Monday, August 28, 2017

Reds vacation, staycation, & naycation

HALLIE EPHRON: It's the last week of August... where did the summer go? My husband and I took a much anticipated Alaska cruise (more on that later in the week) but today I want to talk about family vacations



Today we're with my daughter and her family on Peaks Island--a short ferry ride from Portland, ME--where the bikes and golf carts far outnumber cars. Their house there is basic, a Victorian gingerbread cottage with a floor that slopes down down down from one end of the house to the other. Across the front is a screened  porch where we spend copious down time inhaling the view and enjoying our little people (that's my grandson at the door to the porch of the cottage on Peaks.) 

Oh, and eating lobster pulled fresh out of the sea, and each morning walking two blocks to Peaks Cafe near the ferry landing for the best breakfast sandwiches in the world.

As I get nostalgic for summer's end, I think back to our best family vacations. Topping the list is last year's trip to Puerto Rico, all seven of us (our daughters, one son-in-law, two grand babies). We splurged, and stayed in a fancy resort (but shopped for our food locally using the kitchen in our roomy "casita.") 

Enjoying kids requires extended time. Hours spent splashing in the infinity pool with a spectacular view, walking the beach, sitting on the balcony and bombing the shrubbery below with Barbie dolls.

LUCY BURDETTE: your week on an island sounds heavenly, Hallie. I wonder if we could get everyone to agree on something like that? Though, hmmm, maybe. When I suggested we'd pay for a place in Santa Fe after Christmas, there was a lot of enthusiasm. 

We had a staycation in July when all the family came to us to celebrate bunch of birthdays, including baby Dorothea's first. Hectic and exhausting but loads of fun!


Growing up, we traveled as a pack with my mother's sisters and their families. Most often we went to a beach house in Hatteras NC that used to be a coast guard station. Such good memories!

RHYS BOWEN: Last November we took our family to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for a week to celebrate our 50th Wedding Anniversary. Absolutely perfect. It was a big all-inclusive resort. The kids played endless games of water volleyball and swam in the waves. 


We took early morning walks along the beach, sat and read in the shade by the pool, had big noisy meals together and played late night games. John said afterward that not one cross word was spoken all week. I'll treasure this time forever.



HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  Family vacations...when we were little, we'd pile into the station wagon-I always dibbed the wayback--and from moment one we'd start asking "Whenner we gonna BEEEE there?"  

At some point, my stepfather decided  to cut that off at the pass--we'd get to the end of our driveway, and he'd ask us "How do you like it so far?"  We'd laugh so hard--and we began to say that all the time. And I still do. 

We had a house in Acapulco too, so for many years we'd all go there for Christmas. Like Rhys said, not a cross word was spoken.


Anyway, now...often the family outings are at our house! With the backyard pool and parks nearby. We love it! We all just hang out and grill outside and soak up the niceness. Often it's Fourth of July week, so we go to the Concord town parade--which is adorable! 

JENN MCKINLAY: We are lucky to have a summer house on the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia where the Hooligans run wild with their cousins. Sadly, we didn't make it there this year as we were awaiting Hooligan 2's surgery (no worries - It went very well and just this past week, I saw the mischievous sparkle return to his eyes). Instead, we made sure to have a fabulous holiday season together last December - ugly Christmas sweater contest and all! 


We also have big family reunions every three years on my husband's side of the family - this past summer it was in Oregon. Being unplugged and enjoying nature is definitely how we spend our vacations. I am partial to beach time but I'm okay with mountains, too. Anytime there is no clock ticking, no phone ringing, and no texts to return is an a-okay vacation by me.


INGRID THOFT: Our annual family vacation takes the form of a long weekend gathering in my Massachusetts hometown.  I’ve written here before about these festivities, which include a treasure hunt, a badminton tournament, hilarious games of Scattergories, and time to catch up with everyone.


The more memorable family vacations from my youth were in our nation’s spectacular national parks.  My parents would pile the four of us (and often my grandmother) into a station wagon and hit the road.  In Yosemite, the station wagon broke down and a couple of hippies in a VW bus gave us a ride to the only available accommodations, “Fish Camp.”  Believe me when I say the name was generous.  

In Canyonlands, we explored the park in jeeps with a guide named Boyd.  That day took a dark turn when one of the jeeps got stuck in the sand, and a flash flood threatened.  The mishaps were part of the fun, and the amazing scenery and the Holiday Inn pools always made for a winning combination.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Oh, I feel so left out here! We haven't taken a proper vacation in years. Between my trips to England and conferences and book tours, and DEADLINES, we just never seem to find a spot. Besides, Rick doesn't like to leave the dogs, even with a house sitter. We used to take the (late) two dogs with us on dog-friendly car trips, but we haven't done that in ages, either. And the kiddos and grandbaby are right next door, so we don't have to go somewhere to see them.

But we used to do so much with my parents. When I was younger, it was car trips all over the country. Later, my folks owned a house in Guadalajara and we'd spend a week or two a couple of times a year. Then, my parents had a house in Hot Springs, Arkansas for years. We always went for the horse races in the spring, then my dad organized a big golf tournament every Labor Day. It was all their friends and a lot of family, too. That was a big part of my daughter's childhood. 

I miss that, and am making a resolution that next year we will all do something fun.

HALLIE: And from our archives, here's a photo of our beloved Julia and Ross, vacationing in Maine from a few years ago. Waving, Julia!


And we're dying to hear about your family vacations... please share, where do you love to go with the dear ones you consider your "family."

AND our thoughts and prayers are with our friends in the Houston area. Stay safe, stay dry if you can. Wishing we could swoop in and scoop you up ...

68 comments:

  1. For us, vacation means spending time with family. When the children were small, the children and I would head for the east coast to spend time with family while John was off to Hawaii or Japan with the Navy. These days, John and I go or everyone comes here.

    This year, both girls were in Virginia where we spent a week with them and their families [except Kristen’s currently-deployed husband]. Then it was back to Virginia for me when grandbaby Mia was ready to make her appearance . . . .

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  2. Growing up we (four kids, two parents) piled in the Dodge station wagon and headed to Sequoia National Park to camp for two weeks. Drop dead gorgeous, idyllic, and so much fun. Now as a family it's always a treat to get both sons home at the same time, preferably with their sweethearts in tow. Last summer I rented a roomy guest house on a working farm in Maine near the coast, which came with a clear swimmable pond and the use of kayaks, not to mention died-and-gone-to-heaven organic full-cream yogurt from the milk of the farm's few cows. My sister joined us, too, and it was the most lovely week, tv-free, complete with board games at night.

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    1. Edith, that sounds lovely. Especially the yogurt. And the no TV....

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  3. Growing up we went to Vermont for a number of summers. But once that stopped, we really didn't go on any kind of vacations. We might take a day trip or something but that was about it.

    These days, I take a day or a half day from work but the last time I really went anywhere on an extended time break was 2005 when I went to a comic convention in Philadelphia.

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    1. Sometimes you don't appreciate how much you need a vacation until you're on one!

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    2. Lucy, I think I'd go crazy with essentially nothing to do for 7 days.

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    3. Well I really don't go anywhere or do anything. Does housework and paying bills count as vacation activities?

      About the only possible vacation type thing I might do is next year's Thrillerfest if I save up enough cash before mid-July 2018.

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  4. Joan, baby arrival is the MOST special kind of "vacation"... joyous but not at all relaxing.
    Edith, that's what we're coming to appreciate, renting a "family compound" and just hanging out.
    Jay, you may need to rethink...

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  5. Our best vacations as kids were when we'd pile into the car after my dad got off work and go to my grandma's for a week or two. We had the run of the farm. 'Don't go in the creek! Stay out of the barn!" etc., would fall on deaf ears, of course. We'd be in the upstairs summer bedrooms, where I'd lie awake and squish my face against the screen in the window, listening to the cowbells on the hillsides as the cattle moved about. Listening to the muted talk and laughter of my parents and grandparents below.

    Seems like all of the best vacations here on JRW--no matter the location--center on family and spending time together. My kind of vacation!

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    1. Flora, what wonderful memories! and you are so right about spending time with family...

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  6. I only remember two family vacations growing up. We drove to Boston for the week, and to Gettysburg another year. Hank, we had one of those station wagons, too and I always got the "way back" where I could plug into my Walkman and read for the entire trip.

    We took our kids to Disney back in 2008 and Orlando in 2010. Haven't done a "big" vacation since.

    I wanted a "staycation" this summer. Instead I got to take The Girl on a college tour in D.C.

    Mary/Liz

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    1. Oh that's a sign of the times Mary Liz! I remember perfectly my college tour to DC with Molly:).

      Funnily enough, I remember that we fought to stay *out* of the way back...

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    2. I loved the wayback, too. Especially since it was my domain as the eldest and my siblings were not allowed back there. =)

      Mary/Liz

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  7. I did not grow up in a family that took "vacations." Probably not enough money, but the main reason was that my dad, PhD and academe that he was, decided he wanted to own and run a theater in a small town. The only nights it was dark was Tuesdays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. He ran the projector, my mother sold tickets, and when old enough I popped the corn.

    Julie and I have traveled quite a lot, and my daughter had taken to coming along. He children are grown and on their own, and her husband has been commuting between Florida and England for years so is usually gone. And All her family live right here, so we see them on on the major holidays as well as here and there inbetween

    This year, mid-September, we are taking Melinda and my new knee and going to Montreal and the Eastern Townships. Yes, we are going to Three Pines! AND Weston, VT, just so we can go to the Vermont Country Store. Big adventurers that we are. Next year I hope to get back into the Yearly European trip. Melinda is moving to Chester, England, so that will be our first destination.

    Mid-October we are going to Toronto to Bouchercon. I can't wait to meet all the Reds!

    I love the idea of family vacations, but sadly none of my children get along well enough to spend more than a couple of days together. Long story. Not worth telling. However, when Melinda and Keith's three years in Chester are up, they will be living in a lake house in Grapevine, Texas, and I can see big opportunities for family get togethers. Both boys live within 30-40 miles of the lake, easy peasy for day trips.

    When my children were small, we owned a beach house on the Bolivar Peninsula, think Galveston. It was everyone's preferred destination for long summer weekends. Unfortunately it blew completely away in the last big storm, Hugo maybe? We had sold it prior, but still it is sad to think there is nothing left of it.

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    1. And we sure are thinking about all those people suffering in Texas now, Ann! What a disaster...

      On your trip to Montreal, please stop in at King Arthur Flour for me, Okay?

      Can't wait to see you at Bouchercon!

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    2. Dang it, the one year I can't go to Bouchercon! You'll have such a blast, Ann.

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    3. King Arthur flour is on the list Lucy Roberta

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    4. I'd love to go to King Arthur Flour and Vermont Country store, not to mention Three Pines!!! We are truly soul sisters!

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    5. I'll report on all of it when we return. Just hope to get out of the VCS without spending $$$$$ on nostalgic crap!

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  8. I so enjoyed all the vacation stories and pictures. The photo of Julia Spencer-Fleming was a nice surprise. I've missed her comments. Has she retired from JRW? From writing? I admire her writing and keep hoping for more...Any updates for her fans?

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    1. Julia's taking a break and we miss her, too.

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    2. Yes, we all miss Julia and hope she'll be back with us soon!!

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    3. Yes, missing Julia! And sending her good karma..

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  9. My mom lives in northern coastal Maine, so when the kids were younger, we spent a week there every August -- picking blueberries, eating lobster and taking day trips to see things like FDR's vacation home on Campobello Island. Also, I was a travel agent then, so most years we would do Disney and/or visit the in-laws in Ireland. We haven't done any family trips this year, but we have done some long weekends and just spent a lot of time together enjoying the summer and taking occasional day trips. Really, why leave the Cape in the summer?

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    1. Absolutely love the Cape, especially if you're clever enough not to drive back and forth on the weekends, right?

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  10. When I was a kid, we used to take two weeks every summer and go to my grandparents' house in Kansas City. My dad was usually off working on some advanced degree or another, so it was just my mom, my sister, and me. In the early years my aunt still lived with my grandparents, so it was quite a crowd for a 2-bedroom house, but I remember lots of laughter and silliness, playing with the other kids in the neighborhood, and trips to nearby museums.

    As an adult, I remember one epic road trip with my husband that took us from Texas to my mom's house in Missouri, to my aunt's place in San Francisco, and back home through the Grand Canyon, with stops for pretty much all the relatives in between; four thousand miles in a pickup truck, over three weeks, with some amazing adventures along the way.

    Now that I am widowed, I mostly travel alone. My sister, niece, and I managed one weekend road trip in my first Mustang that was great fun, but it looks like an upcoming trip to North Carolina--which I had hoped to share with my sister--will be a solo trip after all, since she's got looming family issues she will probably have to stay home to contend with.

    But on my own, I've managed a number of great trips, including a week in Portland, OR, a weekend in Santa Fe, and one truly life-changing pilgrimage to Earlville, NY. You'll never know how it will impact you until you go, so I say get up out of your rut and hit the road whenever you can!

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    1. You must tell us about Earlville, Gigi! And hats off to you for traveling solo...

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    2. It's a long story, but about a year after Warren died an outstanding blues rocker named Sonny Landreth was playing at the Earlville Opera House. I flew up from Texas to catch the concert in a successful attempt to discover whether I could find ways to have a fun, interesting life as a widow. It was my first solo trip since my college days, and I made friends, had a great time, and learned a lot about who I was as a single woman, outside the shadow of my larger-than-life husband. Plus, I got to have dinner with Sonny and the band. Cool things happen when you step outside that rut.

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    3. Gigi, we had a fun road trip to Kansas City in the first Mustang, too. Remember when we locked the keys in the trunk? What was that little town in Kansas?

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    4. That was a great road trip! I think, maybe, the same one. And I'm pretty sure it was El Dorado, Kansas.

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  11. These are such great stories! And it shows how important these excursions are, you know? No matter what we say at the time. I remember one spring our parents took us all to Washington DC, and it's one of my fondest memories. Even though at the time, I remember, mom always yelled at me because I just wanted to read Mad Magazine.

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    1. ooooh, oooh, ooh, we were crazy for Mad magazine too! We used to act out some of their stories on these beach vacations...

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    2. Hank, somehow I can't imagine you reading MAD Magazine:-)

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    3. Really? Oh, I was all about MAD. The musical parodies, especially. xoox

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    4. My introduction to Mad Magazine was from my grandmother! She bought that, and all the superhero comic books for all the grandkids to read at her house.(She also had subscriptions to Highlights for Children and Jack and Jill magazines.)

      DebRo

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  12. Our main vacations were trips in our old Ford station wagon, from suburban Maryland to my father's parents' home in Lowell, Mass. The seating almost never changed: my parents in the front, my three sisters in the middle seat, and me in the wayback, which was wonderfully exclusive at first, but by the time we got to the Garden State Parkway, had become hard and uncomfortable. Oh well. My aunt and uncle were sorta local (Boston, Providence) and would come by while we were visiting. We'd take a day trip to Hampton Beach or Canobie Lake Park and get the car full of sand. We were generally tired and cranky on the way home, but we were easy to please: we thought the food in the NJ Turnpike Service Areas was a treat.

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    1. Haha, Jim, we had one brother and 3 sisters too. we were always mad that he got treated like the prince (that he is, LOL).

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    2. Sounds like my childhood was different from most of the Reds. My father was a construction worker, so summer was when he worked almost constantly to earn enough to carry us through the lean winter months. No family vacations for us.

      But as we were raising my son, we took several memorable family vacations. Probably my very favorite was a ten-day car vacation where we visited Mt. Rushmore, the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain National Park, and the Lincoln Museum. Another great one involved the three of us plus a friend of our son's driving down to Lake Cumberland, in Kentucky, where we met up with some friends from Atlanta for a week on a houseboat. The two vacations couldn't be more different, really, but both are fondly remembered.

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    3. they both sound wonderful Susan. The trip to see the national parks and monuments is a must-do!

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  13. So many fun memories!

    We did not have family vacations in our troubled household. However, the summer I was fourteen my Aunt Phyllis, visiting Ohio with my two younger male cousins, asked my mother if I could go home with her for a couple of weeks. They lived in Rockville, Maryland, which at the time was about a ten- or twelve-hour drive from Hamilton. Aunt Phyllis took us to see all the sights in DC: the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, the Washington Monument (which my cousin Austin and I "ran" down). The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (at the time), with the Eternal Flame kept lit to honor JFK.

    When Uncle Bob came home from six months at sea, he and Aunt Phyllis reunited at the train station with the sexiest, most romantic kiss and embrace I'd ever seen outside of a movie! Once he was home we also visited Harper's Ferry and a bunch of other places lost to the veil of more than 50 years of time.

    My husband has traveled all over the country, and I've been joining him when I could for the last 39 years. We took our kids lots of places; the only places I ever got to take my oldest daughter were Disney World and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Our best vacations were the week or two we spent every summer in rural Nebraska. It sounds weird, but family members have a home on a mile-long ski lake alongside the placid Platte River.

    This summer we actually had a real vacation, driving up to Northern Michigan to visit my daughter and family, then to the UP to stay with the same people we stayed with 34 years ago, then back to my daughter's. And I got to visit two heavenly lavender farms on the way. It was a lot of driving, but we both agreed that time spent in the car together is never boring, even after nearly four decades. And isn't that a wonderful thing to know?

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  14. Hallie, I want to go to that infinity pool in Puerto Rico! You can even bomb me with Barbies!

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  15. Remember the "way back" of the station wagon where you would ride facing backwards? That seat was always in high demand, but I wonder if that would feel sickening as an adult? Like playground swings do?

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    1. Ingrid, in our case it wasn't a seat (this was in the 60s). It was a hard surface intended for carrying stuff. We managed to get most of the luggage under it, then I sat on top with the last couple of bags and a book of puzzles.

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    2. Jim, That really doesn't sound very comfortable, and so much for safety! Before I was born, my parents drove across the country with my three sisters--babies and toddlers at the time--in a playpen in the back of the station wagon. Apparently they bounced around there and were quite content!

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    3. Ingrid, as mentioned above this was my "domain" during family car trips. I loved it. And yes, I'm sure it would make me sick as a dog if I were to try it today. =)

      Mary/Liz

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  16. I really admire my parents now for having been so adventurous. We drove over most of the country except New England and the East Coast, had many hair-raising adventures in Mexico, and they traveled a lot of places without me that I will probably never get to--South America, Japan, Hong Kong. And of course they took me to England for the first time, and over most of Europe. They did NOT come from backgrounds where people took vacations, so to me that makes them even more adventurous.

    It's funny, but I loved those car trips, even though I sometimes had issues with car-sickness when sitting in the back seat. But my daughter hated car trips and still does--although we did have a really fun road trip to Round Top last spring.

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    1. I feel the same way about my parents, Debs. It took so much energy to wrangle the four of us and so much money, but my parents made it a priority. I so appreciate their willingness to do this, and I especially give my mom props: she would have to take four little girls to the bathroom while my dad would breeze in and out of the men's room!

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  17. Hallie, your grandson is adorable!!!!

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  18. Last year, my family took an Alaska cruise. My, my parents, and my brother and his family. Two weeks together and it was a lot of fun.

    We are looking to do something like that for my parent's 50th next year. So this year I met up with some friends for a few days in New Orleans. Hot but lots of fun.

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  19. I grew up In WA state, lived in the CA wine country, New England, and now in Florida. How lucky for me, all of these places are prime vacation hot spots. Before my mother became bed bound we spent our weekends on river property located at the foot of Mt. Si. Forty nine years ago, newly married me spent my husband's mustering out leave traveling weeks and 4000 (?) miles with the in-laws. I met all the brothers and sisters and cousins and lions and bears oh my. Not really a vacation this, more like a meet and greet, with shy me shuddering gamely along.

    As no one in the family is willing to abide with the Geneva Convention, we tend to avoid family reunions.

    My frugal life plan prevents a lot of travel now. Fact is, I live 100 feet from a dark river, and within walking distance to Busch Gardens Tampa. I know that people spend $1000's to visit Central Florida. I can have all this tropical beauty for free. Lucky lucky me. Bouchercon is even coming here in 2018! See y'all then.

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  20. Disneyland! My parents took my sister and I a (very) few years after it opened. I took my kids when they were tweens. In two weeks I'm taking the 12 year old grandson who lives with me for an early birthday. Shhh! It's a secret.

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  21. I just realized the convergence today - my post on Wicked Cozy Authors is about my grandmother's summer cross-country car trip in 1918, about which I have her diary. I didn't even connect it wit this morning's post earlier - I must have still be short on caffeine. ;^)

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  22. My Mother was truly a wanderer but she did not have the money to wander far. However as kids she would load us up in the car with my 16 year old brother driving and we would take off, just to see what we could see. Of course my brother was so happy to get a chance to drive. We drove around Michigan; and from Michigan down to Indiana and Ohio, mostly long, long day trips. Once my Mother told us three kids to get in the front seat and she got in the back seat. Then when we took off she pretended to be a whining child saying stuff like "when we going to stop"...."I'm hungry"....."I have to go to the bathroom" etc. The three of us kids laughed so hard! It was so funny to see our Mother acting like that. I think we were 16, 12, and 10. Good times.

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  23. If I was to take any kind of "exotic" vacation, I would want to go to either Ireland or Hawaii. Otherwise, trips to the various sports halls of fame would be nice. I still owe myself a return trip to the Basketball Hall of Fame which I visited once a LONG time ago (it's had two different homes since the one I visited).

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    1. Oh, and if I had the time and money, I'd like to take a cross country trip stopping at all the big name mystery book shops I've longed to visit from seeing them hosting signings and such on Twitter/Facebook and in magazines.

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  24. At the end of June/beginning of July, my sister and I went on a tour of Iceland. It was absolutely lovely. This was period when it was 24 hours of light, which was an unique experience. I had never been to Iceland before. My sister had been to Reykjavik twice for work, but she hadn't seen the rest of the country. The landscape is varied. You have mountains, waterfalls and lava fields. We walked across a glacier and into an ice cave. We also went on a whale watching excursion. I was amazed. We saw quite a few whales. I urge everyone to visit Iceland. It's breathtaking, clean and the people are friendly.

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  25. Responding late because I just got back from vacation this afternoon. For the past twenty-six years I've been going to Chincoteague VA with other relatives. We enjoy the birdwatching, the beach, the wildlife refuge, taking walks downtown (we usually rent a cottage on or near Main St.) My sister's kids have been going there for their entire lives. The older one, my nephew, is already thinking of maybe buying a house there! This year the weather was perfect, and we experienced more of the eclipse than we would have if we'd stayed home.

    I'd say more but need to pull myself together and get organized for returning to work tomorrow.

    DebRo

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  26. My Dad was tireless. He believed that we should do everything at least once and he was not adverse to doing it alongside us. Thus we have walked UP and down the Washington Monument - did you know there are really cool bas reliefs in the walls of the monument? And somehow my Dad knew the story of each and every one. And we walked up the Statue of Liberty (that was the only way to get there) and he helped us slide under the chain and climb the stairs to the balcony around the torch - he thought that was GREAT fun too - but the park rangers were not amused when we came back down. Dad studied before we made any trip and always dug out little hidden things.

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    1. Your dad sounds like he was a lot of fun, and a great, educational type of guy for his children.

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    2. He must have spent weeks and weeks of doing research in preparation for your trips!

      DebRo

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