While on the trip, in some back-mountain restaurant in Bluff Utah we were having dinner with the kids. They were eating what must have been their 10th dish of Chicken Nuggets and French Fries – the kids’ staple when eating out. I took a moment to acknowledge the last dinner on the road for this trip, as well as to point out that today was Mom and Dad’s 18 year anniversary. Eighteen years ago today, we agreed to date. We celebrate this day with more sentiment than our wedding anniversary.
In our eighteen years, we have rarely taken vacations, in the typical sense. When we have taken time off of work, it has always been to see family – either in NM when we lived in the Northwest, or to Houston to see the Foxleys. If I weren’t spending that time traveling to see family, it was a “Staycation”. I can literally count the trips excluding familial visits on two fingers: camping in Durango in 1995 and London in 2000.
So this trip was special for us. It was special not just for our first one in 11 years, but that we had 2 new attendees in Gavin and Elyce. I have been planning this for over 3 years – not that it was elaborate, but simply each of the first two years, I had to cancel at the last minute due to work issues. I HAD TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN this year. It was becoming an integrity thing to me – for the kids. I don’t want to be a dad that the kids can’t trust my commitment. When I say we are going to do something, I want them to believe and trust that it will happen. I guess I’ve grown to appreciate integrity and this was part of that.
So I sit here at the St Louis airport waiting to connect to Nashville for work. I literally unpacked shorts and camera chargers last night – only to turn right around and re-pack a case with suites and computer power-cords for my trip this week (and next). I wouldn’t be surprised if when I unpack tonight that I find some sand or a random souvenir in my case. Hell, maybe I’ll find one of those chicken nuggets.
I think Tina and I agree that we need to reduce the frequency between these vacations – if not for the sake of our sanity, for the kids’ memories. We chatted last night about the most memorable moments in the trip, and we agreed that it was the afternoon we arrived in Santa Monica.
The kids were so elated to see the ocean, jump in the water, search for shells, and simply drink the ocean air. And, oddly, this was the least expensive afternoon of the entire trip. Kids, I’m finding, aren’t impressed by the price tags of experiences. They really just want to have fun. They really just want to be with Mom and Dad. And when I look back at the trips that meant the most to me when I was growing up, the ones I remember the most were the ones and moments with family.
Somehow, I forgot that. I think that’s the most powerful take-away for me … these experiences carry limited cost and are priceless in the end.