Well, that was a longer blogging break than intended. I didn’t mean to disappear; I’ve just been in recovery.
We went away for our February vacation–and you should know that I travel with two young children so from this point forward when I say “vacation” it’s the letter but not spirit of the word I intend–and it was a bit of a disaster. Not a total disaster, as you’ll see, but irritating enough that everyone who has encountered me upon our return has asked “And how was your vacation?” while laughing. People laughing at you upon your return isn’t really the sign of a top-notch vacation experience.
The plan was to go to Phoenix, to visit my sister and to get the children out into the desert to see cacti and roadrunners. Okay, fine, and also to remember what it’s like to feel sunshine on our arms and leave the house without first piling on 14 layers of wool and fleece. When we booked the tickets in October, this all seemed like a reasonable plan, especially the part where we drove down to Boston and flew directly from there to save some money.
Do you see where this is headed?
We drove down as planned, ready to fly out early on a Sunday, and there we stayed. One of this winter’s storms moved in and we got stuck in Boston. Revere, to be exact. For three days. The airline agreed to book our return for later so that our trip would still be roughly the same length, but it was still frustrating as we are people with jobs, budgets, and a slight but persistent fear of change. All three of these things were challenged by finding ourselves with three days to fill at a hotel in Revere, Massachusetts.
I don’t know about you, but a mixed blessing of parenting for me is the constant need to role model. In this situation, my normal reaction would be to throw a giant sulk, then either cancel the trip and go home or spend my time locked in the hotel with room service and a marathon of Chopped. These are not options when you are trying to raise capable, interesting children with a spirit of adventure.
Stupid spirit of adventure. I wasn’t feeling it.
We spent most of our snowed-in Sunday in the pool along with every other family that was in the hotel. Then, after the snow had abated and all that was left were the hurricane force winds, we decided to try that spirit of adventure bit. We took a deep breath and herded the kids outside for an inadvisable drive to nearby Revere Beach. When we looped around the oceanfront road, we couldn’t actually see the beach, or even the ocean, over the giant piles of snow. The wind pelted ice pellets into the car as we spun here and there on the empty road. We rolled down the window and felt the wind whip through for exactly one second before rolling it back up. We plowed through snowdrifts. We came to the end of the beach road, looped around, and did it all again, watching the snow shift around us.
It broke the spell of my sulk. It made us laugh. It was ridiculous. It was thrilling. It was the start of our vacation.
We filled our extra days in Boston doing things we’d always planned to do someday with the kids. We spent over five hours in the Boston Children’s Museum. We went to the aquarium and fulfilled my son’s dream of seeing penguins. We taught our kids how to read a subway map. We learned why human beings are not supposed to eat restaurant meals 3 times a day. And finally, finally, we went to Phoenix.
The desert was just as great as we’d hoped, with hiking, warmth, strange and deadly plants and animals and more adventures that I’ll likely touch on later. But it was that crazy drive around a snowy Revere that reminded us that you don’t always find adventure. Sometimes you have to choose it.
By the time we got stuck for two more days trying to get back home, we didn’t even mind. Too much.