Lessons Learned on Vacation

A few weeks ago my in-laws asked to have our children for the week.  Their church was geared up for VBS, and they wanted some hang time with the 3-E’s.  Matt and I booked a camping spot in Rocky Mountain National Park faster than you can say “mommy-daddy-time.”  He proposed to me up there, and it’s been our getaway of choice over the years since then.  We love trekking the mountain trails, listening to the breeze whisper through the trees, and enjoying the views so different from life here on the prairie (and mostly within a city on that prairie).  Then there’s just the break from home routine and glorious mountain quiet (absence of all kid-generated requests).  Thinking back, we realized there have been a lot of changes in the way we do vacation over the years.  Here are some of the fun points of evolution.

  • Sunset RoadFork over the gas money and drive on.   We used to tent camp, stuffing the car until our gear sometimes obstructed the view out of the rear window.  We loved it.  Mountain nights can be chilly, though.  I learned to change inside a sleeping bag and to wear a stocking cap to bed when necessary.  A few years back, Matt’s parents offered to lend us the RV they had scored off of Craigslist.  At 8 miles to the gallon, it was a splurge.  But rainy weather can take the fun out of a tenting trip, so we gave it a go.  Best decision ever.  Bathroom, refrigerator, and microwave less than 10 feet away made for a happy 10 hour drive each way.  Pulling into our camping spot meant we could hit the sack without maneuvering tent poles, air pumps, or flashlights.  And when the raindrops danced our way, we could go on enjoying the day inside.  I like the simple, inexpensive way we do vacation, but a little bit of luxury has made the time away an even bigger blessing.
  • Mountain ManSimplify.  Once upon a time we brought fresh potatoes, raw bacon, peeler, knife, and cutting board when we wanted to make a potato skillet on vacation.  We ate off of real dishes, too, and spent way too much time scrubbing and drying at the camp sink.  Now we cook ingredients or even whole entrees ahead of time and eat off of disposables.  We can be green and cook from scratch when we’re at home, but we can’t make the gorgeous ascent to Sky Pond.  We’ve learned to use our time away for the important things.  Naps, for example.
  • Let Matt buy the provisions.  This year I was swamped and Matt took care of almost everything needed to get us on the road.  Beef jerky, trail mix, string cheese, Stax, supplies for mini bagel/cream cheese/salami sandwiches, Starburst, Riesens, all our usual bases well-covered.   He upped the ante with a carton each of raspberries and bing cherries.   When I saw the 15-count box of Häagen-Dazs bars, I remembered all the reasons that I fell in love with him in the first place.  And the working freezer compartment in the RV meant that we didn’t have to eat them all the first day.  Which was probably for the best.
  • Mallard NappingSlow down.  Our first trips to the Rockies were races to see if we could total more miles of trail and feet of elevation gain than the last visit.  We still like to be off the mountain before the afternoon rain clouds approach, but we’ve done a better job lately of simply enjoying the land we pass through.    Learning to take macro photos of wildflowers probably started it.  Now each hike is a treasure hunt for new blossoms.  Upgrading from a point and shoot to a dslr camera  has definitely increased the effect.  Poor Matt has his stride interrupted regularly with “Oooh, I have to shoot this.”  He’s a good man, y’all.

In honor of our time away, I have updated the “Latest News and Views” slideshow on our homepage.  Please stop by, or click <here> to see some of the other sights we saw.

A Break at the Beach

We left Atenas Sunday morning for a quick trip to Manuel Antonio, a beach and national park about 3 hours away. We stayed overnight at a hotel and returned midday Monday. The park is a rainforest along the beach and God helped us to be able to spot a number of different animals. We were able to see several monkeys, a snake, a sloth, an iguana, lizards, frogs, red legged crabs and hermit crabs. There are several beaches in the park with beautiful emerald green water. We all had fun seeing the animals, playing in the ocean and finding seashells on the beach.

Walking to the beach we were not able to see any monkeys. Eliana was praying that God would help us to see some monkeys in the park and He answered her prayers. On our way back home, up in the trees above us was a group of 5-6 howler monkeys playing and swinging on the branches. I couldn’t get a good picture but there was even a little baby clinging to the back of one of the monkeys.


There were several hermit crabs running around the beach. I caught one and he agreed to come out of his shell and pose for a picture.


We were walking along the trail and some people were looking at the ground back in the trees off the path. They pointed out several of these little red legged crabs, about 2-3″ across. The picture doesn’t really do justice to the bright Husker red color of their legs.


We hadn’t planned ahead on our trip into the park so we didn’t have swimsuits. Kris and the kids decided to wade in so they could get their feet wet. They kept drifting further and further into the water and it wasn’t long before Elijah took a spill and was completely wet. A few minutes later Eliana and Kris also slid all the way into the water. They had a fabulous time splashing in the water. Daddy stayed dry and took pictures. It was a wet hike home but well worth the time.

Monday morning we spent some time on the beach looking for seashells. We found a large collection before I found a perfect smooth little shell. To my surprise this one was still inhabited! We snapped a few photos before we sent our little snail (or mussel or whatever it was!) back on its way in the ocean.