Oh, yeah, this was a LONG time ago. One of our almost-annual treks to Mammoth Lakes in the eastern Sierras to stay with my husband’s extended family and fish, play board games, hike to town, enjoy the beauty.
Many years ago, I began a bi-monthly gathering for women just behind me in the mothering cycle, most of whom had brand new babies and maybe a toddler or two. At some point during those five years, I was asked a good question:
What one thing would you recommend we do to encourage the building of a cohesive and committed family unit?
My response surprised a few, I think. It wasn’t particularly ‘spiritual’ in nature. I did not recommend a regular family worship time, though I believe that is a fine idea for many families. I did not recommend regular church attendance, though that, too, is great to do. I came close to saying this: “Find a way to offer service together as often as you can,” because I believe that is an essential ingredient. And service can look like a lot of things, beginning with the practice of hospitality in your own home.
No, I didn’t say any of those things. Instead, this is what I said:
Find a way to get away every single year. Make traveling as a family a priority, no matter what that looks like for you.
And I stand by those words. I believe there is nothing better that we can do for our children, for our spouses or for ourselves than to get a glimpse of God’s greater world, to tickle our toes under the sheets in a place that is new to us, to look at the wonders of nature, the complexities of city life, or the remarkable diversity at play in human culture.
So if I had to pick one such getaway and call it ‘the best,’ I would hesitate. A lot. Why? Because every trip was the best. The best we could do for that year, the best destination for us at that point in time, the best. True, some were better than others. But even the rough ones have made for great storytelling. So maybe I’ll string a few of those less-than stellar ones together in a short list and leave it at that.
The year we rented a trailer, sight unseen, saw it coming toward us over the freeway overpass which went directly over our chosen trailer park and realized that FIVE of us would be cramped into 14 feet for a full week And one of us was 14-months-old and getting an ear infection.
The year we pulled a rented tent trailer, not realizing our station wagon didn’t have a hearty enough transmission to get us there and back.
The year we put camping gear on top of our car and never took it off because it rained every single day for 3000 miles of National Park trekking.
The time we crept to a motel from our soggy tent at 5:00 a.m., trenches and tarps having totally failed to keep the deluge at bay.
The time I backed our rented car into an unseen cement post below the van’s back window. Thank goodness we bought insurance that trip.
Our 30th anniversary trip to Italy which was part fiasco and part triumph, involving a lost wedding diamond, and a couple of miraculous discoveries. (A story told at another website earlier this month.)
And, of course, no list of mine would be complete without this one. The two times early in our married life when we took a camping trip without the poles for our tent. True, it was two different tents on two different continents, but still. Twice?