With the school year creeping up on us, I had a “brilliant” idea to take the family on a mini-vacation. My criteria? (1) It had to be somewhere we could get within 2 or 3 hours and (2) it had to have a pool. I learned the second criterion last year after making the mistake of buying the 4-day pass to Disneyland. These words actually passed my mouth: “We’re not going swimming unless you spend a few hours at Disneyland today.” Seriously.
Based on a vague memory of going to Dinosaur Land in Vernal, Utah when I was about 3, I decided that was the place to go and I booked a suite one week before our trip. Who knew the pickings would be so slim? But hey, at least, once again there was a pool.
And I learned that certain things are a cliche for a reason. Such as the fact your kids will ask you “How much further?” for “Are we there yet?” every ten minutes even after you explain we are a full two hours away from the destination.
And most importantly, there are times when you realize that your kids are so much like you and you have a flash back to every moment when your parents looked at you as if they wanted to smother you or throw you into the lake. For me it was the moment in day 2 of the trip and we had finally reached the Dinosaur Quarry, the defining moment of the trip. I’d tried to get my whining, hot and bored 9 year old daughter’s interest piqued in the dinosaur bone poking out of the quarry. Her response was to turn to me and ask, “Can we go back to the hotel now?” My son’s response wasn’t much better.
But later that same day, there are other moments. Good moments. Moments when I remembered there are other memories that will linger with my kids, even if they aren’t exactly the memories I intended (such as awe at seeing the biggest dinosaur quarry in the world). Like the excitement when at breakfast a bagel got stuck in the rotating toaster sending not only the entire hotel’s fire alarm off, but the eventual evacuation of the hotel and the arrivals of two fire trucks and a cop car. Or when we stopped at the museum in Vernal and we were excited to find the butterfly we’d been watching fluttering on the lily in the outdoor monument was REAL and seemed to follow us through the garden. Or the amazing pizza we found at the new brewery company next to the museum moments before we almost slunk into a divey-burger joint.
So I have to remember that if not for the downer moments, like realizing the King Suite was an overly generous term, and that a hill with bones in it is exactly as exciting as it sounds, we wouldn’t have been able to find the gems on the three day vacation that my kids still giggle about now.
To finding the moments.