Thankfully, my son just returned from his trip out West.
I say thankfully because of course I’m glad he survived a road trip of 4,000 miles and also a trek up and down one of the world’s most dangerous hiking trails.
For the record, Robert said his most exciting experience was spending a night in Amarillo, where he went to bed during a tornado and woke up to news that a disgruntled employee at the Wal-Mart down the street had taken his boss and a co-worker hostage. A SWAT team responded immediately and killed the guy.
Don’t mess with Texas.
I also say thankfully because I had put Robert’s entire trip itinerary on my calendar, and during each workday when I’d check the time of my next meeting or appointment or boring task, I’d see that Robert was swimming the Emerald Pool or gazing upon the Giant Rattlesnake Sculpture or hiking Antelope Canyon with Chief Tsosie.
Whoever Chief Tsosie is.
So following Robert’s fabulous cross-country trip made me want to take a vacation of my own.
Fortunately, this summer Bess and I are taking another trip without the children, who will be occupied for a week with various out-of-town activities.
For us, last year was a sort of trial run – or this being an Olympic year, an exhibition sport.
As I’ve written before, Bess spent her childhood vacations touring historic landmarks and learning things. I spent mine eating shrimp and forgetting things.
Last year, we got a place off 30A in Florida, and I spent the time sitting on the beach reading and drinking cold beverages and listening to the waves crash on the shore, and Bess spent the time asking me questions.
Actually, one question: “So what do you want to do?”
And I’d say, “I’m doing it.”
And she’d say, “Oh.”
So I realized that, while a beach bum vacation was my thing, it was not going to be our thing.
When we left the Gulf, we had a couple of days to drive to the Georgia coast to pick up our sons, so we spent a night at a B&B in St. Augustine.
We walked the fort walls along the bay, listened to a band in the park, toured a cathedral and ate a big dinner. We even checked out a distillery where they made gin out of sugar cane.
Our kind of vacation.
This summer marks our 25th anniversary, so we’ve decided to do something special.
We started with Maine, which has great scenery, great seafood, and lots of things to tour and learn about.
But I waited too late to book a flight and find lodging. Both things were still available for a price, but let’s just say that when I saw the cost of purchasing round-trip airfare to Maine on a couple weeks’ notice, I immediately remembered that we’re sending a second child to college in the fall.
“Hey,” Bess said, “what about New Orleans?”
I checked online and in minutes had booked a great place right in the French Quarter for a song.
That’s because it’s hot as blazes during July — and therefore off-season.
But we can handle it. When I was stationed in Europe, we spent several dog day nights in Rome in a room without air conditioning. And besides, we live here in Columbus.
Bess did make me call the French Quarter to ask if they had air conditioning. The woman at the desk laughed.
They do, at least in our room. So we’re good to go.
Now I’m researching Big Easy restaurants. I’ve got the list down to about a hundred.
Meanwhile, our son is regaling us with tales of Angels Landing and Checkerboard Mesa and the Grand Canyon.
Which reminds me that I need a vacation.
And I’m gonna get one.
Hope you do too.