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When Spring Break Doesn’t go as Planned

I was provided with a Mazda CX-9 to test drive during my boys’ spring break from school.


How much do you plan for spring break?


One of the things I have always loved about traveling with my boys is how easy it was to do when they were younger. They were too young for school and sports, so we didn’t have those concerns to consider when planning. Yes, there were challenges of nap schedules, packing a diaper bag, and not losing a child. But if I wanted to take off for the day to head somewhere with my boys, I could. I didn’t need to check sports schedules. I didn’t need to check with teachers about missed homework assignments or projects.


Fast forward to today. With 3 boys, ages 8, 11, and 12 years old it’s much harder to travel. Days of middle school leave afternoons of homework. My year-round athletes have nights and weekends filled with sports practice and games. Scheduling family travel has become harder, but not impossible.


Mazda CX-9


Planning for our spring break

We are fortunate that our school district schedules a generous spring break of 10 days. To say I was excited about this year’s spring break was an understatement. I was thrilled. Back to back days of no school, I started making plans for where we could go. I needed to arrange transportation. I reached out to DriveShop who graciously arranged for me to test drive a Mazda CX-9 for the week. With seating for 7, the Mazda CX-9 would be perfect for our travels and bringing along a few extra friends.


Mazda CX-9


Setting our spring break schedule

Our car arrangements were made. It was time to set our schedule. Most of the week’s forecast called for sunny days. We made plans to visit Great Adventure, 3 National Parks in New Jersey, a state park, a castle, and 2 waterfalls. We’d spend the 1 rainy day at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Considering the spaciousness of the Mazda CX-9 we even invited a few friends to join us on our New Jersey day trips.


But then….

As our Mazda arrived the weather became gloomy. We knew it would not be a great day to walk around Great Adventure. We considered where we could explore. What’s been on our New Jersey bucket list but we haven’t gotten too?


Cohanzick Zoo Shelfie

Cohanzick Zoo Shelfie


Cohanzick Zoo

Exploring our site and our listing of Cumberland County things to do, I remembered the Cohanzick Zoo. While it may have been raining in Atlantic County, the forecast for Bridgeton showed sunny skies. I programmed the Mazda’s GPS and we were off on our way to the Cohanzick Zoo.


Despite the off and on rain to Bridgeton, the Mazda CX-9 wipers and car adjusted accordingly. It was a smooth quiet ride that had all the boy snoozing as I drove. Just as we pulled up to the zoo the sun came out. We oohed and awed over the cute animals. You can see our Cohanzick Zoo pictures here. Our week was off to a great start.


Then the flu hit…

Unfortunately, as bedtime hit so did a fever for my 11-year-old son. He had been battling a slight cold, but it seemed to be getting worse. Despite rest and some meds, he woke up with a 102 fever. Ugh, off to urgent care we went where he was diagnosed with the flu. Suddenly our plans were on hold.


Tuesday and most of Wednesday became a day of rest. But by Wednesday afternoon I needed to get them out of the house. My sick son had had 2 days of rest and medicines in him. The 2 other sons were full of energy and bouncing off the walls. We needed to get out.


A drive thru nature drive for the Mazda CX-9

Not far from our home is the Forsythe Refuge. It’s picturesque wildlife drive through nature proved to be a perfect way for us to get out without getting out too much. The Mazda CX-9 made our drive thru nature incredible. Three rows of seating meant every son had a great view from the right to the left. Of course, they all enjoyed the view of the sky through the sun/moon roof. The smooth ride and quiet engine allowed us to pull up ever so close to cranes, geese, and other wildlife. I could not have asked for a better ride along the Forsythe Refuge.


Forsythe Wildlife Refuge


The relaxing drive in the Mazda helped us get our spring break back on the right path. Thursday, we made it up to the Paterson Great Falls. The views were stunning at this National Park in New Jersey. My boys earned their first Junior Park Ranger badges for New Jersey (story coming) See the pictures here.


Paterson Great Falls National Park

Paterson Great Falls National Park


We had hoped to see the Lambert Castle but had to adjust our plans when it was closed for a private event. Instead, we visited the Regatta Playground. You can watch our Facebook Live tour of that Essex County playground here.


Hacklebarney State Park in Long Valley New Jersey

Exploring Hacklebarney State Park


We finished our spring break of New Jersey day trips on Friday by squeezing in two more stops. We visited the Morristown National Park where my boys earned more New Jersey Junior Park Ranger badges. Then it was off to Hacklebarney State Park for a quick hike to see another New Jersey waterfall before heading home.


Junior Park Ranger badge at the Morristown National Historical Park

My 8 year old working on earning his Junior Park Ranger badge at the Morristown National Historical Park.


The Mazda CX-9

Despite some setbacks over spring break we still managed to get in a lot of family fun while traveling with the Mazda CX-9. We probably spent 3-5 hours in this Mazda family car each day. We’ve gotten to the know the Mazda CX-9 quite well. Take a look at our video tour of the Mazda CX-9 and some of the features we wanted to share.



Mazda CX-9 features

  • Windshield Display – Control which dashboard & GPS settings you want to be projected onto the windshield
  • GPS Alternate Routes – While driving the GPS would recommend faster routes as they became available.
  • Smooth Ride
  • USB Ports
  • Dual – Temperature Controls


Mazda CX-9


  • Auto Lights/Wiper Settings
  • Heated Seats
  • Automatic Lift Gate
  • Optional Cargo Space – The third row of seating can be flattened down for additional storage space.


Mazda CX-9


Learn more about the Mazda CX-9 at their site, View more of our Mazda CX-9 pictures in our Facebook Album.

Here’s a brief preview of our album.


Learn more about the New Jersey National Parks in this blog post.

National Parks in New Jersey


Follow our National Park Junior Ranger Badge series here.

National Parks

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