Friday, June 13, 2008

Time to Play

The family vacation, that institution of American life, brings to mind a bevy of images, some good, some bad, but all memorable. Most of my vacations when I was young involved hitting the open road. The journey was often as exciting as the destination, sometimes more so. I watched the world through a dust covered window, music played softly in the background as we discussed points of interest along the way. We never had a firm schedule and if a roadside sign advertised something too good to miss, by golly we stopped to check it out.

I’ve explored vast underground caverns in Missouri and New Mexico, feed exotic animals in a drive through zoo though I can’t remember which state it was in, watched glassblowers and smithies exhibit their crafts in colonial settings in Williamsburg and Branson, visited countless amusement parks scattered across the country and even ate an entire meal with my bare hands as I watched knights duel in California. I could go on, but the gist is that the experiences were plentiful and widely varied.

Some trips were memorable for all the wrong reasons. I nearly drowned at Rehoboth beach when I was a wee tyke. I got caught in the undertow and it was just a stroke of luck that I was swept close enough to someone’s leg that they snagged me on my way out. I’ve also perturbed a mound of fire ants while on a camping trip and paid for the clumsiness with days of itching and pain. I’ve tipped a canoe and lost nearly an entire days worth of supplies down a river.

There always seemed to be at least one mishap, but it was never enough to dampen my spirits or to cause me not to get antsy with anticipation as the next trip drew close. I loved spending time with my family and it always seemed like my family as a whole smiled more, hugged more and laughed more when we were on our little excursions.

Even though I’m grown with a family of my own now, I still succumb to the excitement of planning out our next adventure. For the last seven years, I’ve had the extreme fortune to take two vacations a year: One just for adults and one for the whole family. Before too many feathers get ruffled by the seeming exclusion, I must point out that though my son lives with us, he is the best thing to come from my first marriage and thus subject to all of the visitation requirements of divorced parents. During the summer he always spends a week or two with his biological mom and that’s when we have the parent vacation.

My son is only ten, but he as already been to the balloon festival in Albuquerque (which is really something to see and words alone can’t do it justice), the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade in New York, the beach (in Ocean City, Padre Island, and Delaware), Worlds of fun and Oceans of Fun in Kansas City, Six Flags in Texas and handful of random road trips just for the sake of seeing someplace he’s never been before where we toured our neighboring states. If all goes as planned, he’ll get to add his first cruise to the list by this time next year.

As for vacations for my wife and I, they vary depending on the mood when we select them. Sometimes we like to go down to Cozumel. Other times we head out to Vegas (or Reno, Tahoe etc.). Last year we went on an eight day Caribbean cruise.

One year we decided to take a week long road trip. We picked a few cities we’d like to see in Texas, loaded up the Trailblazer and set off without a care in the world. We hung out on 6th street in Austin, spent a day at the Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels, played at Fiesta Texas in San Antonio before checking out the River Walk, visited a few museums in Houston, became charter members of Red Lobster in Nacogdoches, and wound up in Shreveport, La at luxury suite at one of their casinos.

This year we won’t take a second vacation. My wife started a new job in January and it just isn’t possible to take the extra time off. It came down to one or the other, so of course we chose the family vacation. It looks like we will spend the week in Texas again, this time focusing around the Dallas area with visits to Dave & Buster’s, of course multiple excursions to Six Flags and whatever else happens to catch our fancy along the way.

I love vacations and I’m always counting down the days until my next one.


  1. Hmmm. My daughter and I were talking vacations the other day. She reminded me of all the time we spent in cemeteries because I was going genealogical research. So there's an idea for you!!!!

  2. Oh!!!! I love old cemeteraries. Some of the stone work and just the over all atmosphere is just awe inspiring. Thanks, Anny I'll see if I get get the family on board for that outing. :D

  3. Yep. I'm a cemetary lover, too. They are so interesting and give me lots of story ideas. James, you've been to lots of the same places as me. We've done much of this with our kids and some ALONE. I'm a firm believer that grown-ups need to be together without kids from time to time. David and I still try to have "date night" sometimes.

  4. Family vacations make memories that you and your children will never forget.... I hope you can get back on the vacation bus soon!

  5. Cool, Regina. Who knows...we might've been at some of those places at the same time. :D

    Thanks for stopping by, Teresa.

  6. I agree that the family vacation is important. But ooh, those couples ones can be nice too!

  7. lol, that they can, Cindy. Definately a good way to keep the romance fresh in the relationship. :D

  8. this sounded almost like adventure tourism!

    I was scheduled to visit LA & Canada this July, but have postponed it to early next year, or the middle of next year.

    I am writing this comment from my sister's office right now, in Delhi, as my son is taking his college entrance exam!

  9. oh, that's cool, Mona. I hope he does well on the exams. :D