Friday, March 15, 2013

Don't let vacation mishaps spoil the memories

From today's Briefing:

I long ago gave up on the idea that vacation is a complete escape from the world and its troubles — albeit first- world troubles.
Experience has been my teacher. The lessons are plentiful.
Once, at the beginning of a long weekend away, we made it all the way to the airport and through security screening before I realized my wallet was at home. I was rescued by a good friend who swooped into my house, picked up the wallet and delivered it to the airport into the hands of a friendly security agent waiting curbside.
On a trip to Disneyland, 2-year-old Katie threw up in our brand-new minivan on the way to the airport. And in the airport. And on the airplane.
She was horrified upon landing, convinced that Minnie Mouse would meet us at the gate and see her “all dirty.”
On a summer trip in Michigan, we were in a car accident. No one was seriously injured, but the rental car folks were seriously angry. We lost the privilege of ever renting from them again and scrambled to find another car.
Lost luggage. Locked doors with no key. Missed flights. Wanderings without clear direction. My list is long.
With this vast experience, I’ve learned to expect some bumps — and to keep on traveling.
The trip that started with no wallet ended with excellent memories of amusement park rides, aquarium discoveries and a peaceful sunset on the Pacific.
Tiny Katie cleaned up in plenty of time for her first Minnie Mouse visit.
Cooper experienced the thrill of Space Mountain. I devoured (and savored) more than my fair share of Dole Pineapple Whips.
That Michigan trip was one of the greatest vacations in our young family’s history.
This spring break we spent a few days in South Carolina, mostly on Hilton Head Island, chosen because there’s a beach, and the beach is my ultimate happy place. There were a few bumps in the road.
Actually, I hit the first bump before we left. A few hours before our flight out of town, I stopped by our neighborhood urgent care center, concerned about a painful cough and fever. I stayed for a breathing treatment, steroid shot and antibiotic prescription to treat bronchitis.
A little ailment wasn’t going to stand between me and the sea calling my name.
We spent most of Saturday outside, despite temperatures in the 50s, biking, kayaking, lollygagging in hammocks and, yes, hanging out at the beach.
This super-full day was probably not the best plan for an already tired mom with bronchitis, though all that activity did guarantee that I’d be slow-pokey the rest of the trip.
I was feeling fully relaxed by lunchtime Sunday. We were enjoying seafood in a restaurant down by the river.
Then, another bump.
Cooper was eating shrimp and flounder when a piece of metal from his orthodontia broke free. A small silver arm that is supposed to be attached to two temporary crowns was instead dangling from his mouth, anchored to only one crown.
We excused ourselves from the table, and I examined his mouth and the tiny yet expensive piece of misplaced metal out in the sunlight. Yes, it was broken, and no, I couldn’t fix it.
My first Google search via smartphone down on the docks: broken Herbst appliance. After verifying that this was no true emergency, my second Google search: Hilton Head orthodontists.
Monday morning we found a friendly office that agreed to treat a vacationing preteen. By 9:30 a.m., the metal was completely removed (to be reattached by our actual orthodontist), and we were back in vacation mode.
The rest of the day was bump-free — a stroll through Harbour Town, playground time (including a rare 21st-century seesaw sighting), more beach time, a dip in the pool, a little table tennis and lots of food prepared by someone else.
We didn’t totally escape real life and its occasional messes, but we were pretty close. We were reminded that people get sick, things break, mistakes happen — and in the middle of all that, there are still adventures to cultivate and memories to cherish.
Tyra Damm is a Briefing columnist. Email her at

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