Part of my recent ten day road trip was a mini-vacation. Hubby and I headed over to Isle of Palms near Charleston and did nothing for four days… it was wonderful! We are both of the “fry to a crisp in 20 minutes” variety of homo sapiens, so we always carry a beach umbrella…
We were also laden with books, books, and more books… it’s bad enough to have one book-aholic in the family, but when there are two… well, you can only imagine. We sat for several hours each day reading, people watching, and listening to the sound of the surf. In the early morning and the late evening, we walked the beach for a couple of miles each time. This activity was not only for fun, but to walk off the pounds of seafood we consumed. We snacked for breakfast and lunch in the room and went out once a day for a “real” meal. I’m a shrimp and scallop lover… dh goes for crab cakes.
So you get the picture… this was a very low key vacation… but that is not really our usual m.o. Over the years we have been all kinds of places with our kids and without. Do you remember the show “Full House”? One time the guys took the little girls and went to Hawaii. When they got there Danny (the dad) laid out a very ambitious sight-seeing schedule. He got razzed about his “clipboad of fun”. That became a standing joke in our family… and we still talk about the clipboard when we are planning something.
In the summer of ’94 we spent 5 and a half weeks in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. My hubby was doing 2 books on the waterfalls of each park. I did a lot of the photography. For our girls (and us) that was a magical summer, and it has this “golden” aura in our collective family memory. We had saved up money to do this, and we also consciously went into debt that took us a couple of years to get rid of. I was a school teacher, and hubby worked in the non-profit world, so we were not “loaded”. But it was absolutely the most wonderful trip we ever took.
Hubby bribed our girls to keep daily journals, and they still get them out even now and read them. The stories we tell and retell are part of the glue that holds family together.
This past weekend we had both girls, hubbies, and “almost 2″ Anastasia visiting with us. It is rare that we can all seven get together, so we treasure the times we can do it.
Looking back at family vacations, I think we tend to forget the fighting, bickering, dirty rest stops, and other low moments… what we remember is the feeling that the open road lay ahead of us full of endless possibilities.
The only thing in my life that I would be willing to spend lots of money on is travel. In fact, I hope I live long enough to see all the places I want to visit before I die! The world is such a vast and mysterious and wonderful treasure… and I truly believe that travel informs us, educates us, and makes us better people.
Right after we graduated from college, dh and I went with a group on a mission trip to Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere. We saw incredible beauty and unimaginable poverty. As young newlyweds, we often worried about having less than twenty dollars in the checkbook, and we surely didn’t have a credit card. But even when we perceived ourselves to be scraping bottom, we had only to think back to Haiti and realize that we were blessed beyond measure. We had the privilege of an education, we had health care, we had parents who could have helped out in a real crisis. We had options.
Over the years our income has fluctuated with jobs, kids, and other factors. My dad died at 42, leaving my mom with me in college and three other kids still at home. He and my mom had always dreamed of traveling “someday” when he retired. At that moment, Charlie and I decided not to wait until someday. When possible we were going to travel and enjoy the world that lay beyond our small corner of Tennessee.
Our vacations have taken many forms over the years, some more exciting than others, but any time we step beyond our own front yard we find the opportunity to cement family relationships, learn about ourselves, and refresh our perspective on life.
Well, sheesh, I didn’t set about to write a dissertation, but what can I say????
I’m in a “wordy” mood.
I want to hear about how “your” family vacations. Beach? Mountains? Disney? Outdoor adventure? Tents? Four star hotels? Relatives? Spill the details, people…
I’ll be waiting!!
(who is babysitting today, because the daycare is closed for Columbus Day!)
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