By the time this publishes, I will be on vacation! That fact has inspired today’s “Top 10.” Hope you enjoy a stroll down Memory Lane with me.
I went to California as a little kid. I must have been around 5 years old. I call it vacation, but it was actually my dad’s reserve doing two weeks of bivouac, and we went out with him. I don’t remember much about it, but I do remember this play ground at the camp ground we stayed at. I met a “friend” there that my sister and I would play with almost every day. I probably remember him because on an unfortunate day, a bird decided to use his head for target practice.
At age 16 my family went to Gatlinburg, TN. We visited a few of the shops, thought about Dollywood, thought better, and went to Cherokee, NC to visit a touristy place that showed how the Native Americans lived. Other than buying Michael Jackson’s “History” and Travis Tritt’s “Ten Foot Tall and Bulletproof” CDs, I don’t remember too much.
8. Niagara Falls
Again, one that I don’t remember well. I was probably 5 or 6 years old. I have vague recollections of miniature world buildings like Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower. However, friends just went to Niagara Falls and didn’t see those things. Of course, it’s been 33 years so things may have changed a bit. I also remember the botanical gardens and having the biggest slice of pizza I’d ever had in my life. We only went to the Canadian side. We ran out of time and couldn’t make it to the American side.
7. Disney World
I went to Disney World when I was 8 years old. Again, not a whole lot of memories. I remember the pre-trip more than the trip. The night before we left, my parents told my sister, nephew, and myself that if the house was not clean by morning, we would not be going. As a parent, I now see that this was all a very smart tactic, but as a kid, I was terrified we wouldn’t be going. My parents went to bed, and by the time they woke up, the house was spic and span. It was also a pretty good tactic to keep us sleeping for half the ride. The only part of Disney World that I remember was eating Mexican food for the first time (believe it or not, I hated it) and riding Space Mountain.
6. Panama City, Florida
I believe it was my wife and my anniversary. We were bored and I looked at her and said something like, “Let’s go to Panama City, rent a room on the beach, and have fun.” It was our first and last spontaneous trip. It was fun. We spent a couple of days on the beach and stayed in a Best Western. I scraped my back on the ocean floor and still have scars to this day.
5. Bozeman, Montana
If you’ve never been to Bozeman, Montana, you are missing a treat. Katie, my oldest son, and oldest daughter (at the time: 8 weeks old) and I went to Bozeman because I needed a break. There was a retreat in the mountains that was free for pastors. All they had to do was come and enjoy the stay. We did. There was a hammock that go used a lot. We went hiking, went into town and found a quaint ice cream shop and even found a wonderful church whose pastor had the same last name as we did. He preached the greatest sermon on 1 Corinthians 13 I’ve ever heard.
On the way there, we passed through this little town in South Dakota. We had driven through the night and the sun was just coming up. Everyone else was asleep, and as we crested the top of a hill, the sun beamed off a little lake in this small town. The entire scene literally made me gasp, it was so beautiful. Katie woke up and asked what was wrong. By the time she looked, the scene had changed. On the way back we visited Mount Rushmore, and for the first time I wanted to know more about Theodore Roosevelt. That was my favorite vacation until the ones we’ve taken recently.
4. Wolf Lodge
Katie and I took the five kids a couple of years ago to Wolf Lodge. The room we stayed in looked like an old-time cabin. We enjoyed two days of water slides, wave pools, and family time. This was the first “family vacation” we had taken since Bozeman 14 years before. So many memories; lots of pictures.
3. Lake Solberg–Philips, WI
This is where we are now. This is our second time coming in as many years. We are here with Katie’s parents and sister’s family. It’s a big family gathering in which we fish, fish, and fish some more. We get a couple of cabins and just enjoy the outdoors with each other. Precious memories.
2. Good Hope, GA
A couple of years ago, Katie and I were able to go away for the first time alone overnight since our kids were born. We went to this rustic cabin in Good Hope, GA. We tried our hand at fishing in the pond, but didn’t catch a thing. We then went for a walk in the woods and came across a grave yard. These graves were old: some from the Civil War. It was so neat to look at all of them; some of the people had grown old, and some died in infancy. Not too far was an old church that had been turned into a library. Another graveyard. We went into Athens to buy some supplies and we charcoaled the fronts of many of the more unique or sad tombstones. We took lots of pictures rowing down the river and back. It was in October and the autumn leaves reflecting off the river were beautiful.
As Dorothy so famously said, “There’s no place like home.” I always enjoy spending some vacation time with Katie or my families. Often we get to celebrate Thanksgiving with Katie’s family, and we always spend celebrate Christmas with mine. My hope is that “family” catches on with my children so that they too are anxious for Thanksgiving and Christmas when all the brothers and sisters, cousins and nieces and nephews gather under one roof to celebrate together.