Friday, August 21, 2009

How to come back from vacation exhausted

I knew it wasn't going to be easy.

Last year's family vacation involved six days lolling about on a white sandy beach on Florida's panhandle. This year...not so much.

After much putting off, we finally committed to going home. At least for me. With the exception of my sister who crossed the state line and ventured into Ohio, my entire family remains firmly planted in Indiana. I, on the other hand, have spent my adult life living out of state. Alabama, LA, Illinois, Texas (once before and now)'s a bit of an effort to get back to visit.

This year we spent nine days getting from North Texas to Indiana and back. Over two thousand miles. I think. I printed the maps out; my husband did 99 percent of the driving.

We ran the legs off our three kids and no one really complained much. This is what we saw:

Silver Dollar City in Branson
First time for me to witness a grown man with both tattoos and a hickey, pushing a stroller. Another first: The motel we stayed in had a fly-swatter in the room. Hmmm...

The City Museum in St. Louis
Hands-down my favorite place to spend a day. We had a membership when we lived in the area. Check out their Web site and I think you'll see why.

The Magic House in St. Louis
Big expansion made this place twice and much fun as the last time we were there. Loved the Poet Tree!

The Gateway Arch
Fun to see it again through the eyes of my daughter who said "I've never seen it in color before!" (A black-and-white photo of it hangs in our house.)

Busch Stadium
Under construction when we moved, we promised our kids we'd come back one day for a game. And, not only did the Cards win, but Pujols hit a home run!

Pizza King
My high school hang-out and always a fav. Thin crust pizza and I had to have the pepperoni and baked ham with BBQ sauce. Yum!

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis
Loved the carousel and took a much-needed nap in the planetarium. Had to drag dino-loving daughter out of the dinosaur area, where she got to dig for a dinosaur while asking tons of questions to patient paleontologists. The stumper: How did God make dinosaurs?

Ball State University
My alma mater has grown a lot since I graduated. Lots of new buildings (all red-brick which is a tradition there) including the David Letterman Communication and Media Building and the Sursa Performance Hall. It would be neat to see my son attend there next year.

Family & Friends
For all the sites we took in, nothing compared to catching up with friends and family. From dinners at the homes of friends (where we compared how kids seem to grow overnight) to those who let us or our kids bunk under their roofs, we most enjoyed getting to hug close those we love but rarely get the chance to see. E-mail is great and texting, Facebook and phone calls keep me up-to-date with what's going on in everyone's lives, but they're no substitute for holding close a child whom you've never met but share DNA with. Or listening to a familiar laugh behind you, then turning to see that it's not your brother, but your nephew who sounds eerily the same.

I hope you were able to visit those you love this summer. If not, plan a trip really soon. Some things are too important to put off until later.