I am deep in the throes of planning for our R&R this summer. I love planning just about as much as Brandon hates it, so this is one of my favorite times of year. The second we start to kick around ideas about trips I can hardly finish what I'm doing before I bury myself in website after website of seemingly infinite possibilities, all wonderfully fun and terribly exciting and something different than my everyday life.
This year Brandon's brother is getting married and so instead of visiting his family in Missouri, we're all meeting up in Utah to party and celebrate a new member of the family voluntarily joining the madness. Usually we spend all three weeks of our R&R playing nomad as we try and squeeze in as much family is possible, but this year we actually have some extra time on our hands. Theoretically we could just come home earlier, but spending anything less than three weeks in the U.S. is just too soon to face jet lag again.
So Brandon and I decided to have a little family trip - just the seven of us. Of course that's pretty much every single day of our life, just the seven of us cozying up to each other and basking in the mutual pleasure of our company, but we decided to take the show on the road and do that somewhere different. Somewhere where we could pay money to enjoy each other's company for days on end.
My first idea was to take everyone down to Zions National Park in Southern Utah. Because, if I haven't told you yet, I like hiking. And Zions is a pretty beautiful place to hike. I looked at cabins and resorts and hotels and finally landed on a camp/resort on the edge of the national park. It looked perfect. There was a pool and a communal campfires and horseback riding and breakfast was included. What else is needed for a family vacation?
When I brought the idea to Brandon for approval, he pointed out one problem: the children hate hiking. Why would we spend a lot of money and drive hours to go somewhere that was just more of what we do every Saturday in Tajikistan? I feebly tried to point out that it was hiking somewhere different and there would be marshmallow roasting before I gave in and realized that maybe I was confusing wishing with reality.
I moved onto the next idea. What about a cabin on a lake? It would be great. We could be all alone (because we really don't get much of that) and out in the woods and there'd be water. Who doesn't like a house by the water? Brandon agreed that a cabin would be wonderfully scenic, but not much other than scenic. Any lake in Utah is cold and so the children would jump in, yelp, hop back out, and then demand to know what our plans were for the rest of the day. Brandon didn't think that 'Mom reading a book for the entire day' counted as realistic plans for a whole week.
Then I had a flash of genius. Why not take a cruise? After a bit of Googling, I found a boat that left LA (only a nine hour drive from Provo), sailed around Mexico for four days, and got us back in time to hop an international flight. It would be great. Brandon and I could drop the children off at the kid's club and we could sit around on deck chairs enjoying sitting around on deck chairs. All of the food was included, there would be pools, and we'd have that great time that all of those Carnival ads promised us.
I didn't even have to talk to Brandon before I knew that this one wasn't going to work out. If the object of a family trip is to relax, taking five children on a boat with 2,500 other people where all of those 2,500 people are also trying to relax - something that does not include seeing/hearing/smelling/knowing of my five children - cruising is probably the worst idea possible. I didn't even want to think about trying to feed them all while sitting at a table with complete strangers.
So in the end I was forced to see reason. Brandon helpfully reminded me of my own wisdom about vacations. Of the three types - family vacation (taking family and seeing family), family trip (taking family and not seeing family), and getaways (no family involved at all) - only the the third involves relaxation. Any misguided, wishful attempt to find a scenario that 1. entertained the children and 2. involved no stress would be beating my head against a wall. There's no escaping the body count and age range of five children. Those two things combined are an inevitable recipe for high stress situations. Attempting to escape that reality is about as useful as trying to escape physics.
And so we came up with the only reasonable solution. For our family trip this year, we will be making a tour of all the Utah county pool centers. There are enough that we can visit a new one each day and see this particular municipality's combination of splash pad/water slides/lazy river/zero entry play area. It will be very thrilling.
Next year, I'm going to Thailand. Alone.