward to sharing more about these, next week from the road.

— Tim Durnin is a father, husband and serves as chief operating officer for Surgical Eye Expeditions (SEE) International. He can be reached at for comments, discussion, criticism, suggestions and story ideas.