Since the birth of my children vacations have sort of taken on a whole new meaning.
Gone are those days when I can travel with my bottle of water and a couple of magazines. Gone are those days when the “snack” thrown in my carry-on was a pack of Trident gum and a Powerbar.
Here is a short-list of what must be packed when going on a family trip: Goldfish crackers, the favored blankie, Cheerios, two thousand books, juice boxes, a couple of movies, Nilla Wafers, eight pairs of shoes, a cooler of drinks, clothes for warm weather, clothes for cool weather, extra blankets, wipes, paper toilet seat-cover things, and duct tape (cuz you just never know when you might need some duct tape).
And that’s just the stuff I pack for my husband.
Of course, after all has been packed and we pull out of the drive-way, there will be at least one opportunity to turn back around because someone has to tinkle (although she didn’t have to when you left the house); but it’s all-right, because The Planner and Packer (that would be me) has forgotten her toothbrush and she wasn’t about to admit it.
Honestly, we have enjoyed some amazing trips over the years.
A few of the most memorable have been:
When we went to Montana and stayed on a working cattle ranch.
We’ve been to Yellowstone Park, where we waited for almost an hour to see Old Faithful Geyser.
I'll never forget driving all morning to get a glimpse of consistent history. I wanted the kids to see what I had seen so many times as a kid. Of course, right as it spouted up in its faithful glory, a helicopter flew over and hovered nearby. The kids, would not taking thier eyes off that chopper. Why look at a water spout when a chunk of machinery is hovering above?
We have been to the Atlantic ocean on Christmas day.
And Washington D.C.
When we took the kids to Mt Rushmore (specifically) for a nighttime lighting ceremony, The Girl (who was three at the time) didn’t like the dark, so she cried in fear until I took her inside the museum...before the lighting began.
We took them to the Great Smoky Mountains in early spring 2006. When we got there it started to snow. The snow was falling so hard by 8pm that we hauled our pajama’d selves to the car and found a hotel down the mountain. The next morning we found the tent had collapsed with the weight of the snow.
That following summer we decided to try our luck again and went back to that same campground.
What we didn’t know is that August is yellow jacket season. We stirred up a nest while hiking. We all got stung, The Mister taking the brunt with 26 stings.
Good times. Family vacations.
Right about now you may be thinking me the most pessimistic mother in all BloggerLand, but that’s far from the truth.
In all these trips there lies one common theme: we came home tired, but we came home happy.
I had prepared and planned for a picture-perfect vacation, but what we really desire as a family are the trips.
We love the company. The conversation. The prolonged chunk of time in togetherness.
We love the quality that comes with quantity.
Sure, there were bees, snowstorms, messes, and lots of work (cause you can’t leave the title of “mom” back home), but there were also quiet moments of skipping rocks across the pond; roasting marshmallows over a fire; carrying a sleepy child to his sleeping bag at 6:30pm, cuz he’d run himself ragged.
I'll never regret those memories of reading fire-side with The Mister when our little campers went to bed, or the early morning coffee while watching the sunrise.
I'll forever be grateful for the truly good things that are born of the stings and storms in life.
It’s the hard parts of a trip that make the good parts a vacation.
As Erma Bombeck said,
experienced with discomfort
and remembered with nostalgia”
*this is a rewrite (with added pictures) of a guest post I did for DandelionDayz in July of 2008.