Welcome to the “new” CarseatBlog.Com!  We hope to be making far more frequent updates than we have over the last year or two.  In particular, we hope to focus on new products, product reviews, conferences and recent media.  To start it off, Heather (murphydog77) and I are off to one of the annual conferences about child passenger safety.

My family’s excellent adventure to KIM, the Kidz In Motion National Child Passenger Safety Conference, got off to an easier-than-expected start yesterday.  We have never taken our entire crew of three kids on an airplane trip before; all of our previous vacations were in the family truckster.  We almost drove this one, too, but vacation time was limited and blowing 4 days on driving wouldn’t have left much for sight seeing.  There were also visions of this.  So, we opted to fly Southwest there as rates had actually dropped since I priced them early this year.  With my 3-year old’s fascination with trains, we decided to splurge and book a family cabin in the Amtrak California Zephyr on the way back.

Of course, I was trying to figure out what to do for child seats…    My oldest son is almost 10.  While he still rides in a Jane Indy Plus in our minivan, he doesn’t generally use a child restraint otherwise so no worries there.  My daughter turns 8 next month and still uses a booster all the time.  My younger son is 3 (probably about 40 pounds now) and is evaluating a Britax Frontier while his Safeguard Seat is on loan to another moderator at Car-Seat.Org .   Though clearly not the safest practice, I opted to allow my youngest son to be seated in the airplane with only the provided seatbelt (gasp!), which he tolerated very well.   I also decided to possibly allow my daughter to ride for the first time without a child restraint for the duration of our trip.   Worst case, if the rental car seat belts didn’t fit her, we could always request a booster at the rental car agency or purchase an inexpensive backless booster for the trip.

That left the limousine and rental car for my youngest son.  Enter the Safeguard GO child restraint that had been collecting dust since I had loaned it to another blogger (Heather) a while back.  In our stretch limo, the GO installed within a few minutes and worked great in the rearmost, forward-facing bench seat that had LATCH.  The side facing seats of a stretch never instill much confidence for me, though my daughter astutely observed that the rear-facing seat she had behind the front seat should be very safe!  As for the GO, it also came out and stowed into the carry-bag within a couple minutes; handy for curbside airport dropoff.  Another great feature is that it is small enough to carry onto the plane and fit into an overhead bin.  No worries about it being lost in checked or damaged in gate-checked luggage!  The GO is indeed a great option for travel.  I wrote about it back in this review .

Somehow, we managed to arrive in Denver unscathed, without any serious delays or high-stress incidents through airport security or elsewhere!  With our kids, that is rarely a given;-)  Our rental is a nice surprise so far, too.  My wife is a Hertz super ultra premium gold executive member, so awaiting us at the designated spot was a 2008 Kia Sedona with key in ignition.   I was pleased to have one of the safest vehicles on the road today as our week-long rental, though I was hoping to try out the new Chrysler/Dodge minivan, too.   The SafeGuard Go fit easily into a second row captain’s chair for my youngest.  Colorado state law requires at least a booster until a child is 6 years old.  So, my daughter was not only well beyond what the state law requires, but more importantly she passed the 5-step test in the third row of the rental.  We were good to go!

Thumbs-up so far for the Sedona, it is a competent minivan overall.  I noticed right away that it was somewhat quieter at highway speeds than my 2006 Honda Odyssey.  Driving on grooved concrete wasn’t going to cause noise fatigue as it can in the Odyssey.  Higher wind and engine noise partially offset the decreased road/tire noise, though.  I also notice that the steering wheel and accelerator pedal are a lot mushier than the Odyssey.   The handling is softer and more “wallowy,” but still seems secure.  Acceleration was fine, though the engine is a lot louder with the pedal down.  It also seemed slow to downshift when going up the mountains to our destination in Fraser/Winter Park Colorado.  More to report on the Sedona at the end of our trip.

Overall, a decent first day of our trip.  The only downer was a cold and rainy Rodeo.  Our kids were already whiny from a day of travel and didn’t last long.  At least our room in the hotel was nice.  The family suite had a king bed for mom and dad, a bunk bed for our older kids and a pull-out sofa for the 3-year old.  The room was clean and the staff was friendly, very nice for a ski area motel (some tend to be very poorly maintained in our limited experience).  We also recommend Sharkys for a spot to eat.  Small place right on Route 40, but very good lunch.  They had a nice breakfast menu, too, so maybe on the way back!

We’ve just arrived at our rental home where we are staying near Grand Lake, Colorado.  The home is awesome, wireless internet and all!  We were originally going to stay at a Homewood Suites in Boulder as they are always reliable.  I’m glad I looked into a rental and that this one was available at the last minute.  For the basically same price, the location and amenities are far superior!  We are now relaxing after a short hike to Cascade Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park and a stop for lunch, a playground and shopping in quaint Grand Lake.  At lunch, my daughter was composing a post card to her BFF.  In it she proudly mentioned among the highlights so far that she didn’t even have to use a car seat.  What have I done?!