This will run in the August 23, 2007 issue of the Alameda Sun
My Summer Vacation
The girls and I just returned from an extended vacation. For three glorious weeks, I dragged my kids up and down the northeast coast, from New Jersey to Vermont and back again. We had a fabulous time. We saw family they never knew existed, met cousins, Aunts and Uncles, stayed with friends from Alameda and had a great time with one of my girl’s (fairy) Godmother.
It was a trip, I hope, that my kids will always remember. I have been back to visit while on business, but the girls hadn’t been back in more than three years, and hadn’t experienced a New Jersey summer for even longer. That’s an eternity when you are 12 and 10.
Here are some random notes on the things we did and some things I learned on our summer vacation:
• Exit aisle seats on United Airlines flights cost $59 over and above regular coach seats. Like the meals and snacks they serve, you must pay for the extra leg room, but also be able to carry out the duties of an exit aisle seat holder should something happen during the flight. No one under 18 can sit in an exit aisle. I know all this because we were booked in exit aisle seats for the flight out and my kids are 12 and under and we had to wait until a willing person paid extra to switch seats with us. (Someone did.)
• Airlines cancel flights and re-book you on other flights all the time. Our original flight had “crew issues.” I think it was a scheduling problem, rather than a mutiny. Crews can only fly a certain amount of time consecutively and I guess the airline just couldn’t work out the schedule. United was great about communicating the changes to us. However, we had to re-book on a red eye into New Jersey.
• Red eye flights suck. Instead of losing a full day to travel, you lose a night of sleep and it takes a couple of days to regain your senses. (Well, that was our experience. We went straight to my Dad’s house at 8:00 a.m., crawled into bed, only to have my father come home from church to sleeping guests. Sorry, Pop!)
• It is essential to have iPods or some sort of entertainment for three children squished in the back seat of their grandfather’s car on a six-hour drive from New Jersey to Vermont. Not once did either my Dad or I have to say: “Don’t make me pull this car over!” because not once did we hear: “She’s touching me!” or “Are we there yet?”
• The Ben & Jerry’s ice cream success story is the epitome of the American Dream—from getting your start with a $5 mail-in course on making the stuff right up to selling the company for millions of dollars to a huge conglomerate and spending your retirement as consultants. It gives the rest of us some hope.
• 97° is hot. 97° with 90+% humidity makes you sweat and feels like nothing you ever remembered.
• It gives you a thrill when 12-year-olds get excited about seeing lightning bugs for the first time. And, I guess no matter how old you are, you want to capture them in a jar and pull the little lights off their backs.
• Big, old-fashioned, Back East thunder and lightning storms still keep me up at night, while my children and their grandfather sleep soundly through it all.
• There is still no better place on earth to be in the summer than down the Jersey Shore.
• “Mom, the ocean here is great. We don’t have to wait until our legs get numb to swim!”
• Yes, humidity makes your hair curl and frizz; some days it’s curl and other days it’s frizz. I still haven’t figured out which day is which.
• I thought I would finally get some sleep on this trip. Unfortunately, no one sleeps on the East Coast, either. They have dogs, storms, young kids, babies, and things to worry about there, too.
• People still read throughout America. This year, it was predominantly Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (we flew on the day it was released), any Jodi Picoult novel, and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, the author of another acclaimed novel, The Kite Runner.
• With good friends and family, time seems to stand still.
And, finally, three weeks is not too long for a vacation. In fact, four might be better. Did I hear anyone say six? There’s always next year.