Friday, April 06, 2007

Home again, home again, jiggity jig

After running into the aftermath of a snowstorm in Arizona, we made it home from our vacation to California, where we enjoyed three days of Disneyland and California Adventures and one very windy day at Newport Beach.

I never thought I'd do the Disney thing; I'm no fan of amusement parks per se. I hate crowds. But the kids have wanted to go for years, and they've been saving a portion of every allowance for as long. After conducting some preliminary research, I realized it was now or never. With Max at 14 and Bella at 6, the age spread of the kids was perfect. And the price was right. Our family of six enjoyed five days in California plus a spontaneous day trip to the Grand Canyon (which set us back a day a required an unforeseen hotel stay) for $2800. This is an amazing price when you consider the cost of gas right now and the cost of food along the road.

The Grand Canyon--words can't describe it. But I feel the same about the part of Utah (see photo above) I saw from I-70. I never imagined that state was so scenic. We watched the sun rise there, and as I wiped the sleep from my eyes, I smiled to myself to imagine that the rocks formations I was enjoying were once the hideout of late-nineteenth century outlaws, including Butch Cassidy.

You don't go on vacation with Bella without having what I call "episodes." These episodes vary in nature: perhaps it's something she says, often it's something she does. This time, it was both. Outside the entrance to Disneyland's adjacent theme park, California Adventures, the word "California" is spelled out in separate-standing letters. As we approached the entrance, Bella began yelling, "People are climbing through the A-hole! I want to go through the A-hole!"

Why is it my child is prone to pick the most inappropriate of any choice? Why didn't the hole in the letter "O" interest her, or the one in the "R"? Why did the "A" hole appeal to her so profoundly? And why oh why did she have to scream it out loud? At least she gave those park-goers around us a good chuckle. And I, of course, had to snap a photo of Bella in her beloved "A"-hole.

Not all families can take road are too young to travel, they're at stages where they fight too much, they can't be in a vehicle together for extended periods of time. I get this. And knowing this makes my cherished family vacations all the more valuable to me. Sure, the kids argue, we threaten that the next vacation we'll take will be without them (they scoff and know it's all bluster), we wish everyone could coordinate their bathroom needs. But overall, I think the best way to travel is to drive. Make the journey as much a part of the trip as the destination. In the end, it brings the family closer together because there is no escape from conflict; you deal or you sulk. And if you sulk, you lose out.

I've spent this first week home battling (unsuccessfully) some sort of viral infection. I'm too tired to write more, so I leave you with this photo montage and the sincere hope that you, too, are able to work in family vacations here and there. You don't have to have a large disposable income. You just have to be able to tune out. And you must really, really love your kids.





april t said...

ok, this one shot? made my palms sweat. truly. how did you let the girls climb those rocks like that? i would have freaked.

glad u had fun. i was in mesa myself. first time out there. never saw so many shades of beige in all my life. lovely area, but i could never live there.

Judith K. Witherow said...

I feel like I've been on the same vacation a number of times with the three boys. The, "Mom, make him stop touching me! He's touching me again!" What a ruthless brother.
It was paid back by covering his brother's back with french fries while he slept on the beach.
The sea gulls loved every bite until he started running.
Oh, yeah, I love those driving vacations. And, make sure that someone rolls the window down just as your passing one of those rolling irrigating machines. Two "Mom's, and one child and two adults laughing because they are all totally warped, and easily entertained by the distress of the one who happens to fall asleep.
Bella, you made my day. A-hole indeed.