Every spring break we do a road trip, heading south on the I-5 in search of weather warm enough for bare legs. Last year we drove to Santa Barbara. On the way home, somewhere mid-Oregon, I was silently, guiltily wondering if I'd outgrown this kind of vacation, when Pete announced, "I think next time we should just fly somewhere." It's no longer money we need to be frugal about, but time. So this year: Oahu, Hawaii.
Every vacation package out there is tailored to a family of four; I gave up on a resort or hotel. We found an oceanfront house on the North Shore on VRBO instead. View from the front yard beach looking back at the old plantation house, and toward the ocean:
We snorkeled. We ate pineapple every day. We ate at shrimp trucks and shave ice shops. The kids chased feral chickens and searched for lizards. We read voraciously and took surf lessons (and Pete has his fourth consult with orthopedics this week for a sea urchin spine embedded in his foot).
There was a moment on the third day when I looked at my kids at the kitchen table - happy, but very noisy and very dirty - and I remembered that I don't usually go more than two days where I'm with them 24/7. I always get that break where I deal with death and disease for a few hours and return to the family refreshed. But this vacation was for them, not me, and a parenting marathon on a tropical island isn't exactly a sacrifice.
Success! The kids unanimously voted it the best vacation ever. There was weeping the day we returned, the ultimate affirmation. And while in Hawaii, I registered for a vacation that would be all mine: a three day medical writing conference in Iowa.
Now, back to patients who invariably greet my return with, "You went away! Didn't you take a vacation last year?"