Friday, April 10, 2009

The Vacation Edition

"No one needs a vacation more than the person who just had one."

Can anyone relate??! You bet I can! Every time we return home from anywhere, Chris and I always comment on our state of exhaustion, and the fact that we're not supposed to be tired, but rested.

Anyhoo. Vacation.... that's this week's theme at Living Lovely with Family. Heidi, over at Mt. Hope Chronicles, is really hoping to gather a few out-of-the-box vacation ideas, and hopefully a few affordable ones, too (especially ideas for those on a shoe-string budget... and who isn't these days?!). Unfortunately, I don't have much experience on either front-- the one mega vacation we took as a family required months and months of saving (and sadly, it'll be a very long while before we save enough for a repeat performance!), and our other vacations have been supplied by our wonderfully generous parents.

Over the past few days, though, mom and I have been discussing this very subject, and together we've come up with a few possible ideas:

1. Plan a stay-cation... a few days or maybe even a week full of day trips in our surrounding area. No need for hotels or even expensive restaurants-- breakfast at home and picnic lunches will do just fine. And since we live in northern Virginia, our family has excellent access to all sorts of fabulous stuff-- like the Smithsonian museums in Washington D.C. and the battlefields in Manassas; the fabulous aquarium in Baltimore and the gorgeous harbor district in Annapolis. A day trip into Richmond is an easy drive, and there's a wonderful children's museum there to boot. Even Williamsburg is doable, and we have wonderful friends nearby. Grin. So, lots of opportunties for fun... right in our own backyard!

2. Take advantage of family in friends who live in other places (== free lodging!). For instance, mom and dad live in the mountains and there are all sorts of unique opportunties to discover and explore in their neck of the woods. Mom is always on the look-out for more neat finds... why not recruit others to help in that process?? Like other family members, perhaps, or close friends. Surely they'd be tickled to participate and contribute to a little family fun (I think?!). Another for instance-- a few years ago my in-laws moved to South Dakota, and while my oldest two have visited their new home, the rest of us have not. I'd love to haul my entire crew out there for an extended visit, as I know there's a ton of cool stuff to see and do out west! Surely, when the time is right, they'd be willing to help create an itinerary for us as they are much more familiar with the area (and we'd have a free place to stay!).

3. Chris would love-- absolutely love-- to rent an RV for a traveling tour of the U.S. (I'm not sure if this qualifies for a shoe-string-budget or not, what with gasoline expenses and all. I guess I'll find out one day if we really look in to it!). Back in college, he and his buddies rented one for spring break and drove to the Florida Keys, and ever since then, he's been itching to do it all again (with us though... not them!). While the idea has grown on me over time, I'm still a bit hesitant... would we all survive?? That's a lot of us (don't forget the dog) cooped up in a tight space, leaving no route of escape when the male members of the family start snoring (that includes the dog). Just kidding. But seriously, I'd really, really like to tour New England-- Boston and Martha's Vineyard and the coast of Maine, too. Oh, and then there's Jackson Hole, Wyoming and the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park. So many, many wonderful places that I'd love to see (and that I'd love to see with my family)...

Well, that's about it from this end. Hopefully, other readers will step up to the plate with oodles of helpful ideas; I'll certainly be checking in frequently (to Heidi's blog) because our family could surely benefit from the creativity of others!! Especially in these tough economic times, inexpensive-- yet fun!-- would be ideal :)

In the meantime, here's a little peak at the vacation adventures we've found thus far:

A year and a half ago, Chris and I took the boys on our first big vacation... we went to the greatest place on earth, and let me just tell you, it truly is the best! We went to Disney World, and it was utterly fantastic. Incredible. Unbelievable. A must-do. Really, and worth every penny!

We traveled to Orlando the week following Thanksgiving and it was absolutely perfect! Delightful temperatures, all week long, and the crowds... well, there were none (relatively speaking, of course)! Also, all the Disney parks had already been decorated for Christmas, making them even more magical than we'd imagined.

Another huge Orlando hit-- Seaworld! Top-notch shows (we all left with a desperate passion to become dolphin trainers!), phenomenal displays, gorgeous landscaping, and a fabulous new roller coaster-- which Chris had to experience alone. Sigh. Noh & Big Man weren't tall enough, Bub wasn't interested, and I couldn't ride (I was 7 months pregnant at the time). Ever the trooper, Chris "suffered" alone, while Noh-man stood drooling at the gates.

"My soul is full of longing
For the secret of the sea,
And the heart of the great ocean
Sends a thrilling pulse through me."

--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Aahhh... the beach! We love the beach, and every year we're blessed with a trip or two to the coast. For years now, Chris's mom has been taking us to North Myrtle Beach for a week's vacation and it has been a highlight of every summer. And last year mom and dad took us to Cape May for a week in July-- a return to mom's old stompin' grounds-- and it was an incredible treat! This summer, we're looking forward to a week in both places. The only down side-- the return trip home. How I'd love to own a little cottage near the shore-- a place to hang our hats (or our suits) for weeks on end as we soak up the sun, savor the fresh ocean breezes, and enjoy the peace and tranquility that is the beach!

"A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in."
--Robert Orben

"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever."

--Jacques Cousteau

"Sponges grow in the ocean. That just kills me. I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be if that didn't happen."

--Stephen Wright

"Don't grow up too quickly, lest you forget how much you love the beach."

--Michelle Held

"Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air."

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Family is not an important thing, it's everything."
--Michael J. Fox


Heidi said...

Once again... awesome post, Heather!

I love all your ideas and your pictures of past vacations. We loooooved our trip to Disneyland, and the boys are begging to go again. :) I'm so jealous of all the incredible sights you have near you for day trips. Things are a little more spread out around here, and not nearly as much history...

The RV trip my family took was so memorable. I've been planning to do that with my own family ever since. No, it isn't free, but I think we ate out only 2 or 3 times in the whole 7 weeks! We didn't stay at campgrounds every night (more like every 2 or 3 nights). We visited a few friends along the route. It was incredible to get a sense of the states as a whole. We visited 37, I think, during that trip. Awesome. I know you could survive it. :)

Thanks for faithfully participating!!

gretchen said...

We're up for a trip to Williamsburg - meet you there and we can eat at The Cheese Shoppe. Yum. I know it would be cramped - but you could always come down here. We just got a tent... Monkey and Jeremy could sleep in the backyard, You could have our room with Lolli, the boys could sleep in Monkey's room (bunk beds -full on bottom), and Sam could have his room. Sounds maddening, but so worth it. :) Just for a few moments with my bff!