Tropical paradise, togetherness, appreciation of the good ole USA? What makes your favorite vacation memorable?

A few years ago my parents proposed the whole family go on a cruise to Alaska.  On one hand I really wanted to go as Alaska was the last of the 50 I needed to cross off my list of states I had sat foot in.  But I was more than a bit concerned because that’s a lot of togetherness for a family that hadn’t spent much time together.   My brother and I hadn’t been very close in recent years.  Another challenge was my husband’s hatred of cold weather.  After checking weather averages he said the weather would be cold and rainy every day and he would be miserable.  Oh Joy!  It was going to be so great to hear this complaint every hour of every day….

In the end, we all committed to the trip, my parents, my sister and her husband, my brother, his wife and three girls, my hubby and I. 

My favorite thing about this trip was not where we were but spending time with my family.  I enjoyed getting to know my nieces who had somehow completely grown up and it was like meeting them all over again.  Even better, they were three fabulous young ladies who were smart, funny and up for any adventure.

Many times a day we laughed until we were sick over the silliest things.  Another plus – the weather was HOT.  We raided the Gap in Anchorage before we sat out on our cruise to buy shorts and t-shirts because it was so warm.  We rarely broke out our sweatshirts during the trip and it did not rain one day.  Icing on the perfect vacation cake!


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I think I just got back from the perfect vacation.  Well, not actually a vacation – let’s call it an escape. 

I live in Philadelphia, and have been going to “the shore” my whole life (please, please, PLEASE don’t confuse what I’m about to say with the ‘Jersey Shore’ people you see on TV).  When we were little, my family would go for a week each year.  After college, I rented with about 17-20 other people in a small house each summer for a few years.  And this summer, I rented for the month of September ALONE.

The house sat on the bay, and was much larger than 1 person needs but perfect to have guests down… which is exactly what I did.  Each weekend there were different people coming through town, and I had the weeks to myself.  I only ‘vacationed’ for about 10 days of the month and worked the rest, but there was something about waking up in such a relaxing setting that made working so much more enjoyable.  Not that my home isn’t a relaxing setting – it is.  But drinking my morning coffee overlooking the water brought a whole new energy to my day.

I decided after this trip that I need to do this every year.  As much as I want to travel all over the place, there is also something so peaceful about renting a house at the beach and not having much of an agenda at all. 


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I live in New York City – with a lot of other people. A lot. So when I go on vacation I like to go places that are not like New York City – places that are pretty and quiet and natural and remote and as far away from the masses of humanity. I used to go to Europe a lot, but in the past few years, as the exchange rate and flight taxes have made it more expensive, I have been traveling more in the USA. Who knew that our National Parks are some of the most beautiful places on earth? I now have a goal to go to at least one a year (this year was Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii). The National Park Service preserves our most precious resources. There are over 84 million acres out there for all of us to enjoy, they contain 17,000 miles of trails, habitat protection for 421 species of threatened or endangered plants and animals and 1.5 million archeological sites. So go out and visit one! Watch the movie at the visitor’s center. Talk to a ranger. Read the placards. But please, leave it as you found it. Thanks.


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Pete (husband) and I have worked to perfect the ultimately relaxing trip. There is some crazy continuum that connects Maui and the bay area and, as residents of the latter, we find Maui is one of the most amazing places to relax. We attempt to escape there yearly and our trip generally involves an ohana rental on a beach on the North Shore of Maui, close to Paia. Paia is a funky hippy town with great food, lots of tattoos, great yoga and unfortunately, horrible traffic as it is the one intersection with a stop light on the north shore… but not if you don’t go anywhere.

With a view of waves, kiteboarders and a wonderful beach right out the sliding door, we do a heck of a lot of nothing. The days involve me doing yoga, some sort of amazing breakfast together with local coffee and then maybe one activity. We have found that one activity is about all that we want to do because it is key for us to work some lunch and dinner around that… then lots of reading, beach time, some movie catch-up, yahtzee, and surfing (internet that is).

We have honed in on 10 days being perfect… just enough time to completely relax, enjoy each other, connect, and recharge. 12 days actually is a little too much, and less than 10 is just not enough. This highly complex formula has come from careful study over twelve years and while it will always need tweaking, it is our perfect relaxing vacation.


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My favorite vacation was my first trip to Costa Rica.  I had been out of the country many times, but never for a trip focused on nature.  The diversity and beauty of Costa Rica is amazing.  The people are friendly and hospitable.  We flew into the capital city and drove to the towns where we would sleep.  The mountainous roads led to paradise in different forms.  The first was a small hotel in the middle of a former banana plantation.  It is where I first experienced white-water rafting.  We drove on roads where the car skidded on rocks when we stopped.  We crossed bridges that didn’t look like they were intended for cars. 

 The second was near the beach and a rain forest.  I saw scarlet macaws in flight and in nests, butterflies with lace wings, ants that carried leaves to their home and many other creatures.   I experienced the ocean among small islands formed by volcanoes.  The third location was in the mountains near the cloud forest.  I sat in a garden with literally hundreds of hummingbirds zipping by my head until my travel companions begged me to leave. I relaxed in spring pools heated by a volcano and climbed to see waterfalls where only chains separated us from the edge of the mountain. 

I saw more natural beauty than I thought possible.  We enjoyed every moment and every person we met.  In fact, we enjoyed it so much that we returned twice.  Each trip was wonderful and different in its own way, but none compared with that first experience.  And I got to experience it all while creating memories with, and enjoying the vacation planned by, my Mother. 




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