The other night, after an emotionally draining day, I was scrolling through my phone images looking for a picture. While searching for a particular image, I came across tons of pictures from last year, and it was such a great reminder of “life outside” the 4 house walls we’ve been sequestered in for the past month +. Over the past two years I made the choice to make several big changes in my life, one of which was to travel. The other, to make some financial shifts. Last year was a big year for us as far as travel goes, and I saw endless smiles through those images. It’s got me thinking that after the current situation with Covid-19 comes to a close, how very much I want to get my family out into the world again.
We finished off 2018 with a big family trip to the UK. I was born in England, and have a large family there. The 4 of us jumped on a plane and headed off to the English countryside to visit my extended family for a week. Everyone had a wonderful time and I think we all came back geared up with holiday spirit. We spent time with family, did some shopping, visited Chatsworth house and the Christmas markets. We took long hikes into tiny English villages, my daughter got on a horse for the first time, and my kids got to spend some time with their great grandfather. Unfortunately it would be for the last time, as he died in 2019. The trip was wonderful, memorable, and both kids mentioned they were dying to go back to visit. My son even began to mull over going to university in England when he gets older. They saw all the beauty of the country that I see, and it felt amazing.
2019 We took a visit down south to visit my dad and stepmother. Despite them living several hours away from us, they have a great relationship with the kids and truly make the time they see them count. We went to museums, took long walks around the lake, spent time with each other, and had a great time there. The kids also got to meet a new baby cousin, which was exciting as well.
We arrived back and soon after I see there are pictures from day or short weekend trips to New York City and around New England. I am a HUGE fan of the day or weekend trip. There’s nothing like a fresh place or fresh scenery to jostle the senses and feel a little more rested or rejuvenated! New York is such an exciting place to visit. Lots of hustle and bustle, and the people watching is A+. I could spend days happily roaming around the city from neighborhood to neighborhood, just checking things out. There is something for everyone in NY. On other short trips we visited Massachusetts, Mystic Seaport in CT, and also did a stop in Newport RI. I grew up near the water, sailing on boats and splashing on the beach. The water calls to me, and Newport with it’s nautical flair and amazing restaurants is one of my favorite trips. It’s a tourist town, for sure, but it’s perfect whether you are staying for a weekend or even a day trip, although be forewarned there is always much to do. You can shop, feast on the freshest seafood, and tour amazing mansions. We go annually with family and spend the day shopping, drinking, eating, and usually take a sunset cruise on one of the many boats. I always come home feeling happy after those trips.
In the spring, my bestie surprised me with an all expense paid trip to Vegas. Yes, you read that right. Do I have the best bestie of all? Why yes I do. I wrote about it at length on the blog, but it was an incredible experience. She goes to Vegas yearly so she was eager to show me all the sites and sounds of the city. We went to most of the casinos, ate dinner at the top of the Stratosphere, which was an amazing meal, saw a Cirque show (awesome!) and we did a once in a lifetime trek to the Arizona desert to ride dune buggies. It was possibly one of the best vacations of my life with one of my favorite people. I wrote several posts about it if you’re interested in hearing more in detail.
Summer brought along our trip to Rydin Hi Ranch in upstate NY. It was a pretty magical trip for the whole family. We went with other family members which made the trip even better. We stayed in log cabins, there was a list of daily activities all day long that anyone could participate in, and we rode horses each day. We kayaked and paddle boated. There were boat trips, fishing trips, and bananaboat rides. The food was great, the staff was great, and the place itself was kind of magical. My husband allowed himself to fully relax, and I loved seeing him try loads of new things with the kids. We came back tanned and tired, but oh so content. The trip was so good, we’re hoping to return this year as well.
The fall came rolling in, as did the very difficult news my grandfather had passed. I flew to England, alone, for the funeral, and to say goodbye to a man who had meant so much to me. While there I managed to spend time with family, and also spent some time roaming around on my own, just taking things in. A very sad trip had some very happy moments as well, and I was comforted by getting to spend time with my cousin who I hadn’t seen much on my prior trip. The two of us together is ALWAYS a good time, and we spent many nights chatting away and laughing together. As two of the oldest cousins, we remember so many of the old family stories. She is honestly like a sister to me, and we have the luxury of being brutally honest with each other but also are fiercely protective of each other as well. The hardest part is always saying goodbye when I leave, and it’s even harder when her and her daughter both start crying, which sets me off as well. I don’t think I’ve ever left her house for airport with a dry eye.
All of these trips, all of the experiences sit with me far more than any material item. My kids still rave about our trip to England. We all discuss our trip to the ranch with love and excitement for the next one. My best friend has been hinting that Vegas is calling her name and that it’s a damned good time when I come along too. These trips have and will continue to shape who we are. With the years before my oldest leaving for college dwindling, I am recognizing that our time to travel is in the next few years while we’re all together. I want all of us to have those memories tucked safely away to reminisce over as they grow older.
The Covid situation is a frustrating one because I know that we need to contribute by staying home. I want nothing more than to visit my dad, but I know that the best thing I can do to keep him and my stepmother safe is NOT to visit. Instead, I will call him, send pictures, videos, and keep looking at the pictures of our prior trips. The same thing goes for my family in England. Make no mistake, any extra penny I can muster is now going to a vacation fund for this family, and when things calm down and we can safely travel, I’m going to take us somewhere, whatever it takes.
Until then, I’m so grateful to have all the pictures as reminders of adventures of the past while I put together adventures in the future.