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Perfect vacations are not complicated

By MIMI BECKER

Coffee with Mimi

There are vacations and there are vacations. Some vacations are filled with new and exciting experiences, once in a lifetime opportunities to learn and experience historic and cultural events. Participation can be complicated with keeping track of documents, train schedules and language issues. But, when the trip is over and you are headed home, you exist in a bit of a dream world just soaking up every detail, committing each and every tiny bit to memory.  Who knows if you will ever have such an opportunity ever again.

Those experiences are special and invaluable in providing us perspective on our world, our place in it and an appreciation for the possibilities available to us. Despite our differences, if we are willing, we can learn from those encounters. The opportunity for average people to travel in the modern world is a truly wonderful change from the days when only the wealthy could take advantage of travel.

Then there are the average, ordinary vacations which are likely available to us, thankfully, much more often. In our family history, we did not have the chance to take the whole family on a vacation until just a few years ago.  This was due to business, school and children’s activities, more than a lack of interest. 

So, when the opportunity arose to actually take such a family trip, the planning and execution were nearly as complicated as the much more rare foreign travel junkets. Selecting a place to stay was the first order of business. We must have an adequate number of bedrooms and bathrooms to accommodate everyone in one house. Back and forth we went analyzing the details of each possibility which fell within the budget. The fact that we had no idea what we were looking for really didn’t hit us at the time.

We got lucky that first year. The house was perfectly adequate for our needs as there was never a time when everyone needed to have a bed on the same day. The kitchen did have enough space and equipment to make meal preparation fairly efficient. Two rows back from the ocean was just fine. 

Planning for the excursion was akin to moving a small army. We had to pack all linens and the all important bath and beach towels for nine people. There was clothing for beach, lounging, running and touristing out and about. We would be fishing, reading and playing games. That’s a lot of equipment. Lounging on the beach required chairs, shade (we would have a 6-month-old with us) and bags to hold beach necessities such as sunglasses, sunscreen, toys, beverages and snacks.

Cooking would be shared by family members. We packed coolers and boxes of cooking staples to cover a multitude of possibilities. We even brought some small appliances and particular pots and pans. As the years passed, we added a dog to the travelling entourage. More stuff needed.  In one of the early years, we took a corn hole set.

The cars, three of them, were loaded to the brim with vacation necessities.

Funny thing about beach vacation spots. They have stores for all sorts of vacation necessities.  They do have grocery stores.  Beach houses come equipped with washers and dryers. They also have some books, games and pretty much all cooking equipment for beach type food. The rental agencies will also provide, at no charge, doggie bags for the consideration of other beach goers.

We have become seasoned beach vacationers. This year, we packed absolutely no food with the exception of a bag of nuts as I refuse to pay the island grocery price for a cup of nuts for the Thanksgiving pecan pie. We take the dog’s food. We pack our coffee beans and bean grinder. Some things I won’t take a chance on and my morning coffee is one of them.

There would be three of us and the dog in our relatively small car. I rationed each traveler to one very small piece of luggage. Remember, we will have a washer and dryer in our house. A small stack of towels was thrown in with bedsheets.  If the house doesn’t have the exact piece of kitchen equipment called for in a planned recipe, we will make something else or make do.  The corn hole set is a non-starter.

We have developed some serious traditions on our annual family vacation. We watch lots of basketball, walk miles in the back neighborhoods and on the beach, go to the same local bookstore and craft fair, sit on the deck wrapped in blankets, cook something memorable. We have done all the touristy activities and feel no need to do them again. Along about Wednesday of each trip, we start thinking about next year. We get a kick out of looking for the next gathering spot.

Once in a lifetime adventures are awesome. I have been very fortunate in my life to have travelled to exciting destinations. If I never get to experience another exotic location in my life ever again, I will not be too disappointed. I will be disappointed if we miss our simple family trip next year.