Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Little House's Family Vacation, Complete With "Drive-By Shootings"

A lovely drive through Vermont & New Hampshire on our way to Portsmouth.
Our summer vacation has now come and gone.  We had hoped to get over to Portsmouth late summer or fall and when our calendar seemed to be filling up with no option of "getting away" and my husband invited me to take a ride over to this same area for business purposes, it seemed to be the perfect opportunity to turn it into a mini vacation. My husband agreed.

We called our girls and they didn't have to do much to clear out a couple of days.  It seemed that we had asked at the right time. Their significant others each were into new jobs and it wasn't the time for them to "cut loose", and my oldest daughter's boyfriend's children were all back in school. We were pleased to gather at least our own girls and have a family reunion.

I used to say that the best example of an oxymoron is a family vacation.  It is literally no vacation when you pack up children to get away, as there isn't any getting away from anything when you take the kids with you. Not only would we pack their clothes, and ours, but travel games, music tapes and then all the meals and snacks. We found it easier to travel with a camper and then a small motor home, quite literally taking our home with us! It was a comfortable mode of traveling as we could stop and rest as we needed to and the journey itself was entertaining. Travel monies were gas, campground and activity fees as opposed to the cost of motels, and restaurants, besides which we knew what our accommodations included, and for the most part they were very comfortable!

Not all of our drive is so scenic!
When we  moved to the country and started taking trips to cities, getting a motel room seemed to be a better option. Driving a motor home in a city was just too hard besides! Though  I never drove, I did bite many a nail to the quick, just watching my husband maneuver the cumbersome motor home in city traffic. It is now sold and those days are history.

This "get-away" would be simple and fast, and I was delighted that my husband was able to find a room for only $12 along with his remaining travel points left from days when his old job demanded overseas travel. I had always been the penny-pinching director of our trips and it was nice that he had taken on that role, though we agreed that with just the few of us we could afford to eat out on this trip and forego the hassle of packing a cooler with sandwich makings. How luxurious!!

Being adults, we each packed our own bag, taking only a change or two of clothes, and the kids added what they thought necessary for the beach: chairs, towels, and umbrellas and we then gathered to load it all into one car before departing. But some things never change! My oldest daughter packed games and crocheting, like we were going for a week. I, on the other hand, moving into my senior years, packed a small sampling of our medicine closet, and got myself a new mini purse to downsize, what was needed when shopping, but I too had a travel bag with my essentials: camera, medicines, wet wipes for senior spills instead of toddler messes, a book, journal and seemed like light packing to me, but I seemed to forget that we were all traveling with bigger bodies and in a compact car! It didn't take long to realize that we were like sardines in a tin, without any room for the mustard sauce! I did throw in a couple bags of popcorn and a thermos full of hot tea for myself that I could refill at the motel, along with my thermos tea cup.

I had even brought along my new CD of Pavarotti, The 50 Greatest Tracks. It was only twenty-five years ago that we had all watched him on PBS and loved him. How fun that we could leave behind the We Sing tapes, though what to my wondering ears should  I hear as we pulled out the drive-way, but my daughter blaring Stevie Wonder! "Don't worry," she said, I have brought some great music for our trip!!" I now remembered, that when they were kids, they had headphones with their music and we had ours!! My face must have shown its disdain for she was quick to add Pavarotti to the mix, but it was clear that I was the first to have to adjust my expectations for this trip!! I had forgotten, that the last trip we took with our now alien adult girls, they had their car and we had ours!!

Sitting in the back seat, one of my legs started cramping, and I reached for my medications.  Likely not a good time to cut back on my anti-inflammatory meds! . My daughter was driving and my husband was in the front passenger seat, all comfortable to take in the scenery. I could tell that all were in full vacation mode! I was having second thoughts and we hadn't even left town! With a little Pavarotti music and extra medication, I soon settled back and was content, drifting into a light nap.

I woke about forty minutes later as I heard my daughter telling my husband to get ready to see her favorite old mansion that had been turned into a Senior Care Facility. She explained that they had planted the entire lawn in gardens and knew that we would want to take a picture. My travel bag with my camera was now in the trunk, as there had been no room for it next to me in the back seat "Don't worry" my husband said, "I will get a good drive-by shot". It was deja-vu!! My husband, who loved to drive, never wanted to stop for pictures.  "No need." he would say, "when I can get a great drive-by shot", a photography skill that he developed himself!
The nursing home that transformed their lawns into scenic gardens!!

Is this nice for the senior residents or what?
Being wheeled through these gardens must make an day a joy!
Our family photo albums are filled with such shots...blurred scenery, complete with a clear image of the mirror on the side of the car!! Now at least he has a camera with a quick setting, to still the picture so they aren't so much like a modern painting of smeared color with no clear definition! I dream of developing my photography skills, but our vacations are not the time for such practice with my camera all carefully packed and charged, packed in the trunk...and there would be no stops. We were on our way to Portsmouth and clearly couldn't wait to get to the beach!

Hungry and ready for lunch, but with no one else wanting to stop, I reached for the bag of popcorn and was glad to have it. A snack would have to do, and I dreamed of our great fresh seafood dinner we would have that night!
New Hampshire beach front property...and no this is not where we stayed!

We arrived at the motel mid-afternoon and that was the next great shock. Our room was in every way very nice except that there were two double beds! After sleeping in a king-sized bed for years, they looked more like twin beds to me!! My husband and I are not light-weights and haven't slept in a double bed for years! Our girls are full grown and not small in stature either! "Yes", my husband said, when I gasped, "This was all they had!!" I now understood that our twelve dollar bargain room was perhaps not the bargain that I had counted on. Perhaps we could spend a little more and get a second room I suggested, after my oldest daughter, who had brought games and crocheting had unpacked consuming the top of the only dresser!! My husband then announced that the motel was full, and they had no other rooms!!

The beach scenery...turns any drive into a vacation!
Next on the travel itinerary was to change into swim attire and head for the beach in time to catch the last rays of sunshine.  Still on the Marshall Protocol, sunbathing really isn't on my agenda, especially on a hot day when I would swelter protecting myself from the sun. No problem, I had an alternative plan! I could stretch my legs and perhaps catch a real nap in a quiet air-conditioned motel room, complete with room darkening shades? They could take in the last rays of sun while I consumed a whole bed to myself, especially now knowing that  the night ahead would be a challenge!

Our spirits soared with the gulls!

My oldest daughter picking sea shells.
I woke refreshed and freshened myself up for dinner and then waited.  I can always entertain myself reading while I wait...and wait was an understatement...I waited... and I Started to get hungry and then hungrier...I combed our bags for any last bits of everyone's remaining snacks and found none. I didn't even have a plastic key card to the room to allow me to go down to the lobby to the snack machines, though my husband had all our traveling money with him! Hunger is good, I tried to assure myself as it would leave more room for our lavish seafood dinner.
We weren't the only ones taking in the beach view!

My husband and girls finally returned and then had to get cleaned up, taking turns using one bathroom...My daughter split a mashed granola bar she had in her pocket, only to then tell me that they had all stopped for lunch while I slept!! Hours later we were at the restaurant, only to realize that we were none to early and had another 45 minute wait. It seemed all the seafood restaurants were filled to the gills!! Yes, seafood restaurants have gills!! I was beyond by the time we got our food! Any thoughts of limiting my intake was gone and no expense was spared! Our dinner was delicious and my youngest enjoyed finishing her usual dual lobster dinner, cleanly picking every morsel from their shells, and taking her desert to go as the restaurant closed. We were then off to see the beach by moonlight.

It was a full moon over the ocean and a lonely surfer was taking to the water! It was a perfect occasion for photographers and all of our cameras were back in the motel room! My husband and kids, ready to relax and sleep were eager to return. I was glad that I hadn't finished my book, though I was relaxed enough to nod off with the others and apparently was able to sleep more soundly than I thought leaving my oldest daughter to watch over her younger sister who smokes and had to step outside of the motel's lobby to do so, making her older sister's night an unrestful one!

The air-conditioner triggered on and off. Adjusting the temperature setting low, preferring cooler sleeping temperatures, our youngest had packed well bringing her own double fleece blanket that she wrapped herself in with what appeared to be a snowsuit underneath!! Both my husband and I woke in sync with the room heating up when the air-conditioner cycled off, only to have it trigger back after we were fully awake.

It was a long night and morning came with all four of us needing to use our one shower and toilet. Fortunately some slept in making for different bathroom shifts. The early risers brought back tea and hard boiled eggs for me and we all managed to be out by our checkout time, ready for another day's sight-seeing. My husband was already a bit frustrated with the hurry-up-and-wait-for-everyone-to-get-ready-to-leave-routine, and being the taxi-driver with no destinations of his own, he soon remembered too well the family vacations of yester-years. He fell into his role to please everyone by managing to get us to our destinations that were all different. Fortunately we had all agreed upon two common destinations and that they would be the first and last stops of our trip.

Crowded beaches...I prefer them private and enjoyed the bench and view!
Easy to sail away in your head while you take in the view!

Love watching the waves hit the rocky shoreline!

I think this would be a good sport to practice my balance!!
Being Saturday the public beaches were wall to wall beach towels and umbrellas, so we stopped along the roadway and pulling into a parking place, I looked at the wall of rocks I needed to climb to get a view of the ocean and stepped back into the car! Did I mention that I have weak ankles and have issues walking on level ground? Only a few miles down the road  we found another more suitable spot complete with a park bench and big boulders for our more adventuresome girls to spread out their towels and do a little sunbathing. It was a perfect day and a perfect spot. The sun was shining but there was a nice cool breeze. My husband could get some pictures of the ocean using his telephoto lens and it was fun to listen to my girls visiting and giggling as they sunbathed!
Preparing to do a little sun bathing on the rocks and listen to the waves!

Kite flying...another way to let your spirits fly!
Next, onto a seashell and rock store, a favorite for my girls and I was dropped off at the Portsmouth Quilt Shop, to be turned loose with my mini purse and charge card!! Then onto Dairy Queen before heading home! Another Little House family vacation, where everyone is happy to be back to their respective homes and beds, and at last get out of the cramped travel car!!

Restful? No! Relaxing? No!! But satisfying none-the-less that we all got a delicious seafood dinner, Dairy Queen, visited the ocean and our favorite shops, with a chance to visit and giggle and groan! We are again ready to be separated from each other for a while!... What do we have to show for our trip? We have my husband's drive-by-shootings, along with a few of his more relaxed ocean shots, a sun-burn or two, a few rocks and shells and quilting materials!! Mission accomplished!