First of all, I looked up the definition of vacation in the Family Dictionary (you know, the one that tells how words mean different things in large families than in other contexts). Nowhere to be found were the words relax, fun or invigorating. Instead, it read like this:
"Vacation: An expensive event, sometimes requiring post-trip recovery periods in a medical and/or psyciatric hospital facility, where parents typically work harder, sleep less and ponder constantly why their perfect vacation ideals so quickly surrender themselves to a pragmatic hope of basic survival without rendering permanent phyical or emotional scars to any family members. See also, Torture via Hotel Room, Torture via Minivan, and 'Child-Induced-I-Gotta-Pee-Rage'."
Having looked up the defniation ahead of time, I knew what I was in for. So, this year we planned a vacation by RV. Seemed like a great idea, since we could have more space, go at our own pace and keep the kids as far apart from one another as possible. Besides, anything that combines television, a refrigerator and a restroom all in one vehicle has got to be great. And it was in many respects, although it certainly still met the Family Dictionary defnition of vacation. Rather than giving a travel log (although you can find one on Kathy's blog), I simply condensed my thoughts down to 10 lessons learned while on this summer's vacation:
1) I firmly recommend never trying to drive something the size of a house down a freeway, though a drive-through at a fast food restaurant, into a gas station, or anywhere else for that matter. As far as I am concerned, "Motor" and "Home" should not ever be combined. It is a great concept, but for the safety of everyone inside and outside the RV, my vote is for all homes to remain immobile.
2) That being said, there are few things more attractive than watching your wife drive something the size of a house down the freeway (although we haven't tried monster trucks yet). Not sure why, but I am pretty sure it is a fact. Even so, RVs are a great way to keep your family size right where it is, for more reasons than one.
3) Whoever is driving gets to pick the music everyone listens to. I quickly learned that I would prefer listening to the Wiggles and Backyardigans than to the "Funeral Singer "(Josh Groban) or the soundrack from Enchanted.
4) There is a natural law that the less sleep you have while traveling, the less likely it is that you will be able to get sleep at times when you should (such as at night). One night, our youngest decided not to go to sleep until about 2:00 am and another night she was up for the day at 3:30 am.
5) Everything I don't like about myself comes out when I drive on crowded freeways, windy mountain passes, and steep slopes.
6) The closest thing to communism in the United States is the pacific northwest. They have a rule for everything and are going to keep you and the environment protected...like it or not. $1000 fines for littering, $120 fines per person for not wearing a seatbelt in an RV, fines for talking on a cell phone while driving, fines for asking for plastic bags when you shop (Ok, I made the last one up).
7) The more your vehicle needs gas, the higher the probabily of high gas prices at your next stop. I think we hit pretty near the $5 per gallon mark in some towns.
8) Never eat at a restaurant in a town where there are more people in the restaurant than officially reside in the town.
9) The floor of an RV is a magnet that attracts wrappers from candy, food pakcages, toys and anything else that touches the hand of a child.
10) Being with your family for 10 days straight is wonderful, even when the ideals of what the perfect vacation ought to be fall short and even when none of us are perfect. It is great to have people who still love each other after seeing, smelling and experiencing both the good and the bad sides of one another.
11) Ok, I cheated and added another...There is very little wrong that sleeping children, a cool breeze, some premium ice cream and a mental image of your wife driving a house down the freeway can't cure. Who needs valium when there is Tillamook Ice Cream and 65 degree summer high temperatures!