Thursday, July 17, 2008

My 3 Favorite Family Vacations

Over the years, our vacations have brought craziness, relaxation, adventure, and education. Here are my top 3 favorite vacations:

1. Our First Real Family Vacation - When my children were very small, there was no way we could afford to take a family vacation. We lived in Montgomery, Alabama, only 3 hours away from the beaches of the Florida panhandle so we took a lot of day trips to the beach, driving down early and returning late in the evening. When my son was 6 and my daughter was 3, we managed to pull enough money together for a 4 day weekend trip to Panama City Beach. We stayed in a hotel right on the beach that was pretty old and surprisingly cheap. The "cabana" room had two beds and a kitchenette so we took all of our food and cooked in the room. No eating out, not frills, no activities. Just beach. It was our first real family vacation and although it was low rent and we paid for weeks afterwards, it was one of the best ever.

2. Cruise to Key West and Cozumel - After my husband died, I decided that my children did not need more stuff for Christmas. CDs, electronics, and new clothes just ended up in the floor of their bedroom a week later. What they needed was memories. So I told them that they would receive fewer "things" for Christmas but we would go on a family trip. It would be a surprise to them and would be something we would all enjoy. The first Christmas I surprised them with a cruise to Key West and Cozumel. It was the first time they had been out of the country and it was an amazing thing to watch. It was also the first time it was just the 3 of us. We had to learn how to be just the 3 of us. When our shore excursion on Cozumel fell through, we rented a car and explored by ourselves. We drove the coast away from the tourists, had lunch in an out of the way restaurant on the beach, toured the ruins, shopped, and just hung out. It was one of our best days since their dad died. And there were lots of memories.

3. New York City - In 2002 I went big for the second annual Christmas trip. The kids were ecstatic when they found out where we were going. I am a "planner" so I purchased guide books to NYC, did research on the internet, and talked to anyone I knew that had been there. I was prepared! I was also scared to death. Me and two teenagers in NYC!!! At Christmas. Walking or taking the subway. But I put on my Mom face and didn't let my fear show. And we did just fine, so much so that you would have believed we were locals! We stayed in Times Square, saw Mama Mia on Broadway, shopped in every major shopping district, and ate in amazing restaurants. We were secure in being just the 3 of us and we were in our element.

We really didn't do the tourist things - didn't see the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, or Grand Central Station. But we did see the World Trade Center site and it was such an emotional experience. My husband was a firefighter and 911 occurred only 3 months after he passed away. There was an emotional connection as I watched that tragic day unfold that I will have to explain in another post. So I was determined that we would go to the site if we did nothing else. They were still excavating but it was open in some areas and you could walk around the fenced off areas. It was unnervingly quiet. There is a fire station right next to the site. Many of the firefighters that lost their lives on 911 were assigned to that station. As we meandered along the fence with other quiet tourists, the station door opened and a fire truck backed out, preparing to leave on a run. Every single observer stood silently, staring as the truck backed up and drove away. Some people bowed their heads and, I assume, said a silent prayer. I wiped a tear away. I will never forget that place or that feeling. Or the trip to NYC.

What is your favorite family vacation?


Wanda said...

Oh Tere ~~~~ I just went on 3 vacations with you. I loved all three.

We have two favorite spots ~~ which have been provided for our family at little expense.

One right on the lake at Tahoe. and one in the mountains at Camp Sugar Pine... We have been taking family vacations there since the grandchildren were tiny.

The draw back....we haven't seen or visited a lot of other places.

But now that we have moved to Southern CA....we will find new spots.

I enjoy "Living the Life of Tere" so very much.

Afton said...
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