4 years. They say if it's worth having, then it's worth waiting for. On August 27, 2007 I read this article in our local paper about a very special museum located in Santa Rosa, CA that I immediately decided would be a fun place to take my then 6-year old daughter. I anticipated visiting the Charles Schulz Museum every weekend since Santa Rosa Valley is only 10 miles from my home.

After searching the Internet and mapping out directions, I was suddenly deflated. The Santa Rosa they mentioned in the article was 430 miles away! And a 7-hour drive to get there was going to need a little more planning than a quick weekend jaunt in the car.

Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. 

Fast forward to December 29, 2011. After four years of waiting, my Christmas present was not a new iPhone, but what would prove to be very special "Cartoons" Trip with my 10-year old daughter.

The museum opened at 11:00am and it was a 7-hour drive, so that meant we needed to leave at 3:00am in the morning! Sure I could have chosen to leave a day earlier, or travel by plane, but drawing from my childhood memories, road trips are something special. They provide ample quiet time to ponder life and detox from the stresses of the daily grind. It's also a great bonding opportunity with my little traveler!

So with a full tank of gas, a surplus of coffee, and a quick donut shop stop, we were off. Shouldering the responsibility of getting us to our destination safely, I repetitiously sipped coffee as I listened to motivational CDs, while my daughter rested soundly in the back of our car. Our first stop came shortly before 7:00am in King City to refuel the car and our stomachs. C'mon, you can't have a road trip with out a #2 Breakfast Meal!

We spent the remaining trip in the car listening to audio books of Geronimo Stilton and The Spiderwick Chronicles to help pass the time. At 11:00am we finally entered Santa Rosa to check into our hotel and freshen up before travelling the remaining 2 miles to our destination- The Charles M. Schultz Museum!

Because of the theater schedule, our first stop was watching a short documentary on Charles Schulz titled, A Boy Named Charlie Brown. This set the tone for what would be an enlightening and inspiring trip through the museum. My daughter was entertained by the history of all the classic Peanuts comic strips on display throughout the gallery. She also posed with numerous Peanuts gang statues and participated in drawing some of the characters herself in the Education Room.

One highlight for me was visiting Schulz' Drawing Studio. It was motivating to see where all the magic happened as this room showcased his vast collection of books, materials and memorabilia. At the museum we also met some friends that live in the area to play some miniature golf and catch up over dinner.

Part of our trip was to visit Snoopy's Home Ice located next to the museum. Because open ice was sold out earlier, we had to come back at 7:30pm. In anticipation we watched the Peanuts-decorated Zamboni renew the ice before we made our way onto the rink. What a magical 2-hours that was as me and my daughter held hands skating around the colorfully lit ice decorated with Christmas lights.

The next morning we stopped at The Historic Railroad Square District to take a few more pictures with a bronze Charlie Brown and Snoopy statue before visiting San Francisco on the way home. In San Francisco we planned to take pictures at the Golden Gate Bridge, have lunch at Fisherman's Wharf, ride a Trolley Car, and visit the Cartoon Art Museum. It was a this point where I was rethinking the purchase of that new iPhone because with out a GPS in the car, getting around San Francisco delayed our first stop by over an hour. But the delay was worth it because our first and only stop was in the presidio at The Walt Disney Family Museum.

My daughter was fully entertained by all the colorful and interactive displays that chronologically toured us through Walt Disney's historic life journey. But with another 7-hour ride ahead of us,  it was time to return home. Low on fuel and energy, we made a perfectly timed pit stop in Sunnyvale at PF Changs China Bistro to enjoy our last meal of this special trip together. My daughter then slept the rest of the ride home while I enjoyed the quiet reflection on what I hope will be a trip she will always remember.

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