Sunday, August 17, 2008


Okay! All ready! Food cooked, clothes packed (um, except mine), toys packed (except mine)....actually, we're not ready. But, in honor of our going on a family vacation where Larry and I are sure to grab every opportunity to drag our children to historical or otherwise educational sites, I'd like to reminisce about the summer of 2003.

In July of 2003, we moved (temporarily) to Newport, RI. We were determined to make the most of our year in New England by visiting every museum, restored farming village, seaport, etc., that we could. We did ourselves proud, I'll tell you. We made at least 3 pilgrimages to the Mayflower and Plymouth Plantation alone. Twice we visited Sturbridge Village; I lost track of how often we graced Mystic Seaport with our presence. And once, that memorable summer, we drove to Boston to walk the Freedom Trail and to visit the USS Constitution. Here it is, in my words (but 5 years younger):

Today we ventured out to Boston with the 5 kids, Larry driving and me reading the maps. But it's okay - I'm sure we will be on speaking terms sometime again soon. Larry blames MapQuest. I blame him, for bringing along a book of Boston maps which it turns out he bought at a used book store. Used, as in out-of-date. (He claims anything would be out-of-date, because of the ongoing road construction project in Boston). Also, for some reason, instead of having the map of New England states in our glove compartment, we had a Maryland map and a map for Norfolk, VA. These were not useful.

Anyway, we found our way to the Freedom Trail and followed our very knowledgeable Nat'l Park Service ranger around Boston, listening to an over-detailed account of each site. Afterwards, we picnicked near the Old North Church, in a light but refreshing rain. We gambled that the rain would let up while we hoofed it over the Charles River to the USS Constitution. We lost. It didn't help that Larry had to drag an hysterical David over the bridge (it had those steel gratings and David thought he would fall through) while backpacking Rachel. Not exactly the pleasant stroll we had envisioned. But that's okay - we made it to the USS Constitution, where they wouldn't let Larry take his small Swiss Army knife on the ship with him. Larry decided to leave it in the diaper bag and leave the diaper bag in the stroller outside the entrance. He claims 2 people said that was okay. I don't know about that.

We were down on the gundeck of the ship when an official-looking gentleman came looking for the owner of an abandoned backpack. Our abandoned backpack, as a matter of fact... So Larry went off with him, while I sat there and waited and waited and waited, and Rachel kept trying to throw herself down open hatches and screaming when I pulled her away. Finally I maneuvered all of us up the stairs and down the gangplank; we found Larry standing outside the entrance (sans handcuffs, thank goodness), looking extremely annoyed because they wouldn't let him back in. Turns out that, after Larry managed to convince the guards that the suspicious-looking backpack was nothing but a diaper bag, he attempted to re-enter (with the bag this time). The already suspicious guards found the verboten (and forgotten, by Larry) Swiss army knife during their bag search. This strikes me as very funny, but security guards aren't known for their sense of humor.

The ride home was pretty much as disagreeable as the ride there, particularly because Brian and Rachel developed a game wherein they would shriek at each other in really high-pitched voices. I'm surprised the windshield didn't shatter. We broke down and stuffed them with hamburgers and fries for part of the ride (full mouths make less noise); but we soon ran out of ammunition, and I spent the rest of the ride promising myself that next time I would stay home. Or, better yet, they could all stay home and I could go by myself. I think we have had quite enough of family togetherness for the time being.

You know, it's a little disheartening to read all that the night before a big trip. But at least I can be assured of some decent stories to tell next week. (But don't I sound younger up there? I think so.)


And we have a winner, folks! I mean, we have a winner as soon as I write down all these names and put them in this plastic bag. Give me a minute...

What? It takes time to tear off all these little strips of paper, you know...

Okay, they're in the bag and now I'm shaking it up. Whoops! A bunch fell out - should I disqualify those? No? Okay, back in the bag they go! And...the winner of Traveling Mercies is...

(I love this part.)

That is just so cool, because tonight I was talking about Rhode Island and Amy lives in Rhode Island. And, no, I didn't peek in the bag at all. Sheesh.

So, Amy, e-mail me your address. I'm hoping to mail these books tomorrow. Really.

If you want to hear me say something good about my teens, go on over to my post today at MidCenturyModernMoms. This could be the start of something beautiful. Or, more likely, it's just a fluke.


  1. Good luck with that.

  2. That is a funny story. Although perhaps Larry is still annoyed? Have a wonderful vacation.

  3. Whee! Thank you!! I promise to pass it on once I've read it.

    We haven't taken the kids to Sturbridge Village yet, either. I spent what seemed like days in the car taking them to Plimoth, but at least we get in free--I'm related to a couple of folks who work there. :)

  4. Oh, your vacation memory was priceless. New England is beautiful with all those restored villages/museums. I totally understand about the maps, though. My husband is a world class skeptic, so even if the GPS in the rental car tells him to turn, he doesn't listen, and then gets mad when we're (surprise, surpise) lost.

    Also, if he's driving and I'm using a map and telling him to make a turn, he always asks, "Are you sure?" Then he wants to verify and will look at the map while driving. So I don't even bother anymore...I just let him drive with the map in his hand while I prop my feet up on the dash eating bon-bons. (okay, not bon-bons...trail mix).

    Have a wonderful week. Blessings and safe driving.

  5. We've just returned from a beach weekend ourselves which took 5 days to pack for for a 36 hour rate of return on that investment ain't looking too good....

  6. Vacations would be so fun if we didn't have to take the kids.

    Wait, did I say that out loud? Anyway, hope this time is wonderful, or at least memorable.

    And what knitting did you pack?

  7. You sound only slightly younger - because you sound young now!

    Okay, so I am kissing up a bit.

    Have a wonderful, wonderful time.

  8. I am seriously considering a long car trip with just me and Little Man. You are making me want to re consider. Just one kid, that is better than 5, right?

  9. Ah, nothing screams family vacation more then fighting with your husband over directions and random car shrieking.

    Maybe this year, we'll just play pretend and do all that in our driveway. At least it alleviates the packing issue.

  10. Good luck on vacation -- don't forget to have fun!

    (By the way, my homeschool started here today -- do all children develop vapor-lock of the brain over the summer? Mine seem a little, um, stupid today. Very disheartening...

  11. I'm sure it will be tons easier this time around.

    Ya, that's it. Tons easier...:-)

  12. Happy trails! I hope all the stories have happy endings.

  13. Some day I would LOVE to visit the places you mentioned..That section of the East coast eludes me..

    OK... and your story...I think after that trip I'd rent movies, put a tent in the back yard and call it a day :-)

  14. My husband and I have a different dynamic with regards getting places. He's seen me navigate from a city I've never been in before to a house I had no address for in a country I'm visiting for the first time based on "I believe it's that way." He's also seen me get lost multiple times in our own neighborhood.

    On that basis, he's done the only sensible thing and bought a GPS. Now Mr. T yells at him about pitying the fool who doesn't turn left. And I get to do bad Mr. T impersonations.

    It's win/win.

    Good luck on your holiday, and why haven't you already mapped out where all the LYS are? *ducks from the wrath of your husband*

  15. From what I hear Boston still is impossible to maneuver.
    Hope this trip runs smoothly and that you have a relaxing fun time.

  16. Vacations! You are a brave women to revisit vacations past the night before you brave another one. Good luck!

  17. I'm a little late to the party, but I hope you have a great trip.

  18. Have fun and come home alive, please!

  19. I how love you kept this! You do sound younger. I hope you're having fun!