Posts tagged vacation

Coming down.

It is said that all good things must come to an end.  This holds true, unfortunately, for vacations and The Vacation High.  After living freely for a few days on vacation, the inevitable end arrives.  This is where you must come down from The Vacation High.

For me it begins the night before departure.  If we’re staying at a hotel or other rented space the check-out time is usually around 11am so some preparations must be done the night before.  Dirty clothes must be gathered and all belongings accounted for.  The place that you called home for a few days and nights is no longer yours.  Time to pack your bags and get on with your normal life.  Once the day of departure arrives it’s helter-skelter to get the bags repacked and back into the car.  This is usually a process since you always leave with more than you came with.  Dirty clothing takes up so much more space than clean clothing does.  And there are always souvenirs.

Once everything is in the car, you check-out and then you see your bill.  It’s always more than you expect because of crazy taxes and fees.  So that’s always a downer.  Then begins the drive home which is always, for some reason, much faster than the drive there.  Although I’m always happy about having a successful trip, the drive home is never a happy time for anyone.  We want to be back where we were with the people we were with doing the fun things we were doing.  But instead we’re headed back to reality.

The hardest part about coming down from The Vacation High for me is the laundry.  I need a better system.  What usually happens is that the dirty laundry is repacked into individual suitcases.  Then when we get home I have to go through everyone’s bag to get the dirty clothes.  Then I have to sort them and wash them.  For some reason, this takes me days.  Case in point, we returned home from our last vacation on Sunday night.  I have still yet to finish washing all of the dirty laundry.  Oh and don’t even mention the unpacked bags that are still strewn about the house.  They’ll get put away one of these days.  But that feeling of excitement and anticipation has left me.  I’ve come down from my high.  As Soul II Soul sang back in the 80s “Back to life, back to reality.”

The vacation high.

Remember all that stuff I talked about yesterday?  Planning a trip, packing the car and hitting the road?  Well, all of that combined with actually being on vacation gives me what I’d like to call “The Vacation High”.  It’s many things all rolled into one (or into a few days actually).  The feeling of excitement and anticipation before going on the trip, the stress and anxiety of packing for the trip, and the happiness and exhilaration of being on the trip all combine to give that high.  It’s a great feeling.

Being on vacation puts me in a different state of mind.  There’s no laundry to be done, no beds to be made, no appointments to attend.  You’re in a different environment doing different things but there’s that sense of comfort because you’re with the ones you love most.  On vacation, you eat whatever you want and don’t think about how long it will take to burn off the calories.  Ice cream, fried dough, pizza, candy.  You name it, when I’m on vacation, I eat it.  Then there’s the beer.  I’d never let myself eat the way I do when I’m on vacation on a regular basis.  Not only would it seriously hurt my waistline but it would take away from the feeling that indulging on vacation brings.

Going new places, seeing new things and creating memories for my family and with amazing friends just gives me such a sense of of pure bliss.   I love seeing the look on my girls’ faces when they experience something for the first time.  It really is amazing.  And sharing those experiences with such incredible friends makes it that much better.  It’s a good thing we don’t vacation too much or I just might become a vacation addict and require some sort of rehab. :-)

You call THAT a vacation?

When most people hear the word vacation images of tropical islands, warm beaches and fruity drinks probably fill their minds.  While all of those things sound amazing to me, they’re not what comes to my mind when I think about vacation.  To me vacation is time spent away from home with loved ones doing things that you all love.  So while sitting on a warm, tropical beach sipping fruity drinks would definitely fit into that category, it’s simply not feasible (at least for us) with two small children.

Instead, our vacations involve packing our car full of everything except the kitchen sink, driving for a few hours, and getting comfy in a hotel/friend’s home/mini resort for a few nights.  Here is how it usually unfolds – A few months prior, I’ll suggest to Scott that we should do X.  He’ll agree because I always have fabulous plans.  We’ll arrange for accommodations either in a hotel/resort or with friends (I do most of this planning).  The week of, we confirm all of the reservations, make lists and take multiple trips to Target for necessities.  Two days before, I begin getting things ready.  Laundry is done, bags and suitcases are laid out and items start getting crossed off of the lists.  The day of departure everything is finalized in bags and suitcases.  This includes clothes for Scott, myself and both kids (and plenty of spare outfits for spills/accidents/weather changes), toiletries for all four of us, toys, kids plates/utensils/cups, any special or hard to find food or snacks, extra pillows, air mattress (if necessary), pack and play, etc.. As I said, everything but the kitchen sink.  Scott packs the car.  I refuse to be a part of it other than to request which few items are to go in the back seat within an arms reach for emergencies.  He’s a master at doing it and I’d rather not interrupt.  Somehow he always makes it fit.  Then we all pile in the car, stop at Dunkin’ Donuts (it wouldn’t be a road trip without this important stop) and hit the road.

Our favorite destinations range from an hour and a half to a little over four hour away via car.  So, depending on where we’re going at the time, we decide if we’ll drive straight through or make a stop along the way.  Generally speaking, anything two hours or less is a straight through drive.  If it’s a trip with a stop we try to plan the drive as follows – get in the car just around nap time for Nora.  Stop for “lunch” when she wakes up.  Eat and then finish the drive.  This usually works out quite well but as of late, she hasn’t been a huge fan of sleeping in the car.  In which case, we try to get at least half of the drive under our belts before stopping.

At this point, we’ve already had so much excitement and anticipation about our vacation and we haven’t even gotten there yet!  Once we arrive at our destination it’s time to unload the car.  (I’d like to take a moment to apologize to whomever decided to host our family for one of our vacations.  We bring a shit ton of crap with us.  Thanks!)  After that task, which is usually left up to Scott so I can wrangle the kids, is done, the vacation begins.

I know what you’re probably thinking right about now… That sounds like the furthest thing from a vacation that I could possibly imagine!  But you know what, it really is fun.  Is it stressful?  Yes.  Do we want to rip each others’ heads off at some point?  Yes.  Do we forget things? Yes.  Do we often say we’ll never do it again?  Yes.  Would we change it for the world?  No.  This, my friends, is how memories are made.

Image credit – worldofstock.com

Note:  Though this picture loosely represents what our packed car looks like, we DO NOT drive a mini van. :-)

Road Trip!

On Saturday, our family took a road trip to New York to visit our friends Kelli and James. We typically make this trip for New Years but didn’t make it there this past January, so we were due!

Scott and I were both a little bit weary about taking Brinley on a 4 hour car. To prepare we went out and bought a portable DVD player that she could use in the car. Much to our surprise we didn’t even turn it on on the way there. For the first leg of the trip Brinley amused herself by reading books in the back seat. She also went through what we affectionately call a “brain dump”. This is when she will just start spitting out almost everything she knows back to back. It usually goes something like this: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, the ABCs, counting to 11 three or four times, The Itsy Bitsy Spider, more ABCs, more counting… etc. When she’s done she often asks Scott and I to sing some of her songs as well. Its quite amusing.

We stopped for lunch about 3 hours into the trip. I’m not entirely sure where we were but we stopped at Friendly’s for about an hour. Then we made a quick pit stop at my all time favorite store, Target. Once we were back in the car, Brinley fell asleep and slept for the remainder of the ride. Scott and I got to have some much needed adult conversation.

We spent 3 nights with Kelli and James. They are such awesome hosts. They made sure to plan fun things for us to do that would also be fun for Brinley. On Sunday we went over to James’ parents house and had a BBQ and went swimming. Brinley got to run around and play in the yard and got to go swimming in the pool. The water was a bit cold but she didn’t seem to mind (daddy was a bit chilly and mommy chose not to go in).
On Monday we went to the Bronx Zoo. This was the highlight of the trip. We were joined by Kelli and James’ friends Carlos and Sarah and their children Little Carlos and Gabby. It took us about an hour to get to the zoo from their house but the ride was sooo worth it. Though at first we thought the day was going to be a bust since it began to torrential downpour less than 5 minutes after we purchased our tickets. Luckily there were a few indoor exhibits that we could escape to. Once the rain stopped we began our tour of the zoo. Brinley was in awe. I’ve never heard her say “wow” so many times. She was so excited to see all of the animals. Her favorites were the giraffes and the zweebas (zebras). Scott and I were equally amazed by the animals. (Please check Brinley’s website for pictures of the animals that we saw.) On the ride home from the zoo we stopped for dinner and then headed back to Kelli and James’ house where we watched the Olympics and played Rockband (which Scott and I will be purchasing soon!).

Our visit came to an end on Tuesday morning. We packed up the car and set up the DVD player for Brinley figuring that we wouldn’t be as lucky the second time around. We put Finding Nemo on but Brinley only lasted about a half hour with it. She is not quite yet capable of following a plot of a feature length film. We made a pit stop and changed the DVD for her. We drove about 2 and a half hours before stopping at Ted’s Montana Grill in Connecticut for lunch. This was quite an experience. Ted’s is a totally environmentally friendly restaurant. Their straws are made from cardboard and their take home containers are made from CORN! It was pretty cool. We got burgers and they were pretty good but about 4 inches thick so a bit difficult to eat. After lunch Brinley fell asleep for the rest of the ride home. We had an awesome visit with our friends who we don’t get to see quite often enough!!
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