Vacationing with Kids
“Traveling with kids is a logistical nightmare and usually, it’s expensive. So with four children, we opted for road trips to the great outdoors.
The first year we tried for a big family vacation, we decided to just drive for three weeks and see what experiences Mother Nature would provide. Along the way we had totally unexpected experiences—a July snowstorm at Lake Tahoe; crabbing at low tide in Bellingham, Washington —in places we had never been. Once we made it to Canada, it was time to head home and we drove south right down the middle of Washington and Oregon.
About 3 hours south of the Oregon border we drove across a majestic bridge spanning a glorious blue lake that seemed to meander like fingers on a hand. About 100 feet below us we could see boats pulling people on water-skis, and houseboats floating around as though time was meaningless. Behind us stood the snow-capped visage of Mount Shasta. In that moment we decided to stay for an adventure that we repeated almost annually for over 20 years.
Our four kids count those vacations among the best experiences of their childhood. So they were frustrated when, after four weddings and eight babies, the family vacation became a hit-or-miss event. During the Christmas break in 2008 our youngest son and daughter called a family meeting to guarantee that we would try, at least one more time to gather everyone for an honest-to- goodness full week’s stay on Lake Shasta.
Seven months later, with an entourage of 25 people, one dog, two huge coolers of food packed in dry ice, a ski boat and a trailer full of fishing equipment, duffle bags, water toys, and a kayak, we descended upon a flotilla of houseboats. While we offloaded all the food, equipment, and kids I began to wonder, was the “Great Lake Shasta Adventure” going to kill me?
Truth be told, my hopes for a fabulous time had started to wane as soon as we drove away from the house. A pall started to descend when one of the big kids got sick, spewing vomit before we even got to the lake. When I headed to my sleeping bag for the first night’s sleep under the stars, I realized the wrong pad was in the tent. It dawned on me that maybe the family vacation had become intermittent because we were sub-consciously avoiding it. Houseboating is a lot of work.
But six days later, four of the grands were water-skiing, including the youngest, 4 years old. The boy and girl cousins played together across their ages and stages, the cooking support teams were ready for duty every day, and the kids organized a talent show as a farewell tribute to “their best vacation ever!”
When my daughter posted her pictures to Facebook, and the comments came pouring in, I really knew it was truly worth every minute of preparation. A vacation isn’t simply a trip you take. A family vacation is a memory builder that can define the high points of a childhood.”