LOUISE: Dreaming About Vacations

VacationWinter has definitely arrived along with the first snow. I was hoping this would be our first winter without the white stuff and I apologize to snow lovers, but the past two years of snow and ice were enough to last me a lifetime. Cold winters make me long for a warm beach, and yes, I have a few favorites.  

Take Florida, for instance. I love the aqua water and sugar white sand of the panhandle but Cocoa Beach on the Atlantic side, with its white-capped surf is also a favorite. We made our first trip to Florida when our children were ages 6 to 14 years old. We were on the road before 6 a.m. with all three kids sleeping in the back of the van. On the way to our destination we stopped in Vicksburg, MS, to explore the historical area and got into Tallahassee late at night with no place to stop for food. Our downtown hotel had already closed the restaurant but sent crystal goblets of milk via room service to enjoy with our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches—a staple I learned to pack long ago. The next day we settled into our little condo on Cocoa Beach, our home base as we visited Walt Disney World, Sea World and Kennedy Space Center, leaving time to hit the beach most afternoons.

We eventually spent vacations at other Florida beaches and traveled to several Texas shorelines, including North and South Padre and enjoyed them all, even with sea gulls swooping down and stealing our food. Then for my 39th birthday, my husband arranged a trip to the greatest paradise of all—Hawaii.  As always, we took the kids along. Some of us had never flown before that 10-hour trip. Friends asked, “Don’t you want to take a short trip, just to see how you do on a plane?” (Okay, I was one of those who had never traveled by air.) Nope! No short trips! I was determined to get to Hawaii no matter what the flight was like, and of course it was fine and the beauty of the islands was worth every hour on that plane.

The thing is, I’ve not been to a beach in years. Our son, Jay can no longer fly because of his heart disease. My husband and I discussed renting a motor home and driving to a sandy shore, but pancreatic cancer stole that trip. But I’m thankful we took some exciting vacations through the years and fulfilled many of our dreams. We drank from Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth, shopped Mexican markets, took a sunset cruise on the gulf and spent a week in a cottage on a beautiful Iowa bluff. We saw the sun rise and set over different oceans, traveled the Ozark Mountains in the spring and fall and visited the French Quarters in New Orleans. We also did some crazy things along the way, like stopping at a snake farm to see an albino rattlesnake (oldest son’s request) and getting stuck in the sand at Padre Island. (Who in the world would drive a van onto the beach in spite of his wife’s caution? Guess!) I have beautiful memories of our vacations.  

So what does your dream trip look like? Maybe you would like to float down the Mississippi River on a raft or a riverboat, go fly-fishing, take a Caribbean cruise, travel by train to a remote region or ride a mule down the Grand Canyon. Go for it! Or perhaps you’re like me and just want to drive a motor home to the beach in this grief-filled winter of my life and hope a summer of joy will follow. Don’t put those dreams off too long! Time has a way of running out.

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