Sunday, November 10, 2013

Where do we go?

California-Big Basin State Park Californias' oldest state park and an amazing place so close to Redwood City

Our sixth trip is in the works, and we have finally decided where we will be going-Kentucky of all places. To recap, first we were on our way to Wisconsin with my brother and his family when my son came down with a fateful stomach bug, enter a father's answer to a crisis. We planned and executed a trip down to the Texas Hill Country to see the caves-first stop Inner space caverns and all caves, waterfalls, zoos, rock collecting and other destinations to follow.

First lesson in a great vacation plan-be flexible, meet change and crisis with alternatives and possibilities and don't be afraid to get out there. This first trip was a bit uncomfortable for me because I have a tendency to get sleepy at the wheel on long trips but it all worked out perfect-my confidence sparks the next idea and next years' trip begins its preplanned stage. The best word or essence of this trip I could describe is freedom-the feeling that our world is out there and all we have to do is go find it, both of us were addicted to the road trip.

The next trip was a plan to take my son to the coast for a red fish trip, a hobby he had recently picked up-fishing. My initial idea was more the trip to the coast but it turned into a San Antonio/Rockport trip-the way to Rockport was a bit further than I had traveled before and again the nervous feeling of the long road did cross my mind-energy drinks bought and used as an emergency tool much like a tire iron and flares I guess. 

Fishing with Lanny Philips Rockport Texas
We went to San Antonio and he saw a pamphlet for ghost tours and the second lesson in our vacation process: the wild card-come up with an idea and don't hesitate to say YES! In the next five minutes I was on the phone setting up a ghost tour for the evening. It is the diversity of our interests and the opportunity to do whatever comes up that makes our vacations so successful. Another lesson in vacationing-be open to new experiences and share interests that are common, this way no one is bored and no one feels slighted. When we are out on the road-there is nothing that is off limits.

Next lesson is to search for interests that are common and have the attitude that you will see everything you can-the road to the destination is the destination. A long ride to somewhere becomes  a bunch of short excursions to manageable trips. This lessens road fatigue and keeps the vacation unpredictable and exciting-you pretty much start the vacation the minute you get in the car.

The next trip was something I came up with as I had made some extra freelance money and was able to go out and purchase airplane tickets. Alcatraz here we come-we went to San Francisco and planned on caves, zoos and the pacific coast-my son had his first plane ride that he remembers and got acquainted with public transportation and the freedom of the rental car. Can I just say one of the best things he remembers is the food-we did not spare expense and I have since not missed one penny of what I spent.
Another lesson-don't go broke on a vacation but don't go halfway either-finding that balance is the hardest part. 

Another added interest on this trip was aquariums-Monterrey, Aquarium of the Bay-it was a great addition to our repertoire. This trip was I think, still our very best, we went from San Francisco to San Diego and back to Alcatraz-luckily we only stayed for an evening on the rock and the park system was nice enough to ferry us back to freedom. One outstanding element of this trip was as I mentioned-the food-Dungeness crab and Anchor steam beer for me. My recommendation would be the crab house on Pier 39. The best burger either of us have ever had was at Louis-another amazing restaurant I would highly recommend. In this trip my son who is quickly approaching his teens took the initiative to pick restaurants and hotels using his smartphone we recently invested in-he became a navigator, hotel reservations and arrangements for dinner and he did a really nice job of setting us up with great places to eat and navigating when we got off course. Another lesson in vacation-its both of your vacation and the more involved and interested your preteen is the more you both share the vacation and the excitement of the vacation-it's not all about you!

How do you follow up a trip like our San Francisco/San Diego trip? Best thought I would give is don't try-one does not compare to the other or you will quickly be disappointed. I decided that we would go somewhere I have been wanting to go for a long time-Mountain Home Arkansas and my main idea was to kayak and boat which the weather and chill in the air quickly changed-again be flexible and ready to change plans. Again we got to enjoy caves, amazing dinners and fishing for trout both with a guide and along the road-it wasn't the California trip but it was amazing in its own way and both will remember all aspects fondly. 

Petit Jean State Park Arkansas

Our most recent trip was to Oklahoma-this was a wonderful trip but the least memorable probably and my explanation is that we brought our kayaks-this I believe limits your freedom to go see things and places and limits the trip to fewer options. We kayaked, camped, stayed in a cabin and stayed in the comfort of a hotel-all experiences were amazing including trout fishing and a trip to natural falls state park which we both enjoyed. We discovered the prettiest lake in Oklahoma-Ten Killer Lake and were able to fish where you can see the bottom of the lake in Broken Bow. We cooked salmon on the grill and watched bald eagles  fly across the immense sky-it was an amazing trip-probably on a scale of 1-10 a 9-the only difference with the other trips is that they all were twelves and thirteens-it's all perspective.

Lake Murray State Park Oklahoma

Which brings me to my final lesson on the road trip-perspective-take everything as it comes, look for the challenges that bring wisdom and realize that the whole reason you are out there is to enjoy time together and feel the freedom of being open to all possibilities. Leave the phone and texting alone, talk about everything from nature, memory and everything in between. The trip, just as in life is what you make it, realize you'll never get the money you spend back nor will you ever  miss it if you do it right. Go out there and gather memories much like the magnets you put on the fridge, every memory is a trinket that will never be anything less than priceless. Enjoy your freedom and realize its out there waiting to be explored so go explore. Next stop Kentucky, the Atlantic coast and everything between.

Artistgordon - Find me on