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I’ve been on vacation for two weeks. Not a total vacation—I had some freelance and podcasting stuff that I could not put off for two weeks—but being able to put on an email responder and not post here for a while took a lot off of my plate. I’m very sure that I could make more money doing something other than blogging and freelancing, but it’s nice to be able to say with very little notice, “Hey, I don’t want to do this for two weeks. So I’m not gonna!” I’d have to get a pretty amazing offer in order to give up that freedom.
What I Did On Summer Vacation
So what did I do on my summer vacation? Well, first, I marveled at the fact that so many kids were back in school already when mine were not. I never realized before Facebook how many kids go back to school in what I consider to be the middle of summer. The first-day-of-school pictures started flooding my stream even before my son had left for summer camp. It’s just weird.
For the second summer in a row our kids only had two weeks of overlapping sleep-away camp time (boo!), so my husband and I basically had one weekend alone (when they first started going away to camp they both went for six weeks, at the same time – I miss those days!!!). And we spent it taking a completely shitty trip to Atlantic City. The hotel we usually stay in was booked and we kind-of hated the one I ended up picking, we got into a huge fight shortly after arriving, and I lost about ten times what my husband did at blackjack. (Losing doesn’t bother me. Losing way more than he does totally bothers me.)
But our next trip was much better. After Fiona came back from camp, Fiona, Omer, and I headed upstate (defined by New Yorkers as “anything north of the 92nd Street Y) and spent a few days staying with friends who completely spoiled us with amazing breakfasts each morning and quiet, comfy bedrooms, and my husband spent a lot of time doing what he always does when we visit these particular people at their isolated, lake-front house: He sat and stared at the water in complete silence. Which is why we spent a day looking for a weekend house up there.
While upstate we collected our son from his camp, and the four of us headed to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware for a few days. The weather was gorgeous and the town was nice and we had a really great time. And I bought a really cool thing that you twist into the sand to keep your beach umbrella from blowing away!!
The bottom of the beach isn’t just sandy at Rehoboth though, it’s made up of little stones. This felt fine until I was getting out of the water one time and was hit by a huge wave. It knocked me down and turned me around a few times and dragged me along the bottom, and when I got up I could tell that I’d gotten a lot of the beach in my bathing suit. I went underwater and tried to get some out, but it was in too deep. So I just stayed that way until I got back to the hotel room. This is what came out of my bathing suit when I got undressed (cell phone for scale):
Rehoboth was recommended to me by a whole bunch of people who live in the D.C. area, and we really liked it. The restaurants were great, the boardwalk was fun, and the beach was really nice. It’s not someplace we’d travel to from NYC if we weren’t on our way someplace else, but for this trip it was perfect.
On our drive from Rehoboth to D.C., this happened, and it was terrifying.
We were driving on a road that was commercial and had plenty of people out and about – not a highway. We were behind a truck and all of a sudden it started spewing rocks. Many hit our car, but luckily our windshield didn’t shatter.
We got out from behind the truck and as we were passing it I tried to get the driver’s attention, but couldn’t. Fiona took a picture of the side with the company’s phone number, and I called the company to tell them what was going on and told them to get that truck off the road immediately.
The rest of the trip, thankfully, was fun and uneventful…except for another terrible hotel.
I usually do a great job picking hotels. This one got really good reviews everywhere I looked. Unfortunately, completely unbeknownst to us, it was closing for a long renovation just a few weeks after our stay. The staff that was left was made up mostly of temps and people from other properties. So while the room itself was fine, the staff just sucked. We had a ton of trouble during our stay. The company was responsive on Twitter (there was no point in speaking to the staff at the hotel anymore) and took off about a third of our bill, which was a nice gesture and just about all they could do at that point. But really, that kind of service has no excuse – I don’t care if the hotel is closing. You have the rest of your brand to think about.
At least the room was big enough for hula-hooping, and they provided the hula hoops!
But other than the cracked windshield and the hotel issues, D.C. was great! We started with the White House, Washington Monument, the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam War Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and a few other things in that general area.
After whining the entire time during the two-mile walk from the hotel, the kids raced each other up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I mean, of course they did.
Here’s Jake leaning so far out of the picture that he fell backwards.
At the Vietnam War Memorial the kids got a quite a lesson from a vet who was obviously looking for a donation after his speech, which we were happy to give. Nothing else is going to get through to our kids (and us) quite like talking to someone who lived through it. The kids asked intelligent questions, and really, those ten minutes were probably the most impactful of the whole trip.
But mostly, we kept things light.
Here’s Fiona messing around with the Washington Monument:
We went to the Air and Space Museum (Jake: “But there’s no air in space!!” Me: “Air AND Space, not IN.” Every time), always a favorite with the kids. And the big kids.
After that we split up, with Jake going to the Museum of Natural History, and the rest of us going to the Museum of American History, which was a fascinating place. I could have spent a lot more time there.
I saw a lot of great pop culture stuff, like Archie and Edith’s chairs from All in the Family, Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, the original Kermit the Frog, and Julia Child’s entire kitchen!!
I even got a close-up look at her recipe books.
Fiona spent a long time studying every room in this amazing doll house.
My favorite museum, though, was the Newseum. The last time I took the kids to D.C. we only had a few hours to spend there, so I was glad to have more time. My husband had never been there, and I knew that he would totally dig it. Plus, where else can you see Stephen Colbert’s “On Notice” board?
And this reporting video that Omer and Fiona made belongs in some kind of Newseum hall of fame, for several reasons, but mostly because my husband was wearing a blue shirt in front of a blue screen and looked like a floating head.
The Newseum also has one of the best views of the Capitol Building.
After that we went to the Spy Museum, which was OK, but definitely my least favorite out of everything we did. I think we made a mistake seeing two museums in one day that involve so much reading and close inspection. The Newseum is very text heavy, and so is the Spy Museum. It would have been better to pair either of those with the other two museums. By the end of the day I was just tired, and wasn’t as interested as I should have been by a pretty fascinating topic.
We found lots of other cool things in our wanderings. There are so many beautiful places in D.C., and since we were able to go during the week, nothing seemed crowded at all.
I even found some real-life Q*bert cubes!!
Getting Ready For School
After the trip we spent the rest of the time (five days, I think?) relaxing and getting ready for school. Both kids started at new schools, middle school for Fiona and high school for Jake, so that was pretty exciting.
After walking four blocks to school for the past seven years, Fiona is now learning how to commute on public transportation, which has been…interesting. Her sense of direction is as bad as mine (worse?) which is making this extra fun. She wants desperately to do it on her own (and I want her to as well – going with her there and back is eating up quite a bit of my day!!), but I want to make sure she’s ready.
And that was my vacation! I’m back and ready to go and excited for fall and cooler weather. Vacation is fun, but I thrive on routine, and I’m happy to get back into one after a nice relaxing summer!
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